Second Day: Evening Session
The session opened at 7 ½ o'clock, P. M.
Mrs. MOTT, the President, called the meeting to order, after which the resolution in favor of presenting an address to the ladies of England was passed unanimously.
The following were appointed on the committee:
Mrs. Lucretia Mott,
Mrs. E. L. Rose,
Marion C. Houton,
Caroline Heally Dale,
Mrs. P. W. Davis,
Dr. H. K. Hunt,
Matilda Francisca Arneke,
Mrs. ROSE now took the chair, and Mr. G. W. Clarke 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.
"Amid the wild commotion —
The revel of the sea —
A voice is on the ocean:
Be free! Oh, man, be free!
"Behold the sea brine leaping
High in the murky air!
List! to the tempest sweeping
In chainless fury there.
"What moves that mighty torrent,
And bids it flow abroad!
Or turns the rapid current! —
What but the voice of God!
"Then answer, is the spirit
Lese noble or less free!
From whom does he inherit
The doom of slavery!
"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
"The swift wind chants the numbers,
Careering o'er the sea,
And earth, aroused from slumbers,
Re-echoes — MAN, BE FREE!"
MRS. MOT introduced to the Convention a German lady, the editor of a German Woman's Rights Newspaper, Madame Matilda Francisca Arneka, who would say a few words in German.
MADAME ARNEKA presented herself, and after many attempts, and with great difficulty, owing to the tumult and interruption by impertinent noises, spoke as follows, in German, Mrs. Rose translating her remarks into English, as she spoke: —
"I wish to say only a few words. On the other side of the Atlantic there is no freedom of any kind, and we have not even the right to claim freedom of speech. But can it be that here, too, there are tyrants who violate individual right to express our opinions on any subject. And do you call yourselves republicans? No; there is no republic without freedom of speech."
The tumult showing no signs of abatement, —
WENDELL PHILLIPS came forward, and said; —
"Allow me to say one word, purely as a matter of the self-respect which you owe to yourselves. We are citizens of a great country, which, from Maine to Georgia, has extended a welcome to Kossuth, and this New York audience is now looking upon a noble woman, who stood by his side in the battle fields of Hungary; one who has faced the cannon of Francis Joseph, of Austria, for the rights of the people. Is this the welcome you give her to the shores of Republican America? A woman who has proved her gallantry and attachment to principles wishes to say five words to you, of the feelings with which she is impressed towards this cause. I know, fellow citizens, that you will hear her."
The audience shewing a better disposition to hear Madame Arneka, she proceeded thus: —
"I saw this morning, in a paper, that the women of America have met in convention, to claim their rights. I rejoiced when I saw that they recognized their equality; and I rejoiced when I saw that they have not forgotten their sisters in Germany. I wished to be here with my American sisters, to tell them that I sympathize in their efforts; but I was too sick to come, and would probably not have been here, but that another German woman, a friend of this movement, came to Newark, and took me out of my sick bed. But it was the want of a knowledge of the English language which kept me away, more than sickness.
Before I came here, I knew the tyranny and oppression of kings; I felt it in my own person, and friends, and country; and when I came
[p. 89]here, I expected to find that freedom which is denied us at home. Our sisters in Germany have long desired freedom, but there, the desire is repressed as well in man as in woman. There is no freedom there, even to claim human rights. Here they expect to find freedom of speech, — here, for if we cannot claim it here, where should we go for it? Here, at least, we ought to be able to express our opinions on all subjects; and yet, it would appear, there is no freedom, even here, to claim human rights, although the only hope in our country for freedom of speech and action, is directed to this country for illustration and example. That freedom I claim. The women of my country look to this for encouragement and sympathy; and they, also, sympathize with this cause. We hope it will go on and prosper; and many hearts among the ocean of Germany are beating in unison with those here."
Madame Arneka retired amid a great uproar, which increased when Mr. W. Phillips presented himself again. He persisted against frequent clamorous interruptions in his purpose to speak, and addressed the meeting as follows: —
MR. PHILLIPS. "I am not surprised at the reception I meet. (Interruption.)
