The first speaker was Rev. Wm. H. Channing -- He advocated the wisdom, the propriety and duty of opening our institutions of learning, our medical schools, our colleges and high schools to both sexes indiscriminately. Women should be admitted to all these privileges as her right. He alluded to the remark quoted from a gentleman who had objected to women having equal rights, because it would make them manish. He said it was a foolish expression. There was no possibility that such a thing could ever happen. God's law of spiritual order could never be set aside. He spoke of Woman in the industrial pursuits. She should have the opportunity to use all her powers, in every form of industry she may choose. There should be no obstacle in the way of her raising herself to personal independence. She should be trained for the coequal of man in every respect. She should be represented in the legislation of the country and the administration of the laws. She should have the right to sit on a jury; to be tried by her peers.
He did not know whether this would ever be obtained by suffrage or not; but woman's judgment and woman's heart shall yet be felt in the very center of legislation. The purity of wisdom and of heart which belongs to woman is not expressed in the church nor in the state. It is shut out from the pulpit and the halls of legislation. But there is a method he would suggest, by which it could be made to bear on the public heart and mind. Let there be an Annual Congress of Women, to whom there shall be a standard of moral appeal, and their influence shall be felt far and wide. He alluded to the appeal of Miss Catherine Beecher in behalf of her friend. He honored her for the skill and noble manner in which she executed her work, and especially that it evinced her true womanhood. Suppose such an annual meeting of a Congress of Women could be held, in which women of years and full of honor should be found, and young women; and then let an association of orthodox clergymen uphold a young man in a course of conduct so dishonorable and unmanly, and the moral sentiment of such a body of women, in their congregated might, would fall upon them like an avalanche. In such a Congress they might make their higher sentiments bear on the evils of war, of slavery, and on the interests of power and freedom. He advocated the wisdom and propriety of establishing orders of women. Our Catholic friends established orders of this kind, and he did not know why Protestants might not do the same thing. Why should there not be an order of women, composed of those who do not choose to encumber themselves with the ties of marriage? and why might they not plant themselves on a domain, invest their property, and engage in such industrial operations as might suit their capacities and tastes; and here would be a place, where woman, driven from the family circle, by the tyranny of a husband, a brother, son, might find a home, and a place for the employment of her powers. Said he "Sisters, you know I am speaking the solemn fact when I say that there are thousands of women, who wet their pillow with their tears every night, in consequence of the tyranny to which they are subjected by their position, and who do not know where to stand." Such an order of women would give them hope and reliance in attempting their own emancipation.
Mrs. Lucretia Mott said: The language of those who favor our cause implies a degree of kindness when they speak of giving us our rights, permitting us to receive them; but she was not disposed to receive them in this way; she was in favor of demanding them, in the name of our common humanity. She wanted a resolution framed that should express this demand. She wanted Woman's freedom and independence acknowledged as a right; that they should be secured to her, yielded, not given; that those restrictions which have prevented her from rising to her true position should be removed, leaving her a fair opportunity to rise in the scale of being, and make herself what God designed she should be. That she sometimes does this despite the obstacles that surround her, is evidence of her capacity. There are some signs of progress and encouragement to cheer us onward. A Medical School is instituted in Philadelphia for the education of female physicians, and a large number have already entered their names as students. An Academy of Design is also established, where Women may learn a knowledge of drawing and design, which shall enable them to find useful employments. Journeymen tailors and tailoresses are forming associations so as to do business for themselves, and the value and dignity of labor is rising and will command its proper reward to the Woman as well as to the Man. Woman's labor has not been appreciated. And many Women, by suffrance, to some extent, are raising their voices in the name of religion and humanity. In the Society to which she belonged [of Hicksite Quakers], and among one or two other Societies she named, Women stand on an equality with Men, and have the same rights of speech. But this was not generally the case.
She regretted that so much time had been wasted in applying the Bible argument to these reforms. All we have to do is to step forward in the right, and the theologians will have to do this work, of reconciling the Bible with these principles of everlasting truth and right. She alluded to the writings of George and Andrew Combe as have at first encountered this objection, that the truths they taught of Phrenology and Philosophy were opposed to the Bible. A work was written to refute them on this ground. But while the workds of these men had reached many editions, it had fallen into oblivion, and now an appendix is written by an American Divine to show the harmony between them. Mr. Combe, probably, had no objection to this, but it was not his work. He left that to the ecclesiastics. And so it had been with the other sciences and in the Anti-Slavery reform. She was not understood to want [i.e., lack] reverence or respect for the Bible, but the work of reconciling any apparent or imaginary conflicts was not their appropriate work. They should stand forth on the great principles of justice and humanity; and she alluded to the fact that there were "honorable women, not a few," who had dared to prophesy in the name of Christ.
