Second Day: Afternoon Session
The session opened at 3 o'clock, P.M.
MRS. MOTT. — "Lucy Stone will endeavor to answer some grave objections advanced this morning against woman's right to vote."
LUCY STONE. — "I was very glad, this morning, to hear the objections to woman's voting, stated as they, no doubt, honestly existed in the mind of the objector and of others. At the first National Convention at Worcester, a woman arose and said that she felt there was something wrong in woman's position, but that she perceived a scriptural barrier in the way of her freedom, with which indeed she did not know how to reconcile the yearnings of woman's nature after something leftier; but there it was, a scriptural bar, for Saint Paul and the Old Testament, she said, were both against woman's rights. The objections made here embody the same idea, and I will endeavor to reply to them, briefly, as they were stated.
A superiority of intellectual strength in man, was urged as a reason why he alone should exercise the franchise; or rather, it was put, not so much by way of a reason, as by way of a question with regard to the amount of intelligence conferring a right to vote. If woman used her right to vote, her intelligence would not be called in question. The time will come when it will be sufficient to know she has the right, as it is with men at present. If the measure of intelligence be allowed to have consideration, a very nice question will arise as to what is the necessary amount of intelligence, and also as to this, namely, where is the intelligence to come from which is to decide on that amount? There are two interested parties, man and woman: which is to decide? I merely ask the question incidentally, and now come more directly to the objections which have been stated.
As to the first, the quotation from Genesis, (ch. iii., v. 16,) ‘thy desire shall be to thy husband, and he shall rule over thee,’ I take the text. When I was a little girl, before I learned to read Hebrew, I used to muse on this text, and I felt sad at the servitude to which it represented
[p. 71]God as consigning the whole sex to which I belonged. But I grew up, and learned to read Hebrew; (and so must you, too, women; all those things that have been kept in sealed books to your eyes, must be thrown open to you; you must open them for yourselves, and read your birthright in the light they will afford you;) I then learned that, in Hebrew, the same word which means ‘shall,’ also means ‘will,’ and then I knew that the text might as correctly in language, and for more reasonably in fact and justice, be read thus: ‘thy desire WILL be to thy husband, and he WILL rule over thee,’ which is, true enough, a simple prophecy of what has happened, and what will continue to happen yet a little longer. Woman's desire has been to her husband, and he has ruled her, according to the very text, which is a statement of what was to happen, not a commandment to be obeyed.
But we can go further, and say this text is one under the old dispensation. A new dispensation has succeeded it, which tells us, that ‘there is neither Jew nor Greek, bond nor free, male nor female,’ especially when we know that this teaching of Paul is only added to the great saying of Jesus himself — ‘Whatsoever ye would have others do unto you, the same do ye unto others.’ By the principle of that golden rule, any rule of man over woman is against the procept of the the Saviour himself.
The second objection to women's voting, if I remember might, was grounded on the superior physical strength of man. This, I incline to think, can hardly be maintained as a valid objection. What is the amount of physical strength required to exercise the elective function? I have seen the ballot: it is a little piece of paper; and I have never seen a woman who was not stout enough to take it up and put it into the ballot-box; yet this, one would suppose, should be the utmost amount of physical strength that should be deemed indispensable for voting. I have seen old decrepit men taken in carriages to the polls, and the person having charge of the ballot-bot would take it to the door, so that the old feeble man might deposit his ballot, without being obliged to leave his vehicle. There was an amount of physical debility beyond the average weakness of woman; and if that did not deprive the old man of his right to vote, I claim for woman the same right on a ground which this second objection does not invalidate.
