Chicago Tribune, February 12, 1869
The Female Suffrage Convention, called under the auspices of that wing of the Chicago Sorosis organization known as “No.1″—though both societies claim exclusive legitimacy—convened yesterday in Library Hall. The hour for opening was slated for 10 o’clock in the call, but, as usual in such cases, the assemblage was somewhat slow in gathering. In the course of hlf an hour, however, the hall was well filled with an intelligent-looking audience, composed principally of females, and these mainly past the middle age—no on the stage t that they were all spinsters. On the contrary, mild, motherly countenances were the rule, and angular, discontented faces the exception. The male element of the audience was of a character which, from its eminent intelligence and respectability, certainly implied a compliment to the affair. Among the well-known gentlemen present were noticed Rev. Dr. Lord, Rev. R.L. Collier, Rev. E.J. Goodspeed, Rev. C.H. Fowler, Rev. E.C. Eggleston, Rev. Prof. Haven, Rev. Edward Beecher, of Galesburg; General Beveridge, Judge Bradwell and others. A number of these occupied seats on the stage where also sat Mrs. Cady Stanton, Susan B. Anthony, Mrs. Livermore, Mrs. Bradwell, Mrs. Willard, and others more or less identified with the movement.
Object of the Convention.
The Chairman then called upon Mrs. Livermore to state the object of the convention.n In response to the request, Mrs. L. said that the objects of the convention had been so well advertised as to need little or no explanation, but she referred to the progress of the female suffrage movement in different sections of the country. The direct object of the convention was to resolve upon some definite plan of action whereby the claims of the movement may be properly held before the Constitutional Convention, The conduct of the convention would be Christian and moral in every respect.
Mrs. Livermore moved that Mr. Eggleston and Mrs. Babbitt act as secretaries. Carried.
It was moved and carried that the Chair appoint a committee of seven on permanent organization.
Mrs. Livermore moved the appopintment of a committee of five on resolutions. Carried.
Address of Rev. C. W. Fowler.
In the absence of any immediate business, and while the committees were doing their work, Dr. Fowler was called upon to address the convention. He said he was satisfied that the audience needed nop urging. The sea was open, and if the ship be worthy of voyage was only a question of time. He believed the women were able, if united and persistent in their efforts, to manage this movement unassisted by the men; but unified effort has not yet been secured. The main question was, the capacity of woman to exercise the right of suffrage. No man who had a mother or wife could be in doubt upon the subject. The foreign element, when naturalized, has a right to vote, even though they may not vote as we might wish; he believed the negro had a right to vote, and, believing this, he dare not refuse the right to his mother. There were many things which women could not do—such as singing bass or growing beard—but the right to vote was not based on either of those capabilities. It was urged that women have as yet demonstrated no ability to have a voice in the government of the country, but it was forgotten that they had never had an opportunity to demonstrate any ability in that direction. On the ground that woman must deal with certain questions vitality concerning her welfare, it seemed to him that the time for this movement had arrived.
Rev. Mr. Eggleston,
being called upon, said that it would be easy to speak upon the subject of female suffrage if there were anybody to oppose it, but nobody seemed to be earnestly against the movement. There were those who thought any new thing offensive, but just as surely as the world stood long enough, the question world be an old one. He should not argue that, in a country where a man able to climb up a ladder with a full hod, and down another with an empty one, could vote, and where the ballot was placed in the hand of a black plantation laborer, a woman was capable of voting. It had been said that if women voted they must carry a market. They could carry it, in their way. They sustained nine-tenths of the loss and suffering incident to the late war. He had no such poor opinion of his wife, mother, or sister as to believe that her going to the police, even in Chicago, would take away any of her modesty. He wanted to have women so educated as they woud have some power to accomplish political purposes. All over the State there are institutions of learning, where are young men may be educated, but none for the education of young women. He was not greatly frightened for society if ladies went out once a year to cast their ballots.
