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- 03/10/17--01:00: US Women Fighting for Equality - Jane Clothier Master Hunt 1812-1889
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- 03/13/17--01:00: US Women Fighting for Equality - Martha Coffin Wright 1806-1875
- 03/15/17--01:00: US Women Fighting for Equality - Mary Ann M’Clintock 1800-1884
- 03/16/17--01:00: US Women Fighting for Equality - Lucretia Coffin Mott 1793-1880
- 03/17/17--01:00: America depicted as a Woman - The earliest Lady Liberties
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- 03/23/17--01:00: US Women Fighting for Equality - 1917 1st Woman in Congress
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- 03/27/17--01:00: Freed but recaptured, Slave Hannah Richards escaped to Freedom
- 03/01/17--01:00: US Women Fighting for Equality - Susan B. Anthony 1820-1906
Paulina W Davis
This leaves me at liberty to occupy your attention for a few moments with some general reflections upon the attitude and relations of our movement to our times and circumstances, and upon the proper spirit and method of promoting it. I do not even intend to treat these topics formally, and I do not hope to do it successfully; for nothing less than a complete philosophy of reform could answer such inquiries, and that philosophy, it is very certain, the world has not yet discovered.
Human rights, and the reasons on which they rest, are not difficult of comprehension. The world has never been ignorant of them, nor insensible to them; and human wrongs and their evils are just as familiar to experience and as well understood; but all this is not enough to secure to mankind the possession of the one, or to relieve them from the felt burden and suffering of the other. A creed of abstract truths, or a catechism of general principles, and a completely digested list of grievances, combined, are not enough to adjust a practical reform to its proper work, else Prophets and Apostles and earnest world-menders in general would have been more successful, and left us less to wish and to do.
It is one thing to issue a declaration of rightsor a declaration of wrong to the world, but quite another thing wisely and happily to commend the subject to the world's acceptance, and so to secure the desired reformation. Every element of success is, in its own place and degree, equally important; but the very starting point is the adjustment of the reformer to his work, and next after that is the adjustment of his work to those conditions of the times which he seeks to influence.
Those who prefer the end in view to all other things, are not contented with their own zeal and the discharge of their duty to their conscience. They desire the highest good for their follow-beings, and are not satisfied with merely clearing their own skirts; and they esteem martyrdom a failure at least, if not a fault, in the method of their action. It is not the salvation of their own souls they are thinking of, but the salvation of the world; and they will not willingly accept a discharge or a rejection in its stead. It is their business to preach righteousness and rebuke sin, but they have no quarrel with "the world that lieth in wickedness," and their mission is not merely to judge and condemn, but to save alike the oppressor and the oppressed. Right principles and conformable means are the first necessities of a great enterprise, but without right apprehensions and tempers and expedient methods, the most beneficent purposes must utterly fail. Who is sufficient for these things?
Divine Providence has been baffled through all the ages of disorder suffering for want of fitting agents and adapted means. Reformations of religion have proved but little better than the substitution of a new error for an old one, and civil revolutions have resolved themselves into mere civil insurrections, until history has become but a monument of buried hopes.
The European movement of 1848 was wanting neither in theory nor example for its safe direction, but it has nevertheless almost fallen into contempt.
We may not, therefore, rely upon a good cause and good intentions alone, without danger of deplorable disappointment.
The reformation which we purpose, in its utmost scope, is radical and universal. It is not the mere perfecting of a progress already in motion, a detail of some established plan, but it is an epochal movement-the emancipation of a class, the redemption of half the world, and a conforming re-organization of all social, political, and industrial interests and institutions. Moreover, it is a movement without example among the enterprises of associated reformations, for it has no purpose of arming the oppressed against the oppressor, or of separating the parties, or of setting up independence, or of severing the relations of either.
Its intended changes are to be wrought in the intimate texture of all societary organizations, without violence, or any form of antagonism. It seeks to replace the worn out with the living and the beautiful, so as to reconstruct without overturning, and to regenerate without destroying; and nothing of the spirit, tone, temper, or method of insurrection is proper or allowable to us and our work.
Human societies have been long working and fighting their way up from what we scornfully call barbarism, into what we boastfully call modern civilization; but, as yet, the advancement has been chiefly in ordering and methodizing the lower instincts of our nature, and organizing society under their impulses. The intellect of the masses has received development, and the gentler affections have been somewhat relieved from the dominion of force; but the institutions among men are not yet modelled after the highest laws of our nature. The masterdom of the strong hand and bold spirit is not yet over, for men have not yet established all those natural claims against each other, which seem to demand physical force and physical courage for their vindication. But the age of war is drawing towards a close, and that of peace (whose methods and end alike are harmony) is dawning, and the uprising of womanhood is its prophecy and foreshadow.
The first principles of human rights have now for a long time been abstractly held and believed, and both in Europe and America whole communities have put them into practical operation in some of their bearings. Equality before the law, and the right of the governed to choose their governors, are established maxims of reformed political science; but in the countries most advanced, these doctrines and their actual benefits are as yet enjoyed exclusively by the sex that in the battle-field and the public forum has wrenched them from the old time tyrannies. They are yet denied to Woman, because she has not yet so asserted or won them for herself; for political justice pivots itself upon the barbarous principle that "Who would be free, themselves must strike the blow." Its furthest progress toward magnanimity is to give arms to helplessness. It has not yet learned to give justice . For this rule of barbarism there is this much justification, that although every human being is naturally entitled to every right of the race, the enjoyment and administration of all rights require such culture and conditions in their subject as usually lead him to claim and struggle for them; and the contented slave is left in slavery, and the ignorant man in darkness, on the inference that he cannot use what he does not desire. This is indeed true of the animal instincts, but it is false of the nobler soul; and men must learn that the higher faculties must be first awakened, and then gratified, before they have done their duty to their race. The ministry of angels to dependent humanity is the method of Divine Providence, and among men the law of heaven is, that the "elder shall serve the younger." But let us not complain that the hardier sex overvalue the force which heretofore has figured most in the world's affairs. "They know not what they do" is the apology that crucified womanhood must concede in justice and pity to the wrong doers. In the order of things, the material world was to be first subdued. For this coarse conflict, the larger bones and stronger sinews of manhood are especially adapted, and it is a law of muscles and of all matter that might shall overcome right. This is the law of the vegetable world, and it is the law of the animal world, as well as the law of the animal instincts and of the physical organization of men; but it is not the law of spirit and affection. They are of such a nature as to charge themselves with the atonement for all evils, and to burden themselves with all the sufferings which they would remove.
This wisdom is pure, and peaceable, and gentle, and full of mercy and of good fruits.
Besides the feebler frame, which under the dynasty of muscles is degraded, there remains, even after justice has got the upper hand of force in the world's judgments, a mysterious and undefined difference of sex that seriously embarrasses the question of equality; or, if that is granted, in terms of equal fitness for avocations and positions which heretofore have been the monopoly of men. Old ideas and habits of mind survive the facts which produced them, as the shadows of night stretch far into the morning, sheltered in nooks and valleys from the rising light; and it is the work of a whole creation-day to separate the light from the darkness.
The rule of difference between the sexes must be founded on the traits which each estimates most highly in the other; and it is not at all wonderful that some of woman's artificial incapacities and slaveries may seem to be necessary to some of her excellencies; just as the chivalry that makes man a butcher of his kind still glares like a glory in the eyes of admiring womanhood, and all the more because it seems so much above and unlike her own powers and achievements. Nature does not teach that men and women are unequal, but only that they are unlike; an unlikeness so naturally related and dependent that their respective differences by their balance establish, instead of destroying, their equality.
Men are not in fact, and to all intents, equal among themselves, but their theoretical equality for all the purposes of justice is more easily seen and allowed than what we are here to claim for women. Higher views, nicer distinctions, and a deeper philosophy are required to see and feel the truths of woman's rights; and besides, the maxims upon which men distribute justice to each other have been battle-cries for ages, while the doctrine of woman's true relations in life is a new science, the revelation of an advanced age, - perhaps, indeed, the very last grand movement of humanity towards its highest destiny, - too new to be yet fully understood, too grand to grow out of the broad and coarse generalities which the infancy and barbarism of society could comprehend.
The rule of force and fraud must be well nigh overturned, and learning and religion and the fine arts must have cultivated mankind into a state of wisdom and justice tempered by the most beneficent affections, before woman can be fully installed in her highest offices. We must be gentle with the ignorance and patient under the injustice which old evils induce. Long suffering is a quality of the highest wisdom, and charity beareth all things for it hopeth all things. It will be seen that I am assuming the point that the redemption of the inferior, if it comes at all, must come from the superior. The elevation of a favored caste can have no other providential purpose than that, when it is elevated near enough to goodness and truth, it shall draw up its dependents with it.
But, however this may be in the affairs of men as they are involved with each other, it is clearly so in the matter of woman's elevation. The tyrant sex, if such we choose to term it, holds such natural and necessary relations to the victims of injustice, that neither rebellion nor revolution, neither defiance nor resistance, nor any mode of assault or defence incident to party antagonism, is either possible, expedient, or proper. Our claim must rest on its justice, and conquer by its power of truth. We take the ground, that whatever has been achieved for the race belongs to it, and must not be usurped by any class or caste. The rights and liberties of one human being cannot be made the property of another, though they were redeemed for him or her by the life of that other; for rights cannot be forfeited by way of salvage, and they are in their nature unpurchasable and inalienable.
We claim for woman a full and generous investiture of all the blessings which the other sex has solely or by her aid achieved for itself. We appeal from men's injustice and selfishness to their principles and affections.
For some centuries now, the best of them have been asserting, with their lives, the liberties and rights of the race; and it is not for the few endowed with the highest intellect, the largest frame, or even the soundest morals, that the claim has been maintained, but broadly and bravely and nobly it has been held that wherever a faculty is given, its highest activities are chartered by the Creator, and that all objects alike - whether they minister to the necessities of our animal life or to the superior powers of the human soul and so are more imperatively needed, because nobler than the bread that perishes in the use - are, of common right, equally open to ALL; and that all artificial restraints, for whatever reason imposed, are alike culpable for their presumption, their folly, and their cruelty.
It is pitiable ignorance and arrogance for either man or woman now to prescribe and limit the sphere of woman. It remains for the greatest women whom appropriate culture, and happiest influences shall yet develop, to declare and to prove what are woman's capacities and relations in the world.
