First published in Hobo Pancakes Humor Journal
Little has been written about one of the country’s first feminist financial leaders, Elizabeth Nancy Morgan (1818-1901).
From her groundbreaking article The Gentle Woman’s Guide to Appreciating Your Husband’s Generosity to her long career as financial editor of Ladies Home Companion magazine, Morgan stands as one of the titans of the early feministmovement.
Born Elizabeth Van Buren, Morgan did not begin life as an advocate for strength in femininity. At age 16, upon hearing that patriot Betsy Ross had died, Morgan was quoted as calling Ross a flag-stitching rag hag and is credited for spreading a short-lived rumor that, while repairing soldiers uniforms during the American Revolution, Betsy Ross often requested soldiers await their stitching unclothed. Morgan later laughed off the incident as a youthful indiscretion inspired by Ross three marriages and whore-like behavior.
At the age of 17, after being asked in ladies stitching circle how she planned to secure her future, Elizabeth replied Marry well. Misheard as stating Marry Will, the stitching club girls believed Elizabeth intended to marry Will Thorton, the poor, but wildly handsome son of her father’s stable man. The entirely impractical, but romantic idea of marrying for looks instead of money enchanted Elizabeth’s peers, and she soon found herself revered for her revolutionary ideas on female financial independence.