Pioneer Women: Laura de Force Gordon

butterflyPennsylvania born Laura de Force was 17 when her brother’s death in 1855 brought profound, and lasting, changes to her life view. Laura adopted Spiritualism, the comforting faith her grief-stricken mother turned to, a faith that not only promoted contact with the departed but espoused equality between genders.  Educated in Erie County schools, and already proficient in oral and written communication skills, Laura was soon traveling the Northeast as a sought-after Spiritualist speaker.  She married Dr. Charles H. Gordon in 1862, eventually moving with him to Lodi, California, where her career as a Spiritualist intersected with the revitalized Suffrage Movement. In February, 1868, she gave an important address in San Francisco to rally others to the cause of women’s equality. The first woman to run a daily newspaper (the Stockton Daily Leader, in 1874), Mrs. Gordon was also instrumental in the passage of the “Women’s Lawyers Bill,” enabling women to practice any profession in California. Laura became so proficient in the law that she was admitted to the California Bar in 1879, and opened her own law office in San Francisco the next year. She maintained her law practice for some 20 years, earning widespread respect, while continuing to be an active, inspirational suffragette. Her last years were spent on her farm in Lodi, where she died in 1907. March is National Women’s History Month.

 

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