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  • 1898
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evening, on the piazza. There was a constant succession of people going and coming, even in that far-off region, and all had their adventures to relate. But none quite equaled my experiences.

We spent a day in the Calaveras Grove, rested beneath the “big trees,” and rode on horseback through the fallen trunk of one of them. Some vandals sawed off one of the most magnificent specimens twenty feet above the ground, and, on this the owners of the hotel built a little octagonal chapel. The polished wood, with bark for a border, made a very pretty floor. Here they often had Sunday services, as it held about one hundred people. Here, too, we discussed the suffrage question, amid these majestic trees that had battled with the winds two thousand years, and had probably never before listened to such rebellion as we preached to the daughters of earth that day.

Here, again, we found our distinguished statesmen immortalized, each with his namesake among these stately trees. We asked our guide if there were any not yet appropriated, might we name them after women. As he readily consented, we wrote on cards the names of a dozen leading women, and tacked them on their respective trees. Whether Lucretia Mott, Lucy Stone, Phoebe Couzins, and Anna Dickinson still retain their identity, and answer when called by the goddess Sylvia in that majestic grove, I know not. Twenty-five years have rolled by since then, and a new generation of visitors and guides may have left no trace of our work behind them. But we whispered our hopes and aspirations to the trees, to be wafted to the powers above, and we left them indelibly pictured on the walls of the little chapel, and for more mortal eyes we scattered leaflets wherever we went, and made all our pleasure trips so many propaganda for woman’s enfranchisement.

Returning from California I made the journey straight through from San Francisco to New York. Though a long trip to make without a break, yet I enjoyed every moment, as I found most charming companions in Bishop Janes and his daughter. The Bishop being very liberal in his ideas, we discussed the various theologies, and all phases of the woman question. I shall never forget those pleasant conversations as we sat outside on the platform, day after day, and in the soft moonlight late at night. We took up the thread of our debate each morning where we had dropped it the night before. The Bishop told me about the resolution to take the word “obey” from the marriage ceremony which he introduced, two years before, into the Methodist General Conference and carried with but little opposition. All praise to the Methodist Church! When our girls are educated into a proper self-respect and laudable pride of sex, they will scout all these old barbarisms of the past that point in any way to the subject condition of women in either the State, the Church, or the home. Until the other sects follow her example, I hope our girls will insist on having their conjugal knots all tied by Methodist bishops.

The Episcopal marriage service not only still clings to the word “obey,” but it has a most humiliating ceremony in giving the bride away. I was never more struck with its odious and ludicrous features than on once seeing a tall, queenly-looking woman, magnificently arrayed, married by one of the tiniest priests that ever donned a surplice and gown, given away by the smallest guardian that ever watched a woman’s fortunes, to the feeblest, bluest-looking little groom that ever placed a wedding ring on bridal finger. Seeing these Lilliputians around her, I thought, when the little priest said, “Who gives this woman to this man,” that she would take the responsibility and say, “I do,” but no! there she stood, calm, serene, as if it were no affair of hers, while the little guardian, placing her hand in that of the little groom, said, “I do.” Thus was this stately woman bandied about by these three puny men, all of whom she might have gathered up in her arms and borne off to their respective places of abode.

But women are gradually waking up to the degradation of these ceremonies. Not long since, at a wedding in high life, a beautiful girl of eighteen was struck dumb at the word “obey.” Three times the priest pronounced it with emphasis and holy unction, each time slower, louder, than before. Though the magnificent parlors were crowded, a breathless silence reigned. Father, mother, and groom were in agony. The bride, with downcast eyes, stood speechless. At length the priest slowly closed his book and said, “The ceremony is at an end.” One imploring word from the groom, and a faint “obey” was heard in the solemn stillness. The priest unclasped his book and the knot was tied. The congratulations, feast, and all, went on as though there had been no break in the proceedings, but the lesson was remembered, and many a rebel made by that short pause.

I think all these reverend gentlemen who insist on the word “obey” in the marriage service should be removed for a clear violation of the Thirteenth Amendment to the Federal Constitution, which says there shall be neither slavery nor involuntary servitude within the United States. As I gave these experiences to Bishop Janes he laughed heartily, and asked me to repeat them to each newcomer. Our little debating society was the center of attraction. One gentleman asked me if our woman suffrage conventions were as entertaining. I told him yes; that there were no meetings in Washington so interesting and so well attended as ours.

