In the Shadow of a Man

From Chapter One of Individualist Feminism of the Nineteenth Century: Collected Writings and Biographical Profiles, by Wendy McElroy (McFarland, 2001).

Like many women married to prominent men, Angela T. Heywood was an equal partner in life and love with her husband Ezra H. Heywood. Nevertheless, she has been virtually ignored even while her husband's profile in America's radical history has become more prominent through recent research. Yet, in her day, Angela was the subject of much attention and speculation. Many of those associated with the Heywoods' labor reform and free love periodical The Word (1872 - 1892) considered Angela to be far more radical than Ezra.

Ezra Heywood became notorious because he refused to accept the restrictions that the Comstock law imposed on the circulation of sexual information, especially birth control information. His rebellion against censorship led to years of legal persecution and imprisonment, much of which sprang from the distribution of his pamphlet Cupid's Yokes through which he advocated placing sexual urges under the control of reason rather than 'animalism'. Perhaps no other work was as influential as Cupid's Yokes in opening 19th century America to a discussion of free love and birth control.

When Angela Heywood married Ezra in 1865, she became an equal partner in his work but her contributions rarely received equal credit. For example one of Ezra's best known works, Uncivil Liberty, was acknowledged to have been written with her 'aid.' The extent of the aid rendered by Angela was never delineated or properly credited. She did seem to receive a full measure of blame, however, for the problems that beset The Word. For example, Angela was regularly blamed for the periodical's 'plain speech policy' by which sexual issues were bluntly discussed, e.g. the sexual organs were correctly identified without euphemism. The September 1892 issue of The Word reprinted a letter to Angela from reader Laura C. Eldridge who expressed a common sentiment:

"...You foul mouthed, disgusting thing! You ought to be tied to a whipping post until you promised to use decent language. Your demented old idiot of a husband isn't half-so much to blame as you are; I think he would be half decent if it wasn't for you... Of course Heywood will go to prison where he ought to go, only you ought to be there too -- and put in close confinement -- where you couldn't contaminate the rest of the felons with your dirty tongue. You nasty brute! You vilest thing in the country!...Your children ought to be taken away from you and very likely will be...."(p.2)
Others deeply admired the 'plain speech policy' for which Angela seemed responsible. Yet the policy made Angela the subject of much speculation. What other radical woman of the day insisted on publicly pronouncing words such as 'penis' from the podium, while privately maintaining a personal life that was beyond reproach? She was a devoted mother who advocated abstinence as a form of birth control. She was a legally married woman who decried the intervention of clergy or magistrates into sexual relations and called marriage "the auction-block of primitive sale and slavery of woman to man..." What other birth control advocate lamented the fact that someone else (Ezra) was arrested by Anthony Comstock when she so clearly deserved the honor more?

In pursuit of the paradox that was Angela, a contributor to the popular radical newspaper Boston Investigator did some journalistic investigation. Under the pen name 'Tourist', he questioned the Heywood's neighbors in Princeton, Massachusetts and reported back the words of one of them:

"'I don't know what to think of them,' said an old Farmer, 'they find fault with everything; all society, law, government, and religion, are, in their estimation, out of joint and in disorder.' 'Well, aside from their theories, what do you think of their character as shown by their conduct? Do they do wrong?' I asked. 'No,' said he, 'so far as behavior goes they are jest as good as anybody. Nobody round here ain't more obliging then they be. They're no more free-lovers in their conduct than I am. I believe they are as true to each other as any married couple in the world ever was.'"
Not knowing what to think of Angela's policy of "unrestrained reference to sexual distinctions" -- a policy of which he clearly disapproved -- the nosy journalist finally contented himself with denouncing her for not accepting the expediency of respecting society's prudishness.

