[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 Boston Daily Mail, Friday, October 25, 1850 (P.1)
(Reported for the Daily Mail.)
Grand Demonstrations of Petticoatdom at Worcester--The "Woman's Rights" Convention in Full Blast--Important and Interesting Report.
Worcester, Oct. 23, 1850.
The Conference met at the hour of adjournment, to the tune of "Oh Susanna!" from the organ below, whose mellifluous tones won stray passengers from the sidewalk to view "One of the Wonders," in the shape of a remarkably fat and fubsy [I.e., chubby and squat] fair one, who was showing off in the hall below as being "only 16 years old and 400 pounds weight!" Her physical disease operated, of course, as a contrast to the mental disorganization above:

The minutes of the morning session were read by Miss [Hannah M.] Darlington, the secretary, who took off her bonnet, that the assimilation to the masculine comportment under the same order of circumstances should be perfect.

Thereafter Mrs. [Abby] Price of Hopedale, Mass., read a paper, which commenced at the creation of the world down to physical force, and the degradation which that ugly weapon, in the hands of intolerant man, had conferred upon womankind. Coming down to the middle of the nineteenth century, it was proved that the creation produced the equality of the sexes--absolutely--in the articles liberty of action, and expression of political and social power. The nineteenth century, at the middle, had also proof in connection with it -- in some manner unexplained -- that women had a right to the same privileges as men, in all things, even down to all and every variety of rowdy craft. These and other things were to be asserted and attained that the souls of females should be saved. The particular dependencies on the purse of the "old feller," when a "love of a bonnet," was wanted or "perfect beauty of a shawl," were commented on in a style which the late Mrs. Caudle would have gloried in. The narrow circle in which social observances confined the dear creatures of womankind, as considerably rated; and if it has not extended its circumference, it has no shame in it. The propriety of a girl being constituted a regular blue [stocking? A scholarly or educated woman] received an elegant and strong propulse [push forward]; and the reason why she should not be a cabman, a mason, carpenter, sailor, or anything of that sort, was arraigned and abused to its [sic] heart's content. This reason was simply that girls would believe that they were only women -- only, observe; and that they would not generally allow that they were anything else. A very sensible appeal was made to the cheap tailors to pay the girls better wages for their labor; and their conduct characterised as the prevailing cause of prostitution. This prostitution was a natural result of low prices, and scarcity of work. It was also certain that the adoption, by men, of trades peculiarly feminine, was a great cause of occasional immorality of young women. The fair speaker quoted several instances and authorities in proof of these very plain truths -- for it must be confessed that they are such. To throw open to women equal resources to those of the men, the lady speaker considered the best cure for the evils she had described. The whole of the various incentives to prostitution were enumerated; and the general conclusion drawn that the cause of all was man's inhumanity towards the gentler sex, in denying them the full privileges, and profits, and enjoyments--cigars and champagne included we suppose--that they arrogated to themselves. Women, at present, were "flat--prostrate--worn down by this tyranny of man." One might rise now and then as a Jenny Lind, or as a poetess -- but none were allowed to become lawyers, physicians, mechanics or anybody else; but favored individuals were sometimes allowed to be milliners. Her resources were nothing, it would be seen: still she was a human being and ought to be privileged, so that her natural developments should be seen. Ahem! Special privileges were specified, viz: the power of women to spend money she earned, the abolition of domestic drudgery, and household duties hitherto saddled upon them. A strong appeal was made to allow woman her rights, that she should renew the physical strength our blessed old grandmothers were reported to have enjoyed: those excellent ladies who milked their own cows, and were not too gentle to make and sell their own butter, and who could drive a team to and from the field on a pinch. Work! healthy well paid work! that was the panacea. The whole race of copying, recording and other clerks were busying themselves with this healthy kind of work; and all the secretaryships in this vast continent were just in the same category -- not excepting that one [Secretary of State] held by the godlike Daniel [Webster]. The country could not possibly be worse governed by women than it is now; and Blackstone[1] was quoted to prove that his opinion regarding women was just no opinion at all, for he said they ought not to be enfranchised, as they were incapable of the necessary degree of intelligence to qualify them. But would the meeting suffer this opinion to pass unnoticed? No Madam! no such thing! Woman had, in this republic, being themselves free and intelligent, and not criminal, or wanting in physical ability, a right to vote at elections, and they would. No doubt of that! If such objections regarding woman legislators did exist as those quoted by the enemies of emancipation of women, how did it come that the so called thoroughly qualified men contrived to send so many old women to Congress and elsewhere? This was a truth that the audience assented to with a semi-cheer -- the other half of which was a grunt. The very stupid thing called gallantry was used up like an old pair of boots, and no mistake. In the community at Hopedale[2] every body did what they blessed pleased in voting, and doing up politics, women as well as men. This very rambling affair ended with Dan O'Connell's pet couplet--