As I had some woman-suffrage literature in my valise, I distributed leaflets to all earnest souls who plied me with questions. Like all other things, it requires great discretion in sowing leaflets, lest you expose yourself to a rebuff. I never offer one to a man with a small head and high heels on his boots, with his chin in the air, because I know, in the nature of things, that he will be jealous of superior women; nor to a woman whose mouth has the “prunes and prisms” expression, for I know she will say, “I have all the rights I want.” Going up to London one day, a few years later, I noticed a saintly sister, belonging to the Salvation Army, timidly offering some leaflets to several persons on board; all coolly declined to receive them. Having had much experience in the joys and sorrows of propagandism, I put out my hand and asked her to give them to me. I thanked her and read them before reaching London. It did me no harm and her much good in thinking that she might have planted a new idea in my mind. Whatever is given to us freely, I think, in common politeness, we should accept graciously.

While I was enjoying once more the comforts of home, on the blue hills of Jersey, Miss Anthony was lighting the fires of liberty on the mountain tops of Oregon and Washington Territory. All through the months of October, November, and December, 1871, she was jolting about in stages, over rough roads, speaking in every hamlet where a schoolhouse was to be found, and scattering our breezy leaflets to the four winds of heaven.

From 1869 to 1873 Miss Anthony and I made several trips through Iowa, Missouri, Illinois, and Nebraska, holding meetings at most of the chief towns; I speaking in the afternoons to women alone on “Marriage and Maternity.” As Miss Anthony had other pressing engagements in Kansas and Nebraska, I went alone to Texas, speaking in Dallas, Sherman, and Houston, where I was delayed two weeks by floods and thus prevented from going to Austin, Galveston, and some points in Louisiana, where I was advertised to lecture. In fact I lost all my appointments for a month. However, there was a fine hotel in Houston and many pleasant people, among whom I made some valuable acquaintances. Beside several public meetings, I had parlor talks and scattered leaflets, so that my time was not lost.

As the floods had upset my plans for the winter, I went straight from Houston to New York over the Iron Mountain Railroad. I anticipated a rather solitary trip; but, fortunately, I met General Baird, whom I knew, and some other army officers, who had been down on the Mexican border to settle some troubles in the “free zone.” We amused ourselves on the long journey with whist and woman suffrage discussions. We noticed a dyspeptic-looking clergyman, evidently of a bilious temperament, eying us very steadily and disapprovingly the first day, and in a quiet way we warned each other that, in due time, he would give us a sermon on the sin of card playing.

Sitting alone, early next morning, he seated himself by my side, and asked me if I would allow him to express his opinion on card playing. I said “Oh, yes! I fully believe in free speech.” “Well,” said he, “I never touch cards. I think they are an invention of the devil to lead unwary souls from all serious thought of the stern duties of life and the realities of eternity! I was sorry to see you, with your white hair, probably near the end of your earthly career, playing cards and talking with those reckless army officers, who delight in killing their fellow-beings. No! I do not believe in war or card playing; such things do not prepare the soul for heaven.” “Well,” said I, “you are quite right, with your views, to abjure the society of army officers and all games of cards. You, no doubt, enjoy your own thoughts and the book you are reading, more than you would the conversation of those gentlemen and a game of whist. We must regulate our conduct by our own highest ideal. While I deplore the necessity of war, yet I know in our Army many of the noblest types of manhood, whose acquaintance I prize most highly. I enjoy all games, too, from chess down to dominoes. There is so much that is sad and stern in life that we need sometimes to lay down its burdens and indulge in innocent amusements. Thus, you see, what is wise from my standpoint is unwise from yours. I am sorry that you repudiate all amusements, as they contribute to the health of body and soul. You are sorry that I do not think as you do and regulate my life accordingly. You are sure that you are right. I am equally sure that I am. Hence there is nothing to be done in either case but to let each other alone, and wait for the slow process of evolution to give to each of us a higher standard.” Just then one of the officers asked me if I was ready for a game of whist, and I excused myself from further discussion. I met many of those dolorous saints in my travels, who spent so much thought on eternity and saving their souls that they lost all the joys of time, as well as those sweet virtues of courtesy and charity that might best fit them for good works on earth and happiness in heaven.

