Herstory

Creating Herstory: Laura de Force Gordon

When I was reading Madame Presidentess one character stood out, Laura de Force Gordon. She was brash and so talkative that no one could get a word in edge wise…a woman after my own heart.

Like Victoria Woodhull, Laura turned from a life as a spiritualist to that of a suffragette. It’s believed that her speech at Platt’s hall in San Francisco in 1868 launched California’s suffragette movement. She went on to write and edit multiple newspapers in the Oakland Lauraarea.

In 1879 she was briefly admitted to the Hastings College of Law. However, she and fellow student, Clara S. Foltz, were expelled because it was believed that the rustling of their skirts was a distraction in the court room. Not only did the women fight this, they made sure Article XX Section 18 was included in the California Constitution.This section of the constitution states that a woman in the state of California can work in whatever profession they want. She was also a supporter of the Women’s Lawyers Bill which allowed women to practice law in the state of California.

In addition to her ground breaking work in California she was the second woman to be admitted to the Bar of the United States Supreme Court. Meaning that she could argue cases before the Supreme Court.

In 1979 a time capsule in Washington Square Park in San Francisco was dug up. Inside attached to her book, Great Geysers of California and How to Reach Them, was this note written in Laura’s hand:

If this little book should see the light after its 100 years of entombment, I would like its readers to know that the author was a lover of her own sex and devoted the best years of her life in striving for the political equality and social and moral elevation of women.

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