The editorials collected here (Documents 21A-I) vividly display the newspapers' views of antebellum reform movements and of each other. "Temperance and its Friends," (Document 21E) a Times editorial, quoted a portion of a Tribune editorial (Document 21F], in which Horace Greeley excoriated the leaders of the World's Temperance Convention for denying female and black temperance supporters the right to be delegates. This was proof that the Tribune had "done everything in its power to disorganize the large and respectable Convention of Temperance delegates, and by that means to bring disgrace upon the cause it was designed to serve."
"The Last Vagary of the Greeley Clique. The Women, Their Rights and Their Champions" (Document 21I) is Bennett's highly personal attack on Greeley. In "The Rows of Yesterday" (Document 21B), the Times's Raymond effectively equates the disruptions of the World's Temperance Convention and the Woman's Rights Convention. Greeley, on the other hand, supported the efforts of Rev. Antoinette Brown and her supporters to gain equal rights with male delegates and condemned those who drowned out the speakers at the Woman's Rights Convention (Document 21G).
Men and Women
How much the cause of Temperance has been advanced by the recent Convention of Men, Women and Bloomers, whose garrulity has so largely exhausted our space and the public patience for the past few days, we shall not presume to calculate. We think it unfortunate, however, for the respectability of any cause that it should fall into such hands, and be urged by such proceedings as those of the past week. No more serious injury can be inflicted upon any worthy object than to make it ridiculous; and that cause must certainly be strongly entrenched in public favor, which can withstand the efforts in this direction which have just been made.
Temperance, of course, has been a matter of quite subordinate importance with the crotchety crowd whose talk has filled the public ear for the last few days. Their main object has been to make public display of themselves,--and to challenge public attention to their persons and opinions. The main feature of the whole performance was the part borne in it by the masculine women, who have omitted no opportunity, and spared no effort, for several years past, to bring themselves into public notice. There are some half-dozen of these persons who have shamed the sex to which they belong, and amused the one to which they aspire, by the mannish impudence and the more than female fortitude with which they have harassed the public patience, in season and out of season, and upon every opportunity which chance might offer. They profess to be acting on behalf of their sex; and their special object is to assert for women all the rights and all the faculties of men. They go about the country, therefore, for the purpose of showing in their own persons how little difference there is after all between the two sexes,--and how nearly they can succeed in discharging functions which it is commonly supposed nature, and propriety have assigned to individuals of the opposite gender.
That they have succeeded to a certain extent in this endeavor, we are not disposed to deny. Several of them have evinced more masculine qualities than women are generally supposed to possess. In volubility of utterance, in cool, imperturbable impudence of manner, and easy nonchalance of demeanor in presence of large assemblies, they have shown themselves fully equal to the most respectable specimens of the male sex. Very few men can speak in public on the stage, better than ANTOINETTE BROWN, or LUCY STONE:--and thousands have doubtless thought while listening to them, that they would have made men of very fair caliber, if nature had not designed them for women. Whether nature did not make a mistake in the matter, may be doubted in their cases, as in many others. One can scarcely walk through the Five Points, or any of the other sections of the City where the proprieties of life are regarded the least, without meeting many a female whose brawny frame, freedom of speech, and general looseness of language and demeanor, suggest that she is much more mannish than womanly in all her leading points. And yet they are only women after all;--and cease to be respectable as such, just in proportion as they try to be something else. The case is not essentially different with their sisters who take so much delight in parading their masculine faculties before the public eye. They draw large audiences, of course. BARNUM'S bearded lady is visited by great numbers of those who have a curiosity for all these instances of the confusion of genders. It is pleasant to see how nature, which usually works with so much exactness, sometimes gets puzzled and loses track, for a moment, of the distinctions which she generally preserves. But all women cannot show such beards,--nor have all women the masculine gifts of Messrs. STONE and BROWN. Nor in either case does the great body of the female sex seem afflicted at the deprivation.
It is probably a matter of very little importance to these persons, but it is nevertheless a fact, that they are certain to injure any cause which they may advocate. In any matter depending upon public opinion, no good result can be attained by any process which sets that opinion at defiance, and outrages its settled and rooted convictions. Nine-tenths of the community are firmly convinced that women were not designed to play the parts of men:--and until this prejudice shall have been thoroughly conquered, the public will laugh at those females who persist in acting on the opposite theory. And what is more important, the ridicule which they justly incur, will attach to the cause they attempt to advocate. There are a thousand ways in which women may advance the cause of Temperance:--and those of them who are sincere in the wish to do so, and who are more anxious to do that than to make themselves conspicuous objects of public attention, will select any one of those ways, rather than one which does not belong to them, and which will make them ridiculous and injure the cause they profess to serve.