restricted access Women’s Rights Convention, Melodeon Hall, Cleveland, October 5 and 7, 1853
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110 cleveland wr convention, 1853 8. At the close of the September 6 session, Mr. Elliott asked for three reasons why women should vote (Proceedings, 54). 9. Dr. J. K. Root had stated that the Bible clearly expressed men’s superiority to women, and that men are “naturally empowered with superiority as dictator, adviser, and ruler. Therefore, if he declares woman should not vote, and enter the competing walks of life, it is sufficient reason why she should not do so” (Proceedings, 85). 10. At the Akron Woman’s Rights Convention, May 29, 1851, Sojourner Truth had expressed the same sentiment (“Ar’nt I a Woman?,” Anti-Slavery Bugle, June 21, 1851). The New York meeting’s evening session met with so many hostile interruptions that Vice-President Rose called the police and finally moved the convention adjourned. Prior to adjourning, the group approved a resolution commending LM for the “grace, firmness, ability and courtesy with which she has discharged her important and often arduous duties ” (Proceedings, 89, 94–96; see also Faulkner, 154–55). Women’s Rights Convention, Melodeon Hall, Cleveland, October 5 and 7, 1853 [October 5, Evening Session] I would yield the floor to anyone who has anything to say at this time, and would gladly do it. I approve of the suggestion which has been made, that we should be limited as to time, for we are such imitators of men and customs around us, that perhaps we may forget that we are not upon the floor of Congress, and so may inflict long speeches upon the people. I am glad you have had presented before you, in the address you have just heard, a synopsis of the laws in relation to women, and the sentiments of some of the commentators upon those laws;1 and I want you to observe, (for it stands in proof of what our brother said this afternoon), that there is a constant advance in truth, a constant uprising and appreciation of that which in the earlier days of an enterprise was not anticipated. So in this movement; [William] Blackstone stated what was then regarded Law, (for it did not then appear to be understood, although he too defined it), as a “means of sustaining justice and the right”—but in giving a statement of what was Law, it was received by the people as tantamount to Gospel; for Law and Gospel, Church and State, have been thus united. But it is to be broken up as regards woman, just as the religionists of our country have attempted to break it up, and have succeeded in the Church, as applicable to men. Our more modern expounders of the Law, in many cases, present to the public the degraded position of women in society, because of such enactments, claiming to be, Law. Of these are a [Elisha] Hulburt, in an essay on Human Rights; and a [Timothy] Walker, I think, who first presented the fact to the public—or in the reader, not so public as I wish it was—that the Law has made the man and wife one person, and that one person the husband! and Mr. Hulburt has presented the condition of woman in a light which cannot fail to be striking to those who will read his essays. Look also at the Philosophers of the present time, and the Revolutionists of the last upheaving in Europe. Why, when woman went forth at the last effort to cleveland wr convention, 1853 111 establish a republic through the provisional government in France, and claimed to have equal representation with man, some of the greatest statesmen acknowledged the justice of her request, and responded to it, that she had sat in darkness long, that this claim of women would have to be respected; that woman had too long been suffering under a night-mare of oppression.2 It was to me a striking comparison at the time I read it. The only cause of the failure of the revolution of 1789, was that it was represented by only one half of the intelligence, of the race—an intelligence differing it is true, in some of its peculiarities, but from that very difference calculated to form a truer republic. Victor Hugo in alluding to this effort on the part of woman for the redress of the wrongs and grievances under which she had suffered, says, that as the last age was notable for the effort to gain Men’s Rights, so the...