In the spring I went to Nebraska, and Miss Anthony and I again made a Western tour, sometimes together and sometimes by different routes. A constitutional convention was in session in Lincoln, and it was proposed to submit an amendment to strike the word “male” from the Constitution. Nebraska became a State in March, 1867, and took “Equality before the law” as her motto. Her Territorial legislature had discussed, many times, proposed liberal legislation for women, and her State legislature had twice considered propositions for woman’s enfranchisement. I had a valise with me containing Hon. Benjamin F. Butler’s minority reports as a member of the Judiciary Committee of the United States House of Representatives, in favor of woman’s right to vote under the Fourteenth Amendment. As we were crossing the Platte River, in transferring the baggage to the boat, my valise fell into the river. My heart stood still at the thought of such a fate for all those able arguments. After the great General had been in hot water all his life, it was grievous to think of any of his lucubrations perishing in cold water at last. Fortunately they were rescued. On reaching Lincoln I was escorted to the home of the Governor, where I spread the documents in the sunshine, and they were soon ready to be distributed among the members of the constitutional convention.

After I had addressed the convention, some of the members called on me to discuss the points of my speech. All the gentlemen were serious and respectful with one exception. A man with an unusually small head, diminutive form, and crooked legs tried, at my expense, to be witty and facetious. During a brief pause in the conversation he brought his chair directly before me and said, in a mocking tone, “Don’t you think that the best thing a woman can do is to perform well her part in the role of wife and mother? My wife has presented me with eight beautiful children; is not this a better life-work than that of exercising the right of suffrage?”

I had had my eye on this man during the whole interview, and saw that the other members were annoyed at his behavior. I decided, when the opportune moment arrived, to give him an answer not soon to be forgotten; so I promptly replied to his question, as I slowly viewed him from head to foot, “I have met few men, in my life, worth repeating eight times.” The members burst into a roar of laughter, and one of them, clapping him on the shoulder, said: “There, sonny, you have read and spelled; you better go.” This scene was heralded in all the Nebraska papers, and, wherever the little man went, he was asked why Mrs. Stanton thought he was not worth repeating eight times.

During my stay in Lincoln there was a celebration of the opening of some railroad. An immense crowd from miles about assembled on this occasion. The collation was spread and speeches were made in the open air. The men congratulated each other on the wonderful progress the State had made since it became an organized Territory in 1854. There was not the slightest reference, at first, to the women. One speaker said: “This State was settled by three brothers, John, James, and Joseph, and from them have sprung the great concourse of people that greet us here to-day.” I turned, and asked the Governor if all these people had sprung, Minerva-like, from the brains of John, James, and Joseph. He urged me to put that question to the speaker; so, in one of his eloquent pauses, I propounded the query, which was greeted with loud and prolonged cheers, to the evident satisfaction of the women present. The next speaker took good care to give the due meed of praise to Ann, Jane, and Mary, and to every mention of the mothers of Nebraska the crowd heartily responded.

In toasting “the women of Nebraska,” at the collation, I said: “Here’s to the mothers, who came hither by long, tedious journeys, closely packed with restless children in emigrant wagons, cooking the meals by day, and nursing the babies by night, while the men slept. Leaving comfortable homes in the East, they endured all the hardships of pioneer life, suffered, with the men, the attacks of the Dakota Indians and the constant apprehension of savage raids, of prairie fires, and the devastating locusts. Man’s trials, his fears, his losses, all fell on woman with double force; yet history is silent concerning the part woman performed in the frontier life of the early settlers. Men make no mention of her heroism and divine patience; they take no thought of the mental or physical agonies women endure in the perils of maternity, ofttimes without nurse or physician in the supreme hour of their need, going, as every mother does, to the very gates of death in giving life to an immortal being!”

Traveling all over these Western States in the early days, seeing the privations women suffered, and listening to the tales of sorrow at the fireside, I wondered that men could ever forget the debt of gratitude they owed to their mothers, or fail to commemorate their part in the growth of a great people. Yet the men of Nebraska have twice defeated the woman suffrage amendment.

