Tuesday, February 28, 2017

Ex-slave Amy Chapman, about 94, Remembers 19C America


Amy recounted, "One day Marse Reuben come home an' when he foun' out dat de overseer was mean to de slaves he commence to give him a lecture, but when Miss Ferlicia tuk a han' in de business, she didn't stop at no lecture, She tol' dat overseer dis: 'I hear you take my women an' turn dere cloth'n over dere haids an' whup 'em. Any man dats got a family would do sich a thing oughter be sham' of hisself, an' iffen Gov. Chapman can't make you leave, I kin, so you see dat road dere? Well, make tracks den.' An' Mistis, he lef' right den. He didn't wait for no coaxin'. He was de meanes' overseer us ever had."

Slave Narratives: A Folk History of Slavery in the United States from Interviews with Former Slaves. Photo from 20th century.

Monday, February 27, 2017

Ex-slave Tempie Cummins Remembers 19C America



Tempie remembered, "Mother was workin' in the house, and she cooked too. She say she used to hide in the chimney corner and listen to what the white folks say. When freedom was 'clared, marster wouldn' tell 'em, but mother she hear him tellin' mistus that the slaves was free but they didn' know it and he's not gwineter tell 'em till he makes another crop or two. When mother hear that she say she slip out the chimney corner and crack her heels together four times and shouts. 'I's free, I's free.' Then she runs to the field, 'gainst marster's will and tol' all the other slaves and they quit work. Then she run away and in the night she slip into a big ravine near the house and have them bring me to her. Marster, he come out with his gun and shot at mother but she run down the ravine and gits away with me."

Slave Narratives: A Folk History of Slavery in the United States from Interviews with Former Slaves.
Photo from 20th century.


Photos and quotes of former slaves used in these blog posts come from the Slave Narratives. This collection contains over 20,000 pages of typewritten interviews with more than 3,500 former slaves, collected over a ten-year period. In 1929, both Fisk University in Tennessee and Southern University in Louisiana began to document the life stories of former American slaves. Kentucky State College continued the work in 1934. In the midst of the Depression between 1936 and 1939, these narratives continued to be collected as part of the Federal Writers' Project of the WPA, the Works Progress Administration. They were assembled and microfilmed in 1941, as the 17-volume Slave Narratives: A Folk History of Slavery in the United States from Interviews with Former Slaves. The collection includes photos of the interviewees taken in the 1930s as well as their full interviews. Those whose voices are included in the collection ranged in age from 1 to 50 at the time of emancipation in 1865; more than 2/3 were over 80 when they were interviewed.

The problem that I have with these interviews is the language as reported by the interviewers. The Library of Congress explains on their website, "The narratives usually involve some attempt by the interviewers to reproduce in writing the spoken language of those interviewed...The interviewers were writers, not professionals trained in the phonetic transcription of speech...by the 1930s, when the interviews took place, white representations of black speech already had an ugly history of entrenched stereotype dating back at least to the early 19C." What most white interviewers assumed to be "the usual" patterns of their informants' speech was unavoidably influenced by the 1930s preconceptions and stereotypes of the interviewers themselves. "The result, as the historian Lawrence W. Levine wrote, "is a mélange of accuracy and fantasy, of sensitivity and stereotype, of empathy and racism" that may sometimes be offensive to today's readers. Yet whatever else they may be, the representations of speech in the narratives are a pervasive and forceful reminder that these documents are not only a record of a time that was already history when they were created: they are themselves irreducibly historical, the products of a particular time and particular places."

Sunday, February 26, 2017

Women on the North American Canadian Frontier in 19C - by Dutch-born Cornelius Krieghoff 1815-1872

Cornelius Krieghoff was born in Amsterdam, spent his formative years in Bavaria, and studied in Rotterdam & Dusseldorf. He traveled to the United States in the 1830s, where he served in the Army for a few years. He married a young woman from Quebec and moved to the Montreal area, where he created genre paintings of the people & countryside of Canada. According to Charles C. Hill, "Krieghoff was the first Canadian artist to interpret in oils... the splendour of our waterfalls, and the hardships and daily life of people living on the edge of new frontiers" Krieghoff lived in Quebec from 1854-1863, before he came to Chicago to live with his daughter.


Cornelius Krieghoff (Dutch-born Canadian painter, 1815-1872) J B Jolifou, Aubergiste

Saturday, February 25, 2017

Ex-slave Louise Mathews, about 83, Remembers 19C America


Louise remembered, "Marster Turner am very reasonable 'bout de wo'k. He wants a good days wo'k, an' all de cullud fo'ks gives it to him. Weuns had Saturday afternoons off, an' co'se, Sundays too. Weuns does de washin' an' sich wo'k as weuns wants to do fo' ourselves on Saturdays, den weuns could go to parties at night. De Marster gives weuns a pass ever' Saturday night if weuns wanted it. Weuns had to have de pass 'cause de Patterollers am watchin' fo' de cullud fo'ks as don't have de pass. Weuns have singin' an' dancin' at de parties. De dancin' am quadrilles an' de music am fiddles an' banjoes."

Slave Narratives: A Folk History of Slavery in the United States from Interviews with Former Slaves. Photo from 20th century.

Friday, February 24, 2017

Women on the North American Canadian Frontier in 19C - by Dutch-born Cornelius Krieghoff 1815-1872

Cornelius Krieghoff was born in Amsterdam, spent his formative years in Bavaria, and studied in Rotterdam & Dusseldorf. He traveled to the United States in the 1830s, where he served in the Army for a few years. He married a young woman from Quebec and moved to the Montreal area, where he created genre paintings of the people & countryside of Canada. According to Charles C. Hill, "Krieghoff was the first Canadian artist to interpret in oils... the splendour of our waterfalls, and the hardships and daily life of people living on the edge of new frontiers" Krieghoff lived in Quebec from 1854-1863, before he came to Chicago to live with his daughter.

Cornelius Krieghoff (Dutch-born Canadian painter, 1815-1872) The Blizzard 1857

Thursday, February 23, 2017

Ex-slave Frances Black, about 87, Remembers 19C America


Francis remembered, "I was born in Grand Bluff, in Mississippi, on Old Man Carlton's plantation, and I was stole from my folks when I was a li'l gal and never seed them no more. Us kids played in the big road there in Mississippi, and one day me and 'nother gal is playin' up and down the road and three white men come 'long in a wagon. They grabs as up and puts us in the wagon and covers us with quilts. I hollers and yells and one the men say, 'Shet up, you nigger, or I'll kill you.' I told him, 'Kill me if you wants to - you stole me from my folks."

Slave Narratives: A Folk History of Slavery in the United States from Interviews with Former Slaves. Photo from 20th century.

Women traveling in Winter on the Canadian Frontier - by Cornelius Krieghoff 1815-1872

Cornelius Krieghoff (Dutch-born Canadian painter, 1815-1872) Winter Landscape 1849

Cornelius Krieghoff 1815-1872 was born in Amsterdam, spent his formative years in Bavaria, & studied in Rotterdam & Dusseldorf. He traveled to the United States in the 1830s, where he served in the Army for a few years. He married a young woman from Quebec & moved to the Montreal area, where he painted genre paintings of the people & countryside of Canada. According to Charles C. Hill, Curator of Canadian Art at the National Gallery, "Krieghoff was the first Canadian artist to interpret in oils... the splendour of our waterfalls, & the hardships & daily life of people living on the edge of new frontiers" Krieghoff moved to Quebec from 1854-1863, before he came to Chicago to live with his daughter.

Wednesday, February 22, 2017

Ex-slave Charlotte Beverly, about 90, Remembers 19C America


Charlotte explained, "The white folks had interes' in they cullud people where I live. Sometimes they's as many as fifty cradle with little nigger babies in 'em and the mistus, she look after them and take care of them, too. She turn them and dry them herself. She had a little gal git water and help. She never had no chillen of her own. I'd blow the horn for the mudders of the little babies to come in from the fields and nurse 'em, in mornin' and afternoon. Mistus feed them what was old enough to eat victuals. Sometimes, they mammies take them to the field and fix pallet on ground for then to lay on."

Slave Narratives: A Folk History of Slavery in the United States from Interviews with Former Slaves.
Photo from 20th century.

