Ernestine L Rose

Lived:January 13, 1810—August 4, 1892 (aged 82)
Career:Suffragist, women's rights activist, feminist, civil rights activist

Ernestine Louise Rose was born January 13, 1810, in Piotrkow, Poland. A rabbi's daughter, she received more education than was common for women at that time.

After her mother's death when Rose was 16, her father arranged a marriage without her consent. Rose refused the match and successfully sued to retained her inheritance from her mother. At 17, she left home for Berlin, where she supported herself by tutoring and marketing perfumed papers of her own invention. She studied the texts of the great religions and concluded that all were irrational and oppressive to women. While disavowing Judaism as irrational, Rose refused to convert to Christianity.

The following year, Rose traveled Europe. When she arrived in England in 1830, she became a follower of Robert Owen, a social reformer who preached a form of community-based socialism. Active in the feminist wing of the Owenite movement, Rose honed her public speaking skills and greatly improved her English. She also married Englishman and fellow Owenite William Ella Rose in a civil ceremony.

The Roses moved to New York in 1836. Rose was one of the first to speak publicly in America on women's rights and the first to petition for women's rights. For the next 30 years, she was an active campaigner on the lecture circuit, attending every National Women's Rights Convention between 1850 and 1869, and many state and local conventions. She was hailed as "The Queen of the Platform" for being the best female orator of mid-19th century America. She traveled to more than 23 states, speaking in churches, barns and state legislatures.

Rose and her husband left America in 1869 for retirement in England, where they continued their commitment to the women's movement and freethinker movement on a less active scale. Rose died in Brighton, England, on August 4, 1892.