In 1874 Michigan was the point of interest to all those who had taken part in the woman-suffrage movement. The legislature, by a very large majority, submitted to a vote of the electors an amendment of the Constitution, in favor of striking out the word “male” and thus securing civil and political rights to the women of the State. It was a very active campaign. Crowded meetings were held in all the chief towns and cities. Professor Moses Coit Tyler, and a large number of ministers preached, every Sunday, on the subject of woman’s position. The Methodist conference passed a resolution in favor of the amendment by a unanimous vote. I was in the State during the intense heat of May and June, speaking every evening to large audiences; in the afternoon to women alone, and preaching every Sunday in some pulpit. The Methodists, Universalists, Unitarians, and Quakers all threw open their churches to the apostles of the new gospel of equality for women. We spoke in jails, prisons, asylums, depots, and the open air. Wherever there were ears to hear, we lifted up our voices, and, on the wings of the wind, the glad tidings were carried to the remote corners of the State, and the votes of forty thousand men, on election day, in favor of the amendment were so many testimonials to the value of the educational work accomplished.

I made many valuable acquaintances, on that trip, with whom I have maintained lifelong friendships. One pleasant day I passed in the home of Governor Bagley and his wife, with a group of pretty children. I found the Governor deeply interested in prison reform. He had been instrumental in passing a law giving prisoners lights in their cells and pleasant reading matter until nine o’clock. His ideas of what prisons should be, as unfolded that day, have since been fully realized in the grand experiment now being successfully tried at Elmira, New York.

I visited the State prison at Jackson, and addressed seven hundred men and boys, ranging from seventy down to seventeen years of age. Seated on the dais with the chaplain, I saw them file in to dinner, and, while they were eating, I had an opportunity to study the sad, despairing faces before me. I shall never forget the hopeless expression of one young man, who had just been sentenced for twenty years, nor how ashamed I felt that one of my own sex, trifling with two lovers, had fanned the jealousy of one against the other, until the tragedy ended in the death of one and the almost lifelong imprisonment of the other. If girls should be truthful and transparent in any relations in life, surely it is in those of love, involving the strongest passions of which human nature is capable. As the chaplain told me the sad story, and I noticed the prisoner’s refined face and well-shaped head, I felt that the young man was not under the right influences to learn the lesson he needed. Fear, coercion, punishment, are the masculine remedies for moral weakness, but statistics show their failure for centuries. Why not change the system and try the education of the moral and intellectual faculties, cheerful surroundings, inspiring influences? Everything in our present system tends to lower the physical vitality, the self-respect, the moral tone, and to harden instead of reforming the criminal.

My heart was so heavy I did not know what to say to such an assembly of the miserable. I asked the chaplain what I should say. “Just what you please,” he replied. Thinking they had probably heard enough of their sins, their souls, and the plan of salvation, I thought I would give them the news of the day. So I told them about the woman suffrage amendment, what I was doing in the State, my amusing encounters with opponents, their arguments, my answers. I told them of the great changes that would be effected in prison life when the mothers of the nation had a voice in the buildings and discipline. I told them what Governor Bagley said, and of the good time coming when prisons would no longer be places of punishment but schools of reformation. To show them what women would do to realize this beautiful dream, I told them of Elizabeth Fry and Dorothea L. Dix, of Mrs. Farnham’s experiment at Sing Sing, and Louise Michel’s in New Caledonia, and, in closing, I said: “Now I want all of you who are in favor of the amendment to hold up your right hands.” They gave a unanimous vote, and laughed heartily when I said, “I do wish you could all go to the polls in November and that we could lock our opponents up here until after the election.” I felt satisfied that they had had one happy hour, and that I had said nothing to hurt the feelings of the most unfortunate. As they filed off to their respective workshops my faith and hope for brighter days went with them. Then I went all through the prison. Everything looked clean and comfortable on the surface, but I met a few days after a man, just set free, who had been there five years for forgery. He told me the true inwardness of the system; of the wretched, dreary life they suffered, and the brutality of the keepers. He said the prison was infested with mice and vermin, and that, during the five years he was there, he had never lain down one night to undisturbed slumber. The sufferings endured in summer for want of air, he said, were indescribable. In this prison the cells were in the center of the building, the corridors running all around by the windows, so the prisoners had no outlook and no direct contact with the air. Hence, if a careless keeper forgot to open the windows after a storm, the poor prisoners panted for air in their cells, like fish out of water. My informant worked in the mattress department, over the room where prisoners were punished. He said he could hear the lash and the screams of the victims from morning till night. “Hard as the work is all day,” said he, “it is a blessed relief to get out of our cells to march across the yard and get one glimpse of the heavens above, and one breath of pure air, and to be in contact with other human souls in the workshops, for, although we could never speak to each other, yet there was a hidden current of sympathy conveyed by look that made us one in our misery.”

