Just in time for Father’s Day, Smithsonian Affiliations, in collaboration with Smithsonian’s National Museum of American History, presents What America’s Greatest Father-Daughter Political Dynasty Teaches Us About Fixing Democracy, a Virtual Scholar Talk exploring congressman William “Pig Iron” Kelley and labor activist Florence Kelley. Join National Museum of American History curator John Grinspan as he uses this father-daughter duo—their feuds, campaigns, and crusades—to show our divisive political system’s enduring capacity to reinvent itself. During the talk, Grinspan will share stories from his latest book, The Age of Acrimony: How Americans Fought to Fix Their Democracy, 1865-1915.
This talk explores America’s greatest father-daughter political dynasty, congressman William “Pig Iron” Kelley and his daughter, labor activist Florence Kelley. Will Kelley campaigned for abolition, women’s suffrage, workers’ rights, voting rights, and many more causes in the 19th century, and raised his daughter to carry on his legacy, even though she could not vote or hold office. Florence Kelley emerged as a combative force in her own right, fighting child labor, helping to found the NAACP and start Social Security. Over two colorful lives – packed with campaigns and crusades, friendships and feuds, assassination attempts and divorces – father and daughter educated (and exasperated) each other, forming a rocky but crucial bond that shaped American public life for over a century, and providing an inspiring model for father-daughter relationships.
This Virtual Scholar Talk will be recorded. Closed Captioning will also be provided.
Photo: Florence Kelley, 1879, in Dorothy Rose, Florence Kelley: The Making of a Social Pioneer, (Privately Published, Augustus Kelley, 1966), 23.