Ellen Fitzpatrick

The Highest Glass Ceiling

Women's Quest for the American Presidency

Harvard University Press 2016

New Books in American StudiesNew Books in BiographyNew Books in Gender StudiesNew Books in HistoryNew Books in Peoples & PlacesNew Books in PoliticsNew Books in Politics & SocietyNew Books Network September 2, 2016 Lilian Barger

Ellen Fitzpatrick is professor of history at the University of New Hampshire. Her book The Highest Glass Ceiling: Women’s Quest for the American Presidency...

Ellen Fitzpatrick is professor of history at the University of New Hampshire. Her book The Highest Glass Ceiling: Women’s Quest for the American Presidency (Harvard University Press, 2016) provides the story of three women, out of over two hundred women, who pursued the presidency. In the nineteenth century, when women were denied the vote, the self-made Victoria Woodhull, a political and religious outsider, ran on a platform of change and reform. In the 1940s, the pragmatic Republican Margaret Chase Smith entered politics as the result of the “widow’s mandate.” She stayed in Congress for over two decades and ran for president in 1964. The Democrat Shirley Chisholm took on the double jeopardy of running as the first black woman to seek the presidency in 1972. Her grassroots base included black community activists and feminists. All three women faced structural obstacles rather than lack of grit. Hillary Clinton’s presidential run in 2008 would again challenge the American resistance to breaking the highest glass ceiling and demonstrated how much and how little the prospects for a woman president had changed.


Lilian Calles Barger, www.lilianbarger.com, is a cultural, intellectual and gender historian. Her current book project is entitled The World Come of Age: Religion, Intellectuals and the Challenge of Human Liberation.

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