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shoemakers, and different schools, or find teachers at home, altogether made sufficient work to keep one brain busy, as well as all the hands I could impress into the service. Then, too, the novelty of housekeeping had passed away, and much that was once attractive in domestic life was now irksome. I had so many cares that the company I needed for intellectual stimulus was a trial rather than a pleasure.

There was quite an Irish settlement at a short distance, and continual complaints were coming to me that my boys threw stones at their pigs, cows, and the roofs of their houses. This involved constant diplomatic relations in the settlement of various difficulties, in which I was so successful that, at length, they constituted me a kind of umpire in all their own quarrels. If a drunken husband was pounding his wife, the children would run for me. Hastening to the scene of action, I would take Patrick by the collar, and, much to his surprise and shame, make him sit down and promise to behave himself. I never had one of them offer the least resistance, and in time they all came to regard me as one having authority. I strengthened my influence by cultivating good feeling. I lent the men papers to read, and invited their children into our grounds; giving them fruit, of which we had abundance, and my children’s old clothes, books, and toys. I was their physician, also–with my box of homeopathic medicines I took charge of the men, women, and children in sickness. Thus the most amicable relations were established, and, in any emergency, these poor neighbors were good friends and always ready to serve me.

But I found police duty rather irksome, especially when called out dark nights to prevent drunken fathers from disturbing their sleeping children, or to minister to poor mothers in the pangs of maternity. Alas! alas! who can measure the mountains of sorrow and suffering endured in unwelcome motherhood in the abodes of ignorance, poverty, and vice, where terror-stricken women and children are the victims of strong men frenzied with passion and intoxicating drink?

Up to this time life had glided by with comparative ease, but now the real struggle was upon me. My duties were too numerous and varied, and none sufficiently exhilarating or intellectual to bring into play my higher faculties. I suffered with mental hunger, which, like an empty stomach, is very depressing. I had books, but no stimulating companionship. To add to my general dissatisfaction at the change from Boston, I found that Seneca Falls was a malarial region, and in due time all the children were attacked with chills and fever which, under homeopathic treatment in those days, lasted three months. The servants were afflicted in the same way. Cleanliness, order, the love of the beautiful and artistic, all faded away in the struggle to accomplish what was absolutely necessary from hour to hour. Now I understood, as I never had before, how women could sit down and rest in the midst of general disorder. Housekeeping, under such conditions, was impossible, so I packed our clothes, locked up the house, and went to that harbor of safety, home, as I did ever after in stress of weather.

I now fully understood the practical difficulties most women had to contend with in the isolated household, and the impossibility of woman’s best development if in contact, the chief part of her life, with servants and children. Fourier’s phalansterie community life and co-operative households had a new significance for me. Emerson says, “A healthy discontent is the first step to progress.” The general discontent I felt with woman’s portion as wife, mother, housekeeper, physician, and spiritual guide, the chaotic conditions into which everything fell without her constant supervision, and the wearied, anxious look of the majority of women impressed me with a strong feeling that some active measures should be taken to remedy the wrongs of society in general, and of women in particular. My experience at the World’s Anti-slavery Convention, all I had read of the legal status of women, and the oppression I saw everywhere, together swept across my soul, intensified now by many personal experiences. It seemed as if all the elements had conspired to impel me to some onward step. I could not see what to do or where to begin–my only thought was a public meeting for protest and discussion.

In this tempest-tossed condition of mind I received an invitation to spend the day with Lucretia Mott, at Richard Hunt’s, in Waterloo. There I met several members of different families of Friends, earnest, thoughtful women. I poured out, that day, the torrent of my long-accumulating discontent, with such vehemence and indignation that I stirred myself, as well as the rest of the party, to do and dare anything. My discontent, according to Emerson, must have been healthy, for it moved us all to prompt action, and we decided, then and there, to call a “Woman’s Rights Convention.” We wrote the call that evening and published it in the _Seneca County Courier_ the next day, the 14th of July, 1848, giving only five days’ notice, as the convention was to be held on the 19th and 20th. The call was inserted without signatures,–in fact it was a mere announcement of a meeting,–but the chief movers and managers were Lucretia Mott, Mary Ann McClintock, Jane Hunt, Martha C. Wright, and myself. The convention, which was held two days in the Methodist Church, was in every way a grand success. The house was crowded at every session, the speaking good, and a religious earnestness dignified all the proceedings.

These were the hasty initiative steps of “the most momentous reform that had yet been launched on the world–the first organized protest against the injustice which had brooded for ages over the character and destiny of one-half the race.” No words could express our astonishment on finding, a few days afterward, that what seemed to us so timely, so rational, and so sacred, should be a subject for sarcasm and ridicule to the entire press of the nation. With our Declaration of Rights and Resolutions for a text, it seemed as if every man who could wield a pen prepared a homily on “woman’s sphere.” All the journals from Maine to Texas seemed to strive with each other to see which could make our movement appear the most ridiculous. The anti-slavery papers stood by us manfully and so did Frederick Douglass, both in the convention and in his paper, _The North Star_, but so pronounced was the popular voice against us, in the parlor, press, and pulpit, that most of the ladies who had attended the convention and signed the declaration, one by one, withdrew their names and influence and joined our persecutors. Our friends gave us the cold shoulder and felt themselves disgraced by the whole proceeding.

If I had had the slightest premonition of all that was to follow that convention, I fear I should not have had the courage to risk it, and I must confess that it was with fear and trembling that I consented to attend another, one month afterward, in Rochester. Fortunately, the first one seemed to have drawn all the fire, and of the second but little was said. But we had set the ball in motion, and now, in quick succession, conventions were held in Ohio, Indiana, Massachusetts, Pennsylvania, and in the City of New York, and have been kept up nearly every year since.

The most noteworthy of the early conventions were those held in Massachusetts, in which such men as Garrison, Phillips, Channing, Parker, and Emerson took part. It was one of these that first attracted the attention of Mrs. John Stuart Mill, and drew from her pen that able article on “The Enfranchisement of Woman,” in the _Westminster Review_ of October, 1852.

The same year of the convention, the Married Woman’s Property Bill, which had given rise to some discussion on woman’s rights in New York, had passed the legislature. This encouraged action on the part of women, as the reflection naturally arose that, if the men who make the laws were ready for some onward step, surely the women themselves should express some interest in the legislation. Ernestine L. Rose, Paulina Wright (Davis), and I had spoken before committees of the legislature years before, demanding equal property rights for women. We had circulated petitions for the Married Woman’s Property Bill for many years, and so also had the leaders of the Dutch aristocracy, who desired to see their life-long accumulations descend to their daughters and grandchildren rather than pass into the hands of dissipated, thriftless sons-in-law. Judge Hertell, Judge Fine, and Mr. Geddes of Syracuse prepared and championed the several bills, at different times, before the legislature. Hence the demands made in the convention were not entirely new to the reading and thinking public of New York–the first State to take any action on the question. As New York was the first State to put the word “male” in her constitution in 1778, it was fitting that she should be first in more liberal legislation. The effect of the convention on my own mind was most salutary. The discussions had cleared my ideas as to the primal steps to be taken for woman’s enfranchisement, and the opportunity of expressing myself fully and freely on a subject I felt so deeply about was a great relief. I think all women who attended the convention felt better for the statement of their wrongs, believing that the first step had been taken to right them.

Soon after this I was invited to speak at several points in the neighborhood. One night, in the Quaker Meeting House at Farmington, I invited, as usual, discussion and questions when I had finished. We all waited in silence for a long time; at length a middle-aged man, with a broad-brimmed hat, arose and responded in a sing-song tone: “All I have to say is, if a hen can crow, let her crow,” emphasizing “crow” with an upward inflection on several notes of the gamut. The meeting adjourned with mingled feelings of surprise and merriment. I confess that I felt somewhat chagrined in having what I considered my unanswerable arguments so summarily disposed of, and the serious impression I had made on the audience so speedily dissipated. The good man intended no disrespect, as he told me afterward. He simply put the whole argument in a nutshell: “Let a woman do whatever she can.”

With these new duties and interests, and a broader outlook on human life, my petty domestic annoyances gradually took a subordinate place. Now I began to write articles for the press, letters to conventions held in other States, and private letters to friends, to arouse them to thought on this question.

The pastor of the Presbyterian Church, Mr. Bogue, preached several sermons on Woman’s Sphere, criticising the action of the conventions in Seneca Falls and Rochester. Elizabeth McClintock and I took notes and answered him in the county papers. Gradually we extended our labors and attacked our opponents in the New York _Tribune_, whose columns were open to us in the early days, Mr. Greeley being, at that time, one of our most faithful champions.

In answering all the attacks, we were compelled to study canon and civil law, constitutions, Bibles, science, philosophy, and history, sacred and profane. Now my mind, as well as my hands, was fully occupied, and instead of mourning, as I had done, over what I had lost in leaving Boston, I tried in every way to make the most of life in Seneca Falls. Seeing that elaborate refreshments prevented many social gatherings, I often gave an evening entertainment without any. I told the young people, whenever they wanted a little dance or a merry time, to make our house their rallying point, and I would light up and give them a glass of water and some cake. In that way we had many pleasant informal gatherings. Then, in imitation of Margaret Fuller’s Conversationals, we started one which lasted several years. We selected a subject each week on which we all read and thought; each, in turn, preparing an essay ten minutes in length.

These were held, at different homes, Saturday of each week. On coming together we chose a presiding officer for the evening, who called the meeting to order, and introduced the essayist. That finished, he asked each member, in turn, what he or she had read or thought on the subject, and if any had criticisms to make on the essay. Everyone was expected to contribute something. Much information was thus gained, and many spicy discussions followed. All the ladies, as well as the gentlemen, presided in turn, and so became familiar with parliamentary rules. The evening ended with music, dancing, and a general chat. In this way we read and thought over a wide range of subjects and brought together the best minds in the community. Many young men and women who did not belong to what was considered the first circle,–for in every little country village there is always a small clique that constitutes the aristocracy,–had the advantages of a social life otherwise denied them. I think that all who took part in this Conversation Club would testify to its many good influences.

I had three quite intimate young friends in the village who spent much of their spare time with me, and who added much to my happiness: Frances Hoskins, who was principal of the girls’ department in the academy, with whom I discussed politics and religion; Mary Bascom, a good talker on the topics of the day, and Mary Crowninshield, who played well on the piano. As I was very fond of music, Mary’s coming was always hailed with delight. Her mother, too, was a dear friend of mine, a woman of rare intelligence, refinement, and conversational talent. She was a Schuyler, and belonged to the Dutch aristocracy in Albany. She died suddenly, after a short illness. I was with her in the last hours and held her hand until the gradually fading spark of life went out. Her son is Captain A.S. Crowninshield of our Navy.

My nearest neighbors were a very agreeable, intelligent family of sons and daughters. But I always felt that the men of that household were given to domineering. As the mother was very amiable and self-sacrificing, the daughters found it difficult to rebel. One summer, after general house-cleaning, when fresh paint and paper had made even the kitchen look too dainty for the summer invasion of flies, the queens of the household decided to move the sombre cook-stove into a spacious woodhouse, where it maintained its dignity one week, in the absence of the head of the home. The mother and daughters were delighted with the change, and wondered why they had not made it before during the summer months. But their pleasure was shortlived. Father and sons rose early the first morning after his return and moved the stove back to its old place. When the wife and daughters came down to get their breakfast (for they did all their own work) they were filled with grief and disappointment. The breakfast was eaten in silence, the women humbled with a sense of their helplessness, and the men gratified with a sense of their power. These men would probably all have said “home is woman’s sphere,” though they took the liberty of regulating everything in her sphere.

[Illustration: MRS. STANTON AND SON, 1854.]

[Illustration: Susan B. Anthony 1820-Feb. 15, 1858–]

CHAPTER X.

SUSAN B. ANTHONY.

The reports of the conventions held in Seneca Falls and Rochester, N.Y., in 1848, attracted the attention of one destined to take a most important part in the new movement–Susan B. Anthony, who, for her courage and executive ability, was facetiously called by William Henry Channing, the Napoleon of our struggle. At this time she was teaching in the academy at Canajoharie, a little village in the beautiful valley of the Mohawk.