Tuesday, February 21, 2017

Ex Slave Lou Williams Remembers 19C America


Ex Slave Lou Williams, nearly 100 years old

Lou explained, "We had big gardens and lots of vegetables to eat, 'cause massa had 'bout 800 slaves and 'bout a 1,000 acres in he plantation. In summer time we wore jes' straight cotton slips and no shoes till Sunday, den we puts on shoes and white dresses and ties a ribbon 'round our waists, and we didn't look like de same chillen."

Slave Narratives: A Folk History of Slavery in the United States from Interviews with Former Slaves. Photo from 20th century.

Monday, February 20, 2017

US Women Fighting for Equality - The Grimke Sisters - Sarah 1792-1873 and Angelina 1805-1879

Sarah Moor Grimke (1792-1873) and Angelina Emily Grimke (1805-1879), abolitionists and woman’s rights pioneers, were born in Charleston, South Carolina. Sarah was the 6th of 14 children, Angelina the last.

Their father, John Faucheraud Grimke, whose French Huguenot ancestors had come to America after the revolution of the Edict of Nantes, was a graduate of Trinity College, Cambridge, and had studied law in England. After serving as a lieutenant colonel in the American Revolution, he rose in the South Carolina judiciary to a position equivalent to chief justice. Their mother, Mary (Smith) Grimke, of Irish and Puritan ancestry, also came from a family prominent in Carolina politics. Among their brothers were Thomas Smith Grimke, lawyer, state senator, and advocate of peace, temperance and educational reforms until his early death in 1834. Brother Frederick Grimke became a judge of the Ohio supreme court.

The Grimke sisters were educated by private tutors in the subjects then considered proper for young ladies; but Sarah protested at being denied Greek, Latin, philosophy, and law, and eagerly learned what she could of these subjects from her father and brothers. Outwardly conforming to the gay social life of antebellum Charleston, Sarah, deeply religious by temperament, was inwardly rebellious. When in 1819 she accompanied her ailing father on a health-seeking trip to Philadelphia and New Jersey (in the midst of which he died), she was much impressed by the simplicity, sincerity and piety of the Quakers whom she met.

The Quaker abhorrence of slavery struck a responsive note with Sarah. Although reared in an affluent home and accustomed to the services of numerous slaves, she had early become sensitive to the injustices of the slave system. As a young teacher in a Negro Sunday school, she had rebelled against the law which prohibited teaching slaves to read, and only threats of punishment had ended the reading lessons she had surreptitiously given to her own maid. 
After prolonged turmoil of mind, Sarah left the family’s Episcopal faith, became a member of the Society of Friends, and in 1821, at age 28, moved to Philadelphia.

Angelina Grimke, less introverted and more self-assured, modified her religious ideas more easily, turning first to Presbyterianism and then following Sarah into the Quaker fold. Angelina, however, was agitated even more deeply than her sister over the issue of slavery. “That system must be radically wrong which can only be supported by transgressing the laws of God,” she wrote in May 1829, in a diary already filled with remorse over the punishments meted out to family slaves.

Her mother refused to discuss the subject. Alienated from her family and repelled by the violent nature of her surroundings, Angelina in the autumn of 1829, left Charleston and joined her older sister in Philadelphia. Family ties, though strained, were not broken, but the sisters never returned to live in the South. Having made good their personal escape from the slave system, they devoted themselves for a time to charitable work and religious preoccupations. Sarah hoped to be accepted into the Friends ministry, but her stiff and halting delivery when she spoke in meeting made a bad impression. The Quaker merchant Israel Morris, a widower, twice proposed marriage, but although Sarah was much attracted to him she refused his offers. Angelina abandoned her thoughts of training at Catherine Beecher's Hartford school to become a teacher, when her suitor, Edward Bettle, son of a leading Quaker elder, disapproved, but Bettle died of cholera in 1832.

Of the two sisters, Angelina was the first to become convinced, that her vocation lay in the antislavery cause. After reading abolitionist newspapers and hearing such lecturers and England’s George Thompson, she joined the Philadelphia Female Anti-Slavery Society, recording in her diary (May 12, 1835): “I am confident not many years will roll by before the horrible traffic in human beings will be destroyed…My earnest prayers have been poured out that the Lord would be pleased to permit me to be instrumental of good to these degraded. Oppressed , and suffering fellow-creatures.”

When William Lloyd Garrison in September 1835, unexpectedly printed in the Liberator a letter she had written to him expressing sympathy with his cause, the Grimke name was publicly and irrevocably identified with abolition. That same year, Angelina wrote An Appeal to the Christian Women of the South, published in 1836 by the American Anti-Slavery Society. This abolitionist pamphlet, bearing the name of a leading Southern family, aroused intense public interest. Of the copies that reached the South, many were destroyed by southern postmasters, and the author was warned not to attempt a return to Charleston. Soon after completing her pamphlet, Angelina accepted an appointment from the American Anti-Slavery Society to hold meetings for small groups of interested women in the New York City area.

Sarah Grimke’s conversion to abolitionism proceeded somewhat more slowly. She was, however, like her sister, disturbed by discrimination against Negroes in the Friends meeting, and she felt increasing frustrated in the orthodox Quaker environment. In August 1836, upon attempting to speak in a meeting, she was publicly silenced and rebuked by “Pope Jonathan” Evans, leader of the Philadelphia Yearly Meeting. Considering her Quaker ties severed, she moved to New York and cast her lot with Angelina in the antislavery movement. That November both sisters attended an indoctrination course for abolitionist workers conducted by the noted antislavery orator Theodore Dwight Weld. Inspired by this experience, Sarah wrote herEpistles to the Clergy of the Southern States (American Anti-Slavery Society, 1836) a refutation of the argument that slavery in Biblical times justified the modern institution.

Angelina’s audiences, meanwhile, had outgrown private parlors, and a few ministers had opened their churches to her-provided only women attended. The novelty of a sheltered Southern lady lecturing against slavery drew men as well as women, however, and during a New England tour in 1837, she created a sensation by publicly addressing “mixed” audiences containing both men and women. She wrote a second pamphlet, Appeal to the Women of the Nominally Free States (1837), and early in 1838, she testified bore a committee of the Massachusetts legislature on the subject of antislavery petitions, the first woman accorded that privilege. Though she was plan and rather masculine in appearance, Angelina’s considerable height, piercing eyes, and powerful voice made an effective platform combination. The more retiring and conventionally feminine Sarah, neither so fluent nor so bold, accompanied her younger sister and spoke occasionally.

These appearances before mixed audiences catapulted the Grimke sisters into the center of a woman’s rights controversy-one of the earliest in American history. The issue was joined in July 1837 when the Congregational ministerial association of Massachusetts issued a “Pastoral Letter” strongly objecting to their unwomanly behavior. “We are,” wrote Angelina, “placed very unexpectedly in a very trying situation, in the forefront of an entirely new contest-a contest for the rights of woman as a moral, intelligent and responsible being.” To abolitionist friends like John Greenleaf Whittier and Theodore Weld, who pleaded with them not to endanger the antislavery crusade by raising an extraneous issue, they replied: “We cannot push Abolitionism forward…until we take up the stumbling block out of the road.”

Encouraged by Garrison, Henry C. Wright, and other New England radicals, the sisters confronted the challenge forthrightly. Angelina Grimke, in a series of Liberator letters, published in 1838, as a pamphlet, not only defended her right to speak out anywhere on the abolition issue, but declared that women should have a voice in the formation of all the laws by which they were governed. Sarah, too, contributed a vigorous pamphlet, Letters of the Equality of the Sexes, and the Condition of Woman (1838). The now famous sisters concluded their New England tour in the spring of 1838 with a lecture series in Boston’s Odeon Hall which drew audiences numbered in the thousands.

By this time Theodore Weld and Angelina Grimke, strongly attracted to each other since their first meeting, had avowed their affection. They were married on May 14, 1838, at the home of Angelina’s sister Anna in Philadelphia, in a simple ceremony attended by many prominent abolitionists. Since Weld was a Presbyterian, both Angelina and Sarah, as a participant, were formally dismissed from the Society of Friends. Two days later, Angelina Weld delivered an impassioned hour-long address to a Philadelphia antislavery convention, while an angry mob, which later burned the hall to the ground, raged outside. This appearance marked the end of her meteoric lecture career. Settling in Fort Lee. N.J., the Welds and Sarah Grimke (who made her home with the for the rest of her life) circulated antislavery petitions. They also complied, largely from reports in Southern newspapers, American Slavery As It Is: Testimony of a Thousand Witnesses (1839), a telling antislavery document upon which Harriet Beecher Stowe drew heavily in writing Uncle Tom’s Cabin

But in 1840, moving to a farm near Belleville, N.J., the erstwhile antislavery trio largely retired from the fray. Theodore Weld, his voice failing, deplored the increasing political course of the movement; his wife and sister-in-law were occupied with housekeeping duties. Angelina was often ill and Sarah took much of the care of the Welds’ 3 children-Charles Stuart, born in 1839, Theodore Grimke (1841), and Sarah Grimke (1844) - though this caused some friction between the two sisters. Garrison and his New England friends, who had regretted Angelina’s marriage to the more moderate Weld, felt that a powerful abolitionist voice had been silenced.

