Document 17A: "Woman's Rights Convention. Meeting at the Broadway Tabernacle. Great Demonstration of Women," New York Times, Sept. 7, 1853, pp. 7-8.


   The Times's coverage of the convention is very detailed. The first day's session (Document 17A) went smoothly as did the morning session of the second day. (Document 17B) Trouble began when some in the audience "received" veteran reform advocate C.C. Burleigh "with hisses and confusion." Order was restored, however, and Burleigh made his remarks without further interruption. Then a "gentleman" who gave his name as H.K. Root asked to be allowed to speak. He would give three good reasons why men should vote, he promised, and one why women should not. Most of his reasons drew upon the account of creation in Genesis. The afternoon session began quietly with Lucy Stone undertaking to answer Mr. Root. This changed when the black abolitionist and woman's rights advocate Sojourner Truth took the podium. "A perfect storm of applause, hisses, groans, and undignified ejaculations" greeted her. The insults died down, in part because of the sheer power of Truth's voice.

   While the rest of the afternoon session proceeded without incident, the evening session soon turned into a chaotic shouting match between "rowdies" eager to disrupt the proceedings and earnest reformers, led by Wendell Philips, seeking to gain a hearing. The Times reporter did not try to restrain his glee at the brouhaha and ended his dispatch with a quotation from Shakespeare's "Macbeth," in which Lady Macbeth described the impact of her husband's seeing the ghost.

[p. 7]



Great Demonstration of Women.

    The Woman's Rights Convention organized in the Tabernacle, at 10½ o'clock yesterday morning. There were present some three or four hundred persons--for the most part strangers, and of the gentle sex.

    Miss LUCY STONE, who was attired in short skirts, with continuations of black, called the meeting to order, and nominated Mrs. LUCRETIA MOTT to fill the Chair. The nomination was unanimously confirmed, and the following persons were elected as Officers of the Convention:

   President--Mrs. LUCRETIA MOTT.

   Vice Presidents--Ernestine L. Rose, New-York; Paulina W. Davis, Rhode Island; C. J. H Nichols, Vermont; Mary Jackson, England; Catherine M. Severance, Ohio; S. M. Booth, Wisconsin; Wm Lloyd Garrison, Massachusetts; Mrs. J. P. Chapman, Indiana; Charlotte Hubbard, Illinois; Ruth Dugdale, Pennsylvania; C. C. Burleigh, Connecticut; Angelina G. Weld, New-York; Madame Aneka, New-York.

    Miss STONE said she did not believe in divorcing man and woman, (a negation of one of the principal rights advocated, which was received with laughter,) and wished to have some gentlemen on the platform.

    The following are members of the Business and Finance Committee:

   Business Committee--Lucy Stone, Antoinette L. Brown, James Mott, Wendell Phillips, Sarah Hallock, Wm H. Channing, Harriet K Hunt, Mary Ann W. Johnson, Lydia Mott, Ruth Dugdale, Martha J. Tilden, Ernestine L. Rose.

   Finance Committee--Susan B. Anthony, Lydia A. Jenkins, Edward A. Stansbury.

    The Vice-Presidents took their seats on the platform, and Rev. Mr. CHANNING offered up a short prayer.

    Mrs. LUCRETIA MOTT then addressed the meeting, setting forth the objects of the Convention. It was to declare the great principle of woman's coequality with man; and this principle being admitted, that she should be permitted to follow whatever pursuits her taste and capacity directed. Already certain rights had been conceded; but as soon as woman demanded a full equality with man, she was met by opposition and ridicule. Let them be encouraged, however. In the Temperance movement, and other reforms, they had seen what obstacles were overcome. They came here, then, full of hope, and prepared to prove the justness of their cause. So long had woman been bowed down by the social manners of the age, that at the early conventions she could scarcely conceive she had a voice to utter her thoughts, and spoke in a fine cambric thread kind of voice; but in recent conventions she was pleased to hear them speaking out in such a full volume of voice as God had blessed them with. She had not come prepared for an opening speech, and wished that the chair had been filled by some other. With these few remarks, and hoping that the attention of the meeting would be given solely to the subject before them, she would now say that they were ready for any business, and would introduce Miss LUCY STONE.