Though the press of the State was largely in our favor, yet there were some editors who, having no arguments, exercised the little wit they did possess in low ridicule. It was in this campaign that an editor in a Kalamazoo journal said: “That ancient daughter of Methuselah, Susan B. Anthony, passed through our city yesterday, on her way to the Plainwell meeting, with a bonnet on her head looking as if it had recently descended from Noah’s ark.” Miss Anthony often referred to this description of herself, and said, “Had I represented twenty thousand voters in Michigan, that political editor would not have known nor cared whether I was the oldest or the youngest daughter of Methuselah, or whether my bonnet came from the ark or from Worth’s.”



The year 1876 was one of intense excitement and laborious activity throughout the country. The anticipation of the centennial birthday of the Republic, to be celebrated in Philadelphia, stirred the patriotism of the people to the highest point of enthusiasm. As each State was to be represented in the great exhibition, local pride added another element to the public interest. Then, too, everyone who could possibly afford the journey was making busy preparations to spend the Fourth of July, the natal day of the Republic, mid the scenes where the Declaration of Independence was issued in 1776, the Government inaugurated, and the first national councils were held. Those interested in women’s political rights decided to make the Fourth a woman’s day, and to celebrate the occasion, in their various localities, by delivering orations and reading their own declaration of rights, with dinners and picnics in the town halls or groves, as most convenient. But many from every State in the Union made their arrangements to spend the historic period in Philadelphia. Owing, also, to the large number of foreigners who came over to join in the festivities, that city was crammed to its utmost capacity. With the crowd and excessive heat, comfort was everywhere sacrificed to curiosity.

The enthusiasm throughout the country had given a fresh impulse to the lyceum bureaus. Like the ferryboats in New York harbor, running hither and thither, crossing each other’s tracks, the whole list of lecturers were on the wing, flying to every town and city from San Francisco to New York. As soon as a new railroad ran through a village of five hundred inhabitants that could boast a schoolhouse, a church, or a hotel, and one enterprising man or woman, a course of lectures was at once inaugurated as a part of the winter’s entertainments.

On one occasion I was invited, by mistake, to a little town to lecture the same evening when the Christy Minstrels were to perform. It was arranged, as the town had only one hall, that I should speak from seven to eight o’clock and the minstrels should have the remainder of the time. One may readily see that, with the minstrels in anticipation, a lecture on any serious question would occupy but a small place in the hearts of the people in a town where they seldom had entertainments of any kind. All the time I was speaking there was a running to and fro behind the scenes, where the minstrels were transforming themselves with paints and curly wigs into Africans, and laughing at each other’s jests. As it was a warm evening, and the windows were open, the hilarity of the boys in the street added to the general din. Under such circumstances it was difficult to preserve my equilibrium. I felt like laughing at my own comical predicament, and I decided to make my address a medley of anecdotes and stories, like a string of beads, held together by a fine thread of argument and illustration. The moment the hand of the clock pointed at eight o’clock the band struck up, thus announcing that the happy hour for the minstrels had come. Those of my audience who wished to stay were offered seats at half price; those who did not, slipped out, and the crowd rushed in, soon packing the house to its utmost capacity. I stayed, and enjoyed the performance of the minstrels more than I had my own.

As the lyceum season lasted from October to June, I was late in reaching Philadelphia. Miss Anthony and Mrs. Gage had already been through the agony of finding appropriate headquarters for the National Suffrage Association. I found them pleasantly situated on the lower floor of No. 1431 Chestnut Street, with the work for the coming month clearly mapped out. As it was the year for nominating candidates for the presidency of the United States, the Republicans and Democrats were about to hold their great’ conventions. Hence letters were to be written to them recommending a woman suffrage plank in their platforms, and asking seats for women in the conventions, with the privilege of being heard in their own behalf. On these letters our united wisdom was concentrated, and twenty thousand copies of each were published.

