Women’s Rights Convention, Church of the Puritans, New York City, May 10, 1866
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new york city wr convention, 1866 151 Susan B. Anthony (1820–1906) formed the Women’s Loyal National League in May 1863 to support the Union “in so far as it makes war for freedom” (quoted in Faulkner, 181). Women’s Rights Convention, Church of the Puritans, New York City, May 10, 1866 MRS. LUCRETIA MOTT expressed a hope that there would be no adjournment ,1 and proceeded to say: I am sorry to come before you with so impaired a voice, and with a face so scarred;* but, I rejoice that as we who have long labored in the cause become less able to do the work, the younger ones, the [Theodore] Tiltons and the Harpers, come forward to fill our places.2 It is no loss, but the proper order of things, that the mothers should depart and give place to the children. It is now more than twenty years since this Woman’s Rights movement began in this country. We were allowed to read, if we could not understand much; and could read that Blackstone defined the law, “that the husband and wife were one person, and that person the husband”; and we labored therefore to change the law, so as to recognize the wife as a person with civil rights. It has been said this morning that every appeal that has been made to the legislatures of the several States, has been favorably received, and answered by changing the laws for the benefit of woman. I can but hope, comparing such an audience as this with the handful who met with Elizabeth Cady Stanton, in the first Convention , in a little Wesleyan church at Seneca Falls, and seeing Henry Ward Beecher for the first time on our platform, and speaking such noble words for woman, I can but hope that it will not be as our friend Frances D. Gage3 expressed her fear it would, that the degradation which centuries had created among us, would require centuries to remove; but that, as in the great anti-slavery movement, in regard to which the most ardent Abolitionists never anticipated that we should live to see the work accomplished, and yet a great work has been wrought, for which we all feel increased veneration for that power which not by might, but by His Eternal Spirit, will work the change in this equally important enterprise, to free woman from her enslavement; for it is an enslavement, although not equal to the degradation of the poor black slaves, and although I have never liked to use the word “slavery,” as applied to the oppression of woman, while we had a legalized slavery in our country. But the oppression of woman has been such, and continues to be such, by law, by custom, by a perverted Christianity, by church influence. This very church is an indication, from the darkness of its appearance as we entered it this morning, that theylovedarknesshereratherthanlight,Iwillnotsay“becausetheirdeedsareevil,” but because they are ignorant and know not what they do. They profess to follow the apostle Paul; but they understand him not, they know not the Scriptures nor the power of the gospel, which is indeed glad tidings and good news to the human race: glad tidings of great joy unto all people. * Mrs. Mott had a severe cold and hoarseness, and her face was bruised from a fall from a street car. 152 new york city wr convention, 1866 We are beginning to realize this in regard to the millions who have been slaves in our land. And this is an earnest to us that the good time is not distant, that light and civilization have advanced. As our President said, we have in our army such minds as Spencer, and Mill, and I would add Buckle, and many others; and they are diffusing light, intelligence and civilization, and advocating the right.4 We have women also. We have Frances P. Cobbe; whose name I speak with pride and rejoicing; and in the literary world we have Charlotte Bronte, and Harriet Beecher Stowe, and many others, who are consecrating their talents to the great cause of womanhood, and freedom, and right.5 So we find women as artists, in all its branches, everywhere; and even in a Catholic country Rosa Bonheur receives the cross of Honor (or something of that sort, about which you know more than I do);6 for I am now only one of the fossil remains, asking you in my imperfect way...


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