"Hereditary bondsmen! know ye not
Who would be free himself must strike the blow!"[3]

Mrs. [Ernestine] Rose, of New York, moved a resolution declaring that the most earnest endeavors would be used to secure to womankind her rights in all their details.

Mr. Channing, of New York, [sic] spoke in a complimentary strain of the preceding speaker. He thanked God that he had lived to see the day when a woman could be found who could utter such sentiments. Mr. C. had but one word to say; but that word would fill two columns in the Mail. That one word, being interpreted, signified that it was a blasting shame on the face of manhood that the men of this country had not risen and prevented the evils which assail womankind -- and carry, even into the hearts of youth low, foul, bestial, infernal associations and practices -- constituting things so that a man could not bring virgin purity to his breast, but a mass of pollution, arising from the corruption of the social condition of the female sex. this sweeping inference, insinuation--calumny--that's it! singularly to say, was not received by the groanings of the audience. This led the speaker to arraign every soul in the universal community as a reprobate who cultivated this pollution, and the lie was applauded by not more than ten or fewer than three. He proposed a Senate of women to correct the universal evil; and the remainder of his speech was so grossly indecent as to be unfitted for the lowest brothel. He knew all about what he said -- he confessed -- and we well believe him. He may have the hats of half the brothel supporters in the United States.

Mrs. [Ernestine] Rose, next spoke of the misery which arose from the false state of society, and the degradation of woman, its consequence -- and wished its nature could be fathomed that it might be known and corrected. Mrs. Rose spoke with eloquent pleadings in behalf of the mother, sister, wife of man, and in favor of her equality with her brother man, in all the privileges, enjoyments and liberties that life produces. She was recognised not as being her own property, but the property of another, from her cradle to her grave. Marriage was a transfer, only, from the custody of the parent or guardian to the husband: a woman went ever to him as a common piece of goods. Talk of Fugitive Laws! The same were in operation against the oppressed wife. If she broke the bonds of slavery the law would bring her back -- she was a fugitive slave. The law of marriage was a mistake -- a great fundamental error, and operated all on one side, furnishing the penalty, but none of the privileges to women -- who were nonetheless the moulders of society -- and had her influences, especially in the ordering of social details. If the error of the inferiority of woman was once trampled under foot, and other necessary reforms instituted, woman would not only have a higher knowledge and estimate of herself, but she would impart her improvement to society at large. Elevate her to the position she should occupy, and charity, morality, and every other humanising sympathy and principle would flow from her in its essence and purity. This was, in utterance, manner, and treatment, the most eloquent speech of the day. Mrs. Rose was loudly applauded at the close. Her sonorous, German style of expression, and the use of certain idiomatic phrases, more than her accent, shewed this lady to be a native of the land [Germany] of Goethe and Gessner . Mrs. Rose's intelligence conferred a respectability on the conference that it would not, without her aid, have deserved in name. Of course we do not mean that the meeting was characterless in a moral sense -- but that the means specified to advance the object it professed to serve had no status in the list of rational speculations.