“The Woman’s Declaration of Independence” issued from those conventions startled and amused her, and she laughed heartily at the novelty and presumption of the demand. But, on returning home to spend her vacation, she was surprised to find that her sober Quaker parents and sister, having attended the Rochester meetings, regarded them as very profitable and interesting, and the demands made as proper and reasonable. She was already interested in the anti-slavery and temperance reforms, was an active member of an organization called “The Daughters of Temperance,” and had spoken a few times in their public meetings. But the new gospel of “Woman’s Rights,” found a ready response in her mind, and, from that time, her best efforts have been given to the enfranchisement of women.

As, from this time, my friend is closely connected with my narrative and will frequently appear therein, a sketch of her seems appropriate.

Lord Bacon has well said: “He that hath wife and children hath given hostages to fortune; for they are impediments to great enterprises either of virtue or mischief. Certainly the best works, and of greatest merit for the public, have proceeded from the unmarried or childless men; which, both in affection and means, have married and endowed the public.”

This bit of Baconian philosophy, as alike applicable to women, was the subject, not long since, of a conversation with a remarkably gifted Englishwoman. She was absorbed in many public interests and had conscientiously resolved never to marry, lest the cares necessarily involved in matrimony should make inroads upon her time and thought, to the detriment of the public good. “Unless,” said she, “some women dedicate themselves to the public service, society is robbed of needed guardians for the special wants of the weak and unfortunate. There should be, in the secular world, certain orders corresponding in a measure to the grand sisterhoods of the Catholic Church, to the members of which, as freely as to men, all offices, civic and ecclesiastical, should be open.” That this ideal will be realized may be inferred from the fact that exceptional women have, in all ages, been leaders in great projects of charity and reform, and that now many stand waiting only the sanction of their century, ready for wide altruistic labors.

The world has ever had its vestal virgins, its holy women, mothers of ideas rather than of men; its Marys, as well as its Marthas, who, rather than be busy housewives, preferred to sit at the feet of divine wisdom, and ponder the mysteries of the unknown. All hail to Maria Mitchell, Harriet Hosmer, Charlotte Cushman, Alice and Phoebe Gary, Louisa Alcott, Dr. Elizabeth Blackwell, Frances Willard, and Clara Barton! All honor to the noble women who have devoted earnest lives to the intellectual and moral needs of mankind!

Susan B. Anthony was of sturdy New England stock, and it was at the foot of Old Greylock, South Adams, Mass., that she gave forth her first rebellious cry. There the baby steps were taken, and at the village school the first stitches were learned, and the A B C duly mastered. When five winters had passed over Susan’s head, there came a time of great domestic commotion, and, in her small way, the child seized the idea that permanence is not the rule of life. The family moved to Battenville, N.Y., where Mr. Anthony became one of the wealthiest men in Washington County. Susan can still recall the stately coldness of the great house–how large the bare rooms, with their yellow-painted floors, seemed, in contrast with her own diminutiveness, and the outlook of the schoolroom where for so many years, with her brothers and sisters, she pursued her studies under private tutors.

Mr. Anthony was a stern Hicksite Quaker. In Susan’s early life he objected on principle to all forms of frivolous amusement, such as music, dancing, or novel reading, while games and even pictures were regarded as meaningless luxuries. Such puritanical convictions might have easily degenerated into mere cant; but underlying all was a broad and firm basis of wholesome respect for individual freedom and a brave adherence to truth. He was a man of good business capacity, and a thorough manager of his wide and lucrative interests. He saw that compensation and not chance ruled in the commercial world, and he believed in the same just, though often severe, law in the sphere of morals. Such a man was not apt to walk humbly in the path mapped out by his religious sect. He early offended by choosing a Baptist for a wife. For this first offense he was “disowned,” and, according to Quaker usage, could only be received into fellowship again by declaring himself “sorry” for his crime in full meeting. He was full of devout thankfulness for the good woman by his side, and destined to be thankful to the very end for this companion, so calm, so just, so far-seeing. He rose in meeting, and said he was “sorry” that the rules of the society were such that, in marrying the woman he loved, he had committed offense! He admitted that he was “sorry” for something, so was taken back into the body of the faithful! But his faith had begun to weaken in many minor points of discipline. His coat soon became a cause of offense and called forth another reproof from those buttoned up in conforming garments. The petty forms of Quakerism began to lose their weight with him altogether, and he was finally disowned for allowing the village youth to be taught dancing in an upper room of his dwelling. He was applied to for this favor on the ground that young men were under great temptation to drink if the lessons were given in the hotel; and, being a rigid temperance man, he readily consented, though his principles, in regard to dancing, would not allow his own sons and daughters to join in the amusement. But the society could accept no such discrimination in what it deemed sin, nor such compromise with worldly frivolity, and so Mr. Anthony was seen no more in meeting. But, in later years, in Rochester he was an attentive listener to Rev. William Henry Channing.

The effect of all this on Susan is the question of interest. No doubt she early weighed the comparative moral effects of coats cut with capes and those cut without, of purely Quaker conjugal love and that deteriorated with Baptist affection. Susan had an earnest soul and a conscience tending to morbidity; but a strong, well-balanced body and simple family life soothed her too active moral nature and gave the world, instead of a religious fanatic, a sincere, concentrated worker. Every household art was taught her by her mother, and so great was her ability that the duty demanding especial care was always given into her hands. But ever, amid school and household tasks, her day-dream was that, in time, she might be a “high-seat” Quaker. Each Sunday, up to the time of the third disobedience, Mr. Anthony went to the Quaker meeting house, some thirteen miles from home, his wife and children usually accompanying him, though, as non-members, they were rigidly excluded from all business discussions. Exclusion was very pleasant in the bright days of summer; but, on one occasion in December, decidedly unpleasant for the seven-year-old Susan. When the blinds were drawn, at the close of the religious meeting, and non-members retired, Susan sat still. Soon she saw a thin old lady with blue goggles come down from the “high seat.” Approaching her, the Quakeress said softly, “Thee is not a member–thee must go out.” “No; my mother told me not to go out in the cold,” was the child’s firm response. “Yes, but thee must go out–thee is not a member.” “But my father is a member.” “Thee is not a member,” and Susan felt as if the spirit was moving her and soon found herself in outer coldness. Fingers and toes becoming numb, and a bright fire in a cottage over the way beckoning warmly to her, the exile from the chapel resolved to seek secular shelter. But alas! she was confronted by a huge dog, and just escaped with whole skin though capeless jacket. We may be sure there was much talk, that night, at the home fireside, and the good Baptist wife declared that no child of hers should attend meeting again till made a member. Thereafter, by request of her father, Susan became a member of the Quaker church.

Later, definite convictions took root in Miss Anthony’s heart. Hers is, indeed, a sincerely religious nature. To be a simple, earnest Quaker was the aspiration of her girlhood; but she shrank from adopting the formal language and plain dress. Dark hours of conflict were spent over all this, and she interpreted her disinclination as evidence of unworthiness. Poor little Susan! As we look back with the knowledge of our later life, we translate the heart-burnings as unconscious protests against labeling your free soul, against testing your reasoning conviction of to-morrow by any shibboleth of to-day’s belief. We hail this child-intuition as a prophecy of the uncompromising truthfulness of the mature woman. Susan Anthony was taught simply that she must enter into the holy of holies of her own self, meet herself, and be true to the revelation. She first found words to express her convictions in listening to Rev. William Henry Channing, whose teaching had a lasting spiritual influence upon her. To-day Miss Anthony is an agnostic. As to the nature of the Godhead and of the life beyond her horizon she does not profess to know anything. Every energy of her soul is centered upon the needs of this world. To her, work is worship. She has not stood aside, shivering in the cold shadows of uncertainty, but has moved on with the whirling world, has done the good given her to do, and thus, in darkest hours, has been sustained by an unfaltering faith in the final perfection of all things. Her belief is not orthodox, but it is religious. In ancient Greece she would have been a Stoic; in the era of the Reformation, a Calvinist; in King Charles’ time, a Puritan; but in this nineteenth century, by the very laws of her being, she is a Reformer.

For the arduous work that awaited Miss Anthony her years of young womanhood had given preparation. Her father, though a man of wealth, made it a matter of conscience to train his girls, as well as his boys, to self-support. Accordingly Susan chose the profession of teacher, and made her first essay during a summer vacation in a school her father had established for the children of his employes. Her success was so marked, not only in imparting knowledge, but also as a disciplinarian, that she followed this career steadily for fifteen years, with the exception of some months given in Philadelphia to her own training. Of the many school rebellions which she overcame, one rises before me, prominent in its ludicrous aspect. This was in the district school at Center Falls, in the year 1839. Bad reports were current there of male teachers driven out by a certain strapping lad. Rumor next told of a Quaker maiden coming to teach–a Quaker maiden of peace principles. The anticipated day and Susan arrived. She looked very meek to the barbarian of fifteen, so he soon began his antics. He was called to the platform, told to lay aside his jacket, and, thereupon, with much astonishment received from the mild Quaker maiden, with a birch rod applied calmly but with precision, an exposition of the _argumentum ad hominem_ based on the _a posteriori_ method of reasoning. Thus Susan departed from her principles, but not from the school.

But, before long, conflicts in the outside world disturbed our young teacher. The multiplication table and spelling book no longer enchained her thoughts; larger questions began to fill her mind. About the year 1850 Susan B. Anthony hid her ferule away. Temperance, anti-slavery, woman suffrage,–three pregnant questions,–presented themselves, demanding her consideration. Higher, ever higher, rose their appeals, until she resolved to dedicate her energy and thought to the burning needs of the hour. Owing to early experience of the disabilities of her sex, the first demand for equal rights for women found echo in Susan’s heart. And, though she was in the beginning startled to hear that women had actually met in convention, and by speeches and resolutions had declared themselves man’s peer in political rights, and had urged radical changes in State constitutions and the whole system of American jurisprudence; yet the most casual review convinced her that these claims were but the logical outgrowth of the fundamental theories of our republic.

At this stage of her development I met my future friend and coadjutor for the first time. How well I remember the day! George Thompson and William Lloyd Garrison having announced an anti-slavery meeting in Seneca Falls, Miss Anthony came to attend it. These gentlemen were my guests. Walking home, after the adjournment, we met Mrs. Bloomer and Miss Anthony on the corner of the street, waiting to greet us. There she stood, with her good, earnest face and genial smile, dressed in gray delaine, hat and all the same color, relieved with pale blue ribbons, the perfection of neatness and sobriety. I liked her thoroughly, and why I did not at once invite her home with me to dinner, I do not know. She accuses me of that neglect, and has never forgiven me, as she wished to see and hear all she could of our noble friends. I suppose my mind was full of what I had heard, or my coming dinner, or the probable behavior of three mischievous boys who had been busily exploring the premises while I was at the meeting.

That I had abundant cause for anxiety in regard to the philosophical experiments these young savages might try the reader will admit, when informed of some of their performances. Henry imagined himself possessed of rare powers of invention (an ancestral weakness for generations), and so made a life preserver of corks, and tested its virtues on his brother, who was about eighteen months old. Accompanied by a troop of expectant boys, the baby was drawn in his carriage to the banks of the Seneca, stripped, the string of corks tied under his arms, and set afloat in the river, the philosopher and his satellites, in a rowboat, watching the experiment. The baby, accustomed to a morning bath in a large tub, splashed about joyfully, keeping his head above water. He was as blue as indigo and as cold as a frog when rescued by his anxious mother. The next day the same victimized infant was seen, by a passing friend, seated on the chimney, on the highest peak of the house. Without alarming anyone, the friend hurried up to the housetop and rescued the child. Another time the three elder brothers entered into a conspiracy, and locked up the fourth, Theodore, in the smoke-house. Fortunately, he sounded the alarm loud and clear, and was set free in safety, whereupon the three were imprisoned in a garret with two barred windows. They summarily kicked out the bars, and, sliding down on the lightning rod, betook themselves to the barn for liberty. The youngest boy, Gerrit, then only five years old, skinned his hands in the descent. This is a fair sample of the quiet happiness I enjoyed in the first years of motherhood.