She made reference to the language of Mrs. [Abby Kelley] Foster, who she feared would be contrued to favor the use of violence and bloodshed as one of the means of obtaining these rights. She thought she might not be understood. What she said on the subject was based upon the supposition that certain other things were right. She wished her friend had given her own views of the subject. Mrs. Mott then went on in a few eloquent and powerful remarks, to urge that the weapons of their warfare were not carnal, but spiritual, and might through God, to the pulling down of strongholds. That they must fight with the sword of the spirit, even the works of God; they must appeal to the pure sentiments of the mind, and the justice of their cause. She was opposed to any twaddle on that subject, as was her friend. We want to speak earnestly and truly the words of honest and sober conviction. We want to speak in tones of reproof to those on whom the guilt of these wrongs rests. We want to say as Jesus did "Ye fools and blind," "Ye hypocrites," and to our Sisters, who are still indifferent and contented with their position "O, thou slothful and slow of heart, rise up in the strength of thy Womanhood, and Christ shall give thee light." There is no greater mistake than to suppose that what is called non-resistance is timid and inefficient method of meeting those evils. It is the strongest kind of resistance -- the resistance of moral sentiment, of justice and truth. It will not permit us to injure our fellow beings, to take their lives, but it leaves to us that higher resistance which comes from God.
Wendell Phillips, on behalf of the Business Committee, read the following series of resolutions:
Resolved: that every human being, of full age, and resident for a proper length of time on the soil of the nation, who is required to obey the law, is entitled to a voice in its enactment; that every such person whose proerty or labor is taxed for for the support of the government, is entitled to a direct share in such government; therefore,
Resolved, That Women are clearly entitled to the right of suffrage, and to be considered eligible to office, of omission to demand which on their part is a palpable recreancy to duty; and the denial of which is a gross usurpation on the part of man -- no longer to be endured -- and that every party which claims to represent the humanity, the civilization and the progress of the age, is bound sto inscribe on its banners, Equality before the law without distinction of sex or color.
Resolved, That civil and political rights acknowledge no sex, and therefore the word "male" should be stricken from every State constitution.
Mr. Phillips remarked that he felt interested in this movement, because it promises to bring to the cause of humanity, in its struggle with wrong, the intellect and heart of one half the world, who, by their position, have been kept from exerting their full share of influence and power. The rights to which Woman is entitled are of two kinds, natural and political rights. Whichever of these is first secured the other will soon follow. He was inclined to think the former would be realized first -- the right to determine for herself what shall be her profession; what kind of industry shall engage her attention; what studies she shall pursue, and how she shall dispose of her property. But he regarded the question of political rights [as being] of great importance. He thought Women ought to be equally eligible to offices of responsibility and trust in the Government; to vote, and to a voice in the enactment of laws. She should be represented in the Courts and in the Jury box. He differed from Mr. Channing so far as Mr. C. would compose a Jury exclusively of one sex or the other. He would not have a woman tried by a jury entirely of her own sex, nor a colored person by those of his own color. But he thought sex and color should be mingled up before the law. The Jury is one of the means of making us feel our rights and responsibilities. DeTocqueville had said of the French nation, that they never could have a Republic till the trial by jury was consummated. The influence of the Jury box is very great. But Woman is denied all this by her exclusion from it.
The feudal ages and customs, he said, had given us our laws, and they abolished Woman. Our social customs have come from the Hebrews, with a touch of the classic, and these abolished Woman. We need, therefore, to run the ploughshare of reform deep through the soil which has given growth to our present institutions and customs. This is, therefore, a most thorough and radical reform.
He did not think all the guilt of these wrongs to which women are subjected rested on Man. He thought Woman must share equally the guilt with him. We are in part the creatures of circumstances; we are what the past has made us, and these wrongs have grown up, or continued to exist, not from an intention of wrong on the part of man, but from ignorance. We have inherited these customs; very few men ever get beyond the smoke of their father's cabins.
