Sunday, March 19, 2017

Lady Liberty in 19C America

In the 19th century, as the country grew and faced new challenges, Lady Liberty changed to reflect the times.

 


Lady Liberty with an eagle holding a liberty cap and resting on a shield.

 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.
Lady Liberty Civil War
Statue of Liberty 1886
After the Statue of Liberty of 1886
1892 Lady Liberty

Saturday, March 18, 2017

Lady Liberty in 18C America

For the first 50 years after the signing of the Declaration of Indpendence on the 4th of July, American women would present their appreciation of the nation's hard-won liberty as handiwork in the form of banners, flags, or standards to groups of soldiers of the United States military. These Independence Day presentation ceremony would allow the women to speak about what the new nation & its defenders meant to them, even though they would not be allowed to vote until 1920.  These female orators could be viewed as the embodiment of Lady Liberty herself.

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

Friday, March 17, 2017

America depicted as a Woman - The earliest Lady Liberties

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

Thursday, March 16, 2017

US Women Fighting for Equality - Lucretia Coffin Mott 1793-1880

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.
Lucretia Mott (1793 - 1880), by Joseph Kyle (1815 - 1863)

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

Wednesday, March 15, 2017

US Women Fighting for Equality - Mary Ann M’Clintock 1800-1884

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

Tuesday, March 14, 2017

US Women Fighting for Equality - Elizabeth Cady Stanton 1815-1902 - Solitude of Self 1892

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
Elizabeth Cady Stanton (seated) with Susan B. Anthony (standing)  Elizabeth Cady Stanton, Born November 12, 1815 in Johnstown and died October 26, 1902 in New York City

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?

Monday, March 13, 2017

US Women Fighting for Equality - Martha Coffin Wright 1806-1875

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

Sunday, March 12, 2017

US Women Fighting for Equality - A few words from Sarah Grimke 1792-1873 & Angelina Grimke Weld 1805-1879

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

Saturday, March 11, 2017

US Women Fighting for Equality - Elizabeth Cady Stanton 1815-1902

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.

Later in her career Stanton, like Gage, focused increasingly on social reforms related to women's concerns other than suffrage. The two worked together on Stanton's Woman's Bible a work rejected by many of the more conservative elements in the movement. The two also collaborated with Anthony in the first three volumes of A History of Woman Suffrage, covering the period 1848 to 1877. Though Gage split completely with Anthony over Anthony's successful effort to merge the NWSA with its more conservative counterpart into the National American Woman Suffrage Association, Stanton agreed to serve as President of the combined organization for a brief period. At the end she took to having her resolutions introduced by others, so fully was her leadership rejected by the newer forces, many of whom saw suffrage as a step toward introduction of a conservative religious social agenda that Stanton strongly and openly opposed. The resiliency of the friendship between Stanton and Anthony is illustrated in the photograph of the two at Anthony's home in Rochester late in their lives.

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

Friday, March 10, 2017

US Women Fighting for Equality - Jane Clothier Master Hunt 1812-1889

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.

Sources:

1850 census.
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.

Thursday, March 9, 2017

US Women Fighting for Equality - Women's Rights Convention 1848 Seneca Falls, New York

Report of the Woman's Rights Convention 1848
A Convention to discuss the SOCIAL, CIVIL, AND RELIGIOUS CONDITION OF WOMAN, was called by the Women of Seneca County, N.Y., and held at the village of Seneca Falls, in the Wesleyan Chapel, on the 19th and 20th of July, 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