It was ‘mid such exhilarating scenes that Miss Anthony and I wrote addresses for temperance, anti-slavery, educational, and woman’s rights conventions. Here we forged resolutions, protests, appeals, petitions, agricultural reports, and constitutional arguments; for we made it a matter of conscience to accept every invitation to speak on every question, in order to maintain woman’s right to do so. To this end we took turns on the domestic watchtowers, directing amusements, settling disputes, protecting the weak against the strong, and trying to secure equal rights to all in the home as well as the nation. I can recall many a stern encounter between my friend and the young experimenter. It is pleasant to remember that he never seriously injured any of his victims, and only once came near fatally shooting himself with a pistol. The ball went through his hand; happily a brass button prevented it from penetrating his heart.

It is often said, by those who know Miss Anthony best, that she has been my good angel, always pushing and goading me to work, and that but for her pertinacity I should never have accomplished the little I have. On the other hand it has been said that I forged the thunderbolts and she fired them. Perhaps all this is, in a measure, true. With the cares of a large family I might, in time, like too many women, have become wholly absorbed in a narrow family selfishness, had not my friend been continually exploring new fields for missionary labors. Her description of a body of men on any platform, complacently deciding questions in which woman had an equal interest, without an equal voice, readily roused me to a determination to throw a firebrand into the midst of their assembly.

Thus, whenever I saw that stately Quaker girl coming across my lawn, I knew that some happy convocation of the sons of Adam was to be set by the ears, by one of our appeals or resolutions. The little portmanteau, stuffed with facts, was opened, and there we had what the Rev. John Smith and Hon. Richard Roe had said: false interpretations of Bible texts, the statistics of women robbed of their property, shut out of some college, half paid for their work, the reports of some disgraceful trial; injustice enough to turn any woman’s thoughts from stockings and puddings. Then we would get out our pens and write articles for papers, or a petition to the legislature; indite letters to the faithful, here and there; stir up the women in Ohio, Pennsylvania, or Massachusetts; call on _The Lily, The Una, The Liberator, The Standard_ to remember our wrongs as well as those of the slave. We never met without issuing a pronunciamento on some question. In thought and sympathy we were one, and in the division of labor we exactly complemented each other. In writing we did better work than either could alone. While she is slow and analytical in composition, I am rapid and synthetic. I am the better writer, she the better critic. She supplied the facts and statistics, I the philosophy and rhetoric, and, together, we have made arguments that have stood unshaken through the storms of long years; arguments that no one has answered. Our speeches may be considered the united product of our two brains.

So entirely one are we that, in all our associations, ever side by side on the same platform, not one feeling of envy or jealousy has ever shadowed our lives. We have indulged freely in criticism of each other when alone, and hotly contended whenever we have differed, but in our friendship of years there has never been the break of one hour. To the world we always seem to agree and uniformly reflect each other. Like husband and wife, each has the feeling that we must have no differences in public. Thus united, at an early day we began to survey the state and nation, the future field of our labors. We read, with critical eyes, the proceedings of Congress and legislatures, of general assemblies and synods, of conferences and conventions, and discovered that, in all alike, the existence of woman was entirely ignored.

Night after night, by an old-fashioned fireplace, we plotted and planned the coming agitation; how, when, and where each entering wedge could be driven, by which women might be recognized and their rights secured. Speedily the State was aflame with disturbances in temperance and teachers’ conventions, and the press heralded the news far and near that women delegates had suddenly appeared, demanding admission in men’s conventions; that their rights had been hotly contested session after session, by liberal men on the one side, the clergy and learned professors on the other; an overwhelming majority rejecting the women with terrible anathemas and denunciations. Such battles were fought over and over in the chief cities of many of the Northern States, until the bigotry of men in all the reforms and professions was thoroughly exposed. Every right achieved, to enter a college, to study a profession, to labor in some new industry, or to advocate a reform measure was contended for inch by inch.

Many of those enjoying all these blessings now complacently say, “If these pioneers in reform had only pressed their measures more judiciously, in a more ladylike manner, in more choice language, with a more deferential attitude, the gentlemen could not have behaved so rudely.” I give, in these pages, enough of the characteristics of these women, of the sentiments they expressed, of their education, ancestry, and position to show that no power could have met the prejudice and bigotry of that period more successfully than they did who so bravely and persistently fought and conquered them.

Miss Anthony first carried her flag of rebellion into the State conventions of teachers, and there fought, almost single-handed, the battle for equality. At the close of the first decade she had compelled conservatism to yield its ground so far as to permit women to participate in all debates, deliver essays, vote, and hold honored positions as officers. She labored as sincerely in the temperance movement, until convinced that woman’s moral power amounted to little as a civil agent, until backed by ballot and coined into State law. She still never loses an occasion to defend co-education and prohibition, and solves every difficulty with the refrain, “woman suffrage,” as persistent as the “never more” of Poe’s raven.

CHAPTER XI.

SUSAN B. ANTHONY–_Continued_.

It was in 1852 that anti-slavery, through the eloquent lips of such men as George Thompson, Phillips, and Garrison, first proclaimed to Miss Anthony its pressing financial necessities. To their inspired words she gave answer, four years afterward, by becoming a regularly employed agent in the Anti-slavery Society. For her espoused cause she has always made boldest demands. In the abolition meetings she used to tell each class why it should support the movement financially; invariably calling upon Democrats to give liberally, as the success of the cause would enable them to cease bowing the knee to the slave power.

There is scarce a town, however small, from New York to San Francisco, that has not heard her ringing voice. Who can number the speeches she has made on lyceum platforms, in churches, schoolhouses, halls, barns, and in the open air, with a lumber wagon or a cart for her rostrum? Who can describe the varied audiences and social circles she has cheered and interested? Now we see her on the far-off prairies, entertaining, with sterling common sense, large gatherings of men, women, and children, seated on rough boards in some unfinished building; again, holding public debates in some town with half-fledged editors and clergymen; next, sailing up the Columbia River and, in hot haste to meet some appointment, jolting over the rough mountains of Oregon and Washington; and then, before legislative assemblies, constitutional conventions, and congressional committees, discussing with senators and judges the letter and spirit of constitutional law.

Miss Anthony’s style of speaking is rapid and vehement. In debate she is ready and keen, and she is always equal to an emergency. Many times in traveling with her through the West, especially on our first trip to Kansas and California, we were suddenly called upon to speak to the women assembled at the stations. Filled with consternation, I usually appealed to her to go first; and, without a moment’s hesitation, she could always fill five minutes with some appropriate words and inspire me with thoughts and courage to follow. The climax of these occasions was reached in an institution for the deaf and dumb in Michigan. I had just said to my friend, “There is one comfort in visiting this place; we shall not be asked to speak,” when the superintendent, approaching us, said, “Ladies, the pupils are assembled in the chapel, ready to hear you. I promised to invite you to speak to them as soon as I heard you were in town.” The possibility of addressing such an audience was as novel to Miss Anthony as to me; yet she promptly walked down the aisle to the platform, as if to perform an ordinary duty, while I, half distracted with anxiety, wondering by what process I was to be placed in communication with the deaf and dumb, reluctantly followed. But the manner was simple enough, when illustrated. The superintendent, standing by our side, repeated, in the sign language, what was said as fast as uttered; and by laughter, tears, and applause, the pupils showed that they fully appreciated the pathos, humor, and argument.

One night, crossing the Mississippi at McGregor, Iowa, we were icebound in the middle of the river. The boat was crowded with people, hungry, tired, and cross with the delay. Some gentlemen, with whom we had been talking on the cars, started the cry, “Speech on woman suffrage!” Accordingly, in the middle of the Mississippi River, at midnight, we presented our claims to political representation, and debated the question of universal suffrage until we landed. Our voyagers were quite thankful that we had shortened the many hours, and we equally so at having made several converts and held a convention on the very bosom of the great “Mother of Waters.” Only once in all these wanderings was Miss Anthony taken by surprise, and that was on being asked to speak to the inmates of an insane asylum. “Bless me!” said she, “it is as much as I can do to talk to the sane! What could I say to an audience of lunatics?” Her companion, Virginia L. Minor of St. Louis, replied: “This is a golden moment for you, the first opportunity you have ever had, according to the constitutions, to talk to your ‘peers,’ for is not the right of suffrage denied to ‘idiots, criminals, lunatics, and women’?”

Much curiosity has been expressed as to the love-life of Miss Anthony; but, if she has enjoyed or suffered any of the usual triumphs or disappointments of her sex, she has not yet vouchsafed this information to her biographers. While few women have had more sincere and lasting friendships, or a more extensive correspondence with a large circle of noble men, yet I doubt if one of them can boast of having received from her any exceptional attention. She has often playfully said, when questioned on this point, that she could not consent that the man she loved, described in the Constitution as a white male, native born, American citizen, possessed of the right of self-government, eligible to the office of President of the great Republic, should unite his destinies in marriage with a political slave and pariah. “No, no; when I am crowned with all the rights, privileges, and immunities of a citizen, I may give some consideration to this social institution; but until then I must concentrate all my energies on the enfranchisement of my own sex.” Miss Anthony’s love-life, like her religion, has manifested itself in steadfast, earnest labors for men in general. She has been a watchful and affectionate daughter, sister, friend, and those who have felt the pulsations of her great heart know how warmly it beats for all.

As the custom has long been observed, among married women, of celebrating the anniversaries of their wedding-day, quite properly the initiative has been taken, in late years, of doing honor to the great events in the lives of single women. Being united in closest bonds to her profession, Dr. Harriet K. Hunt of Boston celebrated her twenty-fifth year of faithful services as a physician by giving to her friends and patrons a large reception, which she called her silver wedding. From a feeling of the sacredness of her life work, the admirers of Susan B. Anthony have been moved to mark, by reception and convention, her rapid-flowing years and the passing decades of the suffrage movement. To the most brilliant occasion of this kind, the invitation cards were as follows:

The ladies of the Woman’s Bureau invite you to a reception on Tuesday evening, February 15th, to celebrate the fiftieth birthday of Susan B. Anthony, when her friends will have an opportunity to show their appreciation of her long services in behalf of woman’s emancipation.

No. 49 East 23d St., New York,

February 10, 1870.

Elizabeth B. Phelps,

Anna B. Darling,

Charlotte Beebe Wilbour.

In response to the invitation, the parlors of the bureau were crowded with friends to congratulate Miss Anthony on the happy event, many bringing valuable gifts as an expression of their gratitude. Among other presents were a handsome gold watch and checks to the amount of a thousand dollars. The guests were entertained with music, recitations, the reading of many piquant letters of regret from distinguished people, and witty rhymes written for the occasion by the Cary sisters. Miss Anthony received her guests with her usual straightforward simplicity, and in a few earnest words expressed her thanks for the presents and praises showered upon her. The comments of the leading journals, next day, were highly complimentary, and as genial as amusing. All dwelt on the fact that, at last, a woman had arisen brave enough to assert her right to grow old and openly declare that half a century had rolled over her head.

Of carefully prepared written speeches Miss Anthony has made few; but these, by the high praise they called forth, prove that she can–in spite of her own declaration to the contrary–put her sterling thoughts on paper concisely and effectively. After her exhaustive plea, in 1880, for a Sixteenth Amendment before the Judiciary Committee of the Senate, Senator Edmunds accosted her, as she was leaving the Capitol, and said he neglected to tell her, in the committee room, that she had made an argument, no matter what his personal feelings were as to the conclusions reached, which was unanswerable–an argument, unlike the usual platform oratory given at hearings, suited to a committee of men trained to the law.

