Women’s Suffrage Meeting, Academy of Music, Brooklyn, New York, May 14, 1869
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Women’s Suffrage Meeting, 1869 189 them in a way that shall lead others to take up the subject and consider it, and be prepared to act. You middle-aged men and women of this Society of Friends to whom I have been speaking, what are you doing that you are not advancing our principles more earnestly and more effectively? We are asked quarterly and yearly whether we maintain a public testimony against bearing arms, against all war in any form, and against military preparation. How are we to answer this inquiry if we are sitting quietly down satisfied with the conviction that we ourselves will not consent to it? But how are we bearing our testimony before the world? What influence are we exerting in our day to remove this greatest of evils that now afflicts humanity? The evils of slavery and of religious persecution have been now, to a great extent, brought to a close. War, the leading evil, has yet to come before the people. Be ye prepared. The Kingdom of God is at hand. “The light which lighteth every man that cometh into the world” has shone into the hearts of the people, to give them a knowledge of the glory of God, in the faith of the divinity of this principle. Stenographic Report, Sermons, Mott Manuscripts, FHL 1. From Channing, “Honour Due to All Men.” 2. LM may have read reports in the Philadelphia newspapers on Sunday school students raising funds for missions, or students benefiting from the charity of other parishioners (“City Intelligence: Religious Matters,” Philadelphia Inquirer, March 6, March 13, 1869). 3. Members of the “Association of the Independent German Congregations” affiliated with the Free Religious Association. Their president, Fred Schuenemann-Pott, published a monthly organ “Blaetter fuer freies Religioeses Leben,” or “Leaves for Free Religious Life,” which LM may have seen (Index, February 26, 1870). 4. The New York Times (July 11, 1869) wrote favorably of German reformers’ proposals for military drills in schools. Some public schools, such as Boston’s Latin and High School, had already implemented them (The Satchel, May 15, 1866). At their second annual meeting, the Pennsylvania Peace Society called “the arsenal and military academy adjoining the church and school-house . . . a mockery and a disgrace,” and recommended children “abstain from military training” and “learn the arts of peace” (Banner of Light, December 14, 1867). Women’s Suffrage Meeting,1 Academy of Music, Brooklyn, New York, May 14, 1869 Lucretia Mott, the venerable pioneer in the cause of woman’s rights in this country, was introduced, and stepped forward in her plain Quaker dress and removed her bonnet. This distinguished lady is now far beyond her threescore and ten years,2 but her intellect and her memory remain as clear as in the prime of life. She spoke as follows: It is very little that I have to say to you, both from inability to make my voice heard as well as from the failure of my strength to speak. But I feel comforted in the assurance that there are many here who will not suffer you to go away 190 Women’s Suffrage Meeting, 1869 without being properly instructed. I must dissent from part of the address which we have just heard3 —with the idea that it ill-becomes us to answer all these flings by newspaper articles that are presented to us, by which we are ridiculed and satirized in various ways. When we were in Washington, some time since, we had an excellent convention. Some objection was made to some of the peculiar costumes in which some of the members chose to appear on the platform.4 But it was not the business of that Convention to take into consideration any such objections. I do not believe that the success of this cause is dependent upon any such considerations. I believe in women having such self-respect and such dignity of demeanor every where as shall commend her speeches to the acceptance of all right-thinking persons. I desire much that this cause may be advocated on the true ground. We must understand the great needs of the human race; we must have such clear insight as to be prepared to speak more from the inspiration of the time—with dignity rather than with levity. I would not be understood as wishing to bind any one to such serious and prosy addresses that shall not occasionally bring forth the mirthfulness of the congregation, to a...