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Emory Women Writers Resource Project Collections:
Emory Women Writers Resource Project

The Woman's Advocate, Volume 2, an electronic edition

by William P. Tomlinson, Ed. [Tomlinson, William P.]

date: 1869-1870
source publisher: Wm. P. Tomlinson
collections: Women's Advocacy, Abolition, Freedom, and Rights

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THE Annual Meeting of this Association was held in Boston on the days of the 25th and 26th ult., commencing at Tremont Temple on the evening of the 25th, and continuing, by morning, afternoon, and evening sessions, at Horticultural Hall, throughout the following day. Large and enthusiastic audiences, to the extent of the inadequate capacities of the halls obtained, were in attendance upon every session, and the | | 50 interests of the Cause were powerfully promoted by the harmony which characterized all the proceedings of the Convention. Upon the platform--by the most of Whom able addresses were delivered--were Mrs. Julia Ward Howe, Mrs. Caroline M. Severance, Wendell Phillips, Mrs. Mary A. Livermore, Wm. Lloyd Garrison, Abby Kelley Foster, Lucy Stone, Stephen Foster and other well known friends of Woman Suffrage.

The President, Mrs. JUILIA WARD HOWE, called the meeting to order, and presided with skill and dignity through most of the sessions. The introductory address was made by Mrs. Howe, who spoke of the work of the Association for the past year; the present hopeful aspects of the Cause, and closed her very eloquent and appropriate address by welcoming the friends from all parts of the country to the Convention. Alluding to the present advanced stage of the Cause, Mrs. Howe said:

A Christian parable, not quite superceded by the progress of Brahminism among us, receives a new illustration from our experiences. We were all well-wishers to our sex before we began to help them, but our passive good-will was laid away in a napkin, and though it was a comfortable circumstance for us to remember, it was dead capital, and gained nothing. But we have now invested our good-will in effort, and its multiplication surprises us. What marvellous seed did we sow in the field that it should bear such a sudden and weighty crop? Ah! the silent centuries had furrowed it for us. The eternal sun had warmed and fertilized its bosom. When the convenient time came, we scattered our little endeavor, and the harvest is one that shall feed the future.

"Friends sometimes condole with us on our grave deficiency in means of progress. They say: 'One important thing you want. You have no opposition.' This is not true. We have an opposition, but have scarcely worked long enough to know where to place it. I think that we shall find it partly in the conventional prejudices of society, but far more in the vis inertiæ and indifference of women. From them, if from anyone, will come the temporary ignoring and reprobation of our reform. Intelligent and honest men--the real male power of the community--are almost unanimously agreed that women ought to have the suffrage if they want it, while the wisest see that they should have it whether or no. But among women, large numbers, particularly of the prosperous classes, are indifferent or inimical to, the enfranchisement of their sex. We must remember that reforms rarely begin with this class. To the poor, the Gospel is preached--to the poor, it means something.

Following Mrs. HOWE, the Hon. JAMES W. STILLMAN, the able advocate of Woman Suffrage in the Rhode Island Legislature, addressed the Convention. Mr. Stillman spoke at some length of the force of custom and traditionary prejudice, the right of suffrage to every human being irrespective of color, race or sex, and was succeeded by Mrs. MARY A. LIVERMORE, the editor of the Agitator, and one of the ablest advocates of Woman Suffrage in the West.

Mrs. LIVERMORE, spoke at length of the disadvantages under which women labor; of the progress of the Cause in the West; of the natural harmony of the sexes; of the good results of women voting, etc. Concerning the services rendered to the country by women, Mrs. Livermore said:

"When the rebellion broke out, the Government asked us to give up our husbands and sons. Our hearts said No, our lips said Yes. What multitudes of those dear ones never cam [sic] | | 51 back; The South is billowy with their graves. During those long years of trial we read, and thought, and grew up to the full stature of men. We cannot go back. We must examine your action and judge of your policy. We shall say this is right, and that is wrong. We have reached a grander development than ever before; and we now look for a fulfillment of the noble words of the apostle:-There is neither Jew nor Greek, there is neither bond nor free, there is neither male nor female; for ye are all one in Christ Jesus."

The address of Mrs. Livermore closed the speaking of the evening session. The following day addresses were delivered by Wendell Phillips, Ralph Waldo Emerson, Rev. Gilbert Haven, Lucy Stone, Rev. Phebe.A. Hanaford, Stephen S. Foster, Mrs. Mary F. Davis, Wm. Lloyd Garrison, Mrs. Julia Ward Howe and Mrs. F. E. W. Harper, all of whom spoke acceptably and were listened to with interest by the audience.

WENDELL PHILLIPS, the first speaker at the morning session, was recelved with great applause. From his very able address, we present a single extract:

"It is an error to, suppose that the Woman's Rights cause seeks to obtain for woman any more influence than she has had. What the Woman's Rights cause seeks to do is to drag the irresponsible influence which woman has had in moulding the force of events and the history of her times, up to the light and stamp it with the signet of political power and make it responsible in the face of the day. Our object is to draw her out of her own isolated realm and make her take her fair share of responsibility in the civil arena. Why does the wealth of Beacon street pour out its millions to cover every cradle of the most friendless child of the most obscure emigrant, with the finest influence of Massachusetts civilization? What produces the machinery of our public schools, the wonder of the world? Why is England on the other side of the water a whole century behind us, discussing religious schools and limited schools and private schools and endowed schools, and all sorts of schools except public schools. Because when Lord Shaftesbury looks down into the cradle of a London pauper he has no dread of it. That child will never lift up its hand to influence legislation except in some volcanic hour of absolute revolution. But when the wealth of the Republic looks down into a poor man's cradle it remembers that that tiny hand will in due time wield the ballot, and selfish, careful, far-sighted, sagacious wealth hastens to put on one side of that baby, morality, and on the other intelligence, in order that its own roof may be safe and its own cradle free from peril." (Applause).

RALPH WALDO EMERSON, in his eloquent address, paid the following beautiful tribute to Woman:

"In all ages woman has been the representative of religion. In all countries it is the women who fill the temples. In every religious movement the woman has been an active and powerful part not only in the most civilized, but in the most uncivilized countries; not less in the Mahommedan than the Greek and Roman religions. She holds man to religion. There is no man so reprobate, so careless of religious duty, but what delights to have his wife a saint. All men feel the advantages that abound In that quality in a woman. I think it was her instinct in the dark superstitions of the Middle Ages which tempered the hardness of theology by making the Virgin Mary, the mother of God, the intercessor to whom all prayers were directed."

Among the Resolutions adopted was the following:

Whereas, The interests of the Woman's cause require a national organization, therefore,
Resolved, That the Executive Committee of the New England Woman's Suffrage Association be authorized to correspond with the friends of the cause throughout the country and to take such steps as they may deem best for the organization of a National Woman's Suffrage | | 52 Association during the coming year, in which all parts of the country shall be fully and fairly represented.

Letters of encouragement and sympathy were read from John Stuart Mill, George Wm. Curtis, Robert Collyer, Lucretia Mott, Anna E. Dickinson and others. The intervals in the regular proceedings of the Convention were enlivened by excellent music by the Hutchinsons', and the Association finally adjourned, rejoicing in all the omens of the times, and looking forward with hope and courage to the labors of the coming year.

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