The third objection to woman's voting was, that a competition between men and women would lead to domestic unhappiness, and many other ill feelings. This objection will appear very futile to those who have well considered the subject, and yet I know it is seriously brought forward
[p. 72]by some as a valid reason against our demands. Those who understand our movement, know that it will create happiness where happiness does not now exist. You remember that, ‘in Warsaw there was order, but not harmony.’ The argument is, that domestic happiness will be in danger if woman use the franchise; the opinions of her husband will differ from hers; and, with a diversity of party interests and ties, will there not be quarrels at home? I answered that objection before. I know its perfect groundlessness; and I will now answer it again. If a man have opinions which he wishes his wife not to differ from, he should say to the lady of his love, that his soul is so narrow, that he cannot endure any opinions which do not coincide exactly with his. Then, if she be willing to put her mind into the hands of a keeper who can afford it only so small a cell, let her do so. But, what do you think of such a man, and what of the woman who hands herself over, body and mind, to such a man? The good time is coming, when men and women will freely hold all the opinions they have good reason for. God has made us intelligent and immortal, not that we may hand our intelligence over to anothers' keeping; not that our immortality may be verged in that of another. If a husband can show a better reason for what he holds, then should his wife be convinced by the better reason; but his wife must not yield to him because he is a man and her husband, but because he gives the better reason. If he wish her to yield, not for a better reason, but because he thinks so and so, then he is an unreasoning man, (for there are such); and a reasonable woman (for such there also are) will not yield to him.
I think the "three objections" advanced this morning have been fully answered. The answers have been based on principles We can easily see how, in practise also, the denial to woman of her co-equality of rights, leads to results of bitter woe, shameful to the humanity which stands by, and sees them happen. A strong reason assigned, and much dwelt on, why woman should not vote, is based on the supposition, that God has given man a command to rule over his wife. If the old dispensation has passed away, this argument has no foundation. But it has passed away; there is a new dispensation, which teaches that none should oppress his fellow-being. I have before me, in a newspaper, a case which shows strongly the necessity for woman's legislating for herself. I mean, the case of the Honorable Mrs. Norton, which lately transpired in a court in London, and which fully proves that it is never right for one class to legislate for another. There are, probably, few here who have not been made better and wiser by the
[p. 73]beautiful things which have flown from the pen of that lady. In 1836, her husband obtained a separation from her on the charge of infidelity. Eighteen years of a blameless life since, and the conviction every pure mind must feel, that nothing impure could ever dwell in a mind such as her productions show hers to be, will fully relieve her of any suspicion that she ever was guilty of acts justifying that charge. She was a woman of transcendant abilities; and her works brought her in £1000 stl. a year, sometimes more, sometimes less. This her husband procured to be paid over to himself, by securing the profits of her copyrights; and this husband allowed her only £400 a year! and, at last, refused to pay her even this sum; so that, for her necessary expenses, she was obliged to go into debt, and her debtors brought a suit against her husband, which was taken into a court. In the court, she stood before her husband's lawyer, and said to him, "If you are afraid of what I may say, beware how you ask me questions!" Wealth and power were against her, and the lawyer did ask questions which wrung from her what she had concealed for seventeen long years, and the world at last knew how her husband had kept the money she earned by her pen. She stood in court, and said, ‘I do not ask for rights; I have no rights, I have only wrongs. I will go abroad, and live with my son.’ Her husband had proposed to take her children from her, but she said, ‘I would rather starve than give them up;’ and, for a time, she did starve. I will read for you her poem of ‘Twilight,’ and you will all see what kind of woman has been so wronged, and has so suffered.
[Miss Stone read the poem.]