In 1848, in dire financial straits, the Welds and Sarah Grimke began taking in pupils, and by 1851 they were running a boarding school of twenty. Three years later they moved to Perth Amboy, N.J., where they opened a school in connection with the Raritan Bay Union, a communal settlement newly established by Marcus Spring, a New York merchant and philanthropist. The settlement expired after two years, by the school, Eagleswood, continued with some success until 1862. The sisters were actively interested in most of the intellectual currents and fads of their time, including diet and dress form. Henry David Thoreau, visiting Eagleswood in 1856, wrote: “There sat Mrs. Weld and her sister, two elderly gray-haired ladies, the former in extreme Bloomer costume, which was what you might call remarkable….”

In religion they became progressively less orthodox; the Millerite agitation engaged Angelina’s interest in the mid-1840’s, and spiritualists experiments were not unusual. In 1863, after a brief attempt by Theodore Weld to resume lecturing, the 3 moved to Massachusetts, settling first in West Newton and then, in 1864, in the community of Hyde Park, south of Boston. All three taught in Dio Lewis’ progressive school for young ladies in Lexington, until its destruction by fire in 1867. In addition, Sarah did some newspaper writing and translating. Though no longer active feminists, the two sisters did, in 1870, join a group of Hyde Park women in a symbolic effort to cast ballots in a local election.

The Grimkes’ belief in equality was put to the test in 1868, by their discovery that two mulatto students at Lincoln University in Pennsylvania who bore the family name were actually their nephews, sons of their brother Henry by a slave. The youngsters were promptly acknowledged and welcomed in the Weld home. With the aid and encouragement of their aunts, Archibald Henry and Francis James Grimke graduated respectively from Harvard Law School and Princeton Theological Seminary, achieved recognition in their professions, and became prominent spokesmen for equality, Archibald as leader in the National Association for the Advancement of Colored People.

Sarah Moore Grimke died in 1873, at age 81, her death attributed officially to laryngitis. Shortly thereafter, Angelina Grimke Weld suffered a paralytic stroke which partially incapacitated her until her own death six years later, at 74. Both sisters died in Hyde Park and were buried in Boston’s Mount Hope Cemetery. Theodore Weld survived his wife by 15 years.

This posting based on information from Notable American Women edited by Edward T James, Janet Wilson James, Paul S Boyer, The Belknap Press of Harvard University, Cambridge, Massachusetts. 1971

Women on the North American Canadian Frontier in 19C - by Dutch-born Cornelius Krieghoff 1815-1872

Cornelius Krieghoff (Dutch-born Canadian painter, 1815-1872) Indian Woman Moccasin Seller

Cornelius Krieghoff 1815-1872 was born in Amsterdam, spent his formative years in Bavaria, & studied in Rotterdam & Dusseldorf. He traveled to the United States in the 1830s, where he served in the Army for a few years. He married a young woman from Quebec & moved to the Montreal area, where he painted genre paintings of the people & countryside of Canada. According to Charles C. Hill, Curator of Canadian Art at the National Gallery, "Krieghoff was the first Canadian artist to interpret in oils... the splendour of our waterfalls, & the hardships & daily life of people living on the edge of new frontiers" Krieghoff moved to Quebec from 1854-1863, before he came to Chicago to live with his daughter.

Sunday, February 19, 2017

Ex-slave Betty Powers, about 80, Remembers 19C America


Betty said, "Did we'uns have weddin's? White man, you knows better'n dat. Dem times, cullud folks em jus' put together. De massa say, 'Jim and Nancy, you go live together.' and when dat order give, it better be done. Dey thinks nothin' on de plantation 'bout de feelin's of de women and dere ain't no 'spect for dem. De overseer and white mens took 'vantage of de women like dey wants to. De woman better not make no fuss 'bout sich. If she do, it am de whippin' for her."

Slave Narratives: A Folk History of Slavery in the United States from Interviews with Former Slaves. Photo from 20th century.

Saturday, February 18, 2017

Ex-Slave Mary Crane Remembers 19C America


Mary explained, "In those days, slave owners, whenever one of their daughters would get married, would give her and her husband a slave as a wedding present, usually allowing the girl to pick the one she wished to accompany her to her new home."

Slave Narratives: A Folk History of Slavery in the United States from Interviews with Former Slaves.
Photo from 20th century.

Friday, February 17, 2017

US Women Fighting for Equality - Abby Hadassah Smith (1797-1878) & Julia Evelina Smith, (1792-1886)

Born today in 1797, Abby Hadassah Smith (1797-1878) & her sister Julia Evelina Smith, (1792-1886).  The sisters were American suffragists who relentlessly protested for their property & voting rights, drawing considerable national & international attention to their situation & their cause.
Julia Evelina Smith, left, and Abby Hadassah Smith.

The Smith sisters lived almost their entire lives at the Connecticut farm homestead where they were born. Abby & Julia were the youngest of 5 daughters born to noted intellectual scholars Zephaniah Hollister Smith & Hannah Hadassah Hickock. The couple emphasized the importance of learning, nonconformity, & imaginative thought to their children. Educated at Emma Willard’s Seminary in Troy, New York, Julia Smith was known to have kept a diary in both French & Latin. She also translated her own version of the Bible from original Greek, Hebrew, & Latin sources, which she published in 1876. The sisters were active in temperance work & local charities, and reflecting the influences of their parents, they were notably independent in judgment & action.
A painting of Kimberly Mansion, the home of the Smith Sisters, located at 1625 Main St. in Glastonbury. The painting by Laurilla Smith, the sister of Julia & Abby Smith.

Totally against slavery in America, the Smith sisters invited William Lloyd Garrison to give abolitionist speeches from a tree stump in their front yard, when he was denied access to Hartford pulpits. The sisters also widely distributed the anti-slavery Charter Oak newspaper throughout Glastonbury. Their mother, who had authored one of the earliest anti-slavery petitions presented to Congress by John Quincy Adams, fully supported her daughters' abolitionist actions. 

Once slavery had been abolished in the United States, the Smith sisters focused their attentions on women’s suffrage. Before they could concentrate much energy on that movement; however, Julia & Abby, at the ages of 81 & 76, found themselves waging a personal battle against sexual inequality after inheriting the single most valuable piece of property in Glastonbury—their home, known as Kimberly Mansion.  

By 1869, Abby  & Julia were the only surviving members of the family. In November 1873, the Glastonbury tax collector informed the sisters that their recently reassessed property had raised $100 in value. Two widows in the town also had their property reassessed, but none of their male neighbors’ property values had risen.  The sisters immediately became indignant at what they perceived to be a grave injustice. Being women, they were politically powerless, since they lacked the right to vote. Despite this, Abby quickly composed a speech to present before the Glastonbury town meeting. In this speech, Abby declared:

"The motto of our government is ‘proclaim liberty to all the inhabitants of the land,’ and here, where liberty is so highly extolled and glorified by every man in it, one-half of the inhabitants are not put under her laws, but are ruled over by the other half, who can take all they possess. How is liberty pleased with such worship?. . . All we ask of the town is not to rule over them as they rule over us, but to be on an equality with them."

The male voters of Glastonbury ignored Abby’s speech, so the sisters decided they would not pay taxes to the city, until they gained equal representation in government. The Glastonbury tax collector responded by seizing 7 of the sister’s cows for auction, 4 of which Abby & Julia bought back.  The sister thereafter refused to pay taxes, unless they were granted the right to vote in town meetings.