MRS. ROSE. "As presiding officer for this evening, I call upon the police. The Mayor, too, promised to see that our meetings shall not be disturbed, and I now call upon him, to preserve order. As citizens of New York, we have a right to this protection, for we pay our money for it. My friends, keep order, and then we shall know who the disturbers are."
MR. PHILLIPS. "You are making a better speech than I can, by your conduct. This is proof positive of the necessity of this Convention. The time has been when other Conventions have been met like this — with hisses. (Renewed hisses.) Go on with your hisses; geese have hissed before now. If it be your pleasure to argue our question for us, by proving that the men here, at least, are not fit for exercising political rights." (Great uproar.)
Mrs. ROSE. — "I regret that I have again to call upon the police to keep order; and if they are not able to do it, I call upon the meeting to help them."
Mr. PHILLIPS. — "You prove one thing to-night, that the men of New York do not understand the meaning of civil liberty and free discussion. We have invited you to this hall, to listen to the discussion of a great social question. We have offered to any man or woman the full use of our platform, to advance any reasonable argument that can be brought
[p. 90]against us. We will willingly yield the platform for that purpose. When you shall answer our arguments, then we will cease our agitation; but no amount of tumult or noise will ever turn from their purpose the men and women who have pledged themselves to this great enterprise. I warn you that the truth has often floated further on the shouts of a mob than from the lips of the most eloquent speaker. The very worst thing for us that you can do, is to hear us patiently and rationally; and (if you hate our cause) the very best thing you can do for us is to come here by thousands, and disgrace your own city. I have been, during the day, an attendant on another Convention. I came here tonight, certain that, in the men and women collected within these walls, I should find, at least by patient waiting, an audience ready to listen to the arguments which, as we think, conclusively shows the justice of our cause. Let me ask this question: Is it not a principle of American law, that no human being ought to be held responsible for a law to which that human being has not consented? Our revolutionary fathers fought for freedom. Was not that the very principle of our revolution? The aristocracy of the old world undertakes to say that the upper class can do all the voting, and govern for all the other classes. But, the democratic principle of American liberty is, that every one, of every class, is endowed with the political privilege of being able to protect himself. The moment you trespass on this principle, and lay down the maxim that the men have a right to make laws for the women, you grant all that the tories of the old world claim. While you undertake to hang, fine, and imprison women, as American democratic republicans, you are bound, by your own principles, to allow their voices in the making of the laws which exercise over them an authority so tremendous. I now repeat that the other principle of American liberty, from the days of our forefathers to the present, has ever been this: that taxation and representation go together; that they are co-extensive; that no man's property should be taxed unless he consented to the taxation.
I ask you now, as reasonable men, to consider a few facts. In Boston
there are nine millions of property in the names of women, and this
property is taxed as the property of women. I have myself paid into
the treasury at Boston
You say women are not competent to vote; but my principle is, that unless you allow woman a voice in the enactment of the laws, you have
[p. 91]no right to command her obedience to them. You say the women of America are not competent to vote. We should rejoice then, that the foreigners from Europe, who land here and remain five years, are fit to do what American women are not fit to do. But we must admit, with a sense of humiliation, that it is small credit to the schools of New York or Massachusetts, that they educate women so poorly, that an educated American woman, the finest product of our noble public schools, is not competent to decide on a political question, which a foreigner, who cannot read or write, is declared competent to determine.
And now, if there be in this audience, among the men who have made so free with their voices during the last hour, any man who wishes to take this stand, and, in a decent and manly manner, to give us reasons against our reasons, he is welcome to take it. And, in sitting down, I will add, that the men who have come here, and who are not willing even to attempt to answer any of our speakers, but content themselves with merely disturbing the session, prove, far better than we can do, that the political and civil education you have received, needs a new element, in order to make it worthy of American civilization and life. Mrs. Mott returned to the chair."
