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Conceiving the FuturePronatalism, Reproduction, and the Family in the United States, 1890-1938$
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Laura L. Lovett

Print publication date: 2007

Print ISBN-13: 9780807831076

Published to North Carolina Scholarship Online: July 2014

DOI: 10.5149/9780807868102_lovett

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New Occasions Teach New Duties

New Occasions Teach New Duties

Mary Elizabeth Lease's Maternalist Agenda

(p.17) 2 New Occasions Teach New Duties
Conceiving the Future

Laura L. Lovett

University of North Carolina Press

This chapter focuses on Mary Elizabeth Lease, the most famous orator of the Populist Party and one of the most controversial figures in Populist historiography, and her maternalist agenda that included political equality and economic security for women. It examines Lease's ability to link the political and economic issues of Populism with issues that had a direct impact on women, children, and the family, particularly the farm family. The chapter also considers her vision of reform for women that was based on a naturalized and divinely mandated conception of motherhood. It traces Lease's early involvement in women's politics in Kansas, beginning with the November election in 1888 in which she joined the emergent Union Labor Party, and her efforts to demonstrate the relevance of politics and economics to the family. The chapter also discusses her removal as chair of the State Board of Charities of Kansas, the publication of her book The Problem of Civilization Solved (1895), and her campaign for suffrage in New York City.

Keywords:   politics, Mary Elizabeth Lease, Populist Party, women, Populism, family, Kansas, Problem of Civilization, suffrage, New York City

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