The President [Paulina Wright Davis] read a Poem from a Woman of the Nineteenth Century, whose heart had been stirred by this Convention.
A Woman's Rights Convention!
There's music in the word;
Through every vein of living frame
My warm life's-blood is stirred.
A Woman's Rights Convention!
Deny it every Man!
Then right the evil done her,
That instant if you can.
A Woman's Rights Convention!
Is not laid low in dust,
A better time is coming,
Because it will and must.
A Woman's Rights Convention!
Ring out the word on high;
If my brother, Man, will help me
To help myself, I'll try;
And with the power given me
By our all-gracious Lord,
Obtain my Rights, in every light
By plowshare, not by sword.
"A Woman of the 19th Century"
At the close of her address, which was delivered in an impressive manner, and received with applause, she gave an account of an application she made in 1847 to attend the lectures of the Massachusetts Medical College, and the refusal of that institution to grant her request. She read the letters that passed between herself and Dr. O.W. Holmes, the Dean of the College, on the subject. The Government of the College passed a vote that it was "inexpedient."
The following resolutions were offered by Wendell Phillips:
Resolved, That, since the prospect of honorable and useful employment, in after life, for the faculties we are laboring to discipline, is the honest stimulus to fidelity, in the use of Educational advantages; and, since the best education is that we give ourselves, in the struggles, employments, and discipline of life, therefore, it is impossible that Woman should make full use of the instruction already accorded to her, or that her career should to justice to her faculties, until the avenues to the various civil and professional employments are thrown open, to arouse her ambition, and call forth all her nature.
2. Resolved, That every effort to educate Woman, until you accord to her her rights, and arouse her conscience by the weight of her responsibilities, is futile and a waste of labor.
3. Resolved, That the laws of property, as affecting married parties, demand a thorough revisal, so that all rights be equal between them; that the wife have, during life, an equal control over the property gained by their mutual toil and sacrifices; and be heir to her husband, precisely to the extent that he is heir to her, and entitled at her death to dispose by will, of the same share of joint property as he is.
4. Resolved, That the cause we are met to advocate, the claims for Woman of all her natural and civil rights, binds us to remember the million and a half of wronged and [most] foully outraged of all Women; and in every effort for an improvement in our civilization, we will bear, in our heart of hearts, the memory of the trampled womanhood of the plantation, and omit no effort to raise it to a share in the rights we claim for ourselves.
The following preamble and resolution was read from the Business Committee:
Whereas, The great fundamental law of truth, that moral and intelligent beings are bound to obey God rather than man, is as much binding on woman as man, therefore,
Resolved, That it is the imperious duty of every woman to obey the dictates of her own enlightened conscience, in all matters of religion and benevolence, without asking the consent of her father or husband.
The following resolutions were read by Mr. Channing, from the Business Committee:
Resolved, That as Women alone can learn by experience, and prove by works, what is their rightful sphere of duties, we recommend as NEXT STEPS, that they should demand and secure:
1. Education, in Primary and High Schools, Universities, Medical, Legal, and Theological Institutions, as comprehensive and exact as their abilities prompt them to seek, and their capabilities fit them to receive.
2. Partnership in the labors and gains, risks and remunerations, of productive industry, with such limits as are assigned by taste, intuitive judgment, or their measure of spiritual and physical vigor, as tested by requirement.
3. A coequal share in the formation and administration of Laws -- Municpial, State and National, through Legislative Assemblies, Courts, and Executive offices.
4. Such Social and Spiritual Union as will enable them to be the Guardians of pure and honorable manners -- a high Court of Appeals, in cases of outrage, which cannot be and are not touched by Civil and Ecclesiastical organizations, as at present existing, and a medium of expressing the highest moral and spiritual views of Justice, dictated by Human Conscience and sanctioned by Holy Inspirations.
Resolved, That a Central Committee be appointed by this Convention, with four sub Committees, empowered to enlarge their numbers: 1st, On Education; 2d, Industrial Avocations; 3d, Civil and Political Rights and Regulations; 4th, Social Relations, who shall correspond with each other and with the Central Committee; hold meetings in their respective neighborhoods; gather statistics, facts and illustrations; raise funds for purposes of publication; and, through the press, tracts and books, guide public opinion upward and onward, in this grand Social Reform of establishing Woman's Coequal Sovreignty with Man.