The Chair announced the Committee on Resolutions to consist of Judge Bradwell, Mrs. Judge Waite, Mrs. Livermore, Dr. Beecher, and Mrs. W. E. Doggett.
The Chair announced the following as the Committee on Permanent Organization: G. A. Brahan, Mrs. Livermore, Mrs. L. A. Willard, Mrs. Bradwell, Rev. Mr. Eggleston, Miss Susan B. Anthony, Mrs. E. Cady Stanton.
Who Are Eligible.
Rev. Mr. Hemmond sid he wished to raise the question as to who were members of the convention.
Mrs. Livermore replied that the call ebraced everybody, whether in favir or opposed to female suffrage.
Mr. Hammond said he understood that anyone was at liberty to present their views, but he wished to know whether all persons were eligible to hold office and take a place on the roll of membership of the convention.
The Chair understood that any one present in the convention had a right to vote and to hold office.
Mr. S. M. Booth, of Milwaukee, said the printed call embraced all persons in sympathy with the objects of the convention, and none others. No one else was entitled to a seat in the convention, and if they are opposed took a seat here or presented his views, it must be by the courtesy of the convention.
Mr. Braham moved that every person present, if so desirous, should be considered a member of the convention. Carried.
Judge Bradwell said that the call included only such persons as were in favor of the movement, but the committee had added to the call the privilege of attending and speaking in the convention. It had been understood, however, that no one opposed to the movement would take any active part in the permanent organization.
Mr. Hammond said that that interpretation was a common sense one, but, as he was not not converted fully to the new movement—though he might be before the convention was through—he should decline serving upon any committee. [Applause].
Judge Bradwell moved that Mr. Hammond’s resignation be accepted.
The Chair put the motion, and decided it lost.
Judge Bradwell insisted that Mr. Hammond ought not to serve.
Mrs. Livermore did not think Mr. Hammond such a terrible opponent; any woman with the gift of gab could talk him over in five minutes.
The Chair announced that Mrs. E. Cady Stanton had been substituted for Mr. Hammond on the Committee on Permanent Organization.
Miss Susan B Anthony,
on motion of Mrs. Livermore, was invited to present a brief historical sketch of the inception and progress of the movement for female suffrage in America. Miss Anthony, who had but just reached Chicago, appeared somewhat fatigued. She is a remarkably intelligent-looking woman, with sharp gray eyes, bold, clear cut, almost masculine features, her brown hair plainly and neatly dressed, and her straight, aquiline nose surmounted by gold spectacles. Her dress was rich but plain—a lustreless black silk skirt of narrow dimensions, basque of black grenadine, with a short lace scarf at the throat, fastened by a large Venetian brooch. Her style of address is exceedingly easy, natural and pleasant, more conversational than oratorical, but her voice is strong and musical, and her elocution, barring the usual feminine monotone, is admirable. She is earnest, and, at the same time, vicacious and witty, her fine mouth readily rendering itself into expressions of good nature or sarcasm, as the case may be.
Remarks by Miss Anthony.