I will not accept the concession of any equality which means identity or resemblance of faculty and function. I do not base her claims upon any such parallelism of constitution or attainment. I ask only freedom for the natural unfolding of her powers, the conditions most favorable for her possibilities of growth, and the full play of all those incentives which have made man her master, and then, with all her natural impulses and the whole heaven of hope to invite, I ask that she shall fill the place that she can attain to, without settling any unmeaning questions of sex and sphere, which people gossip about for want of principles of truth, or the faculty to reason upon them.
But it is not with the topics of our reform and the discussion of these that I am now concerned. It is of its position in the world's opinion, and the causes of this, that I am thinking; and I seek to derive hints and suggestions as to the method and manner of successful advocacy, from the inquiry. Especially am I solicitous that the good cause may suffer no detriment from the theoretical principles its friends may assume, or the spirit with which they shall maintain them. It is fair to presume that such causes as have obscured these questions in the general judgment of the governing sex, must also more or less darken the counsels of those most anxious for truth and right. If our demand were simply for chartered rights, civil and political, such as get acknowledgment in paper constitutions, there would be no ground of doubt. We could plead our common humanity, and claim an equal justice. We might say that the natural right of self-government is so clearly due to every human being alike, that it needs no argument to prove it; and if some or a majority of women would not exercise this right, this is no ground for taking it from those who would. And the right to the control and enjoyment of her own property and partnership in all that she helps her husband to earn and save, needs only to be stated to command instant assent. Her appropriate avocations might not be so easily settled that a programme could be completed on theoretical principles merely; but we need discuss no such difficulties while we ask only for liberty of choice, and opportunities of adaptation; and the question of her education is solved by the simple principle, that whatever she can receive is her absolute due.
Yet all these points being so easily disposed of, so far as they are mere matters of controversy, the advocates of the right need none the less the wisest and kindest consideration for all the resistance we must encounter, and the most forbearing patience under the injustice and insolence to which we must expose ourselves. And we can help ourselves to much of the prudence and some of the knowledge we shall need, by treating the prejudices of the public as considerately as if they were principles, and the customs of society as if they once had some temporary necessity, and so meet them with the greater force for the claim to respect which we concede to them. For a prejudice is just like any other error of judgment, and a custom has sometimes had some fitness to things more or less necessary, and is not an utter absurdity, even though the reason on which it was based is lost or removed. Who shall say that there is nothing serious, or respectable, or just, in the repugnance with which our propositions are received? The politician who knows his own corruption may be excused for an earnest wish to save his wife and daughter from the taint, and he must be excused, too, for not knowing that the corruption would be cured by the saving virtue which he dreads to expose to risk.
There may be real though very foolish tenderness in the motive which refuses to open to woman the trades and professions that she could cultivate and practice with equal profit and credit to herself. The chivalry that worships womanhood is not mean, though it at the same time enslaves the objects of its overfond care.
And it is even possible that men may deprive women of their property and liberties, personal and political, with the kindly purpose of accommodating their supposed incapacities for the offices and duties of human life. Harsh judgments and harsh words will neither weaken the opposition, nor strengthen our hands. Our address is to the highest sentiment of the times; and the tone and spirit due to it and becoming in ourselves, are courtesy and respectfulness. Strength and truth of complaint, and eloquence of denunciation, are easy of attainment; but the wisdom of affirmative principles and positive science, and the adjustment of reformatory measures to the exigencies of the times and circumstances, are so much the more useful as they are difficult of attainment. A profound expediency, as true to principle as it is careful of success, is, above all things, rare and necessary. We have to claim liberty without its usually associated independence. We must insist on separate property where the interests are identical, and a division of profits where the very being of the partners is blended. We must demand provisions for differences of policy, where there should be no shadow of controversy; and the free choice of industrial avocations and general education, without respect to the distinctions of sex and natural differences of faculty.
In principle these truths are not doubtful, and it is therefore not impossible to put them in practice, but they need great clearness in system and steadiness of direction to get them allowance and adoption in the actual life of the world. The opposition should be consulted where it can be done without injurious consequences. Truth must not be suppressed, nor principles crippled, yet strong meat should not be given to babes. Nor should the strong use their liberties so as to become a stumbling block to the weak. Above all things, we owe it to the earnest expectation of the age, that stands trembling in mingled hope and fear of the great experiment, to lay its foundations broadly and securely in philosophic truth, and to form and fashion it in practical righteousness. To accomplish this, we cannot be too careful or too brave, too gentle or too firm; and yet with right dispositions and honest efforts, we cannot fail of doing our share of the great work, and thereby advancing the highest interests of humanity.
Report of the Woman's Rights Convention 1848
Whereas, the great precept of nature is conceded to be; "that man shall pursue his own true and substantial happiness." Blackstone, in his Commentaries, remarks, that this law of Nature being coeval with mankind, and dictated by God himself, is of course superior in obligation to any other. It is binding over all the globe, in all countries, and at all times; not human laws are of any validity if contrary to this, and such of them as are valid, derive all their force, and all their validity, and all their authority, mediately and immediately, from this original; Therefore,
Resolved, That such laws as conflict, in any way, with the true and substantial happiness of woman, are contrary to the great precept of nature, and of no validity; for this is "superior in obligation to any other."
Resolved, That all laws which prevent woman from occupying such a station in society as her conscience shall dictate, or which place her in a position inferior to that of man, are contrary to the great precept of nature, and therefore of no force or authority.
Resolved, That woman is man's equal--was intended to be so by the Creator, and the highest good of the race demands that she should be recognized as such.
Resolved, That the women of this country ought to be enlightened in regard to the laws under which they live, that they may no longer publish their degradation, by declaring themselves satisfied with their present position, not their ignorance, by asserting that they have all the rights they want.
Resolved, That inasmuch as man, while claiming for himself intellectual superiority, does accord to woman moral superiority, it is pre-eminently his duty to encourage her to speak, and teach as she has an opportunity, in all religious assemblies.
Resolved, That the same amount of virtue, delicacy, and refinement of behavior, that is required of woman in the social state, should also be required of man, and the same transgressions should be visited with equal severity on both man and woman.
Resolved, That the objection of indelicacy and impropriety, which is so often brought against woman when she addresses a public audience, comes with a very ill grace from those who encourage, by their attendance, her appearance on the stage, in the concert, or in the feats of the circus.
Resolved, That woman has too long rested satisfied in the circumscribed limits which corrupt customs and a perverted application of the Scriptures have marked out for her, and that it is time she should move in the enlarged sphere which her great Creator has assigned her.
Resolved, That it is the duty of the women of this country to secure to themselves their sacred right to the elective franchise.
Resolved, That the equality of human rights results necessarily from the fact of the identity of the race in capabilities and responsibilities.
Resolved, Therefore, That, being invested by the Creator with the same capabilities, and the same consciousness of responsibility for their exercise, it is demonstrably the right and duty of woman, equally with man, to promote every righteous cause, by every righteous means; and especially in regard to the great subjects of morals and religion, it is self-evidently her right to participate with her brother in teaching them, both in private and in public, by writing and by speaking, by any instrumentalities proper to be used, and in any assemblies proper to be held; and this being a self-evident truth, growing out of the divinely implanted principles of human nature, and custom or authority adverse to it, whether modern or wearing the hoary sanction of antiquity, is to be regarded as self-evident falsehood, and at war with the interests of mankind...
Declaration of Sentiments
When, in the course of human events, it becomes necessary for one portion of the family of man to assume among the people of the earth a position different from that which they have hitherto occupied, but one to which the laws of nature and of nature's God entitle them, a decent respect to the opinions of mankind requires that they should declare the causes that impel them to such a course.
We hold these truths to be self-evident; that all men and women are created equal; that they are endowed by their Creator with certain inalienable rights; that among these are life, liberty, and the pursuit of happiness; that to secure these rights governments are instituted, deriving their just powers from the consent of the governed. Whenever any form of Government becomes destructive of these ends, it is the right of those who suffer from it to refuse allegiance to it, and to insist upon the institution of a new government, laying its foundation on such principles, and organizing its powers in such form as to them shall seem most likely to effect their safety and happiness. Prudence, indeed, will dictate that governments long established should not be changed for light and transient causes; and accordingly, all experience hath shown that mankind are more disposed to suffer, while evils are sufferable, than to right themselves, by abolishing the forms to which they are accustomed. But when a long train of abuses and usurpations, pursuing invariably the same object, evinces a design to reduce them under absolute despotism, it is their duty to throw off such government, and to provide new guards for their future security. Such has been the patient sufferance of the women under this government, and such is now the necessity which constrains them to demand the equal station to which they are entitled.
The history of mankind is a history of repeated injuries and usurpations on the part of man toward woman, having in direct object the establishment of an absolute tyranny over her. To prove this, let facts be submitted to a candid world.
He has never permitted her to exercise her inalienable right to the elective franchise.
He has compelled her to submit to laws, in the formation of which she had no voice.
He has withheld from her rights which are given to the most ignorant and degraded men - both natives and foreigners.
Having deprived her of this first right of a citizen, the elective franchise, thereby leaving her without representation in the halls of legislation, he has oppressed her on all sides.
He has made her, if married, in the eye of the law, civilly dead.
He has taken from her all right in property, even to the wages she earns.
He has made her, morally, an irresponsible being, as she can commit many crimes, with impunity, provided they be done in the presence of her husband. In the covenant of marriage, she is compelled to promise obedience to her husband, he becoming, to all intents and purposes, her master - the law giving him power to deprive her of her liberty, and to administer chastisement.
He has so framed the laws of divorce, as to what shall be the proper causes of divorce; in case of separation, to whom the guardianship of the children shall be given, as to be wholly regardless of the happiness of women - the law, in all cases, going upon the false supposition of the supremacy of man, and giving all power into his hands.
After depriving her of all rights as a married woman, if single and the owner of property, he has taxed her to support a government which recognizes her only when her property can be made profitable to it.
He has monopolized nearly all the profitable employments, and from those she is permitted to follow, she receives but a scanty remuneration.
He closes against her all the avenues to wealth and distinction, which he considers most honorable to himself. As a teacher of theology, medicine, or law, she is not known.
He has denied her the facilities for obtaining a thorough education - all colleges being closed against her.
