The dominance in the public imagination of Susan B. Anthony, Elizabeth Cady Stanton, and Lucretia Mott as the preeminent figures of the 19th century women's suffrage movement in the United States often obscures the role played by many other women in advancing the cause of women's rights during that era. One of them was Ernestine Rose, an immigrant from Poland by way of Great Britain who as a writer and platform speaker campaigned for many of the leading reform causes of the mid-19th century. Yet this was just one stage in a long career that straddled the Atlantic, reflecting many of the common issues that activists fought for in Europe as well as America.
Bonnie Anderson's book provides readers with a brisk account of Rose's career and achievements. In it, she recounts Rose's life from her upbringing in Poland, where her father's commitment to educating her led her to question and ultimately renounce her Jewish faith. As a young woman in England she embraced the teachings of the English reformer Robert Owen, her involvement with whom led her to emigrate to the United States in 1836. From her home in New York City Rose traversed the country advocating for such cases as free thought and abolition, though it was her advocacy of women's rights for which she became best known. While her efforts to end slavery were achieved with the passage of the Thirteenth Amendment, the subsequent fracturing of the women's rights movement in the U.S. led Rose and her husband to return to Britain, where continued her campaigns for women's suffrage to the end of her life.
By detailing the range of Rose's interests and efforts, Anderson restores Rose to her proper place in the story of the women's rights movement. While constrained by the paucity of sources about Rose's early life, she draws conclusions from the context of her times to fill in several of the gaps, helping to underscore the remarkable nature of Rose's achievements in the process. The result is an account of Rose's life that gives her the credit she deserves for her tireless efforts on behalf of the causes which she held so dear.