First to recognize the national importance of the sisters’ plight, the editor of The Republican, a newspaper published in Springfield, Massachusetts, wrote, “Abby Smith and her sister as truly stand for the American principle as did the citizens who ripped open the tea chests in Boston Harbor, or the farmers who leveled their muskets at Concord.” Without the sisters’ knowledge or permission, he reprinted Abby’s entire speech & set up a defense fund in her name. Soon, newspapers across the country began to reprint their story. A Harper’s Weekly author referred to Abby as “Samuel Adams redivivus.” Their cows became so famous that flowers made from their tail hair with ribbons reading “Taxation without Representation” were sold at a Chicago bazaar.
 Photo of the home of the Smith sisters at 1625 Main St. in Glastonbury

At a 2nd town meeting in April, Abby was refused permission to speak, whereupon she mounted a wagon outside & delivered her protest to the crowd. In June, authorities seized 15 acres of the Smiths’ pastureland, valued at $2,000, for delinquent taxes amounting to about $50. The sale of the land was conducted irregularly, however, & after a protracted suit, during the course of which the sisters had almost to study law themselves, they succeeded in having it set aside. Their cows, 4 of which they had been able to buy back, were twice more taken for taxes & soon became a cause célèbre throughout the country & even abroad as newspapers spread the story. 

Published versions of Abby’s speeches, along with witty  & effective letters by both sisters to various newspapers, brought them considerable prominence. In 1877, Julia edited & published an account of the events, Abby Smith & Her Cows, with a Report of the Law Case Decided Contrary to Law. Both sisters spoke at numerous suffrage meetings & also testified before state & federal legislative committees concerning woman suffrage. In 1879, a year after her sister’s death, Julia married & moved to Hartford.

Information in this posting comes from:
The Encyclopedia Britannica online
The Smith Sisters, Their Cows, and Women’s Rights in  Glastonbury written by Molly May

Women on the North American Canadian Frontier in 19C - by Dutch-born Cornelius Krieghoff 1815-1872

Cornelius Krieghoff (Dutch-born Canadian painter, 1815-1872) At the Blacksmith's Shop 1871

Cornelius Krieghoff 1815-1872 was born in Amsterdam, spent his formative years in Bavaria, & studied in Rotterdam & Dusseldorf. He traveled to the United States in the 1830s, where he served in the Army for a few years. He married a young woman from Quebec & moved to the Montreal area, where he painted genre paintings of the people & countryside of Canada. According to Charles C. Hill, Curator of Canadian Art at the National Gallery, "Krieghoff was the first Canadian artist to interpret in oils... the splendour of our waterfalls, & the hardships & daily life of people living on the edge of new frontiers" Krieghoff moved to Quebec from 1854-1863, before he came to Chicago to live with his daughter.

Thursday, February 16, 2017

Ex-slave Anne Maddox, about 100, Remembers 19C America


Ann remembered, "Bout four o'clock in de evenin' all de little niggers was called in de big yard where de cook had put milk in a long an den trough an' crumbled ash-cake in it. Us had pot licker in a trough, too. Us et de bread an' milk wid shells an' would use our minds, out it was good."

Slave Narratives: A Folk History of Slavery in the United States from Interviews with Former Slaves.
Photo from 20th century.

Wednesday, February 15, 2017

Ex-slave Ellen Butler, about 78, Remembers Remembers 19C America


Ellen related, "Massa never 'lowed us slaves go to church but they have big holes in the fields they gits down in and prays. They done that way 'cause the white folks didn't want them to pray. They used to pray for freedom."

Slave Narratives: A Folk History of Slavery in the United States from Interviews with Former Slaves. Photo from 20th century.

Tuesday, February 14, 2017

US Women Fighting for Equality - Abby Price's Address US Women's Rights Convention 1850

Read to the "Woman's Rights Convention," at Worcester, by Mrs. Abby H. Price 1814-1878, of Hopedale, Mass.

In our account of the work of Creation, when it was so gloriously finished in the garden of Eden, by placing there, in equal companionship, man and woman, made in the image of God, alike gifted with intellect, alike endowed with immortality, it is said the Creator looked upon his work, and pronounced it good - that "the morning stars sang together, and all the sons of God shouted for joy." Since that time, through the slow rolling of darkened ages, man has ruled by physical power, and wherever he could gain the ascendancy, there he has felt the right to dictate - even though it degraded his equal companion - the mother who bore him - the playmate of his childhood - the daughter of his love. Thus, in many countries we see woman reduced to the condition of a slave, and compelled to do all the drudgery necessary to her lord's subsistence. In others she is dressed up as a mere plaything, for his amusement; but everywhere he has assumed to be her head and lawgiver, and only where Christianity has dawned, and right not might been the rule, has woman had anything like her true position. In this country even, republican, so called, and Christian, her rights are but imperfectly recognised, and she suffers under the disability of caste. These are facts that, in the light of the nineteenth century, demand our attention. "Are we always to remain in this position" is a question we have come here to discuss.
The natural rights of woman are co-equal with those of man. So God created man in his own image; in the image of God created he him; male and female, created he them . There is not one particle of difference intimated as existing between them. They were both made in the image of God. Dominion was given to both over every other creature, but not over each other. They were expected to exercise the vicegerency given to them by their Maker in harmony and love.

In contending for this co-equality of woman's with man's rights, it is not necessary to argue, either that the sexes are by nature equally and indiscriminately adapted to the same positions and duties, or that they are absolutely equal in physical and intellectual ability; but only that they are absolutely equal in their rights to life, liberty , and the pursuit of happiness - in their rights to do , and to be, individually and socially, all they are capable of, and to attain the highest usefulness and happiness, obediently to the divine moral law

These are every man's rights, of whatever race or nation, ability or situation, in life. These are equally every woman's rights, whatever her comparative capabilities may be - whatever her relations may be. These are human rights, equally inherent in male and female. To repress them in any degree is in the same degree usurpation, tyranny, and oppression. We hold these to be self-evident truths, and shall not now discuss them. We shall assume that happiness is the chief end of all human beings; that existence is valuable in proportion as happiness is promoted and secured; and that, on the whole, each of the sexes is equally necessary to the common happiness, and in one way or another is equally capable, with fair opportunity, of contributing to it. Therefore each has an equal right to pursue and enjoyit. This settled, we contend:
* 1. That women ought to have equal opportunities with men for suitable and well compensated employment.
* 2. That women ought to have equal opportunities, privileges, and securities with men for rendering themselves pecuniarily independent.
* 3. That women ought to have equal legal and political rights, franchises, and advantages with men.

Let us consider each of these points briefly. Women ought to have equal opportunities with men for suitable and well compensated employment in all departments of human exertion.

Human beings cannot attain true dignity or happiness except by true usefulness. This is true of women as of men. It is their duty, privilege, honor, and bliss to be useful. Therefore give them the opportunity and encouragement. If there are positions, duties, occupations, really unsuitable to females, as such , let these be left to males. If there are others unsuitable to men, let these be left to women. Let all the rest be equally open to both sexes. And let the compensation be graduated justly, to the real worth of the services rendered, irrespective of sex.

However just and fair this may seem, it is far from actual experience. Tradition so palsies public sentiment with regard to the comparative privileges and rights of the sexes, that but little even is thought of the oppressions that exist, and woman seems to have made up her mind to an eternal inferiority. I say eternal , because development constitutes our greatness and our happiness

If we do not properly develope our human natures in this sphere of existence, it is a loss that can never be made up. Hence, for the sake of her angel-nature, her immortality, woman should have her inalienable rights. She cannot act freely, be true to her moral nature, or to her intellect; she cannot gratify her charity or her taste, without pecuniary independence, that which is produced by suitable and well compensated employment. Woman, in order to be equally independent with man, must have a fair and equal chance. He is in no wise restricted from doing, in every department of human exertion, all he is able to do. If he is bold and ambitious, and desires fame, every avenue is open to him. He may blend science and art, producing a competence for his support, until he chains them to the car of his genius, and, with Fulton and Morse, wins a crown of imperishable gratitude. If he desires to tread the path of knowledge up to its glorious temple-summit, he can, as he pleases, take either of the learned professions as instruments of pecuniary independence, - while he plumes his wings for a higher and higher ascent. Not so with woman. Her rights are not recognised as equal . Her sphere is circumscribed not by her ability, but by her sex. The wings of her genius are clipped, because she is a woman. If perchance her taste leads her to excellence in the way they give her leave to tread, she is worshipped as almost divine; but if she reaches for laurels which they have in view, they scream after her, " You are a woman ." She is sneered at for her weakness, while she is allowed little or no chance for development. The number of her industrial avocations are unnecessarily restricted, far more than reason demands. And when she is engaged in the same occupations with men, her remuneration is greatly below what is awarded to her stronger associates. Those women who are married, and have the care of families, have duties and responsibilities that rest peculiarly upon themselves, and which they must find their highest pleasure in performing. But while they have disciplined themselves by faithfulness and attention to all these, say not to them - you have done all you may do, keep your minds and attention within that narrow circle, though your mature and ripened intellects would fain be interested in whatever concerns the larger family of man, and your affections strong in a healthful growth, yearn towards the suffering and the afflicted of every country.

