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The Maine Story

​Connecting Ellsworth and the Nation

Ellsworth American Lecture

Ann F. Jarvis Greely (1831-1914) of Ellsworth, her sister Sarah Jarvis (1823-ca. 1882), and Charlotte Hill (1834-ca. 1890) of Gouldsboro formed a self–appointed committee that organized an equal rights lecture series in Ellsworth in 1857, connecting that community to national leaders and ideas. Susan B. Anthony spoke to a packed hall there in March that year.

Charlotte Hill was a violinist and music and dance teacher who also wrote opinion pieces to newspapers using the pen name “Dirigo.”

In one column, describing a legislative committee’s lack of attention to women’s rights during an 1875 hearing, Greely commented “…even the insignificant lobster finds earnest champions where woman’s claims fail of recognition …”

Greely and Hill initiated and signed many petitions to the legislature, including ones seeking relief from taxes because women had no representation. Ann Greely attended the organizational meeting of the Maine Woman Suffrage Association in 1873 and served on the committee that drafted the adopted resolutions.

Ann Jarvis Greely shop, Ellsworth, 1893

Greely, an abolitionist and temperance and women’s rights proponent, was known for voicing her opinions, including in newspaper columns she signed “Qui Est,” meaning “Who is This?” Responding to barbs about suffragists being “old maids,” she wrote, “The ladies interested in this movement are in such demand that they can’t stop to be old maids.”

Maine State Archives Collection

Antoinette Brown Blackwell, Lucy Stone, and Ernestine Rose, acting as a committee of the 1856 National Woman’s Rights Convention, in 1857 asked Maine and other state legislatures to grant women the right to vote – based on the principles that “all men are created equal, that governments derive their powers from the consent of the governed, and that taxation and representation are inseparable.”

Maine State Archives Collection

About 50 women and men from Bangor signed an addendum, echoing those arguments. Sarah M. Parsons wrote by her name, “Taxation & Representation inseparable.” Jane S. Appleton wrote, “for women who can read & write intelligently.” Thirteen women’s names followed hers and dittoed her comment.

Legislative response, 1857 (Maine State Archives Collection)

The committee gave the petitions “leave to withdraw,” essentially ending consideration of the request because not enough women had signed – and because existing laws provide “as nearly as possible the happiness and best interests of both sexes.”

Maine State Museum