[Editorial Note: Woman's Rights was, at the outset, very clearly an American, in fact, a New England, reform. And Punch, the British humor magazine, highlighted this in its satiric portrait of "Woman's Emancipation." Its imaginary Bostonian, Theodosia Eudoxia Bang, was, in the slang of the day, a Blue Stocking, an educated female. Blue Stockings were considered inherently comical. Bang was supposedly "Principal of the Homeopathic and Collegiate Thomsonian Institute." Homeopathy was an alternative form of medicine, rapidly growing in popularity in mid-century, based on administering extremely small doses of drugs which, taken in large amounts, would produce in a healthy individual the symptoms the patients was experiencing. "Thomsonian" is a reference to George Thomson, a popular writer of lurid novels, including Venus in Boston which contains a description of lesbian sex.]
P. 424: It is quite easy to realize the considerable difficulty that the natives of this old country are like to have in estimating the rapid progress of ideas on all subjects among us, the Anglo-Saxons of the Western World [i.e., Americans].
. . . . . .
To use a phrase which the refined manners of our ladies have banished from the drawing-room, and the saloon of our boarding houses, we go ahead. And our progress is the progress of all--not of high and low, for we have abolished the odious distinction--but of man, woman, and child, each in his or her several sphere.
Our babies are preternaturally sharp, and highly independent from the cradle. The high-souled American boy will not submit to be whipped at school. That punishment is confined to the lower animals.
But it is among our sex--among women (for I am a woman and my name is Theodosia Eudoxia Bang, of Boston, U.S., Principal of the Homeopathic and Collegiate Thomsonian Institute for developing the female mind in that intellectual city) that the stranger may realize, in the most convincing manner, the progressional influences of the democratic institutions it is our privilege to live under.
An American female--for I do not like the term lady, which suggests the outworn distinctions of feudalism--can travel alone from one end of the States to the other. . . . The American female delivers lectures, edits newspapers, and similar organs of opinion, which exert so mighty a leverage on the national mind of our great people, is privileged to become a martyr to her principles, and to utter her soul from the platform, by the side of the gifted Poe or the immortal Peabody. All this in these old countries is the peculiar privilege of man, as opposed to woman. The female is consigned to the slavish duties of the house. In America the degrading cares of the household are comparatively unknown to our sex. The American wife resides in a boarding-house, and, consigning the petty cares of daily life to the helps of the establishment, enjoys leisure for higher pursuits, and can follow her vast aspirations upward, or in any other direction.
We are emancipating ourselves, among other badges of the slavery of feudalism, from the inconvenient dress of the European female. With men's functions, we have asserted our right to his garb, and especially to that part of it which invests the lower extremities. With this great symbol, we have adopted others--the hat, the cigar,the paletot or round jacket. And it is generally calculated that the dress of the Emancipated American female is quite pretty--as becoming in all points as it is manly and independent. I inclose a drawing made by my gifted fellow-citizen, Increase Tarbox, of Boston, U.S., for the Free Woman's Banner, a periodical under my conduct, aided by several gifted women of acknowledged progressive opinions.
I appeal to my sisters of the Old World, with confidence, for their sympathy and their countenance in the struggle in which we are engaged, and which will soon be found among them also. For I feel that I have a mission across the broad Atlantic, and the steamers are now running at reduced fares. I hope to rear the standard of Female Emancipation on the roof of the Crystal Palace, in London Hyde Park. Empty wit may sneer at its form which is bifurcate. And why not. Mohammed warred under the Petticoat of his wife Kadiga. The American female Emancipist marches on her holy war under the distinguishing garment of her husband. In the compartment devoted to the United States in your Exposition, my sisters of the old country may see this banner by the side of a uniform of female freedom--such as my drawing represents--the garb of martrydom for a month; the trappings of triumph for all ages of the future!
Theodosia E. Bang, M.A., M.C.P., [phi/delta/kappa], K.L.M., &c., &c. (of Boston, U.S.)