Angela bewildered even those who were familiar with the radical politics and attitudes expressed by The Word. L.V.P. -- probably Lucien V. Pinney, editor of the Winsted Press -- speculated at length about the ostensibly contradictory spirit of Angela:

"Mrs. Heywood, the Woman of Princeton, is a mystery beyond my depth -- but I claim no profound depth in the study of woman. I feel that a totally wrong idea of her prevails among those who have not the pleasure of her acquaintance. If anybody supposes that she is coarse or masculine he is mistaken. If anybody says that she is lewd or lascivious he lies. She is a power acknowledged here and consulted on all occasions, and the commotion of thought raised by The Word is as much due to her as to anybody. To leave her out of an account in this Princeton drama would be like leaving Joan of Arc out of the history of France, yet I can hope to do her only fragmentary justice in this brief space. She is light in complexion, fine in texture, joyous in disposition, 50 years old, and mother of four children, all living. While Mr. Heywood is methodical and moderate in his thought, arriving at his conclusions by the toil of intellect, she is quick and impulsive, arriving at her conclusions by the flash of intuition. She has vision, hears voices, and dreams, and she is at times a whirl wind of words, delivered with startling effect. She is naturally musical and instinctively dramatic, loves the lights, colors and rhythmic sounds of the theatre, loves Art in action hanging draperies over stark Utility, but she is in nothing frivolous, and she dwells with rare fortitude in the 'cellar basement' of experience --a hard working housewife, doing as an artist the work of a 'scrub.' She is volatile in expression and frets under the inexorable and necessary editorial condensation of Mr. Heywood which she rightly feels is fatal to flexible and melodious expression. He is the sententious writer of resolutions butchering her beautifies of song to expose the bare bones of an idea. She is a fine colloquist, a quick-witted and appreciative listener, brim full of good humor, a woman of tact and nice discrimination, and with strong moral self-reliance and courage combines tender solicitude for the wronged and oppressed. She has the same infatuation for the human race that leads her husband through the fires of persecution to ideal Liberty, but she has a more attractive and vivacious way of expression, and is as sunny and winsome in her various notions as he is solid and sedate. If anything is to be known of a woman by appearances she is the most loyal of wives and loving of mothers. Mr. Heywood's confidence in her is implicit, and the trustful reliance by which she holds her children to herself in close companionship (I speak of little Psyche and Angelo of whom I see most, Vesta and Hermes being at school in Providence) is evidence of her mother love. She takes good care of her very large house and sometimes very large family (guests) and like many a labor reformer believes in eight hours and works sixteen.
"'The situation' without Mrs. Heywood would be no situation at all or worse. She is the light, the life, and I am tempted to say the motive power of the establishment. She believes that Mr. Heywood is right, that with him she has a serious life work to perform and that she should do her full share of the labor cheerfully, suffering any sort of deprivation necessary to help him develop new ideals. Her intelligence, breadth and clearness of vision are shown in her leaflet literature, where on the difficult and intricate subject of sex she has said some of the best things that have yet appeared in print, without saying any of the worst. She is voluble but it is a volubility weighted with good thoughts on every subject. About her house with her children she is a laughing joyous girl; she is also a tender, sympathetic and compassionate woman; she delves in the earth with her hands and touches the skies with her thought; in impromptu expression she is amazing, in all things she is feminine, and the courage and fortitude she displays under the trying conditions of her life must win admiration from all who are acquainted with the facts...."
Let us ask the same question that occupied the attention of 19th century radicals: Who is Angela?

Angela Fiducia Tilton Heywood was born in Deerfield, New Hampshire to Daniel and Lucy Tilton. The farm-couple appropriately named their daughter Angela Fiducia -- the 'angel of fidelity'. On her maternal side, she was descended from the bloodline of the English philosopher John Locke. On her paternal side, she traced her roots to the Scotch Thomsons, Shaws & Crosses. At ten years of age, Angela was forced to leave home to earn a living by taking care of children and doing housework as a domestic. Eventually, she passed in and out of a variety of factory and sweat shop jobs. The jobs she later listed as part of her life experience included dressmaker, barn-cleaner, writer, cook, tending a public library, milking cows, organizing conventions, and lecturing. Even while she was occupied by jobs that involved little manual labor, e.g. lecturing, Angela worked tirelessly at running the boarding houses that provided an income for her family. Without question, a lifetime of hard physical labor at low paying employment led Angela to become an ardent advocate of labor reform for working girls.

