WOMAN'S RIGHTS CONVENTION
Long after 9 o'clock yesterday, the Tabernacle presented a desolate appearance not very encouraging to the Woman's Rights Reformers. Scarcely a dozen people had assembled, who, spread through the large building rather added to the loneliness. At the regular hour for meeting, about two hundred had assembled.
Mrs. LUCRETIA MOTT called the meeting to order. In doing so, she felicitated the women upon their self-possession during the disturbance of last night's session. It was matter of pride that not a scream was heard. If they had been women who were taught to rely solely upon others for protection, they would have felt bound to scream for their "protectors" in the confusion. She hoped that speakers would confine themselves to the subjects under discussion. Some person had demanded from the audience, the previous day, "three reasons why women should vote!" She supposed that, if the question were altered, and three reasons demanded why men should vote, he would have considered the reason so self-evident as to require no answer. Well, she doubted not that if that person were present to day, and open to conviction, he would bear reasons sufficient to prove that women had a right to vote. Mrs. M. then tried at some length to get over the command of the Apostle that women should keep silence in the church. The same apostle had given directions how women should prophecy or preach and pray, and attire themselves. All these directions were to be taken in a modified sense, and with reference to the customs of the time. (While speaking the child of some strong-minded mother, who doubtless, was absorbed in the processing's, cried out lustily, and the mother had to leave her rights and the Tabernacle to attend more pressing duties.)
Mrs. PAULINA W. Davis came forward to make some explanations. She disclaimed that the Unit was the organ of the Woman's Rights movement, as stated by Dr. CHANNING.
MATILDA A. GAGE was introduced. After some introductory observations on the aid to be derived from an enlightened press, and the consequent desire to meet in a city where the greatest number of papers was printed, she read the second resolution offered on Tuesday, and spoke, or read, in rather an indistinct voice, an address directed to the question, "that it shall not be indecorous for women to engage in any occupation which they deem fitted to their habits and talents." The three occupations permitted to women were sewing, washing and teaching. The sewing machines had interfered with the first; machinery had also nearly superseded manual employment in washing; and the system of Phonetics had interfered with primary teaching. Every occupation, she argued, should be open to woman, which she was fitted to fill. From this subject the speaker diverged to the question of divorce, and contended that the mother should have equal right in her children and property with the father. One reason given that woman should have no political rights with man, was that politics would be degrading to her. This reasoning was unsound; for politics were only degrading when truth and honor were sacrificed to party ends, and then politics was equally degrading to men and women. Miss GAGE concluded amid a storm of applause and hisses.
Mrs. NICHOLS, of Vermont, Editress of the Windham County Democrat, was next introduced. Reporters had, heretofore, dealt so kindly with her, that she would remember them, and try to speak distinctly. It was an undisputed fact that if women had a right to vote, the best measures for the good of the community would be carried. As it was, when a petition went up to the Legislature, they reckoned the signatures, and said so many were voters, and so many women. She wanted a right to vote, that she might vote back to woman the right of control over her children. Man had controlled the actions of women through the affections of the mother. Women stand before them with all the wants of man; and, also, with all the capability of man to provide for these wants. The present laws had divorced the capacity of woman from her needs. [Some persons in the gallery, who came for the purpose of interrupting the proceedings, continued making great noise. Mrs. N. requested them to desist, as her twenty minutes could he better occupied than receiving their demonstrations of applause. Laughter] Woman was considered dead in law--she had no right in her property, or in her children. In case a woman married a second time, she had no power to support her children by a former marriage. Even as widows, the law bore heavily upon them. If the children had property, she was adjudged unworthy of the guardianship of her children. Although God had made her the guardian of her children she was obliged to pay from her humble means, to be constituted by law the guardian of her children. She had conversed with judges and legislators, to know a reason for these things, and had been met with one reason against an equal property right. A noble man had told her. "Oh, women cannot earn as much as men." One man had said his wife had never been able to do anything except attend to her children--she had nine. [Laughter] Well, which was more important to the country--the property made by the man, or the nine children trained by the mother? The name of WASHINGTON remained still to the country, and would, long after the WASHINGTON estates were lost. Which was more important to his country, WASHINGTON or his estates? [Loud applause]
