[Editorial Note: John Milton Earle, editor-publisher of the Massachusetts Spy, described The Daily Mail's coverage as "a very poor imitation of Bennett's Herald, exhibiting all the low vulgarity of that print without any of its wit or humor. It is an article which no man with the feelings of a gentleman could have written, and which no paper with any regard to its character with respectable people, would have published." The sarcastic tone to which he objected will be immediately apparent. Despite this, The Daily Mail stories are among the most useful sources for the convention because they contain details unavailable elsewhere. The paper's animus, however, means that they must be used with considerable caution.]

THE DAILY MAIL, Thursday, October 24, 1850 (P.2)
(Reported for the Daily Mail)
Grand Demonstration of Petticoatdom at Worcester-- The "Woman's Rights" Convention in Full Blast--Important and Interesting Report.
Worcester, Oct. 23, 1850.
The Woman's Rights Convention was organized this morning at 11 o'clock. The meeting took place in Brinley Hall, which would hold about 600 persons. At ten o'clock, the hour for meeting, there were exactly 31 individuals present -- principally the fairer portion of creation, but about 200 came in before the organization. Whether a want of perception, or a total absence of the spirit of gallantry, guides the opinion, we cannot say -- but we must qualify our statement by expressing the belief that we have used the word fairer in its most limited sense. Lavater,[1] had he been present, would have found a very tough job in analysing the physiognomical demonstrations exhibited by the advocates of pantalettedom, in its most masculine form. This is an unpopular doctrine to advance -- very much so; but, what it is, am,[2] as Pope, or some other very clever masculine expresses it, and as we most religiously believe. Among the lady spectators, of whom there were many present prior to the commencement of the business, we noted numerous exceptions to the above statement -- any whose happy faces showed that the domestic virtues had been their grand study -- not those ambitions which unsex and unfit them for the healthy performance of their honorable, honored, special, and most important duties, socially and domestically.

The following is a copy of the document calling the meeting, which is signed by 34 Massachusetts ladies, including our special friend Abby Kelly Foster, and all the Emersonians[3] and Garrisonians[4] around our diggings. Rhode Island presents 12 names; New York 17; Pennsylvania 18; Maryland 1; and 9 from Ohio. We are indebted to brother [John Milton] Earle of the Worcester Spy for the document calling the meeting, and defining its business.
[here followed the text of the Call and then the list of temporary officers, the nominating committee, and the permanent officers as printed in the Proceedings.]

Miss [Paulina Wright] Davis took the Chair, and being a pretty woman, of course made a very pretty speech. She dilated with much eloquence on the disadvantages her sex lay under. She acknowledged the difficulties the reforms sought by the convention were surrounded with, from popular prejudice; and entered into an elaborate explanation of the objects of the conference. It was so transcendentally philosophical that common minds could make nothing of it; but by reading the 119th Psalm backwards[5] some idea of its purport might be arrived at. Once, here and there, there was a lucid expression; but these were not numerous enough to leaven the lump, and render the whole in any measure palatable to the understanding. Equality in political matters was one of the claims which peeped, naked, from the mass. The whole entertainment was accompanied by a hand organ, which squealed out its liquid notes to the praise of "old Dan Tucker," "Jeannette and Jeannot," and all of these famed characters -- mixed up with the original Polka.[6] In the middle of the music the particular fitness of the female sex to legislate and rule was asserted, and her artificial state denuded of all its artificial clothing. The principal plea for woman's equality was drawn from the inequality of mind and other qualifications which exists, confessedly, among men. Society, in denying privileges political to woman, was called an old barbarian of the most barbarous caste for its trouble. Freedom for the natural unfolding of the powers of womankind was wanted, and would have to come, aye, even were the sky to fall. What the details of that developement [sic] were we could not guess; but from what crude opinion we could gather, we should say one was the liberty to take the purse and go a marketing without restraint. Custom, in connection with this unfolding, caught it over the pate [i.e., head]; and the Dry Goods business was not spared, as women, it was argued, were as competent as men to do the amiable over a counter. The Spirit of the Times was appealed to, to assist in the progress of social revolution, which should place woman on the throne of her rights. There! friend Porter -- there's a job for you! No other paper was mentioned, which convinced us that the whole affair was purely a sporting matter. Very likely; nay, most assuredly.

A Committee on Business was appointed, also one on Rolls and Finance. Frederic [sic] Douglass was one among the first lot.

Lucretia Mott, of Phila., took up the address, and very eloquently reviewed some of its statements. A kind of disclaiming of any hostility of action was one of them; but that sentiment was one that should be qualified. Direct antagonism might yet have to be operated upon; but, in the meantime, it was best to be mum. The severity of truth and justice was recommended at present, and no milk and water proceeding; for if man, in displacing woman from her sphere, was wrong in so doing, he would have to be told so without disguise. The common treatment of womankind was spoken of [by men] as furnishing its own argument that woman was an inferior animal; and a very eloquent appeal made to the authority of Christ that it was not so. Harsh language was justified, too, and William Lloyd Garrison and George Thompson[7] quoted as bright examples of the wielders of such power in their treatment of the slave question. Love and truth were to be the panoply of the meeting; but the truth was to be of the very plainest kind, and no mistake. Seriously, the fair speaker was a noble example of female intelligence; but, perhaps the speech was a pocket one? Very likely; Abby [Kelley Foster] has lots of these, and we could furnish notes of them too.

