The Project Gutenberg eBook of History of Woman Suffrage, Volume I

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Title: History of Woman Suffrage, Volume I

Editor: Susan B. Anthony

Matilda Joslyn Gage

Elizabeth Cady Stanton

Release date: February 7, 2009 [eBook #28020]
Most recently updated: April 21, 2017

Language: English



E-text prepared by Richard J. Shiffer
and the Project Gutenberg Online Distributed Proofreading Team

Transcriber's Note

Every effort has been made to replicate this text as faithfully as possible, including obsolete and variant spellings and other inconsistencies. Text that has been changed to correct an obvious error is noted at the end of this ebook.

Many occurrences of mismatched single and double quotes remain as they were in the original.






Woman Suffrage.


                 MATILDA JOSLYN GAGE.






Second Edition.

Rochester, N. Y.: Charles Mann.
London: 25 Henrietta Street, Covent Garden.
Paris. G. Fischbacher, 33 Rue de Seine.

Copyright, 1881, by
Elizabeth Cady Stanton, Susan B. Anthony, and
Matilda Joslyn Gage.

Copyright, 1887, by Susan B. Anthony.





Memory of

Mary Wollstonecraft,
Frances Wright, Lucretia Mott, Harriet Martineau, Lydia Maria Child,
Margaret Fuller, Sarah and Angelina Grimké, Josephine S. Griffing,
Martha C. Wright, Harriot K. Hunt, M.D., Mariana W. Johnson,
Alice and Phebe Carey, Ann Preston, M.D., Lydia Mott,
Eliza W. Farnham, Lydia F. Fowler, M.D.,
Paulina Wright Davis,

Whose Earnest Lives and Fearless Words, in Demanding
Political Rights for Women, have been,
in the Preparation of these Pages,
a Constant Inspiration


The Editors.

Frances Wright (with autograph).

[Pg 7]


In preparing this work, our object has been to put into permanent shape the few scattered reports of the Woman Suffrage Movement still to be found, and to make it an arsenal of facts for those who are beginning to inquire into the demands and arguments of the leaders of this reform. Although the continued discussion of the political rights of woman during the last thirty years, forms a most important link in the chain of influences tending to her emancipation, no attempt at its history has been made. In giving the inception and progress of this agitation, we who have undertaken the task have been moved by the consideration that many of oar co-workers have already fallen asleep, and that in a few years all who could tell the story will have passed away.

In collecting material for these volumes, most of those of whom we solicited facts have expressed themselves deeply interested in our undertaking, and have gladly contributed all they could, feeling that those identified with this reform were better qualified to prepare a faithful history with greater patience and pleasure, than those of another generation possibly could.

A few have replied, "It is too early to write the history of this movement; wait until our object is attained; the actors themselves can not write an impartial history; they have had their discords, divisions, personal hostilities, that unfit them for the work." Viewing the enfranchisement of woman as the most important demand of the century, we have felt no temptation to linger over individual differences. These occur in all associations, and may be regarded in this case as an evidence of the growing self-assertion and individualism in woman.

Woven with the threads of this history, we have given some personal[Pg 8] reminiscences and brief biographical sketches. To the few who, through ill-timed humility, have refused to contribute any of their early experiences we would suggest, that as each brick in a magnificent structure might have had no special value alone on the road-side, yet, in combination with many others, its size, position, quality, becomes of vital consequence; so with the actors in any great reform, though they may be of little value in themselves; as a part of a great movement they may be worthy of mention—even important to the completion of an historical record.

To be historians of a reform in which we have been among the chief actors, has its points of embarrassment as well as advantage. Those who fight the battle can best give what all readers like to know—the impelling motives to action; the struggle in the face of opposition; the vexation under ridicule; and the despair in success too long deferred. Moreover, there is an interest in history written from a subjective point of view, that may compensate the reader in this case for any seeming egotism or partiality he may discover. As an autobiography is more interesting than a sketch by another, so is a history written by its actors, as in both cases we get nearer the soul of the subject.

We have finished our task, and we hope the contribution we have made may enable some other hand in the future to write a more complete history of "the most momentous reform that has yet been launched on the world—the first organized protest against the injustice which has brooded over the character and destiny of one-half the human race."[Pg 9]








Individualism rather than Authority—Personal appearance of Abolitionists—Attempt to silence Woman—Doable battle against the tyranny of sex and color—Bigoted Abolitionists—James G. Birney likes freedom on a Southern plantation, but not at his own fireside—John Bull never dreamt that Woman would answer his call—The venerable Thomas Clarkson received by the Convention standing—Lengthy debate on "Female" delegates—The "Females" rejected—William Lloyd Garrison refusing to sit in the Convention50



The First Woman's Rights Convention, Seneca Falls, July 19-80, 1848—Property Bights of Women secured—Judge Fine, George Geddes, and Mr. Hadley pushing the Bill through—Danger of meddling with well-settled conditions of domestic happiness—Mrs. Barbara Hertell's will—Richard Hunt's tea-table—The eventful day—James Mott President—Declaration of sentiments—Convention in Rochester—Opposition with Bible arguments63



The first Suffrage Society—Methodist class-leader whips his wife—Theology enchains the soul—The status of women and slaves the same—The first medical college opened to women—Petitions to the Legislature laughed at, and laid on the table—Dependence woman's best protection; her weakness her sweetest charm—Dr. Elizabeth Blackwell's letter—Sketch of Ernestine L. Rose88



The promised land of fugitives—"Uncle Tom's Cabin"—Salem Convention, 1850—Akron, 1851—Massilon, 1853—The address to the women of Ohio—The Mohammedan law forbidding pigs, dogs, women, and other impure animals to enter a Mosque—The New York Tribune—Cleveland Convention, 1853—Hon. Joshua K. Giddings—Letter from Horace Greeley—A glowing eulogy to Mary Wollstonecraft—William Henry Channing's Declaration—The pulpit and public sentiment—President Asa Mahan debates—The Rev. Dr. Nevin pulls Mr. Garrison's nose—Antoinette L. Brown describes her exit from the World's Temperance Convention—Cincinnati Convention, 1855—Jane Elizabeth Jones' Report, 1861101



Vermont: Editor Windham County Democrat—Property Laws, 1847 and 1849—Address to the Legislature on school suffrage, 1852.

Wisconsin: Woman's State Temperance Society—Lydia F. Fowler in company—Opposition of Clergy—"Woman's Rights" wouldn't do—Advertised "Men's Rights."

Kansas: Free State Emigration, 1854—Gov. Robinson and Senator Pomeroy—Woman's Rights speeches on Steamboat, and at Lawrence—Constitutional Convention, 1859—State Woman Suffrage Association—John O. Wattles, President—Aid from the Francis Jackson Fund—Canvassing the State—School Suffrage gained.

Missouri: Lecturing at St. Joseph, 1858, on Col. Scott's Invitation—Westport and the John Brown raid, 1859—St. Louis, 1854—Frances D. Gage, Rev. Wm. G. Eliot, and Rev. Mr. Weaver171



Women in the Revolution—Anti-Tea Leagues—Phillis Wheatley—Mistress Anne Hutchinson—Heroines in the Slavery Conflict—Women Voting under the Colonial Charter—Mary Upton Ferrin Petitions the Legislature in 1848—Woman's Rights Convention in 1850, '51—Letter of Harriet Martineau from England—Letter of Jeannie Deroine from a Prison Cell in Paris—Editorial from The Christian EnquirerThe Una, edited by Paulina Wright Davis—Constitutional Convention in 1858—Before the Legislature in 1857—Harriot K. Hunt's Protest against Taxation—Lucy Stone's Protest against the Marriage Laws—Boston Conventions—Theodore Parker on Woman's Position201



Indiana Missionary Station—Gen. Arthur St. Clair—Indian surprises—The terrible war-whoop—One hundred women join the army, and are killed fighting bravely—Prairie schooners—Manufactures in the hands of women—Admitted to the Union in 1816—Robert Dale Owen—Woman Suffrage Conventions—Wisconsin—C. L. Sholes' report290



William Penn—Independence Hall—British troops—Heroism of women—Lydia Darrah—Who designed the Flag—Anti-slavery movements in Philadelphia—Pennsylvania Hall destroyed by a mob—David Paul Brown—Fugitives—Millard Fillmore—John Brown—Angelina Grimké—Abby Kelly—Mary Grew—Temperance in 1848—Hannah Darlington and Ann Preston before the Legislature—Medical College for Women in 1850—Westchester Woman's Rights Convention, 1852—Philadelphia Convention, 1854—Lucretia Mott answers Richard H. Dana—Jane Grey Swisshelm—Sarah Josepha Hale—Anna McDowell—Rachel Foster searching the records—Sketch of Angelina Grimké320



Eulogy at the Memorial Services held at Washington by the National Woman Suffrage Association, January 19, 1881. By Elizabeth Cady Stanton407



Tory feeling in New Jersey—Hannah Arnett rebuked the traitor spirit—Mrs. Dissosway rejects all proposals to disloyalty—Triumphal arch erected by the ladies of Trenton in honor of Washington—His letter to the ladies—The origin of Woman Suffrage in New Jersey—A paper read by William A. Whitehead before the Historical Society—Defects in the Constitution of New Jersey—A singular pamphlet called "Eumenes"—Opinion of Hon. Charles James Fox—Mr. Whitehead reviewed441



Mrs. Stanton's and Miss Anthony's first meeting—An objective view of these ladies from a friend's standpoint—A glimpse at their private life—The pronunciamentos they issued from the fireside—Mrs. Wright, Mrs. Seward, Mrs. Worden, Mrs. Mott, in council—How Mrs. Worden voted—Ladies at Newport dancing with low necks and short sleeves, and objecting to the publicity of the platform—Senator Seward discussing Woman's Rights at a dinner-party—Mrs. Seward declares herself a friend to the reform—A magnetic circle in Central New York—Matilda Joslyn Gage: her early education and ancestors—A series of Anti-Slavery Conventions from Buffalo to Albany—Mobbed at every point—Mayor Thatcher maintains order in the Convention at the Capital—Great excitement over a fugitive wife from the insane asylum—The Bloomer costume—Gerrit Smith's home456



First Steps in New York—Woman's Temperance Convention, Albany, January, 1852—New York Woman's State Temperance Society, Rochester, April, 1852—Women before the Legislature pleading for a Maine Law—Women rejected as Delegates to Men's State Conventions at Albany and Syracuse, 1852; at the[Pg 12] Brick Church Meeting and World's Temperance Convention In New York, 1853—Horace Greeley defends the Rights of Women In The New York Tribune—The Teachers' State Conventions—The Syracuse National Woman's Rights Convention, 1852—Mob in the Broadway Tabernacle Woman's Rights Convention through two days, 1853—State Woman's Rights Convention at Rochester, December, 1853—Albany Convention, February, 1854, and Hearing before the Legislature demanding the Right of Suffrage—A State Committee appointed—Susan B. Anthony General Agent—Conventions at Saratoga Springs, 1854, '55, '59—Annual State Conventions with Legislative Hearings and Reports of Committees, until the War—Married Women's Property Law, 1860—Bill before the Legislature Granting Divorce for Drunkenness—Horace Greeley and Thurlow Weed oppose it—Ernestine L. Rose, Lucretia Mott, and Elizabeth Cady Stanton Address the Legislature in favor of the Bill—Robert Dale Owen defends the Measure in The New York Tribune—National Woman's Rights Conventions in New York City, 1856, '58, '59, '60—Status of the Woman's Rights Movement at the Opening of the War, 1861472



Woman under old religions—Woman took part in offices of early Christian Church Councils—Original sin—Celibacy of the clergy—Their degrading sensuality—Feudalism—Marriage—Debasing externals and daring ideas—Witchcraft—Three striking points for consideration—Burning of Witches—Witchcraft in New England—Marriage with devils—Rights of property not recognized in woman—Wife ownership—Women legislated for as slaves—Marriage under the Greek Church—The Salic and Cromwellian eras—The Reformation—Woman under monastic rules in the home—The Mormon doctrine regarding woman; its logical result—Milton responsible for many existing views in regard to woman—Woman's subordination taught to-day—The See trial—Right Rev. Coxe—Rev. Knox-Little—Pan-Presbyterians—Quakers not as liberal as they have been considered—Restrictive action of the Methodist Church—Offensive debate upon ordaining Miss Oliver—The Episcopal Church and its restrictions—Sunday-school teachings—Week-day school teachings—Sermon upon woman's subordination by the President of a Baptist Theological Seminary—Professor Christlieb of Germany—"Dear, will you bring me my shawl?"—Female sex looked upon as a degradation—A sacrilegious child—Secretary Evarts, in the Beecher-Tilton trial, upon woman's subordination—Women degraded in science and education—Large-hearted men upon woman's degradation—Wives still sold in the market-place as "mares," by a halter around their necks—Degrading servile labor performed by woman in Christian countries—A lower degradation—"Queen's women"—"Government women"—Interpolations in the Bible—Letter from Howard Crosby, D.D., LL.D.752



Vol. I.

Frances WrightFrontispiece
Ernestine L. Wrightpage 97
Frances D. Gage129
Clarina Howard Nichols193
Paulina Wright Davis273
Lucretia Mott369
Antoinette L. Brown449
Amelia Bloomer497
Susan B. Anthony577
Martha C. Wright641
Elizabeth Cady Stanton721
Matilda Joslyn Gage753


The prolonged slavery of woman is the darkest page in human history. A survey of the condition of the race through those barbarous periods, when physical force governed the world, when the motto, "might makes right," was the law, enables one to account, for the origin of woman's subjection to man without referring the fact to the general inferiority of the sex, or Nature's law.

Writers on this question differ as to the cause of the universal degradation of woman in all periods and nations.

One of the greatest minds of the century has thrown a ray of light on this gloomy picture by tracing the origin of woman's slavery to the same principle of selfishness and love of power in man that has thus far dominated all weaker nations and classes. This brings hope of final emancipation, for as all nations and classes are gradually, one after another, asserting and maintaining their independence, the path is clear for woman to follow. The slavish instinct of an oppressed class has led her to toil patiently through the ages, giving all and asking little, cheerfully sharing with man all perils and privations by land and sea, that husband and sons might attain honor and success. Justice and freedom for herself is her latest and highest demand.

Another writer asserts that the tyranny of man over woman has its roots, after all, in his nobler feelings; his love, his chivalry, and his desire to protect woman in the barbarous periods of pillage, lust, and war. But wherever the roots may be traced, the results at this hour are equally disastrous to woman. Her best interests and happiness do not seem to have been consulted in the arrangements made for her protection. She has been bought and sold, caressed and crucified at the will and pleasure of her master. But if a chivalrous desire to protect woman has always been the mainspring of man's dominion over her, it should have prompted him to place in her hands the same weapons of defense he has found to be most effective against wrong and oppression.[Pg 14]

It is often asserted that as woman has always been man's slave—subject—inferior—dependent, under all forms of government and religion, slavery must be her normal condition. This might have some weight had not the vast majority of men also been enslaved for centuries to kings and popes, and orders of nobility, who, in the progress of civilization, have reached complete equality. And did we not also see the great changes in woman's condition, the marvelous transformation in her character, from a toy in the Turkish harem, or a drudge in the German fields, to a leader of thought in the literary circles of France, England, and America!

In an age when the wrongs of society are adjusted in the courts and at the ballot-box, material force yields to reason and majorities.

Woman's steady march onward, and her growing desire for a broader outlook, prove that she has not reached her normal condition, and that society has not yet conceded all that is necessary for its attainment.

Moreover, woman's discontent increases in exact proportion to her development. Instead of a feeling of gratitude for rights accorded, the wisest are indignant at the assumption of any legal disability based on sex, and their feelings in this matter are a surer test of what her nature demands, than the feelings and prejudices of the sex claiming to be superior. American men may quiet their consciences with the delusion that no such injustice exists in this country as in Eastern nations, though with the general improvement in our institutions, woman's condition must inevitably have improved also, yet the same principle that degrades her in Turkey, insults her in this republic. Custom forbids a woman there to enter a mosque, or call the hour for prayers; here it forbids her a voice in Church Councils or State Legislatures. The same taint of her primitive state of slavery affects both latitudes.

The condition of married women, under the laws of all countries, has been essentially that of slaves, until modified, in some respects, within the last quarter of a century in the United States. The change from the old Common Law of England, in regard to the civil rights of women, from 1848 to the advance legislation in most of the Northern States in 1880, marks an era both in the status of woman as a citizen and in our American system of jurisprudence. When the State of New York gave married women certain rights of property, the individual existence of the wife was recognized, and the old idea that "husband and wife are one, and that one the husband," received its death-blow. From that hour the statutes of the several States have been steadily diverging from the old English[Pg 15] codes. Most of the Western States copied the advance legislation of New York, and some are now even more liberal.

The broader demand for political rights has not commanded the thought its merits and dignity should have secured. While complaining of many wrongs and oppressions, women themselves did not see that the political disability of sex was the cause of all their special grievances, and that to secure equality anywhere, it must be recognized everywhere. Like all disfranchised classes, they begun by asking to have certain wrongs redressed, and not by asserting their own right to make laws for themselves.

Overburdened with cares in the isolated home, women had not the time, education, opportunity, and pecuniary independence to put their thoughts clearly and concisely into propositions, nor the courage to compare their opinions with one another, nor to publish them, to any great extent, to the world.

It requires philosophy and heroism to rise above the opinion of the wise men of all nations and races, that to be unknown, is the highest testimonial woman can have to her virtue, delicacy and refinement.

A certain odium has ever rested on those who have risen above the conventional level and sought new spheres for thought and action, and especially on the few who demand complete equality in political rights. The leaders in this movement have been women of superior mental and physical organization, of good social standing and education, remarkable alike for their domestic virtues, knowledge of public affairs, and rare executive ability; good speakers and writers, inspiring and conducting the genuine reforms of the day; everywhere exerting themselves to promote the best interests of society; yet they have been uniformly ridiculed, misrepresented, and denounced in public and private by all classes of society.

Woman's political equality with man is the legitimate outgrowth of the fundamental principles of our Government, clearly set forth in the Declaration of Independence in 1776, in the United States Constitution adopted in 1784, in the prolonged debates on the origin of human rights in the anti-slavery conflict in 1840, and in the more recent discussions of the party in power since 1865, on the 13th, 14th, and 15th Amendments to the National Constitution; and the majority of our leading statesmen have taken the ground that suffrage is a natural right that may be regulated, but can not be abolished by State law.

Under the influence of these liberal principles of republicanism that pervades all classes of American minds, however vaguely, if[Pg 16] suddenly called out, they might be stated, woman readily perceives the anomalous position she occupies in a republic, where the government and religion alike are based on individual conscience and judgment—where the natural rights of all citizens have been exhaustively discussed, and repeatedly declared equal.

From the inauguration of the government, representative women have expostulated against the inconsistencies between our principles and practices as a nation. Beginning with special grievances, woman's protests soon took a larger scope. Having petitioned State legislatures to change the statutes that robbed her of children, wages, and property, she demanded that the Constitutions—State and National—be so amended as to give her a voice in the laws, a choice in the rulers, and protection in the exercise of her rights as a citizen of the United States.

While the laws affecting woman's civil rights have been greatly improved during the past thirty years, the political demand has made but a questionable progress, though it must be counted as the chief influence in modifying the laws. The selfishness of man was readily enlisted in securing woman's civil rights, while the same element in his character antagonized her demand for political equality.

Fathers who had estates to bequeath to their daughters could see the advantage of securing to woman certain property rights that might limit the legal power of profligate husbands.

Husbands in extensive business operations could see the advantage of allowing the wife the right to hold separate property, settled on her in time of prosperity, that might not be seized for his debts. Hence in the several States able men championed these early measures. But political rights, involving in their last results equality everywhere, roused all the antagonism of a dominant power, against the self-assertion of a class hitherto subservient. Men saw that with political equality for woman, they could no longer keep her in social subordination, and "the majority of the male sex," says John Stuart Mill, "can not yet tolerate the idea of living with an equal." The fear of a social revolution thus complicated the discussion. The Church, too, took alarm, knowing that with the freedom and education acquired in becoming a component part of the Government, woman would not only outgrow the power of the priesthood, and religious superstitions, but would also invade the pulpit, interpret the Bible anew from her own stand-point, and claim an equal voice in all ecclesiastical councils. With fierce warnings and denunciations from the pulpit, and false interpretations of Scripture, women have been intimidated and misled, and their religious feelings have[Pg 17] been played upon for their more complete subjugation. While the general principles of the Bible are in favor of the most enlarged freedom and equality of the race, isolated texts have been used to block the wheels of progress in all periods; thus bigots have defended capital punishment, intemperance, slavery, polygamy, and the subjection of woman. The creeds of all nations make obedience to man the corner-stone of her religious character. Fortunately, however, more liberal minds are now giving us higher and purer expositions of the Scriptures.

As the social and religious objections appeared against the demand for political rights, the discussion became many-sided, contradictory, and as varied as the idiosyncrasies of individual character. Some said, "Man is woman's natural protector, and she can safely trust him to make laws for her." She might with fairness reply, as he uniformly robbed her of all property rights to 1848, he can not safely be trusted with her personal rights in 1880, though the fact that he did make some restitution at last, might modify her distrust in the future. However, the calendars of our courts still show that fathers deal unjustly with daughters, husbands with wives, brothers with sisters, and sons with their own mothers. Though woman needs the protection of one man against his whole sex, in pioneer life, in threading her way through a lonely forest, on the highway, or in the streets of the metropolis on a dark night, she sometimes needs, too, the protection of all men against this one. But even if she could be sure, as she is not, of the ever-present, all-protecting power of one strong arm, that would be weak indeed compared with the subtle, all-pervading influence of just and equal laws for all women. Hence woman's need of the ballot, that she may hold in her own right hand the weapon of self-protection and self-defense.

Again it is said: "The women who make the demand are few in number, and their feelings and opinions are abnormal, and therefore of no weight in considering the aggregate judgment on the question." The number is larger than appears on the surface, for the fear of public ridicule, and the loss of private favors from those who shelter, feed, and clothe them, withhold many from declaring their opinions and demanding their rights. The ignorance and indifference of the majority of women, as to their status as citizens of a republic, is not remarkable, for history shows that the masses of all oppressed classes, in the most degraded conditions, have been stolid and apathetic until partial success had crowned the faith and enthusiasm of the few.

The insurrections on Southern plantations were always defeated[Pg 18] by the doubt and duplicity of the slaves themselves. That little band of heroes who precipitated the American Revolution in 1776 were so ostracised that they walked the streets with bowed heads, from a sense of loneliness and apprehension. Woman's apathy to the wrongs of her sex, instead of being a plea for her remaining in her present condition, is the strongest argument against it. How completely demoralized by her subjection must she be, who does not feel her personal dignity assailed when all women are ranked in every State Constitution with idiots, lunatics, criminals, and minors; when in the name of Justice, man holds one scale for woman, another for himself; when by the spirit and letter of the laws she is made responsible for crimes committed against her, while the male criminal goes free; when from altars where she worships no woman may preach; when in the courts, where girls of tender age may be arraigned for the crime of infanticide, she may not plead for the most miserable of her sex; when colleges she is taxed to build and endow, deny her the right to share in their advantages; when she finds that which should be her glory—her possible motherhood—treated everywhere by man as a disability and a crime! A woman insensible to such indignities needs some transformation into nobler thought, some purer atmosphere to breathe, some higher stand-point from which to study human rights.

It is said, "the difference between the sexes indicates different spheres." It would be nearer the truth to say the difference indicates different duties in the same sphere, seeing that man and woman were evidently made for each other, and have shown equal capacity in the ordinary range of human duties. In governing nations, leading armies, piloting ships across the sea, rowing life-boats in terrific gales; in art, science, invention, literature, woman has proved herself the complement of man in the world of thought and action. This difference does not compel us to spread our tables with different food for man and woman, nor to provide in our common schools a different course of study for boys and girls. Sex pervades all nature, yet the male and female tree and vine and shrub rejoice in the same sunshine and shade. The earth and air are free to all the fruits and flowers, yet each absorbs what best ensures its growth. But whatever it is, it requires no special watchfulness on our part to see that it is maintained. This plea, when closely analyzed, is generally found to mean woman's inferiority.

The superiority of man, however, does not enter into the demand for suffrage, for in this country all men vote; and as the lower orders of men are not superior, either by nature or grace, to the higher[Pg 19] orders of women, they must hold and exercise the right of self-government on some other ground than superiority to women.

Again it is said, "Woman when independent and self-asserting will lose her influence over man." In the happiest conditions in life, men and women will ever be mutually dependent on each other. The complete development of all woman's powers will not make her less capable of steadfast love and friendship, but give her new strength to meet the emergencies of life, to aid those who look to her for counsel and support. Men are uniformly more attentive to women of rank, family, and fortune, who least need their care, than to any other class. We do not see their protecting love generally extending to the helpless and unfortunate ones of earth. Wherever the skilled hands and cultured brain of woman have made the battle of life easier for man, he has readily pardoned her sound judgment and proper self-assertion. But the prejudices and preferences of man should be a secondary consideration, in presence of the individual happiness and freedom of woman. The formation of her character and its influence on the human race, is a larger question than man's personal liking. There is no fear, however, that when a superior order of women shall grace the earth, there will not be an order of men to match them, and influence over such minds will atone for the loss of it elsewhere.

An honest fear is sometimes expressed "that woman would degrade politics, and politics would degrade woman." As the influence of woman has been uniformly elevating in new civilizations, in missionary work in heathen nations, in schools, colleges, literature, and in general society, it is fair to suppose that politics would prove no exception. On the other hand, as the art of government is the most exalted of all sciences, and statesmanship requires the highest order of mind, the ennobling and refining influence of such pursuits must elevate rather than degrade woman. When politics degenerate into bitter persecutions and vulgar court-gossip, they are degrading to man, and his honor, virtue, dignity, and refinement are as valuable to woman as her virtues, are to him.

Again, it is said, "Those who make laws must execute them; government needs force behind it,—a woman could not be sheriff or a policeman." She might not fill these offices in the way men do, but she might far more effectively guard the morals of society, and the sanitary conditions of our cities. It might with equal force be said that a woman of culture and artistic taste can not keep house, because she can not wash and iron with her own hands, and clean the range and furnace. At the head of the police, a woman could[Pg 20] direct her forces and keep order without ever using a baton or a pistol in her own hands. "The elements of sovereignty," says Blackstone, "are three: wisdom, goodness, and power." Conceding to woman wisdom and goodness, as they are not strictly masculine virtues, and substituting moral power for physical force, we have the necessary elements of government for most of life's emergencies. Women manage families, mixed schools, charitable institutions, large boarding-houses and hotels, farms and steam-engines, drunken and disorderly men and women, and stop street fights, as well as men do. The queens in history compare favorably with the kings.

But, "in the settlement of national difficulties," it is said, "the last resort is war; shall we summon our wives and mothers to the battle-field?" Women have led armies in all ages, have held positions in the army and navy for years in disguise. Some fought, bled, and died on the battle-field in our late war. They performed severe labors in the hospitals and sanitary department. Wisdom would dictate a division of labor in war as well as in peace, assigning each their appropriate department.

Numerous classes of men who enjoy their political rights are exempt from military duty. All men over forty-five, all who suffer mental or physical disability, such as the loss of an eye or a forefinger; clergymen, physicians, Quakers, school-teachers, professors, and presidents of colleges, judges, legislators, congressmen, State prison officials, and all county, State and National officers; fathers, brothers, or sons having certain relatives dependent on them for support,—all of these summed up in every State in the Union make millions of voters thus exempted.

In view of this fact there is no force in the plea, that "if women vote they must fight." Moreover, war is not the normal state of the human family in its higher development, but merely a feature of barbarism lasting on through the transition of the race, from the savage to the scholar. When England and America settled the Alabama Claims by the Geneva Arbitration, they pointed the way for the future adjustment of all national difficulties.

Some fear, "If women assume all the duties political equality implies, that the time and attention necessary to the duties of home life will be absorbed in the affairs of State." The act of voting occupies but little time in itself, and the vast majority of women will attend to their family and social affairs to the neglect of the State, just as men do to their individual interests. The virtue of patriotism is subordinate in most souls to individual and family aggrandizement. As to offices, it is not to be supposed that the class of[Pg 21] men now elected will resign to women their chances, and if they should to any extent, the necessary number of women to fill the offices would make no apparent change in our social circles. If, for example, the Senate of the United States should be entirely composed of women, but two in each State would be withdrawn from the pursuit of domestic happiness. For many reasons, under all circumstances, a comparatively smaller proportion of women than men would actively engage in politics.

As the power to extend or limit the suffrage rests now wholly in the hands of man, he can commence the experiment with as small a number as he sees fit, by requiring any lawful qualification. Men were admitted on property and educational qualifications in most of the States, at one time, and still are in some—so hard has it been for man to understand the theory of self-government. Three-fourths of the women would be thus disqualified, and the remaining fourth would be too small a minority to precipitate a social revolution or defeat masculine measures in the halls of legislation, even if women were a unit on all questions and invariably voted together, which they would not. In this view, the path of duty is plain for the prompt action of those gentlemen who fear universal suffrage for women, but are willing to grant it on property and educational qualifications. While those who are governed by the law of expediency should give the measure of justice they deem safe, let those who trust the absolute right proclaim the higher principle in government, "equal rights to all."

Many seeming obstacles in the way of woman's enfranchisement will be surmounted by reforms in many directions. Co-operative labor and co-operative homes will remove many difficulties in the way of woman's success as artisan and housekeeper, when admitted to the governing power. The varied forms of progress, like parallel lines, move forward simultaneously in the same direction. Each reform, at its inception, seems out of joint with all its surroundings; but the discussion changes the conditions, and brings them in line with the new idea.

The isolated household is responsible for a large share of woman's ignorance and degradation. A mind always in contact with children and servants, whose aspirations and ambitions rise no higher than the roof that shelters it, is necessarily dwarfed in its proportions. The advantages to the few whose fortunes enable them to make the isolated household a more successful experiment, can not outweigh the difficulties of the many who are wholly sacrificed to its maintenance.[Pg 22]

Quite as many false ideas prevail as to woman's true position in the home as to her status elsewhere. Womanhood is the great fact in her life; wifehood and motherhood are but incidental relations. Governments legislate for men; we do not have one code for bachelors, another for husbands and fathers; neither have the social relations of women any significance in their demands for civil and political rights. Custom and philosophy, in regard to woman's happiness, are alike based on the idea that her strongest social sentiment is love of children; that in this relation her soul finds complete satisfaction. But the love of offspring, common to all orders of women and all forms of animal life, tender and beautiful as it is, can not as a sentiment rank with conjugal love. The one calls out only the negative virtues that belong to apathetic classes, such as patience, endurance, self-sacrifice, exhausting the brain-forces, ever giving, asking nothing in return; the other, the outgrowth of the two supreme powers in nature, the positive and negative magnetism, the centrifugal and centripetal forces, the masculine and feminine elements, possessing the divine power of creation, in the universe of thought and action. Two pure souls fused into one by an impassioned love—friends, counselors—a mutual support and inspiration to each other amid life's struggles, must know the highest human happiness;—this is marriage; and this is the only corner-stone of an enduring home. Neither does ordinary motherhood, assumed without any high purpose or preparation, compare in sentiment with the lofty ambition and conscientious devotion of the artist whose pure children of the brain in poetry, painting, music, and science are ever beckoning her upward into an ideal world of beauty. They who give the world a true philosophy, a grand poem, a beautiful painting or statue, or can tell the story of every wandering star; a George Eliot, a Rosa Bonheur, an Elizabeth Barrett Browning, a Maria Mitchell—whose blood has flowed to the higher arches of the brain,—have lived to a holier purpose than they whose children are of the flesh alone, into whose minds they have breathed no clear perceptions of great principles, no moral aspiration, no spiritual life.

Her rights are as completely ignored in what is adjudged to be woman's sphere as out of it; the woman is uniformly sacrificed to the wife and mother. Neither law, gospel, public sentiment, nor domestic affection shield her from excessive and enforced maternity, depleting alike to mother and child;—all opportunity for mental improvement, health, happiness—yea, life itself, being ruthlessly sacrificed. The weazen, weary, withered, narrow-minded wife-mother[Pg 23] of half a dozen children—her interests all centering at her fireside, forms a painful contrast in many a household to the liberal, genial, brilliant, cultured husband in the zenith of his power, who has never given one thought to the higher life, liberty, and happiness of the woman by his side; believing her self-abnegation to be Nature's law.

It is often asked, "if political equality would not rouse antagonisms between the sexes?" If it could be proved that men and women had been harmonious in all ages and countries, and that women were happy and satisfied in their slavery, one might hesitate in proposing any change whatever. But the apathy, the helpless, hopeless resignation of a subjected class can not be called happiness. The more complete the despotism, the more smoothly all things move on the surface. "Order reigns in Warsaw." In right conditions, the interests of man and woman are essentially one; but in false conditions, they must ever be opposed. The principle of equality of rights underlies all human sentiments, and its assertion by any individual or class must rouse antagonism, unless conceded. This has been the battle of the ages, and will be until all forms of slavery are banished from the earth. Philosophers, historians, poets, novelists, alike paint woman the victim ever of man's power and selfishness. And now all writers on Eastern civilization tell us, the one insurmountable obstacle to the improvement of society in those countries, is the ignorance and superstition of the women. Stronger than the trammels of custom and law, is her religion, which teaches that her condition is Heaven-ordained. As the most ignorant minds cling with the greatest tenacity to the dogmas and traditions of their faith, a reform that involves an attack on that stronghold can only be carried by the education of another generation. Hence the self-assertion, the antagonism, the rebellion of woman, so much deplored in England and the United States, is the hope of our higher civilization. A woman growing up under American ideas of liberty in government and religion, having never blushed behind a Turkish mask, nor pressed her feet in Chinese shoes, can not brook any disabilities based on sex alone, without a deep feeling of antagonism with the power that creates it. The change needed to restore good feeling can not be reached by remanding woman to the spinning-wheel, and the contentment of her grandmother, but by conceding to her every right which the spirit of the age demands. Modern inventions have banished the spinning-wheel, and the same law of progress makes the woman of to-day a different woman from her grandmother.[Pg 24]

With these brief replies to the oft-repeated objections made by the opposition, we hope to rouse new thoughts in minds prepared to receive them. That equal rights for woman have not long ago been secured, is due to causes beyond the control of the actors in this reform. "The success of a movement," says Lecky, "depends much less upon the force of its arguments, or upon the ability of its advocates, than the predisposition of society to receive it."

[Pg 25]



As civilization advances there is a continual change in the standard of human rights. In barbarous ages the right of the strongest was the only one recognized; but as mankind progressed in the arts and sciences intellect began to triumph over brute force. Change is a law of life, and the development of society a natural growth. Although to this law we owe the discoveries of unknown worlds, the inventions of machinery, swifter modes of travel, and clearer ideas as to the value of human life and thought, yet each successive change has met with the most determined opposition. Fortunately, progress is not the result of pre-arranged plans of individuals, but is born of a fortuitous combination of circumstances that compel certain results, overcoming the natural inertia of mankind. There is a certain enjoyment in habitual sluggishness; in rising each morning with the same ideas as the night before; in retiring each night with the thoughts of the morning. This inertia of mind and body has ever held the multitude in chains. Thousands have thus surrendered their most sacred rights of conscience. In all periods of human development, thinking has been punished as a crime, which is reason sufficient to account for the general passive resignation of the masses to their conditions and environments.

Again, "subjection to the powers that be" has been the lesson of both Church and State, throttling science, checking invention, crushing free thought, persecuting and torturing those who have dared to speak or act outside of established authority. Anathemas and the stake have upheld the Church, banishment and the scaffold the throne, and the freedom of mankind has ever been sacrificed to the idea of protection. So entirely has the human will been enslaved in all classes of society in the past, that monarchs have humbled themselves to popes, nations have knelt at the feet of monarchs, and individuals have sold themselves to others under the subtle promise of "protection"—a word that simply means release from all responsibility, all use of one's own faculties—a word that has ever blinded people to its true significance. Under authority and[Pg 26] this false promise of "protection," self-reliance, the first incentive to freedom, has not only been lost, but the aversion of mankind for responsibility has been fostered by the few, whose greater bodily strength, superior intellect, or the inherent law of self-development has impelled to active exertion. Obedience and self-sacrifice—the virtues prescribed for subordinate classes, and which naturally grow out of their condition—are alike opposed to the theory of individual rights and self-government. But as even the inertia of mankind is not proof against the internal law of progress, certain beliefs have been inculcated, certain crimes invented, in order to intimidate the masses. Hence, the Church made free thought the worst of sins, and the spirit of inquiry the worst of blasphemies; while the State proclaimed her temporal power of divine origin, and all rebellion high treason alike to God and the king, to be speedily and severely punished. In this union of Church and State mankind touched the lowest depth of degradation. As late as the time of Bunyan the chief doctrine inculcated from the pulpit was obedience to the temporal power.

All these influences fell with crushing weight on woman; more sensitive, helpless, and imaginative, she suffered a thousand fears and wrongs where man did one. Lecky, in his "History of Rationalism in Europe," shows that the vast majority of the victims of fanaticism and witchcraft, burned, drowned, and tortured, were women. Guizot, in his "History of Civilization," while decrying the influence of caste in India, and deploring it as the result of barbarism, thanks God there is no system of caste in Europe; ignoring the fact that in all its dire and baneful effects, the caste of sex everywhere exists, creating diverse codes of morals for men and women, diverse penalties for crime, diverse industries, diverse religions and educational rights, and diverse relations to the Government. Men are the Brahmins, women the Pariahs, under our existing civilization. Herbert Spencer's "Descriptive Sociology of England," an epitome of English history, says: "Our laws are based on the all-sufficiency of man's rights, and society exists to-day for woman only in so far as she is in the keeping of some man." Thus society, including our systems of jurisprudence, civil and political theories, trade, commerce, education, religion, friendships, and family life, have all been framed on the sole idea of man's rights. Hence, he takes upon himself the responsibility of directing and controlling the powers of woman, under that all-sufficient excuse of tyranny, "divine right." This same cry of divine authority created the castes of India; has for ages separated its people into bodies, with different[Pg 27] industrial, educational, civil, religious, and political rights; has maintained this separation for the benefit of the superior class, and sedulously taught the doctrine that any change in existing conditions would be a sin of most direful magnitude.

The opposition of theologians, though first to be exhibited when any change is proposed, for reason that change not only takes power from them, but lessens the reverence of mankind for them, is not in its final result so much to be feared as the opposition of those holding political power. The Church, knowing this, has in all ages aimed to connect itself with the State. Political freedom guarantees religious liberty, freedom to worship God according to the dictates of one's own conscience, fosters a spirit of inquiry, creates self-reliance, induces a feeling of responsibility.

The people who demand authority for every thought and action, who look to others for wisdom and protection, are those who perpetuate tyranny. The thinkers and actors who find their authority within, are those who inaugurate freedom. Obedience to outside authority to which woman has everywhere been trained, has not only dwarfed her capacity, but made her a retarding force in civilization, recognized at last by statesmen as a dangerous element to free institutions. A recent writer, speaking of Turkey, says: "All attempts for the improvement of that nation must prove futile, owing to the degradation of its women; and their elevation is hopeless so long as they are taught by their religion that their condition is ordained of heaven." Gladstone, in one of his pamphlets on the revival of Catholicism in England, says: "The spread of this religion is due, as might be expected, to woman;" thus conceding in both cases her power to block the wheels of progress. Hence, in the scientific education of woman, in the training of her faculties to independent thought and logical reasoning, lies the hope of the future.

The two great sources of progress are intellect and wealth. Both represent power, and are the elements of success in life. Education frees the mind from the bondage of authority and makes the individual self-asserting. Remunerative industry is the means of securing to its possessor wealth and education, transforming the laborer to the capitalist. Work in itself is not power; it is but the means to an end. The slave is not benefited by his industry; he does not receive the results of his toil; his labor enriches another—adds to the power of his master to bind his chains still closer. Although woman has performed much of the labor of the world, her industry and economy have been the very means of increasing her degradation. Not being free, the results of her labor have gone to[Pg 28] build up and sustain the very class that has perpetuated this injustice. Even in the family, where we should naturally look for the truest conditions, woman has always been robbed of the fruits of her own toil. The influence the Catholic Church has had on religious free thought, that monarchies have had on political free thought, that serfdom has had upon free labor, have all been cumulative in the family upon woman. Taught that father and husband stood to her in the place of God, she has been denied liberty of conscience, and held in obedience to masculine will. Taught that the fruits of her industry belonged to others, she has seen man enter into every avocation most suitable to her, while she, the uncomplaining drudge of the household, condemned to the severest labor, has been systematically robbed of her earnings, which have gone to build up her master's power, and she has found herself in the condition of the slave, deprived of the results of her own labor. Taught that education for her was indelicate and irreligious, she has been kept in such gross ignorance as to fall a prey to superstition, and to glory in her own degradation. Taught that a low voice is an excellent thing in woman, she has been trained to a subjugation of the vocal organs, and thus lost the benefit of loud tones and their well-known invigoration of the system. Forbidden to run, climb, or jump, her muscles have been weakened, and her strength deteriorated. Confined most of the time to the house, she has neither as strong lungs nor as vigorous a digestion as her brother. Forbidden to enter the pulpit, she has been trained to an unquestioning reverence for theological authority and false belief upon the most vital interests of religion. Forbidden the medical profession, she has at the most sacred times of her life been left to the ignorant supervision of male physicians, and seen her young children die by thousands. Forbidden to enter the courts, she has seen her sex unjustly tried and condemned for crimes men were incapable of judging.

Woman has been the great unpaid laborer of the world, and although within the last two decades a vast number of new employments have been opened to her, statistics prove that in the great majority of these, she is not paid according to the value of the work done, but according to sex. The opening of all industries to woman, and the wage question as connected with her, are most subtle and profound questions of political economy, closely interwoven with the rights of self-government.

The revival of learning had its influence upon woman, and we find in the early part of the fourteenth century a decided tendency[Pg 29] toward a recognition of her equality. Christine of Pisa, the most eminent woman of this period, supported a family of six persons by her pen, taking high ground on the conservation of morals in opposition to the general licentious spirit of the age. Margaret of Angoulême, the brilliant Queen of Navarre, was a voluminous writer, her Heptaméron rising to the dignity of a French classic. A paper in the Revue des Deux Mondes, a few years since, by M. Henri Baudrillart, upon the "Emancipation of Woman," recalls the fact that for nearly four hundred years, men, too, have been ardent believers in equal rights for woman.

In 1509, Cornelius Agrippa, a great literary authority of his time, published a work of this character. Agrippa was not content with claiming woman's equality, but in a work of thirty chapters devoted himself to proving "the superiority of woman." In less than fifty years (1552) Ruscelli brought out a similar work based on the Platonic Philosophy. In 1599, Anthony Gibson wrote a book which in the prolix phraseology of the times was called, "A Woman's Worth defended against all the Men in the World, proving to be more Perfect, Excellent, and Absolute, in all Virtuous Actions, than any man of What Quality Soever." While these sturdy male defenders of the rights of woman met with many opponents, some going so far as to assert that women were beings not endowed with reason, they were sustained by many vigorous writers among women. Italy, then the foremost literary country of Europe, possessed many women of learning, one of whom, Lucrezia Morinella, a Venetian lady, wrote a work entitled, "The Nobleness and Excellence of Women, together with the Faults and Imperfections of Men."

The seventeenth century gave birth to many essays and books of a like character, not confined to the laity, as several friars wrote upon the same subject. In 1696, Daniel De Foe wished to have an institute founded for the better education of young women. He said: "We reproach the sex every day for folly and impertinence, while I am confident had they the advantages of education equal to us, they would be guilty of less than ourselves." Alexander's History of Women, John Paul Ribera's work upon Women, the two huge quartos of De Costa upon the same subject, Count Ségur's "Women: Their Condition and Influence," and many other works showed the drift of the new age.

The Reformation, that great revolution in religious thought, loosened the grasp of the Church upon woman, and is to be looked upon as one of the most important steps in this reform. In the[Pg 30] reign of Elizabeth, England was called the Paradise of Women. When Elizabeth ascended the throne, it was not only as queen, but she succeeded her father as the head of the newly-formed rebellious Church, and she held firm grasp on both Church and State during the long years of her reign, bending alike priest and prelate to her fiery will. The reign of Queen Anne, called the Golden Age of English Literature, is especially noticeable on account of Mary Astell and Elizabeth Elstob. The latter, speaking nine languages, was most famous for her skill in the Saxon tongue. She also replied to current objections made to woman's learning. Mary Astell elaborated a plan for a Woman's College, which was favorably received by Queen Anne, and would have been carried out, but for the opposition of Bishop Burnett.

During the latter part of the eighteenth century, there were public discussions by women in England, under the general head of Female Parliament. These discussions took wide range, touching upon the entrance of men into those industries usually assigned to women, and demanding for themselves higher educational advantages, and the right to vote at elections, and to be returned members of Parliament.

The American Revolution, that great political rebellion of the ages, was based upon the inherent rights of the individual. Perhaps in none but English Colonies, by descendants of English parents, could such a revolution have been consummated. England had never felt the bonds of feudalism to the extent of many countries; its people had defied its monarchs and wrested from them many civil rights, rights which protected women as well as men, and although its common law, warped by ecclesiasticism, expended its chief rigors upon women, yet at an early day they enjoyed certain ecclesiastical and political powers unknown to women elsewhere. Before the Conquest, abbesses sat in councils of the Church and signed its decrees; while kings were even dependent upon their consent in granting certain charters. The synod of Whitby, in the ninth century, was held in the convent of the Abbess Hilda, she herself presiding over its deliberations. The famous prophetess of Kent at one period communicated the orders of Heaven to the Pope himself. Ladies of birth and quality sat in council with the Saxon Witas—i.e., wise men—taking part in the Witenagemot, the great National Council of our Saxon ancestors in England. In the seventh century this National Council met at Baghamstead to enact a new code of laws, the queen, abbesses, and many ladies of quality taking part and signing the decrees. Passing by other similar instances, we find in the reign of Henry III, that four women took seats in Parliament, and in the[Pg 31] reign of Edward I. ten ladies were called to Parliament, while in the thirteenth century, Queen Elinor became keeper of the Great Seal, sitting as Lord Chancellor in the Aula Regia, the highest court of the Kingdom. Running back two or three centuries before the Christian era, we find Martia, her seat of power in London, holding the reins of government so wisely as to receive the surname of Proba, the Just. She especially devoted herself to the enactment of just laws for her subjects, the first principles of the common law tracing back to her; the celebrated laws of Alfred, and of Edward the Confessor, being in great degree restorations and compilations from the laws of Martia, which were known as the "Martian Statutes."

When the American colonies began their resistance to English tyranny, the women—all this inherited tendency to freedom surging in their veins—were as active, earnest, determined, and self-sacrificing as the men, and although, as Mrs. Ellet in her "Women of the Revolution" remarks, "political history says but little, and that vaguely and incidentally, of the women who bore their part in the revolution," yet that little shows woman to have been endowed with as lofty a patriotism as man, and to have as fully understood the principles upon which the struggle was based. Among the women who manifested deep political insight, were Mercy Otis Warren, Abigail Smith Adams, and Hannah Lee Corbin; all closely related to the foremost men of the Revolution. Mrs. Warren was a sister of James Otis, whose fiery words did so much to arouse and intensify the feelings of the colonists against British aggression. This brother and sister were united to the end of their lives in a friendship rendered firm and enduring by the similarity of their intellects and political views. The home of Mrs. Warren was the resort of patriotic spirits and the headquarters of the rebellion. She herself wrote, "By the Plymouth fireside were many political plans organized, discussed, and digested." Her correspondence with eminent men of the Revolution was extensive and belongs to the history of the country. She was the first one who based the struggle upon "inherent rights," a phrase afterward made the corner-stone of political authority. Mrs. Warren asserted that "'inherent rights' belonged to all mankind, and had been conferred on all by the God of nations." She numbered Jefferson among her correspondents, and the Declaration of Independence shows the influence of her mind. Among others who sought her counsel upon political matters were Samuel and John Adams, Dickinson, that pure patriot of Pennsylvania, Jefferson, Gerry, and Knox. She was the first person who counseled separation and pressed those views upon John Adams, when[Pg 32] he sought her advice before the opening of the first Congress. At that time even Washington had no thought of the final independence of the colonies, emphatically denying such intention or desire on their part, and John Adams was shunned in the streets of Philadelphia for having dared to hint such a possibility. Mrs. Warren sustained his sinking courage and urged him to bolder steps. Her advice was not only sought in every emergency, but political parties found their arguments in her conversation. Mrs. Warren looked not to the freedom of man alone, but to that of her own sex also.

England itself had at least one woman who watched the struggle of America with lively interest, and whose writings aided in the dissemination of republican ideas. This was the celebrated Catharine Sawbridge Macaulay, one of the greatest minds England has ever produced—a woman so noted for her republican ideas that after her death a statue was erected to her as the "Patroness of Liberty." During the whole of the Revolutionary period, Washington was in correspondence with Mrs. Macaulay, who did much to sustain him during those days of trial. She and Mrs. Warren were also correspondents at that time. She wrote several works of a republican character, for home influence; among these, in 1775. "An Address to the people of England, Scotland, and Ireland, on the present Important Crisis of Affairs," designed to show the justice of the American cause. The gratitude American's feel toward Edmund Burke for his aid, might well be extended to Mrs. Macaulay.

Abigail Smith Adams, the wife of John Adams, was an American woman whose political insight was worthy of remark. She early protested against the formation of a new government in which woman should be unrecognized, demanding for her a voice and representation. She was the first American woman who threatened rebellion unless the rights of her sex were secured. In March, 1776, she wrote to her husband, then in the Continental Congress, "I long to hear you have declared an independency, and, by the way, in the new code of laws which I suppose it will be necessary for you to make, I desire you would remember the ladies, and be more generous and favorable to them than your ancestors. Do not put such unlimited power into the hands of husbands. Remember, all men would be tyrants if they could. If particular care and attention are not paid to the ladies, we are determined to foment a rebellion, and will not hold ourselves bound to obey any laws in which we have no voice or representation." Again and again did Mrs. Adams urge the establishment of an independency and the limitation of man's power over woman, declaring all arbitrary power dangerous and tending to[Pg 33] revolution. Nor was she less mindful of equal advantages of education. "If you complain of education in sons, what shall I say in regard to daughters, who every day experience the want of it?" She expressed a strong wish that the new Constitution might be distinguished for its encouragement of learning and virtue. Nothing more fully shows the dependent condition of a class than the methods used to secure their wishes. Mrs. Adams felt herself obliged to appeal to masculine selfishness in showing the reflex action woman's education would have upon man. "If," said she, "we mean to have heroes, statesmen, and philosophers, we should have learned women." Thus did the Revolutionary Mothers urge the recognition of equal rights when the Government was in the process of formation. Although the first plot of ground in the United States for a public school had been given by a woman (Bridget Graffort), in 1700, her sex were denied admission. Mrs. Adams, as well as her friend Mrs. Warren, had in their own persons felt the deprivations of early educational advantages. The boasted public school system of Massachusetts, created for boys only, opened at last its doors to girls, merely to secure its share of public money. The women of the South, too, early demanded political equality. The counties of Mecklenberg and Rowan, North Carolina, were famous for the patriotism of their women. Mecklenberg claims to have issued the first declaration of independence, and, at the centennial celebration of this event in May, 1875, proudly accepted for itself the derisive name given this region by Tarleton's officers, "The Hornet's Nest of America." This name—first bestowed by British officers upon Mrs. Brevard's mansion, then Tarleton's headquarters, where that lady's fiery patriotism and stinging wit discomfited this General in many a sally—was at last held to include the whole county. In 1778, only two years after the Declaration of Independence was adopted, and while the flames of war were still spreading over the country, Hannah Lee Corbin, of Virginia, the sister of General Richard Henry Lee, wrote him, protesting against the taxation of women unless they were allowed to vote. He replied that "women were already possessed of that right," thus recognizing the fact of woman's enfranchisement as one of the results of the new government, and it is on record that women in Virginia did at an early day exercise the right of voting. New Jersey also specifically secured this right to women on the 2d of July, 1776—a right exercised by them for more than a third of a century. Thus our country started into governmental life freighted with the protests of the Revolutionary Mothers against being ruled without their consent. From that hour to the present, women have been continually[Pg 34] raising their voices against political tyranny, and demanding for themselves equality of opportunity in every department of life.

In 1790, Mary Wollstonecraft's "Vindication of the Rights of Women," published in London, attracted much attention from liberal minds. She examined the position of woman in the light of existing civilizations, and demanded for her the widest opportunities of education, industry, political knowledge, and the right of representation. Although her work is filled with maxims of the highest morality and purest wisdom, it called forth such violent abuse, that her husband appealed for her from the judgment of her contemporaries to that of mankind. So exalted were her ideas of woman, so comprehensive her view of life, that Margaret Fuller, in referring to her, said: "Mary Wollstonecraft—a woman whose existence proved the need of some new interpretation of woman's rights, belonging to that class who by birth find themselves in places so narrow that, by breaking bonds, they become outlaws." Following her, came Jane Marcet, Eliza Lynn, and Harriet Martineau—each of whom in the early part of the nineteenth century, exerted a decided influence upon the political thought of England. Mrs. Marcet was one of the most scientific and highly cultivated persons of the age. Her "Conversations on Chemistry," familiarized that science both in England and America, and from it various male writers filched their ideas. It was a text-book in this country for many years. Over one hundred and sixty thousand copies were sold, though the fact that this work emanated from the brain of a woman was carefully withheld. Mrs. Marcet also wrote upon political economy, and was the first person who made the subject comprehensive to the popular mind. Her manner of treating it was so clear and vivid, that the public, to whom it had been a hidden science, were able to grasp the subject. Her writings were the inspiration of Harriet Martineau, who followed her in the same department of thought at a later period. Miss Martineau was a remarkable woman. Besides her numerous books on political economy, she was a regular contributor to the London Daily News, the second paper in circulation in England, for many years writing five long articles weekly, also to Dickens' Household Words, and the Westminster Review. She saw clearly the spirit and purpose of the Anti-Slavery Movement in this country, and was a regular contributor to the National Anti-Slavery Standard, published in New York. Eliza Lynn, an Irish lady, was at this time writing leading editorials for political papers. In Russia, Catharine II., the absolute and irresponsible ruler of that vast nation, gave utterance to views, of which, says La Harpe, the revolutionists of France[Pg 35] and America fondly thought themselves the originators. She caused her grandchildren to be educated into the most liberal ideas, and Russia was at one time the only country in Europe where political refugees could find safety. To Catharine, Russia is indebted for the first proposition to enfranchise the serfs, but meeting strong opposition she was obliged to relinquish this idea, which was carried to fruition by her great-grandson, Alexander.

This period of the eighteenth century was famous for the executions of women on account of their radical political opinions, Madame Roland, the leader of the liberal party in France, going to the guillotine with the now famous words upon her lips, "Oh, Liberty, what crimes are committed in thy name!" The beautiful Charlotte Corday sealed with her life her belief in liberty, while Sophia Lapiérre barely escaped the same fate; though two men, Siéyes and Condorcét, in the midst of the French Revolution, proposed the recognition of woman's political rights.

Frances Wright, a person of extraordinary powers of mind, born in Dundee, Scotland, in 1797, was the first woman who gave lectures on political subjects in America. When sixteen years of age she heard of the existence of a country in which freedom for the people had been proclaimed; she was filled with joy and a determination to visit the American Republic where the foundations of justice, liberty, and equality had been so securely laid. In 1820 she came here, traveling extensively North and South. She was at that time but twenty-two years of age. Her letters gave Europeans the first true knowledge of America, and secured for her the friendship of LaFayette. Upon her second visit she made this country her home for several years. Her radical ideas on theology, slavery, and the social degradation of woman, now generally accepted by the best minds of the age, were then denounced by both press and pulpit, and maintained by her at the risk of her life. Although the Government of the United States was framed on the basis of entire separation of Church and State, yet from an early day the theological spirit had striven to unite the two, in order to strengthen the Church by its union with the civil power. As early as 1828, the standard of "The Christian Party in Politics" was openly unfurled. Frances Wright had long been aware of its insidious efforts, and its reliance upon women for its support. Ignorant, superstitious, devout, woman's general lack of education made her a fitting instrument for the work of thus undermining the republic. Having deprived her of her just rights, the country was new to find in woman its most dangerous foe. Frances Wright lectured that winter in the[Pg 36] large cities of the West and Middle States, striving to rouse the nation to the new danger which threatened it. The clergy at once became her most bitter opponents. The cry of "infidel" was started on every side, though her work was of vital importance to the country and undertaken from the purest philanthropy. In speaking of her persecutions she said: "The injury and inconvenience of every kind and every hour to which, in these days, a really consistent reformer stands exposed, none can conceive but those who experience them. Such become, as it were, excommunicated after the fashion of the old Catholic Mother Church, removed even from the protection of law, such as it is, and from the sympathy of society, for whose sake they consent to be crucified."

Among those who were advocating the higher education of women, Mrs. Emma Willard became noted at this period. Born with a strong desire for learning, she keenly felt the educational disadvantages of her sex. She began teaching at an early day, introducing new studies and new methods in her school, striving to secure public interest in promoting woman's education. Governor Clinton, of New York, impressed with the wisdom of her plans, invited her to move her school from Connecticut to New York. She accepted, and in 1819 established a school in Watervleit, which soon moved to Troy, and in time built up a great reputation. Through the influence of Governor Clinton, the Legislature granted a portion of the educational fund to endow this institution, which was the first instance in the United States of Government aid for the education of women. Amos B. Eaton, Professor of the Natural Sciences in the Rensselaer Institute, Troy, at this time, was Mrs. Willard's faithful friend and teacher. In the early days it was her custom, in introducing a new branch of learning into her seminary, to study it herself, reciting to Professor Eaton every evening the lesson of the next day. Thus she went through botany, chemistry, mineralogy, astronomy, and the higher mathematics. As she could not afford teachers for these branches, with faithful study she fitted herself. Mrs. Willard's was the first girls' school in which the higher mathematics formed part of the course, but such was the prejudice against a liberal education for woman, that the first public examination of a girl in geometry (1829) created as bitter a storm of ridicule as has since assailed women who have entered the law, the pulpit, or the medical profession. The derision attendant upon the experiment of advancing woman's education, led Governor Clinton to say in his message to the Legislature: "I trust you will not be deterred by commonplace ridicule from extending your munificence[Pg 37] to this meritorious institution." At a school convention in Syracuse, 1845, Mrs. Willard suggested the employment of woman as superintendents of public schools, a measure since adopted in many States. She also projected the system of normal schools for the higher education of teachers. A scientific explorer as well as student, she wrote a work on the "Motive Power in the Circulation of the Blood," in contradiction to Harvey's theory, which at once attracted the attention of medical men. This work was one of the then accumulating evidences of woman's adaptation to medical study.

In Ancient Egypt the medical profession was in the hands of women, to which we may attribute that country's almost entire exemption from infantile diseases, a fact which recent discoveries fully authenticate. The enormous death-rate of young children in modern civilized countries may be traced to woman's general enforced ignorance of the laws of life, and to the fact that the profession of medicine has been too exclusively in the hands of men. Though through the dim past we find women still making discoveries, and in the feudal ages possessing knowledge of both medicine and surgery, it is but recently that they have been welcomed as practitioners into the medical profession. Looking back scarcely a hundred years, we find science much indebted to woman for some of its most brilliant discoveries. In 1736, the first medical botany was given to the world by Elizabeth Blackwell, a woman physician, whom the persecutions of her male compeers had cast into jail for debt. As Bunyan prepared his "Pilgrim's Progress" between prison walls, so did Elizabeth Blackwell, no-wise disheartened, prepare her valuable aid to medical science under the same conditions. Lady Montague's discovery of a check to the small-pox, Madam Boivin's discovery of the hidden cause of certain hemorrhages, Madam de Condrày's invention of the manikin, are among the notable steps which opened the way to the modern Elizabeth Blackwell, Harriot K. Hunt, Clemence S. Lozier, Ann Preston, Hannah Longshore, Marie Jackson, Laura Ross Wolcott, Marie Zakrzewska, and Mary Putnam Jacobi, who are some of the earlier distinguished American examples of woman's skill in the healing art.

Mary Gove Nichols gave public lectures upon anatomy in the United States in 1838. Paulina Wright (Davis) followed her upon physiology in 1844, using a manikin in her illustrations.[1] Mariana[Pg 38] Johnson followed Mrs. Davis, but it was 1848 before Elizabeth Blackwell—the first woman to pass through the regular course of medical study—received her diploma at Geneva.[2] In 1845-6, preceding Miss Blackwell's course of study, Dr. Samuel Gregory and his brother George issued pamphlets advocating the education and employment of women-physicians, and, in 1847, Dr. Gregory delivered a series of lectures in Boston upon that subject, followed in 1848 by a school numbering twelve ladies, and an association entitled the "American Female Medical Education Society." In 1832, Lydia Maria Child published her "History of Woman," which was the first American storehouse of information upon the whole question, and undoubtedly increased the agitation. In 1836, Ernestine L. Rose, a Polish lady—banished from her native country by the Austrian tyrant, Francis Joseph, for her love of liberty—came to America, lecturing in the large cities North and South upon the "Science of Government." She advocated the enfranchisement of woman. Her beauty, wit, and eloquence drew crowded houses. About this period Judge Hurlbut, of New York, a leading member of the Bar, wrote a vigorous work on "Human Rights,"[3] in which he advocated political equality for women. This work attracted the attention of many legal minds throughout that State. In the winter of 1836, a bill was introduced into the New York Legislature by Judge Hertell, to secure to married women their rights of property. This bill was drawn up under the direction of Hon. John Savage, Chief-Justice of the Supreme Court, and Hon. John C. Spencer, one of the revisers of the statutes of New York. It was in furtherance of this bill that Ernestine L. Rose and Paulina Wright at that early day circulated petitions. The very few names they secured show the hopeless apathy and ignorance of the women as to their own rights. As similar bills[4] were pending in New York until finally passed in 1848, a great educational work was accomplished in the constant discussion of the topics involved. During the winters of 1844-5-6, Elizabeth Cady Stanton,[Pg 39] living in Albany, made the acquaintance of Judge Hurlbut and a large circle of lawyers and legislators, and, while exerting herself to strengthen their convictions in favor of the pending bill, she resolved at no distant day to call a convention for a full and free discussion of woman's rights and wrongs.

In 1828, Sarah and Angelina Grimke, daughters of a wealthy planter of Charleston, South Carolina, emancipated their slaves and came North to lecture on the evils of slavery, leaving their home and native place forever because of their hatred of this wrong. Angelina was a natural orator. Fresh from the land of bondage, there was a fervor in her speech that electrified her hearers and drew crowds wherever she went. Sarah published a book reviewing the Bible arguments the clergy were then making in their pulpits to prove that the degradation of the slave and woman were alike in harmony with the expressed will of God. Thus women from the beginning took an active part in the Anti-Slavery struggle. They circulated petitions, raised large sums of money by fairs, held prayer-meetings and conventions. In 1835, Angelina wrote an able letter to William Lloyd Garrison, immediately after the Boston mob. These letters and appeals were considered very effective abolition documents.

In May, 1837, a National Woman's Anti-Slavery Convention was held in New York, in which eight States were represented by seventy-one delegates. The meetings were ably sustained through two days. The different sessions were opened by prayer and reading of the Scriptures by the women themselves. A devout, earnest spirit prevailed. The debates, resolutions, speeches, and appeals were fully equal to those in any Convention held by men of that period. Angelina Grimke was appointed by this Convention to prepare an appeal for the slaves to the people of the free States, and a letter to John Quincy Adams thanking him for his services in defending the right of petition for women and slaves, qualified with the regret that by expressing himself "adverse to the abolition of slavery in the District of Columbia," he did not sustain the cause of freedom and of God. She wrote a stirring appeal to the Christian women of the South, urging them to use their influence against slavery. Sarah also wrote an appeal to the clergy of the South, conjuring them to use their power for freedom.

Among those who took part in these conventions we find the names of Lydia Maria Child, Mary Grove, Henrietta Sargent, Sarah Pugh, Abby Kelley, Mary S. Parker, of Boston, who was president of the Convention; Anne Webster, Deborah Shaw, Martha Storrs,[Pg 40] Mrs. A. L. Cox, Rebecca B. Spring, and Abigail Hopper Gibbons, a daughter of that noble Quaker philanthropist, Isaac T. Hopper.

Abby Kelley was the most untiring and the most persecuted of all the women who labored throughout the Anti-Slavery struggle. She traveled up and down, alike in winter's cold and summer's heat, with scorn, ridicule, violence, and mobs accompanying her, suffering all kinds of persecutions, still speaking whenever and wherever she gained an audience; in the open air, in school-house, barn, depot, church, or public hall; on week-day or Sunday, as she found opportunity. For listening to her, on Sunday, many men and women were expelled from their churches. Thus through continued persecution was woman's self-assertion and self-respect sufficiently developed to prompt her at last to demand justice, liberty, and equality for herself.

In 1840, Margaret Fuller published an essay in the Dial, entitled "The Great Lawsuit, or Man vs. Woman: Woman vs. Man." In this essay she demanded perfect equality for woman, in education, industry, and politics. It attracted great attention and was afterward expanded into a work entitled "Woman in the Nineteenth Century." This, with her parlor conversations, on art, science, religion, politics, philosophy, and social life, gave a new impulse to woman's education as a thinker.[5]

"Woman and her Era," by Eliza Woodson Farnham, was another work that called out a general discussion on the status of the sexes, Mrs. Farnham taking the ground of woman's superiority. The great social and educational work done by her in California, when society there was chiefly male, and rapidly tending to savagism, and her humane experiment in the Sing Sing (N. Y.), State Prison, assisted by Georgiana Bruce Kirby and Mariana Johnson, are worthy of mention.

In the State of New York, in 1845, Rev. Samuel J. May preached a sermon at Syracuse, upon "The Eights and Conditions of Women," in which he sustained their right to take part in political life, saying women need not expect "to have their wrongs fully redressed, until they themselves have a voice and a hand in the enactment and administration of the laws."

In 1847, Clarina Howard Nichols, in her husband's paper, addressed to the voters of the State of Vermont a series of editorials, setting forth the injustice of the property disabilities of married women.

In 1849, Lucretia Mott published a discourse on woman, delivered[Pg 41] in the Assembly Building, Philadelphia, in answer to a Lyceum lecture which Richard H. Dana, of Boston, was giving in many of the chief cities, ridiculing the idea of political equality for woman. Elizabeth Wilson, of Ohio, published a scriptural view of woman's rights and duties far in advance of the generally received opinions. At even an earlier day, Martha Bradstreet, of Utica, plead her own case in the courts of New York, continuing her contest for many years. The temperance reform and the deep interest taken in it by women; the effective appeals they made, setting forth their wrongs as mother, wife, sister, and daughter of the drunkard, with a power beyond that of man, early gave them a local place on this platform as a favor, though denied as a right. Delegates from woman's societies to State and National conventions invariably found themselves rejected. It was her early labors in the temperance cause that first roused Susan B. Anthony to a realizing sense of woman's social, civil, and political degradation, and thus secured her life-long labors for the enfranchisement of woman. In 1847 she made her first speech at a public meeting of the Daughters of Temperance in Canajoharie, N. Y. The same year Antoinette L. Brown, then a student at Oberlin College, Ohio, the first institution that made the experiment of co-education, delivered her first speech on temperance in several places in Ohio, and on Woman's Rights, in the Baptist church at Henrietta, N. Y. Lucy Stone, a graduate of Oberlin, made her first speech on Woman's Rights the same year in her brother's church at Brookfield, Mass.

Nor were the women of Europe inactive during these years. In 1824 Elizabeth Heyrick, a Quaker woman, cut the gordian knot of difficulty in the anti-slavery struggle in England, by an able essay in favor of immediate, unconditional emancipation. At Leipsic, in 1844, Helene Marie Weber—her father a Prussian officer, and her mother an English woman—wrote a series of ten tracts on "Woman's Rights and Wrongs," covering the whole question and making a volume of over twelve hundred pages. The first of these treated of the intellectual faculties; the second, woman's rights of property; the third, wedlock—deprecating the custom of woman merging her civil existence in that of her husband; the fourth claimed woman's right to all political emoluments; the fifth, on ecclesiasticism, demanded for woman an entrance to the pulpit; the sixth, upon suffrage, declared it to be woman's right and duty to vote. These essays were strong, vigorous, and convincing. Miss Weber also lectured in Vienna, Berlin, and several of the large German cities. In England, Lady Morgan's "Woman and her Master" appeared;—a work filled[Pg 42] with philosophical reflections, and of the same general bearing as Miss Weber's. Also an "Appeal of Women," the joint work of Mrs. Wheeler and William Thomson—a strong and vigorous essay, in which woman's limitations under the law were tersely and pungently set forth and her political rights demanded. The active part women took in the Polish and German revolutions and in favor of the abolition of slavery in the British West Indies, all taught their lessons of woman's rights. Madam Mathilde Anneke, on the staff of her husband, with Hon. Carl Schurz, carried messages to and fro in the midst of danger on the battle-fields of Germany.

Thus over the civilized world we find the same impelling forces, and general development of society, without any individual concert of action, tending to the same general result; alike rousing the minds of men and women to the aggregated wrongs of centuries and inciting to an effort for their overthrow.

The works of George Sand, Frederika Bremer, Charlotte Bronté, George Eliot, Catharine Sedgwick, and Harriet Beecher Stowe, in literature; Mrs. Hemans, Mrs. Sigourney, Elizabeth Barrett Browning, in poetry; Angelica Kauffman, Rosa Bonheur, Harriet Hosmer, in art; Mary Somerville, Caroline Herschell, Maria Mitchell, in science; Elizabeth Fry, Dorothea Dix, Mary Carpenter, in prison reform; Florence Nightingale and Clara Barton in the camp—are all parts of the great uprising of women out of the lethargy of the past, and are among the forces of the complete revolution a thousand pens and voices herald at this hour.


[1] As showing woman's ignorance and prejudice, Mrs. Davis used to relate that when she uncovered her manikin some ladies would drop their veils because of its indelicacy, and others would run from the room; sometimes ladies even fainted.

[2] The writer's father, a physician, as early as 1843-4, canvassed the subject of giving his daughter (Matilda Joslyn Gage) a medical education, looking to Geneva—then presided over by his old instructor—to open its doors to her. But this bold idea was dropped, and Miss Blackwell was the first and only lady who was graduated from that Institution until its incorporation with the Syracuse University and the removal of the college to that city.

[3] Judge Hurlbut, with a lawyer's prejudice, first prepared a paper against the rights of woman. Looking it over, he saw himself able to answer every argument, which he proceeded to do—the result being his "Human Rights."

[4] In the New York chapter a fuller account of the discussion and action upon these bills will be given.

[5] See Appendix.

[Pg 43]



In newspaper literature woman made her entrance at an early period and in an important manner. The first daily newspaper in the world was established and edited by a woman, Elizabeth Mallet, in London, March, 1702. It was called The Daily Courant. In her salutatory, Mrs. Mallet declared she had established her paper to "spare the public at least half the impertinences which the ordinary papers contain." Thus the first daily paper was made reformatory in its character by its wise woman-founder.

The first newspaper printed in Rhode Island was by Anna Franklin in 1732. She was printer to the colony, supplied blanks to the public officers, published pamphlets, etc., and in 1745 she printed for the colonial government an edition of the laws comprising three hundred and forty pages. She was aided by her two daughters, who were correct and quick compositors. The woman servant of the house usually worked the press. The third paper established in America was The Mercury, in Philadelphia. After the death of its founder, in 1742, it was suspended for a week, when his widow, Mrs. Cornelia Bradford, revived it and carried it on for many years, making it both a literary and a pecuniary success. The second newspaper started in the city of New York, entitled the New York Weekly Journal, was conducted by Mrs. Zeuger for years after the death of her husband. She discontinued its publication in 1748. The Maryland Gazette, the first paper in that colony, and among the oldest in America, was established by Anna K. Greene in 1767. She did the colony printing and continued the business till her death, in 1775. Mrs. Hassebatch also established a paper in Baltimore in 1773. Mrs. Mary K. Goddard published the Maryland Journal for eight years. Her editorials were of so spirited and pronounced a character that only her sex saved her from sound floggings. She took in job work. She was the first postmaster after the Revolution, holding the office for eight years. Two papers were[Pg 44] early published in Virginia by women. Each was established in Williamsburg, and each was called The Virginia Gazette. The first, started by Clementina Reid, in 1772, favored the Colonial cause, giving great offense to many royalists. To counteract its influence, Mrs. H. Boyle, of the same place, started another paper in 1774, in the interests of the Crown, and desirous that it should seem to represent the true principles of the colony, she borrowed the name of the colonial paper. It lived but a short time. The Colonial Virginia Gazette was the first paper in which was printed the Declaration of Independence. A synopsis was given July 19th, and the whole document the 26th. Mrs. Elizabeth Timothee published a paper in Charleston, South Carolina, from 1773 to 1775, called The Gazette. Anna Timothee revived it after the Revolution, and was appointed printer to the State, holding the office till 1792. Mary Crouch also published a paper in Charleston, S. C., until 1780. It was founded in special opposition to the Stamp Act. She afterward removed to Salem, Mass., and continued its publication for several years. Penelope Russell printed The Censor in Boston, Mass., in 1771. She set her own type, and was such a ready compositor as to set up her editorials without written copy, while working at her case. The most tragical and interesting events were thus recorded by her. The first paper published in America, living to a second issue, was the Massachusetts Gazette and North Boston News Letter. It was continued by Mrs. Margaret Draper, two years after the death of her husband, and was the only paper of spirit in the colony, all but hers suspending publication when Boston was besieged by the British. Mrs. Sarah Goddard printed a paper at Newport, R. I., in 1776. She was a well-educated woman, and versed in general literature. For two years she conducted her journal with great ability, afterward associating John Carter with her, under the name of Sarah Goddard & Co., retaining the partnership precedence so justly belonging to her. The Courant at Hartford, Ct., was edited for two years by Mrs. Watson, after the death of her husband, in 1777. In 1784 Mrs. Mary Holt edited and published the New York Journal, continuing the business several years. She was appointed State printer. In 1798, The Journal and Argus fell into the hands of Mrs. Greenleaf, who for some time published both a daily and semi-weekly edition. In Philadelphia, after the death of her father in 1802, Mrs. Jane Aitkins continued his business of printing. Her press-work bore high reputation. She was specially noted for her correctness in proof-reading. The Free Enquirer, edited in New York by Frances Wright in 1828, "was the first periodical[Pg 45] established in the United States for the purpose of fearless and unbiased inquiry on all subjects." It had already been published two years under the name of The New Harmony Gazette, in Indiana, by Robert Dale Owen, for which Mrs. Wright had written many leading editorials, and in which she published serially "A Few Days in Athens."

Sarah Josepha Hale established a ladies' magazine in Boston in 1827, which she afterward removed to Philadelphia, there associating with herself Louis Godey, and assuming the editorship of Godey's Lady's Book. This magazine was followed by many others, of which Mrs. Kirkland, Mrs. Osgood, Mrs. Ellet, Mrs. Sigourney, and women of like character were editors or contributors. These early magazines published many steel and colored engravings, not only of fashions, but reproductions of works of art, giving the first important impulse to the art of engraving in this country.

Many other periodicals and papers by women now appeared over the country. Mrs. Anne Royal edited for a quarter of a century a paper called The Huntress. In 1827 Lydia Maria Child published a paper for children called The Juvenile Miscellany, and in 1841 assumed the editorship of The Anti-Slavery Standard, in New York, which she ably conducted for eight years. The Dial, in Boston, a transcendental quarterly, edited by Margaret Fuller, made its appearance in 1840; its contributors, among whom were Ralph Waldo Emerson, Bronson Alcott, Theodore Parker, Wm. H. Channing, and the nature-loving Thoreau, were some of the most profound thinkers of the time. Charlotte Fowler Wells, the efficient coadjutor of her brothers and husband for the last forty-two years in the management of The Phrenological Journal and Publishing House of Fowler & Wells in New York city, and since her husband's death in 1875 the sole proprietor and general manager, has also conducted an extensive correspondence and written occasional articles for the Journal. The Lowell Offering, edited by the "mill girls" of that manufacturing town, was established in 1840, and exercised a wide influence. It lived till 1849. Its articles were entirely written by the girl operatives, among whom may be mentioned Lucy Larcom, Margaret Foley, the sculptor, who recently died in Rome; Lydia S. Hall, who at one time filled an important clerkship in the United States Treasury, and Harriet J. Hansan, afterward the wife of W. S. Robinson (Warrington), and herself one of the present workers in Woman Suffrage. Harriet F. Curtis, author of two popular novels, and Harriet Farley, both "mill girls," had entire editorial charge during the latter part of its existence. In Vermont, Clarina Howard[Pg 46] Nichols edited the Windham County Democrat from 1843 to 1853. It was a political paper of a pronounced character; her husband was the publisher. Jane G. Swisshelm edited The Saturday Visitor, at Pittsburg, Pa., in 1848. Also the same year The True Kindred appeared, by Rebecca Sanford, at Akron, Ohio. The Lily, a temperance monthly, was started in Seneca Falls, N. Y., in 1849, by Amelia Bloomer, as editor and publisher. It also advocated Woman's Rights, and attained a circulation in nearly every State and Territory of the Union. The Sybil soon followed, Dr. Lydia Sayre Hasbrook, editor; also The Pledge of Honor, edited by N. M. Baker and E. Maria Sheldon, Adrian, Michigan.

In 1849, Die Frauen Zeitung, edited by Mathilde Franceska Anneke, was published in Milwaukee, Wisconsin. In 1850, Lydia Jane Pierson edited a column of the Lancaster (Pa.) Gazette; Mrs. Prewett edited the Yazoo (Miss.) Whig, in Mississippi; and Mrs. Sheldon the Dollar Weekly. In 1851, Julia Ward Howe edited, with her husband, The Commonwealth, a newspaper dedicated to free thought, and zealous for the liberty of the slave. In 1851, Mrs. C. C. Bentley was editor of the Concord Free Press, in Vermont, and Elizabeth Aldrich of the Genius of Liberty, in Ohio. In 1852, Anna W. Spencer started the Pioneer and Woman's Advocate, in Providence, R. I. Its motto was, "Liberty, Truth, Temperance, Equality." It was published semi-monthly, and advocated a better education for woman, a higher price for her labor, the opening of new industries. It was the earliest paper established in the United States for the advocacy of Woman's Rights. In 1853, The Una, a paper devoted to the enfranchisement of woman, owned and edited by Paulina Wright Davis, was first published in Providence, but afterward removed to Boston, where Caroline H. Dall became associate editor. In 1855, Anna McDowell founded The Woman's Advocate in Philadelphia, a paper in which, like that of Mrs. Anna Franklin, the owner, editor, and compositors were all women. About this period many well-known literary women filled editorial chairs. Grace Greenwood started a child's paper called The Little Pilgrim; Mrs. Bailey conducted the Era, an anti-slavery paper, in Washington, D. C., after her husband's death.

In 1868, The Revolution, a pronounced Woman's Rights paper, was started in New York city; Susan B. Anthony, publisher and proprietor, Elizabeth Cady Stanton and Parker Pillsbury, editors. Its motto, "Principles, not policy; justice, not favor; men, their rights and nothing more; women, their rights and nothing less." In 1870 it passed into the hands of Laura Curtis Bullard, who edited[Pg 47] it two years with the assistance of Phebe Carey and Augusta Larned, and in 1872 it found consecrated burial in The Liberal Christian, the leading Unitarian paper in New York. From the advent of The Revolution can be dated a new era in the woman suffrage movement. Its brilliant, aggressive columns attracted the comments of the press, and drew the attention of the country to the reform so ably advocated. Many other papers devoted to the discussion of woman's enfranchisement soon arose. In 1869, The Pioneer, in San Francisco, Cal., Emily Pitts Stevens, editor and proprietor. The Woman's Advocate, at Dayton, O., A. J. Boyer and Miriam M. Cole, editors, started the same year. The Sorosis and The Agitator, in Chicago, Ill., the latter owned and edited by Mary A. Livermore, and The Woman's Advocate, in New York, were all alike short-lived. L'Amérique, a semi-weekly French paper published in Chicago, Ill., by Madam Jennie d'Héricourt, and Die Neue Zeit, a German paper, in New York, by Mathilde F. Wendt, this same year, show the interest of our foreign women citizens in the cause of their sex. In 1870, The Woman's Journal was founded in Boston, Lucy Stone, Julia Ward Howe, and Henry B. Blackwell, editors. Woodhull and Claflin's Weekly, an erratic paper, advocating many new ideas, was established in New York by Victoria Woodhull and Tennie C. Claflin, editors and proprietors. The New Northwest, in Portland, Oregon, in 1871, Abigail Scott Duniway, editor and proprietor. The Golden Dawn, at San Francisco, Cal., in 1876, Mrs. Boyer, editor.

The Ballot-Box was started in 1876, at Toledo, O., Sarah Langdon Williams, editor, under the auspices of the city Woman's Suffrage Association. It was moved to Syracuse in 1878, and is now edited by Matilda Joslyn Gage, under the name of The National Citizen and Ballot-Box, as an exponent of the views of the National Woman Suffrage Association. Its motto, "Self-government is a natural right, and the ballot is the method of exercising that right." Laura de Force Gordon for some years edited a daily democratic paper in California. In opposition to this large array of papers demanding equality for woman, a solitary little monthly was started a few years since, in Baltimore, Md., under the auspices of Mrs. General Sherman and Mrs. Admiral Dahlgren. It was called The True Woman, but soon died of inanition and inherent weakness of constitution.

In the Exposition of 1876, in Philadelphia, the New Century, edited and published under the auspices of the Woman's Centennial Committee, was made-up and printed by women on a press of their own, in the Woman's Pavilion. In 1877 Mrs. Theresa Lewis started Woman's Words in Philadelphia. For some time, Penfield,[Pg 48] N. Y., boasted its thirteen-year-old girl editor, in Miss Nellie Williams. Her paper, the Penfield Enterprise, was for three years written, set up, and published by herself. It attained a circulation of three thousand.

Many foreign papers devoted to woman's interests have been established within the last few years. The Women's Suffrage Journal, in England, Lydia E. Becker, of Manchester, editor and proprietor; the Englishwoman's Journal, in London, edited by Caroline Ashurst Biggs; Woman and Work and the Victoria Magazine, by Emily Faithful, are among the number. Miss Faithful's magazine having attained a circulation of fifty thousand. Des Droits des Femmes, long the organ of the Swiss woman suffragists, Madame Marie Goegg, the head, was followed by the Solidarite. L'Avenir des Femmes, edited by M. Leon Richer, has Mlle. Maria Dairésmes, the author of a spirited reply to the work of M. Dumas, fils, on Woman, as its special contributor. L'Ésperance, of Geneva, an Englishwoman its editor, was an early advocate of woman's cause. La Donna, at Venice, edited by Signora Gualberti Aläide Beccari (a well-known Italian philanthropic name); La Cornelia, at Florence, Signora Amelia Cunino Foliero de Luna, editor, prove Italian advancement. Germany, Spain, and the Netherlands must not be omitted from the list of those countries which have published Woman's Rights papers. In Lima, Peru, we find a paper edited and controlled entirely by women; its name, Alborada, i.e., the Dawn, a South American prophecy and herald of that dawn of justice and equality now breaking upon the world. The Orient, likewise, shows progress. At Bukarest, in Romaine, a paper, the Dekebalos, upholding the elevation of woman, was started in 1874. The Euridike, at Constantinople, edited by Emile Leonzras, is of a similar character. The Bengalee Magazine, devoted to the interests of Indian ladies, its editorials all from woman's pen, shows Asiatic advance.

In the United States the list of women's fashion papers, with their women editors and correspondents, is numerous and important. For fourteen years Harper's Bazaar has been ably edited by Mary L. Booth; other papers of similar character are both owned and edited by women. Madame Demorest's Monthly, a paper that originated the vast pattern business which has extended its ramifications into every part of the country and given employment to thousands of women. As illustrative of woman's continuity of purpose in newspaper work, we may mention the fact that for fifteen years Fanny Fern did not fail to have an article in readiness each[Pg 49] week for the Ledger, and for twenty years Jennie June (Mrs. Croly) has edited Demorest's Monthly and contributed to many other papers throughout the United States. Mary Mapes Dodge has edited the St. Nicholas the past eight years. So important a place do women writers hold, Harper's Monthly asserts, that the exceptionally large prices are paid to women contributors. The spiciest critics, reporters, and correspondents to-day, are women—Grace Greenwood, Louise Chandler Moulton, Mary Clemmer. Laura C. Holloway is upon the editorial staff of the Brooklyn Eagle. The New York Times boasts a woman (Midi Morgan) cattle reporter, one of the best judges of stock in the country. In some papers, over their own names, women edit columns on special subjects, and fill important positions on journals owned and edited by men. Elizabeth Boynton Harbert edits "The Woman's Kingdom" in the Inter-Ocean, one of the leading dailies of Chicago. Mary Forney Weigley edits a social department in her father's—John W. Forney—paper, the Progress, in Philadelphia. The political columns of many papers are prepared by women, men often receiving the credit. Among the best editorials in the New York Tribune, from Margaret Fuller to Lucia Gilbert Calhoun, have been from the pens of women.

If the proverb that "the pen is mightier than the sword" be true, woman's skill and force in using this mightier weapon must soon change the destinies of the world.

[Pg 50]



Individualism rather than Authority—Personal appearance of Abolitionists—Clerical attempt to silence Woman—Double battle against the tyranny of sex and color—Bigoted Abolitionists—James G. Birney likes freedom on a Southern plantation, but not at his own fireside—John Bull never dreamt that Woman would answer his call—The venerable Thomas Clarkson received by the Convention standing—Lengthy debate on "Female" delegates—The "Females" rejected—William Lloyd Garrison refused to sit in the Convention.

In gathering up the threads of history in the last century, and weaving its facts and philosophy together, one can trace the liberal social ideas, growing out of the political and religious revolutions in France, Germany, Italy, and America; and their tendency to substitute for the divine right of kings, priests, and orders of nobility, the higher and broader one of individual conscience and judgment in all matters pertaining to this life and that which is to come. It is not surprising that in so marked a transition period from the old to the new, as seen in the eighteenth century, that women, trained to think and write and speak, should have discovered that they, too, had some share in the new-born liberties suddenly announced to the world. That the radical political theories, propagated in different countries, made their legitimate impress on the minds of women of the highest culture, is clearly proved by their writings and conversation. While in their ignorance, women are usually more superstitious, more devoutly religious than men; those trained to thought, have generally manifested more interest in political questions, and have more frequently spoken and written on such themes, than on those merely religious. This may be attributed, in a measure, to the fact that the tendency of woman's mind, at this stage of her development, is toward practical, rather than toward speculative science.

Questions of political economy lie within the realm of positive knowledge; those of theology belong to the world of mysteries and abstractions, which those minds, only, that imagine they have compassed the known, are ambitious to enter and explore. And yet, the[Pg 51] quickening power of the Protestant Reformation roused woman, as well as man, to new and higher thought. The bold declarations of Luther, placing individual judgment above church authority, the faith of the Quaker that the inner light was a better guide than arbitrary law, the religious idealism of the Transcendentalists, and their teachings that souls had no sex, had each a marked influence in developing woman's self-assertion. Such ideas making all divine revelations as veritable and momentous to one soul, as another, tended directly to equalize the members of the human family, and place men and women on the same plane of moral responsibility.

The revelations of science, too, analyzing and portraying the wonders and beauties of this material world, crowned with new dignity, man and woman,—Nature's last and proudest work. Combe and Spurzheim, proving by their Phrenological discoveries that the feelings, sentiments, and affections of the soul mould and shape the skull, gave new importance to woman's thought as mother of the race. Thus each new idea in religion, politics, science, and philosophy, tending to individualism, rather than authority, came into the world freighted with new hopes of liberty for woman.

And when in the progress of civilization the time had fully come for the recognition of the feminine element in humanity, women, in every civilized country unknown to each other, began simultaneously to demand a broader sphere of action. Thus the first public demand for political equality by a body of women in convention assembled, was a link in the chain of woman's development, binding the future with the past, as complete and necessary in itself, as the events of any other period of her history. The ridicule of facts does not change their character. Many who study the past with interest, and see the importance of seeming trifles in helping forward great events, often fail to understand some of the best pages of history made under their own eyes. Hence the woman suffrage movement has not yet been accepted as the legitimate outgrowth of American ideas—a component part of the history of our republic—but is falsely considered the willful outburst of a few unbalanced minds, whose ideas can never be realized under any form of government.

Among the immediate causes that led to the demand for the equal political rights of women, in this country, we may note three:

1. The discussion in several of the State Legislatures on the property rights of married women, which, heralded by the press with comments grave and gay, became the topic of general interest around many fashionable dinner-tables, and at many humble firesides.[Pg 52] In this way all phases of the question were touched upon, involving the relations of the sexes, and gradually widening to all human interests—political, religious, civil, and social. The press and pulpit became suddenly vigilant in marking out woman's sphere, while woman herself seemed equally vigilant in her efforts to step outside the prescribed limits.

2. A great educational work was accomplished by the able lectures of Frances Wright, on political, religious, and social questions. Ernestine L. Rose, following in her wake, equally liberal in her religious opinions, and equally well informed on the science of government, helped to deepen and perpetuate the impression Frances Wright had made on the minds of unprejudiced hearers.

3. And above all other causes of the "Woman Suffrage Movement," was the Anti-Slavery struggle in this country. The ranks of the Abolitionists were composed of the most eloquent orators, the ablest logicians, men and women of the purest moral character and best minds in the nation. They were usually spoken of in the early days as "an illiterate, ill-mannered, poverty-stricken, crazy set of long-haired Abolitionists." While the fact is, some of the most splendid specimens of manhood and womanhood, in physical appearance, in culture, refinement, and knowledge of polite life, were found among the early Abolitionists. James G. Birney, John Pierpont, Gerrit Smith, Wendell Phillips, Charles Sumner, Maria Weston Chapman, Helen Garrison, Ann Green Phillips, Abby Kelly, Paulina Wright Davis, Lucretia Mott, were all remarkably fine-looking.

In the early Anti-Slavery conventions, the broad principles of human rights were so exhaustively discussed, justice, liberty, and equality, so clearly taught, that the women who crowded to listen, readily learned the lesson of freedom for themselves, and early began to take part in the debates and business affairs of all associations. Woman not only felt every pulsation of man's heart for freedom, and by her enthusiasm inspired the glowing eloquence that maintained him through the struggle, but earnestly advocated with her own lips human freedom and equality. When Angelina and Sarah Grimke began to lecture in New England, their audiences were at first composed entirely of women, but gentlemen, hearing of their eloquence and power, soon began timidly to slip into the back seats, one by one. And before the public were aroused to the dangerous innovation, these women were speaking in crowded, promiscuous assemblies. The clergy opposed to the abolition movement first took alarm, and issued a pastoral letter, warning their congregations against the influence of such women. The clergy identified[Pg 53] with anti-slavery associations took alarm also, and the initiative steps to silence the women, and to deprive them of the right to vote in the business meetings, were soon taken. This action culminated in a division in the Anti-Slavery Association. In the annual meeting in May, 1840, a formal vote was taken on the appointment of Abby Kelly on a business committee and was sustained by over one hundred majority in favor of woman's right to take part in the proceedings of the Society. Pending the discussion, clergymen in the opposition went through the audience, urging every woman who agreed with them, to vote against the motion, thus asking them to do then and there, what with fervid eloquence, on that very occasion, they had declared a sin against God and Scripture for them to do anywhere. As soon as the vote was announced, and Abby Kelly's right on the business committee decided, the men, two of whom were clergymen, asked to be excused from serving on the committee.