He allows her in Church as well as State, but a subordinate position, claiming Apostolic authority for her exclusion from the ministry, and with some exceptions, from any public participation in the affairs of the Church.
He has created a false public sentiment, by giving to the world a different code of morals for men and women, by which moral delinquencies which exclude women from society, are not only tolerated but deemed of little account in man.
He has usurped the prerogative of Jehovah himself, claiming it as his right to assign for her a sphere of action, when that belongs to her conscience and her God.
He has endeavored, in every way that he could to destroy her confidence in her own powers, to lessen her self-respect, and to make her willing to lead a dependent and abject life.
Now, in view of this entire disfranchisement of one-half the people of this country, their social and religious degradation, - in view of the unjust laws above mentioned, and because women do feel themselves aggrieved, oppressed, and fraudulently deprived of their most sacred rights, we insist that they have immediate admission to all the rights and privileges which belong to them as citizens of these United States.
In entering upon the great work before us, we anticipate no small amount of misconception, misrepresentation, and ridicule; but we shall use every instrumentality within our power to effect our object. We shall employ agents, circulate tracts, petition the State and national Legislatures, and endeavor to enlist the pulpit and the press in our behalf. We hope this Convention will be followed by a series of Conventions, embracing every part of the country.
Firmly relying upon the final triumph of the Right and the True, we do this day affix our signatures to this declaration.
The text of this report is from the original tract produced after the Convention in the North Star Printing Office owned by Frederick Douglass, Rochester, New York. It was reprinted several times and circulated as a sales item at local and national women's rights conventions.
Held at Seneca Falls, N.Y., July 19th and 20th, 1848. Rochester: Printed by John Dick at the North Star Office
Jane Clothier Master Hunt was born in Philadelphia, Pennsylvania, on June 26, 1812, the daughter of William and Mary Master. Her marriage to Richard Pell Hunt in November 1845 brought her to Waterloo as part of the extended family of Hunts, M'Clintocks, Mounts, Plants, and Pryors, all of them related to Richard P. Hunt as sisters, nieces, in-laws, or siblings of in-laws. At least one person from each of these nuclear families signed the Seneca Falls Declaration of Sentiments, including Jane and Richard Hunt, four M'Clintocks, Lydia Mount and her daughter Mary E. Vail, Hannah Plant, and George and Margaret Pryor. While these family ties seem complicated, all of them reflect the importance of sibling relationships and the responsibilities that brothers and sisters also felt for nieces and nephews. All of these families were of Quaker background. All of them had migrated to Waterloo either from Philadelphia or from eastern New York State.
Jane's marriage at age thirty-three made her the step-mother of three older children, all born to Richard's third wife, Sarah M'Clintock
Hunt--Richard, born July 4, 1838; Mary M., born in 1839; and Sarah M., born in 1841. On October 6, 1846, two years after her marriage, Jane bore her own first child, a son named William Master Hunt. Less than a month before the Seneca Falls convention, on June 23, 1848, she gave birth to a daughter, Jane M., whom they called Jenny. Jane’s third child, George Truman Hunt was born on April 18, 1852. The Hunts named him after Jane’s brother in law, George Truman. Truman was married to Jane’s sister Catharine and was a Quaker minister and physician living in Philadelphia. He attended Richard P Hunt during his final illness in 1856. The Hunts, M’Clintocks and Trumans frequently visited each other in Waterloo and Philadelphia. A fourth child, Anna, died at birth in March of 1854.
In 1850, the Hunt household, like those of many other signers, included not only Jane and Richard Hunt and their children but also three non-related members. George Hunter was an Irish-born laborer, aged thirty. Ann McClelland, also Irish-born, was twenty-five. Both probably worked in the Hunt household. Elizabeth Kinnard, only thirteen years old, also lived with the Hunts.
Jane's marriage to Richard P. Hunt made her the wife of one of the richest men in Seneca County, and their home at 6 Main Street on the Seneca Turnpike (now Routes 5 and 20), just east of the village of Waterloo, reflected their prosperity. The house was an eleven-room brick Federal-style mansion with a central hallway, old-fashioned for the 1840s but commodious. They lived in considerable comfort, with carpeted floors, upholstered sofas, rocking chairs in the sitting room and the parlor, astral lamps, window shades (probably painted) in the parlor, curtained windows in the sitting room and bedrooms, and a full complement of dinner ware, silver teaspoons, glasses, and candle sticks. They kept a horse, four carriages, and a sleigh in the barn.
When several Quaker women decided to invite Lucretia Mott, a well-known minister and reformer from Philadelphia, to visit Waterloo in July 1848, Jane Hunt offered her house for the meeting. On Sunday, July 9, 1848, Mott arrived at the Hunt house with her sister, Martha Wright, from Auburn, New York. Mary Ann M'Clintock of Waterloo was also there. So was one other woman, the only non-Quaker, Elizabeth Cady Stanton. Stanton had first met Lucretia Mott at the World Anti-Slavery Convention in London in 1840, when Stanton was on her honeymoon. When the London meeting refused to admit women delegates from the U.S., Stanton remembered, the women had agreed to hold a meeting when they returned home solely to discuss the rights of women. Now, seeing Mott again after many years apart inspired Stanton once more. She "poured out her long-standing discontent."
The women decided to hold a meeting "for protest and discussion."Richard P. Hunt may have encouraged this decision, for family legend suggests that, practical Quaker that he was, he reminded them that "faith without works is dead." The women decided to meet quickly, before Mott returned home to Philadelphia. Around the Hunts' tea table, they drafted a brief notice announcing, "A Convention to discuss the social, civic and religious condition and rights of Woman will be held in the Wesleyan Chapel at Seneca Falls, N. Y., on Wednesday and Thursday, the 19th and 20th of July. . . ." The notice was delivered to the offices of the Seneca County Courier in Seneca Falls, where it first appeared on Tuesday, July 11. Without that gathering of Quaker women who were experienced in the strategy and tactics of the abolition movement, energized by Stanton around Jane Hunt's tea table, there would have been no Seneca Falls convention.
Richard P. Hunt died November 7, 1856, leaving Jane a widow with six children eighteen years old and younger. Jane C. Hunt continued the family's tradition of philanthropy when she gave to St. Paul's Episcopal Church the land for St. John's Chapel on the east side of Chapel Street in Waterloo. She lived in the family home until her own death while on a visit to her daughter in Chicago on November 28, 1889, aged 77. She was buried next to her husband in Maple Grove Cemetery in Waterloo.
Elizabeth Cady Stanton, 80 Years & More.
Weltha Bacon Woodward, "Bacon-Woodward Peigree of Paternal Branch," Vol. I, Series VI, unpublished typescript (1968), Waterloo [Library and] Historical Society.
John E. Becker, comp. "Some Waterloo Citizens of Yesterday," unpublished typescript (1950) in the Waterloo [Library and] Historical Society.
Friends' Intelligencer 46 (1889): 777. Obituary.
Inventory of Richard P. Hunt's estate, December 8, 1856, Probate File #592, Surrogate's Office, SenecaCounty. Found by Barbara Pearson.
Inventory of Jane C. Hunt's estate, February 7, 1890, Probate File #2214, Surrogate's Office, SenecaCounty. Found by Barbara Pearson.
Elizabeth Cady Stanton(1815-1902) is believed to be the driving force behind the 1848 Convention, and for the next fifty years played a leadership role in the women's rights movement. Somewhat overshadowed in popular memory by her long time colleague Susan B. Anthony, Stanton was for many years the architect and author of the movement's most important strategies and documents. Though she became increasingly estranged from the mainstream of the movement, particularly near the end of her career, she maintained to the end her long time friendship with Anthony.
Stanton had an early introduction to the reform movements, including encounters as a young woman with fugitive slaves at the home of her cousin Gerrit Smith. It was at Smith's home that she also met her husband Henry Stanton. Soon after their marriage in 1840 they traveled to London, where Henry Stanton was a delegate to the World Anti-Slavery Convention. There she met Lucretia Mott, the Quaker teacher who served in many of the associated Temperance, Anti-Slavery, and Women's Rights organizations with which Stanton is associated. Denied her seat at the convention, as were all the women delegates, Mott discussed with Stanton the need for a convention on women's rights. The plan came to fruition when Mott again encountered Stanton in the summer of 1848 in the home of fellow Quaker Jane Hunt. After a month of missionary work on the Cattaraugus Reservation of the Seneca Nation, James and Lucretia Mott were attending the annual meeting of the Religious Society of Friends at Junius, near Seneca Falls, and staying at nearby Auburn with Lucretia Mott's sister, Martha Coffin Wright.
Stanton, Mott, Wright, Hunt, and Mary Ann M'Clintock made the plan to call the first women's rights convention, initiating the women's rights movement in the United States, and Stanton's role as a leader in that movement. In 1851, Susan B. Anthony was staying at the home of fellow Temperance worker Amelia Bloomer, while attending an anti-slavery meeting in Seneca Falls. Stanton encountered Bloomer and Anthony on the street. She recorded the meeting in her diary as follows: "How well I remember the day! George Thompson and William Lloyd Garrison having announced an anti-slavery meeting in Seneca Falls, Miss Anthony came to attend it. These gentleman were my guests. Walking home after the adjournment, we met Mrs. Bloomer and Miss Anthony, on the corner of the street, waiting to greet us. There she stood, with her good earnest face and genial smile, dressed in gray delaine, hat and all the same color, relieved with pale blue ribbons, the perfection of neatness and sobriety. I liked her thoroughly, and why I did not at once invite her home with me to dinner I do not know... "
History records the lasting relationship between these two women as well as the strains that resulted from their different roles and priorities. Unwilling to commit to a vigorous travel schedule until her children were grown, Stanton wrote many of her speeches for delivery by Anthony. As the years wore on the two held closely together, splitting with many other women as well as Gerrit Smith and Frederick Douglass, over the idea that suffrage for black men, after emancipation should take precedence over suffrage for women. Along with Matilda Joslyn Gage, the two led the National Woman Suffrage Association, opposing the concept of "precedence" accepted by the less radical American Woman Suffrage Association.
Almost thirty years after the Seneca Falls Convention, Stanton and Gage authored the Declaration of Rights of the Women of the United States, which Anthony presented, uninvited, at the Centennial celebration in Washington in 1876. The Declaration was signed in the Centennial Books of the NWSA by Stanton, Anthony and Gage, as well as many later arrivals to the movement such as Virginia Minor and Lillie Devereux Blake. Also signing the original Declaration were Lucretia Mott, Mary Ann M'Clintock, and Amy Post, all of whom were present at the 1848 Convention.
