Thursday, June 8, 2017

Studying 1888 Politics

Edith Maxwell here. Now that Called to Justice is launched to rave reviews ("A grand slam!" "A riveting historical mystery," "A mystery that surprises," and "A real page turner," I'm starting to write the fourth book in the Quaker Midwife Mysteries series. Wait, you say. What about Book Three?

Turning the Tide is already in production, and you can pre-order it (please do!) but the cover isn't up yet.

I loved writing this book. The story takes place during presidential election week of 1888. Here's the cover blurb:

Excitement runs high during Presidential election week in 1888. The Woman Suffrage Association plans a demonstration and movement leader Elizabeth Cady Stanton comes to town to rally the troops. When Quaker midwife Rose Carroll finds the body of the group's local organizer the next morning, she can't help but wonder who could have committed the murder.
Rose quickly discovers several people who have motives. The victim had planned to leave her controlling husband, and a recent promotion had cost a male colleague his job. She had also recently spurned a fellow suffragist's affections. After Rose's own life is threatened, identifying the killer takes on a personal sense of urgency.
What do you think? Sound like a fun read? The research was even more fun. I learned about election cakes. Women used to make these huge fruitcakes and the political party would give out pieces to men entering the polling place in an attempt to woo their vote.
I learned that the parties had different color ballots, and that the party regulars wore different color top hats while campaigning.
 I also studied up on women's suffrage. At the time they wore sunflower yellow sashes to protests and carried placards with slogans like, “Women Bring All Voters Into The World. Let Women Vote,” “Ballots for Both,” “Equal Suffrage,” and “Votes for Women.” Many of the suffrage leaders were Quakers like my midwife, so it wasn't a stretch to make Rose's mother an activist, too. John Greenleaf Whittier goes into vote in the election morning scene, and then comes to stand in solidarity with the women across the street from the polling place.
It was great fun studying Elizabeth Cady Stanton and bringing her  to Amesbury to support the women. She appears in several scenes in the book, even though I don't know if she actually ever visited my town where the series takes place. She was moving on to essays on personal responsibility, and I extracted bits of one for a talk she gave to a women's salon I portray in the book. 
Incumbent Grover Cleveland didn't win the election, as it turns out, even though Rose was on his side. And her investigation of the activist's murder turns dangerous, too. You'll have to read the book to find out if Rose is defeated or not.
What's your favorite election story, or factoid about either elections or women's suffrage in the past? 


Signe said...

This kind of research is part of what makes this series compelling and fun to read

Edith Maxwell said...

Thanks, Signe!