Concentrating on the efforts of such nineteenth century women's rights advocates as Susan B. Anthony and Elizabeth Cady Stanton, communication researchers have largely overlooked the contributions made to the cause by Ann Eliza Young. The nineteenth wife of Mormon leader Brigham Young, Ann Eliza Young left her husband and took to the speaker's platform in an effort to expose the Mormon practice of polygamy. Under contract to James Redpath's Lyceum Bureau, Mrs. Young traveled the United States speaking about her personal experiences in a polygamous society and about the practice itself. In 1875, she spoke to the United States Congress, and her speech is generally credited with bringing about the passage of the Poland Bill, which was designed to reorganize the judicial system in Utah and thus make it possible to bring polygamists to trial for the first time. The reasons for Mrs. Young's success as a speaker are many, including the unique nature of her subject matter, her striking personal appearance, her dynamic sincerity when speaking, her confidence, and her clear voice and appealing platform decorum. It was psychologically, however, that she had the greatest impact on her audiences. For she epitomized the down trodden, helpless woman, a victim of slavery who dared to break free and do battle against seemingly insurmountable odds. Ann Eliza Young was truly a champion of women's rights--one deserving of more notice. (FL)
Paper presented at the Annual Meeting of the Western Speech Communication Association (Albuquerque, NM, February 19-22, 1983).