Elizabeth Cady Stanton died in 1902, and like Anthony and Gage, did not live to see women's suffrage in the United States. She is nonetheless regarded as one of the true major forces in the drive toward equal rights for women in the United States and throughout the world. The statue of Stanton, Mott and Anthony housed in the U.S. Capitol was used as the symbol of the American Delegation to the 1995 Peking Conference.
National Park Service
Wood cut of Sarah Grimke (1792-1873) date of image is unknown. Library of Congress
Two early and prominent activists for abolition and women’s rights, Sarah Grimke (1792-1873) and Angelina Grimke Weld (1805-1879) were raised in the cradle of slavery on a plantation in South Carolina. The Grimke sisters, as they were known, grew to despise slavery after witnessing its cruel effects at a young age. Sarah later recalled that her father, the wealthy Judge John Fauchereaud Grimke, held his 14 children to the highest standards of discipline and sometimes required them to work in the field shelling corn or picking cotton. She observed, “Perhaps I am indebted partially to this for my life-long detestation of slavery, as it brought me in close contact with these unpaid toilers.”
At the age of 12 Sarah became godmother to her baby sister Angelina, promising “to guide and direct [this] precious child.” This commitment foreshadowed the lifelong bond the sisters had with one another and strengthened Sarah’s determination to fight for social justice. In 1819 Sarah accompanied her father to Philadelphia so he could receive medical treatment. There she encountered members of the Society of Friends, or Quakers, who helped her care for her dying father. After her father’s death she returned to Charleston, where her feelings of fierce opposition to slavery were quickly renewed: “…after being for many months in Pennsylvania when I went back it seemed as if the sight of [the slaves’] condition was insupportable…can compare my feeling only with a canker incessantly gnawing…. I was as one in bonds looking on their sufferings I could not soothe or lessen….” Much to the chagrin of her family, Sarah converted to Quakerism and moved to Philadelphia in 1821; by 1829 Angelina had also become a Quaker and decided to move north to be with her sister.
Angelina Grimke Weld (1805-1879) date of image is unknown. Library of Congress
The sisters’ conversion to Quakerism and subsequent move to Philadelphia made them virtual outcasts in the South, but they also found themselves at odds with many northerners after William Lloyd Garrison published a personal letter Angelina wrote to him in The Liberator. In her letter Angelina encouraged Garrison to stand his ground even in the face of mob violence: “If persecution is the means which God has ordained for the accomplishment of this great end, emancipation, then…I feel as if I could say, let it come; for it is my deep, solemn deliberate conviction, that this is a cause worth dying for….” Angelina chose not to recall the letter despite the outrage it caused among fellow Quakers who believed she was a radical abolitionist. Despite the disapproval they faced from fellow Quakers and from a society that did not accept women as public speakers on such controversial topics as slavery, the Grimke sisters found themselves caught up in the antislavery movement.
In 1836 Angelina wrote her Appeal to the Christian Women of the South imploring white southern women to embrace the antislavery cause. She wrote, “I know you do not make the laws, but I also know that you are the wives and mothers, the sisters and daughters of those who do; and if you really suppose you can do nothing to overthrow slavery, you are greatly mistaken.” Her writing drew the ire of southerners who opposed its abolitionist message and northerners who felt that women had no business writing or speaking about something as controversial as slavery. This outcry over women abolitionists prompted Sarah to write Letters on the Equality of the Sexes. By the late 1830s the Grimke sisters were known not only as abolitionists but also as proponents of women’s rights.
Although Sarah and Angelina did not attend the Woman’s Rights Convention held in Seneca Falls in 1848, Sarah received an invitation to the event from Elizabeth Cady Stanton, as evidenced by this letter to Elizabeth M’Clintock: Grassmere [Seneca Falls] Friday morning [July 1848] Dear Lizzie, Rain or shine I intend to spend Sunday with you that we may all together concoct a declaration I have drawn up one but you may suggest any alterations & improvements for I know it is not as perfect a declaration as should go forth from the first woman’s rights convention that has ever assembled. I shall take the ten o’clock train in the morning & return at five in the evening, provided we can accomplish all our business in that time. I have written to Lydia Maria Child Maria Chapman & Sarah Grimke, as we hope for some good letters to read at the convention. Your friend. Elizabeth Cady Stanton The Stantons were good friends of the Grimkes: Elizabeth’s husband Henry served as best man at the wedding of Angelina Grimke and Theodore Weld, sent their oldest sons to the Grimke-Weld boarding school, and, in honor of Angelina’s husband, named their fourth son Theodore Weld Stanton.
National Park Service
Martha Coffin Wright (1806-75) was the youngest of 8 children; her sister Lucretia Coffin Mott was the second oldest. Throughout her life Martha worked in reform alongside her sister Lucretia Mott. Martha preferred to take a supportive role, frequently serving as secretary, while her more outgoing sister Lucretia was frequently the keynote speaker at public meetings.
In 1848, Wright was living with her husband David & 4 children in Auburn, New York, 10 miles to the east of Seneca Falls. Martha Wright was several months pregnant that summer, while Lucretia & James Mott were staying with Martha & her growing family. On July 19, 1848, the 1st day of the Seneca Falls First Women’s Rights Convention, Lucretia Mott & Martha Wright arrived by train from Auburn accepting Elizabeth Cady Stanton’s invitation to stay the night at her home before attending the 2nd day’s activities. At the afternoon session on the 1st day, the Report noted that “Lucretia Mott read a humorous article from a newspaper, written by Martha C. Wright.”
After helping organize the First Women’s Rights Convention, Martha Wright participated in many state & national women’s rights conventions in various capacities. She was secretary at the 1852 & 1856 National Women’s Rights Conventions, served as an officer at the 1853 & 1854 National Women’s Rights Conventions & presided over the National Women’s Rights Convention in 1855 in Ohio & the New York State Women’s Rights Convention held in Saratoga that year.
Martha C. Wright was also an ardent abolitionist & ran her home in Auburn as a station on the Underground Railroad, frequently allowing fugitive slaves to sleep in the kitchen. In a letter to her sister from Auburn, New York on December 30, 1860, Martha C. Wright wrote: …We have been expending our sympathies, as well as congratulations, on seven newly arrived slaves that Harriet Tubman has just pioneered safely from the Southern Part of Maryland.--One woman carried a baby all the way and bro’t [sic] two other chld’n that Harriet and the men helped along. They bro’t a piece of old comfort and a blanket, in a basket with a little kindling, a little bread for the baby with some laudanum to keep it from crying during the day. They walked all night carrying the little ones, and spread the old comfort on the frozen ground, in some dense thicket where they all hid, while Harriet went out foraging, and sometimes cd not get back till dark, fearing she wd be followed. Then, if they had crept further in, and she couldn’t find them, she wd whistle, or sing certain hymns and they wd answer.
National Park Service
Solitude of Self
Address Delivered by Mrs. Stanton before the Committee of the Judiciary of the United States Congress, Monday, January 18, 1892 Reprinted from the Congressional Record
Mrs. Stanton's Address
Mr. Chairman and gentlemen of the committee: We have been speaking before Committees of the Judiciary for the last twenty years, and we have gone over all the arguments in favor of a sixteenth amendment which are familiar to all you gentlemen; therefore, it will not be necessary that I should repeat them again.
The point I wish plainly to bring before you on this occasion is the individuality of each human soul; our Protestant idea, the right of individual conscience and judgment--our republican idea, individual citizenship. In discussing the rights of woman, we are to consider, first, what belongs to her as an individual, in a world of her own, the arbiter of her own destiny, an imaginary Robinson Crusoe with her woman Friday on a solitary island. Her rights under such circumstances are to use all her faculties for her own safety and happiness.
Secondly, if we consider her as a citizen, as a member of a great nation, she must have the same rights as all other members, according to the fundamental principles of our Government.
Thirdly, viewed as a woman, an equal factor in civilization, her rights and duties are still the same--individual happiness and development.
Fourthly, it is only the incidental relations of life, such as mother, wife, sister, daughter, that may involve some special duties and training. In the usual discussion in regard to woman's sphere, such as men as Herbert Spencer, Frederic Harrison, and Grant Allen uniformly subordinate her rights and duties as an individual, as a citizen, as a woman, to the necessities of these incidental relations, some of which a large class of woman may never assume. In discussing the sphere of man we do not decide his rights as an individual, as a citizen, as a man by his duties as a father, a husband, a brother, or a son, relations some of which he may never fill. Moreover he would be better fitted for these very relations and whatever special work he might choose to do to earn his bread by the complete development of all his faculties as an individual.
Just so with woman. The education that will fit her to discharge the duties in the largest sphere of human usefulness will best fit her for whatever special work she may be compelled to do.
The isolation of every human soul and the necessity of self-dependence must give each individual the right, to choose his own surroundings.
The strongest reason for giving woman all the opportunities for higher education, for the full development of her faculties, forces of mind and body; for giving her the most enlarged freedom of thought and action; a complete emancipation from all forms of bondage, of custom, dependence, superstition; from all the crippling influences of fear, is the solitude and personal responsibility of her own individual life. The strongest reason why we ask for woman a voice in the government under which she lives; in the religion she is asked to believe; equality in social life, where she is the chief factor; a place in the trades and professions, where she may earn her bread, is because of her birthright to self-sovereignty; because, as an individual, she must rely on herself. No matter how much women prefer to lean, to be protected and supported, nor how much men desire to have them do so, they must make the voyage of life alone, and for safety in an emergency they must know something of the laws of navigation. To guide our own craft, we must be captain, pilot, engineer; with chart and compass to stand at the wheel; to match the wind and waves and know when to take in the sail, and to read the signs in the firmament over all. It matters not whether the solitary voyager is man or woman.
Nature having endowed them equally, leaves them to their own skill and judgment in the hour of danger, and, if not equal to the occasion, alike they perish.
