Margherita Arlina Hamm

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Margherita Arlina Hamm (1867–1907) was among the earliest American female journalists, and perhaps the first one to cover a war from the front lines. She was also a prolific author of popular books, especially relating to travel and famous people. Hamm was both an active suffragette, and a supporter and defender of American overseas imperialism/colonialism at the time of the Spanish-American War, which she covered.

Born in St. Stephen, New Brunswick, Hamm grew up in Bangor, Maine, but left after high school to make her career as a reporter for the Boston Herald. By 1890 she had moved to New York, where she did freelance reporting for a number of newspapers. In 1893 she married the American Vice-Consul to Amoy, China, and was traveling in Korea when the Sino-Japanese War broke out. She used the opportunity to establish herself as a foreign correspondent for New York newspapers. She also began writing articles for popular magazines, eventually becoming editor of the Women's Dept. of Peterson's Magazine. Hamm was also active in the National American Woman Suffrage Association, and was sufficiently well known by 1895 that an article of that year in the Boston Daily Globe entitled "If Women were Members of Congress" included her as a potential candidate, along with Susan B. Anthony and Elizabeth Cady Stanton

On the outbreak of the Spanish-American War in 1898, Hamm became Chairman of the Women's Congress of Patriotism and Independence in New York, a pro-war group, and soon followed the troops to Puerto Rico, sending back despatches from the front lines. She spent the next few years writing books and articles about the war and its aftermath, most from a patriotic perspective. Titles included Manila and the Philippines (1898), America's New Possessions and Spheres of Influence (1899), and Dewey the Defender: A Life Sketch of America's Great Admiral. She even composed a hymn to George Dewey. Hamm produced one relatively progressive book, Ghetto Silhouettes (1902) with David Warfield, but her favorite subject, following the war-related books, was the American and New York elite. Titles in this series included Builders of the Republic (1902), Eminent Actors in their Homes (1902), and Famous Families of New York (1902).

Hamm's first marriage ended in divorce. Her second marriage, to a fellow journalist, occurred two days after the first one ended. Hamm died young, at the age of 40.

References[edit]

Wayne Reilly "What's A Woman to Do?", Bangor Daily News, Mar. 1, 2008

Newark (Ohio) Daily Advertiser, Nov. 24, 1895

"If Women Were Members of Congress", Boston Daily Globe, Nov. 10, 1895, p. 20

"The Big Fair for Cuba", New York Times, May 18, 1898

See also her own correspondence in, for example:

New York Daily Mail, Jan. 25, 1896

Washington Post, Oct. 30, 1898; Dept. 11, 1989; Oct. 15, 1899

Los Angeles Times, Mar. 8, 1896