BALTIMORE, Sept. 28, 2018 /PRNewswire/ -- In a political season of stunning surprises by Socialist candidates, a newly published biography is drawing attention to a largely forgotten Socialist politician and reformer of the 20th century – Elisabeth Gilman, the second daughter of founding Johns Hopkins University president Daniel Coit Gilman.
Born to privilege, "Miss Lizzie" became first a convert to the Social Gospel movement, then to outright Socialism, attending international party congresses and running repeatedly for public office. Although she was never elected to the posts she sought, including governor, US senator, mayor, and sheriff, she repeatedly captured the nomination of the Socialist Party.
In his new book, Elisabeth Gilman: Crusader for Justice, retired Johns Hopkins vice president Ross Jones restores to life a character who was continually fascinating to Baltimoreans from World War I until her death in 1950.
After spending years of research in the archives at Johns Hopkins and in the Library of Congress, Jones concludes that Gilman fully deserves recognition as "a pioneer—a woman who made significant contributions to her city, state, and nation in her efforts to promote social justice and public welfare during the first half of the twentieth century."
Elisabeth's father, Daniel Coit Gilman, was one of the leading figures in the history of American higher education, serving first as a professor at Yale and then as president of the University of California, before being named the first president of Johns Hopkins beginning in 1876.
Born in 1867, Elisabeth came of age in high society. She and her family escaped from Baltimore summers in Northeast Harbor, Maine, and spent languorous stretches of time on tours of Europe, the Middle East, and North Africa. Privately educated by tutors, she eventually earned a bachelor's degree at Johns Hopkins. But unlike many who shared Elisabeth's elevated station, she was possessed of a restless and critical spirit.
As a strong devotee of the Social Gospel, she campaigned on behalf of the poor, African- Americans, women, and laborers exposed to harsh conditions for little pay (such as coal miners).
After her father's death, Elisabeth joined the Socialist Party and was nominated repeatedly as a candidate for high office. At the same time, she founded an important public venue for debate and discussion in Baltimore, known as the Open Forum, which attracted liberal, nationally known celebrities and politicians to its stage, sparking conversations that likely would not have occurred otherwise.
Never married, Elisabeth fell under the spell of a charismatic, progressive Episcopal priest named Mercer Green Johnston, and followed him and his wife to Paris during World War I, where she helped to support homesick American doughboys under the aegis of the YMCA. She and Mercer had a complex, intense relationship which is difficult to unravel at the distance of many decades; but their interactions became a constant thread in Elisabeth's correspondence and philanthropy.
Jones' biography has been hailed by Library Bookwatch as "a welcome addition to public and college library American Biography collections, highly recommended." Johns Hopkins professor emeritus Matthew A. Crenson, author of Baltimore: A Political History, says the new book is "grounded in meticulous primary research."
Elisabeth Gilman: Crusader for Justice is being published October 1 by Secant Publishing of Salisbury, Maryland. It will be available in hardcover ($24.95), paperback ($17.95), and e-book ($9.99) formats from all major retailers, or directly from the publisher at www.secantpublishing.com/.
Jones is scheduled to sign books at the Baltimore Book Festival on Sunday, September 30; Greetings & Readings in Hunt Valley on Saturday, October 13; and the Johns Hopkins University Barnes & Noble bookstore on Sunday, December 2. He will also give a talk and sign books at the Evergreen Museum & Library in Baltimore on October 30 at 6:30 pm. The event is free to Evergreen Society members and $8 for the general public.
SOURCE Secant Publishing