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Astoria, Oregon, in 1893, believed that women should be subdued and submissive. Understandably, therefore, the arrival of Columbia Baines proved upsetting. In a wonderful, fast-paced story, Louisa Baines, thirteen years old, tells what happened the year her aunt came to visit her sedate family and how she quickly succeeded in turning their lived upside down.

As soon as Aunt Columbia demonstrated that she could stop the ever-present rain with a snap of her fingers, Louisa knew she was a person to be reckoned with. Then came a number of surprising revelations. Among other things, Aunt Columbia admitted that she was an active suffragette, accustomed to chaining herself to city hall entrances is her cause needed attention.

Taking her niece in tow, Columbia embarked on one cause after another right in Astoria. There were Finns and Chinese to be helped, corrupt politicians to be battled. By the end of her stay, Louisa knew that the town would need forget Columbia Baines, and neither will the reader. She is a most memorable character to appear in many a year.


Attendance to the history of Astoria, Oregon, in 1893 and concern with righting misconceptions about suffragism and suffragettes (per Author's Note) are channeled into a convincing uproar that begins with the return of one Columbia Baines to her home town. Sister of conservative Captain Baines and mother of The Pettigrews (she has declined to relinquish her own name for her deceased husband's), Columbia abhors corsets and looks it - although she maintains her feminine beauty. Louisa and Rowena (Weenie) Baines scarcely know how to react to the aunt who is dooming the family to "social leprosy" with her assault on Astoria; befriending the Finns and Chinese; attacking Swill Town for encouraging intemperance and shanghaiing; speechmaking; electioneering, and finally bringing charges against the root of the evil, John McDermott (once an admirer). Not only does Columbia win her nieces to the cause, but she also routs the Captain's timid wife from her shell and, thereafter, all the decent ladies and gentlemen - including at last even her brother who'd forsworn any communication with her. Suffragettes are neither bitter spinsters nor Mrs. Satans ("I was not aware that the devil had a wife"); and with the lesson come laughs and a 21-gun salute from abashed Astoria.


Used availability for Patricia Beatty's Hail Columbia

Hardback Editions

June 1970 : USA Library Binding

Title: Hail Columbia
Author(s): Patricia Beatty
ISBN: 0-688-31371-X / 978-0-688-31371-5 (USA edition)
Publisher: William Morrow & Co
Availability: Amazon   Amazon UK   Amazon CA   

Kindle Editions

May 2014 : USA Kindle edition

Title: Hail Columbia (Historical Fiction for Teens: Illustrated Edition)
Author(s): Patricia Beatty
Publisher: Beebliome Books
Availability: Amazon