Partner Sallie Ackley
DePauw University, 313 S Locust St, Greencastle, IN 46135, Stati Uniti
Friends Select School, 1651 Benjamin Franklin Pkwy, Philadelphia, PA 19102, Stati Uniti
Westtown School, 975 Westtown Rd, West Chester, PA 19382, Stati Uniti
Slate Hill Cemetery, Goshen, NY 10924, Stati Uniti
Anna Elizabeth Dickinson (October 28, 1842 – October 22, 1932) was an American orator and lecturer. An advocate for the abolition of slavery and for women's rights, Dickinson was the first woman to give a political address before the United States Congress. A gifted speaker at a very young age, she aided the Republican Party in the hard-fought 1863 elections and significantly influenced the distribution of political power in the Union just prior to the Civil War. Dickinson was the first white woman on record to summit Colorado's Gray's Peak, Lincoln Peak, and Elbert Peak, and she was the second to summit Pike's Peak. She was the third white woman on record to climb Colorado’s Longs Peak, in 1873, and was certainly the first well-known woman to do so.
SShe was a friend of Elizabeth Cady Stanton and Quaker lecturers Lucretia Mott and Susan B. Anthony. In her letters, Anthony sometimes addressed Dickinson as "Chickie Dickie". Benjamin F. Butler, a Civil War general and a politician, pursued her romantically. He remained her friend, a legal advisor, and source of money over many years. Unpublished correspondence with a woman named Ida caused one late-20th century author to claim that she was a lesbian.
In 1870, she was the wage-earner and head of the household of her mother, older sister Susan, and a servant. In 1883, she moved to West Pittston, Pennsylvania to live with her sister. Over the next years, her health began to fail as she aged and due to many years of poverty. On May 12, 1889, her 95-year-old mother Mary died in West Pittston, Pennsylvania. She was said to have been an invalid for years and cared for by her daughters, writer Susan and lecturer Anna. Mary's only living son, Rev. John Dickinson, was a professor of Geology at the University of California at the time.
Dickinson began to exhibit signs of paranoia in 1891 and she was committed against her will to a hospital for the insane, the Danville State Hospital for the Insane, by her sister Susan Dickinson. She was transferred to a private hospital in Goshen, New York, under the care of Dr. Seward and with support of her friends, due at least in part to newspapers having reported false information about her care. Dickinson, who was taken to Danville in February 1891, stayed at the Interpines sanitarium and was giving lectures by late August that year. She filed suits against the newspapers who claimed she was insane and the people who had her committed. After protracted legal battles, she won the case of illegal kidnapping and three libel suits in 1898. She lost many supporters and friends due to her antagonistic behavior.
Sometime after she was released from Danville, she lived in Goshen, New York with George and Sallie Ackley, and continued to do so for more than forty years. Dickinson and Sallie Ackley were lovers, according to correspondence between Dickinson and Sallie Ackley and interviews with George Ackley and his sisters. George also said she was a heavy drinker.
When Sallie died, she left $7,000 to Dickinson, with the understanding that upon her death, the remainder would be left to George. Dickinson died in 1932 of cerebral apoplexy. Since she did not leave a will, the remaining $6,000 inheritance went to her distant cousin, rather than to George. Dickinson is buried at Slate Hill Cemetery in Goshen, near George and Sallie's headstone.
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