AMERICAN WOMEN of ACHIEVEMENT
Grandma Moses – 1989
“Remember the Ladies.”
That is what Abigail Adams wrote to her husband, John, then a delegate to the Continental Congress, as the Founding Fathers met in Philadelphia to form a new nation in March of 1776. “Be more generous and favorable to them than your ancestors. Do not put such unlimited power in the hands of the Husbands. If particular care and attention is not paid to the Ladies,” Abigail Adams warned, “we are determined to foment a Rebellion, and will not hold ourselves bound by any Laws in which we have no voice, or Representation.”
The words of Abigail Adams, one of the earliest American advocates of women’s rights, were prophetic. Because when we have not “remembered the ladies,” they have, by their words and deeds, reminded us so forcefully of the omission that we cannot fail to remember them. For the history of American women is as interesting and varied as the history of our nation as a whole. American women have played an integral part in founding, settling, and building our country. Some we remember as remarkable women who—against great odds—achieved distinction in the public arena: Anne Hutchinson, who in the 17th century became a charismatic religious leader; Phillis Wheatley, an 18th-century black slave who became a poet; Susan B. Anthony, whose name is synonymous with the 19th-century women’s rights movement and who led the struggle to enfranchise women; and, in our own century, Amelia Earhart, the first woman to cross the Atlantic Ocean by air. (Matina S. Horner)
My Life’s History,
A moving personal account, appeared in 1952. Immensely popular in the United States, it was soon published in England and translated into several foreign languages. Soon after its American publication, the autobiography was made into a television play starring actress Lillian Gish as Grandma Moses.
Painting pictures and writing a book apparently failed to occupy all of Moses’ time. In 1951, she tried a new art form, painting on ceramic tiles. Enjoying the process of making quick sketches of, as she put it, “what the mind may produce,” she created 85 painted tiles in about a year. Some of them, noted Otto Kallir, “are simple designs, almost drawings, with spare use of color; others are little paintings whose flowing colors make interesting effects on the ceramic background.” The public cherished Moses’ zest for life as much as they admired her paintings.
Americans saw her as living proof that hard work and a positive attitude can pay off, and that life can be rewarding for decades after the age when most people retire. The popular attitude toward Moses was summed up by a 1953 New York Herald Tribune editorial, printed after the artist had appeared at a forum called “New Patterns for Mid-Century Living.”