New-York Daily Tribune, Saturday, Novmebr 2, 1850 (P.6)
Women's Rights and Duties -- The Worcester Convention [letter to the editor, Horace Greeley]
H. Greeley, Esq. -- Dear Sir: I notice that in publishing the proceedings of "the Mothers of our Republic," you refrain from all comment or remarks. I enjoy hearing your opinion, and am particularly anxious to know what you really think of this late movement in favor of "Woman's Rights."

Now, I am at a loss to what the Women of the Worcester Convention are aiming at. It is clear that, if we are going to live, or have any private comforts, there must be dinners cooked, children's faces must be washed, and there must be a home -- a home to which the mind of the weary husband will turn to bear him up and urge him on in his toils for the inmates of that sanctuary -- a home where he can for a time forget, in his wife's and children's society, the toils and troubles of this weary world -- a home which he can never leave without carrying with him a new grace, a new strength, drawn from Woman's influence, to enable him victoriously and manfully to withstand the trials and temptations of the world. Now, if Women are given the right to vote, to electioneer, to become stateswomen, why it is an incontrovertible fact (that is, if they attend properly to politics) that the dinners must go uncooked, the children's faces unwashed, and home be forgotten -- unless, indeed, the men exchange duties with them, as was proposed at the Convention, and stay at home and help their wives cook and wash the dishes.

So far from thinking Women "slaves," I do not see how it can appear in such a light to any thinking mind, any true-hearted woman. There is something so superior about Woman that would make one shrink as from profanation at the idea of her mingling in public with "the sterner and worser sex" -- a spiritualization that raises her far above the intrigues of politicians and the vulgarity of rowdies -- a superiority which, if not acknowledged in words, is confessed in actions, even by men who, however degraded they may be, refrain from the slightest word or action that could be comment upon, in the presence of a woman.

The Women of the Worcester Convention seem to have entirely overlooked the immense power given to women in the form of Home Influence. What power can be greater than a mother's holy and elevated example, which has given to the world so many shining lights? than a mother's gentle but impressive remonstrance to a straying son, or a wife's earnest pleadings to a wayward husband? all of which would be of no avail the moment a woman condescended to become a rowdy Senator or intriguing Politician. For my part, I look on Women as missionary angels, sent among men to remind them of their high callling and high duties. It is not because men think that women have no intellect, et cetera that they consider it inexpedient for them to vote. No, it is common sense directs them to this judgment. They know that there are two great duties to be performed in the world, public and domestic duties; and as no one can deny but that men are stronger than women, the former generally choose the more laborious and inferior duties.

We must also remember, that if women gained these absurd "rights," they would be obliged to maintain them; and this they have not the strength to do; for which of the women at the Worcester Convention could knock a man down if he chose to stand up? and what man would come forward to protect a woman as long as she claimed to herself the right of self-protection? It would be well enough for the ladies to endeavor to protect themselves, if it were practicable; but what rowdy, if he met Miss Dr. So &;So out on a sick call at 12 o'clock at night, would stand to listen to her explanations of "Woman's Rights"?

I acknowledge there are some gross injustices done to Women in regard to property and their very low wages; and if it were to reform such abuses as these that Women held conventions, it would be laudable; but such injustices seem to take up but a small share of their attention, and, strange as it many appear, their ambition seems to aim principally at gaining the right to be just as uninteresting and bad as men. One of the ladies [Lucretia Mott] outdid even the Nineteenth Century, when she thought the inspired Apostiles, the companions of our blessed Savior, "might have imbibed some of the ignorance of the age." Truly, we of the Nineteenth Century are wondrous wise, or either, I fear, we are imbibing some of the infidelity and self conceit of this same wonderful age. There can be no fault found with Miss Lucy Stone's desire not to have it placed on her grave-stone that she was "relict of somebody," as she can easily avoid being the "relict" of anybody.

I am sorry, dear Sir, to have trespassed so long upon your valuable time, but as I knew that on any subject you are always willing to give both sides a chance, as we Yankees say, I could not refrain from the above remarks.
Yours sincerely, A.