To appreciate the importance of fitting every human soul for independent action, think for a moment of the immeasurable solitude of self. We come into the world alone, unlike all who have gone before us; we leave it alone under circumstances peculiar to ourselves. No mortal ever has been, no mortal over will be like the soul just launched on the sea of life. There can never again be just such environments as make up the infancy, youth and manhood of this one. Nature never repeats herself, and the possibilities of one human soul will never be found in another. No one has ever found two blades of ribbon grass alike, and no one will never find two human beings alike. Seeing, then, what must be the infinite diversity in human, character, we can in a measure appreciate the loss to a nation when any large class of the people in uneducated and unrepresented in the government. We ask for the complete development of every individual, first, for his own benefit and happiness. In fitting out an army we give each soldier his own knapsack, arms, powder, his blanket, cup, knife, fork and spoon. We provide alike for all their individual necessities, then each man bears his own burden.
Again we ask complete individual development for the general good; for the consensus of the competent on the whole round of human interest; on all questions of national life, and here each man must bear his share of the general burden. It is sad to see how soon friendless children are left to bear their own burdens before they can analise their feelings; before they can even tell their joys and sorrows, they are thrown on their own resources. The great lesson that nature seems to teach us at all ages is self-dependence, self-protection, self-support. What a touching instance of a child's solitude; of that hunger of heart for love and recognition, in the case of the little girl who helped to dress a christmas tree for the children of the family in which she served. On finding there was no present for herself she slipped away in the darkness and spent the night in an open field sitting on a stone, and when found in the morning was weeping as if her heart would break. No mortal will ever know the thoughts that passed through the mind of that friendless child in the long hours of that cold night, with only the silent stars to keep her company. The mention of her case in the daily papers moved many generous hearts to send her presents, but in the hours of her keenest sufferings she was thrown wholly on herself for consolation.
In youth our most bitter disappointments, our brightest hopes and ambitions are known only to otherwise, even our friendship and love we never fully share with another; there is something of every passion in every situation we conceal. Even so in our triumphs and our defeats.
The successful candidate for Presidency and his opponent each have a solitude peculiarly his own, and good form forbide either in speak of his pleasure or regret. The solitude of the king on his throne and the prisoner in his cell differs in character and degree, but it is solitude nevertheless.
We ask no sympathy from others in the anxiety and agony of a broken friendship or shattered love. When death sunders our nearest ties, alone we sit in the shadows of our affliction. Alike mid the greatest triumphs and darkest tragedies of life we walk alone. On the devine heights of human attainments, eulogized land worshiped as a hero or saint, we stand alone. In ignorance, poverty, and vice, as a pauper or criminal, alone we starve or steal; alone we suffer the sneers and rebuffs of our fellows; alone we are hunted and hounded thro dark courts and alleys, in by-ways and highways; alone we stand in the judgment seat; alone in the prison cell we lament our crimes and misfortunes; alone we expiate them on the gallows. In hours like these we realize the awful solitude of individual life, its pains, its penalties, its responsibilities; hours in which the youngest and most helpless are thrown on their own resources for guidance and consolation. Seeing then that life must ever be a march and a battle, that each soldier must be equipped for his own protection, it is the height of cruelty to rob the individual of a single natural right.
To throw obstacle in the way of a complete education is like putting out the eyes; to deny the rights of property, like cutting off the hands. To deny political equality is to rob the ostracised of all self-respect; of credit in the market place; of recompense in the world of work; of a voice among those who make and administer the law; a choice in the jury before whom they are tried, and in the judge who decides their punishment. Shakespeare's play of Titus and Andronicus contains a terrible satire on woman's position in the nineteenth century--"Rude men" (the play tells us) "seized the king's daughter, cut out her tongue, out off her hands, and then bade her go call for water and wash her hands." What a picture of woman's position. Robbed of her natural rights, handicapped by law and custom at every turn, yet compelled to fight her own battles, and in the emergencies of life to fall back on herself for protection.
The girl of sixteen, thrown on the world to support herself, to make her own place in society, to resist the temptations that surround her and maintain a spotless integrity, must do all this by native force or superior education. She does not acquire this power by being trained to trust others and distrust herself. If she wearies of the struggle, finding it hard work to swim upstream, and allow herself to drift with the current, she will find plenty of company, but not one to share her misery in the hour of her deepest humiliation. If she tried to retrieve her position, to conceal the past, her life is hedged about with fears last willing hands should tear the veil from what she fain would hide. Young and friendless, she knows the bitter solitude of self.
How the little courtesies of life on the surface of society, deemed so important from man towards woman, fade into utter insignificance in view of the deeper tragedies in which she must play her part alone, where no human aid is possible.
The young wife and mother, at the head of some establishment with a kind husband to shield her from the adverse winds of life, with wealth, fortune and position, has a certain harbor of safety, occurs against the ordinary ills of life. But to manage a household, have a deatrable influence in society, keep her friends and the affections of her husband, train her children and servants well, she must have rare common sense, wisdom, diplomacy, and a knowledge of human nature. To do all this she needs the cardinal virtues and the strong points of character that the most successful statesman possesses.
An uneducated woman, trained to dependence, with no resources in herself must make a failure of any position in life. But society says women do not need a knowledge of the world, the liberal training that experience in public life must give, all the advantages of collegiate education; but when for the lock of all this, the woman's happiness is wrecked, alone she bears her humiliation; and the attitude of the weak and the ignorant in indeed pitiful in the wild chase for the price of life they are ground to powder.
In age, when the pleasures of youth are passed, children grown up, married and gone, the hurry and hustle of life in a measure over, when the hands are weary of active service, when the old armchair and the fireside are the chosen resorts, then men and women alike must fall back on their own resources. If they cannot find companionship in books, if they have no interest in the vital questions of the hour, no interest in watching the consummation of reforms, with which they might have been identified, they soon pass into their dotage. The more fully the faculties of the mind are developed and kept in use, the longer the period of vigor and active interest in all around us continues. If from a lifelong participation in public affairs a woman feels responsible for the laws regulating our system of education, the discipline of our jails and prisons, the sanitary conditions of our private homes, public buildings, and thoroughfares, an interest in commerce, finance, our foreign relations, in any or all of these questions, here solitude will at least be respectable, and she will not be driven to gossip or scandal for entertainment.
The chief reason for opening to every soul the doors to the whole round of human duties an pleasures is the individual development thus attained, the resources thus provided under all circumstances to mitigate the solitude that at times must come to everyone. I once asked Prince Krapotkin, the Russian nihilist, how he endured his long years in prison, deprived of books, pen, ink, and paper. "Ah," he said, "I thought out many questions in which I had a deep interest. In the pursuit of an idea I took no note of time. When tired of solving knotty problems I recited all the beautiful passages in prose or verse I have ever learned. I became acquainted with myself and my own resources. I had a world of my own, a vast empire, that no Russian jailor or Czar could invade." Such is the value of liberal thought and broad culture when shut off from all human companionship, bringing comfort and sunshine within even the four walls of a prison cell.
As women of times share a similar fate, should they not have all the consolation that the most liberal education can give? Their suffering in the prisons of St. Petersburg; in the long, weary marches to Siberia, and in the mines, working side by side with men, surely call for all the self-support that the most exalted sentiments of heroism can give. When suddenly roused at midnight, with the startling cry of "fire! fire!" to find the house over their heads in flames, do women wait for men to point the way to safety? And are the men, equally bewildered and half suffocated with smoke, in a position to more than try to save themselves?
At such times the most timid women have shown a courage and heroism in saving their husbands and children that has surprise everybody. Inasmuch, then, as woman shares equally the joys and sorrows of time and eternity, is it not the height of presumption in man to propose to represent her at the ballot box an the throne of grace, do her voting in the state, her praying in the church, and to assume the position of priest at the family alter.
Nothing strengthens the judgment and quickens the conscience like individual responsibility. Nothing adds such dignity to character as the recognition of one's self-sovereignty; the right to an equal place, every where conceded; a place earned by personal merit, not an artificial attainment, by inheritance, wealth, family, and position. Seeing, then that the responsibilities of life rests equally on man and woman, that their destiny is the same, they need the same preparation for time and eternity. The talk of sheltering woman from the fierce sterns of life is the sheerest mockery, for they beat on her from every point of the compass, just as they do on man, and with more fatal results, for he has been trained to protect himself, to resist, to conquer. Such are the facts in human experience, the responsibilities of individual. Rich and poor, intelligent and ignorant, wise and foolish, virtuous and vicious, man and woman, it is ever the same, each soul must depend wholly on itself.
Whatever the theories may be of woman's dependence on man, in the supreme moments of her life he can not bear her burdens. Alone she goes to the gates of death to give life to every man that is born into the world. No one can share her fears, on one mitigate her pangs; and if her sorrow is greater than she can bear, alone she passes beyond the gates into the vast unknown.
From the mountain tops of Judea, long ago, a heavenly voice bade His disciples, "Bear ye one another's burdens," but humanity has not yet risen to that point of self-sacrifice, and if ever so willing, how few the burdens are that one soul can bear for another. In the highways of Palestine; in prayer and fasting on the solitary mountain top; in the Garden of Gethsemane; before the judgment seat of Pilate; betrayed by one of His trusted disciples at His last supper; in His agonies on the cross, even Jesus of Nazareth, in these last sad days on earth, felt the awful solitude of self. Deserted by man, in agony he cries, "My God! My God! why hast Thou forsaken me?" And so it ever must be in the conflicting scenes of life, on the long weary march, each one walks alone. We may have many friends, love, kindness, sympathy and charity to smooth our pathway in everyday life, but in the tragedies and triumphs of human experience each moral stands alone.
But when all artificial trammels are removed, and women are recognized as individuals, responsible for their own environments, thoroughly educated for all the positions in life they may be called to fill; with all the resources in themselves that liberal though and broad culture can give; guided by their own conscience an judgment; trained to self-protection by a healthy development of the muscular system and skill in the use of weapons of defense, and stimulated to self-support by the knowledge of the business world and the pleasure that pecuniary independence must ever give; when women are trained in this way they will, in a measure, be fitted for those hours of solitude that come alike to all, whether prepared or otherwise. As in our extremity we must depend on ourselves, the dictates of wisdom point of complete individual development.