That woman, gifted, noble, and wealthy, with such great yearnings in her soul, whose heart was so bound up in her children, was thus robbed, not only of her own rights, but also of theirs. Men! we cannot trust you! You have deceived us too long! Since this movement began, some laws have been passed, securing to woman her personal property, but they are as nothing in the great reform that is needed. I can tell you a case. A woman married a man, whom she did not love, because he had a fortune. He died, and she married the man whom she loved before her first marriage. He died too; and the fortune which was hers through her first husband, was seized on by the relatives of the second, and she was left penniless in the wide world. Here, as in England, women earn large sums by their literary fame and talents; and I know a man who watches the post-office, and, because the Law gives him the power, secures the letters which contain the wages of his wife's intellectual toil, and pockets them for his own use. But a week since,
[p. 74]I heard of a woman in your city whose husband was a drunkard and profligate. She went away from him, and by her industry and economy, made a few hundred dollars. Her husband came, and claimed, and got, all she had. A second and a third time she did likewise, and every time he came and took her little earnings. Hope died out; she said, ‘it is no use; the law binds me to him; I will not amass money which he can rob me of to squander in rum-houses, or on abandoned women.’ In a Court of Justice, woman never has a jury of her peers. Vulgar men, who can understand nothing of her wants, and her dues, are there to decide against her. Furthermore, she has no right to her children. I have said to my audiences that the woman whose child has no recognized father, has a right to her child, but she to whose maternity religion and law have give their sanction — has none. There is no town that I pass through in which I do not find some woman endeavoring to hide her children from being robbed from her by an iniquitous law. Last winter, in Massachusetts, a woman was obliged to leave her husband. She went to her fathers, and he went to her husband to get her wearing apparel. The husband refused to give it; he said, ‘it is mine!’ and the father paid to the husband two hundred dollars for that apparel, every portion of which he had purchased for his daughter two years before, for they were only two years married! Men! we cannot trust you! The woman took her child, because it was a nursing baby; the law allows it to remain with the mother as long as she is indispensable to it; but she took it, knowing well that her husband could claim it in due time. She sent a petition to the Legislature, asking that, when a divorce was obtained, she might keep her child; but, I understand from my friend Burleigh, the child was taken away from her before the petition had time to go before the Legislature. Thus that husband took the little thing which needed its mother's bosom and love; took it as a means to compel her to come back to him, because he knew the deep love of a mother makes anything endurable for the sake of her child.
While these things are so, or, if they were not so, if the law were never attended by any such results, yet while such a liability hangs over woman, I would feel bound to go up and down the length and breadth of the land, to speak to you, legislators, until, for shame's sake, you would be compèlled to do away with things so monstrous. No! one class never can legislate justly for another. I have said to the men, ‘Instead of asking woman to marry, go first and strike off the statute book those barbarous enactments — then come back and ask women to
[p. 75]be your wives; and, if all women were of my mind, they would make you wait till you had done so. If the law took from men their right to personal and real estate, forbade them to make wills, and classed them with fools and children, how would they bear it? While these things are so, we shall not speak of one, two, or three reasons why woman should vote; there are thousands and thousands of reasons, crying to us clamorously from every corner of the land.
I will conclude by reading a letter from an esteemed friend, Mr. Higginson. It proposes certain questions which I should wish to hear our enemies answer.
WORCESTER, Sept. 4, 1853.
DEAR FRIEND: You are aware that domestic 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 the great movement — the most important movement of the century; and that you will also assemble a good many of the opposition during the discussion. Perhaps from such opponents I might obtain answers to certain questions which have harrassed my mind, and are the following:
If there be a woman's sphere, as 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 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 fit them to understand the matters in dispute — where is the propriety of empanneling 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?
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 in women to do the thinking. Yours, respectfully and cordially,
Miss LUCY STONE. F. W. HIGGINSON.
MRS. NICHOLS. As to the text which says that woman must obey her husband, surely that is no reason why she should obey all the bachelors and other women's husbands in the community. My husband would have me advocate the claims I do, therefore, by the logic of our
[p. 76]ponents, as I should obey him, I should vote, and they should not hinder me.
SOJOURNER TRUTH, being introduced to the Convention, spoke thus: "Is it not good for me to come and draw forth a spirit, to see what kind of spirit people are of? I see that some of you have got the spirit of a goose, and some have got the spirit of a snake. I feel at home here. I come to you, citizens of New-York, as I suppose you ought to be. I am a citizen of the State of New-York; I was born in it; and I was a slave in the State of New-York: and now I am a good citizen of this State. I was born here, and I can tell you I feel at home here. I've been looking round and watching things, and I know a little mite 'bout Woman's Rights too. I came forth to speak 'bout Woman's Rights, and want to throw in my little mite, to keep the scales a-movin'. I know that it feels a kind o'hissin' and ticklin' like to see a colored woman get up and tell you about things, and Woman's Rights. We have all been thrown down so low, that nobody thought we'd ever get up again; but we have been long enough trodden now; we will come up again, and now I am here.