    Miss STONE then came forward, and read a series of resolutions prepared by the Business Committee at the morning session, as follows:

    1. Resolved, That this movement for the rights of woman makes no attempt to decide whether woman is better or worse than man, neither affirms nor denies the equality of her intellect with that of man--makes no pretense of protecting woman--does not seek to oblige woman any more than man is now obliged, to vote, take office, labor in the professions, mingle in public life, or manage her own property.

    2. Resolved, That what we do seek is to gain these rights and privileges for these women who wish to enjoy them, and so to change public opinion that it shall not be deemed indecorous for women to engage in any occupation which they deem fitted to their habits and talents.

    3. Resolved, That the fundamental principle of the Women's Rights Movement is--that every human being, without distinction of sex, has an inviolable right to the full development and free exercise of all energies; and that in every sphere of life, private and public, Functions should always be commensurate with Powers.

    4. Resolved, That each human being is the sole judge of his or her sphere, and entitled to choose a profession without interference from others.

   5. Resolved, That whatever differences exist between Man and Woman, in the quantity or measure of their powers, are originally designed to be, and should become, bonds of union and means of cooperation in discharge of all functions, alike private and public.

    6. Resolved, That the monopoly of the elective franchise, and thereby of all the powers of legislation and government, by men, solely on the ground of sex, is a monstrous usurpation--condemned alike by reason and common sense, subversive of all the principles of justice, oppressing and demoralizing in its operations, and insulting to the dignity of human nature.

    7. Resolved, That we see no force in the objection, that women's taking part in politics would be a fruitful source of domestic dissensions; since experience shows that she may be allowed to choose her own faith and sect without any such evil result, though religious disputes are surely as bitter as political--and if the objection be sound, we ought to go further, and oblige a wife to forego all religious opinions, or to adopt the religious as well as the political creed of her husband.

    8. Resolved, That women, like men, must be either self-supported and self-governed or dependent and enslaved; that an unobstructed and general participation in all the branches of productive industry, and in all the functions and offices of common life, is at once their natural right, their individual interest and their public duty; the claim and the obligation reciprocally supporting each other; that the idleness of the rich, with its attendant physical debility, moral laxity, passionate intemperance and mental dissipation, and the ignorance, wretchedness and enforced profligacy of the poor, which are everywhere the curse and reproach of the sex, are the necessary results of their exclusion from those diversified employments which would otherwise furnish them with useful occupation, and reward them with its profits, honors and blessings; that this enormous wrong cries for redress, for reparation by those whose delinquency allows its continuance.

   Whereas, The energies of Man are always in proportion to the magnitude of the objects to be obtained; and whereas, it requires the highest motive for the greatest exertion and noblest action therefore,

    9. Resolved, That Woman must be recognized politically, legally, socially, and religiously, the equal of man, and all the obstructions to her highest physical, intellectual, and moral culture and development removed, that she may have the highest motive to assume her place in that sphere of action and usefulness which her capacities enable her to fill.

    10. Resolved, That this movement gives to the cause of Education a new motive and impulse; makes a vast stride towards the settlement of the question of wages and social reform; goes far to cure that widespread plague, the licentiousness of cities; adds to civilization a new element of progress; and in all these respects commends itself as one of the greatest reforms of the age.

    The resolutions were accepted and laid open for discussion.