She had heard quite a number of sermons in her part of the country. The text was: "Wives submit yourselves to your husbands;" and the remaining words," in the Lord," always omitted. They were directed to submit themselves, whether their husbands were "in the Lord" or "in the devil" [Laughter and applause] And the best of it was, that after being directed to be submissive, they were told they could change the husband from a devil to an angel. [Laughter]
Mrs. HARRIET K. HUNT, M. D., was introduced, and spoke to the ninth resolution. Taxation, without representation, was, she said emphatically, tyranny. Did they want to know why she should vote? She wished to vote that she might sit upon school committees, and order the education of her daughters; she wished to vote that she might have a voice in introducing a better tone in society; she wishes to vote for laws giving them equal rights with men in property. [Applause.] Some time since she went into the Assessor's Office to pay her taxes, and there saw a tall, gaunt, foolish, ignorant Irish boy, who had a paper in his hand giving him the rights of citizenship. She felt moved at this -- that the most ignorant man should have the privilege of representation, while woman, no matter how intelligent, respectable, or what the amount of taxes she paid, should have no right to vote. Mrs. HUNT read her protest and petition to the Legislature of Massachusetts, on the taxation question, which was received with loud applause.
Mrs. FRANCES D. GAGE, of St. Louis, was introduced. When leaving her boarding-house, this morning, one accosted her, saying, "Well, you are ready equipped to go and fight the men." Now, that expression fell upon her heart! To fight the men! She had no quarrel with the men; but with the laws enacted by them. And now she wished to speak on one subject which had been forgotten by the other speakers, namely, the law directing that married women could not bequeath property. Mrs. G. read a will altered by putting the name of the wife in place of that of the husband, which was received with laughter, and demanded if the audience were willing that married women should have the right to make such a will. In consequence of ill health she closed her remarks with this question.
Mrs. ROSS came forward to make a remark upon the law respecting Wills. It was enacted that all persons except "lunatics, infants and married women" had the right to bequeath property. And this was a law in the nineteenth century, in the enlightened United States under a Republic that declared all free and equal.
Miss LUCY STONE stopped forward, amid loud applause. She wished to correct Mrs. ROSE, by stating that in Massachusetts the law made a will by a married woman valid, under two circumstances: first, provided it had the husband's consent written thereon; and secondly, if all the property were bequeathed to the husband--for then his consent was taken for granted. [Applause and laughter]
Mr. C. C. BURLEIGH came on the stand, and was received with hisses and confusion. The President requested the meeting to maintain their own dignity. Silence restored. Mr. B. spoke at some length, sustaining some of his old arguments in favor of Woman's Rights.
A gentleman near the platform stood up, and said he had three reasons to give why men should vote, and one why women should not vote.
Voices from the gallery--"Up on the stand: Let us hear them! Give us your name! Go in."
The speaker (getting on the stand, with a Bible in hand)--My name is H. K. ROOT.
A VOICE--Good. Let us have the root of the matter. [Laughter.]
Mr. ROOT--I do not enter this stage for the purpose of opposing the ladies; for if they are proved to have more knowledge and intelligence than men, why, let them govern [Applause.]
Mrs. MOTT--Friends, the time is short, and if you don't moderate your applause we won't hear the reasons. [Laughter]
Mr. ROOT--There are three reasons why men should vote: First, The original command of God, "Man shall rule." We will take it for granted we are in Eden, [laughter]; there are enough here to represent Adams and Eves. Well, Adam was placed in the garden to take care of it, and Eve given him as a help mate; and God says in the 3d of Genesis: "Because thou hast hearkened unto the voice of thy wife," &c., "the earth shall be cursed." You see the original cause of sin was because man gave up his judgment to that of woman; and it may be, if we now give up our rights to women, some great calamity may fall upon us. [Loud laughter and applause.] The second reason why man should vote is, that man's physical strength is greater than woman's [Laughter.]
A WOMAN--A strong reasoner. [Laughter.]
Mr. ROOT--The third reason,--because if women enter the field of competition with men, it may lead to family
A tall old gentlemen rose to reply to the last speaker.
