New-York Daily Tribune, Thursday, October 24, 1850 [P.1]
Women's Rights Concention
at Worcester, Mass.
Correspondence of The Tribune
Wednesday Morning, Oct. 23, 1850

A fine Autumn day. The trees are dropping their faded leaves upon the street and the sun sends forth a genial ray. The Convention meets in Brinley Hall, a commodious room in a central part of the city. At 9 1/2 o'clock, the hall is filling up rapidly. Many distinguished persons have already arrived. Among them I notice Lucretia Mott and Rebecca Plumley of Philadelphia; Paulina Wright Davis of Providence, R.I.; Mary A.W. Johnson of Ohio; Harriet K. Hunt of Boston; Abby K. Foster of Worcester, Mass.; W.H. Channing, Parker Pillsbury, Frederick Douglass, Joseph C. Hathaway of N.Y.; Nathl. Barney and wife of Nantucket; Pliny Sexton of Wayne Co., N.Y.

The Convention is called to order by Mrs. [Sarah] Earle of Worcester. The following persons were nominated and elected officers of the Convention:
Mrs. Paulina Wright Davis of R.I. President.
Wm. H. Channing of Boston, and Sarah Tyndale of Penn. Vice-Presidents.
Hannah M. Darlington of Penn. and Joseph C. Hathaway of N.Y. Secretaries.

Mrs. Paulina W. Davis, on taking the chair, delivered an address to the Convention, on the relations of Woman; her title to the rights and privileges with man, and on the true method of conducting the reform of the evils and disabilities under which she is placed. She took the ground that man has no right to circumscribe the sphere of woman; that she should have freedom for the full development of her nature and capabilities; the right to her own property and earnings, acquired previous to marriage, and an equitable division of their joint accumulations, during that state. She claimed for woman the right of self government, which belongs to every human being, and based her argument not on any supposed similarity in the constitution of the sexes, but on the ground that the Creator has endowed woman with a moral, intellectual nature, and the same inherent and inalienable rights as man. She said that nature does not teach that men and women are unequal, but only unlike, and that the balance of the differences would establish her equality. She described the law of force as the law of the physical world, and of the muscular energies of man, which often tramples on the right. It was the law of the spirit on which woman must rely. She urged that they must not take an antagonistic or hostile position to man; they must appeal to his sense of justice and his affections for a recognition of those rights; they must be patient and rely on the force of moral sentiment, which would in time pervade the life of the world.

Miss Lucretia Mott suggested whether it would not be well to make some arrangement for the publication of the address of the President. She did not propose to review the sentiments advanced; they would be responded to generally by the friends of reform. There were two or three expressions in the address and in the call for the Convention which she did not fully approve. She thought it might be construed as a profession of too great gentleness in discussing this subject. She thought they should find it necessary to take an antagonistic position, and to meet the prejudices and opposition of the world with directness and an earnest expression of the truth. They must attach blame to those who had persisted so long in depriving woman of her rights, in passing laws which deny her the control of her property and place her beyond the pale and protection of equal laws. She said they must mourn over the admitted inferiority of woman; over her slavish subjection to the evil customs and prejudices of society. It was not strange, after so long a period of degradation, she should be enervated and contented with her inferior position. She desired that we might speak with the earnestness and severity of the truth -- with an earnestness and severity that should make the ears of man tingle for the degraded position in which he has kept woman during so many ages, and especially under the influences of the religion and teachings of the Son of God.

The following persons were appointed a Business Committee, to report resolutions and bring appropriate business before the Convention: Mary A.W. Johnson of Ohio; Wm. Lloyd Garrison of Mass.; Ernestine L. Rose of N.Y.; Harriet K. Hunt of Boston; Lucretia Mott of Penn.; Lucy Stone of Mass.; Wm H. Channing, E. Capron of R.I.; Abby H. Price of Mass; William H. Fish of Hopedale; Samuel May, Jr. of Boston; Suzan Sisan of R.I.; Anna Parsons of Mass.; Frederick Douglass of N.Y.

It was voted that all present be invited to take part in the discussions of the Convention, but that only those who signed the roll of membership be allowed to vote.

Letters were read from the following persons, expressing sympathy with the objects and principles of the Convention, and some of them giving their views on the subject: Elizur Wright of Boston; Ester Ann Lukens of New Garden, O.; Lucius A. Hine, Esq. of Cincinnati; and Elizabeth Wilson of Cadiz, O.

The Convention adjourned to meet at 2 o'clock, P.M.

Afternoon Session
Mrs. [Abby] Price of Hopedale, was introduced to the Convention. She described the unequal condition of men and women, and the usurpation of power and right on the part of man. Man has ruled the world by physical force. She claimed equal rights on the ground of creation. God made man in His own image, "male and female created him them." He gave them dominion over all the lower orders of the creation, but not over each other. She maintained,
Firstly: That woman should have equal rights and opportunities [to] develop her whole nature.
Secondly: That she should have equal opportunities to secure pecuniary independence; a just reward for her labor; an equal chance in the professions and business of life. She described the injustice and evil she suffers from inadequate compensation -- the extent of shame and prostitution to which she is driven by the denial of her rights and privileges and of adequate compensation for her labor.
Thirdly: Women should have equal legal rights, franchises and privileges.