And why not allow to those who have not become "happy wives and mothers," those who are anxious of leading active and useful lives, of maintaining an honorable independence, a fair chance with men, to do all they can do with propriety?

At present it is well nigh a misfortune to a poor man to have a large family of daughters. Compared with sons their chances for an honest livelihood are few. Though they may have intellect of a high order, yet they must be educated to be married as the chief end of their being. They must not forget that they are females in their aspirations for independence, for greatness, for education. Their alternatives are few. The confined factory, the sedentary, blighting life of half-paid seamstresses, perhaps a chance at folding books, or type setting may keep them along until the happy moment arrives, when they have an offer of marriage, and their fears for sustenance end by a union with the more favored sex. This should not be so. Give girls a fair chance to acquaint themselves with any business they can well do. Our daughters should fit themselves equally with our sons, for any post of usefulness and profit that they may choose. What good reason is there why the lighter trades should not open with equal facilities for their support, and why their labor should not be well paid in any useful and profitable department? Is it fair that strong and able men capable of tilling the soil, should be paid high wages for light mechanical labor that is denied woman because she is a woman, and which she could with equal facility execute? The newspaper press, clerkships, and book-keeping, not now to mention different offices in Government, (whose duties are principally writing,) would, if they were equally open to our daughters, afford them an opportunity of well paid and congenial employment; would relieve them from the necessity of marriage or want, and thereby add dignity and energy to their character. What good reason is there why women should not be educated to mercantile pursuits, to engage in commerce, to invent, to construct, in fine to do anything she can do? Why so separate the avocations of the sexes? I believe it impossible for woman to fulfil the design of God in her creation until her brethren mingle with her more as an equal, as a moral being, and lose in the dignity of her immortal nature the idea of her being a female. Until social intercourse is purified by the forgetfulness of sex we can never derive high benefit from each other's society in the active business of life. Man inflicts injury upon woman, unspeakable injury in placing her intellectual and moral nature in the background, and woman injures herself by submitting to be regarded only as a female. She is called upon loudly, by the progressive spirit of the age, to rise from the station where man, not God, has placed her, and to claim her rights as a moral and responsible being, equal with man.

As such , both have the same sphere of action, and the same duties devolve on both, though these may vary according to circumstances. Fathers and mothers have sacred duties and obligations devolving upon them which cannot belong to others. These do not attach to them as man and woman, but as parents, husbands, and wives. In all the majesty of moral power, in all the dignity of immortality let woman plant herself side by side with man on the broad platform of equal human rights. By thus claiming privileges, encouragements, and rights with man, she would gain the following results:
* 1. A fair development of her natural abilities and capabilities, physical, intellectual, economical, and moral.
* 2. A great increase of self-respect, conscious responsibility, womanly dignity, and influence.
* 3. Pecuniary competence, or the ready resource for acquiring it in some department of human exertion.
* 4. A far higher moral character, etc.

Now take a survey of things as they are. The general opinion that woman is inferior to man, bears with terrible and paralyzing effect on those who are dependent upon their labor, mental or physical, for a subsistence. I allude to the disproportionate value set upon the time and labor of men and women. A man engaged in teaching can always, I believe, command a higher price for his services, than a woman, though he teach the same branch, and though he be in no respect superior to the woman. It is so in every occupation in which both engage indiscriminately. For example, in tailoring, a man has twice as much for making a coat, or pantaloons, as a woman, although the work done by each may be equally good. In the employments which are peculiar to women, their time is estimated at only half the value of that of men. The washer-woman works as hard in proportion as the wood-sawyer, yet she makes not more than half as much by a day's work. Thus by narrowing the sphere of woman, and reducing her remuneration of labor so unjustly, her resources are few and she finds it hard to acquire an honorable independence. Necessity, we are compelled to believe, cruel necessity , often drives her to vice, especially in our large cities; as the only alternative from starvation! Deplorable and heart sickening as the statement is, I have good authority for saying that more than half of the prostitutes of our towns are driven to that course of life from necessity! M. Duchatelet, in his investigation in Paris, established this fact in the clearest manner. In his work, Vol. I., p. 96, we read the following statement: "Of all causes of prostitution in Paris, and probably in all large towns, there are none more influential than the want of work and indigence resulting from insufficient earnings. What are the earnings of our laundresses, our seamstresses, our milliners? Compare the wages of the most skillful with the more ordinary and moderately able, and we shall see if it be possible for these latter to provide even the strict necessaries of life. And if we further compare the prices of their labor with that of others less skillful, we shall cease to wonder that so large a number fall into irregularities, thus made inevitable! This state of things has a natural tendency to increase in the actual state of our affairs, in consequence of the usurpation by men, of a large class of occupations, which it would be more honorable in our sex to resign to the other. Is it not shameful, for example, to see in Paris thousands of men in the prime of their age in shops and warehouses, leading a sedentary and effeminate life, which is only suitable for women?"

M. Duchatelet has other facts, which show that even filial and maternal affection drive many to occasional prostitution as a means, and the only means left them, of earning bread for those depending on them for support. He says, "It is difficult to believe that the trade of prostitution should be embraced by certain women as a means of fulfilling their filial or maternal duties. Nothing, however, is more true . It is by no means rare to see married women, widowed, or deserted by their husbands, becoming abandoned, with the sole object of saving their families from dying with hunger. It is still more common to find young females, unable to procure, from honest occupations, adequate provision for their aged and infirm parents, reduced to prostitute themselves in order to eke out their livelihood. I have found," says he, "too many particulars regarding these two classes, not to be convinced that they are far more numerous than is generally imagined." Had I time, I could read you pages from the London "Morning Chronicle," on the Metropolitan Poor, where the most affecting cases are stated of poverty and of destitution, enough to melt the heart of steel, where poor creatures have been driven to vice from absolute starvation , - suffering remorse and self-loathing the most intolerable. Poor outcasts! - miserable lepers! Their touch even, in the very extremity of human suffering, shaken off as if it were a pollution! They seem to be considered far more out of the pale of humanity than negroes on a slave plantation, or felons in a Pasha's dungeon! It is thought to be discreditable to a woman even to know of their existence. You may not mention them in public. You may not allude to them in a book without staining its pages. Our sisters, whose poverty is caused by the oppressions of society, who are driven to sin by want of bread, - then regarded with scorn and turned away from with contempt! I appeal to you in their behalf, my friends. Is it not time to throw open to women, equal resources with men, for obtaining honest employment? If the extremity of human wretchedness - a condition which combines within itself every element of suffering, mental and physical, circumstantial and intrinsic - is a passport to our compassion, every heart should bleed for the position of these poor sufferers. I have the authority of Dr. Ryan, and of Mr. Mayhew, persons of well known integrity, who have investigated most faithfully and patiently the matter, - though it was a difficult and painful task, which they prosecuted with the most unwearied benevolence, sometimes travelling ten miles to ascertain the characters of women who made their statements to them, - and they publicly affirm, that nearly all were driven to dissolute lives because there were no means open to them of obtaining an adequate maintenance. The writer in the Edinburgh Review, who presented extracts from the elaborate researches of Duchatelet, in Paris, says, "We believe , on our honor, that nine out of ten originally modest women who fall from virtue, fall from motives or feelings in which sensuality and self have no share. Aye, we believe that hard necessity, - that grinding poverty, - that actual want, induced by their scanty resources, drive them to vice." Now let me present his statistics.

Of the 5,183 Parisian prostitutes, his investigations show that:- 2,690 were driven to the profession by parental abandonment, excessive want, and actual destitution; 86 thus earned food for the support of parents or children; 280 were driven by shame from their homes; 2,181 were abandoned by their seducers, and had nothing to turn to for a living! You may say, this may be the case in the old countries, but not in our own cities. Very little difference exists in the state of actual society here. Women are the same proscribed class here as elsewhere. The same difference is made between male and female labor. Public opinion surrounds them with ten thousand restrictions. The law disfranchises them. Christianity, to whose influence alone woman is indebted for all social dignity that she now enjoys, is appealed to, as sustaining the present degree of dominion over her, and tortured to prove her inferiority . Thus the cause exists, and why may not the evil also? It does exist to a fearful degree. And, painful though the contemplation of the sad picture may be, it is nevertheless our duty to investigate and seek its cause - then to apply the remedy - and to do now what we may to educate a different public sentiment.

