Mathilde Franziska Giesler Anneke

Photo—State Historical Society of Wisconsin Photo—State Historical Society of Wisconsin

On this date in 1817, Mathilde Franziska Giesler Anneke was born in Westphalia. The first of 12 children, Mathilde was raised a devout Catholic. After she fought to annul an early, unhappy marriage, Mathilde married Prussian artillery officer Fritz Anneke in 1847. When he was imprisoned, she published a censored revolutionary journal and became a radical freethinker, meeting Karl Marx and Michael Bakunin. The couple fled after the failed German revolutions of 1848 and 1849, settling briefly in Milwaukee, where Mathilde launched a radical German-language freethinker's journal dedicated to women's emancipation. She continued publishing from New Jersey. Eventually she returned to Milwaukee, where she protested alcohol, clericalism and nativism, also co-founding a Wisconsin suffrage group in 1869 and a highly-regarded German-language girls school. D.1884.

"Reason, which we recognize as our highest and only law-giver, commands us to be free."

—-Mathilde Franziska Giesler Anneke, speech at 1869 national Equal Rights Association in New York (History of Woman Suffrage III: 393-394)

Compiled by Annie Laurie Gaylor; Photo by State Historical Society of Wisconsin

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