Arguments, Pro and Con
The meetings at the Tabernacle on Tuesday and Wednesday last exhibited some features not often paralleled in the progress of any public agitation for the redress of grievances or the vindication of rights. The advocates of an enlargement of the allotted sphere of Woman had hired the house, paid the advertising and other expenses, gathered at their own expense from their distant homes and taken all the responsibilities of the outlay; yet they offered and desired throughout to surrender their own platform for one half the time to any respectable and capable antagonists who should see fit to appear and attempt to show why their demands were not just and their grievances real. Considering that they are engaged in a struggle not only against numbers, and power, and fashion, and iron custom, but with the Pulpit and the Press actively and bitterly heading and spurring on their antagonists, and with no access to the public ear but from the public platform, we consider this proffer more than liberal--it was chivalric and generous. We listened with interest to some of the arguments, pro and con, and propose here to recapitulate their substance, that our readers may see at a glance the present position and bearings of the controversy. We will begin with the first speech we heard--that of
Rev. Wm. H. Channing:--They say the public platform is not in Woman's sphere; but let us understand why? Jenny Lind stands on that platform, before thousands of men and women, and sings "I know that my Redeemer liveth," with all hearts approving, all voices applauding, and nobody lisping a suggestion that she is cut of her sphere. Well: Antoinette Brown believes the sentiment so sung to be the hope of a lost world, and feels herself called to bear witness in behalf of that Redeemer and to commend His salvation to the understandings and hearts of all who will hear her. Why may she not obey this impulse, and bear the tidings of a world's salvation to those perishing in darkness and sin? What is there unfeminine or revolting in her preaching the truth which Jenny Lind may sing without objection and amid universal applause?
Answer by things "in male costume"--Hiss-s-s
Mrs. E. L. Rose:--The law declares husband and wife one; and such we all feel they should be, and must be when their marriage is a true one. Now why should that same law base this union or oneness on inequality and subjugation? The wife dies, and the husband inherits all her property, as a right; but let the husband die, and the greater part of the property is taken from the wife and given to others, even though all that property was inherited or earned by the wife. She may be turned out the house she was born in and which was hers until marriage, and see it given to her husband's brothers or other kindred who are strangers to her. I insist that the wife should own and inherit the property of the husband, just to the same extent that the husband inherits that of the wife--why not?
Answer by the aforesaid:--Hiss-s-s-s! Bow- ow- ow!
Harriet K. Hunt:--I plant myself on the basis of the Declaration of Independence, and insist, with our Revolutionary sires, that Taxation without Representation is Tyranny. Well: here am I, an independent American woman, educated for and living by the practice of Medicine, I own property, and pay taxes on that property. I demand of the Government that taxes me that it should allow me an equal voice with the other tax-payers in the disposal of the public money. I am certainly not less intelligent than thousands who, though scarcely able to read their ballots, are entitled to vote: I am allowed to vote in any Bank or Insurance Company wherein I choose to be a stockholder: Why ought I not to vote in the disposition of Public Money raised by Tax, as well as those men who do not pay taxes--or those who do, either?
Answer by the aforesaid:--Yah! Wow! Hiss-s- s!
Lucy Stone:--I plead for the right of Woman to the control of her own person as a moral, intelligent, accountable being. I know a wife who has not set her feet outside of her husband's house for three years, because her husband forbids her doing so when he is present, and locks her up when he is absent. That wife is now grey with sorrow and despair, though in middle life; but there is no redress for her wrongs, because the Law makes her husband her master, and, there being no proof that he beats or bruises her, there is nothing in his treatment of her that the Law does not allow. I protest against such a law, and demand its overthrow; and I protest against every law which limits the sphere of Woman, as a bar to her intellectual development. You say she cannot do this and that; but if so, what need of a law to prevent her? You say her intellectual achievements have not equaled those of Man; but I answer, She has had no motive, no opportunity, for such achievement. Close all the avenues, take away all the incitements, to Man's ambition, and he would do no more than Woman does. Give her freedom, education, and opportunity, and she will do what God intended she should--no less, no more. Men! you dwarf, you wrong yourselves in stunting and fettering the intellectual development of Woman! I ask for her liberty to do whatever moral and useful deed she proves able to do--why should I ask in vain?
Answer by Time-serving Press:--Men, Women and Bloomers! Faugh! Bah!
Antoinette Brown--I plead that the mother may not be legally robbed of her children. I know a mother who was left a poor widow with three young children. She was able and O! most willing to support them in humble independence; but her husband before he died had secretly given two of them to his relatives, and the Law tore them from the mother's bosom, and left her but the youngest, who soon was taken from her by death. That mother lived to see her two surviving children grow up, the one to be a drunkard, the other a felon--all through neglect and the want of that care and guardianship which none so well as a parent can be relied on to afford. I plead for Woman as a Mother--that her right to her children be recognized as at least equal to that of the father, and that, he being dead, no other can have a right to their guardianship paramount or even equal to hers.
Pantalooned Mob as aforesaid: O dry up! Bow-ow! Wough! Hiss--s--s! Get out!
--The case is still on.