Document 20: "Disgraceful Scenes in New York," The Liberator, September 16, 1853, p. 148, reprinted from the New York Express, probably Sept. 8 or 9, 1853.


   William Lloyd Garrison introduced this account from the Express:

   The 'Women's Rights Convention,' which was held in the Broadway Tabernacle, in New York, on Tuesday and Wednesday last week, was continually interrupted in its proceedings by well-dressed rowdies and 'certain lewd fellows of the baser sort,' stimulated to make their dastardly assaults by the Satanic press of that city. The following report of the scenes that transpired at the last evening' session is copied from that vile sheet, the New York Express.

   Despite his scorn for the "vile sheet," Garrison could have chosen among a number of New York City newspapers for this story. What makes the Express version so interesting is the way in which its reporter detailed the interruptions that bedeviled the speakers. Other accounts mention "cries" and "hisses." This version recounted the exact terms of abuse.

[p. 148]


   The 'Women's Rights Convention,' which was held in the Broadway Tabernacle, in New York, on Tuesday and Wednesday last week, was continually interrupted in its proceedings by well-dressed rowdies and 'certain lewd fellows of the baser sort,' stimulated to make their dastardly assaults by the Satanic press of that city. The following report of the scenes that transpired at the last evening's session is copied from that vile sheet, the New York Express:--

   Bedlam broke loose--Uproarious Scenes at the Tabernacle--The Bloomer Women, Abolitionists, and Bowery B'hoys in General Convention--Eloquent Speech of a strong-minded Dutch woman--Police on the ground--Arrests, etc., etc.

   Long before the doors were opened, a great crowd had gathered in front of, and in the passage way leading to the Hall, among which were perceived a fair proportion of the tenderer sex. There was a good deal of scuffling and squeezing, and withal no little excitement to see who should get in first to get the best seats. There were some policemen on the spot, looking on and keeping order as well as they could amidst so much disorder,--and many premonitions of the still worse disorder that was to reign, anon, inside.

   At a quarter past seven, open went the doors, and in rushed the crowd,--shilling a head, in a state of the highest excitement. In a few minutes the great Hall was crowded to excess. In the galleries it was at once evident there were a large number of gentlemen who had come there specially to inspirit, in their own peculiar way, the proceedings, whatever they might turn out to be, as the night wore on.

   At a quarter to 8 o'clock, the President, Mrs. Lucretia Mott, came forward, and desired it to be particularly understood that they were determined to have order there that evening. (Hisses.) There were a posse of police on hand, but she hoped the gentlemen in the gallery would so demean themselves as not to make it necessary to call for their services. (Groaning, cheering, and general confusion.)

   Mrs. Mott, order being partially restored, said the first business in order would be the question upon the resolution, in reference to Woman's Rights, which was up for consideration yesterday.

   WIRY VOICE, near the platform- 'W-h-a-t's that?' (Great laughter, and some hissing.)

   MRS. MOTT--'All who are in favor of the resolution will please to say 'Aye.''


   COUNTER VOICES--'No-no-no.'

   LUCRETIA--'Carried.' (A laugh.)

   A tall, thin, but pleasant-looking man, who said his name was

   Mr. G. W. CLARK, then came forward, entirely regardless of the screeches with which he was greeted, and sung the following 'song':--

'The storm-wind wildly blowing,
The bursting billows mock,
As with their foam-crests glowing,
They lash the sea-girt rock.'

   Several ill-behaved persons perched in the gallery joined in a rascally chorus of their own, interrupting the vocalist on the stage, and exciting the risibility of their audience by a close imitation of his nasal enunciation-–notwithstanding all which, he ventured on part second:--

'Amid the wild commotion-
The revel of the sea--
A voice is on the ocean:
Be free! Oh, man, be free!'

   This sort of music, however, it was evident, was not the kind to 'soothe the savage breast,' for now there were miscellaneous calls for 'Burleigh,' 'Burleigh,' 'Burleigh,' 'Let's hear the women,' etc., so loud, that the songster had to stop awhile, in order to get a hearing for part third:--

'Behold the sea brine, leaping
High in the murky air!
List! to the tempest sweeping
In chainless fury there.'

   The sublimity of the last verse was in a fair way of having a modifying influence on the auditory, the uproar gradually deceasing, had not a hideous noise, like the sounds emitted from a fish horn, just at this crisis, disturbed the state of the atmosphere up stairs. Roars of laughter followed, but the man on the stage was bent on having his song out.

'What moves that mighty torrent,
And bids it flow abroad?
Or turns the rapid current?--
What but the voice of God!'