    C. C. BURLEIGH came forward, and said they had expected just that kind of opposition which they had met; that men of mind not sufficiently large to grasp a great principle, would meet it with ridicule, and by the use of low slang. They know that the movement would at first be an unpopular one; but they were also well aware of the truth that the unpopularity of an enterprise was not any proof of its unworthiness. They knew very well that whatever was now venerated and popular in the institutions of the country, had at one time been open to obloquy and ridicule. They know that the very name of Christian was once used as a term of reproach; and that many who now so unworthily bore that name, would then have been afraid and ashamed to belong to the congregation of Christ. Our Republicanism, of which we boasted so much, had also been reproached as fanaticism, or whatever other term came readiest to the tongue of the denouncer. It was easy to deride; ready for all to attempt to ridicule; but since it required some wit as well as malevolence, to ridicule with effect, they often saw miserable failures; witness the daily press of New-York. [laughter and applause] Still, though their enterprise was as yet unpopular--though exposed to attacks of malevolence and arrogance of those who assumed a superiority,--it was beginning to be acknowledged that woman had some right to complain of the present relations between her and man. We have prided ourselves on the fact that woman was rated higher in this country than in any other; how illogical, then, to conclude that while we congratulated ourselves on elevating woman higher than other nations, it would be great folly to raise her a little higher. If it was well that our fathers made innovations in their own time, and proved them to be improvements, would it not be well for us to make some innovations also, and prove them to be improvements? The only question between them and the intelligent part of their opponents was in degree--it was how far we should concede the right of woman, not if we should concede any. The aspiration of Woman for a better lot, say some, is not natural, but abnormal. But this aspiration is to be found everywhere. The slave-owner says that the slave is contented. The autocrat says it is a rebellions Kossuth or a factious Mazzini that is discontented with the present state of things. Mr. BURLEIGH added sundry illustrations of his position. Only let some of these tyrants and oppressors, both in the Old World and the New, but change places with these slaves and vassals, and they will entertain very different opinions. So with the story of the general contentment of Woman with her lot. There is, he doubted not, the germ of a great Reform in the mind of Woman, which will produce great and lasting results. It by no means follows that Women, as a general rule, as yet desire no enlargement of their sphere; that God did not design a great enlargement of their sphere and their influence, or that they will fail in time to perceive this design, while, on the other hand, the mere fact that there is so much turbulence indicates that a general movement is to take place. He was reading a while ago, in the travels of some American tourists, one of those who travel all creation over, concerning the interior of the Oriental harem. The women, said the traveler, compassionated the women of the West, because they are compelled to unveil their faces to the gaze of the passers-by. But we of the West think the Oriental woman is not a good judge; give but the Oriental inmate of the harem, the privilege and advantages of the occidental woman, and she will never wish to return to what she now considers her happiness. It is the glory and pride of the American people that we pay a deference to the sex. We find an argument and answer to the objections of our opponents in the fact that they concede that greater-opportunities should be afforded to woman. But, having gone thus far, so they say, you are about to blend all together under one common term of manhood. Now, this does not properly represent our position. We recognize the feminine elements. It is because there is such an element in nature that we object to all its government being confined to the masculine element. Mr. BURLEIGH enlarged very fully upon this distinction.

    Miss JENKINS, of Geneva, came forward, and was received with applause and hisses. She read a long written essay on the inalienable rights of women, and spoke of the sacrifices that had been made in all ages for the cause of Freedom. Miss J. went on to say that it was the same undying desire for liberty that actuated women in the present movement. She heard it sounded through the land, that man had certain inalienable rights, and naturally inquired why she should be debarred from the full exercise of these rights. But not only should woman be conscious of her rights, but she should come forward determined to have them fully recognized, and feeling assured that

    "Who would be free,
Themselves must strike the blow."

    [Cries of "Bravo!" from the gallery.]

    Miss LUCY STONE followed, and proceeded to give a history of the Woman's Rights movements, from the time of the first Convention in Central New-York, five years since. At that time, she said, it was averred that women were not fit for anything but to stay in the house; but they had seen, by the example of HARRIET HUNT,--she is here, and we shall hear from her,--these women could be good physicians. They had also proved that women could be good merchants; and if any said they could not be good preachers, she would point to Metropolitan Hall last Sunday, where Rev. ANTOINETTE BROWN had the largest audience in New-York. [Hisses and applause.] Yes, those men hissed because they know no better. [Laughter] She would say to them that a number of sensible men had called Miss BROWN to preach for them, and she was to be instated on the 15th of this month. She was one of the strictest of the Orthodox when she made her first appearance as a public speaker; many of her friends were shocked at her conduct; but only two years afterwards, the principle objector took her seat as President of a Temperance meeting of men and women. There was also in Chicago a Cashier of a Bank who is a woman, and in another State a woman was Register of Deeds. They also had women who were capable editors of newspapers. Now, if woman could do all this, they then demanded that she should be trusted farther. They called upon all who thought differently from them to come here and speak, and hope that if any found themselves convinced, they would acknowledge it, like true men and women. They would hold five sessions more, and had issued tickets at twenty-five cents each, so that the poorest sewing-girl could join with them.