Mrs. Tisdale [Tyndale?], of Philadelphia, next spoke, but simply to puff Mrs. Mott's and Mr. Dana's lectures, copies of which were on hand for sale.

Mrs. Lucretia Mott asked all the good folks to keep as quiet as possible, as there was no hearing at all.

Mrs. Abby Kelly Foster could not endure to have the resolution pass unless she had a finger in the pie. She said her life was her best argument in connection with the movement; and as the bottom of it had not been found she would make a dive at it. Every woman was not able to go to the bottom of the well, for they were so enslaved, that they could not attempt the search. She said she appeared not as a woman, but as humanity itself. (Well, humanity has been called a lovely thing but -- that's all on this subject for present.) She continued to deny that girls were trained in schools, academies, churches or senates as human beings, but everything went to foment the sensual and debasing. Brother Channing's filthy speech received a very undeserving compliment. Woman's sphere, was then described to be anything else than the fallen star it is now recognized generally to be -- and no nebulous matter at all, but a fixed planet, where equality of rights, privileges and their exercise in social and political respects shone most conspicuously. This planetary system was claimed as the proper sphere of existence for woman kind. Its relation to the moon was not mentioned. A very excellent physiological lecture followed this definition, mixed up with phrenology, biology, and all the ologies, showing that women were, physically and mentally, the equals of men. In the love of power, rule and general influence she was also his equal, and he was superior to her in nothing but a tyranny which would be a justification for women to rise and cut men's throats. She came not into the meeting to mince words, but to speak plain; and what she had just said was plain enough in all conscience--as plain as--Ahem! Humanity in tights and humanity in flowing clothing were at issue, and force of arms was justifiable, and not unlikely to be arrived at soon. Women had a right to cut the throats of the men of Massachusetts who taxed them without their consent. She said she had the locomotive power in her organization, (and no one could doubt the share the tongue had in the distribution.) She also had the intelligence -- (no one could question that, but the quality was open to dispute.) She had the physical strength too, and that would be used to pull down the barrier between woman and her rights; (no one could doubt of the Amazonian temper and disposition of Abby.) She was perfectly right in saying she did not appear as a woman. There was little of a woman about her and very much of the tigress. Her poor hubby, she described, as a savage in unwhisperables -- which was a consequence of his going to educational institutions, et cetera, and women had as good right to go to such institutions as men -- therefore women had a right to cultivate the savage passions. Honor was paid to women so gifted with a sanguine propensity. Mademoiselle Jagelli was one instance. That women had a right to the Presidency, the fact of Queen Victoria reigning over the British, was alluded to as a noble example of the heaven-born right to wear the breeches, and rule with such rod--iron or cork, as might best please themselves. This about closed Abby's remarks, who was allowed to proceed and sit down without one word of applause.

Mr. C.C. Burley [Burleigh] spoke from behind an abominably arranged mass of whiskers and beard, consequently we could not allow ourselves to listen to him. The trouble the gentleman had in commencing his speech particularly struck us as being funny; but that the misty introduction should constitute soul and substance, Alpha and Omega, of said speech, was a curiosity in oratory that we never heard of only in the cure of a stuck oration -- some of which we have heard -- but never one with such pretence as Grizzly Burley's had. He closed with a lecture on Hydraulics, and a string of common-places regarding the philosophy of something or other that our spectacles could not see through. Very dirty, very diffuse, and very hairy was Grizzly Burley.

By the time Burley had sputtered his foolishness forth it was dark--very dark--as dark as was his arrangement of ideas and a movement at adjournment was made in the shape of a stampede for the door. As the last flicker of sunlight came in at the window and went out at the door, we closed our labors, as we had hoped, for a day; but a meeting was called for the evening, to be held at 7 o'clock. Adjourned.