I was a-thinkin', when I saw women contending for their rights, I was a-thinkin' what a difference there is now, and what there was in old times. I have only a few minutes to speak; but in the old times, the kings of the earth would hear a woman. There was a king in old times, in the Scriptures; and then it was like the kings of the earth would kill a woman if she came into their presence: but Queen Esther came forth, for she was oppressed, and felt there was a great wrong, and she said I will die or I will bring my complaint before the king. Should the king of the United States be greater, or more crueller, or more harder? But the king, he raised up his sceptre and said, ‘Thy request shall be granted unto thee — to the half of my kingdom will I grant it to thee!’ Then he said he would hang Haman on the gallows he had made up high. But that is not what women came forward to contend. The women want their rights, as Esther. She only wanted to explain her rights. And he was so liberal that he said, ‘the half of my kingdom shall be granted to thee,’ and he did not wait for her to ask, he was so liberal with her. Now women do not ask half of a kingdom, but their rights, and they don't get them. When she comes to demand them, don't you hear how sons hiss their mothers, like snakes, because they ask for their rights; and can they ask for any thing less? The king ordered Haman to be hung on the gallows which he prepared to hang others; but I do not want any man to be killed, but I am sorry to see them so short minded.
[p. 77]But we'll have our rights; see if we don't: and you can't stop us from them; see if you can. You may hiss as much as you like, but it is comin'. Women don't get half as much rights as they ought to; we want more, and we will have it. Jesus says, ‘What I say to one, I say to all — watch!’ I'm a-watchin'. God says, ‘honor your father and your mother.’ Sons and daughters ought to behave themselves before their mothers, but they do not. I can see them a-laughin', and pointin' at their mothers up here on the stage. They hiss when an aged woman comes forth. If they'd been brought up proper they'd have known better than hissing like snakes and geese. I'm 'round watchin' these things, and I wanted to come up and say these few things to you, and I'm glad of the hearin' you gave me. I wanted to tell you a mite about Woman's Rights, and so I came out and said so. I am sittin' among you to watch; and every once and awhile I will come out and tell you what time of night it is."
REV. JOHN PIERPONT spoke thus: — "Ladies and gentlemen; a woman, at this hour, occupies the throne of the mightiest kingdom on the globe. Under her sway there are some hundred and fifty millions of the human race. Has she a right to sit there? (Several voices, ‘No!’) The vote here is — no; but a hundred and fifty millions vote the contrary. If woman can thus have the highest right conceded to her, why should not woman have a lower? Therefore, some women have some rights. Is not the question a fair one, — how many women have any rights? And, also, how many rights has any woman? Are not these fair subjects for discussion? I do not come here to advocate any specific right for women; I come merely for the consideration of the question, what right she has. What are the rights which cannot rightfully be denied her. Surely, some belongs to the sex at large, as part of the great family of man. We lay it down as the foundation of our civil theory, that man, as man, has, and by nature is endowed with certain natural, inviolable, indefeasible rights; not that men who have attained the age of majority alone possess those rights; not that the older, the young, the fair, or the dark, are alone endowed with them; but that they belong to all. These rights are not of man's giving; God gave them; and if you deny or withold them, you place yourself in antagonism with your Creator. The more humble and despised is the human being claiming those rights, the more prompt should be the feeling of every manly bosom, to stand by that humble creature of God, and see that its right is not witheld from it. Is it a new thing in this country, to allow civil rights to a woman? I can go back forty
[p. 78]years: and, forty years ago, when most of my present audience were not in, but behind their cradles, passing, as a stranger through the neighboring State of New Jersey, and stopping for dinner at an inn where the coach stopped, I saw at the bar, where I went to pay, a list of the voters of the town stuck up. My eye ran over it; and I saw, to my astonishment, the names of several women. ‘What!’ I said, ‘do women vote here?’ ‘Certainly,’ was the answer, ‘when they have real estate.’ Then, the question arose in my mind, ‘Why should women not vote?’ Laws are made regulating the tenure of real estate, and the essence of all republicanism is, that they who feel the pressure of the law, shall have a voice in its enactment. Taxation without representation was the very grievance which drove our fathers to make a stand against the power of Great Britain, to meet her in the face, and, at last, to humble her into submission. Now, in the making of laws, property is not the sole consideration. Personal protection and rights are also to be regarded. I maintain that, whenever any human being has attained the age at which, according to the law of development, he is of mature faculties, (and the period is established by men's laws,) that human individual has a right, — not a privilege, not a favor, but a right, — to a voice in the making of the law. Is not that so? And, if it is so, will you not listen to women who come to deliberate among themselves, and with their friends, upon this great question, namely, — what rights they have? Or, will you stop them, in limine, as the lawyers say, (that is, at the threshold,) and tell them, ‘Women have no rights?’ Does the law give your wife rights? No! God gives them, and the law recognizes some of them, not all. Your infant girls have rights, my friend, who are a father, as against you, which you dare not deny, and look a Christian and civilized community in the face. Your infant babe in the cradle has rights as against both father and mother, which, not all the voices of mankind can affect the least particle of.