In accordance with the foregoing resolutions, the following persons were appointed to constitute said Committees:
CENTRAL COMMITTEE. -- Paulina W. Davis, Providence, R.I., Chairman; Sarah H. Earle, Worcester, Mass., Secretary; William H. Channing, Boston, Mass.
COMMITTEE ON EDUCATION. -- Eliza Barney, Nantauket, Mass., Chairman; Marian Blackwell, Cincinnati, Ohio, Secretary; Elizabeth C. Stanton, Seneca Falls, N.Y.; Eliza Taft, Dedham, Mass.; Mrs. Addison Brown, Brattleboro, Vt.; Calvin Fairbanks, Hannah Darlington, Kennet Sq., Pa.
COMMITTEE ON IDUSTRIAL AVOCATIONS. -- Charles F. Hovey, Boston, Mass., Chairman; Phileuda Jones, Worcester, Mass., Secretary; Hannah [sic] K. Hunt, Boston, Mass.; Mary Ann McClintock, Waterloo, N.Y.; Elizabeth Blackwell, Cincinnati, Ohio; Benj. S. Trenor, Boston, Mass.; Ebenezer D. Draper, Hopewell, Mass.; Phebe [sic] Goodwin, Delaware Co., Penn.; Alice Jackson, Westchester, Penn.; Maria Ware, Dublin, Ireland.
COMMITTEE ON CIVIL AND POLITICAL FUNCTIONS. -- Mrs. Ernestine Rose of New York, Chairman; Lucy Stone, West Brookfield, Mass., Secretary; Wendell Phillips, Boston; Hannah Stickney, Philadelphia; Sarah Halleck, Milton, Mass.; Abby K. Foster, Worcester, Mass.; Wm. L. Garrison, Boston; Elizabeth Stanton, Seneca Falls, N.Y.
COMMITTEE ON SOCIAL RELATIONS. -- Lucretia Mott of Philadelphia, Chairman; Wm. H. Channing of Boston, Mass., Secretary; Anna Q.T. Parsons, Boston, Mass.; Wm. Fish, Hopedale, Mass.; Rebecca Plumley, Philadelphia, Penn.; Elizabeth B. Chase, Valley Falls, N.Y.; J.G. Forman, West Bridgewater, Mass.; Abby H. Price, Hopedale, Mass.; Mary Grew, Philadelphia.
Mrs. Ball of Worcester, expressed her interest in the objects of the meeting; but she did not know that she could go so far as the Convention on this subject. There were some difficulties and objections which she should like to hear fully met. The power of religious influence over woman had been referred to as an obstacle to her emancipation. It was true, that she was greatly under the control of religious influence; and here is the difficulty to be met. The Scriptures must be harmonized with the principles and objects of this movement, in order to secure the cooperation of the women of the country. We read in the Bible that God said unto Eve: "Thy desire shall be unto thy husband, and he shall rule over thee."
Another difficulty. The unequal compensation of woman for her labor, compared with man, has been referred to. It has been said, that a washerwoman is entitled to as much compensation for her day's work as a wood-sawyer. She supposed the case of a wood-sawyer's wife, unable by sickness, or the care of her children, to do her own work. It would cost her husband all his wages to procure a woman to do her work. How would the busband buy bread for his children?
Miss [Antoinette] Brown of Oberlin was introduced to the Convention as a young lady who had studied Theology in the Oberlin Institute, and fitted herself to preach the Gospel, with a view of devoting her life to that work. She was of the orthodox faith, but had been refused ordination. She intended, nevertheless, to devote herself to that calling. She addressed the Convention in a very clear, logical and eloquent speech, delivered extemporaneously. She took up the objections drawn from the Bible against Woman's rights. And first, of the passage, "Thy desire shall be to thy husband and he shall rule over thee." This, she maintained, was not given as a law of God, but a prediction of what should befall her in the state of sin and moral death to which they had fallen. She quoted language of the same tenor addressed to the Sperpent: "Thou shalt bruise his heel." Now, she said, it would be absurd to suppose Satan had the divine authority for trying to injure Christ and his cause. And yet the language was the same in both cases. She showed that man had ruled over woman in the exercise of his tyranny and superior physical force. But she denied the right.