She also became an early voice calling for women to be compensated for performing housework. A report of the New England Labor Reform League (NELRL) Convention held on May 25 and 26, 1873 stated, "Mrs. A.T. Heywood presented this: Resolved, That the labor of girls in housework is better performed than present compensation deserves it should be; if it is uneducated and unreliable, it is because it is underpaid and regarded as disreputable; when bread making and house cleaning are justly rewarded and honored as all true labor should be, and the idleness of so- called ladies is alone deemed vulgar, the vexed question of 'our help' will virtually be settled."

Although Angela became deeply critical of traditional religion, this stance evolved through experience as well. At the age of eighteen, she had a religious experience that led her to join the church, where she taught Sunday School. During this period, she also attended lectures by such radical thinkers as William Lloyd Garrison, Wendell Phillips, and Ralph Waldo Emerson. Such teachers led her to question the political and religious world about her, but Angela maintained that her most valuable life lessons came from her association with common people, especially from women. She declared, "[W]ashers, stitchers, cooks, farmers, ditchers, hodcarriers were my immediate teachers...I have been & am known & loved by many noble women, always counting two women among my intimate friends to one man knowing me."

Angela inherited the tendency to trust common sense and common people from her mother, who considered book-learning to be virtually a waste of time when compared with the richness of experience. As Angela explained, "Mother Tilton admonished us children & others she taught...never to defer to doctors, lawyers, clergymen but meet them simply as persons; never to bow lower or courtesy quicker to 'educated' than to unbookish people."

Accordingly Angela did not defer to her more prominent and better educated husband on radical matters. In the early years of The Word and of the several reform organizations that revolved around the periodical, Ezra certainly took the more visible role. For example, he often assumed leadership of the NELRL and was responsible for conducting meetings. This did not prevent Angela from standing up in the audience to call him publicly to task. For example, at one NELRL meeting in 1873, Ezra presented what he must have thought to be a safe resolution. "Resolved, That since the assumed right of men to govern wives, mothers and sisters without their consent is an odious relic of savage power, we favor the removal of the word 'male' from the voting lists and the immediate abolition of the financial and social subjection in which men now think it best to keep women."

One can only imagine Ezra's surprise when -- as the report of the meeting went on to state -- "Mrs Heywood objected to her husband's shameful resolution on the woman question, because in its opening it made no reference to women who have no male relatives. Such women are at the mercy of their employers, if the employers know their circumstances. Has my husband, said Mrs. Heywood, any more right to be a rascal towards a friendless girl than he would like the supreme rascal that can be found to be toward our daughter? If a new system of government is to be formed,'us girls' mustn't be left out."

Little wonder that Angela was among those who met on December 1873 to form an American Woman's Emancipation Society.

One of Angela's first contributions of material to The Word was a letter on prostitution in which she upbraided the free love advocate Moses Hull, "the Editor of Hull's Crucible of Jan. 15." Hull had expressed the sentiment: "It would be better for that woman [a married woman who could not bear her husband's touch] if her husband could be prevailed upon to go to a regular prostitute for gratification rather than to so frequently require of her what her soul and body loathe."

Again, Angela took extreme exception to a man's analysis of a woman's issue. She claimed that any woman who married a man whose touch she could not bear -- or who stayed married to him after physical loathing had developed -- had no business calling another woman a prostitute. Taking offense from Hull's remarks, Angela was not above making the attack on his position into a personal one. She asked, "Is Mr. Hull's sister, mother, wife, or daughter the regular prostitute to whom he refers, or is it some other less fortunate woman who he so coolly damns to the lecherous uses of his brother man?.... Prostitute! The word is man- coined and man-preserved to fit the victims of a man-ordained and man-upheld industrial servitude which Mr. Hull has yet found no place, in his 'Crucible' to condemn."

Angela was beginning to find her voice. Meanwhile, she continued in a role that was no less vital to the health and well-being of The Word. She was largely responsible for making the money upon which the family and the periodical depended. The Cambridge Press commented, "While in Princeton, the other day a large good-looking edifice was pointed out to us as a summer boarding house kept by Mr. E.H. Heywood, the somewhat famous labor reformer..." To his credit, Ezra corrected the newspaper, saying that the house was owned and run by Angela through which she earned "our board and clothes." [Emphasis added.]