Now comes the general question, — What are rights? And I take this ground, that that question is not to be settled by a vote of this Convention; but, by an appeal to the Author of all rights, that is, the Creator of all men. I do not pretend that He has given us any information upon that point, in any written characters, on parchment or paper, equivalent to a Declaration of Rights. But, has he left us without an expression of His will? It seems to me He has not. He has written His will in the animal organization of man. When He gives the locomotive organization, He says, in that gift, — "Move, move."
[p. 79]His will is the measure of right; therefore, I have a right to move; and, until I do another human being a wrong in moving, the whole human family has no right to deny me that right.
When, therefore, He gave to woman, hands competent to the exercise of the acts and performance of labor, he gave her, in that gift, a right to exercise art and perform labor. When He gave a man or woman a brain, the organ of thought and sentiment, whereby the human being holds communion with the Infinite One, He gave, at the same time, the right of reflection, investigation, philanthrophy, devotion; and no human being has a right to trench upon that right. When He gives woman a tongue, (as, thank God, He does!) in that gift He declares His will, that she should exercise the organ for her own good, the good of the race, and of the human family; and no man can trench upon that right.
But, the exercise of many of these rights is not usual! There are many usages ‘More honored in the breach than in the observance.’ Why should women be silent? Why should those hearts which are the kindest, the purest, the most tender, the most sympathetic, the most benevolent, not be allowed to appeal to other hearts through sympathetic tongues? Why should we hear only the loudest, those which come nearest to the thunder, or the volcano? How was it in the days of the old prophets, when the voice of the whirlwind was heard on the mountains? The Lord was not in the whirlwind! They behold a blaze of fire, but the Lord was not in the fire! Where was He heard? In the small, still voice! The presumption of some may be, that there is nothing of the spirit of Jehovah in the small voice of woman; but if we cannot hear His voice through her lips, the Lord have mercy upon us! We do not consider, that at this hour, more than one half of the Christian world address their prayers to a woman, — the mother of our Saviour; and yet, if the doctrine that woman may not speak in the assembly be true, when Saint Peter's is thronged with her devotees, you will not suffer the object to whom all those prayers are addressed, to open her lips and say, ‘Son, be of good cheer; thy sins are forgiven thee!’
I will not use all the time which the
CAROLINE E. SEVERANCE, of Ohio, presented an argument and appeal based upon the following propositions: —
"That as the manifest dissimilarities which causes the nations of the
earth to differ, physically, and in degree of mental and moral development
and cultivation, are not found justly to invalidate their claim to a place
in the vast brotherhood of man — to fulness of family communion and
rights; so there are no radical differences of the sexes,
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 — are no more confined or unduly allotted to one sex than to one nation.