Then it was thought pre-eminently proper that a Woman’s Declaration of Rights should be issued. Days and nights were spent over that document. After many twists from our analytical tweezers, with a critical consideration of every word and sentence, it was at last, by a consensus of the competent, pronounced very good. Thousands were ordered to be printed, and were folded, put in envelopes, stamped, directed, and scattered. Miss Anthony, Mrs. Gage, and I worked sixteen hours, day and night, pressing everyone who came in, into the service, and late at night carrying immense bundles to be mailed. With meetings, receptions, and a succession of visitors, all of whom we plied with woman suffrage literature, we felt we had accomplished a great educational work.

Among the most enjoyable experiences at our headquarters were the frequent visits of our beloved Lucretia Mott, who used to come from her country home bringing us eggs, cold chickens, and fine Oolong tea. As she had presented us with a little black teapot that, like Mercury’s mysterious pitcher of milk, filled itself for every coming guest, we often improvised luncheons with a few friends. At parting, Lucretia always made a contribution to our depleted treasury. Here we had many prolonged discussions as to the part we should take, on the Fourth of July, in the public celebration. We thought it would be fitting for us to read our Declaration of Rights immediately after that of the Fathers was read, as an impeachment of them and their male descendants for their injustice and oppression. Ours contained as many counts, and quite as important, as those against King George in 1776. Accordingly, we applied to the authorities to allow us seats on the platform and a place in the programme of the public celebration, which was to be held in the historic old Independence Hall. As General Hawley was in charge of the arrangements for the day, I wrote him as follows:

“1431 Chestnut Street, July 1, 1876.

“General Hawley.

“_Honored Sir_: As President of the National Woman’s Suffrage Association, I am authorized to ask you for tickets to the platform, at Independence Hall, for the celebration on the Fourth of July. We should like to have seats for at least one representative woman from each State. We also ask your permission to read our Declaration of Rights immediately after the reading of the Declaration of Independence of the Fathers is finished. Although these are small favors to ask as representatives of one-half of the nation, yet we shall be under great obligations to you if granted.

“Respectfully Yours,

“Elizabeth Cady Stanton.”

To this I received the following reply:

“U.S.C.C. Headquarters, July 2.

“Mrs. Elizabeth Cady Stanton.

“_Dear Madam_: I send you, with pleasure, half a dozen cards of invitation. As the platform is already crowded, it is impossible to reserve the number of seats you desire. I regret to say it is also impossible for us to make any change in the programme at this late hour. We are crowded for time to carry out what is already proposed.

“Yours Very Respectfully,

“Joseph R. Hawley,

“President, U.S.C.C.”

With this rebuff, Mrs. Mott and I decided that we would not accept the offered seats, but would be ready to open our own convention called for that day, at the First Unitarian church, where the Rev. William H. Furness had preached for fifty years. But some of our younger coadjutors decided that they would occupy the seats and present our Declaration of Rights. They said truly, women will be taxed to pay the expenses of this celebration, and we have as good a right to that platform and to the ears of the people as the men have, and we will be heard.

That historic Fourth of July dawned at last, one of the most oppressive days of that heated season. Susan B. Anthony, Matilda Joslyn Gage, Sara Andrews Spencer, Lillie Devereux Blake, and Phoebe W. Couzins made their way through the crowds under the broiling sun of Independence Square, carrying the Woman’s Declaration of Rights. This Declaration had been handsomely engrossed by one of their number, and signed by the oldest and most prominent advocates of woman’s enfranchisement. Their tickets of admission proved an “open sesame” through the military barriers, and, a few moments before the opening of the ceremonies, these women found themselves within the precincts from which most of their sex were excluded.

The Declaration of 1776 was read by Richard Henry Lee of Virginia, about whose family clusters so much historic fame. The moment he finished reading was determined upon as the appropriate time for the presentation of the Woman’s Declaration. Not quite sure how their approach might be met, not quite certain if, at this final moment, they would be permitted to reach the presiding officer, those ladies arose and made their way down the aisle. The bustle of preparation for the Brazilian hymn covered their advance. The foreign guests and the military and civil officers who filled the space directly in front of the speaker’s stand, courteously made way, while Miss Anthony, in fitting words, presented the Declaration to the presiding officer. Senator Ferry’s face paled as, bowing low, with no word he received the Declaration, which thus became part of the day’s proceedings. The ladies turned, scattering printed copies as they deliberately walked down the platform. On every side eager hands were outstretched, men stood on seats and asked for them, while General Hawley, thus defied and beaten in his audacious denial to women of the right to present their Declaration, shouted, “Order, order!”