She took up the language of Paul, "Wives submit yourselves to your husbands," and showed that this was an injunction to submit to a necessary evil, in that condition of human society, which she could not remove, and to do this in a Christian spirit. It did not by any means recognize the authority of husbands to rule. They were expressly directed not to rule one over another. She dwelt also on the objection that women have no time for mental improvement, and showed how labor-saving machines were relieving her of toil, and would give her time. Spinning and sewing are now done by machinery. This portion of her argument was full and interesting, much of which we are obliged to omit. The young lady showed herself an ingenious theologian, a good scholar, an easy speaker, and her spirit was truly religious and modest. Everyone felt her vindication of the Rights of Woman from objections urged on Bible grounds was triumphant.
C.C. Burleigh next addressed the Convention. The objection had been made that Woman had no time for the culture and improvement of her mind and the exercise of those rights which were claimed for her. He regarded this fact, if it were true, as an argument that there is something in woman's position and relation. But there is no reason why a woman should not have time. If she has a family of children, her husband should share the care of them. And if mankind would be more simple in their habits, their diet and clothing, there would be plenty of time.
He would add one thought to what had been said on the Bible argument. The same language that has been quoted in reference to the man ruling the woman, occurs in regard to the elder son ruling the younger. This was a command or a prediction that the elder should rule the younger, and if the same mode of intrpretation is applied to this as to the other, it follows that the law of primogeniture is the right one. yet in this country, where is the man that will stand up and say it is the will of God that the elder son shall rule over his younger brother?
He also answered the objection raised against Woman's receiving an equal compensation for her labor. He would change the supposition somewhat. Suppose the wood-sawyer is taken sick, and the wife's earnings are only a half or a third as much as a man's, how is the family to be supprted then? And here Mrs. Rose suggested another supposition: Suppose the woman has no husband, and is a widow left with little children to bring up? Does she not need the full value of her earnings as well as man? He [Burleigh] maintained that every woman should have the right to save her own earnings, and to keep them separate, and then she may provide against such contingencies. He claimed for her the right to procure for herself pecuniary independence.
The Convention adjourned to meet at 2 o'clock, P.M.
Mrs. Rose addressed the Convention in a short but animated speech, showing that women were inventive, and that the reason they have not produced high inventions is that they have been continually employed with triffling duties, as drudge in the kitchen, or a puppet-show in the parlor. She maintained that the wrongs they were laboring to remove were not so much the guilt as the misfortune of mankind. She should not use the language of censure and blame. So far as there was blame, she thouhgt both sexes entitled to their share of it. She dwelt earnestly and eloquently on the objects of the reform.
Sojourner Truth, a colored woman, once a slave, spoke, and gratified the audience highly. She showed that beneath her dark skin, and uncomely exterior there was a true, womanly heart. She uttered some truths that told well. She said Woman set the world wrong by eating the forbidden fruit, and now she was going to set it right. She said Goodness never had any beginning; it was from everlasting and could never die. But Evil had a beginning, and must have an end. She expressed great reverence for God, and faith he will bring about his own purposes and plans.
Miss Brown of Oberlin, again addressed the Convention. She took up this time the injunction of Paul, that women should keep silence in churches. She showed this meant she should not disturb the church with questions, asking for information which she could obtain at home from her husband; for Women were then kept in ignorance, and they would be wanting to know many things, which, if they were allowed to ask at the moment would disturb the good order and demeanor of churches. It was enjoined that all things might be done unto edification. But Woman was not prohibited from teaching and speaking. She quoted passages of Scripture to prove this.
Lucretia Mott said she was glad their young friend from Oberlin had stated so clearly a part of the scriptural argumnet on the subject. These expositions had been familiar to her for years, and she had come to the conclusion that it would not be profitable to consume too much time with the Bible argument. Let those who are interested in that branch of the subject take a favorable opportunity to investigate it. She thought the true ground to take is to address themselves to the justice, the humanity and the common sense of those who hear. She would, however, say that it was very plain, from the Bible, that Women did preach the gospel. They had the gift of prophecy. She quoted the passage, "I will pour out my spirit upon all flesh, and your sons and daughters shall prophesy." to be a prophet or prophetess was to be a teacher. She quoted several other passages, showing the equallity of woman's privileges from the Bible, and said she had many more at her fingers' ends. But she did [not?] think the argument necessary. Yet she would not have had the young friend, who had spoken on this subject, say one word less than she did.