Thus Sarah and Angelina Grimke and Abby Kelly, in advocating liberty for the black race, were early compelled to defend the right of free speech for themselves. They had the double battle to fight against the tyranny of sex and color at the same time, in which, however, they were well sustained by the able pens of Lydia Maria Child and Maria Weston Chapman. Their opponents were found not only in the ranks of the New England clergy, but among the most bigoted Abolitionists in Great Britain and the United States. Many a man who advocated equality most eloquently for a Southern plantation, could not tolerate it at his own fireside.

The question of woman's right to speak, vote, and serve on committees, not only precipitated the division in the ranks of the American Anti-Slavery Society, in 1840, but it disturbed the peace of the World's Anti-Slavery Convention, held that same year in London. The call for that Convention invited delegates from all Anti-Slavery organizations. Accordingly several American societies saw fit to send women, as delegates, to represent them in that august assembly. But after going three thousand miles to attend a World's Convention, it was discovered that women formed no part of the constituent elements of the moral world. In summoning the friends of the slave from all parts of the two hemispheres to meet in London, John Bull never dreamed that woman, too, would answer to his call. Imagine then the commotion in the conservative anti-slavery circles in England, when it was known that half a dozen of those terrible women who had spoken to promiscuous assemblies, voted on men and measures, prayed and petitioned against slavery, women who had been mobbed, ridiculed by the press, and denounced by the pulpit,[Pg 54] who had been the cause of setting all American Abolitionists by the ears, and split their ranks asunder, were on their way to England. Their fears of these formidable and belligerent women must have been somewhat appeased when Lucretia Mott, Sarah Pugh, Abby Kimber, Elizabeth Neal, Mary Grew, of Philadelphia, in modest Quaker costume, Ann Green Phillips, Emily Winslow, and Abby Southwick, of Boston, all women of refinement and education, and several, still in their twenties, landed at last on the soil of Great Britain. Many who had awaited their coming with much trepidation, gave a sigh of relief, on being introduced to Lucretia Mott, learning that she represented the most dangerous elements in the delegation. The American clergymen who had landed a few days before, had been busily engaged in fanning the English prejudices into active hostility against the admission of these women to the Convention. In every circle of Abolitionists this was the theme, and the discussion grew more bitter, personal, and exasperating every hour.

The 12th of June dawned bright and beautiful on these discordant elements, and at an early hour anti-slavery delegates from different countries wended their way through the crooked streets of London to Freemasons' Hall. Entering the vestibule, little groups might be seen gathered here and there, earnestly discussing the best disposition to make of those women delegates from America. The excitement and vehemence of protest and denunciation could not have been greater, if the news had come that the French were about to invade England. In vain those obdurate women had been conjured to withhold their credentials, and not thrust a question that must produce such discord on the Convention. Lucretia Mott, in her calm, firm manner, insisted that the delegates had no discretionary power in the proposed action, and the responsibility of accepting or rejecting them must rest on the Convention.

At eleven o'clock, the spacious Hall being filled, the Convention was called to order. The venerable Thomas Clarkson, who was to be President, on entering, was received by the large audience standing; owing to his feeble health, the chairman requested that there should be no other demonstrations. As soon as Thomas Clarkson withdrew, Wendell Phillips made the following motion:

"That a Committee of five be appointed to prepare a correct list of the members of this Convention, with instructions to include in such list, all persons bearing credentials from any Anti-Slavery body."

This motion at once opened the debate on the admission of women delegates.[Pg 55]

Mr. Phillips: When the call reached America we found that it was an invitation to the friends of the slave of every nation and of every clime. Massachusetts has for several years acted on the principle of admitting women to an equal seat with men, in the deliberative bodies of anti-slavery societies. When the Massachusetts Anti-Slavery Society received that paper, it interpreted it, as it was its duty, in its broadest and most liberal sense. If there be any other paper, emanating from the Committee, limiting to one sex the qualification of membership, there is no proof; and, as an individual, I have no knowledge that such a paper ever reached Massachusetts. We stand here in consequence of your invitation, and knowing our custom, as it must be presumed you did, we had a right to interpret "friends of the slave," to include women as well as men. In such circumstances, we do not think it just or equitable to that State, nor to America in general, that, after the trouble, the sacrifice, the self-devotion of a part of those who leave their families and kindred and occupations in their own land, to come three thousand miles to attend this World's Convention, they should be refused a place in its deliberations.

One of the Committee who issued the call, said: As soon as we heard the liberal interpretation Americans had given to our first invitation, we issued another as early as Feb. 15, in which the description of those who are to form the Convention is set forth as consisting of "gentlemen."

Dr. Bowring: I think the custom of excluding females is more honored in its breach than in its observance. In this country sovereign rule is placed in the hands of a female, and one who has been exercising her great and benignant influence in opposing slavery by sanctioning, no doubt, the presence of her illustrious consort at an anti-slavery meeting. We are associated with a body of Christians (Quakers) who have given to their women a great, honorable, and religious prominence. I look upon this delegation from America as one of the most interesting, the most encouraging, and the most delightful symptoms of the times. I can not believe that we shall refuse to welcome gratefully the co-operation which is offered us.

The Rev. J. Burnet, an Englishman, made a most touching appeal to the American ladies, to conform to English prejudices and custom, so far as to withdraw their credentials, as it never did occur to the British and Foreign Anti-Slavery Society that they were inviting ladies. It is better, said he, that this Convention should be dissolved at this moment than this motion should be adopted.

The Rev. Henry Grew, of Philadelphia: The reception of women as a part of this Convention would, in the view of many, be not only a violation of the customs of England, but of the ordinance of Almighty God, who has a right to appoint our services to His sovereign will.

Rev. Eben Galusha, New York: In support of the other side of this question, reference has been made to your Sovereign. I most cordially approve of her policy and sound wisdom, and commend to the consideration of our American female friends who are so deeply interested in the subject, the example of your noble Queen, who by sanctioning her[Pg 56] consort, His Royal Highness Prince Albert, in taking the chair on an occasion not dissimilar to this, showed her sense of propriety by putting her Head foremost in an assembly of gentlemen. I have no objection to woman's being the neck to turn the head aright, but do not wish to see her assume the place of the head.

George Bradburn, of Mass.: We are told that it would be outraging the customs of England to allow women to sit in this Convention. I have a great respect for the customs of old England. But I ask, gentlemen, if it be right to set up the customs and habits, not to say prejudices of Englishmen, as a standard for the government on this occasion of Americans, and of persons belonging to several other independent nations. I can see neither reason nor policy in so doing. Besides, I deprecate the principle of the objection. In America it would exclude from our conventions all persons of color, for there customs, habits, tastes, prejudices, would be outraged by their admission. And I do not wish to be deprived of the aid of those who have done so much for this cause, for the purpose of gratifying any mere custom or prejudice. Women have furnished most essential aid in accomplishing what has been done in the State of Massachusetts. If, in the Legislature of that State, I have been able to do anything in furtherance of that cause, by keeping on my legs eight or ten hours day after day, it was mainly owing to the valuable assistance I derived from the women. And shall such women be denied seats in this Convention? My friend George Thompson, yonder, can testify to the faithful services rendered to this cause by those same women. He can tell you that when "gentlemen of property and standing" in "broad day" and "broadcloth," undertook to drive him from Boston, putting his life in peril, it was our women who made their own persons a bulwark of protection around him. And shall such women be refused seats here in a Convention seeking the emancipation of slaves throughout the world? What a misnomer to call this a World's Convention of Abolitionists, when some of the oldest and most thorough-going Abolitionists in the world are denied the right to be represented in it by delegates of their own choice.

And thus for the space of half an hour did Mr. Bradburn, six feet high and well-proportioned, with vehement gesticulations and voice of thunder, bombard the prejudices of England and the hypocrisies of America.

George Thompson: I have listened to the arguments advanced on this side and on that side of this vexed question. I listened with profound attention to the arguments of Mr. Burnet, expecting that from him, as I was justified in expecting, I should hear the strongest arguments that could be adduced on this, or any other subject upon which he might be pleased to employ his talents, or which he might adorn with his eloquence. What are his arguments? Let it be premised, as I speak in the presence of American friends, that that gentleman is one of the best controversialists in the country, and one of the best authorities upon questions of business, points of order, and matters of principle. What are[Pg 57] the strongest arguments, which one of the greatest champions on any question which he chooses to espouse, has brought forward? They are these:

1st. That English phraseology should be construed according to English usage.

2d. That it was never contemplated by the anti-slavery committee that ladies should occupy a seat in this Convention.

3d. That the ladies of England are not here as delegates.

4th. That he has no desire to offer an affront to the ladies now present.

Here I presume are the strongest arguments the gentleman has to adduce, for he never fails to use to the best advantage the resources within his reach. I look at these arguments, and I place on the other side of the question, the fact that there are in this assembly ladies who present themselves as delegates from the oldest societies in America. I expected that Mr. Burnet would, as he was bound to do, if he intended to offer a successful opposition to their introduction into this Convention, grapple with the constitutionality of their credentials. I thought he would come to the question of title. I thought he would dispute the right of a convention assembled in Philadelphia, for the abolition of slavery, consisting of delegates from different States in the Union, and comprised of individuals of both sexes, to send one or all of the ladies now in our presence. I thought he would grapple with the fact, that those ladies came to us who have no slavery from a country in which they have slaves, as the representatives of two millions and a half of captives. Let gentlemen, when they come to vote on this question, remember, that in receiving or rejecting these ladies, they acknowledge or despise [loud cries of No, no]. I ask gentlemen, who shout "no," if they know the application I am about to make. I did not mean to say you would despise the ladies, but that you would, by your vote, acknowledge or despise the parties whose cause they espouse. It appears we are prepared to sanction ladies in the employment of all means, so long as they are confessedly unequal with ourselves. It seems that the grand objection to their appearance amongst us is this, that it would be placing them on a footing of equality, and that would be contrary to principle and custom. For years the women of America have carried their banner in the van, while the men have humbly followed in the rear. It is well known that the National Society solicited Angelina Grimke to undertake a mission through New England, to rouse the attention of the women to the wrongs of slavery, and that that distinguished woman displayed her talents not only in the drawing-room, but before the Senate of Massachusetts. Let us contrast our conduct with that of the Senators and Representatives of Massachusetts who did not disdain to hear her. It was in consequence of her exertions, which received the warmest approval of the National Society, that that interest sprung up which has awakened such an intense feeling throughout America. Then with reference to efficient management, the most vigorous anti-slavery societies are those which are managed by ladies.

If now, after the expression of opinion on various sides, the motion should be withdrawn with the consent of all parties, I should be glad.[Pg 58] But when I look at the arguments against the title of these women to sit amongst us, I can not but consider them frivolous and groundless. The simple question before us is, whether these ladies, taking into account their credentials, the talent they have displayed, the sufferings they have endured, the journey they have undertaken, should be acknowledged by us, in virtue of these high titles, or should be shut out for the reasons stated.

Mr. Phillips, being urged on all sides to withdraw his motion, said: It has been hinted very respectfully by two or three speakers that the delegates from the State of Massachusetts should withdraw their credentials, or the motion before the meeting. The one appears to me to be equivalent to the other. If this motion be withdrawn we must have another. I would merely ask whether any man can suppose that the delegates from Massachusetts or Pennsylvania can take upon their shoulders the responsibility of withdrawing that list of delegates from your table, which their constituents told them to place there, and whom they sanctioned as their fit representatives, because this Convention tells us that it is not ready to meet the ridicule of the morning papers, and to stand up against the customs of England. In America we listen to no such arguments. If we had done so we had never been here as Abolitionists. It is the custom there not to admit colored men into respectable society, and we have been told again and again that we are outraging the decencies of humanity when we permit colored men to sit by our side. When we have submitted to brick-bats, and the tar tub and feathers in America, rather than yield to the custom prevalent there of not admitting colored brethren into our friendship, shall we yield to parallel custom or prejudice against women in Old England? We can not yield this question if we would; for it is a matter of conscience. But we would not yield it on the ground of expediency. In doing so we should feel that we were striking off the right arm of our enterprise. We could not go back to America to ask for any aid from the women of Massachusetts if we had deserted them, when they chose to send out their own sisters as their representatives here. We could not go back to Massachusetts and assert the unchangeableness of spirit on the question. We have argued it over and over again, and decided it time after time, in every society in the land, in favor of the women. We have not changed by crossing the water. We stand here the advocates of the same principle that we contend for in America. We think it right for women to sit by our side there, and we think it right for them to do the same here. We ask the Convention to admit them; if they do not choose to grant it, the responsibility rests on their shoulders. Massachusetts can not turn aside, or succumb to any prejudices or customs even in the land she looks upon with so much reverence as the land of Wilberforce, of Clarkson, and of O'Connell. It is a matter of conscience, and British virtue ought not to ask us to yield.

Mr. Ashurst: You are convened to influence society upon a subject connected with the kindliest feelings of our nature; and being the first assembly met to shake hands with other nations, and employ your combined efforts to annihilate slavery throughout the world, are you to commence[Pg 59] by saying, you will take away the rights of one-half of creation! This is the principle which you are putting forward.

The Rev. A. Harvey, of Glasgow: It was stated by a brother from America, that with him it is a matter of conscience, and it is a question of conscience with me too. I have certain views in relation to the teaching of the Word of God, and of the particular sphere in which woman is to act. I must say, whether I am right in my interpretations of the Word of God or not, that my own decided convictions are, if I were to give a vote in favor of females, sitting and deliberating in such an assembly as this, that I should be acting in opposition to the plain teaching of the Word of God. I may be wrong, but I have a conscience on the subject, and I am sure there are a number present of the same mind.

Captain Wanchope, R. N., delegate from Carlisle: I entreat the ladies not to push this question too far. I wish to know whether our friends from America are to cast off England altogether. Have we not given £20,000,000 of our money for the purpose of doing away with the abominations of slavery? Is not that proof that we are in earnest about it?

James C. Fuller: One friend said that this question should have been settled on the other side of the Atlantic. Why, it was there decided in favor of woman a year ago.

James Gillespie Birney: It has been stated that the right of women to sit and act in all respects as men in our anti-slavery associations, was decided in the affirmative at the annual meeting of the American Anti-Slavery Society in May, 1839. It is true the claim was so decided on that occasion, but not by a large majority; whilst it is also true that the majority was swelled by the votes of the women themselves. I have just received a letter from a gentleman in New York (Louis Tappan), communicating the fact, that the persistence of the friends of promiscuous female representation in pressing that practice on the American Anti-Slavery Society, at its annual meeting on the twelfth of last month, had caused such disagreement among the members present, that he and others who viewed the subject as he did, were then deliberating on measures for seceding from the old organization.

Rev. C. Stout: My vote is that we confirm the list of delegates, that we take votes on that as an amendment, and that we henceforth entertain this question no more. Are we not met here pledged to sacrifice all but everything, in order that we may do something against slavery, and shall we be divided on this paltry question and suffer the whole tide of benevolence to be stopped by a straw? No! You talk of being men, then be men! Consider what is worthy of your attention.

Rev. Dr. Morrison: I feel, I believe, as our brethren from America and many English friends do at this moment, that we are treading on the brink of a precipice; and that precipice is the awaking in our bosoms by this discussion, feelings that will not only be averse to the great object for which we have assembled, but inconsistent, perhaps, in some degree, with the Christian spirit which, I trust, will pervade all meetings connected with the Anti-Slavery cause. We have been unanimous against the common foe, but we are this day in danger of creating division among heartfelt friends. Will our American brethren put us in this position?[Pg 60] Will they keep up a discussion in which the delicacy, the honor, the respectability of those excellent females who have come from the Western world are concerned? I tremble at the thought of discussing the question in the presence of these ladies—for whom I entertain the most profound respect—and I am bold to say, that but for the introduction of the question of woman's rights, it would be impossible for the shrinking nature of woman to subject itself to the infliction of such a discussion as this.

As the hour was late, and as the paltry arguments of the opposition were unworthy much consideration—as the reader will see from the specimens given—Mr. Phillips' reply was brief, consisting of the correction of a few mistakes made by different speakers. The vote was taken, and the women excluded as delegates of the Convention, by an overwhelming majority.

George Thompson: I hope, as the question is now decided, that Mr. Phillips will give us the assurance that we shall proceed with one heart and one mind.

Mr. Phillips replied: I have no doubt of it. There is no unpleasant feeling in our minds. I have no doubt the women will sit with as much interest behind the bar[6] as though the original proposition had been carried in the affirmative. All we asked was an expression of opinion, and, having obtained it, we shall now act with the utmost cordiality.

Would there have been no unpleasant feelings in Wendell Phillips' mind, had Frederick Douglass and Robert Purvis been refused their seats in a convention of reformers under similar circumstances? and, had they listened one entire day to debates on their peculiar fitness for plantation life, and unfitness for the forum and public assemblies, and been rejected as delegates on the ground of color, could Wendell Phillips have so far mistaken their real feelings, and been so insensible to the insults offered them, as to have told a Convention of men who had just trampled on their most sacred rights, that "they would no doubt sit with as much interest behind the bar, as in the Convention"? To stand in that august assembly and maintain the unpopular heresy of woman's equality was a severe ordeal for a young man to pass through, and Wendell Phillips, who accepted the odium of presenting this question to the Convention, and thus earned the sincere gratitude of all womankind, might be considered as above criticism, though he may have failed at one point to understand the feelings of woman. The fact is important to mention, however, to show that it is[Pg 61] almost impossible for the most liberal of men to understand what liberty means for woman. This sacrifice of human rights, by men who had assembled from all quarters of the globe to proclaim universal emancipation, was offered up in the presence of such women as Lady Byron, Anna Jameson, Amelia Opie, Mary Howitt, Elizabeth Fry, and our own Lucretia Mott. The clergy with few exceptions were bitter in their opposition. Although, as Abolitionists, they had been compelled to fight both Church and Bible to prove the black man's right to liberty, conscience forbade them to stretch those sacred limits far enough to give equal liberty to woman.

The leading men who championed the cause of the measure in the Convention and voted in the affirmative, were Wendell Phillips, George Thompson, George Bradburn, Mr. Ashurst, Dr. Bowring, and Henry B. Stanton. Though Daniel O'Connell was not present during the discussion, having passed out with the President, yet in his first speech, he referred to the rejected delegates, paying a beautiful tribute to woman's influence, and saying he should have been happy to have added the right word in the right place and to have recorded his vote in favor of human equality..

William Lloyd Garrison, having been delayed at sea, arrived too late to take part in the debates. Learning on his arrival that the women had been rejected as delegates, he declined to take his seat in the Convention; and, through all those interesting discussions on a subject so near his heart, lasting ten days, he remained a silent spectator in the gallery. What a sacrifice for a principle so dimly seen by the few, and so ignorantly ridiculed by the many! Brave, noble Garrison! May this one act keep his memory fresh forever in the hearts of his countrywomen!

The one Abolitionist who sustained Mr. Garrison's position, and sat with him in the gallery, was Nathaniel P. Rogers, editor of the Herald of Freedom, in Concord, New Hampshire, who died in the midst of the Anti-Slavery struggle. However, the debates in the Convention had the effect of rousing English minds to thought on the tyranny of sex, and American minds to the importance of some definite action toward woman's emancipation.

As Lucretia Mott and Elizabeth Cady Stanton wended their way arm in arm down Great Queen Street that night, reviewing the exciting scenes of the day, they agreed to hold a woman's rights convention on their return to America, as the men to whom they had just listened had manifested their great need of some education on that question. Thus a missionary work for the emancipation of[Pg 62] woman in "the land of the free and the home of the brave" was then and there inaugurated. As the ladies were not allowed to speak in the Convention, they kept up a brisk fire morning, noon, and night at their hotel on the unfortunate gentlemen who were domiciled at the same house. Mr. Birney, with his luggage, promptly withdrew after the first encounter, to some more congenial haven of rest, while the Rev. Nathaniel Colver, from Boston, who always fortified himself with six eggs well beaten in a large bowl at breakfast, to the horror of his host and a circle of æsthetic friends, stood his ground to the last—his physical proportions being his shield and buckler, and his Bible (with Colver's commentaries) his weapon of defence.[7]

The movement for woman's suffrage, both in England and America, may be dated from this World's Anti-Slavery Convention.


[6] The ladies of the Convention were fenced off behind a bar and curtain, similar to those used in churches to screen the choir from the public gaze.

[7] Some of the English clergy, dancing around with Bible in hand, shaking it in the faces of the opposition, grew so vehement, that one would really have thought that they held a commission from high heaven as the possessors of all truth, and that all progress in human affairs was to be squared by their interpretation of Scripture. At last George Bradburn, exasperated with their narrowness and bigotry, sprang to the floor, and stretching himself to his full height, said: "Prove to me, gentlemen, that your Bible sanctions the slavery of woman—the complete subjugation of one-half the race to the other—and I should feel that the best work I could do for humanity would be to make a grand bonfire of every Bible in the Universe."

[Pg 63]



The First Woman's Rights Convention, Seneca Falls, July 19-20, 1848—Property Rights of Women secured—Judge Fine, George Geddes, and Mr. Hadley pushed the Bill through—Danger of meddling with well-settled conditions of domestic happiness—Mrs. Barbara Hertell's will—Richard Hunt's tea-table—The eventful day—James Mott President—Declaration of sentiments—Convention in Rochester—Clergy again in opposition with Bible arguments.

New York with its metropolis, fine harbors, great lakes and rivers; its canals and railroads uniting the extremest limits, and controlling the commerce of the world; with its wise statesmen and wily politicians, long holding the same relation to the nation at large that Paris is said to hold to France, has been proudly called by her sons and daughters the Empire State.

But the most interesting fact in her history, to woman, is that she was the first State to emancipate wives from the slavery of the old common law of England, and to secure to them equal property rights. This occurred in 1848. Various bills and petitions, with reference to the civil rights of woman, had been under discussion twelve years, and the final passage of the property bill was due in no small measure to two facts. 1st. The constitutional convention in 1847, which compelled the thinking people of the State, and especially the members of the convention, to the serious consideration of the fundamental principles of government. As in the revision of a Constitution the State is for the time being resolved into its original elements in recognizing the equality of all the people, one would naturally think that a chance ray of justice might have fallen aslant the wrongs of woman and brought to the surface some champion in that convention, especially as some aggravated cases of cruelty in families of wealth and position had just at that time aroused the attention of influential men to the whole question. 2d. Among the Dutch aristocracy of the State there was a vast amount of dissipation; and as married women could hold neither property nor children under the common law, solid, thrifty Dutch fathers were daily confronted with the fact that the inheritance[Pg 64] of their daughters, carefully accumulated, would at marriage pass into the hands of dissipated, impecunious husbands, reducing them and their children to poverty and dependence. Hence this influential class of citizens heartily seconded the efforts of reformers, then demanding equal property rights in the marriage relation. Thus a wise selfishness on one side, and principle on the other, pushed the conservatives and radicals into the same channel, and both alike found anchor in the statute law of 1848. This was the death-blow to the old Blackstone code for married women in this country, and ever since legislation has been slowly, but steadily, advancing toward their complete equality.

Desiring to know who prompted the legislative action on the Property Bill in 1848, and the names of our champions who carried it successfully through after twelve years of discussion and petitioning, a letter of inquiry was addressed to the Hon. George Geddes of the twenty-second district—at that time Senator—and received the following reply:

Fairmount, Onondaga Co., N. Y.,
November 25, 1880.

Mrs. Matilda Joslyn Gage:

Dear Madam:—I was much gratified at the receipt of your letter of the 22d inst., making inquiries into the history of the law of 1848 in regard to married women holding property independently of their husbands. That the "truth of history" may be made plain, I have looked over the journals of the Senate and Assembly, and taken full notes, which I request you to publish, if you put any part of this letter in print.

I have very distinct recollections of the whole history of this very radical measure. Judge Fine, of St. Lawrence, was its originator, and he gave me his reasons for introducing the bill. He said that he married a lady who had some property of her own, which he had, all his life, tried to keep distinct from his, that she might have the benefit of her own, in the event of any disaster happening to him in pecuniary matters. He had found much difficulty, growing out of the old laws, in this effort to protect his wife's interests.

Judge Fine was a stately man, and of general conservative tendencies, just the one to hold on to the past, but he was a just man, and did not allow his practice as a lawyer, or his experience on the bench, to obscure his sense of right. I followed him, glad of such a leader.

I, too, had special reasons for desiring this change in the law. I had a young daughter, who, in the then condition of my health, was quite likely to be left in tender years without a father, and I very much desired to protect her in the little property I might be able to leave. I had an elaborate will drawn by my old law preceptor, Vice-Chancellor Lewis H. Sandford, creating a trust with all the care and learning he could bring to my aid. But when the elaborate paper was finished,[Pg 65] neither he or I felt satisfied with it. When the law of 1848 was passed, all I had to do was to burn this will.

In this connection I wish to say that the Speaker of the Assembly, Mr. Hadley, gave aid in the passage of this law that was essential. Very near the end of the session of the Legislature he assured me that if the bill passed the Senate, he would see that it passed the House. By examining my notes of the Assembly's action, you will see that the bill never went to a committee of the whole in that body, but was sent directly to a select committee to report complete. It was the power of the Speaker that in this summary manner overrode the usual legislative forms. The only reason Mr. Hadley gave me for his zeal in this matter, was that it was a good bill and ought to pass.

I believe this law originated with Judge Fine, without any outside prompting. On the third day of the session he gave notice of his intention to introduce it, and only one petition was presented in favor of the bill, and that came from Syracuse, and was due to the action of my personal friends—I presented it nearly two months after the bill had been introduced to the Senate.

The reception of the bill by the Senate showed unlooked-for support as well as opposition. The measure was so radical, so extreme, that even its friends had doubts; but the moment any important amendment was offered, up rose the whole question of woman's proper place in society, in the family, and everywhere. We all felt that the laws regulating married women's, as well as married men's rights, demanded careful revision and adaptation to our times and to our civilization. But no such revision could be perfected then, nor has it been since. We meant to strike a hard blow, and if possible shake the old system of laws to their foundations, and leave it to other times and wiser councils to perfect a new system.

We had in the Senate a man of matured years, who had never had a wife. He was a lawyer well-read in the old books, and versed in the adjudications which had determined that husband and wife were but one person, and the husband that person; and he expressed great fears in regard to meddling with this well-settled condition of domestic happiness. This champion of the past made long and very able arguments to show the ruin this law must work, but he voted for the bill in the final decision.

The bill hung along in Committee of the Whole until March 21st, when its great opponent being absent, I moved its reference to a select Committee, with power to report it complete; that is, matured ready for its passage. So the bill was out of the arena of debate, and on my motion was ordered to its third reading.

In reply to your inquiries in regard to debates that preceded the action of 1848, I must say I know of none, and I am quite sure that in our long discussions no allusion was made to anything of the kind. Great measures often occupy the thoughts of men and women, long before they take substantial form and become things of life, and I shall not dispute any one who says that this reform had been thought of before 1848. But I do insist the record shows that Judge Fine is the author[Pg 66] of the law which opened the way to clothe woman with full rights, in regard to holding, using, and enjoying in every way her own property, independently of any husband.

I add the following extracts taken from the journals of the Senate and Assembly of 1848, viz:

Senate journal for 1848, p. 35. January 7th. "Mr. Fine gave notice that he would, at an early day, ask leave to introduce a bill for the more effectual protection of the property of married women."

Jan. 8th, p. 47. "Mr. Fine introduced 'the bill,' and it was referred to the Judiciary Committee," which consisted of Mr. Wilkin, Mr. Fine, and Mr. Cole.

Feb. 7th, p. 157. Mr. Wilkin reported the bill favorably, and it was sent to the Committee of the Whole.

Feb. 23d. Mr. Geddes presented the petition of three hundred citizens of Syracuse praying for the passage of a law to protect the rights of married women.

March 1st, p. 242. "The Senate spent some time in Committee of the Whole" on the bill, and reported progress, and had leave to sit again.

March 3d, p. 250. The Senate again in Committee of the Whole on this bill.

March 15th, p. 314. The Senate again in Committee of the Whole on this bill.

March 21st, p. 352. Mr. Lawrence, from Committee of the Whole, reported the bill with some amendments. "Thereupon ordered that said bill be referred to a Select Committee consisting of Mr. Fine, Mr. Geddes, and Mr. Hawley to report complete."

March 21st, p. 354. "Mr. Geddes, from the Select Committee, reported complete, with amendments, the bill entitled 'An Act for the more effectual protection of the property of married women,' which report was laid on the table."

March 28th, p. 420. "On motion of Mr. Geddes, the Senate then proceeded to the consideration of the report of the Select Committee on the bill entitled '(as above)', which report was agreed to, and the bill ordered to a third reading."

March 29th, p. 443. The bill entitled "(as above)" was read the third time, and passed—ayes, 23; nays, 1, as follows:

Ayes—Messrs. Betts, Bond, Brownson, Burch, Coffin, Cole, Cook, Cornwell, Fine, Floyd, Fox, Fuller, Geddes, S. H. P. Hall, Hawley, Johnson, Lawrence, Little, Martin, Smith, Wallon, Wilkin, Williams, 23.

Nays—Clark, 1.

April 7th, p. 541. The bill was returned from the Assembly with its concurrence.

Its history in the Assembly (see its Journal):

March 29th, p. 966. A message from the Senate, requesting the concurrence of the Assembly to "An Act for the more effectual protection of the property of married women." On motion of Mr. Campbell, the bill was sent to a Committee consisting of Messrs. Campbell, Brigham, Myers, Coe, and Crocker, to report complete (see page 967).[Pg 67]

April 1st, page 1025. Mr. Campbell reported in favor of its passage, p. 1026. Report agreed to by the House.

April 6, p. 1129. Mr. Collins moved to recommit to a Select Committee for amendment. His motion failed, and the bill passed (p. 1130). Ayes, 93. Nays, 9.

The Governor put his name to the bill and thus it became a law.

Please reply to me and let me know whether I have made this matter clear to you.

Very respectfully,

Geo. Geddes.

When the first bill was introduced by Judge Hertell in 1836, he made a very elaborate argument in its favor, covering all objections, and showing the incontestable justice of the measure. Being too voluminous for a newspaper report it was published in pamphlet form. His wife, Barbara Amelia Hertell, dying a few years since, by her will left a sum for the republication of this exhaustive argument, thus keeping the memory of her husband green in the hearts of his countrywomen, and expressing her own high appreciation of its value.

Step by step the Middle and New England States began to modify their laws, but the Western States, in their Constitutions, were liberal in starting. Thus the discussions in the constitutional convention and the Legislature, heralded by the press to every school district, culminated at last in a woman's rights convention.

The Seneca County Courier, a semi-weekly journal, of July 14, 1848, contained the following startling announcement:


Woman's Rights Convention.—A Convention to discuss the social, civil, and religious condition and rights of woman, will be held in the Wesleyan Chapel, at Seneca Falls, N. Y., on Wednesday and Thursday, the 19th and 20th of July, current; commencing at 10 o'clock a.m. During the first day the meeting will be exclusively for women, who are earnestly invited to attend. The public generally are invited to be present on the second day, when Lucretia Mott, of Philadelphia, and other ladies and gentlemen, will address the convention.

This call, without signature, was issued by Lucretia Mott, Martha C. Wright, Elizabeth Cady Stanton, and Mary Ann McClintock. At this time Mrs. Mott was visiting her sister Mrs. Wright, at Auburn, and attending the Yearly Meeting of Friends in Western New York. Mrs. Stanton, having recently removed from Boston to Seneca Falls, finding the most congenial associations in Quaker families, met Mrs. Mott incidentally for the first time since her residence there. They at once returned to the topic they had so often[Pg 68] discussed, walking arm in arm in the streets of London, and Boston, "the propriety of holding a woman's convention." These four ladies, sitting round the tea-table of Richard Hunt, a prominent Friend near Waterloo, decided to put their long-talked-of resolution into action, and before the twilight deepened into night, the call was written, and sent to the Seneca County Courier. On Sunday morning they met in Mrs. McClintock's parlor to write their declaration, resolutions, and to consider subjects for speeches.[8] As the convention was to assemble in three days, the time was short for such productions; but having no experience in the modus operandi of getting up conventions, nor in that kind of literature, they were quite innocent of the herculean labors they proposed. On the first attempt to frame a resolution; to crowd a complete thought, clearly and concisely, into three lines; they felt as helpless and hopeless as if they had been suddenly asked to construct a steam engine. And the humiliating fact may as well now be recorded that before taking the initiative step, those ladies resigned themselves to a faithful perusal of various masculine productions. The reports of Peace, Temperance, and Anti-Slavery conventions were examined, but all alike seemed too tame and pacific for the inauguration of a rebellion such as the world had never before seen. They knew women had wrongs, but how to state them was the difficulty, and this was increased from the fact that they themselves were fortunately organized and conditioned; they were neither "sour old maids," "childless women," nor "divorced wives," as the newspapers declared them to be. While they had felt the insults incident to sex, in many ways, as every proud, thinking woman must, in the laws, religion, and literature of the world, and in the invidious and degrading sentiments and customs of all nations, yet they had not in their own experience endured the coarser forms of tyranny resulting from unjust laws, or association with immoral and unscrupulous men, but they had souls large enough to feel the wrongs of others, without being scarified in their own flesh.

After much delay, one of the circle took up the Declaration of 1776, and read it aloud with much spirit and emphasis, and it was at once decided to adopt the historic document, with some slight changes such as substituting "all men" for "King George." Knowing that women must have more to complain of than men under any circumstances possibly could, and seeing the Fathers had eighteen grievances, a protracted search was made through statute[Pg 69] books, church usages, and the customs of society to find that exact number. Several well-disposed men assisted in collecting the grievances, until, with the announcement of the eighteenth, the women felt they had enough to go before the world with a good case. One youthful lord remarked, "Your grievances must be grievous indeed, when you are obliged to go to books in order to find them out."

The eventful day dawned at last, and crowds in carriages and on foot, wended their way to the Wesleyan church. When those having charge of the Declaration, the resolutions, and several volumes of the Statutes of New York arrived on the scene, lo! the door was locked. However, an embryo Professor of Yale College was lifted through an open window to unbar the door; that done, the church was quickly filled. It had been decided to have no men present, but as they were already on the spot, and as the women who must take the responsibility of organizing the meeting, and leading the discussions, shrank from doing either, it was decided, in a hasty council round the altar, that this was an occasion when men might make themselves pre-eminently useful. It was agreed they should remain, and take the laboring oar through the Convention.

James Mott, tall and dignified, in Quaker costume, was called to the chair; Mary McClintock appointed Secretary, Frederick Douglass, Samuel Tillman, Ansel Bascom, E. W. Capron, and Thomas McClintock took part throughout in the discussions. Lucretia Mott, accustomed to public speaking in the Society of Friends, stated the objects of the Convention, and in taking a survey of the degraded condition of woman the world over, showed the importance of inaugurating some movement for her education and elevation. Elizabeth and Mary McClintock, and Mrs. Stanton, each read a well-written speech; Martha Wright read some satirical articles she had published in the daily papers answering the diatribes on woman's sphere. Ansel Bascom, who had been a member of the Constitutional Convention recently held in Albany, spoke at length on the property bill for married women, just passed the Legislature, and the discussion on woman's rights in that Convention. Samuel Tillman, a young student of law, read a series of the most exasperating statutes for women, from English and American jurists, all reflecting the tender mercies of men toward their wives, in taking care of their property and protecting them in their civil rights.

The Declaration having been freely discussed by many present, was re-read by Mrs. Stanton, and with some slight amendment adopted.[Pg 70]


When, in the course of human events, it becomes necessary for one portion of the family of man to assume among the people of the earth a position different from that which they have hitherto occupied, but one to which the laws of nature and of nature's God entitle them, a decent respect to the opinions of mankind requires that they should declare the causes that impel them to such a course.

We hold these truths to be self-evident: that all men and women are created equal; that they are endowed by their Creator with certain inalienable rights; that among these are life, liberty, and the pursuit of happiness; that to secure these rights governments are instituted, deriving their just powers from the consent of the governed. Whenever any form of government becomes destructive of these ends, it is the right of those who suffer from it to refuse allegiance to it, and to insist upon the institution of a new government, laying its foundation on such principles, and organizing its powers in such form, as to them shall seem most likely to effect their safety and happiness. Prudence, indeed, will dictate that governments long established should not be changed for light and transient causes; and accordingly all experience hath shown that mankind are more disposed to suffer, while evils are sufferable, than to right themselves by abolishing the forms to which they were accustomed. But when a long train of abuses and usurpations, pursuing invariably the same object evinces a design to reduce them under absolute despotism, it is their duty to throw off such government, and to provide new guards for their future security. Such has been the patient sufferance of the women under this government, and such is now the necessity which constrains them to demand the equal station to which they are entitled.

The history of mankind is a history of repeated injuries and usurpations on the part of man toward woman, having in direct object the establishment of an absolute tyranny over her. To prove this, let facts be submitted to a candid world.

He has never permitted her to exercise her inalienable right to the elective franchise.

He has compelled her to submit to laws, in the formation of which she had no voice.

He has withheld from her rights which are given to the most ignorant and degraded men—both natives and foreigners.

Having deprived her of this first right of a citizen, the elective franchise, thereby leaving her without representation in the halls of legislation, he has oppressed her on all sides.

He has made her, if married, in the eye of the law, civilly dead.

He has taken from her all right in property, even to the wages she earns.

He has made her, morally, an irresponsible being, as she can commit many crimes with impunity, provided they be done in the presence of her husband. In the covenant of marriage, she is compelled to promise obedience to her husband, he becoming, to all intents and purposes, her master—the law giving him power to deprive her of her liberty, and to administer chastisement.[Pg 71]

He has so framed the laws of divorce, as to what shall be the proper causes, and in case of separation, to whom the guardianship of the children shall be given, as to be wholly regardless of the happiness of women—the law, in all cases, going upon a false supposition of the supremacy of man, and giving all power into his hands.

After depriving her of all rights as a married woman, if single, and the owner of property, he has taxed her to support a government which recognizes her only when her property can be made profitable to it.

He has monopolized nearly all the profitable employments, and from those she is permitted to follow, she receives but a scanty remuneration. He closes against her all the avenues to wealth and distinction which he considers most honorable to himself. As a teacher of theology, medicine, or law, she is not known.

He has denied her the facilities for obtaining a thorough education, all colleges being closed against her.

He allows her in Church, as well as State, but a subordinate position, claiming Apostolic authority for her exclusion from the ministry, and, with some exceptions, from any public participation in the affairs of the Church.

He has created a false public sentiment by giving to the world a different code of morals for men and women, by which moral delinquencies which exclude women from society, are not only tolerated, but deemed of little account in man.

He has usurped the prerogative of Jehovah himself, claiming it as his right to assign for her a sphere of action, when that belongs to her conscience and to her God.

He has endeavored, in every way that he could, to destroy her confidence in her own powers, to lessen her self-respect, and to make her willing to lead a dependent and abject life.

Now, in view of this entire disfranchisement of one-half the people of this country, their social and religious degradation—in view of the unjust laws above mentioned, and because women do feel themselves aggrieved, oppressed, and fraudulently deprived of their most sacred rights, we insist that they have immediate admission to all the rights and privileges which belong to them as citizens of the United States.

In entering upon the great work before us, we anticipate no small amount of misconception, misrepresentation, and ridicule; but we shall use every instrumentality within our power to effect our object. We shall employ agents, circulate tracts, petition the State and National legislatures, and endeavor to enlist the pulpit and the press in our behalf. We hope this Convention will be followed by a series of Conventions embracing every part of the country.

The following resolutions were discussed by Lucretia Mott, Thomas and Mary Ann McClintock, Amy Post, Catharine A. F. Stebbins, and others, and were adopted:

Whereas, The great precept of nature is conceded to be, that "man shall pursue his own true and substantial happiness." Blackstone in his[Pg 72] Commentaries remarks, that this law of Nature being coeval with mankind, and dictated by God himself, is of course superior in obligation to any other. It is binding over all the globe, in all countries and at all times; no human laws are of any validity if contrary to this, and such of them as are valid, derive all their force, and all their validity, and all their authority, mediately and immediately, from this original; therefore.

Resolved, That such laws as conflict, in any way, with the true and substantial happiness of woman, are contrary to the great precept of nature and of no validity, for this is "superior in obligation to any other."

Resolved, That all laws which prevent woman from occupying such a station in society as her conscience shall dictate, or which place her in a position inferior to that of man, are contrary to the great precept of nature, and therefore of no force or authority.

Resolved, That woman is man's equal—was intended to be so by the Creator, and the highest good of the race demands that she should be recognized as such.

Resolved, That the women of this country ought to be enlightened in regard to the laws under which they live, that they may no longer publish their degradation by declaring themselves satisfied with their present position, nor their ignorance, by asserting that they have all the rights they want.

Resolved, That inasmuch as man, while claiming for himself intellectual superiority, does accord to woman moral superiority, it is pre-eminently his duty to encourage her to speak and teach, as she has an opportunity, in all religious assemblies.

Resolved, That the same amount of virtue, delicacy, and refinement of behavior that is required of woman in the social state, should also be required of man, and the same transgressions should be visited with equal severity on both man and woman.

Resolved, That the objection of indelicacy and impropriety, which is so often brought against woman when she addresses a public audience, comes with a very ill-grace from those who encourage, by their attendance, her appearance on the stage, in the concert, or in feats of the circus.

Resolved, That woman has too long rested satisfied in the circumscribed limits which corrupt customs and a perverted application of the Scriptures have marked out for her, and that it is time she should move in the enlarged sphere which her great Creator has assigned her.

Resolved, That it is the duty of the women of this country to secure to themselves their sacred right to the elective franchise.

Resolved, That the equality of human rights results necessarily from the fact of the identity of the race in capabilities and responsibilities.

Resolved, therefore, That, being invested by the Creator with the same capabilities, and the same consciousness of responsibility for their exercise, it is demonstrably the right and duty of woman, equally with man, to promote every righteous cause by every righteous means; and especially in regard to the great subjects of morals and religion, it is self-evidently her right to participate with her brother in teaching them, both in private and in public, by writing and by speaking, by any instrumentalities proper to be used, and in any assemblies proper to be held; and this[Pg 73] being a self-evident truth growing out of the divinely implanted principles of human nature, any custom or authority adverse to it, whether modern or wearing the hoary sanction of antiquity, is to be regarded as a self-evident falsehood, and at war with mankind.

At the last session Lucretia Mott offered and spoke to the following resolution:

Resolved, That the speedy success of our cause depends upon the zealous and untiring efforts of both men and women, for the overthrow of the monopoly of the pulpit, and for the securing to woman an equal participation with men in the various trades, professions, and commerce.

The only resolution that was not unanimously adopted was the ninth, urging the women of the country to secure to themselves the elective franchise. Those who took part in the debate feared a demand for the right to vote would defeat others they deemed more rational, and make the whole movement ridiculous.

But Mrs. Stanton and Frederick Douglass seeing that the power to choose rulers and make laws, was the right by which all others could be secured, persistently advocated the resolution, and at last carried it by a small majority.

Thus it will be seen that the Declaration and resolutions in the very first Convention, demanded all the most radical friends of the movement have since claimed—such as equal rights in the universities, in the trades and professions; the right to vote; to share in all political offices, honors, and emoluments; to complete equality in marriage, to personal freedom, property, wages, children; to make contracts; to sue, and be sued; and to testify in courts of justice. At this time the condition of married women under the Common Law, was nearly as degraded as that of the slave on the Southern plantation. The Convention continued through two entire days, and late into the evenings. The deepest interest was manifested to its close.

The proceedings were extensively published, unsparingly ridiculed by the press, and denounced by the pulpit, much to the surprise and chagrin of the leaders. Being deeply in earnest, and believing their demands pre-eminently wise and just, they were wholly unprepared to find themselves the target for the jibes and jeers of the nation. The Declaration was signed by one hundred men, and women, many of whom withdrew their names as soon as the storm of ridicule began to break. The comments of the press were carefully preserved,[9] and it is curious to see that the same old arguments, and objections rife at the start, are reproduced by the press[Pg 74] of to-day. But the brave protests sent out from this Convention touched a responsive chord in the hearts of women all over the country.

Conventions were held soon after in Ohio, Massachusetts, Indiana, Pennsylvania, and at different points in New York.

Mr. Douglass, in his paper, The North Star, of July 28, 1848, had the following editorial leader:

The Rights of Women.—One of the most interesting events of the past week, was the holding of what is technically styled a Woman's Rights Convention at Seneca Falls. The speaking, addresses, and resolutions of this extraordinary meeting were almost wholly conducted by women; and although they evidently felt themselves in a novel position, it is but simple justice to say that their whole proceedings were characterized by marked ability and dignity. No one present, we think, however much he might be disposed to differ from the views advanced by the leading speakers on that occasion, will fail to give them credit for brilliant talents and excellent dispositions. In this meeting, as in other deliberative assemblies, there were frequent differences of opinion and animated discussion; but in no case was there the slightest absence of good feeling and decorum. Several interesting documents setting forth the rights as well as grievances of women were read. Among these was a Declaration of Sentiments, to be regarded as the basis of a grand movement for attaining the civil, social, political, and religious rights of women. We should not do justice to our own convictions, or to the excellent persons connected with this infant movement, if we did not in this connection offer a few remarks on the general subject which the Convention met to consider and the objects they seek to attain. In doing so, we are not insensible that the bare mention of this truly important subject in any other than terms of contemptuous ridicule and scornful disfavor, is likely to excite against us the fury of bigotry and the folly of prejudice. A discussion of the rights of animals would be regarded with far more complacency by many of what are called the wise and the good of our land, than would be a discussion of the rights of women. It is, in their estimation, to be guilty of evil thoughts, to think that woman is entitled to equal rights with man. Many who have at last made the discovery that the negroes have some rights as well as other members of the human family, have yet to be convinced that women are entitled to any. Eight years ago a number of persons of this description actually abandoned the anti-slavery cause, lest by giving their influence in that direction they might possibly be giving countenance to the dangerous heresy that woman, in respect to rights, stands on an equal footing with man. In the judgment of such persons the American slave system, with all its concomitant horrors, is less to be deplored than this wicked idea. It is perhaps needless to say, that we cherish little sympathy for such sentiments or respect for such prejudices. Standing as we do upon the watch-tower of human freedom, we can not be deterred from an expression of our approbation of any movement,[Pg 75] however humble, to improve and elevate the character of any members of the human family. While it is impossible for us to go into this subject at length, and dispose of the various objections which are often urged against such a doctrine as that of female equality, we are free to say that in respect to political rights, we hold woman to be justly entitled to all we claim for man. We go farther, and express our conviction that all political rights which it is expedient for man to exercise, it is equally so for woman. All that distinguishes man as an intelligent and accountable being, is equally true of woman; and if that government only is just which governs by the free consent of the governed, there can be no reason in the world for denying to woman the exercise of the elective franchise, or a hand in making and administering the laws of the land. Our doctrine is that "right is of no sex." We therefore bid the women engaged in this movement our humble Godspeed.


Those who took part in the Convention at Seneca Falls, finding at the end of the two days, there were still so many new points for discussion, and that the gift of tongues had been vouchsafed to them, adjourned, to meet in Rochester in two weeks. Amy Post, Sarah D. Fish, Sarah C. Owen, and Mary H. Hallowell, were the Committee of Arrangements. This Convention was called for August 2d, and so well advertised in the daily papers, that at the appointed hour, the Unitarian Church was filled to overflowing.

Amy Post called the meeting to order, and stated that at a gathering the previous evening in Protection Hall, Rhoda De Garmo, Sarah Fish, and herself, were appointed a committee to nominate officers for the Convention, and they now proposed Abigail Bush, for President; Laura Murray, for Vice-President; Elizabeth McClintock, Sarah Hallowell, and Catherine A. F. Stebbins, for Secretaries. Mrs. Mott, Mrs. Stanton, and Mrs. McClintock, thought it a most hazardous experiment to have a woman President, and stoutly opposed it.

To write a Declaration and Resolutions, to make a speech, and debate, had taxed their powers to the uttermost; and now, with such feeble voices and timid manners, without the slightest knowledge of Cushing's Manual, or the least experience in public meetings, how could a woman preside? They were on the verge of leaving the Convention in disgust, but Amy Post and Rhoda De Garmo assured them that by the same power by which they had resolved, declared, discussed, debated, they could also preside at a public meeting, if they would but make the experiment. And as the vote of the majority settled the question on the side of woman, Abigail Bush took the chair, and the calm way she assumed the[Pg 76] duties of the office, and the admirable manner in which she discharged them, soon reconciled the opposition to the seemingly ridiculous experiment.

The proceedings were opened with prayer, by the Rev. Mr. Wicher, of the Free-will Baptist Church. Even at that early day, there were many of the liberal clergymen in favor of equal rights for women. During the reading of the minutes of the preliminary meeting by the Secretary, much uneasiness was manifested concerning the low voices of women, and cries of "Louder, louder!" drowned every other sound, when the President, on rising, said:

Friends, we present ourselves here before you, as an oppressed class, with trembling frames and faltering tongues, and we do not expect to be able to speak so as to be heard by all at first, but we trust we shall have the sympathy of the audience, and that you will bear with our weakness now in the infancy of the movement. Our trust in the omnipotency of right is our only faith that we shall succeed.

As the appointed Secretaries could not be heard, Sarah Anthony Burtis, an experienced Quaker school-teacher, whose voice had been well trained in her profession, volunteered to fill the duties of that office, and she read the reports and documents of the Convention with a clear voice and confident manner, to the great satisfaction of her more timid coadjutors.

Several gentlemen took part in the debates of this Convention. Some in favor, some opposed, and others willing to make partial concessions to the demands as set forth in the Declaration and Resolutions. Frederick Douglass, William C. Nell, and William C. Bloss advocated the emancipation of women from all the artificial disabilities, imposed by false customs, creeds, and codes. Milo Codding, Mr. Sulley, Mr. Pickard, and a Mr. Colton, of Connecticut, thought "woman's sphere was home," and that she should remain in it; he would seriously deprecate her occupying the pulpit.

Lucretia Mott replied, that the gentleman from New Haven had objected to woman occupying the pulpit, and indeed she could scarcely see how any one educated in New Haven, Ct., could think otherwise than he did. She said, we had all got our notions too much from the clergy, instead of the Bible. The Bible, she contended, had none of the prohibitions in regard to women; and spoke of the "honorable women not a few," etc., and desired Mr. Colton to read his Bible over again, and see if there was anything there to prohibit woman from being a religious teacher. She then complimented the members of that church for opening their doors to a Woman's Eights Convention, and said that a few years ago, the Female Moral Reform Society of[Pg 77] Philadelphia applied for the use of a church in that city, in which to hold one of their meetings; they were only allowed the use of the basement, and on condition that none of the women should speak at the meeting. Accordingly, a D.D. was called upon to preside, and another to read the ladies' report of the Society.

Near the close of the morning session, a young bride in traveling dress,[10] accompanied by her husband, slowly walked up the aisle, and asked the privilege of saying a few words, which was readily granted. Being introduced to the audience, she said, on her way westward, hearing of the Convention, she had waited over a train, to add her mite in favor of the demand now made, by the true women of this generation:

It is with diffidence that I speak upon this question before us, not a diffidence resulting from any doubt of the worthiness of the cause, but from the fear that its depth and power can be but meagerly portrayed by me.... Woman's rights—her civil rights—equal with man's—not an equality of moral and religious influence, for who dares to deny her that?—but an equality in the exercise of her own powers, and a right to use all the sources of erudition within the reach of man, to build unto herself a name for her talents, energy, and integrity. We do not positively say that our intellect is as capable as man's to assume, and at once to hold, these rights, or that our hearts are as willing to enter into his actions; for if we did not believe it, we would not contend for them, and if men did not believe it, they would not withhold them with a smothered silence.... In closing, she said: There will be one effect, perhaps unlooked for, if we are raised to equal administration with man. It will classify intellect. The heterogeneous triflings which now, I am very sorry to say, occupy so much of our time, will be neglected; fashion's votaries will silently fall off; dishonest exertions for rank in society will be scorned; extravagance in toilet will be detested; that meager and worthless pride of station will be forgotten; the honest earnings of dependents will be paid; popular demagogues crushed; impostors unpatronized; true genius sincerely encouraged; and, above all, pawned integrity redeemed! And why? Because enfranchised woman then will feel the burdens of her responsibilities, and can strive for elevation, and will reach all knowledge within her grasp.... If all this is accomplished, man need not fear pomposity, fickleness, or an unhealthy enthusiasm at his dear fireside; we can be as dutiful, submissive, endearing as daughters, wives, and mothers, even if we hang the wreath of domestic harmony upon the eagle's talons.

Thus for twenty minutes the young and beautiful stranger held her audience spell-bound with her eloquence, in a voice whose pathos thrilled every heart. Her husband, hat and cane in hand, remained standing, leaning against a pillar near the altar, and[Pg 78] seemed a most delighted, nay, reverential listener. It was a scene never to be forgotten, and one of the most pleasing incidents of the Convention.

Sarah Owen read an address on woman's place and pay in the world of work. In closing, she said:

An experienced cashier of this city remarked to me that women might be as good book-keepers as men; but men have monopolized every lucrative situation, from the dry-goods merchant down to whitewashing. Who does not feel, as she sees a stout, athletic man standing behind the counter measuring lace, ribbons, and tape, that he is monopolizing a woman's place, while thousands of rich acres in our western world await his coming? This year, a woman, for the first time, has taken her place in one of our regular medical colleges. We rejoice to hear that by her dignity of manner, application to study, and devotion to the several branches of the profession she has chosen, she has secured the respect of her professors and class, and reflected lasting honor upon her whole sex. Thus we hail, in Elizabeth Blackwell, a pioneer for woman in this profession.

It is by this inverted order of society that woman is obliged to ply the needle by day and by night, to procure even a scanty pittance for her dependent family. Let men become producers, as nature has designed them, and women be educated to fill all those stations which require less physical strength, and we should soon modify many of our social evils. I am informed by the seamstresses of this city, that they get but thirty cents for making a satin vest, and from twelve to thirty for making pants, and coats in the same proportion. Man has such a contemptible idea of woman, that he thinks she can not even sew as well as he can; and he often goes to a tailor, and pays him double and even treble for making a suit, when it merely passes through his hands, after a woman has made every stitch of it so neatly that he discovers no difference. Who does not see gross injustice in this inequality of wages and violation of rights? To prove that woman is capable of prosecuting the mercantile business, we have a noble example in this city in Mrs. Gifford, who has sustained herself with credit. She has bravely triumphed over all obloquy and discouragement attendant on such a novel experiment, and made for herself an independent living.

In the fields of benevolence, woman has done great and noble works for the safety and stability of the nation. When man shall see the wisdom of recognizing a co-worker in her, then may be looked for the dawning of a perfect day, when woman shall stand where God designed she should, on an even platform with man himself.

Mrs. Roberts, who had been requested to investigate the wrongs of the laboring classes, and to invite that oppressed portion of the community to attend the Convention, and take part in its deliberations, made some appropriate remarks relative to the intolerable servitude and small remuneration paid to the working-class of women.[Pg 79] She reported the average price of labor for seamstresses to be from 31 to 38 cents a day, and board from $1.25 to $1.50 per week to be deducted therefrom, and they were generally obliged to take half or more in due bills, which were payable in goods at certain stores, thereby obliging them many times to pay extortionate prices.

Mrs. Galloy corroborated the statement, having herself experienced some of the oppressions of this portion of our citizens, and expressed her gratitude that the subject was claiming the attention of this benevolent and intelligent class of community. It did not require much argument, to reconcile all who took part in the debates, to woman's right to equal wages for equal work, but the gentlemen seemed more disturbed as to the effect of equality in the family. With the old idea of a divinely ordained head, and that, in all cases, the man, whether wise or foolish, educated or ignorant, sober or drunk, such a relation to them did not seem feasible. Mr. Sully asked, when the two heads disagree, who must decide? There is no Lord Chancellor to whom to apply, and does not St. Paul strictly enjoin obedience to husbands, and that man shall be head of the woman?

Lucretia Mott replied that in the Society of Friends she had never known any difficulty to arise on account of the wife's not having promised obedience in the marriage contract. She had never known any mode of decision except an appeal to reason; and, although in some of the meetings of this Society, women are placid on an equality, none of the results so much dreaded had occurred. She said that many of the opposers of Woman's Rights, who bid us to obey the bachelor St. Paul, themselves reject his counsel. He advised them not to marry. In general answer she would quote, "One is your master, even Christ." Although Paul enjoins silence on women in the Church, yet he gives directions how they should appear when publicly speaking, and we have scriptural accounts of honorable women not a few who were religious teachers, viz: Phebe, Priscilla, Tryphena, Triphosa, and the four daughters of Philip, and various others.

Mrs. Stanton thought the gentleman might be easily answered; saying that the strongest will or the superior intellect now governs the household, as it will in the new order. She knew many a woman, who, to all intents and purposes, is at the head of her family.

Mr. Pickard asked who, after marriage, should hold the property, and whose name should be retained. He thought an umpire necessary. He did not see but all business must cease until the consent[Pg 80] of both parties be obtained. He saw an impossibility of introducing such rules into society. The Gospel had established the unity and oneness of the married pair.

Mrs. Stanton said she thought the Gospel, rightly understood, pointed to a oneness of equality, not subordination, and that property should be jointly held. She could see no reason why marriage by false creeds should be made a degradation to woman; and, as to the name, the custom of taking the husband's name is not universal. When a man has a bad name in any sense, he might be the gainer by burying himself under the good name of his wife. This last winter a Mr. Cruikshanks applied to our Legislature to have his name changed. Now, if he had taken his wife's name in the beginning, he might have saved the Legislature the trouble of considering the propriety of releasing the man from such a burden to be entailed on the third and fourth generation. When a slave escapes from a Southern plantation, he at once takes a name as the first step in liberty—the first assertion of individual identity. A woman's dignity is equally involved in a life-long name, to mark her individuality. We can not overestimate the demoralizing effect on woman herself, to say nothing of society at large, for her to consent thus to merge her existence so wholly in that of another.

A well-written speech was read by William C. Nell, which Mrs. Mott thought too flattering. She said woman is now sufficiently developed to prefer justice to compliment.

A letter was read from Gerrit Smith, approving cordially of the object of the Convention.

Mrs. Stanton read the Declaration that was adopted at Seneca Falls, and urged those present who did not agree with its sentiments, to make their objections then and there. She hoped if there were any clergymen present, they would not keep silent during the Convention and then on Sunday do as their brethren did in Seneca Falls—use their pulpits throughout the city to denounce them, where they could not, of course, be allowed to reply.

The resolutions[11] were freely discussed by Amy Post, Rhoda De Garmo, Ann Edgeworth, Sarah D. Fish, and others. While Mrs. Mott and Mrs. Stanton spoke in their favor, they thought they were too tame, and wished for some more stirring declarations. Elizabeth McClintock read, in an admirable manner, a spirited poetical reply, from the pen of Maria Weston Chapman, to "A Clerical Appeal" published in 1840. Mrs. Chapman was one of the grand women in[Pg 81] Boston, who, during the early days of Anti-Slavery, gave her unceasing efforts to that struggle. Her pen was a power in the journals and magazines, and her presence an inspiration in their fairs and conventions. When Abby Kelly, Angelina Grimke, and Lucretia Mott first began to speak to promiscuous assemblies in Anti-Slavery Conventions, "a clerical appeal" was issued and sent to all the clergymen in New England, calling on them to denounce in their pulpits this unmannerly and unchristian proceeding. Sermons were preached, portraying in the darkest colors the fearful results to the Church, the State, and the home, in thus encouraging women to enter public life.


Extract from a Pastoral Letter of "the General Association of Massachusetts (Orthodox) to the Churches under their care"—1837:

III. We invite your attention to the dangers which at present seem to threaten the female character with wide-spread and permanent injury.

The appropriate duties and influence of woman are clearly stated in the New Testament. Those duties and that influence are unobtrusive and private, but the source of mighty power. When the mild, dependent, softening influence of woman upon the sternness of man's opinions is fully exercised, society feels the effects of it in a thousand forms. The power of woman is her dependence, flowing from the consciousness of that weakness which God has given her for her protection, (!) and which keeps her in those departments of life that form the character of individuals, and of the nation. There are social influences which females use in promoting piety and the great objects of Christian benevolence which we can not too highly commend.

We appreciate the unostentatious prayers and efforts of woman in advancing the cause of religion at home and abroad; in Sabbath-schools; in leading religious inquirers to the pastors (!) for instruction; and in all such associated effort as becomes the modesty of her sex; and earnestly hope that she may abound more and more in these labors of piety and love. But when she assumes the place and tone of man as a public reformer, our care and protection of her seem unnecessary; we put ourselves in self-defence (!) against her; she yields the power which God has given her for her protection, and her character becomes unnatural. If the vine, whose strength and beauty is to lean upon the trellis-work, and half conceal its clusters, thinks to assume the independence and the overshadowing nature of the elm, it will not only cease to bear fruit, but fall in shame and dishonor into the dust. We can not, therefore, but regret the mistaken conduct of those who encourage females to bear an obtrusive and ostentatious part in measures of reform, and countenance any of that sex who so far forget themselves as to itinerate in the character of public lecturers and teachers. We especially deplore the intimate acquaintance and promiscuous conversation of females with regard to[Pg 82] things which ought not to be named; by which that modesty and delicacy which is the charm of domestic life, and which constitutes the true influence of woman in society, is consumed, and the way opened, as we apprehend, for degeneracy and ruin.

We say these things not to discourage proper influences against sin, but to secure such reformation (!) as we believe is Scriptural, and will be permanent.

William Lloyd Garrison, in a cordial letter, accompanying the above extract, which he had copied for us with his own hand from the files of The Liberator, said: "This 'Clerical Bull' was fulminated with special reference to those two noble South Carolina women, Sarah M. and Angelina E. Grimke, who were at that time publicly pleading for those in bonds as bound with them, while on a visit to Massachusetts. It was written by the Rev. Dr. Nehemiah Adams, of Boston, author of 'A South-side View of Slavery.'"

Maria Weston Chapman's amusing answer in rhyme, shows that the days for ecclesiastical bulls were fast passing away, when women, even, could thus make light of them.



Confusion has seized us, and all things go wrong,
The women have leaped from "their spheres,"
And, instead of fixed stars, shoot as comets along,
And are setting the world by the ears!
In courses erratic they're wheeling through space,
In brainless confusion and meaningless chase.
In vain do our knowing ones try to compute
Their return to the orbit designed;
They're glanced at a moment, then onward they shoot,
And are neither "to hold nor to bind;"
So freely they move in their chosen ellipse,
The "Lords of Creation" do fear an eclipse.
They've taken a notion to speak for themselves,
And are wielding the tongue and the pen;
They've mounted the rostrum; the termagant elves,
And—oh horrid!—are talking to men!
With faces unblanched in our presence they come
To harangue us, they say, in behalf of the dumb.
They insist on their right to petition and pray,
That St. Paul, in Corinthians, has given them rules
For appearing in public; despite what those say
Whom we've trained to instruct them in schools;[Pg 83]
But vain such instructions, if women may scan
And quote texts of Scripture to favor their plan.
Our grandmothers' learning consisted of yore
In spreading their generous boards;
In twisting the distaff, or mopping the floor,
And obeying the will of their lords.
Now, misses may reason, and think, and debate,
Till unquestioned submission is quite out of date.
Our clergy have preached on the sin and the shame
Of woman, when out of "her sphere,"
And labored divinely to ruin her fame,
And shorten this horrid career;
But for spiritual guidance no longer they look
To Fulsom, or Winslow, or learned Parson Cook.
Our wise men have tried to exorcise in vain
The turbulent spirits abroad;
As well might we deal with the fetterless main,
Or conquer ethereal essence with sword;
Like the devils of Milton, they rise from each blow,
With spirit unbroken, insulting the foe.
Our patriot fathers, of eloquent fame,
Waged war against tangible forms;
Aye, their foes were men—and if ours were the same,
We might speedily quiet their storms;
But, ah! their descendants enjoy not such bliss—
The assumptions of Britain were nothing to this.
Could we but array all our force in the field,
We'd teach these usurpers of power
That their bodily safety demands they should yield,
And in the presence of manhood should cower;
But, alas! for our tethered and impotent state,
Chained by notions of knighthood—we can but debate.
Oh! shade of the prophet Mahomet, arise!
Place woman again in "her sphere,"
And teach that her soul was not born for the skies,
But to flutter a brief moment here.
This doctrine of Jesus, as preached up by Paul,
If embraced in its spirit, will ruin us all.
Lords of Creation.

On reading the "Pastoral Letter," our Quaker poet, John Greenleaf Whittier, poured out his indignation on the New England clergy in thrilling denunciations. Mr. Whittier early saw that woman's only protection against religious and social tyranny, could[Pg 84] be found in political equality. In the midst of the fierce conflicts in the Anti-Slavery Conventions of 1839 and '40, on the woman question per se, Mr. Whittier remarked to Lucretia Mott, "Give woman the right to vote, and you end all these persecutions by reform and church organizations."


So, this is all—the utmost reach
Of priestly power the mind to fetter!
When laymen think—when women preach—
A war of words—a "Pastoral Letter!"
Now, shame upon ye, parish Popes!
Was it thus with those, your predecessors,
Who sealed with racks, and fire, and ropes
Their loving-kindness to transgressors?
A "Pastoral Letter," grave and dull—
Alas! in hoof and horns and features,
How different is your Brookfield bull,
From him who bellows from St. Peter's!
Your pastoral rights and powers from harm,
Think ye, can words alone preserve them?
Your wiser fathers taught the arm
And sword of temporal power to serve them.
Oh, glorious days—when Church and State
Were wedded by your spiritual fathers!
And on submissive shoulders sat
Yours Wilsons and your Cotton Mathers.
No vile "itinerant" then could mar
The beauty of your tranquil Zion,
But at his peril of the scar
Of hangman's whip and branding-iron.
Then, wholesome laws relieved the Church
Of heretic and mischief-maker.
And priest and bailiff joined in search,
By turns, of Papist, witch, and Quaker!
The stocks were at each church's door,
The gallows stood on Boston Common,
A Papist's ears the pillory bore—
The gallows-rope, a Quaker woman!
Your fathers dealt not as ye deal
With "non-professing" frantic teachers;
They bored the tongue with red-hot steel,
And flayed the backs of "female preachers."[Pg 85]
Old Newbury, had her fields a tongue,
And Salem's streets could tell their story,
Of fainting woman dragged along,
Gashed by the whip, accursed and gory!
And will ye ask me, why this taunt
Of memories sacred from the scorner?
And why with reckless hand I plant
A nettle on the graves ye honor?
Not to reproach New England's dead
This record from the past I summon,
Of manhood to the scaffold led,
And suffering and heroic woman.
No—for yourselves alone, I turn
The pages of intolerance over,
That, in their spirit, dark and stern,
Ye haply may your own discover!
For, if ye claim the "pastoral right,"
To silence freedom's voice of warning,
And from your precincts shut the light
Of Freedom's day around ye dawning;
If when an earthquake voice of power,
And signs in earth and heaven, are showing
That forth, in the appointed hour,
The Spirit of the Lord is going!
And, with that Spirit, Freedom's light
On kindred, tongue, and people breaking,
Whose slumbering millions, at the sight,
In glory and in strength are waking!
When for the sighing of the poor,
And for the needy, God hath risen,
And chains are breaking, and a door
Is opening for the souls in prison!
If then ye would, with puny hands,
Arrest the very work of Heaven,
And bind anew the evil bands
Which God's right arm of power hath riven,—
What marvel that, in many a mind,
Those darker deeds of bigot madness
Are closely with your own combined,
Yet "less in anger than in sadness"?
What marvel, if the people learn
To claim the right of free opinion?
What marvel, if at times they spurn
The ancient yoke of your dominion?[Pg 86]
A glorious remnant linger yet,
Whose lips are wet at Freedom's fountains,
The coming of whose welcome feet
Is beautiful upon our mountains!
Men, who the gospel tidings bring
Of Liberty and Love forever,
Whose joy is an abiding spring,
Whose peace is as a gentle river!
But ye, who scorn the thrilling tale
Of Carolina's high-souled daughters,
Which echoes here the mournful wail
Of sorrow from Edisto's waters,
Close while ye may the public ear—
With malice vex, with slander wound them—
The pure and good shall throng to hear,
And tried and manly hearts surround them.
Oh, ever may the power which led
Their way to such a fiery trial,
And strengthened womanhood to tread
The wine-press of such self-denial,
Be round them in an evil land,
With wisdom and with strength from Heaven,
With Miriam's voice, and Judith's hand,
And Deborah's song, for triumph given!
And what are ye who strive with God
Against the ark of His salvation,
Moved by the breath of prayer abroad,
With blessings for a dying nation?
What, but the stubble and the hay
To perish, even as flax consuming,
With all that bars His glorious way,
Before the brightness of His coming?
And thou, sad Angel, who so long
Hast waited for the glorious token,
That Earth from all her bonds of wrong
To liberty and light has broken—
Angel of Freedom! soon to thee
The sounding trumpet shall be given,
And over Earth's full jubilee
Shall deeper joy be felt in Heaven!

In answer to the many objections made, by gentlemen present, to granting to woman the right of suffrage, Frederick Douglass replied in a long, argumentative, and eloquent appeal, for the complete equality of woman in all the rights that belong to any human[Pg 87] soul. He thought the true basis of rights was the capacity of individuals; and as for himself, he should not dare claim a right that he would not concede to woman.

This Convention continued through three sessions, and was crowded with an attentive audience to the hour of adjournment. The daily papers made fair reports, and varied editorial comments, which, being widely copied, called out spicy controversies in different parts of the country. The resolutions and discussions regarding woman's right to enter the professions, encouraged many to prepare themselves for medicine and the ministry. Though few women responded to the demand for political rights, many at once saw the importance of equality in the world of work.

The Seneca Falls Declaration was adopted, and signed by large numbers of influential men and women of Rochester and vicinity, and at a late hour the Convention adjourned, in the language of its President, "with hearts overflowing with gratitude."


[8] The antique mahogany center-table on which this historic document was written now stands in the parlor of the McClintock family in Philadelphia.

[9] See Appendix.

[10] Rebecca Sanford, now Postmaster at Mt. Morris, N. Y.

[11] See Appendix.

[Pg 88]




The first Suffrage Society—Methodist class-leader whips his wife—Theology enchains the soul—The status of women and slaves the same—The first medical college opened to women, Geneva, N. Y.—Petitions to the Legislature laughed at, and laid on the table—Dependence woman's best protection; her weakness her sweetest charm—Dr. Elizabeth Blackwell's letter.

I was born and lived almost forty years in South Bristol, Ontario County—one of the most secluded spots in Western New York; but from the earliest dawn of reason I pined for that freedom of thought and action that was then denied to all womankind. I revolted in spirit against the customs of society and the laws of the State that crushed my aspirations and debarred me from the pursuit of almost every object worthy of an intelligent, rational mind. But not until that meeting at Seneca Falls in 1848, of the pioneers in the cause, gave this feeling of unrest form and voice, did I take action. Then I summoned a few women in our neighborhood together and formed an Equal Suffrage Society, and sent petitions to our Legislature; but our efforts were little known beyond our circle, as we were in communication with no person or newspaper. Yet there was enough of wrong in our narrow horizon to rouse some thought in the minds of all.

In those early days a husband's supremacy was often enforced in the rural districts by corporeal chastisement, and it was considered by most people as quite right and proper—as much so as the correction of refractory children in like manner. I remember in my own neighborhood a man who was a Methodist class-leader and exhorter, and one who was esteemed a worthy citizen, who, every few weeks, gave his wife a beating with his horsewhip. He said it was necessary, in order to keep her in subjection, and because she scolded so much. Now this wife, surrounded by six or seven little children, whom she must wash, dress, feed, and attend to day and night, was obliged to spin and weave cloth for all the garments of the family. She had to milk the cows, make butter and cheese, do all the cooking,[Pg 89] washing, making, and mending for the family, and, with the pains of maternity forced upon her every eighteen months, was whipped by her pious husband, "because she scolded." And pray, why should he not have chastised her? The laws made it his privilege—and the Bible, as interpreted, made it his duty. It is true, women repined at their hard lot; but it was thought to be fixed by a divine decree, for "The man shall rule over thee," and "Wives, be subject to your husbands," and "Wives, submit yourselves unto your husbands as unto the Lord," caused them to consider their fate inevitable, and to feel that it would be contravening God's law to resist it. It is ever thus; where Theology enchains the soul, the Tyrant enslaves the body. But can any one, who has any knowledge of the laws that govern our being—of heredity and pre-natal influences—be astonished that our jails and prisons are filled with criminals, and our hospitals with sickly specimens of humanity? As long as the mothers of the race are subject to such unhappy conditions, it can never be materially improved. Men exhibit some common sense in breeding all animals except those of their own species.

All through the Anti-Slavery struggle, every word of denunciation of the wrongs of the Southern slave, was, I felt, equally applicable to the wrongs of my own sex. Every argument for the emancipation of the colored man, was equally one for that of woman; and I was surprised that all Abolitionists did not see the similarity in the condition of the two classes. I read, with intense interest, everything that indicated an awakening of public or private thought to the idea that woman did not occupy her rightful position in the organization of society; and, when I read the lectures of Ernestine L. Rose and the writings of Margaret Fuller, and found that other women entertained the same thoughts that had been seething in my own brain, and realized that I stood not alone, how my heart bounded with joy! The arguments of that distinguished jurist, Judge Hurlburt, encouraged me to hope that men would ultimately see the justice of our cause, and concede to women their natural rights.

I hailed with gladness any aspiration of women toward an enlargement of their sphere of action; and when, in the early part of 1848, I learned that Miss Elizabeth Blackwell had been admitted as a student to the medical college at Geneva, N. Y., being the first lady in the United States that had attained that privilege, and knowing the tide of public sentiment she had to stem, I could not refrain[Pg 90] from writing her a letter of approval and encouragement. In return I received the following:

Philadelphia, August 12, 1848.

Dear Madam:—Your letter, I can assure you, met with a hearty welcome from me. And I can not refrain from writing to you a warm acknowledgment of your cordial sympathy, and expressing the pleasure with which I have read your brave words. It is true, I look neither for praise nor blame in pursuing the path which I have chosen. With firm religious enthusiasm, no opinion of the world will move me, but when I receive from a woman an approval so true-hearted and glowing, a recognition so clear of the motives which urge me on, then my very soul bounds at the thrilling words, and I go on with renewed energy, with hope, and holy joy in my inmost being.

My whole life is devoted unreservedly to the service of my sex. The study and practice of medicine is in my thought but one means to a great end, for which my very soul yearns with in tensest passionate emotion, of which I have dreamed day and night, from my earliest childhood, for which I would offer up my life with triumphant thanksgiving, if martyrdom could secure that glorious end:—the true ennoblement of woman, the full harmonious development of her unknown nature, and the consequent redemption of the whole human race. "Earth waits for her queen." Every noble movement of the age, every prophecy of future glory, every throb of that great heart which is laboring throughout Christendom, call on woman with a voice of thunder, with the authority of a God, to listen to the mighty summons to awake from her guilty sleep, and rouse to glorious action to play her part in the great drama of the ages, and finish the work that man has begun.

Most fully do I respond to all the noble aspirations that fill your letter. Women are feeble, narrow, frivolous at present: ignorant of their own capacities, and undeveloped in thought and feeling; and while they remain so, the great work of human regeneration must remain incomplete; humanity will continue to suffer, and cry in vain for deliverance, for woman has her work to do, and no one can accomplish it for her. She is bound to rise, to try her strength, to break her bonds;—not with noisy outcry, not with fighting or complaint; but with quiet strength, with gentle dignity, firmly, irresistibly, with a cool determination that never wavers, with a clear insight into her own capacities, let her do her duty, pursue her highest conviction of right, and firmly grasp whatever she is able to carry.

Much is said of the oppression woman suffers; man is reproached with being unjust, tyrannical, jealous. I do not so read human life. The exclusion and constraint woman suffers, is not the result of purposed injury or premeditated insult. It has arisen naturally, without violence, simply because woman has desired nothing more, has not felt the soul too large for the body. But when woman, with matured strength, with steady purpose, presents her lofty claim, all barriers will give way, and man will welcome, with a thrill of joy, the new birth of his sister spirit, the advent of his partner, his co-worker, in the great universe of being.[Pg 91]

If the present arrangements of society will not admit of woman's free development, then society must be remodeled, and adapted to the great wants of all humanity. Our race is one, the interests of all are inseparably united, and harmonic freedom for the perfect growth of every human soul is the great want of our time. It has given me heartfelt satisfaction, dear madam, that you sympathize in my effort to advance the great interests of humanity. I feel the responsibility of my position, and I shall endeavor, by wisdom of action, purity of motive, and unwavering steadiness of purpose, to justify the noble hope I have excited. To me the future is full of glorious promise, humanity is arousing to accomplish its grand destiny, and in the fellowship of this great hope, I would greet you, and recognize in your noble spirit a fellow-laborer for the true and the good.

Elizabeth Blackwell.

Mrs. Emily Collins.

But, it was the proceedings of the Convention, in 1848, at Seneca Falls, that first gave a direction to the efforts of the many women, who began to feel the degradation of their subject condition, and its baneful effects upon the human race. They then saw the necessity for associated action, in order to obtain the elective franchise, the only key that would unlock the doors of their prison. I wrote to Miss Sarah C. Owen, Secretary of the Women's Protective Union, at Rochester, as to the line of procedure that had been proposed there. In reply, under date of October 1, 1848, she says:

Your letter has just reached me, and with much pleasure I reply to the echo of inquiry, beyond the bounds of those personally associated with us in this enterprise. It is indeed encouraging to hear a voice from South Bristol in such perfect unison with our own.

Possibly, extracts from my next letter to Miss Owen, dated Oct. 23, 1848, will give you the best idea of the movement:

I should have acknowledged the receipt of yours of the 1st inst. earlier, but wished to report somewhat of progress whenever I should write. Our prospects here are brightening. Every lady of any worth or intelligence adopts unhesitatingly our view, and concurs in our measures. On the 19th inst. we met and organized a Woman's Equal Rights Union. Living in the country, where the population is sparse, we are consequently few; but hope to make up in zeal and energy for our lack of numbers. We breathe a freer, if not a purer atmosphere here among the mountains, than do the dwellers in cities,—have more independence,—are less subject to the despotism of fashion, and are less absorbed with dress and amusements.... A press entirely devoted to our cause seems indispensable. If there is none such, can you tell me of any paper that advocates our claims more warmly than the North Star?[12][Pg 92] A lecturer in the field would be most desirable; but how to raise funds to sustain one is the question. I never really wished for Aladdin's lamp till now. Would to Heaven that women could be persuaded to use the funds they acquire by their sewing-circles and fairs, in trying to raise their own condition above that of "infants, idiots, and lunatics," with whom our statutes class them, instead of spending the money in decorating their churches, or sustaining a clergy, the most of whom are striving to rivet the chains still closer that bind, not only our own sex, but the oppressed of every class and color.

The elective franchise is now the one object for which we must labor; that once attained, all the rest will be easily acquired. Moral Reform and Temperance Societies may be multiplied ad infinitum, but they have about the same effect upon the evils they seek to cure, as clipping the top of a hedge would have toward extirpating it. Please forward me a copy of the petition for suffrage. We will engage to do all we can, not only in our own town, but in the adjoining ones of Richmond, East Bloomfield, Canandaigua, and Naples. I have promises of aid from people of influence in obtaining signatures. In the meantime we wish to disseminate some able work upon the enfranchisement of women. We wish to present our Assemblyman elect, whoever he may be, with some work of this kind, and solicit his candid attention to the subject. People are more willing to be convinced by the calm perusal of an argument, than in a personal discussion....

Our Society was composed of some fifteen or twenty ladies, and we met once in two weeks, in each other's parlors, alternately, for discussion and interchange of ideas. I was chosen President; Mrs. Sophia Allen, Vice-President; Mrs. Horace Pennell, Treasurer; and one of several young ladies who were members was Secretary. Horace Pennell, Esq., and his wife were two of our most earnest helpers. We drafted a petition to the Legislature to grant women the right of suffrage, and obtained the names of sixty-two of the most intelligent people, male and female, in our own and adjoining towns, and sent it to our Representative in Albany. It was received by the Legislature as something absurdly ridiculous, and laid upon the table. We introduced the question into the Debating Clubs, that were in those days such popular institutions in the rural districts, and in every way sought to agitate the subject. I found a great many men, especially those of the better class, disposed to accord equal rights to our sex. And, now, as the highest tribute that I can pay to the memory of a husband, I may say that during our companionship of thirty-five years, I was most cordially sustained by mine, in my advocacy of equal rights to women. Amongst my own sex, I found too many on whom ages of repression had wrought their natural effect, and whose ideas and aspirations were narrowed down to the confines of "woman's sphere," beyond whose limits it[Pg 93] was not only impious, but infamous to tread. "Woman's sphere" then, was to discharge the duties of a housekeeper, ply the needle, and teach a primary or ladies' school. From press, and pulpit, and platform, she was taught that "to be unknown was her highest praise," that "dependence was her best protection," and "her weakness her sweetest charm." She needed only sufficient intelligence to comprehend her husband's superiority, and to obey him in all things. It is not surprising, then, that I as often heard the terms "strong-minded" and "masculine" as opprobrious epithets used against progressive women, by their own sex as by the other; another example only of the stultifying effect of subjection, upon the mind, exactly paralleled by the Southern slaves, amongst many of whom the strongest term of contempt that could be used was "Free Nigger." Our Equal Rights Association continued to hold its meetings for somewhat over a year, and they were at last suspended on account of bad weather and the difficulty of coming together in the country districts. We, however, continued to send petitions to the Legislature for the removal of woman's disabilities.

From 1858 to 1869 my home was in Rochester, N. Y. There, by brief newspaper articles and in other ways, I sought to influence public sentiment in favor of this fundamental reform. In 1868 a Society was organized there for the reformation of abandoned women. At one of its meetings I endeavored to show how futile all their efforts would be, while women, by the laws of the land, were made a subject class; that only by enfranchising woman and permitting her a more free and lucrative range of employments, could they hope to suppress the "social evil." My remarks produced some agitation in the meeting and some newspaper criticisms. In Rochester, I found many pioneers in the cause of Woman Suffrage, and from year to year we petitioned our Legislature for it.

Since 1869 I have been a citizen of Louisiana. Here, till recently, political troubles engrossed the minds of men to the exclusion of every other consideration. They glowed with fiery indignation at being, themselves, deprived of the right of suffrage, or at having their votes annulled, and regarded it as an intolerable outrage; yet, at the same time, they denied it to all women, many of whom valued the elective franchise as highly, and felt as intensely, as did men, the injustice that withheld it from them. In 1879, when the Convention met to frame a new Constitution for the State, we strongly petitioned it for an enlargement of our civil rights and for the ballot. Mrs. Elizabeth L. Saxon was indefatigable in her efforts, and went before the Convention in person[Pg 94] and plead our cause. But the majority of the members thought there were cogent reasons for not granting our petitions; but they made women eligible to all school offices—an indication that Louisiana will not be the last State in the Union to deny women their inalienable rights.

Emily Collins.

The newspaper comments on Elizabeth Blackwell as a physician, both in the French and American papers, seem very ridiculous to us at this distance of time. The American, Rochester, N. Y., July, 1848:

A Novel Circumstance.—Our readers will perhaps remember that some time ago a lady, Miss Elizabeth Blackwell, applied for admission as a student in one of the medical colleges of Philadelphia, her purpose being to go through an entire course of the study of medicine. The application was denied, and the lady subsequently entered the Geneva Medical College, where, at the Annual Commencement on the 23d instant, she graduated with high honors and received the degree of M.D., the subject of her thesis being "ship fever." On receiving her diploma she thus addressed the President: "With the help of the Most High, it shall be the effort of my life to shed honor on this diploma." Professor Lee, who delivered the customary oration, complimented the lady by saying that she had won the distinction of her class by attending faithfully to every duty required of candidates striving for the honor. Eighteen young gentlemen received the degree of M.D. at the same time.

After graduating with high honors in this country, Dr. Elizabeth Blackwell went to France to secure still higher advantages of education than could be found here. What was thought of her there will be seen by the following letter of a Paris correspondent in the New York Journal of Commerce:

An American Doctress.—The medical community of Paris is all agog by the arrival of the celebrated American doctor, Miss Blackwell. She has quite bewildered the learned faculty by her diploma, all in due form, authorizing her to dose and bleed and amputate with the best of them. Some of them think Miss Blackwell must be a socialist of the most rabid class, and that her undertaking is the entering wedge to a systematic attack on society by the whole sex. Others, who have seen her, say that there is nothing very alarming in her manner; that, on the contrary, she is modest and unassuming, and talks reasonably on other subjects. The ladies attack her in turn. One said to me a few days since, "Oh, it is too horrid! I'm sure I never could touch her hand! Only to think that those long fingers of hers had been cutting up dead people." I have seen the doctor in question, and must say in fairness, that her appearance is quite prepossessing. She is young, and rather good-looking; her manner indicates great energy of character, and she seems to have entered on her singular career from motives of duty, and[Pg 95] encouraged by respectable ladies of Cincinnati. After about ten days' hesitation, on the part of the directors of the Hospital of Maternity, she has at last received permission to enter the institution as a pupil.



Ernestine L. Rose—maiden name Siismund Potoski—was born January 13, 1810, at Pyeterkow, in Poland. Her father, a very pious and learned rabbi, was so conscientious that he would take no pay for discharging the functions of his office, saying he would not convert his duty into a means of gain. As a child she was of a reflective habit, and though very active and cheerful, she scarcely ever engaged with her young companions in their sports, but took great delight in the company of her father, for whom she entertained a remarkable affection.

At a very early age she commenced reading the Hebrew Scriptures, but soon became involved in serious difficulties respecting the formation of the world, the origin of evil, and other obscure points suggested by the sacred history and cosmogony of her people. The reproofs which met her at every step of her biblical investigations, and being constantly told that "little girls must not ask questions," made her at that early day an advocate of religious freedom and woman's rights; as she could not see, on the one hand, why subjects of vital interest should be held too sacred for investigation, nor, on the other, why a "little girl" should not have the same right to ask questions as a little boy. Despite her early investigation of the Bible, she was noted for her strict observance of all the rites and ceremonies of the Jewish faith, though some of them, on account of her tender age, were not demanded of her. She was, however, often painfully disturbed by her "carnal reason" questioning the utility of these multifarious observances. As an illustration, she one day asked her father, with much anxiety, why he fasted[13] so much more than others, a habit which was seriously impairing his health and spirits; and being told that it was to please God, who required this sacrifice at his hands, she, in a serious and most emphatic tone, replied, "If God is pleased in making you sick and unhappy, I hate God." This idea of the cruelty of God toward her father had a remarkable influence upon her; and at the age of fourteen[Pg 96] she renounced her belief in the Bible and the religion of her father, which brought down upon her great trouble and persecution alike from her own Jewish friends and from Christians.

At the age of sixteen she had the misfortune to lose her mother. A year afterward her father married again, and through misdirected kindness involved her in a lawsuit, in which she plead her own case and won it; but she left the property with her father, declaring that she cared nothing for it, but only for justice, and that her inheritance might not fall into mercenary hands. She subsequently traveled in Poland, Russia, the Germanic States, Holland, Belgium, France, and England; during which time she witnessed and took part in some interesting and important affairs. While in Berlin she had an interview with the King of Prussia concerning the right of Polish Jews to remain in that city. The Jews of Russian Poland were not permitted to continue in Prussia, unless they could bring forward as security Prussian citizens who were holders of real estate. But even then they could get a permit to tarry only on a visit, and not to transact any business for themselves. Mlle. Potoski, being from Poland and a Jewess, was subject to this disability. Though she could have obtained the requisite security by applying for it, she preferred to stand upon her natural rights as a human being. She remonstrated against the gross injustice of the law, and obtained the right to remain as long as she wished, and to do what she pleased.

In Hague, she became acquainted with a very distressing case of a poor sailor, the father of four children, whose wife had been imprisoned for an alleged crime of which he insisted she was innocent. Inquiring into the case, Mlle. Potoski drew up a petition which she personally presented to the King of Holland, and had the satisfaction of seeing the poor woman restored to her family. She was in Paris during the Revolution of July, 1830, and witnessed most of its exciting scenes. On seeing Louis Phillipe presented by Lafayette to the people of Paris from the balcony of the Tuilleries, she remarked to a friend, "That man, as well as Charles X., will one day have good reason to wish himself safely off the throne of France."

In England she became acquainted with Lord Grosvenor and family, with Frances Farrar, sister of Oliver Farrar, M.P., the Miss Leeds, and others of the nobility; also with many prominent members of the Society of Friends, among them Joseph Gurney and his sister Elizabeth Fry, the eminent philanthropist, in whose company she visited Newgate Prison. In 1832 she made the acquaintance of Robert Owen, and warmly espoused his principles. In 1834 she presided at the formation of a society called "The Association of all[Pg 97] Classes of all Nations, without distinction of sect, sex, party condition, or color." While in England she married William E. Rose, and in the spring of 1836, came to the United States, and resided in the city of New York. Soon after her arrival she commenced lecturing on the evils of the existing social system, the formation of human character, slavery, the rights of woman, and other reform questions.

Ernestine L. Rose (with autograph).

At a great public meeting in the Broadway Tabernacle to consider the necessity of an improved system of Free Schools, J. S. Buckingham, M.P., of England, and Rev. Robert Breckenridge, of Kentucky, were among the speakers. Mrs. Rose, sitting in the gallery, called the reverend gentleman to order for violating the sense of the audience, in entirely overlooking the important object which had called the people together, and indulging in a violent clerical harangue against a class whom he stigmatized as infidels. This bold innovation of a woman upon the hitherto unquestioned prerogatives of the clergy, at once caused a tremendous excitement. Loud cries of "Throw her down!" "Drag her out!" "She's an infidel!" resounded in all parts of the building. She, however, held her ground, calm and collected while the tumult lasted, and after quiet was restored, continued her remarks in a most dignified manner, making a deep impression upon all present. Certain religious papers declared it a forewarning of some terrible calamity, that a woman should call a minister to account, and that, too, in a church.

Mrs. Rose has lectured in not less than twenty-three different States of the Union. Some of them she has visited often, and on several occasions she has addressed legislative bodies with marked effect, advocating the necessity of legal redress for the wrongs and disabilities to which her sex are subject. As an advocate of woman's rights, anti-slavery and religious liberty, she has earned a world-wide celebrity. For fifty years a public speaker, during which period she has associated with the influential classes in Europe and America, and borne an active part in the great progressive movements which mark the present as the most glorious of historical epochs, Ernestine L. Rose has accomplished for the elevation of her sex and the amelioration of social conditions, a work which can be ascribed to few women of our time.

In the spring of 1854, Mrs. Rose and Miss Anthony took a trip together to Washington, Alexandria, Baltimore, Philadelphia, speaking two or three times in each place. This was after the introduction of the Kansas-Nebraska Bill in Congress, and the excitement of the country upon the slavery question was intense. Mrs. Rose's[Pg 98] third lecture in Washington was on the "Nebraska Question." This lecture was scarcely noticed, the only paper giving it the least report, being The Washington Globe, which, though it spoke most highly of her as a lecturer, misrepresented her by ascribing to her the arguments of the South. The National Era, the only anti-slavery paper in Washington, was entirely silent, taking no notice of the fact that Mrs. Rose had spoken in that city against the further spread of slavery. Whether this was due to editorial prejudice against sex, or against freedom of religious belief, is unknown.