Miss Anthony was then called upon to give a brief history of the woman’s suffrage movement, and responded in substance as follows:
It was rather early, she thought, for her to be asked to give even an historical sketch, as she had but just landed in Chicago, and was somewhat fatigued. A number of years ago there were, in the city of Rochester, New York, two anti-slavery societies. One was called the Liberty Party, and the other the Garrisonian Party. Each party invited Theodore Parker, of Boston, to deliver an address. He came, and one party announced that Theodore Parker, on a certain evening, would give his grandest and best address before the society—the Liberal Society. each lecture came off. She called on Mr. Parker, at the hotel where he was stopping, and expressed her regrets that there should be a divisor, which was so sad in such an unpopular movement—that there should be a division amongst its most earnest friends. He said it was a very good sign of the times; that as soon as people begin to quarrel the began to think. Therefore, the men should not deplore this fivision amongst the women of Chicago. It was a sign of the times and she rejoiced in t. [Applause.] She was not in the movement in the beginning—twenty years ago. Mrs. Stanton and Lucretia Mott had signed their names to the call for the first Woman’s Rights Convention of which history gave any account. That convention met at Seneca Falls, in the State of New York, in 1848. Then the agitation of the quaestion began. She supposed Mrs. Stanton did not see such a large audience on that occasion in a little Wesleyan Methodist Church as were assembled in Library Hall. When the proceedings of that convention were made public, there was a howl from one end of the country to the other, with regard to the movement. There was nothing that pen could put on paper that was not said about it. To-day a convention was called in Chicago, and at the very opening there was an immense audience. Wonderful progress had certainly been made. In 1848 the laws of the State of New York gave the husband the power to take the fifty cents, or whatever was earned by his wife during the day, away from her; woman had no rights to property inherited or received by bequest; when she married all her property became her husband’s; the mother had no guardianship of her children; the father could apprentice or bind them out in any way he chose. In 1860 all these laws had been blotted from the statute books, by the efforts of women. If they would have work well done, the women should see to it themselves. The question had not only made rapid strides in this country, but it had also in England. Last year seventy-three votes were cast in the British Parliament in favor of enfranchising women, and a large number of newly-elected members were in favor of women’s suffrage. The women in Vineland, New Jersey had cast their ballots at the last election, as did some others in other States. The question of extending the right of suffrage to women was before several of the State Legislatures, and some of the Houses of Assembly had passed upon it favorably. In Massachusetts there were four hundred thousand more women than men, and yet the minority ruled the majority. A proposition to give women the right to vote only received seventy-three votes in the Legislature. The women of that State were exhibiting great activity, and an organization had been perfected to prosecute the question with more vigor. Congress had had before it the proposed amendment to the constitution in reference to suffrage, but it did not touch the woman question. It was an insult and an outrage upon the women of America to thus ignore them. She hoped before the convention closed that a strong and loud expression of the feelings of all upon the question would go out in behalf of woman. Politicians never did anything except fill their pockets, or be of some advantage to their party. A public sentiment should be crerated which would compel every member of Congress, and of the different Legislatures, to speak and vote for women’s suffrage.[Applause.]
Mrs. E. Cady Stanton
being called for, said she would like to go a little further back than Miss Anthony had done, for the benefit of the women who were now taking their first step in this movement. Women were afraid to lead off in any movement which had not won the approbation of the men. Many years ago she had been present at a dinner party at Washington, where Daniel Webster, Henry Clay, and other great statesmen were in attendance. The question of female suffrage arose, and she was the only one to defend it. After dinner, in the dressing room, one of the first ladies of New York told her she coincided in everything she had said, but dared not so express herself at the table. That was just the trouble with women, and she hoped that every woman in the convention would speak her own sentiments. From childhood she had been interested in this movement, and had lived to see many oppressive laws wiped from the statute books of New York rights. k, and she hoped to see the women of New York yet get their rights. She had found so much fault with the Republican party that she had been accused of being a Democrat; but this could not be so, for no Democrat was in favor of universal suffrage. She was neither a Republican nor a Democrat. She believed with the former, so far as it went, but she believed much farther. She then referred to the interpolation of the word “male” in the Fourth Amendment to the Constitution, and declared that in this the Republican party were responsible for an invidious, pointed injury to woman. It was humiliation to intelligent women to be deprived, when every order and shade of the male sex were accorded the right to vote. She wanted to vote becuse the inflkuence of woman everywhere was refining and elevating. She did not think woman was better than man, but the influences of the sexes upon each other was elevating and purifying. We want the women so educated as that the men shall be compelled to go one or two steps higher on the ladder of intelligence in spite of themselves.
