restricted access Free Religious Association, Horticultural Hall, Boston, May 30, 1867
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166 Free Religious Association, 1867 1. The purpose of the American Equal Rights Association (AERA) was to secure “Equal Rights to all American Citizens, especially the Right of Suffrage, irrespective of race, color, or sex” (Palmer, 372, 381). 2. Susan B. Anthony, secretary of the AERA, explained that she had been too busy to write a report of their activities: “With but half a dozen live men and women, to canvass the State of New York, to besiege the Legislature and the delegates to the Constitutional Convention with tracts and petitions, to write letters and send documents to every State Legislature . . . to urge Congress to its highest duty in the reconstruction . . . has been a work that has taxed every energy and dollar at our command” (Proceedings, 5–6; Gordon, 2:60–61). 3. At the Syracuse meeting, Ernestine Rose had stated, “If woman is insensible to her wrongs, it proves the depths of her degradation” (Proceedings of the Woman’s Rights Convention, Held at Syracuse [Syracuse, N.Y.: J. E. Masters, 1852], 64, WASM). 4. See Women’s Rights Convention, September 8, 1852, Afternoon Session. 5. In her speech, Gage argued in favor of voting rights for freedwomen because without this protection they refused to get married in church: “Are you to leave her there yet, and desecrate marriage, by making it such a bond of slavery that the woman shall say, ‘I do not want to be married, to suffer oppression!’” (Proceedings, 27). 6. Although under the Marriage Act of 1753, England and Wales required a formal ceremony in the Church of England for a marriage to be recognized as legal, Quakers and Jews were exempted. In the United States, marriage was a civil matter, and states recognized a variety of ceremonies as well as common law marriages (Michael Grossberg, Governing the Hearth: Law and Family in Nineteenth-Century America [Chapel Hill: University of North Carolina Press, 1985], 75–76). 7. Cobbe first published her anonymous An Essay on Intuitive Morals in 1855. Her father was Charles Cobbe (1781–1857). 8. Thomas J. Durant (1817–82), a northern-born Louisiana politician and lawyer, who, during the Civil War, rejected slavery and advocated black suffrage, made an “able address” at the 34th Annual Meeting of the AASS in New York City (“The Anniversary,” Independent, May 16, 1867). 9. Phillips prioritized suffrage for black men, arguing that it was the “Negro’s Hour,” but he joined the American Equal Rights Association in their campaign for universal suffrage in New York State (Faye Dudden, A Fighting Chance: The Struggle over Woman Suffrage and Black Suffrage in Reconstruction America [New York: Oxford University Press, 2011], 73, 89–90; Palmer, 372). Free Religious Association, Horticultural Hall, Boston, May 30, 1867 OUR PRESIDENT1 announced me as a representative of the Quaker Sect, or the Society of Friends. I must do our friends at home the justice to say that I am not here as a representative of any sect. I am not delegated by any portion, or by any conference or consultation of Friends in any way. I am here, as some say, “on my own hook.” And if I can be heard, in my feebleness, it will not be to present to your view, as our first speaker has done for Universalism, the various phases of the Society of Friends—the Orthodox portion, the Hicksite portion, the Progressive Friends,2 or any of these,—because I think people generally are more interested in these divisions of their own denominations than outsiders, or than the other sects are. And I do not know whether it is so profitable a use of Free Religious Association, 1867 167 the time to enter into the little differences which have caused divisions among religious denominations, as to take a more general view of the advantages and disadvantages of religious organizations. I had not understood, in coming here, the precise nature of the meeting; I did not know how Radical the Convention was expected to be. One speaker, who has just sat down, has deprecated the idea of dissent from all congregational association; but it seems to me that a convention on so broad a basis as I had understood this to be, should learn better than to deprecate any religious dissent or “come-outer-ism” from organization, and that there should be understood among us the charity, the toleration (if I may use that “proud, self-sufficient word,” as some one has called it),3 to bear all things...