Mrs. MOTT--The hour of adjournment has arrived. Cries of "Name, Name! go in, old fellow--let us hear him."]
MRS. MOTT--I have no power to extend the time, but, if the meeting desires, they can do so. [Loud cries of "Let us hear him"]
The gentleman announced himself as ALEXANDER PARKER, from Philadelphia; and said, as a gardener himself, he had something to say about the Garden of Eden [Laughter.] He said something about the core of the apple sticking in man's throat, amid continued laughter.
SOJOURNER TRUTH, a negro woman asked permission to speak in the afternoon, which was granted by the Chair. [Yells and hooting from the gallery.]
The meeting was declared adjourned to 3 o'clock.
Cries of "We'll be here to hear SOJOURNER--Hurrah."
At the hour appointed for the commencement of the afternoon exercises, the body of the Tabernacle was rather more than half-filled with women. A number of them evidently entertained a painful idea of their own condition and that of their poor down trodden sisters in pantaloons when compared with that enjoyed by male bipeds; but the great majority exposed their views of the Convention by a cunning leer in the corners of their eyes. They wanted to see how a woman would appear wearing these garments which spinsters are said to yearn to have the privilege of mending. They also wanted in hear what the woman folks would say, and whether they would take
Mrs. LUCY proposed to handle the physical portion of the young man's objection first. She had seen a great many ballots, although she had never been permitted to touch one. Nevertheless, she was sufficiently acquainted with them to know that they were not very heavy, and she believed any woman who could walk without leaning on a man's arm, or something of that nature, had enough of physical development to lift one and put it in the box. She had known of instances where old and decrepit man had had the box taken to them that they might put in their ballot, and she believed that if women had the elective franchise they would get their ballots in without so much trouble as that. The other objections of the ambitions young man were all answered with apparent ease, and with a few words of intense irony she made the intellectual region of the ambitions young man's physical development appear as diminutive, as to leave some doubt as to whether there was in it any room for thinking machinery. She concluded by reading the following letter:
WORCESTER, Sept. 4, 1853.
DEAR FRIEND: You are aware that domestic duties close prevent my prolonging my stay in New-York, during the session of the Woman's Rights Convention. And you know also that all my sympathies are there. I hope you will have a large representation of the friends of the great movement--the most important movement of the country; and that you will also assemble a good many of the opposition during the discussion. Perhaps from some such opponents I might obtain answers to certain questions which have harassed my mind, and as the following:
"If there be a woman's sphere as a man's sphere, why has woman an equal voice in fixing the limits?
"If it be unwomanly for a girl to have a whole education, why is it not unwomanly for her to have even a half one! Should she not be left where the Turkish women are left?
"If women have sufficient political influence through their husbands and brothers, how is it that the worst laws are confessedly those relating to female property?
"If politics are necessarily corrupting, ought not good men, as well as good women, to be exhorted to quit voting?
"If, however, man's theory be correct--that none should be appointed jurors but those whose occupations let them to understand the matters in dispute--where is the propriety of empaneling a jury of men to decide on the right of a divorced mother to her child?
"If it be proper for a woman to open her lips in jubilee to sing nonsense, how can it be improper for her to open them and speak sense?"
Those afford a sample of the questions to which I have been trying in vain to find an answer.
If the reasoning's of men on this subject are a fair specimen of the masculine intellect of the nineteenth century, I think it is certainly quite time to call in women to do the thinking.
Yours, respectfully and cordially,
MISS LUCY STONE. F. W. HIGGINSON.
She was followed by Mrs. NICHOLS who evinced a hardness of heart not often found in woman. Everybody sympathized with the ambitious young man; everybody thought he had suffered enough; but Mrs. NICHOLS evidently determined to give him a settler, which she coolly did as follows: The young man, she said, had quoted Scripture to prove that woman ought to be ruled by her husband. Very well; but even suppose the Scriptures did say so, that was no reason they were to be ruled by all the bachelor's and everybody else's husband. This very sensible and well-timed remark caused great merriment to all in the house, save the aforesaid ambitions young man, who desired to explain; but his friends, fearing another onslaught would be the end of him, advised him to keep quiet.