In the winter of 1855, Mrs. Rose spoke in thirteen of the fifty-four County Conventions upon woman suffrage held in the State of New York, and each winter took part in the Albany Conventions and hearings before the Legislature, which in 1860 resulted in the passage of the bill securing to women the right to their wages and the equal guardianship of their children.

Mrs. Rose was sustained in her work by the earnest sympathy of her husband, who gladly furnished her the means of making her extensive tours, so that through his sense of justice she was enabled to preach the Gospel of Woman's Rights, Anti-Slavery, and Free Religion without money and without price.

The Boston Investigator of January 15, 1881, speaking of a letter just received from her, says: "Thirty years ago Mrs. Rose was in her prime—an excellent lecturer, liberal, eloquent, witty, and we must add, decidedly handsome—'the Rose that all were praising.' Her portrait, life-size and very natural, hangs in Investigator Hall, and her intelligent-looking and expressive countenance, and black glossy curls, denote intellect and beauty. As an anti-slavery lecturer, a pioneer in the cause of woman's rights, and an advocate of Liberalism, she did good service, and is worthy to be classed with such devoted friends of humanity and freedom as Frances Wright, Harriet Martineau, Lucretia Mott, and Lydia Maria Child, who will long be pleasantly remembered for their 'works' sake.'"

London, January 9, 1877.

My Dear Miss Anthony:—Sincerely do I thank you for your kind letter. Believe me it would give me great pleasure to comply with your request, to tell you all about myself and my past labors; but I suffer so much from neuralgia in my head and general debility, that I could not undertake the task, especially as I have nothing to refer to. I have never spoken from notes; and as I did not intend to publish anything about myself, for I had no other ambition except to work for the cause of humanity, irrespective of sex, sect, country, or color, and did not expect that a Susan B. Anthony would wish to do it for me, I made no memorandum of places, dates, or names; and thirty or forty years ago[Pg 99] the press was not sufficiently educated in the rights of woman, even to notice, much less to report speeches as it does now; and therefore I have not anything to assist me or you.

All that I can tell you is, that I used my humble powers to the uttermost, and raised my voice in behalf of Human Rights in general, and the elevation and Rights of Woman in particular, nearly all my life. And so little have I spared myself, or studied my comfort in summer or winter, rain or shine, day or night, when I had an opportunity to work for the cause to which I had devoted myself, that I can hardly wonder at my present state of health.

Yet in spite of hardships, for it was not as easy to travel at that time as now, and the expense, as I never made a charge or took up a collection, I look back to that time, when a stranger and alone, I went from place to place, in high-ways and by-ways, did the work and paid my bills with great pleasure and satisfaction; for the cause gained ground, and in spite of my heresies I had always good audiences, attentive listeners, and was well received wherever I went.

But I can mention from memory the principal places where I have spoken. In the winter of 1836 and '37, I spoke in New York, and for some years after I lectured in almost every city in the State; Hudson, Poughkeepsie, Albany, Schenectady; Saratoga, Utica, Syracuse, Rochester, Buffalo, Elmira, and other places; in New Jersey, in Newark and Burlington; in 1837, in Philadelphia, Bristol, Chester, Pittsburg, and other places in Pennsylvania, and at Wilmington in Delaware; in 1842, in Boston, Charlestown, Beverly, Florence, Springfield, and other points in Massachusetts, and in Hartford, Connecticut; in 1844, in Cincinnati, Dayton, Zanesville, Springfield, Cleveland, Toledo, and several settlements in the backwoods of Ohio, and also in Richmond, Indiana; in 1845 and '46, I lectured three times in the Legislative Hall in Detroit, and at Ann Arbor and other places in Michigan; and in 1847 and '48, I spoke in Charleston and Columbia, in South Carolina.

In 1850, I attended the first National Woman's Rights Convention in Worcester, and nearly all the National and State Conventions since, until I went to Europe in 1869. Returning to New York in 1874, I was present at the Convention in Irving Hall, the only one held during my visit to America.

I sent the first petition to the New York Legislature to give a married woman the right to hold real estate in her own name, in the winter of 1836 and '37, to which after a good deal of trouble I obtained five signatures. Some of the ladies said the gentlemen would laugh at them; others, that they had rights enough; and the men said the women had too many rights already. Woman at that time had not learned to know that she had any rights except those that man in his generosity allowed her; both have learned something since that time which they will never forget. I continued sending petitions with increased numbers of signatures until 1848 and '49, when the Legislature enacted the law which granted to woman the right to keep what was her own. But no sooner did it become legal than all the women said, "Oh! that is right! We ought always to have had that."[Pg 100]

During the eleven years from 1837 to 1848, I addressed the New York Legislature five times, and since 1848 I can not say positively, but a good many times; you know all that better than any one else.

Ernestine L. Rose.

Your affectionate friend,

In collecting the reminiscences of those who took the initiative steps in this movement, Mrs. Rose was urged to send us some of her experiences, but in writing that it was impossible for her to do so, and yet giving us the above summary of all she has accomplished, multum in parvo, she has in a good measure complied with our request.

All through these eventful years Mrs. Rose has fought a double battle; not only for the political rights of her sex as women, but for their religious rights as individual souls; to do their own thinking and believing. How much of the freedom they now enjoy, the women of America owe to this noble Polish woman, can not be estimated, for moral influences are too subtle for measurement.

Those who sat with her on the platform in bygone days, well remember her matchless powers as a speaker; and how safe we all felt while she had the floor, that neither in manner, sentiment, argument, nor repartee, would she in any way compromise the dignity of the occasion.

She had a rich musical voice, with just enough of foreign accent and idiom to add to the charm of her oratory. As a speaker she was pointed, logical, and impassioned. She not only dealt in abstract principles clearly, but in their application touched the deepest emotions of the human soul.


[12] Published by Frederick Douglass, the first colored man that edited a paper in this country. His press was presented to him by the women of England, who sympathized with the anti-slavery movement.

[13] Fasting with Jews meant abstaining from food and drink from before sunset one evening, until after the stars were out the next evening.

[Pg 101]



The promised land of fugitives—"Uncle Tom's Cabin"—Salem Convention, 1850—Akron, 1851—Massilon, 1852—The address to the women of Ohio—The Mohammedan law forbids pigs, dogs, women, and other impure animals to enter a Mosque—The New York Tribune—Cleveland Convention, 1853—Hon. Joshua R. Giddings—Letter from Horace Greeley—A glowing eulogy to Mary Wollstonecroft—William Henry Channing's Declaration—The pulpit responsible for public sentiment—President Asa Mahan debates—The Rev. Dr. Nevin pulls Mr. Garrison's nose—Antoinette L. Brown describes her exit from the World's Temperance Convention—Cincinnati Convention, 1855—Jane Elizabeth Jones' Report, 1861.

There were several reasons for the early, and more general agitation of Woman's Rights in Ohio at this period, than in other States. Being separated from the slave border by her river only, Ohio had long been the promised land of fugitives, and the battle-ground for many recaptured victims, involving much litigation.

Most stringent laws had been passed, called "the black laws of Ohio," to prevent these escapes through her territory. Hence, this State was the ground for some of the most heated anti-slavery discussions, not only in the Legislature, but in frequent conventions. Garrison and his followers, year after year, had overrun the "Western Reserve," covering the north-eastern part of the State, carrying the gospel of freedom to every hamlet.

A radical paper, called The Anti-Slavery Bugle, edited by Oliver Johnson, was published in Salem. It took strong ground in favor of equal rights for woman, and the editor did all in his power to sustain the conventions, and encourage the new movement.

Again, Abby Kelly's eloquent voice had been heard all through this State, denouncing "the black laws of Ohio," appealing to the ready sympathies of woman for the suffering of the black mothers, wives, and daughters of the South. This grand woman, equally familiar with the tricks of priests and politicians, the action of Synods, General Assemblies, State Legislatures, and Congresses, who could maintain an argument with any man on the slavery question, had immense influence, not only in the anti-slavery conflict, but by her words and example she inspired woman with new self-respect.

These anti-slavery conventions, in which the most logical reasoners, and the most eloquent, impassioned orators the world ever produced, kept their audiences wrought up to the highest pitch of enthusiasm[Pg 102] hour after hour, were the school in which woman's rights found its ready-made disciples. With such women as Frances D. Gage, Hannah Tracy Cutler, Josephine S. Griffing, J. Elizabeth Jones, Mariana Johnson, Emily Robinson, Maria Giddings, Betsey Cowles, Caroline M. Severance, Martha J. Tilden, Rebecca A. S. Janney, to listen to the exhaustive arguments on human rights, verily the seed fell on good ground, and the same justice, that in glowing periods was claimed for the black man, they now claimed for themselves, and compelled the law-makers of this State to give some consideration to the wrongs of woman.

Again, in 1850, Ohio held a Constitutional Convention, and these women, thoroughly awake to their rights, naturally thought, that if the fundamental laws of the State were to be revised and amended, it was a fitting time for them to ask to be recognized.

In 1851, Harriet Beecher Stowe commenced the publication of "Uncle Tom's Cabin" in the National Era, in Washington, D. C., which made Ohio, with its great river, classic soil, and quickened the pulsations of every woman's heart in the nation.

Reports of the New York Conventions, widely copied and ridiculed in leading journals, from Maine to Texas, struck the key-note for similar gatherings in several of the Northern States. Without the least knowledge of one another, without the least concert of action, women in Ohio, Indiana, Pennsylvania, and Massachusetts, sprang up as if by magic, and issued calls for similar conventions. The striking uniformity in their appeals, petitions, resolutions, and speeches; making the same complaints and asking the same redress for grievances, shows that all were moved by like influences. Those who made the demand for political freedom in 1848, in Europe as well as America, were about the same age. Significant facts to show that new liberty for woman was one of the marked ideas of the century, and that as the chief factor in civilization, the time had come for her to take her appropriate place.

The actors in this new movement were not, as the London and New York journals said, "sour old maids," but happy wives and faithful mothers, who, in a higher development, demanded the rights and privileges befitting the new position. And if they may be judged by the vigor and eloquence of their addresses, and the knowledge of parliamentary tactics they manifested in their conventions, the world must accord them rare common-sense, good judgment, great dignity of character, and a clear comprehension of the principles of government. In order to show how well those who inaugurated this movement, understood the nature of our republican[Pg 103] institutions, and how justly they estimated their true position in a republic, we shall give rather more of these early speeches and letters than in any succeeding chapters.

In 1849, Mrs. Elizabeth Wilson, of Cadiz, Ohio, aroused some attention to the general question, by the publication of "A Scriptural View of Woman's Rights and Duties," clearly demonstrating the equality of man and woman in the creation, as well as the independent, self-reliant characteristics sanctioned in woman, by the examples of the sex given in the Bible. As woman has ever been degraded by the perversion of the religious element of her nature, the scriptural arguments were among the earliest presentations of the question. When opponents were logically cornered on every other side, they uniformly fell back on the decrees of Heaven. The ignorance of women in general as to what their Bibles really do teach, has been the chief cause of their bondage. They have accepted the opinions of men for the commands of their Creator. The fulminations of the clergy against the enfranchisement of woman, were as bitter and arrogant as against the emancipation of the African, and they defended their position in both cases by the Bible. This led Abolitionists and women to a very careful study of the Scriptures, and enabled them to meet their opponents most successfully. No clergyman ever quoted Scripture with more readiness and force than did Lucretia Mott and William Lloyd Garrison, who alike made the Bible a power on the side of freedom.


In 1850 the first convention in Ohio was held at Salem, April 19th and 20th, in the Second Baptist Church.[14] The meeting convened at 10 o'clock, and was called to order by Emily Robinson, who proposed Mariana W. Johnson as President pro tem., Sarah Coates, Secretary pro tem. On taking the chair, Mrs. Johnson read the following call:

We, the undersigned, earnestly call on the women of Ohio to meet in Convention, on Friday, the 19th of April, 1850, at 10 o'clock a.m., in the town of Salem, to concert measures to secure to all persons the recognition of equal rights, and the extension of the privileges of government without distinction of sex, or color; to inquire into the origin and design of the rights of humanity, whether they are coeval with the human race, of universal inheritage and inalienable, or merely conventional, held by[Pg 104] sufferance, dependent for a basis on location, position, color, and sex, and like government scrip, or deeds of parchment, transferable, to be granted or withheld, made immutable or changeable, as caprice, popular favor, or the pride of power and place may dictate, changing ever, as the weak and the strong, the oppressed and the oppressor, come in conflict or change places. Feeling that the subjects proposed for discussion are vitally important to the interests of humanity, we unite in most earnestly inviting every one who sincerely desires the progress of true reform to be present at the Convention.

The meeting of a convention of men to amend the Constitution of our (?) State, presents a most favorable opportunity for the agitation of this subject. Women of Ohio! we call upon you to come up to this work in womanly strength and with womanly energy. Don't be discouraged at the prospect of difficulties. Remember that contest with difficulty gives strength. Come and inquire if the position you now occupy is one appointed by wisdom, and designed to secure the best interests of the human race. Come, and let us ascertain what bearing the circumscribed sphere of woman has on the great political and social evils that curse and desolate the land. Come, for this cause claims your most invincible perseverance; come in single-heartedness, and with a personal self-devotion that will yield everything to Right, Truth, and Reason, but not an iota to dogmas or theoretical opinions, no matter how time-honored, or by what precedent established.

Randolph—Elizabeth Steadman, Cynthia M. Price, Sophronia Smalley, Cordelia L. Smalley, Ann Eliza Lee, Rebecca Everit. New Garden—Esther Ann Lukens. Ravenna—Lucinda King, Mary Skinner, Frances Luccock.

The officers of the Convention were: Betsey M. Cowles, President; Lydia B. Irish, Harriet P. Weaver, and Rana Dota, Vice-Presidents. Caroline Stanton, Ann Eliza Lee, and Sallie B. Gove, Secretaries. Emily Robinson, J. Elizabeth Jones, Josephine S. Griffing, Mariana Johnson, Esther Lukens, Mary H. Stanton, Business Committee.

Mrs. Jones read a very able speech, which was printed in full in their published report, also a discourse of Lucretia Mott's, "On Woman," delivered Dec. 17, 1849, in the Assembly Building in Philadelphia. Interesting letters were read from Mrs. Mott, Lucy Stone, Sarah Pugh, Lydia Jane Pierson, editor of the Lancaster Literary Gazette, Elizabeth Cady Stanton, and Harriet N. Torrey.[15] Twenty-two resolutions, covering the whole range of woman's political, religious, civil, and social rights, were discussed and adopted. The following memorial to the Constitutional Convention, was presented by Mariana Johnson:[Pg 105]


We believe the whole theory of the Common Law in relation to woman is unjust and degrading, tending to reduce her to a level with the slave, depriving her of political existence, and forming a positive exception to the great doctrine of equality as set forth in the Declaration of Independence. In the language of Prof. Walker, in his "Introduction to American Law": "Women have no part or lot in the foundation or administration of the government. They can not vote or hold office. They are required to contribute their share, by way of taxes, to the support of the Government, but are allowed no voice in its direction. They are amenable to the laws, but are allowed no share in making them. This language, when applied to males, would be the exact definition of political slavery." Is it just or wise that woman, in the largest and professedly the freest and most enlightened republic on the globe, in the middle of the nineteenth century, should be thus degraded?

We would especially direct the attention of the Convention to the legal condition of married women. Not being represented in those bodies from which emanate the laws, to which they are obliged to submit, they are protected neither in person nor property. "The merging of woman's name in that of her husband is emblematical of the fate of all her legal rights." At the marriage-altar, the law divests her of all distinct individuality. Blackstone says: "The very being or legal existence of the woman is suspended during marriage, or at least incorporated or consolidated into that of her husband." Legally, she ceases to exist, and becomes emphatically a new creature, and is ever after denied the dignity of a rational and accountable being. The husband is allowed to take possession of her estates, as the law has proclaimed her legally dead. All that she has, becomes legally his, and he can collect and dispose of the profits of her labor without her consent, as he thinks fit, and she can own nothing, have nothing, which is not regarded by the law as belonging to her husband. Over her person he has a more limited power. Still, if he render life intolerable, so that she is forced to leave him, he has the power to retain her children, and "seize her and bring her back, for he has a right to her society which he may enforce, either against herself or any other person who detains her" (Walker, page 226). Woman by being thus subject to the control, and dependent on the will of man, loses her self-dependence; and no human being can be deprived of this without a sense of degradation. The law should sustain and protect all who come under its sway, and not create a state of dependence and depression in any human being. The laws should not make woman a mere pensioner on the bounty of her husband, thus enslaving her will and degrading her to a condition of absolute dependence.

Believing that woman does not suffer alone when subject to oppressive and unequal laws, but that whatever affects injuriously her interests, is subversive of the highest good of the race, we earnestly request that in the New Constitution you are about to form for the State of Ohio, women shall be secured, not only the right of suffrage, but all the political and legal rights that are guaranteed to men.

[Pg 106]

After some discussion the memorial was adopted. With the hope of creating a feeling of moral responsibility on this vital question, an earnest address[16] to the women of the State was also presented, discussed, and adopted.


How shall the people be made wiser, better, and happier, is one of the grand inquiries of the present age. The various benevolent associations hold up to our view special forms of evil, and appeal to all the better feelings of our nature for sympathy, and claim our active efforts and co-operation to eradicate them. Governments, at times, manifest an interest in human suffering; but their cold sympathy and tardy efforts seldom avail the sufferer until it is too late. Philanthropists, philosophers, and statesmen study and devise ways and means to ameliorate the condition of the people. Why have they so little practical effect? It is because the means employed are not adequate to the end sought for. To ameliorate the effects of evil seems to have been the climax of philanthropic effort. We respectfully suggest that lopping the branches of the tree but causes the roots to strike deeper and cling more closely to the soil that sustains it. Let the amelioration process go on, until evil is exterminated root and branch; and for this end the people must be instructed in the Rights of Humanity;—not in the rights of men and the rights of women; the rights of the master and those of the slave;—but in the perfect equality of the Rights of Man. The rights of man! Whence came they? What are they? What is their design? How do we know them? They are of God! Those that most intimately affect us as human beings are life, liberty, and the pursuit of happiness. Their design is happiness. The human organization is the charter deed by which we hold them. Hence we learn that rights are coeval with the human race, of universal heritage, and inalienable; that every human being, no matter of what color, sex, condition, or clime, possesses those rights upon perfect equality with all others. The monarch on the throne, and the beggar at his feet, have the same. Man has no more, woman no less.

Rights may not be usurped on one hand, nor surrendered on the other, because they involve a responsibility that can be discharged only by those to whom they belong, those for whom they were created; and because, without those certain inalienable rights, human beings can not attain the end for which God the Father gave them existence. Where and how can the wisdom and ingenuity of the world find a truer, stronger, broader basis of human rights. To secure these rights, says the Declaration of Independence, "Governments were instituted among men, deriving their just powers from the consent of the governed;" and "whenever any form of government becomes destructive of those ends, it is the right of the people to alter or abolish it, and to substitute a new government, laying its foundation on such principles, and organizing its powers in such form, as to them shall[Pg 107] seem most likely to effect their safety and happiness." The Government of this country, in common with all others, has never recognized or attempted to protect women as persons possessing the rights of humanity. They have been recognized and protected as appendages to men, without independent rights or political existence, unknown to the law except as victims of its caprice and tyranny. This government, having therefore exercised powers underived from the consent of the governed, and having signally failed to secure the end for which all just government is instituted, should be immediately altered, or abolished.

We can not better describe the political condition of woman, than by quoting from a distinguished lawyer of our own State. Professor Walker, in his "Introduction to American Law," says


"We have a few statutory provisions on the subject, but for the most part the law of husband and wife is Common Law, and you will find that it savors of its origin in all its leading features. The whole theory is a slavish one, compared even with the civil law. I do not hesitate to say, by way of arousing your attention to the subject, that the law of husband and wife, as you gather it from the books, is a disgrace to any civilized nation. I do not mean to say that females are degraded in point of fact. I only say, that the theory of the law degrades them almost to the level of slaves." We thank Prof. Walker for his candor. He might have added that the practice of the law does degrade woman to the level of the slave. He also says: "With regard to political rights, females form a positive exception to the general doctrine of equality. They have no part nor lot in the formation or administration of government. They can not vote or hold office. We require them to contribute their share in the way of taxes for the support of government, but allow them no voice in its direction. We hold them amenable to the laws when made, but allow them no share in making them. This language applied to males, would be the exact definition of political slavery; applied to females, custom does not teach us so to regard it."

Of married women he says: "The legal theory is, marriage makes the husband and wife one person, and that person is the husband. He the substantive, she the adjective. In a word, there is scarcely a legal act of any description that she is competent to perform. If she leaves him without cause, (legal) he may seize and bring her back, for he has a right to her society, which he may enforce, either against herself, or any other person. All her personality in regard to property becomes the husband's by marriage, unless the property has been specially secured to her. If the property be not in his possession, he may take measures to reduce it to possession. He can thus dispose of it in spite of her. If debts were due to her, he may collect them. If he was himself the debtor, the marriage cancels the debt. If she has earned money during marriage, he may collect it. In regard to realty (real estate) he controls the income, and without her consent he can not encumber, or dispose of the property beyond his own life." Women, married or single, have no political rights whatever. While single, their legal rights are the same as[Pg 108] those of men; when married, their legal rights are chiefly suspended. "The condition of the wife may be inferred from what has already been said. She is almost at the mercy of her husband; she can exercise no control over his property or her own. As a general rule, she can make no contracts binding herself or him. Her contracts are not merely voidable, but absolutely void. Nor can she make herself liable for his contracts, torts, or crimes. Her only separate liability is for her own crimes. Her only joint liability, is for her own torts committed without his participation, and for contracts for which the law authorizes her to unite with him. She has no power over his person, and her only claim upon his property is for a bare support. In no instance can she sue or be sued alone in a civil action; and there are but few cases in which she can be joined in a suit with him. In Ohio, but hardly anywhere else, is she allowed to make a will, if haply she has anything to dispose of."

Women of Ohio! Whose cheek does not blush, whose blood does not tingle at this cool, lawyer-like recital of the gross indignities and wrongs which Government has heaped upon our sex? With these marks of inferiority branded upon our persons, and interwoven with the most sacred relations of human existence, how can we rise to the true dignity of human nature, and discharge faithfully the important duties assigned us as responsible, intelligent, self-controlling members of society? No wonder that so many of our politicians are dough-faced serviles, without independence or manhood; no wonder our priests are time-serving and sycophantic: no wonder that so many men are moral cowards and cringing poltroons. What more could be expected of a progeny of slaves? Slaves are we, politically and legally. How can we, who, it is said, are the educators of our children, present to this nation anything else but a generation of serviles, while we, ourselves, are in a servile condition, and padlocks are on our lips? No! if men would be men worthy of the name, they must cease to disfranchise and rob their wives and mothers; they must forbear to consign to political and legal slavery their sisters and their daughters. And, would we be women worthy the companionship of true and noble men, we must cease longer to submit to tyranny. Let us rise in the might of self-respect, and assert our rights, and by the aid of truth, the instincts of humanity, and a just application of the principles of equality, we shall be able to maintain them.

You ask, would you have woman, by engaging in political party bickerings and noisy strife, sacrifice her integrity and purity? No, neither would we have men do it.... We hold that whatever is essentially wrong for woman to do, can not be right for man. If deception and intrigue, the elements of political craft, be degrading to woman, can they be ennobling to man? If patience and forbearance adorn a woman, are they not equally essential to a manly character? If anger and turbulence disgrace woman, what can they add to the dignity of man? Nothing; because nothing can be morally right for man, that is morally wrong for woman. Woman, by becoming the executioner of man's vengeance on his fellow-man, could inflict no greater wrong on society than the same done by man; but it would create an intenser feeling of shuddering horror, and would, we conceive, rouse to more healthful activity[Pg 109] man's torpid feelings of justice, mercy, and clemency. And so, also, if woman had free scope for the full exercise of the heavenly graces that men so gallantly award her, truth, love, and mercy would be invested with a more sacred charm. But while they continue to enforce obedience to arbitrary commands, to encourage love of admiration and a desire for frivolous amusements; while they crush the powers of the mind, by opposing authority and precedent to reason and progress; while they arrogate to themselves the right to point us to the path of duty, while they close the avenues of knowledge through public institutions, and monopolize the profits of labor, mediocrity and inferiority must be our portion. Shall we accept it, or shall we strive against it?

Men are not destitute of justice or humanity; and let it be remembered that there are hosts of noble and truthful ones among them who deprecate the tyranny that enslaves us; and none among ourselves can be more ready than they to remove the mountain of injustice which the savagism of ages has heaped upon our sex. If, therefore, we remain enslaved and degraded, the cause may justly be traced to our own apathy and timidity. We have at our disposal the means of moral agitation and influence, that can arouse our country to a saving sense of the wickedness and folly of disfranchising half the people. Let us no longer delay to use them.

Let it be remembered too, that tyrannical and illiberal as our Government is, low as it places us in the scale of existence, degrading as is its denial of our capacity for self-government, still it concedes to us more than any other Government on earth. Woman, over half the globe, is now and always has been but a chattel. Wives are bargained for, bought and sold, as other merchandise, and as a consequence of the annihilation of natural rights, they have no political existence. In Hindustan, the evidence of woman is not received in a court of justice. The Hindu wife, when her husband dies, must yield implicit obedience to the oldest son. In Burmah, they are not allowed to ascend the steps of a court of justice, but are obliged to give their testimony outside of the building. In Siberia, women are not allowed to step across the footprints of men or reindeer. The Mohammedan law forbids pigs, dogs, women, and other impure animals to enter the Mosque. The Moors, for the slightest offense, beat their wives most cruelly. The Tartars believe that women were sent into the world for no other purpose than to be useful, convenient slaves. To these heathen precedents our Christian brethren sometimes refer to prove the inferiority of woman, and to excuse the inconsistency of the only Government on earth that has proclaimed the equality of man. An argument worthy its source.

In answer to the popular query, "Why should woman desire to meddle with public affairs?" we suggest the following questions:

1st. Is the principle of taxation without representation less oppressive and tyrannical, than when our fathers expended their blood and treasure, rather than submit to its injustice?

2d. Is it just, politic, and wise, that universities and colleges endowed by Government should be open only to men?

3d. Is it easier for Government to reform lazy, vicious, ignorant, and[Pg 110] hardened felons, than for enlightened humanity—loving parents, to "train up a child in the way it should go"?

4th. How can a mother, who does not understand, and therefore can not appreciate the rights of humanity, train up her child in the way it should go?

5th. Whence originates the necessity of a penal code?

6th. It is computed that over ten millions of dollars are annually expended in the United States for the suppression of crime. How much of this waste of treasure is traceable to defective family government?

7th. Can antiquity make wrong right?

In conclusion, we appeal to our sisters of Ohio to arise from the lethargy of ages; to assert their rights as independent human beings; to demand their true position as equally responsible co-workers with their brethren in this world of action. We urge you by your self-respect, by every consideration for the human race, to arise and take possession of your birthright to freedom and equality. Take it not as the gracious boon tendered by the chivalry of superiors, but as your right, on every principle of justice and equality.

The present is a most favorable time for the women of Ohio to demand a recognition of their rights. The organic law of the State is about to undergo a revision. Let it not be our fault if the rights of humanity, and not alone those of "free white male citizens," are recognized and protected. Let us agitate the subject in the family circle, in public assemblies, and through the press. Let us flood the Constitutional Convention with memorials and addresses, trusting to truth and a righteous cause for the success of our efforts.

This Convention had one peculiar characteristic. It was officered entirely by women; not a man was allowed to sit on the platform, to speak, or vote. Never did men so suffer. They implored just to say a word; but no; the President was inflexible—no man should be heard. If one meekly arose to make a suggestion he was at once ruled out of order. For the first time in the world's history, men learned how it felt to sit in silence when questions in which they were interested were under discussion. It would have been an admirable way of closing the Convention, had a rich banquet been provided, to which the men should have had the privilege of purchasing tickets to the gallery, there to enjoy the savory odors, and listen to the after-dinner speeches. However, the gentlemen in the Convention passed through this severe trial with calm resignation; at the close, organized an association of their own, and generously endorsed all the ladies had said and done.

Though the women in this Convention were unaccustomed to public speaking and parliamentary tactics, the interest was well sustained for two days, and the deliberations were conducted with dignity and order. It was here Josephine S. Griffing uttered her first[Pg 111] brave words for woman's emancipation, though her voice had long been heard in pathetic pleading for the black man's rights. This Convention, which was called and conducted by Mrs. Emily Robinson, with such aid as she could enlist, was largely attended and entirely successful.

A favorable and lengthy report found its way into the New York Tribune and other leading journals, both East and West, and the proceedings of the Convention were circulated widely in pamphlet form. All this made a very strong impression upon the public mind. From the old world, too, the officers of the Convention received warm congratulations and earnest words of sympathy, for the new gospel of woman's equality was spreading in England as well as America.


The advocates for the enfranchisement of woman had tripled in that one short year. The very complimentary comments of the press, and the attention awakened throughout the State, by the presentation of "the memorial" to the Constitutional Convention, had accomplished a great educational work. Soon after this, another convention was called in Akron. The published proceedings of the first convention, were like clarion notes to the women of Ohio, rousing them to action, and when the call to the second was issued, there was a generous response. In 1851, May 28th and 29th, many able men and women rallied at the stone church, and hastened to give their support to the new demand, and most eloquently did they plead for justice to woman.

Frances D. Gage, Hannah Tracy Cutler, Jane G. Swisshelm, Caroline M. Severance, Emma R. Coe, Maria L. Giddings, Celia C. Burr (afterward Burleigh), Martha J. Tilden, and many other noble women who were accustomed to speaking in temperance and anti-slavery meetings, helped to make this Convention most successful. Frances D. Gage was chosen President of the Convention. On taking the chair she said:

I am at a loss, kind friends, to know whether to return you thanks, or not, for the honor conferred upon me. And when I tell you that I have never in my life attended a regular business meeting, and am entirely inexperienced in the forms and ceremonies of a deliberative body, you will not be surprised that I do not feel remarkably grateful for the position. For though you have conferred an honor upon me, I very much fear I shall not be able to reflect it back. I will try.

When our forefathers left the old and beaten paths of New England, and struck out for themselves in a new and unexplored country, they[Pg 112] went forth with a slow and cautious step, but with firm and resolute hearts. The land of their fathers had become too small for their children. Its soil answered not their wants. The parents shook their heads and said, with doubtful and foreboding faces: "Stand still, stay at home. This has sufficed for us; we have lived and enjoyed ourselves here. True, our mountains are high and our soil is rugged and cold; but you won't find a better; change, and trial, and toil, will meet you at every step. Stay, tarry with us, and go not forth to the wilderness."

But the children answered: "Let us go; this land has sufficed for you, but the one beyond the mountains is better. We know there is trial, toil, and danger; but for the sake of our children, and our children's children, we are willing to meet all." They went forth, and pitched their tents in the wilderness. An herculean task was before them; the rich and fertile soil was shadowed by a mighty forest, and giant trees were to be felled. The Indians roamed the wild, wide hunting-grounds, and claimed them as their own. They must be met and subdued. The savage beasts howled defiance from every hill-top, and in every glen. They must be destroyed. Did the hearts of our fathers fail? No; they entered upon their new life, their new world, with a strong faith and a mighty will. For they saw in the prospection a great and incalculable good. It was not the work of an hour, nor of a day; not of weeks or months, but of long struggling, toiling, painful years. If they failed at one point, they took hold at another. If their paths through the wilderness were at first crooked, rough, and dangerous, by little and little they improved them. The forest faded away, the savage disappeared, the wild beasts were destroyed, and the hopes and prophetic visions of their far-seeing powers in the new and untried country, were more than realized.

Permit me to draw a comparison between the situation of our forefathers in the wilderness, without even so much as a bridle-path through its dark depths, and our present position. The old land of moral, social, and political privilege, seems too narrow for our wants; its soil answers not to our growing, and we feel that we see clearly a better country that we might inhabit. But there are mountains of established law and custom to overcome; a wilderness of prejudice to be subdued; a powerful foe of selfishness and self-interest to overthrow; wild beasts of pride, envy, malice, and hate to destroy. But for the sake of our children and our children's children, we have entered upon the work, hoping and praying that we may be guided by wisdom, sustained by love, and led and cheered by the earnest hope of doing good.

I shall enter into no labored argument to prove that woman does not occupy the position in society to which her capacity justly entitles her. The rights of mankind emanate from their natural wants and emotions. Are not the natural wants and emotions of humanity common to, and shared equally by, both sexes? Does man hunger and thirst, suffer cold and heat more than woman? Does he love and hate, hope and fear, joy and sorrow more than woman? Does his heart thrill with a deeper pleasure in doing good? Can his soul writhe in more bitter agony under the consciousness of evil or wrong? Is the sunshine more glorious, the air more quiet, the sounds of harmony more soothing, the perfume of flowers[Pg 113] more exquisite, or forms of beauty more soul-satisfying to his senses, than to hers? To all these interrogatories every one will answer, No!

Where then did man get the authority that he now claims over one-half of humanity? From what power the vested right to place woman—his partner, his companion, his helpmeet in life—in an inferior position? Came it from nature? Nature made woman his superior when she made her his mother; his equal when she fitted her to hold the sacred position of wife. Does he draw his authority from God, from the language of holy writ? No! For it says that "Male and female created he them, and gave them dominion." Does he claim it under law of the land? Did woman meet with him in council and voluntarily give up all her claim to be her own law-maker? Or did the majesty of might place this power in his hands?—The power of the strong over the weak makes man the master! Yes, there, and there only, does he gain his authority.

In the dark ages of the past, when ignorance, superstition, and bigotry held rule in the world, might made the law. But the undertone, the still small voice of Justice, Love, and Mercy, have ever been heard, pleading the cause of humanity, pleading for truth and right; and their low, soft tones of harmony have softened the lion heart of might, and little by little, he has yielded as the centuries rolled on; and man, as well as woman, has been the gainer by every concession. We will ask him to yield still; to allow the voice of woman to be heard; to let her take the position which her wants and emotions seem to require; to let her enjoy her natural rights. Do not answer that woman's position is now all her natural wants and emotions require. Our meeting here together this day proves the contrary; proves that we have aspirations that are not met. Will it be answered that we are factious, discontented spirits, striving to disturb the public order, and tear up the old fastnesses of society? So it was said of Jesus Christ and His followers, when they taught peace on earth and good-will to men. So it was said of our forefathers in the great struggle for freedom. So it has been said of every reformer that has ever started out the car of progress on a new and untried track.

We fear, not man as an enemy. He is our friend, our brother. Let woman speak for herself, and she will be heard. Let her claim with a calm and determined, yet loving spirit, her place, and it will be given her. I pour out no harsh invectives against the present order of things—against our fathers, husbands, and brothers; they do as they have been taught; they feel as society bids them; they act as the law requires. Woman must act for herself.

Oh, if all women could be impressed with the importance of their own action, and with one united voice, speak out in their own behalf, in behalf of humanity, they could create a revolution without armies, without bloodshed, that would do more to ameliorate the condition of mankind, to purify, elevate, ennoble humanity, than all that has been done by reformers in the last century.

When we consider that Mrs. Gage had led the usual arduous domestic life, of wife, mother, and housekeeper, in a new country, overburdened with the care and anxiety incident to a large family[Pg 114] reading and gathering general information at short intervals, taken from the hours of rest and excessive toil, it is remarkable, that she should have presided over the Convention, in the easy manner she is said to have done, and should have given so graceful and appropriate an extemporaneous speech, on taking the chair. Maria L. Giddings, daughter of Joshua R. Giddings, who represented Ohio many years in Congress, presented a very able digest on the common law. Betsey M. Cowles gave a report equally good on "Labor," and Emily Robinson on "Education."

In all the early Conventions the resolutions were interminable. It was not thought that full justice was done to the subject, if every point of interest or dissatisfaction in this prolific theme was not condensed into a resolution. Accordingly the Akron Convention presented, discussed, and adopted fifteen resolutions. At Salem, the previous year, the number reached twenty-two.

Letters were read from Amelia Bloomer, Elizabeth Wilson, Lydia F. Fowler, Susan Ormsby, Elsie M. Young, Gerrit Smith, Henry C. Wright, Paulina Wright Davis, Elizabeth Cady Stanton, Clarina Howard Nichols, and others. The Hutchinson family enlivened this Convention with such inspiring songs as "The Good Time Coming." Ever at the post of duty, they have sung each reform in turn to partial success. Jesse expressed his sympathy in the cause in a few earnest remarks.

This Convention was remarkable for the large number of men who took an active part in the proceedings. And as we have now an opportunity to express our gratitude by handing their names down to posterity, and thus make them immortal, we here record Joseph Barker, Marius Robinson, Rev. D. L. Webster, Jacob Heaton, Dr. K. G. Thomas, L. A. Hine, Dr. A. Brooke, Rev. Mr. Howels, Rev. Geo. Schlosser, Mr. Pease, and Samuel Brooke. The reports of this Convention are so meagre that we can not tell who were in the opposition; but from Sojourner Truth's speech, we fear that the clergy, as usual, were averse to enlarging the boundaries of freedom.

In those early days the sons of Adam crowded our platform, and often made it the scene of varied pugilistic efforts, but of late years we invite those whose presence we desire. Finding it equally difficult to secure the services of those we deem worthy to advocate our cause, and to repress those whose best service would be silence, we ofttimes find ourselves quite deserted by the "stronger sex" when most needed.

Sojourner Truth, Mrs. Stowe's "Lybian Sibyl," was present at this Convention. Some of our younger readers may not know that[Pg 115] Sojourner Truth was once a slave in the State of New York, and carries to-day as many marks of the diabolism of slavery, as ever scarred the back of a victim in Mississippi. Though she can neither read nor write, she is a woman of rare intelligence and common-sense on all subjects. She is still living, at Battle Creek, Michigan, though now 110 years old. Although the exalted character and personal appearance of this noble woman have been often portrayed, and her brave deeds and words many times rehearsed, yet we give the following graphic picture of Sojourner's appearance in one of the most stormy sessions of the Convention, from



The leaders of the movement trembled on seeing a tall, gaunt black woman in a gray dress and white turban, surmounted with an uncouth sun-bonnet, march deliberately into the church, walk with the air of a queen up the aisle, and take her seat upon the pulpit steps. A buzz of disapprobation was heard all over the house, and there fell on the listening ear, "An abolition affair!" "Woman's rights and niggers!" "I told you so!" "Go it, darkey!"

I chanced on that occasion to wear my first laurels in public life as president of the meeting. At my request order was restored, and the business of the Convention went on. Morning, afternoon, and evening exercises came and went. Through all these sessions old Sojourner, quiet and reticent as the "Lybian Statue," sat crouched against the wall on the corner of the pulpit stairs, her sun-bonnet shading her eyes, her elbows on her knees, her chin resting upon her broad, hard palms. At intermission she was busy selling the "Life of Sojourner Truth," a narrative of her own strange and adventurous life. Again and again, timorous and trembling ones came to me and said, with earnestness, "Don't let her speak, Mrs. Gage, it will ruin us. Every newspaper in the land will have our cause mixed up with abolition and niggers, and we shall be utterly denounced." My only answer was, "We shall see when the time comes."

The second day the work waxed warm. Methodist, Baptist, Episcopal, Presbyterian, and Universalist ministers came in to hear and discuss the resolutions presented. One claimed superior rights and privileges for man, on the ground of "superior intellect"; another, because of the "manhood of Christ; if God had desired the equality of woman, He would have given some token of His will through the birth, life, and death of the Saviour." Another gave us a theological view of the "sin of our first mother."

There were very few women in those days who dared to "speak in meeting"; and the august teachers of the people were seemingly getting the better of us, while the boys in the galleries, and the sneerers among the pews, were hugely enjoying the discomfiture, as they supposed, of the "strong-minded." Some of the tender-skinned friends were on the point of losing dignity, and the atmosphere betokened a storm. When, slowly from her seat in the corner rose Sojourner Truth, who, till now, had scarcely lifted her head. "Don't let her speak!" gasped half a dozen in my ear. She moved slowly and solemnly to[Pg 116] the front, laid her old bonnet at her feet, and turned her great speaking eyes to me. There was a hissing sound of disapprobation above and below. I rose and announced "Sojourner Truth," and begged the audience to keep silence for a few moments.

The tumult subsided at once, and every eye was fixed on this almost Amazon form, which stood nearly six feet high, head erect, and eyes piercing the upper air like one in a dream. At her first word there was a profound hush. She spoke in deep tones, which, though not loud, reached every ear in the house, and away through the throng at the doors and windows.

"Wall, chilern, whar dar is so much racket dar must be somethin' out o' kilter. I tink dat 'twixt de niggers of de Souf and de womin at de Norf, all talkin' 'bout rights, de white men will be in a fix pretty soon. But what's all dis here talkin' 'bout?

"Dat man ober dar say dat womin needs to be helped into carriages, and lifted ober ditches, and to hab de best place everywhar. Nobody eber helps me into carriages, or ober mud-puddles, or gibs me any best place!" And raising herself to her full height, and her voice to a pitch like rolling thunder, she asked. "And a'n't I a woman? Look at me! Look at my arm! (and she bared her right arm to the shoulder, showing her tremendous muscular power). I have ploughed, and planted, and gathered into barns, and no man could head me! And a'n't I a woman? I could work as much and eat as much as a man—when I could get it—and bear de lash as well! And a'n't, I a woman? I have borne thirteen chilern, and seen 'em mos' all sold off to slavery, and when I cried out with my mother's grief, none but Jesus heard me! And a'n't I a woman?

"Den dey talks 'bout dis ting in de head; what dis dey call it?" ("Intellect," whispered some one near.) "Dat's it, honey. What's dat got to do wid womin's rights or nigger's rights? If my cup won't hold but a pint, and yourn holds a quart, wouldn't ye be mean not to let me have my little half-measure full?" And she pointed her significant finger, and sent a keen glance at the minister who had made the argument. The cheering was long and loud.

"Den dat little man in black dar, he say women can't have as much rights as men, 'cause Christ wan't a woman! Whar did your Christ come from?" Rolling thunder couldn't have stilled that crowd, as did those deep, wonderful tones, as she stood there with outstretched arms and eyes of fire. Raising her voice still louder, she repeated, "Whar did your Christ come from? From God and a woman! Man had nothin' to do wid Him." Oh, what a rebuke that was to that little man.

Turning again to another objector, she took up the defense of Mother Eve. I can not follow her through it all. It was pointed, and witty, and solemn; eliciting at almost every sentence deafening applause; and she ended by asserting: "If de fust woman God ever made was strong enough to turn de world upside down all alone, dese women togedder (and she glanced her eye over the platform) ought to be able to turn it back, and get it right side up again! And now dey is asking to do it, de men better let 'em." Long-continued cheering greeted this. "'Bleeged to ye for hearin' on me, and now ole Sojourner han't got nothin' more to say."

Amid roars of applause, she returned to her corner, leaving more than one of us with streaming eyes, and hearts beating with gratitude. She had taken[Pg 117] us up in her strong arms and carried us safely over the slough of difficulty turning the whole tide in our favor. I have never in my life seen anything like the magical influence that subdued the mobbish spirit of the day, and turned the sneers and jeers of an excited crowd into notes of respect and admiration. Hundreds rushed up to shake hands with her, and congratulate the glorious old mother, and bid her God-speed on her mission of "testifyin' agin concerning the wickedness of this 'ere people."


Mrs. M. E. J. Gage:

Dear Madam:—Your postal and note requesting items of history of the almost forgotten doings of thirty years ago, is at hand.

In 1850 Ohio decided by the votes of her male population to "alter and amend her Constitution." The elected delegates assembled in Cincinnati in the spring of that year.

In view of affecting this legislation the "Woman's Rights Convention" at Salem, Columbiana Co., was called in April, 1850, and memorialized the Delegate Convention, praying that Equal Rights to all citizens of the State be guaranteed by the new Constitution. In May a county meeting was called in McConnelsville, Morgan Co., Ohio. Mrs. H. M. Little, Mrs. M. T. Corner, Mrs. H. Brewster, and myself, were all the women that I knew in that region, even favorable to a movement for the help of women. Two of these only asked for more just laws for married women. One hesitated about the right of suffrage. I alone in the beginning asked for the ballot,[17] and equality before the law for all adult citizens of sound minds, without regard to sex or color. The Freemasons gave their hall for our meeting, but no men were admitted. I drew up a memorial for signatures, praying that the words "white" and "male" be omitted in the new Constitution. I also drew up a paper copying the unequal laws on our statute books with regard to women. We met, Mrs. Harriet Brewster presiding. Some seventy ladies of our place fell in through the day. I read my paper, and Mrs. M. T. Corner gave a historical account of noted women of the past. It was a new thing. At the close, forty names were placed on the memorial For years I had been talking and writing, and people were used to my "craziness." But who expected Mrs. Corner and others to take such a stand! Of course, we were heartily abused.

This led to the calling of a county meeting at Chesterfield, Morgan County. It was advertised to be held in the M. E. Church. There were only present some eight ladies, including the four above mentioned We four "scoffers" hired a hack and rode sixteen miles over the hill, before 10 a.m., to be denied admittance to church or school-house Rev. Philo Matthews had found us shelter on the threshing-floor of a fine barn, and we found about three or four hundred of the farmers, and their wives, sons, and daughters, assembled. They were nearly all[Pg 118] "Quakers" and Abolitionists, but then not much inclined to "woman's rights." I had enlarged my argument, and there the "ox-sled" speech was made, the last part of May, 1850, date of day not remembered.

A genuine "Quaker Preacher" said to me at the close, "Frances, thee had great Freedom. The ox-cart inspired thee." The farmers' wives brought huge boxes and pans of provisions. Men and women made speeches, and many names were added to our memorial. On the whole, we had a delightful day. It was no uncommon thing in those days for Abolitionist, or Methodist, or other meetings, to be held under the trees, or in large barns, when school-houses would not hold the people. But to shut up doors against women was a new thing.

In December of 1851 I was invited to attend a Woman's Rights Convention at the town of Mount Gilead, Morrow Co., Ohio. A newspaper call promised that celebrities would be on hand, etc. I wrote I would be there. It was two days' journey, by steamboat and rail. The call was signed "John Andrews," and John Andrews promised to meet me at the cars. I went. It was fearfully cold, and John met me. He was a beardless boy of nineteen, looking much younger. We drove at once to the "Christian Church." On the way he cheered me by saying "he was afraid nobody would come, for all the people said nobody would come for his asking." When we got to the house, there was not one human soul on hand, no fire in the old rusty stove, and the rude, unpainted board benches, all topsy-turvy. I called some boys playing near, asked their names, put them on paper, five of them, and said to them, "Go to every house in this town and tell everybody that 'Aunt Fanny' will speak here at 11 a.m., and if you get me fifty to come and hear, I will give you each ten cents." They scattered off upon the run. I ordered John to right the benches, picked up chips and kindlings, borrowed a brand of fire at the next door, had a good hot stove, and the floor swept, and was ready for my audience at the appointed time. John had done his work well, and fifty at least were on hand, and a minister to make a prayer and quote St. Paul before I said a word. I said my say, and before 1 p.m., we adjourned, appointing another session at 3, and one for 7 p.m., and three for the following day. Mrs. C. M. Severance came at 6 p.m., and we had a good meeting throughout.

John's Convention was voted a success after all. He died young, worn out by his own enthusiasm and conflicts.

Frances D. Gage.

In September, 1851, a Woman's Temperance Convention was held in Cincinnati, Ohio, in Foster Hall, corner of Fifth and Walnut Streets. Mrs. Mary B. Slough, President; Mrs. George Parcells, Vice-President: Mrs. William Pinkham, Secretary. Resolutions were discussed, and a Declaration of Independence adopted. Mrs. Slough was the "Grand Presiding Sister of Ohio." This meeting was held to raise funds for a banner, they had promised the firemen, Co. No. 1, if they would vote the Temperance ticket.

Of the temperance excitement in the State, Mrs. Gage says:[Pg 119]

In the winter of 1852-53, there was great excitement on the Temperance question in this country, originating in Maine and spreading West. Some prominent women in Ohio, who were at Columbus, the State capital, with their husbands—who were there from all parts of the State, as Senators, Representatives, jurists, and lobbyists—feeling a great interest, as many of them had need to, in the question, were moved to call a public meeting on the subject. This resulted in the formation of a "Woman's State Temperance Society," which sent out papers giving their by-laws and resolutions, and calling for auxiliary societies in different parts of the State. This call in many places met with hearty responses.

In the following autumn, 1853, officers of the State Society, Mrs. Professor Coles, of Oberlin, President, called a convention of their members and friends of the cause, at the city of Dayton, Ohio.

The famous "Whole World's Convention" had just been held in New York City, followed by the "World's Convention," at which the Rev. Antoinette L. Brown was expelled from the platform, simply because she was a woman. The Hon. Samuel Carey presented a resolution, which I quote from memory, something as follows:

"Resolved, That we recognize women as efficient aids and helpers in the home, but not on the platform."

This was not perhaps the exact wording, but it was the purport of the resolution, and was presented while Neal Dow, the President of the Convention, was absent from the chair, and after much angry and abusive discussion, it was passed by that body of great men.

The Committee of Arrangements, appointed at Dayton, could find no church, school-house, or hall in which to hold their convention, till the Sons of Temperance consented to yield their lodge-room, provided there were no men admitted to their meetings. Alas! the Committee consented. I traveled two hundred miles, and, on reaching Dayton at a late hour, I repaired at once to the hall. Our meeting was organized. But hardly were we ready to proceed when an interruption occurred. I had been advertised for the first speech, and took my place on the platform, when a column of well-dressed ladies, very fashionable and precise, marched in, two and two, and spread themselves in a half circle in front of the platform, and requested leave to be heard.

Our President asked me to suspend my reading, to which I assented, and she—a beautiful, graceful lady—bowed them her assent. Forthwith they proceeded to inform us, that they were delegated by a meeting of Dayton ladies to come hither and read to us a remonstrance against "the unseemly and unchristian position" we had assumed in calling conventions, and taking our places upon the platform, and seeking notoriety by making ourselves conspicuous before men. They proceeded to shake the dust from their own skirts of the whole thing. They discussed wisely the disgraceful conduct of Antoinette L. Brown at the World's Temperance Convention, as reported to them by Hon. Samuel Carey, with more of the same sort, which I beg to be excused from trying to recall to mind, or to repeat. When their mission was ended, in due form they filed out of the low dark door, descended the stair-way, and disappeared from our sight.

When we had recovered our equilibrium after such a knock-down surprise,[Pg 120] Mrs. Bateman requested me to proceed. I rose, and asked leave to change my written speech for one not from my pen, but from my heart.

The protest of the Dayton "Mrs. Grundys" had been well larded with Scripture, so I added: "Out of the abundance of the heart the mouth speaketh," and never before, possibly never since, have I had greater liberty in relieving my mind, as the Quakers would say. I had been at New York and had boarded with Antoinette L. Brown, so I knew whereof I was bearing testimony, when I assured my hearers that Samuel Carey had certainly been lying—under a mistake. I gave my testimony, not cringingly, but as one who knew, and drew a comparison between Antoinette L. Brown, modestly but firmly standing her ground as a delegate from her society, with politicians and clergymen crying, "Shame on the woman," and stamping and clamoring till the dust on the carpet of the platform enveloped them in a cloud. Meanwhile, her best friends, William H. Channing, William Lloyd Garrison, Oliver Johnson, Wendell Phillips and others stood by her, bidding her stand firm. The conduct of these ladies in marching through the streets of Dayton, in the most crowded thoroughfares, in the midst of a State fair, to tell some other women that they were making themselves "conspicuous." What I said, or how it was said, mattereth not.

That evening, the Sons of Temperance Hall, which our committee had promised to "keep clear of men," was well filled with women. But all around the walls, and between the benches, on the platform—and in the aisles, there were men from every part of the State. These ladies had given us a grand advertisement.

The following is the report of said meeting clipped from the Evening Post twenty-seven years ago, by Mrs. Gage:


Dayton, Sept. 24, 1853.

To-day the Ohio State Women's Temperance Society held a meeting at this place. The attendance was not large, but was respectable, both in number and talents. Mrs. Bateman, of Columbus, presided, and a good officer she made. Parliamentary rules prevailed in governing the assembly, and were enforced with much promptness and dignity. She understood enough of these to put both sides of the question—an attainment which, I have noticed, many Mr. Presidents have often not reached.

The enactment of the Maine law in Ohio is the principal object at which they appeared to aim. Its constitutionality and effect were both discussed, decisions of courts criticised, and all with much acuteness and particularly happy illustrations. In reference to the practicability of enforcing it, when once passed, one woman declared, that "if the men could not do it, the women would give them effectual aid."

In the course of the meeting, two original poems were read, one by Mrs. Gage, formerly of this State, and now of St. Louis, and one by Mrs. Hodge, of Oberlin. There were also delivered three formal addresses, one by Mrs. Dryer, of Delaware County, Ohio, one by Mrs. Griffing, of Salem, Ohio, and the other by Mrs. Gage, either of which would not have dishonored any of our public orators[Pg 121] if we consider the matter, style, or manner of delivery. Men can deal in statistics and logical deductions, but women only can describe the horrors of intemperance—can draw aside the curtain and show us the wreck it makes of domestic love and home enjoyment—can paint the anguish of the drunkard's wife and the miseries of his children. Wisdom would seem to dictate that those who feel the most severely the effects of any evil, should best know how to remove it. If this be so, it would be difficult to give a reason why women should not act, indeed lead off in this great temperance movement.

A most exciting and interesting debate arose on some resolutions introduced by the Secretary, Mrs. Griffing, condemnatory of the action of the World's Temperance Convention in undelegating Miss Brown, and excluding her from the platform.

These resolutions are so pithy, that I can not refrain from furnishing them in full. They are as follows:

"Resolved, That we regard the tyrannical and cowardly conformation to the 'usages of society,' in thrusting woman from the platform in the late so-called, but mis-called World's Temperance Convention, as a most daring and insulting outrage upon all of womankind; and it is with the deepest shame and mortification that we learn that our own State of Ohio furnished the delegate to officiate in writing and presenting the resolutions, and presiding at the session when the desperate act was accomplished.

"Resolved, That our thanks are due to the Hon. Neal Dow, of Maine, the President of the Convention, for so manfully and persistently deciding and insisting upon and in favor of the right of all the friends of temperance, duly delegated, 10 seats and participation in all the proceedings."

The friends of General Carey rallied, and with real parliamentary tact moved to lay the resolutions on the table. There was much excitement and some nervousness. The remarks made pro and con were pithy and to the point. The motion to lay on the table was lost by a large majority. Mrs. Griffing supported her resolutions with much coolness and conscious strength. The General had few defenders, and most of those soon abandoned him to his fate, and fell back upon the position of deprecating the introduction of what they called the question of Woman's Rights into the Convention. All, however, was of no avail; the resolutions passed by a large majority, and amid much applause.

After recess an attempt was made to reconsider this vote. The President urged some one who voted in the affirmative to move a reconsideration, that a substitute might be offered, condemning the action of the World's Convention in reference to Miss Brown, "as uncourteous, unchristian, and unparliamentary." The motion was made evidently from mere courtesy; but, when put to vote, was lost by a very large majority. The delegates from Oberlin, and some others, joined in the following protest:

"We beg leave to request that it be recorded in the minutes of the meeting, that the delegation from Oberlin, and some others, although we regard as uncourteous, unchristian, and unparliamentary, the far-famed proceedings at New York, yet we can not endorse the language of censure as administered by our most loved and valued sisters."

Thus fell General Carey, probably mortally wounded. His vitality, indeed, must be very great, if he can outlive the thrusts given him on this occasion. What rendered his conduct in New York more aggravating is the fact that[Pg 122] heretofore, he has encouraged the women of Ohio in their advocacy of temperance, and promised to defend them.

It is not, however, for Ohio men to interfere in this matter. Ohio women have shown themselves abundantly able to take care of themselves and the General too.


Mrs. R. A. S. Janney, in reply to our request for a chapter of her recollections, said:

The agitation of "Woman's Rights" began in Ohio in 1843 and '44, after Abby Kelly lectured through the State on Anti-slavery.

The status of the public mind at that time is best illustrated by the fact that Catharine Beecher, in 1846, gave an address in Columbus on education, by sitting on the platform and getting her brother Edward to read it for her.

In 1849, Lucy Stone and Antoinette L. Brown, then students at Oberlin College, lectured at different places in the State on "Woman's Rights."

In 1850 a Convention was held at Salem; Mariana Johnson presented a memorial, which was numerously signed and sent to the Constitutional Convention. The same week Mrs. F. D. Gage called a meeting in Masonic Hall, McConnellsville, and drew up a memorial, which was also largely signed, and presented to the Constitutional Convention. Memorials were sent from other parts of the State, and other county conventions held.

The signatures to the petition for "Equal Rights," numbered 7,901, and for the Right of Suffrage, 2,106.

The discussions in the Constitutional Convention were voted to be dropped from the records, because they were so low and obscene. Dr. Townsend, of Lorain, and William Hawkins, of McConnellsville, were our friends in the Convention.


Cleveland, O., Nov. 14, 1876.

Dear Mrs. Bloomer:—Your postal recalls to mind an event which occurred before the women of Ohio had in any sense broken the cords which bound them. A wife was not then entitled to her own earnings, and if a husband were a drunkard, or a gambler, no portion of his wages could she take, without his consent, for the maintenance of herself and family.

Some small gain has been attained in the letter of the law, and much in public opinion. Less stigma rests upon one who chooses an avocation suited to her own taste and ability. We have struggled for little; but it is well for us to remember that the world was not made in a day.

The meeting to which you allude was held in Chesterfield, Morgan County, Ohio. I went in company with Mrs. Gage, and remember well what a spirited meeting it was. When it was found that the church could not be had, the ladies of the place secured a barn, made it nice and clean, had a platform built at one end of the large floor for the speakers and invited guests, and seats arranged in every available place.

The audience was large and respectful, as well as respectable. The leading subjects were: The injustice of the laws, as to property and children, in their results to married women; the ability of woman to occupy positions of trust now withheld from her; her limited means for acquiring an education; etc.[Pg 123]

Mrs. Gage spoke with great enthusiasm and warmth. I think it must have been almost her first effort, to be followed by years of persistent work by voice and pen, to secure a wider field of labor for her sex, and to spur dull woman to do for herself; to make use of the means within her grasp; to become fit to bear the higher responsibilities which the coming years might impose.

Her dear voice is almost silent now, still she lingers as if to catch some faint glimpse of hoped-for results, ere she drops this mortal coil.

Mary T. Corner.

Very truly yours,


On May 27, 1852, another State Convention was held in Massilon. We give the following brief notice from the New York Tribune:

The third Woman's Rights Convention of Ohio has just closed its session. It was held in the Baptist church, in this place, and was numerously attended, there being a fair representation of men, as well as women; for though the object of these, and similar meetings, is to secure woman her rights, as an equal member of the human family, neither speaking nor membership was here confined to the one sex, but all who had sentiments to utter in reference to the object of the Convention—whether for or against it—were invited to speak with freedom, and those who wished to aid the movement to sit as members, without distinction of sex. All honorable classes were represented, from the so-called highest to the so-called lowest—the seamstress who works for twenty-five cents a day; the daughters of the farmer, fresh from the dairy and the kitchen; the wives of the laborer, the physician, the lawyer, and the banker, the legislator, and the minister, were all there—all interested in one common cause, and desirous that every right God gave to woman should be fully recognized by the laws and usages of society, that every faculty he has bestowed upon her should have ample room for its proper development. Is this asking too much? And yet this is the sum and substance of the Woman's Rights Reform—a movement which fools ridicule, and find easier to sneer at than meet with argument.

Before they separated they organized "The Ohio Woman's Rights Association," and chose Hannah Tracy Cutler for President.

The first annual meeting of this Association was held at Ravenna, May 25th and 26th, 1853. In the absence of the President, Mrs. Caroline M. Severance presided. The speakers were Rev. Antoinette L. Brown, Mrs. Lawrence, Emma R. Coe, Josephine S. Griffing, Martha J. Tilden, and many others. Emily Robinson presented an able and encouraging report on the progress of the work. Mrs. Severance was appointed to prepare a memorial to the Legislature, which was presented March 23, 1854, laid on the table and ordered to be printed. This document is found in the June number of The Una, 1854, and is a very carefully written paper on the legal status of woman.[Pg 124]


In 1853, October 6th, 7th, and 8th, the Fourth National Convention was held in Cleveland. There were delegates present from New York, Pennsylvania, Massachusetts, Connecticut, Ohio, Michigan, Indiana, and Missouri. The Plain Dealer said all the ladies prominent in this movement were present, some in full Bloomer costume. At the appointed time Lucretia Mott arose and said:

As President of the last National Convention at Syracuse, it devolves on me to call this meeting to order. It was decided in a preliminary gathering last evening, that Frances D. Gage, of St. Louis, was the suitable person to fill the office of President on this occasion.

Mrs. Gage, being duly elected, on taking the chair, said: Before proceeding farther, it is proper that prayer should be offered. The Rev. Antoinette L. Brown will address the throne of grace.

She came forward and made a brief, but eloquent prayer. It was considered rather presumptuous in those days for a woman to pray in public, but as Miss Brown was a graduate of Oberlin College, had gone through the theological department, was a regularly ordained preacher, and installed as a pastor, she felt quite at home in all the forms and ceremonies of the Church.

The Cleveland Journal, in speaking of her, said: She has one distinction, she is the handsomest woman in the Convention. Her voice is silvery, and her manner pleasing. It is generally known that she is the pastor of a Congregational church in South Butler, N. Y.

In her opening remarks, Mrs. Gage said: It is with fear and trembling that I take up the duties of presiding over your deliberations: not fear and trembling for the cause, but lest I should not have the capacity and strength to do all the position requires of me. She then gave a review of what had been accomplished since the first Convention was held in Seneca Falls, N. Y., July 19, 1848, and closed by saying: I hope our discussions will be a little more extensive than the call would seem to warrant, which indicates simply our right to the political franchise.

To which, Mrs. Mott replied: I would state that the limitation of the discussions was not anticipated at the last Convention. The issuing of the call was left to the Central Committee, but it was not supposed that they would specify any particular part of the labor of the Convention, but that the broad ground of the presentation of the wrongs of woman, the assertion of her rights, and the encouragement to perseverance in individual and combined action, and the restoration of those rights, should be taken.

After which, Mrs. Gage added: I would remark once for all, to the Convention, that there is perfect liberty given here to speak upon the subject under discussion, both for and against; and that we urge all to do so. If there are any who have objections, we wish to hear them.[Pg 125] If arguments are presented which convince us that we are doing wrong, we wish to act upon them. I extremely regret that while we have held convention after convention, where the same liberty has been given, no one has had a word to say against us at the time, but that some have reserved their hard words of opposition to our movement, only to go away and vent them through the newspapers, amounting, frequently, to gross misrepresentation. I hope every one here will remember, with deep seriousness, that the same Almighty finger which traced upon the tablets of stone the commands, "Thou shalt not kill," "Thou shalt not steal," traced also these words, "Thou shalt not bear false witness against thy neighbor."

The other officers of the Convention were then elected, as follows:

Vice-Presidents—Antoinette L. Brown, New York; Lucretia Mott, Pennsylvania; Caroline M. Severance, Ohio; Joseph Barker, Ohio; Emily Robinson, Ohio; Mary B. Birdsall, Indiana; Sibyl Lawrence, Michigan; Charles P. Wood, New York; Amy Post, New York.

Secretaries—Martha C. Wright, New York; Caroline Stanton, Ohio; H. B. Blackwell, Ohio.

Treasurer—T. C. Severance, Ohio.

Business Committee—Ernestine L. Rose, New York; James Mott, Pennsylvania; Lucy Stone, Massachusetts; Wm. Lloyd Garrison, Mass.; Abby Kelly Foster, Mass.; Mary T. Corner, Ohio; C. C. Burleigh, Connecticut; Martha J. Tilden, Ohio; John O. Wattles, Indiana.

Finance Committee—Susan B. Anthony, Rochester; Phebe H. Merritt, Michigan; H. M. Addison, Ohio; Hettie Little, Ohio; E. P. Heaton, Ohio.

Letters were read from distinguished people. Notably the following from Horace Greeley:

New York, Oct. 2, 1853.

Dear Madam:—I have received yours of the 26th, this moment. I do not see that my presence in Cleveland could be of any service. The question to be considered concerns principally woman, and women should mostly consider it. I recognize most thoroughly the right of woman to choose her own sphere of activity and usefulness, and to evoke its proper limitations. If she sees fit to navigate vessels, print newspapers, frame laws, select rulers—any or all of these—I know no principle that justifies man in interposing any impediment to her doing so. The only argument entitled to any weight against the fullest concession of the rights you demand, rests in the assumption that woman does not claim any such rights, but chooses to be ruled, guided, impelled, and have her sphere prescribed for her by man.

I think the present state of our laws respecting property and inheritance, as respects married women, show very clearly that woman ought not to be satisfied with her present position; yet it may be that she is so. If all those who have never given this matter a serious thought are to be[Pg 126] considered on the side of conservatism, of course that side must preponderate. Be this as it may, woman alone can, in the present state of the controversy, speak effectively for woman, since none others can speak with authority, or from the depths of a personal experience.

Hoping that your Convention may result in the opening of many eyes, and the elevation of many minds from light to graver themes,

I remain yours,

Horace Greeley.

Mrs. C. M. Severance,
Cleveland, Ohio.

And here let us pay our tribute of gratitude to Horace Greeley. In those early days when he, as editor of the New York Tribune, was one of the most popular men in the nation, his word almost law to the people, his journal was ever true to woman. No ridicule of our cause, no sneers at its advocates, found a place in The Tribune; but more than once, he gave columns to the proceedings of our conventions.

To this letter, Henry B. Blackwell, brother of Dr. Elizabeth Blackwell, and the future husband of Lucy Stone, pertinently replied, saying:

It is suggested that woman's cause should be advocated by women only. The writer of that letter is a true friend of this reform, and yet I feel that I owe you no apology for standing on this platform. But if I do, this is sufficient, that I am the son of a woman, and the brother of a woman. I know that this is their cause, but I feel that it is mine also. Their happiness is my happiness, their misery my misery.

The interests of the sexes are inseparably connected, and in the elevation of one lies the salvation of the other. Therefore I claim a part in the last and grandest movement of the ages; for whatever concerns woman concerns the race. In every human enterprise the sexes should go hand in hand. Experience sanctions the statement. I know of but few movements in history, which have gone on successfully without the aid of woman. One of these is war—the work of human slaughter. Another has been the digging of gold in California. I have yet to learn what advantages the world has derived from either. Whenever the sexes have been severed in politics, in business, in religion, the result has been demoralization.

Mr. Blackwell spoke with great eloquence for nearly an hour, advocating the political, civil, and moral equality of woman. He showed the power of the ballot in combating unjust laws, opening college doors, securing equal pay for equal work, dignifying the marriage relation, by making woman an equal partner, not a subject. He paid a glowing eulogy to Mary Wollstonecroft. He said:

We need higher ideas of marriage. There is scarcely a young man here who does not hope to be a husband and a father; nor a young woman[Pg 127] who does not expect to be a wife and a mother. But who does not revolt at the idea of perpetuating a race inferior to ourselves? For myself I could not desire a degenerate family. I would not wish for a race which would not be head and shoulders above what I had been. Let me say to men, select women worthy to be wives. The world is overstocked with these mis-begotten children of undeveloped mothers. No man who has ever seen the symmetrical character of a true woman, can be happy in a union with such. Ladies! the day is coming when men who have seen more well-developed women, will scorn the present standard of female character. Will you not teach them to do so? You may have to sacrifice much, but you will be repaid. This history of the world is rich with glorious examples. Mary Wollstonecroft, the writer of that brave book, "The Rights of Woman," published two generations ago, dared to be true to her convictions of duty in spite of the prejudices of the world. What was the result? She attained a noble character. She found in Godwin a nature worthy of her own, and left a child who became the wife and worthy biographer of the great poet Shelley. Let us imitate that child of glorious parents—parents who dared to make all their relations compatible with absolute right, to give all their powers the highest development.

People say a married woman can not have ulterior objects; that her position is incompatible with a high intellectual culture; that her thoughts and sympathies must be restricted to the four walls of her dwelling. Why, if I were a woman (I speak only as a man) and believed this popular doctrine, that she who is a wife and a mother, being that, must be nothing more, but must cramp her thoughts into the narrow circle of her own home, and indulge no grander aspirations for universal interests—believing that, I would forswear marriage. I would withdraw myself from human society, and go out into the forest and the prairie to live out my own true life in the communion and sympathy of my God. So far as I was concerned, the race might become worthily extinct—it should never be unworthily perpetuated. I could do no otherwise. For we are not made merely to eat and drink, and give children to the world. We are placed here upon the threshold of an immortal life. We are but the chrysalis of the future. If immortality means anything, it means unceasing progress for individuals and for the race.

Mr. Blackwell complimented those women who were just inaugurating a movement for a new costume, promising greater freedom and health. He thought the sneers and ridicule so unsparingly showered on the "Bloomers," might with more common sense be turned on the "tight waists, paper shoes, and trailing skirts of the fashionable classes."

The facts of history may as well be stated here in regard to the "Bloomer" costume. Mrs. Bloomer was among the first to wear the dress, and stoutly advocated its adoption in her paper, The Lily, published at Seneca Falls, N. Y. But it was introduced by Elizabeth Smith Miller, the daughter of the great philanthropist, Gerrit Smith, in 1850. She wore it for many years, even in the most fashionable circles of Washington during her father's term in Congress.[Pg 128] Lucy Stone, Miss Anthony, and Mrs. Stanton, also wore it a few years. But it invoked so much ridicule, that they feared the odium attached to the dress might injure the suffrage movement, of which they were prominent representatives. Hence a stronger love for woman's political freedom, than for their own personal comfort, compelled them to lay it aside. The experiment, however, was not without its good results. The dress was adopted for skating and gymnastic exercises, in seminaries and sanitariums. At Dr. James C. Jackson's, in Dansville, N. Y., it is still worn. Many farmers' wives, too, are enjoying its freedom in their rural homes.

Mrs. Bloomer, editor of The Lily, at Seneca Falls, New York, was introduced at the close of Mr. Blackwell's remarks, and read a well-prepared digest of the laws for married women.

Reporting one of the sessions, the Plain Dealer said:

Mrs. Gage, ever prompt in her place, called the Convention to order at the usual hour. The Melodean at this time contained 1,500 people. We think the women may congratulate themselves on having most emphatically "made a hit" in the forest city.

Of the personnel of the Convention, it says:

Mrs. Mott is matronly-looking, wearing the Quaker dress, and apparently a good-natured woman. Her face does not indicate her character as a fiery and enthusiastic advocate of reform. Mrs. Gage is not a handsome woman, but her appearance altogether is prepossessing. You can see genius in her eye. She presided with grace at all the sessions of the Convention. The house was thronged with intelligent audiences. The President frequently contrasted the order, decorum, and kindness of the Cleveland audiences, with the noisy and tumultuous demonstrations which recently disgraced the city of New York, at the Convention held there.

Hon. Joshua R. Giddings, on being called to the stand, remarked:

That he was present to express, and happy of the opportunity to express, his sincere interest in the cause, and regard for the actors in this movement; but that on almost any other occasion he could speak with less embarrassment than here, with such advocates before him; and as he had not come prepared to address the Convention, declined occupying its time longer.

In reading over the debates of these early Conventions, we find the speakers dwelling much more on the wrongs in the Church and the Home, than in the State. But few of the women saw clearly, and felt deeply that the one cause of their social and religious degradation was their disfranchisement, hence the discussions often turned on the surface-wrongs of society.[Pg 129]

Frances D. Gage (with autograph).

Many of the friends present thought the Convention should issue an original Declaration of Rights, as nothing had been adopted as yet, except the parody on the Fathers' of' 76. Although that, and the one William Henry Channing prepared, were both before the Convention, it adjourned without taking action on either.

As so many of these noble leaders in the anti-slavery ranks have passed away, we give in this chapter large space to their brave words. Also to the treatment of Miss Brown, in the World's Temperance Convention, for its exceptional injustice and rudeness.

Miss Brown read a letter from William H. Channing, in which he embodied his ideas of a Declaration. Lucy Stone also read a very able letter from Thomas Wentworth Higginson. Both of these letters contain valuable suggestions for the adoption of practical measures for bringing the wrongs of woman to the notice of the world.


Rochester, N. Y., Oct. 3, 1853.

To the President and Members of the Woman's Rights Convention:

As I am prevented, to my deep regret, from being present at the Convention, let me suggest in writing what I should prefer to speak. First, however, I would once again avow that I am with you heart, mind, soul, and strength for the Equal Rights of Women. This great reform will prove to be, I am well assured, the salvation and glory of this Republic, and of all Christian and civilized States:

"And if at once we may not
Declare the greatness of the work we plan,
Be sure at least that ever in our eyes
It stands complete before us as a dome
Of light beyond this gloom—a house of stars
Encompassing these dusky tents—a thing
Near as our hearts, and perfect as the heavens.
Be this our aim and model, and our hands
Shall not wax faint, until the work is done."

The Woman's Rights Conventions, which, since 1848, have been so frequently held in New York, Ohio, Massachusetts, Pennsylvania, etc., have aroused respectful attention, and secured earnest sympathy, throughout the United States. It becomes the advocates of the Equal Rights of Women, then, to take advantage of this wide-spread interest and to press the Reform, at once, onward to practical results.

Among other timely measures, these have occurred to me as promising to be effective:

I. There should be prepared, printed, and widely circulated, A Declaration of Woman's Rights.

This Declaration should distinctly announce the inalienable rights of women:[Pg 130]

1st. As human beings,—irrespective of the distinction of sex—actively to co-operate in all movements for the elevation of mankind.

2d. As rational, moral, and responsible agents, freely to think, speak, and do, what truth and duty dictate, and to be the ultimate judges of their own sphere of action.

3d. As women, to exert in private and in public, throughout the whole range of Social Relations, that special influence which God assigns as their appropriate function, in endowing them with feminine attributes.

4th. As members of the body politic, needing the protection, liable to the penalties, and subject to the operation of the laws, to take their fair part in legislation and administration, and in appointing the makers and administrators of the laws.

5th. As constituting one-half of the people of these free and United States, and as nominally, free women, to possess and use the power of voting, now monopolized by that other half of the people, the free men.

6th. As property holders, numbered and registered in every census, and liable to the imposition of town, county, state, and national taxes, either to be represented if taxed, or to be left untaxed if unrepresented, according to the established precedent of No taxation without representation.

7th. As producers of wealth to be freed from all restrictions on their industry; to be remunerated according to the work done, and not the sex of the workers, and whether married or single, to be secured in the ownership of their gains, and the use and distribution of their property.

8th. As intelligent persons, to have ready access to the best means of culture, afforded by schools, colleges, professional institutions, museums of science, galleries of art, libraries, and reading-rooms.

9th. As members of Christian churches and congregations, heirs of Heaven and children of God, to preach the truth, to administer the rites of baptism, communion, and marriage, to dispense charities, and in every way to quicken and refine the religious life of individuals and of society.

The mere announcement of these rights, is the strongest argument and appeal that can be made, in behalf of granting them. The claim to their free enjoyment is undeniably just. Plainly such rights are inalienable, and plainly too, woman is entitled to their possession equally with man. Our whole plan of government is a hypocritical farce, if one-half the people can be governed by the other half without their consent being asked or granted. Conscience and common sense alike demand the equal rights of women. To the conscience and common sense of their fellow-citizens, let women appeal untiringly, until their just claims are acknowledged throughout the whole system of legislation, and in all the usages of society.

And this introduces the next suggestion I have to offer.

II. Forms of petition should be drawn up and distributed for signatures, to be offered to the State Legislatures at their next sessions. These petitions should be directed to the following points:

1st. That the right of suffrage be granted to the people, universally, without distinction of sex; and that the age for attaining legal and political majority, be made the same for women as for men.[Pg 131]

2d. That all laws relative to the inheritance and ownership of property, to the division and administration of estates, and to the execution of Wills, be made equally applicable to women and men.

3d. That mothers be entitled, equally with fathers, to become guardians of their children.

4th. That confirmed and habitual drunkenness, of either husband or wife, be held as sufficient ground for divorce; and that the temperate partner be appointed legal guardian of the children.

5th. That women be exempted from taxation until their right of suffrage is practically acknowledged.

6th. That women equally with men be entitled to claim trial before a jury of their peers.

These petitions should be firm and uncompromising in tone; and a hearing should be demanded before Committees specially empowered to consider and report them. In my judgment, the time is not distant, when such petitions will be granted, and when justice, the simple justice they ask, will be cordially, joyfully rendered.

I call then for the publication of a Declaration of Woman's Rights, accompanied by Forms of Petitions, by the National Woman's Rights Convention at their present session. In good hope,

William Henry Channing.

Your friend and brother,

Miss Brown remarked:

There is one of these demands, the fourth, which for myself, I should prefer to have amended thus—instead of the word "divorce," I would insert "legally separated." The letter otherwise meets my cordial and hearty approbation.


Worcester, Sept. 15, 1853.

Dear Friend:—In writing to the New York Woman's Rights Convention, I mentioned some few points of argument which no opponents of this movement have ever attempted to meet. Suffer me, in addressing the Cleveland Convention, to pursue a different course, and mention some things which the friends of the cause have not yet attempted to do.

I am of a practical habit of mind, and have noticed with some regret that most of the friends of the cause have rested their hopes, thus far, chiefly upon abstract reasoning. This is doubtless of great importance, and these reasonings have already made many converts; because the argument is so entirely on one side that every one who really listens to it begins instantly to be convinced. The difficulty is, that the majority have not yet begun to listen to it, and this, in great measure, because their attention has not been called to the facts upon which it is founded.

Suppose, now, that an effort were made to develop the facts of woman's wrongs. For instance:

1st. We say that the laws of every State of this Union do great wrong to woman, married and single, as to her person and property, in her private and public relations. Why not procure a digest of the laws on these subjects, then;[Pg 132] prepared carefully, arranged systematically, corrected up to the latest improvements, and accompanied by brief and judicious commentaries? No such work exists, except that by Mansfield, which is now obsolete, and in many respects defective.

2d. We complain of the great educational inequalities between the sexes. Why not have a report, elaborate, statistical, and accurate, on the provision for female education, public and private, throughout the free States of this Union, at least? No such work now exists.

3d. We complain of the industrial disadvantages of women, and indicate at the same time, their capacities for a greater variety of pursuits. Why not obtain a statement, on as large a scale as possible, first, of what women are doing now, commercially and mechanically, throughout the Union (thus indicating their powers); and secondly, of the embarrassments with which they meet, the inequality of their wages, and all the other peculiarities of their position, in these respects? An essay, in short, on the Business Employments and Interests of Women; such an essay as Mr. Hunt has expressed to me his willingness to publish in his Merchants' Magazine. No such essay now exists.

Each of these three documents would be an arsenal of arms for the Woman's Rights advocate. A hundred dollars, appropriated to each of these, would more than repay itself in the increased subscriptions it would soon bring into the treasury of the cause. That sum would, however, be hardly sufficient to repay even the expenses of correspondence and traveling necessary for the last two essays, or the legal knowledge necessary for the first.

If there is, however, known to the Convention at Cleveland any person qualified and ready to undertake either of the above duties for the above sum (no person should undertake more than one of the three investigations), I would urge you to make the appointment. It will require, however, an accurate, clear-headed, and industrious person, with plenty of time to bestow. Better not have it done at all, than not have it done thoroughly, carefully, and dispassionately. Let me say distinctly, that I can not be a candidate for either duty, in my own person, for want of time to do it in; though I think I could render some assistance, especially in preparing materials for the third essay. I would also gladly subscribe toward a fund for getting the work done.

Permit me, finally, to congratulate you on the valuable results of every Convention yet held to consider this question. I find the fact everywhere remarked, that so large a number of women of talent and character have suddenly come forward into a public sphere. This phenomenon distinguishes this reform from all others that have appeared in America, and illustrates with new meaning the Greek myth of Minerva, born full-grown from the head of Jove. And if (as some late facts indicate) this step forward only promotes the Woman's Rights movement from the sphere of contempt into the sphere of hostility and persecution—it is a step forward, none the less. And I would respectfully suggest to the noble women who are thus attacked, that they will only be the gainers by such opposition, unless it lead to dissensions or jealousies among themselves.

Yours cordially,

Thomas Wentworth Higginson.

Miss Lucy Stone.

Lucy Stone remarked: This letter, you see, proposes that we shall find some way, if possible, by which our complaints may be spread before the[Pg 133] people. We find men and women in our conventions, earnest and thoughtful, who are not drawn by mere curiosity, but from a conscious want of just such a movement as this. They go away and carry to their villages and hamlets the ideas they have gathered here; and it is a cause for thankfulness to God that so many go away to repeat what they have heard. But we have wanted the documents to scatter among the people, as the Tract Society scatters its sheets. And now Mr. Higginson proposes that we have these essays.

The President of Oberlin College, Rev. Asa Mahan, was present during all the sessions of the Convention, and took part in the debates. On the subject of the Seneca Falls Declaration, he said:

I can only judge of the effect of anything upon the public mind, by its effect upon my own. It has been suggested that that Declaration is a parody. Now you can not present a parody, without getting up a laugh; and wherever it goes, it will never be seriously considered. If a declaration is to be made, it should be one that will be seriously considered by the public. I would suggest that the Declaration of this Convention be entirely independent of the other.

I have a remark to make upon a sentiment advanced by Mrs. Rose. I have this objection to the Declaration upon which she commented. It is asserted there, that man has created a certain public sentiment, and it is brought as a charge against the male sex. Now I assert, that man never created that sentiment. I say it is a wrong state of society totally, when, if woman shall be degraded, a man committing the same offense shall not be degraded also. There is perfect agreement between us there. But, that Declaration charges that sentiment upon man. Now I assert that it is chargeable upon woman herself; and that as she was first in man's original transgression, she is first here.

Mrs. Rose: I heartily agree that we are both in fault; and yet we are none in fault. I also said, that woman, on account of the position in which she has been placed, by being dependent upon man, by being made to look up to man, is the first to cast out her sister. I know it and deplore it; hence I wish to give her her rights, to secure her dependence upon herself. In regard to that sentiment in the Declaration, our friend said that woman created it. Is woman really the creator of the sentiment? The laws of a country create sentiments. Who make the laws? Does woman? Our law-makers give the popular ideas of morality.

Mr. Barker: And the pulpit.

Mrs. Rose: I ought to have thought of it: not only do the law-makers give woman her ideas of morality, but our pulpit preachers. I beg pardon—no, I do not either—for Antoinette L. Brown is not a priest. Our priests have given us public sentiment called morals, and they have always made or recognized in daily life, distinctions between man and woman. Man, from the time of Adam to the present, has had utmost license, while woman must not commit the slightest degree of "impropriety," as it is termed. Why, even to cut her skirts shorter than the fashion, is considered a moral delinquency, and stigmatized as such by more than one pulpit, directly or indirectly.[Pg 134]

You ask me who made this sentiment; and my friend yonder, says woman. She is but the echo of man. Man utters the sentiment, and woman echoes it. As I said before—for I have seen and felt it deeply—she even appears to be quite flattered with her cruel tyrant, for such he has been made to be—she is quite flattered with the destroyer of woman's character—aye, worse than that, the destroyer of woman's self-respect and peace of mind—and when she meets him, she is flattered with his attentions. Why should she not be? He is admitted into Legislative halls, and to all places where men "most do congregate;" why, then, should she not admit him to her parlor? The woman is admitted into no such places; the Church casts her out; and a stigma is cast upon her, for what is called the slightest "impropriety." Prescribed by no true moral law, but by superstition and prejudice, she is cast out not only from public places, but from private homes. And if any woman would take her sister to her heart, and warm her there again by sympathy and kindness, if she would endeavor once more to infuse into her the spark of life and virtue, of morality and peace, she often dare not so far encounter public prejudice as to do it. It requires a courage beyond what woman can now possess, to take the part of the woman against the villain. There are few such among us, and though few, they have stood forward nobly and gloriously. I will not mention names, though it is often a practice to do so; I must, however, mention our sister, Lucretia Mott, who has stood up and taken her fallen sister by the hand, and warmed her at her own heart. But we can not expect every woman to possess that degree of courage.

Abby Kelly Foster: I want to say here that I believe the law is but the writing out of public sentiment, and back of that public sentiment, I contend lies the responsibility. Where shall we find it? "'Tis education forms the common mind." It is allowed that we are what we are educated to be. Now if we can ascertain who has had the education of us, we can ascertain who is responsible for the law, and for public sentiment. Who takes the infant from its cradle and baptizes it "in the name of the Father, Son, and Holy Ghost;" and when that infant comes to childhood, who takes it into Sabbath-schools; who on every Sabbath day, while its mind is "like clay in the hands of the potter," moulds and fashions it as he will; and when that child comes to be a youth, where is he found, one-seventh part of the time; and when he comes to maturer age, does he not leave his plow in the furrow, and his tools in the shop, and one-seventh part of the time go to the place where prayer is wont to be made? On that day no sound is heard but the roll of the carriage wheels to church; all are gathered there, everything worldly is laid aside, all thoughts are given entirely to the Creator; for we are taught that we must not think our own thoughts, but must lay our own wills aside, and come to be moulded and fashioned by the priest. It is "holy time," and we are to give ourselves to be wholly and entirely fashioned and formed by another. That place is a holy place, and when we enter, our eye rests on the "holy of holies;" he within it is a "divine." The "divines" of the thirteenth century, the "divines" of the fifteenth century, and the "divines" of the nineteenth century, are no less "divines."[Pg 135] What I say to-day is taken for what it is worth, or perhaps for less than it is worth, because of the prejudice against me; but when he who educates the people speaks, "he speaks as one having authority," and is not to be questioned. He claims, and has his claim allowed, to be specially ordained and specially anointed from God. He stands mid-way between Deity and man, and therefore his word has power.

Aye, not only in middle age does the man come, leaving everything behind him; but, in old age, "leaning on the top of his staff," he finds himself gathered in the place of worship, and though his ear may be dull and heavy, he leans far forward to catch the last words of duty—of duty to God and duty to man. Duty is the professed object of the pulpit, and if it does not teach that, what in Heaven's name does it teach? This anointed man of God speaks of moral duty to God and man. He teaches man from the cradle to the coffin; and when that aged form is gathered within its winding-sheet, it is the pulpit that says, "Dust to dust and ashes to ashes."

It is the pulpit, then, which has the entire ear of the community, one-seventh part of the time. If you say there are exceptions, very well, that proves the rule. If there is one family who do not go to church, it is no matter, its teachings are engendered by those who do go; hence I would say, not only does the pulpit have the ear of the community one-seventh part of the time of childhood, but it has it under circumstances for forming and moulding and fashioning the young mind, as no other educating influence can have it. The pulpit has it, not only under these circumstances; it has it on occasions of marriage, when two hearts are welded into one; on occasions of sickness and death, when all the world beside is shut out, when the mind is most susceptible of impressions from the pulpit, or any other source.

I say, then, that woman is not the author of this sentiment against her fallen sister, and I roll back the assertion on its source. Having the public ear one-seventh part of the time, if the men of the pulpit do not educate the public mind, who does educate it? Millions of dollars are paid for this education, and if they do not educate the public mind in its morals, what, I ask, are we paying our money for? If woman is cast out of society, and man is placed in a position where he is respected, then I charge upon the pulpit that it has been recreant to its duty. If the pulpit should speak out fully and everywhere, upon this subject, would not woman obey it? Are not women under the special leading and direction of their clergymen? You may tell me, that it is woman who forms the mind of the child; but I charge it back again, that it is the minister who forms the mind of the woman. It is he who makes the mother what she is; therefore her teaching of the child is only conveying the instructions of the pulpit at second hand. If public sentiment is wrong on this (and I have the testimony of those who have spoken this morning, that it is), the pulpit is responsible for it, and has the power of changing it. The clergy claim the credit of establishing public schools. Granted. Listen to the pulpit in any matter of humanity, and they will claim the originating of it, because they are the teachers of the people. Now, if we give credit to the pulpit for establishing public schools, then[Pg 136] I charge them with having a bad influence over those schools; and if the charge can be rolled off, I want it to be rolled off; but until it can be done, I hope it will remain there.

Mr. Mahan: No class of persons had better be drawn into our discussions to be denounced, unless there is serious occasion for it. I name the pulpit with solemn awe, and unless there is necessity for it, charges had better not be made against it. Now, I say that no practice and no usage in the Church can be found, by which a criminal man, in reference to the crimes referred to, may be kept in the Church and a criminal woman cast out. There is no such custom in any of the churches of God. After twenty years' acquaintance with the Church, I affirm that the practice does not exist. Now, in regard to the origin of public sentiment, can a pulpit be found, will the lady who has just sat down, name a pulpit in the wide world, where the principle is advocated, that a criminal woman should be excluded, and the man upheld? Whatever faults may be in it, that fault is not there.

Mrs. Rose: Not in theory, but in practice.

Mr. Mahan: Neither in theory nor in practice. Where a wrong state of society exists, the pulpit may be in fault for not reprobating it.

Abby K. Foster: I do not wish to mention names, or I could do so. I could give many cases where ministers have been charged with such crimes, and where the evidence of guilt was almost insurmountable, and yet they were not disciplined. They were afraid it would injure the Church, I remember one minister who was brought up for trial, and meantime they suspended him from office, and paid him only half his salary, but retained him as a church member; when, if it had been the case of a woman, and had the slightest shade of suspicion been cast upon her, they would not have waited even for trial and judgment. They would have cast her out of the church at once.

William Lloyd Garrison said: I have but a few words to submit to the meeting at the present time. In regard to the position of the Church and clergy, on the subject of purity, I think it is sufficient to remind the people here, that whatever may be the external form observed by the Church toward its members, pertaining to licentiousness, one thing is noticeable, and that is, that the marriage relation is abolished among three and a half millions of people; and the abolition of marriage on that frightful scale, is in the main sanctioned and sustained by the American Church and clergy. And if this does not involve them in all that is impure, and licentious, and demoralizing, I know not what can do so.

As it respects the objection to our adopting the Declaration of Independence as put forth at Seneca Falls, on the ground that it is a parody, and that, being a parody, it will only excite the mirthfulness of those who hear or read it in that form; I would simply remark, that I very much doubt, whether, among candid and serious men, there would be any such mirthfulness excited. At the time that document was published, I read it, but I had forgotten it till this morning, and on listening to it, my mind was deeply impressed with its pertinacity and its power. It seemed to me, the argumentium ad hominum, to this nation. It was[Pg 137] measuring the people of this country by their own standard. It was taking their own words and applying their own principles to women, as they have been applied to men. At the same time, I liked the suggestion that we had better present an original paper to the country; and on conferring with the Committee after the adjournment, they agreed that it would be better to have such a paper; and that paper will undoubtedly be prepared, although we are not now ready to lay it before the Convention.