   Ill-mannered mockery of the gentleman's peculiar vocalization followed him, at short intervals, all through the remainder of his ditty; but it did not seem to disconcert him much, however, singing as he did, he was determined to do, while the storm was roaring all about his ears.

'Then answer, is the spirit
Less noble or less free?
From whom does he inherit
The doom of slavery?'

   [VOICE- Holloa! there. No niggers! Give us the song without the darkies. 'Sit down.' 'Shame.' 'Go on.']

'When man can bind the waters,
That they no longer roll,
Then let him forge the fetters
To clog the human soul.

Till then a voice is stealing
From earth and sea and sky,
And to the soul revealing
Its immortaliy.

The swift wind chants the numbers,
Careering o'er the sea,
And earth, roused from its slumbers,
Re-echoes--MAN, BE FREE!'

   CROWD IN THE GALLERY--'Free'--'ee-ee!' 'Free-ee-ee!' 'Encore!' 'Oh hush.'

   MRS. MARTIN then rose up and delivered, or attempted to deliver a dissertation on 'Society as at present constituted.' 'Might made right' in modern civilization, but she though [sic] it was high time that better principles and better maxims obtained. She advocated the Elective Franchise for woman. Nothing short of that would come up to her standard of what was Right. Why did man,--who gave man the privilege to exclude woman from political privilege? Was it because he was strong? So was the elephant! Was it because he was cunning? So was the fox. (Hisses.) If man had more of reason, woman had more of conscience. (Hisses.) Jeremy Bentham, it was well known, was in favor of investing woman with the elective franchise. A woman at this moment was on the throne of England. Is Victoria unwomanly when she goes into Parliament to open and prorogue the representatives of the people there? Was Victoria unwomanly when she presided at the opening ceremonies of the Crystal Palace in Hyde Park? Victoria was a mother, and a wife, as they were. (Great noise, cries of 'oh!' 'oh!' 'oh!' People coughing very hard up-stairs. Men beating a tin kettle near the door. Hisses and groans. Laughter, and stamping of feet.) Mrs. Martin resuming amidst the noise--'** indignantly hurled back** reproached eternally** (Cries of 'order,' 'order,' 'order.') **Elective franchise would elevate woman*** (Voice--'How do you know?') **The woman are the educators of the rising generation.*** They were the mothers of America.*** (Cries of 'Does your mother know you're out?' and 'louder,' 'louder.') 'Am I not heard near the door?' ('No.')

   MAN WITH A LONG BEARD, MR. BURLEIGH.--'Mr. President, I want *** I want***I must****** one word.

   [Great uproar, with cries of 'time's up'--'sit down.']

   But Mrs. MARTIN wouldn't sit down. Go on she would, as heroically as ever, against 'man,' 'wicked man,' and 'man the 'tyrant' *** Woman did not own any thing by the laws now in force. She did not own the clothes on her back. She did not own her children. Nay, she did not own her own name! If woman could vote, one thing, at least, was certain, and that was, the Maine Law would have been passed, executed, too, ere this, (another excitement all over the house,) and the infamous Fugitive Slave Law would never have disgraced your statute books.

   [Awful row. Scuffle in the gallery. Hisses and groans; cries of 'take your seat,' 'sit down,' 'you ought to be ashamed of yourselves.' Something serious going on up stairs, now, between the abolitionists and the opposition. Police come in. Row stopped.]

   LUCRETIA MOTT comes forward--Begged leave to introduce to the audience Mrs. Matilda Anika, a friend of humanity, an advocate of Woman's Rights, a genuine--

   [Horrible noises; everybody on his and her feet. Rapping of canes, clapping of hands, shrieks, and groans, and sneezes, in the midst of all which, a very, very masculine and 'strong-minded' looking woman with an exceedingly theatrical-looking air, came forward, and went on to address the audience, in German! But the very first syllable that fell from her roseate lips was the signal of another succession of atrocious noises, such as has never been heard yet. The German women went on, however, undismayed, clinching her fists and throwing up her arms wildly, and otherwise violently gesticulating. Occasionally, the reporter could catch a word of English--'freedom'--'British'--(another shocking noise, in the midst of which the German Bloomer beat a retreat.]

   WENDELL PHILLIPS, then coming forward, begged that the people of this 'great country' would give this noble stranger a hearing. This woman had faced the cannon of Francis Joseph, and had battled side by side with Kossuth for the freedom of Hungary. What would be thought of us--

   [VOICES--'Then why don't you let her speak for herself'? 'We don't want to hear you.' 'We have heard enough of you already.' 'Go it, boots!' 'Get down.' 'Nix–come-a-rouse.' 'Go in, Sally Johnson.']

