WOMEN'S RIGHTS CONVENTION
Meeting at the Tabernacle
Meeting at the Tabernacle
The forenoon session of this Association was attended by a larger audience than has hitherto assembled in the forenoon.
Among the auditors we noticed Miss Stone, Mrs. Davis, Mrs. Nichols, Mrs. Rose, Dr. Harriet Hunt, &c. &c.
Mrs. Mott, the President, opened the meeting by a speech, in which she confuted and explained away the Scriptural texts usually brought forward and misinterpreted to bear against the Woman's Rights Movement.
Mrs. Davis, alluding to some remarks made by Rev. Mr. Channing, yesterday, said that her paper, The Una, was not the organ of this movement, but should merely be regarded as a faithful chronicler of its progress and advocate of his principles.
Mrs. Matilda E. Gage deemed the plan of holding Conventions in large cities a happy one, as it enabled the press to disseminate true reports of the arguments advanced in favor of the cause, before the masses of the nation. We often hear it said that if women wish to enter into business, to practice medicine, law, or the ministry, let them do it without making such a commotion through the country. There is no law against it. Yet those very persons strive to influence public opinion by citing that unwritten law—-Custom, which is a power which rules even intellect. To change custom it is first necessary to create a conviction in the minds of the community that such a change is necessary. Equally necessary is it to show that the change is practicable. That is what our female physicians, ministers, merchants, editors and printers are doing.
The three great resources for industrial females hitherto, have been washing, serving, and teaching; but in each of these three occupations the progress of the age is effecting great changes. For none of these labors is a sufficient recompense given, and all are passing out of her hands.
The first aim of Woman, in her opinion, ought to be improvement in her social and physical condition, based on physical comfort.
She then contended that the prevalent opinion that a natural business capacity is confined to a small number of the fair sex originated from the fact that the sexes have not equal opportunities of exhibiting their talent, and enforced her argument by historical evidence.
We are told that true women are disinterested, forbearing, and too shame-faced to admit the possibility of their having been wronged; but there comes a time in the history of all oppression when forbearance ceases to be a virtue, when longer silently to submit to the caprices and chicanery of intolerant men, would indicate an obtuseness of feeling which might well be urged in favor of the continuance of such intolerance. Within the circle of everyone's experience arise innumerable examples of unjust laws.
A woman who was recently married, but obliged to quit her husband within two months after, for his abuse, took with her when she left her own clothing, and for the value of this the husband sued her friends and obliged them to pay, although it was the clothing her father purchased for her previous to her marriage.
The New York Court of Common Pleas has recently decided that the friends of a woman who harbored and detained her from her husband, although with her own consent, should pay to that husband the sum of ten thousand dollars; and this he recovered on the principle of ownership; her services were due him, and their value he received.
In point of equity, our divorce laws are not as far advanced as those of Mahommedan countries. There, if the husband sue for divorce he is under the necessity of restoring the dower but in Christian America the husband retains the wife's dower, and even if she be the innocent party, she receives neither property nor children, unless by an express decree of court.
Many a wife submits to a living death from such injustice. The law has given her earnings, and the children of her bosom, to the guidance of a frail being, when from such custody an angel might well shrink. Perhaps you all recollect an abduction case which occurred in this very city scarcely a year since; when a mother, with the aid of another woman, enticed her own child from the care of its father and an infamous woman with whom he lived. The father sued for the recovery of the child and by his fine wrought stories enlisted the sympathies of community.
That child was kept hidden several weeks at the house of an acquaintance of mine in the interior of the State till the mother could take legal steps to regain her. When found, she was ragged and dirty, and bore on her shoulders the marks of brutal stripes. She scarce ever smiled, but wore the impress of premature grief—-a woman while yet a child. That mother had a divorce, but the law gave the child to the father, and he, with that law as a mantle about care and placed her under the influence of most pernicious example.
Mrs. D. F., of this State, obtained a divorce from a licentious husband to whose custody the law consigned an only child, and the mother bought her own child of its father, for the sum of $2,000. Are we protected by laws that render such a purchase necessary? For by the law, a mother is entitled to no power over her own children, only respect and honor, and what honor can a child give to one whom the law does not honor? Some of the laws defeat their own object, and become a means of disgrace to innocent children whom of all others, they should protect.
A man living near my house married, and becoming improvident, finally deserted his family, but troubled his wife greatly, occasionally stealing one of the children, causing the mother constant anxiety and expense. She was a milliner and worked in company with an aunt, and to secure her children to herself she was obliged to allow them to become paupers, and then the proper authorities bound them to the aunt.