It was this morning objected to the Declaration of sentiments, that it implied that man was the only transgressor, that he had been guilty of injustice and usurpation, and the suggestion was also made, that woman should not be criminated, in this only, but regarded rather as one who had erred through ignorance; and our eloquent friend, Mrs. Rose, who stood on this platform and pleaded with such marked ability, as she always does plead in any cause she undertakes to speak upon, told us her creed. She told us she did not blame anybody, really, and did not hold any man to be criminal, or any individual to be responsible for public sentiment, as regards the difference of criminality of man and woman.

For my own part, I am not prepared to respect that philosophy. I believe in sin, therefore in a sinner; in theft, therefore in a thief; in slavery, therefore in a slaveholder; in wrong, therefore in a wrong-doer; and unless the men of this nation are made by woman to see that they have been guilty of usurpation, and cruel usurpation, I believe very little progress will be made. To say all this has been done without thinking, without calculation, without design, by mere accident, by a want of light; can anybody believe this who is familiar with all the facts in the case? Certainly, for one, I hope ever to lean to the charitable side, and will try to do so. I, too, believe things are done through misconception and misapprehension, which are injurious, yes, which are immoral and unchristian; but only to a limited extent. There is such a thing as intelligent wickedness, a design on the part of those who have the light to quench it, and to do the wrong to gratify their own propensities, and to further their own interests. So, then, I believe, that as man has monopolized for generations all the rights which belong to woman, it has not been accidental, not through ignorance on his part; but I believe that man has done this through calculation, actuated by a spirit of pride, a desire for domination which has made him degrade woman in her own eyes, and thereby tend to make her a mere vassal.

It seems to me, therefore, that we are to deal with the consciences of men. It is idle to say that the guilt is common, that the women are as deeply involved in this matter as the men. Never can it be said that the victims are as much to be blamed as the victimizer; that the slaves are to be as much blamed as the slaveholders and slave-drivers; that the women who have no rights, are to be as much blamed as the men who have played the part of robbers and tyrants. We must deal with conscience. The men of this nation, and the men of all nations, have no just respect for woman. They have tyrannized over her deliberately, they have not sinned through ignorance, but theirs is not the knowledge that saves. Who can say truly, that in all things he acts up to the light he enjoys, that he does[Pg 138] not do something which he knows is not the very thing, or the best thing he ought to do? How few there are among mankind who are able to say this with regard to themselves. Is not the light all around us? Does not this nation know how great its guilt is in enslaving one-sixth of its people? Do not the men of this nation know ever since the landing of the pilgrims, that they are wrong in making subject one-half of the people? Rely upon it, it has not been a mistake on their part. It has been sin. It has been guilt; and they manifest their guilt to a demonstration, in the manner in which they receive this movement. Those who do wrong ignorantly, do not willingly continue in it, when they find they are in the wrong. Ignorance is not an evidence of guilt certainly. It is only an evidence of a want of light. They who are only ignorant, will never rage, and rave, and threaten, and foam, when the light comes; but being interested and walking in the light, will always present a manly front, and be willing to be taught, and be willing to be told they are in the wrong.

Take the case of slavery: How has the anti-slavery cause been received? Not argumentatively, not by reason, not by entering the free arena of fair discussion and comparing notes; the arguments have been rotten eggs, and brickbats and calumny, and in the southern portion of the country, a spirit of murder, and threats to cut out the tongues of those who spoke against them. What has this indicated on the part of the nation? What but conscious guilt? Not ignorance, not that they had not the light. They had the light and rejected it.

How has this Woman's Rights movement been treated in this country, on the right hand and on the left? This nation ridicules and derides this movement, and spits upon it, as fit only to be cast out and trampled underfoot. This is not ignorance. They know all about the truth. It is the natural outbreak of tyranny. It is because the tyrants and usurpers are alarmed. They have been and are called to judgment, and they dread the examination and exposure of their position and character.

Women of America! you have something to blame yourselves for in this matter, something to account for to God and the world. Granted. But then you are the victims in this land, as the women of all lands are, to the tyrannical power and godless ambition of man; and we must show who are responsible in this matter. We must test everybody here. Every one of us must give an account of himself to God. It is an individual testing of character. Mark the man or the woman who derides this movement, who turns his or her back upon it; who is disposed to let misrule keep on, and you will find you have a sure indication of character. You will find that such persons are destitute of principles; for if you can convict a man of being wanting in principle anywhere, it will be everywhere. He who loves the right for its own sake, loves the right everywhere. He who is a man of principle, is a man of principle always. Let me see the man who is willing to have any one of God's rational creatures sacrificed to promote anything, aside from the well-being of that creature himself, and I will show you an unprincipled man.

It is so in this movement. Nobody argues against it, nobody pretends[Pg 139] to have an argument. Your platform is free everywhere, wherever, these Conventions are held. Yet no man comes forward in a decent, respectable manner, to show you that you are wrong in the charges you bring against the law-makers of the land. There is no argument against it. The thing is self-evident. I should not know how to begin to frame an argument. That which is self-evident is greater than argument, and beyond logic. It testifies of itself. You and I, as human beings, claim to have rights, but I never think of going into an argument with anybody, to prove that I ought to have rights. I have the argument and logic here, it is in my own breast and consciousness; and the logic of the schools becomes contemptible beside these. The more you try to argue, the worse you are off. It is not the place for metaphysics, it is the place for affirmation. Woman is the counterpart of man; she has the same divine image, having the same natural and inalienable rights as man. To state the proposition is enough; it contains the argument, and nobody can gainsay it, in an honorable way.

I rose simply to say, that though I should deprecate making our platform a theological arena, yet believing that men are guilty of intentional wrong, in keeping woman subject, I believe in having them criminated. You talk of injustice, then there is an unjust man somewhere. Even Mrs. Rose could talk of the guilt of society. Society! I know nothing of society. I know the guilt of individuals. Society is an abstract term: it is made up of individuals, and the responsibility rests with individuals. So then, if we are to call men to repentance, there is such a thing as wrong-doing intelligently, sinning against God and man, with light enough to convict us, and to condemn us before God and the world. Let this cause then be pressed upon the hearts and consciences, against those who hold unjust rights in their possession.

Mrs. Rose: I want to make a suggestion to the meeting. This is the afternoon of the last day of our Convention. We have now heard here the Bible arguments on both sides, and I may say to them that I agree with both, that is, I agree with neither. A gentleman, Dr. Nevin, I believe, said this morning that he also would reply to Mr. Barker, this afternoon. We have already had Mr. Barker answered. If any one else speaks farther on Miss Brown's side, somebody will have to reply upon the other. "There is a time and a season for everything," and this is no time to discuss the Bible. I appeal to the universal experience of men, to sustain me in asking whether the introduction of theological quibbles, has not been a firebrand wherever they have been thrown? We have a political question under discussion; let us take that question and argue it with reference to right and wrong, and let us argue it in the same way that your fathers and mothers did, when they wanted to throw off the British yoke.

Dr. Nevin: It will be unjust, not to permit me to speak.

Mrs. Mott moved that he be allowed, since he had already got the floor, without attempting to limit him at all; but that immediately after, the Convention should take up the resolutions.

Mrs. Rose objected, because, if a third person should speak, then a fourth must speak, or plead injustice, if not permitted to do so.

[Pg 140]

Considerable confusion ensued, Dr. Nevin, however, persisting in speaking, whereupon, the President invited him to the platform. He took the stand, assuring the President and officers, as he passed them, that he wished only to reply to some misinterpretations of Mr. Barker's, and would take but little of the time which they so much needed for business. After commencing, however, with Bible in hand, he launched out into an irrelevant eulogium upon "his Christ," etc.; from that to personalities against Mr. Barker and his associates upon the platform, calling him a "renegade priest," "an infidel from foreign shores, who had come to teach Americans Christianity!"

Mr. Garrison rose to a point of order, with regard to the speaker's personalities as to the nativity of anybody.

Dr. Nevin retorted: The gentleman has been making personalities against the whole priesthood.

Mr. Barker: I expressly and explicitly made exceptions. I only wish that Mr. Nevin may not base his remarks upon a phantom.

Dr. Nevin continued wandering on for some time, when Stephen S. Foster rose, to a point of order, as follows: "The simple question before us, is whether woman is entitled to all the rights to which the other sex is entitled. I want to say, that the friend is neither speaking to the general question, nor replying to Mr. Barker." Mr. Foster continued his remarks somewhat, when Dr. Nevin demanded that the Chair protect him in his right to the floor. The Chair decided that Mr. Foster was out of order, in continuing to speak so long upon his point of order.

Mr. Foster said he would not appeal to the house from the decision of the Chair, because he wished to save time. He continued a moment longer, and sat down.

Dr. Nevin proceeded, and in the course of his remarks drew various unauthorized inferences, as the belief of Mr. Barker, in the doctrines of Christ. Mr. Barker repeatedly corrected him, but Dr. Kevin very ingeniously continued to reaffirm them in another shape. Finally, Mr. Garrison, in his seat, addressing the President, said: "It is utterly useless to attempt to correct the individual. He is manifestly here in the spirit of a blackguard and rowdy." (A storm of hisses and cries of "down!" "down!")

Dr. Nevin: I am sorry friend Garrison has thought fit to use those words. He has been in scenes and situations like these, and has himself stood up and spoken in opposition to the opinions of audiences, too often not to have by this time been taught patience.

Mrs. Clark: Mr. Garrison is accustomed to call things by their right names.

Dr. Nevin: Very well, then I should call him—turning upon Mr. G.—worse names than those. Only one word has fallen from woman in this Convention, to which I can take exception, and that fell from the lips of a lady whom I have venerated from my childhood—it was, that the pulpit was the castle of cowards.[Pg 141]

Mrs. Mott: I said it was John Chambers' cowards' castle; and I do say, that such ministers make it a castle of cowards; but I did not wish to make the remark general, or apply it to all pulpits.

Dr. Nevin continued some time longer.

Mrs. Foster asked, at the close of his remarks, if he believed it was right for woman to speak what she believed to be the truth, from the pulpit; to which he replied affirmatively, "there and everywhere."

Mrs. Rose: I might claim my right to reply to the gentleman who has just taken his seat. I might be able to prove from the arguments he brought forward, that he was incorrect in the statements he made, but I waive that right, the time has been so unjustly consumed already. To one thing only, I will reply. He charged France with being licentious, and spoke of the degraded position of French women, as the result of the infidelity of that nation. I throw back the slander he uttered, in regard to French women. I am not a French woman, but if there is no other here to vindicate them, I will do it. The French women are as moral as any other people in any country; and when they have not been as moral, it has been because they have been priest-ridden. I love to vindicate the rights of those who are not present to defend themselves.

Stephen S. Foster: Our "reverend" friend spoke of dragging infidelity into this Convention, as though infidelity had to be "dragged" here. I want to know if Christianity has been "dragged" here, when the speakers made it the basis of their arguments. Who ever dreamed of "dragging" Christianity here when they came to advocate the rights of woman in the name of Christ? Why then should any one stand up here and charge a speaker with "dragging" infidelity when he advocates the rights of woman under the name of an infidel. I supposed that Greek and Jew, Barbarian and Scythian, Christian and Infidel had been invited to this platform. One thing I know, we have had barbarians here, whether we invited them or not; and I like to have barbarians here; I know of no place where they are so likely to be civilized. I have never yet been in a meeting managed by men when there was such conflict of feelings, where there was not also ten times as much confusion. And I think this meeting a powerful proof of the superiority of our principles over those who oppose us.

Tell me if Christianity has not ever held the reins in this country; and what has it done for woman? I am talking now of the popular idea of Christianity. What has Christianity done for woman for two hundred years past? Why, to-day, in this Christian nation, there are a million and a half of women bought and sold like cattle; a million and a half of women who can not say who are the fathers of their children! I ask, are we to depend on a Christianity like that to restore woman her rights? I am speaking of your idea of Christianity—of Dr. Nevin's idea of Christianity—I shall come to the true Christianity by and by.

One of two things is certain. The Church and Government deny to woman her rights. There is not a denomination in this country which places woman on an equality with man. Not one. Can you deny it?

Mrs. Mott: Except the Progressive Friends.

Mr. Foster: They are not a denomination, they have broken from all[Pg 142] bands and taken the name of the Friends of Progress. I say there is not a religious society, having an organized body of ministers, which admits woman's equality in the Gospel. Now, tell me, in God's name, what we are to hope from the Church, when she leaves a million and a half of women liable to be brought upon the auction-block to-day? If the Bible is against woman's equality, what are you to do with it? One of two things: either you must sit down and fold up your hands, or you must discard the divine authority of the Bible. Must you not? You must acknowledge the correctness of your position, or deny the authority of the Bible. If you admit the construction put upon the Bible by friend Barker, to be a false one, or Miss Brown's construction to be the true one, what then? Why, then, the priesthood of the country are blind leaders of the blind. We have got forty thousand of them, Dr. Nevin included with the rest. He stands as an accredited Presbyterian, giving the hand of fellowship to the fraternity, and withholding it from Garrison and others—he could not even pray a few years ago in an anti-slavery meeting. Now, either the Bible is against the Church and clergy, or else they have misinterpreted it for two hundred years, yes, for six thousand years. You must then either discard the Bible or the priesthood, or give up Woman's Rights.

A friend says he does not regret this discussion. Why, it is the only thing we have done effectively since we have been here. When we played with jack-straws, we were hail-fellow with those who now oppose us. When you come to take up the great questions of the movement, when you propose to man, to divide with woman the right to rule, then a great opposition is aroused. The ballot-box is not worth a straw until woman is ready to use it. Suppose a law were passed to-morrow, declaring woman's rights equal with those of men, why, the facts would remain the same. The moment that woman is ready to go to the ballot-box, there is not a Constitution that will stand in the country. In this very city, in spite of the law, I am told that negroes go to the ballot-box and vote, without let or hindrance; and woman will go when she resolves upon it. What we want for woman is the right of speech; and in Dr. Nevin's reply to Mrs. Foster, does he mean that he would be willing to accord the right of speech to woman and admit her into the pulpit? I don't believe he would admit Antoinette Brown to his pulpit. I was sorry Mrs. Foster did not ask him if he would. I don't believe he dares to do it. I would give him a chance to affirm or deny it. I hope some other friend will give him that opportunity, and that Antoinette Brown may be able to say that she was invited by the pastor of one of the largest churches in this beautiful city, to speak to his people in his pulpit; but if he does it, he is not merely one among a thousand, but one among ten thousand.

I wish to have it understood that an infidel is as much at home here as a Christian; and that his principles are no more "dragged" here than those of a Christian. For myself, I claim to be a Christian. No man ever heard me speak of Christ or of His doctrines, but with the profoundest reverence. Still, I welcome upon this platform those who differ as far as possible from me. And the Atheist no more "drags" in his Atheism,[Pg 143] provided he only shows that Atheism itself demands woman's equality, and is no more out of order than I, when I undertake to show that Christianity preaches one law, one faith, and one line of duty for all.

Mrs. Mott: We ought to thank Dr. Nevin for his kindly fears, lest we women should be brought out into the rough conflicts of life, and overwhelmed by infidelity. I thank him, but at the same time I must say, that if we have been able this afternoon to sit uninjured by the hard conflict in which he has been engaged, if we can maintain our patience at seeing him so laboriously build up a man of straw, and then throw it down and destroy it, I think we may be suffered to go into the world and bear many others unharmed.

Again, I would ask in all seriousness, by what right does Orthodoxy give the invidious name of Infidel, affix the stigma of infidelity, to those who dissent from its cherished opinions? What right have the advocates of moral reform, woman's rights, abolition, temperance, etc., to call in question any man's religious opinions? It is the assumption of bigots. I do not want now to speak invidiously, and say sectarian bigots, but I mean the same kind of bigotry which Jesus rebuked so sharply, when He called certain men "blind leaders of the blind."

Now, we hold Jesus up as an example, when we perceive the assumption of clergymen, that all who venture to dissent from a given interpretation, must necessarily be infidels; and thus denounce them as infidels; for it was only by inference, that one clergyman this afternoon made Joseph Barker deny the Son of God. By inference in the same way, he might be made to deny everything that is good, and praiseworthy, and true.

I want we should consider these things upon this platform. I am not troubled with difficulties about the Bible. My education has been such that I look to that Source whence all the inspiration of the Bible comes. I love the truths of the Bible. I love the Bible because it contains so many truths; but I never was educated to love the errors of the Bible; therefore it does not startle me to hear Joseph Barker point to some of those errors. And I can listen to the ingenious interpretation of the Bible, given by Antoinette Brown, and am glad to hear those who are so skilled in the outward, when I perceive that they are beginning to turn the Bible to so good an account. It gives evidence that the cause is making very good progress. Why, my friend Nevin has had to hear the temperance cause denounced as infidel, and proved so by Solomon; and he has, no doubt, seen the minister in the pulpit, turning over the pages of the Bible to find examples for the wrong. But the Bible will never sustain him in making this use of its pages, instead of using it rationally, and selecting such portions of it as would tend to corroborate the right; and these are plentiful; for notwithstanding the teaching of theology, and men's arts in the religious world, men have ever responded to righteousness and truth, when it has been advocated by the servants of God, so that we need not fear to bring truth to an intelligent examination of the Bible. It is a far less dangerous assertion to say that God is unchangeable, than that man is infallible.

[Pg 144]

In this debate on the Bible-position of woman, Mr. Garrison having always been a close student of that Book, was so clear in his positions, and so ready in his quotations, that he carried the audience triumphantly with him. The Rev. Dr. Nevin came out of the contest so chagrined, that, losing all sense of dignity, on meeting Mr. Garrison in the vestibule of the hall, at the close of the Convention, he seized him by the nose and shook him vehemently. Mr. Garrison made no resistance, and when released, he calmly surveyed his antagonist and said, "Do you feel better, my friend? do you hope thus to break the force of my argument?" The friends of the Rev. Mr. Nevin were so mortified with his ungentlemanly behavior that they suppressed the scene in the vestibule as far as possible, in the Cleveland journals, and urged the ladies who had the report of the Convention in charge, to make no mention of it in their publication. Happily, the fact has been resurrected in time to point a page of history.

A question arising in the Convention as to the colleges, Antoinette Brown remarked:

That much and deeply as she loved Oberlin, she must declare that it has more credit for liberality to woman than it deserves. Girls are not allowed equal privileges and advantages there; they are not allowed instructions in elocution, nor to speak on commencement day. The only college in the country that places all students on an equal footing, without distinction of sex or color, is McGrawville College in Central New York. Probably Antioch College, Ohio (President Horace Mann), will also admit pupils on the same ground.

Mrs. Rose said she knew of no college where both sexes enjoyed equal advantages. It matters not, however, if there be. We do not deal with exceptions, but with general principles.

A sister has well remarked that we do not believe that man is the cause of all our wrongs. We do not fight men—we fight bad principles. We war against the laws which have made men bad and tyrannical. Some will say, "But these laws are made by men." True, but they were made in ignorance of right and wrong, made in ignorance of the eternal principles of justice and truth. They were sanctioned by superstition, and engrafted on society by long usage. The Declaration issued by the Seneca Falls Convention is an instrument no less great, no less noble than that to which it bears a resemblance.

In closing she alluded to that portion of Mr. Channing's Declaration which referred to the code of morals by which a fallen woman is forever ruined, while the man who is the cause of, or sharer in her crime, is not visited by the slightest punishment. "It is time to consider whether what is wrong in one sex can be right in another. It is time to consider why if a woman commits a fault, too often from ignorance, from inexperience, from poverty, because of degradation and oppression—aye! because of[Pg 145] designing, cruel man; being made cruel by ignorance of laws and institutions,—why such a being, in her helplessness, in her ignorance, in her inexperience and dependency—why a being thus situated, not having her mind developed, her faculties called out: and not allowed to mix in society to give her experience, not being acquainted with human nature, is drawn down, owing often to her best and tenderest feelings; in consequence also of being accustomed to look up to man as her superior, as her guardian, as her master,—why such a being should be cast out of the pale of humanity, while he who committed the crime, or who is, if not the main, the great secondary cause of it,—he who is endowed with superior advantages of education and experience, he who has taken advantage of that weakness and confiding spirit, which the young always have,—I ask, if the victim is cast out of the pale of society, shall the despoiler go free?" The question was answered by a thunder of "No! no! no!" from all parts of the house. A profound sensation was observable. "And yet," said Mrs. Rose, "he does go free!!"

Ernestine L. Rose, says the Plain Dealer, is the master-spirit of the Convention. She is described as a Polish lady of great beauty, being known in this country as an earnest advocate of human liberty. Though a slight foreign accent is perceptible, her delivery is effective. She spoke with great animation. The impression made by her address was favorable both to the speaker and the cause. In speaking of the personnel of the platform, it says:

Mrs. Lydia Ann Jenkins, of New York, who made an effective speech, is habited in the Bloomer costume, and appears to much advantage on the stage. Her face is amiable, and her delivery excellent. She is as fine a female orator as we have heard. The address embodied the usual arguments offered in favor of this cause, and were put in a forcible and convincing manner. We say convincing, because such a speaker would convince the most obdurate unbeliever against his will.

Miss Stone is somewhat celebrated for an extraordinary enthusiasm in the cause of her sex, and for certain eccentricities of speech and thought, as well as of outward attire. She is as independent in mind as in dress. She is as ready to throw off the restraints society seems to have placed on woman's mind, as she is to cast aside what she considers an absurd fashion in dress. Without endorsing the eliminated petticoats, we can not but admire Miss Stone's "stern old Saxon pluck," and her total independence of the god, Fashion. Her dress is first a black velvet coat with collar, fastened in front with buttons, next a skirt of silk, reaching to the knees, then "she wears the breeches" of black silk, with neat-fitting gaiters. Her hair is cut short and combed straight back. Her face is not beautiful, but there is mind in it; it is earnest, pleasant, prepossessing. Miss Stone must be set down as a lady of no common abilities, and of uncommon energy in the pursuit of a cherished idea. She is a marked favorite in the Conventions.

During the proceedings, Miss Brown, in a long speech on the[Pg 146] Bible, had expounded many doctrines and passages of Scripture in regard to woman's position, in direct opposition to the truths generally promulgated by General Assemblies, and the lesser lights of the Church. Mrs. Emma R. Coe took an equally defiant position toward the Bench and the Bar, coolly assuming that she understood the spirit of Constitutions and Statute Laws. Some lawyer had made a criticism on the woman's petition then circulating in Ohio, and essayed to give the Convention some light on the laws of the State, to all of which Mrs. Coe says:

I have very little to say this evening beyond reading a letter, received by me to-day. (Here follows the letter). I beg leave to inform the gentleman, if he is present, that I believe I understand these laws, and this point particularly, very nearly as well as himself; and that I am well acquainted with the laws passed since 1840, as with those enacted previous to that time. I would also inform him that the committee, some of whom are much better read in law than myself, were perfectly aware of the existence of the statutes he mentions, but did not see fit to incorporate them into the petition, not only on account of their great length, but because they do not at all invalidate the position which the petition affects to establish, viz: the inequality of the sexes before the law. Their insertion, therefore, would have been utterly superfluous. This letter refers, evidently, to that portion of the petition which treats of the equalization of property, which I will now read. (Then follows the reading of one paragraph of the petition). Again I refer you to the letter, the first paragraph of which is as follows:

"Mrs. Emma R. Coe, will you look at Vol. 44, General Laws of Ohio, page 75, where you will find that the property of the wife can not be taken for the debts of her husband, etc.; and all articles of household furniture, and goods which a wife shall have brought with her in marriage, or which shall have come to her by bequest, gift, etc., after marriage, or purchased with her separate money or other property, shall be exempt from liability for the debts of her husband, during her life, and during the life of any heir of her body."

Very true: we readily admit the law of which the gentleman has given an abstract; and so long as the wife holds the property in her hands, just as she received it, it can not be taken for the husband's debts, but the moment she permits her husband to convert that property into another shape, it becomes his, and may be taken for his debts. The gentleman I presume will admit this at once.

The next paragraph of the letter reads thus: "Also in Vol. 51, General Laws of Ohio, page 449, the act regulating descent, etc., provides, that real estate, which shall have come to the wife by descent, devise, or gift, from her ancestor, shall descend—first, to her children, or their legal representatives. Second, if there be no children, or their legal representatives living, the estate shall pass to the brothers and sisters of the intestate, who may be of the blood of the ancestor from whom the estate came, or their legal representatives," etc. True again: So long as the wife[Pg 147] holds real estate in her own name, in title, and in title only, it is hers; for her husband even then controls its profits, and if she leave it so, it will descend to her heirs so long as she has an heir, and so long as she can trace the descent. But if she suffers her husband to sell that property and receive the money, it instantly becomes his; and instead of descending to her heirs, it descends to his heirs. This the gentleman will not deny. Now, we readily admit, that while the wife abides by the statutes, of which our article has given us an abstract, her husband can not take the property from her, he can only take the use of it. But the moment she departs from the statute, she comes under the provisions of the common law; which, when they do not conflict, is equally binding in Ohio, as the statute law. And in this case the common and statute laws do not conflict. Departing from the statute, that is, suffering her property to be exchanged, the provision is thus: (Here follows the common law, taken from the petition). I have nothing further to add on this point, but will quote the last paragraphs in the letter.

"If you would know what our laws are, you must refer to the laws passed in Ohio since 1840."

This has already been answered.

"You said last night, that the property of the wife passed to the husband, even to his sixteenth cousin! Will you correct your error? And oblige

A Buckeye."

I should be extremely happy to oblige the gentleman, but having committed no error there is nothing to correct; and I do not, therefore, see that I can in conscience comply with his request. I am, however, exceedingly thankful for any expression of interest from that quarter. There are other laws which might be mentioned, which really give woman an apparent advantage over man; yet, having no relevancy to the subject in the petition, we did not see fit to introduce them. One of these is, that no woman shall be subject to arrest and imprisonment for debt; while no man, that is, no ordinary man, none unless he has a halo of military glory around his brow, is held sacred from civil process of this kind. But this exemption is of very little benefit to woman, since, if the laws were as severe to her as to man, she would seldom risk the penalty. For this there are two very good reasons. One is, that conscious of her inability to discharge obligations of this kind, she has little disposition to run deeply into debt; and the other is, that she has not the credit to do it if she wished! If, however, she does involve herself in this way, the law exempts her from imprisonment. This, perhaps, is offered as a sort of palliation for the disabilities which she suffers in other respects. The only object of the petition is, I believe, that the husband and wife be placed upon a legal and political equality. If the law gives woman an advantage over man, we deprecate it as much as he can. Partiality to either, to the injury of the other, is wrong in principle, and we must therefore oppose it. We do not wish to be placed in the position which the husband now occupies. We do not wish that control over his interests, which he may now exercise over the interests of the wife. We would no sooner intrust this power to woman than to man. We would never place her in authority over her husband.[Pg 148]

The question of woman's voting, of the propriety of woman's appearing at the polls, is already settled. See what has been done in Detroit: On the day of the late election, the women went to the offices and stores of gentlemen, asking them if they had voted. If the reply happened to be in the negative, as was often the case, the next question was, "Will you be kind enough to take this vote, sir, and deposit it in the ballot-box for me?" Which was seldom, if ever, refused. And so, many a man voted for the "Maine Law," who would not, otherwise, have voted at all. But this was not all; many women kept themselves in the vicinity of the polls, and when they found a man undecided, they ceased not their entreaties until they had gained him to the Temperance cause. More than this, two women finding an intemperate man in the street, talked to him four hours, before they could get him to promise to vote as they wished. Upon his doing so, they escorted him, one on each side, to the ballot-box, saw him deposit the vote they had given him, and then treated him to a good supper.

Now, this is more than any Woman's Rights advocate ever thought of proposing. Yet no one thinks of saying a word against it, because it was done for temperance. But how much worse would it have been for those women to have gone to the polls with a brother or husband, instead of with this man? Or to have deposited two votes in perhaps five minutes' time, than to have spent four hours in soliciting some other person to give one? Why is it worse to go to the ballot-box with our male friends, than to the church, parties, or picnics, etc.? If a man should control the political principles of his wife, he should also control her religious principles.

Charles C. Burleigh: Among the resolutions which have been acted upon and adopted by this meeting is one which affirms that for man to attempt to fix the sphere of woman, is cool assumption. I purpose to take that sentiment for the text of a few words of remark this evening, for it is just there that I think the whole controversy hinges. It is not so much what is woman's appropriate sphere; it is not so much what she may do and what she may not do, that we have to contend about; as whether one human being or one class of human beings is to fix for another human being, or another class of human beings, the proper field of action and the proper mode of employing the faculties which God has given them. If I understand aright the principles of liberty, just here is the point of controversy, between the despot and the champion of human rights, in any department. Just when one human being assumes to decide for another what is that other's sphere of action, just then despotism begins. Everything else is but the legitimate consequence of this.

I have said it is not so much a matter of controversy what woman may do or may not do. Why, it would be a hard matter to say what has been recognized by men themselves, as the legitimate sphere of woman. We have a great deal of contradiction and opposition nowadays when woman attempts to do this, that, or the other thing, although that very thing has sometime or other, and somewhere or other, been performed or attempted to be performed by woman, with man's approval. If you talk about politics, why, woman's participation in politics is no new thing, is[Pg 149] no mere assumption on her part, but has been recognized as right and proper by men.

You have already been told of distinguished women who have borne a very prominent part in politics, both in ancient and modern times, and yet the multitude of men have believed and acknowledged that it was all right; and are now acknowledging it with all the enthusiasm of devoted loyalty. They are now acknowledging it in the case of an Empire on which it has been said that the sun never sets—an Empire, "The morning drumbeat of whose military stations circles the earth with one continued peal of the martial airs of England." It is recognized, too, not by the ignorant and thoughtless only, or the radical and heretical alone, but also by multitudes of educated and pious men. That bench of Bishops, sitting in the House of Lords, receiving its very warrant to act politically, from the hands of a woman, listening to a speech from a woman on the throne, endorses every day the doctrine that a woman may engage in politics.

If you seize the young tree, when it just begins to put forth to the air and sunshine and dews, and bend it in all directions for fear it will not grow in proper shape, do not hold the tree accountable for its distortion. There is no danger that from acorns planted last year, pine trees will grow, if you do not take some special care to prevent it. There is no danger that from an apple will grow an oak, or, from a peach-stone an elm; leave nature to work out her own results, or, in other words, leave God to work out His own purpose, and be not so anxious to intrude yourselves upon Him and to help Him govern the Universe He has made. Some of us have too high an estimation of His goodness and wisdom to be desirous of thrusting ourselves into His government. We are willing to leave the nature of woman to manifest itself in its own aptitudes. Try it. Did one ever trust in God and meet with disappointment? Never! Tyrants always say it is not safe to trust their subjects with freedom. Austria says it is not safe to trust the Hungarian with freedom. Man says woman is not safe in freedom, she will get beyond her sphere.

After having oppressed her for centuries, what wonder if she should rebound, and at the first spring, even manifest that law of reaction somewhat to your inconvenience, and somewhat even beyond the dictates of the wisest judgment. What then? Is the fault to be charged to the removal of the restraint; or is it to be charged to the first imposition of the restraint? The objection of our opponents remind one of the Irishman walking among the bushes just behind his companion, who caught hold of a branch, and passing on, let it fly back into the face of his friend; "Indade I am thankful to ye!" said the injured man, "for taking hold of that same; it a'most knocked the brains out of me body as it was, an' sure, if ye hadn't caught hold of it, it would have kilt me intirely!"

The winds come lashing over your lake, the waters piling upon each other, wave rolling upon wave, and you may say what a pity we could not bridge the lake over with ice, so as to keep down these billows which may rise so high as to submerge us. But stand still! God has fixed the law upon the waters, "thus far shalt thou come"; and as you watch the[Pg 150] ever piling floods, it secures their timely downfall. When they come as far as their appointed limits, the combing crest of the wave tells that the hour of safety has arrived, proving that God was wiser than you in writing down laws for His creation. We need not bridge over woman's nature with the ice of conventionalism, for fear she will swell up, aye, and overflow the continent of manhood. There is no danger. Trust to the nature God has given to humanity, and do not except the nature He has given to this portion of humanity.

But I need not dwell upon such an argument before an audience who have witnessed the bearing of women in this Convention. It is a cool, aye, insolent assumption for man to prescribe the sphere of woman. What is the sphere of woman? Clearly, you say, her powers, her natural instincts and desires determine her sphere. Who, then, best knows those instincts and desires? Is it he who has all his knowledge at second-hand, rather than she who has it in all her consciousness?

If, then, you find in the progress of the race hitherto, that woman has revealed herself pure, true, and beautiful, and lofty in spirit, just in proportion as she has enjoyed the right to reveal herself; if this is the testimony of all past experience, I ask you where you will find the beginning of an argument against the claim of woman to the right to enlarge her sphere yet more widely, than she has hitherto done. Wait until you see some of these apprehended evils, aye, a little later even, than that, until you see the natural subsidence of the reaction from the first out-bound of their oppression, before you tell us it is not safe or wise to permit woman the enlargement of her own sphere.

The argument which I have thus based upon the very nature of man, and of humanity and God, is confirmed in every particular—is most impregnably fortified on every point, by the facts of all past experience and all present observation; and out of all this evidence of woman's right and fitness to determine her own sphere, I draw a high prophecy of the future. I look upon this longing of hers for a yet higher and broader field, as an evidence that God designed her to enter upon it.

"Want, is the garner of our bounteous Sire;
Hunger, the promise of its own supply."

I might even add the rest of the passage as an address to woman herself, who still hesitates to assert the rights which she feels to be hers and longs to enjoy; I might repeat to her in the words of the same poet:

"We weep, because the good we seek is not,
When but for this it is not, that we weep;
We creep in dust to wail our lowly lot,
Which were not lowly, if we scorned to creep;
That which we dare we shall be, when the will
Bows to prevailing Hope, its would-be to fulfill."

It can be done. This demand of woman can be nobly and successfully asserted. It can be, because it is but the out-speaking of the divine sentiment of woman. Let us not then tremble, or falter, or despair—I know we shall not. I know that those who have taken hold of this great work, and carried it forward hitherto, against obloquy, and persecution,[Pg 151] and contempt, will not falter now. No! Every step is bearing us to a higher eminence, and thus revealing a broader promise of hope, a brighter prospect of success. Though they who are foremost in this cause must bear obloquy and reproach, and though it may seem to the careless looker-on, that they advance but little or not at all; they know that the instinct which impels them being divine, it can not be that they shall fail. They know that every quality of their nature, every attribute of their Creator, is pledged to their success.

"They never fail who gravely plead for right,
God's faithful martyrs can not suffer loss.
Their blazing faggots sow the world with light,
Heaven's gate swings open on their bloody cross."

Pres. Mahan: If I would not be interrupting at all, there are a few thoughts having weight upon my mind which I should be very happy to express. I have nothing to say to excite controversy at all, but there are things which are said, the ultimate bearing of which I believe is not always understood. I have heard during these discussions, things said which bear this aspect—that the relation of ruler and subject is that of master and slave. The idea of the equality of woman with man, seems to be argued upon this idea. I am not now to speak whether it is lawful for man to rule the woman at all; but I wish to make a remark upon the principles of governor and governed. The idea seems to be suggested that if the wife is subject to the husband, the wife is a slave to the man—if He has said, in the sense in which some would have it, even that the woman should be subject to the man, and the wife to the husband, you will find that in no other position will woman attain her dignity; for God has never dropped an inadvertent thought, never penned an inadvertent line. There is not a law or principle of His being, that whoever penned that Book did not understand. There is not a right which that Book does not recognize; and there is not a duty which man owes to woman, or woman to man, that is not there enjoined. It is my firm conviction, that there is but one thing to be done on this subject—if the women of this State want the elective franchise, they can have it. I don't believe it is in the heart of man to refuse it. Only spread the truth, adhere to Woman's Rights, and adhere to that one principle, and when the people are convinced that her claim is just, it will be allowed.

Of Charles C. Burleigh the Plain Dealer says:

This noble poet had not said much in the Convention. He had taken no part in the interferences and interruptions of other gentlemen, Mr. Barker and Mr. Nevin for instance.

When at length he took the stand he did indeed speak out a noble defense of woman's rights. It was the only speech made before the Convention by man in which the cause of woman was advocated exclusively. When Mr. Burleigh arose, two or three geese hissed; when he closed, a shower of applause greeted him.

We hope the reader will not weary of these debates. As the efforts of many of our early speakers were extemporaneous, but[Pg 152] little of what they said will be preserved beyond this generation unless recorded now. These debates show the wit, logic, and readiness of our women; the clear moral perception, the courage, and honesty of our noble Garrison; the skill and fiery zeal of Stephen Foster; the majesty and beauty of Charles Burleigh; and, in Asa Mahan, the vain struggles of the wily priest, to veil with sophistry the degrading slavery of woman, in order to reconcile her position as set forth in certain man-made texts of Scripture with eternal justice and natural law. Mr. Mahan would not have been willing himself, to accept even the mild form of subjection he so cunningly assigns to woman. The deadliest opponents to the recognition of the equal rights of woman, have ever been among the orthodox clergy as a class.


Just previous to this, two stormy Conventions had been held in the city of New York; one called to discuss Woman's Rights, the other a World's Temperance Convention. Thus many of the leaders of each movement met for the first time to measure their powers of logic and persuasion.

Antoinette L. Brown was appointed a delegate by two Temperance associations. Her credentials were accepted, and she took her seat as a member of the Convention; but when she arose to speak a tempest of indignation poured upon her from every side. As this page in history was frequently referred to in the Cleveland Convention, we will let Miss Brown here tell her own story:

Why did we go to that World's Convention? We went there because the call was extended to "the world." On the 12th of May a preliminary meeting had been held at New York—the far-famed meeting at the Brick Chapel. There, because of the objection taken by some who were not willing to have the "rest of mankind" come into the Convention, a part of those present withdrew. They thought they would have a "Whole World's Temperance Convention," and they thought well, as the result proved. When it was known that such a Convention would be called, that all persons would be invited to consider themselves members of the Convention, who considered themselves members of the world, some of the leaders of the other Convention—the half world's Convention—felt that if it were possible, they would not have such a meeting held; therefore they took measures to prevent it. Now, let me read a statement from another delegate to that Convention, Rev. Wm. H. Channing, of Rochester. (Miss Brown read an extract from the Tribune, giving the facts in regard to her appointment as delegate, by a society of long standing, in Rochester, and extracts, also, of letters from persons prominent in the Brick Chapel meeting, urging Mr. Greeley to persuade his party to abandon[Pg 153] the idea of a separate Convention, a part of such writers pleading that it was an unnecessary movement, as the call to the World's Temperance Convention was broad enough, and intended to include all). This appointment was made without my knowledge or consent, but with my hearty endorsement, when I knew it was done. Let me state also, that a society organized and for years in existence in South Butler, N. Y., also appointed delegates to that Convention, and myself among the number. They did so because, though they knew the call invited all the world to be present, yet they thought it best to have their delegations prepared with credentials, if being prepared would do any good.

When we reached New York, we heard some persons saying that women would be received as delegates, and others saying they would not. We thought we ought to test that matter, and do it, too, as delicately and quietly as possible. There were quite a number of ladies appointed delegates to that meeting, but it was felt that not many would be necessary to make the test of their sincerity.

We met at the Woman's Bights Convention on the day of the opening of the half world's Temperance Convention, and had all decided to be content with our own Temperance Convention, which had passed off so quietly and triumphantly. Wendell Phillips and I sat reconsidering the whole matter. I referred him to the fact, which had come to me more than once during the few last days, that the officials of the Convention in session at Metropolitan Hall, and others, had been saying that women would be received no doubt; that the Brick Chapel meeting was merely an informal preliminary meeting, and its decisions of no authority upon the Convention proper; and that the women were unjust in saying, that their brethren would not accept their co-operation before it had been fairly tested. Then, said Phillips, "Go, by all means; if they receive you, you have only to thank them for rebuking the action of the Brick Chapel meeting. Then we will withdraw and come back to our own meeting. If, on the other hand, they do not receive you, we will quietly and without protest, withdraw, and, in that case, not be gone half an hour." I turned and invited one lady, now on this platform, as gentle and lady-like as woman can be, Caroline M. Severance, of your own city, to go with me. She said: "I am quite willing to go, both in compliance with your wish, and from interest in the cause itself. But I am not a delegate, and I have in this city venerated grandparents, whose feelings I greatly regard, and would not willingly or unnecessarily wound; so that I prefer to go in quietly, but take no active part in what will seem to them an antagonistic position for woman, and uncalled for on my part. In that way I am quite ready to go." And so we went out from our own meeting, Mr. Phillips, Mrs. S., and myself; none others went with us, nor knew we were going.

After arriving at Metropolitan Hall, accompanied by these friends, I did quietly what we had predetermined was the best to do. The Secretary was sitting upon the platform. I handed him my credentials from both societies. He said: "I can not now tell whether you will be received or not. There is a resolution before the house, stating, in substance, that they would receive all delegates without distinction of color[Pg 154] or sex. If this resolution is adopted, you can be received." I then left my credentials in his hands, and went down from the platform. It was rather trying, in the sight of all that audience, to go upon the platform and come down again; and I shall not soon forget the sensations with which I stepped off the platform. After a little time they decided that the call admitted all delegates. I thought this decision settled my admission, and I went again upon the platform. In the meantime a permanent organization was effected. I went there, for the purpose of thanking them for their course, and merely to express my sympathy with the cause and their present movement, and then intended to leave the Hall. I arose, and inquired of the President, Neal Dow, if I was rightly a member of the Convention. He said, "Yes, if you have credentials from any abstinence societies." I told him I had, and then attempted to thank him. There was no appeal from the President's decision, but yet they would not receive my expression of thanks; therefore I took my seat and waited for a better opportunity.

And now let me read a paragraph again from this paper, the temperance organ of your State. The writer is still Gen. Carey. (The extract intimated that Miss Brown, supported and urged on by several others, made an unwomanly entrance into the Convention, and upon the platform itself, which was reserved for officers, and as it would imply, already filled). There were only the two other persons I mentioned who went with me to that Convention, but they took their seats back among the audience, and did not approach the platform. There were friends I found in that audience to sustain me, but none others came with me for that purpose. The platform was far from being full; it is a large platform, and there might a hundred persons sit there, and not incommode each other at all.

(Here Miss Brown read another extract from the same article, in which Gen. Carey implies, that concerted measures had been set on foot at the Woman's Rights meeting at the Tabernacle, the evening after Miss Brown's first attempt at a hearing before the Temperance Convention, for coming in upon them again en masse, and revengefully).

Not a word was said that night upon the subject in the Convention at the Tabernacle, except what was said by myself; and I said what I did, because some one inquired whether I was hissed on going upon the platform. As to that matter, when I went upon the platform I was not hissed, at others times I did not know whether they hissed me or others, and

"Where ignorance is bliss,'tis folly to be wise."

I stated some of the facts to our own Convention, but I did not refer to this resolution (the one which was to exclude all but officers or invited guests from the platform), for I was not entirely clear with regard to the nature of it, it was passed in so much confusion. I did state this, that there had been a discussion raised upon such a resolution, and that it was decided that only officers and invited guests should sit upon the platform; but that they had received me as a delegate, and had thus revoked the action of the Brick Chapel meeting, and that on the morrow Neal Dow might invite me to sit upon the platform. That was the substance[Pg 155] of my remarks, and not one word of objection was taken, or reply made by our Convention.

I read again from this paper. (An extract implying that among the measures taken to browbeat the Convention into receiving Miss Brown, was the forming of a society instantly, under the special urgency of herself and friends, for this especial object, etc.) That again is a statement without foundation. I intend to-night to use no harsh words, and I shall say nothing with regard to motives. You may draw your own conclusions in regard to all this. I shall state dispassionately, the simple, literal facts as they occurred, and they may speak for themselves.

When Wendell Phillips went out of the Convention, he told persons with whom he came in contact, that a delegate had been received by the President, and that delegate had been insulted, and nobody had risen to sustain her. He said to me, too, "I shall not go to-morrow, but do you go. I can do nothing for you, because I am not a delegate." There were a few earnest friends in New York, however, who felt that the rights of a delegate were sacred. They organized a society and appointed just three delegates to that Temperance Convention. Those three persons were Wendell Phillips, of Boston; Mr. Cleveland, one of the editors of the Tribune; and Mr. Gibbon, son-in-law of the late venerated Isaac T. Hopper. The last two were men from New York City. The question was already decided that women might be received as delegates to that Convention; therefore there was no need of appointing any one to insist upon woman's right to appear, and no one was appointed for that purpose.

The next morning we went there with Mr. Phillips, who presented his credentials. During the discussion, Mr. Phillips took part, and persisted in holding the Convention to parliamentary rules. He carried in his hand a book of rules, which is received everywhere as authority, and when he saw that they were wrong, he quoted the standard authority to them. After a while the preliminary business was disposed of, and various resolutions were brought forward. I arose, and the President said I had the floor. I was invited upon the stand, and was therefore an "invited guest" within their own rules; but when once there, I was not allowed to speak, although the President said repeatedly that the floor was mine. The opposition arose from a dozen or more around the platform, who were incessantly raising "points of order"—the extempore bantlings of great minds in great emergencies. For the space of three hours I endeavored to be heard, but they would not hear me (although as a delegate, and I spoke simply as a delegate), I could have spoken but ten minutes by a law of the house. Twice the President was sustained in his decision by the house; but finally some one insisted that there might be persons voting in the house who were not delegates, and it was decided that the Hall should be cleared by the police, and that those who were delegates might come in, one by one, and resume their seats.

There were printed lists of the delegates of the Convention, but there were several new delegates whose names were not on the lists. Wendell Phillips and his colleagues were among them. He went to the President and said: "I rely upon you to be admitted to the Hall, for we know that our names are not yet on the list." The President assented. As the[Pg 156] delegates returned, the names upon the printed lists were called, and while the rest of us were earnest to be admitted to the house, and while they were examining our credentials and deciding whether or not we should be received, Neal Dow had gone out of the Hall, and Gen. Carey had taken the Chair! The action of a part of the delegates who were in the house while the other part were shut out, was like to nothing that ever had occurred in the annals of parliamentary history. Those persons who came in afterward, asked what was the business before the house, and on being informed, moved that it be reconsidered. The President decided upon putting it to the house, that they had not voted in the affirmative, and would not reconsider. Gen. Samuel F. Carey is a man of firmness, and I could not but admire the firmness with which he presided, although I felt that his decisions were wrong. "Gentlemen," said he, "there can be no order when you are raising so many points of order; take your seats!" and they took their seats.

Previous to the adjournment, a question was raised about Wendell Phillips' credentials, and again next morning they raised it and decided it against him, so that he felt all further effort vain, and left the Hall. After this, there came up a multitude of resolutions, which were passed so rapidly that no one could get the opportunity of speaking to them. A resolution also written by Gen. Carey, was presented by him, as follows:

"Resolved, That the common usages have excluded women from the public platform," etc.

That resolution, amid great confusion, was declared as passed. Of course, then soon after, I left the Hall. I ought to say, in regard to Mr. Phillips' credentials, that they had been referred to a committee, who decided that he had not properly been sent to the Convention, for no reason in the world, but because the society who sent him, had been organized only the night before; while I know positively, and others knew, that there were societies organized one week before, for the very purpose of sending delegates to that Convention; which societies will never be heard of again, I fear. But the Neal Dow Association, of New York, exists yet. Their society shall not die; so good comes out of evil often.

A motion was also made by some one, as better justice to Mr. Phillips, to refer the credentials of all the delegates of Massachusetts to the Committee on Credentials, but for very obvious and prudent reasons, it was not suffered to have a moment's hearing or consideration. (Miss Brown here read a few additional lines from the same article, asserting that she was merely the tool of others, and thrust by them upon the platform; and charging all the disorder and disturbance of that Convention to herself and friends, etc.) I needed no thrusting upon the platform. I was able to rise and speak without urging or suggestion. And as to the disorder which prevailed throughout the Convention, who made that disorder? I said not a word to cause it, for they gave me no opportunity to say a word, and the other delegates with me, sat quietly. No mention is made in this paper that I had credentials. It is stated that throughout Ohio the impression is that I had none; and it is generally believed that I went there without proper credentials.[Pg 157]

One word more as to Mr. Carey. He says, "The negro question was not discussed as Greeley & Co. wished it to be. O Greeley, how art thou fallen!" These are Gen. Carey's words, not mine. Mr. Greeley has risen greatly in my estimation, and not fallen. A colored delegate[18] did take his credentials to the Convention, but he was not received. I saw him myself, and asked him what could be done about it. He folded up his hands and said it was too late. And this was a "World's Temperance Convention!"

And this paper says that the New York Tribune, which has usually been an accredited sheet, has most shamefully misrepresented the whole affair, and refers to what was said in the Tribune, as to what the Convention had accomplished: "The first day, crowding a woman from the platform; second day, gagging her; and the third day voting she should stay gagged;" and asserts that it is a misrepresentation.

The evenings of that Convention were not devoted to this discussion, and wore not noisy or fruitless. There were burning words spoken for temperance during the evenings; but whether the Tribune's report of the day-sessions be correct or not, you yourselves can be the judges. I must say, however, the Tribune did not misrepresent that affair in its regular report; and I call upon Gen. Carey, in all kindness and courtesy; to point out just what the misstatements are—and upon any one acquainted with the facts, to show the false statement, if it can be shown.

And now I leave the action of the Convention to say what were our motives in going there. From what I have related of the circumstances which conspired to induce us to go, and the manner of our going, you can but see that no absurd desire for notoriety, no coveting of such unenviable fame as we know must await us, were the inducements. And as a simple fact, there was nothing so very important in a feeble woman's going as a delegate to that Convention; but the fact was made an unpleasant one in the experience of that delegate, and was blown into notoriety by the unmanly action of that Convention itself. But what were our reasons for going to that Convention? Did we go there to forward the cause of Temperance or to forward the cause of woman, or what were our motives in going? Woman was pleading her own cause in the Convention at the Tabernacle, and she had no need that any should go there to forward her cause for her; and much as I love temperance, and love those poor sisters who suffer because of intemperance, it was not especially to plead their cause that I went there. I went to assert a principle, a principle relevant to the circumstances of the World's Convention to be sure, but one, at the same time, which, acknowledged, must forward all good causes, and, disregarded, must retard them. I went there, asking no favor as a woman, asking no special recognition of the woman-cause. I went there in behalf of the cause of humanity. I went there, asking the indorsement of no ism, and as the exponent of no measure, but as a simple item of the world in the name of the world, claiming that all the sons and daughters of the race should be received in that Convention, if they went there[Pg 158] with the proper credentials. I simply planted my feet upon the rights of a delegate. I asked for nothing more, and dare take nothing less. The principle which we were there to assert, was that which is the soul of the Golden Rule, the soul of that which says, "All things whatsoever ye would that men should do unto you, do ye even so unto them." I went there to see if they would be true to their own call, and recognize delegates without distinction of color, sex, creed, party, or condition; to see if they would recognize each member of the human family, as belonging to the human family; to see if they would grant the simple rights of a delegate to all delegates.

And do you ask, did this not retard the cause of Temperance? No; it carried it forward, as it carries every good cause forward. It awakened thought, and mankind need only to be aroused to thought, to forever destroy all wrong customs, and among them the rum traffic. They need only to think to the purpose, and when this shall be done, all good causes are bound to go forward together. Christianity is the heart and soul of them all, and those reforms which seek to elevate mankind and better their condition, cling around our Christianity, and are a part of it. They are like the cluster of grapes, all clinging about the central stem.

A wrong was done in that Convention to a delegate, and many people saw and felt that wrong, and they began to inquire for the cause of it; and so the causes of things were searched more nearly than before, and this was a good which promoted temperance. It is absurd to believe that any man or woman is any less a temperance man or woman, or a "Maine law" man or woman now, than before. If ever they loved that cause they love it now as before.

Water is the very symbol of democracy! a single jet of it in a tube will balance the whole ocean. We went there, only to claim in the name of Democracy and Christianity, that all be treated alike and impartially. The human soul is a holy thing; it is the temple of living joy or sorrow. It is freighted with vital realities. It can outlengthen Heaven itself, and it should be reverenced everywhere, and treated always as a holy thing. We only went there in the name of the world, in the name of humanity, to promote a good cause; and it is what I pledge myself now anew to do, at all times and under all circumstances, when the opportunity shall present itself to me. It was a good act, a Christian duty, to go there under those circumstances.

But let me now leave this matter, and say something which may have a direct bearing upon the circumstances of our Convention, and show why it is proper to bring up these facts here. Let us suppose ourselves gathered in Metropolitan Hall. It is a large hall, with two galleries around its sides. I could see men up there in checked blouses, who looked as though they might disturb a Convention, but they looked down upon the rowdyism of the platform, a thing unprecedented before, with simple expressions of wonder, while they were quiet. Well, here we are upon the platform. The President is speaking.

President: "Miss Brown has the floor."

A Delegate: "Mr. President, I rise to a point of order."

President: "State your point of order."

It is stated, but at the same time, in the general whirl and confusion all around, another voice from the floor exclaims: "I rise to a point of order!"

The President: "State it!"

But while these things are going on, a voice arises, "She sha'n't speak!"[Pg 159] another, "She sha'n't be heard!" another, "You raise a point of order when he is done, and I will raise another." In the confusion I hear something almost like swearing, but not swearing, for most of those men are "holy men," who do not think of swearing. The confusion continues. Most of this time I am standing, but presently a chair is presented me, and now a new class of comforters gathers around me, speaking smooth, consoling words in my ear while upon the other side are angry disputants, clinching their fists and growing red in the face. Are the former good Samaritans, pouring into my wounded heart the oil and the wine? Listen. "I know you are acting conscientiously; but now that you have made your protest, do, for your own sake, withdraw from this disgraceful scene."

"I can not withdraw," I say; "it is not now the time to withdraw; here is a principle at stake."

"Well, in what way can you better the cause? Do you feel you are doing any good?" Another voice chimes in with: "Do you love the Temperance cause? Can you continue here and see all this confusion prevailing around you? Why not withdraw, and then the Convention will be quiet;" and all this in most mournful, dolorous tones. I think if the man cries, I shall certainly cry too.

But then a new interval of quiet occurs, and so I rise to get the floor. I fancy myself in a melting mood enough to beg them, with prayers and tears, to be just and righteous; but no, "this kind goeth not out by prayer and fasting," and so I stand up again. Directly Rev. John Chambers points his finger at me, and calls aloud: "Shame on the woman! Shame on the woman!" Then I feel cool and calm enough again, and sit down until his anger has way. Again the "friends" gather around me, and there come more appeals to me, while the public ear is filled with "points of order"; and the two fall together, in a somewhat odd, but very pointed contrast, somewhere in the center of my brain. "Do you think," says one, "that Christ would have done so?" spoken with a somewhat negative emphasis. "I think He would," spoken with a positive emphasis. "Do you love peace as well as Christ loved it, and can you do thus?"

What answer I made I know not, but there came rushing over my soul the words of Christ: "I came not to send peace, but a sword." It seems almost to be spoken with an audible voice, and it sways the spirit more than all things else. I remember that Christ's doctrine was, "first pure, then peaceable;" that He, too, was persecuted. So are my doctrines good; they ask only for the simple rights of a delegate, only that which must be recognized as just, by the impartial Father of the human race, and by His holy Son. Then come these mock pleading tones again upon my ear, and instinctively I think of the Judas kiss, and I arise, turning away from them all, and feeling a power which may, perhaps, never come to me again. There were angry men confronting me, and I caught the flashing of defiant eyes; but above me, and within me, and all around me, there was a spirit stronger than they all. At that moment not the combined powers of earth and hell could have tempted me to do otherwise than to stand firm. Moral and physical cowardice were subdued, thanks to that Washington delegate for the sublime strength roused by his question: "Would Christ have done so?"

That stormy scene is passed; that memorable time when chivalrous men[Pg 160] forgot the deference, which according to their creed is due to woman, and forgot it as they publicly said, because a woman claimed a right upon the platform; and so they neither recognized her equality of rights, nor her conceded courtesy as a lady. This was neither just nor gallant, but to me it was vastly preferable to those appeals made to me as a lady—appeals which never would have been made to a man under the same circumstances; and which only served to show me the estimation in which they held womanhood. It reminded me of a remark which was made concerning the Brick Chapel meeting: "If you had spoken words of flattery, they would have done what you wanted."

Let the past be the past. "Let the dead bury their dead," contains truths we well may heed. Is God the impartial Father of humanity? Is He no respecter of persons? Is it true that there is known neither male nor female in Christ Jesus? In my heart of hearts, I believe it is all true. I believe it is the foundation of the Golden Rule. And now let me tell you in conclusion: if it be true, this truth shall steal into your souls like the accents of childhood; it shall come like a bright vision of hope to the desponding; it shall flash upon the incredulous; it shall twine like a chain of golden arguments about the reason of the skeptic.

Wm. Lloyd Garrison, having listened to the narration of the action of the World's Convention in New York, said: I rise to offer some resolutions by which the sense of this Convention may be obtained. I happened to be an eyewitness of these proceedings, and I bear witness to the accuracy of the account given us this evening by Miss Brown. I have seen many tumultuous meetings in my day, but I think on no occasion have I ever seen anything more disgraceful to our common humanity, than when Miss Brown attempted to speak upon the platform of the World's Temperance Convention in aid of the glorious cause which had brought that Convention together. It was an outbreak of passion, contempt, indignation, and every vile emotion of the soul, throwing into the shade almost everything coming from the vilest of the vile, that I have ever witnessed on any occasion or under any circumstances; venerable men, claiming to be holy men, the ambassadors of Jesus Christ, losing all self-respect and transforming themselves into the most unmannerly and violent spirits, merely on account of the sex of the individual who wished to address the assembly.

Miss Brown was asked while standing on the platform, "Do you love the temperance cause?" What could have been more insulting than such a question as that at that moment? What but the temperance cause had brought her to the Convention? Why had she been delegated to take her seat in that body except on the ground that she was a devoted friend of the temperance enterprise, and had an interest in every movement pertaining to the total abstinence cause? She had been delegated there by total abstinence societies because of her fitness as a temperance woman to advocate the temperance cause, so dear to the hearts of all those who love perishing humanity. Was it the love of the temperance cause that raised the outcry against her? or was it not simply contempt of woman, and an unwillingness that she should stand up anywhere to bear her testimony against popular wrongs and crimes, the curses of the race?

Miss Brown: Allow me to state one incident. A Doctor of Divinity was present at the meeting. His son and daughter-in-law stated to me the fact. "I said to my father, you had stormy times at the Convention to-day." "Yes,"[Pg 161] said the father, "stormy times." Said the son, "Why didn't you allow her to speak?" "Ah," said the Doctor, "it was the principle of the thing!" But it so happened that the son and daughter thought the principle a wrong one.

Mr. Garrison: Yes, it was the principle that was at stake. It was not simply the making of a speech at that Convention, by a woman. By her speaking something more was implied, for if woman could speak there and for that object, she might speak elsewhere for another object, and she might, peradventure, as my friend does, proceed to occupy a pulpit and settle over a congregation. In fact, there is no knowing where the precedent would lead; reminding me of the man who hesitated to leave off his profanity, because having left that off he should have to leave off drinking, and if he left off drinking he should have to leave off his tobacco and other vile habits. He liked symmetry of character, and so he was unwilling to take the first step toward reform.

The principle for which Miss Brown contended, was this: every society has a right to determine who shall represent it in convention. Invitation was given to the "whole world" to meet there in convention, to promote the cause of Temperance. Our friend needed no credentials under the call. It is true all societies were invited to send delegates, but in addition to that all the friends of Temperance throughout the world were expressly and earnestly invited to be present, and under that last express invitation she had a right to come in as an earnest friend of the cause, and take her seat in the Convention. When a body like that comes together, the principle is this, each delegate stands on the same footing as every other delegate, and no one delegate nor any number of delegates has a right to exclude any other delegate who has been sent there by any like society. Our friend had credentials from two societies, and thus was doubly armed; but she was put down by a most disgraceful minority of the Convention, who succeeded in carrying their point. In view of all this, I would present for the action of this Convention the following resolutions:

Whereas, a cordial invitation having been extended to all temperance societies and all the friends of temperance throughout the world, to meet personally or by delegates in a "World's Temperance Convention" in the city of New York, Sept. 6th and 7th, 1853;

And whereas, accepting this invitation in the spirit in which it was apparently given, the "South Butler Temperance Association," and the "Rochester Toronto Division of the Sons of Temperance," duly empowered the Rev. Antoinette L. Brown, to act in that Convention as their delegate, representative, and advocate.

And whereas, on presenting herself at the time specified, her credentials were received by the Committee on the roll of the Convention, but on rising to address the assembly (though declared by the President to be entitled to the floor, and although his decision was repeatedly sustained by a majority of the delegates) she was met with derisive outcries, insulting jeers, and the most rowdyish manifestations, by a shameless minority, led on by the Rev. John Chambers, of Philadelphia, and encouraged by Gen. Carey, of Ohio, and other professed friends of the temperance cause—so as to make it impossible for her to be heard, and thus virtually excluding her from the Convention in an ignominious manner, solely on account of her being a woman; therefore,

Resolved, That in the judgment of this Convention, the treatment received by the Rev. Antoinette L. Brown in the "World's Temperance Convention" (falsely so called) was in the highest degree disgraceful to that body, insulting to[Pg 162] the societies whose credentials she bore, worthy only of those who are filled with strong drink, and a scandal to the temperance movement.

Resolved, That the thanks of this Convention be given to Miss Brown, for having accepted the credentials so honorably proffered to her by the temperance societies aforesaid, and claiming a right, not as a woman, but as a duly authorized delegate, an eloquent and devoted advocate of the temperance enterprise, to a seat and voice in the "World's Temperance Convention;" and for the firm, dignified, and admirable manner in which she met the storm of opprobrium and insult which so furiously assailed her on her attempting to advocate the beneficent movement for the promotion of which the Convention was expressly called together.

Hon. Joshua R. Giddings: Ladies and gentlemen, although I had designed to take no active part in the proceedings, I can not avoid rising, to second that resolution. When I learned of the appointing of this Convention, it brought a thrill of joy to me. I had read the transactions to which the lady has made such feeling allusion. I had read and mourned over them, and I rejoiced that an opportunity was to be given to the people of Cleveland, and this Western Reserve, to tender their thanks to this Convention, which had been appointed to meet upon the shores of Lake Erie; and that they also might see what sort of a greeting the friends of the rights of woman would receive here. And I now rejoice at the hearty manner in which the Convention has proceeded. I rejoice at the treatment the Convention has received. Then I was about to say, the fogies of New York, if they could see and know all that they might see here, would not be like some spirits, whom Swedenborg says he saw in the other world. He found spirits who had been departed several years, who had not yet learned that they were dead. I think Rev. John Chambers would now look down and begin to suspect that he had departed.

My friends, I know not how the remarks of Miss Brown fell upon your ears. I can only say that they struck me with deep feelings of mortification, that at this noontide of the nineteenth century any human being, who can give her thoughts to an assembly in the eloquent manner in which she has spoken to us, has been treated as she was; and when this resolution of reproof by my friend from Massachusetts was presented, I resolved to rise and second it, and express myself willing that it be sent out in the report, that I most heartily concur in the expressions contained in these resolutions.

William L. Garrison: I wish to make one statement in regard to General Carey, to show that he does not himself act on consistent principles, in this matter. The last number of the Pennsylvania Freeman contains an account of a temperance gathering held in Kennett Square. That square is for that region the headquarters of Abolitionists, Liberals, Come-outers, and so forth. In that meeting women were appointed for Vice-Presidents and Secretaries with men, and there was a complete mixture throughout the committees without regard to sex; and who do you think were those who spoke on that occasion recognizing that woman was equal with man in that gathering? The first was G. W. Jackson, of Boston, who made himself very conspicuous in the exclusion of women from the "World's Convention"; second, Judge O'Neil, of South Carolina, who spoke at New York, and who was also very active in the efforts to exclude Miss Brown; last of all was General Carey, of Ohio; and three days afterward they wended their way to New York, and there conspired with others[Pg 163] to prevent a delegate from being admitted, on the ground of being a woman; showing that while at old Kennett they were willing to conform, finding it would be popular; in New York they joined in this brutal proscription of a woman, only because she was a woman.

Lucy Stone: I know it is time to take the question upon these resolutions, but I wish to say one word. When a world's convention of any kind is called—when the Rev. Drs. Chambers, Hewett, Marsh, and I don't know how many more, backed up by a part of those who were in that convention, are ready to ignore the existence of woman, it should show us something of the amount of labor we have to do, to teach the world even to know that we are a part of it; and when women tell us they don't want any more rights, I want them to know that they are held to have no right in any world's convention. I took up a book the other day, written by the Rev. Mr. Davis, in which he sketches the events of the last fifty years. He states that the Sandwich Islands at one time had one missionary at such a station; Mr. Green—and his wife! Then he went on to state another where there were nineteen, and—their wives! Now these are straws on the surface, but they indicate "which way the wind blows," and indicate, in some sense, the estimation in which woman is held. I mention these facts so that we may see something of the length of the way we must tread, before we shall even be recognized.

The reader will see from these debates the amount of prejudice, wickedness, and violence, woman was compelled to meet from all classes of men, especially the clergy, in those early days, and on the other hand the wisdom, courage, and mild self-assertion with which she fought her battle and conquered. There is not a man living who took part in that disgraceful row who would not gladly blot out that page in his personal history. But the few noble men—lawyers, statesmen, clergymen, philanthropists, poets, orators, philosophers—who have remained steadfast and loyal to woman through all her struggles for freedom—have been brave and generous enough to redeem their sex from the utter contempt and distrust of all womankind.


In 1855, October 17th and 18th, the people of Cincinnati, Ohio, were summoned to the consideration of the question of Woman's Rights. A brief report in the city journals, is all we can find of the proceedings. From these we learn that the meetings were held in Nixon's Hall, that some ladies wore bloomers, and some gentlemen shawls, that the audiences were large and enthusiastic, that the curiosity to see women who could make a speech was intense. Martha C. Wright, of Auburn, a sister of Lucretia Mott, was chosen President. On the platform sat Mrs. Mott, Hannah Tracy Cutler, Josephine S. Griffing, Mary S. Anthony, of Rochester, N. Y.; Ernestine[Pg 164] L. Rose, Adeline Swift, Joseph Barker, an Englishman, an ex-member of Parliament, Lucy Stone and her husband, Henry B. Blackwell, recently married. Mrs. Stone did not take her husband's name, because she believed a woman had a right to an individual existence, and an individual name to designate that existence.

After the election of officers,[19] the President stated the object of the Convention to be to secure equality with man in social, civil, and political rights. It was only seven years, she said, since this movement commenced, since our first Convention was called, in timidity and doubt of our own strength, our own capacity, our own powers; now, east, west, north, and even south, there were found advocates of woman's rights. The newspapers which ridiculed and slandered us at first, are beginning to give impartial accounts of our meetings. Newspapers do not lead, but follow public opinion; and doing so, they go through three stages in regard to reforms; they first ridicule them, then report them without comment, and at last openly advocate them. We seem to be still in the first stage on this question.

Mrs. Cutler said: "Let there be light, and there was light," "And many shall run to and fro, and knowledge shall be increased." This light, this increase of knowledge, we are seeking. Men have always applied the last text to themselves, and did not expect woman to run to and fro and increase in knowledge. They objected to her raising her voice on this platform in the pursuit or diffusion of knowledge; but when she is employed upon the stage to minister to everything that pollutes and degrades man, no voice was raised against it. It was but a few years ago that a French queen brought over with her to the British Isles, a male mantua-maker. It was not supposed then that woman was capable of fitting woman's clothes properly. She has since advanced to have the charge of man's wardrobe; and it will be right when the time comes, for man to take care of himself. Conservatism opposes this now; but I love conservatism; it is guarding our institutions until the new mother is prepared to take the charge.

I desire that marriage shall not be simply a domestic union as in early days, or a social one as it has now become, but a complete and perfect union, conferring equal rights on both parties. I desire light from the source of light. The question is frequently asked, "What more do these women want?" A lady in Cincinnati told me that she did not desire any change, for she thought we had now entirely the best of it; while the men toiled in their shops and offices, the women walked the streets splendidly dressed, or lounged at home with nothing to do but spend the money their husbands earned. I never understood the elevating effect of the elective franchise until I went to England, where so few enjoy it. I attended a political meeting during the canvass of Derby, as a reporter for three or four political papers in the United States. One of the candidates proposed to legislate for universal suffrage; his opponent[Pg 165] replied by showing the effect of it upon France, which he declared was the only country in which it existed. "You forget," exclaimed one, "America!" "America! never name her! a land of three millions of slaves." The multitude would not believe this; they shouted in derision, whenever the speaker attempted to resume. America was their last hope. If that country was given up to slavery, they could only despair. Party leaders rose and tried to calm them as Christ calmed the sea, but they could do nothing. "You are an American," said one near me; "get up and defend your country!" What could I say? I spoke, however, and pledged them that the stain of slavery should be wiped out.

Mr. Wise, of North Carolina, made a long and learned address, treating principally of geology and women. He claimed for woman more even than she for herself. He said: "Women are generally more competent to vote than their husbands, and sisters better fitted to be judges than their brothers, the mother more capable of wisely exercising the elective franchise than her booby son."

Lucy Stone said: The last speaker alluded to this movement as being that of a few disappointed women. From the first years to which my memory stretches, I have been a disappointed woman. When, with my brothers, I reached forth after the sources of knowledge, I was reproved with "It isn't fit for you; it doesn't belong to women." Then there was but one college in the world where women were admitted, and that was in Brazil. I would have found my way there, but by the time I was prepared to go, one was opened in the young State of Ohio—the first in the United States where women and negroes could enjoy opportunities with white men. I was disappointed when I came to seek a profession worthy an immortal being—every employment was closed to me, except those of the teacher, the seamstress, and the housekeeper. In education, in marriage, in religion, in everything, disappointment is the lot of woman. It shall be the business of my life to deepen this disappointment in every woman's heart until she bows down to it no longer. I wish that women, instead of being walking show-cases, instead of begging of their fathers and brothers the latest and gayest new bonnet, would ask of them their rights.

The question of Woman's Rights is a practical one. The notion has prevailed that it was only an ephemeral idea; that it was but women claiming the right to smoke cigars in the streets, and to frequent bar-rooms. Others have supposed it a question of comparative intellect; others still, of sphere. Too much has already been said and written about woman's sphere. Trace all the doctrines to their source and they will be found to have no basis except in the usages and prejudices of the age. This is seen in the fact that what is tolerated in woman in one country is not tolerated in another. In this country women may hold prayer-meetings, etc., but in Mohammedan countries it is written upon their mosques, "Women and dogs, and other impure animals, are not permitted to enter." Wendell Phillips says, "The best and greatest thing one is capable of doing, that is his sphere." I have confidence in the Father to believe that when He gives us the capacity to do anything He does not make a blunder. Leave women, then, to find their sphere. And do not tell us before we are born even, that our province is to cook dinners, darn stockings, and sew on buttons. We are told woman has all the rights she wants; and even women, I am ashamed to say, tell us so. They mistake the politeness of men for rights—seats while men stand in this hall to-night, and their adulations; but[Pg 166] these are mere courtesies. We want rights. The flour-merchant, the house-builder, and the postman charge us no less on account of our sex; but when we endeavor to earn money to pay all these, then, indeed, we find the difference. Man, if he have energy, may hew out for himself a path where no mortal has ever trod, held back by nothing but what is in himself; the world is all before him, where to choose; and we are glad for you, brothers, men, that it is so. But the same society that drives forth the young man, keeps woman at home—a dependent—working little cats on worsted, and little dogs on punctured paper; but if she goes heartily and bravely to give herself to some worthy purpose, she is out of her sphere and she loses caste. Women working in tailor-shops are paid one-third as much as men. Some one in Philadelphia has stated that women make fine shirts for twelve and a half cents apiece; that no woman can make more than nine a week, and the sum thus earned, after deducting rent, fuel, etc., leaves her just three and a half cents a day for bread. Is it a wonder that women are driven to prostitution? Female teachers in New York are paid fifty dollars a year, and for every such situation there are five hundred applicants. I know not what you believe of God, but I believe He gave yearnings and longings to be filled, and that He did not mean all our time should be devoted to feeding and clothing the body. The present condition of woman causes a horrible perversion of the marriage relation. It is asked of a lady, "Has she married well?" "Oh, yes, her husband is rich." Woman must marry for a home, and you men are the sufferers by this; for a woman who loathes you may marry you because you have the means to get money which she can not have. But when woman can enter the lists with you and make money for herself, she will marry you only for deep and earnest affection.

I am detaining you too long, many of you standing, that I ought to apologize, but women have been wronged so long that I may wrong you a little. (Applause). A woman undertook in Lowell to sell shoes to ladies. Men laughed at her, but in six years she has run them all out, and has a monopoly of the trade. Sarah Tyndale, whose husband was an importer of china, and died bankrupt, continued his business, paid off his debts, and has made a fortune and built the largest china warehouse in the world. (Mrs. Mott here corrected Lucy. Mrs. Tyndale has not the largest china warehouse, but the largest assortment of china in the world). Mrs. Tyndale, herself, drew the plan of her warehouse, and it is the best plan ever drawn. A laborer to whom the architect showed it, said: "Don't she know e'en as much as some men?" I have seen a woman at manual labor turning out chair-legs in a cabinet-shop, with a dress short enough not to drag in the shavings. I wish other women would imitate her in this. It made her hands harder and broader, it is true, but I think a hand with a dollar and a quarter a day in it, better than one with a crossed ninepence. The men in the shop didn't use tobacco, nor swear—they can't do those things where there are women, and we owe it to our brothers to go wherever they work to keep them decent. The widening of woman's sphere is to improve her lot. Let us do it, and if the world scoff, let it scoff—if it sneer, let it sneer—but we will go on emulating the example of the sisters Grimké and Abby Kelly. When they first lectured against slavery they were not listened to as respectfully as you listen to us. So the first female physician meets many difficulties, but to the next the path will be made easy.[Pg 167]

Lucretia Mott has been a preacher for years; her right to do so is not questioned among Friends. But when Antoinette Brown felt that she was commanded to preach, and to arrest the progress of thousands that were on the road to hell; why, when she applied for ordination they acted as though they had rather the whole world should go to hell, than that Antoinette Brown should be allowed to tell them how to keep out of it. She is now ordained over a parish in the State of New York, but when she meets on the Temperance platform the Rev. John Chambers, or your own Gen. Carey (applause) they greet her with hisses. Theodore Parker said: "The acorn that the school-boy carries in his pocket and the squirrel stows in his cheek, has in it the possibility of an oak, able to withstand, for ages, the cold winter and the driving blast." I have seen the acorn men and women, but never the perfect oak; all are but abortions. The young mother, when first the new-born babe nestles in her bosom, and a heretofore unknown love springs up in her heart, finds herself unprepared for this new relation in life, and she sends forth the child scarred and dwarfed by her own weakness and imbecility, as no stream can rise higher than its fountain.

We find no report of the speeches of Frances D. Gage, Lydia Ann Jenkins, Ernestine L. Rose, Euphemia Cochrane, of Michigan, nor J. Mitchell, of Missouri, editor of the St. Louis Intelligencer, nor of the presence of James Mott, whose services were always invaluable on the committees for business and resolutions.

In 1857, the Legislature of Ohio passed a bill enacting that no married man shall dispose of any personal property without having first obtained the consent of his wife; the wife being empowered in case of the violation of such act, to commence a civil suit in her own name for the recovery of said property; and also that any married woman whose husband shall desert her or neglect to provide for his family, shall be entitled to his wages and to those of her minor children. These amendments were warmly recommended by Gov. Salmon P. Chase in his annual message. The Select Committee[20] of the Senate on the petition asking the right of suffrage for woman, reported in favor of the proposed amendment, recommending the adoption of the following resolution:

Resolved, That the Judiciary Committee be instructed to report to the Senate a bill to submit to the qualified electors at the next election for Senators and Representatives an amendment to the Constitution, whereby the elective franchise shall be extended to the citizens of Ohio without distinction of sex.

But the bill was defeated in the Senate by a vote of 44 to 44. The petition had received 10,000 signatures. We give this able report in full.[21]

The proceedings of these early Conventions might be read with pride and satisfaction by the women of Ohio to-day, with all their[Pg 168] superior advantages of education. Frances D. Gage was a natural orator. Her wit and pathos always delighted her audiences, and were highly appreciated by those on the platform. Her off-hand speeches, ready for any occasion, were exactly complemented by J. Elizabeth Jones, whose carefully prepared essays on philosophy, law, and government, would do honor to any statesman. Together they were a great power in Ohio. From this time Conventions were held annually for several years, the friends of woman suffrage being thoroughly organized; J. Elizabeth Jones was made General Agent. In her report of May 16th, 1861, she says:

And through the earnest efforts of Mrs. Robinson, Mrs. Gage, Mrs. Wilson, Mrs. Tilden, and many others, the Legislature was petitioned from year to year for a redress of legal and political wrongs. At a later period, the indefatigable exertions of Mrs. Adeline T. Swift sustained the interest and the agitation in such portions of the State as she could reach. As the fruit of her labor, many thousands of names, pleading for equality, have been presented to the General Assembly, which labor has been continued to the present time.

Our last effort, of which I am now more particularly to speak, was commenced early in the season, by extensive correspondence to enlist sympathy and aid in behalf of petitions. As soon as we could get the public ear, several lecturing agents were secured, and they did most efficient service, both with tongue and with pen. One of these was Mrs. C. I. H. Nichols, of Kansas, formerly of Vermont; and perhaps no person was ever better qualified than she. Ever ready and ever faithful, in public and in private, and ever capable, too, whether discussing the condition of woman with the best informed members of the legal profession, or striving at the fireside of some indolent and ignorant sister, over whose best energies "death is creeping like an untimely frost," to waken in her heart a desire for that which is truly noble and good.

Of another of our agents—Mrs. Cutler, of Illinois—equally as much can be said of her qualifications and her efficiency. Having been very widely acquainted with the sorrowful experiences of women, both abroad and in our own country, which have been caused by their inferior position, and by legal disabilities; and lamenting, too, as only great and elevated natures can, the utter wreck of true, noble womanhood in the higher circles of society, a necessity is thus laid upon her to do all in her power to lift both classes into a freer, better life.

Mrs. Frances D. Gage, of Ohio, deeply interested herself in this question in the beginning, and has never failed in faithful testimony and timely word, to promote its success. Although not identified with us as an agent, yet we had her active co-operation during the campaign. Her editorial connection with the press, and her lectures on the West India Islands, gave her abundant opportunity, which she did not fail to embrace, of circulating petitions and advocating the cause to which she has so largely given her energies.

Besides the General Agent, whose time was divided between correspondence, lecturing, and the general details of the movement, there were other and most efficient workers, especially in canvassing for signatures. We are indebted to Mrs. Anne Ryder, of Cincinnati, for much labor in this direction; and also to[Pg 169] Mrs. Howard, of Columbus for similar service. Miss Olympia Brown, a graduate of Antioch College, canvassed several towns most successfully—adding thousands of names to the lists heretofore obtained. Equally zealous were women, and men also, in various sections of the State. By means of this hearty co-operation, both branches of the Legislature were flooded with Woman's Rights petitions during the first part of the session—a thousand and even two thousand names were presented at a time.

Our main object this year, as heretofore, has been to secure personal property and parental rights, never ignoring, however, the right to legislate for ourselves. We were fortunate in the commencement in enlisting some of the leading influences of the State in favor of the movement. Persons occupying the highest social and political position, very fully endorsed our claims to legal equality, and rendered valuable aid by public approval of the same. We took measures at an early period to obtain the assistance of the press; and by means of this auxiliary our work has been more fully recognized, and more generally appreciated than it could otherwise have been. Without exception, the leading journals of the State have treated our cause with consideration, and generously commended the efforts of its agents.

So numerous were the petitions, and so largely did they represent the best constituency of the State, that the committees in whose hands they were placed, felt that by all just parliamentary usage, they were entitled to a candid consideration. Accordingly they invited several of us who had been prominent, to defend our own cause in the Senate chamber, before their joint Committee and such of the General Assembly and of the public, as might choose to come and listen. From the reports of the numerous letter-writers who were present, I will place one extract only upon record.

"The Senate chamber was filled to overflowing to hear Mrs. Jones, Cutler, and Gage, and hundreds went away for want of a place to stand. Columbus has seldom seen so refined and intelligent an audience as that which gathered round those earnest women, who had none of the charm of youth or beauty to challenge admiration, but whose heads were already sprinkled with the frosts of life's winter. Earnest, truthful, womanly, richly cultivated by the experiences of practical life, those women, mothers, and two of them grandmothers, pleaded for the right of woman to the fruit of her own genius, labor, or skill, and for the mother her right to be the joint guardian of her own offspring. I wish I could give you even the faintest idea of the brilliancy of the scene, or the splendor of the triumph achieved over the legions of prejudice, the cohorts of injustice, and the old national guard of hoary conservatism. If the triumph of a prima donna is something to boast, what was the triumph of these toil-worn women, when not only the members of the Committee, but Senators and Members of the House, crowded around them with congratulations and assurances that their able and earnest arguments had fully prevailed, and the prayers of their petitioners must be granted."

The address of the first speaker was a written argument on legal rights. It was solicited by members of the General Assembly for publication, and distributed over the State at their expense.

The change in public sentiment, the marked favor with which our cause began to be regarded in the judicial and legislative departments, encouraged us to hope that if equal and exact justice were not established, which we could[Pg 170] hardly expect, we should at least obtain legal equality in many particulars. The Senate committee soon reported a bill, drafted by one of their number—Judge Key—and fully endorsed by all the judges of the Supreme Court, securing to the married woman the use of her real estate, and the avails of her own separate labor, together with such power to protect her property, and do business in her own name, as men possess. The last provision was stricken out and the bill thus amended passed both Houses, the Senate by a very large majority.

Although this secures to us property rights in a measure only, yet it is a great gain. He, who in abject bondage has striven with his fetters, rejoices to have the smallest amount of their weight removed. We have, therefore, reason to be grateful not only for the benefits we shall derive from this Act, but for the evidence of a growing sense of justice on the part of those who claim for themselves the exclusive right to legislate. Senator Parish had already prepared a Bill for Guardianship, and to change the Laws of Descent, that something more than a paltry dower should be secured to the widow in the common estate; but the press of business, and the sudden commencement of open hostilities between the North and South, precluded all possibility of further legislation in our behalf. While Judge Key has deservedly received universal thanks from the women of Ohio, for proposing and carrying through the Legislature the Property Bill, they are no less indebted to the Hon. Mr. Parish for his faithful defense of their cause, not only during the present session, but in years past. If all the Honorable Senators and Representatives who have given their influence in favor of it were to be mentioned, and all the faithful men and earnest women who have labored to promote it, the list would be long and distinguished.

J. Elizabeth Jones.

Thus, in a measure, were the civil rights of the women of Ohio secured. Some of those who were influential in winning this modicum of justice have already passed away; some, enfeebled by age, are incapable of active work; others are seeking in many latitudes that rest so necessary in the declining years of life.

The question naturally suggests itself, where are the young women of Ohio, who will take up this noble cause and carry it to its final triumph? They are reaping on all sides the benefits achieved for them by others, and they in turn, by earnest efforts for the enfranchisement of woman, should do what they can to broaden the lives of the next generation.

In Ohio, as elsewhere, the great conflict between the North and South turned the thoughts of women from the consideration of their own rights, to the life of the nation. Many of them spent their last days and waning powers in the military hospitals and sanitariums, ministering to sick and dying soldiers; others at a later period in the service of the freedmen, guiding them in their labors, and instructing them in their schools; all alike forgetting that justice to woman was a more important step in national safety than freedom or franchise to any race of men.


[14] Years before the calling of this Convention, Mrs. Frances D. Gage had roused much thought in Ohio by voice and pen. She was a long time in correspondence with Harriet Martineau and Mrs. Jane Knight, who was energetically working for reduced postage rates, even before the days of Rowland Hill.

[15] See Appendix.

[16] Said to have been written by J. Elizabeth Jones.

[17] My notoriety as an Abolitionist made it very difficult for me to reach people at home, and, consequently, I had to work through press and social circle; women dared not speak then. But the seed was sown far and wide, now bearing fruit.

[18] James McCune Smith.

[19] See Appendix.

[20] J. D. Cattell and H. Canfield.

[21] See Appendix.

[Pg 171]



Vermont: Editor Windham County Democrat—Property Laws, 1847 and 1849—Addressed the Legislature on school suffrage, 1852.

Wisconsin: Woman's State Temperance Society—Lydia F. Fowler in company—Opposition of Clergy—"Woman's Rights" wouldn't do—Advertised "Men's Rights."

Kansas: Free State Emigration, 1854—Gov. Robinson and Senator Pomeroy—Woman's Rights speeches on Steamboat, and at Lawrence—Constitutional Convention, 1859—State Woman Suffrage Association—John O. Wattles, President—Aid from the Francis Jackson Fund—Canvassing the State—School Suffrage gained.

Missouri: Lecturing at St. Joseph, 1858, on Col. Scott's invitation—Westport and the John Brown raid, 1859—St. Louis, 1854—Frances D. Gage, Rev. Wm. G. Eliot, and Rev. Mr. Weaver.

In gathering up these individual memories of the past, we feel there will be an added interest in the fact that we shall thus have a subjective, as well as an objective view of this grand movement for woman's enfranchisement. To our older readers, who have known the actors in these scenes, they will come like the far-off whispers of by-gone friends; to younger ones who will never see the faces of the noble band of women who took the initiative in this struggle, it will be almost as pleasant as a personal introduction, to have them speak for themselves; each in her own peculiar style recount the experiences of those eventful years. As but few remain to tell the story, and each life has made a channel of its own, there will be no danger of wearying the reader with much repetition.

To Clarina Howard Nichols the women of Kansas are indebted for many civil rights they have as yet been too apathetic to exercise.

Her personal presence in the Constitutional Convention of 1859, secured for the women of that State liberal property rights, equal guardianship of their children, and the right to vote on all school questions. She is a large-hearted, brave, faithful woman, and her life speaks for itself. Her experiences are indeed the history of all that was done in the above-mentioned States.


I was born in Townshend, Windham County, Vermont, January 25, 1810.

From 1843 to 1853 inclusive, I edited The Windham County[Pg 172] Democrat, published by my husband, Geo. W. Nichols, at Brattleboro.

Early in 1847, I addressed to the voters of the State a series of editorials setting forth the injustice and miserable economy of the property disabilities of married women. In October of the same year, Hon. Larkin Mead, of Brattleboro, "moved," as he said, "by Mrs. Nichols' presentation of the subject" in the Democrat, introduced in the Vermont Senate a bill securing to the wife real and personal property, with its use, and power to defend, convey, and devise as if "sole." The bill as passed, secured to the wife real estate owned by her at marriage, or acquired by gift, devise, or inheritance during marriage, with the rents, issues, and profits, as against any debts of the husband; but to make a sale or conveyance of either her realty or its use valid, it must be the joint act of husband and wife. She might by last will and testament dispose of her lands, tenements, hereditaments, and any interest therein descendable to her heirs, as if "sole." A subsequent Legislature added to the latter clause, moneys, notes, bonds, and other assets, accruing from sale or use of real estate. And this was the first breath of a legal civil existence to Vermont wives.

In 1849, Vermont enacted a Homestead law. In 1850, a bill empowering the wife to insure, in her own interest, the life, or a term of the life of her husband; the annual premium on such insurance not to exceed $300; also an act giving to widows of childless husbands the whole of an estate not exceeding $1,000 in value, and half of any amount in excess of $1,000; and if he left no kin, the whole estate, however large, became the property of the widow. Prior to this Act, the widow of a childless husband had only half, however small the estate, and if he left no kindred to claim it, the remaining half went into the treasury of the State, whose gain was the town's loss, if, as occasionally happened, the widow's half was not sufficient for her support.[22]

In 1852, I drew up a petition signed by more than 200 of the most substantial business men, including the staunchest conservatives, and tax-paying widows of Brattleboro, asking the Legislature to make the women of the State voters in district school meetings.

Up to 1850 I had not taken position for suffrage, but instead of[Pg 173] disclaiming its advocacy as improper, I had, since 1849, shown the absurdity of regarding suffrage as unwomanly. Having failed to secure her legal rights by reason of her disfranchisement, a woman must look to the ballot for self-protection. In this cautious way I proceeded, aware that not a house would be opened to me, did I demand the suffrage before convicting men of legal robbery, through woman's inability to defend herself.

The petition was referred to the Educational Committee of the House, whose chairman, editor of the Rutland Herald, was a bitter opponent, and I felt that he would, in his report, lampoon "Woman's Rights" and their most prominent advocates, thus sending his poison into all the towns ignorant of our objects, and strengthening the already repellant prejudices of the leading women at the capital. I wrote to Judge Thompson, editor of the Green Mountain Freeman (a recent accession to the press of the State and friendly to our cause), what I feared, and asked him to plead before the Committee and interest influential members to protect woman's cause against abuse before the House. He counseled with leading members of the three political parties—Whig, Free-Soil, and Democrat—including the Speaker of the House, and they advised, as the best course, that "Mrs. Nichols come to Montpelier, and they would invite her, by a handsome vote, to speak to her petition before the House." "When," added Judge T., "you can use your privilege to present the whole subject of Woman's Rights. Come, and I will stick by you like a brother." I went. The resolution of invitation was adopted with a single dissenting vote, and that from the Chairman of the Educational Committee, who unwittingly made the vote unanimous by the unfortunate exclamation, "If the lady wants to make herself ridiculous, let her come and make herself as ridiculous as possible and as soon as possible, but I don't believe in this scramble for the breeches!"

In concluding my plea before the House (in which I had cited the statutes and decisions of courts, showing that the husband owned even the wife's clothing), I thanked the House for its resolution, and referred to the concluding remark of the Chairman of the Educational Committee, and said that though I "had earned the dress I wore, my husband owned it—not of his own will, but by a law adopted by bachelors and other women's husbands," and added: "I will not appeal to the gallantry of this House, but to its manliness, if such a taunt does not come with an ill grace from gentlemen who have legislated our skirts into their possession? And will it not be quite time enough for them to taunt us with being[Pg 174] after their wardrobes, when they shall have restored to us the legal right to our own?"

With a bow I turned from the Speaker's stand, when the profound hush of as fine an audience as earnest woman ever addressed, was broken by the muffled thunder of stamping feet, and the low, deep hum of pent-up feeling loosed suddenly from restraint. A crowd of ladies from the galleries, who had come only at the urgent personal appeal of Judge Thompson, who had spent the day calling from house to house, and who a few months before had utterly failed to persuade them to attend a course of physiological lectures from Mrs. Mariana Johnson, on account of her having once presided over a Woman's Rights Convention, these women met me at the foot of the Speaker's desk, exclaiming with earnest expressions of sympathy: "We did not know before what Woman's Rights were, Mrs. Nichols, but we are for Woman's Rights."

Said Mrs. Thompson to me upon our return to her home: "I broke out in a cold perspiration when your voice failed and you leaned your head on your hand."[23] "I thought you were going to fail," continued Mrs. Thompson. "Yes," said the Judge, "I was very doubtful how it would come out when I saw how sensitive Mrs. Nichols was. But," (turning to me), "you have had a complete triumph! That final expression of your audience was perfect. Mr. Herald with his outside recruits did not come forward with the suit of male attire at the close, as he had advertised he would, (I did not tell Mrs. N. this, my dear," said the Judge.) "He'll catch it now, in the House and out." And he did "catch it."