Angela worked literally from dawn 'til dusk to provide an income for the family, and she remained the emotional mortar that held it together throughout Ezra's long imprisonments. But she also assumed a new and more intellectually active role. With Ezra, she formed the Co-operative Publishing Company in order to issue Ezra's pamphlets along with other radical tracts. In the innovative manner typical of Angela, the Co-operative Publishing Company sought to turn a profit through the use of Lady Agents. These were saleswomen who toured New England, the Midwest and as far north as Canada to visit factories or the other places where working people gathered. Once they had found their audience, the Lady Agents spoke on subjects such as labor reform and birth control, then offered their pamphlets for sale to the workingmen and women. Among the most prominent Lady Agents were Angela's sisters: J. Flora Tilton and Josephine Tilton.

Although many articles in The Word were published without identifying the author, Angela's hand was clearly the one behind a series of letters on "Book Canvassing." These letters offered practical advice to the young Lady Agents who, in their travels, would encounter a great many males with lascivious intentions. One letter stressed that the women should study the books they were attempting to sell as a means of protecting themselves against male advances. Angela explained, "A man likes to play 'hide and seek' with a girl's thought and easily becomes 'personally interested to know her more intimately;' but you are to call his idle curiosity and rising heats to order, fix his attention by the serious sincerity of your manner..." In other words, talk on an intellectual rather than a personal level.

In dealing with how the two sexes interacted, Angela's letters to Lady Agents hinted at the arena in which she would find her true voice: the advocacy of free love. In this arena, and especially with the inauguration of the New England Free Love League (NEFLL), Angela came to the forefront.

One attendee of a NEFLL meeting commented, "Our idea of order was better enforced by the well-chosen words and impressive appeals of Mrs. Angela T. Heywood, who is a coming teacher of wild boys and infuriated husbands in Free Love conventions." The Word also announced that Angela was now co-lecturing with Ezra in several venues throughout Massachusetts. The subject was "Love and Marriage. Subsequent reports made it clear that it was Angela, and not her husband, who most impressed the audiences. Her popularity might be partially ascribed to the novelty of a woman speaking out plainly about sexual issues. The novelty, or notoriety, might also explain some of the unruly mobs which greeted the lecturing couple.

At the same time, Angela began to receive more credit and attention for the material she contributed to The Word. The 'credit' was not always positive in nature. For example, when Benjamin Tucker announced his departure from his role as co-editor of The Word, he explicitly blamed his disillusionment upon the periodical's new stress on free love. The shift was largely due to Angela's influence -- a fact of which Tucker took explicit note.

Ezra felt impelled to defend his wife, "For this timely and beneficent issue [of The Word] the public is indebted, not to us, but to Angela T. Heywood. The part of her speech which raised a commotion in Boston last May was where she painted the processes by which, out of profits derived from the less-paid labor of women, a man acquires the money and the effrontery to offer five hundred dollars for the virginity of a girl. A.T.H.'s articles since printed in The Word...have the same purpose --the liberation of woman from the special financial thraldom in which she is now held by man, and by which, as compared with man's wages, she is defrauded of fifty per cent of her rightful earnings..."

Over and over again, Angela was elected as an officer of NEFLL, and her stance on woman's rights became increasingly more radical -- or, perhaps, they were merely more freely expressed than before. She wrote, "...women are not bound to obey existing laws, for they have no voice in making them; these laws are only the registered opinions of men." Meanwhile, Angela and Ezra began to hold classes in Socialism in Nassau Hall, Boston under the auspices of the NEFLL. In the wake of these classes, the Rev. Joseph Cook publicly described Angela as, "A brazen woman who stands up to call herself the wife of one man, and in leprous language with profanity before a mixed audience proclaims her perfect freedom to do as she pleases... They [Angela and Ezra] do not comprehend how the deeper heart of the community is against them..."

If the couple did not comprehend the extent of societal resistance to their ideas, enlightenment was soon in coming. On November 3, 1877, Ezra was arrested for sending Cupid's Yokes through the mail in violation of the Comstock law. The February 1878 issue of The Word described how, upon being sentenced, Ezra had sent for Angela and their children so that he could see them once more before being imprisoned under terms that included extremely limited visitation privileges.

