FROM PRAIRIE TO PRISON by Sally M. Miller

FROM PRAIRIE TO PRISON

The Life of Social Activist Kate Richards O'Hare
Age Range: 1876 - 1948
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KIRKUS REVIEW

 A workmanlike biography from Miller (History/University of the Pacific) of leading socialist and antiwar activist Kate Richards O'Hare (1876-1948), who was imprisoned for her opposition to WW I. Shaped by her childhood in rural Kansas, O'Hare went on to become one of the leaders of America's Socialist Party. After graduating high school, she taught school and was active in the temperance and other service movements until an encounter with one of ``the legendary labor orators'' of the day, Mary Harris ``Mother'' Jones, gave a new direction to her activism. O'Hare enrolled in the first class of the International School of Socialist Economy--a school for socialist organizers founded by the influential journalist Julius Wayland. There, she not only studied parliamentary procedures and forensics but met her future husband, Frank O'Hare. The couple married and spent their honeymoon ``touring the region as agitators and organizers''--a mix of travel, speaking, and organizing that became a way of life for O'Hare. ``Billed as not only the foremost woman orator but also the busiest woman in America,'' she also wrote regular columns for socialist journals, gave birth to four children, and, in 1913, traveled to Europe as a Socialist Party representative. Deeply affected by the plight of farmers as well as of women and child laborers, her ``fundamental commitment was to the working masses''- -a commitment appreciated more by the Socialist Party's rank and file than by its male leadership, who denigrated her oratory and organizing skills. When she spoke out against WW I, which she viewed as engineered by ``war profiteers,'' O'Hare was sentenced to five years in prison--an experience that led her to spend the rest of her life working for penal reform. Another forgotten woman deservedly brought to our attention- -but in a work that's more a catalogue of her considerable accomplishments than a full portrait.

Pub Date: July 30th, 1993
ISBN: 0-8262-0898-3
Page count: 270pp
Publisher: Univ. of Missouri
Review Posted Online:
Kirkus Reviews Issue: May 15th, 1993