Upon entering the hall she heard a gentleman (Mr. Hammond) declaring that he was not yet converted to female suffrage. She thought that, if that gentleman stood in a woman’s place, with every right denied, he would not be long in determining as to the desirability of wielding the ballot himself. She cited an instance in an academy in Rochester, N.Y., where, it becoming necessary to raise the salaries of the seven music teachers, the Commissioners brought it about by lowering the salaries of 125 female teachers. She hoped the reporters would make a note of the circumstance, for those Commissioners always felt so ashamed when they saw it in print. Some men were afraid of their permanency as heads of the family, but Sydney Smith had said that the lowest of mankind was that which was afraid of the supremacy of woman.
As to exceptional cases where woman might properly take the head of household matters, she related one or two appropriate instances where woman had thrown herself much more competent than her husband in trying emergencies. Men need not be afraid of woman’s supremacy; but if they desired their own advancement, they could in no way efficiently bring it about as by aiding in the elevation of woman. [Applause.]
The convention then adjourned until 2 o’clock p.m.
Shortly after 2 o’clock the convention reassembled, the attendance being larger tha in the forenoon. The number on the stage had received accessions in the persons of Rev. Robert Collyer, Rev. Mr. Bayiles, Mrs. M. L. Waker, editress of the Sorosis, Mrs. Susan Branson, and others.
Mr, Brahan, of the Committee on Permanent Organization, reported as follows:
- President—Mrs. Livermore.
Vice Presidents—Rev. Dr. Goodspeed, Mrs. General Beveridge, Rev. Dr. Beecher, Mrs. Dupee, Rev. Edward Eggleston, Miss Bowman, Rev. Dr. Fowler, Mrs. Loomis, C. M. Bawley, Mrs. Wm. Wheeler and Mrs. Bradwell.
Secretaries—Mrs. Willing, of Rockford, Mrs. Babbitt and Mr. George Broham.
Committee on Finance—Judge Bradwell, General Beveridge and Hon. S. M. Booth
On taking the chair, Mrs. Livermore said that there was a good deal to be done. She was not very good at talking, but was pretty good at working, and should do all she could.
Mr. Babcock suggested that the ladies be requested to vote when motons are made.
moved the appointment of a committee consisting of six persons—three ladies and three gentlemen—whose duty it shall be to proceed to Springfield and lay before the Legislature the claims of the female sex to more clearly defined rights as to property and as to the custody of children, and petition for such a change in the State laws as shall place women on an equal footing with men in these respects. In support of the motion he proceeded to show how powerless the mother was to control the custody of her children in case of a will made by her husband at his death. He might enumerate many laws which worked harshly at women and minor children, as he knew how injuriously those laws worked.
said that during recess a gentleman had said that only the lower order of women should vote, and she wanted to answer it by telling a little story. It was concerning a clergyman in Rocjester, N.Y., who had preached concerning the grand results of religion in redeeming the fallen of both sexes, and of the the work which women could do. He believed that only bad women would vote, however. She asked him if, in case he had appealed to the to the women of his congregation to attend the polls and help elect good officers, how many would have staid at home, and he admitted—not one. This question was one of civilization, and it was a test of intelligence, in these times, whether a man supported or opposed female suffrage. It was truth; it was God’s truth; it would stand, and all would have to come to it; it was only a question of time. There used to be a question as to woman’s capacity to manage business, and referred to a New York Judge who used to insist upon the widow administrating her better done than when husband’s estate, and he said that the farms had been better managed, the business better done than when carried on by the husband.
All that women of the country needed was an opportunity to learn. They want to workm and all they wait for is an opportunity. The one great obstacle that stood in the way of the practical attainment of the end sought, was the fact that young girls were not trained to some business occupation, and when this state of things had been corrected a great step to complete success had been taken. Now woman must fight her way to open a path for herself, so that if she is without the help of father, husband or brother, she is forlorn indeed. We want to remember this state of things.
of Wisconsin, said he would make a brief statement as to the progress of the female suffrage movement in Wisconsin. Two years ago he had introduced a resolution in the Legislature to amend the constitution by striking out the word “male.” He was an ardent temperance man, and his motive in introducing the resolution was to secure the aid and support of the “better half” of the community by giving women a chance to vote. That resolution was passed, but was subsequently reconsidered. Again the resolution was introduced, and this time carried through both branches of Legislature by a two-thirds vote. The constitution of Wisconsin provides that amendments must be submitted to two Legislatures, and when the resolution came up again it failed. Last Monday evening the house passed a bill for universal suffrage, and he had faith that it would go through the Senate, and in the fall of 1870 go before the people.