Frederick Douglass addressed the Convention in a forcible and interesting manner, and with much eloquence. He said, this Convention has now been in session two days, and no one has attempted to offer anything against the sentiments and principles advanced here. It is not because there is no opposition to this movement; but because the truths on which it is founded are invulnerable. The arguments advanced cannot be met except by ridicule, and this will be the great weapon that will be used against us. He said he had some experience of the character of public opinion. He had been its victim, and the lesson he had learned was to take his rights wherever he could get them -- to assume them, at any rate, as properly his. This principle of action had brought him into some difficulties; he had been turned out of railroad cars in Massachusetts, and out of steamboat cabins, and knocked on the head. But he found the continual exercise of his rights was wearing out their prejudices against color. He closed by urging strongly that women shuld take their rights. Seize hold of those which are most strongly contested. You have already free access to the paths of literature; Women may write books of poetry, travels, et cetera and they will be read avidly. Let them strike out in some other path where they are not now allowed to go. If there is some kind of business from which they are excluded, let some heroic Woman enter upon that business, as some of these noble Women have entered upon the practice of medicine. Let Woman take her rights, and then she shall be free.
Wm. Lloyd Garrison addressed the Convention at much length, and was listened to with deep interest. He felt that he might rightfully stand on that platform. For years he had borne the stigma, and he considered it an honor, of being a Woman's Rights man. He came here almost doubting whether there would be more than a small gathering of friends on this occasion; but he had been most happily disappointed. This hall had been crowded from the beginning this far with attentive and interested listeners. He felt that the spirit of God had brooded over this assembly, and that the word of God had been spoken. He could not but feel how much we had lost -- how much had been lost to the world of the eloquence, the wisdom and the power of Woman by the deprivation of her rights. What eloquence, what burning words we had listened to at this Convention from the lips of Woman.
He made a distinction between rights and duties. Woman's rights are coequal with Man. With many there is a confusion of rights and duties. There might be different spheres of duty to different individuals, and to some extent to the sexes; but there was no difference of rights. It did not follow that Woman would quit her appropriate sphere is these rights were secured to her. The law of God will regulate all this. Let there be freedom, and every one will find his or her true level and place in the arrangements of the social world.
Mrs. Mott made some remarks, and was followed by C.C. Burleigh, who spoke with much power and in a manner hightly argumentative and convincing.
The Convention adjourned to meet again at 7 o'clock.
Wm. H. Channing is delivering a thrilling and powerful address on the sin of licentiousness. He does not spare the licentious man. he looked to the pure and elevating influence of Woman as the remedy. He then dwelt upon the objects of the Convention, and read the series of resolutions before the meeting, and explained the objects of the appointments of the Committees.
The resolutions were unanimously adopted, and the appointment of the Committees confirmed.
Mrs. Sarah Tyndale gave her experience in business for the encouragement of her sisters. She was left a widow, and her husband's estate in debt. She had risen from these embarassments, and met with abundant success. Mrs. Mott arose at this point and stated that Mrs. Tyndale was the proprietor of one of the largest and most beautiful China establishments in this country or the world. Mrs. Tyndale continued. She said her children, if they could see her standing up before such an audience, would say, Why, mother, how can you expose yourself so? She said she did it for the encouragement of her sisters, and from a sense of duty. She went on to say that her child had grown up to succeed her in business, and now she was employing her faculties for the good of others. She finds that her energies had been rendered greater and more active by atteniton to business, and she could not remain idle and at ease. She desired still to be usefully employed. Her friend, Mrs. Mott, here arose and said, she mush state what the modesty of her friend would not allow her to state. She had, with another friend, visited all the houses of bad repute in Philadelphia; they had established a place of retreat for them [prostitutes], and had induced over three hundred young women to return to the path of virtue, and found homes and places of useful employment for them. This fact was received with great applause and many moistened eyes in the audience. Mrs. Tyndale urged her sisters onward in the path of improvement, usefulness, and happiness. Her remarks were delivered with great simplicity, natural eloquence and pathos.
Mr. Channing rose to thank his sister for her noble conduct. If he were her son he should be proud of a mother who could stand up here and give such words of encouragement, and who had done such noble deeds. There were not many dry eyes in the house during this scene.
Mrs. Mercy, a female physician of Providence, R.I. made some very stirring and eloquent remarks, urging Woman to effort and God-like action.