In Ezra's absence, Angela continued to work on The Word and to serve as the acting manager of an upcoming NEFLL Convention. She herself did not escape harassment by the authorities, as was reported in The Word, "An officer of the law came in and forbid her taking fees at the door because she had not a license!...A.T.H. promptly refused to recognize the official terrorism as law, dismissed the convention and will assert the right of the people to assemble and her right to speak without a 'license' at an early day in Boston."

A series of protest meetings in support of the incarcerated editor were held in Boston. From prison, Ezra wrote a report that gave the flavor of one such meeting, the details of which were most probably related to him by Angela. He wrote,

"Benj. R. Tucker, A.E. Giles, Esq., and Rev. Jesse H. Johnes greatly served Truth and Liberty by their presence and attitude in Comstock's Boston meeting, May 28th. Alluding to us [Ezra and Angela] as 'a most infamous publisher who only awaits sentence,' adding of A.T.H. 'His wife is at the door with an insult on her lips and a curse for me as I entered,' (which latter is false since Mrs. H. only looked at and designated him to a friend) he referred to Mr. Tucker as one present 'who had followed him in many places and shown his scornful face as the cause had been argued' and pointed him out to excited Christians who shouted, 'Where is he?' 'Show him up;' whereupon Mr. Tucker rose, saying he 'was not afraid or ashamed to be seen' and declared Comstock 'a liar.'"
Meanwhile, the imprisoned editor wrote fondly to Angela, "From June 5th 1865 to June 25th, last, -- thirteen years and nineteen days, -- we had lived together doing our chosen work, and rejoicing in the pledges of love given us..."

Ezra may have been writing love letters to Angela from jail, but public opinion tended to be harsher in its attitude toward her. People blamed her -- and the plain speech policy she championed -- for her husband's imprisonment. In The Word, Ezra commented at length on the swelling backlash against his wife,

"Mr. Waite elsewhere gives one main 'reason why' we got two years in Dedham Jail, viz: because 'the woman in the case' [Angela] spoke plainly, in Boston, Worcester and elsewhere, on 'the bodily relations of the sexes even in a state of nudity;' A.T.H. was fiercely assailed by court officers, religio-political magnates--and 'cultured' exponents of propriety; quoted by Comstock before Congressional Committees, and in an affidavit letter to President Hayes,--all to show first that we must be imprisoned and afterwards that we MUST NOT be released, lest we might again hold Free Love Conventions in which 'Mrs. Heywood' was the 'provoking' but always popularly interesting and instructive speaker. She 'still lives' and 'The Classes in Socialism,' which her telling addresses did much to make effective, self-supporting and honorably famous, have a future as well as a past..."
Criticism of her plain speech policy seemed only to spur Angela onto more flowery and explicit language in her demand for woman's autonomy and for men's respect. Readers of The Word soon divided into two camps: those who praised Angela's graphic style and bravery; and, those who decried her frankness as a foolishness that jeopardized the cause of sexual freedom, as well as other important related issues such as labor reform. Since the debate was aired in a forum controlled by and sympathetic to the Heywoods -- namely, The Word -- the defenders of Angela were the loudest and most eloquent voices. One of them was J.H. Swain who believed that society's prudishness was a veil drawn across the sexual abuse of working girls at the hands of 'respectable' men. He wrote:
"Mrs. Heywood...has had an experience that probably not one of her critics know aught of. How the working girl is defrauded; how her honor is assailed; how she is tempted, and if she yields how her virtue is bought with that which is her rightful due, product of her toil.... Of the gentle men and women upstairs that her class served, some were ignorant, others indifferent,-- to all it was distasteful, shocking to even think about such a subject....The working girl already overworked could do not more; she [Angela] must at least save them and the innocent children.... She would begin by stating the case: even this was no easy task."
Another admirer, the anarchist Dyer D. Lum, was inspired to write a poem to immortalize the term that Angela used when she referred to marriage -- that is, 'The Penis Trust.' To Angela President of the Penis Trust

Of all the Trusts that men have framed
From yellow gold
To charld dust
Within the fold
Of legal 'must,'
There is no older can be named
Than licensed Love--the Penis Trust.