    The PRESIDENT suggested that the speakers confine themselves to the resolutions under discussion. She was glad to see that woman's mission had been so clearly and plainly stated by the last speaker. She desired to say that the idea of the leaders of this movement, was not that woman should be obliged to accept the privileges which they demanded. Some women would not desire to mingle in the busy walks of life; many would have conscientious scruples [?] relative to voting under the present Constitution; but they demanded that all should have the right of coequality. In conclusion, she hoped that there would be no long speeches, that the discussion would be terse and to the subject, and that any and every body would get up and state their minds freely.

    Mr. OLIVER JOHNSON moved that the meeting sanction a limit being made for the speakers, of 20 minutes in the morning session, and half an hour in the evening.

    The meeting then adjourned to 3 o'clock P. M., amid confusion of hisses and ironical cries of "Hey! hey bravo!"


    The Convention reassembled at 3 o'clock, LUCRETIA MOTT in the Chair.

   After a few remarks from Mrs. SIDNEY PIERCE.

    WM. LLOYD GARRISON was introduced. He made a long speech, beginning with a severe onslaught on the Reporters of the Public Press, whom he denounced for misrepresenting his remarks, and for "pitching" into him. The Press of this country, he said, represented the state of public opinion--the symbol of the intellectual and moral condition of the nation. Go where you will, to all great cities, and you will find that, as a general rule, the papers which have the largest circulation, are those which are the most diabolical and the most profligate in spirit and in purpose. Not gratuitously, but catering for the popular appetite from a profound understanding of the condition of the national heart, which, alas! is full of wounds and bruises and spiritual sores. In England it was otherwise. In the old country, whenever a meeting is held for any cause, however extraordinary and exceptionable, it was invariably the custom of the Press to make a fair report of its sayings and doings. Whatever may be said editorially in condemnation of the meeting it is fairly reported, and the public left to judge for themselves. That the opposite principle is acted on in this City, an examination of the majority of the New-York papers of this morning would prove. It was not too much to say that they are animated by the spirit of hell. He wondered that men with brows of brass, unmatched in impudence, could come here and give such blackguard misrepresentations. Such reports are given because there is a demand for them; because the nation is thoroughly rotten and given over to believe a lie. He considered this an ample symptom of national degradation. He next entered into an analysis of the Woman's Rights movement. The idea had gone forth that, if this movement succeeds there will not be women enough left to take care of our homes. The speaker had no fear of this result. He held that a governmental struggle is now going on in this country. It is time that Woman should have equal rights with Men. This, he knew, would be considered heretical and absurd. He would, however, show cause why Woman should demand her rights. He knew the movement would be denounced. The chief priests and scribes, the politicians and demagogues, will endeavor to crush it. Serpents and reptiles in human flesh will endeavor to drag their slimy bodies over it and to hiss it down. It will be compelled to work under great disadvantages. He hoped, however, that no true friends of the cause would be deterred by opposition. A great proof  that the cause in which we are engaged is one in which God and angels and good men delight, is to be found in the character of its foes. What do its friends want? Those who care for the plaudits of such Satanic presses as the DAILY TIMES, Express and Herald, are unworthy to be engaged in this work. The reports of these papers were animated by a brutal and cowardly and devilish spirit. [Sensation, applause and hisses] Mr. GARRISON went on to congratulate his audience that they were not responsible for this wickedness. He found evidence in these attacks that the public was alive to the importance of Reform, and foresaw that Woman is destined in due season to reap a glorious triumph. He added some further remarks, drawing down mingled hisses and cheers.