Similar cases could be multiplied innumerably; they occur in every Society, and one is not obliged to go out of the circle of their own immediate acquaintance for instances. One more case and I will end this point. John L., a married man with several children, formed an attachment to a dissolute, carnal girl and having determined to desert his family, he converted his lands into cash on pretense of wishing to make a more profitable investment, and then secretly disposed of every article of personal property—-possession to be given on a certain day—-and with the money in his pocket, under cover of the darkness, he left, and the forsaken wife and mother, awoke to find the beds she brought, the linen she wove, the chairs, the tables, the dishes, even the knives and forks, all of her own earnings, all disposed of without her consent or even knowledge; the customs of society forbidding her entering into lucrative business, and her legal protection fled forever. Where was her redress? She had none. The property was legally disposed of, that, in connection with herself belonged to [a] common master, who belonged to himself alone.
The principal objections for refusing woman political rights are, "what has woman to do with politics?" as they would be too degrading to her. I think I have fully shown what woman has to do with politics, and as at present conducted, they are degrading to man. Politics are degrading when one party or the other will grant privileges to a clique of men-—whether religious or otherwise—-on consideration of their influence over the votes of unfortunate men, whom poverty and ignorance have placed in their power.
Politics are degrading when they cause rulers to forget that power is placed in their hands, not for their own aggrandizement but for the good of the people—-when they forget they are as much trustees for future generations as for the people who chose them-—when they forget to use their utmost influence for the enactment of just laws, and consider less the importance of their trust than the desire of money and acquiring of popularity that they may retain their station.
To the women of this country, she said, this country must look for its salvation. She must not beg, but claim our rights. Ours is no party spirit, no paltry desire for the good of one sex at the expense of the other; but we work for humanity. Our motto is and ever has been, "All Rights to all!"
Mrs. Nichols, Editor of The Windham County Democrat, said that Man had already found a method by which to enable woman to influence the destiny of institutions which are established for pecuniary purposes. In the Banks of this country-—in the Bank of England, which could overturn with ease every European throne-—in the East India Company, which rules over the millions of Hindustan. Women held shares, and possessed a power equal to that of Man. She hoped that ere long man would find a right womanly way by which to enable her to affect moral; intellectual and social, as well as commercial interests.
In order that women might effect this end, it was necessary to possess the right of voting. She wanted this right because in consequence of not possessing it also could not protect herself and children; because she did not possess the power which as a mother ought to belong to her.
Woman's property was given by the laws to her husband, her children belonged to and could be claimed by their father, however brutal and degraded he might have become.
From women who possessed all the ability with which man has been endowed, the sphere for their development has been taken. By the laws and custom woman was regarded as dead; she had been legally executed. Man first takes from her all property right-—all right over her own earnings and offspring and services-—and then, in order to compensate her for this robbery, enacts that she shall be held under no obligation to support her children. Women are not even permitted to be, are not by the law regarded as fit to be the guardians of their children after their husband's death, if any one offers opposition! But when a wife dies, the husband becomes their legal guardian, as a matter of course. If a woman marries a second husband, even if she brings a princely dowry to her partner, she cannot claim support for the offspring of her first marriage; the second husband could, if he chose, claim recompense for supporting them!
She enlarged on the topic, and related some instances of the evil consequences of these laws which had come under her observation in Vermont. She said that a great many sermons had lately been preached in the Green Mountain State on the text, "Wives, submit yourselves in all things to your husbands in the Lord!" but the reverend lecturers so explained it as if it should be read, "Submit yourselves to your husbands whether they be in the Lord or in the Devil." [Great Laughter.]
She alluded to the argument regarding the indelicacy of woman appearing at the ballot box, because these rowdies always assembled there. When women in America were universally well treated in Church, on the traveling conveyance, and in the public meeting, what danger was there of her being maltreated at the polls? She believed that it was just because women were not at the polls that disorder reigned at the booths. There, as elsewhere, it was not good for man to be alone. [Applause.]
After some comments on the existing laws of Divorce she resumed her seat.
Dr. Harriet K. Hunt next addressed the meeting. After reading the 9th Resolution, she said: My friends, taxation without representation is tyranny! Taxation without representation is tyranny!! Taxation without representation is tyranny!!! [Cheers.] My brothers, you do not know, nor can you judge, the feelings of a woman, when influence in education, as well as political weight, is refused her. I wish to sit on committees,--committees on education, that I may know the why and the wherefore of the education of our girls. I wish to sit where I can see to a better regulation of the healthfulness of our streets, and a higher tone in the topics of our parlors. In October, 1851, I went to pay my taxes in Boston. Going into the Assessor's office, I saw a tall, thin, weak, stupid, vacant looking Irish boy. It was near election time. I looked at him with scrutiny; he held a parchment in his hand, I asked and learned it was a document of naturalization; and this hopeful son of Erin was made a citizen of the United States, and could have a voice in the destinies of this mighty nation, while thousands of intellectual women, daughters of the soil, were kept dumb! Now, I am glad to pay taxes and glad my profession enabled me to do so. I meditated on what I had seen. In 1852, when paying my taxes, I took to the Treasurer's office this protest; it is addressed not only to the officials, but to all the citizens:
[Here Dr. Hunt read her protest, in which she protested against the injustice of having to pay taxes and at the same time of being allowed no voice, at least she could be excused from paying taxes.]