On the broad basis of this philosophy, on the ground of woman's undeniable and equal humanity, proven by the possession of identical human faculties, and equal human needs, we claim for her the recognition of that humanity and its rights — for the freedom, protection, development and use of those faculties, and the supply of those needs. And we maintain that no accident of sex, no prejudged or proven dismilarity in degree of physical, mental, or moral endowment, or development, can at all stand in the way of the admission of such just claim; and no denial of such claim but must necessarily be fraught with evil, as subversive of the Creator's economy and design.
And in the maintenance of these views, the urging of these claims,
we offer no antagonisms, we seek no superiority — we aim only at justice,
and a wise harmony with nature. We have found, as we believe, the
causes of the wrongs which so greatly afflict woman, and necessarily
corrupt the race, and we ask only a benevolent and becoming application
of the remedy. We ask only that woman's individual sovereignty be
recognized as equally sacred with her brother's — that her humanity be
equally reverenced and cared for; that she be permitted to develop
and strengthen her nature, and work out her will, in a noble, heroic,
and useful life, under only the same restraints as her brother; that as
physical strength is no longer the distinctive characteristic or noblest
attribute of humanity; so the lack of its larger measure be no
longer urged as proof of woman's inferiority, or a disqualification for
the recognition and freedom of her humanity; and that as degree of
mental and moral endowment, or development, is
SUSAN B. ANTHONY spoke in these words: —
"During my attendance at the New York State Teacher's Convention, lately held in Rochester, my attention was attracted to the condition of that class of women who teach in our public schools. Five hundred delegates were enrolled as members of that Convention, of whom three hundred were women; and yet men alone occupied all the offices of the Convention; they constituted the business committees, prepared the reports, and were entrusted exclusively with the management of the various subjects which came before the Convention; nor did any of the reports, until the close of the second day, allude to women as having any interest whatever in the profession of teaching Nearly at the closeof the first day's proceedings, an appeal was made to the teachers present to sustain the ‘New York Teacher,’ which is the organ of the New York State Teachers' Association. Ladies were not then forgotten; their existence was at once recognized when the pecuniary aid was to be solicited, and they were appealed to to be liberal in contributing to the support of that paper.
On the morning of the third day, which was the last, the president, on taking the chair, remarked that it was frequently asked why women were not appointed on the Committees, to bring in reports, and take part generally in the business of the meeting. He said, ‘I will answer only for one.’ Then, standing in a very dignified position, meant to enforce every word he uttered, he said: ‘Look at this beautiful hall — behold each pilaster, each pedestal, each shaft, and each entablature, the crowning glory of the whole — all contributes, each in its proper place, to the strength, symmetry, and beauty of this magnificent structure. Could I aid in bringing this beautiful entablature from its proud elevation, and placing it in the dust and dirt which surrounds the pedestal? Never!’ Now, what do you suppose was the effect of this oration on the women present? There was a general look from woman to woman; and, as they surveyed their ribbons, laces, brooches, and pins, the look said, as plainly as possible, ‘beautiful! really beautiful!!’ They, no doubt, thought themselves sisters of the angels. Not a woman rose to speak till toward the close of the last session.
During the whole time, the great burden upon the souls of those men seemed to be their anxiety to take measures for elevating the profession of teaching to a level with the clerical, medical, and legal professions. The various details to this consummation were considered. The low
[p. 82]compensation of teachers, which had the effect in many instances of making the profession a mere stepping-stone to the others, was reviewed. At last a member remarked, that it seemed to her that the great obstacle was entirely overlooked. She said: ‘The public sentiment holds woman to be incapable of becoming acquainted with the mysteries of law, medicine, and theology; and yet, it is granted to her to fill the highest offices as a teacher. So long, then, as you, men teachers, consent to compete with women, you must be content to be considered as occupying no more than the level of her mental capacity.’ Next came the election of new officers. A motion was made that a lady should fill the office of Vice-President, but it was lost. There was an attempt made to have a lady chosen as Secretary, but this also failed. A few words spoken by one woman seemed to give others courage; and one of the teachers of our city rose and said that the Convention had been called in order that the teachers of the State might take counsel together, to aid the cause of education; but the result would seem to show that a few men came for the purpose of elevating themselves, while the large number of women present were entirely forgotten. ‘I am,’ she said, ‘teacher and principal of one of the free schools in this city, performing the same labor as gentlemen who fill a like office. I receive two hundred and fifty dollars a year, while my brother receives six hundred and fifty dollars a year, for the same services.’
