Worcester Women's History Project

Massachusetts in the woman suffrage movement. A general, political, legal and legislative history from 1774, to 1881

By Harriet H. Robinson, Second Edition. Boston: Roberts Brothers,1883; original ed., 1881.

APPENDIX H.


The Woman Suffrage Commemorative
Convention In 1880.

At its annual meeting in May 1880, the Massachusetts Woman Suffrage Association voted to hold a Woman Suffrage Jubilee Convention, and chose the following named persons as a committee of arrangements; Lucy Stone, Abby Kelley Foster, Thomas J. Lothrop, Timothy K. Earle, Sarah E. Wall, Harriet H. Robinson and E. H. Church.

Members of this committee made the necessary arrangements, and at the appointed time the friends gathered at Worcester. There were present not only old workers, but also young and ardent suffragists, who had come to see those whose silver hairs told of long and faithful service. Athol, Boston, Haverhill, Leicester, Leominster, Lowell, Malden, Melrose, Milford, North Brookfield, Taunton, and many other Massachusetts towns were well represented. Suffragists from other states were also there, and letters were read from far away old friends, and those near, who were unable to be present. The oldest ladies there were Mrs. Lydia Brown of Lynn, Mrs. Wilbour of Worcester, and Julia E. Smith Parker of Glastonbury, Connecticut. On the afternoon of the first day there was an informal gathering of friends in the ante-room of Horticultural Hall in Worcester, and the congratulations and glad recognition of old acquaintances were very pleasant to behold. Old time memories were recalled by those who had not seen each other for many years, and the common salutation was: "How gray you've grown!" Many of them had indeed grown gray in the service, and their faces were changed, but made beautiful by a life devoted to a noble purpose.

There were many present who had attended the convention of thirty years ago. Abby Kelley Foster, Lucy Stone, Antoinette Brown Blackwell, Paulina Gerry (whose careful preservation of Woman's Rights documents has made the writing of this history possible), Dr. Martha H. Mowry, Rev. Samuel May, Rev. W. H. Channing, Joseph A. Howland, Adeline H. Howland and many, many others. It was very pleasant indeed to hear these veterans, whose clear voices have spoken out so long and so bravely for the cause,-William H. Channing, who, fresh from England, brought the good word concerning the movement in the mother country; Lucy Stone, whose "silvery voice" rose just as it did thirty years ago, and whose heart, as of old, was young and "warm with enthusiasm" for woman's rights; Antoinette Brown Blackwell, still "beautiful" and "orthodox;" and Samuel May, always effective in speech, and on the right side in all reforms.

Abby Kelley Foster too was there, feeble with declining years, but ever the "gentle hero," with the old fire of antislavery times still burning within her. In one part of her speech she had accused the men of being to blame for the political disfranchisement of women; and, turning suddenly to Mr. T.W. Higginson, (who sat near her on the platform) she shook her finger at him and said: " You are my enslaver!" Mr. Higginson took the accusation cheerfully, and the audience were delighted at the little scene. It reminded some of the more belligerent among them of the early times in the history of the cause, when the "fight" in Massachusetts was more aggressive than it has since become. The speaking at all the sessions was excellent, and the spirit of the Convention was very reverent and hopeful.

The tone of the press concerning woman's rights meetings had changed greatly since thirty years ago. "Hen conventions" had gone by, and a woman's meeting was now called by its proper name. Representatives of leading newspapers from all parts of the State were presented, and the reports were written in a most just and friendly spirit. The Worcester press was particularly hospitable, and advertised the meetings gratuitously. The Spy said: "The convention is one of the best the women have ever held in Worcester."


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