I come now to my second proposition. Women ought to have equal opportunities, privileges, and securities with men for rendering themselves pecuniarily independent. And why not? Can woman be independent, free, and dignified without the means? Can she provide for future wants, exercise proper economy, without the means for so doing? Without a certain degree of pecuniary independence, it is impossible for man or woman to rise in usefulness, excellence, and enjoyment to the height of their natural capabilities. Women at present are cramped, dwarfed, and cowed down. Mothers, with large families of girls, though they may see in them intellect and genius, which, were they boys, might open to them in the future the pathway to independence and perhaps to fame, find that to girls nearly all avenues are closed. There are some branches of the fine arts, if they are very remarkably gifted, where they may find brilliant and dazzling success, as in the case of Jenny Lind. They may perhaps excel as poets and as painters. But these are the exceptions. Greatness is rare. Though they may see in their daughters the large reasoning powers that would enable them with much advantage to pursue the study of the law, yet Blackstone and Coke must be shut to them. The bright pinions of their intellect remain unfolded, and they are perhaps permitted to learn the trade of a milliner, already crowded to excess, and miserably paid. For men, too, have monopolized the profits in that business, and hire their milliners at the lowest possible wages. Very few girls can acquire money enough to compete with the aspirants of the other sex, and so they must submit to their destiny. Again, the mother may see largely developed in her daughter qualities that might fit her eminently for a physician. A distinguished doctor once said, "there are no diseases, there are diseased people;" and this fact explains the claim of women to the profession of medicine, for who understand so well as women the peculiarities of individual character? Their marvellous powers of observation, their tenderer sympathies, their greater caution, render them peculiarly qualified for the position; yet whoever heard of a female M. D.? And that mother would run the risk of incurring the world's laugh, who should avow the design of having her daughter prepare herself to be a physician! All the education she is allowed, all the resources opened before her, have for their object marriage , that is to say, a husband. "She was made only for man," is the idea, and of what use will this or that be to her, when she is married? To develope all her faculties, as an individual, is not thought of. Does not a woman live for herself, then? Is she not a member of the race, an immortal being, - unless she is married? O yes, for above these titles of wife and mother, which depend upon circumstances, accidental and transitory, are suspended by absence and perhaps broken by death, there is for woman a title, eternal, inalienable, preceding and rising above all, - that of human being, co-existent with man; and with him she can demand the most complete development of heart and mind. In the name of eternity, then, in behalf of the race, we ask her elevation. Do you acknowledge this? Do my sisters here feel that they have relations to the Universe, - capabilities to be developed for immortality? In the name of eternity, we ask our brothers no longer to proscribe our sphere. I say, then, that we are cramped, dwarfed, and cowed down, for the want of pecuniary independence. Is not this a miserable doctrine, that woman is subject to the man, that she must, if married, ask her husband to dole out her charities for her, to say when she may sign a petition, when she may speak out for the dumb, when she may plead for the poor, when she may visit the widow and fatherless in their affliction? Does it not compel her to take off the crown of her womanhood, and lay it at man's feet? No; give her her right to the disposal of her own property, to the disposal of her own earnings. As a wife, do not compel her to explain all her needs to one who can scarcely apprehend them from his want of attention to her situation and comforts, but let her have an equal right to the disposal of her earnings, equal privileges with man to acquire, hold, and manage property. The rightfulness of this is beginning to be felt and acknowledged. Laws have been recently passed by many of the States, giving to wives the right to control property owned before marriage; and would it not be equally just to give to them also some well protected rights regarding what they may save and acquire by a faithful discharge of their duties as wives and heads of families.

Thus, employment and occupations being opened, as contended for just now under the first head, let all other opportunities, privileges, and securities of law, custom, and usage, follow. Then woman, at every step, becomes greater, in all respects; more free and dignified; less the plaything, and more a fit companion for man, - a truer and better wife and mother, more influential for good everywhere, in all the relations of life. Thus marriage, generation, education, man, the race, - all rise higher and higher. Look again, and see how things are, and the consequences. Woman degenerates, physically and intellectually. By thus narrowing their sphere, and curtailing their rights and resources, women are doomed to an endless routine of domestic drudgery, to an indoor sedentary life, with little or no stimulus to great or noble endeavors. They feel, indeed, with their narrow views and narrow interests, and their weakened bodies, that they are overcrowded and overdone with cares and labors. Dooming women to satisfy their love for excellence in household arrangements only - their love for beauty in dress, etc., is a great injury to both soul and body. We are so constituted, that exercise and great exertion, with high and soul-arousing objects, are potent to give us strength and powers of endurance. Witness wives in the times of our Revolution, think of the privations, hardships, and toil our grandmothers endured; compare them with the sickly race of wives and mothers whom modern improvements and labor-saving machinery in cloth-making are relieving from so much exertion, yet reducing their physical strength in proportion!

My remedy for this increasing degeneracy in health and consequent weakness of mind, is:- give woman her rights; acknowledge her equality with man in privileges for the improvement of all her gifts; lift off the incubus weight, that crushes half her rights; allow her to feel that she has other obligations resting upon her than the eternal routine of domestic affairs. The beautiful home duties she will none the more neglect, but with new-springing happiness she will, with new strength, perform them, stimulated and cheered by the new relations she is sustaining. Change is rest; and woman will so find it when she allows her mind to change from the narrow circle of home duties to take a general survey of the vast machinery of affairs, where she too has responsibilities and interests. If married women have too little stimulus and objects, how much less have young girls, whose very dreams of the future are restricted to getting married! Having no encouragement for great endeavors, excluded from the liberal professions by the law, how many poor victims, who are not obliged "to labor" but only "to wait," are yielded up to be the prey of that frightful disease called ennui. To suffer with pain, and to be exhausted with toil, are evils, doubtless very great afflictions, but from these we do not shrink, for they are the necessary consequences of life; but ennui, - that scourge of existence, that living death, that conscious annihilation, that painful, aching nothingness, - that it is which corrodes and destroys the soul. Painful, though true, our country abounds in young ladies whom forced idleness condemns to this torture. I say forced , because a false public sentiment restricts and condemns woman to a few crowded avocations, so that she has nothing to stimulate her ambition or to encourage her hopes. Thus she yields to her slavery, her imprisonment. Ah, it is work , approved, creditable, well-paid work, that would reanimate these wretched existences. There are hard trials on this earth, but God has appointed labor , and all are cured. Work is a pleasure unequalled in itself; it is the preserver of all other pleasures. All may abandon us, - wit, gaiety, love, - but industry may still be ours; and the deep enjoyment which it produces, brings with it life's greatest pleasure, the approval of a good conscience. It is of this good that woman is deprived. She is accused of being too imaginative, and yet she is left a prey to reverie. She is complained of for being easily impressed, and yet society does its utmost to increase that susceptibility. This is cruel, oppressive. Dispute our rights, envy us our claim as mothers, but leave us our privilege to labor . Give us our just remuneration. Allow us a fair and equal chance, if you would see the genius of woman rising in its peculiar beauty, its free and natural manifestation.

The soul needs some aliment, if it is not to be left to prey on itself. What is called instruction will not serve the purpose. What is study without an object, knowledge without practice? Instruction enlarges the circle of woman's wants, without bringing anything to satisfy them; gives thirst, but supplies no drink; for to live is not to learn, but to apply. When so large a share of the public business is writing, why are so many maiden middle-aged ladies restless with ennui, having nothing to do? Why are overseerships in female prisons, in manufactories, in asylums, filled so entirely by men? Because women are a proscribed caste, the weaker sex, invidiously called, and men, in their great wisdom, triumph.

I come now to my third proposition. Women ought to have equal legal and political rights, franchises, and advantages with men. Why not? Our laws ought to respect and protect all their rights. They ought to have an equal voice in constituting government, in administering it, in making and executing laws. Why not? This follows as the climax of what we have contended for. There may be some offices more suitable to males than females, and let matters be arranged accordingly. These are details of convenience; but for the rest let them be equal. Why not? If a woman may earn property freely, hold and dispose of it freely, etc., should she not have a free and equal voice in the government which regulates and protects her rights? She must, or be a mere ward under guardianship, a serf, a plaything, an appendage. And why should she not? Has she less at stake? Has she less moral sense? Has she less regard to the common good? Would she degrade and brutalize the exhibition at the polls? In the legislature, at the bar, etc., would the State be worse governed than it is by man alone? It is absurd to suppose it.