It was in 1876 that Miss Anthony gave her much criticised lecture on “Social Purity” in Boston. As to the result she felt very anxious; for the intelligence of New England composed her audience, and it did not still her heart-beats to see, sitting just in front of the platform, her revered friend, William Lloyd Garrison. But surely every fear vanished when she felt the grand old abolitionist’s hand warmly pressing hers, and heard him say that to listen to no one else would he have had courage to leave his sick room, and that he felt fully repaid by her grand speech, which neither in matter nor manner would he have changed in the smallest particular. But into Miss Anthony’s private correspondence one must look for examples of her most effective writing. Verb or substantive is often wanting, but you can always catch the thought, and will ever find it clear and suggestive. It is a strikingly strange dialect, but one that touches, at times, the deepest chords of pathos and humor, and, when stirred by some great event, is highly eloquent.

From being the most ridiculed and mercilessly persecuted woman, Miss Anthony has become the most honored and respected in the nation. Witness the praises of press and people, and the enthusiastic ovations she received on her departure for Europe in 1883. Never were warmer expressions of regret for an absence, nor more sincere prayers for a speedy return, accorded to any American on leaving his native shores. This slow awaking to the character of her services shows the abiding sense of justice in the human soul. Having spent the winter of 1882-83 in Washington, trying to press to a vote the bill for a Sixteenth Amendment before Congress, and the autumn in a vigorous campaign through Nebraska, where a constitutional amendment to enfranchise women had been submitted to the people, she felt the imperative need of an entire change in the current of her thoughts. Accordingly, after one of the most successful conventions ever held at the national capital, and a most flattering ovation in the spacious parlors of the Riggs House, and a large reception in Philadelphia, she sailed for Europe.

Fortunate in being perfectly well during the entire voyage, our traveler received perpetual enjoyment in watching the ever varying sea and sky. To the captain’s merry challenge to find anything so grand as the ocean, she replied, “Yes, these mighty forces in nature do indeed fill me with awe; but this vessel, with deep-buried fires, powerful machinery, spacious decks, and tapering masts, walking the waves like a thing of life, and all the work of man, impresses one still more deeply. Lo! in man’s divine creative power is fulfilled the prophecy, ‘Ye shall be as Gods!'”

In all her journeyings through Germany, Italy, and France, Miss Anthony was never the mere sight-seer, but always the humanitarian and reformer in traveler’s guise. Few of the great masterpieces of art gave her real enjoyment. The keen appreciation of the beauties of sculpture, painting, and architecture, which one would have expected to find in so deep a religious nature, was wanting, warped, no doubt, by her early Quaker training. That her travels gave her more pain than pleasure was, perhaps, not so much that she had no appreciation of aesthetic beauty, but that she quickly grasped the infinitude of human misery; not because her soul did not feel the heights to which art had risen, but that it vibrated in every fiber to the depths to which mankind had fallen. Wandering through a gorgeous palace one day, she exclaimed, “What do you find to admire here? If it were a school of five hundred children being educated into the right of self-government I could admire it, too; but standing for one man’s pleasure, I say no!” In the quarters of one of the devotees, at the old monastery of the Certosa, at Florence, there lies, on a small table, an open book, in which visitors register. On the occasion of Miss Anthony’s visit the pen and ink proved so unpromising that her entire party declined this opportunity to make themselves famous, but she made the rebellious pen inscribe, “Perfect equality for women, civil, political, religious. Susan B. Anthony, U.S.A.” Friends, who visited the monastery next day, reported that lines had been drawn through this heretical sentiment.

During her visit at the home of Mr. and Mrs. Sargent, in Berlin, Miss Anthony quite innocently posted her letters in the official envelopes of our Suffrage Association, which bore the usual mottoes, “No just government can be formed without the consent of the governed,” etc. In a few days an official brought back a large package, saying, “Such sentiments are not allowed to pass through the post office.” Probably nothing saved her from arrest as a socialist, under the tyrannical police regulations, but the fact that she was the guest of the Minister Plenipotentiary of the United States.

My son Theodore wrote of Miss Anthony’s visit in Paris: “I had never before seen her in the role of tourist. She seemed interested only in historical monuments, and in the men and questions of the hour. The galleries of the Louvre had little attraction for her, but she gazed with deep pleasure at Napoleon’s tomb, Notre Dame, and the ruins of the Tuileries. She was always ready to listen to discussions on the political problems before the French people, the prospects of the Republic, the divorce agitation, and the education of women. ‘I had rather see Jules Ferry than all the pictures of the Louvre, Luxembourg, and Salon,’ she remarked at table. A day or two later she saw Ferry at Laboulaye’s funeral. The three things which made the deepest impression on Miss Anthony, during her stay at Paris, were probably the interment of Laboulaye (the friend of the United States and of the woman movement); the touching anniversary demonstration of the Communists, at the Cemetery of Pere La Chaise, on the very spot where the last defenders of the Commune of 1871 were ruthlessly shot and buried in a common grave; and a woman’s rights meeting, held in a little hall in the Rue de Rivoli, at which the brave, far-seeing Mlle. Hubertine Auchet was the leading spirit.”

While on the Continent Miss Anthony experienced the unfortunate sensation of being deaf and dumb; to speak and not to be understood, to hear and not to comprehend, were to her bitter realities. We can imagine to what desperation she was brought when her Quaker prudishness could hail an emphatic oath in English from a French official with the exclamation, “Well, it sounds good to hear someone even swear in old Anglo-Saxon!” After two months of enforced silence, she was buoyant in reaching the British Islands once more, where she could enjoy public speaking and general conversation. Here she was the recipient of many generous social attentions, and, on May 25, a large public meeting of representative people, presided over by Jacob Bright, was called, in our honor, by the National Association of Great Britain. She spoke on the educational and political status of women in America, I of their religious and social position.

Before closing my friend’s biography I shall trace two golden threads in this closely woven life of incident. One of the greatest services rendered by Miss Anthony to the suffrage cause was in casting a vote in the Presidential election of 1872, in order to test the rights of women under the Fourteenth Amendment. For this offense the brave woman was arrested, on Thanksgiving Day, the national holiday handed down to us by Pilgrim Fathers escaped from England’s persecutions. She asked for a writ of habeas corpus. The writ being flatly refused, in January, 1873, her counsel gave bonds. The daring defendant finding, when too late, that this not only kept her out of jail, but her case out of the Supreme Court of the United States, regretfully determined to fight on, and gain the uttermost by a decision in the United States Circuit Court. Her trial was set down for the Rochester term in May. Quickly she canvassed the whole county, laying before every probable juror the strength of her case. When the time for the trial arrived, the District Attorney, fearing the result, if the decision were left to a jury drawn from Miss Anthony’s enlightened county, transferred the trial to the Ontario County term, in June, 1873.

It was now necessary to instruct the citizens of another county. In this task Miss Anthony received valuable assistance from Matilda Joslyn Gage; and, to meet all this new expense, financial aid was generously given, unsolicited, by Thomas Wentworth Higginson, Gerrit Smith, and other sympathizers. But in vain was every effort; in vain the appeal of Miss Anthony to her jurors; in vain the moral influence of the leading representatives of the bar of Central New York filling the courtroom, for Judge Hunt, without precedent to sustain him, declaring it a case of law and not of fact, refused to give the case to the jury, reserving to himself final decision. Was it not an historic scene which was enacted there in that little courthouse in Canandaigua? All the inconsistencies were embodied in that Judge, punctilious in manner, scrupulous in attire, conscientious in trivialities, and obtuse on great principles, fitly described by Charles O’Conor–“A very ladylike Judge.” Behold him sitting there, balancing all the niceties of law and equity in his Old World scales, and at last saying, “The prisoner will stand up.” Whereupon the accused arose. “The sentence of the court is that you pay a fine of one hundred dollars and the costs of the prosecution.” Then the unruly defendant answers: “May it please your Honor, I shall never pay a dollar of your unjust penalty,” and more to the same effect, all of which she has lived up to. The “ladylike” Judge had gained some insight into the determination of the prisoner; so, not wishing to incarcerate her to all eternity, he added gently: “Madam, the court will not order you committed until the fine is paid.”

It was on the 17th of June that the verdict was given. On that very day, a little less than a century before, the brave militia was driven back at Bunker Hill–back, back, almost wiped out; yet truth was in their ranks, and justice, too. But how ended that rebellion of weak colonists? The cause of American womanhood, embodied for the moment in the liberty of a single individual, received a rebuff on June 17, 1873; but, just as surely as our Revolutionary heroes were in the end victorious, so will the inalienable rights of our heroines of the nineteenth century receive final vindication.

In his speech of 1880, before the Phi Beta Kappa Society at Harvard, Wendell Phillips said–what as a rule is true–that “a reformer, to be conscientious, must be free from bread-winning.” I will open Miss Anthony’s accounts and show that this reformer, being, perhaps, the exception which proves the rule, has been consistently and conscientiously in debt. Turning over her year-books the pages give a fair record up to 1863. Here began the first herculean labor. The Woman’s Loyal League, sadly in need of funds, was not an incorporated association, so its secretary assumed the debts. Accounts here became quite lamentable, the deficit reaching five thousand dollars. It must be paid, and, in fact, will be paid. Anxious, weary hours were spent in crowding the Cooper Institute, from week to week, with paying audiences, to listen to such men as Phillips, Curtis, and Douglass, who contributed their services, and lifted the secretary out of debt. At last, after many difficulties, her cash-book of 1863 was honorably pigeon-holed. In 1867 we can read account of herculean labor the second. Twenty thousand tracts are needed to convert the voters of Kansas to woman suffrage. Traveling expenses to Kansas, and the tracts, make the debtor column overreach the creditor some two thousand dollars. There is recognition on these pages of more than one thousand dollars obtained by soliciting advertisements, but no note is made of the weary, burning July days spent in the streets of New York to procure this money, nor of the ready application of the savings made by petty economies from her salary from the Hovey Committee.

It would have been fortunate for my brave friend, if cash-books 1868, 1869, and 1870 had never come down from their shelves; for they sing and sing, in notes of debts, till all unite in one vast chorus of far more than ten thousand dollars. These were the days of the _Revolution_, the newspaper, not the war, though it was warfare for the debt-ridden manager. Several thousand dollars she paid with money earned by lecturing, and with money given her for personal use. One Thanksgiving was, in truth, a time for returning thanks; for she received, canceled, from her cousin, Anson Lapham, her note for four thousand dollars. After the funeral of Paulina Wright Davis, the bereaved widower pressed into Miss Anthony’s hand canceled notes for five hundred dollars, bearing on the back the words, “In memory of my beloved wife.” One other note was canceled in recognition of her perfect forgetfulness of self-interest and ready sacrifice to the needs of others. When laboring, in 1874, to fill every engagement, in order to meet her debts, her mother’s sudden illness called her home. Without one selfish regret, the anxious daughter hastened to Rochester. When recovery was certain, and Miss Anthony was about to return to her fatiguing labors, her mother gave her, at parting, her note for a thousand dollars, on which was written, in trembling lines, “In just consideration of the tender sacrifice made to nurse me in severe illness.” At last all the _Revolution_ debt was paid, except that due to her generous sister, Mary Anthony, who used often humorously to assure her she was a fit subject for the bankrupt act.

There is something humorously pathetic in the death of the _Revolution_–that firstborn of Miss Anthony. Mrs. Laura Curtis Bullard generously assumed the care of the troublesome child, and, in order to make the adoption legal, gave the usual consideration–one dollar. The very night of the transfer Miss Anthony went to Rochester with the dollar in her pocket, and the little change left after purchasing her ticket. She arrived safely with her debts, but nothing more–her pocket had been picked! Oh, thief, could you but know what value of faithful work you purloined!

From the close of the year 1876 Miss Anthony’s accounts showed favorable signs as to the credit column. Indeed, at the end of five years there was a solid balance of several thousand dollars earned on lecturing tours. But alas! the accounts grow dim again–in fact the credit column fades away. “The History of Woman Suffrage” ruthlessly swallowed up every vestige of Miss Anthony’s bank account. But, in 1886, by the will of Mrs. Eddy, daughter of Francis Jackson of Boston, Miss Anthony received twenty-four thousand dollars for the Woman’s Suffrage Movement, which lifted her out of debt once more.