Lucy Stone spoke with great simplicity and eloquence on the character of the meeting, the misgivings with which she came to it, the triumphant success which had attended it, and said she could not go away without unburdening her heart. She said Woman must take her rights as far as she can get them; but those she cannot take she must ask for -- demand in the name of a common humanity. She recommended the circulation of petitions to the Legislatures of the several States, asking for the Right of Suffrage, and the Right of Married Women to hold Property, and as much more as one felt it proper to ask for. She continued, speaking of the inferior and slavish position of Woman, and urged the objects of the movement as worthy of the labors of all true-hearted men and women in every land. We want, she said, to be something more than the appendages of Society; we want that Woman should be the coequal and help-meet of Man in all the interests, and perils and enjoyments of human life. We want that she should attain to the development of her nature and womanhood; we want that when she dies, it may not be written on her grave-stone that she was the "relict" of somebody. [Great applause.] She closed with an earnest appeal for Woman.
S.S. Foster spoke at much length upon the Bible argument. He was not satisfied with it, he was not convinced that the Bible did not give the Woman an inferior position in the scale of being than man. His object seemed to be to make his remarks bear against the plenary inspiration of the Bible, and the equal authority of all its parts. He thought the words of Christ taught the equality of the sexes. He expressed greater reverence for the teachings of the Saviour than for Paul. He was interrupted by other speakers and finally yielded the floor.
Lucretia Mott then made the closing address to the Convention. She alluded to the Bible argument, and said that many of those injunctions of Paul were applicable only to the circumstances of the Christians of that age; and suggested whether Paul and the other Apostles might not have imbibed some of the spirit and ignorance of their age on the subject; whether they were not influenced somewhat by the prevailing view that obtained at the time respecting Woman; and whether Paul, never having lived in the marriage relation, was fully competent as an authority on this subject. There could be no doubt that the general tenor, the spirit and the teachings of Christianity were all on the side of Woman's Rights.
She then delivered a most affectionate valedictory, dwelling for a moment on the simple and truthful words of Sojourner Truth, the poor woman who had grown up under the curse of Slavery, "that goodness was from everlasting and would never die, while evil had a beginning and must come to an end." She portrayed the mountains of difficulty that stood in the way of this reform, and said, "Are ye able to bear all this?" Then she uttered words of encouragement and hope. She pictured Jesus Christ, the Messiah, encountering the same difficulties; but the common people heard him gladly and many there are who shall rise up in behalf of our cause, and call it blessed. Mark, said she, the words of Jesus: "Lift up your eyes and behold the harvest, white for the reaper. Pray ye that laborers may be sent into the harvest." We must be living agents of this work. If ever there was an age, since the Messiah, when the people should do those "greater works" which he said they should do who obey his word, this is that age. She alluded to the success of the Temperance and Anti-Slavery reforms. Look at all these movements, and be not discouraged -- perservere unto the end. Quoting from the sainted Channing [William Ellery, father of William H. Channing], she said, "Mighty powers are at work, and who shall stay them?" She said the sainted Channing because of the good works he had done. It seemed to her, after his death, as she sat alone in her room, thinking of him, his presence was with her, and the halo of his divinity round about her. In regard to this movement she said -- he or she who is least in the kingdom, is greater than these. She alluded to the writings of Jane Eyre [sic], Harriet Martineau, Mary Howitt, in terms of approbation, and as a sign of promise; to Catherine Beecher's appeal twenty years ago on behalf of woman. Then she passed to her closing remarks. Are we not now separating from each other with grateful hearts? The day spring from on high hath visited us. We have met around this altar of humanity, and though no vocal prayers have been offered, she trusted an oblation had arisen from our hearts. "And now, Lord, let thy servants depart in peace; for our eyes have seen thy salvation."
Following this tender and pathetic address, of which the foregoing is but an imperfect sketch, there were many warm congratulations, and the Woman's Rights Convention broke up under circumstances most cheering and happy. To-morrow morning there is to be a meeting of the Committee, and the people returning to their homes, will certainly feel that it has been good for them to be here.
In concluding this report I must apologise for any errors it may contain. I have been compelled to write in great haste amid much speaking and without assistance or aid. It does not profess to be a verbatim report but only a substantial account of this interesting meeting,
Yours very truly, J.G. Forman