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Poor Jane's Almanac

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kentuck Donating Member (1000+ posts) Send PM | Profile | Ignore Sun Apr-24-11 10:26 AM
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Poor Jane's Almanac

Franklin, whos on the $100 bill, was the youngest of 10 sons. Nowhere on any legal tender is his sister Jane, the youngest of seven daughters; she never traveled the way to wealth. He was born in 1706, she in 1712. Their father was a Boston candle-maker, scraping by. Massachusetts Poor Law required teaching boys to write; the mandate for girls ended at reading. Benny went to school for just two years; Jenny never went at all.

At 17, he ran away from home. At 15, she married: she was probably pregnant, as were, at the time, a third of all brides. She and her brother wrote to each other all their lives: they were each others dearest friends. (He wrote more letters to her than to anyone.) His letters are learned, warm, funny, delightful; hers are misspelled, fretful and full of sorrow. Nothing but troble can you her from me, she warned. Its extraordinary that she could write at all.

Benjamin Franklin died in Philadelphia in 1790, at the age of 84. In his will, he left Jane the house in which she lived. And then he made another bequest, more lasting: he gave one hundred pounds to the public schools of Boston.

Jane Mecom died in that house in 1794. Later, during a political moment much like this one, when American politics was animated by self-serving invocations of the founders, her house was demolished to make room for a memorial to Paul Revere.

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Scuba Donating Member (1000+ posts) Send PM | Profile | Ignore Sun Apr-24-11 10:42 AM
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1. Maybe we should teach this in our Public schools instead of ....
...that mularky about the "Moral Majority" being a major force in American politics like the Texas School Board wants.
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ljm2002 Donating Member (1000+ posts) Send PM | Profile | Ignore Sun Apr-24-11 01:06 PM
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2. Thanks for sharing Jane's story... is so important for people to realize the importance of women's struggles, then and now.

It reminds me of Freud's famous question: "What do women want?" -- because when he was a young man, his sister was required to quit her piano lessons in order not to disturb her brother's fervent studies.

So my answer to Freud would have been, "They want to be allowed to continue their own studies -- to continue their piano lessons -- not to have to sacrifice their own ambitions on the altar of yours." In other words, women do not have what Freud termed "penis envy". Nope. Historically, what they have is more properly called "privilege envy".

Sorry for the digression, I couldn't help but comment. Of course Jane's travails were more pronounced by far than those of Freud's little sister. Still, both are illustrative of the differences in how the sexes have been treated throughout history, with only recently a nod towards equality, and the rabid right is trying their best to roll it back.
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