In talking of education how shallow the argument that each class must be educated for the special work it proposed to do, and all those faculties not needed in this special walk must lie dormant and utterly wither for want of use, when, perhaps, these will be the very faculties needed in life's greatest energies. Some say, Where is the use of drilling series in the languages, the Sciences, in law, medicine, theology? As wives, mothers, housekeepers, cooks, they need a different curriculum from boys who are to fill all positions. The chief cooks in our great hotels and ocean steamers are men. In large cities men run the bakries; they make our bread, cake and pies. They manage the laundries; they are now considered our best milliners and dressmakers. Because some men fill these departments of usefulness, shall we regulate the curriculum in Harvard and Yale to their present necessities? If not why this talk in our best colleges of a curriculum for girls who are crowding into the trades and professions; teachers in all our public schools rapidly hiring many lucrative and honorable positions in life? They are showing too, their calmness and courage in the most trying hours of human experience.
You have probably all read in the daily papers of the terrible storm in the Bay of Biscay when a tidal wave such havoc on the shore, wrecking vessels, unroofing houses and carrying destruction everywhere. Among other buildings the woman's prison was demolished. Those who escaped saw men struggling to reach the shore. They promptly by clasping hands made a chain of themselves and pushed out into the sea, again and again, at the risk of their lives until they had brought six men to shore, carried them to a shelter, and did all in their power for their comfort and protection.
What especial school of training could have prepared these women for this sublime moment of their lives. In times like this humanity rises above all college curriculums and recognises Nature as the greatest of all teachers in the hour of danger and death. Women are already the equals of men in the whole of ream of thought, in art, science, literature, and government. With telescope vision they explore the starry firmament, and bring back the history of the planetary world. With chart and compass they pilot ships across the mighty deep, and with skillful finger send electric messages around the globe. In galleries of art the beauties of nature and the virtues of humanity are immortalized by them on their canvas and by their inspired touch dull blocks of marble are transformed into angels of light.
In music they speak again the language of Mendelssohn, Beethoven, Chopin, Schumann, and are worthy interpreters of their great thoughts. The poetry and novels of the century are theirs, and they have touched the keynote of reform in religion, politics, and social life. They fill the editor's and professor's chair, and plead at the bar of justice, walk the wards of the hospital, and speak from the pulpit and the platform; such is the type of womanhood that an enlightened public sentiment welcomes today, and such the triumph of the facts of life over the false theories of the past.
Is it, then, consistent to hold the developed woman of this day within the same narrow political limits as the dame with the spinning wheel and knitting needle occupied in the past? No! no! Machinery has taken the labors of woman as well as man on its tireless shoulders; the loom and the spinning wheel are but dreams of the past; the pen, the brush, the easel, the chisel, have taken their places, while the hopes and ambitions of women are essentially changed.
We see reason sufficient in the outer conditions of human being for individual liberty and development, but when we consider the self dependence of every human soul we see the need of courage, judgment, and the exercise of every faculty of mind and body, strengthened and developed by use, in woman as well as man.
Whatever may be said of man's protecting power in ordinary conditions, mid all the terrible disasters by land and sea, in the supreme moments of danger, alone, woman must ever meet the horrors of the situation; the Angel of Death even makes no royal pathway for her. Man's love and sympathy enter only into the sunshine of our lives. In that solemn solitude of self, that links us with the immeasurable and the eternal, each soul lives alone forever. A recent writer says:
I remember once, in crossing the Atlantic, to have gone upon the deck of the ship at midnight, when a dense black cloud enveloped the sky, and the great deep was roaring madly under the lashes of demoniac winds. My feelings was not of danger or fear (which is a base surrender of the immortal soul), but of utter desolation and loneliness; a little speck of life shut in by a tremendous darkness. Again I remember to have climbed the slopes of the Swiss Alps, up beyond the point where vegetation ceases, and the stunted conifers no longer struggle against the unfeeling blasts. Around me lay a huge confusion of rocks, out of which the gigantic ice peaks shot into the measureless blue of the heavens, and again my only feeling was the awful solitude.
And yet, there is a solitude, which each and every one of us has always carried with him, more inaccessible than the ice-cold mountains, more profound than the midnight sea; the solitude of self. Our inner being, which we call ourself, no eye nor touch of man or angel has ever pierced. It is more hidden than the caves of the gnome; the sacred adytum of the oracle; the hidden chamber of eleusinian mystery, for to it only omniscience is permitted to enter.
Such is individual life. Who, I ask you, can take, dare take, on himself the rights, the duties, the responsibilities of another human soul?
Mary Ann M’Clintock (1800-1884) was born to Quaker parents. She married Thomas M’Clintock, a druggist and fellow Quaker, in 1820, and they lived in Philadelphia for seventeen years. During that time Mary Ann gave birth to four daughters, Elizabeth, Mary Ann, Sarah, and Julia and a son, Charles. She was recognized by her fellow Quakers as a minister and leader. By 1833 M’Clintock was a social activist when she along with Lucretia Mott and others, became founding members of the Philadelphia Female Anti-Slavery Society.
In 1836 the family moved to Waterloo, New York, where they would join a network of Quaker abolitionists that included Richard and Jane Hunt and George and Margaret Pryor, Mary Ann’s half-sister. They lived in a house owned and built by Richard Hunt at 14 East Williams Street, and ran a drugstore and school in one of Hunt’s commercial buildings behind their house on Main Street in Waterloo. In 1842, at an annual convention of the American Anti-Slavery Society held in Rochester, New York, Thomas and Mary Ann became founding members of the Western New York Anti-Slavery Society and helped write its constitution. They were joined by Frederick Douglass, Jane and Richard Hunt, Isaac and Amy Post, George and Margaret Pryor. Mary Ann became an organizer of the First Woman’s Rights Convention when she joined a group of friends on July 9, 1848, in the front parlor of the Hunts’ home. She hosted a second planning meeting at her house on July 16, where she, Elizabeth Cady Stanton, and possibly several others drafted the Declaration of Sentiments that was read, discussed, and ratified in the Wesleyan Chapel. While living in Waterloo, Mary Ann and Thomas M’Clintock became very active in the local Hicksite Quaker community, the Junius Monthly Meeting. In October of 1848, they led several hundred members of the Hicksite community to form the new Progressive Friends or Friends of Human Progress. Thomas and Mary Ann served as clerk and associate clerk at nearly every yearly meeting while they lived in Waterloo. They returned to Philadelphia in 1876. Mary Ann remained active, until her death in 1884.
National Park Service
One of 8 children born to Quaker parents on the island of Nantucket, Massachusetts, Lucretia Coffin Mott (1793-1880) dedicated her life to the goal of human equality. As a child Mott attended Nine Partners, a Quaker boarding school located in New York, where she learned of the horrors of slavery from her readings & from visiting lecturers such as Elias Hicks, a well-known Quaker abolitionist. She also saw that women & men were not treated equally, even among the Quakers, when she discovered that female teachers at Nine Partners earned less than males. At a young age Lucretia Coffin Mott became determined to put an end to such social injustices.
In 1833 Mott, along with Mary Ann M’Clintock & nearly 30 other female abolitionists, organized the Philadelphia Female Anti-Slavery Society. In 1840 she was one of several American women chosen as delegates to the World’s Anti-Slavery Convention in London by the American Anti-Slavery Society & by other abolitionist groups.
Arriving in England with her husband, she found the convention controlled by the rival American & Foreign Anti-Slavery Society -known to Garrisonians as the “New Organization”& its opposite number, the British & Foreign Anti-Slavery Society, both opposed to public activity by women. Despite vigorous protests by Wendell Phillips & others, the American women delegates were refused recognition & assigned seats “behind the bar.” Though Lucretia Mott was deprived of a voice in the proceedings, she was nevertheless described by a journalist as “the lioness of the Convention” (Liberator, Oct. 23, 1840, p. 170).
It was there, that she 1st met Elizabeth Cady Stanton, who was attending the convention with her husband Henry, a delegate from New York. Mott & Stanton were indignant at the fact that women were excluded from participating in the convention simply because of their gender, & that indignation would result in a discussion about holding a woman’s rights convention. Stanton later recalled this conversation in the History of Woman Suffrage: As Lucretia Mott and Elizabeth Cady Stanton wended their way arm in arm down Great Queen Street that night, reviewing the exciting scenes of the day, they agreed to hold a woman’s rights convention on their return to America, as the men to whom they had just listened had manifested their great need of some education on that question. Thus a missionary work for the emancipation of woman…was then and there inaugurated.
Eight years later, on July 19 & 20, 1848, Mott, Stanton, Mary Ann M’Clintock, Martha Coffin Wright, & Jane Hunt acted on this idea; when they organized the First Woman’s Rights Convention.
Two weeks after Seneca Falls, a 2nd convention was held in the Unitarian Chapel at Rochester, N.Y. From this time on, woman’s rights claimed as much of Lucretia Mott’s attention as any of the other reforms with which she associated herself. In a closely reasoned Discourse of Woman (1850) she attributed the alleged inferiority of women to the repressions under which her sex had always labored -unequal educational opportunities, a lower standard of wages, restricted employment, & denial of political rights.
Throughout her life Mott remained active in both the abolition & women’s rights movements. She continued to speak out against slavery; & in 1866, she became the first president of the American Equal Rights Association, an organization formed to achieve equality for both African Americans & women.
For nearly 20 years the Motts lived & reared their children in a red brick house at 136 North Ninth Street in Philadelphia. In 1850, they moved to 338 Arch Street, a spacious house; where they entertained on a simple but generous scale during the Quaker Yearly Meeting & the annual sessions of the reform societies & where they sometimes harbored runaway slaves. Unlike some “strong-minded” female reformers, Mott was a conscientious housekeeper who never laid herself open to the charge, that she neglected her domestic duties. In 1857 she & her husband, now retired from business, moved to Roadside, a plain, rambling country house on the Old York Road, north of Philadelphia, where Lucretia continued her efficient housewife concerns: sewing carpet rags, cooking Nantucket blackberry pudding, raising vegetables in her kitchen garden.
Always a strong believe in the Quaker peace testimony, she regularly attended meetings of the Pennsylvania Peace Society, of which she was vice-president. She seldom missed a woman’s rights or suffrage convention & seldom failed to be called upon for an address. At the 1st convention of the American Equal Rights Association in 1866, she was named president at the insistence of Elizabeth Cady Stanton. When in 1869, the movement split into rival factions, one led by Mrs. Stanton & Susan B Anthony, the other by Lucy Stone, Mary Livermore, & Julia Ward Howe, she sought earnestly but unsuccessfully to overcome the division.
