Gillette adverts stand against toxic masculinity. Budweiser makes specially-decorated cups to encourage non-binary and gender-fluid people to feel pride in their identity.

These examples of so-called “woke capitalism”– of corporations promoting progressive social causes – may feel ostentatiously up-to-the-moment. But woke capitalism is not as new as you might think.

Back in 1850, social progress certainly had further to go.

A couple of years earlier, American campaigner Elizabeth Cady Stanton had caused controversy at a women’s rights convention by calling for women to be given the vote. Even her supporters worried that it was too ambitious.

Meanwhile, in Boston, a failed actor was trying to make his fortune as an inventor.

He had rented space in a workshop showroom, hoping to sell his machine for carving

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