The Highest Glass Ceiling:
Women's Quest for the American Presidency
This event includes a book signing
February 11, 2016
Harvard Book Store
1256 Massachusetts Ave., Cambridge, MA 02138
This event is free; no tickets are required.
Harvard Book Store and Mass Humanities welcome acclaimed historian ELLEN FITZPATRICK for a discussion of her book The Highest Glass Ceiling: Women's Quest for the American Presidency.
About The Highest Glass Ceiling
In The Highest Glass Ceiling, Ellen Fitzpatrick tells the story of three remarkable women who set their sights on the American presidency. Victoria Woodhull (1872), Margaret Chase Smith (1964), and Shirley Chisholm (1972) each challenged persistent barriers confronted by women presidential candidates. Their quest illuminates today’s political landscape, showing that Hillary Clinton’s 2016 campaign belongs to a much longer, arduous, and dramatic journey.
The tale begins during Reconstruction when the radical Woodhull became the first woman to seek the presidency. Although women could not yet vote, Woodhull boldly staked her claim to the White House, believing she might thereby advance women’s equality. Republican Senator Margaret Chase Smith came into political office through the “widow’s mandate.” Among the most admired women in public life when she launched her 1964 campaign, she soon confronted prejudice that she was too old (at 66) and too female to be a creditable presidential candidate. She nonetheless became the first woman to have her name placed in nomination for President by a major party. Democratic Congresswoman Shirley Chisholm ignored what some openly described as the twin disqualifications of race and gender in her spirited 1972 presidential campaign. She ran all the way to the Democratic convention, inspiring diverse followers and angering opponents, including members of the Nixon administration who sought to derail her candidacy.
As The Highest Glass Ceiling reveals, women’s pursuit of the Oval Office, then and now, has involved myriad forms of influence, opposition, and intrigue.
"Ellen Fitzpatrick’s wise and winning The Highest Glass Ceiling is destined to become the Profiles in Courage of the 2016 Presidential election, situating this year’s presumptive Democratic candidate Hillary Rodham Clinton in a historic field of bold female contenders, with special focus on the three who previously came closest—Victoria Woodhull, Margaret Chase Smith, and Shirley Chisolm. What enabled these women to ‘step out of context and into history,’ as a Los Angeles Times reporter wrote of Smith, to ‘shake it up, make it change,’ as Chisolm aimed to do? Fitzpatrick’s compelling portraits supply not just the how and when, but also the why, teaching valuable lessons that everyone who cares about American Presidential politics will be grateful to learn." —Megan Marshall, Pulitzer Prize–winning author of Margaret Fuller: A New American Life
Walking from the Harvard Square T station: 2 minutes
As you exit the station, reverse your direction and walk east along Mass. Ave. in front of the Cambridge Savings Bank. Cross Dunster St. and proceed along Mass. Ave for three more blocks. You will pass Au Bon Pain, JP Licks, and TD Bank. Harvard Book Store is located at the corner of Mass. Ave. and Plympton St.
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Mass Humanities: http://masshumanities.org/
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