Here I also complain of the inequality of the educational advantages afforded to boys and girls. It is so in Boston. I ask, is it so in this City?
Cries from the platform--It is.
Thus you sexualize education. I have now to say to all my sisters, as a friend, consider this question deeply; give your sanction, as far as you can, to this measure. Bad and licentious men are put into offices where their misconduct closely affects us. The question is a great one. We have at this Convention Lucy Stone and Wendell Phillips, who were at our Constitutional Assembly last year in Boston. I was not present, but I sent a paper which I will read to you. [Cheers and disturbance.] Please be quiet, because you are law makers! [Laughter and applause.]
The speaker read her protest to the Constitutional Assembly, in which the wrongs of Woman were lucidly put forward.
My brethren, I leave this matter before you, and ask you to consider it as an important question, not alone in a political view, but as a great point demanding deep, earnest, and religious investigation.
The President introduced to the Convention Mrs. Frances D. Gage, better known as "Aunt Fanny, the Poet."
Mrs. Gage said: This morning, when I was leaving my boarding-house, some one said to me, "So you are ready[,] armed and equipped to go and fight the men." The expression fell heavily on my heart. I have no fight with men; I am a daughter, a wife, a sister, and a mother, and in all those relations I live in harmony with men. It is the bad laws and customs of society that we contend with. The men are above and beyond the laws, and we assail the latter only. But there is one law which I have never heard any of my sisters touch upon, that as to wills, which allows a husband, along with determining the lot of a wife when he is alive, also to control her when he is dead.
Would any gentleman like to have that law conversed! I will read a Will after the old fashion it will fall as unjustly on all ears as it does on mine. [Here Mrs. Gage read an amusing form of a Will, in which a wife leaves to her son her horses, carriages, &e., to her daughter some valuable claims and property; and to her husband $100, 40 acres of wild land in Illinois, and their bed, as long as he remained her widower. Loud cheers and laughter.]
Would any of you like power like that placed in our hands? It is true, the power of this kind given to husbands is not often used against us; but I answer, the law is made for extreme cases; and while such statutes remain on the books no good man will cease to try for their removal. I ask the right to vote, not because it would create antagonism, but harmony. I want to remove antagonism, for where there is oppression there must be antagonism. I feel unwell, and almost declined speaking at all, therefore I sit down with these remarks.
Ernestine L. Rose—-I wish to make one allusion to the law just adverted to. A married woman has not a right to make a will, according to the statutes of our State. We are told that all persons except idiots, persons of unsound mind, infants and married women are allowed to make wills. Is not this an insult to a male infant, to be placed in the same category with a married woman? She has no right to bequeath one dollar, no matter what she may have brought into the marriage or accumulated in it. Not a dollar, to a friend, or even to her own child, to keep him from starving!
Lucy Stone—-Just one word. I think Mrs. Rose is a little mistaken when she says a woman cannot bequeath.
Mrs. Rose said she stated the fact only as to a particular State.
Lucy Stone—-That is right. But some States have provided that woman can make a valid will in two cases: 1st, where her husband writes his assent on the will; 2nd, where she wills all to him, in which case his written assent is not considered necessary. [Laughter and applause.]
C.C. Burleigh spoke next; on rising he was met by a storm of hisses. He said; there are some here who seem to wish to push our doctrine further than even we desire, and to show that women only have a right to appear before a public assembly. Last night some one in the audience asked for three reasons why women should vote; more than three have been given, but I will recapitulate the arguments briefly.
Mr. Burleigh did so in a forcible and eloquent strain.
Dr. H. K. Root took the platform, and proposed to give three reasons why men should, and why women should not vote. 1st, Because there is an original command of God that men should rule; 2nd, Because of man's superior strength, 3rd, If man votes that is reason enough why woman should not.
Alex. Parker took the stand and made a few remarks about the fall of Man, that seemed of no pertinence to the subject before the Convention, which then adjourned to 3 P.M.
The afternoon session was again well attended. Mrs. Bloomer, Mrs. Vaughn, Miss Lucy Stone, Miss A. Brown, Miss Anthony, Mrs. Nichols, Miss Severance, Dr. H. Hunt, Mrs. Davis, Mrs. Rose, Miss Springsteed, Miss Truth, Rev. Mr. Pierpont, Win. Lloyd Garrison, Mr. Pray, Mrs. Booth, &e., were among the audience.