He thought the annual sessions of this Convention of great importance. He would place the papers that have been read here to-day on record and have them printed, and they would be looked at hereafter as a Declaration of Rights. A series of these Conventions will gather around them the sympathy and moral sentiment of society. He would leave it to a Standing Committee to call them annually at a convenient time and place. No other organization is needed. What we want is to change public opinion. Women had as much influence as men in the formation of public opinion, and here again was there responsibility rested upon them. It is public opinion that deprives Woman of most of her rights. When this public opinion is reformed, the barriers and restrictions thrown around Woman will fall almost imperceptibly. What we want is martyrs in this cause -- martyrs to public opinion. The dear friend who preceded him [Lucretia Mott] had done more by her example, in discussing and speaking on great moral questions, for the cause than a thousand tracts. The Legislature will open its doors when the pressure of public opiion outside becomes too great to bear, and no sooner. Politics will change as public opinion changes. This public opinion is slow in its growth and formation. The public mind is like stone on which the water drops continually till it is worn away. The public mind is silly and foolish. It is affected more by epigrams, and jokes, and ridicule, than by the power of reason and truth. It was by such means that Louis Philippe in one night lost his crown. If he had possessed the courage of his wife his throne might have been standing to this day. The influence of truth and right upon the public conscience and heart is gradual and slow. The massive architecture of the Romans looks as it it were built to stand through eternity; but the weeds grow out from its crevices and send their roots among its huge masses, and the frosts of an Italian sky gradually separate them, undermining the monuments of the Cæsars, until they crumble down in piles of broken ruins.
Mrs. Rose of New York, made another of her effective and eloquent speeches, in which she alluded to our Pilgrim Fathers, and the pride and reverence with which they were often referred to. But, said she, "Who has heard of the Pilgrim Mothers? Did they not endure as many perils, and encounter as many hardships, and do as much to form and fashion the institutions of New England, as the Pilgrim Fathers? Yet they are hardly remembered."
Mrs. Lucretia Mott, made another impressive speech, in which she fixed the blame of these wrongs of Woman on the wrong doer. She did not believe in abstract wrong. Where there is oppression there is an oppressor. She thought the wrong in this case rested on man, and he should be held responsible for it. She marvelled that her friend Wendell Phillips should take the view he did. He did not reason thus when he spoke of the wrongs of the Slave.
Mr. Phillips said he cheerfully submitted to the criticism of his friend, while he maintained his position that the guilt of these wrongs should be divided between the sexes. There were none who would ridicule these conventions more than those for whose benefit they were designed. It will be more difficult to meet the sarcasm of the women than to reach the conviction of men on this subject.
He maintained Woman's rights to property, from the fact that she was capable of earning property, and therefore she had the right of ownership. She could be punished by the laws, and therefore she was entitled to a voice in their enactment.
Mrs. Foster made a speech in which she argued that the responsibility of these wrongs rests upon men. She replied to the argument that Women are contented with their sphere, and ridiculed this movement to secure their rights. They were dependent for bread upon their husbands; they were afraid of their displeasure. Many of them lament over their inferior and degraded and helpless position. But they are like the slave on the southern plantation. Ask him in the presence of his master if he is contented, and will he answer no, or murmur at his condition? No! he is afraid. And so it is with Woman. She may not be afraid of the cowhide; but she feels her dependence, and is afraid of the displeasure of her lord and master.
Mr. James M. Buffum of Lynn made a few remarks, urging the movement onward.
Mrs. Mott made some further remarks, touching on the promise of the Woman, in the marriage ceremony, to love, honor, and obey. She said these words were put in the Woman's mouth by the priest, or rather, repeated by the priest and not the Woman, though she reluctantly answers "Yes." In the religious society of which she is a member it was not so; there was a perfect reciprocity of obligation as they stood in the presence of heaven, without priest or magistrate, and invoked the Father's blessing. And she believed there were as happy and harmonious unions formed in that society as in any other religious association.
Mr. S.S. Foster made a speech of some length, which we have not time nor space to give.
The Convention adjourned at 10 o'clock to meet again in the same place at 9 1/2 o'clock to-morrow morning.
 Catherine Beecher (1800-1878) was the eldest daughter of Lyman Beecher, one of the most celebrated clergymen of the day. Two of her brothers, Edward and Henry Ward, followed their father into the pulpit and both achieved national renown. Her sister, Harriet Beecher Stowe, became a best-selling novelist. Catherine was also a best-selling author, of advice books on homemaking and childrearing; she led the crusade to open the teaching profession to women. She also campaigned for dress and nutrition reforms.
Alexis de Tocqueville was the most celebrated of all the foreign travellers to visit the U.S. In the first half of the nineteenth century. His
Democracy in America (1835, 1840) was an international best-seller. He also wrote a history of the French Revolution.