Rev. Mr. Hammond.
The Chair invited the Rev. Mr. Hammond to take a seat upon the platform and present his views upon the question of female suffrage. Mr. Hammond said he took to himself some little credit for the spice and variety in the convention in the forenoon, and, as there was a desire expressed for a little opposition, he had consented to speak upon the subject.
One of the ladies in the morning had said that the opponents of the movement were small and narrow-minded, but he took for granted that not everyone did not think so. He did not wish to be regarded as an old fogy, or as impeaching the motives of the ladies who were striving to lead public sentiment in this direction. He did not deny that thousands were better prepared to vote than thousands of men who now vote, and neither was opposed to the proposed changes in the laws relating to the rights of women. He had no doubt that women would go to the polls and vote, even if it stormed at the time, and she had the neuralgia a week to pay for it. It was admitted that the right to vote carried with it the right to hold office in the land. [A voice from Miss Anthony—”Precisely so!”]. Office-seeking would then become a part of woman’s sphere, and the consequent attendance upon the caucuses, participations in intrigues and wire-pulling. Ladies must also attend public meetings, attend on canvassing committees, run from house to house discussing politics, turn out in torch-light processions, etc. One part would get out a string of crinoline reaching from Clark street bridge to the city limits, perhaps, and the other party would leave nothing undone to bring out a bigger show of calico, [Laughter.] His interpretation of the Bible led him to believe that this movement was in direct opposition to the teachings of that book. The result of woman’s voting would be to make her a ruler.
Question from S. M. Booth—”Would the mother be right in ruling the children in case of the death of her husband?”
Mr. Hammond replied that he had expected to be riddled when he got up to speak, and he begged that the riddles would be reserved until he had ceased speaking. He then continued as follows:
The extension of the right of suffrage to woman would interfere with the rights of infants, He was a firm believer in the rights of infants. Their rights involved the interests of the family and the interests of the whole human race, and anything which interfered with their rights was a violation of the fundamental laws of God, and a violation of the very first principles upon which all human society rested. Infants had first the right to be born. If the race was to be continued women must bear children. This was according to God’s law; man could bot do it. [Laughter]. Any reversement of the duties of married women which interfered with the birth of children, which presented still greater temptations to women to prevent the conception of children or to destroy their infants, would be a fundamental evil. Ten thousand women in this land now had the guilt of murder upon them for destroying their unborn babes. [Sensation.] If women become candidates for office, anticipated being nominated for Congress, a year hence, they would say: “I will noy become a mother; it will interfere with my ambitions and aspirations.” Again, infants had a right not only to be born, but to be born in the best condition possible. It was an admitted fact that undue excitement of mothers affected their offspring, Infants had a right to their own mother’s breasts, and should not be left to hired nurses and menials when the mother is able to take care of them. There were, of course, exceptional cases. Woman should not be subjected to the excitement consequent of political strife. The unanimous opinion of medical men, and the medical sisters, was that a pregnant woman should be continually cared for and protected, be calm and cheerfully await their appointed time. Nursing women should be kept free from passionate heats for the good of their children.There was physiological truth as well as poetry in the idea that children may draw in passions and sentiments with their mother’s milk. Fits of anger in the mother, it had been currently reported, and believed, had sometimes caused the death of their babes.
