Isabella Hooker (Beecher) (1822 - 1907) MP

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Birthdate:
Birthplace: Litchfield, Litchfield, Connecticut, United States
Death: Died in Hartford, Hartford, Connecticut, United States
Occupation: Author, leader of suffrage movement
Managed by: Ivy Jo Smith
Last Updated:

About Isabella Hooker (Beecher)

Author, leader of suffrage movement, member of Connecticut Women's Hall of Fame

Isabella Beecher Hooker was born on February 22, 1822 in Litchfield, Connecticut to the abolitionist Rev. Lyman Beecher and Harriet Porter Beecher.

Family Life

In 1841, she married John Hooker, a young law student whom she met at her sister Catharine's Hartford Female Seminary, and whose family had founded Hartford. The newlyweds lived in Farmington, Connecticut, for about ten years, then moved back to Hartford and bought a large sum of land. They built houses for themselves and sold lots to prominent figures of their time, including Harriet Beecher Stowe and Mark Twain. They had four children:

  • Thomas Beecher Hooker born & died 1842
  • Mary Beecher Hooker (15 August 1845 – 20 January 1886) married Eugene Burton
  • Alice Beecher Hooker (26 August – 21 April 1928) married John Calvin Day
  • Edward Beecher Hooker (26 February 1855 – 23 June 1927), married Martha Kilbourne 18 September 1879

Professional Life

Isabella was educated at several different schools in Hartford, Connecticut, and Cincinnati, Ohio founded by her sister Catharine.

In 1868, Isabella helped organize the New England Women's Suffrage Association, and her "Mother's Letters to a Daughter on Woman's Suffrage" was published in Putnam’s Magazine. She furthered her involvement with the suffrage movement by organizing the Connecticut Women's Suffrage Association, lobbying the Connecticut legislature for seven years in favor of a married women's property bill drafted by her husband.

In 1871, Isabella organized a convention in Washington, D.C., to present a constitutional amendment for suffrage before Congress. In 1874, she published "Womanhood: Its Sanctities and Fidelities."

Her work in later life developed into a series of “conversations,” which were originally confined to Hartford, but later extended to New York City, Boston, and elsewhere. Isabella's method consisted of the reading of a short essay, after which she illustrated the subject by familiar conversation. She was well-known at women's clubs throughout the Northeast.

Family Controversy

During her time in Washington, Isabella became involved with free-love advocate Victoria Woodhull, who would take her to spiritual gatherings where Isabella became convinced she would "lead a matriarchal government of the world."

She even took the side of Woodhull against her own family. Woodhull posted accusations towards Hooker’s half-brother, the Rev. Henry Ward Beecher, accusing him of committing adultery with a woman named Elizabeth Tilton, the wife of Theodore Tilton. Isabella was shunned for the rest of her life by much of her family for her actions. She was unwelcome to attend his funeral sixteen years after the publication of the accusations.

Legacy

Isabella is a member of the Connecticut Women's Hall of Fame, having been inducted in the inaugural class in 1994. Her memoirs are available to read on-line courtesy of a Connecticut Humanities Council-funded state history project.

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Isabella Beecher Hooker's Timeline

1822
February 22, 1822
Litchfield, Litchfield, Connecticut, United States
1841
1841
Age 18
1842
1842
Age 19
1845
August 15, 1845
Age 23
1847
August 26, 1847
Age 25
Farmington, CT, USA
1907
January 25, 1907
Age 84
Hartford, Hartford, Connecticut, United States
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Hartford, Hartford, Connecticut, USA