These propositions were maintained in an argument of great length, evincing much knowledge of the legal conditions of Woman; dwelling with biting sarcasm on the false ideas that prevail in regard to Woman's sphere and duties. She closed with an appeal to men, to husbands, brothers and fathers to stand up and help forward this righteous reform.

Rev. Wm. H. Channing, from the Committee on Business, read the following resolution, prepared by Mrs. Ernestine Rose of N.Y.:
Whereas, The very contracted sphere of action prescribed for woman, arising from an unjust view of her nature, capacities, and powers, and from the infringement of her just rights, as an equal with man, is highly injurious to her physical, mental and moral development. Therefore
Resolved, That we will not cease our earnest endeavors to secure for her political, legal and social equality with man, until her proper sphere is determined, by what alone should detemne it, her powers and Capacities, strengthened and refined by an education in accordance with her nature.
Mr. Channing made some very earnest remarks on the subject. He spoke with warm approbation of the address of the last speaker [Abby Price]. He thanked God that one woman had sown the moral courage to stand out and claim the rights that belonged to her nature. He spoke of the evil that had been named, prostitution. He described its corrupting influence upon society, from the child, through all the grades of human life, up to manhood and womanhood. It poisons and vitiates the institution of marriage; it destroys the confidence that should exist between the husband and wife; it spreads its contamination over the whole of human life. He pointed out a remedy. Let men exclude from their society every man he knows to have sacrificed his virtue to sinful lusts. men pretend to value chastity and virginity in woman. Let him prove it by valuing chastity and virginal purity in man.

Mrs. Ernestine Rose of New York, spoke with great eloquence on the subject of the resolution. Her French [sic] accent and extemporaneous manner added quite a charm to her animated and forcible style. Woman, she asked, who is she? She is the mother, the wife and the sister of man. Is she not coequal with man? Has she not like powers of mind, like sentiments, faculties and affections given her for culture and improvement? Why, in the name of common sense, she would ask, is she not equal in the enjoyment of life, liberty and the pursuit of happiness? But she is not equal before the law. During her minority she is the property of her parent, and when she attains her majority, and enters the relation of marriage, she is transferred from the parent to the husband. If she had her rights and was properly educated, marriage would be the union of two hearts from real affection, instead of being as it now too frequently is, an artificial bond producing often more misery than happiness. She said a just indignation was felt by the community on account of the law which delivers up the fugitive slave to oppression. But it was no more unjust than some of the laws are toward women. If a woman is compelled, by the tyranny and ill treatment of her husband, to leave him and seek a refuge among her friends, the law will deliver her up into his hands. He many compell her return. She did not propose to examine the laws that bears [sic] so unequally upon woman. What she claimed was that the laws should be made equally for both.

She said, when a father and mother have a son born to them, what do they ask themselves? They sit down and consult together about his education; how he shall be trained and fitted for usefulness in life. If they have a daughter, what do they ask? nothing. Girls are educated with one single aim, she felt ashamed to say it. And what is that aim? It is to catch a husband. She is educated in accordance with man's desires, wishes, and aims, and [it] is no wonder she has not risen to the true level of her womanhood. Woman has never yet received an education for the higher purposes of life. Why should she not be made acquainted with the arts, the sciences and the philosophies of life? With all the obstacles that exist to her elevation, there are brilliant instances of her success in all that has adorned and rendered great the character and fame of man. She had even acquired distinction in the field of battle. She trusted that if ever woman touched the sword, it would be to sheathe it in its scabbard forever.

She mentioned hat woman could study successfully any of the professions. Is perserverance necessary? She possesses it. Look at her by the bed of sickness, where toil and sacrifice are needed. Who it it that holds out to the last? It is feeble woman! Look at man when he is ready to give up with despair. Who is [it] that upholds and strengthens him? It is feeble woman. It is the being whom Society assigns an inferior in rank and position in life. She mentioned that woman was as heroic as man, and often exhibited a higher heroism, [compared] with which that displayed in the battle field is cowardice. She contended for woman's rights, not so much for her benefit as for the benefit of the world. She pointed out the evils of Society under its present organization and made a strong appeal to the reason and moral sense of her audience, to give their influence to the cause.

Her speech was received with applause by a large and intelligent audience, as were also the speeches of Mrs. Mott, Mrs. Price, and Mr. Channing. The hall was very crowded, and the audience seemed to have caught the spirit of the speakers.

Abby Kelly Foster also addressed the Convention in a strong speech, and was followed by C.C. Burleigh. I see Wendell Phillips and W.L. Garrison in the audience, having arrived this afternoon.

The convention has adjourned to meet in this place at 7 o'clock this evening.

P.S. -- Do not be deceived by the reports in some of the Boston papers. Some of them have sent reporters here to caricature the proceedings. Shame on a corrupt and venal press.
[Here followed the text of Paulina Wright Davis's opening address.]