During her last 12 years she was without the faithful support of her husband, for James Mott died on Jan. 26, 1868. She herself lived to the age of 87, active to the end, publicly & privately, in good causes.
National Park Service
Early depictions of America as a woman appeared before the Revolutionary War.
Allegory of America - Theodor Galle (Flemish engraver, 1571-1633) after Johannes Stradanus (1523-1605) plate 2 from Nova Reperta New Discoveries c.1600 Artist Jan van der Straet, (1523-1605)
Paul Revere's logotype for the 1774 Royal American Magazine, depicts America as an Indian figure offering a calumet (a Native American peace pipe) to the genius of Knowledge.
By 1774, tempers were flaring, and the Boston Port Act & Paul Revere's famous ride were simmering just over the horizon. Taxes on tea were an infuriating issue, especially to women. In 1773, Britain had exported 738,083 pounds of tea to the colonies. In 1774, the figure dropped to 69,830. Imports of tea fell from 206,312 pounds to 30,161 in New England; from 208,385 to 1,304 pounds in New York; and from 208,191 pounds to nothing in Pennsylvania.
1774 Paul Revere's The Able Doctor or America Swallowing the Bitter Draught. Royal American Magazine. June 1774.
In this engraving, Paul Revere (1735-1718) uses what appears to be an Indian woman to depict America being subjugated by British ministers, who are forcing her to drink vile tea for her own good. The engraving comes as close as it dare to depicting the rape of America. Here the lady portrayed as America is wearing a classic draped gown that has been torn away from her body.
Since the 1760s, the British American colonial painters & their subjects, who chose to adopt aspects of ancient looking costumes, were striving for a classic timelessness. Fine artists, thinkers, & artisans, such as Paul Revere, turned to what they understood to be the values of classical Greece & Rome, valuing order, harmony, virtue, balance, & tradition. Portrait painters John Singleton Copley & Henry Benbridge portrayed classical costumes on some of their clients before this depiction by Revere. By 1772, Charles Willson Peale was painting virtuous mothers in classical gowns holding their innocent children. The props, costumes, and scenery of a portrait declared the values & the attributes by which the subject, and often the artist, wanted to be known.
In this depiction, wearing his wig & judicial costume Britain's Chief Justice William Murray--Lord Mansfield (1705-1793) holds classic lady America down; as English Prime Minister Frederick "Lord" North, (1732-1792) with the punitive Boston Port Act bulging out of his pocket, pours the vile tea down lady America's throat. A leacherous Lord Sandwich--John Montagu (1718-1792) peers under lady America's gown; as cocky John Stuart--Lord Bute (1713-1792) unsheaths his sword inscribed "Military Law." The bystanders, Spain & France, are horrified & tempted, just tempted mind you, to come to the aid of the ravished American colonies. In the background, Revere depicts his beloved Boston's skyline with the label "cannonaded." A torn & shredded American petition of grievances is thrown to the ground.
1775 Paul Revere's America in Distress. Royal American Magazine. March, 1775.
Boston's Paul Revere once again draws America as an Indian woman clothed in a classical costume, with quiver of arrows, a bow, & a feather head dress resting beneath her near a petition declaring "Petition of all England. America against evil Physicians, corrupt Members, & wicked Councellors." Lord North procliams, "She is mad and must be chained!" Behind Lord North lurks a worried Lord Bute, saying: "Secure her now, or it is all over with Us!" A vindictive Lord Mansfield declares, "She must lose more blood. Petitions are rebellious." A compliant Thomas Hutchinson, royal governor of Massachusetts, agrees, "Right, my Lord. Penalties of that kind seem best adapted."
This anonymous engraving from the beginning of the Revolutionary War depicts "The Female Combatants," an oppulent English woman in an enormous hairdo & stylish clothing, fighting America, a natural Indian woman. The pious, en vogue English woman declares, "I'll force you to Obedience, you Rebellious Slut." Pure, definant America replies: "Liberty, Liberty forever, Mother, while I exist." English printmakers & editorial writers had been attacking the outlandish excesses of British fashions of the period by the time Paul Revere chose this image.
1779 Minerva, or Civic Virtue, W.D. Cooper America Trampling on Oppression from History of North America, E. Newberry. London, 1789, frontispiece.
This English frontispiece depicts a calmer, more controlled, classically dressed America during the middle of the American Revolution accompanied by medals of Benjamin Franklin and George Washington.
1782 America Triumphant and Britannia in Distress, Frontispiece, Weatherwise's Town and Country Almanack.
Below this image an "Explanation" reads:
I. America sitting on that quarter of the globe with the Flag of the United States displayed over her head; holding in one hand the Olive branch, inviting the ships of all nations to partake of her commerce; and in the other hand supporting the Cap of Liberty.
II. Fame proclaiming the joyful news to all the world.
III. Britannia weeping at the loss of the trade of America, attended with an evil genius.
IV. The British flag struck, on her strong Fortresses.
V. French, Spanish, Dutch &c shipping in the harbours of America.
VI. A view of New York wherein is exhibited the Trator Arnold, taken with remorse for selling his country and Judas like hanging himself.
Here lady America is represented by another classical Minerva figure, seated beneath a dead tree, with a shield of a snake ringed with another snake. The new American flag boasts 13 stars; and the new American lady is evolving into a calmer, more self-assured representation of the new nation. Soon she will be the depiction of the new nation, Lady Liberty.
Adrien Collaert II Personification of America 1765-1775
Thomas Colley The Reconciliation between Britannia and Her Daughter America London 1782
Africa-America, One of a series on the Four Continents. London T. Hinton 1808
Symbols, like those of Lady Liberty illustrated here, are visual shorthand. The English and the colonists had begun depicting America as a lady even before the American Revolution. Americans in the 18th & 19th centuries invented or adopted emblems (images accompanied by a motto either understood or written) and personifications (usually historical allegorical figures) to express their political needs & beliefs.
These symbols were propaganda tools to draw together the country's diverse peoples, who spoke many languages, in order to promote national political union & purpose. Lady Liberty evolved throughout the decades of the early republic to meet the propaganda needs of the current situation.
This 18th century Lady Liberty freeing a bird from its cage, giving political liberty to the United States from Britain, while holding a liberty cap hung on a pole. Lady Liberty was almost always depicted in a classical costume. Before the Roman Empire, similar felt caps were worn by liberated slaves from Troy & Asia Minor to cover their previously shorn heads, until their hair grew back. Here the cap symbolized a more intimate emancipation from personal servitude as a subject of the British Empire rather than united, national liberty. The caps were sometimes referred in Latin as pilleus liberatis. In classical literature, the cap atop a pole was a symbol of freedom evolving from the period when Salturnius conquered Rome in 263 BC; and he raised the cap on a pikestaff to show that he would free the slaves who fought with him. The cap was such a popular symbol that it was also depicted on some early US coins.
Lady Liberty is holding a musket & powder horn, ready to fight for freedom. 1779 Broadside. New York Historical Society. SY1779 No. 2.
Venerate the Plough, 1786, etching Columbian Magazine
1790 Design on an American Coverlet Winterthur Museum
1792 Genius of Lady's Magazine kneels before Columbia (Lady Liberty) with a petition for the rights of women. Lady's Magazine. Library Company of Philadelphia
Edward Savage Liberty in the Form of the Goddess of Youth Giving Support to the Bald Eagle, 1796
Liberty in the Form of the Goddess inspired by Edward Savage's print in Embroidery by a young woman.
Abijah Canfield Liberty in the Form of the Goddess of Youth Giving Support to the Bald Eagle, a painting after Edward Savage. 1800
Enoch Gridley Pater Patriae Memorial for George Washington with Lady Liberty at the base holding a spear and a sword as she weeps. 1800
Lady Liberty 1800 Brown University
In the 19th century, as the country grew and faced new challenges, Lady Liberty changed to reflect the times.
Lady Liberty & a bald eagle sit in a field of stars, each holding a banner declaring E Pluribus Unum. Lady Liberty is fending off an arrow attack with her American shield, while holding a cache of weapons securely beneath her foot.
> A seated Lady Liberty holds a liberty cap on a pole & an American shield supported by images of industry & sea power behind her.
Lady Liberty holds a liberty cap on a pole & an American shield in front of bustling American industry behind her.
Lady Liberty holds the American flag & points toward the future.
Here is Lady Liberty pointing to the future, while holding an American flag & standing on a pedestal engraved with the year 1776, which also supports an American eagle.
Statue of Liberty 1886
After the Statue of Liberty of 1886
1892 Lady Liberty
Nellie Bly 1864-1922
Born in Cochran's Mills, Armstrong County, Pennsylvania, 40 miles northeast of Pittsburgh, she began her work as a journalist at the Pittsburg Dispatch. Nellie Bly focused her early work for the Dispatch on the plight of working women, writing a series of investigative articles on female factory workers. But editorial pressure pushed her to the women's pages to cover fashion, society, and gardening, the usual role for female journalists of the day.
Unhappy reporting on women's events, Bly left the Pittsburgh Dispatch in 1887 for New York City. Penniless after 4 months, she talked her way into the offices of Joseph Pulitzer's newspaper, the New York World, and took an undercover assignment for which she agreed to feign insanity to investigate reports of brutality and neglect at the Women's Lunatic Asylum on Blackwell's Island.
After a night of practicing deranged expressions in front of a mirror, she checked into a working-class boardinghouse. She refused to go to bed, telling the boarders that she was afraid of them and that they looked crazy. They soon decided that she was crazy, and the next morning summoned the police. Taken to a courtroom, she pretended to have amnesia. The judge concluded she had been drugged. She was then examined by several doctors, who all declared her to be insane..
Those Magnificent Women in Their Flying Machines
1801 Jacob Frymire (c 1770-1822). Amelia Heiskell Lauck (1760-1842) of Winchester
Jacob Frymire (c 1770-1821), born in Lancaster, Pennsylvania, worked as an itinerant artist in Virginia and Kentucky during the early 19th-century. Amelia was the wife of Peter Lauck, who built the Red Lion Inn in Winchester in 1783. She was just 41 years old when this portrait was painted..
Women’s History Month: First Woman Sworn into Congress
Library of Congress Collection - Documents Hard-Won Victory
Carrie Chapman Catt
The Legacy of US Slave Hannah Richards
Susan B. Anthony (1820-1906) is perhaps the most widely known suffragist of her generation and has become an icon of the woman’s suffrage movement. Anthony traveled the country to give speeches, circulate petitions, and organize local women’s rights organizations.