The effort brought me no reproach, no ridicule from any quarter, but instead, cordial recognition and delicate sympathy from unexpected quarters, and even from those who had heard but the report of persons present. The editorial criticism of the Chairman of the Educational Committee, paid me the high compliment of saying, that "in spite of her efforts Mrs. Nichols could not unsex herself; even her voice was full of womanly pathos." The report of the Committee was adverse to my petition, but not disrespectful. Though the petition failed, the favorable impression created was regarded as a great triumph for woman's rights.[Pg 175]

From the time I spoke at the Worcester Convention, 1850, until I left for Kansas, October, 1854, I responded to frequent calls from town and neighborhood committees and lyceums—in the county and adjoining territory of New Hampshire and Massachusetts as well as Vermont, to lecture or join in debate with men and women, the women voting me their time, on the subject of woman's legal and political equality. In these neighborhood lyceums, ministers and deacons and their wives and daughters took part. Generally wives were appointed in opposition to their husbands, and from their rich and varied experience did excellent execution. In order to secure opposition, I used to let the negative open and close, other wise the debate was sure to be tame or no debate at all. In all my experience it was the same; the "affirmative" had the merit and the argument.

The clergy often spoke—always when present—and in the negative, if it was their first hearing; and without a single exception they faced the audience at the close with a cordial endorsement of the cause. Said one such: "I told you, ladies and gentlemen, that I had given little attention to the subject, and you see that I told the truth. Mrs. Nichols has made out her case, and let her and the women laboring like her, persevere, and woman will gain her rights." "Let your wife go all she can," said one of these converts to Mr. Nichols, "she is breaking down prejudices and making friends for your paper. Your political opponents have represented her as a masculine brawler for rights, and those who have never met her know no better. I went to hear her, full of misgivings that it might be so."

In the winter of 1852 I went as often as twice a week—late p.m. and returned early a.m.—from six to twenty miles. I was sent for where there was no railroad. I often heard of "ready-made pants," and once of a "rail," but the greater the opposition, the greater the victory.

On a clear, cold morning of January, 1852, I found myself some six miles from home at a station on the Vermont side of the Massachusetts State line, on my way to Templeton, Mass., whither I had been invited by a Lyceum Committee to lecture upon the subject of "Woman's Rights." I had scarcely settled myself in the rear of the saloon for a restful, careless two hours' ride, when two men entered the car. In the younger man I recognized the sheriff of our county. Having given a searching glance around the ear, the older man, with a significant nod to his companion, laid his hand upon the saloon door an instant, and every person in the car had risen to his feet,[Pg 176] electrified by the wail of a "Rachel mourning for her children." "O, father! she's my child! she's my child!" I reached the door, which was guarded by the sheriff, in a condition of mental exaltation (or concentration), which to this day reflects itself at the recollection of that agonizing cry of the beautiful young mother, set upon by the myrmidons of the law whose base inhumanity shames the brute! "Who is it?" "What is it?" "What does it all mean?" were the anxious queries put up on all sides. I answered: "It means, my friends, that a woman has no legal right to her own babies; that the law-makers of this Christian country (!) have given the custody of the babies to the father, drunken or sober, and he may send the sheriff—as in this case—to arrest and rob her of her little ones! You have heard sneers at 'Woman's Rights.' This is one of the rights—a mother's right to the care and custody of her helpless little ones!"

From that excited crowd—all young men and grown boys, I being the only woman among them—rose thick and fast—"They've no business with the woman's babies!" "Pitch 'em overboard!" "I'll help." "Good for you; so'll I!" "All aboard." (The conductor had come upon the scene). "All aboard." "Wait a minute till he gets the other child," cries the old man, rushing out of the saloon with a little three-year-old girl in his arms, while the sheriff rushed in. Standing behind the old man, I beckoned to the conductor, who knew me, to "go on," and in five minutes we were across the Massachusetts line, and I was in the saloon. With his hand on her child, the sheriff was urging the mother to let go her hold. "Hold on to your baby," I cried, "he has no right to take it from you, and is liable to fine and imprisonment for attempting it. Tell me, Mr. C——, are you helping the other party as a favor, or in your official capacity? In the latter case you might have taken her child in Vermont, but we are in Massachusetts now, quite out of your sheriff's beat." "The grandfather made legal custodian by the father, was he? That would do in Vermont, sir, but under the recent decision of a Massachusetts Court, given in a case like this, only the father can take the child from its mother, and in attempting it you have made yourselves liable to fine and imprisonment." Thus the "sheriffalty" was extinguished, and mother and child took their seat beside me in the car.

Meantime the conductor had made the old gentleman understand that they could get off at the next station, where they might take the "up train," and get back to their "team" on the Vermont side of the "line." As they could get no carriage at the bare little[Pg 177] station, and with the encumbrance of the child, could not foot it six miles in the cold and snow, they must wait some three or four hours for the train, which suggested the possibility of a rescue. I could not stop over a train, but I could take the baby along with me, if some one could be found—The conductor calls. The car stops. As the child robbers step out (the little girl, clutched in the old grandfather's arms) 'mid the frantic cries of the mother and the execrations of the passengers, two middle-aged gentlemen of fine matter-of-fact presence, entered. I at once met their questioning faces with a hurried statement of facts, and the need of some intelligent, humane gentleman to aid the young mother in the recovery of her little girl. Having spoken together aside, the younger man introduced "Dr. B——, who lives in the next town, where papers can be made out, and a sheriff be sent back to bring the men and child; the lady can go with the doctor, and the baby with Mrs. Nichols. I would stop, but I must be in my seat in the Legislature." "I have no money, only my ticket to take me to my friends," exclaimed the anxious mother. "I will take care of that," said the good doctor; "you won't need any." "They will have to pay," I whispered....

I gave my lecture at Templeton to a fine audience; accepted an invitation to return and give a second on the same subject, and having left the dear little toddler happy and amply protected, at noon next day found myself back at Orange, where I had left the mother. Here the conductor, who by previous arrangement, left a note from me telling her where to go for her baby, reported that the party had been brought to Orange for trial, spent the night in care of the sheriff, and were released on giving up the little girl and paying a handsome sum of the needful to the mother. He had scarcely ended his report when the pair entered the car, like myself, homeward bound. The old gentleman, care-worn and anxious, probably thinking of his team left standing at the Vermont station, looked straight ahead, but the kind-hearted sheriff caught my eye and smiled. In my happiness I could not do otherwise than give smile for smile.

Arrived at home, I found the affair, reported by the conductor of the evening train, had created quite an excitement, sympathy being decidedly with the mother. I was credited with being privy to the escapade and the pursuit, and as having gone purposely to the rescue. Had this been true, I could not have managed it better, for a good Providence went with me. I received several memorial "hanks" of yarn, with messages from the donors that "they[Pg 178] would keep me in knitting-work while preaching woman's rights on the railroad"—a reference to my practice of knitting on the cars, and the report that I gave a lecture on the occasion to my audience there.

And thus was the seed of woman's educational, industrial, and political rights sown in Vermont, through infinite labor, but in the faith and perseverance which bring their courage to all workers for the right.


In September and October, 1853, I traveled 900 miles in Wisconsin, as agent of the Woman's State Temperance Society, speaking in forty-three towns to audiences estimated at 30,000 in the aggregate, people coming in their own conveyances from five to twenty miles. I went to Wisconsin under an engagement to labor as agent of the State Temperance League, an organization composed of both sexes and officered by leading temperance men—at the earnest and repeated solicitations of its delegates whom I met at the "Whole World's Temperance Convention," held in New York City in September, and who were commissioned by the League to employ speakers to canvass the State; the object being to procure the enactment of a "Maine Law" by the next Legislature. These delegates had counseled, among others, with Horace Greeley, who advised my employment, curiosity to hear a woman promising to call out larger audiences and more votes for temperance candidates in the pending election.

I, at first, declined to make the engagement, on the ground that I could not be spared from my newspaper duties; but to escape further importunity, finally consented to "ask my husband at home," and report at New York, where one of the gentlemen would await my answer, and myself, if I decided to accept their proposition. My husband's cheerful, "Go, wife, you will be doing just the work you love, and enjoying a journey which you have not means otherwise to undertake," and a notice from Mrs. Lydia F. Fowler, that she would join us in the trip with a view to arranging for physiological lectures at eligible points in the State, decided me to go. Mrs. F.'s company was not only a social acquisition, but a happy insurance against pot-house witlings on the alert to impale upon the world's dread laugh, any woman who, to accomplish some public good, should venture for a space to cut loose from the marital "buttons" and go out into the world alone!

In making the engagement, I had taken it for granted, that the[Pg 179] right and propriety of woman's public advocacy of temperance was a settled question in the field to which I was invited. But arrived at Milwaukee, I found that the popular prejudice against women as public speakers, and especially the advocacy of Woman's Rights, with which I had for years been identified, had been stirred to its most disgusting depths by a reverend gentleman who had preceded us, and who had for years been a salaried "agent at large," of the New York State Temperance Society. A highly respectable minority of the Executive Committee of the League endorsed the action of their delegation, but were overruled by a numerical majority, and I found myself in the position of agent "at large," while the reverend traducer secured his engagement in my place.

This turn of affairs, embarrassing at first, proved in the end providential—a timely clearance for a more congenial craft—since the women of the State had organized a Woman's State Temperance Society, and advertised a Convention to meet the following week at Delavan, the populous shire town of Walworth County, fifty miles distant in the interior. Thither the friendly Leaguers proposed to take us. Meantime it was arranged that Mrs. F. and I should address the citizens of Milwaukee. A capacious church was engaged for Sabbath evening, from which hundreds went away unable to get in. But neither clergyman nor layman could be found willing to commit himself by opening the services; and with "head uncovered," in a church in which it was "a shame for a woman to speak," I rested my burden with the dear Father, as only burdens are rested with Him, in conscious unity of purpose.

Mrs. F. addressed the audience on the physiological effects of alcoholic drinks. I followed, quoting from the prophecy of King Lemuel, that "his mother taught him," Proverbs xxxi., verses 4, 5, 8, 9, "Open thy mouth for the dumb; in the cause of all such as are appointed to destruction. Open thy mouth, judge righteously and plead the cause of the poor and needy." The spirit moved audience and speaker. We forgot ourselves; forgot everything but "the poor and needy," the drunkard's wife and children "appointed to destruction" through license laws and alienated civil rights.

At Delavan we met a body of earnest men and women, indignant at the action of the Executive Committee of the League, to which many of them had contributed funds for the campaign, and ready to assume the responsibility of my engagement, and the expenses of Mrs. F., who in following out her original plan, generously consented to precede my lectures with a brief physiological dissertation apropos to the object of the canvass. The burden of the[Pg 180] speaking, as planned, rested with me, provided my hitherto untested physical ability proved equal, as it did, to the daily effort.

In counsel with Mrs. R. Ostrander, President of the Society, and her sister officials, women of character and intelligence, I could explain, as I could not have done to any body of equally worthy men, that in justice to ourselves, to them, and to the cause we had at heart, we must make the canvass in a spirit and in conditions above reproach. "I can not come down from my work," said Miss Lyon, founder of Mount Holyoke Female Seminary, when importuned to rebut some baseless scandal. To fight our way would be to mar the spirit and effect of our work. We must place the opposition at a disadvantage from the first; then we could afford to ignore it altogether and rise to a level with the humane issues of the campaign. It was accordingly arranged that the friends should make appointments and secure us suitable escort to neighboring towns; and to distant and less accessible points a gentleman was engaged to take us in a private carriage,—his wife, a woman of rare talent and fine culture, to accompany us. A programme which was advertised in the local papers and happily carried out.

From Delavan we returned to Milwaukee to perfect our arrangements. From thence our next move was to Waukesha, the shire town of Waukesha County, twenty miles by rail, to a Temperance meeting advertised for "speaking and the transaction of business." The meeting was held in the Congregational church, the pastor acting as chairman. The real business of the meeting was soon disposed of, and then was enacted the most amusing farce it was ever my lot to witness. The chairman and his deacon led off in a long-drawn debate on sundry matters of no importance, and of less interest to the audience, members of which attempted in vain, by motions and votes, to cut it short. When it had become sufficiently apparent that the gentlemen were "talking against time" to prevent speaking, there were calls for speakers. The chairman replied that it was a "business meeting, but Rev. Mr. ——, from Illinois, would lecture in the evening." Several gentlemen rose to protest. One said he "had walked seven miles that his wife and daughters might ride, to hear the ladies speak." Another had "ridden horseback twelve miles to hear them." A storm was impending; the chairman was prepared; he declared the meeting adjourned and with his deacon left the house.

There was a hurried consultation in the ante-room, which resulted in an urgent request for "Mrs. Nichols to remain and speak in the evening." The speaker noticed for the evening, joined heartily in[Pg 181] the request; "half an hour was all the time he wanted." But when the evening came, he insisted that I should speak first, and when I should have given way for him, assured me that he "had made arrangements to speak the next evening," and joined in the "go on, go on!" of the audience. So it was decided that I should remain over the Sabbath, and Mrs. F. return with the friends to Milwaukee.

Meantime it had transpired that in the audience were several Vermonters from a settlement of fourteen families from the vicinity of my home; among them a lady from my native town; we had been girls together. "We know all about Mrs. N.," said one. "We take the Tribune, and friends at home send us her paper." So the good Father had sent vouchers for His agent at large. But this was not all. I had a pleasant reserve for the evening. I had recognized in the deacon, a friend from whom I had parted twenty-one years before in Western New York. In the generous confidence of youthful enthusiasm we had enlisted in the cold-water army; together pledged ourselves to fight the liquor interest to the death. And here my old friend, whose début on the Temperance platform I had aided and cheered, had talked a full hour to prevent me from being heard! Was I indignant? Was I grieved? Nay! It was not a personal matter. Time's graver had made us strange to each other. His name and voice had revealed him to me; but the name I bore was not that by which he had known me. Besides, I remembered that twenty-one years before, I could not have been persuaded to hear a woman speak on any public occasion, and I had nothing to forgive,—my friend had only stood still where I had left him. Such, suppressing his name, was the story I told my audience on that evening. And with his puzzled and kindly face intently regarding me, I assured my hearers that I had not a doubt of his whole-souled and manly support in my present work. Nor was I disappointed.

Next morning, (Sabbath) I listened to a scholarly sermon on infidel issues and innovations from the chairman of the "business meeting" of the previous afternoon, he having stayed away from my lecture to prepare it. In the evening, after the temperance lecture of my Illinois friend, I improved the opportunity of a call from the audience, the Rev. Chairman being present, to meet certain points of the sermon, personal to myself and the advocates of rights for women, closing with a brief confession of my faith in Christ's rule of love and duty as impressing every human being into the service of a common humanity—the right to serve being commensurate with the obligation, as of God and not of man.[Pg 182]

One week later, another business meeting was held in the same house, and in its published proceedings was a resolution introduced by the Rev. Chairman, endorsing Mrs. Nichols, and inviting her "to be present and speak" at a County Convention appointed for a subsequent day. Not long after he sent me, through a brother clergyman, an apology that would have disarmed resentment, had I felt any, toward a man who, having opposed me without discourtesy and retracted by a published resolution, was yet not satisfied without tendering a private apology.

I had achieved a grateful success; license to "plead the cause of the poor and needy," where, how to do so, without offending old-time ideas of woman's sphere, had seemed to the women under whose direction I had taken the field, the real question at issue. In consideration of existing prejudices, they had suggested the prudence of silence on the subject of Woman's Rights. And here, on the very threshold of the campaign, I had been compelled to vindicate my right to speak for woman; as a woman, to speak for her from any stand-point of life to which nature, custom, or law had assigned her. I had no choice, no hope of success, but in presenting her case as it stood before God and my own soul. To neither could I turn traitor, and do the work, or satisfy the aspirations of a true and loving woman.

For more than a quarter of a century earnest men had spoken, and failed to secure justice to the poor and needy, "appointed to destruction" by the liquor traffic. They had failed because they had denied woman's right to help them, and taken from her the means to help herself. In speaking for woman, I must be heard from a domestic level of legal pauperism disenchanted of all political prestige. In appealing to the powers that be, I must appeal from sovereigns drunk to sovereigns sober,—with eight chances in ten that the decision would be controlled by sovereigns drunk.

To impress the paramount claim of women to a no-license law, without laying bare the legal and political disabilities that make them "the greatest sufferers," the helpless victims of the liquor traffic, was impossible. It would have been stupidly unwise to withhold what with a majority of voters is the weightier consideration, that in alienating from women their earnings, governments impose upon community taxes for the support of the paupered children of drunken fathers, whose mothers would joyfully support and train them for usefulness; and who, as a rule, have done so when by the death or divorce of the husband they have regained the control of their earnings and the custody of their children. Thus proving, that[Pg 183] man, by his disabling laws, has made woman helpless and dependent, and not God, who has endowed her with capabilities equal to the responsibilities He has imposed.

Worse than unwise would it have been to allow an unjust prejudice against Woman's Rights, to turn the edge of my appeals for a law in the interest of temperance, when by showing the connection, as of cause and effect, between men's rights and women's wrongs, between women's no-rights and their helplessness and dependence, I could disarm that prejudice and win an intelligent support for both temperance and equal rights. On such a showing I based my appeals to the noble men and women of Wisconsin. I assured my audiences, that I had not come to talk to them of "Woman's Rights," that indeed I did not find that women had any rights in the matter, but to "suffer and be still; to die and give no sign." But I had come to them to speak of man's rights and woman's needs.

From the Lake Shore cities, from the inland villages, the shire towns, and the mining communities of the Mississippi, whose churches, court-houses, and halls, with two or three exceptions, could not hold the audiences, much less seat them; the responses were hearty, and when outspoken, curiously alike in language as well as sentiment on the subject of rights. "I like Mrs. Nichols' idea of talking man's rights; the result will be woman's rights," said a gentleman rising in his place in the audience at the close of one of my lectures. On another occasion, "Let Mrs. Nichols go on talking men's rights and we'll have women's rights." "Mrs. Nichols has made me ashamed of myself—ashamed of my sex! I didn't know we had been so mean to the women," was the outspoken conclusion of a man who had lived honored and respected, his threescore years and ten. This reaction from the curiosity and doubt which everywhere met us in the expressive faces of the people, often reminded me of an incident in my Vermont labors for a Maine law.

In accepting an invitation to address an audience of ladies in the aristocratic old town of C——, in an adjoining county, I had suggested, that as it was votes we needed, I would prefer to address an audience of both sexes. Arrived at C——, I found that the ladies of the committee, having acted upon my suggestion, were intensely anxious as to the result. "An audience," they said, "could not be collected to listen to woman's rights; the people were sensitive even to the innovation of a mixed audience for a woman, and they felt that I ought to be informed of the facts." And I felt in every nerve, that they were suffering from fear lest I should fail to vindicate the womanliness of our joint venture. But the people came, a[Pg 184] church, full; intelligent, expectant, and curious to hear a woman. The resident clergyman, of my own faith, declined to be present and open with prayer. A resident Universalist clergyman present, declined to pray. A young Methodist licentiate in the audience, not feeling at liberty to decline, tried. His ideas stumbled; his words hitched, and when he prayed: "Bless thy serv—a'hem—thy handmaid, and a'hem—and let all things be done decently and in order;" we in the committee pew felt as relieved as did the young Timothy when he had achieved his amen!

Utterly unnerved by the anxious faces of my committee, I turned to my audience with only the inspiration of homes devastated and families paupered, to sustain me in a desperate exhibit of the need and the "determination of women, impelled by the mother-love that shrinks neither from fire or flood, to rescue their loved ones from the fires and floods of the liquor traffic, though to do so they must make their way through every platform and pulpit in the land!" "Thank God!" exclaimed the licentiate on my right. "Amen!" emphasized the chairman oh my left. My committee were radiant. My audience had accepted woman's rights in her wrongs; and I —— only woman's recording angel can tell the sensations of a disfranchised woman when her "declaration of intentions" is endorsed by an Anti-Woman's Rights audience with fervent thanks to God!

Latter-day laborers can have little idea of the trials of the early worker, driven by the stress of right and duty against popular prejudices, to which her own training and early habits of thought have made her painfully sensitive. St. Paul, our patron saint, I think had just come through such a trial of his nerves when he wrote: "The spirit is willing, but the flesh is weak." The memory of the beautiful scenery, the charming Indian summer skies, the restful companionship of our family party in the daily drive, and the generous hospitality of the people of Wisconsin, is one of the pleasantest of a life, as full of sweet memories as of trials, amid and through which they have clung to me with a saving grace.

The Temperance majority in the ensuing election, so far as influenced by canvassing agents, was due to the combined efforts of all who labored for it, and of these it was my good fortune to meet a younger brother of William H. and O. C. Burleigh, who from his man's stand-point of precedents and statistics did excellent service.

The law enacted by the Legislature securing to the wives of drunkards their earnings and the custody and earnings of their minor children, I think I may claim as a result of appeals from the[Pg 185] home stand-point of woman's sphere. As a financial measure diverting the supplies and lessening the profits of the liquor traffic, this law is a civil service reform of no mean promise for the abatement of pauper and criminal taxes. In a plea of counsel for defendant in a case of wife-beating to which I once listened, said the gentlemanly attorney: "If Patrick will let the bottle alone"—"Please, your honor," broke in the weeping wife, "if you will stop Misthur Kelly from filling it."


In October, 1854, with my two eldest sons, I joined a company of two hundred and twenty-five men, women, and children, emigrants from the East to Kansas. In our passage up the Missouri River I gave two lectures by invitation of a committee of emigrants and Captain Choteau and brother, owners of the boat. A pious M.D. was terribly shocked at the prospect, and hurried his young wife to bed, but returned to the cabin himself in good time to hear. As the position was quite central, and I wished to be heard distinctly by the crowd which occupied all the standing room around the cabin, I took my stand opposite the Doctor's berth. Next morning, poor man! his wife was an outspoken advocate of woman's rights. The next evening she punched his ribs vigorously, at every point made for suffrage, which was the subject of my second lecture.

The 1st of November, 1854—a day never to be forgotten—heaven and earth clasped hands in silent benedictions on that band of immigrants, some on foot, some on horseback, women and children, seventy-five in number, with the company's baggage, in ox-carts and wagons drawn by the fat, the broken-down, and the indifferent "hacks" of wondering, scowling Missouri, scattered all along the prairie road from Kansas City to Lawrence, the Mecca of their pilgrimage.

In advance of all these, at 11 o'clock a.m., Mrs. H—— and myself were sitting in front of the Lawrence office of the New England Emigrant Aid Company, in the covered wagon of Hon. S. C. Pomeroy, who had brought us from Kansas City, and entered the office to announce the arrival of our company; when a hilarious explosion of several voices assured us that good lungs as well as brave hearts were within. Directly Col. P. and Dr. (Governor) Robinson came out. "Did you hear the cheering?" asked the Doctor. "I did, and was thinking when you came out, what a popular man the Colonel must be to call forth such a greeting!" "But the cheers were for Mrs. Nichols," was the reply; and the Doctor proceeded to tell us that, "the boys" had been hotly discussing women's rights, when[Pg 186] one of their advocates who had heard her lecture, expressed a wish that his opponents could hear Antoinette Brown on the subject; a second wished they could hear Susan B. Anthony; and a third wished they could hear Mrs. Nichols. On the heels of these wishes, the announcement of Colonel Pomeroy, that "Mrs. Nichols was at the door," was the signal for triumphant cheering. "The boys" wanted a lecture in the evening. The Doctor said: "No; Mrs. Nichols is tired. To-morrow the thatching of the church will be completed, and she can dedicate the building."

Thus truths sown broadcast among the stereotyped beliefs and prejudices of the old and populous communities of the East, had wrought a genial welcome for myself and the advocacy of woman's cause on the disputed soil of Kansas. But, alas! for the "stony ground." One of "the boys" didn't stay to the "dedication." He had "come to Kansas to get away from the women," and left at once for Leavenworth. I wonder if the Judge—he is that now, and a benedict—remembers? I still regret that lost opportunity for making his acquaintance.

At Lawrence, the objective point of all the Free State immigration, where I spent six weeks in assisting my sons to make a home for the winter, I mingled freely with the incoming population, and gave several lectures to audiences of from two to three hundred, the entire population coming together at the ringing of the city dinnerbell. I returned to Vermont early in January, 1855, and in April following, with two hundred and fifty emigrants (my husband and younger son accompanying me), rejoined my other sons in the vicinity of Baldwin City, where we took claims and commenced homes. I presented the whole subject of Woman's Rights on the boats in going and returning, as at first, by invitation. In the summer of 1855, delegates were elected to a Constitutional Convention, which later convened at Topeka. Governor Robinson, who with six other delegates voted for the exclusion of the word "male" from qualification for elector, sent me an invitation to attend its sessions, speak before it for woman's equality, and they would vote me a secretary's or clerk's position in the Convention. My husband's fatal illness prevented me from going.

In January, 1856, I returned from Kansas to Vermont, widowed and broken in health, to attend to matters connected with my husband's estate. Prevented by the ruffian blockade of the Missouri from returning as intended, I spent some time in the summer and all of the autumn of 1856 and January, 1857, lecturing upon Kansas, the character and significance of its political involvements, its promise[Pg 187] and importance as a free or slave State, and its claims to an efficient support in the interest of freedom. In September, being appealed to by the "Kansas National Aid Committee," at the instance of Horace Greeley, I engaged for two months in a canvass of Western New York, lecturing and procuring the appointment of committees of women to collect supplies for the suffering people of Kansas; my two oldest sons, C. H. and A. O. Carpenter being among its armed defenders, the latter having been wounded in the fight between the invaders under Captain Pate and the forces under John Brown and Captain S. Shores, at Black Jack.

Between May, 1856, and February, 1857 (not counting my engagement with the Aid Committee), I gave some fifty Kansas lectures in the States of Vermont, New Hampshire, Massachusetts, Connecticut, Pennsylvania, and New York, followed occasionally by one or two lectures on the legal and political disabilities of women; receiving more invitations on both subjects than I could possibly fill.

My experiences in these semi-political labors were often racy, never unsatisfactory. In a public conveyance one day, an honest old Pennsylvania farmer asked if I was "the lady who made an appointment to speak in his place on Kansas, and did not come?" I replied that I had filled all the appointments made for me with my knowledge; that I made a point of keeping my promises. "I believe you, ma'am," said he. "I suspicioned then it was jest a republican trick. You see, ma'am, our folks all are dimocrats and wouldn't turn out to hear the republican speakers; so they appointed a meeting for you and everybody turned out, for we'd hearn of your lectures. But instid of you, General D—— and Lawyer C—— came, and we were mad enough. I was madder, 'cause I'd opened my house, seein' as it was the largest and most convenient in the neighborhood."

Occasionally I stumbled on a loose segment of woman's sphere, even among the friends of "free Kansas." In a populous Vermont village, at a meeting called for the purpose, a committee was appointed to invite me to speak, composed of the two clergymen of the village and Judge S——. Reverend W—— excused himself from the service on the ground of "conscientious scruples as to the propriety of women speaking in public." Judge S——, a man who for a quarter of a century had, by a racy combination of wit and logic, maintained his ground against the foes of temperance and freedom, with inimitable gravity thanked the audience for the honor conferred on him; adding, "I have no conscientious scruples about getting desirable information wherever I can find it."[Pg 188]

In Sinclairville, Chautauque County, New York, where I arrived late, in consequence of a railroad accident, I found a crowded church. A gentleman introduced to me as "Mr. Bull" was sitting at a table in the extreme front corner of the spacious platform, recording the names and advance payments of a class in music, which, as I had been told outside, was being organized by a gentleman who had arrived with the news of my probable detention.

During the next half hour gentlemen rose at three several times and requested Mr. B—— to "postpone the class business till the close of the lecture: that people had come from a distance to hear the lecture, and were anxious to return home, the night being dark and rainy." "I will be through soon. I like to finish a thing when I begin." "There'll be time enough," were the several replies, given in a tone and with an emphasis that suggested to my mind a doubt of the speaker's sympathy with my subject. When the clock pointed to eight, I quietly took my seat in the desk and was smoothing my page of notes when there fell on my astonished ear—"I was about to introduce the lady speaker, but she has suddenly disappeared." Stepping forward, I said, "Excuse me, sir; as the hour is very late I took my place to be in readiness when you should be through with your class." "Madam, you will speak on this platform." "I noticed, sir, that I could not see my audience from the platform, also that the desk was lighted for me." "Madam, you can't speak in that pulpit!" "This is very strange. Will you give me your reasons?" "It's none of your business!" "Indeed, sir, I do not understand it. Will you give me your authority?" "It's my pulpit, and if you speak in this house to-night you speak from this platform!" "Excuse me, sir; I mistook you for the music-teacher, who, as I was told, was organizing a class in music." And stepping quickly to the platform to restore the equanimity of the house, I remarked, as indicating my position, that my self-respect admonished me to be the lady always, no matter how ungentlemanly the treatment I might receive; that the cause of humanity, the cause of suffering Kansas was above all personal considerations, and proceeded with my lecture.

At the close, Mr. B—— arose and said: "I owe this audience an apology for my ungentlemanly language to Mrs. Nichols. I am aware that I shall get into the public prints, and I wish to set myself right." A gentleman in the audience rose and moved, "that we excuse the Rev. R. B—— for his ungentlemanly language to Mrs. Nichols to-night, on the score of his ignorance." The motion was seconded with emphasis by a man of venerable presence.[Pg 189] "Friends," I appealed, "this is a personal matter; it gives me no concern. It will affect neither me nor my work. Please name suitable women for the committee of relief which I am here to ask." Business being concluded, I turned to Mr. B——, who was shut in with me by a press of sympathizing friends, and expressed my regret, that he should have said anything to place him under the necessity of apologizing, adding, "but I hope in future you will remember the words of Solomon: 'Greater is he that controlleth his own spirit, than he that taketh a city.' Good-night, sir." I learned that a few months before he had prevented his people from inviting Antoinette Brown to speak to them on Temperance, by declaring that "he would never set his foot in a pulpit that had been occupied by a woman." When three weeks later I heard of his dismissal from his charge in S——, I could appreciate the remark of his brother clergyman in a neighboring town, to whom I related the incident, that "Brother B—— is rather given to hooking with those horns of his, but he's in hot water now."

In the winter and spring of 1856, I had, by invitation of its editor, written a series of articles on the subject of woman's legal disabilities, preparatory to a plea for political equality, for the columns of the Kansas Herald of Freedom, the last number of which went down with the "form" and press of the office to the bottom of the Kansas river, when the Border ruffians sacked Lawrence in 1856.

In March, 1857, I again returned to Kansas, and with my daughter and youngest son, made a permanent home in Wyandotte County.

The Constitution was adopted in November, 1859, by popular vote. In January, 1860, Kansas having been admitted to the Union, the first State Legislature met at Topeka, the capital of the new State. I attended its sessions, as I had those of the Convention, and addressed both in behalf of justice for the women of the State, as delegate of the Kansas Woman's Rights Association. This Association was formed in the spring of 1859 with special reference to the Convention which had already been called to meet in the July following, in the city of Wyandotte.

The Association—if I recollect aright—numbered some twenty-five earnest men and women of the John Brown type, living in Moneka, Linn County; John O. Wattles, President; Susan Wattles, Secretary. Wendell Phillips, treasurer of the Francis Jackson Woman's Rights Fund, guaranteed payment of expenses, and the Association sent me, with limited hopes and unstinted blessings, to canvass the principal settlements in the Territory, obtain names to petitions and represent them—if allowed by courtesy of the Convention—in[Pg 190] behalf of equal civil and political rights for the women of the State to be organized. I was appealed to as the only woman in the Territory who had experience and could take the field, which was I believe true.

We had no material for Conventions, and the population was so sparse, distances so great, and means of conveyance and communication so slow and uncertain, that I felt sure an attempt at Conventions would be disastrous, only betraying the weakness of our reserves, for I must have done most, if not all the speaking.

It was the policy of the Republicans to "keep shady," as a party. John Wattles came to Wyandotte before I addressed the Convention, counseled with members, and reported to me that "I didn't need him, that it was better that no man appear in it."

After spending some four weeks in the field, I went to the Convention, and with a very dear friend, Mrs. Lucy B. Armstrong, of Wyandotte, was given a permanent seat beside the chaplain, Rev. Mr. Davis, Presiding Elder of the Methodist Episcopal Church of the District, which I occupied till the adjournment of the Convention, laboring to develop an active and corresponding interest in outsiders as well as members, until my petitions had been acted upon and the provisions finally passed; purposely late in the session.

Having at the commencement, only two known friends of our cause among the delegates to rely upon for its advocacy, against the compact opposition of the sixteen Democratic members, and the bitter prejudices of several of the strongest Republicans, including the first Chief Justice of the new State and its present unreconstructed Senator Ingalls, an early report upon our petitions would have been utter defeat. Persistent "button-holing" of the delegates, any "unwomanly obtrusiveness" of manners, a vague apprehension of which, at that period of our movement, was associated in the minds of even good men and women, with the advocacy of the cause, was the "big-'fraid" followed by more than one "little 'fraid," that made my course one of anxiety, less only than my faith in the ultimate adoption of the provisions named.

Of political suffrage I had, as I confidentially told my friends of the Association, no hope, and for the very reason given me later by members of the Convention who consented to school suffrage; viz: "even if endorsed by popular vote, such a provision would probably defeat admission to the Union." None the less, however, was the necessity for disarming the prejudices and impressing upon delegates and citizens the justice of the demand for political enfranchisement.[Pg 191]

Fortunately, the hospitable tea-table of Mrs. Armstrong, with whom I was domiciled for the session, offered abundant womanly opportunity for conference and discussion with delegates; and in the homes of leading citizens I met a hearty sympathy which I can never forget.

During a recess of the Convention, a friendly member introduced me to Governor Medary, as "the lady who, by vote of the Convention, will speak here this evening in behalf of equal Constitutional rights for the women of Kansas." "But, Mrs. Nichols, you would not have women go down into the muddy pool of politics?" asked the Governor. "Even so, Governor, I admit that you know best how muddy that pool is, but you remember the Bethesda of old; how the angel had to go in and trouble the waters before the sick could be healed. So I would have the angels trouble this muddy pool that it may be well with the people; for you know, Governor Medary, that this people is very sick. But here is a petition to which I am adding names as I find opportunity; will you place your name on the roll of honor?" "Not now, Madam, not now. I will sign the bill." And the Governor, quite unconscious of his mistake, with a smile and a bow, hurried away amid the good-natured raillery of the little circle that had gathered around us. But it was Governor Robinson, the life-long friend of woman and a free humanity, that had the pleasure of "signing the bills."

In compliance with the earnest request of delegates, supported by the action of the Association, I labored from the adjournment of the Convention till the vote on the adoption of the Constitution, to "remove the prejudices"—as the delegates expressed it—"of their constituents, against the Woman's Rights provisions" of that document. The death of Mr. Wattles on the eve of the campaign sent me alone into the lecture field. For with the exception of Hon. Charles Robinson, our first State Governor, and always an outspoken friend of our cause, the politicians in the field either ignored or ridiculed the idea of women being entitled under the school provision to vote.

At Bloomington, when I had presented its merits in contrast with existing legal provisions, a venerable man in the audience rose and remarked that the Hon. James H. Lane, in addressing them a few days before, denied that the provision regarding Common Schools meant anything more than equal educational privileges, and that the Courts would so decide. That it would never do to allow women to vote, for only vile women would go to the polls. And now, added the old gentleman, "I would like to hear what Mrs. Nichols[Pg 192] has to say on this point?" Taking counsel only of my indignation, I replied: "Mrs. Nichols has to say, that vile men who seek out vile women elsewhere, may better meet them at the polls under the eyes of good men and good women:" and dropped into my seat 'mid a perfect storm of applause, in which women joined as heartily as men.

Policy restrained the few Republican members who had voted against the provisions[24] from open opposition, and the more that everywhere Democrats, whom I appealed to as "friends in political disguise," treated me with marked courtesy; often contributing to my expenses. One such remarked, "There, Mrs. Nichols, is a Democratic half-dollar; I like your Woman's Rights."

At Troy, Don. Co., sitting behind the closed shutters of an open window, I heard outside a debate between Republicans and Democrats. One of the latter, an ex-Secretary of the Territory, at one time acting Governor, and a member of the Constitutional Convention, who had dwelt much on the superior prerogatives of the Anglo-Saxon race, was saying, "You go for political equality with the negro; we Democrats won't stand that, it would demoralize the white man." On my way to lecture in the evening, a friend forewarned me that the ex-Secretary, with two or three of his political stripe, had engaged a shrewd Democratic lawyer, by getting him half drunk, to reply to me. So when in my concluding appeal I turned as usual to the Democrats, I narrated the above incident and bowed smilingly to the ex-Secretary, with whom I was acquainted, and said, "Gentlemen who turn up their 'Anglo-Saxon' noses at the idea of 'political equality with the negro,' as demoralizing to the white man, forget that in all these years the white woman has been 'on a political equality with the negro'; they forget, that in keeping their own mothers, wives and daughters in the negro pew, to save them from demoralization by political equality with the white man, they are paying themselves a sorry compliment." The drunken lawyer was quietly hustled out by his friends, the Democrats themselves joining the audience in expressions of respect at the close of my lecture. But[Pg 193] these from hundreds of telling incidents must suffice to initiate you in the spirit of that ever memorable campaign.

Clarina Howard Nichols (with autograph).

In 1854, when I was about leaving Vermont for Kansas, an earnest friend of our cause protested that I was "going to bury myself in Kansas, just as I had won an influence and awakened a public sentiment that assured the success of our demand for equal rights." I replied that it was a thousand times more difficult to procure the repeal of unjust laws in an old State, than the adoption of just laws in the organization of a new State. That I could accomplish more for woman, even the women of the old States, and with less effort, in the new State of Kansas, than I could in conservative old Vermont, whose prejudices were so much stronger than its convictions, that justice to women must stand a criminal trial in every Court of the State to win, and then pay the costs.

My husband went to Kansas for a milder climate; my sons to make homes under conditions better suited than the old States to their tastes and means. I went to work for a Government of "equality, liberty, fraternity," in the State to be.

I had learned from my experience with the legal fraternity, that as a profession they were dead-weights on our demands, and the reason why. When pressed to logical conclusions, which they were always quick to see, and in fair proportion to admit, were in our favor, they almost invariably retreated under the plea that the reforms we asked "being fundamental, would destroy the harmony of the statutes!" And I had come to the conclusion that it would cost more time and effort to disrupt the woman's "disabilities" attachment from the legal and political harmonicons of the old States, than it would to secure vantage ground for legal and political equality in the new. I believed then and believe now that Woman Suffrage would have received a majority vote in Kansas if it could have been submitted unembarrassed by the possibility of its being made a pretext for keeping Kansas out of the Union. And but for Judge Kingman, I believe it would have received the vote of a majority in convention. He played upon the old harmonicon, "organic law," and "the harmony of the statutes."

My pleas before the Constitutional Convention and the people, were for equal legal and political rights for women. In detail I asked:

1st. Equal educational rights and privileges in all the schools and institutions of learning fostered or controlled by the State.

2d. An equal right in all matters pertaining to the organization and conduct of the Common Schools.[Pg 194]

3d. Recognition of the mother's equal right with the father to the control and custody of their mutual offspring.

4th. Protection in person, property, and earnings for married women and widows the same as for men.

The first three were fully granted. In the final reading. Kingman changed the wording of the fourth, so as to leave the Legislature a chance to preserve the infamous common law right to personal services. There were too many old lawyers in the Convention. The Democracy had four or five who pulled with Kingman, or he with them against us. Not a Democrat put his name to the Constitution when adopted.

The debate published in the Wyandotte Gazette of July 13, 1859, on granting Mrs. Nichols a hearing in the Constitutional Convention, and the Committee's report on the Woman's Petition, furnishes a page of history of which some of the actors, at least, will have no reason to read with special pride.


The Committee on the Judiciary, to whom in connection with the Committee on Franchise was referred the petition of sundry citizens of Kansas, "protesting against any constitutional distinctions based on difference of sex," have had the same under consideration, and beg leave to make the following report:

Your Committee concede the point in the petition upon which the right is claimed, that "the women of the State have individually an evident common interest with its men in the protection of life, liberty, property, and intellectual culture, and are not disposed to deny, that sex involves greater and more complex responsibilities, but the Committee are compelled to dissent from conclusion of petition; they think the rights of women are safe in present hands. The proof that they are so is found in the growing disposition on the part of different Legislatures to extend and protect their rights of property, and in the enlightened and progressive spirit of the age which acts gently, but efficiently upon the legislation of the day. Such rights as are natural are now enjoyed as fully by women as men. Such rights and duties as are merely political they should be relieved from, that they may have more time to attend to those greater and more complicated responsibilities which petitioners claim, and which your Committee admit devolves upon woman.

All of which is respectfully submitted.

Sam. A. Kingman, Geo. H. Lillie, P. S. Parks, John P. Slough,
Sam. A. Stinson, John F. Burns, J. D. Greer, G. Blunt, Ben. Wrigley.


In the spring of 1858, having arranged my home affairs, I set about the prosecution of a plan for widening the area of woman's work and influence on the Missouri border. Separated only by the[Pg 195] steam-plowed river from my Kansas home, Missouri towns and hamlets lay invitingly before me. For more than three years I had held my opportunity in reserve. The time to improve it seemed to have come.

When our company landed at Kansas City, October, 1854, members of a Missouri delegation opposed to the Free State emigration to that Territory met us. More than half the company that preceded ours had been turned back by their representations without a look at the territory. As our boat touched the landing, Col. Scott, of St. Joseph, stepped on board, and commenced questioning Hon. E. M. Thurston, of Maine, who, as Committee of Arrangements for the transfer of the company's baggage, excused himself, and turning to me, added: "Here, sir, is a lady who can give you the information you desire—Mrs. Nichols, editor of the Windham County Democrat." In accepting the introduction, I caught the surprised and quizzical survey of a pair of keen, black eyes, culminating in an unmistakable expression of humorous anticipation; and, certain that my interviewer was intelligent and a gentleman, I resolved to follow his lead in kind. "Madam," he inquired, "can you tell me where all these people are from, and where they are going?" They are from the New England States, and are going to Kansas. "And what are they going to do in Kansas?" Make homes and surround themselves with the institutions, social and political, to which they are accustomed. "But, madam, they can't make homes on the Kansas prairies with free labor; it is impossible!"

Why, sir, our ancestors felled the primitive forests and cleared the ground to grow their bread, but Kansas prairies are ready for the plow; their rank grasses invite the flocks and herds. Do you know what a country we come from? did you never hear how in New Hampshire and Vermont the sheeps' noses have to be sharpened, so that they can pluck the spires of grass from between the rocks?

With a humorous, give-it-up sort of laugh, he remarked, abruptly: "You are an editor; do you ever lecture?" Sometimes I do. "On what subjects?" Education, Temperance, Woman's Rights—"Oh, woman's rights! Will you go to St. Joseph and lecture on woman's rights? Our people are all anxious to hear on that subject." Why, sir, I am an Abolitionist, and they would tar and feather me! "You don't say anything about slavery in your woman's rights' lectures, do you?" No, sir; I never mix things.

After a sharp, but good natured tilt on the slavery question, the Colonel returned to the lecture, about which he was so evidently in[Pg 196] earnest—guaranteeing "a fine audience, courteous treatment, and ample compensation"; that I gave a promise to visit St. Joseph on my return if there should be time before the closing of navigation, a promise I was prevented from fulfilling. And now after three years, in which the emigrants had made homes and secured them against the aggressions of the slave power, I wrote him that if the people of St. Joseph still wished to hear, and it pleased him to renew his guarantees of aid and protection, I was at leisure to lecture on woman's rights. His reply was prompt; his assurances hearty. I had "only to name the time," and I would find everything in readiness. That the truce-like courtesy of the compact between us may be appreciated, I copy a postscript appended to his letter and a postscript in reply added to my note of appointment; with the explanation, that in our Kansas City interview, the Colonel had declared the negro incapable of education, and that emancipation would result in amalgamation.

Postscript No. 1.—Have you tried your experiment of education on any little nigger yet?          J. S.

Postscript No. 2.—No, I have not tried my educational experiment, for the reason that the horrid amalgamationists preceded us, and so bleached the "niggers" that I have not been able to find a pure-blood specimen.          C. I. H. N.

The subject of slavery was not again mentioned between us. And when we shook hands in the cabin of the steamer at parting, he remarked, with a manly frankness in grateful contrast with the covert contempt felt, rather than expressed, in his previous courtesies, that he thought it proper I should know, that my audiences, composed of the most intelligent and respectable people of St. Joseph, were pleased with my lectures. One of its most eminent citizens had said to him, that he "had not thought of the subject in the light presented, but he really could see no objection to women voting."

Only one lecture had been proposed. By a vote of my audience I gave a second, and had reason to feel that I had effectually broken ground in Missouri; that I had not only won a respectful consideration for woman's cause and its advocacy, but improved my opportunity to vindicate New England training, in face of Southern prejudices. One little episode, as rich in its significance, as in the inspiration it communicated, will serve to round out my St. Joseph experience.

In introducing me to my audience, the Colonel—remembering, perhaps, that I did not "mix things," or feeling that he might trust[Pg 197] my consciousness of being cornered on the slavery question—remarked in a vein of courteously concealed irony: "It looks very strange to us for a lady to speak in public, but we must remember that in the section of country from which this lady comes, the necessity of self-support bears equally upon women, and crowds them out of domestic life into vocations more congenial to the sterner sex. Happily our domestic institutions, by relieving women of the necessity to labor, protect them in the sacred privacy of home."

In his ignorance of the subject, my friend had unwittingly resined the bow. In bringing his "domestic institution" to the front, he had so "mixed things," that in my showing of the legal disabilities of women, of the no-right of the white wife and mother to herself, her children, and her earnings, my audience could not fail to appreciate the anomalous character of a "protection" so pathetically suggestive of the legal level of the slave woman, to which man, in his greed of wealth and power, had "crowded" both.

Some months later, at the breakfast-table of a Missouri River steamer, a gentleman of St. Joseph recognized me, and reported my lectures to ex-Governor Rollins, who was also on board, and asked an introduction. After a long and pleasant discussion with the Governor, who entered at once upon the subject, in its legal, political, and educational aspects, it was agreed that I should lecture at my earliest convenience in several of the principal towns of the State, the capital included; the Governor himself proposing to communicate with influential citizens to make the necessary arrangements.

An early compliance with my promise was prevented by the Kansas movement for a constitutional convention; my connection with which left me no leisure till late in the autumn, when I commenced my proposed lecture course in Missouri by an appointment at Westport, by arrangement of a gentleman of that place, whose acquaintance I had made in my Kansas campaign. Arrived at the Westport hotel, where my entertainment had been bespoken, I was taken by the landlady to her own cosy sitting-room, and made pleasantly at home. Later in the day I became aware of considerable excitement in the bar-room and street of the town. The landlord held several hurried consultations with his wife in the ante-room. My dinner was served in the private room, it "being more pleasant," my hostess said, "than eating at the public table with a lot of strange men." An hour after time, the gentleman who was to call for myself and the landlady, announced an assembly of a "dozen rude boys," and that[Pg 198] in consequence of the news of John Brown's raid at Harper's Ferry (of which I had not before heard), the excitement was such that he could not persuade the ladies to come out. With some hesitation he added, that it "had even been suggested that I might be an emissary or accomplice, in what was suspected to be a general and preconcerted abolition movement." This explained the questionings of my hostess, and the provision against any possible rudeness which I might have received from the "strange men" at the public table. Thus ended my projected campaign in Missouri. For every city and hamlet in the State was so haunted by the marching spirit of the Kansas hero, that to have suggested a lecture on any subject from a known Abolitionist, would have ruined the political prospects of even an ex-Governor.

Three years later, assisted by a former resident of Kansas, I lectured to a very small, but respectful audience in Kansas City; and in the spring of 1867 was invited by a committee of ladies to lecture at a Fair of the Congregational Society of that city, with accompanying assurances from the pastor and his wife, of their confidence in the salutary influence of such a lecture, on a community which had been recently treated to an unfriendly presentation of the woman's rights movement and its advocates. I was too ill at the time to leave home, but the difference between my anxious efforts three years before to be heard, and this more than cordial assurance of a waiting audience, was a happy tonic. It was from persons who knew me only through my advocacy of woman's equality, and evidenced the progress of our cause.

In December, 1854, on my return from Kansas to Vermont, I spent several days in St. Louis, in the pleasant family of my friend, Mrs. Frances D. Gage, who, very much to my regret, was away in Illinois. The Judge having recently removed to the city, the family were comparatively strangers; Abolitionists in a pro-slavery community. Mrs. Gage, I think, had broken ground for temperance, but they could tell me of no friends to woman's rights. Rev. Mr. Elliot was not then one of us, as I learned through a son of Mrs. Gage, who called on him in my behalf for the use of his lecture-room. I felt instinctively that, unfettered by home and business interests, I was less constrained than my friend, and resolved, if possible, to win a hearing for woman. Having secured a hall, I called at the business office of a gentleman of wealth and high social position—a slave-holder and opposed to free Kansas, with whom I had formed a speaking acquaintance in Brattleboro'—and procured from him a voucher for my respectability. Armed with this I[Pg 199] called on the editors of the Republican (pro-slavery), and secured a paid notice of my lecture. The editor of the Democrat, who had an interest in free Kansas, and was glad of news items from its immigrants, received me cordially, and gave the "lady lecturer" a handsome "personal," though he had no more interest in my subject than either of the other gentlemen, and gave me little encouragement of an audience. Nevertheless, when the evening came, I met an audience intelligent and respectful, and larger than I had ventured to expect, but not numerous enough to warrant the venture of a second lecture in the expensive hall, which from the refusal of church lecture-rooms, I had been obliged to occupy. But here, as often before and after, a good Providence interposed. Rev. Mr. Weaver, Universalist, claimed recognition as "a reader in his boyhood of Mrs. Nichols' paper"—his father was a patron of the Windham County Democrat—and tendered the use of his church for further lectures. I had found a friend of the cause. The result was a full house, and hearty appeals for "more."

As isolated, historical facts, how very trivial all these "reminiscences" appear! How egotistical the pen that presumes upon anything like a popular interest in their perusal! But to the social and political reformer, as to the Kanes and Livingstons, trifles teach the relations of things, and indicate the methods and courses of action that result in world-wide good or evil. Seeds carried by the winds and waves plant forests and beautify the waste places of the earth. Truths that flowed from the silent nib of my pen in Vermont, had been garnered in a boy's sympathies to yield me a man's welcome and aid in St. Louis. How clear the lesson, that for seed-sowing, all seasons belong to God's truth!

The autumn and winter of 1860-61 I spent in Wisconsin and Ohio; in Wisconsin, visiting friends and lecturing. In Ohio, Mrs. Frances D. Gage, Mrs. Hannah Tracy Cutler, and myself were employed under direction of Mrs. Elizabeth Jones, of Salem, to canvass the State, lecturing and procuring names to petitions to the Legislature for equal legal and political rights for the women of the State. The time chosen for this work was inopportune for immediate success—the opening scenes of the rebellion alike absorbing the attention of the people and their Legislature. Women in goodly numbers came out to hear, but men of all classes waited in the streets, or congregated in public places to hear the news and discuss the political situation.

From December, 1863, to March, 1866, I was in Washington, D. C., writing in the Military or Revenue Departments, or occupying[Pg 200] the position of Matron in the Home for Colored Orphans, which had been opened in the second year of the rebellion, by the help of the Government and the untiring energy of a few noble women intent on saving the helpless waifs of slavery cast by thousands upon the bare sands of military freedom.

In the autumn of 1867, the Legislature of Kansas having submitted to the voters of the State a woman suffrage amendment to its Constitution, I gave some four weeks to the canvass, which was engaged in by some of the ablest friends of the cause from other States, among them Lucy Stone, Rev. Olympia Brown, Elizabeth Cady Stanton, and Susan B. Anthony. In our own State, among others, Governor Robinson, John Ritchie, and S. N. Wood of the old Free State Guard, rallied to the work. With the canvass of Atchison and Jefferson Counties, and a few lectures in Douglass, Shawnee, and Osage Counties, I retired from a field overlaid with happy reminders of past trials merged in present blessings. The work was in competent hands, but the time was ill-chosen on account of the political complications with negro suffrage, and failure was the result.

Since December, 1871, my home has been in California, where family cares and the infirmities of age limit my efforts for a freer and a nobler humanity to the pen. Trusting that love of God and man will ever point it with truth and justice, I close this exposé of my public life.


[22] Mrs. Nichols had written up a case occurring among the subscribers to the Democrat, in which $500, the whole estate, was divided, the half of that amount being all the law allowed for the support of a woman, then in the decline of life, and sent fifty marked copies of the paper to members of the Legislature elect. One of them introduced the bill, which passed the first day of the session.

[23] The violent throbbing of Mrs. Nichols' heart, caused by her unusual position and her intense anxiety that her plea might be successful, had stopped her speaking at the close of a brief preface to her plea. She, however, soon rallied, though her voice was tremulous throughout, from the conviction that only an eminently successful presentation of her subject, could spike the enemy's batteries and win a verdict of "just and womanly." Mrs. Nichols hoped no further than that. She did not expect conservative Vermont to yield at once for what she asked, as she stood alone with her paper among the press; and there was no other advocate in the State to take the field.

[24] The head and front of the opposition was Judge Kingman, Chairman of the Judiciary Committee, to which, with the Committee on Elections, my petition was referred. He wrote the Report against granting our demand, and of those who signed it all but (Gen.) Blunt and himself were Democrats. The report was adopted by a solid vote of the Democrats (16), and enough Republicans to make a majority. Thirty-six Republicans and 16 Democrats comprised the whole delegation. If my memory is not at fault, 27 Republicans voted in caucus for the provisions which were ultimately carried in our behalf, which was a majority of the whole Convention. In caucus a majority were in favor of political rights; but only a minority, from conviction that Woman Suffrage would prevent admission to the Union, would vote it in Convention.

[Pg 201]



Women in the Revolution—Anti-Tea Leagues—Phillis Wheatley—Mistress Anne Hutchinson—Heroines in the Slavery Conflict—Women Voting under the Colonial Charter—Mary Upton Ferrin Petitions the Legislature in 1848—Woman's Rights Conventions in 1850, '51—Letter of Harriet Martineau from England—Letter of Jeannie Deroine from a Prison Cell in Paris—Editorial from The Christian InquirerThe Una, edited by Paulina Wright Davis—Constitutional Convention in 1853—Before the Legislature in 1857—Harriet K. Hunt's Protest against Taxation—Lucy Stone's Protest against the Marriage Laws—Boston Conventions—Theodore Parker on Woman's Position.

During the Revolutionary period, the country was largely indebted to the women of Massachusetts. Their patriotism was not only shown in the political plans of Mercy Otis Warren,[25] and the sagacious counsels of Abigail Smith Adams, but by the action of many other women whose names history has not preserved. It was a woman who sent Paul Revere on his famous ride from Boston to Concord, on the night of April 18, 1775, to warn the inhabitants of the expected invasion of the British on the morrow. The church bells pealing far and near on the midnight air, roused tired sleepers hurriedly to arm themselves against the invaders of their homes.

During the war two women of Concord dressed in men's clothing, captured a spy bearing papers which proved of the utmost importance to the patriot forces.[Pg 202]

During these early days, the women of various Colonies—Virginia, New York, Rhode Island, Massachusetts—formed Anti-Tea Leagues. In Providence, R. I., young ladies took the initiative; twenty-nine daughters of prominent families, meeting under the shade of the sycamore trees at Roger Williams' spring, there resolving to drink no more tea until the duty upon it was repealed. The name of one of these young ladies, Miss Coddington, has been preserved, to whose house they all adjourned to partake of a frugal repast; hyperion[26] taking the place of the hated bohea. In Newport, at a gathering of ladies, where both hyperion and bohea were offered, every lady present refused the hated bohea, emblem of political slavery. In Boston, early in 1769, the matrons of three hundred families bound themselves to use no more tea until the tax upon it was taken off. The young ladies also entered into a similar covenant, declaring they took this step, not from personal motives, but from a sense of patriotism and a regard for posterity.[27] Liberty, as alone making life of value, looked as sweet to them as to their fathers. The Women's Anti-Tea Leagues of Boston were formed nearly five years previous to the historic "Boston Tea Party," when men disguised as Indians, threw the East India Company's tea overboard, and six years before the declaration of war.

American historians ignoring woman after man's usual custom, have neglected to mention the fact that every paper in Boston was suspended during its invasion by the British, except the chief rebel newspapers of New England, The Massachusetts Gazette and North Boston News-Letter, owned and edited by a woman, Margaret Draper.

They make small note of Women's Anti-Tea Leagues, and the many instances of their heroism during the Revolutionary period, equaling, as they did, any deeds of self-sacrifice and bravery that man himself can boast.

The men of Boston, in 1773, could with little loss to themselves, throw overboard a cargo of foreign tea, well knowing that for the last five years this drink had not been allowed in their houses by the women of their own families. Their reputation for patriotism was[Pg 203] thus cheaply earned in destroying what did not belong to them and what was of no use to them. Their wives, daughters, mothers, and sisters drank raspberry, sage, and birch, lest by the use of foreign tea they should help rivet the chains of oppression upon their country. Why should not the American Revolution have been successful, when women so nobly sustained republican principles, taking the initiative in self-sacrifice and pointing the path to man by patriotic example.

In Massachusetts, as in other States, were also formed associations known as "Daughters of Liberty."[28] These organizations did much to fan the nascent flames of freedom.

The first naval battle of the Revolution was fought at Machias, Maine, then a part of Massachusetts. An insult having been offered its inhabitants, by a vessel in the harbor, the men of the surrounding country joined with them to avenge this indignity to their "Liberty Tree," arming themselves, from scarcity of powder, with scythes, pitchforks, and other implements of peace. At a settlement some twenty miles distant, a quantity of powder was discovered, after the men had left for Machias. What was to be done, was the immediate question. Every able-bodied man had already left, only small boys and men too aged or too infirm for battle having remained at home. Upon that powder reaching them the defeat of the British, might depend. In this emergency the heroism of woman was shown. Two young girls, Hannah and Rebecca Weston, volunteered their services. It was no holiday excursion for them, but a trip filled with unseen dangers. The way led through a trackless forest, the route merely indicated by blazed trees. Bears, wolves, and wild-cats were numerous. The distance was impossible to be traversed in a single day; these young girls must spend the night in that dreary wilderness. Worse than danger from wild animals, was that to be apprehended from Indians, who might kill them, or capture and bear them away to some distant tribe. But undauntedly they set out on their perilous journey, carrying twenty pounds of powder. They reached Machias in safety, before the attack on the British ship, finding their powder a most welcome and effective aid in the victory which soon crowned the arms of the Colonists. The heroism of these young girls was far greater than if they had fought in the[Pg 204] ranks, surrounded by companions,'mid the accompaniments of beating drums, waving flags, and all the paraphernalia of war.

In the war of 1812 two young girls of Scituate, Rebecca and Abigail W. Bates, by their wit and sagacity, prevented the landing of the enemy at this point.[29] Congress, during its session of 1880, nearly seventy years afterward, granted them pensions, just as from extreme age they were about to drop into the grave.

Though it is not considered important to celebrate the virtues of the Pilgrim Mothers in gala days, grand dinners, toasts, and speeches, yet a little retrospection would enable us to exhume from the past, many of their achievements worth recording. More facts than we have space to reproduce, testify to the heroism, religious zeal, and literary industry of the women who helped to build up the early civilization of New England. Their writings, for some presumed on authorship, are quaint and cumbrous; but in those days, when few men published books, it required marked courage for women to appear in print at all. They imitated the style popular among men, and received much attention for their literary ability. Charles T. Congdon, as the result of his explorations through old book-stores, has brought to light some of these early writers.

In 1630, Mrs. Anne Bradstreet, known as quite a pretentious writer, came to Boston with her husband, Simon Bradstreet, Governor of Massachusetts. Her first work was entitled "The Tenth Muse lately sprung up in America." The first edition was published in London in 1650, and the first Boston edition was published in 1678. If Mrs. Bradstreet loved praise, she was fortunate in her time and position. It would have been in bad taste, as it would have been bad policy, not to eulogize the poems of the Governor's wife. She was frequently complimented in verse as bad as her own. Her next great epic was entitled "A Complete Discourse and Description of the Four Elements, Constitutions, Ages of Man, Seasons of the Year, together with an exact epitome of the Four Monarchies, viz: the Assyrian, Persian, Grecian, and Roman." "Glad as we were," says the owner, "to obtain this book at a considerable price,[Pg 205] we are still gladder of the privilege of closing it." Although this lady had eight children, about whom she wrote some amusing rhymes, she found time in the wilds of America to perpetuate also these ponderous-titled poems.

Phillis Wheatly, a colored girl, also wrote poetry in Colonial Boston, years before our Declaration of Independence startled the world. She was brought from Africa, and sold in the slave market of Boston, when only six years old. Mr. Sparks, the biographer of Washington, thinks "that the poems contained in her published volume, exhibit the most favorable evidence on record, of the capacity of the African intellect for improvement." When the Rev. George Whitefield died, at Newburyport, Mass., in 1770, the same writer from whom we quote these facts, says: "It was quite natural, his demise being much talked of in religious families, that our sable Phillis should burst into monody. That expression of grief I have before me. Of the most rhetorical preacher of his age, it is not inspiring to read:

"He prayed that grace in every heart might dwell.
He louged to see America excel."

Phillis married badly, and died at the age of thirty-one, in 1784, utterly impoverished, leaving three little children. Her own copy of her poems is in the library of Harvard College. When she died it was sold for her husband's debts.

In a letter thanking her for an acrostic on himself, General Washington said: "If you should ever come to Cambridge, or near headquarters, I shall be happy to see a person so gifted by the muses, and to whom Nature has been so liberal and beneficent in her dispensations."

Was there ever any story, which had such a hold upon the readers of a generation, as "Charlotte Temple"? It is said 25,000 copies were sold soon after publication—an enormous sale for that day. Mrs. Rowson, who wrote the book, was a daughter of a lieutenant in the Royal Navy; she was an actress in Philadelphia, and afterward kept a school in Boston for young ladies, where she died, in 1824. Her seminary was highly recommended.

Women in the last age naturally drifted into the didactic. They should have the credit of trying always to be useful. They go through so many pages, seeking to give the little people some notion of botany, of natural history, of other branches of human intelligence. There is no book cleverer in its way than Miss Hannah Adams' "History of New England," of which the second edition[Pg 206] was published in Boston in 1807. The object of this lady was, as she tells us in the preface, "to impress the minds of young persons with veneration for those eminent men to whom their posterity are so highly indebted." All the tradition is that Miss Adams was a wonderfully learned lady. She is best known by her "History of the Jews." She wrote pretty good English, of which this may be considered a specimen: "Exalted from a feeble state to opulence and independence, the Federal Americans are now recognized as a nation throughout the globe." To a sentence so admirably formed, possibly there is nothing to add.


Mistress Anne Hutchinson, founder of the Antinomian party of New England, was a woman who exerted great influence upon the religious and political free thought of those colonies. She was the daughter of an English clergyman, and with her husband, followed Pastor Cotton, to whom she was much attached, to this country in 1634, and was admitted a member of the Boston church, becoming a resident of Massachusetts one hundred and forty years before the Revolutionary war. She was of commanding intellect, and exerted a powerful influence upon the infant colony.

It was a long established custom for the brethren of the Boston church to hold, through the week, frequent public meetings for religious exercises. Women were prohibited from taking part in these meetings, which chafed the free spirit of Mistress Hutchinson, and soon she called meetings of the sisters, where she repeated the sermons of the Lord's day, making comments upon them. Her illustrations of Scripture were so new and striking that the meetings were rendered more interesting to the women than any they had attended. At first the clergy approved, but as the men attracted by the fame of her discourses, crowded into her meetings, they began to perceive danger to their authority; the church was passing out of their control. Her doctrines, too, were alarming. She taught the indwelling of the Holy Spirit in each believer, its inward revelations, and that the conscious judgment of the mind should be the paramount authority. She was the first woman in America to demand the right of individual judgment upon religious questions. Her influence was very great, yet she was not destined to escape the charge of heresy.

The first Synod in America was called upon her account. It convened August 30, 1637, sat three weeks, and proclaimed eighty-two errors extant; among them the tenets taught by Mistress[Pg 207] Hutchinson. She was called before the church and ordered to retract upon twenty-nine points. The infant colony was shaken by this discussion, which took on a political aspect.[30] Mistress Hutchinson remained steadfast, and was sustained by many important people, among whom was the young Governor Vane.

Church and State became united in their opposition to Mistress Anne Hutchinson. The fact that she presumed to teach men, was prominently brought up, and in November, 1637, she was arbitrarily tried before the Massachusetts General Court upon a joint charge of sedition and heresy. She was examined for two days by the Governor and prominent members of the clergy. The Boston Church, which knew her worth, sustained her, with the exception of five members, one of them the associate pastor, Wilson. But the country churches and clergy were against her, and she was convicted and sentenced to imprisonment and banishment.

As the winter was very severe, she was allowed to remain in Roxbury until spring, when she joined Roger Williams in Rhode Island, where she helped form a body-politic, democratic in principle, in which no one was "accounted delinquent for doctrine." Mistress Hutchinson thus helped to dissever Church and State, and to found religious freedom in the United States.

After her residence in Rhode Island, four men were sent to reclaim her, but she would not return. Upon the death of her husband she moved, for greater security, to "The Dutch Colony," and died somewhere in the State of New York.

Thus, through the protracted struggle of the American Colonies for religious and political freedom, woman bravely shared the dangers and persecutions of those eventful years. As spy in the enemy's camp; messenger on the battle-field; soldier in disguise; defender of herself and children in the solitude of those primeval forests; imprisoned for heresy; burned, hung, drowned as a witch: what suffering and anxiety has she not endured! what lofty heroism has she not exemplified!

And when the crusade against slavery in our republic was inaugurated in 1830, another Spartan band of women stood ready for the battle, and the storm of that fierce conflict, surpassing in courage, moral heroism, and conscientious devotion to great principles, all[Pg 208] that woman in any age had done or dared. With reverent lips we mention the names of Sarah and Angelina Grimke, Lydia Maria Child, Maria Weston Chapman, Mary S. Parker, Abby Kelly, whose burning words of rebuke aroused a sleeping nation to a new-born love of liberty. To their brave deeds, pure lives, and glowing eloquence, we pay our tributes of esteem and admiration.

To such as these let South Carolina and Massachusetts build future monuments, not in Quincy granite, or Parian marble, but in more enduring blessing to the people; inviolable homesteads for the laborer; free schools and colleges for boys and girls, both black and white; justice and mercy in the alms-house, jail, prison, and the marts of trade, thus securing equal rights to all.


In Massachusetts, women voted at an early day. First, under the Old Province Charter, from 1691 to 1780, for all elective officers; second, they voted under the Constitution for all elective officers except the Governor, Council, and Legislature, from 1780 to 1785. The Bill of Rights, adopted with the Constitution of 1780, declared that all men were born free and equal. Upon this, some slaves demanded their freedom, and their masters yielded.[31] Restrictions upon the right of suffrage were very great in this State; church membership alone excluded for thirty years three-fourths of the male inhabitants from the ballot-box.[32]

That women exercised the right of suffrage amid so many restrictions, is very significant of the belief in her right to the ballot, by those early Fathers.[33]


Woman's rights petitions were circulated in Massachusetts as early as 1848. Mary Upton Ferrin, of Salem, in the spring of that year, consulting Samuel Merritt, known as "the honest lawyer of Salem," in regard to the property rights of married women, and the divorce laws, learned that the whole of the wife's personal property belonged to the husband, as also the improvements upon her real estate; and that she could only retain her silver and other small valuables by[Pg 209] secreting them, or proving them to have been loaned to her. To such deception did the laws of Massachusetts, like those of most States, based on the Old Common Law idea of the wife's subjection to the husband, compel the married woman in case she desired to retain any portion of her own property.

Mrs. Ferrin reported the substance of the above conversation to Mrs. Phebe King,[34] of Danvers, who at once became deeply interested, saying, "If such are the laws by which women are governed, every woman in the State should sign a petition to have them altered."

"Will you sign one if drawn up?" queried Mrs. Ferrin.

"Yes," replied Mrs. King, "and I should think every woman would sign such a petition."

As the proper form of petitions was something with which women were then quite unfamiliar, the aid of several gentlemen was asked, among them Hon. D. P. King and Judge John Heartley, but all refused.

Miss Betsy King then suggested that Judge Pitkin[35] possessed sufficient influence to have the laws amended without the trouble of petitioning the Legislature. Strong in their faith that the enactment of just laws was the business of legislative bodies, these ladies believed they but had to bring injustice to the notice of a law-maker in order to have it done away. Therefore, full of courage and hope, Judge Pitkin was respectfully approached. But, to their infinite astonishment, he replied:

"The law is very well as it is regarding the property of married women. Women are not capable of taking care of their own property; they never ought to have control of it. There is already a law by which a woman can have her property secured to her."

"But not one woman in fifty knows of the existence of such a law," was the reply.

"They ought to know it; it is no fault of the law if they don't. I do not think the Legislature will alter the law regarding divorce. If they do, they will make it more stringent than it now is."

Repulsed, but not disheartened, Mrs. Ferrin herself drew up several petitions, circulated them, obtaining many hundred signatures of old and young; though finding the young more ready to ask for change than those inured to ill-usage and injustice. Many[Pg 210] persons laughed at her; but knowing it to be a righteous work, and deeming laughter healthful to those indulging in it, Mrs. Ferrin continued to circulate her petitions.

They were presented to the Legislature by Rev. John M. Usher, a Universalist minister of Lynn, and member of the lower House. Although too late in the session for action, these petitions form the initiative step for Woman Suffrage in Massachusetts.

Early the next fall, similar petitions were circulated. It was determined to attack the Legislature in such good season, that lateness of time would not again be brought up as an excuse for non-attention to the prayers of women. Mrs. King's interest continued unabated, and through her advice, Mrs. Ferrin prepared an address to accompany the petitions. Hon. Charles W. Upham, minister of the First Unitarian church of Salem, afterward Representative in Congress, was State Senator that year. From him they received much encouragement. "I concur with you in every sentiment," said he, "but please re-write your address, making two of it; one in the form of a memorial to the Legislature, and the other, an address to the Judiciary Committee, to whom your petitions will be referred." These two documents will be found to suggest most of the important demands, afterward made in every State, for a change of laws relating to woman. The fallacy of "sacredness" for these restrictive laws was shown; the rights of humanity as superior to any outside authority, asserted; and justice made the basis of the proposed reformation. The right of woman to trial by a jury of her peers was claimed, followed by the suggestion that woman is capable of making the laws by which she is governed. The memorial excited much attention, and was printed by order of the Legislature, though the possibility of a woman having written it was denied.[36]

But in 1850, as in 1849, no action was taken, the petitioners having "leave to withdraw." Petitions of a similar character were again circulated throughout Salem and Danvers, in 1850, '51, '52, '53, making six successive years, in each of which the petitioners had "leave to withdraw," as the only reply to their prayers for relief. The Hon. Mr. Upham, however, remained woman's steadfast friend through all this period, and Mrs. Phebe Upton King was as constantly found among the petitioners.

In 1852 the petitions were signed only by ladies over sixty years of age, women of large experience and matured judgment, whose[Pg 211] prayers should have received at least respectful consideration from the legislators of the State. We give the appeal accompanying their petition:

Gentlemen:—Your petitioners, who are tax-payers and originators of these petitions, are upwards of three-score years; ten of them are past three-score years and ten; three of them three-score and twenty. If length of days, a knowledge of the world and the rights of man and woman entitle them to a respectful hearing, few, if any, have prior or more potent claims, for reason has taught them what individual rights are, experience, what woman and her children suffer for the want of just protection in those, and humanity impels them once more to appear before you, it may be for the last time. Let not their gray hairs go down in sorrow to the grave for the want of this justice in your power to extend, as have several of their number whose names are no longer to be found with theirs, whose voices can plead never more in behalf of your own children and those of your constituents.

In 1853 a petition[37] bearing only Mrs. King's name was presented. In 1854 the political organization called the "Know Nothings" came into power, and although no petition was presented, a bill securing the control of their own property to all women married subsequent to the passage of the law, was passed. The power to make a will without the husband's consent, was also secured to wives, though not permitted to thus will more than one-half of their personal property. This law also gave to married women having no children, whose husbands should die without a will, five thousand dollars, and one-half of the remainder of the husband's property. The following year the Divorce Law[38] was amended, and shortly thereafter two old ladies, nearly seventy years of age, having no future marriage in view, but solely influenced by a desire to secure their own property to their own children, which without such divorce they would be unable to do, although one of their husbands had not provided for his wife in twenty years, nor the other in thirty years, availed themselves of its new privileges.

The first change in the tyrannous laws of Massachusetts was really due to the work of this one woman, Mary Upton Ferrin, who for six years, after her own quaint method, poured the hot shot of her earnest[Pg 212] conviction of woman's wrongs into the Legislature. In circulating petitions, she traveled six hundred miles, two-thirds of this distance on foot. Much money was expended besides her time and travel, and her name should be remembered as that of one of the brave pioneers in this work.

Although two thousand petitions were sent into the Constitutional Convention of 1853, from other friends of woman's enfranchisement in the State, Mrs. Ferrin totally unacquainted with that step, herself petitioned this body for an amendment to the Constitution securing justice to women, referring to the large number of petitions sent to the Legislature during the last few years for this object. Working as she did, almost unaided and alone, Mrs. Ferrin is an exemplification of the dissatisfaction of women at this period with unjust laws.[39]


Long have our liberties and our lives been lauded to the skies, to our amusement and edification, and until our sex has been as much regaled as has the Southern slave, with "liberty and law." But, says one, "Women are free." So likewise are slaves free to submit to the laws and to their masters. "A married woman is as much the property of her husband, likewise her goods and chattels, as is his horse," says an eminent judge, and he might have added, many of them are treated much worse. No more apt illustration could have been given. Though man can not beat his wife like his horse, he can kill her by abuse—the most pernicious of slow poisons; and, alas, too often does he do it. It is for such unfortunate ones that protection is needed. Existing laws neither do nor can protect them, nor can society, on account of the laws. If they were men, society would protect and defend them. Long, silently, and patiently have they waited until forbearance ceases to be a virtue.

Should a woman make her will without her husband's consent in writing, it is of no use. It is as just and proper that a woman should dispose of her own property to her own satisfaction as that a man should dispose of his. In many cases she is as competent, and sadly to be pitied if not in many cases more so. And even with her husband's consent she can not bequeath to him her real[Pg 213] estate. She can sell it with his consent, but the deeds must pass and be recorded, and then, if the husband pleases, he can take the money and buy the property back again. Does justice require that a man and his wife should use so much deception, and be at so much unnecessary expense and trouble, to settle their own private affairs to their own satisfaction—affairs which do not in the least affect any other individual? Reason, humanity, and common sense answer—No!

"All men are created free and equal," and all women are born subject to laws which they have neither the power to make or to repeal, but which they are taxed, directly or indirectly, to support, and many of which are a disgrace to humanity and ought to be forthwith abolished. A woman is compelled by circumstances to work for less than half an ordinary man can earn, and yet she is as essential to the existence, happiness, and refinement of society as is man.

We are told "a great deal has already been done for woman;" in return we would tender our grateful acknowledgments, with the assurance that when ours is the right, we will reciprocate the favor. Much that has been done, does not in the least affect those who are already married; and not one in ten of those who are not married, will ever be apprised of the existence of the laws by which they might be benefited. Few, if any, would marry a man so incompetent as in their opinion to render it necessary to avail themselves of such laws; neither would any spirited man knowingly marry a woman who considered him so incompetent; hence, instead of being a blessing, much labor and expense accrue to those who desire to avail themselves of their benefit; and such a step often induces the most bitter contention.

We are told "the Bible does not provide for divorce except for one offence." Neither does the Bible prohibit divorce for any other justifiable cause. Inasmuch as men take the liberty to legislate upon other subjects of which the Bible does, and does not, take particular notice, so likewise are they equally at liberty to legislate and improve upon this, when the state of society demands it.... A woman who has a good husband glides easily along under his protection, while those who have bad husbands, of which, alas! there are too many, are not aware of the depths of their degradation until they suddenly and unexpectedly find themselves, through the influence of the law, totally destitute, condemned to hopeless poverty and servitude, with an ungrateful tyrant for a master. No respectable man with a decent woman for a wife, will ever demean himself so much as to insult or abuse his wife. Wherever such a state of things exists, it is a disgrace to the age and to society, by whomsoever practiced, encouraged, or protected, whether public or private—whether social, political, or religious.

A very estimable and influential lady, whose property was valued at over $150,000, married a man, in whom she had unbounded, but misplaced confidence, as is too often the case; consequently the most of her property was squandered through intemperance and dissipation, before she was aware of the least wrong-doing. So deeply was she shocked by the character of her husband, that she soon found a premature grave, leaving several small children to be reared and educated upon the remnant of her scattered wealth.

Nearly twelve years since, a woman of a neighboring town, whose husband had forsaken her, hired a man to carry her furniture in a wagon to her native[Pg 214] place, with her family, which consisted of her husband's mother, herself, and six children, the eldest of which was but twelve years old. On her arrival there, she had only food enough for one meal, and nine-pence left. During the summer, in consequence of hardships and deprivations, she was taken violently sick, being deprived of her reason for several weeks. Her husband had not, as yet, appeared to offer her the least assistance, although apprised of her situation. But, being an uncommonly mean man, he had sold her furniture, piece by piece, and reduced her to penury, so that nothing but the aid of her friends and her own exertions, saved her and her family from the alms-house.

Says the law to this heroic woman, "What, though your property is squandered, your health and spirits broken, and you have six small children, besides yourself and your husband's mother to support! After five years of incessant toil in humility and degradation, why should not your lord and master intrude his loathsome person, like a blood-sucker upon your vitals, never offering you any assistance; and should your precarious life be protracted to that extent of time, for twenty dollars you can buy a divorce from bed and board, and have your property secured to you. Such, Madam, is your high privilege. Complain then not to us, lest instead of alleviating your sufferings, we strengthen the cords that already bind you."

The moral courage of the "Hero of the Battle-field" would shrink in horror from scenes like these; but such is the fate of woman, to whom God grant no future "hell."

In case a man receives a trifle from a departed friend or any other source, the wife's signature is not required. Recently a poor man left his daughter twenty dollars, of which her husband allowed her ten, retaining the remainder for acknowledging its receipt. It was probably the only ten dollars the woman ever received, except for her own exertions, which were constantly required to supply the necessities of her family, her husband being very intemperate and abusive, often pulling her by the ears so as to cause the blood to flow freely.

No bodily pain, however intense, can compare with the mental suffering which we witness and experience, and which would long since have filled our Insane Asylums to overflowing, were it not for the unceasing drudgery to which we are subjected, in order to save ourselves and families from starvation.

Often does the drunkard bestow upon his wife from one to a dozen children to rear and support until old enough to render her a little assistance, when they are compelled to seek service in order to clothe themselves decently, and often are their earnings, with those of their mother, appropriated to pay for rum, tobacco, gambling, and other vices. "Say not that we exaggerate these evils; neither tongue nor pen can do it!" says the unfortunate wife of a man whose moral character, so far as she knew, was unimpeachable, but who proved to be an insufferable tyrant, depriving her of the necessaries of life, and often ordering her out of the house which her friends provided for them to live in, using the most abusive epithets which ingenuity, or the want of it, could suggest. Intemperance degraded the character of the man with whom she lived as long as apprehensions for the safety of her life would warrant; from the fact that her health was rapidly failing under the severity and deprivation to which she was subjected, and the repeated threats of violence to her own life and that of her friends. "But one step farther and you drive us to desperation! Sooner would I pour out my heart's blood, drop by drop, than suffer again[Pg 215] what I have hitherto experienced, or that my female friends should suffer as I have done, and I know that many of them do. Yet, neither sacrifice, sympathy, argument, or influence can avail us anything under existing circumstances."

Such an appeal from helpless, down-trodden humanity, though it were made to a council of the most benighted North American savages, would not pass unheeded. Shall it be made in vain to you?

To many of us death would be a luxury compared to what we suffer in consequence of the abusive treatment we receive from unprincipled men, which existing laws sanction and encourage by their indiscriminate severity, and with which we are told "it would be difficult to meddle on account of their sacredness and sublimity." The idea is sufficiently ludicrous to excite the risibility of the most grave. Though the sublime and the ridiculous may be too nearly allied for females to distinguish the difference, unjust inequality is to them far more contemptible than sacred, having thus far been ungraciously subjected to it. Well may we be called "the weaker sex" if the error in judgment is ours, although we have intellect and energy enough not to respect the circumstances under which we are placed, nor the powers which would designedly inflict such injustice upon us.

Debased indeed would a man consider himself to employ a woman to plead his cause, with a woman for judge and twelve women for jurors. How much less degraded are women when exposed to a similar assembly of men, who have for them neither interest, sympathy, nor respect, subjected as they are to insolent questions and the uncharitable remarks of an indifferent multitude.

It is urged that women are ignorant of the laws. They are sufficiently enlightened to comprehend the meaning of justice—a far more important thing—which admits of neither improvement nor modification, but is applicable to every emergency. With the perceptibility that some can boast, it would require but a short time for them to enact laws sufficient to govern themselves, which is all that the most aspiring can covet; convinced as they are that, as in families, so likewise in government, the mild, indulgent parent who would consult the greatest good of the greatest number, is rewarded with agreeable and honorable children; while the one who is unjust, partial, and severe, is proportionably recompensed for his indiscretion.

In regard to unjust imprisonment we are told, "It is of too rare occurrence to require legal enactments." How many a devoted wife, mother, and child can tell a far different story. Who of us or our children is secure from false accusation and imprisonment, or, perhaps, an ignominious death upon the gallows, to screen some miserable villain from justice? Witnesses, lawyers, judges, jurors, and executioners are paid for depriving innocent persons of their time, liberty, health, and reputation, which, to many, is dearer than life, while the guilty one escapes, and society, when too late, laments the sad catastrophe. The life-blood of many a victim demands not only justice for the guilty, but protection for the innocent.

October 23d and 24th, 1850.

The Conventions in New York and Ohio, though not extensively advertised, nor planned with much deliberation, for in both cases[Pg 216] they were hastily decided upon, yet their novelty attracted much attention, and drew large audiences. Those who had long seen and felt woman's wrongs, were now for the first time inspired with the hope that something might be done for their redress by organized action. When Massachusetts decided to call a convention, the initiative steps were well considered, as there were many men and women in that State trained in the anti-slavery school, skilled in managing conventions, who were also interested in woman's enfranchisement. But to the energy and earnestness of Paulina Wright Davis, more than to any other one person, we may justly accord the success of the first Conventions in Massachusetts.

In describing the preliminary arrangements in a report read in the second decade meeting in New York in 1870, she says:

"In May, 1850, a few women in Boston attending an Anti-Slavery meeting, proposed that all who felt interested in a plan for a National Woman's Rights Convention, should consult in the ante-room. Of the nine who went out into that dark, dingy room, a committee of seven were chosen to do the work. Worcester was the place selected, and the 23d and 24th of October the appointed time. However, the work soon devolved upon one person.[40] Illness hindered one, duty to a brother another, duty to the slave a third, professional engagements a fourth, the fear of bringing the gray hairs of a father to the grave prevented another from serving; but the pledge was made, and could not be withdrawn.

"The call was prepared, an argument in itself, and sent forth with earnest private letters in all directions. It covered the entire question, as it now stands before the public. Though moderate in tone, carefully guarding the idea of the absolute unity of interests and of the destiny of the two sexes which nature has established, it still gave the alarm to conservatism.

"Letters, curt, reproachful, and sometimes almost insulting, came with absolute refusals to have the names of the writers used, or added to the swelling list already in hand. There was astonishment at the temerity of the writer in presenting such a request.

"Some few there were, so cheering and so excellent, that it is but justice to give extracts from them:

"'I doubt whether a more important movement has ever been launched, touching the destiny of the race, than this in regard to the equality of the sexes. You are at liberty to use my name.

William Lloyd Garrison.'[Pg 217]

"'You do me but justice in supposing me deeply interested in the question of woman's elevation.

Catherine M. Sedgwick.'

"'The new movement has my fullest sympathy, and my name is at its service.

"'William Henry Channing.'

"None came with such perfect and entire fullness as the one from which I quote the closing paragraph:

"'Yes, with all my heart I give my name to your noble call.

"'Elizabeth Cady Stanton.'

"'You are at liberty to append my own and my wife's name to your admirable call,

"'Ann Green Phillips,
"'Wendell Phillips.'

"Rev. Samuel J. May's letter, full of the warmest sympathy, well deserves to be quoted entire, but space forbids; suffice it that we have always known just where to find him.

"'Your business is to launch new ideas—not one of them will ever be wrecked or lost. Under the dominion of these ideas, right practice must gradually take the place of wrong, and the first we shall know we shall find the social swallowing up the political, and the whole governing its parts.

"'With genuine respect, your co-worker,

Elizur Wright.'

"'Mrs. Paulina W. Davis.

"Letters from Gerrit Smith, Joshua R. Giddings, John G. Whittier, Ralph Waldo Emerson, A. Bronson Alcott, Caroline Kirkland, Ann Estelle Lewis, Jane G. Swisshelm, William Elder, Rev. Thomas Brainard, and many others, expressive of deep interest, are before us.

"The Convention came together in the bright October days, a solemn, earnest crowd of noble men and women.

"One great disappointment fell upon us. Margaret Fuller, toward whom many eyes were turned as the future leader in this movement, was not with us. The 'hungry, ravening sea,' had swallowed her up, and we were left to mourn her guiding hand—her royal presence. To her, I, at least, had hoped to confide the leadership of this movement. It can never be known if she would have accepted it; the desire had been expressed to her by letter; but be that as it may, she was, and still is, a leader of thought; a position far more desirable than a leader of numbers.

"The Convention was called to order by Mrs. Sarah H. Earl,[41] of Worcester, and a permanent list of officers presented in due order, and the whole business of the Convention was conducted in a parliamentary[Pg 218] manner. Mrs. Earl, to whose memory we pay tribute to-day as one gone before, not lost, was one of the loveliest embodiments of womanhood I have ever known. She possessed a rare combination of strength, gentleness, and earnestness, with a childlike freedom and cheerfulness. I miss to-day her clear voice, her graceful self-poise, her calm dignity.

"From our midst another is missing: Mrs. Sarah Tyndale, of Philadelphia—one of the first to sign the call. Indeed, the idea of such a convention had often been discussed in her home, more than two years before, a home where every progressive thought found a cordial welcome. To this noble woman, who gave herself to this work with genuine earnestness, it is fitting that we pay a tribute of affectionate respect. She was, perhaps, more widely known than any other woman of her time for her practical talents; having conducted one of the largest business houses in her native city for nearly a quarter of a century. Genial and largely hospitable, there was for her great social sacrifice in taking up a cause so unpopular; but she had no shrinking from duty, however trying it might be. Strong and grand as she was, in her womanly nature, she had nevertheless the largest and tenderest sympathies for the weak and erring. She was prescient, philosophical, just, and generous. The mother of a large family, who gathered around to honor and bless her, she had still room in her heart for the woes of the world, and the latter years of her life were given to earnest, philanthropic work. We miss to-day her sympathy, her wise counsel, her great, organizing power.

"Many others there are, whose names well deserve to be graven in gold, and it is cause of thanksgiving to God that they are still present with us, their lives speaking better than words. Some are in the Far West, doing brave service there; others are across the water; others are withheld by cares and duties from being present; but we would fain hope none are absent from choice.

"Profound feeling pervaded the entire audience, and the talent displayed in the discussions, the eloquence of women who had never before spoken in public, surprised even those who expected most. Mrs. C. I. H. Nichols, of Vermont, made a profound impression. There was a touching, tender pathos in her stories which went home to the heart; and many eyes, all unused to tears, were moistened as she described the agony of the mother robbed of her child by the law.

"Abby H. Price, large-hearted and large-brained, gentle and strong, presented an address on the social question not easily forgotten, and seldom to the present time bettered.[Pg 219]

"Lucy Stone, a natural orator, with a silvery voice, a heart warm and glowing with youthful enthusiasm; Antoinette L. Brown, a young minister, met firmly the Scriptural arguments; and Dr. Harriot K. Hunt, earnest for the medical education of woman, gave variety to the discussions of the Convention.

"In this first national meeting the following resolution was passed, which it may be proper here to reiterate, thus showing that our present demand has always been one and the same:

"'Resolved, That women are clearly entitled to the right of suffrage, and to be considered eligible to office; the omission to demand which, on her part, is a palpable recreancy to duty, and a denial of which is a gross usurpation on the part of man, no longer to be endured; and that every party which claims to represent the humanity, civilization, and progress of the age, is bound to inscribe on its banners, "Equality before the Law, without distinction of Sex or Color."'

"From North to South the press found these reformers wonderfully ridiculous people. The 'hen convention' was served up in every variety of style, till refined women dreaded to look into a newspaper. Hitherto man had assumed to be the conscience of woman, now she indicated the will to think for herself; hence all this odium. But, however the word was preached, whether for wrath or conscience sake, we rejoiced and thanked God.

"In July, following this Convention, an able and elaborate notice appeared in the Westminster Review. This notice, candid in tone and spirit, as it was thorough and able in discussion, successfully vindicated every position we assumed, reaffirmed and established the highest ground taken in principle or policy by our movement. The wide-spread circulation and high authority of this paper told upon the public mind, both in Europe and this country. It was at the time supposed to be by Mr. John Stuart Mill. Later we learned that it was from the pen of his noble wife, to whom be all honor for thus coming to the aid of a struggling cause. I can pay no tribute to her memory so beautiful as the following extract from a letter recently received from her husband:

"'It gives me the greatest pleasure to know that the service rendered by my dear wife to the cause which was nearer her heart than any other, by her essay in the Westminster Review, has had so much effect and is so justly appreciated in the United States. Were it possible in a memoir to have the formation and growth of a mind like hers portrayed, to do so would be as valuable a benefit to mankind as was ever conferred by a biography. But such a psychological history is seldom possible, and in her case the materials for it do not exist. All that could be furnished is her birth-place, parentage, and a few dates, and it seems to me that her memory is more honored by the absence of any attempt at a biographical notice than by the presence of a most meagre one. What she[Pg 220] was, I have attempted, though most inadequately, to delineate in the remarks prefaced to her essay, as reprinted with my "Dissertations and Discussions."'

"'I am very glad to hear of the step in advance made by the Rhode Island Legislature in constituting a Board of Women for some important administrative purposes. Your intended proposal, that women be impaneled on every jury where women are to be tried, seems to me very good, and calculated to place the injustice to which women are at present subjected, by the entire legal system, in a very striking light.

"'I am, dear madam, yours sincerely,

J. S. Mill.'

"'Mrs. Paulina Wright Davis.

"Immediately after the reports were published, they were sent to various persons in Europe, and before the second Convention was held, letters of cheer were received from Harriet Martineau, Marion Reid, and others.

"Thus encouraged, we felt new zeal to go on with a work which had challenged the understanding and constrained the hearts of the best and soundest thinkers in the nation; had given an impulse to the women of England and of Sweden—for Frederika Bremer had quoted from our writings and reported our proceedings; our words had been like an angel's visit to the prisoners of State in France and to the wronged and outraged at home!