Is there any sound reason why women should be excluded from all political functions? At present she has no legal existence. Dr. Follen, in his Essay on Freedom in our own country, says: "Woman, though possessed of that rational and moral nature which is the foundation of all rights, enjoys among us fewer legal and civil rights than under the law of continental Europe."

Blackstone, in his chapter entitled Husband and Wife, says: "By marriage, the husband and wife are one person in law; that is, the very being or legal existence of the woman is suspended during the marriage, - or at least is consolidated into that of her husband, under whose wing, protection, and cover, she performs anything." So, the very being of a woman, like that of a slave, is absorbed in her master! All contracts made with her, like those made with slaves by their owners, are a mere nullity. Her legal disabilities are too well known to render it necessary to quote many of the laws respecting them. That she sustains the same relation that slaves do to our government is well known. That the laws are unjust towards her is believed by all who candidly give their attention to the subject.

Well, then, why should women be denied the elective franchise? It must be for one of two reasons. The first is that, though they constitute one half of the human race, women have no interest in the government under which they live, and whose laws they are bound to obey. Or, they are incapable of the degree of intelligence or the amount of knowledge presumed to be possessed by those who vote. The first objection, perhaps, few will attempt to maintain. For the answer to the second, let us look around on the first assemblage of independent electors who may happen to meet. Why is there such apathy, such indifference on this subject, manifested by women? Not more than one woman in a thousand feels the slightest interest in the subject. Are we willing forever to be thus disfranchised? The justice of this question was well stated by Condorcet, in a passage quoted by M. Legouve, though his argument was, of course, applied to France, a country that admitted universal suffrage. "In the name of what principle, of what right," he says, "are women in a republican state to be deprived of public functions? The words national representation , signifies representation of the nation. Do women, then, form no part of the nation? This assembly has for its object to constitute and maintain the rights of the French people? Are women, then, not of the French people? The right of election and of being elected, is founded for men, solely on their title as free and intelligent beings. Are women, then, not free and intelligent? The only limits now placed to that right is condemnation to an infamous punishment, or minority. Are women, then, to be regarded as criminals, or are they all minors? Will the argument be taken upon the ground of the corporeal weakness of women? It that case, we ought to make our candidates pass before a medical jury, and reject such as have the gout every winter. Shall we object to women for their want of instruction, their deficiency in political genius? It appears to me that many of our representations manage to do without either!" He proceeds to say, "The more we interrogate common sense and republican principles, the less reason we find for excluding women from political existence. The capital objection which is found in all mouths, and which assumes with it, at first, an appearance of solidity, is that to open to them the career of politics would be to snatch them from their families. This does not apply to women who have never been wives or who have ceased to be such. But all this appears an unreasonable objection. Would the exercise of the elective franchise once or twice in a year be likely to prevent a woman's properly fulfilling her important home duties? Would not the recognition, publicly, of her claims as an intelligent member of society, or any measure that would equally tend to raise the character of women, greatly contribute to the dignity and comfort of many a home, by giving to the wife and mother some better object to fill her vacant hours than unnecessary shopping or idle visiting?"

People echo the cry of "danger to home" without stopping to inquire whether any such danger exists. Our grandfathers saw great danger to home and to the female character in the decline of household spinning. No, no, you do not endanger home by giving woman her true position as equal companion in theaffairs of the nation as in the administration of home. So far from these new functions interfering in the least with the sacred and holy duties of wife and mother they would be rather their reward and crown. Plutarch relates that the Gauls called into their councils, on great occasions, the elite of the women of the nation. Lycurgus gave to virtuous women a part in great public celebrations. The festivals of Proserpine and Ceres reserved certain political and religious functions for wives and mothers of spotless reputation. And our imagination looks forward to the time, with pleasure and hope, when experienced and virtuous matrons, who have passed through years of domestic duties with fidelity and care, shall sit in the Councils of the Nation wisely to control and direct their deliberations, to speak from their deep maternal love for the suffering and oppressed, to blend with the sterner element of Government that true affection for the suffering and the erring, which only woman knows, to suppress by their presence that undignified and unworthy ruffianism, which so often disgraces the councils of the nation, and finally to encourage decision, haste, and despatch of business, as only women can do, who are attracted home by an ever abiding love, that with them would be an influence far stronger than eight dollars a day.

I think you must all feel that women's rights as human beings are greatly encroached upon, that they suffer a degree of tyranny the world over, unworthy the nineteenth century, that in view of their degraded position, women are called upon loudly to remonstrate, that patience has ceased to be a virtue, that it is time we demand our rights. Are we willing to be denied every post of honor and every lucrative employment - to be reckoned as the inferior sex , and but half paid for what we do - to feel that we are a proscribed caste, in all our aspirations for excellence and great and noble exertion, and to receive in return the fulsome, and sickening flattery of perverted taste - to be complimented about our shrinking delicacy, our feminine weakness, our beautiful dependence! And shall we with complacency receive and smile on such praise, bought by the sacrifice of our rights, our noblest endowments, while we know that he who thus compliments us for shrinking and dependence, is but a frail mortal like ourselves, and that to cower before man is to be recreant to God, false to our higher angel natures, and basely slaves! Is there a woman here, who is willing to be disfranchised, to be taxed without representation, to feel that she has no part or lot in the Government under which she lives - that she is a mere thing!

If there is a woman who is willing to be in this position, I do not envy that woman her spirit, and no wonder that such mothers have dough-faced children. I am happy to feel that in the little Commonwealth where I live, all persons have equal rights, in public deliberations. Men and women are alike recognised as having a common interest in public officers and public measures. Hence our annual meetings and elections are quiet and orderly, the business is soon despatched, for our women never forget their homes to wrangle and discuss business points of minor importance, and I have never, in the small State of Hopedale, heard of one home being neglected, or one duty less thoroughly attended to by allowing women an equal voice. I could not vote under the present wicked Constitution of the United States, but I ought to have the privilege of coming out from that Government, and of bearing my testimony by a free and voluntary choice

In view of all these oppressions, - this undervaluing our labor, - taking from us our right to choice in our industrial avocations, - infliction of pecuniary dependence , - shutting us from the trades, and the learned professions - wresting from us our legal rights, - denying us political equality, - denying us the right of free speech, - chaining us to a prescribed sphere, - we say that these, and other usurpations, demand our speedy remonstrance. "Who would be free, themselves must strike the blow." No matter if the yoke we wear is soft and cushioned, it is nevertheless a yoke. No matter if the chain is fastened by those we love, it is nevertheless a chain. Let us arise then in all the majesty of renewed womanhood and say, we must be free . We will attend to our previous home duties faithfully, cheerfully, but we must do it voluntarily, in obedience to our Maker, who placed these responsibilities more especially upon us. If the affairs of the nation demand the attention of our fathers, our husbands, and our brothers, allow us to act with them for the right, according to the dictates of our own consciences. Then we will educate our sons and our daughters as equal companions, alike interested in whatever concerns the welfare of the race. Our daughters, equally provided for the serious business of life, shall no longer be dependent upon the chances of marriage; teaching them not to live wholly in their affections, we will provide for them, as for our sons, a refuge from the storms of life, by opening to them the regions of high intellectual culture, of pecuniary independence, and of moral and political responsibilities. Parents, I appeal to you: are you willing to train your daughters with reference only to marriage? Are you willing they should be the prey of that sickly sentimentality, that effeminate weakness, which is produced by making that one idea the focus of life?

Husbands, are you willing to urge the cowering obedience of that being whom you admit is your "better half," especially when you consider your own frailties, and oftentimes misguided judgment? Will you assume to be her lawgiver and ruler? Are you proud to see her bend her soul to man? Brothers, are you willing to see your sisters, whose sympathy and communion in childhood was the sweetest solace of your life, prevented from future companionship, by the threatening scowl of a narrow, and heathenish public sentiment that must blast their highest aspirations - palsy the wings of their genius - dim the crown of their womanhood, and make them slaves? Again, I say - give us an equal chance. Allow us one free choice. Talk not to us of weakness when you have so long broken our spirits by the iron hand of oppression. Lift off that hand - give us our rights inalienable, and then a new era, glorious as the millenial morning, will dawn on earth, an advent only less radiant than that heralded by angels on the plains of Bethlehem.

