Born in Philadelphia to an orthodox Quaker family, Anna Dickinson began to write and speak about abolition while still in her teens. She contributed an essay to William Lloyd Garrison's Liberator in 1856, and addressed the Pennsylvania Anti-Slavery Society in 1860. Her intensity, youth, and dedication to emancipation attracted curious, sympathetic audiences and earned the notice of such well-known abolitionists as Hannah Longshore and Lucretia Mott. But Dickinson's greatest success came in 1863, when the Republican Party asked her to tour on behalf of its candidates. When Dickinson reached New York, an audience of 5,000 greeted her as the Joan of Arc of the abolition cause. Throughout the 1860s, Dickinson continued to lecture on the rights of women and African Americans. When popular taste shifted to light entertainment, she began a largely unsuccessful career as a playwright and actress, eventually dying in obscurity in New York. This carte-de-visite portrait of Dickinson was made on her triumphant Republican Party tour of 1863 and 1864.
Anna Elizabeth Dickinson
1842 - 1932
Mathew Brady Studio
Albumen silver print
(carte de visite), 1863 - 1864
8.6 x 5.3 cm (3 3/8 x 2 1/8 inches)
National Portrait Gallery,
Smithsonian Institution,
Washington, D.C.;
gift of Laurie A. Baty