The President then announced to the audience that Miss or Mrs. SOJOURNER TRUTH was about to make a few remarks. Miss or Mrs. SOJOURNER TRUTH arose, and so did a perfect storm of applause, hisses, groans and undignified ejaculations. One young lad, with red hair, whose education had evidently been grievously neglected, insinuated that the colored lady was not then acting in her accustomed sphere, by calling for "an oyster stew with plenty of crackers." Another young rascal, with a dirty shirt and face, said he would take half a dozen on half shell." Another scape-grace called vociferously for a "sixpenny plate of clam soup."
Notwithstanding these unmannerly, unhandsome, and ill-timed calls for bivalves, SOJOURNER TRUTH came forward to the desk, rolled up her eye-balls in scorn, frowned indignantly, and raised her hand and voice in wrath. She spoke.
She said: It is good for me to come forth for to see what kind of spirit you are made of. I see some of you have got the spirit of a goose, and a good many of you have got the spirit of snakes. [Great applause and ones of "Go on"--That's the style"--"Show your pluck" --"Give it to them;" during which that young scrape-grace in the gallery called for a "small fry."] I feel at home here [A venerable old gentleman occupying a front seat, said, "So you ought"] I was born in this State. I've been a slave in this State, and now I'm a good citizen of this State. [Vociferous demonstrations of applause] I was born here, and I can tell you I feel at home here. [Queer man under the gallery: That's right. Make yourself at home, you're welcome; take a chair] I've been looking round and watching things, and I know a little might 'bout Woman's Rights, too. [Applause, and cries of "Go it lively; you'll have a fair show."] I know it feels funny, kinder funny and tickling to see a colored woman get up and tell you about things and woman's rights, when we've all been trampled down
Rev. JOHN PIERPONT then came forward, and said: A woman at the present time occupied the highest position in England; and, after arguing that they were calculated to fill the highest positions anywhere, told an interesting story about traveling in New-Jersey, many years ago, at which time he discovered in a bar-re [?]
Mrs. CAROLINE SEVERANCE, of Cleveland, Ohio, read an elaborate document
Mrs. SUSAN B. ANTHONY followed, in defense of Female School Teachers.
LLOYD GARRISON followed, much against the desire of the audience. He wished the women to go on. There were evidences all around that hell was stirred up against their divine Convention. Loud hisses and groans followed this, with cries of "Put him out," and "Down with him." He could not be heard, and finally he took his departure.
He was followed by ISAAC C. PRAY, late of the New-York Herald, who stated that he had opposed the Women's Rights movement for two years, while he had been engaged upon a paper which he designated as that which generally gives the cue to those who make a noise in the gallery. But he had reformed. He had changed his mind, and the ladies were much pleased.
The ambitious young man who had been so severely handled in the early part of the session, now desired to say something. The ladies were willing to encourage him. They asked him to get upon the stand, which he did, and was soon very sorry for it.
There were several other short speeches, after which the Convention adjourned to 7½ o'clock.
The Convention reassembled at 7½ o'clock. The Tabernacle was densely crowded in every part. The galleries even were packed with an attentive crowd. The aisles on the floor of the house were so filled that it was difficult to force a passage through the mass. Fully one-half of those present were women.
Mrs. ERNESTINE L. ROSE presided.
Mrs. S. T. MARTYN was the first speaker. She maintained that Woman is entitled to the elective franchise equally with Man. There is no reason why Woman should not exercise this privilege. This is the proposition she would advance.
Cries of "it is not true!" "Order! Order!" and cheers.
Mrs. MARTYN, resuming--Why should Man arrogate the privilege? Is it because Man has more cunning? So has the fox; but the fox does not exercise the elective franchise. If Man is said to have more reason, she thought the inequality was more than made up, for she believed it was true that Woman had more conscience. [Laughter]
[Cries of "Time's up"]
Mrs. MARTYN--But it may be said that Woman has a right to vote. JEREMY BENTHAM said he was not able to find a single reason why women should not vote. She asked if VICTORIA is unwomanly when she goes to Parliament to open it; was she unwomanly when she went to the Crystal Palace? Is she unwomanly when she goes on board her fleet as Lord High Admiral. Was she unwomanly in this? When God made woman equal to man, he intended that she should have an equal influence and equal power. It is feared that she now attempts to forsake home and family. Ambition would vainly tempt her. She threw back with indignant scorn the insinuation that it was necessary to confine woman to one sphere of motion in order to insure the due performance of her duties.