In vain will you search these telltale books for evidence of personal extravagance; for, although Miss Anthony thinks it true economy to buy the best, her tastes are simple. Is there not something very touching in the fact that she never bought a book or picture for her own enjoyment? The meager personal balance-sheets show four lapses from discipline,–lapses that she even now regards as ruthless extravagance,–viz.: the purchase of two inexpensive brooches, a much needed watch, and a pair of cuffs to match a point-lace collar presented by a friend. Those interested in Miss Anthony’s personal appearance long ago ceased to trust her with the purchase-money for any ornament; for, however firm her resolution to comply with their wish, the check invariably found its way to the credit column of those little cash-books as “money received for the cause.” Now, reader, you have been admitted to a private view of Miss Anthony’s financial records, and you can appreciate her devotion to an idea. Do you not agree with me that a “bread-winner” can be a conscientious reformer?

In finishing this sketch of the most intimate friend I have had for the past forty-five years,–with whom I have spent weeks and months under the same roof,–I can truly say that she is the most upright, courageous, self-sacrificing, magnanimous human being I have ever known. I have seen her beset on every side with the most petty annoyances, ridiculed and misrepresented, slandered and persecuted; I have known women refuse to take her extended hand; women to whom she presented copies of “The History of Woman Suffrage,” return it unnoticed; others to keep it without one word of acknowledgment; others to write most insulting letters in answer to hers of affectionate conciliation. And yet, under all the cross-fires incident to a reform, never has her hope flagged, her self-respect wavered, or a feeling of resentment shadowed her mind. Oftentimes, when I have been sorely discouraged, thinking that the prolonged struggle was a waste of force which in other directions might be rich in achievement, with her sublime faith in humanity, she would breathe into my soul renewed inspiration, saying, “Pity rather than blame those who persecute us.” So closely interwoven have been our lives, our purposes, and experiences that, separated, we have a feeling of incompleteness–united, such strength of self-assertion that no ordinary obstacles, difficulties, or dangers ever appear to us insurmountable. Reviewing the life of Susan B. Anthony, I ever liken her to the Doric column in Grecian architecture, so simply, so grandly she stands, free from every extraneous ornament, supporting her one vast idea–the enfranchisement of woman.

As our estimate of ourselves and our friendship may differ somewhat from that taken from an objective point of view, I will give an extract from what our common friend Theodore Tilton wrote of us in 1868:

“Miss Susan B. Anthony, a well-known, indefatigable, and lifelong advocate of temperance, anti-slavery, and woman’s rights, has been, since 1851, Mrs. Stanton’s intimate associate in reformatory labors. These celebrated women are of about equal age, but of the most opposite characteristics, and illustrate the theory of counterparts in affection by entertaining for each other a friendship of extraordinary strength.

“Mrs. Stanton is a fine writer, but a poor executant; Miss Anthony is a thorough manager, but a poor writer. Both have large brains and great hearts; neither has any selfish ambition for celebrity; but each vies with the other in a noble enthusiasm for the cause to which they are devoting their lives.

“Nevertheless, to describe them critically, I ought to say that, opposites though they be, each does not so much supplement the other’s deficiencies as augment the other’s eccentricities. Thus they often stimulate each other’s aggressiveness, and, at the same time, diminish each other’s discretion.

“But, whatever may be the imprudent utterances of the one or the impolitic methods of the other, the animating motives of both are evermore as white as the light. The good that they do is by design; the harm by accident. These two women, sitting together in their parlors, have, for the last thirty years, been diligent forgers of all manner of projectiles, from fireworks to thunderbolts, and have hurled them with unexpected explosion into the midst of all manner of educational, reformatory, religious, and political assemblies; sometimes to the pleasant surprise and half welcome of the members, more often to the bewilderment and prostration of numerous victims; and, in a few signal instances, to the gnashing of angry men’s teeth. I know of no two more pertinacious incendiaries in the whole country. Nor will they, themselves deny the charge. In fact this noise-making twain are the two sticks of a drum, keeping up what Daniel Webster called ‘The rub-a-dub of agitation.'”

CHAPTER XII.

MY FIRST SPEECH BEFORE A LEGISLATURE.

Women had been willing so long to hold a subordinate position, both in private and public affairs, that a gradually growing feeling of rebellion among them quite exasperated the men, and their manifestations of hostility in public meetings were often as ridiculous as humiliating.

True, those gentlemen were all quite willing that women should join their societies and churches to do the drudgery; to work up the enthusiasm in fairs and revivals, conventions and flag presentations; to pay a dollar apiece into their treasury for the honor of being members of their various organizations; to beg money for the Church; to circulate petitions from door to door; to visit saloons; to pray with or defy rumsellers; to teach school at half price, and sit round the outskirts of a hall, in teachers’ State conventions, like so many wallflowers; but they would not allow them to sit on the platform, address the assembly, or vote for men and measures.

Those who had learned the first lessons of human rights from the lips of Henry B. Stanton, Samuel J. May, and Gerrit Smith would not accept any such position. When women abandoned the temperance reform, all interest in the question gradually died out in the State, and practically nothing was done in New York for nearly twenty years. Gerrit Smith made one or two attempts toward an “anti-dramshop” party, but, as women could not vote, they felt no interest in the measure, and failure was the result.

I soon convinced Miss Anthony that the ballot was the key to the situation; that when we had a voice in the laws we should be welcome to any platform. In turning the intense earnestness and religious enthusiasm of this great-souled woman into this channel, I soon felt the power of my convert in goading me forever forward to more untiring work. Soon fastened, heart to heart, with hooks of steel in a friendship that years of confidence and affection have steadily strengthened, we have labored faithfully together.

From the year 1850 conventions were held in various States, and their respective legislatures were continually besieged; New York was thoroughly canvassed by Miss Anthony and others. Appeals, calls for meetings, and petitions were circulated without number. In 1854 I prepared my first speech for the New York legislature. That was a great event in my life. I felt so nervous over it, lest it should not be worthy the occasion, that Miss Anthony suggested that I should slip up to Rochester and submit it to the Rev. William Henry Channing, who was preaching there at that time. I did so, and his opinion was so favorable as to the merits of my speech that I felt quite reassured. My father felt equally nervous when he saw, by the Albany _Evening Journal_, that I was to speak at the Capitol, and asked me to read my speech to him also. Accordingly, I stopped at Johnstown on my way to Albany, and, late one evening, when he was alone in his office, I entered and took my seat on the opposite side of his table. On no occasion, before or since, was I ever more embarrassed–an audience of one, and that the one of all others whose approbation I most desired, whose disapproval I most feared. I knew he condemned the whole movement, and was deeply grieved at the active part I had taken. Hence I was fully aware that I was about to address a wholly unsympathetic audience. However, I began, with a dogged determination to give all the power I could to my manuscript, and not to be discouraged or turned from my purpose by any tender appeals or adverse criticisms. I described the widow in the first hours of her grief, subject to the intrusions of the coarse minions of the law, taking inventory of the household goods, of the old armchair in which her loved one had breathed his last, of the old clock in the corner that told the hour he passed away. I threw all the pathos I could into my voice and language at this point, and, to my intense satisfaction, I saw tears filling my father’s eyes. I cannot express the exultation I felt, thinking that now he would see, with my eyes, the injustice women suffered under the laws he understood so well.

Feeling that I had touched his heart I went on with renewed confidence, and, when I had finished, I saw he was thoroughly magnetized. With beating heart I waited for him to break the silence. He was evidently deeply pondering over all he had heard, and did not speak for a long time. I believed I had opened to him a new world of thought. He had listened long to the complaints of women, but from the lips of his own daughter they had come with a deeper pathos and power. At last, turning abruptly, he said: “Surely you have had a happy, comfortable life, with all your wants and needs supplied; and yet that speech fills me with self-reproach; for one might naturally ask, how can a young woman, tenderly brought up, who has had no bitter personal experience, feel so keenly the wrongs of her sex? Where did you learn this lesson?” “I learned it here,” I replied, “in your office, when a child, listening to the complaints women made to you. They who have sympathy and imagination to make the sorrows of others their own can readily learn all the hard lessons of life from the experience of others.” “Well, well!” he said, “you have made your points clear and strong; but I think I can find you even more cruel laws than those you have quoted.” He suggested some improvements in my speech, looked up other laws, and it was one o’clock in the morning before we kissed each other good-night. How he felt on the question after that I do not know, as he never said anything in favor of or against it. He gladly gave me any help I needed, from time to time, in looking up the laws, and was very desirous that whatever I gave to the public should be carefully prepared.

Miss Anthony printed twenty thousand copies of this address, laid it on the desk of every member of the legislature, both in the Assembly and Senate, and, in her travels that winter, she circulated it throughout the State. I am happy to say I never felt so anxious about the fate of a speech since.

The first woman’s convention in Albany was held at this time, and we had a kind of protracted meeting for two weeks after. There were several hearings before both branches of the legislature, and a succession of meetings in Association Hall, in which Phillips, Channing, Ernestine L. Rose, Antoinette L. Brown, and Susan B. Anthony took part. Being at the capital of the State, discussion was aroused at every fireside, while the comments of the press were numerous and varied. Every little country paper had something witty or silly to say about the uprising of the “strong-minded.” Those editors whose heads were about the size of an apple were the most opposed to the uprising of women, illustrating what Sidney Smith said long ago: “There always was, and there always will be a class of men so small that, if women were educated, there would be nobody left below them.” Poor human nature loves to have something to look down upon!

Here is a specimen of the way such editors talked at that time. The _Albany Register_, in an article on “Woman’s Rights in the Legislature,” dated March 7, 1854, says:

“While the feminine propagandists of women’s rights confined themselves to the exhibition of short petticoats and long-legged boots, and to the holding of conventions and speech-making in concert rooms, the people were disposed to be amused by them, as they are by the wit of the clown in the circus, or the performances of Punch and Judy on fair days, or the minstrelsy of gentlemen with blackened faces, on banjos, the tambourine, and bones. But the joke is becoming stale. People are getting cloyed with these performances, and are looking for some healthier and more intellectual amusement. The ludicrous is wearing away, and disgust is taking the place of pleasurable sensations, arising from the novelty of this new phase of hypocrisy and infidel fanaticism.

“People are beginning to inquire how far public sentiment should sanction or tolerate these unsexed women, who would step out from the true sphere of the mother, the wife, and the daughter, and taking upon themselves the duties and the business of men, stalk into the public gaze, and, by engaging in the politics, the rough controversies and trafficking of the world, upheave existing institutions, and overrun all the social relations of life.

“It is a melancholy reflection that, among our American women, who have been educated to better things, there should be found any who are willing to follow the lead of such foreign propagandists as the ringleted, gloved exotic, Ernestine L. Rose. We can understand how such a man as the Rev. Mr. May, or the sleek-headed Dr. Channing, may be deluded by her into becoming one of her disciples. They are not the first instances of infatuation that may overtake weak-minded men, if they are honest in their devotion to her and her doctrines; nor would they be the first examples of a low ambition that seeks notoriety as a substitute for true fame, if they are dishonest. Such men there are always, and, honest or dishonest, their true position is that of being tied to the apron strings of some strong-minded woman, and to be exhibited as rare specimens of human wickedness or human weakness and folly. But that one educated American should become her disciple and follow her insane teachings is a marvel.”

When we see the abuse and ridicule to which the best of men were subjected for standing on our platform in the early days, we need not wonder that so few have been brave enough to advocate our cause in later years, either in conventions or in the halls of legislation.

After twelve added years of agitation, following the passage of the Property Bill, New York conceded other civil rights to married women. Pending the discussion of these various bills, Susan B. Anthony circulated petitions, both for the civil and political rights of women, throughout the State, traveling in stage coaches, open wagons, and sleighs in all seasons, and on foot, from door to door through towns and cities, doing her uttermost to rouse women to some sense of their natural rights as human beings, and to their civil and political rights as citizens of a republic. And while expending her time, strength, and money to secure these blessings for the women of the State, they would gruffly tell her that they had all the rights they wanted, or rudely shut the door in her face; leaving her to stand outside, petition in hand, treating her with as much contempt as if she was asking alms for herself. None but those who did that work in the early days, for the slaves and the women, can ever know the hardships and humiliations that were endured. But it was done because it was only through petitions–a power seemingly so inefficient–that disfranchised classes could be heard in the State and National councils; hence their importance.