Was it not reasonable, then that women should be exempt from public duties and excitements? For twenty-five or thirty years of her life, woman was unfit for public service. Women have not by nature the physical power to rule. In a case of numerical majority of women, they could not bring the power to bear to carry into force their rulings. It may be said that the age of brute force has gone by, but no one will deny that brute force is all that executes the laws and prevents crime. Women must go down in a contest which God has not made them equal to, and go down to lower degradation than before. He wished his bearers to bear in mind that he referred to physical, not mental authority. The obligation to vote once imposed, there could be no escape, and, however heartily the women of the country might grow sick of it, there could be no relief. The admission of ignorant foreigners to vote was admitted to be a mistake, but no party dared to attempt to deprive them of that right. As well might a couple try matrimony a little while and see how they liked it. He didn’t believe Miss Anthony meant to say that support of female suffrage wass a test question of intelligence. Such a sweeping assertion touched his wife and daughters, who were opposed to it, and, he could give good references as ti their intelligence. There was some question as to women’s purifying politics, there was a possibility that politics might pollute woman. Fancy four or five thousand prostitutes at the polls, and it seemed to him altogether more certain that politics would degrade woman.
The Chair announced that, in to-morrow’s (today’s) convention, Rev. Mr. Fallows of Milwaukee; Professor Haven of the Chicago Theological Seminary; Mrs. Sterritt, of Kansas, and Mrs. General Phelps, of St. Louis, would be present and speak. No admission would be charged.
After a song by two of the Hutchinsons the convention adjourned until 10 o’clock this fore noon.
Library Hall was on the second floor of the Young Men’s Association Library, also known as Metropolitan Hall. The building was located on the NW corner of Randolph and LaSalle streets The remodeled library rooms opened in 1867.
Chicago Tribune, February 13, 1869
The Female Suffrage Convention resembled at Library Hall yesterday morning, the attendance being fully as great as the night befire, and largely composed of ladies. In addition to the persons occupying seats on the platform during the first day’s session, there were yesterday noticed Mrs. Mary G. Peckenpaugh, M.D., of St. Louis, and William Wells Brown, formerly a slave, and now a resident of Boston. Anna Dickinson occupied a seat among the audience, but, beyond the manifestation of interest and attention, took no active part in the proceedings.
Called to Order.
The convention was called to order by the President, Mrs. Livermore, shortly after 10 o’clock, and prayer was offered by Rev. J. E. Roy, of Chicago.
Judge Waite, from the Committee on Resolutions, submitted the following report:
- The Committee on Resolutions have agreed upon and authorized me to present these resolutions:
WHEREAS, The Constitution of the State of Illinois declares that “all power is inherent in the people, and all free governments are founded on their authority and instituted for their peace, safety and happiness; and
WHEREAS, Woman, equally with man, is interested in having good laws, and having the well executed; therefore.
Resolved, That the extension of the right of suffrage to woman is required by the good of society, as well as by the spirit of our constitutions.
Resolved, That the co-operation of man and woman in every department of human action has ever proved beneficial to both, and is alike essential to a happy home, a refined society, and a republican state.
Resolved, That suffrage for women as well as man is the key to personal independence, opportunity, education, compensation, social position, self-reliance and self-respect.
Resolved, That we will make a united effort to have a new constitution for the State of Illinois, so framed that no distinction shall be made among citizens in the exercise of suffrage on account of race, color, sex, nativity, property, education or creed.
Resolved, That all the facilities for education, and all the avenues of remunerative industry, should be open to woman; and that no legal impediment should be placed in the way of her engaging in every department of social, civil and political life.
Mr. Brand moved the adoption of the resolutions.
Remarks of Mr. Brown.
In connection with the fourth resolution, William Wells Brown, a former fugitive slave, but now a resident of Boston, said he did not wish to object to anything in the resolution, but since reference had been made to color, he thought he would give a little color to the convention. [Laughter.]