"Many letters were received from literary women in this country as well as abroad. If not always ready to be identified with the work, they were appreciative of its good effects, and, like Nicodemus, they came by night to inquire 'how these things could be.' Self-interest showed them the advantages accruing from the recognition of equality—self-ism held them silent before the world till the reproach should be worn away; but we credit them with a sense of justice and right, which prompts them now to action. The rear guard is as essential in the army as the advance; each should select the place best adapted to their own powers."

As Mrs. Davis has fallen asleep since writing the above, we have thought best to give what seemed to her the salient points of that period in her own words.

October 23, 1850, a large audience assembled in Brinley Hall, Worcester, Mass. The Convention was called to order by Sarah H. Earle, of Worcester. Nine States were represented. There were Garrison, Phillips, Burleigh, Foster, Pillsbury, leaders in the anti-slavery struggle; Frederick Douglass and Sojourner Truth representing the enslaved African race. The Channings, Sargents, Parsons, Shaws, from the liberal pulpit and the aristocracy of Boston. From Ohio came Mariana and Oliver Johnson, who had edited the[Pg 221] Anti-Slavery Bugle, that sent forth many a blast against the black laws of that State, and many a stirring call for the woman's conventions. From Ohio, too, came Ellen and Marion Blackwell, sisters of Dr. Elizabeth Blackwell. Pennsylvania sent its Lucretia Mott, its Darlingtons, Plumlys, Hastings, Millers, Hicks, who had all taken part in the exciting divisions among the "Friends," as a sect. On motion of Mariana Johnson, a temporary chairman was chosen, and a nominating committee appointed, which reported the following list of officers adopted by the Convention:

PresidentPaulina Wright Davis, R. I.

Vice-PresidentsWilliam Henry Channing, Mass.; Sarah Tyndale, Pa.

SecretariesHannah M. Darlington, Pa.; Joseph C. Hathaway, N. Y.

The Call of the Convention was read. It contains so good a digest of the demands then made, in language so calm and choice, in thought so clear and philosophical, that we give it entire, that the women of the future may see how well their mothers understood their rights, and with what modesty and moderation they pressed their wrongs on the consideration of their rulers.


A Convention will be held at Worcester, Mass., on the 23d and 24th of October next, to consider the question of Woman's Rights, Duties, and Relations. The men and women who feel sufficient interest in the subject to give an earnest thought and effective effort to its rightful adjustment, are invited to meet each other in free conference at the time and place appointed.

The upward tending spirit of the age, busy in an hundred forms of effort for the world's redemption from the sins and sufferings which oppress it, has brought this one, which yields to none in importance and urgency, into distinguished prominence. One-half the race are its immediate objects, and the other half are as deeply involved, by that absolute unity of interest and destiny which Nature has established between them. The neighbor is near enough to involve every human being in a general equality of rights and community of interests; but men and women in their reciprocities of love and duty, are one flesh and one blood; mother, sister, wife, and daughter come so near the heart and mind of every man, that they must be either his blessing or his bane. Where there is such mutuality of interests, such an interlinking of life, there can be no real antagonism of position and action. The sexes should not, for any reason or by any chance, take hostile attitudes toward each other, either in the apprehension or amendment of the wrongs which exist in their necessary relations; but they should harmonize in opinion and co-operate in effort, for the reason that they must unite in the ultimate achievement of the desired reformation.[Pg 222]

Of the many points now under discussion, and demanding a just settlement; the general question of woman's rights and relations comprehends these: Her education—literary, scientific, and artistic; her avocations—industrial, commercial, and professional; her interests—pecuniary, civil, and political; in a word, her rights as an individual, and her functions as a citizen.

No one will pretend that all these interests, embracing as they do all that is not merely animal in a human life, are rightly understood, or justly provided for in the existing social order. Nor is it any more true that the constitutional differences of the sexes which should determine, define, and limit the resulting differences of office and duty, are adequately comprehended and practically observed.

Woman has been condemned for her greater delicacy of physical organization, to inferiority of intellectual and moral culture, and to the forfeiture of great social, civil, and religious privileges. In the relation of marriage she has been ideally annihilated and actually enslaved in all that concerns her personal and pecuniary rights, and even in widowed and single life, she is oppressed with such limitation and degradation of labor and avocation, as clearly and cruelly mark the condition of a disabled caste. But by the inspiration of the Almighty, the beneficent spirit of reform is roused to the redress of these wrongs.

The tyranny which degrades and crushes wives and mothers sits no longer lightly on the world's conscience; the heart's home-worship feels the stain of stooping at a dishonored altar. Manhood begins to feel the shame of muddying the springs from which it draws its highest life, and womanhood is everywhere awakening to assert its divinely chartered rights and to fulfill its noblest duties. It is the spirit of reviving truth and righteousness which has moved upon the great deep of the public heart and aroused its redressing justice, and through it the Providence of God is vindicating the order and appointments of His creation.

The signs are encouraging; the time is opportune. Come, then, to this Convention. It is your duty, if you are worthy of your age and country. Give the help of your best thought to separate the light from the darkness. Wisely give the protection of your name and the benefit of your efforts to the great work of settling the principles, devising the methods, and achieving the success of this high and holy movement.

This call was signed by eighty-nine leading men and women of six States.[42]

On taking the chair, Mrs. Davis said:

The reformation we propose in its utmost scope is radical and universal. It is not the mere perfecting of a reform already in motion, a detail of some established plan, but it is an epochal movement—the emancipation of a class, the redemption of half the world, and a conforming reorganization of all social, political, and industrial interests and institutions. Moreover, it is a movement without example among the enterprises of associated reformations, for it has[Pg 223] no purpose of arming the oppressed against the oppressor, or of separating the parties, or of setting up independence, or of severing the relations of either.

Its intended changes are to be wrought in the intimate texture of all societary organizations, without violence or any form of antagonism. It seeks to replace the worn-out with the living and the beautiful, so as to reconstruct without overturning, and to regenerate without destroying.

Our claim must rest on its justice, and conquer by its power of truth. We take the ground that whatever has been achieved for the race belongs to it, and must not be usurped by any class or caste. The rights and liberties of one human being can not be made the property of another, though they were redeemed for him or her by the life of that other; for rights can not be forfeited by way of salvage, and they are, in their nature, unpurchasable and inalienable. We claim for woman a full and generous investiture of all the blessings which the other sex has solely, or by her aid, achieved for itself. We appeal from man's injustice and selfishness to his principles and affections.

It was cheering to find in the very beginning many distinguished men ready to help us to the law, gospel, social ethics, and philosophy involved in our question. A letter from Gerrit Smith to William Lloyd Garrison says:

Peterboro, N. Y., Oct. 16, 1850.

My Dear Sir:—I this evening received from my friend H. H. Van Amringe, of Wisconsin, the accompanying argument on woman's rights. It is written by himself. He is, as you are aware, a highly intellectual man. He wishes me to present this argument to the Woman's Convention which is to be held in Worcester. Permit me to do so through yourself.

My excessive business engagements compel me to refuse all invitations to attend public meetings not in my own county. May Heaven's richest blessings rest on the Convention.

Gerrit Smith.

Very respectfully and fraternally yours,

Mr. Van Amringe's paper on "Woman's Rights in Church and State" was read and discussed, and a large portion of it printed in the regular report of the proceedings.

The papers read by the women, in style and argument, were in no way inferior to those of the men present.

Letters were read from Elizabeth Cady Stanton, Rev. Samuel J. May, L. A. Hine, Elizur Wright, O. S. Eowler, Esther Ann Lukens, Margaret Chappel Smith, Nancy M. Baird, Jane Cowen, Sophia L. Little, Elizabeth Wilson, Maria L. Varney, and Milfred A. Spaford.[43]

Mrs. Abby H. Price, of Hopedale, made an address on the injustice of excluding girls from the colleges, the trades and the professions, and the importance of training them to some profitable labor, and thus to protect their virtue, dignity, and self-respect by securing their pecuniary independence.[Pg 224]

She thought the speediest solution of the vexed problem of prostitution was profitable work for the rising generation of girls. The best legislation on the social vice was in removing the legal disabilities that cripple all their powers. Woman, in order to be equally independent with man, must have a fair and equal chance. He is in nowise restricted from doing, in every department of human exertion, all he is able to do. If he is bold and ambitious, and desires fame, every avenue is open to him. He may blend science and art, producing a competence for his support, until he chains them to the car of his genius, and, with Fulton and Morse, wins a crown of imperishable gratitude. If he desires to tread the path of knowledge up to its glorious temple-summit, he can, as he pleases, take either of the learned professions as instruments of pecuniary independence, while he plumes his wings for a higher and higher ascent. Not so with woman. Her rights are not recognized as equal; her sphere is circumscribed—not by her ability, but by her sex. If, perchance, her taste leads her to excellence, in the way they give her leave to tread, she is worshiped as almost divine; but if she reaches for laurels they have in view, the wings of her genius are clipped because she is a woman.

Dr. Harriot K. Hunt, of Boston, the first woman who practiced medicine in this country, spoke on the medical education of women.

Sarah Tyndale, a successful merchant in Philadelphia, on the business capacity of woman.

Antoinette L. Brown, a graduate of Oberlin College, and a student in Theology, made a logical argument on woman's position in the Bible, claiming her complete equality with man, the simultaneous creation of the sexes, and their moral responsibilities as individual and imperative.

The debates on the resolutions were spicy, pointed, and logical, and were deeply interesting, continuing with crowded audiences through two entire days. In these debates Lucy Stone, Lucretia Mott, Wendell Phillips, William Henry Channing, Ernestine L. Rose, Frederick Douglass, Martha Mowry, Abby Kelly and Stephen Foster, Elizabeth B. Chase, James N. Buffam, Sojourner Truth, Eliab Capron, and Joseph C. Hathaway, took part. As there was no phonographic reporter present, most of the best speaking, that was extemporaneous, can not be handed down to history.

Among the letters to the Convention, there was one quite novel and interesting from Helene Marie Weber,[44] a lady of high literary character, who had published numerous tracts on the Rights of Woman. She contended that the physical development of woman was impossible in her present costume, and that her consequent enfeebled condition made her incapable of entering many of the most profitable employments in the world of work. Miss Weber exemplified[Pg 225] her teachings by her practice. She usually wore a dress coat and pantaloons of black cloth; on full-dress occasions, a dark blue dress coat, with plain flat gilt buttons, and drab-colored pantaloons. Her waistcoat was of buff cassimere, richly trimmed with plain, flat-surfaced, gold buttons, exquisitely polished; this was an elegant costume, and one she wore to great advantage. Her clothes were all perfect in their fit, and of Paris make; and her figure was singularly well adapted to male attire. No gentleman in Paris made a finer appearance.

One of the grand results of this Convention was the thought roused in England. A good report of the proceedings in the New York Tribune, for Europe, of October 29, 1850, was read by the future Mrs. John Stuart Mill, then Mrs. Taylor, and at once called out from her pen an able essay in the Westminster and Foreign Quarterly Review, entitled "Enfranchisement of Woman." This attracted the attention of many liberal thinkers, and foremost of these, one of England's greatest philosophers and scholars, the Hon. John Stuart Mill, who became soon after the champion of woman's cause in the British Parliament. The essayist in speaking of this Convention says:

Most of our readers will probably learn, from these pages, for the first time, that there has risen in the United States, and in the most Civilized and enlightened portion of them, an organized agitation, on a new question, new not to thinkers, nor to any one by whom the principles of free and popular government are felt, as well as acknowledged; but new, and even unheard of, as a subject for public meetings, and practical political action. This question is the enfranchisement of women, their admission in law, and in fact, to equality in all rights, political, civil, social, with the male citizens of the community.

It will add to the surprise with which many will receive this intelligence, that the agitation which has commenced is not a pleading by male writers and orators for women, those who are professedly to be benefited remaining either indifferent, or ostensibly hostile; it is a political movement, practical in its objects, carried on in a form which denotes an intention to persevere. And it is a movement not merely for women, but by them....

A succession of public meetings was held, under the name of a "Woman's Rights Convention," of which the President was a woman, and nearly all the chief speakers women; numerously reinforced, however, by men, among whom were some of the most distinguished leaders in the kindred cause of negro emancipation....

According to the report in the New York Tribune, above a thousand persons were present, throughout, and "if a larger place could have been had, many thousands more would have attended."

In regard to the quality of the speaking, the proceedings bear an advantageous comparison with those of any popular movement with which we are acquainted, either in this country or in America. Very rarely in the oratory[Pg 226] of public meetings is the part of verbiage and declamation so small, and that of calm good sense and reason so considerable.

The result of the convention was in every respect encouraging to those by whom it was summoned; and it is probably destined to inaugurate one of the most important of the movements toward political and social reform, which are the best characteristic of the present age. That the promoters of this new agitation take their stand on principles, and do not fear to declare these in their widest extent, without time-serving or compromise, will be seen from the resolutions adopted by the Convention[45].

After giving an able argument in favor of all the demands made in the Convention with a fair criticism of some of the weak things uttered there, she concludes by saying:

There are indications that the example of America will be followed on this side of the Atlantic; and the first step has been taken in that part of England where every serious movement in the direction of political progress has its commencement—the manufacturing districts of the north. On the 13th of February, 1851, a petition of women, agreed to by a public meeting at Sheffield, and claiming the elective franchise, was presented to the House of Lords by the Earl of Carlisle.

William Henry Channing, from the Business Committee, suggested a plan for organization and the principles that should govern the movement. In accordance with his views a National Central Committee was appointed, in which every State was represented[46]. Paulina Wright Davis, Chairman; Sarah H. Earle, Secretary; Wendell Phillips, Treasurer.

This Convention was a very creditable one in every point of view. The order and perfection of the arrangements, the character of the papers presented, and the sustained enthusiasm, reflect honor on the men and women who conducted the proceedings. The large number of letters addressed to Mrs. Davis show how extensive had been her correspondence, both in the old world and the new. Her wealth, culture, and position gave her much social influence; her beauty, grace, and gentle manners drew around her a large circle of admiring friends. These, with her tall fine figure, her classic head and features, and exquisite taste in dress; her organizing talent and knowledge of the question under consideration, altogether made her so desirable a presiding officer, that she was often chosen for that position.


In accordance with a call from the Central Committee, the friends of Woman Suffrage assembled again in Brinley Hall, Oct. 15th[Pg 227] and 16th, 1851. At an early hour the house was filled, and was called to order by Paulina Wright Davis, who was again chosen permanent President. This Convention was conducted mainly by the same persons who had so successfully managed the proceedings of the previous year. Mrs. Davis, on taking the chair, gave a brief resumé of the steps of progress during the year, and at the close of her remarks, letters were read from Ralph Waldo Emerson, Henry Ward Beecher, Horace Mann, Angelina Grimke Weld, Frances D. Gage, Estelle Anna Lewis, Marion Blackwell, Oliver Johnson, and Eliza Barney, all giving a hearty welcome to the new idea. Mrs. Emma R. Coe, of the Business Committee, called upon Wendell Phillips to read the resolutions[47] prepared for the consideration of the Convention.

On rising Mr. Phillips said:

In drawing up some of these resolutions, I have used very freely the language of a thoughtful and profound article in the Westminster Review. It is a review of the proceedings of our Convention, held one year ago, and states with singular clearness and force the leading arguments for our reform, and the grounds of our claim in behalf of woman. I rejoice to see so large an audience gathered to consider this momentous subject, the most magnificent reform that has yet been launched upon the world. It is the first organized protest against the injustice which has brooded over the character and the destiny of one-half of the human race. Nowhere else, under any circumstances, has a demand ever yet been made for the liberties of one whole half of our race. It is fitting that we should pause and consider so remarkable and significant a circumstance; that we should discuss the questions involved with the seriousness and deliberation suitable to such an enterprise.

It strikes, indeed, a great and vital blow at the whole social fabric of every nation; but this, to my mind, is no argument against it.... Government commenced in usurpation and oppression; liberty and civilization at present are nothing else than the fragments of rights which the scaffold and the stake have wrung from the strong hands of the usurpers. Every step of progress the world has made has been from scaffold to scaffold, from stake to stake.... Government began in tyranny and force; began in the feudalism of the soldier and the bigotry of the priest; and the ideas of justice and humanity have been fighting their way like a thunderstorm against the organized selfishness of human nature.

And this is the last great protest against the wrong of ages. It is no argument, to my mind, therefore, that the old social fabric of the past is against us. Neither do I feel called upon to show what woman's proper sphere is. In every great reform the majority have always said to the claimant, no matter what he claimed, "You are not fit for such a privilege." Luther asked of the Pope liberty for the masses to read the Bible. The reply was that it would not[Pg 228] be safe to trust the masses with the word of God. "Let them try," said the great reformer, and the history of three centuries of development and purity proclaims the result.

The lower classes in France claimed their civil rights; the right to vote, and to a direct representation in government, but the rich and lettered classes cried out, "You can not be made fit." The answer was, "Let us try." That France is not as Spain, utterly crushed beneath the weight of a thousand years of misgovernment, is the answer to those who doubt the ultimate success of the experiment.

Woman stands now at the same door. She says: "You tell me I have no intellect. Give me a chance." "You tell me I shall only embarrass politics; let me try." The only reply is the same stale argument that said to the Jews of Europe: You are fit only to make money; you are not fit for the ranks of the army, or the halls of Parliament.

How cogent the eloquent appeal of Macaulay: "What right have we to take this question for granted? Throw open the doors of this House of Commons; throw open the ranks of the imperial army, before you deny eloquence to the countrymen of Isaiah, or valor to the descendants of the Maccabees."

It is the same now with us. Throw open the doors of Congress; throw open those court-houses; throw wide open the doors of your colleges, and give to the sisters of the De Staëls and the Martineaus the same opportunity for culture that men have, and let the results prove what their capacity and intellect really are. When woman has enjoyed for as many centuries as we have the aid of books, the discipline of life, and the stimulus of fame, it will be time to begin the discussion of these questions: "What is the intellect of woman?" "Is it equal to that of man?" Till then, all such discussion is mere beating of the air. While it is doubtless true, that great minds make a way for themselves, spite of all obstacles, yet who knows how many Miltons have died, "mute and inglorious"? However splendid the natural endowments, the discipline of life, after all, completes the miracle. The ability of Napoleon—what was it? It grew out of the hope to be Cæsar, or Marlborough; out of Austerlitz and Jena—out of his battle-fields, his throne, and all the great scenes of that eventful life.

Open to woman the same scenes, immerse her in the same great interests and pursuits, and if twenty centuries shall not produce a woman Charlemagne, or a Napoleon, fair reason will then allow us to conclude that there is some distinctive peculiarity in the intellects of the sexes.

Centuries alone can lay a fair basis for the argument. I believe on this point there is a shrinking consciousness of not being ready for the battle, on the part of some of the stronger sex, as they call themselves; a tacit confession of risk to this imagined superiority, if they consent to meet their sisters in the lecture halls, or the laboratory of science.

My proof of it is this, that the mightiest intellects of the race, from Plato down to the present time, some of the rarest minds of Germany, France, and England, have successively yielded their assent to the fact, that woman is not, perhaps, identically, but equally endowed with man in all intellectual capabilities. It is generally the second-rate men who doubt; doubt because, perhaps, they fear a fair field.

Suppose that woman is essentially inferior to man, she still has rights. Grant[Pg 229] that Mrs. Norton[48] never could be Byron; that Elizabeth Barrett never could have written Paradise Lost; that Mrs. Somerville never could be La Place, nor Sirani have painted the Transfiguration. What then? Does that prove they should be deprived of all civil rights?

John Smith will never be, never can be, Daniel Webster. Shall he therefore be put under guardianship, and forbidden to vote? Suppose woman, though equal, does differ essentially in her intellect from man, is that any ground for disfranchising her? Shall the Fultons say to the Raphaels, because you can not make steam engines, therefore you shall not vote? Shall the Napoleons or the Washingtons say to the Wordsworths or the Herschels, because you can not lead armies, and govern States, therefore you shall have no civil rights?

The following interesting letter from Harriet Martineau was then read, which we give in full, that the reader may see how clearly defined was her position at that early day:

Cromer, England, Aug. 3, 1851.

Paulina Wright Davis:

Dear Madam:—I beg to thank you heartily for your kindness in sending me the Report of the Proceedings of your Woman's Rights Convention. I had gathered what I could from the newspapers concerning it, but I was gratified at being able to read, in a collected form, addresses so full of earnestness and sound truth, as I found most of the speeches to be. I hope you are aware of the interest excited in this country by that Convention, the strongest, proof of which is the appearance of an article on the subject in The Westminster Review (for July), as thorough-going as any of your own addresses, and from the pen (at least as it is understood here) of one of our very first men, Mr. John S. Mill. I am not without hope that this article will materially strengthen your hands, and I am sure it can not but cheer your hearts.

Ever since I became capable of thinking for myself, I have clearly seen, and I have said it till my listeners and readers are probably tired of hearing it, that there can be but one true method in the treatment of each human being, of either sex, of any color, and under any outward circumstances, to ascertain what are the powers of that being, to cultivate them to the utmost, and then to see what action they will find for themselves. This has probably never been done for men, unless in some rare individual cases. It has certainly never been done for women, and, till it is done, all debating about what woman's intellect is, all speculation, or laying down the law, as to what is woman's sphere, is a mere beating of the air. A priori conceptions have long been worthless in physical science, and nothing was really effected till the experimental method was clearly made out and strictly applied in practice, and the same principle holds most certainly through the whole range of moral science.

Whether we regard the physical fact of what women are able to do, or the moral fact of what women ought to do, it is equally necessary to abstain from making any decision prior to experiment. We see plainly enough the waste of[Pg 230] time and thought among the men who once talked of Nature abhorring a vacuum, or disputed at great length as to whether angels could go from end to end without passing through the middle; and the day will come when it will appear to be no less absurd to have argued, as men and women are arguing now, about what woman ought to do, before it was ascertained what woman can do.

Let us once see a hundred women educated up to the highest point that education at present reaches; let them be supplied with such knowledge as their faculties are found to crave, and let them be free to use, apply, and increase their knowledge as their faculties shall instigate, and it will presently appear what is the sphere of each of the hundred.

One may be discovering comets, like Miss Herschell; one may be laying open the mathematical structure of the universe, like Mrs. Somerville; another may be analyzing the chemical relations of Nature in the laboratory; another may be penetrating the mysteries of physiology; others may be applying science in the healing of diseases; others maybe investigating the laws of social relations, learning the great natural laws under which society, like everything else, proceeds; others, again, may be actively carrying out the social arrangements which have been formed under these laws; and others may be chiefly occupied in family business, in the duties of the wife and mother, and the ruler of the household.

If, among the hundred women, a great diversity of powers should appear (which I have no doubt would be the case), there will always be plenty of scope and material for the greatest amount and variety of power that can be brought out. If not—if it should appear that women fall below men in all but the domestic functions—then it will be well that the experiment has been tried; and the trial better go on forever, that woman's sphere may forever determine itself to the satisfaction of everybody. It is clear that education, to be what I demand on behalf of women, must be intended to issue in active life.

A man's medical education would be worth little, if it was not a preparation for practice. The astronomer and the chemist would put little force into their studies, if it was certain that they must leave off in four or five years, and do nothing for the rest of their lives; and no man could possibly feel much interest in political and social morals, if he knew that he must, all his life long, pay taxes, but neither speak nor move about public affairs.

Women, like men, must be educated with a view to action, or their studies can not be called education, and no judgment can be formed of the scope of their faculties. The pursuit must be life's business, or it will be mere pastime or irksome task. This was always my point of difference with one who carefully cherished a reverence for woman, the late Dr. Channing.

How much we spoke and wrote of the old controversy, Influence vs. Office. He would have had any woman study anything that her faculties led her to, whether physical science or law, government and political economy; but he would have her stop at the study. From the moment she entered the hospital as physician and not nurse; from the moment she took her place in a court of justice, in the jury box, and not the witness box; from the moment she brought her mind and her voice into the legislature, instead of discussing the principles of laws at home; from the moment she announced and administered justice instead of looking at it from afar, as a thing with which she had no concern, she[Pg 231] would, he feared, lose her influence as an observing intelligence, standing by in a state of purity "unspotted from the world."

My conviction always was, that an intelligence never carried out into action could not be worth much; and that, if all the action of human life was of a character so tainted as to be unfit for women, it could be no better for men, and we ought all to sit down together, to let barbarism overtake us once more.

My own conviction is, that the natural action of the whole human being occasions not only the most strength, but the highest elevation; not only the warmest sympathy, but the deepest purity. The highest and purest beings among women seem now to be those who, far from being idle, find among their restricted opportunities some means of strenuous action; and I can not doubt that, if an active social career were open to all women, with due means of preparation for it, those who are high and holy now, would be high and holy then, and would be joined by an innumerable company of just spirits from among those whose energies are now pining and fretting in enforced idleness, or unworthy frivolity, or brought down into pursuits and aims which are anything but pure and peaceable.

In regard to the old controversy—Influence vs. Office—it appears to me that if Influence is good and Office bad for human morals and character, Man's present position is one of such hardship, as it is almost profane to contemplate; and if, on the contrary, Office is good and a life of Influence is bad, Woman has an instant right to claim that her position be amended.

Harriet Martineau.

Yours faithfully,

From her letter, we find, that Miss Martineau shared the common opinion in England that the article in the Westminster Review on the "Enfranchisement of Woman" was written by John Stuart Mill. It was certainly very complimentary to Mrs. Taylor, the real author of that paper, who afterward married Mr. Mill, that it should have been supposed to emanate from the pen of that distinguished philosopher. An amusing incident is related of Mr. Mill, for the truth of which we can not vouch, but report says, that after reading this article, he hastened to read it again to Mrs. Taylor, and passing on it the highest praises, to his great surprise she confessed herself the author.

At this Convention Mrs. Elizabeth Oakes Smith made her first appearance on our platform. She was well known in the literary circles of New York as a writer of merit in journals and periodicals. She defended the Convention and its leaders through the columns of the New York Tribune, and afterward published a series of articles entitled "Woman and her Needs." She early made her way into the lyceums and some pulpits never before open to woman. Her "Bertha and Lily," a woman's rights novel, and her other writings were influential in moulding popular thought.

Angelina Grimke, familiar with plantation life, spoke eloquently[Pg 232] on the parallel between the slave code and the laws for married women.

Mehitable Haskell, of Gloucester, said:

Perhaps, my friends, I ought to apologize for standing here. Perhaps I attach too much importance to my own age. This meeting, as I understand it, was called to discuss Woman's Rights. Well, I do not pretend to know exactly what woman's rights are; but I do know that I have groaned for forty years, yea, for fifty years, under a sense of woman's wrongs. I know that even when a girl, I groaned under the idea that I could not receive as much instruction as my brothers could. I wanted to be what I felt I was capable of becoming, but opportunity was denied me. I rejoice in the progress that has been made. I rejoice that so many women are here; it denotes that they are waking up to some sense of their situation. One of my sisters observed that she had received great kindness as a wife, mother, sister, and daughter. I, too, have brethren in various directions, both those that are natural, and those that are spiritual brethren, as I understand the matter; and I rejoice to say I have found, I say it to the honor of my brothers, I have found more men than women, who were impressed with the wrongs under which our sex labor, and felt the need of reformation. I rejoice in this fact.

Rebecca B. Spring followed with some pertinent remarks. Mrs. Emma E. Coe reviewed in a strain of pungent irony the State Laws in relation to woman. In discussing the resolutions, Charles List, Esq., of Boston, said:

I lately saw a book wherein the author in a very eloquent, but highly wrought sentence, speaks of woman as "the connecting link between man and heaven." I think this asks too much, and I deny the right of woman to assume such a prerogative; all I claim is that woman should be raised by noble aspiration to the loftiest moral elevation, and thus be fitted to train men up to become worthy companions for the pure, high-minded beings which all women should strive to be. A great duty rests on woman, and it becomes you not to lose a moment in securing for yourselves every right and privilege, whereby you maybe elevated and so prepared to exert the influence which man so much needs. Women fall far short now of exerting the moral influence intrusted to them as mothers and wives, consequently men are imperfectly developed in their higher nature.

Mrs. Nichols rejoined: Woman has been waiting for centuries expecting man to go before and lift her up, but he has failed to meet our expectations, and now comes the call that she should first grasp heaven and pull man up after her.

Mrs. Coe said: The signs are truly propitious, when man begins to complain of his wrongs—women not fit to be wives and mothers!

Who placed them in their present position? Who keeps, them there? Let woman demand the highest education in our land, and what college, with the exception of Oberlin, will receive her? I have myself lately[Pg 233] made such a demand and been refused simply on the ground of sex. Yet what is there in the highest range of intellectual pursuits, to which woman may not rightfully aspire? What is there, for instance, in theology, which she should not strive to learn? Give me only that in religion which woman may and should become acquainted with, and the rest may go like chaff before the wind.

Lucy Stone said: I think it is not without reason that men complain of the wives and mothers of to-day. Let us look the fact soberly and fairly in the face, and admit that there is occasion to complain of wives and mothers. But while I say this, let me also say that when you can show one woman who is what she ought to be as a wife and a mother, you can show not more than one man who is what he should be as a husband and father. The blame is on both sides. When we add to what woman ought to be for her own sake, this other fact, that woman, by reason of her maternity, must exert a most potent influence over the generations yet to be, there is no language that can speak the magnitude or importance of the subject that has called us together. He is guilty of giving the world a dwarfed humanity, who would seek to hinder this movement for the elevation of woman; for she is as yet a starved and dependent outcast before the law. In government she is outlawed, having neither voice nor part in it. In the household she is either a ceaseless drudge, or a blank. In the department of education, in industry, let woman's sphere be bounded only by her capacity. We desire there should no walls be thrown about it. Let man read his own soul, and turn over the pages of his own Book of Life, and learn that in the human mind there is always capacity for development, and then let him trust woman to that power of growth, no matter who says nay. Laying her hand on the helm, let woman steer straight onward to the fulfillment of her own destiny. Let her ever remember, that in following out the high behests of her own soul will be found her exceeding great reward.

William Henry Channing then gave the report from the committee on the social relations. Those present speak of it as a very able paper on that complex question, but as it was not published with the proceedings, all that can be found is the following meagre abstract from The Worcester Spy:

Woman has a natural right to the development of all her faculties, and to all the advantages that insure this result. She has the right not only to civil and legal justice, which lie on the outskirts of social life, but to social justice, which affects the central position of society.

Woman should be as free to marry, or remain single, and as honorable in either relation, as man. There should be no stigma attached to the single woman, impelling her to avoid the possibility of such a position, by crushing her self-respect and individual ambition. A true Christian marriage is a sacred union of soul and sense, and the issues flowing from it are eternal. All obstacles in the way of severing uncongenial marriages should be removed, because such unions are unnatural, and must be evil in their results. Divorce in such cases should be honorable,[Pg 234] without subjecting the parties to the shame of exposure in the courts, or in the columns of the daily papers.

Much could be accomplished for the elevation of woman by organizations clustering round a social principle, like those already clustered round a religious principle, such as "Sisters of Mercy," "Sisters of Charity," etc. There should be social orders called "Sisters of Honor," having for their object the interests of unfortunate women. From these would spring up convents, where those who have escaped from false marriages and illegal social relations would find refuge. These organizations might send out missionaries to gather the despised Magdalens into safe retreats, and raise them to the level of true womanhood.

Mr. Channing spoke at length on the civil and political position of woman, eloquently advocating the rightfulness and expediency of woman's co-sovereignty with man, and closed by reading a very eloquent letter from Jeanne Deroine and Pauline Roland, two remarkable French women, then in the prison of St. Lagare, in Paris, for their liberal opinions.

Just as the agitation for woman's rights began in this country, Pauline Roland began in France a vigorous demand for her rights as a citizen. The 27th of February, 1848, she presented herself before the electoral reunion to claim the right of nominating the mayor of the city where she lived. Having been refused, she claimed in April of the same year the right to take part in the elections for the Constituent Assembly, and was again refused. On April 12, 1849, Jeanne Deroine claimed for woman the right of eligibility by presenting herself as a candidate for the Legislative Assembly, and she sustained this right before the preparatory electoral reunions of Paris. On the 3d of October Jeanne Deroine and Pauline Roland, delegates from the fraternal associations, were elected members of the Central Committee of the Associative Unions. This Central Committee was for the fraternal associations what the Constituent Assembly was for the French Republic in 1848.

To the Convention of the Women of America:

Dear Sisters:—Your courageous declaration of Woman's Rights has resounded even to our prison, and has filled our souls with inexpressible joy.

In France the reaction has suppressed the cry of liberty of the women of the future. Deprived, like their brothers, of the Democracy, of the right to civil and political equality, and the fiscal laws which trammel the liberty of the press, hinder the propagation of those eternal truths which must regenerate humanity.

They wish the women of France to found a hospitable tribunal, which shall receive the cry of the oppressed and suffering, and vindicate in the name of humanity, solidarity, the social right for both sexes equally; and[Pg 235] where woman, the mother of humanity, may claim in the name of her children, mutilated by tyranny, her right to true liberty, to the complete development and free exercise of all her faculties, and reveal that half of truth which is in her, and without which no social work can be complete.

The darkness of reaction has obscured the sun of 1848, which seemed to rise so radiantly. Why? Because the revolutionary tempest, in overturning at the same time the throne and the scaffold, in breaking the chain of the black slave, forgot to break the chain of the most oppressed of all of the pariahs of humanity.

"There shall be no more slaves," said our brethren. "We proclaim universal suffrage. All shall have the right to elect the agents who shall carry out the Constitution which should be based on the principles of liberty, equality, and fraternity. Let each one come and deposit his vote; the barrier of privilege is overturned; before the electoral urn there are no more oppressed, no more masters and slaves."

Woman, in listening to this appeal, rises and approaches the liberating urn to exercise her right of suffrage as a member of society. But the barrier of privilege rises also before her. "You must wait," they say. But by this claim alone woman affirms the right, not yet recognized, of the half of humanity—the right of woman to liberty, equality, and fraternity. She obliges man to verify the fatal attack which he makes on the integrity of his principles.

Soon, in fact during the wonderful days of June, 1848, liberty glides from her pedestal in the flood of the victims of the reaction; based on the "right of the strongest," she falls, overturned in the name of "the right of the strongest."

The Assembly kept silence in regard to the right of one-half of humanity, for which only one of its members raised his voice, but in vain. No mention was made of the right of woman in a Constitution framed in the name of Liberty, Equality, and Fraternity.

It is in the name of these principles that woman comes to claim her right to take part in the Legislative Assembly, and to help to form the laws which must govern society, of which she is a member.

She comes to demand of the electors the consecration of the principle of equality by the election of a woman, and by this act she obliges man to prove that the fundamental law which he has formed in the sole name of liberty, equality, and fraternity, is still based upon privilege, and soon privilege triumphs over this phantom of universal suffrage, which, being but half of itself, sinks on the 31st of May, 1850.

But while those selected by the half of the people—by men alone—evoke force to stifle liberty, and forge restrictive laws to establish order by compression, woman, guided by fraternity, foreseeing incessant struggles, and in the hope of putting an end to them, makes an appeal to the laborer to found liberty and equality on fraternal solidarity. The participation of woman gave to this work of enfranchisement an eminently pacific character, and the laborer recognizes the right of woman, his companion in labor.

The delegates of a hundred and four associations, united, without distinction[Pg 236] of sex, elected two women, with several of their brethren, to participate equally with them in the administration of the interests of labor, and in the organization of the work of solidarity.

Fraternal associations were formed with the object of enfranchising the laborer from the yoke of spoilage and patronage, but, isolated in the midst of the Old World, their efforts could only produce a feeble amelioration for themselves.

The union of associations based on fraternal solidarity had for its end the organization of labor; that is to say, an equal division of labor, of instruments, and of the products of labor.

The means were, the union of labor, and of credit among the workers of all professions, in order to acquire the instruments of labor and the necessary materials, and to form a mutual guarantee for the education of their children, and to provide for the needs of the old, the sick, and the infirm.

In this organization all the workers, without distinction of sex or profession, having an equal right to election, and being eligible for all functions, and all having equally the initiative and the sovereign decision in the acts of common interests, they laid the foundation of a new society based on liberty, equality, and fraternity.

It is in the name of law framed by man only—by those elected by privilege—that the Old World, wishing to stifle in the germ the holy work of pacific enfranchisement, has shut up within the walls of a prison those who had founded it—those elected by the laborers.

But the impulse has been given, a grand act has been accomplished. The right of woman has been recognized by the laborers, and they have consecrated that right by the election of those who had claimed it in vain for both sexes, before the electoral urn and before the electoral committees. They have received the true civil baptism, were elected by the laborers to accomplish the mission of enfranchisement, and after having shared their rights and their duties, they share to-day their captivity.

It is from the depths of their prison that they address to you the relation of these facts, which contain in themselves high instruction. It is by labor, it is by entering resolutely into the ranks of the working people, that women will conquer the civil and political equality on which depends the happiness of the world. As to moral equality, has she not conquered it by the power of sentiment? It is, therefore, by the sentiment of the love of humanity that the mother of humanity will find power to accomplish her high mission. It is when she shall have well comprehended the holy law of solidarity—which is not an obscure and mysterious dogma, but a living providential fact—that the kingdom of God promised by Jesus, and which is no other than the kingdom of equality and justice, shall be realized on earth.

Sisters of America! your socialist sisters of France are united with you in the vindication of the right of woman to civil and political equality. We have, moreover, the profound conviction that only by the power of association based on solidarity—by the union of the working-classes of both sexes to organize labor—can be acquired, completely and pacifically, the civil and political equality of woman, and the social right for all.[Pg 237]

It is in this confidence that, from the depths of the jail which still imprisons our bodies without reaching our hearts, we cry to you, Faith, Love, Hope, and send to you our sisterly salutations,

Jeanne Deroine,
Pauline Roland.

Paris, Prison of St. Lagare, June 15, 1851.

Ernestine L. Rose, having known something of European despotism, followed Mr. Channing in a speech of great pathos and power. She said:

After having heard the letter read from our poor incarcerated sisters of France, well might we exclaim, Alas, poor France! where is thy glory? Where the glory of the Revolution of 1848, in which shone forth the pure and magnanimous spirit of an oppressed nation struggling for Freedom? Where the fruits of that victory that gave to the world the motto, "Liberty, Equality, and Fraternity"? A motto destined to hurl the tyranny of kings and priests into the dust, and give freedom to the enslaved millions of the earth. Where, I again ask, is the result of those noble achievements, when woman, ay, one-half of the nation, is deprived of her rights? Has woman then been idle during the contest between "right and might"? Has she been wanting in ardor and enthusiasm? Has she not mingled her blood with that of her husband, son, and sire? Or has she been recreant in hailing the motto of liberty floating on your banners as an omen of justice, peace, and freedom to man, that at the first step she takes practically to claim the recognition of her rights, she is rewarded with the doom of a martyr?

But right has not yet asserted her prerogative, for might rules the day; and as every good cause must have its martyrs, why should woman not be a martyr for her cause? But need we wonder that France, governed as she is by Russian and Austrian despotism, does not recognize the rights of humanity in the recognition of the rights of woman, when even here, in this far-famed land of freedom, under a Republic that has inscribed on its banner the great truth that "all men are created free and equal, and endowed with inalienable rights to life, liberty, and the pursuit of happiness"—a declaration borne, like the vision of hope, on wings of light to the remotest parts of the earth, an omen of freedom to the oppressed and down-trodden children of man—when, even here, in the very face of this eternal truth, woman, the mockingly so-called "better half" of man, has yet to plead for her rights, nay, for her life. For what is life without liberty, and what is liberty without equality of rights? And as for the pursuit of happiness, she is not allowed to choose any line of action that might promote it; she has only thankfully to accept what man in his magnanimity decides as best for her to do, and this is what he does not choose to do himself.

Is she then not included in that declaration? Answer, ye wise men of the nation, and answer truly; add not hypocrisy to oppression! Say that she is not created free and equal, and therefore (for the sequence[Pg 238] follows on the premise) that she is not entitled to life, liberty, and the pursuit of happiness. But with all the audacity arising from an assumed superiority, you dare not so libel and insult humanity as to say, that she is not included in that declaration; and if she is, then what right has man, except that of might, to deprive woman of the rights and privileges he claims for himself? And why, in the name of reason and justice, why should she not have the same rights? Because she is woman? Humanity recognizes no sex; virtue recognizes no sex; mind recognizes no sex; life and death, pleasure and pain, happiness and misery, recognize no sex. Like man, woman comes involuntarily into existence; like him, she possesses physical and mental and moral powers, on the proper cultivation of which depends her happiness; like him she is subject to all the vicissitudes of life; like him she has to pay the penalty for disobeying nature's laws, and far greater penalties has she to suffer from ignorance of her more complicated nature; like him she enjoys or suffers with her country. Yet she is not recognized as his equal!

In the laws of the land she has no rights; in government she has no voice. And in spite of another principle, recognized in this Republic, namely, that "taxation without representation is tyranny," she is taxed without being represented. Her property may be consumed by taxes to defray the expenses of that unholy, unrighteous custom called war, yet she has no power to give her vote against it. From the cradle to the grave she is subject to the power and control of man. Father, guardian, or husband, one conveys her like some piece of merchandise over to the other.

At marriage she loses her entire identity, and her being is said to have become merged in her husband. Has nature thus merged it? Has she ceased to exist and feel pleasure and pain? When she violates the laws of her being, does her husband pay the penalty? When she breaks the moral laws, does he suffer the punishment? When he supplies his wants, is it enough to satisfy her nature? And when at his nightly orgies, in the grog-shop and the oyster-cellar, or at the gaming-table, he squanders the means she helped, by her co-operation and economy, to accumulate, and she awakens to penury and destitution, will it supply the wants of her children to tell them that, owing to the superiority of man she had no redress by law, and that as her being was merged in his, so also ought theirs to be? What an inconsistency, that from the moment she enters that compact, in which she assumes the high responsibility of wife and mother, she ceases legally to exist, and becomes a purely submissive being. Blind submission in woman is considered a virtue, while submission to wrong is itself wrong, and resistance to wrong is virtue, alike in woman as in man.

But it will be said that the husband provides for the wife, or in other words, he feeds, clothes, and shelters her! I wish I had the power to make every one before me fully realize the degradation contained in that idea. Yes! he keeps her, and so he does a favorite horse; by law they are both considered his property. Both may, when the cruelty of the owner compels them to, run away, be brought back by the strong arm of the law, and according to a still extant law of England, both may be led[Pg 239] by the halter to the market-place, and sold. This is humiliating indeed, but nevertheless true; and the sooner these things are known and understood, the better for humanity. It is no fancy sketch. I know that some endeavor to throw the mantle of romance over the subject, and treat woman like some ideal existence, not liable to the ills of life. Let those deal in fancy, that have nothing better to deal in; we have to do with sober, sad realities, with stubborn facts.

Again, I shall be told that the law presumes the husband to be kind, affectionate, and ready to provide for and protect his wife. But what right, I ask, has the law to presume at all on the subject? What right has the law to intrust the interest and happiness of one being into the hands of another? And if the merging of the interest of one being into the other is a necessary consequence on marriage, why should woman always remain on the losing side? Turn the tables. Let the identity and interest of the husband be merged in the wife. Think you she would act less generously toward him, than he toward her? Think you she is not capable of as much justice, disinterested devotion, and abiding affection, as he is? Oh, how grossly you misunderstand and wrong her nature! But we desire no such undue power over man; it would be as wrong in her to exercise it as it now is in him. All we claim is an equal legal and social position. We have nothing to do with individual man, be he good or bad, but with the laws that oppress woman. We know that bad and unjust laws must in the nature of things make man so too. If he is kind, affectionate, and consistent, it is because the kindlier feelings, instilled by a mother, kept warm by a sister, and cherished by a wife, will not allow him to carry out these barbarous laws against woman.

But the estimation she is generally held in, is as degrading as it is foolish. Man forgets that woman can not be degraded without its reacting on himself. The impress of her mind is stamped on him by nature, and the early education of the mother, which no after-training can entirely efface; and therefore, the estimation she is held in falls back with double force upon him. Yet, from the force of prejudice against her, he knows it not. Not long ago, I saw an account of two offenders, brought before a Justice of New York. One was charged with stealing a pair of boots, for which offense he was sentenced to six months' imprisonment; the other crime was assault and battery upon his wife: he was let off with a reprimand from the judge! With my principles, I am entirely opposed to punishment, and hold, that to reform the erring and remove the causes of evil is much more efficient, as well as just, than to punish. But the judge showed us the comparative value which he set on these two kinds of property. But then you must remember that the boots were taken by a stranger, while the wife was insulted by her legal owner! Here it will be said, that such degrading cases are but few. For the sake of humanity, I hope they are. But as long as woman shall be oppressed by unequal laws, so long will she be degraded by man.

We have hardly an adequate idea how all-powerful law is in forming public opinion, in giving tone and character to the mass of society. To[Pg 240] illustrate my point, look at that infamous, detestable law, which was written in human blood, and signed and sealed with life and liberty, that eternal stain on the statute book of this country, the Fugitive Slave Law. Think you that before its passage, you could have found any in the free States—except a few politicians in the market—base enough to desire such a law? No! no! Even those who took no interest in the slave question, would have shrunk from so barbarous a thing. But no sooner was it passed, than the ignorant mass, the rabble of the self-styled Union Safety Committee, found out that we were a law-loving, law-abiding people! Such is the magic power of Law. Hence the necessity to guard against bad ones. Hence also the reason why we call on the nation to remove the legal shackles from woman, and it will have a beneficial effect on that still greater tyrant she has to contend with, Public Opinion.

Carry out the republican principle of universal suffrage, or strike it from your banners and substitute "Freedom and Power to one half of society, and Submission and Slavery to the other." Give woman the elective franchise. Let married women have the same right to property that their husbands have; for whatever the difference in their respective occupations, the duties of the wife are as indispensable and far more arduous than the husband's. Why then should the wife, at the death of her husband, not be his heir to the same extent that he is heir to her? In this inequality there is involved another wrong. When the wife dies, the husband is left in the undisturbed possession of all there is, and the children are left with him; no change is made, no stranger intrudes on his home and his affliction. But when the husband dies, the widow, at best receives but a mere pittance, while strangers assume authority denied to the wife. The sanctuary of affliction must be desecrated by executors; everything must be ransacked and assessed, lest she should steal something out of her own house: and to cap the climax, the children must be placed under guardians. When the husband dies poor, to be sure, no guardian is required, and the children are left for the mother to care and toil for, as best she may. But when anything is left for their maintenance, then it must be placed in the hands of strangers for safe keeping! The bringing-up and safety of the children are left with the mother, and safe they are in her hands. But a few hundred or thousand dollars can not be intrusted with her!

But, say they, "in case of a second marriage, the children must be protected in their property." Does that reason not hold as good in the case of the husband as in that of the wife? Oh, no! When he marries again, he still retains his identity and power to act; but she becomes merged once more into a mere nonentity; and therefore the first husband must rob her to prevent the second from doing so! Make the laws regulating property between husband and wife, equal for both, and all these difficulties would be removed.

According to a late act, the wife has a right to the property she brings at marriage, or receives in any way after marriage. Here is some provision for the favored few; but for the laboring many, there is none. The mass of the people commence life with no other capital than the[Pg 241] union of heads, hearts, and hands. To the benefit of this best of capital, the wife has no right. If they are unsuccessful in married life, who suffers more the bitter consequences of poverty than the wife? But if successful, she can not call a dollar her own. The husband may will away every dollar of the personal property, and leave her destitute and penniless, and she has no redress by law. And even where real estate is left she receives but a life-interest in a third part of it, and at her death, she can not leave it to any one belonging to her: it falls back even to the remotest of his relatives. This is law, but where is the justice of it? Well might we say that laws were made to prevent, not to promote, the ends of justice.

In case of separation, why should the children be taken from the protecting care of the mother? Who has a better right to them than she? How much do fathers generally do toward bringing them up? When he comes home from business, and the child is in good humor and handsome trim, he takes the little darling on his knee and plays with it. But when the wife, with the care of the whole household on her shoulders, with little or no help, is not able to put them in the best order, how much does he do for them? Oh, no! Fathers like to have children good natured, well-behaved, and comfortable, but how to put them in that desirable condition is out of their philosophy. Children always depend more on the tender, watchful care of the mother, than of the father. Whether from nature, habit, or both, the mother is much more capable of administering to their health and comfort than the father, and therefore she has the best right to them. And where there is property, it ought to be divided equally between them, with an additional provision from the father toward the maintenance and education of the children.

Much is said about the burdens and responsibilities of married men. Responsibilities indeed there are, if they but felt them; but as to burdens, what are they? The sole province of man seems to be centered in that one thing, attending to some business. I grant that owing to the present unjust and unequal reward for labor, many have to work too hard for a subsistence; but whatever his vocation, he has to attend as much to it before as after marriage. Look at your bachelors, and see if they do not strive as much for wealth, and attend as steadily to business, as married men. No! the husband has little or no increase of burden, and every increase of comfort after marriage; while most of the burdens, cares, pains, and penalties of married life fall on the wife. How unjust and cruel, then, to have all the laws in his favor! If any difference should be made by law between husband and wife, reason, justice, and humanity, if their voices were heard, would dictate that it should be in her favor.

No! there is no reason against woman's elevation, but there are deep-rooted, hoary-headed prejudices. The main cause of them is, a pernicious falsehood propagated against her being, namely, that she is inferior by her nature. Inferior in what? What has man ever done, that woman, under the same advantages, could not do? In morals, bad as she is, she is generally considered his superior. In the intellectual sphere, give her[Pg 242] a fair chance before you pronounce a verdict against her. Cultivate the frontal portion of her brain as much as that of man is cultivated, and she will stand his equal at least. Even now, where her mind has been called out at all, her intellect is as bright, as capacious, and as powerful as his. Will you tell us, that women have no Newtons, Shakespeares, and Byrons? Greater natural powers than even those possessed may have been destroyed in woman for want of proper culture, a just appreciation, reward for merit as an incentive to exertion, and freedom of action, without which, mind becomes cramped and stifled, for it can not expand under bolts and bars; and yet, amid all blighting, crushing circumstances—confined within the narrowest possible limits, trampled upon by prejudice and injustice, from her education and position forced to occupy herself almost exclusively with the most trivial affairs—in spite of all these difficulties, her intellect is as good as his. The few bright meteors in man's intellectual horizon could well be matched by woman, were she allowed to occupy the same elevated position. There is no need of naming the De Staëls, the Rolands, the Somervilles, the Wollstonecrofts, the Sigourneys, the Wrights, the Martineaus, the Hemanses, the Fullers, Jagellos, and many more of modern as well as ancient times, to prove her mental powers, her patriotism, her self-sacrificing devotion to the cause of humanity, and the eloquence that gushes from her pen, or from her tongue. These things are too well known to require repetition. And do you ask for fortitude, energy, and perseverance? Then look at woman under suffering, reverse of fortune, and affliction, when the strength and power of man have sunk to the lowest ebb, when his mind is overwhelmed by the dark waters of despair. She, like the tender ivy plant bent yet unbroken by the storms of life, not only upholds her own hopeful courage, but clings around the tempest-fallen oak, to speak hope to his faltering spirit, and shelter him from the returning blast of the storm.

In looking over the speeches of Elizabeth Oakes Smith, Abby Kelly Foster, Clarina Howard Nichols, Antoinette Brown, and Lucy Stone, and the well-digested reports by Paulina Wright Davis on Education, Abby Price on Industry, and William Henry Channing on the Social Relations, comprising the whole range of woman's rights and duties, we feel that the report of one of these meetings settles the question of woman's capacity to reason. At every session of this two days' Convention Brinley Hall was so crowded at an early hour that hundreds were unable to gain admittance. Accordingly, the last evening it was proposed to adjourn to the City Hall; and even that spacious auditorium was crowded long before the hour for assembling. It may be said with truth, that in the whole history of the woman suffrage movement there never was at one time more able and eloquent men and women on our platform, and represented by letter there, than in these Worcester Conventions,[Pg 243] which called out numerous complimentary comments and editorial notices, notably the following:

[From the New York Christian Inquirer, Rev. Henry Bellows, D.D., editor.]


We have read the report of the proceedings of this Convention with lively interest and general satisfaction. We confess ourselves to be much surprised at the prevailing good sense, propriety, and moral elevation of the meeting. No candid reader can deny the existence of singular ability, honest and pure aims, eloquent and forcible advocacy, and a startling power in the reports and speeches of this Convention. For good, or for evil, it seems to us to be the most important meeting since that held in the cabin of the Mayflower. That meeting recognized the social and political equality of one-half the human race; this asserts the social and political equality of the other half, and of the whole. Imagine the difference which it would have made in our Declaration of Independence, to have inserted "and women" in the first clause of the self-evident truths it asserts: "that all men and women are created equal." This Convention declares this to be the true interpretation of the Declaration, and at any rate, designs to amend the popular reading of the instrument to this effect. Nor is it a theoretical change which is aimed at. No more practical or tremendous revolution was ever sought in society, than that which this Woman's Rights Convention inaugurates. To emancipate half the human race from its present position of dependence on the other half; to abolish every distinction between the sexes that can be abolished, or which is maintained by statute or conventional usage; to throw open all the employments of society with equal freedom to men and women; to allow no difference whatsoever, in the eye of the law, in their duties or their rights, this, we submit, is a reform, surpassing, in pregnancy of purpose and potential results, any other now upon the platform, if it do not outweigh Magna Charta and our Declaration themselves.

We very well recollect the scorn with which the annual procession of the first Abolitionists was greeted in Boston, some thirty years ago. The children had no conception of the "Bobolition Society," but as of a set of persons making themselves ridiculous for the amusement of the public; but that "Bobolition Society" has shaken the Union to its center, and filled the world with sympathy and concern. The Woman's Rights Convention is in like manner a thing for honest scorn to point its finger at; but a few years may prove that we pointed the finger, not at an illuminated balloon, but at the rising sun.

We have no hesitation in acknowledging ourselves to be among those who have regarded this movement with decided distrust and distaste. If we have been more free than others to express this disgust, we have perhaps rendered some service, by representing a common sentiment with which this reform has to contend. We would be among the first to acknowledge that our objections have not grown out of any deliberate consideration of the principles involved in the question. They have[Pg 244] been founded on instinctive aversion, on an habitual respect for public sentiment, on an irresistible feeling of the ludicrousness of the proposed reform in its details. Certainly social instinct has its proper place in the judgments we pass on the manners of both sexes. What is offensive to good taste—meaning by good taste, the taste of the most educated and refined people—has the burden of proof resting upon it when it claims respect and attention. But we should be the last to assert that questions of right and rights have no appeal from the bar of conventional taste to that of reason.

And however it may have been at the outset, we think the Woman's Rights question has now made good its title to be heard in the superior court. The principles involved in this great question we can not now discuss; but we have a few thoughts upon the attitude of the reformer toward society, which we would respectfully commend to attention. If the female sex is injured in its present position, it is an injury growing out of universal mistake; an honest error, in which the sexes have conspired, without intentional injustice on one side, or feeling of wrong on the other. Indeed, we could not admit that there had been thus far any wrong or mistake at all, except in details. Mankind have hitherto found the natural functions of the two sexes marking out different spheres for them. Thus far, as we think, the circumstances of the world have compelled a marked division of labor, and a marked difference of culture and political position between the sexes.

The facts of superior bodily strength on the masculine side, and of maternity on the feminine side, small as they are now made to appear, are very great and decisive facts in themselves, and have necessarily governed the organization of society. It is between the sexes, as between the races, the strongest rules; and it has hitherto been supposed to be of service to the common interest of society, that this rule should be legalized and embodied in the social customs of every community. As a fact, woman, by her bodily weakness and her maternal office, was from the first, a comparatively private and domestic creature; her education, from circumstances, was totally different, her interests were different, the sources of her happiness different from man's, and as a fact, all these things, though with important modifications, have continued to be so to this day. The fact has seemed to the world a final one. It has been thought that in her present position, she was in her best position relative to man, which her nature or organization admitted of. That she is man's inferior in respect to all offices and duties requiring great bodily powers, or great moral courage, or great intellectual effort, has been almost universally supposed,—honestly thought too, and without the least disposition to deny her equality, on this account, in the scale of humanity.

For in respect to moral sensibility, affections, manners, tastes, and the passive virtues, woman has long been honestly felt to be the superior of man. The political disfranchisement of women, and their seclusion from publicity, have grown out of sincere convictions that their nature and happiness demanded from man an exemption from the cares, and a protection from the perils of the out-of-door world. Mankind, in both its parts, may have been utterly mistaken in this judgment; but it has[Pg 245] been nearly universal, and thoroughly sincere,—based thus far, we think, upon staring facts and compulsory circumstances.

In starting a radical reform upon this subject, it is expedient that it should be put, not on the basis of old grievances, but upon the ground of new light, of recent and fresh experiences, of change of circumstances. It may be that the relative position of the sexes is so changed by an advancing civilization, that the time has come for questioning the conclusion of the world respecting woman's sphere. All surprise at opposition to this notion, all sense of injury, all complaint of past injustice, ought to cease. Woman's part has been the part which her actual state made necessary. If another and a better future is opening, let us see it and rejoice in it as a new gift of Providence.

And we are not without suspicion that the time for some great change has arrived. At any rate, we confess our surprise at the weight of the reasoning brought forward by the recent Convention, and shall endeavor henceforth to keep our masculine mind,—full, doubtless, of conventional prejudices,—open to the light which is shed upon the theme.

Meanwhile, we must beg the women who are pressing this reform, to consider that the conservatism of instinct and taste, though not infallible, in respectable and worth attention. The opposition they will receive is founded on prejudices that are not selfish, but merely masculine. It springs from no desire to keep women down, but from a desire to keep them up; from a feeling, mistaken it may be, that their strength, and their dignity, and their happiness, lie in their seclusion from the rivalries, strifes, and public duties of life. The strength and depth of the respect and love for woman, as woman, which characterize this age, can not be overstated. But woman insists upon being respected, as a kindred intellect, a free competitor, and a political equal. And we have suspicions that she may surprise the conservative world by making her pretensions good. Only meanwhile let her respect the affectionate and sincere prejudices, if they be prejudices, which adhere to the other view, a view made honorable, if not proved true, by the experiences of all the ages of the past. We hope to give the whole subject more attention in future. Indeed it will force attention. It may be the solution of many social problems, long waiting an answer, is delayed by the neglect to take woman's case into fuller consideration. The success of the present reform would give an entirely new problem to political and social philosophers! At present we endeavor to hold ourselves in a candid suspense.

Judging Dr. Bellows by the above editorial, he had made some progress in one year. A former article from his pen called out the following criticism from Mrs. Rose:

After last year's Woman's Convention, I saw an article in the Christian Inquirer, a Unitarian paper, edited by the Rev. Mr. Bellows, of New York, where, in reply to a correspondent on the subject of Woman's Rights, in which he strenuously opposed her taking part in anything in public, he said: "Place woman unbonneted and unshawled before the public gaze and what becomes of her modesty and her virtue?" In his benighted[Pg 246] mind, the modesty and virtue of woman is of so fragile a nature, that when it is in contact with the atmosphere, it evaporates like chloroform. But I refrain to comment on such a sentiment. It carries with it its own deep condemnation. When I read the article, I earnestly wished I had the ladies of the writer's congregation before me, to see whether they could realize the estimation their pastor held them in. Yet I hardly know which sentiment was strongest in me, contempt for such foolish opinions, or pity for a man that has so degrading an opinion of woman—of the being that gave him life, that sustained his helpless infancy with her ever-watchful care, and laid the very foundation for the little mind he may possess—of the being he took to his bosom as the partner of his joys and sorrows—the one whom, when he strove to win her affection, he courted, as all such men court woman, like some divinity. Such a man deserves our pity; for I can not realize that a man purposely and willfully degrades his mother, sister, wife, and daughter. No! my better nature, my best knowledge and conviction forbid me to believe it.


In February, 1853, Paulina Wright Davis started a woman's paper called The Una, published in Providence, Rhode Island, with the following prospectus:

Usage makes it necessary to present our readers with a prospectus setting forth our aims and objects. Our plan is to publish a paper monthly, devoted to the interests of woman. Our purpose is to speak clear, earnest words of truth and soberness in a spirit of kindness. To discuss the rights, duties, sphere, and destiny of woman fully and fearlessly. So far as our voice shall be heard, it will be ever on the side of freedom. We shall not confine ourselves to any locality, sex, sect, class, or caste, for we hold to the solidarity of the race, and believe if one member suffers, all suffer, and the highest made to atone for the lowest. Our mystical name, The Una, signifying Truth, will be to us a constant suggestion of fidelity to all.

The Una could boast for its correspondents some of the ablest men and women in the nation; such as William H. Channing, Elizabeth Peabody, Thomas Wentworth Higginson, Rev. A. D. Mayo, Dr. William Elder, Ednah D. Cheney, Caroline H. Dall, Fanny Fern, Elizabeth Oakes Smith, Frances D. Gage, Hannah Tracy Cutler, Abby H. Price, Marion Finch, of Liverpool, Hon. John Neal, of Portland, Lucy Stone, and Elizabeth Cady Stanton.

For some time Mrs. Dall assisted in the editorial department. The Una was the first pronounced Woman Suffrage paper; it lived three years. Glancing over the bound volumes, one may glean much valuable information of what was said and done during that period. We learn that Lady Grace Vandeleur, in person, canvassed the election of Kilrush, Ireland, and from her ladyship's open carriage,[Pg 247] addressed a large assemblage of electors on behalf of her husband, the Conservative candidate. She was enthusiastically greeted by the populace.

The Maine Age announces the election of a Miss Rose to the office of Register of Deeds, and remarks: "Before the morning of the twentieth century dawns, women will not simply fill your offices of Register of Deeds, but they will occupy seats in your Legislative Halls, on your judicial benches, and in the executive chair of State and Nation. We deprecate it, yet we perceive its inevitability, and await the shock with firmness and composure."

This same year, The Una narrates the following amusing incident that occurred in the town of P——, New Hampshire: It is customary in the country towns for those who choose to do so, to pay their proportion of the highway tax, in actual labor on the roads, at the rate of eight cents an hour, instead of paying money. Two able-bodied and strong-hearted women in P——, who found it very inconvenient to pay the ready cash required of them, determined to avail themselves of this custom. They accordingly presented themselves to the surveyor of the highway with hoes in their hands, and demanded to be set to work. The good surveyor was sorely puzzled; such a thing as women working out their taxes, had never been heard of, and yet the law made no provision against it. He consulted his lawyer, who advised him that he had no power to refuse. Accordingly the two brave women worked, and worked well, in spreading sand and gravel, saved their pennies, and no doubt felt all the better for their labor.

In the April Number, 1853, we find the following appeal to the citizens of Massachusetts, on the equal political rights of woman:

Fellow-Citizens:—In May next a Convention will assemble to revise the Constitution of the Commonwealth.

At such a time it is the right and duty of every one to point out whatever he deems erroneous and imperfect in that instrument, and press its amendment on public attention.

We deem the extension to woman of all civil rights, a measure of vital importance to the welfare and progress of the State. On every principle of natural justice, as well as by the nature of our institutions, she is as fully entitled as man to vote, and to be eligible to office. In governments based on force, it might be pretended with some plausibility, that woman being supposed physically weaker than man, should be excluded from the State. But ours is a government professedly resting on the consent of the governed. Woman is surely as competent to give that consent as man. Our Revolution claimed that taxation and representation should be co-extensive. While the property and labor of women are subject to taxation, she is entitled to a voice in fixing the amount[Pg 248] of taxes, and the use of them when collected, and is entitled to a voice in the laws that regulate punishments. It would be a disgrace to our schools and civil institutions, for any one to argue that a Massachusetts woman who has enjoyed the full advantage of all their culture, is not as competent to form an opinion on civil matters, as the illiterate foreigner landed but a few years before upon our shores—unable to read or write—by no means free from early prejudices, and little acquainted with our institutions. Yet such men are allowed to vote.

Woman as wife, mother, daughter, and owner of property, has important rights to be protected. The whole history of legislation so unequal between the sexes, shows that she can not safely trust these to the other sex. Neither have her rights as mother, wife, daughter, laborer, ever received full legislative protection. Besides, our institutions are not based on the idea of one class receiving protection from another; but on the well-recognized rule that each class, or sex, is entitled to such civil rights, as will enable it to protect itself. The exercise of civil rights is one of the best means of education. Interest in great questions, and the discussion of them under momentous responsibility, call forth all the faculties and nerve them to their fullest strength. The grant of these rights on the part of society, would quickly lead to the enjoyment by woman, of a share in the higher grades of professional employment. Indeed, without these, mere book study is often but a waste of time. The learning for which no use is found or anticipated, is too frequently forgotten, almost as soon as acquired. The influence of such a share, on the moral condition of society, is still more important. Crowded now into few employments, women starve each other by close competition; and too often vice borrows overwhelming power of temptation from poverty. Open to women a great variety of employments, and her wages in each will rise; the energy and enterprise of the more highly endowed, will find full scope in honest effort, and the frightful vice of our cities will be stopped at its fountain-head. We hint very briefly at these matters. A circular like this will not allow room for more. Some may think it too soon to expect any action from the Convention. Many facts lead us to think that public opinion is more advanced on this question than is generally supposed. Beside, there can be no time so proper to call public attention to a radical change in our civil polity as now, when the whole framework of our government is to be subjected to examination and discussion. It is never too early to begin the discussion of any desired change. To urge our claim on the Convention, is to bring our question before the proper tribunal, and secure at the same time the immediate attention of the general public. Massachusetts, though she has led the way in most other reforms, has in this fallen behind her rivals, consenting to learn, as to the protection of the property of married women, of many younger States. Let us redeem for her the old pre-eminence, and urge her to set a noble example in this the most important of all civil reforms. To this we ask you to join with us[49] in the accompanying petition to the Constitutional Convention.

[Pg 249]

In favor of this Appeal Lucy Stone, Theodore Parker, Wendell Phillips, and Thomas Wentworth Higginson, were heard.

We find in The Una the following report of Mr. Higginson's speech before the Committee of the Constitutional Convention on the qualification of voters, June 3, 1853, the question being on the petition of Abby May Alcott, and other women of Massachusetts, that they be permitted to vote on the amendments that may be made to the Constitution.


I need hardly suggest to the Committee the disadvantage under which I appear before them, in coming to glean after three of the most eloquent voices in this community, or any other [Lucy Stone, Wendell Phillips, and Theodore Parker]; in doing this, moreover, without having heard all their arguments, and in a fragment of time at the end of a two hours' sitting. I have also the minor disadvantage of gleaning after myself, having just ventured to submit a more elaborate essay on this subject, in a different form, to the notice of the Convention.

I shall therefore abstain from all debate upon the general question, and confine myself to the specific point now before this Committee. I shall waive all inquiry as to the right of women to equality in education, in occupations, or in the ordinary use of the elective franchise. The question before this Committee is not whether women shall become legal voters—but whether they shall have power to say, once for all, whether they wish to become legal voters. Whether, in one word, they desire to accept this Constitution which the Convention is framing.

It is well that the question should come up in this form, since the one efficient argument against the right of women to vote, in ordinary cases, is the plea that they do not wish to do it. "Their whole nature revolts at it." Very well; these petitioners simply desire an opportunity for Massachusetts women to say whether their nature does revolt at it or no.

The whole object of this Convention, as I heard stated by one of its firmest advocates, is simply this: to "make the Constitution of Massachusetts consistent with its own first principles." This is all these petitioners demand. Give them the premises which are conceded in our existing Bill of Rights, or even its Preamble, and they ask no more. I shall draw my few weapons from this source. I know that this document is not binding upon your Convention; nothing is binding upon you but eternal and absolute justice, and my predecessor has taken care of the claims of that. But the Bill of Rights is still the organic law of this State, and I can quote no better authority for those principles which lie at the foundation of all that we call republicanism.[Pg 250]

I. My first citation will be from the Preamble, and will establish as Massachusetts doctrine the principle of the Declaration of Independence, that all government owes its just powers to the consent of the governed.

"The end of the institution, maintenance, and administration of government, is to secure the existence of the body politic.... The body politic is formed by a voluntary association of individuals; it is a social compact, by which the whole people covenants with each citizen and each citizen with the whole people, that all shall be governed by certain laws for the common good.... It is the duty of the people, therefore, in framing a constitution of government, to provide for an equitable mode of making laws, as well as for an impartial interpretation and a faithful execution of them," etc., etc.

Now, women are "individuals"; women are a part of "the people"; women are "citizens," for the Constitution elsewhere distinguishes male citizens. This clause, then, concedes precisely that which your petitioners claim. Observe how explicit it is. The people are not merely to have good laws, well administered; but they must have an equitable mode of making those laws. The reason of this is, that good laws are no permanent security, unless enacted by equitable methods. Your laws may be the best ever devised; yet still they are only given as a temporary favor, not held as a right, unless the whole people are concerned in their enactment. It is the old claim of despots—that their laws are good. When they told Alexander of Russia that his personal character was as good as a constitution for his people, "then," said he, "I am but a lucky accident." Your constitution may be never so benignant to woman, but that is only a lucky accident, unless you concede the claim of these women to have a share in creating it. Nothing else "is an equitable mode of making laws." But it is too late to choose female delegates to your Convention, and the only thing you can do is to allow women to vote on the acceptance of its results. The claim of these petitioners may be unexpected, but is logically irresistible. If you do not wish it to be renewed, you must remember either to alter or abrogate your Bill of Rights; for the petition is based on that.

The last speaker called this movement a novelty. Not entirely so. The novelty is partly the other way. In Europe, women have direct political power; witness Victoria. It is a false democracy which has taken it away. In my more detailed argument, I have cited many instances of these foreign privileges. In monarchical countries the dividing lines are not of sex, but of rank. A plebeian woman has no political power—nor has her husband. Rank gives it to man, and, also, in a degree, to woman. But among us the only rank is of sex. Politically speaking, in Massachusetts all men are patrician, all women plebeian. All men are equal, in having direct political power; and all women are equal, in having none. And women lose by democracy precisely that which men gain. Therefore I say this disfranchisement of woman, as woman, is a novelty. It is a now aristocracy; for, as De Tocqueville says, wherever one class has peculiar powers, as such, there is aristocracy and oligarchy.[Pg 251]

We see the result of this in our general mode of speaking of woman. We forget to speak of her as an individual being, only as a thing. A political writer coolly says, that in Massachusetts, "except criminals and paupers, there is no class of persons who do not exercise the elective franchise." Women are not even a "class of persons." And yet, most readers would not notice this extraordinary omission. I talked the other day with a young radical preacher about his new religious organization. "Who votes under it?" said I. "Oh," (he said, triumphantly,) "we go for progress and liberty; anybody and everybody votes." "What!" said I, "women?" "No," said he, rather startled; "I did not think of them when I spoke." Thus quietly do we all talk of "anybody and everybody," and omit half the human race. Indeed, I read in the newspaper, this morning, of some great festivity, that "all the world and his wife" would be there! Women are not a part of the world, but only its "wife." They are not even "the rest of mankind"; they are womankind! All these things show the results of that inconsistency with the first principles of our Constitution of which the friends of this Convention justly complain.

II. So much for the general statement of the Massachusetts Bill of Rights in its Preamble. But one clause is even more explicit. In Section 9, I find the following:

"All the inhabitants of this Commonwealth, having such qualifications as they shall establish by their form of government, have an equal right to elect officers," etc.

As "they" shall establish. Who are they? Manifestly, the inhabitants as a whole. No part can have power, except by the consent of the whole, so far as that consent is practicable. Accordingly, you submit your Constitution for ratification—to whom? Not to the inhabitants of the State, not even to a majority of the native adult inhabitants; for it is estimated that at any given moment—in view of the great number of men emigrating to the West, to California, or absent on long voyages—the majority of the population of Massachusetts is female. You disfranchise the majority, then; the greater part of "the inhabitants" have no share in establishing the form of government, or assigning the qualifications of voters. What worse can you say of any oligarchy? True, your aristocracy is a large one—almost a majority, you may say. But so, in several European nations, is nobility almost in a majority, and you almost hire a nobleman to black your shoes; they are as cheap as generals and colonels in New England. But the principle is the same, whether the privileged minority consists of one or one million.

It is said that a tacit consent has been hitherto given by the absence of open protest? The same argument maybe used concerning the black majority in South Carolina. Besides, your new Constitution is not yet made, and there has been no opportunity to assent to it. It will not be identical with the old one; but, even if it were, you propose to ask a renewed consent from men, and why not from women? Is it because a lady's "Yes" is always so fixed a certainty, that it never can be transformed to a "No," at a later period?

But I am compelled, by the fixed period of adjournment (10 a.m.), to[Pg 252] cut short my argument, as I have been already compelled to condense it. I pray your consideration for the points I have urged. Believe me, it is easier to ridicule the petition of these women than to answer the arguments which sustain it. And, as the great republic of ancient times did not blush to claim that laws and governments were first introduced by Ceres, a woman, so I trust that the representatives of this noblest of modern commonwealths may not be ashamed to receive legislative suggestions from even female petitioners.

On Tuesday, August 12, 1853, in Committee of the Whole, the report that "it is inexpedient to act on the petition" of several parties that women may vote, was taken up.

Mr. Green, of Brookfield, opposed the report, contending that women being capable of giving or withholding their assent to the acts of government, should upon every principle of justice and equality, be permitted to participate in its administration. He denied that men were of right the guardians or trustees of women, since they had not been appointed, but had usurped that position. Women had inherent natural rights as a portion of the people, and they should be permitted to vote in order to protect those inherent rights.

Mr. Keyes, of Abington, paid a warm tribute to the virtues and abilities of the fairer sex, and was willing to concede that they were to some extent oppressed and denied their rights; but he did not believe the granting of the privileges these petitioners claimed would tend to elevate or ameliorate their condition. Woman exerted great power by the exercise of her feminine graces and virtues, which she would lose the moment she should step beyond her proper sphere and mingle in the affairs of State!

Mr. Whitney, of Boylston, believed that the same reasoning that would deny the divine right of kings to govern men without their consent, would also deny a similar right of men over women. The Committee had given the best of reasons for granting the prayer of the petitioners, and then reported that they have leave to withdraw. He expatiated on the grievances to which women are subjected, and concluded by moving as an amendment to the report, that the prayer of the petitioners ought to be granted.

The Committee then rose, and had leave to sit again. Wednesday the first business of importance was the taking up in Committee of the report "leave to withdraw," relative to giving certain privileges to women. Question on the amendment of Mr. Whitney to amend the conclusion of the report, by inserting "that the prayer of the petitioners be granted." Debate ensued on the subject between Messrs. Marvin, of Winchendon; Kingman, of West Bridgewater; when the question was taken, and Mr. Whitney's amendment rejected. Mr. Marvin then moved to substitute "inexpedient to act" for "leave to withdraw"; which was adopted. The Committee then rose, and recommended the adoption of the report as amended, by a vote of 108 to 44.

[Pg 253]

The prejudices of the 108 outweighed all the able arguments made by those who represented the petitioners, and all the great principles of justice on which a true republic is based.

We find the following comments on the character and duties of the gentlemen who composed the Convention, from the pen of Mr. Higginson, in The Una of June, 1853:

To the members of the Massachusetts Constitutional Convention:

The publication in our newspapers of the list of members of your honorable body, has won the just tribute of men of all parties to the happy result of the selection. Never, it is thought, has Massachusetts witnessed a political assembly of more eminent or accomplished men. And yet there are those to whom the daring thought has occurred, that to convoke such ability and learning, only to decide whether our Legislature shall be hereafter elected by towns or districts, is somewhat like the course of Columbus in assembling the dignitaries of his nation to decide whether an egg could be best poised upon the larger or the smaller end. A question which was necessarily settled, after all, by a compromise, as this will be.

But at that moment, there lay within the brain of the young Genoese a dream, which although denounced by prelates and derided by statesmen was yet destined to add another half to the visible earth; so there is brooding in the soul of this generation, a vision of the greatest of all political discoveries, which, when accepted, will double the intellectual resources of society, and give a new world, not to Castile and Leon only, but to Massachusetts and the human race.

And lastly, as we owe the labor and the laurels of Columbus only to the liberal statesmanship of a woman, it is surely a noble hope, that the future Isabellas of this Nation may point the way for their oppressed sisters of Europe to a suffrage truly universal, and a political freedom bounded neither by station nor by sex.

Elizabeth Oakes Smith, writing in The Una, says of this historical occasion:

The Massachusetts Convention did not deign to notice the prayer of these two thousand women who claimed the privilege of being heard by men who assert that we are represented through them. They decided that "it is inexpedient to act upon said petition." This is no cause for discouragement to those who have the subject at heart. Two thousand signers are quite as many, if not more, than we supposed would be procured. The believers in the rights of woman to entire equality with man in every department involving the question of human justice are entirely in the minority. The majority believe that their wives and mothers are household chattels; believe that they were expressly created for no other purposes than those of maternity in their highest aspect; in their next for purposes of passion, with the long retinue of unhallowed sensualities, debasements, and pollutions which follow in the train of evil indulgence.[Pg 254] With others, women are sewers on of buttons; darners of stockings; makers of puddings; appendages to wash days, bakings, and brewings; echoes and adjectives to men for ever and ever. They are compounds of tears, hysterics, frettings, scoldings, complainings; made up of craftiness and imbecilities, to be wheedled, and coaxed, and coerced like unmanageable children. The idea of a true, noble womanhood is yet to be created. It does not live in the public mind. Now, in answer to the petition of these two thousand women, the Committee reply that all just governments exist by the consent of the governed. An old truism. We reply, women have given no such consent, and therefore are not bound to allegiance. But our sapient Legislators say, since there are two hundred thousand women in Massachusetts twenty-one years of age, and only two thousand who sign this petition, therefore it is fair to suppose that the larger part of the women of the State have consented to the present form of government. Now, this is assuredly a willful and unworthy perversion of the truth. These women are simply ignorant, simply supine. They have neither affirmed nor denied. They have not thought at all upon the subject. But there are two thousand women in Massachusetts who think and act, to say nothing of the thousands of intelligent men there who believe in the same doctrine. Now here is a little army in one State alone, and that a conservative one, while through the Middle and Western States are thousands thinking in the same direction. Here is the leaven that must leaven the whole lump. Here is the wise minority which will hereafter become the overwhelming majority of the country. The Committee remark on the fact that while 50,000 women have petitioned for a law to repress the sale of intoxicating liquor, only two thousand petition for the right to vote! While the multitude could readily trace the downfall of father, husband, brother, and son, to the dram-shop, only the thinking few could see the power beyond the law and the lawmaker that protects the traffic, the right to the ballot, with which to strike the most effective blow in the right place.


Boston, Friday, June 2, 1854.

This Convention assembled the day on which poor Anthony Burns was consigned to hopeless bondage;[50] and though many friends of the woman movement remained in the streets to see his surrender, still at an early hour the hall was literally crowded with earnest men and women, whom a deep interest in the cause had drawn together. Sarah H. Earle, of Worcester, was chosen President; Lucy Stone, Chairman of the Business Committee, reported the resolutions, among which we find the following:

Resolved, That the Common Law, which governs the marriage relation, and blots out the legal existence of a wife, denies her right to the product[Pg 255] of her own industry, denies her equal property rights, even denies her right to her children, and the custody of her own person, is grossly unjust to woman, dishonorable to man, and destructive to the harmony of life's holiest relation.

Resolved, That the laws which destroy the legal individuality of woman after her marriage are equally pernicious to man as to woman, and may give to him in marriage a slave, or a tyrant, but never a wife.

William Lloyd Garrison, Emma E. Coe, Josephine S. Griffing, Wendell Phillips, Dr. Harriot K. Hunt, Rev. S. S. Griswold, Sarah Pellet, Abby Kelly Foster, Mrs. Morton, and Lucy Stone took part in the debates. Letters were received from Thomas W. Higginson, Rev. A. D. Mayo, Paulina Wright Davis, Mrs. Nichols, and Sarah Crosby. Francis Jackson,[51] of Boston, made a contribution of $50. Committees were appointed from each of the New England States to circulate petitions for securing a change in the laws regulating the property of married women, and limiting the right of suffrage to men. All the sessions drew crowded audiences, and the enthusiasm was sustained to the end. The sympathy for Burns intensified the feelings of those present against all forms of oppression. Those who had witnessed the military parade through the streets of Boston to drive the slave—a minister of the Baptist denomination in his southern home—from the land of the Pilgrims where he had sought refuge, were roused to plead with new earnestness and power for equal rights to all without distinction of sex or color.


Sept. 19 and 20, 1855.

This Convention was fully attended through six sessions, and gave great satisfaction to all engaged in it. After its close, its officers received such expressions of interest from persons not previously enlisted in the cause, as to convince them that a lasting impression was made. The attendance was the best that Boston could furnish in intelligence and respectability, and to a greater degree than usual clerical. Mrs. Paulina Wright Davis was again chosen President. Business Committee—Dr. William F. Channing, Caroline H. Dall, Wendell Phillips, and Caroline M. Severance. Among the Vice-Presidents we find the names of Harriot K. Hunt and Thomas Wentworth Higginson. Caroline H. Dall, Ellen M. Tarr, and Paulina Wright Davis presented carefully prepared digests of the laws of several of the New England States. Mrs. Davis said:[Pg 256]

In 1844 a bill was introduced into the Legislature of this State (Rhode Island) by Hon. Wilkins Updike, securing to married women their property "under certain regulations." The step was a progressive one, and hailed at that time as a bright omen for the future. Other States have followed the example, and the right of woman to some control of her property has been recognized. In 1847 Vermont passed similar enactments; in 1848-'49, Connecticut, New York, and Texas; in 1850-'52, Alabama and Maine; in 1853, New Hampshire, Indiana, Wisconsin, and Iowa followed. But the provisions "under certain regulations" left married women almost as helpless as before.

Mrs. Davis further says: If in 1855, from the practical workings of these statutes, we find ourselves compelled to pronounce them despotic in spirit, degrading and tyrannical in effect, we do not the less give honor to the man who was so far in advance of his age as to conceive the idea of raising woman a little in the scale of being.

We have always claimed the honor for New York as being first in this matter, because the Property Bill was presented there in 1836, and when finally passed in 1848, was far more liberal than in any other State; and step by step her legislation was broadened, until 1860 the revolution was complete, securing to married women their own inheritance absolutely, to use, will, and dispose of as they see fit; to do business in their name, make contracts, sue, and be sued.

The speakers on the first day of this Convention were Wendell Phillips, Thomas W. Higginson, and Lucy Stone; on the second morning, Caroline H. Dall, Antoinette L. Brown, and Susan B. Anthony. The evening closed with a lecture from Ralph Waldo Emerson, and a poem by Elizabeth Oakes Smith. No report of the debates was preserved.

In a letter to her family Susan B. Anthony, under date of Sept. 27th, says:

I went into Boston on Tuesday, with Lucy Stone, to attend the Convention. We stopped at Francis Jackson's, where we found Antoinette Brown and Ellen Blackwell. A pleasant company in that most hospitable home. The Convention passed off pleasantly, but with none of the enthusiasm we have in our New York meetings. As this was my first visit to Boston, Mr. Jackson took Antoinette and myself round to see the lions; to the House of Correction, the House of Reformation, the Merchant's Exchange, the Custom-House, State House, and Faneuil Hall, and then dined with his daughter, Eliza J. Eddy, in South Boston, returning in the afternoon. Lucy and Antoinette left, one for New York and the other for Brookfield. In the evening, Ellen Blackwell and I attended a reception at Mr. Garrison's, where we met several of the literati, and were most heartily welcomed by Mrs. Garrison, a noble, self-sacrificing woman, the loving and the loved, surrounded with healthy, happy children in that model home. Mr. Garrison was omnipresent[Pg 257] now talking and introducing guests, now soothing some child to sleep, and now, with his charming wife, looking after the refreshments. There we met Mrs. Dall, Elizabeth Peabody, Mrs. McCready, the Shakespearian reader, Mrs. Severance, Dr. Hunt, Charles F. Hovey, Francis Jackson, Wendell Phillips, Sarah Pugh, of Philadelphia, and others. Having worshiped these distinguished people afar off, it was a great satisfaction to see so many face to face.

On Saturday morning, in company with Mr. and Mrs. Garrison and Sarah Pugh, I visited Mount Auburn. What a magnificent resting-place this is! We could not find Margaret Fuller's monument, which I regretted. I spent Sunday with Charles Lenox Remond; we drove to Lynn with matchless steeds to hear Theodore Parker preach. What a sermon! our souls were filled. We discussed its excellence at James Buffum's, where, with other friends, we dined. Visited the steamer Africa next day, in which Ellen Blackwell was soon to sail for Liverpool.

Monday Mr. Garrison escorted me to Charlestown; we stood on the very spot where Warren fell, and mounted the interminable staircase to the top of Bunker Hill Monument, where we had an extensive view of the harbor and surrounding country. Then we called on Theodore Parker; found him up three flights of stairs in his library, covering that whole floor of his house; the room is lined all round with books to the very top—16,000 volumes—and there, at a large table in the center of the apartment, sat the great man himself. It really seemed audacious in me to be ushered into such a presence, and on such a commonplace errand, to ask him to come to Rochester to speak in a course of lectures I am planning. But he received me with such kindness and simplicity, that the awe I felt on entering was soon dissipated. I then called on Wendell Phillips, in his sanctum, for the same purpose. I have invited Ralph Waldo Emerson by letter, and all three have promised to come. In the evening, with Mr. Jackson's son James, the most diffident and sensitive man I ever saw, Miss B—— and I went to the theater to see Dussendoff, the great tragedian, play Hamlet. The theater is new, the scenery beautiful, and, in spite of my Quaker training, I find I enjoy all these worldly amusements intensely.

Returning to Worcester, I attended the Anti-Slavery Bazaar. I suppose there were many beautiful things exhibited, but I was so absorbed in the conversation of Mr. Higginson, Samuel May, Jr., Sarah Earle, Cousin Dr. Seth Rogers, Stephen and Abby Foster, that I really forgot to take a survey of the tables. The next day Charles F. Hovey drove me out to the home of the Fosters, where we had a pleasant call.

Francis Jackson and Charles F. Hovey, though neither speakers nor writers, yet they furnished the "sinews of war." None contributed more generously than they to all the reforms of their times. They were the first men to make a bequest to our movement. To them we are indebted for the money that enabled us to carry on the agitation for years. Beside giving liberally from time to time, Francis Jackson left $5,000 in the hands of Wendell Phillips, which[Pg 258] he managed and invested so wisely, that the fund was nearly doubled. Charles F. Hovey left $50,000 to be used in anti-slavery, woman suffrage, and free religion. With the exception of $1,000 from Lydia Maria Child, we have yet to hear of a woman of wealth who has left anything for the enfranchisement of her sex. Almost every daily paper heralds the fact of some large bequest to colleges, churches, and charities by rich women, but it is proverbial that they never remember the Woman Suffrage movement that underlies in importance all others.

MARCH, 1857.

The Boston Traveller says: The Representatives Hall yesterday afternoon was completely filled, galleries and all, to hear the arguments before the Judiciary Committee, to whom was referred the petition of Lucy Stone and others for equal rights for "females" in the administration of government, for the right of suffrage, etc.

Rev. James Freeman Clarke was the first speaker. He said: Gentlemen, the question before you is, Shall the women of Massachusetts have equal rights with the men? The fundamental principles of the Constitution set forth equal rights to all. A large portion of the property of Massachusetts is owned by women, probably one-third of the whole amount, and yet they are not represented, though compelled to pay taxes. It has been said they are represented by their husbands. So it was said that the American colonies were represented in the British Parliament, but the colonies were not contented with such representation; neither are women contented to be represented by men. As long as we put woman's name on the tax-list we should put it in the ballot-box.

Wendell Phillips said: Self-government was the foundation of our institutions. July 4, 1776, sent the message round the world that every man can take care of himself better than any one else can do it for him. If you tax me, consult me. If you hang me, first try me by a jury of my own peers. What I ask for myself, I ask for woman. In the banks, a woman, as a stockholder, is allowed to vote. In the Bank of England, in the East India Company, in State Street, her power is felt, her voice controls millions.

Three hundred years ago it was said woman had no right to profess any religion, as it would make discord in the family if she differed from her husband. The same conservatism warns us of the danger of allowing her any political opinions.

Lucy Stone said: The argument that the wife, having the right of suffrage, would cause discord in the family, is entirely incorrect. When men wish to procure the vote of a neighbor, do they not approach them with the utmost suavity, and would not the husband who wished to influence the wife's vote be far more gracious than usual? She instanced the heroic conduct of Mrs. Patton, who navigated her husband's ship into the harbor of San Francisco, as an argument in favor of woman's[Pg 259] power of command and of government. The captain and mate lying ill with a fever, she had the absolute control of both vessel and crew. Mrs. Stone's speech was comprehensive and pointed, and called forth frequent applause.

Dr. Harriot K. Hunt, a woman of wealth and position, protested every year against being compelled to pay taxes while not recognized in the government.


To Frederick W. Tracy, Treasurer, and the Assessors, and other Authorities of the city of Boston, and the Citizens generally:

Harriot K. Hunt, physician, a native and permanent resident of the city of Boston, and for many years a taxpayer therein, in making payment of her city taxes for the coming year, begs leave to protest against the injustice and inequality of levying taxes upon women, and at the same time refusing them any voice or vote in the imposition and expenditure of the same. The only classes of male persons required to pay taxes, and not at the same time allowed the privilege of voting, are aliens and minors. The objection in the case of aliens is their supposed want of interest in our institutions and knowledge of them. The objection in the case of minors, is the want of sufficient understanding. These objections can not apply to women, natives of the city, all of whose property interests are here, and who have accumulated, by their own sagacity and industry, the very property on which they are taxed. But this is not all; the alien, by going through the forms of naturalization, the minor on coming of age, obtain the right of voting; and so long as they continue to pay a mere poll-tax of a dollar and a half, they may continue to exercise it, though so ignorant as not to be able to sign their names, or read the very votes they put into the ballot-boxes. Even drunkards, felons, idiots, and lunatics, if men, may still enjoy that right of voting to which no woman, however large the amount of taxes she pays, however respectable her character, or useful her life, can ever attain. Wherein, your remonstrant would inquire, is the justice, equality, or wisdom of this?

That the rights and interests of the female part of the community are sometimes forgotten or disregarded in consequence of their deprivation of political rights, is strikingly evinced, as appears to your remonstrant, in the organization and administration of the city public schools. Though there are open in this State and neighborhood, a great multitude of colleges and professional schools for the education of boys and young men, yet the city has very properly provided two High-Schools of its own, one Latin, the other English, in which the "male graduates" of the Grammar Schools may pursue their education still farther at the public expense. And why is not a like provision made for the girls? Why is their education stopped short, just as they have attained the age best fitted for progress, and the preliminary knowledge necessary to facilitate it, thus giving the advantage of superior culture to sex, not to mind?[Pg 260]

The fact that our colleges and professional schools are closed against females, of which your remonstrant has had personal and painful experience; having been in the year 1847, after twelve years of medical practice in Boston, refused permission to attend the lectures of Harvard Medical College. That fact would seem to furnish an additional reason why the city should provide, at its own expense, those means of superior education which, by supplying our girls with occupation and objects of interest, would not only save them from lives of frivolity and emptiness, but which might open the way to many useful and lucrative pursuits, and so raise them above that degrading dependence, so fruitful a source of female misery.

Reserving a more full exposition of the subject to future occasions, your remonstrant, in paying her tax for the current year, begs leave to protest against the injustice and inequalities above pointed out.

Harriot K. Hunt,
32 Green Street, Boston, Mass.