The Conference was again called to order at half past 7 o'clock, and the business of talking was substituted for the more useful business of stocking darning.

Mr. Channing defended the Utopianisms of the scheme contemplated (but not explained) by the conference; but he proceeded at last to state them. They were to declare that woman was thus far independent of man that she should judge of her own sphere -- a right she had as a human being, and in accordance with God's design. A full benefit of educational facilities to woman was a preliminary step; and we were in ignorance till now that such was not the provision in New England. The modus operandi received explanation in such shape as to convince us after all, that our notions had been correct. Passing the initiatory steps the first practical one afterwards was a college education; secondly, a sphere to dispense her collegiate knowledge; and, thirdly, if she was thus trained and favored, woman would prove that she was not dependant on man, but herself per se. This position would not tolerate a denial of legislative honors to woman. Connected with this concession of right to woman was the abolition of war, which was an inconsistency their pure hearts would never tolerate. An annual Congress and legislation of women were recommended to be held in every State. Miss [Catherine] Beecher's case was alluded to, and an appeal made to the sympathies of the audience in her behalf. Such congresses and legislatures would operate as a court of appeal against such judgments as followed Miss Beecher's case. As no one seemed to have heard of the lady, or her case,[4] the appeal went down very coldly, and the very specially modest Mr. Channing went on to pick up the social sphere, and show how women could roll round in it and be thoroughly independent of any wheel in the masculine clock work. An order of women was recommended, which could organize by clubbing their means and furnishing a retreat for women who were compelled to marry when they did not want to. Dear brother Channing! where are there any such? Speak out, experienced brother, do!

Lucretia Mott desired speakers not to say that they would permit women to do so and so; women would do so and so just as they thought proper themselves, and in accordance with their rights -- all considerations social, civil and ecclesiastical to the contrary notwithstanding -- and this she would do on the foundation of her own just deserts and nothing else. Much more she said, and did not fail to give the priesthood a well merited rebuke because of the obstructions they always had thrown in the way of science, and did at present respecting the science of reforming the condition of woman. Her address was one of much power of argument, and was a fair match for that of Mrs. Rose, spoken in the afternoon. She gave Abby Kelly Foster fits on account of her "cut throat theory," which she said was not a justifiable one. Mrs. Foster was handsomely asked to retract; and people pricked up their ears in anticipation of a scene -- the rebuke was so pointed, and yet so gentle. Mrs. Mott would recommend moral suasion -- an appeal to the moral mind -- as a much more powerful weapon. A carnal weapon could never affect a spiritual deliverance from slavery, such as the emancipation of womankind was in truth. The boldness of Christianity was sufficient to attain the ends sought.

Mr. Wendell Phillips of Boston, reported three resolutions, viz: That every human being had a right to vote, if of full age and good character; that all people, of whatever sex or color, taxed from property or labor, had a right to suffrage. That no sex being acknowledged politically, therefore the word "male" should be stricken from the constitution. He then went on to say that the political machinery was entirely out of joint, and the enterprise of the age had lost one half its momentum, because the elective suffrage, and social facilities, and advantages, were denied to women. This he proceeded to prove at great length, and exhibited the superiority of a contrary action, as it would affect the general welfare of society, and the emancipation of woman from the thraldom of a slavery of custom and prejudice. The "Mister Chairman's" of the orator were received with much mirth. Religious prejudices, which narrowed the field of operation of female labor were calculated to be a main cause of the depreciation of her condition. By removing these the number of trades would be extended at which woman could find employment, and their status and condition put in a way of improvement. In the same way did the prejudice named keep women out of the professions and mechanic arts, and this artificial condition of hers was fatal to self reliance, and the assumption of independent rights. Promiscuous juries -- a mixture of men and women -- would be the sure result of such independence as the just rights of woman being granted -- would follow in the train of the concession; as also legislative privileges, and many other improbabilities too tedious to mention.