Anthony was born in Adams, Massachusetts. After the Anthony family moved to Rochester, New York in 1845, they became active in the antislavery movement. Antislavery Quakers met at their farm almost every Sunday, where they were sometimes joined by Frederick Douglass and William Lloyd Garrison. Later two of Anthony's brothers, Daniel and Merritt, were anti-slavery activists in the Kansas territory.
In 1848 Susan B. Anthony was working as a teacher in Canajoharie, New York and became involved with the teacher’s union when she discovered that male teachers had a monthly salary of $10.00, while the female teachers earned $2.50 a month. Her parents and sister Marry attended the 1848 Rochester Woman’s Rights Convention held August 2.
Anthony’s experience with the teacher’s union, temperance and antislavery reforms, and Quaker upbringing, laid fertile ground for a career in women’s rights reform to grow. The career would begin with an introduction to Elizabeth Cady Stanton.
On a street corner in Seneca Falls in 1851, Amelia Bloomer introduced Susan B. Anthony to Elizabeth Cady Stanton, and later Stanton recalled the moment: “There she stood with her good earnest face and genial smile, dressed in gray silk, hat and all the same color, relieved with pale blue ribbons, the perfection of neatness and sobriety. I liked her thoroughly, and why I did not at once invite her home with me to dinner, I do not know.”
Meeting Elizabeth Cady Stanton was probably the beginning of her interest in women’s rights, but it is Lucy Stone’s speech at the 1852 Syracuse Convention that is credited for convincing Anthony to join the women’s rights movement.
In 1853 Anthony campaigned for women's property rights in New York State, speaking at meetings, collecting signatures for petitions, and lobbying the state legislature. Anthony circulated petitions for married women's property rights and woman suffrage. She addressed the National Women’s Rights Convention in 1854 and urged more petition campaigns. In 1854 she wrote to Matilda Joslyn Gage that “I know slavery is the all-absorbing question of the day, still we must push forward this great central question, which underlies all others.”
By 1856 Anthony became an agent for the American Anti-Slavery Society, arranging meetings, making speeches, putting up posters, and distributing leaflets. She encountered hostile mobs, armed threats, and things thrown at her. She was hung in effigy, and in Syracuse her image was dragged through the streets.
At the 1856 National Women’s Rights Convention, Anthony served on the business committee and spoke on the necessity of the dissemination of printed matter on women’s rights. She named The Lily and The Woman’s Advocate, and said they had some documents for sale on the platform.
Stanton and Anthony founded the American Equal Rights Association and in 1868 became editors of its newspaper, The Revolution. The masthead of the newspaper proudly displayed their motto, “Men, their rights, and nothing more; women, their rights, and nothing less.”
By 1869 Stanton, Anthony and others formed the National Woman Suffrage Association and focused their efforts on a federal woman’s suffrage amendment. In an effort to challenge suffrage, Anthony and her three sisters voted in the 1872 Presidential election. She was arrested and put on trial in the Ontario Courthouse, Canandaigua, New York. The judge instructed the jury to find her guilty without any deliberations, and imposed a $100 fine. When Anthony refused to pay a $100 fine and court costs, the judge did not sentence her to prison time, which ended her chance of an appeal. An appeal would have allowed the suffrage movement to take the question of women’s voting rights to the Supreme Court, but it was not to be.
From 1881 to 1885, Anthony joined Elizabeth Cady Stanton and Matilda Joslyn Gage in writing the History of Woman Suffrage.
Susan B Anthonuy and Elizabeth Caty Stanton
As a final tribute to Susan B. Anthony, the Nineteenth Amendment was named the Susan B. Anthony Amendment. It was ratified in 1920.
National Park Service
Jarena Lee was the 1st woman to preach under the auspices of the AME church. The child of free black parents, Lee was born in New Jersey in 1783, & worked as a servant in the home of a white family, 60 miles from her home. Strongly affected when she went to hear Richard Allen preach, Lee determined to preach herself. At first rebuffed by Allen, who said that women could not preach at the Methodist Church, Lee persisted; & 8 years after his initial refusal, Allen allowed her access to the pulpit after hearing her spontaneous exhoration during a sermon at Bethel AME Church. Lee traveled all over the United States preaching her gospel of freedom, even venturing into the South to preach to slaves. The following is a segment of her journey written in her own words.
Jarena Lee (1783-1857), Preacher of the A.M.E. Church, Aged 60 years in the 11th day of the 2nd month 1844, Philadelphia 1844
Jarena Lee (1783-1857) - Do coloured people have souls? - Returning to Cape May, NJ
Shortly after she impulsively stood up in the Bethel AME Church to preach a sermon which was lauded, Jarena Lee began to think about devoting her life to preaching.
I now began to think seriously of breaking up housekeeping, & forsaking all to preach the everlasting Gospel. I felt a strong desire to return to the place of my nativity, at Cape May, after an absence of about fourteen years...
When within ten miles of that place, I appointed an evening meeting. There were a goodly number come out to hear. The Lord was pleased to give me light & liberty among the people. After meeting, there came an elderly lady to me & said, she believed the Lord had sent me among them; & then appointed me another meeting there two weeks from that night.
The next day I hastened forward to the place of my mother who was happy to see me, & the happiness was mutual between us. With her I left my poor sickly boy, while I departed to do my Master's will.
In this neighborhood I had an uncle, who was a Methodist, & who gladly threw open his door for meetings to be held there. At the first meeting which I held in my uncle's house, there was, with others who had come from curiosity to hear the woman preacher, an old man, who was a Deist, & who said he did not believe the coloured people had any souls - he was sure they had none. He took a seat very near where I was standing, & boldly tried to look me out of countenance. But as I labored on in the best manner I was able, looking to God all the while, though it seemed to me I had but little liberty, yet there went an arrow from the bent bow of the gospel, & fastened in his till then obdurate heart.
After I had done speaking, he went out, & called the people around him, said that my preaching might seem a small thing, yet he believed I had the worth of souls at heart. This language was different from what it was a little time before, as he now seemed to admit that coloured people had souls, as it was to these I was chiefly speaking; & unless they had souls, whose good I had in view, his remark must have been without meaning.
He now came into the house, & in the most friendly manner shook hands with me, saying, he hoped God had spared him to some good purpose. This man was a great slave holder, & had been very cruel; thinking nothing of knocking down a slave with a fence stake, or whatever might come to hand. From this time it was said of him that he became greatly altered in his ways for the better. At that time he was about seventy years old, his head as white as snow; but whether he became a converted man or not, I never heard.
The week following, I had an invitation to hold a meeting at the (Cape May) Court House of the County... It was a solemn time, & the Lord attended the word; I had life & liberty, though there were people there of various denominations. Here again I saw the aged slaveholder, who notwithstanding his age, walked about three miles to hear me.
This day I spoke twice, & walked six miles to the place appointed. There was a magistrate present, who showed his friendship, by saying in a friendly manner, that he had heard of me: he handed me a hymnbook, pointing to a hymn which he had selected.
When the meeting was over, he invited me to preach in a schoolhouse in his neighborhood, about three miles distant from where I was. During this meeting one backslider was reclaimed. This day I walked six miles, & preached twice to large congregations, both in the morning & evening. The Lord was with me, glory be to his holy name.
I next went six miles & held a meeting in a coloured friend's house, at eleven o'clock in the morning, & preached to a well behaved congregation, of both coloured & white. After service I again walked back, which was in all twelve miles in the same day. This was on Sabbath, or as I sometimes call it, seventh day; for after my conversion, I preferred the plain language of the Friends.
On the fourth day, after this, in compliance with an invitation received by note, from the same magistrate who had heard me at the above place I preached to a large congregation, where we had a precious time: much weeping was heard among the people.
The same gentleman, now at the close of the meeting, gave out another appointment at the same place, that day week, Here again I had liberty, there was a move among the people.
Ten years from that time, in the neighborhood of Cape May, I held a prayer meeting in a school house, which was then the regular place of preaching for the Episcopal Methodists, after service, there came a white lady, of great distinction, a member of the Methodist Society, & told that at that same shool house ten years before, under my preaching, the Lord first awakened her. She rejoiced much to see me, & invited me home with her, where I staid till the next day. This was bread cast upon the water, seen after many years.
From this place I went to Dennis Creek meeting house (in New Jersey), where at the invitation of an elder, I spoke to a large congregation of various & conflicting sentiments, when a wonderful shock of God's power was felt, shown everywhere by groans, by sighs, & loud & happy amens. I felt as if aided from above. My tongue was cut loose, the stammerer spoke freely; the love of God, & of his service, burned with a vehement flame within me - his name was glorified among the people.
From - Religious Experience and Journal of Mrs Jarena Lee, Giving an account of her call to preach the Gospel. Revised & Corrected from the Original Manuscript, written by herself Philadelphia, Printed & Published for the Author, 1849 Entered according to the Act of Congress, in the year 1836
Jarena Lee (1783-1857) was an evangelist for the AME church in the first half of the 19th century. In 1816, Richard Allen (1760-1831) and his colleagues in Philadelphia broke away from the Methodist Church and founded the African Methodist Episcopal Church, which, along with independent black Baptist congregations, flourished as the century progressed. Richard Allen allowed women to become evangelists and teachers but not church leaders. Jarena Lee was the 1st female to preach in the African Methodist Episcopal denomination. Born in Cape May, New Jersey, she moved to Pennsylvania, when she married in 1811. She had felt called to preach as early as 1809, & revealed her wish to church leader Richard Allen, who responded symapthetically, but explained that the AME Church was silent on the question of women preachers. In 1817, an "ungovernable impulse" led her to rise in Bethel Church & deliver an extemporaneous discourse that so impressed Bishop Allen; that he publically apologized for having discouraged her 8 years earlier. With this verbal liscense from the bishop, Lee began her evangelical ministry, traveling hundreds of miles, often on foot, to preach before all races & denominations, at churches, revivals, & camp meetings. She traveled as far west as Ohio. Although she was never officially licensed & never organized any churches, her ministry aided in the rapid growth of the AME Church before the Civil War. By 1846, the A.M.E. Church, which began with 8 clergy & 5 churches, had grown to 176 clergy, 296 churches, & 17,375 members.