LUCY STONE presented herself, and spoke amid an uproar which made the first portion of her address, almost inaudible, but which diminished as she continued to speak, and at last subsided into earnest attention. She proceeded thus:
"Men, as men, show us here the ground we have taken is not a true ground! We had a right to hope that we would meet some respect, were it but for the memory of your mothers, perhaps cold in their graves to-day, whose hearts sympathize for the cause we plead for; some respect for a cause which claims to be that of the sex to which your mothers belong. Can there be a man here, who ever knew the sweet influence of a mother, that does not feel disgraced by what he sees? We have sat here for two days, and told you how woman is robbed of her children, her property, her rights; we have shown you how labor, remuneration enough to support her, is shut out from her, till many noble women are driven to shame because they have not a "sphere" wide enough to give them bread! We have shown you that when the same labor is performed by man and by woman, woman does hers no worse than man does his, but receives as her wages a paltry fraction only of that which is paid to man. We have pleaded, as best we could, in the fullness of our hearts, and as the justice of our cause, for your mothers, your sisters, your daughters, and your wives; and here is the result — the issue for the present!
But I turn to woman. What we see and hear, should be, to me and you, women, enough to make us plant our feet firmly, and pledge ourselves, each to another, and all to God, that the principles which we know to be true, the truth spoken here to-day, we will carry out in action, and in words too; wherever we can find an ear to hear, we will speak the wrongs of woman, remembering that the sneer which mocks a cause like ours, goes up to the ear of God, and sounds there, like sweet music, pleading in our behalf. The soul, animated with a noble purpose, is able to pass, all unheeding, such things as these.
Women, for all the wrongs we suffer, we must ourselves find a remedy.
I remember the words of a poet —
We draw a furrow through the fields of life, &c.
(Wholly inaudible in the confusion and noise.)
Woman must be loyal to woman; and when you see a plan set on foot to give woman a better means of livelihood, then you all should give it all the aid you can. We have seen a Shirt Sewer's Union, through all obstacles, come at last to some degree of operation. When you see women who try to protect themselves, I ask you, men, to assist them, and purchase from them what you want, which they have to sell. If there be a woman a physician, will not all women who need her services, employ her before a man? In this city, Mrs. Phœbe Patterson is a practical printer. Will not all women, all noble men, support her to the best of their power? Oh, woman! learn lessons of self-help, of self-reliance, and relieve your name of the meekness with which it has been belittled!
Daughters of the rich! The day may come when the hand that provides the luxuries in which you roll, shall be cold in the grave. Where then is the daughter who has grown so tenderly, — who has led so hampered and aimless a life, that she knows not how or where to look for bread? In the day of tribulation, she will feel the need of that aid which we claim, that her sisters should be able to extend to her. Women! we hold in our hands the rod with which, if we but smite, the waters of healing will gush forth, and we can heal ourselves. Let us leave no enterprise untried to gain the rights to which we have asserted our claim to-day. In the name of the convention, I thank those who have heard us; and you who have, I ask you, when you go to your homes, be they in the city, or in the country, let whatever words of truth you may have heard spoken here, find a lodgment in your head and in your heart. Whatever is worthy to be answered, speak it; whatever is fit to be done, do it: and we may, one day, call a convention in New York, when mothers shall have taught their sons
[p. 93]to do better than those who are here to-night. Oh! I have great hopes for those immortal souls whose existence runs on, parallel with the duration of Jehovah himself.
(Doubtful, owing to the noise.)
