restricted access American Equal Rights Association, Church of the Puritans, New York City, May 9–10, 1867
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American Equal Rights Association, 1867 163 4. Alfred Love (1830–1913), a pacifist, had spoken in favor of expanded voting rights and greater democracy (National Anti-Slavery Standard, December 1, 1866). 5. On November 21–22 the American Equal Rights Association, which had been formed on May 10, gathered in Albany to demand an amendment to the New York State Constitution granting equal suffrage regardless of race or sex (Independent, November 15, 1866). 6. Aaron M. Powell (1832–99) was the editor of the National Anti-Slavery Standard. American Equal Rights Association,1 Church of the Puritans, New York City, May 9–10, 1867 [May 9 Session] The PRESIDENT (Mrs. MOTT) said: The report which we have had, although not written, is most interesting.2 A great deal of it is new to me. My age and feeble health have precluded my engaging actively in this cause, other than in a very limited way. There are so many actively engaged in the cause, that it is fitting that some of us older ones should give place to them. That is the natural order, and every natural order is divine and beautiful. Therefore, I feel glad of the privilege—although my filling the office of President has been a mere nominal thing—to withdraw from the chair, and to yield the place to our friend ROBERT PURVIS, one of our Vice-Presidents. The cause is dear to my heart, and has been from my earliest days. Being a native of the island of Nantucket, where women were thought something of, and had some connection with the business arrangements of life, as well as with their domestic homes, I grew up so thoroughly imbued with woman’s rights that it was the most important question of my life from a very early day. I hail this more public movement for its advocacy, and have been glad that I had strength enough to co-operate to some extent. I have attended most of the regular meetings, and I now feel almost ashamed, old as I am, to be so ignorant of what has happened during the last year. We need a paper—an organ that shall keep those who cannot mingle actively in our public labors better informed. THE STANDARD has done much; and I find in many other papers a disposition to do justice, to a great extent, to our cause. It is not ridiculed as it was in the beginning. We do not have the difficulties, the opposition and the contumely to confront that we had at an early day. I am very glad to find such an audience here today; and far be it from me to occupy the time so as to prevent Mr. [Samuel J.] MAY, Mr. [Charles C.] BURLEIGH, and others, from having their proper place. * * * * The argument that has been made that women do not want to vote is like that which we had to meet in the early days of the Anti-Slavery enterprise that the slaves did not want to be free. I remember that in one of our earliest Woman’s Rights Conventions, in Syracuse, the reply was made to this argument, that woman was not much to be blamed, because the power of the government and of the church, that was vested in man by the laws, made it impossible for 164 American Equal Rights Association, 1867 woman to rise,3 just as it was impossible for the slave to rise while the chains were around him, and while the slaveholder’s foot was upon his neck. The common and civil law of England made woman a cypher, and blotted out her civil existence upon her marriage. Blackstone, in his commentaries, says that the law made the husband and wife one person, and that person the husband. This being the power of the husband over the wife, as established by law, that despotism followed which must ever be exercised, when power is vested in one over another, be it man or woman, to the great injury of the victim. The law had crushed woman; and the Church, supporting the law, had assumed that the Bible forbade women from using her rights. And if she asked to be a religious teacher, the perversion of the words of Paul was presented to keep her back. When she became a wife, the Church stepped in, and asserted the authority of the husband, and made the wife acknowledge her inferiority and promise obedience to him. That...