The first speaker was Miss Lucy Stone. She said:
I was very glad to hear the objections stated, as they were probably of weight-—the mind of the objectors and others. At the Worcester Convention, a woman said there were, she thought, many things wrong in Woman's position, but she pleaded, fear of the Scriptural evidence against her. I will reply in order. The first part of the objection related to physical weakness on the part of Woman. But are not men carried to the polls? That should prevent their voting by a like reason. Intellectual weakness was objected. Now, what is the measure of the intellectual strength requisite to use franchise right, and who shall determine the measure? Genesis is quoted against us. Before I learned to understand Hebrew I used to be frightened by that text; but, sisters, learn Hebrew, and you will know that the same word means "shall" and "will," and the text may mean woman will lean to her husband and will be governed by him, which is a simple prophecy of what has happened. But I can never concede this point, and still I say the text is one under the old dispensation, and the new annuls it, for it says there shall be neither Jew nor Greek, bond nor free, male nor female. The Gospel teaches all to do to others as they would have others do to them. Would man have woman oppress him as he oppresses her? The objection that domestic happiness would be ruined is of the same facility. Happiness would be created where it now does not exist-—there is none without equal rights. Order reigned at Warsaw, but not harmony. If a man have opinions his wife does not hold, must he quarrel with her? No! But I recommend a better plan; let each woman ascertain the opinions of a man who asks her to marry, and if she thinks that they could not agree, on account of difference of opinion, let her refuse him. I have before me a newspaper, which gives the case of Mrs. Norton, lately brought into a police court in London. She is the authoress of some beautiful poetry which most of us have read with profit and delight. Her husband accused her of infidelity, and procured a divorce; her literary labors brought her in [pound sign]1,000 per year, and this he had appropriated to himself. For eighteen years, she lived a blameless life, till at last the husband of this woman discontinued to pay her the small stipend allowed her by law, for necessaries she got into debt; her creditors sued him, and she warned his lawyer not to force her into developments of wrongs she had concealed so long; but she was forced and his baseness exposed. She said in court, "I do not ask for my rights; I have no rights, nothing but wrongs." Her husband said he would take care of her children; she replied she would rather starve; and she has starved. I will read to you her poem of "Twilight" and you will judge whether anything impure could come from the mind which produced it. I have known cases here of women of talent, whose earnings were seized by profligate husbands. Another case: A woman whose first husband died leaving her rich, married a second whom she loved; he died shortly after, and his relatives took all her property.
Another woman who obtained a divorce from her drunken husband, petitioned the Legislature of Massachusetts in vain to give her her children.
I have said to men, instead of asking women to marry, go and strike these oppressive laws from your statute books, then ask them to become your wives. I would make you wait till you had done this. [Laughter and applause.]
Miss Stone then read a letter from Mr. Higginson in favor of the movement.
In the course of her remarks Miss Lucy Stone read the following letter:
DEAR FRIEND: You are aware that private duties alone prevent my prolonging my stay in New York during the session of the Woman's Rights Convention. But you know also that all my sympathies are there. I hope you will have a large representation of the friends of this great movement—-the most important movement of the century-—and that you will also assemble a good many of its opponents during the discussion. Perhaps from same such opponents, I might obtain answers to certain questions which now harass my mind, such as the following:
If there be a woman's sphere and a man's sphere, why has not 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 a 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 Horace Mann's theory be correct, that none should be appointed jurors but those whose occupations fit them to understand the matters in dispute, where is the propriety of impanelling 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 public to sing nonsense, how can it be improper for her to open them to speak sense?
These afford a sample of the questions to which I have been trying in vain to find an answer. If the reasonings 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 women do the thinking. Yours, respectfully and cordially,
Miss Lucy Stone
T. H. HIGGINSON
Mrs. Nichols then refuted two silly sophisms founded on scriptural texts, which were often perverted from their real meaning by the opponents of the cause.
Miss Sojourner Truth, an old colored woman, of whose history we yesterday published an account, was received with a shout of laughter, ironical applause, and cries of "whew!" &c. She wondered that men should come to a meeting, and when their mothers and sisters asked for their rights-—they could ask for no less-—should hiss them like snakes or geese. I am, said she, a native of New York; I was born in it; I was a slave in it, and, therefore, I feel at home in it. I am an American, and I come forth to speak in behalf of the Rights of Women [roars of laughter.] I know that when a colored woman rises to speak, you feel hissing and tickling-like, but I do not care. I know a little mite about the Rights of Women, and I want to throw my mite into the scale when it is moving. She spoke of the great difference between past and present times. When the daughter of Herod asked for a favor from her King, he answered that whatever she asked would be granted unto her, even if it was a half of his kingdom. But now, when women asked not for the half of a kingdom, but for the least they could ask for-—their rights-—the men hissed them like snakes or geese. She was sorry to think that there were such short-minded men alive as those who were hissing her. She pitied them.
Rev. Mr. Pierpont said, that a woman at this hour occupied the throne of the mightiest kingdom on the globe. One hundred and fifty millions of the human race submitted to her sway. Had she any right to sit there! [Cries of "No," from the gallery.] No! The dissidents had one hundred and fifty millions against them. ["How many have the Women's Right's friends against them?] If, then woman has the right to occupy the highest functions in the greatest State which modern ages have seen, on what ground
[p. 6]can her exclusion from lower offices be defended? He came not to advocate any specific right. But woman has the right to a consideration of the question of what Rights she has and ought to have.