The frivolous objections some women made to our appeals were as exasperating as they were ridiculous. To reply to them politely, at all times, required a divine patience. On one occasion, after addressing the legislature, some of the ladies, in congratulating me, inquired, in a deprecating tone, “What do you do with your children?” “Ladies,” I said, “it takes me no longer to speak, than you to listen; what have you done with your children the two hours you have been sitting here? But, to answer your question, I never leave my children to go to Saratoga, Washington, Newport, or Europe, or even to come here. They are, at this moment, with a faithful nurse at the Delevan House, and, having accomplished my mission, we shall all return home together.”

When my children reached the magic number of seven, my good angel, Susan B. Anthony, would sometimes take one or two of them to her own quiet home, just out of Rochester, where, on a well-cultivated little farm, one could enjoy uninterrupted rest and the choicest fruits of the season. That was always a safe harbor for my friend, as her family sympathized fully in the reforms to which she gave her life. I have many pleasant memories of my own flying visits to that hospitable Quaker home and the broad catholic spirit of Daniel and Lucy Anthony. Whatever opposition and ridicule their daughter endured elsewhere, she enjoyed the steadfast sympathy and confidence of her own home circle. Her faithful sister Mary, a most successful teacher in the public schools of Rochester for a quarter of a century, and a good financier, who with her patrimony and salary had laid by a competence, took on her shoulders double duty at home in cheering the declining years of her parents, that Susan might do the public work in the reforms in which they were equally interested. Now, with life’s earnest work nearly accomplished, the sisters are living happily together; illustrating another of the many charming homes of single women, so rapidly multiplying of late.

Miss Anthony, who was a frequent guest at my home, sometimes stood guard when I was absent. The children of our household say that among their earliest recollections is the tableau of “Mother and Susan,” seated by a large table covered with books and papers, always writing and talking about the Constitution, interrupted with occasional visits from others of the faithful. Hither came Elizabeth Oakes Smith, Paulina Wright Davis, Frances Dana Gage, Dr. Harriet Hunt, Rev. Antoinette Brown, Lucy Stone, and Abby Kelly, until all these names were as familiar as household words to the children.

Martha C. Wright of Auburn was a frequent visitor at the center of the rebellion, as my sequestered cottage on Locust Hill was facetiously called. She brought to these councils of war not only her own wisdom, but that of the wife and sister of William H. Seward, and sometimes encouraging suggestions from the great statesman himself, from whose writings we often gleaned grand and radical sentiments. Lucretia Mott, too, being an occasional guest of her sister, Martha C. Wright, added the dignity of her presence at many of these important consultations. She was uniformly in favor of toning down our fiery pronunciamentos. For Miss Anthony and myself, the English language had no words strong enough to express the indignation we felt at the prolonged injustice to women. We found, however, that, after expressing ourselves in the most vehement manner and thus in a measure giving our feelings an outlet, we were reconciled to issue the documents in milder terms. If the men of the State could have known the stern rebukes, the denunciations, the wit, the irony, the sarcasm that were garnered there, and then judiciously pigeonholed and milder and more persuasive appeals substituted, they would have been truly thankful that they fared no worse.

Senator Seward frequently left Washington to visit in our neighborhood, at the house of Judge G.V. Sackett, a man of wealth and political influence. One of the Senator’s standing anecdotes, at dinner, to illustrate the purifying influence of women at the polls, which he always told with great zest for my especial benefit, was in regard to the manner in which his wife’s sister exercised the right of suffrage.

He said: “Mrs. Worden having the supervision of a farm near Auburn, was obliged to hire two or three men for its cultivation. It was her custom, having examined them as to their capacity to perform the required labor, their knowledge of tools, horses, cattle, and horticulture, to inquire as to their politics. She informed them that, being a widow and having no one to represent her, she must have Republicans to do her voting and to represent her political opinions, and it always so happened that the men who offered their services belonged to the Republican party. I remarked to her, one day, ‘Are you sure your men vote as they promise?’ ‘Yes,’ she replied, ‘I trust nothing to their discretion. I take them in my carriage within sight of the polls and put them in charge of some Republican who can be trusted. I see that they have the right tickets and then I feel sure that I am faithfully represented, and I know I am right in so doing. I have neither husband, father, nor son; I am responsible for my own taxes; am amenable to all the laws of the State; must pay the penalty of my own crimes if I commit any; hence I have the right, according to the principles of our government, to representation, and so long as I am not permitted to vote in person, I have a right to do so by proxy; hence I hire men to vote my principles.'”

These two sisters, Mrs. Worden and Mrs. Seward, daughters of Judge Miller, an influential man, were women of culture and remarkable natural intelligence, and interested in all progressive ideas. They had rare common sense and independence of character, great simplicity of manner, and were wholly indifferent to the little arts of the toilet.

I was often told by fashionable women that they objected to the woman’s rights movement because of the publicity of a convention, the immodesty of speaking from a platform, and the trial of seeing one’s name in the papers. Several ladies made such remarks to me one day, as a bevy of us were sitting together in one of the fashionable hotels in Newport. We were holding a convention there at that time, and some of them had been present at one of the sessions. “Really,” said I, “ladies, you surprise me; our conventions are not as public as the ballroom where I saw you all dancing last night. As to modesty, it may be a question, in many minds, whether it is less modest to speak words of soberness and truth, plainly dressed on a platform, than gorgeously arrayed, with bare arms and shoulders, to waltz in the arms of strange gentlemen. And as to the press, I noticed you all reading, in this morning’s papers, with evident satisfaction, the personal compliments and full descriptions of your dresses at the last ball. I presume that any one of you would have felt slighted if your name had not been mentioned in the general description. When my name is mentioned, it is in connection with some great reform movement. Thus we all suffer or enjoy the same publicity–we are alike ridiculed. Wise men pity and ridicule you, and fools pity and ridicule me–you as the victims of folly and fashion, me as the representative of many of the disagreeable ‘isms’ of the age, as they choose to style liberal opinions. It is amusing, in analyzing prejudices, to see on what slender foundation they rest.” And the ladies around me were so completely cornered that no one attempted an answer.

I remember being at a party at Secretary Seward’s home, at Auburn, one evening, when Mr. Burlingame, special ambassador from China to the United States, with a Chinese delegation, were among the guests. As soon as the dancing commenced, and young ladies and gentlemen, locked in each other’s arms, began to whirl in the giddy waltz, these Chinese gentlemen were so shocked that they covered their faces with their fans, occasionally peeping out each side and expressing their surprise to each other. They thought us the most immodest women on the face of the earth. Modesty and taste are questions of latitude and education; the more people know,–the more their ideas are expanded by travel, experience, and observation,–the less easily they are shocked. The narrowness and bigotry of women are the result of their circumscribed sphere of thought and action.

A few years after Judge Hurlbert had published his work on “Human Rights,” in which he advocated woman’s right to the suffrage, and I had addressed the legislature, we met at a dinner party in Albany. Senator and Mrs. Seward were there. The Senator was very merry on that occasion and made Judge Hurlbert and myself the target for all his ridicule on the woman’s rights question, in which the most of the company joined, so that we stood quite alone. Sure that we had the right on our side and the arguments clearly defined in our minds, and both being cool and self-possessed, and in wit and sarcasm quite equal to any of them, we fought the Senator, inch by inch, until he had a very narrow platform to stand on. Mrs. Seward maintained an unbroken silence, while those ladies who did open their lips were with the opposition, supposing, no doubt, that Senator Seward represented his wife’s opinions.

When we ladies withdrew from the table my embarrassment may be easily imagined. Separated from the Judge, I would now be an hour with a bevy of ladies who evidently felt repugnance to all my most cherished opinions. It was the first time I had met Mrs. Seward, and I did not then know the broad, liberal tendencies of her mind. What a tide of disagreeable thoughts rushed through me in that short passage from the dining room to the parlor. How gladly I would have glided out the front door! But that was impossible, so I made up my mind to stroll round as if self-absorbed, and look at the books and paintings until the Judge appeared; as I took it for granted that, after all I had said at the table on the political, religious, and social equality of women, not a lady would have anything to say to me.

Imagine, then, my surprise when, the moment the parlor door was closed upon us, Mrs. Seward, approaching me most affectionately, said:

“Let me thank you for the brave words you uttered at the dinner table, and for your speech before the legislature, that thrilled my soul as I read it over and over.”

I was filled with joy and astonishment. Recovering myself, I said, “Is it possible, Mrs. Seward, that you agree with me? Then why, when I was so hard pressed by foes on every side, did you not come to the defense? I supposed that all you ladies were hostile to every one of my ideas on this question.”

“No, no!” said she; “I am with you thoroughly, but I am a born coward; there is nothing I dread more than Mr. Seward’s ridicule. I would rather walk up to the cannon’s mouth than encounter it.” “I, too, am with you,” “And I,” said two or three others, who had been silent at the table.

I never had a more serious, heartfelt conversation than with these ladies. Mrs. Seward’s spontaneity and earnestness had moved them all deeply, and when the Senator appeared the first words he said were:

“Before we part I must confess that I was fairly vanquished by you and the Judge, on my own principles” (for we had quoted some of his most radical utterances). “You have the argument, but custom and prejudice are against you, and they are stronger than truth and logic.”

CHAPTER XIII.

REFORMS AND MOBS.

There was one bright woman among the many in our Seneca Falls literary circle to whom I would give more than a passing notice–Mrs. Amelia Bloomer, who represented three novel phases of woman’s life. She was assistant postmistress; an editor of a reform paper advocating temperance and woman’s rights; and an advocate of the new costume which bore her name!

In 1849 her husband was appointed postmaster, and she became his deputy, was duly sworn in, and, during the administration of Taylor and Fillmore, served in that capacity. When she assumed her duties the improvement in the appearance and conduct of the office was generally acknowledged. A neat little room adjoining the public office became a kind of ladies’ exchange, where those coming from different parts of the town could meet to talk over the news of the day and read the papers and magazines that came to Mrs. Bloomer as editor of the _Lily_. Those who enjoyed the brief reign of a woman in the post office can readily testify to the void felt by the ladies of the village when Mrs. Bloomer’s term expired and a man once more reigned in her stead. However, she still edited the _Lily_, and her office remained a fashionable center for several years. Although she wore the bloomer dress, its originator was Elizabeth Smith Miller, the only daughter of Gerrit Smith. In the winter of 1852 Mrs. Miller came to visit me in Seneca Falls, dressed somewhat in the Turkish style–short skirt, full trousers of fine black broadcloth; a Spanish cloak, of the same material, reaching to the knee; beaver hat and feathers and dark furs; altogether a most becoming costume and exceedingly convenient for walking in all kinds of weather. To see my cousin, with a lamp in one hand and a baby in the other, walk upstairs with ease and grace, while, with flowing robes, I pulled myself up with difficulty, lamp and baby out of the question, readily convinced me that there was sore need of reform in woman’s dress, and I promptly donned a similar attire. What incredible freedom I enjoyed for two years! Like a captive set free from his ball and chain, I was always ready for a brisk walk through sleet and snow and rain, to climb a mountain, jump over a fence, work in the garden, and, in fact, for any necessary locomotion.

Bloomer is now a recognized word in the English language. Mrs. Bloomer, having the _Lily_ in which to discuss the merits of the new dress, the press generally took up the question, and much valuable information was elicited on the physiological results of woman’s fashionable attire; the crippling effect of tight waists and long skirts, the heavy weight on the hips, and high heels, all combined to throw the spine out of plumb and lay the foundation for all manner of nervous diseases. But, while all agreed that some change was absolutely necessary for the health of women, the press stoutly ridiculed those who were ready to make the experiment.