Passing out, these ladies made their way to a platform, erected for the musicians, in front of Independence Hall. Here, under the shadow of Washington’s statue, back of them the old bell that proclaimed “liberty to all the land and all the inhabitants thereof,” they took their places, and, to a listening, applauding crowd, Miss Anthony read the Woman’s Declaration. During the reading of the Declaration, Mrs. Gage stood beside Miss Anthony and held an umbrella over her head, to shelter her friend from the intense heat of the noonday sun. And thus in the same hour, on opposite sides of old Independence Hall, did the men and women express their opinions on the great principles proclaimed on the natal day of the Republic. The Declaration was handsomely framed, and now hangs in the Vice President’s room in the Capitol at Washington.

These heroic ladies then hurried from Independence Hall to the church, already crowded with an expectant audience, to whom they gave a full report of the morning’s proceedings. The Hutchinsons of worldwide fame were present in their happiest vein, interspersing the speeches with appropriate songs and felicitous remarks. For five long hours on that hot midsummer day a crowded audience, many standing, listened with profound interest and reluctantly dispersed at last, all agreeing that it was one of the most impressive and enthusiastic meetings they had ever attended.

All through our Civil War the slaves on the Southern plantations had an abiding faith that the terrible conflict would result in freedom for their race. Just so through all the busy preparations of the Centennial, the women of the nation felt sure that the great national celebration could not pass without the concession of some new liberties to them. Hence they pressed their claims at every point, at the Fourth of July celebration in the exposition buildings, and in the Republican and Democratic nominating conventions; hoping to get a plank in the platforms of both the great political parties.

The Woman’s Pavilion upon the centennial grounds was an afterthought, as theologians claim woman herself to have been. The women of the country, after having contributed nearly one hundred thousand dollars to the centennial stock, found there had been no provision made for the separate exhibition of their work. The centennial board, of which Mrs. Gillespie was president, then decided to raise funds for the erection of a separate building, to be known as the Woman’s Pavilion. It covered an acre of ground, and was erected at an expense of thirty thousand dollars–a small sum in comparison with the money which had been raised by women and expended on the other buildings, not to speak of the State and national appropriations, which the taxes levied on them had largely helped to swell.

The Pavilion was no true exhibit of woman’s art. Few women are, as yet, owners of the business which their industry largely makes remunerative. Cotton factories, in which thousands of women work, are owned by men. The shoe business, in some branches of which women are doing more than half the work, is under the ownership of men. Rich embroideries from India, rugs of downy softness from Turkey, the muslin of Decca, anciently known as “The Woven Wind,” the pottery and majolica ware of P. Pipsen’s widow, the cartridges and envelopes of Uncle Sam, Waltham watches, whose finest mechanical work is done by women, and ten thousand other industries found no place in the pavilion. Said United States Commissioner Meeker of Colorado, “Woman’s work comprises three-fourths of the exposition; it is scattered through every building; take it away, and there would be no exposition.”

But this pavilion rendered one good service to woman in showing her capabilities as an engineer. The boiler, which furnished the force for running its work, was under the charge of a young Canadian girl, Miss Allison, who, from childhood, had loved machinery, spending much time in the large saw and grist mills of her father, run by engines of two and three hundred horse-power, which she sometimes managed for amusement. When her name was proposed for running the pavilion machinery, it caused much opposition. It was said that the committee would, some day, find the pavilion blown to atoms; that the woman engineer would spend her time reading novels instead of watching the steam gauge; that the idea was impracticable and should not be thought of. But Miss Allison soon proved her capabilities and the falseness of these prophecies by taking her place in the engine room and managing its workings with perfect ease. Six power looms, on which women wove carpets, webbing, silks, etc., were run by this engine. At a later period the printing of _The New Century for Woman_, a paper published by the centennial commission in the woman’s building, was done by its means. Miss Allison declared the work to be more cleanly, more pleasant, and infinitely less fatiguing than cooking over a kitchen stove. “Since I have been compelled to earn my own living,” she said, “I have never been engaged in work I like so well. Teaching school is much harder, and one is not paid so well.” She expressed her confidence in her ability to manage the engines of an ocean steamer, and said that there were thousands of small engines in use in various parts of the country, and no reason existed why women should not be employed to manage them,–following the profession of engineer as a regular business,–an engine requiring far less attention than is given by a nursemaid or a mother to a child.