The rampant bull, salacious goat,
And rooting boar,
In passion's gust
Like many more,
Get rid of rust
Without a Comstock taking note
To curb their freedom in a Trust!

They, like the farmer moving West
Their flagstaff raise:
'Pike's Peak or Bust!'
Then once more graze
Though Nancies cussed
That they should think their own way best
Than joining in a Diddling Trust!

Though Comstock rave and Nancies wail
In legal lore
Is it more just
Behind the door
Than open lust?
Tho' you thereby escape the jail,
E'en if you're in a Penis Trust!

Whate'eve Miss Nancy morals doubt,
'Tis Nature's freak,
And there's no 'must'
To hide and seek,
Nor term it lust,
Because some priest with shirt without
Has failed to bless your Penis Trust!

Yet, as bluntly and persistently as Angela spoke out, it was Ezra who continued to bear the brunt of legal persecution. In October 1882, he was again arrested on obscenity charges and taken to Boston where he was detained briefly. Then, he was released to await trial. Ezra persistently defended his wife whom he declared to be a victim of the Comstock law even though she was spared arrest. He wrote,
"...since she, from platform & in print, has proclaimed Woman's Natural Right, in all respects to be mistress of her own person, three men -- Anthony Comstock, Samuel R. Heywood & Joseph Cook have virulently assailed A.T.H.... In singling her out for assault persecution is logical; for INSURGENT WOMAN is the rising power destined to put down sex-knowledge monopolists, male supremacy, imprudent obscenists. The trial to come one, after March 20th, brings Woman to the front; whatever is its result, I herald revolt against further effort to manipulate, legislate, church or court maul women into male subjection; citizens, people, persons, equals, -- women...."
Others agreed: Angela was as much a target of the law as Ezra through whom Comstock sought to punish her. Regarding a subsequent arrest and imprisonment of the editor, the Foote Health Monthly observed, "Sending Mr. Heywood to the penitentiary a few years was not a fair deal; but the real object was to punish indirectly Mrs. Heywood for a dreadful speech which she made in Boston, which the authorities had not the courage to deal directly with her for. So now it would appear that again the authorities have attempted to punish Mrs. Heywood who is really the guilty person, by arresting her husband."

Not entirely sympathetic to what it called Angela's 'nasty' tongue, Foote's Health Monthly had candidly observed in an earlier article, "If the Vice Society is disposed to proceed against Mrs. Heywood herself on the charge of insanity, and can make out a good case, perhaps they might succeed in putting her into the madhouse, but we would pity Comstock...if she lived to get out."

Such extreme and often contradictory reactions to Angela Heywood makes any biographer return again and again to the ques tion posed near the beginning of this essay: who was she?

Perhaps the most interesting portrait of Angela came from the pen of the individualist anarchist and fellow free love advocate Stephen Pearl Andrews. He wrote:

"Mr. & Mrs. Heywood are the occupants, under some embarrassments & encumbrance, of one called Mountain Home, which was in prosperous operation under their management, until its success was much disturbed by the scare of Mr. Heywood's repeated arrests; since the first of these its fortunes have varied. Their house has been confessedly a model institution. Mrs. Heywood is the model housekeeper and manager, even among a group of women distinguished in the same way. They are about the most industrious couple I ever knew, laborious & devoted to the last degree. Unfortunately, however, for their worldly success, they have ideas, convictions and purposes outside the ordinary routine. They were both reared in the outspoken, audacious school of the radical Abolitions; when they grew to have new views with regard to the sex question & the rearing of children, they carried their Abolitionistic boldness of speech into that subject....
To Andrews, Ezra would have been a familiar figure, not only personally but as a 'type.' He would have encountered Ezra's stern and prim New England nature at countless labor reform and free love meetings. Angela's nature was more unique. Andrews commented,
"Mrs. Heywood is a far more difficult character to analyze [than Ezra]... To some extent I think I do understand her... "This revolt against the literary and 'cultured' classes was inherited by Mrs. Heywood and intensified and extended to other wrongs by her experience as a shop girl. Also deprived of the opportunity of a literary education adequate to the classic expression of the thoughts with which her observant and active brain was teeming, she was noted & marked as a distinctive and representative girl, well known in the old antislavery ranks, courted and sought for, for her bright, original, daring manifestations of genius, in certain aristocratic quarters, where, however, her whole soul revolted against the superciliousness and pretension of superiority by the rich and 'cultured' over the skilled workers, who knew more, it might be, in a day, of real useful knowledge, than they would know in a life-time. Harassed, insulted, worried,--not so much on her own account as on behalf of the class she represents, her whole life settled down into a devoted championship, first of the skilled labor class as a whole; secondly, of the women, especially of that class; finally, & especially, of the working-girl. Being herself of that class, not of the grim order, but lively, jovial & entertaining, she could venture on saying what she thought with the most unconventional audacity; her bold denunciations of the snobbery around her only served to increase her attractiveness and power within the two circles of life which she served, in a manner, to connect. But she always identified herself absolutely with the working-girls, & refused to be accepted among the wealthy on any other terms. Under the circumstances of her life, with her quick observation & dead-in-earnestness of her character, notwithstand ing the laugh on her lips, she could not fail to see that society was composed of two worlds, in another sense. She & others of her order were constantly approached & tempted or insulted by men of the so-called superior classes, whose private language and lives, as she came to know them, were utterly corrupt, but who were delicate and refined to the last degree in their public manifestations... She found that this organized hypocrisy was as characteristic of the women of society as of the men. Her natural and inherited revolt against a pretended sanctity, propriety & culture on the part of the polished hypocrites, men and women, thus urged to its utmost, has culminated in her determination that folks shall hear openly talked about what in secret they dwell on as the staple of their lives; that the hypocrisy shall be exposed; that the inflated pretense of virtue which does not exist shall be punctured and collapsed. This at least seems to be part, but not the whole, of the rationale of Mrs. Heywood's peculiar use of the English language."
Andrews went on to say that her marriage to Ezra undoubtedly had confirmed her in a radical course, as had Comstock's dogged persecution of the couple. Andrews continued,
"She is...utterly destitute of the sense of fear. She laughs and rollicks over what seems to the on-looker the edge of a fearful precipice. She would sooner see her beautiful home ruthlessly sacked, her children scattered, herself driven, as a drudge, into somebody's else [sic] kitchen, than she would back down an inch from her full claim to the right to say her full thought in her own words. Louise Michel is no more heroic than she is. She is vexed & annoyed to the last degree that it is Mr. H. who is attacked and not herself...He and she are far more comrades in a common cause, where he annoys her by being in the front, than they are the ordinary husband & wife. She threatens that if he gets in prison this time, she will never so much as visit him there, as she will not have it understood that she is a mere wife, following the fate of her husband, instead of a free individual fighting her own battles. It is not all, however, that she courts or even believes in martyrdom, but simply that she is willing to take the consequences of her own acts. Folks must not mistake Mrs. Heywood for any weakling; womanly ladylike, prepossessing and eminently domestic, she is yet hard as a flint when her rights, or the rights of those whom she represents, are invaded...She provides elegant parlor accommodations for her boarders, for the reformers, for other lady visitors, yet keeps herself secluded in the basement, doing more work than three ordinary women, and training her children in the most laborious, painstaking, housewifely artistic way. At the same time, her children excel all the children in town in learning, in demeanor, and in a certain reserved and distinguished bearing. They are welcome guests at all the neighboring houses, but seldom go. Mrs. Heywood herself is far less excluded from the society of the ladies of Princeton...She is a riddle to them. They cite her beautiful household, her children at the head in the schools and public exhibitions, their deportment, the chasteness & elegance of their dress, &c; some of them have the logic to quote the old book, that 'we do not gather grapes from thorns nor figs from thistles,' and to conclude that Mrs. Heywood can be no other, after all, than a very good women. Still she says such awful things; she is understood frankly and openly to teach her children all about those process of nature which other parents conceal and religiously lie about."
Andrews concluded that Ezra was better liked by neighbors than Angela with, "...the people, especially the women, strongly inclining to lay all the blame on Mrs. H., against whom, notwithstanding the favorable points, there is as yet a strong current of condemnation..."