A few sensible women, in different parts of the country, adopted the costume, and farmers’ wives especially proved its convenience. It was also worn by skaters, gymnasts, tourists, and in sanitariums. But, while the few realized its advantages, the many laughed it to scorn, and heaped such ridicule on its wearers that they soon found that the physical freedom enjoyed did not compensate for the persistent persecution and petty annoyances suffered at every turn. To be rudely gazed at in public and private, to be the conscious subjects of criticism, and to be followed by crowds of boys in the streets, were all, to the very last degree, exasperating. A favorite doggerel that our tormentors chanted, when we appeared in public places, ran thus:

“Heigh! ho! in rain and snow,
The bloomer now is all the go.
Twenty tailors take the stitches, Twenty women wear the breeches.
Heigh! ho! in rain or snow,
The bloomer now is all the go.”

The singers were generally invisible behind some fence or attic window. Those who wore the dress can recall countless amusing and annoying experiences. The patience of most of us was exhausted in about two years; but our leader, Mrs. Miller, bravely adhered to the costume for nearly seven years, under the most trying circumstances. While her father was in Congress, she wore it at many fashionable dinners and receptions in Washington. She was bravely sustained, however, by her husband, Colonel Miller, who never flinched in escorting his wife and her coadjutors, however inartistic their costumes might be. To tall, gaunt women with large feet and to those who were short and stout, it was equally trying. Mrs. Miller was also encouraged by the intense feeling of her father on the question of woman’s dress. To him the whole revolution in woman’s position turned on her dress. The long skirt was the symbol of her degradation.

The names of those who wore the bloomer costume, besides those already mentioned, were Paulina Wright Davis, Lucy Stone, Susan B. Anthony, Sarah and Angelina Grimke, Mrs. William Burleigh, Celia Burleigh, Charlotte Beebe Wilbour, Helen Jarvis, Lydia Jenkins, Amelia Willard, Dr. Harriet N. Austin, and many patients in sanitariums, whose names I cannot recall. Looking back to this experiment, I am not surprised at the hostility of men in general to the dress, as it made it very uncomfortable for them to go anywhere with those who wore it. People would stare, many men and women make rude remarks, boys followed in crowds, with jeers and laughter, so that gentlemen in attendance would feel it their duty to show fight, unless they had sufficient self-control to pursue the even tenor of their way, as the ladies themselves did, without taking the slightest notice of the commotion they created. But Colonel Miller went through the ordeal with coolness and dogged determination, to the vexation of his acquaintances, who thought one of his duties as a husband was to prescribe his wife’s costume.

Though we did not realize the success we hoped for by making the dress popular, yet the effort was not lost. We were well aware that the dress was not artistic, and though we made many changes, our own good taste was never satisfied until we threw aside the loose trousers and adopted buttoned leggins. After giving up the experiment, we found that the costume in which Diana the Huntress is represented, and that worn on the stage by Ellen Tree in the play of “Ion,” would have been more artistic and convenient. But we, who had made the experiment, were too happy to move about unnoticed and unknown, to risk, again, the happiness of ourselves and our friends by any further experiments. I have never wondered since that the Chinese women allow their daughters’ feet to be encased in iron shoes, nor that the Hindoo widows walk calmly to the funeral pyre; for great are the penalties of those who dare resist the behests of the tyrant Custom.

Nevertheless the agitation has been kept up, in a mild form, both in England and America. Lady Harberton, in 1885, was at the head of an organized movement in London to introduce the bifurcated skirt; Mrs. Jenness Miller, in this country, is making an entire revolution in every garment that belongs to a woman’s toilet; and common-sense shoemakers have vouchsafed to us, at last, a low, square heel to our boots and a broad sole in which the five toes can spread themselves at pleasure. Evidently a new day of physical freedom is at last dawning for the most cribbed and crippled of Eve’s unhappy daughters.

It was while living in Seneca Falls, and at one of the most despairing periods of my young life, that one of the best gifts of the gods came to me in the form of a good, faithful housekeeper. She was indeed a treasure, a friend and comforter, a second mother to my children, and understood all life’s duties and gladly bore its burdens. She could fill any department in domestic life, and for thirty years was the joy of our household. But for this noble, self-sacrificing woman, much of my public work would have been quite impossible. If by word or deed I have made the journey of life easier for any struggling soul, I must in justice share the meed of praise accorded me with my little Quaker friend Amelia Willard.

There are two classes of housekeepers–one that will get what they want, if in the range of human possibilities, and then accept the inevitable inconveniences with cheerfulness and heroism; the other, from a kind of chronic inertia and a fear of taking responsibility, accept everything as they find it, though with gentle, continuous complainings. The latter are called amiable women. Such a woman was our congressman’s wife in 1854, and, as I was the reservoir of all her sorrows, great and small, I became very weary of her amiable non-resistance. Among other domestic trials, she had a kitchen stove that smoked and leaked, which could neither bake nor broil,–a worthless thing,–and too small for any purpose. Consequently half their viands were spoiled in the cooking, and the cooks left in disgust, one after another.

In telling me, one day, of these kitchen misadventures, she actually shed tears, which so roused my sympathies that, with surprise, I exclaimed: “Why do you not buy a new stove?” To my unassisted common sense that seemed the most practical thing to do. “Why,” she replied, “I have never purchased a darning needle, to put the case strongly, without consulting Mr. S., and he does not think a new stove necessary.” “What, pray,” said I, “does he know about stoves, sitting in his easy-chair in Washington? If he had a dull old knife with broken blades, he would soon get a new one with which to sharpen his pens and pencils, and, if he attempted to cook a meal–granting he knew how–on your old stove, he would set it out of doors the next hour. Now my advice to you is to buy a new one this very day!”

“Bless me!” she said, “that would make him furious; he would blow me sky-high.” “Well,” I replied, “suppose he did go into a regular tantrum and use all the most startling expletives in the vocabulary for fifteen minutes! What is that compared with a good stove 365 days in the year? Just put all he could say on one side, and all the advantages you would enjoy on the other, and you must readily see that his wrath would kick the beam.” As my logic was irresistible, she said, “Well, if you will go with me, and help select a stove, I think I will take the responsibility.”

Accordingly we went to the hardware store and selected the most approved, largest-sized stove, with all the best cooking utensils, best Russian pipe, etc. “Now,” said she, “I am in equal need of a good stove in my sitting room, and I would like the pipes of both stoves to lead into dumb stoves above, and thus heat two or three rooms upstairs for my children to play in, as they have no place except the sitting room, where they must be always with me; but I suppose it is not best to do too much at one time.” “On the contrary,” I replied, “as your husband is wealthy, you had better get all you really need now. Mr. S. will probably be no more surprised with two stoves than with one, and, as you expect a hot scene over the matter, the more you get out of it the better.”

So the stoves and pipes were ordered, holes cut through the ceiling, and all were in working order next day. The cook was delighted over her splendid stove and shining tins, copper-bottomed tea kettle and boiler, and warm sleeping room upstairs; the children were delighted with their large playrooms, and madam jubilant with her added comforts and that newborn feeling of independence one has in assuming responsibility.

She was expecting Mr. S. home in the holidays, and occasionally weakened at the prospect of what she feared might be a disagreeable encounter. At such times she came to consult with me, as to what she would say and do when the crisis arrived. Having studied the _genus homo_ alike on the divine heights of exaltation and in the valleys of humiliation, I was able to make some valuable suggestions.

“Now,” said I, “when your husband explodes, as you think he will, neither say nor do anything; sit and gaze out of the window with that far-away, sad look women know so well how to affect. If you can summon tears at pleasure, a few would not be amiss; a gentle shower, not enough to make the nose and eyes red or to detract from your beauty. Men cannot resist beauty and tears. Never mar their effect with anything bordering on sobs and hysteria; such violent manifestations being neither refined nor artistic. A scene in which one person does the talking must be limited in time. No ordinary man can keep at white heat fifteen minutes; if his victim says nothing, he will soon exhaust himself. Remember every time you speak in the way of defense, you give him a new text on which to branch out again. If silence is ever golden, it is when a husband is in a tantrum.”

In due time Mr. S. arrived, laden with Christmas presents, and Charlotte came over to tell me that she had passed through the ordeal. I will give the scene in her own words as nearly as possible. “My husband came yesterday, just before dinner, and, as I expected him, I had all things in order. He seemed very happy to see me and the children, and we had a gay time looking at our presents and chatting about Washington and all that had happened since we parted. It made me sad, in the midst of our happiness, to think how soon the current of his feelings would change, and I wished in my soul that I had not bought the stoves. But, at last, dinner was announced, and I knew that the hour had come. He ran upstairs to give a few touches to his toilet, when lo! the shining stoves and pipes caught his eyes. He explored the upper apartments and came down the back stairs, glanced at the kitchen stove, then into the dining room, and stood confounded, for a moment, before the nickel-plated ‘Morning Glory.’ Then he exclaimed, ‘Heavens and earth! Charlotte, what have you been doing?’ I remembered what you told me and said nothing, but looked steadily out of the window. I summoned no tears, however, for I felt more like laughing than crying; he looked so ridiculous flying round spasmodically, like popcorn on a hot griddle, and talking as if making a stump speech on the corruptions of the Democrats. The first time he paused to take breath I said, in my softest tones: ‘William, dinner is waiting; I fear the soup will be cold.’ Fortunately he was hungry, and that great central organ of life and happiness asserted its claims on his attention, and he took his seat at the table. I broke what might have been an awkward silence, chatting with the older children about their school lessons. Fortunately they were late, and did not know what had happened, so they talked to their father and gradually restored his equilibrium. We had a very good dinner, and I have not heard a word about the stoves since. I suppose we shall have another scene when the bill is presented.”

A few years later, Horace Greeley came to Seneca Falls to lecture on temperance. As he stayed with us, we invited Mr. S., among others, to dinner. The chief topic at the table was the idiosyncrasies of women. Mr. Greeley told many amusing things about his wife, of her erratic movements and sudden decisions to do and dare what seemed most impracticable. Perhaps, on rising some morning, she would say: “I think I’ll go to Europe by the next steamer, Horace. Will you get tickets to-day for me, the nurse, and children?” “Well,” said Mr. S., “she must be something like our hostess. Every time her husband goes away she cuts a door or window. They have only ten doors to lock every night, now.”

“Yes,” I said, “and your own wife, too, Mrs. S., has the credit of some high-handed measures when you are in Washington.” Then I told the whole story, amid peals of laughter, just as related above. The dinner table scene fairly convulsed the Congressman. The thought that he had made such a fool of himself in the eyes of Charlotte that she could not even summon a tear in her defense, particularly pleased him. When sufficiently recovered to speak, he said: “Well, I never could understand how it was that Charlotte suddenly emerged from her thraldom and manifested such rare executive ability. Now I see to whom I am indebted for the most comfortable part of my married life. I am a thousand times obliged to you; you did just right and so did she, and she has been a happier woman ever since. She now gets what she needs, and frets no more, to me, about ten thousand little things. How can a man know what implements are necessary for the work he never does? Of all agencies for upsetting the equanimity of family life, none can surpass an old, broken-down kitchen stove!”

In the winter of 1861, just after the election of Lincoln, the abolitionists decided to hold a series of conventions in the chief cities of the North. All their available speakers were pledged for active service. The Republican party, having absorbed the political abolitionists within its ranks by its declared hostility to the extension of slavery, had come into power with overwhelming majorities. Hence the Garrisonian abolitionists, opposed to all compromises, felt that this was the opportune moment to rouse the people to the necessity of holding that party to its declared principles, and pushing it, if possible, a step or two forward.

I was invited to accompany Miss Anthony and Beriah Green to a few points in Central New York. But we soon found, by the concerted action of Republicans all over the country, that anti-slavery conventions would not be tolerated. Thus Republicans and Democrats made common cause against the abolitionists. The John Brown raid, the year before, had intimidated Northern politicians as much as Southern slaveholders, and the general feeling was that the discussion of the question at the North should be altogether suppressed.