   Phillips backs out, and the German woman comes to the front. Just as she is going to speak, somebody inquires, in a hollow, sepulchral tone, 'What's her name?'

   PHILLIPS stands up--'Her name is MATILDA ANIKA.'

   VOICE--'What's her name?'


   ANOTHER VOICE--'What's that?'

   [Laughter. Hisses. General uproar.]

   German woman again essaying to speak. Great laughter. Then half a dozen sentences in German.

   MRS ROSE said she would interpret, if they would only listen. (Hisses. Squealing. Groans. Yelling.]

   German Woman continues to speak Dutch--Mrs. Rose interpreting alternate sentence--the English of which seemed to be, that the German woman had come here to seek for a liberty which was denied her at home.

   WENDELL PHILLIPS said--'Go on with your hisses. Geese have hissed before now. (Laughter and hisses.) You are proving, at least, that some men are unworthy of political liberty. You prove that the men of the city of New York do not know what the meaning of teetotalism and free discussion is. (Hisses.) When you will answer our argument, we shall cease to be agitators--but not till then.'

   BOWERY-LOOKING BOY--'Speak in Dutch.' (Laughter.)

   PHILLIPS--'If you hate this movement, the very best thing you can do for us is to come here and disgrace your city, as you are now disgracing it.' [Renewed cries of 'Put him out,' Stop that,' 'Go home, old fellow, where you belong,' 'Will you go out and liquor?' 'Speak louder,' 'Give him a cigar,' 'O, dear,' &c.]

   PHILLIPS--'Your Revolutionary fathers fought for freedom'--

   VOICE--'Niggers excepted.' (Laughter.)

   OLD WHITE LADY, on the lower floor, jumping up, greatly excited, and clenching her fist at somebody.

   MRS. ROSE--'I invoke the intervention of the Police.' 'Is the Chief of Police present?'--'Where are the Police?' 'Will they come up here?'

   German woman makes another attempt to be heard, but her foreign tongue stood no chance with an audience that would not even tolerate the vernacular. She was greeted from first to last with a succession of jeers, jests and roars of laughter in the gallery. 'Ah, ah, white niggers--you fellow, (shaking her head,) you!' (Laughter, cheers and hisses.)

   PHILLIPS--'Elective franchise'–-['Take off your coat!'] 'unfathomable infamy. **Tyranny. **Atrocious absolution.' ** ['Sit down.' 'We came here to hear women, not you!']

   PHILLIPS--'I will add, on sitting down, [Yes, sit down,'] that if any man in this audience will come forward and reason with us, it **--, [At this juncture, the police arrested one or two noisy fellows in the gallery--an operation which produced new confusion.]

   VOICES near the door--'Fire, fire, fire!' Consternation and symptoms of panic. Order restored after a while.]

   PHILLIPS, unable to get a hearing, at length takes his seat.

   LUCY STONE [Bloomer woman] comes forward, begins to speak, but is suddenly hushed by a volley of such calls as 'Take your time, Miss Lucy!' 'Whar do you come from?'

   LUCY STONE–-'I want to see you men be your own police. The venom of your mouths *** ['Speak louder!'] ** looking on in indignation. **Wherever we can find an ear to hear, there we shall speak of the wrongs of women.**'

   ['Burleigh!' 'Burleigh!' 'Burleigh!' 'Uncle Tom!' 'Horace Greeley!'

   LUCY STONE, resuming--'Woman must be loyal to woman. Let us ask you men, who ** Shirt Sewer's Union ** ['Time's up, old fellow,' 'sit down,' 'give us something else,' 'pass along!']

   LUCY--Oh! mothers and daughters--Oh! women, whether you are--***(Another din.) Lucy still speaking. (People yelling and hooting in the gallery--cries of 'Burleigh,' 'Phillips,' 'Shame,' 'Shame,' 'Too bad.')

   LUCY still goes on, in dumb show, speaking, ** the spirit of purity and truth. We hold in our own hand the rod with which we may smite the rock, out of which will issue a panacea for all these grievances. Those of you who have listened, in the name of this Convention I ask you, in going to your homes, be it in the city or country, let the words of truth which you have heard this evening have a lodgment in your hearts. The time is coming when the worthy sons of noble mothers would come here, ashamed that those who had gone before them had ever so disgraced themselves as they had been disgraced to-day. Posterity would not believe it that men had banded together to gag helpless women thus. But New York (she was glad to add) was not wholly lost, bad as it was. Paulina Davis, that very day, had received a contribution of twenty dollars from some of its citizens, as a contribution to help support a newspaper devoted to woman's rights. (A laugh. 'Sit down!')