Forty years ago-—long before most of the present audience were in their cradles-—he saw among a list of New Jersey voters the names of several women. He asked if ladies were allowed to vote. Yes, why not! was the reply-—those who have real estate -- concerning which laws are often made-—are voters. He then showed by the well-known republican argument, that property alone ought not to qualify a man for a voter as long as laws were enacted for the regulation of personal rights.
He held that this question was not to be settled by a vote of the Convention, but by an appeal to the author of all human rights as of humanity itself. It is true that God gives no written Declaration of Rights; but are we therefore incapable of ascertaining what His will is in relation to all terrestrial intents? No. He has left us an expression of his will in the animal organization of man. The presence of locomotive organs proved that he had willed man to move from place to place. When we see hands capable of laboring in the Arts we see the command to such exertion. That devotion, thought and invention were duties the existence of the brain was demonstrated. Women had tongues-—the revered gentleman thanked God that they could and did use them, and the audience laughed very merrily, as if to say that in their opinion he was decidedly in the right when he said that they did use them—-and that was a proof that women were intended to be other than mutes. Surely those who had the greatest powers of persuasion, the kindest hearts and the purest sentiment should not, were not designed to be restrained to keep silence. Surely the thunder voice or volcano-like utterance of man was not the only speech by which divine sentiments could be disseminated. How did God speak? In a thunder tone? No, in a still small voice ("At Sinai, for instance.")
If woman went out of her sphere in addressing man in public, more than one half of the Christians of the present day were believers in a lie? Did not the Catholics pray for the intercession of the mother of Jesus Christ, our Savior—-to a woman? [Cries of "No!" "No!" "Yes!" and confusion.] If Mary should intercede for humanity she would evidently be going out of her sphere.
This argument created noise and confusion. A few further remarks were made and the reverend gentleman concluded.
Miss Severance was the next speaker. She maintained that the fundamental facts and faculties, the higher and more essential attributes which make up the accepted definition of humanity in our day, are identical in both sexes-—are no more confined to one sex than to one nation. On the broad basis of this philosophy, on the ground of woman's undeniable humanity, proven by the possession of identical human faculties and equal human needs, by a like origin and a like destiny, she claimed for her the recognition of that humanity and its rights, for this freedom, protection, development and use of those faculties, and the supply of those needs, and maintained that no accident of sex, no prejudice or proven dissimilarity in degree of physical, mental or moral development, can at all stand in the way of the admission of such just claim; and that every denial of such claim must necessarily be fraught with evil, as subversive of the Creator's economy and design.
Susan B. Anthony said she was at the late Convention of Teachers of this State, where all the offices were filled by men, though the women were two thirds of the meeting; and when the anomaly was noticed, the Chairman recommended woman to stay in her place. Besides, although four-fifths of the teachers of the State are women, they get only one-third of the public money.
Pauline W. Davis read a resolution recommending that a committee be formed to prepare an address to the women of Great Britain and the Continent of Europe, asking their cooperation.
W. Lloyd Garrison seconded the motion, and said, I do so because the subject is, like all struggles for liberty, of universal importance. This is a struggle for the race, sublime as the world itself. One great proof in its favor is that, though this is an open meeting, free to discussion, there has not been a sensible man to come here and offer one reasonable argument against our principles. This cause takes hold of heaven and reaches the throne of God. [Hisses.] Hiss, serpents, who have no other argument to offer!
Dr. H. K. Root here stood up and said he was again ready to do what he had done, and what Mr. Garrison said no man would undertake; but it was agreed that Mr. Isaac C. Pray should first address the Convention.
Mr. Pray said, I was for many years connected as editor with a leading journal in this City, the same which now gives the clue to the hisses in that gallery; and no one has wielded a pen more frequent than I against this cause and the ladies who advocate it. [Applause.] I do not wish for applause—-pray, spare it. In November, 1851, I retired from that journal; I have since devoted myself to study, and I now believe this cause to be a good one; it emanates from the Deity himself, who urges man on the road of progress, and I warn the clergy of their accountability in opposing it. I do not mean to enter into any argument. I merely mean to show there is such a thing as change of opinion. I now make all the reparation I can for the wrong I have done.
Dr. Root now got the platform. He said, I respect these ladies and their rights, and think the subject capable of full and free discussion. But I want to show, notwithstanding what Mr. Garrison has said, that there is one to protest against the inalienable right they claim. I say that, owing to the fault of woman, the world has been turned over once. The curse of God rested on woman as well as man. This meeting will acknowledge the right of females to protest against males, and vice versa. There are marks as certain in this day as the fiery cloud with led-—(Loud laughter). I understand there are to be lady lawyers, and lady judges, who are to take everything by storm. (Laughter). I do not think my points have been answered.