    When Mr. GARRISON had concluded, Mrs. PAULINA WRIGHT DAVIS was introduced, and read an essay upon the general question involved in the Woman's Rights movement. She spoke with particular reference to the eighth resolution.

    Mr. BOOTH, of Wisconsin, followed with some observations upon the state of the reform in his State. He gave an encouraging picture of the prospects before the friends or the cause.

    Mr. McLURE, of Boston, Miss PAICE and Mr. MOORE, of Philadelphia, made brief remarks.

    Mr. POTTER made sundry explanations, and the Convention then adjourned until evening.


    The Convention reassembled at 7½ P. M.

    The first speaker was Rev. WM H. CHANNING. He discussed the general theory of Woman's Rights. He held that it is because there is a difference between Man and Woman that there is a necessity they should work together. We never have held that Man and Woman are alike. Their capacities are different. There is an absolute demand that we should combine their power. Thus much as regards the principle. We assert that our view is justified by all the experience of History; that if there is any one truth taught by the history of modern civilization, it is that we should bring out the full capacities of woman. Is it not an utter absurdity--a contradiction--that a Government should grow out of the current of a people, and yet leave out exactly one half of that people? If Man is really the representative of Woman, let each man, then, give a double vote, and see to it that he rightly represents the feeling of woman. So much as regards the husband's verification of the principle, we pass. We pass now to answer some other objections. It is said that Woman should not take part in public affairs, and that she should never appear as a speaker on a public platform. Mr. CHANNING instituted a comparison between the appearance of JENNY LIND. singing that sublime strain, "I know that my Redeemer liveth;" Mrs. BUTLER, reading the thought of SHAKESPEARE on the stage, and Mrs. FOSTER and others rendering their own thoughts publicly. It is not impossible there should be a female Shakespeare, but according to the principle laid down, she must never speak. He deemed it eminently proper that Woman should be heard. Some further remarks elicited a series of cheers and hisses. The speaker concluded that the hisses came from men who never had a mother to love and honor, a sister to protect and cherish, and who did not know the value of a wife. [Renewed hisses and cheers] The speaker added his testimony of gratitude to the women who had borne the brunt in this great controversy. The entrance of Woman into the sphere of politics next engaged his attention. The speaker was presently interrupted by a loud cry from one individual of "Hear, hear" [Laughter and hisses.] Woman does not desire to mix in politics, he added, for the sake of its turmoil, but to bring up politics to her own influence and heartiness of soul. Man cannot do this. It is only woman who can bring politics up to that high stand that God assigned them to occupy. The speaker cited the Maid of Saragossa [?], with her cry of "War to the knife;" who cried thus when PALAFOX faltered? So it is the world over. When Man has faltered, Woman has ever been the boldest. She has won a triumph by it. Mr. CHANNING was again interrupted, but bore it patiently, and added: A moment, my friends, and I shall give way to one of my sisters.

    A lamentable howl from the gallery.

    Mr. CHANNING--I perceive my friend there is anxious to have a woman speak to him, as only a woman can. [Laughter.]

    Another howl followed.

    Mr. CHANNING--Friend! offer your ear! If it is long enough to hear, you shall hear a woman's voice. Mr. C. here sat down.

    LUCRETIA MOTT--I would earnestly suggest to the speaker to speak to the subject, and not be diverted from the point by answering the remarks of anyone in the audience. [Laughter.]