   'Time's up, Lucy!' 'Oh, sit down.' General confusion and noise entirely indescribable, in the course of which the speaker meekly took her seat.

   'Rev.' ANTOINETTE L. BROWN here undertook to tell a story about a drunkard who had brought his poor family down to the lowest depths of degradation and want.

   BIG FAT MAN near the rostrum--'The wicked man!' (Laughter.)

   MISS BROWN--***But that mother and that wife of his was a heroine. ***

   VOICE--'Good old gal!' (Another laugh.)

   MISS BROWN--***There was a bond in the woman's heart that bound her offspring to her affections. *** Great duties were before her. *** A great end was to be achieved. How should it be done?

   VOICE--Do it up brown. (Coughing, laughter, cheers, hisses.)

   REV. MISS BROWN (nothing dismayed, though the storm here was getting very ugly)--*** 'A world of temptation.' ** 'Going through the streets a drunkard,' *** 'the first-born of her affections had fallen a prey to the tempter. *** Stricken things. ***

   [An ill-mannered fellow here interrupted the speaker, right in the midst of a very pathetic temperance tale, in a fit of sneezing, producing great confusion. There were also accompanying noises, resembling the noises which cats and dogs make.]

   In the midst of the hubbub--

   MR. ELLIOT jumped upon the rostrum, and by dint of severe gesticulation and other imposing displays of physical accomplishments, managed to get a hearing for a moment or two, but longer than that the 'public' wouldn't listen.

   CRIES from all parts of the house--'Go away!' 'Take your seat.' 'Where's Burleigh?' 'House coming down!' 'Here's the police!' 'Shame!' 'Outrageous!' 'Hurrah!' 'Three cheers!' 'Disgraceful!' Old women, all over the hall, in a state of utmost consternation. People still wedging their way into the hall from the lobbies without. Heat oppressive. Excitement intense.

   Nine O'CLOCK, P.M.--MRS. PAULINA DAVIS moved in very despair that the meeting do now adjourn sine die.

   BOWERY B'HOY mounting the rostrum (before the question could be taken) and siding up very lovingly to the venerable Mrs. Mott, who was endeavoring to get the sense of the meeting on the right to adjourn.

   B'HOY:--'What are you afraid of?' 'What's the row?' 'Make as much noise as you can!' 'Wat you 'fraid of, eh?' (Rolling up his sleeves.) (Mrs. Mott getting a little frightened at the noise.)

   BOWERY B'HOY.--'What you 'fraid of? I want a hearing for my cause! Roars of laughter, intermingled with yells of 'Put him out!' 'No, no, let's hear him!'

   A band of music just then, marched by the Tabernacle, up Broadway. An old lady nervously enquired 'if the military was coming to shoot.' Rowdies in the gallery, whistling, kicking, hissing and cheering.

   LUCRETIA MOTT, (again,) 'It is moved and seconded, that the meeting do now adjourn sine die. All who are in favor will say 'aye.'

   The 'ayes' had it numerically, but the 'noes' were the loudest and the noisiest.

   DENOUEMENT--rush for the doors. Man turning off the gas. People requested to beware of Pickpockets. General movement towards the doors. Fresh air reached. Crowd dispersing. Doors shut. Gates closed. All quiet.

   The New York Times, under the head of 'The Rows of Yesterday,' alludes to the mobocratic assault upon the Woman's Rights Convention in the following manner:--

   Row number three was a very jolly affair, a regular break-down at the Tabernacle. The women had their rights, and more beside. The cause was simply that the rowdyish diatheses is just now prevalent. True, a colored woman made a speech, but there was nothing in that to excite a multitude. She didn't speak too low to be heard,--she did not insult them with improper language. Nor did the rowdies respond at all insultingly. They did not curse,--they only called for half a dozen in the shell. They didn't swear, they only hurried up that stew. They did wrong, however. If we had our own way, every rascally rowdy among them should have Bloomers of all colors preaching at them by the year,--a year for every naughty word they uttered, a score of them for every hiss. Out upon the villains who go to any meeting to disturb it! Let anybody, who can hire a house and pay for it, have his say, and let none be disturbed. The sensitive can stay away. But for us,--let us be thankful that for such hot weather there is something to arouse us, something to season our insipid dishes, something to spice our dull days with. Mem. It was cooler in the evening.

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