Mrs. Mott. The gentleman can have the rest of his time, if he will, at the Evening Session. The time for adjournment has now come. I am sorry he seems to think that he has not received an intelligent reply to his intelligible remarks, as he appears to consider them. That should be a reason why he would give us liberty to learn enough to be able to answer so learned an opponent. (Great applause and laughter.) I can say to his Scriptural argument that the wife should obey her husband, that I could do so by ruling, for my husband wishes me to rule.
A Mr. Urr took the stand and said that having a wife, mother and sister, he wished to sustain woman's rights as far as they go; but I think, [he added] you make a mistake in the commencement when you announce equality. There is no such thing as equality on this side of heaven, nor, I think, on the other side either. Philosophers tell us of our advancing gradually from serpents, fish, &c., on; there is no equality, for there are male and female. I was sorry to hear my Rev. friend adduce idolatry as an argument for his cause. Saint Paul says, "be in subjection," but a lady of the same principles as this Convention, said "then I and Saint Paul differ."
Mrs. Nichols—-The gentleman mistakes; we do not claim equality with men, such, for instance, as cannot understand a plain argument.
Mrs. Mott—-It has been said the world was turned upside down by woman, and that now she wants to turn it again. Well, the first then put the wrong side up—-now we want to give another turn, and get the right side up. [Loud laughter and applause.]
The Convention adjourned to 7:30 P.M.
Yesterday evening being the last sitting in this City of this Convention, the approach to the Tabernacle was thronged long before the hour appointed for opening the doors, and considerable excitement seemed to prevail. At about 7 o'clock the Tabernacle doors were thrown open and the rush for tickets and admissions by the anxious throng could only be equaled to that on a Jenny Lind night. The building, capable of holding some two thousand persons, was immediately filled to excess and all the principal promoters of the movement took their places on the platform, among whom were Mrs. Lucretia Mott, Miss Lucy Stone, Rev. Miss Antoinette Brown, Mrs. Rose, Mrs. Paulina Davis, Mr. Wendell Phillips, &c., &c.
Mrs. Mott, the President, moved that the resolution which lately published be adopted.
This motion was carried.
Mr. George W. Clark, who had been requested to sing a song on the subject of "Freedom of Thought," did so in a style apparently not much approved by the audience, who at a very early stage began to give vent to all kinds of groans and ironical cheers.
Mrs. Martin, of this State, was then introduced to the meeting by Mrs. Mott, and with considerable difficulty commenced her address. Music was, she observed, previous to the fall of man the natural language of the human race, and the reason of the discord now prevailing was owing to the preponderance of the 'bass.' She was about to say she was intended to speak in behalf of women, but she was not; it was in behalf of society. [Hisses and groans.] If there was stillness she would continue, otherwise she could not be heard. Here the groans and yells increased, on which the venerable lady President interceded, and after awhile the speaker was again audible for a few minutes, imploring them to "hear her for her cause, and be silent that they might hear," but this was only for a few minutes, and the voice of the speaker, whose enunciation was very rapid, was too inaudible to enable our reporters to catch her remarks in a connective form. The following are but a portion of them: In the original or semi-barbarous state of society, physical strength prevailed over everything, and might was looked upon as right. The present condition of society, with respect to woman's position, was but a relic of this barbarism. She claims for them equal rights, and that they should have the Elective Franchise, was essential before this world could be redeemed. There was not a single ground on which man could be said to be entitled to vote, which was not applicable to Woman, and they could not deny her the privilege without endangering their own. What were the grounds? Was it that he was more strong? So was the elephant, but that had not the privilege--was it that he was more cunning? So was the fox, but the fox did not vote. On all the points upon which he claimed the right, woman possessed a perfect equality. Those points were, that God had endowed him with reason and conscience. She shared fully in these high and noble attributes, [Yells and hisses] even if it was ever granted, that in general she fell short in reason, it was generally admitted that she exceeded him in conscience. [No! No! and tremendous yells and laughter].
She had a sense of rectitude written on her heart [cries of "Time's up," "That'll do," which were quite insufficient to stop the speaker, who continued steadily to follow up her discourse despite all the hisses and groans, which of course made it impossible to hear her even at the Reporters' table.] Jeremy Bentham, the famous writer on political economy, admitted the right of woman to vote, as he said, after a long consideration of the subject, ["Why can't you change your voice!"] Nobody had any objection to Queen Victoria, and she would ask whether the Queen was unwomanly when she went to the House of Commons, or when she went to the Crystal Palace to open it. Yet Victoria was a wife and a mother like themselves (the speakers). [Loud hisses, groans, laughter, tigers and demoniac sounds from the galleries.] But while Jeremy Bentham admitted the right he thought it would inexpedient to give them the exercise of it. It was said, too, it would be taking woman out of her sphere. Any man that had ever had a mother.
A VOICE--"I should like to see one that has not."