This is respectfully submitted,

Harriot K. Hunt commenced the practice of medicine at the age of thirty, in 1835; twelve years after, was refused admission to Harvard Medical Lectures. She often said that as her love element had all centered in her profession, she intended to celebrate her silver wedding, which she did, in the summer of 1860. Her house was crowded with a large circle of loving friends, who decorated it with flowers and many bridal offerings, thus expressing their esteem and affection for the first woman physician, who had done so much to relieve the sufferings of women and children. The degree of M.D. was conferred on her by "The Woman's Medical College of Pennsylvania," in 1853. Her biographer says she honored the title more than the title could her.


It was my privilege to celebrate May day by officiating at a wedding in a farm-house among the hills of West Brookfield. The bridegroom was a man of tried worth, a leader in the Western Anti-Slavery Movement; and the bride was one whose fair name is known throughout the nation; one whose rare intellectual qualities are excelled by the private beauty of her heart and life.

I never perform the marriage ceremony without a renewed sense of the iniquity of our present system of laws in respect to marriage; a system by which "man and wife are one, and that one is the husband." It was with my hearty concurrence, therefore, that the following protest was read and signed, as a part of the nuptial ceremony; and I send it to you, that others may be induced to do likewise.

Rev. Thomas Wentworth Higginson.


While acknowledging our mutual affection by publicly assuming the relationship of husband and wife, yet in justice to ourselves and a great[Pg 261] principle, we deem it a duty to declare that this act on our part implies no sanction of, nor promise of voluntary obedience to such of the present laws of marriage, as refuse to recognize the wife as an independent, rational being, while they confer upon the husband an injurious and unnatural superiority, investing him with legal powers which no honorable man would exercise, and which no man should possess. We protest especially against the laws which give to the husband:

1. The custody of the wife's person.

2. The exclusive control and guardianship of their children.

3. The sole ownership of her personal, and use of her real estate, unless previously settled upon her, or placed in the hands of trustees, as in the case of minors, lunatics, and idiots.

4. The absolute right to the product of her industry.

5. Also against laws which give to the widower so much larger and more permanent an interest in the property of his deceased wife, than they give to the widow in that of the deceased husband.

6. Finally, against the whole system by which "the legal existence of the wife is suspended during marriage," so that in most States, she neither has a legal part in the choice of her residence, nor can she make a will, nor sue or be sued in her own name, nor inherit property.

We believe that personal independence and equal human rights can never be forfeited, except for crime; that marriage should be an equal and permanent partnership, and so recognized by law; that until it is so recognized, married partners should provide against the radical injustice of present laws, by every means in their power.

We believe that where domestic difficulties arise, no appeal should be made to legal tribunals under existing laws, but that all difficulties should be submitted to the equitable adjustment of arbitrators mutually chosen.

Thus reverencing law, we enter our protest against rules and customs which are unworthy of the name, since they violate justice, the essence of law.

(Signed),     Henry. B. Blackwell,
Lucy Stone.

Worcester Spy, 1855.

To the above The Liberator appended the following:

We are very sorry (as will be a host of others) to lose Lucy Stone, and certainly no less glad to gain Lucy Blackwell. Our most fervent benediction upon the heads of the parties thus united.

This was a timely protest against the whole idea of the old Blackstone code, which made woman a nonentity in marriage. Lucy Stone took an equally brave step in refusing to take her husband's name, respecting her own individuality and the name that represented it. These protests have called down on Mrs. Stone much ridicule and persecution, but she has firmly maintained her position, although at great inconvenience in the execution of legal documents, and suffering the injustice of having her vote refused as[Pg 262] Lucy Stone, soon after the bill passed in Massachusetts giving all women the right to vote on the school question.

In 1858, Caroline H. Dall, of Boston, gave a series of literary lectures in different parts of the country, on "Woman's Claims to Education," beginning in her native city. Her subjects were:

Nov. 1st.—The ideal standard of education, depressed by public opinion, but developed by the spirit of the age; Egypt and Algiers.

Nov. 8th.—Public opinion, as it is influenced by the study of the Classics and History, by general literature, newspapers, and customs.

Nov. 15th.—Public opinion as modified by individual lives: Mary Wollstonecroft, Anna Jamieson, Charlotte Bronté, and Margaret Fuller.

In June 11th, of this year, Mrs. Dall writes to the Liberator of her efforts to circulate the following petition:

To the Honorable, the Senate and House of Representatives of the Commonwealth of Massachusetts, in General Court assembled:

Whereas, The women of Massachusetts are disfranchised by its State Constitution solely on account of sex.

We do respectfully demand the right of suffrage, which involves all other rights of citizenship, and one that can not justly be withheld, as the following admitted principles of government show:

1st. "All men are born free and equal."

2d. "Governments derive their just powers from the consent of the governed."

3d. "Taxation and representation are inseparable." We, the undersigned, therefore petition your Honorable Body to take the necessary steps to revise the Constitution so that all citizens may enjoy equal political rights.


May 27th, 1859, an enthusiastic Convention was held in Mercantile Hall. Long before the hour announced the aisles, ante-rooms,, and lobbies were crowded. At three o'clock Mrs. Caroline H. Dall called the meeting to order. Mrs. Caroline M. Severance was chosen President. On taking the chair, she said:

This movement enrolls itself among the efforts of the age, and the anniversaries of the week as the most radical, and yet in the best sense the most conservative of them all. It bears the same relation, to all the charities of the day, which strive nobly to serve woman, that the Anti-Slavery movement bears to all superficial palliations of slavery. Like that, it goes beneath effects, and seeks to remove causes. After showing in a very lucid manner the difference in the family institution, when the mother is ignorant and enslaved, and when an educated, harmoniously developed equal, she closed by saying: It will be seen then, that instead of confounding the philosophy of the new movement with theories that claim unlimited indulgence for appetite or passion, the world should recognize[Pg 263] in this the only radical cure.... No statement could better define this movement than Tennyson's beautiful stanzas:

The woman's cause is man's; they sink or rise
Together, dwarfed or godlike, bond or free,
If she be small, slight-natured, miserable,
How shall man grow?
The woman is not undeveloped man,
But diverse.
Yet in the long years, liker must they grow;
The man be more of woman, she of man:
He gain in sweetness and in moral height—
She mental breadth, nor fail in childward care,
Nor lose the childlike in the larger mind.
And so these twain, upon the skirts of Time
Sit side by side, full-summed in all their powers,
Self-reverent each, and reverencing each;
Distinct in individualities,
But like each other, as are those who love.
Then comes the statelier Eden back to man;
Then reign the world's great bridals, chaste and calm;
Then springs the crowning race of humankind.

And we who are privileged with the poet to foresee this better Eden; we who have

The Future grand and great,—
The safe appeal of Truth to Time,—

adopting the victorious cry of the Crusaders, "God wills it!" may listen to hear above the present din and discord, the stern mandate of His laws, bidding the world "Onward! onward!" and catch the rhythmical reply of all its movements, "We advance."

Mrs. Severance then read an appropriate poem from the pen of Mrs. Sarah Nowell, in which she eulogizes Florence Nightingale, Rosa Bonheur, Harriet Hosmer, and asserts the equality of man and woman in the creation.

Dr. Harriot K. Hunt made some pointed remarks on the education of woman.

The Rev. James Freeman Clarke was then introduced. He said:

I understand the cause advocated on this platform to be an unpopular one. It is a feeble cause, a misunderstood cause, a misrepresented cause. Hence, it seems to me, if any one is asked to say anything in behalf of it, and if he really believes it is a good cause, he should speak; and so I have come.

Certainly any interest which concerns one-half the human race is an important one. Every man, no matter how stern, hard, and unrelenting he may have become in the bitter strife and struggle of the world, every man was once a little infant, cradled on a mother's knee, and taking[Pg 264] his life from the sweet fountains of her love. He was a little child, watched by her tender, careful eye, and so secured from ill. He was a little, inquiring boy, with a boundless appetite for information, which only his mother could give. At her knee he found his primary school: it is where we have all found it. He had his sisters—the companions of his childhood; he had the little girls, who were to him the ideals of some wonderful goodness and excellence, some strange grace and beauty, though he could not tell what it was. With these antecedents no man on the face of the round world can refuse to hear woman, when she comes earnestly, but quietly saying, "We are not where we ought to be;" "We do not have what we ought to have." I think their demands are reasonable, all of them. What are they? Occupation, education, and the highest sphere of work of which they are capable. These I understand to be the three demands.

1st. Occupation. When your child steals on a busy hour and asks for "something to do," you feel ashamed that you have nothing for him—that you can not give him the natural occupation which shall develop all the faculties of mind and body. Is it not a reasonable request which women make, when they ask for something to do? They want to be useful in the world. They ask permission to support themselves and those who are dear to them. What can they do now? They can go into factories, a few of them; a few more can be servants in your homes; they can cook your dinner if they have been taught how. If they are women of genius, they can take the pen and write; but how few are there in this world, either men or women of genius. If they have extraordinary business talent, they can keep a boarding-house. If they have some education they can keep school. After this, there is the point of the needle upon which they may be precipitated—and nothing else.

We see the gloom that must fall on them, on their children, and on all they love, when the male protector is taken away. This demand for more varied occupation is not a new one. Many years ago, one of the wisest and truest men of this country, a philanthropist and reformer—Matthew Carey, of Philadelphia—labored to impress upon the people the fact, that what was wanted for the elevation of woman was to open to her new avenues of business. A very sad book was written a few months ago, "Dr. Sanger's work on Prostitution." It is a very dreadful book; not calculated, I think, to excite any prurient feeling in any one. In that book he says:

First, that the majority of the prostitutes of this country are mere children, between the ages of fifteen and twenty. That the lives of these poor, wretched, degraded creatures, last on an average about four years. Now, when we hear of slaves used up in six years on a sugar plantation, we think it horrible; but here are these poor girls killed in a more dreadful way, in a shorter time. And he adds that the principal cause of their prostitution is that they have no occupation by which they can support themselves. Without support, without resources, they struggle for a while and then are thrown under the feet of the trampling city. Give them occupation and they will take care of themselves: they will rise out of the mire of pollution, out of[Pg 265] this filth; for it is not in the nature of woman to remain there. Give them at least a chance; open wide every door; and whenever they are able to get a living by their head or their hands in an honest way, let them do it. This is the first claim; and it seems to me that no one can reasonably object to it.

2d. Education. You say that public schools are open to girls as well as boys. I know that, but what is it that educates? The school has but little to do with it. When the boy goes there you say, "Go there, work with a will, and fit yourself for an occupation whereby you may earn your bread." But you say to the girls, "Go to school, get your education, and then come home, sit still, and do nothing." We must give them every chance to fit themselves for new spheres of duty. If a woman wants to study medicine, let her study it; if she wants to study divinity, let her study it; if she wants to study anything, let her have the opportunity. If she finds faculties within her, let them have a chance to expand. That is the second demand—the whole of it.

And the third claim is for a Sphere of Influence. "That is not it," do you say? "You want to take woman out of her sphere." Not at all, we wish to give her a sphere, not to take her from any place she likes to fill; to give her a chance to exercise those wonderful, those divine faculties that God has wrapped in the feminine mind, in the woman's heart.

As regards voting, why should not women go to the polls? You think it a very strange desire, I know; but we have thought many things stranger which seem quite natural now. One need not live long to find strange things grow common. Why not vote, then? Is it because they have not as much power to understand what is true and right as man? If you go to the polls, and see the style of men who meet there voting, can you come away, and tell us that the women you meet are not as able to decide what is right as those men? "Ah, it will brush off every feminine grace, if woman goes to the polls." Why? "Because she must meet rude men there." Very well, so she must meet them in the street, and they do not hurt her; nor will I believe that there is not sufficient inventive power in the Yankee intellect to overcome this difficulty. I can conceive of a broader and more generous activity in politics. I can see her drawing out all the harshness and bitterness when she goes to the polls. These three points are all I intended to touch; and I will give way to those who are to follow.

Mrs. Caroline H. Dall was then introduced. She said: I have observed that all public orators labor under some embarrassment when they rise to speak. Not to be behind the dignity of my position, I labor under a double embarrassment.

The first is the "embarras des richesses." There are so many topics to touch, so many facts to relate, that it is impossible to cover them in one half hour, and the second—perhaps you will think that an embarrassment of riches also; for it is an embarrassment of Clarke and Phillips. The orator needs no common courage who follows the one and precedes the other. It is my duty to speak of the progress of the cause; it is impossible to keep pace with it. You may work day and night, but this thought of God outstrips you, working hourly through the life of man.[Pg 266] Yet we must often feel discouraged. Our war is not without; our work follows us into the heart of the family. We must sustain ourselves in that dear circle against our nearest friends; against the all-pervading law, "Thus far shalt thou come, and no farther."

What have we gained since 1855? Many things, so important, that they can not be worthily treated here. I have often mentioned in my lectures, that in his first report to the French Government, Neckar gave the credit of his retrenchments to his thrifty, order-loving wife. Until this year, that acknowledgment stood alone in history. But now John Stuart Mill, the great philosopher and political economist of England, dedicates his "Essay on Liberty" to the memory of his beloved wife, who has been the inspiration of all, and the author of much that was best in his writings for many years past. Still farther, in a pamphlet on "English Political Reform," treating of the extension of the suffrage, he has gone so far as to recommend that all householders, without distinction of sex, be adopted into the constituency, upon proving to the registrar's officer that they have a certain income—say fifty pounds—and "that they can read, write, and calculate."

A great step was taken also in the establishment of the Institution for the Advancement of Social Science. The sexes are equal before it. It has five departments. 1. Jurisprudence, or Law Reform; 2. Education; 3. Punishment and Reformation; 4. Public Health; 5. Social Economy.

The first meeting at Liverpool considered the woman's question; and, while it was debated, Mary Carpenter sat upon the platform, or lifted her voice side by side with Brougham, Lord John Russell, and Stanley. At the second meeting (last October), Lord John Russell was in the chair. The Lord Chancellor of Ireland presided over Law Reform; the Right Hon. W. F. Cooper, over the department of Education; the Earl of Carlyle—personally known to many on this platform—over that which concerns the Reformation of Criminals; the Earl of Shaftesbury over Public Health; and Conolly and Charles Kingsley and Tom Taylor and Rawlinson bore witness side by side with Florence Nightingale. Sir James Stephen presided over Social Economy. Isa Craig, the Burns poetess, is one of its Secretaries.

Ten communications were read at this session by women; among them, Florence Nightingale, Mary Carpenter, Isa Craig, Louisa Twining, and Mrs. Fison. Four were on Popular Education, two upon Punishment and Reformation, three on the Public Health in the Army and elsewhere, one upon Social Economy. Still another proof of progress may be seen in the examination of Florence Nightingale by the Sanitary Commission.

[In the establishment of The Englishwoman's Journal with an honorable corps of writers, in the passage of the new Divorce Bill, of the Married Woman's Property Bill in Canada, the cause had gained much; on each of which Mrs. Dall spoke at some length, especially this Property Bill, which some foolish member had shorn of its most precious clause—that which secured her earnings to the working-woman, lest, by tempting her to labor, it should create a divided interest in the family].

Do you ask me why I have dwelt on this Institution for Social Science, cataloguing the noble names that do it honor? To strengthen the timorous[Pg 267] hearts at the West End; to suggest to them that a coronet of God's own giving may possibly rest as secure as one of gold and jewels in the United Kingdom. I wish to draw your attention to the social distinction of the men upon that platform. No real nobleness will be imperiled by impartial listening to our plea. Would you rest secure in our respect, first feel secure in your own. If ten Beacon Street ladies would go to work, and take pay for their labor, it would do more good than all the speeches that were ever made, all the conventions that were ever held. I honor women who act. That is the reason that I greet so gladly girls like Harriet Hosmer, Louisa Lander, and Margurèite Foley. Whatever they do, or do not do, for Art, they do a great deal for the cause of Labor. I do not believe any one in this room has any idea of the avenues that are open to women already. Let me read you some of the results of the last census of the United Kingdom. Talk of women not being able to work! Women have been doing hard work ever since the world began. You will see by this that they are doing as much as men now. [Applause].

In 1841, there were engaged in agriculture, 66,329 women. In 1851, 128,418; nearly double the number. Of these, there are 64,000 dairy-women; women who lift enormous tubs, turn heavy cheeses, slap butter by the hundred weight. Then come market-gardeners, bee-mistresses, florists, flax producers and beaters, haymakers, reapers, and hop-pickers.

In natural connection with the soil, we find seven thousand women in the mining interest; not harnessed on all-fours to creep through the shafts, but dressers of ore, and washers and strainers of clay for the potteries. Next largest to the agricultural is one not to be exactly calculated—the fishing interest. The Pilchard fishery employs some thousands of women. The Jersey oyster fishery alone employs one thousand. Then follow the herring, cod, whale, and lobster fisheries.

Apart from the Christie Johnstones—the aristocrats of the trade—the sea nurtures an heroic class like Grace Darling, who stand aghast when society rewards a deed of humanity, and cry out in expostulation, "Why, every girl on the coast would have done as I did!" Then follow the kelp-burners, netters, and bathers. The netters make the fisherman's nets; the bathers manage the machines at the watering-places.

And, before quitting this subject, I should like to allude to the French fishwomen; partly as a matter of curiosity, partly to prove that women know how to labor. In the reign of Henry IV., there existed in Paris a privileged monopoly called the United Corporation of Fishmongers and Herringers. In the reign of Louis XIV. this corporation had managed so badly as to become insolvent. The women who had hawked and vended fish took up the business, and managed so well as to become very soon a political power. They became rich, and their children married into good families. You will remember the atrocities generally ascribed to them in the first revolution. It is now known that these were committed by ruffians disguised in their dress.

To return: there are in the United Kingdom 200,000 female servants. Separate from these, brewers, custom-house searchers, matrons of jails, lighthouse-keepers, pew-openers.[Pg 268]

I have no time to question; but should not a Christian community offer womanly ministrations to its imprisoned women? Oh, that some brave heart, in a strong body, might go on our behalf to the city jail and Charlestown! Pew-opening has never been a trade in America; but, as there are signs that it may become so in this democratic community, I would advise our women to keep an eye to that. [Laughter].

There are in the United Kingdom 500,000 business women, beer-shop keepers, butcher-wives, milk-women, hack-owners, and shoemakers.

As one item of this list, consider 26,000 butcher-wives—women who do not merely preside over a business, but buy stock, put down meat, drive a cart even if needed—butchers to all intents and purposes. There are 29,000 shop-keepers, but only 1,742 shop-women.

Telegraph reporters are increasing rapidly. Their speed and accuracy are much praised. From the Bright Festival, at Manchester, a young woman reported, at the rate of twenty-nine words a minute, six whole columns, with hardly a mistake, though the whole matter was political, such as she was supposed not to understand!

Phonographic reporters also. A year ago there were but three female phonographers in America; and two of these did not get their bread by the work. Now hundreds are qualifying themselves, all over the land; and two young girls, not out of their teens, are at this moment reporting my words. [Cheers].

I hope the phonographers will take that clapping to themselves. I wish you would make it heartier. [Repeated cheers]. Now let us turn to the American census. I must touch it lightly. Of factory operatives, I will only say, that, in 1845, there were 55,828 men and 75,710 women engaged in textile manufactures. You will be surprised at the preponderance of women: it seems to be as great in other countries. Then follow makers of gloves, makers of glue, workers in gold and silver leaf, hair-weavers, hat and cap makers, hose-weavers, workers in India rubber, lamp-makers, laundresses, leechers, milliners, morocco-workers, nurses, paper-hangers, physicians, picklers and preservers, saddlers and harness-makers, shoemakers, soda-room keepers, snuff and cigar-makers, stock and suspender-makers, truss-makers, typers and stereotypers, umbrella-makers, upholsterers, card-makers.

Cards were invented in 1361. In less than seventy years the German manufacture was in the hands of women—Elizabeth and Margaret, at Nuremberg. Then grinders of watch crystals, 7,000 women in all.

My own observation adds to this list phonographers, house and sign painters, fruit-hawkers, button-makers, tobacco-packers, paper-box makers, embroiderers, and fur-sewers.

Perhaps I should say haymakers and reapers; since, for three or four years, bands of girls have been so employed in Ohio, at sixty-two and a half cents a day.

In New Haven, seven women work with seventy men in a clock factory, at half wages. If the proprietor answered honestly, when asked why he employed them, he would say, "To save money;" but he does answer, "To help our cause."[Pg 269]

In Waltham, a watch factory has been established, whose statistics I shall use elsewhere.

In Winchester, Va., a father has lately taken a daughter into partnership; and the firm is "J. Wysong and Daughter." [Applause]. Is it not a shame it should happen first in a slave State?

Then come registers of deeds and postmistresses. We all know that the rural post-office is chiefly in the hands of irresponsible women. Petty politicians obtain the office, take the money, and leave wives and sisters to do the work.

[Here Mrs. Dall read an interesting letter from a female machinist in Delaware; but, as it will be published in another connection, it is here withheld].

Is it easy for women to break the way into new avenues? You know it is not.

[Here Mrs. Dall referred to the opposition shown to the employment of women in watch-making, by Mr. Bennett, in London; to the school at Marlborough House; to the employment of women in printing-offices—substantiating her statements by dates and names].

When I first heard that women were employed in Staffordshire to paint pottery and china—which they do with far more taste than men—I heard, also, that the jealousy of the men refused to allow them the customary hand-rest, and so kept down their wages. I refused to believe anything so contemptible. [Applause]. Now the Edinburgh Review confirms the story. Thank God! that could never happen in this country. With us, Labor can not dictate to Capital.

But the great evils which lie at the foundation of depressed wages are:

1st. That want of respect for labor which prevents ladies from engaging in it.

2d. That want of respect for women which prevents men from valuing properly the work they do.

Women themselves must change these facts.

[Mrs. Dall here read some letters to show that wages were at a starving-point in the cities of America as well as in Europe].

I am tired of the folly of the political economist, constantly crying that wages can never rise till the laborers are fewer. You have heard of the old law in hydraulics, that water will always rise to the level of its source; but, if by a forcing-pump, you raise it a thousand feet above, or by some huge syphon drop it a thousand feet below, does that law hold? Very well, the artificial restrictions of society are such a forcing-pump—are such a syphon. Make woman equal before the law with man, and wages will adjust themselves.

But what is the present remedy? A very easy one—for employers to adopt the cash system, and be content with rational profits. In my correspondence during the past year, master-tailors tell me that they pay from eight cents to fifty cents a day for the making of pantaloons, including the heaviest doeskins. Do you suppose they would dare to tell me how they charge that work on their slowly-paying customer's bills? Not they. The eight cents swells to thirty, the fifty to a dollar or a dollar twenty-five. Put an end to this, and master-tailors would no longer[Pg 270] vault into Beacon Street over prostrate women's souls; but neither would women be driven to the streets for bread.

If I had time, I would show you, women, how much depends upon yourselves. As it is, we may say with the heroine of "Adam Bede," which you have doubtless all been reading:

"I'm not for denying that the women are foolish. God Almighty made 'em to match the men!" [Laughter].

Do you laugh? It is but a step from the ridiculous to the sublime; and Goethe, who knew women well, was of the same mind when he wrote:

"Wilt thou dare to blame the woman for her seeming sudden changes—
Swaying east and swaying westward, as the breezes shake the tree?
Fool! thy selfish thought misguides thee. Find the man that never ranges.
Woman wavers but to seek him. Is not, then, the fault in thee?"

Mrs. Dall was followed by the Rev. John T. Sargent, who said:

Madam President and Friends:—I appreciate the honor of an invitation to this platform, but my words must be few; first, because the call comes to me within a few hours, and amid the cares and responsibilities of the chair on another platform, and I had no time for preconcerted forms of address; second, because the general principles of this organization, and the subject matters for discussion, are so well sifted and disposed of by previous speakers, that nothing new remains for me to say; and, third, because we are all waiting for the words of one [Wendell Phillips] whose sympathies are never wanting in any cause of truth and justice, whose versatile eloquence never hesitates on any platform where he waves aloft "the sword of the spirit" in behalf of human rights. [Applause].

I may truly say, that this is my maiden speech in behalf of maidens and others [laughter]; and, if it amount to nothing else, I may say, as did my friend Clarke, I feel bound, at least, to take my stand, and show my sympathy for the noble cause. I come here under the pressure of an obligation to testify in behalf of an interest truly Christian, and one of the greatest that can engage the reason or the conscience of a community. I would that you had upon this platform and every other, more women speakers for the upholding and consummation of every righteous cause! And so far am I from being frightened to death or embarrassed, as our friend Mrs. Dall has intimated any one might be, at the prospect of either following James Freeman Clarke or preceding Wendell Phillips, I am much more concerned by the contrast of my speech with such speakers as your President, or Dr. Hunt, or Mrs. Dall herself.

There is one feature of the general question of "Woman's Rights" on which I would say a single word; and it may constitute the specialty of my address, so far as it has any. I mean the bearing of social inequalities particularly upon the poor—the poor of a city—the poor women of a city.

It may not be unknown to most of you, that for nearly two years past, in connection with the so-called "Boston Provident Association," I have been engaged in an agency wherein the peculiar trials of this class have been revealed to me as never before.

Hundreds of poor, desolate, forsaken women, especially in the winter[Pg 271] months, have come to that office with the same pitiable tale of poverty, desertion, and tyranny on the part of their worthless and drunken husbands, who had gone off to California, Kansas, or the West, taking away from their wives and children every possible means of support, and leaving them the pauper dependents on a public charity. Now, if this be not the denial of Woman's Rights, I know not what is. Had we time, I might fill the hour with a journal of statistics in painful illustration of these facts. Now, I say, that a system of society which can tolerate such a state of things, and, by sufferance even, allow such men to wrench away the plain rights of their wives and families, needs reforming.

But let us look a little higher in the social scale, to the rights and claims of a class of women not so dependent—a class who, by their education and culture, are competent to fill, or who may be filling, the position of clerks, secretaries, or assistant agents. How inadequate and insufficient, as a general thing, is the compensation they receive!

There was associated with me in the agency and office to which I have referred, as office-clerk and coadjutor, among others, an intelligent and very worthy young woman, whose term of service there has been coeval and coincident with the Association itself, even through the whole seven years or more; and there she still survives, through all the vicissitudes of the General Agency by death or otherwise, with a fidelity of service worthy of more liberal compensation; for she receives, even now, for an amount of service equal to that of any other in the office, only about one-third the salary paid to a male occupant of the same sphere!

Look next at the professional sphere of women, properly so called; and who shall deny her right and claim to that position? A young brother clergyman came to my office one day, wanting his pulpit supplied; and, in the course of conversation, asked very earnestly, "How would it do to invite a woman-preacher into my pulpit?" "Do!" said I (giving him the names of Mrs. Dall, Dr. Hunt, etc., as the most accessible) "of course it'll do." And all I have to say is, if I ever resume again the charge of a pulpit myself, and either of those preachers want an exchange, I shall be honored in the privilege of so exchanging.

Well, my young friend, the brother clergyman referred to, whom I am glad to see in this audience, went and did according to my suggestion; and, by the professional service of Mrs. Dall in his pulpit, more than once, I think, ministered no little edification to his people. And, in this connection, let me say: If the argument against woman's preaching be, "Oh! it looks so awkward and singular to see a woman with a gown on in the pulpit" (for that's the whole gist of it), why, then, the same logic might as well disrobe the male priesthood of their silken paraphernalia, cassock and bands.

But there are other and better words in waiting, and I yield the floor.

Charles G. Ames expressed his gratitude at being permitted to occupy this platform, and identify himself with the cause of those noblest of living women who had dared the world's scorn—had dared to stand alone on the ground of their moral convictions. He thought Rev. Mr. Clarke had spoken but half the truth in saying, "Half the human race are concerned in the Woman's Rights movement."

If the Mohammedan doctrine (that woman has no soul) be true, then[Pg 272] the opponents of this cause are justifiable. But concede that she has a rational soul, and you concede the equality of her rights. Concede that she is capable of being a Christian, and you concede that she has a right to help do the Christian's work; and the Christian's work includes all forms of noble activity, as well as the duty of self-development.

But some people are afraid of agitation. You remember the story of the rustic, who fainted away in the car when taking his first railroad ride, and gasped out, on coming to himself, "Has the thing lit?" He belonged, probably, to that large class of people who go into hysterics every time the world begins to move, and who are never relieved from their terror till quiet is restored.

Great alarm prevails lest this agitation should breed a fatal quarrel between man and woman; as though there could be a want of harmony, a collision of rights, between the sexes. Sad visions are conjured up before us of family feuds, mutual hair-pullings, and a general wreck of all domestic bliss. Certainly, there are difficulties about settling some domestic questions. Marriage is a partnership between two; no third person to give the casting vote. Then they must "take turns"; the wife yielding to the husband in those cases where he is best qualified to judge, and the husband yielding to the wife in those matters which most concern her, or concerning which she can best judge. Yet man is the senior partner of the firm: his name comes first. Few women would be pleased to see the firm styled in print as "Mrs. So-and-So and Husband."

Woman wants more self-reliance. Has she not always been taught that it is very proper to faint at the sight of toads and spiders and fresh blood, and whenever a gentleman pops the question? Has she not always been taught that man was the strong, towering oak, and she the graceful, clinging vine, sure to collapse like an empty bag whenever his mighty support was withdrawn? Until all this folly is unlearned, how can she be self-dependent and truly womanly?

Women are afraid to claim their rights; and not timidity only, but laziness—the love of ease—keeps them back from the great duty of self-assertion. True, it is a good deal like work to summon up the soul to such a conflict with an opposing and corrupt public opinion. But woman must do that work for herself, or it will never be done.

Woman's rights we talk of. There is a grandeur about these great questions of right, which makes them the glory of our age; and it is the shame of our age, that right and rights in every form get so generally sneered at. What use have I for my conscience, what remains of my noble manhood, if, when half the human race complain that I am doing them a wrong, I only reply with a scoff? A man without a conscience to make him quick and sensitive to right and duty, is neither fit for heaven nor for hell. He is an outsider, a monster!

Conservatism says, "Let the world be as it is"; but Christianity says, "Make it what it should be." No man need call himself a Christian, who admits that a wrong exists, and yet wishes it to continue, or is indifferent to its removal. Let us

"Strike for that which ought to be,
And God will bless the blows."
[Pg 273]

The speaker spoke of the abuse and injustice done to the Bible by those who make it the shelter and apologist for all the wrong, vileness, and sneaking meanness that the world bears up; and closed with a testimony against the cowardice of those time-serving ministers who allow their manhood to be suffocated by a white cravat, and who never publicly take sides with what they see to be a good cause, until "popular noises" indicate that the time has come for speaking out their opinions.

The President then introduced to the audience Wendell Phillips, Esq., of Boston:

Madam President:—I am exceedingly happy to see that this question calls together so large an audience; and perhaps that circumstance will make me take exception to some representations of the previous speakers as to the unpopularity of this movement. The gentleman who occupied this place before me thought that perhaps he might count the numbers of those that occupied this platform as the real advocates of that question. Oh, no! The number of those who sympathize with us must not be counted so. Our idea penetrates the whole life of the people. The shifting hues of public opinion show like the colors on a dove's neck; you can not tell where one ends, or the other begins. [Cheers]. Everybody that holds to raising human beings above the popular ideas, and not caring for artificial distinctions, is on our side; I think I can show my friend that. Whenever a new reform is started, men seem to think that the world is going to take at once a great stride. The world never takes strides. The moral world is exactly like the natural. The sun comes up minute by minute, ray by ray, till the twilight deepens into dawn, and dawn spreads into noon. So it is with this question. Those who look at our little island of time do not see it; but, a hundred years later, everybody will recognize it.

No one need be at all afraid; there is no disruption, no breaking away from old anchorage—not at all. In the thirteenth and fourteenth centuries, there were two movements—first, the peasants in the town were striving to fortify each man his own house—to set up the towns against the kings; then, in the colleges, the great philosophers were striving each to fortify his own soul to make a revolution against Rome. The peasants branded the collegians as "infidels," and the collegians showed the peasants to be "traitors." Cordially they hated each other; blindly they went down to their graves, thinking they had been fighting each other; but, under the providence of God, they were entwined in the same movement. Now, if I could throw you back to-day into the civilization of Greece and Rome, I could show you the fact that our question is two thousand years old. [Cheers.] In the truest sense, it did not begin in 1848, as my friend Dr. Hunt stated; it began centuries ago. Did you ever hear of the old man who went to the doctor, and asked him to teach him to speak prose? "Why, my dear fellow," was the reply, "you have been speaking prose all your life." But he did not know it. So with some people in regard to the movement for Woman's Rights.

Many think the steps taken since 1850 are shaking this land with a new infidelity. Now, this infidelity is a good deal older than the New Testament. When man began his pilgrimage from the cradle of Asia, woman[Pg 274] was not allowed to speak before a court of justice. To kill a woman was just as great a sin as to kill a cow, and no greater. To sell an unlicensed herb in the city of Calcutta, was exactly the same crime as to kill a woman. She did not belong to the human race. Come down thousands of years, and the civilization of Greece said, "Woman has not got enough of truth in her to be trusted in the court of justice;" and, if her husband wants to give her to a brother or friend, he can take her to their door, and say, "Here, I give you this." And so it continues till you reach the feudal ages; when woman, though she might be queen or duchess, was often not competent to testify in a court of justice. She had not soul enough, men believed, to know a truth from a lie. That is the code of the feudal system. But all at once the world has waked up, and thinks a man is not a man because he has a pound of muscle, or because he has a stalwart arm; but because he has thoughts, ideas, purposes: he can commit crime, and he is capable of virtue.

No man is born in a day. A baby is always six months old before he is twenty-one. Our fathers, who first reasoned that God made all men equal, said: "You sha'n't hang a man until you have asked him if he consents to the law." Some meddlesome fanatic, engaged in setting up type, conceived the idea, that he need not pay his tax till he was represented before the law: then why should woman do so? Now, I ask, what possible reason is there that woman, as a mother, as a wife, as a laborer, as a capitalist, as an artist, as a citizen, should be subjected to any laws except such as govern man? What moral reason is there for this, under the American idea? Does not the same interest, the same strong tie, bind the mother to her children, that bind the father? Has she not the same capacity to teach them that the father has? and often more? Now, the law says: "If the father be living, the mother is nothing; but, if the father be dead, the mother is everything." Did she inherit from her husband his great intellect? If she did not, what is the common sense of such a statute? The mother has the same rights, in regard to her children, that the father has: there should be no distinction.

Yours is not a new reform. The gentleman who occupied the platform a few moments ago gave the common representation of this cause: "If a husband doesn't do about right, his wife will pull his hair; and, if you let her have her way, she may vote the Democratic ticket, and he the Republican; and vice versa." Well, now, my dear friend, suppose it were just so; it is too late to complain. That point has long been settled; if you will read history a little, you will see it was settled against you. In the time of Luther, it was a question: "Can a woman choose her own creed?" The feudal ages said: "No; she believes as her husband believes, of course." But the reformers said: "She ought to think for herself; her husband is not her God." "But," it was objected, "should there be difference of opinion between man and wife, the husband believing one creed and the wife another, there would be continual discord." But the reply was: "God settled that; God has settled it that every responsible conscience should have a right to his own creed." And Christendom said: "Amen." The reformers of Europe, to this day,[Pg 275] have allowed freedom of opinion; and who says that the experience of three centuries has found the husband and wife grappling each other's throats on religious differences? It would be Papal and absurd to deny woman her religious rights. Then why should she not be allowed to choose her party?

We claim the precedents in this matter. It was arranged and agreed upon, in the reform of Europe, that women should have the right to choose their religious creeds. I say, therefore, this is not a new cause; it is an old one. It is as old as the American idea. We are individuals by virtue of our brains, not by virtue of our muscles. "Why do you women meddle in politics?" asked Napoleon of De Staël. "Sire, so long as you will hang us, we must ask the reason," was the answer. The whole political philosophy of the subject is in that. The instant you say, "Woman is not competent to go to the ballot-box," I reply: "She is not competent to go to the gallows or the State prison. If she is competent to go to the State prison, then she is competent to go to the ballot-box, and tell how thieves should be punished." [Applause].

Man is a man because he thinks. Woman has already begun to think. She has touched literature with the wand of her enchantment, and it rises to her level, until woman becomes an author as well as reader. And what is the result? We do not have to expurgate the literature of the nineteenth century before placing it in the hands of youth. Those who write for the lower level sink down to dwell with their kind.

Mr. Sargent and Mr. Clarke expatiated on the wholesome influence of the side-by-side progress of the sexes. There are no women more deserving of your honest approbation than those who dare to work singly for the elevation of their sex....

Woman's Rights and Negro Rights! What rights have either women or negroes that we have any reason to respect? The world says: "None!"

There has lately been a petition carried into the British Parliament, asking—for what? It asks that the laws of marriage and divorce shall be brought into conformity with the creed and civilization of Great Britain in the middle of the nineteenth century. The state of British law, on the bill of divorce, was a disgrace to the British statute-book. Whose was the intellect and whose the heart to point out, and who had the courage to look in the face of British wealth and conservatism, and claim that the law of divorce was a disgrace to modern civilization? It was the women of Great Britain that first said her statute-book disgraced her. Who could say, that if those women had been voters, they might not have reformed it?

Douglas Jerrold said: "Woman knows she is omnipotent"; and so she is. She may be ignorant, she may not have a dollar, she may have no right given her to testify in the court of justice; she may be a slave, chained by a dozen statutes; but, when her husband loves her, she is his queen and mistress, in spite of them all; and the world knows it. All history bears testimony to this omnipotent influence. What we are here for is to clear up the choked channel; make hidden power confess itself, and feel its responsibility, feel how much rests upon it, and therefore[Pg 276] gird itself to its duty. We are to say to the women: "Yours is one-half of the human race. Come to the ballot-box, and feel, when you cast a vote in regard to some great moral question, the dread post you fill, and fit yourself for it." Woman at home controls her son, guides her husband—in reality, makes him vote—but acknowledges no responsibility, and receives no education for such a throne. By her caprices in private life, she often ruins the manhood of her husband, and checks the enthusiastic purposes of her son.

Many a young girl, in her married life, loses her husband, and thus is left a widow with two or three children. Now, who is to educate them and control them? We see, if left to her own resources, the intellect which she possesses, and which has remained in a comparatively dormant state, displayed in its full power. What a depth of heart lay hidden in that woman! She takes her husband's business—guides it as though it were a trifle; she takes her sons, and leads them; sets her daughters an example; like a master-leader, she governs the whole household. That is woman's influence. What made that woman? Responsibility. Call her out from weakness, lay upon her soul the burden of her children's education, and she is no longer a girl, but a woman!

Horace Greeley once said to Margaret Fuller: "If you should ask a woman to carry a ship round Cape Horn, how would she go to work to do it? Let her do this, and I will give up the question." In the fall of 1856, a Boston girl, only twenty years of age, accompanied her husband to California. A brain-fever laid him low. In the presence of mutiny and delirium, she took his vacant post, preserved order, and carried her cargo safe to its destined port. Looking in the face of Mr. Greeley, Miss Fuller said: "Lo! my dear Horace, it is done; now say, what shall woman: do next?" [Cheers].

Mrs. Caroline H. Dall then dismissed the assembly.[52]

In The Liberator of July 6, 1860, we find a brief mention of what was called Mrs. Dall's "Drawing-room" Convention, in which it was proposed to present the artistic and æsthetic view of the question. The meeting was held June 1st, in the Melodeon. Mrs. Caroline M. Severance presided. Mrs. Dall, Rev. Samuel J. May, R. J. Hinton, Moses (Harriet Tubman), James Freeman Clarke, Dr. Mercy B. Jackson, Elizabeth M. Powell, and Wendell Phillips took part in the discussions.

We close our chapter on Massachusetts, with a few extracts from a sermon by Theodore Parker, to show his position on the most[Pg 277] momentous question of his day and generation. In March, 1853, he gave two discourses in Music Hall, Boston, one on the domestic, and one on the public function of woman, in which he fully expressed himself on every phase of the question.


If woman is a human being, first, she has the Nature of a human being; next, she has the Right of a human being; third, she has the Duty of a human being. The Nature is the capacity to possess, to use, to develop, and to enjoy every human faculty; the Right is the right to enjoy, develop, and use every human faculty; and the Duty is to make use of the Right, and make her human nature, human history. She is here to develop her human nature, enjoy her human rights, perform her human duty. Womankind is to do this for herself, as much as mankind for himself. A woman has the same human nature that a man has; the same human rights, to life, liberty, and the pursuit of happiness; the same human duties; and they are as inalienable in a woman as in a man.

Each man has the natural right to the normal development of his nature, so far as it is general-human, neither man nor woman, but human. Each woman has the natural right to the normal development of her nature, so far as it is general-human, neither woman nor man. But each man has also a natural and inalienable right to the normal development of his peculiar nature as man, where he differs from woman. Each woman has just the same natural and inalienable right to the normal development of her peculiar nature as woman, and not man. All that is undeniable.

Now see what follows. Woman has the same individual right to determine her aim in life, and to follow it; has the same individual rights of body and of spirit—of mind and conscience, and heart and soul; the same physical rights, the same intellectual, moral, affectional, and religious rights, that man has. That is true of womankind as a whole; it is true of Jane, Ellen, and Sally, and each special woman that can be named.

Every person, man or woman, is an integer, an individual, a whole person; and also a portion of the race, and so a fraction of humankind. Well, the Rights of individualism are not to be possessed, developed, used, and enjoyed, by a life in solitude, but by joint action. Accordingly, to complete and perfect the individual man or woman, and give each an opportunity to possess, use, develop, and enjoy these rights, there must be concerted and joint action; else individuality is only a possibility, not a reality. So the individual rights of woman carry with them the same domestic, social, ecclesiastical, and political rights, as those of man.

The Family, Community, Church and State, are four modes of action which have grown out of human nature in its historical development; they are all necessary for the development of mankind; machines which the human race has devised, in order to possess, use, develop, and enjoy their rights as human beings, their rights also as men.

These are just as necessary for the development of woman as of man; and, as she has the same nature, right, and duty, as man, it follows that she has the same right to use, shape, and control these four institutions, for her general[Pg 278] human purpose and for her special feminine purpose, that man has to control them for his general human purpose and his special masculine purpose. All that is as undeniable as anything in metaphysics or mathematics.

If woman had been consulted, it seems to me theology would have been in a vastly better state than it is now. I do not think that any woman would ever have preached the damnation of babies new-born; and "hell, paved with the skulls of infants not a span long," would be a region yet to be discovered in theology. A celibate monk—with God's curse writ on his face, which knew no child, no wife, no sister, and blushed that he had a mother—might well dream of such a thing. He had been through the preliminary studies. Consider the ghastly attributes which are commonly put upon God in the popular theology; the idea of infinite wrath, of infinite damnation, and total depravity, and all that. Why, you could not get a woman, that had intellect enough to open her mouth, to preach these things anywhere. Women think they think that they believe them; but they do not. Celibate priests, who never knew marriage, or what paternity was, who thought woman was a "pollution"—they invented these ghastly doctrines; and when I have heard the Athanasian Creed and the Dies Iræ chanted by monks, with the necks of bulls and the lips of donkeys—why, I have understood where the doctrine came from, and have felt the appropriateness of their braying out the damnation hymns; woman could not do it. We shut her out of the choir, out of the priest's house, out of the pulpit; and then the priest, with unnatural vows, came in, and taught these "doctrines of devils." Could you find a woman who would read to a congregation, as words of truth, Jonathan Edwards' sermon on a Future State—"Sinners in the Hands of an Angry God," "The Justice of God in the Damnation of Sinners," "Wrath upon the Wicked to the Uttermost," "The Future Punishment of the Wicked," and other things of that sort? Nay, can you find a worthy woman, of any considerable culture, who will read the fourteenth chapter of Numbers, and declare that a true picture of the God she worships? Only a she-dragon could do it in our day.

The popular theology leaves us nothing feminine in the character of God. How could it be otherwise, when so much of the popular theology is the work of men who thought woman was a "pollution," and barred her out of all the high places of the church? If women had had their place in ecclesiastical teaching, I doubt that the "Athanasian Creed" would ever have been thought a "symbol" of Christianity. The pictures and hymns which describe the last judgment are a protest against the exclusion of woman from teaching in the church. "I suffer not a woman to teach, but to be in silence," said a writer in the New Testament. The sentence has brought manifold evil in its train. So much for the employments of women.

By nature, woman has the same political rights that man has—to vote, to hold office, to make and administer laws. These she has as a matter of right. The strong hand and the great head of man keep her down; nothing more. In America, in Christendom, woman has no political rights, is not a citizen in full; she has no voice in making or administering the laws, none in electing the rulers or administrators thereof. She can hold no office—can not be committee of a primary school, overseer of the poor, or guardian to a public lamp-post. But any man, with conscience enough to keep out of jail, mind enough to escape[Pg 279] the poor-house, and body enough to drop his ballot into the box, he is a voter. He may have no character—even no money; that is no matter—he is male. The noblest woman has no voice in the State. Men make laws, disposing of her property, her person, her children; still she must bear it, "with a patient shrug."

Looking at it as a matter of pure right and pure science, I know no reason why woman should not be a voter, or hold office, or make and administer laws. I do not see how I can shut myself into political privileges and shut woman out, and do both in the name of inalienable right. Certainly, every woman has a natural right to have her property represented in the general representation of property, and her person represented in the general representation of persons.

Looking at it as a matter of expediency, see some facts. Suppose woman had a share in the municipal regulation of Boston, and there were as many alderwomen as aldermen, as many common council women as common council men, do you believe that, in defiance of the law of Massachusetts, the city government, last spring, would have licensed every two hundred and forty-fourth person of the population of the city to sell intoxicating drink? would have made every thirty-fifth voter a rum-seller? I do not.

Do you believe the women of Boston would spend ten thousand dollars in one year in a city frolic, or spend two or three thousand every year, on the Fourth of July, for sky-rockets and firecrackers; would spend four or five thousand dollars to get their Canadian guests drunk in Boston harbor, and then pretend that Boston had not money enough to establish a high-school for girls, to teach the daughters of mechanics and grocers to read French and Latin, and to understand the higher things which rich men's sons are driven to at college? I do not.

Do you believe that the women of Boston, in 1851, would have spent three or four thousand dollars to kidnap a poor man, and have taken all the chains which belonged to the city and put them round the court-house, and have drilled three hundred men, armed with bludgeons and cutlasses, to steal a man and carry him back to slavery? I do not. Do you think, if the women had had the control, "fifteen hundred men of property and standing" would have volunteered to take a poor man, kidnapped in Boston, and conduct him out of the State, with fire and sword? I believe no such thing.

Do you think the women of Boston would take the poorest and most unfortunate children in the town, put them all together into one school, making that the most miserable in the city, where they had not and could not have half the advantages of the other children in different schools, and all that because the unfortunates were dark-colored? Do you think the women of Boston would shut a bright boy out of the High-School or Latin-School, because he was black in the face?

Women are said to be cowardly. When Thomas Sims, out of his dungeon, sent to the churches his petition for their prayers, had women been "the Christian clergy," do you believe they would not have dared to pray?

If women had a voice in the affairs of Massachusetts, do you think they would ever have made laws so that a lazy husband could devour all the substance of his active wife—spite of her wish; so that a drunken husband could command her bodily presence in his loathly house; and when an infamous man was divorced from his wife, that he could keep all the children? I confess I do not.[Pg 280]

If the affairs of the nation had been under woman's joint control, I doubt that we should have butchered the Indians with such exterminating savagery, that, in fifty years, we should have spent seven hundred millions of dollars for war, and now, in time of peace, send twenty annual millions more to the same waste. I doubt that we should have spread slavery into nine new States, and made it national. I think the Fugitive Slave bill would never have been an act. Woman has some respect for the natural law of God.

I know men say woman can not manage the great affairs of a nation. Very well. Government is political economy—national housekeeping. Does any respectable woman keep house so badly as the United States? with so much bribery, so much corruption, so much quarrelling in the domestic councils?

But government is also political morality, it is national ethics. Is there any worthy woman who rules her household as wickedly as the nations are ruled? who hires bullies to fight for her? Is there any woman who treats one-sixth part of her household as if they were cattle and not creatures of God, as if they were things and not persons? I know of none such. In government as housekeeping, or government as morality, I think man makes a very poor appearance, when he says woman could not do as well as he has done and is doing.

I doubt that women will ever, as a general thing, take the same interest as men in political affairs, or find therein an abiding satisfaction. But that is for women themselves to determine, not for men.

In order to attain the end—the development of man in body and spirit—human institutions must represent all parts of human nature, both the masculine and the feminine element. For the well-being of the human race, we need the joint action of man and woman, in the family, the community, the Church, and the State. A family without the presence of woman—with no mother, no wife, no sister, no womankind—is a sad thing. I think a community without woman's equal social action, a church without her equal ecclesiastical action, and a State without her equal political action, is almost as bad—is very much what a house would be without a mother, wife, sister, or friend.

You see what prevails in the Christian civilization of the nineteenth century; it is Force—force of body, force of brain. There is little justice, little philanthropy, little piety. Selfishness preponderates everywhere in Christendom—individual, domestic, social, ecclesiastical, national selfishness. It is preached as gospel and enacted as law. It is thought good political economy for a strong people to devour the weak nations; for "Christian" England and America to plunder the "heathen" and annex their land; for a strong class to oppress and ruin the feeble class; for the capitalists of England to pauperize the poor white laborer; for the capitalists of America to enslave the poorer black laborer; for a strong man to oppress the weak men; for the sharper to buy labor too cheap, and sell its product too dear, and so grow rich by making many poor. Hence, nation is arrayed against nation, class against class, man against man. Nay, it is commonly taught that mankind is arrayed against God, and God against man; that the world is a universal discord: that there is no solidarity of man with man, of man with God. I fear we shall never get far beyond this theory and this practice, until woman has her natural rights as the equal of man, and takes her natural place in regulating the affairs of the family, the community, the Church, and the State. It seems to me God has treasured up a reserved power in the nature of woman to correct many of those evils which are Christendom's disgrace to-day.[Pg 281]

Circumstances help or hinder our development, and are one of the two forces which determine the actual character of a nation or of mankind, at any special period. Hitherto, amongst men, circumstances have favored the development of only intellectual power, in all its forms—chiefly in its lower forms. At present, mankind, as a whole, has the superiority over womankind, as a whole, in all that pertains to intellect, the higher and the lower. Man has knowledge, has ideas, has administrative skill; enacts the rules of conduct for the individual, the family, the community, the Church, the State, and the world. He applies these rules of conduct to life, and so controls the great affairs of the human race. You see what a world he has made of it. There is male vigor in this civilization, miscalled "Christian"; and in its leading nations there are industry and enterprise, which never fail. There is science, literature, legislation, agriculture, manufactures, mining, commerce, such as the world never saw. With the vigor of war, the Anglo-Saxon now works the works of peace. England abounds in wealth—richest of lands; but look at her poor, her vast army of paupers, two million strong, the Irish whom she drives with the hand of famine across the sea. Martin Luther was right when he said: "The richer the nation, the poorer the poor." Look at the cities of England and America. What riches, what refinement, what culture of man and woman too! Ay; but what poverty, what ignorance, what beastliness of man and woman too! The Christian civilization of the nineteenth century is well summed up in London and New York—the two foci of the Anglo-Saxon tribe, which control the shape of the world's commercial ellipse. Look at the riches and the misery; at the "religious enterprise" and the heathen darkness; at the virtue, the decorum, and the beauty of woman well-born and well bred; and at the wild sea of prostitution, which swells and breaks and dashes against the bulwarks of society—every ripple was a woman once!

Oh, brother-men, who make these things, is this a pleasant sight? Does your literature complain of it—of the waste of human life, the slaughter of human souls, the butchery of woman? British literature begins to wail, in "Nicholas Nickleby" and "Jane Eyre" and "Mary Barton" and "Alton Locke," in many a "Song of the Shirt"; but the respectable literature of America is deaf as a cent to the outcry of humanity expiring in agonies. It is busy with California, or the Presidency, or extolling iniquity in high places, or flattering the vulgar vanity which buys its dross for gold. It can not even imitate the philanthropy of English letters; it is "up" for California and a market. Does not the Church speak?—the English Church, with its millions of money; the American, with its millions of men—both wont to bay the moon of foreign heathenism? The Church is a dumb dog, that can not bark, sleeping, lying down, loving to slumber. It is a church without woman, believing in a male and jealous God, and rejoicing in a boundless, endless hell!

Hitherto, with woman, circumstances have hindered the development of intellectual power, in all its forms. She has not knowledge, has not ideas or practical skill to equal the force of man. But circumstances have favored the development of pure and lofty emotion in advance of man. She has moral feeling, affectional feeling, religious feeling, far in advance of man; her moral, affectional, and religious intuitions are deeper and more trustworthy than his. Here she is eminent, as he is in knowledge, in ideas, in administrative skill.

I think man will always lead in affairs of intellect—of reason, imagination[Pg 282] understanding—he has the bigger brain; but that woman will always lead in affairs of emotion—moral, affectional, religious—she has the better heart, the truer intuition of the right, the lovely, the holy. The literature of women in this century is juster, more philanthropic, more religious, than that of men. Do you not hear the cry which, in New England, a woman is raising in the world's ears against the foul wrong which America is working in the world? Do you not hear the echo of that woman's voice come over the Atlantic—returned from European shores in many a tongue—French, German, Italian, Swedish, Danish, Russian, Dutch? How a woman touches the world's heart! because she speaks justice, speaks piety, speaks love. What voice is strongest, raised in continental Europe, pleading for the oppressed and down-trodden? That also is a woman's voice!

Well, we want the excellence of man and woman both united; intellectual power, knowledge, great ideas—in literature, philosophy, theology, ethics—and practical skill; but we want something better—the moral, affectional, religious intuition, to put justice into ethics, love into theology, piety into science and letters. Everywhere in the family, the community, the Church, and the State, we want the masculine and feminine element co-operating and conjoined. Woman is to correct man's taste, mend his morals, excite his affections, inspire his religious faculties. Man is to quicken her intellect, to help her will, translate her sentiments to ideas, and enact them into righteous laws. Man's moral action, at best, is only a sort of general human providence, aiming at the welfare of a part, and satisfied with achieving the "greatest good of the greatest number." Woman's moral action is more like a special human providence, acting without general rules, but caring for each particular case. We need both of these, the general and the special, to make a total human providence.

If man and woman are counted equivalent—equal in rights, though with diverse powers,—shall we not mend the literature of the world, its theology, its science, its laws, and its actions too? I can not believe that wealth and want are to stand ever side by side as desperate foes; that culture must ride only on the back of ignorance; and feminine virtue be guarded by the degradation of whole classes of ill-starred men, as in the East, or the degradation of whole classes of ill-starred women, as in the West; but while we neglect the means of help God puts in our power, why, the present must be like the past—"property" must be theft, "law" the strength of selfish will, and "Christianity"—what we see it is, the apology for every powerful wrong.

To every woman let me say—Respect your nature as a human being, your nature as a woman; then respect your rights, then remember your duty to possess, to use, to develop, and to enjoy every faculty which God has given you, each in its normal way.

And to men let me say—Respect, with the profoundest reverence, respect the mother that bore you, the sisters who bless you, the woman that you love, the woman that you marry. As you seek to possess your own manly rights, seek also, by that great arm, by that powerful brain, seek to vindicate her rights as woman, as your own as man. Then we may see better things in the Church, better things in the State, in the Community, in the Home. Then the green shall show what buds it hid, the buds shall blossom, the flowers bear fruit, and the blessing of God be on us all.

[Pg 283]

BY E. C. S.

Hearing that my friend had returned from Europe too ill to leave her room, I hastened to her charming home in the suburbs of Providence, Rhode Island. There in her pleasant chamber, bright with the sunshine of a clear December day,[53] surrounded with her books and pictures of her own painting, looking out on an extensive lawn, grand old trees, and the busy city in the distance, we passed three happy days together reviewing our own lives, the progress of the reforms we advocated, and in speculations of the unknown world. In my brief sketch of the "Woman's Rights Movement" and its leaders for the "Eminent Women of the Age," I made no mention of Mrs. Davis, being ignorant of the main facts of her life. I waited for her return from Florida, until it was too late, as the work was hurried to press. Hence I was glad of this opportunity to dot down fresh from her own lips some of the incidents and personal experiences of her life.

Paulina Kellogg was born in Bloomfield, New York, the very day, Capt. Hall delivered up the fort at Detroit. Her father, Capt. Kellogg, being a volunteer in the army at that time, would often jocosely refer to those two great events on the 7th of August, 1813. Her grandfather Saxton was a colonel in the Revolution, and on Lafayette's staff. Both her father and mother possessed great personal beauty, and were devotedly attached to each other, and were alike conservative in their opinions and associations. When Paulina was four years old her grandfather bought a large tract of land at Cambria, near Niagara Falls, where all his children settled. That trip was the first memory of her childhood. A cavalcade of six army wagons, men, women, children, horses, cattle, dogs, hens, pushed their weary way eleven days through wild woods, cutting their own roads, and fording creeks and rivers. Crossing the Genesee in a scow, one immense cow walked off into the water, others followed and swam ashore. The little girl thinking that everything was going overboard, trembled like an aspen leaf until she felt herself safe on land. The picnics under the trees, the beds in the wagons drawn up in a circle to keep the cattle in, the friendly meetings with the Indians, all charmed her childish fancies. The summer the first bridge was built to Goat Island, her uncle caught her in his arms, ran across the beams, and set her down, saying: "There, you are probably the first white child that ever set foot on Goat Island."[Pg 284]

When seven years old she was adopted by an aunt, and moved to Le Roy, New York, where she was educated. Her aunt was a strict orthodox Presbyterian, a stern, strong Puritan. Her life in her new home was sad and solitary, and one of constant restraint. In the natural reaction of the human mind, with such early experiences, we can readily account for Paulina's love of freedom, and courage in attacking the wrongs of society. In referring to these early years, she said: "I was not a happy child, nor a happy woman, until in mature life, I outgrew my early religious faith, and felt free to think and act from my own convictions." Having joined the church in extreme youth, and being morbidly conscientious, she suffered constant torment about her own sins, and those of her neighbors. She was a religious enthusiast, and in time of revivals was one of the bright and shining lights in exhortation and prayer.

She was roused to thought on woman's position by a discussion in the church as to whether women should be permitted to speak and pray in promiscuous assemblies. Some of the deacons protested against a practice, in ordinary times, that might be tolerated during seasons of revival. But those who had discovered their gifts in times of excitement were not so easily remanded to silence; and thus the Church was distracted then as now with the troublesome question of woman's rights. Sometimes a liberal pastor would accord a latitude denied by the elders and deacons, and sometimes one church would be more liberal than others in the same neighborhood, or synod; hence individuals and congregations were continually persecuted and arraigned for violation of church discipline and God's law, according to man's narrow interpretation. "Thus," she says, "my mind was confused and uncertain with conflicting emotions and opinions in regard to all human relations. And it was many years before I understood the philosophy of life, before I learned that happiness did not depend on outward conditions, but on the harmony within, on the tastes, sentiments, affections, and ambitions of the individual soul."

On leaving school, Paulina had made up her mind to be a missionary to the Sandwich Islands, as that was the Mecca in those days to which all pious young women desired to go. But after five months of ardent courtship, Mr. Francis Wright, a young merchant of wealth and position in Utica, New York, persuaded her that there were heathen enough in Utica to call out all the religious zeal she possessed, to say nothing of himself as the chief of sinners, hence in special need of her ministrations.

So they began life together, worshiped in Bethel church, and devoted[Pg 285] themselves to the various reforms that in turn attracted their attention. They took an active part in the arrangements for the first Anti-Slavery Convention, held in Utica, Oct. 21, 1835, a day on which anti-slavery meetings were mobbed and violently dispersed in different parts of the country. It was at this meeting that Gerrit Smith gave in his adhesion to the anti-slavery movement and abandoned the idea of the colonization of slaves to Liberia. As the mob would not permit a meeting to be held in Utica, Mr. Smith invited them to Peterboro, where they adjourned. It was a fearful day for Abolitionists throughout that city, as the mob of roughs was backed by its leading men. Mr. Wright's house was surrounded, piazzas and fences torn down and piled up with wood and hay against it, with the evident intention of burning it down. But several ladies who had come to attend the Convention were staying there, and, as was their custom, they had family prayers that night. The leaders of the mob peeping through the windows, saw a number of women on their knees, and the sight seemed to soften their wrath and change their purpose, for they quietly withdrew their forces, leaving the women in undisturbed possession of the house. The attitude of the Church at this time being strongly pro-slavery, Mr. and Mrs. Wright withdrew, as most Abolitionists did, from all church organizations, and henceforth their religious zeal was concentrated on the anti-slavery, temperance, and woman's rights reforms. Thus passed twelve years of happiness in mutual improvement and co-operation in every good work. Having no children, they devoted themselves unreservedly to one another. But Mr. Wright, being a man of great executive ability, was continually overworking, taxing his powers of mind and body to the uttermost, until his delicate organization gave way and his life prematurely ended.

Having occupied her leisure hours in the study of anatomy and physiology, Mrs. Wright gave a course of lectures to women. As early as 1844 she began this public work. She imported from Paris the first femme modele that was ever brought to this country. She tells many amusing anecdotes of the effect of unveiling this manikin in the presence of a class of ladies. Some trembled with fear, the delicacy of others was shocked, but their weaknesses were overcome as their scientific curiosity was awakened. Many of Mrs. Wright's pupils were among the first to enter the colleges, hospitals, and dissecting-rooms, and to become successful practitioners of the healing art.

While lecturing in Baltimore, a "Friend," by the name of Anna[Pg 286] Needles, attended the course. Another "Friend," seeing her frequently pass, hailed her on one occasion, and said, "Anna, where does thee go every day?" "I go to hear Mrs. Wright lecture." "What, Anna, does thee go to hear that Fanny Wright?" "Oh, no! Paulina Wright!" "Ah! I warn thee, do not go near her, she is of the same species." Many women, now supporting themselves in ease, gratefully acknowledge her influence in directing their lives to some active pursuits.

Thus passed the four years of her widowed life, lecturing to women through most of the Eastern and Western States.

In 1849, she was married to the Hon. Thomas Davis, a solid, noble man of wealth and position, who has since been a member of the Rhode Island Legislature seven years, and served one term in Congress. As he is very modest and retiring in his nature, I will not enumerate his good qualities of head and heart, lest he should be pained at seeing himself in print; and perhaps "the highest praise for a true man is never to be spoken of at all." With several successive summers in Newport and winters in Providence, Mrs. Davis gave more time to fashionable society than she ever had at any period of her life.

When her husband was elected to Congress, in 1853, she accompanied him to Washington and made many valuable acquaintances. As she had already called the first National Woman Suffrage Convention, and started The Una, the first distinctively woman's rights journal ever published, and was supposed to be a fair representative of the odious, strong-minded "Bloomer," the ladies at their hotel, after some consultation, decided to ignore her, as far as possible. But a lady of her fine appearance, attractive manners, and general intelligence, whose society was sought by the most cultivated gentlemen in the house, could not be very long ostracised by the ladies.

What a writer in the British Quarterly for January, says of Mrs. John Stuart Mill, applies with equal force to Mrs. Davis. "She seems to have been saved from the coarseness and strenuous tone of the typical strong-minded woman, although probably some of her opinions might shock staid people who are innocent alike of philosophy and the doctrines of the new era." Though in fact this typical strong-minded woman of whom we hear so much in England and America, is after all a "myth"; for the very best specimens of womanhood in both countries are those who thoroughly respect themselves, and maintain their political, civil, and social rights. For nearly three years Mrs. Davis continued The Una, publishing[Pg 287] it entirely at her own expense. It took the broadest ground claimed to-day: individual freedom in the State, the Church, and the home; woman's equality and suffrage a natural right. In 1859, she visited Europe for the first time, and spent a year traveling in France, Italy, Austria, and Germany, giving her leisure hours to picture galleries and the study of art. She made many valuable friends on this trip, regained her health, and returned home to work with renewed zeal for the enfranchisement of woman.

Having decided to celebrate the second decade of the National Woman Suffrage movement, in New York, Mrs. Davis took charge of all the preliminary arrangements, including the foreign correspondence. She gave a good report at the opening session of the Convention, of what had been accomplished in the twenty years, and published the proceedings in pamphlet form, at her own expense. One of Mrs. Davis' favorite ideas was a Woman's Congress in Washington, to meet every year, to consider the national questions demanding popular action; especially to present them in their moral and humanitarian bearings and relations, while our representatives discussed them, as men usually do, from the material, financial, and statistical points of view. In this way only, said she, "can the complete idea on any question ever be realized. All legislation must necessarily be fragmentary, so long as one-half the race give no thought whatever on the subject."

In 1871, Mrs. Davis, with her niece and adopted daughter, again visited Europe, and pursued her studies of art, spending much time in Julian's life studio, the only one open to women. She took lessons of Carl Marko in Florence. When in Paris she spent hours every day copying in the Louvre and Luxembourg. The walls of her home were decorated with many fine copies, and a few of her own creations. Her enthusiasm for both art and reform may seem to some a singular combination; but with her view of life, it was a natural one. Believing, as she did, in the realization of the ultimate equality of the human family, and the possibility of the race sometime attaining comparative perfection, when all would be well-fed, clothed, sheltered, and educated; humanity in its poverty, ignorance, and deformity, were to her but the first rude sketch on the canvas, to be perfected by the skillful hand of the Great Artist. Hence she labored with faith and enthusiasm to realize her ideal alike in both cases.

In Naples she made the acquaintance of Mary Somerville, then in her ninetieth year. She found her quite conversant with American affairs, and she expressed great pleasure in reading Mrs. Davis'[Pg 288] history of the suffrage movement in this country. There too she met Mrs. Merrycoyf, a bright, accomplished woman, a sister of Josephine Butler, and like her, engaged in English reforms. She had many discussions with Mrs. Proby, the wife of the English Consul, who thought Mrs. Davis was wasting her efforts for the elevation of woman, as she considered it a hopeless case to make women rational and self-reliant. However, before they parted, Mrs. Davis inspired her with some faith in her own sex. I read a very interesting letter from Mrs. Proby acknowledging the benefit derived from her acquaintance with Mrs. Davis, in giving her new hope for woman. At Rome she received the blessing of the Pope, and met Père Hyacinthe and his charming wife, and attended one of his lectures, but the crowd was so great she could not get in, so she went the Sunday after to hear the prayers for the Pope and the Church against the influence of the dangerous Père. She says: "It was a most impressive occasion, the immense crowd, the grand music swelling through the arches of that vast cathedral, the responses of the ten thousand voices, rolling like the great tidal waves of the mighty ocean, were altogether sublime beyond description." At Paris she met Mrs. Crawford, wife of the corresponding editor of The London Times, a woman of fine conversational powers, and a brilliant writer, now the Paris correspondent of The New York Tribune. She found her a woman of very liberal opinions. At one of her breakfasts she met Martin, the historian, and several members of the Assembly. She also visited the Countess Delacoste, who sympathized deeply with the republican movement, and had concealed Clusaret three months in her house. There she met several distinguished Russians and Frenchmen. In London she attended one of Mrs. Peter Taylor's receptions, where she met Mrs. Margaret Lucas, sister of John Bright, and other notables. She visited Josephine Butler at her home in Liverpool. Friends sent her tickets of admission to the lady's gallery, in the House of Commons, where she heard Jacob Bright make his opening speech on the woman's disability bill, and Fawcett, the blind member, also on the same bill. And with all these distinguished people, in different countries, speaking different languages, she found the same interest in the progressive ideas that had gladdened and intensified her own life.

On the 29th of May she sailed for America, and reached her home in safety, but the disease that had been threatening her for years (rheumatic gout) began to develop itself, until in the autumn she was confined to her room, and unable at times even to walk. It was[Pg 289] thus I found her in a large arm-chair quietly making all her preparations for the sunny land, resigned to stay or to go, to accept the inevitable, whatever that might be.[54] As she was an enthusiastic spiritualist, the coming journey was not to her an unknown realm, but an inviting home where the friends of her earlier days were waiting with glad hearts to give her tin heavenly welcome.


[25] Mercy Otis, born at Barnstable, Mass., September 35, 1728, married James Warren, about 1754. Reference has been made to her correspondence with the eminent men of the Revolution. Aside from her patriotism, Mrs. Warren was a woman of high literary ability. She wrote several dramatic and satirical works in 1773, against the royalists, which, with two tragedies, were included in a volume of Dramatic and Miscellaneous Poems, published in 1790. She also wrote "A History of the Rise, Progress, and Termination of the American Revolution, interspersed with Biographical, Political, and Moral Observations," in three volumes, published in Boston, 1805. Mrs. Warren lived quite into the present century, dying October 19, 1814.

Mrs. Ellet, "Queens of Society," says: "In point of influence, Mercy Warren was the most remarkable woman who lived in the days of the American Revolution."

Rochefoucauld, "Tour in the United States," says: "Seldom has a woman in any age acquired such ascendency by the mere force of a powerful intellect, and her influence continued through her life."

Generals Lee and Gates were among her correspondents; Knox wrote: "I should be happy to receive your counsels from time to time." Mrs. Washington was frequently entertained by Mrs. Warren, at one time when the former was in Massachusetts with the General, Mrs. Warren going with her chariot to headquarters at Cambridge for her.

[26] Dried leaves of the raspberry.—Lossing.

[27] Lossing, "Field-Book of the Revolution," says: "On February 9, 1769, the Mistresses of three hundred families met and formed a league, and upon the second day the young ladies assembled in great numbers, signing the following covenant: 'We, the daughters of those patriots who have, and do now, appear for public interest, and in proper regard for their posterity as such, do, with pleasure, engage with them in denying ourselves the drink of foreign tea, in hopes to frustrate a plan which tends to deprive a whole country of all that is valuable in life."

[28] Lossing's "Field-Book of the Revolution" states that on the 12th of June, 1769, the "Daughters of Liberty," met at the house of pastor Moorehead, in such numbers that in one afternoon they spun two hundred and ninety skeins of fine yarn, which they presented to him. After supper they were joined by many "Sons of Liberty," who united with the "Daughters" in patriotic songs.

[29] These girls, then only about twelve and fourteen years of age, saw the enemy making preparations to land at an isolated point. No men were near to defend the place, or to whom warning could be given. A bright thought struck one of the girls. Accustomed to play the drum, she well knew how to beat the call to arms, and no sooner had this thought entered her mind, than she began a tattoo, calling her sister to take the fife as an accompaniment. Together they marched toward the shore, careful to keep hidden by the rocks, among whose intricacies they wound back and forth, the sound of their instruments falling upon the enemy's ears, now far, now near, as though a force of many hundred men was marching down upon them, and thoroughly frightened, they beat a retreat to their boats.

[30] "This dispute infused its spirit into everything. It interfered with the levy of troops for the Pequot war; it influenced the respect shown to the magistrates, the distribution of town lots, the assessment of rates, and at last the continued existence of the two parties was considered inconsistent with the public peace."—Bancroft, "History of the United States."

[31] Atlantic Monthly, June, 1871.

[32] In three New England colonies church membership was required for the franchise.—Frothingham, "Rise of the Republic."

[33] Dr. John Weis, of New York, now an aged gentleman, well remembers his grandmother saying, that at an early day women were allowed to vote in all the New England colonies.

[34] Mother of the late Daniel P. King, at that time a member of the Massachusetts Legislature, and since then a Representative in Congress.

[35] Benj. C. Pitkin, of Salem, at that time State Senator.

[36] Hon. Mr. Upham saying: "A great many of the members told me they didn't believe a woman wrote it."

[37] This petition was put in the hands of a gentleman to secure his mother's name (who had signed numbers of petitions before), and those of certain other ladies, but unfaithful to this trust, he forwarded the petition with but its single name, which, Mrs. Ferrin remarks, was powerful in itself.

[38] James W. North, a lawyer, of Augusta, Maine, to his honor be it said, assisted Mrs. Ferrin, by perfecting the divorce petition, in circulation during her six years of petition work.

[39] A lady commenting upon unjust legislation, said: "When the laws were made regarding women and children, the most impotent men were employed to make them; decent men had other business to do."

From time to time, Mrs. Ferrin sent in memorials and addresses with the petitions she yearly forwarded. One of these, in reply to the oft-made boast of man's unsolicited amelioration of woman's condition, carried the following retort: "The Powers tell us much has been done to ameliorate the condition of woman without any effort on woman's part. It would add a huge feather to their caps should they give us the history of the cause of the need of such reformation. It can not be because woman placed herself in so degrading a position. So, the merit of the up-lifting hardly reaches the demerit of the down-treading."

[40] Mrs. Davis herself.

[41] Wife of John Milton Earl, editor of the Worcester Spy.

[42] See Appendix.

[43] See Appendix.

[44] See Appendix.

[45] See Appendix

[46] See Appendix

[47] See Appendix.

[48] Mrs. Caroline Norton, a distinguished English author, who separated from her husband because of cruel treatment. He robbed nor of all the profits of her books, and of her children, and when she appealed to the Courts, English law sustained the husband in all his violations of natural justice.

[49] Abby May Alcott, Abby Kelly Foster, Lucy Stone, Thomas W. Higginson, Ann Green Phillips, Wendell Phillips, Anna Q. T. Parsons, Theodore Parker, William J. Bowditch, Samuel E. Sewall, Ellis Gray Loring, Charles K. Whipple, Wm. Lloyd Garrison, Harriot K. Hunt, Thomas T. Stone, John W. Browne, Francis Jackson, Josiah F. Flagg, Mary Flagg, Elizabeth Smith, Eliza Barney, Abby H. Price, William C. Nell, Samuel May, Jr., Robert F. Wallcott, Robert Morris, A. Bronson Alcott.

[50] Anthony Burns, the slave, was a Baptist minister In his Southern home, and had sought freedom in Boston, but was pursued and recaptured.

[51] A gentleman of wealth, who gave most liberally to all reforms, and in his will bequeathed $5,000 to the cause of woman suffrage.

[52] The Publishing Committee do not willingly print the above report of one of the ablest and most eloquent speeches ever delivered in Boston. Mr. Phillips never writes his speeches. He is now too far distant to be consulted. Two very young girl reporters—after a week's hard practice, and three hours' excessive heat—wrote these heads down, without the most distant idea of publication. All the Committee can do is to rejoice that the accident did not happen to a young speaker, but to one whose reputation is established, and whose immortality is certain. C. H. D.

[53] In the year 1875.

[54] See Appendix.

[Pg 290]



Indiana Missionary Station—Gen. Arthur St. Clair—Indian surprises—The terrible war whoop—One hundred women join the army, and are killed fighting bravely—Prairie schooners—Manufactures in the hands of women—Admitted to the Union in 1816—Robert Dale Owen—Woman Suffrage Conventions—Wisconsin—C. L. Sholes' report.

The earliest settlement of Indiana was a missionary one, in 1777, though it was not admitted as a Territory until 1800, then including the present States of Michigan and Illinois. A number of Indian wars took place in this part of the country during the twenty-five years between 1780 and 1805. What was known as the Northwest Territory was organized in 1789, and General Arthur St. Clair appointed Governor, an office he held until 1802. In 1790 a war of unusually formidable character broke out among the Indian tribes of the Northwest, and in 1791, St. Clair was created General-in-Chief of the forces against them. Many of the settlers of this portion of the country joined his army, among whom were one hundred women, who accompanied their husbands in preference to being left at home subject to the surprises and tortures of the savages with whom the country was at war. In giving command of these forces to St. Clair, Washington warned him against unexpected assaults from the enemy; but this general who was of foreign birth, a Scotchman, was no match for the cunning of his wily foe, who suddenly fell upon him, November 4th, near the Miami villages (present site of Terra Haute), making great havoc among his forces.

When, the terrible war-whoop was heard, the heroism of these hundred women rose equal to the emergency. They did not cling helplessly to their husbands—the women of those early days were made of sterner stuff—but with pale, set faces, they joined in the defense, and the records say, were most of them killed fighting bravely. They died a soldier's death upon the field of battle in defense of home and country. They died that the prairies of the West and the wilderness of the North should at a later period become the peaceful homes of untold millions of men and women. They were the true pioneers of the Northwest, the advance-guard[Pg 291] of civilization, giving their lives in battle against a terrible enemy, in order that safety should dwell at the hearth-stones of those who should settle this garden of the continent at a future period. History is very silent upon their record; not a name has been preserved; but we do know that they lived, and how they died, and it is but fitting that a record of woman's work for freedom should embalm their memory in its pages. Many other women defended homes and children against the savage foe, but their deeds of heroism have been forgotten.

There is scarcely a portion of the world so far from civilization as Indiana was at that day. No railroads spanned the continent, making neighbors of people a thousand miles apart; no steamboat sailed upon the Western lakes, nor indeed upon the broad Atlantic; telegraphy, with its annihilation of space, was a marvel as yet unborn; even the Lucifer match, which should kindle fire in the twinkling of an eye, lay buried in the dark future. Little was known of these settlements; the Genesee Valley of New York was considered the far West, to which people traveled (the Erie Canal was not then in existence) in strong, spring less wagons, over which large hoops, covered with white cloth, were securely fastened, thus sheltering the inmates from sun and storm. These wagons, afterward known as "Prairie Schooners," were for weeks and months the traveling homes of many a family of early settlers.

But even in 1816 Indiana could boast her domestic manufactures, for within the State at this time were "two thousand five hundred and twelve looms and two thousand seven hundred spinning-wheels, most of them in private cabins, whose mistresses, by their slow agencies, converted the wool which their own hands had often sheared, and the flax which their own fingers had pulled, into cloth for the family wardrobe."[55]

Thus in 1816 the manufactures of Indiana were chiefly in the hands of its women. It is upon the industries of the country that a nation thrives. Its manufactures build up its commerce and make its wealth. From this source the Government derives the revenue which is the life-blood circulating in its veins. Its strength and its perpetuity alike depend upon its industries, and when we look upon the work of women through all the years of the Republic, and remember their patriotic self-devotion and self-sacrifice at every important crisis, we are no less amazed at the ingratitude of the country for their services in war than at its non-recognition of their[Pg 292] existence as wealth-producers, the elements which build up and sustain every civilized people.

Viewing its early record, we are not surprised that Indiana claims to have organized the first State Woman's Rights Society, though we are somewhat astonished to know that at the time of the first Convention held in Indianapolis, a husband of position locked his wife within the house in order to prevent her presence thereat, although doubtless, as men have often done before and since, he deemed it not out of the way that he himself should be a listener at a meeting he considered it contrary to family discipline that his wife should attend.

December 11, 1816, Indiana was admitted into the Union. William Henry Harrison, who had been Governor of the Territory, and Brigadier-General in the army, with the command of the Northwest Territory, was afterward President of the United States. He encountered the Indians led by Tecumseh at Tippecanoe, on the Wabash, and after a terrible battle they fled. This was the origin of the song, "Tippecanoe and Tyler too," that was sung with immense effect by the Whigs all over the country in the presidential campaign of 1840, when Harrison and Tyler were the candidates; and when women, for the first time, attended political meetings.

Indiana, though one of the younger States, by her liberal and rational legislation on the questions of marriage and divorce, has always been the land of freedom for fugitives from the bondage and suffering of ill-assorted unions. Many an unhappy wife has found a safe asylum on the soil of that State. Her liberality on this question was no doubt partly due to the influence of Robert Owen, who early settled at New Harmony, and made the experiment of communal life; and later, to his son, the Hon. Robert Dale Owen, who was in the Legislature several years, and in the Constitutional Convention of 1850. The following letter from Mr. Owen gives a few facts worth perusing:

Lake George, N. Y., Sept. 20, 1876.

Dear Miss Anthony:—I know you will think the reply I am about to make to your favor of September 18th unsatisfactory, but it is the best I can do.

1. As regards Frances Wright: All the particulars regarding her and her noble but unsuccessful experiment at Nashoba, near Memphis, which I thought it important to make public, are contained in an article of mine entitled "An Earnest Sowing of Wild Oats," in the Atlantic Monthly for July, 1874.

2. As to Ernestine L. Rose, I think it probable that you know more of her than I do. I remember that she was the daughter of a Polish rabbi;[Pg 293] the wife of William Rose, a silversmith; and that she came with her husband to this country at an early day. She was a great admirer and follower of my father, Robert Owen, and was a skeptic as to any future beyond the grave; greatly opposed to Spiritualism.

3. As to my action in the Indiana Legislature: I was a member of that body during the sessions of 1836-'7, and '8, and in 1851, but I have not the materials here that would enable me to give particulars. In a general way I had the State law so altered that a married woman owned and had the right to manage her own property, both real and personal; and I had the law of descents so changed that a widow, instead of dower, which is a mere tenancy or life interest, now has, in all cases, an absolute fee in one-third of her husband's estate; if only one child, then a half; and if no children, I think two-thirds. I also had an additional clause added to the divorce law, making two years' habitual drunkenness imperative cause for divorce.

I took no action in regard to suffrage while in the Legislature. In those days it would have been utterly unavailing.

All this is very meagre, which I the more regret, sympathizing as I do with the object you have in view.

Give my kindest regards to my old friend, Mrs. Stanton, and believe me,

Faithfully your friend,

Robert Dale Owen.

Miss Anthony.

Before 1828, Frances Wright had visited Mr. Owen's colony, and assisted him in the editorial department of the New Harmony Gazette, changed afterward to the Free Enquirer, published in New York. Such a circle of remarkably intelligent and liberal-minded people, all effective speakers and able writers, was not without influence in moulding the sentiment of that young community. As a glimpse into the domestic life of this remarkable family may be interesting to the reader, we give a pleasing sketch from the pen of Mr. Owen's daughter. No monument of the whitest parian marble could shed such honor on the memory of a venerated father and mother as this tribute from an affectionate, appreciative child:


Some fifty years ago a large audience was gathered in one of the public halls of New York listening to a lecture. In the sea of faces upturned to him, the speaker read a cold response, the opinions he was expounding being exceedingly unpopular, and rarely expressed in those days. The theme was the equality of the sexes, the right of woman to control person and property in the marriage relation, the right to breathe, to think, to act as an untrammeled citizen, the[Pg 294] co-equal of man. His eyes searched tier after tier, seeking in vain for that magnetism of sympathy which is as wine to a man who stands before his people pleading with them that he may save them from their errors.

Suddenly his wandering gaze was arrested by a face, a child's face, with short, clustering curls, but a strong soul steadied the deep eyes, and on the rounded cheek paled and glowed the earnestness of a woman's searching thought. His words grew clear and strong as he looked into the upturned eyes, as he answered the listening face. The speaker was Robert Dale Owen; the hearer, Mary Robinson.

That night when she reached her own room, Mary Robinson flung off bonnet and shawl with a swift gesture, and, slipping into her accustomed seat, gazed at the steady-glowing background of coals, with the blue flames licking in and out like the evil tongues of fire-scourged elves. A strong excitement held her in thrall; she did not seem to see her elder sister's wondering looks; she did not seem to hear the great clocks, far and near, chiming out eleven, and then twelve, with that deep resonance which sounds in the silence of the night like a solemn requiem over lost hours. Presently she became aware that her sister was kneeling beside her, with anxious questioning look; she seemed, this elder sister, in her long, white night-dress, with pale, straight hair pushed back from the clear-tinted, oval face, like a youthful Madonna, and Mary drawing the gentle face close to her own with sudden impulse, said: "I have seen the man I shall marry, I have seen him to-night; he is the homeliest man I have ever known, but if I am married at all, he is to be my husband."

A few months later this prophecy was verified. On the 12th day of April, 1832, Robert Dale Owen and Mary Robinson were joined in those sacred bonds, which, in every true marriage, can be broken only by the shadow hand of Death. The ceremony was simple and unique; it consisted in signing a document written by the bridegroom himself, with a Justice of the Peace and the immediate family as witnesses. The following extracts will show the character of the compact:

New York, Tuesday, April 12, 1832.

This afternoon I enter into a matrimonial engagement with Mary Jane Robinson, a young person whose opinions on all important subjects, whose mode of thinking and feeling, coincide more intimately with my own than do those of any other individual with whom I am acquainted.... We have selected the simplest ceremony which the laws of this State recognize.... This ceremony involves not the necessity of making[Pg 295] promises regarding that over which we have no control, the state of human affections in the distant future, nor of repeating forms which we deem offensive, inasmuch as they outrage the principles of human liberty and equality, by conferring rights and imposing duties unequally on the sexes. The ceremony consists of a simply written contract in which we agree to take each other as husband and wife according to the laws of the State of New York, our signatures being attested by those friends who are present.

Of the unjust rights which in virtue of this ceremony an iniquitous law tacitly gives me over the person and property of another, I can not legally, but I can morally divest myself. And I hereby distinctly and emphatically declare that I consider myself, and earnestly desire to be considered by others, as utterly divested, now and during the rest of my life, of any such rights, the barbarous relics of a feudal, despotic system, soon destined, in the onward course of improvement, to be wholly swept away; and the existence of which is a tacit insult to the good sense and good feeling of this comparatively civilized age.

Robert Dale Owen

I concur in this sentiment,
    Mary Jane Robinson.

After a wedding tour in Europe, the young couple returning to America, settled in New Harmony, Indiana, a small Western village, where their father, Robert Owen, had been making experiments in Community life.

It was a strange, new world into which these two young creatures were entering. The husband had passed his youth in a well-ordered, wealthy English household; the wife had passed the greater part of her girlhood in Virginia, among slaves. They were now thrown upon the crudities of Western life, and encountered those daily wearing trials which strain the marriage tie to the utmost, even though it be based upon principles of justice. But there was a reserve of energy and endurance in this delicately reared pair; they felt themselves to be pioneers in every sense of the word, and the animus which sustains many a struggling soul seeking to turn a principle into a living reality, sustained these two.

We of a later civilization can scarcely realize the strain upon women in those earlier days. The housekeepers of New Harmony were obliged to buy their groceries in bulk, and have them shipped by slow stages from Cincinnati; meat was bought from the surrounding farmers, a quarter of a beef at a time, to be cut up and disposed of by the housewife; vegetables and most of the small fruits could not be bought at all; stoves were an unknown luxury, all cooking being done in huge fire-places or brick ovens.

For thirty years my father and mother labored with unabated energy;[Pg 296] his work leading him into the highways of public affairs, while her way lay through the by-paths of home and village life.

Through these thirty years my father used such influence as he had on the side of the weak and oppressed. In the matter of procuring a more respectful consideration of the property rights of women, he was a pioneer. To attempt a detailed statement of the amelioration of those legal hardships under which women labored, is beyond the scope or purpose of this article. I will only mention, in brief, the more important provisions he was instrumental in passing in the face of ridicule and violent opposition. These amendments were: The abolition of simple dower, giving to widows instead, a fee simple interest; procuring for women the right to their own earnings; abolishing tenancy by courtesy, which, in effect, made the husband the beneficiary of the wife's lands, and in several matters of less radical change rectifying, so far as he could, the injustice of the common law toward widows; always keeping in view, however, the proper heirship of children of a former marriage, and guarding the rights of creditors.

In the matter of the divorce laws of Indiana, my father has not taken as prominent a part as is generally supposed. These laws were referred to him in conjunction with another member of the Legislature for the revision, and they amended them in a single point, namely: by adding to the causes for divorce "habitual drunkenness for two years." My father has expressed himself in full on this point in a discussion between Horace Greeley and himself, first published in the New York Tribune.

As early as 1828, my father advocated an equal position for woman, publishing these views through The Free Enquirer, a weekly paper edited by Frances Wright and himself in New York.

My father's political life comprised several terms in the Legislature of his own State, being elected in 1850 a member of the Convention which amended the Constitution of Indiana, and chairman of its Revision Committee. The debates in this Convention show the difference in the position of my father and his antagonists.


Mr. Owen: No subject of greater importance has come up since we met here, as next in estimation to the right of enjoying life and liberty, our Constitution enumerates the right of acquiring, possessing, protecting property. And these sections refer to the latter right, heretofore declared to be natural, inherent, inalienable, yet virtually withheld from one-half the citizens of our State. Women are not represented in our legislative halls; they have no voice in selecting those who make laws[Pg 297] and constitutions for them; and one reason given for excluding women from the right of suffrage, is an expression of confident belief that their husbands and fathers will surely guard their interests. I should like, for the honor of my sex, to believe that the legal rights of women are, at all times, as zealously guarded as they would be if women had votes to give to those who watch over their interests.

Suffer me, sir, in defense of my skepticism on this point, to lay before you and this Convention, an item from my legislative recollection.

It will be thirteen years next winter, since I reported from a seat just over the way, a change in the then existing law of descent. At that time the widow of an intestate dying without children, was entitled, under ordinary circumstances, to dower in her husband's real estate, and one-third of his personal property. The change proposed was to give her one-third of the real estate of her husband absolutely, and two-thirds of his personal property—far too little, indeed; but yet as great an innovation as we thought we could carry. This law remained in force until 1841. How stands it now? The widow of an intestate, in case there be no children, and in case there be father, or mother, or brother, or sister of the husband, is heir to no part whatever of her deceased husband's real estate; she is entitled to dower only, of one-third of his estate. I ask you whether your hearts do not revolt at the idea, that when the husband is carried to his long home, his widow shall see snatched from her, by an inhuman law, the very property her watchful care had mainly contributed to increase and keep together?

Yet this idea, revolting as it is, is carried out in all its unmitigated rigor, by the statute to which I have just referred. Out of a yearly rental of a hundred and fifty dollars, the widow of an intestate rarely becomes entitled to more than fifty. The other hundred dollars goes—whither? To the husband's father or mother? Yes, if they survive! But if they are dead, what then? A brother-in-law or a sister-in-law takes it, or the husband's uncle, or his aunt, or his cousin! Do husbands toil through a life-time to support their aunts, and uncles, and cousins? If but a single cousin's child, a babe of six months, survive, to that infant goes a hundred dollars of the rental, and to the widow fifty. Can injustice go beyond this? What think you of a law like that, on the statute book of a civilized and a Christian land? When the husband's sustaining arm is laid in the grave, and the widow left without a husband to cherish, then comes the law more cruel than death, and decrees that poverty shall be added to desolation!

Say, delegates of the people of Indiana, answer and say whether you, whether those who sent you here are guiltless in this thing? Have you done justice? Have you loved mercy?

But let us turn to the question more immediately before us. Let us pass from the case of the widow and look to that of the wife: First, the husband becomes entitled, from the instant of marriage, to all the goods and chattels of his wife. His right is absolute, unconditional. Secondly, the husband acquires, in virtue of the marriage, the rents and profits (in all cases during her life) of his wife's real estate. The flagrant injustice of this has been somewhat modified by a statute barring the[Pg 298] marital right to the rent of lands, but this protection does not extend to personal property. Is this as it should be? Are we meting out fair and equal justice?... There is a species of very silly sentimentalism which it is the fashion to put forth in after-dinner toasts and other equally veracious forms, about woman being the only tyrant in a free republic; about the chains she imposes on her willing slaves, etc.; it would be much more to our credit, if we would administer a little less flattery and a little more justice.

From pages upon pages of eloquence delivered in reply, I cull the following extracts, which are a sample of the spirit of the opposition:

"I am of opinion that to adopt the proposition of the gentleman from Posey (Mr. Owen), will not ameliorate the condition of married women."

"I can not see the propriety of establishing for women a distinct and separate interest, the consideration of which would, of necessity, withdraw their attention from that sacred duty which nature has, in its wisdom, assigned to their peculiar care. I think the law which unites in one common bond the pecuniary interests of husband and wife should remain. The sacred ordinance of marriage, and the relations growing out of it, should not be disturbed. The common law does seem to me to afford sufficient protection."

