Women’s Rights Convention, Unitarian Church, Rochester, New York, August 2, 1848
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rochester wr convention, 1848 45 Resolved, That the speedy success of our cause depends upon the zealous and untiring efforts of both men and women, for the overthrow of the monopoly of the pulpit, and for the securing to woman an equal participation with men in the various trades, professions and commerce. The Resolution was adopted. * * * * The meeting was closed by one of Lucretia Mott’s most beautiful and spiritual appeals. She commanded the earnest attention of that large audience for nearly an hour. Report of the Woman’s Rights Convention, Held at Seneca Falls, N.Y., July 19th and 20th, 1848 (Rochester, 1848); Gordon, 1:82–83; WASM 1. LM’s remarks at Seneca Falls are taken from two different sources. The Seneca Falls Courier gave more extensive coverage of her speech on July 19 than the one sentence in the Report, reprinted in Gordon, 1:75–78. 2. Most likely LM drew on her May 9, 1848, address to the AASS (Gordon, 1:84). 3. Thomas M’Clintock (1792–1876), Hicksite Quaker then living in Waterloo, New York (see Faulkner, 132–33). He read from the Commentaries on the Laws of England, by British jurist William Blackstone (1723–80), who wrote, “the very being or legal existence of the woman is suspended during the marriage, or at least is incorporated and consolidated into that of the husband” (quoted in Gordon, 1:86). For background on the convention, see Faulkner, 138–42; Palmer, 163–67; and Judith Wellman, The Road to Seneca Falls: Elizabeth Cady Stanton and the First Woman’s Rights Convention (Urbana: University of Illinois Press, 2004), 194–204. Women’s Rights Convention, Unitarian Church, Rochester, New York, August 2, 1848 [Morning Session] LUCRETIA MOTT arose and said, that although she was grateful for the eloquent speech just given, she must be allowed to object to some portions of it; such as styling “woman the better half of creation, and man a tyrant.”1 Man had become so accustomed to speak of woman in the language of flattering compliments , that he indulges in such expressions unawares. She said that man was not a tyrant by nature, but had been made tyrannical by the power which had, by general consent, been conferred upon him; she merely wished that woman might be entitled to equal rights and acknowledged as the equal of man, not his superior. Woman is equally tyrannical when she has irresponsible power, and we shall never place her in a true position until we have formed a just estimate of mankind as created by God. She thought there were some evidences of improvement —instanced the reform in the literature of the day, the sickly sentimentality of the “Ladies Department,” which was fast disappearing, perceiving that the mind requires more substantial food. * * * * 46 rochester wr convention, 1848 LUCRETIA MOTT replied in a speech of great sarcasm and eloquence. She said that the gentleman from New Haven had objected to woman occupying the pulpit, and indeed she could scarcely see how any one educated in New Haven, Ct., could think otherwise than he did.2 She said, we had all got our notions too much from the clergy, instead of the Bible. The Bible, she contended, had none of the prohibitions in regard to woman; and spoke of the “honorable women, not a few,” etc., and desired Mr. Colton to read his Bible over again, and see if there was anything there to prohibit woman from being a religious teacher. She then complimented the members of that church for opening their doors to a Woman’s Rights Convention, and said that a few years ago, the Female Moral Reform Society of Philadelphia applied for the use of a church in that city in which to hold one of their meetings; they were only allowed the use of the basement, and on condition that none of the women should speak at the meeting. Accordingly a D.D.wascalledupontopreside,andanothertoreadtheladiesreportoftheSociety.3 [Afternoon Session] Several resolutions were then read,4 which were presented by AMY POST to the preliminary meeting, and referred to this without discussion. LUCRETIA MOTT ably advocated them, though she pronounced them too tame; she wished to have something more stirring. * * * * Mrs. MOTT remarked that our aim should be to elevate the lowly and aid the weak. She compared the condition of woman, to that of the free colored population , and dwelt upon the progress they had made within the last few years, urging woman to imitate them...