    Rev. ANTOINETTE L. BROWN was introduced. She instituted a comparison between Woman in the old times and in the now. She made a long and logical speech. She said: Let each be true to himself or herself. She narrated the case of the Temperance gathering at Metropolitan Hall. This morning she went up to the Hall to present her credentials there. It was with difficulty she was heard; but she was anxious to see whether the men there gathered would endorse the Brick Church proceedings. And they did not endorse it. They have taken a higher and a nobler stand. They are a World's Temperance Convention. She had understood that this body had discussed the statement that she had been hissed. She was not aware of any such course having been followed. Certainly, there was no hissing directed toward herself that she was aware of. She had indeed gone upon the stage, and was received as a delegate; but a motion was afterward made that all save the officers of the meeting, should be excluded from the platform. It was carried; and it was not denied that it was moved with a purpose of excluding her (the speaker) from the stage. She accordingly took her position on the floor of the house, and she was now awaiting the . . .  [illegible line] she did not seek to make herself conspicuous, she said. Temperance and Woman's Rights, she added, went together in some respects, though in others they are widely different. The opponents of the Woman's reform movement, say the whole world is to be turned upside down; that all the moral virtues are to be melted down in a crucible. They look upon us as they might upon black beetles crawling in their path. These are the ultra opposers. There are others who oppose; and there are bigots with brains so ossified that no manly thought can enter their little stony cells. Miss BROWN discussed the subject of Reform as it affects the ladies. Many of them are beginning to ask. What have we been educated for? What is Woman to be educated for according to the old idea? Her education may become to her a source of annoyance. She may be possessed of knowledge, but the world denies her the opportunity of using it. Her intellect, like the sword of Hudibras [?], eats into itself for want of something to be employed upon. No wonder that when woman's hopes rise high, they fall back upon her with a crushing weight. But woman is beginning to look at the causes of things, and when she does so, her whole nature becomes aroused. She feels that there's something for her to do, and she must do it.
    Mrs. ERNESTINE L. ROSE came forward. She was greeted with hisses, but finally got a hearing. The wrongs of woman, she said, were not of recent date, they are heavy with age. We know the obstacles we have to encounter. Every step of freedom gained has had to be wrung from the strong arm of tyranny and oppression. Humanity had ever to fight her way through the tyranny of kings and the bigotry of priests. We know well what we have to encounter. Nor need we go to the past; we may come to the present. We may be thankful we have liberty of speech, that we live not under the yoke of royal tyranny, nor subject to emperors, kings, nor to a pope, who governs by the grace of French bayonets. It is a land of freedom in which we dwell. Mrs. ROSE went on to speak of the laws respecting women as--the mockingly so-called "better half" of man. She demanded the legal enactment causing the division of property to the widow, after the husband's death. Her remarks were continually interrupted by hisses from a certain quarter in the gallery.

    Mr. GREELEY was among the audience, and on passing through the gallery, as was supposed to remonstrate with the sibillatory [?] gentleman, a great rumpus was raised. Some cheered the peacemakers; others hissed; the mob collected about the scene of the disturbance, and all proceedings were interrupted.

    Mrs. ROSE suspended her remarks for a few moments. Presently, she added, "Friends! be seated; be seated! and I will continue my remarks."

    The audience would not listen, however, to her inducements. The uproar still continued.

    Cries of "Order," "Mrs. President!" "Put him out," "Hurrah!"--hisses, groans and cheers.

    Mr. GREELEY and a policeman presently succeeded in stilling the tumult, the officer collaring sundry people and compelling them to keep quiet.

    Mrs. ROSE resumed and concluded her remarks.

    LUCY STONE followed. She made a speech full of denunciation of the opponent of Woman's Rights, and of promises of the "good time coming." Moving finally to the galleries, she invited a calm and free discussion to-day of the question in dispute, promising that any opponent who had argument to offer, should have an hour, if he wished it to state his argument.

    A VOICE--Mrs. President, I want to ask--

    [Groans, ironical cheers, and laughter.]

    The VOICE--I want to ask one question.

    [Cries of "Hear him!" "Hear him!" "Adjourn!" "Adjourn!"]

    The VOICE, finally--I want to have someone state to me three good, solid arguments why women should vote! [Great laughter]

    Confusion, and a Babel of tongues.

    LUCY STONE came forward as if to reply.

    LUCRETIA MOTT (President)--My friends! the Convention is adjourned till 9 o'clock tomorrow morning!

    And the Convention accordingly adjourned.

    This morning, the sessions will be duly resumed at the Tabernacle.

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