Mrs. [Ernestine] Rose of New York concurred in what had been said by Mr. Phillips with one exception, which was that this Convention was not for the women of New England, or Old England, but for the world. She went on to show that the reform was one depending alone on the concurrence of the female sex--united and one. The only discouragements the fair speaker had ever met with were from her own sex, who had the false idea that they were naturally inferior to man. That great error would have to be attacked boldly, and [the truth of woman's equality] would be ultimately prevalent [i.e., prevail] over common prejudice. Due cultivation of the physical, mental and moral condition of woman would prove the falsehood of her being an inferior being to man. It was not a whim, but a necessity of her nature that woman should have her rights, and she would have them. She would demand, and have, a principle of right, instead of one of oppression and wrong. Much had been said of the Pilgrim fathers, but what had been said of the Pilgrim mothers? Had they not suffered as their husbands had done? Had not the sons of these very pilgrim fathers burnt the daughters of the pilgrim mothers -- thus showing the prejudice against the sex was present even in those boasted [of] times. The right of claim which woman had to equality with man was elaborately and eloquently argued, and a very touching appeal made to the sense of justice extant to assist truth to conquer falsehood and prejudice, which combined to deny woman her rightful share of social and political justice. The natural predilection of woman was to rise above her present degraded condition, and she had the power if she would only command the will. Instances of recent occurrence were quoted in proof of woman's claim to equality in scientific discoveries, et cetera, -- the speaker concluding that society never would strike its natural tone until woman's equality with man, in action, in every public shape, was recognized. (Loud applause followed Mrs. R's speech.)

Mrs. Mott again spoke, recapitulating some of her former statements; and hitting Wendell Phillips over the knuckles for some of his remarks purporting that man was not to blame for crushing woman. Men were the despots, and the time was come when they were to be dethroned. It was not circumstances, or accident, that had made woman what she was; it was man. There was no provision made in the public high schools for girls, but all for boys. Men would certainly prefer to be called knaves rather than such fools as to father this great omission. It was not ignorance in man that caused this neglect -- it was their cunning and their craftiness that did it, as a matter of protective policy securing the ascendancy of their sex. Otherwise it would not have held its head so high at the present day. (Applause, repeated several times.)

Mr. Phillips was glad that the mistake had been made, as it produced a good speech -- a sentiment in which the meeting concurred. He then spoke briefly in explanation of some misapprehension of his lady friends regarding what he had said. Woman had, he said, her full share in the creation of the prejudices which militated against her in society. Her power to do so was acknowledged; but whatever might be the cause the prejudice subsisted largely among the female sex, whose ridicule of the present reform would be worse to bear than that of the men.

Mr. [sic] Abby Foster rose not to make a speech; but she could not rest easy till she spoke in vindication of women. She was in fault -- so said Mr. Phillips -- and he said the bitterest taunts came from them [women]. So said every slave holder; but what was the reason? Why, women dared not, as the slave dared not say, for fear of the cowhide, in presence of his master, that he was abused. Abby said that Phillips knew nothing about the matter, for her extensive experience had shewn her the contrary; and she actually perpetrated a very long, and a very manly speech, and she gave the priests Harry [slang term for Hell] for the share they had in woman's degradation. If Abby could be believed, the country was in an awful situation because of the horrible persecutions that women had to submit to. Caudledom had riz in internal shape, but weak policy had advised no public demonstration. Woman was wronged even by her advocates -- she said -- and the fact she demonstrated there and then on the spot, in terms of not overly gentle, or specially reasonable, or correctly logically; but everybody knows Abby. She said that there were women present who would sneer at what then was passing before them; but these were children of the present pulpit, not the petticoat one that was on the tapis [ready for immediate use], and would soon be set up. But woman was not to be believed when she sneered thus, for she gave expression to an altogether contrary sentiment to that her heart entertained. Abby sat down.