Mrs. Martin continued--Any man that ever had, knew that the voice of the child would drown in its mother's ear the loudest blast of the Trumpet of Fame. The possession of the elective franchise would do much to place her in her proper position, as it would bring with it that sense of responsibility which a vote bestows.
A Voice--How do you know? Hisses, cries of order, &c. &c.
Mr. Booth of Wisconsin here rose and said--Mistress President, I want to say something before this lady proceeds. [Renewed hisses and shouts, among which Mr. Booth retired.]
Cries were then heard of "Phillips," "Phillips," Mr. Wendell Phillips being upon the platform, but he did not come forward and the lady proceeded: Woman, said she, does not own anything; she does not own her property, her earnings, her children, or her name. A drunken husband may squander all. Does any one suppose if we had a share in making them the laws would be thus. The great Maine Law would be executed. [Hisses and yells.]
Mrs. Mott then came forward and said the speaker would not leave the stand on account of any demonstration of that kind.
Mrs. Martin continued, and went on to remark that it was an anomaly that a foreigner landed here so ignorant that he could not write his own name, but remaining here for five years could vote, but an educated American woman never could. It was true they were ignorant of party politics as party questions, but that would make them better voters. The speaker then retired amid cries of "Go on!" "No!" "No!"
Mrs. Lucretia Mott then came forward and said that a lady, an Editor of a German paper, wished to address a few words to them in the German language. She introduced
Mrs. Matilda Francesca Anneka [sic], who is a young woman of very agreeable presence, with a comely round face, having her hair dressed quite plainly, and habited in a black dress with a small white collar turned down round the neck. She attempted to speak in German, uttering a few sentences very energetically, but every one of them was a signal for a tremendous uproar and great laughter. A consultation was then had on the platform, and Mrs. Mott resigned her arduous post as president to younger hands in the person of Mrs. Ernestine L. Rose.
Mr. Wendell Philips also came forward, and succeeded in eliciting some signs of favor for Mrs. Anneka by stating she had suffered in the cause of Hungary, and had even stood beside Kossuth on the battle-field. [Cries of, "We'll hear her.]
Mrs. Anneka then--Mrs. Rose translating--made some remarks to the effect that her want of knowledge of English, more than her late sickness, had prevented her appearing before. In Europe, she had felt the oppression and tyranny of Kings, but here she expected to find freedom of speech and action too.
Mr. Wendell Phillips came forward and many called for him while many on the other hand hooted and hissed; upon which Mrs. Rose called upon the Mayor and police to preserve order in the meeting, as they had undertaken to do. Order being partly restored, Mr. P continued: You are making a great deal better speech than I could for the rights of woman. The very fact that a convention of this kind can't be held in the City of New York is the greatest proof of the necessity of such a convention. The time had been when other reforms had been met in just such a way as this is.
They were showing (he continued) that men were not fit to have political rights. They were ready to yield the platform to any who would argue the great social question. His points were that women's property was taxed and they had no voice in the appropriation or expenditure, which was taxation without representation, and that to admit further than one portion of the people should be governed by another was to return the old Tory principle which led to the Revolution. The Democratic principle was that every class should be endowed with every right. [Cries, "Niggers excepted."] Their principles were, [cries, "You have none], you undertake to punish woman, to hang and imprison her, and she should have a voice in consenting to these laws. He again alluded to the conduct of the audience, and challenged them to answer his arguments, and sat down as he had before, amid all sorts of cheers, ironical hisses, &c.
Lucy Stone now presented herself, and was received with a tempest of cheers, hisses, groans, and stamping. Amid much interruption, she persevered by making an eloquent and touching appeal, as follows:
Men! You show that the ground we take is only too well chosen. We might have expected that the memory of a mother, perhaps cold in her grave, would lead you, for her sake, to hear those who speak of wrongs done to the sex she belonged to! [Uproar.] We have sat here for two days and told you how woman is robbed of her property, her rights, her children; how labor, remunerative enough to sustain her, is shut out from her; we have pleaded for your sisters and your daughters; and here is the result--the issue for the present.
Women, is not what you see and hear enough to make you plant your feet firmly, and pledge yourselve[s], each to the other and all to God, that the truth we plead for today shall never be deserted by us? The sneer which mock[s] a cause like ours goes up to the ear of God and pleads in our behalf. Woman must be loyal to woman. The Shirtsewers' Union, through all opposition, came at last to some degree of operation. Women can aid themselves, and all true men will lend them their assistance.--Mrs. Patterson is now a practical printer in this City; women aid her in her business. Stand by one another.--The daughter of the rich is not beyond the possibility of needing the help of her sisters; the day may come when the hand that provides her luxuries, may be cold in the grave, and then the child so tenderly cared for, who led a pampered, aimless life, may feel the want of aid and the absence of these acquirements which we ask for Woman.--[Great interruption; for several minutes Lucy Stone was inaudible, but she persisted.]