A FEMALE--You man with the cane there, be still! There are white folks here!
Mrs. MARTYN--Who has not felt the degrading influence of the exclamation--What has women to do with politics? When we do not hear it in language, we hear it in sentiment. The elective franchise would elevate her. It would give her that feeling of responsibility which the possession of a vote would bestow.
A VOICE--How do you know? [Laughter and cheers]
Mr. BOOTH--I want to say, Mr. President, before this lady proceeds-----
Great cries, "Put him out!" "Sit down!" Laughter, cheers, and hisses]
Mrs. MARTYN made an attempt to proceed.
Mr. BOOTH sat down incontinently [?].
Mrs. MARTYN--Woman needs the exercise of the elective franchise to advance her own temporal interests. When Man makes the laws, he
["Time time.!" "Shut up!" "Shut up!" Laughter.]
Mr[s]. MARTYN--There is not a man here to-night, who would not acknowledge that the Maine Law would pass if the women could vote.
Cries of "Root," "Root." Great confusion. Rumpus in the gallery. "Put him out." "Hustle that man out."
Mrs. MARTYN stood quietly awaiting the result. She finally obtained a hearing. If women are ignorant of party questions, all the better. They can then select the best men, and vote for the public officers as they shall deem them competent. If--
Mrs. MARTYN sat down.
LUCRETIA MOTT--I will now introduce to the audience a German friend of the case--MATILDA ARNIKA.
MATILDA ARNIKA--a tremendous specimen of womankind, weighing perhaps 250 pounds; clad in a short jacket
You see I am "Deutsch." [Laughter]
She began to speak: "Nein freiheit!" "No freedom." She chided the audience. They called themselves Republicans, and were too rough to hear a woman. [Laughter.]
WENDELL PHILLIPS came to the rescue. The audience, he said, is now looking upon one who has stood by the side of KOSSUTH, in the Hungarian Revolution. She has faced the cannon of FRANCIS JOSEPH, fighting bravely for the liberty of the People.
Cries of "Let her speak," "Bravo," "We'll hear her," "Sit down."
Mr. PHILLIPS--I know, fellow-citizens that you will hear her."
Cries of "Yes, yes." "Hear, hear."
Mrs. ROSE volunteered to translate the speech of Mad. ARNIKA into English. She is a noble woman, said Mrs. ROSE.
Madame ARNIKA accordingly proceeded: She saw this morning in a paper, that the American women had made a movement for liberty, and was rejoiced to find that in their petition they had remembered their sisters in Germany. She knew well what the oppression and tyranny kings are; she had known the evils of them in her own person, in her own family and friends. Her sisters in Germany had long desired their freedom. But there is no freedom there, even to claim human rights. In this country, they expect freedom of speech. The way to claim the hearts of her countrywomen was to look to this country for encouragement and light. Women in Germany sympathize with their great cause, and many hearts beat in unison with those here.
[Loud cries of "PHILLIPS," "PHILLIPS!" Hisses and cheers]
WENDELL PHILLIPS--Fellow-citizens, I am not at all surprised--
A torrent of hisses.
PHILLIPS--At the reception which I meet--
Mrs. ROSE--I call upon the Police--
VOICES. Out of order.
Mrs. ROSE--The Mayor of this City has promised to keep the order of this meeting, and I call upon him to do it.
Mrs. ROSE--Friends, will you keep order]
Hisses from all parts of the house. Cries of "Sit down! sit down!" Continued hisses.
PHILLIPS--The time has been when other Reformers were met in the same way as this--by hisses.
Mrs. ROSE--As presiding officer of this meeting, I call upon the police to preserve order; and if there are not police enough to do it, I call upon you, citizens, to help them.
MR. PHILLIPS--We have invited you to this Hall to-night to discuss a great movement.