While she was making these remarks, the President called her to order! I acknowledge she was out of order, there not being a motion before the house; but, it seems, women are always out of order; therefore, she might as well be standing as sitting. She had given resolutions to the Secretary: they were read, but not acted on; neither did there seem to be any disposition to call them up; and she judged, from that fact, that the Convention did not design paying attention to subjects interesting women. However, they were subsequently brought forward.
In this State there are eleven thousand teachers, and of these, four-fifths
are women. By the reports it will be seen that, of the annual
State fund of
[p. 83]Massachusetts’ Convention. Thus, because all were not in favor of it, none would be permitted to exercise the right."
PAULINA W. DAVIS read the following resolution:
Resolved, That inasmuch as this great movement is intended to meet the wants, not of America only, but of the whole world, a committee be appointed to prepare an address from this Convention to the women of Great Britain and the continest of Europe, setting forth our objects, and inviting their co-operation in the same.
WM. LLOYD GARRISON. — "I second the resolution, because it shows the universality of our enterprise. I second it heartily, for it manifests the grandeur of the object we are pursuing. There never yet was a struggle for liberty which was not universal, though, for the time, it might have appeared to be no more than loud. If the women of this country have to obtain rights which have been denied these, the women of England, of France, of the world, have to obtain the same; and regard this as a struggle for the race, subline as the world itself. It is right that this Convention should address the women of the whole world, in order that they should announce precisely how they regard their own position in the universe of God. What rights they claim are God-given; what rights they possess, and what rights they have still to achieve. It is time that the women of America should ask the women beyond the Atlantic to consider their own condition, and to co-operate with them in the same glorious struggle. There is not an argument that God ever permitted a human being to frame, that can be brought against this cause. This is a free convention, and we are willing that any man or woman who has ought to urge against its principles, should come here and freely urge it. And yet, with a free Convention, and a free platform, where is the human being who casts to argue the question? Where is the man who presents himself decently, and proffers a word of reasonable argument against our came? I have yet to see that man. Instead, we have blackguardian, defenition, rowdyism, profanity; we have all the indications that hell from beneath is stirred up against this divine Convention, for it is divine — it takes hold of heaven and the throne of God! (Hisses.) Hiss, ye serpents! ye have nothing else to offer. There is not one of you to whom God has given a brain to fashion an argument. But it goes on record, and all the journals of this city will themselves bear testimony, that no one takes the platform, like an honest and honorable man, to argue this cause down. Therefore, the whole ground is won, and we stand, as we have stood from the beginning, on the rock of victory."
DR. H. K. ROOT stood up, and announced that he was ready to do again what Mr. Garrison had said no man dared do.
The PRESIDENT decided that Mr. Root should be heard after Mr. Pray, who was anxious to address the convention briefly, and was pushed for time. [The first, however, put to the convention. Mrs. B. W. Davis read the following resolution, which was carried.)
RESOLVED, That inasmuch as this great movement is intended to meet the wants, not of America only, but of the whole world, a committee be appointed to prepare and address from this convention to the women of Great Britain, and the continent of Europe, setting forth our objects, and inviting their co-operation in the same.