"If the law is changed, I believe that a most essential injury would result to the endearing relations of married life. Controversies would arise, husbands and wives would become armed against each other, to the utter destruction of true felicity in married life."

"To adopt it would be to throw a whole population morally and politically into confusion. Is it necessary to explode a volcano under the foundation of the family union?"

"I object to the gentleman's proposition, because it is in contravention of one of the great fundamental principles of the Christian religion. The common law only embodies the divine law."

"Give to the wife a separate interest in law, and all those high motives to restrain the husband from wrong-doing will be, in a great degree, removed."

"I firmly believe that it would diminish, if it did not totally annihilate woman's influence."

"Woman's power comes through a self-sacrificing spirit, ready to offer up all her hopes upon the shrine of her husband's wishes."

"Sir, we have got along for eighteen hundred years, and shall we change now? Our fathers have for many generations maintained the principle of the common law in this regard, for some good and weighty reasons."

"The immortal Jefferson, writing in reference to the then state of society in France, and the debauched condition thereof, attributes the whole to the effects of the civil law then in force in France, permitting the wife to hold, acquire, and own property, separate and distinct from the husband."[Pg 299]

"The females of this State are about as happy and contented with their present position in relation to this right (suffrage), as it is necessary they should be, and I do not favor the proposition (of Woman's Suffrage), which my friend from Posey, Mr. Owen, appears to countenance."

"It is not because I love justice less, but woman more, that I oppose this section."

"This doctrine of separate estate will stifle all the finer feelings, blast the brightest, fairest, happiest hopes of the human family, and go in direct contravention of that law which bears the everlasting impress of the Almighty Hand. Sir, I consider such a scheme not only as wild, but as wicked, if not in its intentions, at least in its results."

It is incredible that men in their sane minds should argue day after day, that if women were allowed to control their own property, it would "strike at the root of Christianity," "ruin the home," and "open wide the door to license and debauchery." And yet these men did so argue through weeks of stormy debate; the bitterest feeling being shown, not with regard to the proposed change in the law of descent, but with regard to the right of women to "acquire and possess property to their sole use and disposal," during the husband's life-time. It is strange, indeed, that the man who advocated this "most meagre justice," as he truly says, should have been a target, not only for ridicule, but for abuse. I append one extract of the latter description, to illustrate how violent and unreasoning was the prejudice with which my father contended. One gentleman after quoting from the marriage contract of my father and mother, the extract in which he, my father, divests himself of the right to control the "person and property of another," proceeds as follows:

Sir, I would that my principles on this, in contradistinction with those of the gentlemen from Posey, were written in characters of light across the noon-day heavens, that all the world might read them. (Applause). I have in my drawer numerous other extracts from the writings of the gentleman from Posey, but am not allowed to read them; and, indeed, sir, under the circumstances, decency forbids their use. But if I were permitted to read them, and show their worse than damning influence upon society, in conjunction with this system of separate interests, I venture to aver that gentlemen would turn from them with disgust; aye, sir, they would shun them as they would shun man's worst enemy, and flee from them as from a poisonous reptile. (Page 1161, "Debates in Indiana Convention").

The section was finally reconsidered and rejected a few days before adjournment (p. 2013). But my father, with his characteristic perseverance, continued his efforts until they were finally crowned with success in the Legislature, after fifteen years of endeavor.[Pg 300]

Most of the arguments used by those delegates, if they can be called by so dignified a name, bear a singular resemblance to the arguments used to-day by the opponents of woman's suffrage. May we not then conclude that the fears which have been proved absolutely groundless in the one case, may be equally so in the other?

An enthusiastic public meeting was held in Indianapolis in honor of my father by the women of the State, Mrs. Sarah T. Bolton taking a prominent part. On this occasion a beautiful silver pitcher was presented to him as a token of gratitude for his persevering efforts in behalf of women. This pitcher still holds a place of honor in our family dinings on gala days.

In reply to several slurs in regard to this memorial, my father during the debates in the Convention thus retorted:

Since I have had occasion to allude to the testimonial which it is proposed to offer me on behalf of the women of my adopted State, I will say here, that regarding it as the greatest compliment—if in so grave a connection a word often so lightly used may be properly employed—the greatest compliment I ever received in my life, or ever can receive till I die: it matters little to me what may be said of myself in that connection; I am accustomed to personal attack, and am proof against ridicule. But if any man, whether he disgrace a chair on this floor, or dishonor by his presence some of the bar-rooms of the city, utter an insinuation, cast a reproach, directly or indirectly, by open assertion, or covert insinuation, against the motives or the character of those courageous women who may have met in Lawrenceburg or elsewhere, to consult regarding rights shamefully denied to them, or those who may have publicly expressed gratitude to the defenders of these rights—if such a man there be, within or without the walls of this capitol, I say here of such a one, let him receive it as he will, that I would give my hand more freely to the inmate of the penitentiary than to him. (Page 1185, "Debates in Indiana Convention").

In 1843 and 1845 my father was elected to Congress, serving until 1847. In 1853 he was appointed Minister to Naples, remaining there until 1858. During the war his exertions were unremitting. He was the friend of Governor Morton, and was consulted by that energetic statesman in all his more important plans. He wrote several letters on the political crises of the time, which had a wide circulation and influence. Mr. Lincoln said to several of his friends, that a letter addressed to him by Mr. Owen, and a conversation consequent thereon, had done more toward deciding him in favor of the Emancipation Proclamation, than any other influence which had been brought to bear. My father also made strenuous efforts during the winter of 1865-'66 to postpone the enfranchisement of the freedmen ten years, until 1876. (See Atlantic Monthly, June, 1875). Subsequent events have shown his judgment to have been[Pg 301] correct and far-sighted. He believed the conferring of suffrage upon the negro, dim-visioned in the sudden light of a new liberty, to be a most dangerous experiment; he foresaw that the ballot which the North gave to them as a protection against their arrogant masters, would prove a two-edged sword with a terrible reactionary force in the hands of an untrained race just freed from mental leading-strings; he knew the difficulty to be inherent, a difficulty which the existence of slavery must necessarily have produced. He maintained that although the sword had struck off the outward chains, the white-heat of ire kindled in the hearts of the conquered had not fused the inward shackles of the slave, but had riveted them the firmer, and that the invisible fetters welded by revengeful hate should be broken most carefully.

In the latter years of his life my father gave his entire attention to the study of Modern Spiritualism, or rather to the study of Spiritualism in both its ancient and its modern phases. He published two works on this subject, "Footfalls on the Boundary of Another World," and "The Debatable Land between this World and the Next." In a letter written shortly before his death, he expresses himself as follows: "I hope, my child, that you will never, at any period of your life, be less happy than you now are. If you cultivate your spiritual nature rationally, I feel assured you never will. For one effect of rational Spiritualism is to make one more satisfied the longer one lives, and to make the last scenes of life, hours of pleasant anticipation, instead of a season of dread, or, as with many it has been, of horror." It would be well for non-investigators who maintain that my father's belief in Spiritualism necessarily proves him to have been illogical, to see to it that they are not falling into the inconsequence which they are ascribing to him. Reasoning a priori, should we not believe that the man who saw so clearly the dangers which were unperceived by some of our keenest statesmen, could not become, except in a rare instance and for a short time, a misled dupe? Has any one the right to condemn such a man unproved?

While my father was exerting his energies for the welfare of the nation, my mother was giving her life to her children. Sons and daughters were welcomed into the Owen homestead, and the wide halls and great rooms of the rambling country house rang with the voices of children. Three of these little ones slipped back to Heaven before the portals had closed. The stricken parents with blinded eyes met only the rayless emptiness of unbelief. May God help the mother, fainting beneath a bereavement greater than she[Pg 302] can bear, who cries for help and finds none; who stretches her empty arms upward in an agony of appeal and is answered by the hollow echo of her own cry; may God help her, for she is beyond the help of man. Other children came to fill the vacant places, other voices filled the air, but the hearts of father and mother were not filled until years later, when a sweet faith thrilled the hopeless blank.

The story of these two is the story of many beside. Husband and wife began the long journey side by side with equal talent, hope, energy; his work led him along the high-road, hers lay in a quiet nook; his name became world-known, hers was scarcely heard beyond the precinct of her own village; and yet who can say that his life was the more successful, who can say that the quiet falling rain, with its slow resultant of flower and fruit in each little garden nook, is less important than the mighty ship-laden river bearing its wealth of commerce in triumph to the sea?

George Eliot, in "Middlemarch," says of Dorothea:

Her finely-touched spirit had its fine issues, though they were not widely visible.... The effect of her being on those around her was incalculably diffusive; for the growing good of the world is partly dependent on unhistoric acts; and that things are not so ill with you and me as they might have been, is half owing to the number who lived faithfully a hidden life, and rest in unvisited tombs.

This is true of many Dorotheas; it is true of the Dorothea of whom I am writing. Geographically, Mary Owen's field of labor was narrow; but a small Western village of a thousand souls may hold within its ethical strata all the developments of a continent. Let her who feels that her small limits imprison her, remember that emotions are not registered by the census. Lovers and business men, struggling youths and perplexed mothers, children and veterans, poured their griefs and fears, their hopes and disappointments, into the listening ear of sympathy, knowing that the clear judgment of this little woman could unravel much that seemed to be in hopeless entanglement.

Well do I remember the cheer of this our home. Simple were its duties, simple indeed its pleasures. Well do I remember the busy troop of boys and girls, with the busy mother at their head, directing their exuberant energy with a rare administrative ability. Besides her own children, four of whom reached maturity, she took during her life seven other young people under her protection, so that the great old-fashioned house was always filled to overflowing with fresh young life. Pasture and stable, hennery and dairy, yard[Pg 303] and garden, kitchen and parlor, all were under her immediate guidance and control. Well do I remember the pots of golden butter, fresh from her cool hand; the delicious hams cured under her supervision; the succulent vegetables and juicy fruits fresh from her garden—that trim, symmetrical garden, with its well-weeded beds, its well-kept walks! Many a bright summer morning have I seen her resting on a low bench beneath a huge overhanging elm, overlooking the field of our labors. To a stranger the flushed face with its irregular features, might have seemed plain; the earnest, energetic manner might have seemed almost abrupt; but to the children who sat on the grass at her feet looking upward, the face was beautiful. That calm eye had pierced through so many childish intricacies and made them clear; the firm mouth could smile so gently at any youthful shortcoming, and the strong voice rang with a hope which sent fear and doubt skulking away in shamefaced silence. It was the brightest part of the day, this short respite, before mother, marshalling her young army, led them to the study-room. This impromptu lesson-hour was filled with a teaching so trenchant, that oftentimes, in these lonelier days, when perplexed in the intricacies of life's journeyings, a word spoken in some long ago summer morning, floats down the years and rises before my troubled vision a guiding star.

When her children were grown, and the task she had undertaken years before had been well done, our mother turned her attention for a time to public work. She gave much thought to the Woman Question, especially that portion of it pertaining to woman's work, and addressed one or two meetings in New York on this subject. Miss Anthony recently said to me: "Miss Owen, you do not know how great an impression your mother made upon us—a woman who had lived nearly her whole life in a small Western village, absorbed in petty cares, and yet who could stand before us[56] with a calm dignity, telling us searching truths in simple and strong words." The only lecture I heard my mother deliver was in the church of our village. Her subject was the rearing of children. A calm light rested on her silver hair and broad brow; her manner was the earnest manner of a woman who has looked into the heart of life. Blessed is the daughter to whom it is given to reverence a mother as I reverenced mine that night. A quiet, but deep attention was given to her words, for the fathers and mothers who were listening to her[Pg 304] knew that she was speaking on a subject to which she had given long years of careful thought and faithful endeavor. It would not be possible in the space allotted me to give a detailed account of my mother's teachings with regard to the rearing of children; but I will state a few of the more prominent theories—theories proved by practice, which I remember.

Self-government was the primary principle, the broad foundation. She held this qualification to be the only guarantee of success in the broadest sense of the word, and that to be effectual and never-failing it must be interwoven into the very fiber of the child. During the earliest years our mother administered punishment, or rather she invented some means by which the child should be made to feel the result of its bad conduct. Injuring another was held to be a cardinal sin. For this misdeed our hands were tied behind us for an interminable length of time; for running away we were tied to the bed-post; for eating at irregular hours we were deprived of dainties at the next meal, etc. But as soon as we reached the age of reason, she exerted, not a controlling, but a guiding hand. We were restricted by few rules, for our mother believed in the largest possible liberty, and she held that it was better to pass over the smaller shortcomings unnoticed, than constantly to be finding fault. She maintained that scolding should be indulged in most sparingly, as much of it was detrimental both to the temper of the child and the dignity of the mother. She believed that too little allowance was made for the heedlessness growing out of pure exuberance of spirits. But when a law was once established it was unalterable, and no child ever thought of resisting it. For instance, no one, large or small, was allowed to exhibit a peevish ill-nature, either by word or manner, in the public rooms of the house. My mother merely said, in a quiet tone: "My child, you are either tired or sick; in either case, it would be better to go to your own room and lie down until you are quite restored." The result of this simple rule was an almost uniform cheerfulness. I have lived in many homes, in many parts of the world, but I have never seen one which equaled my mother's in this respect. I do not remember a single command issued by my mother to her older children; but I can well remember her saying: "I think you had better do so and so"; and I recollect distinctly that when we obstinately followed our own unreasoning will, as we were often inclined to do, we were invariably taught a bitter but wholesome lesson. She believed these lessons to be much more effectual for good than any arbitrary prohibition on her part would have been; she reserved such prohibition[Pg 305] for the cases where the consequences were not confined to ourselves, or were of too serious a nature.

The one mistake made by my mother was in the physical management of her children. Like many mothers whose bodies and minds are kept at the highest tension, she failed to give vital strength to her children. The most promising of these died in early childhood, "by the will of God," as we say in our blindness. One of them especially, the "little king," as he was called, being a magnificent child, both in mental and moral development. Of those who came to maturity, one died at the age of twenty-seven, one has been an invalid for years, one has fair health, and one only rejoices in a vigorous physique. This boy was born in my grandmother's house, near the sea, where my mother had spent, as she expressed it, "the laziest year of her whole life." These children have all had a keen love of study, an energy which carried them far beyond their strength, and she failed sufficiently to curb them. But in other respects, our mother has done to the uttermost. Her children had strong propensities both for good and ill. She has, so far as is possible, strengthened the virtues and repressed the faults of every child given into her keeping.

"The sun shines," is a sentence simple and short, but how infinite is its meaning; myriads of unfolding blossoms flash it back in vivid coloring; myriads of stalwart trees whisper it; myriads of breathing things revel in it; myriads of men thank God for it. So is it with the influence of a good mother. It is not given us to follow each tiny shaft of light in its endless searchings, neither do we note how the riot of the waste places within us is pruned by deft hands into a tenuous symmetry, nor how, in the midst of this life's growth, is laid the foundation of the kingdom of Heaven, by the silent masonry of a mother's constant endeavor.

Mothers, all over this broad land, heavy-laden with the puerile details of daily living, fling off your shrouding cares, and lift your worn faces that you may see with a broad outlook how full-fruited is the vineyard in which you are toiling; the thorns are irritating; the glebe is rough; your spirit faints in the heat of the toilsome day. Look up! the lengthening shadows are falling like dew upon you! tired hearts, look up! purple-red hangs the clustering fruit of your life-long work; the vintage has come, the freest from blight that can ever come—the vintage of a faithful mother!

The name of Mary Owen was not written upon the brains of men, but it is graven upon the hearts of these her children; so long as they live, the blessed memory of that home shall abide with them, a[Pg 306] home wherein all that was sweet, and strong, and true, was nurtured by a wise hand, was sunned into blossoming by a loving heart.

A benediction rests upon the brow of him who has given his best work to help this world onward, even though it be but a hair's-breadth; but the mother who has given herself to her children through long years of an unwritten self-abnegation, who has thrilled every fiber of their beings with faith in God and hope in man, a faith and a hope which no canker-worm of worldly experience can ever eat away, she shall be crowned with a sainted halo.


At an anti-slavery meeting held in Greensboro, Henry Co., in 1851, a resolution was offered by Amanda M. Way, then an active agent in the "Underground Railroad," as follows:

Whereas, The women of our land are being oppressed and degraded by the laws and customs of our country, and are in but little better condition than chattel slaves; therefore,

Resolved, That we call a Woman's Rights Convention, and that a committee be now appointed to make the necessary arrangements.

The resolution was adopted. Amanda M. Way, Joel Davis, and Fanny Hiatt were appointed.

The Convention met in October, 1851, in Dublin, Wayne Co., and organized by electing Hannah Hiatt, President; Amanda Way, Vice-President; and Henry Hiatt, Secretary. Miss Way made the opening address, and stated the object of the Convention to be a full, free, and candid discussion of the legal and social position of women. The meetings continued two days. Henry C. Wright addressed large audiences at the evening sessions. A letter was received from Mary F. Thomas, of North Manchester, urging all those who believe in woman's rights to be firm and outspoken. She encouraged young ladies to enter the trades and professions, to fit themselves in some way for pecuniary independence, and adds, "Although a wife, mother, and housekeeper, with all that that means, I am studying medicine, and expect to practice, if I live."

Such a Convention being a novel affair, called out some ridicule and opposition, but the friends were so well pleased with their success, that a committee was appointed to arrange for another the next year, which was held in Richmond, Oct. 15 and 16, 1852. A few of the resolutions[57] will show the spirit of the leaders at that[Pg 307] time. A Woman's Rights Society was formed at this Convention, a Constitution and By-laws adopted, and it became one of the permanent organizations of the State. Hannah Hiatt, President; Jane Morrow, Vice-President; Mary B. Birdsall, Secretary; Amanda Way, Treasurer.

Another Convention was held at Richmond October 12, 1853. The President being absent, Lydia W. Vandeburg presided with dignity and ability. Frances D. Gage, Josephine S. Griffing, Emma R. Coe, and Lydia Ann Jenkins were among the prominent speakers. Having heard that Antoinette Brown had been denied admission as a delegate to the "World's Temperance Convention," held in New York, on account of her sex, they passed a resolution condemning this insult offered to all womankind. Thirty-two persons[58] signed the Constitution in the first Convention, and the movement spread rapidly in the Hoosier State.

The fourth annual meeting convened in Masonic Hall, Indianapolis, October 26, 1854. Frances D. Gage, Caroline M. Severance, and L. A. Hine were the invited speakers, and right well did they sustain the banner of equal rights in the capital of the State. J. W. Gordon, then a young and promising lawyer, and since one of the leading men of the State, avowed himself in favor of woman suffrage, and added much to the success of the Convention. The press, as usual, ridiculed, burlesqued, and misrepresented the proceedings; but the citizens manifested a serious interest, and requested that the next Convention be held at the capital.

About this time the "Maine Liquor Law" was passed in this State. The women took an active part in the temperance campaign, and helped to secure the prohibitory law. This made the suffrage movement more popular, as was shown in the increased attendance at the next Convention in Indianapolis, October 12, 1855, at which Emma B. Swank presided. The prominent speakers were James and Lucretia Mott, Frances D. Gage, Ernestine L. Rose, Joseph Barker, Amanda Way, Henry Hiatt, and J. W. Gordon. With such women as these to declare the gospel of equality, and to enforce it with their pure faces, womanly graces, and noble lives, the people could not fail to give their sympathy, and to be convinced of the rightfulness of our cause. The two leading papers again did their best to make the movement ridiculous. The reporters gave glowing pen sketches of the "masculine women" and "feminine men"; they described the dress and appearance of the women very minutely[Pg 308] but said little of the merits of the question, or the arguments of the speakers. Amanda Way was chosen President of the Society; Dr. Mary Thomas, Vice-President; Mary B. Birdsall, Secretary; Abbe Lindley, Treasurer.

The next annual meeting was held in Winchester, October 16 and 17, 1856. In her introductory remarks, the President referred to the great change that had taken place in five years. Women were now often seen on the platform making speeches on many questions, behind the counters as clerks, in the sick-room as physicians. The temperance organization of Good Templars, now spreading rapidly over the State, makes no distinction in its members; women as well as men serve on committees, hold office, and vote on all business matters. Emma B. Swank and Sarah E. Underhill were the principal speakers at this Convention. For logical argument and beauty of style, Miss Swank was said to have few equals. Dr. Mary Thomas was chosen President for the next year.

The annual meeting of 1857 was again held in Winchester, by an invitation from the citizens, and the Methodist Episcopal Church was tendered for their use. On taking the chair, the President, Dr. Mary F. Thomas, said:

This is the first time I have had the pleasure of meeting with this Association, still my heart, my influence, and my prayers have all been with the advocates of this cause. Although I have not enjoyed the privilege of attending the annual meetings, owing to my many cares, I have not been an idler in the vineyard. By my example, as well as my words, I have tried to teach women to be more self-reliant, and to prepare themselves for larger and more varied spheres of activity.

Frances D. Gage, who was always a favorite speaker in Indiana, was again present, and scattered seeds of truth that have produced abundant fruit. On motion of Amanda Way, who said she believed it was time for us to begin to knock at the doors of the Legislature, a committee of three was appointed to prepare a form of petition to be circulated and presented to the next Legislature.

In 1858 the Convention again met in Richmond, Sarah Underhill, President. Adeline T. Swift and Anne D. Cridge, of Ohio, both excellent speakers, were present. The committee appointed to draft a form of petition, reported the following:

To the Honorable Senate and House of Representatives of the State of Indiana:

The undersigned, residents of the State of Indiana, respectfully ask you to grant to women the same rights in property that are enjoyed by men. We also ask you to take the necessary steps to amend the Constitution so as to extend to woman the right of suffrage.

[Pg 309]

Sarah Underhill, Emma Swank, Mary Birdsall, Agnes Cook, Dr. Mary F. Thomas, and Amanda Way were appointed to present said petition to the Legislature. The interest was so great, and the discussions so animated, for many new speakers from all parts of the State had risen up, that the Convention continued through three days.

On the 19th of January, 1859, the petition was presented to the Legislature by Mary Birdsall, Agnes Cook, and Dr. Mary Thomas. An account of the proceedings was given in The Lily, a woman's rights paper, published and edited by Dr. Mary Thomas. The occasion of the presentation of petitions in person by a delegation of the Indiana Woman's Rights Association before the assembled Houses of the Legislature, drew an immense crowd long before the appointed hour. On the arrival of the Committee, they were escorted to the Speaker's stand. The President, J. R. Cravens, introduced them to their Representatives.

Mrs. Agnes Cook, in a few brief remarks, invited a serious and candid consideration of the intrinsic merits of the petition about to be presented, and the arguments of the petitioners.

Dr. Mary Thomas read the petition signed by over one thousand residents of Indiana, and urged the Legislature to pass laws giving equal property rights to married women, and to take the necessary steps to so amend the Constitution of the State as to secure to all women the right of suffrage. She claimed these rights on the ground of absolute justice, as well as the highest expediency, pointing out clearly the evils that flow from class legislation.

Mrs. Birdsall being introduced, read a clear, concise address, occupying about half an hour.

The following resolution, offered by Gen. Steele, was unanimously adopted:

Resolved, That the addresses just read be spread upon the Journal, and that copies be requested for publication in the city papers.

After the Senate adjourned, the Speaker called the House to order, and on the motion of Mr. Murray, it resolved itself into committee of the whole on the memorial just presented. On motion of Mr. Hamilton, the petition was made the special order for Friday, when it was referred to the Committee on "Rights and Privileges," who reported "that legislation on this subject is inexpedient at this time," which report was concurred in by the House.

The ninth annual meeting was held in Good Templars' Hall, Richmond, in October, 1859. It continued but one day, as the time[Pg 310] was fully occupied in business plans for future work. Mary B. Birdsall was chosen President of the Association.

The intense excitement of the political campaign of 1860, and the civil war that followed, absorbed every other interest. The women who had so zealously worked for their own rights, were just as ready to help others. Some hastened to the hospitals; others labored in the sanitary movement. Others did double duty at home, tilling the ground and gathering in the harvests, that their fathers, husbands, brothers, and sons might go forth to fight the battles of freedom. No conventions were held for ten years; but public sentiment had taken a long stride during those years of conflict, and when the pioneers of this reform, who had been accustomed to opposition and misrepresentation, again began the work, they were astonished to find themselves in a comparatively popular current.

We find the following letters from Henry C. Wright and Esther Ann Lukens, in The Liberator:

Dublin, Wayne Co., Indiana, Oct. 14, 1851.

Dear Garrison:—I am in a Woman's Rights Convention, the first ever held in this State, called by the women of Indiana to consider the true position of woman. An excellent but short address was made by the President, Hannah Hiatt, on the importance of the movement and the ruinous consequences of dividing the interests of men and women, and making their relations antagonistic in the State, the Church, and the affairs of every-day life. Much was said against woman's taking part in government. It would degrade her to vote and hold office, and destroy her influence as mother, wife, daughter, sister. It was an answer that if voting and holding office would degrade women, they would degrade men also; whatever is injurious to the moral nature, delicacy, and refinement of woman is equally so to man. Moral obligations rest equally on both sexes. Man should be as refined and chaste as woman if we would make our social life pure. Women may as well say to men, "Keep away from the ballot-box and from office, for it degrades you and unfits you to be our companions," as for man to say so to women. Dr. Curtis, a Methodist class-leader, said the Bible had placed the final appeal in all disputes in man; that if woman refused obedience, God gave man the right to use force. This "Christian teacher" was the only person in the Convention who appealed to the spirit of rowdyism, whose language was unbecoming the subject and the occasion. He was the only one who appealed to the Bible to justify the subjection of woman. And while he awarded to man the right to use force, he said the only influence the Bible authorized woman to use was moral suasion. Man is to rule woman by violence; woman must rule man by love, kindness, and long-suffering. So says the Bible according to the interpretation of the learned Dr. Curtis. The Convention lasted two days. It was a thrilling meeting.

Henry C. Wright.


New Garden, Ohio, Oct. 2, 1851.

Dear Friends:—When Goethe was asked if the world would be better if[Pg 311] the Golden Age were restored, he answered, "A synod of good women shall decide."

Could his spirit look down upon us he would see those synods, of which he perhaps prophetically spoke, assembling all over the land, not to restore an age of semi-barbarism, but to hasten the advent of a new and far more golden era, when there will be no dangerous pilgrimage of years' duration to win back the Holy Sepulchre, but a far more divine and sacred inheritance shall have been sought and found; namely, freedom for woman to exercise every right, capacity, and power with which God has endowed her.

If there are any natural rights, then they belong to all by virtue of our humanity, and are not graduated by degrees of superiority. If the privilege of voting had been limited to those men who were strong in mind and morals, we should never have had a Governor's signature to "the black laws of Ohio."

It is perverse and cruel to raise the cry that we make war upon domestic life; that we would destroy its natural order and attraction by allowing woman to mingle in the coarse and noisy scenes of political life. Is not the aid of man equally important in the family, and would his necessary duties in the home conflict with his duties as a citizen and a patriot?

Man can not wrong and oppress woman without jeopardizing his own liberty. Cramped and crippled as she may be by inexorable law, she avenges herself, and decides his destiny. So long as woman is outlawed, man pays the penalty in ignorance, poverty, and suffering. Our interests are one, we rise or fall together.

Sisters of Indiana, accept my heartfelt sympathy in the work you have undertaken. It is well for the pioneers of a new country to call down God's blessing on their labors by an early claim to an equality of rights.

Esther Ann Lukens.

Yours, for justice to all,

Having never met the brave women who endured the first shower of ridicule in Indiana, we asked to be introduced to them in some brief pen-sketches, and in the following manner they present themselves:


may be truthfully called the mother of "The Woman Suffrage Association" in Indiana organized in 1851, and took an active part in all the Conventions until she became a resident in Kansas in 1872. Miss Way was always an abolitionist, a prohibitionist, and an uncompromising suffragist—the great pioneer of all reforms. It is amusing to hear how many places she has been the first to fill; yet she has done it all in such a quiet way that no one seemed to feel that she was ever out of place. It was a common remark, "Amanda can do that, but she is not like other people." She was the first woman elected Grand Secretary of the "Indiana Order of Good Templars," in 1856; the first State lecturer and organizer; the first in the world to be elected Grand Worthy Chief Templar; the first one in her State to be a representative to the national lodge; the first one admitted as a regular representative to the Grand Division, Sons of Temperance, and the first to be a licensed preacher in the Methodist Episcopal Church. What is better still, she continues in the work she began, gaining power and influence with the experience of years. An editor, speaking of her,[Pg 312] said: "There is no woman more widely and favorably known in this State than Amanda Way. Her name is a household word, and in the hearts of the temperance reformers her memory will ever be sacred."

In 1859, she was associated with Mrs. Underhill in editing The Ladies' Tribune, and has since been connected with the press much of the time. During the Rebellion, her time and thoughts were given to active labors in the hospitals and the sanitary movement. Many a soldier returned to his home who would have died but for her care. In company with Mrs. Swank she presented a memorial, to the Legislature in 1871, asking the elective franchise for women, and made a very effective speech on the occasion.

Her home-life has been equally active and faithful; a widowed mother and a sister's orphaned children, have been her special care, depending on her for support. Once, when asked why she never married, she laughingly replied, "I never had time."

She has been a consistent member of the Methodist Church twenty years, and ten years ago, unsolicited by herself, she was licensed as a minister by the Winchester Quarterly Conference, Rev. Milton Mahin, Presiding Elder. In her travels over the State she preaches almost every Sunday, being invited to fill many pulpits, both in Kansas and this State.

She is a calm, forcible, earnest speaker, and, though quiet and reserved in manner, she is genial and warm in her affections.

She is now fifty-two years old, and though her life has been a constant battle with wrongs, she has not become misanthropic nor despondent. Knowing that progress is the law of life, she has full faith that the moral world, though moving slowly, is still moving in the right direction.


Corresponding Secretary of the State Suffrage Association for many years, a position for which she was eminently fitted, being gifted as a writer. Having had a liberal education, and great enthusiasm in our cause, her labors have been valuable and effective. She is a correspondent for several journals and periodicals, is very active in "The State Horticultural Society," and takes a deep interest in all the progressive movements of the day.


Mrs. Boyd is a lady of fine poetical genius and superior literary attainments. She has been an earnest advocate of woman suffrage for many years, and is herself a living argument of woman's ability to use the rights she asks.

In 1871 she read a very able essay on the "Women of the Bible," before the State Association of the Christian Church. It was the first time a woman's voice had been heard in that religious body. The success of her effort on that occasion opened the way for other women. Mrs. Boyd and her husband (Dr. S. S. Boyd, who is also a zealous friend of our cause), have both been officers of the State W. S. Association for many years, taking an active part in all our Conventions.


Mrs. Clark has been an acceptable lecturer and preacher for many years in different parts of the State. She was early a recognized minister among the[Pg 313] Congregational Quakers. More recently she has been ordained in the Universalist Church, and enjoys equal rights and honors with the clergymen of that denomination. She is a woman of education and culture, and of English parentage.


Mrs. Swank is one of the most pleasing speakers of Indiana. She is a graduate of Antioch, and while yet in college she gained quite a reputation by her lecturing on Astronomy. She spent several years lecturing to classes of women on Physiology, Anatomy, and Hygiene. Of late, she has devoted herself to Woman Suffrage and Temperance. She served as president of the State Society one year before the war and one since, and has always done good, service to the cause of woman with both pen and tongue.


Mrs. Underhill was first known in Indiana as the editor and proprietor of the Ladies' Tribune at Indianapolis in 1857. She associated with her Amanda Way as office editor, that she might devote her entire time to lecturing. Though she remained in the State but three years, she was widely and favorably known as an earnest and effective speaker on Woman Suffrage and Temperance. When the war began, she was among the first to go to the sick and wounded soldiers. A brief account of her work in the hospitals will be found in the "Women of the War."


Miss Morrow was a pioneer in our movement; attended the Second Convention in 1852. She was not a speaker, but a practical business woman, owning and successfully carrying on a dry-goods store in Richmond for many years. By precept and example, she taught the doctrine of woman's independence and self-reliance. She was a kind, genial, sunny-hearted woman, who made all about her bright and happy, though she was what the world calls an "old maid." In 1867, she died suddenly, without a moment's warning or parting word; but "Aunt Jane," as she was familiarly called, will long be remembered in her native town.


was secretary of the Convention of 1852, and held that position for three years. She purchased The Lily, a Woman's Rights paper, of Amelia Bloomer, in 1855, and published it for three years. Her home is in Richmond.


Mrs. Owen, wife of Robert Dale Owen, was not known to the public until after the war. It is said, however, that she suggested and helped prepare the amendments to the laws with reference to woman's property rights, that her husband carried through our Legislature. She had a strong, clear intellect, and her lectures were more argumentative and pointed than rhetorical and flinched. She sympathized with and aided her husband in all his reformatory movements, and was his equal in mental power. She was one of the vice-presidents of our Indiana State Woman Suffrage Association at the time of her death, 1871.[Pg 314]


Mary F. Thomas, M.D., was born October 28. 1816, in Montgomery County, Maryland. Her parents, Samuel and Mary Myers, were members of the Society of Friends, and resided in their early days in Berks and Chester Counties, in Pennsylvania. Her father was the associate of Benjamin Lundy, in organizing and attending the first anti-slavery meeting held in Washington, at the risk of their lives.

Desiring to place his family beyond the evil influences of slavery, he moved to Columbiana County, Ohio. He purchased a farm there; his daughters assisted him in his outdoor labors in the summer, and studied under his instructions in the winter. While in Washington he frequently took his daughters to the capitol to listen to the debates, which gave them interest in political questions. Mary was early roused to the consideration of woman's wrongs by the unequal wages paid to teachers of her own sex. In 1845 she was much moved in listening to the preaching of Lucretia Mott at a yearly meeting in Salem, Ohio, and resolved that her best efforts should be given to secure justice for woman.

In 1839 she was married to Dr. Owen Thomas. She has three daughters, all well educated, self-reliant women. Her youngest daughter, a graduate of Cornell University, Ithaca, New York, took the Greek prize in the intercollegiate contest in 1874. As Mrs. Thomas' husband was a physician, she studied medicine with him, and graduated at the Penn Medical College of Philadelphia in 1854. She was the first woman to take her place in the State Medical Association as a regularly admitted delegate. She is a member of the Wayne County Medical Association; has been physician for "The Home for Friendless Women" in the city of Richmond for nine years, and has filled the office of City Physician by the appointment of the Commissioners for several years.

Though deeply interested in the woman suffrage reform, owing to her domestic cares and medical studies she could not attend any public meetings until 1857; since that time she has been one of the most responsible standard-bearers, and for several years President of the State Association.

Mrs. Thomas was always a conscientious abolitionist; the poor fugitive from bondage did not knock at her door in vain. The temperance reform, too, has had her warm sympathy and the benefit of her pure example. She is a member of the Grand Lodge of Good Templars, and has held important offices in that Order, having been a faithful disciple in spreading the gospel of temperance over forty years, always a member of some organization.

During the war of the rebellion she gave herself in every way that was open to woman to the loyal service of her country. As assistant physician in hospitals, looking after the sick and wounded, and in sanitary work at home, she manifested as much patriotism as any man did on the battle-field. After her long experience, she comes to the conclusion, that with the ballot in her own hand, with the power to coin her will into law, a woman might do a far more effective work in preventing human misery and crime, than she ever can accomplish by indirect influence, in merely mitigating the evils man perpetuates by law.

[Pg 315] (From the Liberator of May, 1856).


Minority Report of C. L. Sholes, from the "Committee on Expiration and Re-enactment of Laws," to whom were referred sundry petitions, praying that steps may be taken to confer upon women the right of suffrage in Wisconsin.

The minority of the Committee on Expiration and Re-enactment of Laws, beg leave to report:

The theory of our government, proclaimed some eighty years since, these petitioners ask may be reduced to practice. The undersigned is aware that the opinion has been announced from a high place and high source, that this theory is, in the instrument which contains it, a mere rhetorical flourish, admirable to fill a sentence and round a period, but otherwise useless and meaningless; that so far from all mankind being born free and equal, it is those only who have rights that are entitled to them; those yet out of the pale of that fortunate condition being intended by Providence always to be and remain there. But notwithstanding this opinion has the weight of high authority, and notwithstanding the practice of the American people has thus far been in strict accordance with such opinion, the undersigned believes the theory proclaimed is not simply a rhetorical flourish, nor meaningless, but that it means just what it says; that it is true, and being true, is susceptible of an application as broad as the truth proclaimed.

All humankind, says the theory, are endowed by their Creator with certain inalienable rights. Other governments proclaim the divine right of kings, and assume that man is the mere creature of the government, deriving all his rights from its concessions, and forever subject to all its impositions, while this government (or at least its theory) elevates all men to an equality with kings, brings every man face to face with the author of his being and the arbiter of his destiny, deriving his rights from that source alone; and makes government his creature instead of his master, instituted by him solely for the better protection and application of his God given rights. It is important to keep in mind this theory of our government and its difference with the theories of all other governments. Endowed by their Creator with certain inalienable rights, it says, because those rights are necessary to correct relations between each individual of humanity and his Creator. Herein is the whole merit of the American theory of government, and of its practice too, so far as that practice has gone. It is a grand theory, opening as it does to every human being the boundless plains of progress which stretch out to the foot of the eternal throne, and implying as it does such noble powers in humanity, and such noble conditions and uses for those powers. Its effect upon those who have enjoyed the benefit of its application has been in harmony with its own exalted character. Though but a day old, as it were, in the history of nations, the United States, in a great many respects, outstrip all other nations of the earth, and are inferior in few or no particulars to any. The mass of her people are conceded to be the most intelligent people of the world, and manifest, individually and collectively, the fruits of superior intelligence. It will not be denied that our theory of government, viewing as it does every man as a sovereign, opening up to every man[Pg 316] all the distinctions, all the honors, and all the wealth which man is capable of desiring, appreciating, or grasping, exercises a powerful, indeed a controlling influence in making our people what they are, and our nation what it is.

These petitions ask only that these rights, enjoyed by one portion of the American people, may be extended to embrace the whole, not less for the abstract but all-sufficient reason, that they have been given to the whole by the Creator, than that by their application to the whole, the more general will be the benefits experienced; and the deeper, broader, more prevailing and more enduring will become those benefits. Manifestly, such must be the case; for as these rights belong to humanity, and produce their exalted and beneficial fruits by their application to and upon humanity, it follows that, wherever humanity is, there they belong, and there they will work out their beneficial results. To exclude woman from the possession of equal political rights with man, it should be shown that she is essentially a different being; that the Creator of man is not her Creator; that she has not the same evil to shun, the same heaven to gain; in short, the same grand, immortal destiny which is supposed to invite to high uses the capacity of man, does not pertain to nor invite her. We say this must be shown; and if it can not be, as certainly it can not, then it follows that to withhold these rights, so beneficial to one portion, is to work an immediate and particular injury to those from whom they are withheld, and, although a more indirect, not a less certain injury to all. Man-masculine is not endowed by his Creator with certain inalienable rights because he is male, but because he is human; and when, in virtue of our strong and superior physical capacity, we deny to man-feminine the rights which are ours only in virtue of our humanity, we exercise the same indefensible tyranny against which we felt justified in taking up arms, and perilling life and fortune.

The argument against conceding these rights all are familiar with. They are precisely the same which have been in the mouths of tyrants from the beginning of time, and have been urged against any and every demand for popular liberty. A want of capacity for self-government—freedom will be only licentiousness—and out of the possession of rights will grow only the practice of follies and wrongs. This is the argument, in brief, applied to every step of gradual emancipation on the part of the male, and now by him applied to the female struggling to reach the common platform. Should the American male, in the van of human progress, as the result of this theory of a capacity for self-government, turn round and ignore this divinity, this capacity in another branch of the human family? The theory has worked only good in its application thus far, and it is a most unreasonable, a most unwarrantable distrust to expect it to produce mischief when applied to others in all respects mentally and morally the equals of those who now enjoy it. It neither can nor will do so; but, necessarily, the broader and more universal its application, the broader and more universal its benefits.

The possession of political rights by woman does not necessarily imply that she must or will enter into the practical conduct of all the institutions, proper and improper, now established and maintained by the male portion of the race. These institutions may be right and necessary, or they may not, and the nature of woman may or may not be in harmony with them. It is not proposed to enact a law compelling woman to do certain things, but it is proposed simply to place her side by side with man on a common platform of rights, confident[Pg 317] that, in that position, she will not outrage the "higher law" of her nature by descending to a participation in faults, follies, or crimes, for which she has no constitutional predilections. The association of woman with man, in the various relations of life in which such association is permitted, from the first unclosing of his eyes in the imbecility of infancy, till they close finally upon all things earthly, is conceded to be highly beneficial. Indeed, we think it will be found, on scrutiny, that it is only those institutions of society in which women have no part, and from which they are entirely excluded, which are radically wrong, and need either thorough renovation or entire abrogation. And if we have any duties so essentially degrading, or any institution so essentially impure, as to be beyond the renovating influence which woman can bring to bear on them, beyond question they should be abrogated without delay—a result which woman's connection with them would speedily bring about.

Who dares say, then, that such association would not be equally beneficial, if in every sphere of activity opened to man, woman could enter with him and be at his side? Are our politics, in their practice, so exalted, so dignified, so pure, that we need no new associations, no purer and healthier influences, than now connected with them? Is our Government just what we would have it; are our rulers just what we would have them; in short, have we arrived at that happy summit where perfection in these respects is found? Not so. On the contrary, there is an universal prayer throughout the length and breadth of the land, for reform in these respects; and where, let us ask, could we reasonably look for a more powerful agent to effect this reform, than in the renovating influences of woman? That which has done so much for the fireside and social life generally, neither can nor will lose its potent, beneficial effect when brought to bear upon other relations of life.

To talk of confining woman to her proper sphere by legal disabilities, is an insult to the divinity of her nature, implying, as it does, the absence of instinctive virtue, modesty, and sense on her part. It makes her the creature of law—of our law—from which she is assumed to derive her ability to keep the path of rectitude, and the withdrawal of which would leave her to sink to the depths of folly and vice. Do we really think so badly of our mothers, wives, sister, daughters? Is it really we only of the race who are instinctively and innately so sensible, so modest, so virtuous, as to be qualified, not only to take care of ourselves, but to dispense all these exalted qualities to the weaker, and, as we assume, inferior half of the race? If it be so, it may be doubted whether Heaven's last gift was its best. Kings, emperors, and dictators confine their subjects, by the interposition of law, to what they consider their proper spheres; and there is certainly as much propriety in it as in the dictation, by one sex, of the sphere of a different sex. In the assumption of our strength, we say woman must not have equal rights with us, because she has a different nature. If so, by what occult power do we understand that different nature to dictate by metes and bounds its wants and spheres? Fair play is a Yankee characteristic; and we submit, if but one-half of the race can have rights at a time because of their different natures, whether it is not about time the proscribed half had its chance in, to assume the reins of Government, and dictate our sphere. It is no great compliment to that part of the race to venture the opinion, that the country would be full as well governed as it now is, and our sphere would be bounded with quite as much liberality as now is theirs.[Pg 318]

Let every human being occupy a common platform of political rights, and all will irresistibly gravitate exactly to their proper place and sphere, without discord, and with none but the most beneficial results. In this way human energy and capacity will be fully economized and expended for the highest interest of all humanity; and this result is only to be obtained by opening to all, without restriction, common spheres of activity.

Woman has all the interests on earth that man has—she has all the interest in the future that man has. Man has rights only in virtue of his relations to earth and heaven; and woman, whose relations are the same, has the same rights. The possession of her rights, on the part of woman, will interfere no more with the duties of life, than their possession by man interferes with his duties; and as man is presumed to become a better man in all respects by the possession of his rights, such must be the inevitable effect of their possession upon woman.

The history of the race, thus far, has been a history of tyranny by the strong over the weak. Might, not right, has been as yet the fundamental practice of all governments; and under this order of things, woman, physically weak, from a slave, beaten, bought, and sold in the market, has but become, in the more civilized and favored portions of the earth, the toy of wealth and the drudge of poverty. But we now have at least a new and different theory of government; and as the aspiration of one age is sure to be the code of the next, and practice is sure at some time to overtake theory, we have reason to expect that principle will take the place of mere brute force, and the truth will be fully realized,

"That men and women have one glory and one shame;
Everything that's done inhuman injures all of us the same."

Never, till woman stands side by side with man, his equal in the eye of the law as well as the Creator, will the high destiny of the race be accomplished. She is the mother of the race, and every stain of littleness or inferiority cast upon her by our institutions will soil the offspring she sends into the world, and clip and curtail to that extent his fair proportions. If we would abrogate that littleness of her character which finds a delight in the gewgaws of fashion, and an enjoyment in the narrow sphere of gossipping, social life, or tea-table scandal, so long the ridicule of our sex; open to her new and more ennobling fields of activity and thought—fields, the exploration of which has filled the American males with great thoughts, and made them the foremost people of the world, and which will place the American females on their level, and make them truly helps meet for them. When we can add to the men of America a race of women educated side by side with them, and enjoying equal advantages with them in all respects, we may expect an offspring of giants in the comprehension and application of the great truths which involve human rights and human happiness.

These petitions ask that the necessary steps may be taken to strike from the Constitution the legal distinction of sex. Your Committee is in favor of the prayer of the petitions; but, under the most favorable circumstances, that is a result which could not be attained in less than two years. In all probability, it will not be longer than that before the Constitution will come up directly for revision, which will be a proper, appropriate, and favorable time to press the question.[Pg 319]

Your Committee, therefore, introduces no bill, and recommends no action at present.

C. L. Sholes.

All of which is respectfully submitted.

This able report was the result, in a great measure, of the agitation started by Mrs. Nichols and Mrs. Fowler in 1853, and by Lucy Stone's lecturing tour in 1855, thus proving that no true words or brave deeds are ever lost. The experiences of these noble pioneers in their first visits to Wisconsin, though in many respects trying and discouraging, brought their own rich rewards, not only in higher individual development, but in an improved public opinion and more liberal legislation in regard to the rights of women in that State.


[55] "The Relation of Woman to Industry in Indiana," by May Wright Sewall.

[56] The vast audience of women alone, in Apollo Hall, to discuss the McFarland and Richardson tragedy.

[57] See Appendix.

[58] See Appendix.

[Pg 320]



William Penn—Independence Hall—British troops—Heroism of women—Lydia Darrah—Who designed the Flag—Anti-slavery movements in Philadelphia—Pennsylvania Hall destroyed by a mob—David Paul Brown—Fugitives—Millard Fillmore—John Brown—Angelina Grimké—Abby Kelly—Mary Grew—Temperance in 1848—Hannah Darlington and Ann Preston before the Legislature—Medical College for Women in 1850—Westchester Woman Rights Convention, 1852—Philadelphia Convention, 1854—Lucretia Mott answers Richard H. Dana—Jane Grey Swisshelm—Sarah Josepha Hale—Anna McDowell—Rachel Foster searching the records.

In 1680, Charles II., King of England, granted to William Penn a tract of land in consideration of the claims of his father, Admiral Penn, which he named Pennsylvania. The charter for this land is still in existence at Harrisburg, among the archives of the State. The principal condition of the bargain with the Indians was the payment of two beaver skins annually. This was the purchase money for the great State of Pennsylvania.

Penn landed at New Castle October 27, 1682, and in November visited the infant city of Philadelphia, where so many of the eventful scenes of the Revolution transpired. Penn had been already imprisoned in England several times for his Quaker principles, which had so beneficent an influence in his dealings with the Indians, and on the moral character of the religious sect he founded in the colonies.

While yet a student he was expelled from Christ Church, Oxford, because he was converted to Quakerism under the preaching of Thomas Loe. He was imprisoned in Cork for attending a Quaker meeting, and in the Tower of London in 1668 for writing "The Sandy Foundation Shaken," and while there he wrote his great work, "No Cross, No Crown." In 1671, he was again imprisoned for preaching Quakerism, and as he would take no oath on his trial, he was thrown into Newgate, and while there he wrote his other great work on "Toleration."

In 1729 the foundations of Independence Hall, the old State House, were laid, and the building was completed in 1734. Here the first Continental Congress was held in September, 1774; a Provincial Convention in January, 1775; the Declaration of Independence[Pg 321] proclaimed July 4, 1776, and on the 8th, read to thousands assembled in front of the building. These great events have made Philadelphia the birthplace of freedom, the Mecca of this western world, where the lovers of liberty go up to worship; and made the Keystone State so rich in memories, the brightest star in the republican constellation, where in 1776 freedom was proclaimed, and in 1780 slavery was abolished.

Philadelphia remained the seat of Government until 1800. The British troops occupied the city from September 26, 1777, to June 18, 1778. During this period we find many interesting incidents in regard to the heroism of women. In every way they aided the struggling army, not only in providing food and clothes, ministering to the sick in camp and hospitals, but on active duty as messengers and spies under most difficult and dangerous circumstances. The brave deeds and severe privations the women of this nation endured with cheerfulness would fill volumes, yet no monuments are built to their memory, and only by the right of petition have they as yet the slightest recognition in the Government. A few instances that occurred at Philadelphia will illustrate the patriotism of American women.[59]

While the American army remained encamped at White Marsh, the British being in possession of Philadelphia, Gen. Howe made some vain attempts to draw Washington into an engagement. The house opposite the headquarters of Gen. Howe, tenanted by William and Lydia Darrah, members of the Society of Friends, was the place selected by the superior officers of the army for private conference, whenever it was necessary to hold consultations.

On the afternoon of the 2d of December, the British Adjutant-General called and informed the mistress that he and some friends were to meet there that evening, and desired that the back room up-stairs might be prepared for their reception. "And be sure, Lydia," he concluded, "that your family are all in bed at an early hour. When our guests are ready to leave the house, I will myself give you notice, that you may let us out and extinguish the candles."

Having delivered this order, the Adjutant-General departed. Lydia betook herself to getting all things in readiness. But she felt curious to know what the business could be that required such secrecy, and resolved on further investigation. Accordingly, in the midst of their conference that night, she quietly approached the door, and listening, heard a plan for the surprise of Washington's forces arranged for the next night. She retreated softly to her room and laid down; soon there was a knocking at her door. She knew well what the signal meant, but took no heed until it was repeated again and again, and then she arose quickly[Pg 322] and opened the door. It was the Adjutant-General who came to inform her they were ready to depart. Lydia let them out, fastened the door, extinguished the fire and lights, and returned to her chamber, but she was uneasy, thinking of the threatened danger.

At the dawn of day she arose, telling her family that she must go to Frankfort to procure some flour. She mounted her horse, and taking the bag, started. The snow was deep and the cold intense, but Lydia's heart did not falter. Leaving the grist at the mill, she started on foot for the camp, determined to apprise Gen. Washington of his danger. On the way she met one of his officers, who exclaimed in astonishment at seeing her, but making her errand known, she hastened home.

Preparations were immediately made to give the enemy a fitting reception. None suspected the grave, demure Quakeress of having snatched from the English their anticipated victory; but after the return of the British troops Gen. Howe summoned Lydia to his apartment, locked the door with an air of mystery, and motioned her to a seat. After a moment of silence, he said: "Were any of your family up, Lydia, on the night when I received my company here?" "No," she replied, "they all retired at eight o'clock." "It is very strange," said the officer, and mused a few minutes. "I know you were asleep, for I knocked at your door three times before you heard me; yet it is certain that we were betrayed."

Afterward some one asked Lydia how she could say her family were all in bed while she herself was up; she replied, "Husband and wife are one, and that one is the husband, and my husband was in bed." Thus the wit and wisdom of this Quaker woman saved the American forces at an important crisis, and perhaps turned the fate of the Revolutionary War.

During that dreadful winter, 1780, at Valley Forge, the ladies of Philadelphia combined to furnish clothing for the army. Money and jewels were contributed in profusion. Those who could not give money, gave their services freely. Not less than $7,500 were contributed to an association for this purpose, of which Esther De Berdt Reed was president. Though an English woman, the French Secretary said of her: "She is called to this office as the best patriot, the most zealous and active, and the most attached to the interests of the country."

The archives of the Keystone State prove that she can boast many noble women from the time of that great struggle for the nation's existence, the signal for which was given when the brave old bell rang out from Independence Hall its message of freedom. The very colors then unfurled, and for the first time named the flag of the United States, were the handiwork, and in part the invention of a woman. That to the taste and suggestions of Mrs. Elizabeth Ross, of Philadelphia, we owe the beauty of the Union's flag can not be denied. There are those who would deprive her of all credit[Pg 323] in this connection, and assert that the committee appointed to prepare a flag gave her the perfected design; but the evidence is in favor of her having had a large share in the change from the original design to the flag as it now is; the same flag which we have held as a nation since the memorable year of the Declaration of Independence, the flag which now floats on every sea, whose stars and stripes carry hope to all the oppressed nations of the earth; though to woman it is but an ignis fatuus, an ever waving signal of the ingratitude of the republic to one-half its citizens.

An anecdote of a female spy is related in the journal of Major Tallmadge. While the Americans were at Valley Forge he was stationed in the vicinity of Philadelphia with a detachment of cavalry to observe the enemy and limit the range of British foraging parties. His duties required the utmost vigilance, his squad seldom remained all night in the same position, and their horses were rarely unsaddled. Hearing that a country girl had gone into the city with eggs; having been sent by one of the American officers to gain information; Tallmadge advanced toward the British lines, and dismounted at a small tavern within view of their outposts. The girl came to the tavern, but while she was communicating her intelligence to the Major, the alarm was given that the British light-horse were approaching. Tallmadge instantly mounted, and as the girl entreated protection, bade her get up behind him. They rode three miles at full speed to Germantown, the damsel showing no fear, though there was some wheeling and charging, and a brisk firing of pistols.

Tradition tells of some women in Philadelphia, whose husbands used to send intelligence from the American army through a market-boy, who came into the city to bring provisions, and carried the dispatches sent in the back of his coat. One morning, when there was some fear that his movements were watched, a young girl undertook to get the papers. In a pretended game of romps, she threw her shawl over his head, and secured the prize. She hastened with the papers to her friends, who read them with deep interest, after the windows were carefully closed. When news came of Burgoyne's surrender, the sprightly girl, not daring to give vent openly to her exultation, put her head up the chimney and hurrahed for Gates.

And not only in the exciting days of the Revolution do we find abundant records of woman's courage and patriotism, but in all the great moral movements that have convulsed the nation, she has taken an active and helpful part. The soil of Pennsylvania is classic with the startling events of the anti-slavery struggle. In[Pg 324] the first Anti-Slavery Society, of which Benjamin Franklin was president, women took part, not only as members, but as officers. The name of Lydia Gillingham stands side by side with Jacob M. Ellis as associate secretaries, signing reports of the "Association for the Abolition of Slavery."

The important part women took in the later movement, inaugurated by William Lloyd Garrison, has already passed into history. The interest in this question was intensified in this State, as it was the scene of the continued recapture of fugitives. The heroism of the women, who helped to fight this great battle of freedom, was only surpassed by those who, taking their lives in their hands, escaped from the land of slavery. The same love of liberty that glowed in eloquent words on the lips of Lucretia Mott, Angelina Grimké, and Mary Grew, was echoed in the brave deeds of Margaret Garner, Linda Brent, and Mrs. Stowe's Eliza.

On December 4, 1833, the Abolitionists assembled in Philadelphia to hold a national convention, and to form the American Anti-Slavery Society. During all the sessions of three days, women were constant and attentive listeners. Lucretia Mott, Esther More, Sidney Ann Lewis, and Lydia White, took part in the discussions.

The following resolution, passed at the close of the third day, without dissent, or a word to qualify or limit its application, shows that no one then thought it improper for women to speak in public:

Resolved, That the thanks of the Convention be presented to our female friends for the deep interest they have manifested in the cause of anti-slavery, during the long and fatiguing sessions of this Convention.

Samuel J. May, in writing of this occasion many years after, says: "It is one of the proudest recollections of my life that I was a member of the Convention in Philadelphia, in December, 1833, that formed the American Anti-Slavery Society. And I well remember the auspicious sequel to it, the formation of the Philadelphia Female Anti-Slavery Society. Nor shall I ever forget the wise, the impressive, the animating words spoken in our Convention by dear Lucretia Mott and two or three other excellent women who came to that meeting by divine appointment. But with this last recollection will be forever associated the mortifying fact, that we men were then so blind, so obtuse, that we did not recognize those women as members of our Convention, and insist upon their subscribing their names to our 'Declaration of Sentiments and Purposes.'"[Pg 325]


No sooner did the National Society adjourn, than the women who had listened to the discussions with such deep interest, assembled to organize themselves for action. A few extracts from Mary Grew's final report of the Philadelphia Female Anti-Slavery Society in 1870 show that—

A meeting convened at the school-room of Catherine McDermott, 12th mo. 9th, 1833, to take into consideration the propriety of forming a Female Anti-Slavery Society; addresses were made by Samuel J. May, of Brooklyn, Conn., and Nathaniel Southard, of Boston, who pointed out the important assistance that might be rendered by our sex in removing the great evil of slavery. After some discussion upon this interesting subject, it was concluded to form a Society, in the belief that our combined efforts would more effectually aid in relieving the oppression of our suffering fellow-creatures. For this purpose a Committee was appointed to draft a Constitution, and to propose such measures as would be likely to promote the Abolition of Slavery, and to elevate the people of color from their present degraded situation to the full enjoyment of their rights, and to increased usefulness in society.

At a meeting held 12th mo. 14th, the Committee appointed on the 9th submitted a form of Constitution, which was read and adopted. After its adoption, the following persons signed their names: Lucretia Mott, Esther Moore, Mary Ann Jackson, Margaretta Forten, Sarah Louisa Forten, Grace Douglass, Mary Sleeper, Rebecca Hitchins, Mary Clement, A. C. Eckstein, Mary Wood, Leah Fell, Sidney Ann Lewis, Catherine McDermott, Susan M. Shaw, Lydia White, Sarah McCrummell, Hetty Burr. The Society then proceeded to the choice of officers for the ensuing year; when the following persons were elected: Esther Moore, Presiding Officer; Margaretta Forten, Recording Secretary; Lucretia Mott, Corresponding Secretary; Anna Bunting, Treasurer; Lydia White, Librarian.

The Annual Reports of the first two years of this Society are not extant; but from its third, we learn that in each of those years the Society memorialized Congress, praying for the abolition of slavery in the District of Columbia and the Territories of the United States. In the second year of its existence, it appointed a Standing Committee for the purpose of visiting the schools for colored children in this city, and aiding them in any practicable way. In the third year it appointed a Committee "to make arrangements for the establishment of a course of scientific lectures, which our colored friends were particularly invited to attend." The phraseology of this statement implies that white persons were not to be excluded from these lectures, and indicates a clear-sighted purpose, on the part of the Society, to bear its testimony against distinctions founded on color. In this year it published an Address to the Women of Pennsylvania, calling their attention to the claims of the slave, and urging them to sign petitions for his emancipation. Mrs. Elizabeth Heyrick's well-known pamphlet, entitled "Immediate, not[Pg 326] Gradual Emancipation," was during the same year republished by the "Anti-Slavery Sewing Society," a body composed of some of the members of this Association, but not identical with it, which met weekly at the house of our Vice-President, Sidney Ann Lewis. Another event, important and far-reaching beyond our power then to foresee, had marked the year. A member of this Society[60] had received and accepted a commission to labor as an agent of the American Anti-Slavery Society. It is evident, from the language of the Report, that the newly-appointed agent and her fellow-members regarded the mission as one fraught with peculiar trial of patience and faith, and anticipated the opposition which such an innovation on the usages of the times would elicit. Her appointed field of labor was among her own sex, in public or in private; but in the next year's Report it is announced that she had enlarged her sphere. The fact should never be forgotten by us that it was a member of this Society who first broke the soil in that field where so many women have since labored abundantly, and are now reaping so rich a harvest.

The next year, 1837, was made memorable by a still greater innovation upon established usage—the first National Convention of American Anti-Slavery Women. It is interesting and profitable to notice, as the years passed, that new duties and new responsibilities educated woman for larger spheres of action. Each year brought new revelations, presented new aspects of the cause, and made new demands. Our early Reports mention these Conventions of Women, which were held during three consecutive years in New York and this city, as a novel measure, which would, of course, excite opposition; and they also record the fact that "the editorial rebukes, sarcasm, and ridicule" which they elicited, did not exceed the anticipations of the Abolitionists.

The second of these Conventions was held in this city, in the midst of those scenes of riot when infuriated Southern slaveholders and cowardly Northern tradesmen combined for purposes of robbery and arson, and surrounded Pennsylvania Hall with their representatives, the mob which plundered and burnt it, while the City Government looked on consenting to these crimes. That Convention was the last assembly gathered in that Hall, then just dedicated to the service of Freedom. Its fifth session, on the 17th of May, 1838, was held, calmly and deliberately, while the shouts of an infuriated mob rose around the building, mingling with the speakers' voices, and sometimes overwhelming them; while stones and other missiles crashing through the windows imperilled the persons of many of the audience. The presence of an assembly of women was supposed to be a partial protection against the fury of the rioters; and believing that the mob would not fire the building while it was thus filled, a committee of anti-slavery men sent a request to the Convention to remain in session during the usual interval between the afternoon and evening meetings, if, with their knowledge of their perilous surroundings, they felt willing to do so. The President laid the request before the Convention, and asked, Will you remain? A few minutes of[Pg 327] solemn deliberation; a few moments' listening to the loud madness surging against the outer walls; a moment's unvoiced prayer for wisdom and strength, and the answer came: We will; and the business of the meeting proceeded. But before the usual hour of adjournment arrived, another message came from the committee, withdrawing their request, and stating that further developments of the spirit pervading the mob and the city, convinced them that it would be unwise for the Convention to attempt to hold possession of the Hall for the evening. The meeting adjourned at the usual hour, and, on the next morning, the burnt and crumbling remains of Pennsylvania Hall told the story of Philadelphia's disgrace, and the temporary triumph of the spirit of slavery.

The experience of that morning is very briefly mentioned in the published "Proceedings," which state that "the Convention met, pursuant to adjournment, at Temperance Hall, but found the doors closed by order of the managers"; that they were offered the use of a school-room, in which they assembled; and there the Convention held its closing session of six hours. But they who made a part of the thrilling history of those times well remember how the women of that Convention walked through the streets of this city, from the Hall on Third Street, closed against them, to the school-room on Cherry Street, hospitably opened to them by Sarah Pugh and Sarah Lewis, and were assailed by the insults of the populace as they went. It was a meeting memorable to those who composed it; and was one of many interesting associations of our early anti-slavery history which cluster around the school-house, which in those days was always open to the advocacy of the slave's cause.[61]

An incident in connection with the last of these Conventions, shows how readily and hopefully, in the beginning of our work, we turned for help to the churches and religious societies of the land; and how slowly and painfully we learned their real character. It is long since we ceased to expect efficient help from them; but in those first years of our warfare against slavery, we had not learned that the ecclesiastical standard of morals in a nation can not be higher than the standard of the populace generally.

A committee of arrangements appointed to obtain a house in which the Convention should be held, reported: "That in compliance with a resolution passed at a meeting of this Society, an application was made to each of the seven Monthly Meetings of Friends, in this city, for one of their meeting-houses, in which to hold the Convention." Two returned respectful answers, declining the application; three refused to hear it read; one appointed two persons to examine it, and then decided "that it should be returned without being read," though a few members urged "that it should be treated more respectfully"; and that from one meeting no answer was received.

As to other denominations of professed Christians, similar applications had been frequently refused by them, although there was one exception[Pg 328] which should be ever held in honorable remembrance by the Abolitionists of Philadelphia. The use of the church of the Covenanters, in Cherry street, of which Rev. James M. Wilson was for many years the pastor, was never refused for an anti-slavery meeting, even in the most perilous days of our enterprise. Another fact in connection with the Convention of 1839 it is pleasant to remember now, when the faithful friend whose name it recalls has gone from among us. The Committee of Arrangements reported that their difficulties and perplexities "were relieved by a voluntary offer from that devoted friend of the slave, John H. Cavender, who, with kindness at once unexpected and gratifying, offered the use of a large unfurnished building in Filbert Street, which had been used as a riding school; which was satisfactorily and gratefully occupied by the Convention."

In the year 1840, our Society sent delegates to the assembly called "The World's Anti-Slavery Convention," which was held in London, in the month of May of that year. As is well known, that body refused to admit any delegates excepting those of the male sex, though the invitation was not thus limited; consequently, this Society was not represented there.

The year 1850 was an epoch in the history of the anti-slavery cause. The guilt and disgrace of the nation was then intensified by that infamous statute known by the name of "The Fugitive Slave Law." Its enactment by the Thirty-first Congress, and its ratification by Millard Fillmore's signature, was the signal for an extensive and cruel raid upon the colored people of the North. Probably no statute was ever written, in the code of a civilized nation, so carefully and cunningly devised for the purpose of depriving men of liberty. It put in imminent peril the personal freedom of every colored man and woman in the land. It furnished the kidnapper all possible facilities, and bribed the judge on the bench to aid him in his infamous work. The terrible scenes that followed; the cruel apathy of the popular heart and conscience; the degradation of the pulpit, which sealed the deed with its loud Amen! the mortal terror of a helpless and innocent race; the fierce assaults on peaceful homes; the stealthy capture, by day and by night, of unsuspecting free-born people; the blood shed on Northern soil; the mockeries of justice acted in United States courts; are they not all written in our country's history, and indelibly engraven on the memories of Abolitionists?

The case of Adam Gibson, captured in this city by the notorious kidnapper, Alberti, and tried before the scarcely less notorious Ingraham, in the year 1850, and which was succeeded in the next year by the Christiana tragedy, are instances of many similar outrages committed in Pennsylvania. No pen can record, no human power can estimate, the aggregate of woe and guilt which was the legitimate result of that Fugitive Slave Bill.

The year 1855 was marked by a series of events unique in our history. A citizen of Philadelphia, whose name will always be associated with the cause of American liberty, in the legal performance of his duty, quietly informed three slaves who had been brought into this State by their[Pg 329] master, a Virginia slaveholder, that by the laws of Pennsylvania they were free. The legally emancipated mother, Jane Johnson, availing herself of this knowledge, took possession of her own person and her own children; and their astonished master suddenly discovered that his power to hold them was gone forever. No judge, commissioner, or lawyer, however willing, could help him to recapture his prey. But a judge of the United States District Court could assist him in obtaining a mean revenge upon the brave man who had enlightened an ignorant woman respecting her legal right to freedom. Judge Kane, usurping jurisdiction in the case, and exercising great ingenuity to frame a charge of contempt of Court, succeeded in his purpose of imprisoning Passmore Williamson in our County jail. The baffled slaveholder also found sympathizers in the Grand Jury, who enabled him to indict for riot and assault and battery, Passmore Williamson, William Still, and five other persons. During the trial which ensued, the prosecutor and his allies were confounded by the sudden appearance of a witness whose testimony that she was not forcibly taken from her master's custody, but had left him freely, disconcerted all their schemes, and defeated the prosecution. The presence of Jane Johnson in that court room jeoparded her newly-acquired freedom; for though Pennsylvania was pledged to her protection, it was questionable whether the slave power, in the person of United States officers and their ever ready minions, would not forcibly overpower State authority and obtain possession of the woman. It was an intensely trying hour for her and for all who sympathized with her. Among those who attended her through that perilous scene, were the president of this Society, Sarah Pugh, and several of its members. All those ladies will testify to the calm bearing and firm courage of this emancipated slave-mother, in the hour of jeopardy to her newly-found freedom. Protected by the energy and skill of the presiding Judge, William D. Kelley, and of the State officers, her safe egress from the court-room was accomplished; and she was soon placed beyond the reach of her pursuers.

In 1859 we reaped a rich harvest from long years of sowing, in the result of the trial of the alleged fugitive slave, Daniel Webster. This trial will never be forgotten by those of us who witnessed it. The arrest was made in Harrisburg, in the month of April, and the trial was in this city before United States Commissioner John C. Longstreth. We do not, at this distance of time, need the records of that year, to remind us that "it was with heavy and hopeless hearts that the Abolitionists of this city gathered around that innocent and outraged man, and attended him through the solemn hours of his trial." The night which many of the members of this Society passed in that court, keeping vigils with the unhappy man whose fate hung tremulous on the decision of the young commissioner, was dark with despair; and the dawn of morning brought no hope to our souls. We confidently expected to witness again, as we had often witnessed before, the triumph of the kidnapper and his legal allies over law and justice and human liberty. In the afternoon of that day we re-assembled to hear the judicial decision which should consign the wretched man to slavery, and add another page to the record of Pennsylvania's disgrace. But a far different experience awaited us. Commissioner[Pg 330] Longstreth obeyed the moral sentiment around him, and doubtless the voice of his conscience, and pronounced the captive free. "The closing scenes of this trial; the breathless silence with which the crowded assembly in the court-room waited to hear the death-knell of the innocent prisoner; the painfully sudden transition from despair to hope and thence to certainty of joy; the burst of deep emotion; the fervent thanksgiving, wherein was revealed that sense of the brotherhood of man which God has made a part of every human soul; the exultant shout which went up from the multitude who thronged the streets waiting for the decision"; these no language can portray, but they are life-long memories for those who shared in them. This event proved the great change wrought in the popular feeling, the result of twenty-five years of earnest effort to impress upon the heart of this community anti-slavery doctrines and sentiments. Then for the first time the Abolitionists of Philadelphia found their right of free speech protected by city authorities. Alexander Henry was the first Mayor of this city who ever quelled a pro-slavery mob.

Our last record of a victim sacrificed to this statute, is of the case of Moses Horner, who was kidnapped near Harrisburg in March, 1860, and doomed to slavery by United States Judge John Cadwallader, in this city. One more effort was made a few months later to capture in open day in the heart of this city a man alleged to be a fugitive slave, but it failed of ultimate success. The next year South Carolina's guns thundered forth the doom of the slave power. She aimed them at Fort Sumter and the United States Government. God guided their fiery death to the very heart of American slavery.

If the history of this Society were fully written, one of its most interesting chapters would be a faithful record of its series of annual fairs. Beginning in the year 1836, the series continued during twenty-six years, the last fair being held in December, 1861. The social attraction of these assemblies induced many young persons to mingle in them, besides those who labored from love of the cause. Brought thus within the circle of anti-slavery influence, many were naturally converted to our principles, and became earnest laborers in the enterprise which had so greatly enriched their own souls. The week of the fair was the annual Social Festival of the Abolitionists of the State. Though held under the immediate direction of this Society, it soon became a Pennsylvania institution. Hither our tribes came up to take counsel together, to recount our victories won, to be refreshed by social communion, and to renew our pledges of fidelity to the slave. There were years when these were very solemn festivals, when our skies were dark with gathering storms, and we knew not what peril the night or the morning might bring. But they were always seasons from which we derived strength and encouragement for future toil and endurance, and their value to our cause is beyond our power to estimate.

The pro-slavery spirit which always pervaded our city, and which sometimes manifested itself in the violence of mobs, never seriously disturbed our fair excepting in one instance. In the year 1859 our whole Southern country quaked with mortal fear in the presence of John Brown's great[Pg 331] deed for Freedom. The coward North trembled in its turn lest its Southern trade should be imperilled, and in all its cities there went up a frantic cry that the Union must be saved and the Abolitionists suppressed. The usual time for holding our fair was at hand. Before it was opened a daily newspaper of this city informed its readers that notwithstanding the rebuke which the Abolitionists had received from a recent meeting of Union-savers, they had audaciously announced their intention of holding another fair, the avowed purpose of which was the dissemination of anti-slavery principles. The indignant journalist asked if Philadelphia would suffer such a fair to be held. This was doubtless intended as a summons to a mob, and a most deadly mob responded to the call. It did not expend its violence upon our fair, but against an assembly in National Hall, gathered to listen to a lecture by George W. Curtis, upon the Present Aspect of the Country.

The High Constable, Mayor, and Sheriff were the agents employed by the slave power to take and hold possession of Concert Hall, and in its behalf, if not in its name, to eject us and our property. The work was commenced by the Mayor, who sent the High Constable with an order that our flag should be removed from the street. Its offensiveness consisted in the fact that it presented to the view of all passers-by a picture of the Liberty Bell in Independence Hall, inscribed with the words, "Proclaim liberty throughout all the land, to all the inhabitants thereof." The next step was an attempt to induce the lessee to eject us from the hall. On his refusal to violate his contract with us, the trustees obtained legal authority to dispossess us on the plea that the hall had been rented for a purpose which tended to excite popular commotion. The sheriff entered, took possession, and informed the managers that our property must be removed within three hours. Then were the doors of this hall,[62] where we are now assembled, opened to us, and here our fair was held, with great success, during the remainder of the week. In the stormiest seasons of our enterprise these saloons have never been closed against anti-slavery meetings; and our fair of 1860 was welcomed to them amidst the loud threatenings of a mob which were seeking to appease the angry South, then just rising in open rebellion against the United States Government. The experience of those four days of December spent in these rooms will never be forgotten by us. It was a season of trial, of rejoicing, and of victory. The veterans of our cause, long accustomed to the threats and the presence of mobs, found reason for rejoicing in the courage and serenity with which the young recruits in our ranks faced the peril of scenes so new to them, and proved their faith in the principles of our cause and their devotion to the right. Our victory was complete, our right of peaceful assemblage maintained, without any active demonstration of hostility from the indignant citizens who had fiercely resolved that the Anti-Slavery Fair should be suppressed. Such demonstrations were, doubtless, restrained by a knowledge of the fact that they would be met by vigorous and effectual opposition by the Mayor of the city, who,[Pg 332] upon that occasion, as upon many other similar ones, was faithful to the responsibility of his office.

In the year 1862 the nation was convulsed with the war consequent upon the Southern Rebellion; our soldiers, wounded and dying in hospitals and on battle-fields; claimed all possible aid from the community; anti-slavery sentiments were spreading widely through the North, and it was believed to be feasible and expedient to obtain the funds needful for our enterprise by direct appeal to the old and new friends of the cause. Therefore, our series of fairs closed with the twenty-sixth, in December, 1861.

The money raised by this Society in various ways amounted to about $35,000. Nearly the whole of this revenue has been expended in disseminating the principles of our cause, by means of printed documents and public lectures and discussions. In the earlier years of this Society, a school for colored children, established and taught by Sarah M. Douglass, was partially sustained from our treasury. We occasionally contributed, from our treasury, small sums for the use of the Vigilance Committees, organized to assist fugitive slaves who passed through this State on their way to a land where their right to liberty would be protected. But these enterprises were always regarded as of secondary importance to our great work of direct appeal to the conscience of the nation, in behalf of the slave's claim to immediate, unconditional emancipation. To this end a large number of tracts and pamphlets have been circulated by this Society; but its chief agencies have been the anti-slavery newspapers of the country. Regarding these as the most powerful instrumentalities in the creation of that public sentiment which was essential to the overthrow of slavery, we expended a considerable portion of our funds in the direct circulation of The Liberator, The Pennsylvania Freeman, and The National Anti-Slavery Standard, and a small amount in the circulation of other anti-slavery papers. Our largest appropriations of money have been made to the Pennsylvania and American Anti-Slavery Societies, and by those Societies to the support of their organs and lecturing agents.

The financial statistics of this Society are easily recorded. Certain great and thrilling events which marked its history are easily told and written. But the life which it lived through all its thirty-six years; the influence which flowed from it, directly and indirectly, to the nation's heart; the work quietly done by its members, individually, through the word spoken in season, the brave, self-sacrificing deed, the example of fidelity in a critical hour, the calm endurance unto the end; these can be written in no earthly book of remembrance. Its life is lived; its work is done; its memorial is sealed. It assembles to-day to take one parting look across its years; to breathe in silence its unutterable thanksgiving; to disband its membership, and cease to be. Reviewing its experience of labor and endurance, the united voices of its members testify that it has been a service whose reward was in itself; and contemplating the grandeur of the work accomplished (in which it has been permitted to bear a humble part), the overthrow of American slavery, the uplifting from chattelhood to citizenship of four millions of human souls; with one heart and one voice we cry, "Not unto us, O Lord! not[Pg 333] unto us, but unto Thy name" be the glory; for Thy right hand and Thy holy arm "hath gotten the victory."

In 1838, Philadelphia was the scene of one of the most disgraceful mobs that marked those eventful days. The lovers of free speech had found great difficulty in procuring churches or halls in which to preach the anti-slavery gospel. Accordingly, a number of individuals of all sects and no sect, of all parties and no party, erected a building wherein the principles of Liberty and Equality could be freely discussed.

David Paul Brown, one of Pennsylvania's most distinguished lawyers, was invited to give the oration dedicating this hall to "Freedom and the Rights of Man." In accepting the invitation, he said:

For some time past I have invariably declined applications that might be calculated to take any portion of my time from my profession. But I always said, and now say again, that I will fight the battle of liberty as long as I have a shot in the locker. Of course, I will do what you require.

David Paul Brown.

Yours truly,

S. Webb and Wm. H. Scott, Esqs.

Whenever fugitives were arrested on the soil of Pennsylvania, this lawyer stood ready, free of charge, to use in their behalf his skill and every fair interpretation of the letter and spirit of the law, and availing himself of every quirk for postponements, thus adding to the expense and anxiety of the pursuer, and giving the engineers of the underground railroad added opportunities to run the fugitive to Canada.

Pennsylvania Hall was one of the most commodious and splendid buildings in the city, scientifically ventilated and brilliantly lighted with gas. It cost upward of $40,000. Over the forum, in large gold letters, was the motto, "Virtue, Liberty, Independence." On the platform were superb chairs, sofas, and desk covered with blue silk damask; everything throughout the hall was artistic and complete. Abolitionists from all parts of the country hastened to be present at the dedication; and among the rest came representatives of the Woman's National Convention, held in New York one year before.

Notices had been posted about the city threatening the speedy destruction of this temple of liberty. During this three days' Convention, the enemy was slowly organizing the destructive mob that finally burned that grand edifice to the ground. There were a large number of strangers in the city from the South, and many Southern[Pg 334] students attending the medical college, who were all active in the riot. The crowds of women and colored people who had attended the Convention intensified the exasperation of the mob. Black men and white women walking side by side in and out of the hall, was too much for the foreign plebeian and the Southern patrician.

As it was announced that on the evening of the third day some ladies were to speak, a howling mob surrounded the building. In the midst of the tumult Mr. Garrison introduced Maria Chapman,[63] of Boston, who rose, and waving her hand to the audience to become quiet, tried in a few eloquent and appropriate remarks to bespeak a hearing for Angelina E. Grimké, the gifted orator from South Carolina, who, having lived in the midst of slavery all her life, could faithfully describe its cruelties and abominations. But the indescribable uproar outside, cries of fire, and yells of defiance, were a constant interruption, and stones thrown against the windows a warning of coming danger. But through it all this brave Southern woman stood unmoved, except by the intense earnestness of her own great theme.


Do you ask, "What has the North to do with slavery?" Hear it, hear it! Those voices without tell us that the spirit of slavery is here, and has been roused to wrath by our Conventions; for surely liberty would not foam and tear herself with rage, because her friends are multiplied daily, and meetings are held in quick succession to set forth her virtues and extend her peaceful kingdom. This opposition shows that slavery has done its deadliest work in the hearts of our citizens. Do you ask, then, "What has the North to do?" I answer, cast out first the spirit of slavery from your own hearts, and then lend your aid to convert the South. Each one present has a work to do, be his or her situation what it may, however limited their means or insignificant their supposed influence. The great men of this country will not do this work; the Church will never do it. A desire to please the world, to keep the favor of all parties and of all conditions, makes them dumb on this and every other unpopular subject.

As a Southerner, I feel that it is my duty to stand up here to-night and bear testimony against slavery. I have seen it! I have seen it! I know it has horrors that can never be described. I was brought up under its wing. I witnessed for many years its demoralizing influences and its destructiveness to human happiness. I have never seen a happy slave. I have seen him dance in his chains, it is true, but he was not happy. There is a wide difference between happiness and mirth. Man can not enjoy happiness while his manhood is destroyed. Slaves, however, may be, and sometimes are mirthful. When hope is extinguished, they say,[Pg 335] "Let us eat and drink, for to-morrow we die." [Here stones were thrown at the windows—a great noise without and commotion within].

What is a mob? what would the breaking of every window be? What would the levelling of this hall be? Any evidence that we are wrong, or that slavery is a good and wholesome institution? What if the mob should now burst in upon us, break up our meeting, and commit violence upon our persons, would that be anything compared with what the slaves endure? No, no; and we do not remember them, "as bound with them," if we shrink in the time of peril, or feel unwilling to sacrifice ourselves, if need be, for their sake. [Great noise]. I thank the Lord that there is yet life enough left to feel the truth, even though it rages at it; that conscience is not so completely seared as to be unmoved by the truth of the living God. [Another outbreak of the mob and confusion in the house].

How wonderfully constituted is the human mind! How it resists, as long as it can, all efforts to reclaim it from error! I feel that all this disturbance is but an evidence that our efforts are the best that could have been adopted, or else the friends of slavery would not care for what we say and do. The South know what we do. I am thankful that they are reached by our efforts. Many times have I wept in the land of my birth over the system of slavery. I knew of none who sympathized in my feelings; I was unaware that any efforts were made to deliver the oppressed; no voice in the wilderness was heard calling on the people to repent and do works meet for repentance, and my heart sickened within me. Oh, how should I have rejoiced to know that such efforts as these were being made. I only wonder that I had such feelings. But in the midst of temptation I was preserved, and my sympathy grew warmer, and my hatred of slavery more inveterate, until at last I have exiled myself from my native land, because I could no longer endure to hear the wailing of the slave.

I fled to the land of Penn; for here, thought I, sympathy for the slave will surely be found. But I found it not. The people were kind and hospitable, but the slave had no place in their thoughts. I therefore shut up my grief in my own heart. I remembered that I was a Carolinian, from a State which framed this iniquity by law. Every Southern breeze wafted to me the discordant tones of weeping and wailing, shrieks and groans, mingled with prayers and blasphemous curses. My heart sank within me at the abominations in the midst of which I had been born and educated. What will it avail, cried I, in bitterness of spirit, to expose to the gaze of strangers the horrors and pollutions of slavery, when there is no ear to hear nor heart to feel and pray for the slave? But how different do I feel now! Animated with hope, nay, with an assurance of the triumph of liberty and good-will to man, I will lift up my voice like a trumpet, and show this people what they can do to influence the Southern mind and overthrow slavery. [Shouting, and stones against the windows].

We often hear the question asked, "What shall we do?" Here is an opportunity. Every man and every woman present may do something, by showing that we fear not a mob, and in the midst of revilings and[Pg 336] threatenings, pleading the cause of those who are ready to perish. Let me urge every one to buy the books written on this subject; read them, and lend them to your neighbors. Give your money no longer for things which pander to pride and lust, but aid in scattering "the living coals of truth upon the naked heart of the nation"; in circulating appeals to the sympathies of Christians in behalf of the outraged slave.

But it is said by some, our "books and papers do not speak the truth"; why, then, do they not contradict what we say? They can not. Moreover, the South has entreated, nay, commanded us, to be silent; and what greater evidence of the truth of our publications could be desired?

Women of Philadelphia! allow me as a Southern woman, with much attachment to the land of my birth, to entreat you to come up to this work. Especially, let me urge you to petition. Men may settle this and other questions at the ballot-box, but you have no such right. It is only through petitions that you can reach the Legislature. It is, therefore, peculiarly your duty to petition. Do you say, "It does no good!" The South already turns pale at the number sent. They have read the reports of the proceedings of Congress, and there have seen that among other petitions were very many from the women of the North on the subject of slavery. Men who hold the rod over slaves rule in the councils of the nation; and they deny our right to petition and remonstrate against abuses of our sex and our kind. We have these rights, however, from our God. Only let us exercise them, and, though often turned away unanswered, let us remember the influence of importunity upon the unjust judge, and act accordingly. The fact that the South looks jealously upon our measures shows that they are effectual. There is, therefore, no cause for doubting or despair.

It was remarked in England that women did much to abolish slavery in her colonies. Nor are they now idle. Numerous petitions from them have recently been presented to the Queen to abolish apprenticeship, with its cruelties, nearly equal to those of the system whose place it supplies. One petition, two miles and a quarter long, has been presented. And do you think these labors will be in vain? Let the history of the past answer. When the women of these States send up to Congress such a petition our legislators will arise, as did those of England, and say: "When all the maids and matrons of the land are knocking at our doors we must legislate." Let the zeal and love, the faith and works of our English sisters quicken ours; that while the slaves continue to suffer, and when they shout for deliverance, we may feel the satisfaction of "having done what we could."

Abby Kelly, of Lynn, Massachusetts, rose, and said: I ask permission to pay a few words. I have never before addressed a promiscuous assembly; nor is it now the maddening rush of those voices, which is the indication of a moral whirlwind; nor is it the crashing of those windows, which is the indication of a moral earthquake, that calls me before you. No, these pass unheeded by me. But it is the "still small voice within," which may not be withstood, that bids me open my mouth for the dumb; that bids me plead the cause of God's perishing poor; aye, God's poor.

The parable of Lazarus and the rich man we may well bring home to[Pg 337] ourselves. The North is that rich man. How he is clothed in purple and fine linen, and fares sumptuously! Yonder, yonder, at a little distance, is the gate where lies the Lazarus of the South, full of sores and desiring to be fed with the crumbs that fall from our luxurious table. Look! see him there! even the dogs are more merciful than we. Oh, see him where he lies! We have long, very long, passed by with averted eyes. Ought not we to raise him up; and is there one in this Hall who sees nothing for himself to do?

Lucretia Mott, of Philadelphia, then stated that the present was not a meeting of the Anti-Slavery Convention of American women, as was supposed by some, and explained the reason why their meetings were confined to females; namely, that many of the members considered it improper for women to address promiscuous assemblies. She hoped that such false notions of delicacy and propriety would not long obtain in this enlightened country.

While the large Hall was filled with a promiscuous audience, and packed through all its sessions with full three thousand people, the women held their Convention in one of the committee-rooms. As they had been through terrible mobs already in Boston and New York, they had learned self-control, and with their coolness and consecration to the principles they advocated, they were a constant inspiration to the men by their side.

The Second National Anti-Slavery Convention of American Women assembled in the lecture-room of Pennsylvania Hall in Philadelphia, May 15, 1838, at ten o'clock a.m. The following officers were appointed:

President—Mary L. Parker, of Boston.

Vice-Presidents—Maria Weston Chapman, Catharine M. Sullivan, Susan Paul, of Boston, Mass.; Mariana Johnson, Providence, R. I.; Margaret Prior, Sarah T. Smith, of New York; Martha W. Storrs, of Utica, N. Y.; Lucretia Mott, of Philadelphia; Mary W. Magill, of Buckingham, Pa.; Sarah Moore Grimké, of Charleston, S. C.

Secretaries—Anne W. Weston, Martha V. Ball, of Boston; Juliana A. Tappan, of New York; Sarah Lewis, of Philadelphia.

Treasurer—Sarah M. Douglass, of Philadelphia.

Business Committee—Sarah T. Smith, Sarah R. Ingraham, Margaret Dye, Juliana A. Tappan, Martha W. Storrs, New York; Miriam Hussey, Maine; Louisa Whipple, New Hampshire; Lucy N. Dodge, Miriam B, Johnson, Maria Truesdell, Waity A. Spencer, Rebecca Pittman, Rhode Island; Lucretia Mott, Mary Grew, Sarah M. Douglass, Hetty Burr, Martha Smith, Pennsylvania; Angelina Grimké Weld, South Carolina.

On motion of Sarah Push, Elizabeth M. Southard, Mary G. Chapman, and Abby Kelly were appointed a committee to confer with other associations and the managers of Pennsylvania Hall to arrange for meetings during the week.

Sarah T. Smith, from the Business Committee, presented letters from[Pg 338] the Female Anti-Slavery Societies of Salem and Cambridgeport, Massachusetts, signed by their respective secretaries, Mary Spencer and L. Williams.

At this time, even the one and only right of woman, that of petition, had been trampled under the heel of slavery on the floor of Congress, which roused those noble women to a just indignation, as will be seen in their resolutions on the subject, presented by Juliana A. Tappan:

Resolved, That whatever may be the sacrifice, and whatever other rights may be yielded or denied, we will maintain practically the right of petition until the slave shall go free, or our energies, like Lovejoy's, are paralyzed in death.

Resolved, That for every petition rejected by the National Legislature during their last session, we will endeavor to send five the present year; and that we will not cease our efforts until the prayers of every woman within the sphere of our influence shall be heard in the halls of Congress on this subject.

Mary Grew offered the following resolution, which was adopted:

Whereas, The disciples of Christ are commanded to have no fellowship with the "unfruitful works of darkness"; and

Whereas, Union in His Church is the strongest expression of fellowship between men; therefore

Resolved, That it is our duty to keep ourselves separate from those churches which receive to their pulpits and their communion tables those who buy, or sell, or hold as property, the image of the living God.

This resolution was supported by Miss Grew, Lucretia Mott, Abby Kelly, Maria W. Chapman, Anne W. Weston, Sarah T. Smith, and Sarah Lewis; and opposed by Margaret Dye, Margaret Prior, Henrietta Wilcox, Martha W. Storrs, Juliana A. Tappan, Elizabeth M. Southard, and Charlotte Woolsey. Those who voted in the negative stated that they fully concurred with their sisters in the belief that slaveholders and their apologists were guilty before God, and that with the former, Northern Christians should hold no fellowship; but that, as it was their full belief that there was moral power sufficient in the Church, if rightly applied, to purify it, they could not feel it their duty to withdraw until the utter inefficiency of the means used should constrain them to believe the Church totally corrupt. And as an expression of their views, Margaret Dye moved the following resolution:

Resolved, That the system of American slavery is contrary to the laws of God and the spirit of true religion, and that the Church is deeply implicated in this sin, and that it therefore becomes the imperative duty of[Pg 339] her members to petition their ecclesiastical bodies to enter their decided protests against it, and exclude slaveholders from their pulpits and communion tables.

The last session was opened by the reading of the sixth chapter of 2 Corinthians, and prayer by Sarah M. Grimké. An Address to Anti-Slavery Societies was read by Sarah T. Smith, and adopted. We copy from it the plea and argument for woman's right and duty to be interested in all questions of public welfare:


Dear Friends:—In that love for our cause which knows not the fear of man, we address you in confidence that our motives will be understood and regarded. We fear not censure from you for going beyond the circle which has been drawn around us by physical force, by mental usurpation, by the usages of ages; not any one of which can we admit gives the right to prescribe it; else might the monarchs of the old world sit firmly on their thrones, the nobility of Europe lord it over the man of low degree, and the chains we are now seeking to break, continue riveted, on the neck of the slave. Our faith goes not back to the wigwam of the savage, or the castle of the feudal chief, but would rather soar with hope to that period when "right alone shall make might"; when the truncheon and the sword shall lie useless; when the intellect and heart shall speak and be obeyed; when "He alone whose right it is shall rule and reign in the hearts of the children of men."

We are told that it is not within "the province of woman" to discuss the subject of slavery; that it is a "political question," and that we are "stepping out of our sphere" when we take part in its discussion. It is not true that it is merely a political question; it is likewise a question of justice, of humanity, of morality, of religion; a question which, while it involves considerations of immense importance to the welfare, and prosperity of our country, enters deeply into the home—concerns the every-day feelings of millions of our fellow beings. Whether the laborer shall receive the reward of his labor, or be driven daily to unrequited toil: whether he shall walk erect in the dignity of conscious manhood, or be reckoned among the beasts which perish; whether his bones and sinews shall be his own, or another's; whether his child shall receive the prote