MR. PHILLIPS--When you will answer our arguments, we will cease our agitation. I warn you that Truth has often floated further on the lips of a mob than on the words of its advocates.
PHILLIPS--The best thing you can do for us, if you hate this movement, is to come here to the number of thousands and disgrace your City.
The great principle of Liberty is that each political class shall be able to protect itself.
A VOICE--Niggers excepted. [Laughter]
PHILLIPS--No class of human beings can legislate for another. While you undertake to punish women, as American Democratic Republicans, you are bound by your own principle to allow her to vote in the law under which she is punished.
PHILLIPS--I say again--
The audience gave him no time to say it.
PHILLIPS--I say again--The earliest principle of American liberty was this--that taxation and representation should go together. I ask you, now, as reasonable men (interrupting) to consider a few facts. In my own city of Boston there are nine millions of property owned by women, upon which taxes are annually levied. I have myself paid into the Treasury of that city, $1,500, as the tax upon the property of two women of that city. And the Irishman who landed in this country five years ago, and who cannot yet write his name, had a vote in the disposition of that $1,500. He would add, in sitting down, that if the men who came to this meeting have nothing but ridicules to offer instead of argument, they prove better than we can do, that the system of education under which they have been trained, needs new elements to make it worthy of American civilization and life.
LUCY STONE next made her appearance.
Cries of, "Hear her," "Dear LUCY!" "Darling LUCY!" "Take your time, Miss LUCY!"
STONE--Show a reason why you will not hear us speak! There is no man who has known the genial influence of a mother but would feel disgraced-----
VOICES--"Our mothers didn't act so." "On, it's a pity you wasn't married!" [Laughter.]
Miss STONE'S remarks became wholly inaudible in consequence of the increasing tumult. She concluded her remarks in the midst of remarkable confusion. She would give place to others who had spoken well. She asked that whatever word of truth had been spoken might find a lodgment [?] in your head and heart. We may one day call a convention in New York, when the sons of those here present may have been taught better behavior. [Cheers and sensation] To show that we are not to be deterred by any show of opposition, I shall announce before I sit down that we propose to hold a National Women's Rights Convention at Cleveland, Ohio, on the 5th and 6th of October. [Ironical cheers and cries of "We'll be there!"]
Rev. ANTOINETTE BROWN next addressed the meeting, telling an anecdote about a certain strong minded woman, who had a slight difference with her husband, and refused according to the demand of the law to give up her children, but was afterwards compelled to do so by the wicked will which her husband caused to take effect after his death. The fair and
A person named ELLIOTT, in the body of the Hall, here exclaiming "Mr. Chairman," jumped upon the platform and claimed a hearing. He was received with great impatience and loud outcries, one of the latter being an intimation that he was a rowdy. "No, sir;" he indignantly exclaimed, "I am not the champion of rowdies. These are the charitable judgments that are passed upon strangers." Here his heroics were cut short by a tremendous burst of hisses, cat calls and cries for BURLEIGH, whom the audience seemed somewhat anxious should come forward for their entertainment. The speaker, however, persisted for some time in attempting to deliver an exposition against the claim of the "Woman's Rights " men, but his serious attempts at comforting the ladies in breeches were treated with sublime contempt by the audience, who renewed their cries for BURLEIGH. At last he was obliged to give in, which he did with an immense amount of indignant pantomime.
A frantic individual, whose name we could not ascertain, then rushed forward to the front of the platform and commenced a series of wild gesticulations, but all efforts at speech were frustrated by a Babel of sounds, to which the previous tumult was absolute silence. "Ah, you not make half noise enough," exclaimed the outraged orator, who appeared to be a foreigner; and the audience seemingly took his advice in earnestness, for they renewed the outcry to such an extent that the champion of Woman's Rights was obliged to retire in discomfiture.
Cries were then renewed for BURLEIGH, but that bearded and ringleted individual, who is noted for all his looks, did not respond to the call, being at that time more profitably engaged in selling strong-minded pamphlets in one of the back seats. At last, the ladies on the platform not seeing any prospect of a lull in the tempest retired, and the meeting broke up in "most admired disorder."