Isabella Beecher Hooker (1822-1907)

ISABELLA BEECHER HOOKER

Isabella Beecher Hooker, woman’s rights advocate and suffragist, is best known for her suffrage work in Connecticut and New England. Introduced to suffrage by Caroline Severance, Hooker helped found the New England Woman Suffrage Association and formed the Connecticut Woman Suffrage Association, serving as president from 1869 to 1905. She joined the National Woman Suffrage Association, spoke at their conventions, and lobbied and testified before Congress.

One of 13 children of the famous Beecher family, her brother was celebrated preacher Henry Ward Beecher, and Catharine Beecher and Harriet Beecher Stowe were half sisters. She married John Hooker, a lawyer who later drafted the Connecticut married women’s property law. Her conversion to suffrage began with meeting Caroline Severance who introduced her to suffrage leaders. She befriended the notorious Victoria Woodhull, staunchly defending her even when Woodhull accused her brother, Rev. Beecher, of a scandalous sexual affair. Isabella believed her brother was guilty (he was!) and she was ostracized by family and friends. Her husband supported her work, and their friends held a grand celebration of the Hookers’ 50th wedding anniversary. Isabella died at 85 having devoted her life to woman’s rights.

 

Works Cited:

  • Reprinted from NWHM Cyber Exhibit "Rights for Women"
    Author Kristina Gupta
  • PHOTO: Isabella Beecher Hooker, Library of Congress Prints and Photographs Division (LC-USZ62-102765)