"What highest prize hath woman won
In science, or in art?
What mightiest work by woman done,
Boasts city, field, or mart?
She hath no Raphael! Painting saith -
No Newton! Learning cries;
Show us her steamship! her Macbeth!
Her thought-won victories.

"Wait, boastful man! Though worthy are
Thy deeds, when thou art true, -
Things worthier still, and holier far,
Our sisters yet will do.
For this, the worth of woman shows
On every peopled shore,
That still as man in wisdom grows
He honors her the more.

"O, not for wealth, or fame, or power,
Hath man's meek angel striven;
But, silent as the growing flower,
To make of earth a heaven!
Soon in her garden of the sun
Heaven's brightest rose shall bloom;
For woman's best is unbegun!
Her advent yet to come!".

Women on the North American Canadian Frontier in 19C - by Dutch-born Cornelius Krieghoff 1815-1872

Cornelius Krieghoff (Dutch-born Canadian painter, 1815-1872) The Toll Gate 1861

Cornelius Krieghoff 1815-1872 was born in Amsterdam, spent his formative years in Bavaria, & studied in Rotterdam & Dusseldorf. He traveled to the United States in the 1830s, where he served in the Army for a few years. He married a young woman from Quebec & moved to the Montreal area, where he painted genre paintings of the people & countryside of Canada. According to Charles C. Hill, Curator of Canadian Art at the National Gallery, "Krieghoff was the first Canadian artist to interpret in oils... the splendour of our waterfalls, & the hardships & daily life of people living on the edge of new frontiers" Krieghoff moved to Quebec from 1854-1863, before he came to Chicago to live with his daughter.

Monday, February 13, 2017

Ex-slave Millie Williams, about 86, Remembers 19C America


Millie laughed, "I's 'member well de time we'ns steal one of de marster's big chicken's. I's had it in a pot in de fireplace an' it waz sho' smelling good an' seen de mistress cumin'. I's grab dat chicken, pot an' all an' put it under de bed, I's grab de bed clothes an' put 'em on de pot. De mistress, she cums 'round an' says, "I's sho do smell somethin' good. I's say, "Whur Miss's? I's don' smell anythin'. She looks 'round an' don' find anythin' an' go's back to de house. Whin she gits gone I's tak dat chicken out from under dat bed an' we'ns eats it in a hurry."

Slave Narratives: A Folk History of Slavery in the United States from Interviews with Former Slaves. Photo from 20th century.

Sunday, February 12, 2017

Ex-slave Lucy Thomas, about 86, Remembers 19C America


Lucy remembered, "All the hands was up and in the field by day light. Nobody laid in bed up in the morning like folks do today. Dr. Baldwin allus had a fifty gallon barrel of whiskey on the place. He kept a demijohn of whiskey on the front porch all the time for the darkies to get a drink on the way to the field in the morning. You never heard of nobody getting drunk then."

Slave Narratives: A Folk History of Slavery in the United States from Interviews with Former Slaves. Photo from 20th century.

Saturday, February 11, 2017

US Women Fighting for Equality & Bloomers - Amelia Jenks Bloomer 1818-1894

Amelia Bloomer edited the first American newspaper for women, The Lily. It was issued from 1849 until 1853. The newspaper began as a temperance journal. Bloomer felt that as women lecturers were considered unseemly, writing was the best way for women to work for reform. Originally, The Lily was to be for “home distribution” among members of the Seneca Falls Ladies Temperance Society, which had formed in 1848. 

Elizabeth Cady Stanton’s cousin Elizabeth Smith Miller introduced the outfit and editor Amelia Bloomer publicized it in The Lily.

Like most local endeavors, the paper encountered several obstacles early on, and the Society’s enthusiasm died out. Bloomer felt a commitment to publish and assumed full responsibility for editing and publishing the paper. Originally, the title page had the legend “Published by a committee of ladies.” But after 1850 – only Bloomer’s name appeared on the masthead.
1851 Currier and Ives

Although women’s exclusion from membership in temperance societies and other reform activities was the main force that moved the Ladies Temperance Society to publish The Lily, it was not at first a radical paper. Its editorial stance conformed to the emerging stereotype of women as “defenders of the home.” 


Photo c 1855

In the first issue, Bloomer wrote:  It is woman that speaks through The Lily…Intemperance is the great foe to her peace and happiness. It is that above all that has made her Home desolate and beggared her offspring…. Surely, she has the right to wield her pen for its Suppression. Surely, she may without throwing aside the modest refinements which so much become her sex, use her influence to lead her fellow mortals from the destroyer’s path. The Lily always maintained its focus on temperance. Fillers often told horror stories about the effects of alcohol. For example, the May 1849 issue noted, “A man when drunk fell into a kettle of boiling brine at Liverpool, Onondaga Co. and was scaled to death.” But gradually, the newspaper began to include articles about other subjects of interest to women. Many were from the pen of Elizabeth Cady Stanton, writing under the pseudonym “sunflower.” The earliest Stanton’s articles dealt with the temperance, child-bearing, and education, but she soon turned to the issue of women’s rights. She wrote about laws unfair to women and demanded change.
Bloomer was greatly influenced by Stanton and gradually became a convert to the cause of women’s rights. Recalling the case of an elderly friend who was turned out of her home when her husband died without a will she wrote:  Later, other similar cases coming to my knowledge made me familiar with cruelty of the laws towards women; and when the women rights convention put forth its Declaration of Sentiments. I was ready to join with that party in demanding for women such change in laws as would give her a right to her earnings, and her children a right to wider fields of employment and a better education, and also a right to protect her interest at the ballot box.  



Bloomer became interested in dress reform, advocating that women wear the outfit that came to be known as the “Bloomer costume.”  Actually the reform of clothing for women began in the 1850s, as a result of the need for a more practical way of dressing . The reform started in New England where the social activist Elizabeth Smith Miller (1822-1911), called Libby Miller. Mrs Miller  was the daughter of abolitionists Gerrit Smith and his second wife, Ann Carroll Fitzhugh. She was a lifelong of the women's rights movement. She  became famous when she  adopted what she considered a more rational costume: Turk trousers - loose trousers gathered at the ankles like the trousers worn by Middle Eastern and Central Asian women – worn under a short dress or knee length skirt. The outfits were similar to the clothing worn by the women in the Oneida Community, a religious commune founded  by John Humphrey Noyes in Oneida, New York in 1848.

This new fashion was soon supported by Bloomer, by then a women's rights and temperance advocate. Bloomer popularized Mr Miller’s idea in her bi-weekly publication The Lily. And this women's clothing reform soon was named bloomers. The rebellion against the voluminous and constraining fashion of the Victorian period was both a practical necessity and a focal point of social reform. Stanton and others copied a knee-length dress with pants worn by Elizabeth Smith Miller of Geneva, New York. 



For some time the "Bloomer" outfit was worn by many of the leaders in the women's rights movement, then it was abandoned because of the heavy criticism in the popular press. In 1859, Amelia Bloomer herself said that a new invention, the crinoline, was a sufficient reform.  The bloomer costume returned later, adapted and modified, as a women's athletic costume in the 1890s and early 1900s.
 1864 Godey's Lady's Book

Although Bloomer refused to take any credit for inventing the pants-and-tunic outfit, her name became associated with it because she wrote articles about the unusual dress, printed illustrations in The Lily, and wore the costume herself. In reference to her advocacy of the costume, she once wrote, “I stood amazed at the furor I had unwittingly caused.” But people certainly were interested in the new fashion. She remembered: “As soon as it became known that I was wearing the new dress, letters came pouring in upon me by the hundreds from women all over the country making inquiries about the dress and asking for patterns – showing how ready and anxious women were to throw off the burden of long, heavy skirts.”  In May of 1851 Amelia Bloomer introduced Susan B. Anthony to Elizabeth Cady Stanton. Stanton said, "I liked her immediately and why I did not invite her home to dinner with me I do not know."

The circulation of The Lily rose from 500 per month to 4000 per month because of the dress reform controversy. At the end of 1853, the Bloomers moved to Mount Vernon, Ohio, where Amelia Bloomer continued to edit The Lily, which by then had a national circulation of over 6000. Bloomer sold The Lily in 1854 to Mary Birdsall, because she and her husband Dexter were moving again this time to Council Bluffs, Iowa, where no facilities for publishing the paper were available. She remained a contributing editor for the two years The Lily survived after she sold it.