ISAAC C. PRAY then addressed the convention thus: — For two years
I have been the incessant opponent of the persons on this platform, in
a leading journal in this city, which gives the cue to the hisses on that
gallery. I have myself given —— (applause.) Pray, spare your
plandits; I do not wish for them. In November, 1851, I retired from
that journal, and I have since applied myself to study. This movement,
among others, has come under my notice, and I have given it
much attention. The result is, that I have entirely changed any opinion
with regard to it. I know, not only that my farmer opinion
DR. ROOT now obtained the stand, and spoke thus: — I respect the ladies and their rights. The subject is capable of full and free discussion; but I want to show that there is at least one person to protest against the inalienable rights which they lay claim to. Now, it is certain that woman has, in this world, already turned things over. The curse of God rested on woman as well as on man; and I am sure this meeting will admit the right of females to protest against males, and of
[p. 85]males to protest against females. There are marks as certain in this day as the fiery cloud that led — (the remainder of the sentence was lost in the laughter of the audience.) I understand that there are to be lady lawyers, and lady judges; in fact, that the ladies would take the matter by storm. I am here to oppose any man or women who maintains that this movement is scriptural. Man was first forward, after which woman was formed for help-meet. Adam was placed keeper of the garden, and, therefore, he became right to his dictation, by his keepership of the garden, and by his first formation as ruller of mankind, as well as of beasts. The fall of man is to be attributed to Adam, by his yielding to an unjust request of Eve, (or, in other weeks, woman,) and then God said to Adam, ‘becomes then hast hearhoned unto the voice of thy wife, and hast eaten of the tree of which I commanded thus, saying, Thou shalt not eat of it, earned is the ground for thy sales; is sorrow shalt thou eat of it all the days of thy life.’
Besides, my second reason is, because of the law of Nature; physically,
it gives man a superiority of strength to rule. The third reason
is, because, in woman's voting, and entering the carrier walks of life,
it brings her into competition with
Fourthly, and lastly, became man is naturally empowered with superiority as dictator, advises, and ruler. Therefore, if he declares that woman shall not vote, and enter the competing walks of life, it is sufficient reason why she should not do so; inasmuch as the has caused the original fall, man has been taught a serious lesson, and will ever fear a similar dilemma. I do not think any points have been answered reasonably."
Mrs. MOTT. — "The time for adjournment having now arrived, I must interfere to announce the fact. If the gentleman choose, he can have the rest of his half hour, or twenty minutes, at the evening session. I am sorry we cannot satisfy the gentleman by answering his objections as intelligently (to his mind) as he seems to think he has stated them. However, perhaps, even our dullness may be turned into an argument to give us the liberty we demand; because, if we received that liberty, it is possible we might use it in such a way as, after due time, to be able to answer so learned an opponent as he is. He must remember it is hard for weak woman to answer such solid arguments, and he must pity us if we do not come up to his standard of excellence. If he lay stress on his Scripture argument, that the wife must obey the husband, it may in some cases come to cut the other way; as in mine, for example, because
[p. 86]my husband wishes me to vote, and therefore, according to the Scripture, the gentleman must, even in his own reasoning, allow me the right to vote. In one place, the gentleman said that woman had already turned the world over; and that man must be cautions not to allow her to do so again. Perhaps, if he reconsidered these statements, he might be willing to retract the latter; because, if she turned the world over once, and put the wrong side up, he ought now to allow her to turn it back, that she may bring the right side up again."
Although the meeting was adjourned, a Mr. EARL mounted the platform, and addressed the dispersing assemblage thus:
"I want to be heard. This is the first time I ever spoke before an audience; and as I have a mother, a wife, and sisters, I have advocated woman's rights as far as they go. But I think you make a mistake at the commencement, when you speak of equality. There is no such thing as equality on this side of heaven, nor do I think there is any on the other side either. Philosophers tell us of a gradual progression from fish, reptiles, and so upwards; but there can be no equality as long as there is male and female. Women are not the equals of man in any respect. St. Paul desires women to ‘be in subjection.’ When this was mentioned to a lady of the same principles, I suppose, as the ladies of this platform, she said, ‘That's where St. Paul and I differ.’ I was sorry to hear my Rev. friend adduce idolatry as an argument for Woman's Rights."
Mrs. NICHOLS. — "I am sorry to have to correct our friend; but he rather misrepresents. We do not claim equality with men; such, for example, as cannot understand common sense, in a plain argument."
Mr. BOOTH, of Wisconsin. — "Mrs. President, I hope our friend Dr. Root will have a chance to follow out his argument this evening."[note]
Mrs. MOTT. — "Ah, certainly. He can have the balance of in time."
The session closed at 5 p. m.