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Charlotte Hill: Assurance and Radicalism
Charlotte Hill, a music teacher in Gouldsboro, wrote to tell Lucretia Milliken (1821-1882) of Cherryfield that she was sending woman’s rights materials to read and share with others who might be interested, or for Milliken to burn if she thought they would pollute the “moral atmosphere” of the town. Hill added that some women might be shocked at her “assurance and radicalism.”
The letter contains an invitation to Milliken to attend an upcoming lecture by suffragist Susan B. Anthony, which Hill had organized along with Ann Greely and others. Hill also wanted to consult Lucretia’s husband, James Milliken, about “one or two points of law” concerning women. He served in the legislature in 1861 and later became probate judge for Washington County.
Ellsworth Feby 16th 1857 ––
My dear Mrs Milliken
When I visited you last spring you will re collect that we had some conversation on the “Woman’s Movement” that you expressed yourself in favor of the principles involved therein or in other words that you were so to speak a “Woman’s rights” believer. I therefore take the liberty to send you some documents which I think ought to be circulated and which you will please loan to any one who will read.
We are to have some lectures here. A committee of ladies self-constituted I grant of which I am one have engaged Miss Susan B. Anthony of Rochester N.Y. to speak here on the evening of March 5th on the “rights and position of woman” and also Wendell Phillips to speak March 12th on “Agitation.” Perhaps you and Mr Milliken will make a visit to his friends here and be present at one or both. I think one who has ever heard Phillips would be well repaid to ? themselves out to do so. I heard him last winter at Bangor – of Miss Anthony I know nothing except by reputation.
I intend one of these days to consult Mr. Milliken professionally of course in regard to one law of Maine. I presume for his usual fee more or less he would give me not advice but a little information. I don’t consider any of our lawyers here honest enough to give information in regard to one or two points of law concerning women upon which for the sake of the cause which I advocate I wish to be fully posted –
I expect my feminine friends at Cherryfield will be shocked at my assurance and my radicalism – hope however the moral atmosphere of the town will not become polluted by my sending such documents as I now send to you if you judge so please commit them to the flames at once for with all my “infidelity” I should not wish be instrumental in such a ?nk – Pray excuse my freedom – or my presumption –
My kind regards to Mr Milliken
Charlotte L Hill
In 1858, the second year of the 36th Legislature, women and men from Ellsworth added to the 1857 “memorial” from Bangor residents and national suffrage leaders. Their petition echoed the language of the earlier one. The first two signatures are Ann F. Greely of Ellsworth and Charlotte L. Hill of Gouldsboro, who had organized the 1855 equal rights lecture series in Ellsworth and who were active in women’s rights and suffrage throughout their lives.