A muss was brewing evidentially; and some fun was anticipated, when James M. Buffum started up and caught at Abby's sentiments, as a cur grabs a bone. He did not see any harm in a woman reconciling herself to a man in marriage, or a man to a woman, as Abby did. Her ungodly distinctions were like the laws of Massachusetts, which, sometime ago laid down law as to who should, and who should not marry. Marriage was a copartnership, and ought to be mutually broken if the parties choosed [sic] -- a very unblushing recommendation of the Socialist principle relative to the bond of marriage. His oration was a lame one, but sufficiently vicious in tone to prove that James M. Buffum was very silly, and remarkably prone to disorganize the recognized marriage system, if his feebleness only could encompass so much.

Mrs. Lucretia Mott again got up to arraign Wendell Phillips' notions, and the priesthood at large. She backed up Abby like a brick, and prostrated Buffum like a trodden squash. Marriage, its various forms, its results, and all connected with it, and unconnected with the business before the convention, was discussed ad nauseam. Lucretia had to be corrected in some of her statistics, and went adrift again on the well ploughed sea of her former prelections [sic]. We can't afford to follow her throughout this heat.

Mr. Foster of Boston [sic] opened his mouth and spake following the fashion of Balaam's ass[5] -- and he commenced his little campaign of talking by deprecating all differences of opinion, at the same time throwing a brand into the fire of excitement and opposition which was smouldering, and ready to burst out in the meeting.

Mr. Grizzly Burley interrupted Foster, and told him that he was not doing what he ought. There was a question before the Convention, and that question he was keeping at a very respectful distance.

A motion to meet at half past nine next morning was put and carried.

Mr. Foster defended his line of argument, and was going ahead in glorious style, when William Lloyd Garrison said he was spoiling valuable time; when Foster said he was not, and then he went on again on the wartrack -- the stereotyped anti-war eloquence that saves original speech making. The man had got up to give a speech, and he gave the head of an old and very stale one, which having no more connection with the business of the meeting than the "Lay of the Last Minstrel,"[6] nobody paid any attention to. Having "roared him a roaring which outroared all roarings," he sat down, but not before he had said enough to disgust all the world present, "and the rest of mankind" -- if that section of it had been on hand -- with a socialist harangue, mixed with anti-slavery. There was a very industrious hum and bustle during all the time Foster spoke.

Abby chimed in, and told an anecdote about something that we could not catch the skirt of. It was something concerning the impolicy of women obeying their husbands. Hasn't Foster caught a Tartar[7]? Heaven preserve all mankind from these dreadfully wise women, who know all about politics and nothing about sewing and darning! The two emptied the Hall well, between them.[8] The meeting then adjourned.
(To be concluded in our Evening Edition.)

[1]A reference to William Blackstone whose COMMENTARIES ON THE LAWS OF ENGLAND (1765) formed the fundamental core of legal study in both Great Britain and the United States at this time.
[2]Price was a resident of Hopedale, Massachusetts, one of a number of "utopian" communities founded in the U.S. in the 1830s and 1840's.
[3]Daniel O'Connell, a leader in the contemporary campaign for Irish independence. The lines are from Byron's Childe Harold's Pilgrimage. They were not only among O'Connell's favorites, but clearly appealed to American feminists. Paulina Wright Davis quoted the same lines in her address.
[4]For more about the case and Channing's remarks, see the stories in the New-York Daily Tribune and New York Herald.
[5]A reference to the Hebrew prophet Balaam whose ass was enabled by the Lord to speak. See Numbers, chapter 22.
[6]A poem by Sir Walter Scott.
[7]An idiom meaning, according to The American Heritage Dictionary, "to grapple with an unexpectedly formidable opponent." The Tartars were the Mongol tribes who invaded central Asia in the 12th and 13th centuries.
[8]A joke. The reference is to the Mother Goose rhyme about Jack Sprat, who could eat no fat, and his wife, who could eat no clean, but who, between them, "licked the platter clean."