Lecture Description

In the summer of 1787, a remarkable woman gave the first public lecture by a woman to an audience including George Washington and Convention delegates. Eliza Harriot Barons O’Connor was an English-born, Irish-married educator who promoted the ideas made more famous by Mary Wollstonecraft. She represented a radical new idea in the English-speaking world: female genius, which signified that women had equal capacity and deserved an equal education and political representation. Innovative digital research reveals Eliza Harriot’s conviction that women deserved access to the college (public-funded higher education) and the forum (political representation and office-holding), and her probable influence on the Constitution’s gender-neutral language. This biography of one ambitious woman is also an inspirational transatlantic history of women who believed in education as a political right.


Constitutional and Legal Gender, Masculinity, Femininity

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