From Buffalo to Albany our experience was the same, varied only by the fertile resources of the actors and their surroundings. Thirty years of education had somewhat changed the character of Northern mobs. They no longer dragged men through the streets with ropes around their necks, nor broke up women’s prayer meetings; they no longer threw eggs and brickbats at the apostles of reform, nor dipped them in barrels of tar and feathers, they simply crowded the halls, and, with laughing, groaning, clapping, and cheering, effectually interrupted the proceedings. Such was our experience during the two days we attempted to hold a convention in St. James’ Hall, Buffalo. As we paid for the hall, the mob enjoyed themselves, at our expense, in more ways than one. Every session, at the appointed time, we took our places on the platform, making, at various intervals of silence, renewed efforts to speak. Not succeeding, we sat and conversed with each other and the many friends who crowded the platform and anterooms. Thus, among ourselves, we had a pleasant reception and a discussion of many phases of the question that brought us together. The mob not only vouchsafed to us the privilege of talking to our friends without interruption, but delegations of their own came behind the scenes, from time to time, to discuss with us the right of free speech and the constitutionality of slavery.

These Buffalo rowdies were headed by ex-Justice Hinson, aided by younger members of the Fillmore and Seymour families, and the chief of police and fifty subordinates, who were admitted to the hall free, for the express purpose of protecting our right of free speech, but who, in defiance of the mayor’s orders, made not the slightest effort in our defense. At Lockport there was a feeble attempt in the same direction. At Albion neither hall, church, nor schoolhouse could be obtained, so we held small meetings in the dining room of the hotel. At Rochester, Corinthian Hall was packed long before the hour advertised. This was a delicately appreciative, jocose mob. At this point Aaron Powell joined us. As he had just risen from a bed of sickness, looking pale and emaciated, he slowly mounted the platform. The mob at once took in his look of exhaustion, and, as he seated himself, they gave an audible simultaneous sigh, as if to say, what a relief it is to be seated! So completely did the tender manifestation reflect Mr. Powell’s apparent condition that the whole audience burst into a roar of laughter. Here, too, all attempts to speak were futile. At Port Byron a generous sprinkling of cayenne pepper on the stove soon cut short all constitutional arguments and paeans to liberty.

And so it was all the way to Albany. The whole State was aflame with the mob spirit, and from Boston and various points in other States the same news reached us. As the legislature was in session, and we were advertised in Albany, a radical member sarcastically moved “That as Mrs. Stanton and Miss Anthony were about to move on Albany, the militia be ordered out for the protection of the city.” Happily, Albany could then boast of a Democratic mayor, a man of courage and conscience, who said the right of free speech should never be trodden under foot where he had the right to prevent it. And grandly did that one determined man maintain order in his jurisdiction. Through all the sessions of the convention Mayor Thatcher sat on the platform, his police stationed in different parts of the hall and outside the building, to disperse the crowd as fast as it collected. If a man or boy hissed or made the slightest interruption, he was immediately ejected. And not only did the mayor preserve order in the meetings, but, with a company of armed police, he escorted us, every time, to and from the Delevan House. The last night Gerrit Smith addressed the mob from the steps of the hotel, after which they gave him three cheers and dispersed in good order.

When proposing for the Mayor a vote of thanks, at the close of the convention, Mr. Smith expressed his fears that it had been a severe ordeal for him to listen to these prolonged anti-slavery discussions. He smiled, and said: “I have really been deeply interested and instructed. I rather congratulate myself that a convention of this character has, at last, come in the line of my business; otherwise I should have probably remained in ignorance of many important facts and opinions I now understand and appreciate.”

While all this was going on publicly, an equally trying experience was progressing, day by day, behind the scenes. Miss Anthony had been instrumental in helping a much abused mother, with her child, to escape from a husband who had immured her in an insane asylum. The wife belonged to one of the first families of New York, her brother being a United States senator, and the husband, also, a man of position; a large circle of friends and acquaintances was interested in the result. Though she was incarcerated in an insane asylum for eighteen months, yet members of her own family again and again testified that she was not insane. Miss Anthony, knowing that she was not, and believing fully that the unhappy mother was the victim of a conspiracy, would not reveal her hiding place.

Knowing the confidence Miss Anthony felt in the wisdom of Mr. Garrison and Mr. Phillips, they were implored to use their influence with her to give up the fugitives. Letters and telegrams, persuasions, arguments, and warnings from Mr. Garrison, Mr. Phillips, and the Senator on the one side, and from Lydia Mott, Mrs. Elizabeth F. Ellet, and Abby Hopper Gibbons, on the other, poured in upon her, day after day; but Miss Anthony remained immovable, although she knew that she was defying and violating the law and might be arrested any moment on the platform. We had known so many aggravated cases of this kind that, in daily counsel, we resolved that this woman should not be recaptured if it were possible to prevent it. To us it looked as imperative a duty to shield a sane mother, who had been torn from a family of little children and doomed to the companionship of lunatics, and to aid her in fleeing to a place of safety, as to help a fugitive from slavery to Canada. In both cases an unjust law was violated; in both cases the supposed owners of the victims were defied; hence, in point of law and morals, the act was the same in both cases. The result proved the wisdom of Miss Anthony’s decision, as all with whom Mrs. P. came in contact for years afterward, expressed the opinion that she was, and always had been, perfectly sane. Could the dark secrets of insane asylums be brought to light we should be shocked to know the great number of rebellious wives, sisters, and daughters who are thus sacrificed to false customs and barbarous laws made by men for women.

CHAPTER XIV.

VIEWS ON MARRIAGE AND DIVORCE.

The widespread discussion we are having, just now, on the subject of marriage and divorce, reminds me of an equally exciting one in 1860. A very liberal bill, introduced into the Indiana legislature by Robert Dale Owen, and which passed by a large majority, roused much public thought on the question, and made that State free soil for unhappy wives and husbands. A similar bill was introduced into the legislature of New York by Mr. Ramsey, which was defeated by four votes, owing, mainly, to the intense opposition of Horace Greeley. He and Mr. Owen had a prolonged discussion, in the New York _Tribune_, in which Mr. Owen got decidedly the better of the argument.

There had been several aggravated cases of cruelty to wives among the Dutch aristocracy, so that strong influences in favor of the bill had been brought to bear on the legislature, but the _Tribune_ thundered every morning in its editorial column its loudest peals, which reverberated through the State. So bitter was the opposition to divorce, for any cause, that but few dared to take part in the discussion. I was the only woman, for many years, who wrote and spoke on the question. Articles on divorce, by a number of women, recently published in the _North American Review_, are a sign of progress, showing that women dare speak out now more freely on the relations that most deeply concern them.

My feelings had been stirred to their depths very early in life by the sufferings of a dear friend of mine, at whose wedding I was one of the bridesmaids. In listening to the facts in her case, my mind was fully made up as to the wisdom of a liberal divorce law. We read Milton’s essays on divorce, together, and were thoroughly convinced as to the right and duty not only of separation, but of absolute divorce. While the New York bill was pending, I was requested, by Lewis Benedict, one of the committee who had the bill in charge, to address the legislature. I gladly accepted, feeling that here was an opportunity not only to support my friend in the step she had taken, but to make the path clear for other unhappy wives who might desire to follow her example. I had no thought of the persecution I was drawing down on myself for thus attacking so venerable an institution. I was always courageous in saying what I saw to be true, for the simple reason that I never dreamed of opposition. What seemed to me to be right I thought must be equally plain to all other rational beings. Hence I had no dread of denunciation. I was only surprised when I encountered it, and no number of experiences have, as yet, taught me to fear public opinion. What I said on divorce thirty-seven years ago seems quite in line with what many say now. The trouble was not in what I said, but that I said it too soon, and before the people were ready to hear it. It may be, however, that I helped them to get ready; who knows?

As we were holding a woman suffrage convention in Albany, at the time appointed for the hearing, Ernestine L. Rose and Lucretia Mott briefly added their views on the question. Although Mrs. Mott had urged Mrs. Rose and myself to be as moderate as possible in our demands, she quite unconsciously made the most radical utterance of all, in saying that marriage was a question beyond the realm of legislation, that must be left to the parties themselves. We rallied Lucretia on her radicalism, and some of the journals criticised us severely; but the following letter shows that she had no thought of receding from her position:

“Roadside, near Philadelphia,

“4th Mo., 30th, ’61.

“My Dear Lydia Mott:

“I have wished, ever since parting with thee and our other dear friends in Albany, to send thee a line, and have only waited in the hope of contributing a little ‘substantial aid’ toward your neat and valuable ‘depository.’ The twenty dollars inclosed is from our Female Anti-slavery Society.

“I see the annual meeting, in New York, is not to be held this spring. Sister Martha is here, and was expecting to attend both anniversaries. But we now think the woman’s rights meeting had better not be attempted, and she has written Elizabeth C. Stanton to this effect.

“I was well satisfied with being at the Albany meeting. I have since met with the following, from a speech of Lord Brougham’s, which pleased me, as being as radical as mine in your stately Hall of Representatives:

“‘Before women can have any justice by the laws of England, there must be a total reconstruction of the whole marriage system; for any attempt to amend it would prove useless. The great charter, in establishing the supremacy of law over prerogative, provides only for justice between man and man; for woman nothing is left but common law, accumulations and modifications of original Gothic and Roman heathenism, which no amount of filtration through ecclesiastical courts could change into Christian laws. They are declared unworthy a Christian people by great jurists; still they remain unchanged.’

“So Elizabeth Stanton will see that I have authority for going to the root of the evil.

“Thine,

“LUCRETIA MOTT.”

Those of us who met in Albany talked the matter over in regard to a free discussion of the divorce question at the coming convention in New York. It was the opinion of those present that, as the laws on marriage and divorce were very unequal for man and woman, this was a legitimate subject for discussion on our platform; accordingly I presented a series of resolutions, at the annual convention, in New York city, to which I spoke for over an hour. I was followed by Antoinette L, Brown, who also presented a series of resolutions in opposition to mine. She was, in turn, answered by Ernestine L. Rose. Wendell Phillips then arose, and, in an impressive manner pronounced the whole discussion irrelevant to our platform, and moved that neither the speeches nor resolutions go on the records of the convention. As I greatly admired Wendell Phillips, and appreciated his good opinion, I was surprised and humiliated to find myself under the ban of his disapprobation. My face was scarlet, and I trembled with mingled feelings of doubt and fear–doubt as to the wisdom of my position and fear lest the convention should repudiate the whole discussion. My emotion was so apparent that Rev. Samuel Longfellow, a brother of the poet, who sat beside me, whispered in my ear, “Nevertheless you are right, and the convention will sustain you.”

Mr. Phillips said that as marriage concerned man and woman alike, and the laws bore equally on them, women had no special ground for complaint, although, in my speech, I had quoted many laws to show the reverse. Mr. Garrison and Rev. Antoinette L. Brown were alike opposed to Mr. Phillips’ motion, and claimed that marriage and divorce were legitimate subjects for discussion on our platform. Miss Anthony closed the debate. She said: “I hope Mr. Phillips will withdraw his motion that these resolutions shall not appear on the records of the convention. I am very sure that it would be contrary to all parliamentary usage to say that, when the speeches which enforced and advocated the resolutions are reported and published in the proceedings, the resolutions shall not be placed there. And as to the point that this question does not belong to this platform–from that I totally dissent. Marriage has ever been a one-sided matter, resting most unequally upon the sexes. By it man gains all; woman loses all; tyrant law and lust reign supreme with him; meek submission and ready obedience alone befit her. Woman has never been consulted; her wish has never been taken into consideration as regards the terms of the marriage compact. By law, public sentiment, and religion,–from the time of Moses down to the present day,–woman has never been thought of other than as a piece of property, to be disposed of at the will and pleasure of man. And at this very hour, by our statute books, by our (so-called) enlightened Christian civilization, she has no voice whatever in saying what shall be the basis of the relation. She must accept marriage as man proffers it, or not at all.

“And then, again, on Mr. Phillips’ own ground, the discussion is perfectly in order, since nearly all the wrongs of which we complain