A Resolution was passed, allowing all present to take part in debate, the Convention reserving the sole power to vote.

Letters were read from several parties. Elizur Wright [editor of the rival Boston Daily Chronotype, said his sex was severely puppyish, and blew them up accordingly. He was also very sanguine of an ultimate pantalette ascendancy some time inside "the good time coming." E.C. Lukins, of _____, [sic] also sent a very lackadaisical letter about woman's debasement, Plymouth Rock, the old ship Mayflower, mountains of opposition, and a few icebergs; something was said about poets, painters, sculptors, and even ministers, as being no better than they ought to be, because they refused to lend their unmentionable garment to every lady who asked it. At a hop, step and leap, the writer got over the Atlantic, and had a ramble among the hills around Branksome Tower,[8] a long walk among the Scotch Highlands, and various other things, aptly and inaptly, bearing on the business of the meeting. The letter was certainly a very diffuse document.

Lucius A. Hynde, a Cincinnati lawyer, also wrote a letter, which was read. He said he had some business as a lawyer, and a good deal of it too; thought that if men were rowdies at the polls, and in the Senate, women had a right as well, and also to fight -- to buckle on her knapsack, take the baby in her arms, and go a warring any time war was justifiable. The men were, he intimated, as much under an obligation to cook, rock the cradle, wash up the "things," and do a few chores, as any woman that ever submitted to such domestic drudgery. Woman had a natural right to vote; and, if the policy of mankind would allow it, no political rumpuses would take place at all. Coffee houses, gambling rooms, and other places would soon be among the things that were, had the women a toleration to go to them as well as the men. Education would soon bring this about -- which it had not managed in 1,000 years; and the way it would operate would be through the amalgamation of the sexes in schools, colleges and other educational institutions. In this way woman would be soon capable of teaching to man his proper sphere, and to define, and hold her own. Another thing was absolutely necessary, viz: that woman have the power over her own property, independent of her husband.

Elizabeth Wilson, of Ohio, also sent a letter, and expressed a strong opinion regarding the arbitrary power of man, which was exerted for every evil, and very little good. This deleterious element of society--man--was not at all complimented on his conduct towards woman -- which was unbrotherly -- more especially in his warring against female intellect. It was a species of slavery -- this war was -- and a very bad species too. Jenny Lind[9] was mentioning [sic] as gaining praise for "violating female delicacy!" Really, now, isn't that too bad, Elizabeth? We don't believe you [,] old woman; and when your cause flourishes it will not assuredly bloom because of such detraction! Shame! What followed was claimed to be based on Scriptural grounds, and was a kind of ragged plea for female superiority over the sex [I/e/, over men]. It was so confused and nonsensical that further analysis is out of the question. Order had to be rapped for several times during the reading; for the audience in disgust forsook the listening, and held whisperings, generally, we suppose, concerning something else than the letter of the charitable Elizabeth -- who concluded with an essay on rotten, and therefore very unmarketable eggs.

An adjournment took place at half past 12 until 2 o'clock.

[1]Johann Caspar Lavater, a German physiologist, one of whose essays appeared in Henry Hedge's Prose Writers of Germany (1847).
[2]Alexander Pope, Essay on Man, Epistle I:
All nature is but art, unknown to thee;
All chance, direction, which thou canst not see;
All discord, harmony not understood;
All partial evil, universal good;
And spite of pride, in erring reason's spite,
One truth is clear, Whatever is, is right.
[3]Followers of Ralph Waldo Emerson (1803-1882), well-known essayist and lecturer, and a founder of the Transcendentalist movement. He was one of the signers of the "Call" to the Convention. For a hypertext version of his famous essay on "Self-Reliance" (1841) along with links to biographical information and other WEB resources, click here.
[4]Followers of William Lloyd Garrison (1805-1879), leading abolitionist and editor-publisher of The Liberator. He was also an outspoken advocate of woman's rights. He signed the "Call" to the Worcester Convention, played an active role in its proceedings, and gave it sympathetic coverage in his paper.
[5]The psalm, which begins, "Blessed are the undefiled in the way, who walk in the law of the LORD," contains 176 verses, undoubtedly the feature which recommended it to the reporter. For the King James Version, click here.
[6]According to the New York Herald account, a sideshow was using in the first floor of Brinley Hall. It featured the "American Fat Girl." The musical accompaniment apparently was occasionally audible on the second floor where the Convention met.
[7]Leading British anti-slavery crusader who was in the midst of an American tour at this time.
[8]A reference to Sir Walter Scott's "Lay of the Last Minstrel": "such is the custom of Branksome Hall." Canto I, stanza 7.
[9]Famous concert singer, the "Swedish nightingale," who was in the midst of her initial American tour.