Daughters of the Declaration: How Women Social Entrepreneurs Built the American Dream (Hardcover)

How Women Social Entrepreneurs Built the American Dream

By Claire Gaudiani, David Graham Burnett

PublicAffairs, 9781610390316, 352pp.

Publication Date: November 8, 2011



America's founding fathers established an idealistic framework for a bold experiment in democratic governance. The new nation would be built on the belief that "all men are created equal, and are endowed...with a right to life, liberty, and the pursuit of happiness." The challenge of turning these ideals into reality for all citizens was taken up by a set of exceptional American women.

Distinguished scholar and civic leader Claire Gaudiani calls these women "social entrepreneurs," arguing that they brought the same drive and strategic intent to their pursuit of "the greater good" that their male counterparts applied to building the nation's capital markets throughout the nineteenth century. Gaudiani tells the stories of these patriotic women, and their creation of America's unique not-for-profit, or "social profit" sector. She concludes that the idealism and optimism inherent in this work provided an important asset to the increasing prosperity of the nation from its founding to the Second World War. Social entrepreneurs have defined a system of governance "by the people," and they remain our best hope for continued moral leadership in the world.

About the Author

Claire Gaudiani is an expert on the history and economics of American philanthropy. From 2004-2009, she served as clinical professor at the Heyman Center for Philanthropy at New York University, where she directed the graduate program in philanthropic studies. From 2001-2004 at the Yale Law School, she wrote The Greater Good: How Philanthropy Drives the American Economy and Can Save Capitalism. Gaudiani served for 13 years as president of Connecticut College, where she was also professor of French. She is married to David Burnett, PhD, her partner in Gaudiani Associates.

Praise For Daughters of the Declaration: How Women Social Entrepreneurs Built the American Dream

Kirkus, August 11
“An interesting sidelight on the transformation of laissez-faire capitalism and the shaping of markets toward more ethical behavior.”

Publishers Weekly, September 15, 2011“The examples of strong women who were agents of change for their fellow citizens are edifying and inspirational.” Booklist“[Gaudiani and Burnett] have a broader purpose in examining the work of generations of American women activists…Their subjects are, the authors urge, “social entrepreneurs” who brought to the issues they championed the same optimism, idealism, and determination—and the same strategic planning, tactical flexibility, and operational creativity—that for-profit entrepreneurs applied to their fledgling industries. In the process…these women developed a vibrant “social profit” sector, which continues to demand that American society reconsider, in each generation, whether it is living up to the values embodied in the Declaration of Independence.” New City Chicago“Worthy and eye-opening…Daughters of the Declaration is a real American saga.”  

“Academicians Gaudiani and Burnett note that learning just about entrepreneurs such as Rockefeller and Carnegie provides only a partial understanding of the development of the US, which grew as a nation because of female social entrepreneurs like the ones discussed herein, who worked to improve society and the lives of citizens. This book would make excellent reading for courses in US history, women's history, or public health. Exhaustive footnotes, complete bibliography, and a comprehensive index….Highly recommended.”