The time will come when men, calmed by the magic touch of natural love, will come here in quietude to listen — and not only to listen; but, as manly sons of noble mothers, they will say to woman — ‘we will stand by you whenever and wherever you speak the words of truth; we will stand by you, and add our words to your words, and our deeds to your deeds.’ And, friends! as God is true, and His eye is always keeping watch, I know the day will come when the very men who are here to-night, will blush for the things they have said and done, and go and make reparation by being worthy members of a grand Woman's Rights Convention. We will then have such a Convention, that, when we tell the deeds that were done here to-day, many will not believe them; and they will be listened to with the same incredulous ear which now receives the tales of the Salem witchcraft, and refuses to credit that men could have been so cruel and so blind as those tales tell us they have been. For each, his book of life is kept open, wherein angels daguerreotype his deeds; there each act is written in characters brighter or darker; and oh! how I wish that same pitying angel could step from his place, and brush away with his wing the record of these unworthy deeds, leaving the page of your book of life fair and unsullied! But, what is written by your deeds, — is written; and by your own acts you must stand. It is almost time to adjourn; but I will first ask you to provide yourselves with a document to scatter abroad, which will show the things we claim in their proper light. Pauline W. Davis announced, yesterday, a paper, not as the organ of the Woman's Rights Convention, but as her own paper advocating the cause of woman, and chronicling its progress; and, to-day, here on this platform, she received twenty dollars, as subscriptions to her paper. New York is not yet lost! The tract I wished to call your attention to, is, ‘Woman and her Wishes.’ It is beautifully written, by the Rev, Mr. Higginson, and is for sale at the door. Help us by circulating that document, that we may be understood by what we demand. Popular outcry sometimes drowns our voices. We want you to recognize the fact, that God makes no blunders; and when He gives to any man or woman the power to unveil error, He means that the error should be unveiled, and remedied. If the Truth is on the scaffold to day, it has always been there; and wrong has ever sat on a throne. For ourselves, we have perfect quietude. We stand on the right, and feel firm ground under our feet.
[p. 94]We have better words, better arguments than screeches and hisses. What we have said here, we will continue to say, nothing daunted. For you, great mass of the audience, who have given us an audience, I thank you; and let me announce that we will hold a National Woman's Rights Convention, in Cleveland, Ohio, on the 5th and 6th of October. It is a good time for travelling. Take a journey, and you will hear what you have not heard now. We will try the young cities of the West, and see if Cleveland be equal to New York — in some things."
The Rev. ANTOINETTE L. BROWNE addressed the Convention, (amid a scene of confusion and noise which made a great part of her address quite inaudible,) thus: — "A mother of three children, was the wife of a husband who had no care for the temporal or eternal welfare of those whom God had committed to his charge. He was a drunkard, who spent all his time in the dram shop, and let his family sink into the lowest depths of want; he left his wife penniless. Disease overtook him; he lay on his death-bed; and then he thought it was time he should make some amends for his misconduct, — what amends he could. His friends came around his bed, and said — "This is your best course; your children are all boys; will them to our charge; we will train them up, and their mother will be relieved from the burden of supporting ting them.’ The scheme was proposed to his wife; and what think you? Was she willing to have a heavy charge removed from her shoulders? No! that wife and mother was a heroine; and she said, — ‘I cannot give them up!’ They reasoned with her thus — ‘Think what you do; reflect to what you consign yourself, — incessant toil — toil early and late — toil that will wear out your strength and your endurance.’ But she answered, ‘I can labor before the sun is up until it is late at night: a mother can work for her children.’ Again they argued, — ‘A woman is not fit to take care of boys; you will do the children an injustice:’ and she replied, with true womanly dignity, ‘I have been accustomed to manage boys: my sons shall not want the knowledge of anything what it is fit that they should learn.’ These were cords of love going out from her own soul, and twining round those children. This was the spirit of a heroic mother — she did not know how the strong arm of the law could press upon it, and crush it!
Shortly after, her husband died. She went to the tomb, and wept earnestly and sincerely over the untimely grave of one whom she loved in spite of his faults. She returned to her home; and at night, as she pressed a sleepless pillow, wet with her tears, a new thought, a new hope, sprung into life within her soul — the sacrifice of self for the good of those who were dearer to her than her own life.