Remarks. [Greeley's Editorial Response]

That there is great injustice and evil in the present circumscriptions of Woman's sphere, we firmly believe: that the Worcester Convention indicated precisely the right remedies therefor, we are not sure. That the full and equal enjoyment of Political Franchises would improve the lot of Woman, may be doubtful; but we are willing to give the Democratic theory a full and fair trial. Whenever so many Women shall petition for the Right of Suffrage as to indicate that a majority of the sex virtually concur in the demand, then we shall insist that the Franchise shall be extented to them. Being a disciple of the faith which holds that 'all just government is founded on the consent of the governed,' we could do not less, even though we knew that the Women would make a bad use of the power thus accorded them. Right first; Expediency afterward.

As to our correpsondent's fear that buttered toast will run short, and children's faces get crusted over, in case the Political Rights of Women are recognized as equal to and identical with those of Men, we do not share it. We know people who supposed that, when Slavery was abolished, there could be no more boots blacked, no wood chopped, bacon fried, et cetera. But we see that all needful operations go on, though Slavery is abolished throughout this region. We see not why it may not be so in case the slavery of Woman should in like manner be abolished. We do not see how an enlargement of her liberties and duties is to make a mother neglect her children or her household. She now performs her maternal duties because she delights in so doing, and not because man requires it.

Our friend's delightful picture of the home presided over by an exemplary wife and mother we appreciate, but all women are not wives and mothers. Marriage is indeed 'honorable in all,' when it is marriage; but accepting a husband for the sake of a position, a home and a support, is not marriage. (We must be excused from stating what it is.) Now one radical vice of our present system is that it morally constrains women to take husbands (not to say, fish for them) without the least impulse of genuine affection. Ninety-nine of every hundred young women are destitute of an independent income adequate to their comfortable support; they must work or marry for a living. But in Industry, Woman's sphere is exceedingly circumscribed, and her reward, as compared with the recompense of masculine effort, very inadequate. Except as household drudges, it is very difficult for seven single women out of eight to earn a comfortable, reputable, independent livelihood in this country, and it is generally much worse in others. Hence false marriages and degradations more scandalous if not more intrinsically vicious.

What Woman imminently needs is a far wider sphere of action, larger opportunities for the employment of her faculties, and a juster reward for her labor. It is a shame, for example, that there should be several thousand male Clerks in our City dealing out dry goods mainly to women; these Clerks should have more masculine employments, and their places should be filled by women. The teachers in our schools should nearly all be women; the number should be doubled and the compensation largely increased. Watch-making, tailoring, and many other branches of manufacturing industry, should in good part be relinquished to women. Women's work should command in the average two-thirds to three-fourths that of men; the present rates range from one-third to one-half.
Political franchises are but means to an end, which end is the securing of social and personal rights. Other classes have found the Elective Franchise serviceable toward the attainment of these rights, and we see not why it would lose its efficacy in the hands of Women. And as to the exposure of Women to insult and outrage in the Town or Ward Meeting, or at the Election, we trust the effect would be just opposite to that anticipated -- namely, that men would be constrained by the presence of ladies to keep sober and behave themselves. The presence of Woman has this effect ever in those public assemblages honored by her presence; and we trust its virtue is far from having been exhausted.

As to Woman having to fight and knock down to maintain their Rights if once conceded, we don't believe a word of it. Knock down whom? Certainly not those who cheerfully concede them all they ask; and if there are any of the other sort, such brutes as choose to commence the game of knocking down, [they] would be very sure to get enough of it before coming to the Women. But there would be no knocking down in the premises.
We heartily rejoice that the Women's Rights Convention was held, and trust it will be followed by others. Our correspondent admits that Woman endures great wrongs which cry aloud for redress, but thinks the Worcester Convention misunderstood both the disease and the remedy. Very well; let the discussion go on, until wiser heads shall be interested and safer counsels prevail. For our part, we are well satisfied with the general scope and bearing of the Worcester discussions, and trust they will be followed up. [Ed.