We hold in our hands the rod with which if we but smite, the waters of healing will gush forth for us.
In the name of the Convention, I thank those who have patiently heard us. We ask them to take to their homes whatever word of truth they have heard here; to give it a judgment in their hearts; and whatever is worthy of being announced, we ask them to spread abroad; and we shall have a Woman's Rights Convention in New York, less disturbed than this, when mothers shall have taught their sons to act better than those who are here tonight. [Cries of "Good."]
There will be he noble sons of worthy mothers, who will cry to their mothers, who will cry to their sisters, when and wherever you need our help, we will help you. Ah! As God is truth, and his eye is always keeping watch, I know the day will come when the very men who are here tonight will feel shame that they could have acted as they do; and men of future time will disbelieve the scene of this night, as men now feel it hard to believe the tales of Salem witchcraft. The book of life of each man is kept open, in which angels Daguerreotype his deeds. Oh! This some angel would brush with his wing the page of yours, and unwrite the characters, which have this night been traced upon it!
Pauline W. Davis announced a paper published by her, not the organ of this Convention, but supporting its principles. Today, she received $20 subscription to the paper. New York is not yet lost. We shall soon adjourn. I wish you would all provide yourselves with a tract sold at the door. "Woman and her Wishes," written by Rev. Mr. Higginson. I wish it should be widely circulated, for it shows our real meaning, which is much misunderstood. We want you to recognize that God makes no blunders, and when He gave any man or woman a power, he meant that it should be developed. If truth be on the scaffold today, it is only where it ever has been; as wrong has ever been upon a throne. We are at peace; we have better arguments than hisses, and pity those whose cause supplies none more cogent than these.
Let me announce that we hold a National Woman's Rights Convention in Cleveland, Ohio, on the 5th and 6th of October. We will try the young cities of the West and be happy to find that there is one quality in which Cleveland cannot equal New York.
Rev. Antoinette L. Brown presented herself, and was, if possible, received with more turbulence than Lucy Stone. The greater part of her address was scarcely audible, owing to the uproar, but she held steady to her purpose and finished her address, which was as follows:
A mother had three children, her husband was intemperate. He fell sick and was about to die. His friends said, we will take your children and educate them, thus relieving their mother of the care and trouble. She was asked to comply--but no! She had a mother's heart, and said "I cannot give them up; I will toil for them early and late." They pressed her, but she was firm--"a mother can work for her children," was her constant answer. There were cords of life, going out from her heart and twining round those children. Her husband died, and bad as he had been, she followed him, weeping, with her children, to the grave.
A new thought now filled her soul--a sacrifice of self to maternal affection. She would live to toil, but her toil would be for her children. But she knew not the law. They came and told her the children were no longer hers; her husband had bequeathed them to his relatives; they were taken from her and sent into a world where there was none to dry their tears, or instill the lesson of virtue into their souls. She had a little one, and in a few weeks, she wept over its grave; and then she was quite alone.
Hear the sequel of the sad story, the saddest part of all! She lived to see her eldest child a drunkard, and her younger confined in a prison for theft. The agony was too much--and she went down into the grave. Think of this law, and its effect. I leave the thought with you. [Derisive cries of sympathy.] Yes; we have the shafts of ridicule turned against us. We do not delight in tumults such as these; but there is a moral power which bears all for the sake of truth.
Here a Mr. Elliot jumped on the platform and claimed to be heard against the principles of the Convention. He was applauded and hissed, and spoke as follows amid a scene of the most outrageous confusion, making himself audible by shouting at the top of his voice, then:
I asked last night for three solid arguments--
A Voice--Here is the champion of rowdies.
Elliot--This is the uncharitable judgment passed on a stranger.
[Loud cries for Burleigh.]
Elliot--I have heard or read all the arguments given here, and they are for the most part mere stories. [Great interruption.]
You see the remedies are not all on one side. Mrs. Rose gave us a new version of the law, and said much about spinning wheels and spoons, but--no arguments. The strongest, and indeed only argument advanced is, that "taxation without representation is robbery." I am prepared to prove it is not; if it be, I am willing to be robbed. For twelve years, I have paid taxes and been well protected, though I had no share in representation. I am content. Robbery is to take property without giving an equivalent. In this and other countries the land of men is taken to make Railroads through it. Here is no robbery, there is an equivalent given. Men are as much tyranized over as woman.
Here the uproar became terrific; shouting, screaming, laughing, stamping, cries of "Burleigh," "Root," "Truth." "Shut up," "Greeley," "Go to bed," prevented anything being heard or done in order; and the Convention broke up amid the wildest uproar, the following resolution being first passed:
Resolved, That the members of this Convention, and the audience assembled, tender their thanks to Lucretia Mott for the grace, firmness, ability and courtesy with which she has discharged her important and often arduous duties.
The meeting finally adjourned, and the large audience slowly retired.