[p. 95]Great duties were before her; a great end was to be achieved. How should it be done? She would live to toil, but her toil would be for her children! Such were the sad, yet sweet and tender thoughts which occupied her mind through the weary watches of the night. Then morning came, and with it came those friends of her husband, who told her that her children were no longer hers! By his last will and testament their father had bequeathed two of her boys to two relatives: and they should go into the world where there would be no one to wipe the tears from their cheeks — no one to instil the lessons of virtue into their souls. One of her three children was a little one, and the babe was left with her; but, in a few weeks, the desolate mother wept over its little grave! And now let me tell the sequel of this sad story — the saddest of it all! She lived to see her eldest child a drunkard; in a world of temptation, he had no friendly hand to guide him; the first-born of her affections had fallen a prey to the tempter! And soon afterwards, they came and told her that her second boy had proved himself unworthy, had blighted his name for ever, and was confined in jail for theft! Then it seemed as if she had suffered too much of the agonies of life, and they laid her down in an early grave!
Think of these facts, and think of the law that caused them. I leave the thought with you. Remember, children can be torn from their mothers by the laws of this land. (Mocking groans.) Friends, we do not fear to have the shafts of ridicule turned against us. Why, think you do we come here? Do you suppose we love tumult such as this, for its own sake? No! But there is a moral power which enables us to stand, brave and true to our own hearts — a power which would make us strong enough to give up our lives for humanity."
Miss Brown ceased speaking amidst the most indescribable confusion.
Mr. ELLIOTT jumped on the platform, and, notwithstanding deafening cries from the audience, calling on him to desist, contrived, by bellowing at the top of his voice to make himself audible, as follows: — (When he appeared on the platform, a voice on it said, "Be silent; here is the champion of rowdies.")
Mr. ELLIOT. — "No, sir; I am not the champion of rowdies. This is the uncharitable judgment passed on strangers. I am not prejudiced. I reckon among my acquaintances several males and females who are friends of this movement. I, last night, asked the advocates of this cause to bring forward three solid arguments to support it. Now, all the attempts at argument (or nearly all) that I have heard or read, are merely stories, not arguments at all. (Interruption.) The rowdies are not all on one side, you perceive, ladies and gentlemen. Mrs. Rose laid down the law, giving us a new version of it; and saying a great deal
[p. 96]about spinning-wheels and spoons; but that is not argument. The strongest, indeed, the only argument, I heard advanced was this — that taxation without representation is robbery. Now, I am prepared to prove that it is a bad argument. If taxation without representation be robbery, then, robbery is right, and I am willing to be robbed. For twelve years I have paid taxes; and here and in other countries I have, in return, got protection. Robbery is, to take away property forcibly without giving an equivalent for it; but a good equivalent is given for taxation. In this and other countries, the property of individuals is taken from them, as when an owner of land is deprived of it by the State to make a rail-road through it: that is no robbery; an equivalent is given, and the owner is fairly dealt by. We have heard many instances of the tyranny inflicted on women; but is that a reason that they should vote? If it be, minors, who are under a double tyranny, that of father and mother —— ."
Here the audience seemed to have lost all patience, and Mr. Elliott's voice was completely drowned in the uproar. He retired, repeating that he had proved the rowdies were not all on one side.
The confusion now reached its climax. A terrific uproar, shouting, yelling, screaming, bellowing, laughing, stamping, cries of "Burleigh," "Root," "Truth," "shut up," "take a drink," "go to bed," "Greeley," "go it, Lucy," &c., prevented anything orderly being heard, and the Convention, on the motion of Mrs. Rose, was adjourned sine die; the following resolution having first been read by Dr. Harriet K. Hunt, and passed without dissent:[note]
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.
A letter was received from Caroline H. Doty, a delegate from the Woman's: Rights Association of Maquon, Knox Co., Illinois, which gives an account of the gratifying progress of public opinion in favor of the Woman's Rights movement in that region. The latter is not published on account of the lack of space.
Owing to shortness of time, we were not able to send the reports to the respective speakers for revision.
The copies of Mrs. Gage's and Mrs. Martin's speeches could not be obtained in time for publication, and therefore had to be omitted.
Committee for publication: ERNESTINE L. ROSE, ANDREW J. GRAHAM.