Friday, June 10, 2011

Women in History

Women in History: 
Lucy Kenney

In the 1830s, Lucy Kenney was an aspiring writer living and working in Washington, DC. She first wrote for the Democrats (Martin Van Buren). President Van Buren refused to compensate her for her expenses. He paid her $1 to go away and made her really mad so she turned to writing for the Whig party. The Whigs were the conservative party of the day. They favored the right of each state to make decisions on which laws to uphold and in the South, they supported slavery and the status quo. It seems strange that an independent woman would be attracted to the Whigs. She was originally from Virginia and felt slavery was an important issue and that abolitionist activity threatened the southern way of life. At any rate, the Whigs offered to pay her $100 for her support, an enormous sum of money during a time of economic depression.

She published scathing attacks on Van Buren, claiming that he had gained power through false pretenses. S. She wrote some really nasty stuff about him claiming that he had “poisoned, and laid waste, genius, commerce, enterprise, agriculture, and every thing that was noble, and calculated to improve and elevate this rising nation— you have crushed and withered by your hateful measures and policy, every opening bud of genius, and even shook the firm and unbending oak." he compared him to the serpent in Eden and blamed him for present economic difficulties.

She supported Whig candidates for President in 1836 and 1840. She felt the President should not abuse his power, claiming: “We want a President, distinct from his cabinet, independent in thought, feeling, action ; one who has a great, good mind — a mind capable to exercise, profound, healthy, and honest measures, out of which the interest, prosperity, and advancement of this great nation, will grow and flourish like a green bay tree .” Lucy Kenney felt that the Democrats were corrupt and dishonest and only Whigs were honorable.

Lucy Kenney also attacked abolitionists. She believed abolitionists were dangerous and promoted bloodshed. She said:  “[Abolitionists] boldly aim deadly poisoned arrows at our dearest rights, our domestic peace, our prosperity, our life; who by their fiendish doctrine, would infuse dissatisfaction, rebellion, and death, into the hearts of our domestics, our friends, our children.” In her mind, abolition was a dangerous thing because each state and each voter should be allowed to decide whether they wanted to have slaves or not. 

She also thought abolitionists misinterpreted the Bible. She believed that God orders servants to be obedient to masters in order to earn their "heavenly reward." Abolitionists encouraged disobedience.

She also compared slaves to immigrant workers in northern cities, claiming that slaves had food, shelter and clothing given to them which made them better off than northern wage workers.

 I'm not sure she believed what she wrote or if she did it because she was being paid to. She claimed she was writing out of patriotic duty to her country but I'm sure that money was a good incentive! Lucy Kenney was a woman of strong opinions. I admire the way she was willing to speak out and say such bold things. Not much is known about her but she sounds like someone to admire, even if I disagree with her political beliefs.

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