Comparisons were often drawn between the negro and the woman, and the negro was frequently disparaged for the benefit of woman. He had heard one of the speakers protest against classifying the women with negroes and lunatics, and he wanted to protect against classifying the negro with women and lunatics. [Laughter.] He wanted the negro question and the woman question each to stand upon its own merits. The negro should not suffer in order that the women might derive an advantage. Let each of the questions have an equal chance. He did not want the impression to go out that, if the negro should get the ballot in the South and the women should not, the women there would be worse off than ever, for the negro had shown himself equally qualified with the white man. He believed that if the women of Chicago had an opportunity next week to vote on the question of female suffrage, they would vote it down. There was something else besides the ballot which must be given to women. They must first acquire an equal standing in the social and domestic circle, and, first, the women must be taught at home that they need, and must have, the ballot and how to use it. Thousands of women feel that the ballot will unsex them and deprive them of the attention and love which the men now bestow upon them.
Miss Anthony: “That’s just what the old slaveholders used to say.”
Mr. Brown. “Yes, but the master could restrain the slave by the lash, while, if a woman’s husband should undertake to whip her for wanting the ballot, she could run away, get a divorce and get another husband.: [Prolonged laughter and applause.]
Men were saying that this convention would spoil the Chicago women, so that they wouldn’t know how to treat their husbands for four weeks. This reminded him of the boy who, having purchased a microscope, inspected a piece of cheese which his father was about to eat, and advised the old man not to indulge, for there were “wrigglers in it.” The father put the cheese into his mouth all the same, saying, “Let ’em wriggle; I can stand it if they can!” [Laughter.] So he supposed the Chicago women would be perfectly content to let the men “wriggle.” [Laughter and applause.]
Chicago Tribune, March 8, 1869
Chicago, March 6.
To the Editor of The Chicago Tribune:
I beg to leave words through the columns of your paper to say a few words to our colored male citizens, for since the convention which convened at Library Hall, I have been forced many times to defend Mrs. Stanton for what she said concerning women being governed by the lower order of men. Although she (Mrs. Stanton) in reply to Wm. Wells Brown’s remarks arose, and as I thought , thoroughly and satisfactorily explained herself to all, yet, it is asserted by not a few colored men that she said (or implied the meaning) of which was affirmed by your reporter, that she did not want the colored man to vote without white women were allowed the same right.
Now, I contend, she said, no such thing; and if I am wrong I wish to be corrected. Those who know me, know me to be a strong advocate of the women suffrage question, and I know of but five colored women who conscientiously take sides with me, and the greatest of these is Mrs. C. Alexander, for she dare and has spoken publicly to her friends of color her views on this question. The cause of their quietness is the dictatorial spirit of their lords, who seem to think that woman has no sphere above the wash tub and nursery-room. Everywhere among colored men, the question of female suffrage is the theme of conversation, and among the many of whom I have come in contact, I find, with but three exceptions, that they all take sides with Mr. Brown—that is to say, they alone should have “negro on the brain.” There is not one , from the highest to the lowest, but will say they alone should have the right to vote. They have fought, bled and died in defense of the American flag. True, they have undergone many sufferings, and I would be a traitor were I to say they have not paid for the right of citizenship, and for which they contend. It has been told me that I should wait till they first were recognized in the law, ere I raise my voice in behalf of female suffrage, and at the same time I am told that if they got the right ti vote, and could prevent it, that we women never would get that right. Now, I think the question of negro suffrage at an end. For no well-thing man, black or white, Democrat or Republican, but knows the inevitable. And I want women to vote, because I heartily believe that you will find more intellectually evinced among one half the colored women of Chicago than you will among one half of the colored men.
And I would say to the colored men that the majority of the American women have ever been the friends of the negro; that Mrs. Harriet Bercher Stowe, with her illustrative and touching narrative of Uncle Tom’s Cabin, did more to impress the minds of the American people of the wrong they were doing the negro than say any other author of orator.
Men of color, you owe a debt of gratitude to the American women as well as men. And I say that you who have ever been oppressed; you who are clamoring for your rights, should be the last ones to oppose universal suffrage. The Bible is taken as proof for this argument. Women of the Old and New Testament are held up as examples to show that woman’s place is at home. So, too, the Bible shows us that slavery has always, in some form, existed, and so might contend that the Negro should never have them set free. The Bible is our guide inasmuch that we believe man was first, woman second. I believe woman was made to help—meet for man, to accompany him through all of life’s journey and trials. I believe that the wisdom of God is influencing the American people, and as this nation is now in advance of all other nations, that she will be the first to show to the world that woman is an independent being by placing her equal with man, in the position which God designed she should hold.
The past history of nations is not the standard for our future, nor need I stop to give proof of the ability of American women to vote. Men of color talk about their wives and mothers being allowed on the ballot; you say you could not love them as well; that it would be prostituting their femininity. How absurd, when every day they are exposed to even greater danger than merely going to the ballot-box. I might sight you to many instances if I thought it necessary so to do. But you know too well our history; you know the greater part of us depend on labor for support. Then oppose not that which will make labor respectable in woman as well as in man. If you want your wives and daughters to wash and work for their livelihood, then oppose not female suffrage. Take home to yourselves what has caused the animosity between you and the Irishman, It was because he being oppresses by the laws of England emigrated here and voted for your oppression. Look well to these things, and remember, if you want to overcome prejudice, you must take the broad platform of universal suffrage.
Mrs. N. Talbert (colored).1
Immediately after the Convention, Mrs. Mary A. Livermore advertised her new publication advocating Women’s Rights, calling it “The New Era.” When she published the first issue the name was changed to “The Agitator.” Thirty-seven issues of the journal were published between March 13, 1869 to November 27, 1869. In 1870 The Agitator was merged into the Woman’s Journal, the well-known suffrage journal founded by Lucy Stone, and Mrs. Livermore became associate editor.
The Evening Post, March 11, 1869
The promised publication of this name has made its appearance. It is a neat quarto weekly, published every Saturday, and edited by Mrs. Mary A. Livermore and Mrs. Mary F. L. Walker, and the first number speaks well for the enterprise and the ability of the conductors. It is devoted to the interests of Woman, and at its masthead bears the motto, “Healthy agitation precedes all true Reform. The editor’s “Introduction” says:
- The increasing development of the race imposes new duties and responsibilities on woman, as well as man, so that the stature of womanhood to-day, should be grander than that of the past. The limitations which have hampered woman should therefore be removed, that she may keep up with the rapid progress going on everywhere under the cope of civilization. Nothing less than admission in law, and in fact, to equality in all rights, political, civil and social, with the male citizens of the community, will answer the demands now being made for American women.
The Evening Post, March 12, 1869
Through the joint labor of Mesdames Livermore and Walker, Chicago will probably have the best paper devoted to the Rights of Women, in the United States. The first number of The Agitator, which these ladies will hereafter conduct, lies before us, and we are compelled to say that it excels all its contemporaries of its particular school in everything that should commend an organ of opinion to the patronage of the sex. Mrs. Livermore has long been known as one of the principal champions of the rights of women; but happily for her own success and for the success of the cause for which she agitates, she is neither an advocate of the blasphemy nor the free loveism which have too frequently disgraced former efforts to secure to women their proper place in society and in the Government. Mrs. Walker is a worthy co-laborer in the good cause, whose modesty and many womanly virtues have secured her hosts of admirers and friends. These ladies will, we have no doubt, make the Agitator all that it should be; and we commend them and their new enterprise to the favor of the public. Of the necessity of such a paper as they will print, to make the world mindful of the oppressions and wrongs, social, industrial and political, which the women of this country endure, and to which they are mainly insensible, who can doubt?
The Agitator is published at 132 South Clark street, at $2.50 per annum.
Young Men’s Association Library
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1Naomi Bowman Talbert Anderson (March 4, 1843—June 9, 1899) was a poet, writer and public speaker who often gave speeches on the experience of black women and their right to vote. She spoke about the issues of black women but was an advocate for all genders and races. She worked alongside suffragists to campaign for the first woman’s suffrage referendum.