But to have made the Woman’s Pavilion grandly historic, upon its walls should have been hung the yearly protest of Harriet K. Hunt against taxation without representation; the legal papers served upon the Smith sisters when, for their refusal to pay taxes while unrepresented, their Alderney cows were seized and sold; the papers issued by the city of Worcester for the forced sale of the house and lands of Abby Kelly Foster, the veteran abolitionist, because she refused to pay taxes, giving the same reason our ancestors gave when they resisted taxation; a model of Bunker Hill monument, its foundation laid by Lafayette in 1825, but which remained unfinished nearly twenty years, until the famous German danseuse, Fanny Ellsler, gave the proceeds of a public performance for that purpose. With these should have been exhibited framed copies of all the laws bearing unjustly upon women–those which rob her of her name, her earnings, her property, her children, her person; also the legal papers in the case of Susan B. Anthony, who was tried and fined for claiming her right to vote under the Fourteenth Amendment, and the decision of Mr. Justice Miller in the case of Myra Bradwell, denying national protection for woman’s civil rights; and the later decision of Chief Justice Waite of the United States Supreme Court against Virginia L. Minor, denying women national protection for their political rights; decisions in favor of State rights which imperil the liberties not only of all women, but of every white man in the nation.

Woman’s most fitting contributions to the Centennial Exposition would have been these protests, laws, and decisions, which show her political slavery. But all this was left for rooms outside of the centennial grounds, upon Chestnut Street, where the National Woman’s Suffrage Association hoisted its flag, made its protests, and wrote the Declaration of Rights of the women of the United States.

To many thoughtful people it seemed captious and unreasonable for women to complain of injustice in this free land, amidst such universal rejoicings. When the majority of women are seemingly happy, it is natural to suppose that the discontent of the minority is the result of their unfortunate individual idiosyncrasies, and not of adverse influences in established conditions. But the history of the world shows that the vast majority, in every generation, passively accept the conditions into which they are born, while those who demanded larger liberties are ever a small, ostracized minority, whose claims are ridiculed and ignored. From our standpoint we would honor any Chinese woman who claimed the right to her feet and powers of locomotion; the Hindoo widows who refused to ascend the funeral pyre of their husbands; the Turkish women who threw off their masks and veils and left the harem; the Mormon women who abjured their faith and demanded monogamic relations. Why not equally honor the intelligent minority of American women who protest against the artificial disabilities by which their freedom is limited and their development arrested? That only a few, under any circumstances, protest against the injustice of long-established laws and customs, does not disprove the fact of the oppressions, while the satisfaction of the many, if real, only proves their apathy and deeper degradation. That a majority of the women of the United States accept, without protest, the disabilities which grow out of their disfranchisement is simply an evidence of their ignorance and cowardice, while the minority who demand a higher political status clearly prove their superior intelligence and wisdom.

At the close of the Forty-seventh Congress we made two new demands: First, for a special committee to consider all questions in regard to the civil and political rights of women. We naturally asked the question, As Congress has a special committee on the rights of Indians, why not on those of women? Are not women, as a factor in civilization, of more importance than Indians? Secondly, we asked for a room, in the Capitol, where our committee could meet, undisturbed, whenever they saw fit. Though these points were debated a long time, our demands were acceded to at last. We now have our special committee, and our room, with “Woman Suffrage” in gilt letters, over the door. In our struggle to achieve this, while our champion, the senior Senator from Massachusetts, stood up bravely in the discussion, the opposition not only ridiculed the special demand, but all attempts to secure the civil and political rights of women. As an example of the arguments of the opposition, I give what the Senator from Missouri said. It is a fair specimen of all that was produced on that side of the debate. Mr. Vest’s poetical flights are most inspiring:

“The Senate now has forty-one committees, with a small army of messengers and clerks, one-half of whom, without exaggeration, are literally without employment. I shall not pretend to specify the committees of this body which have not one single bill, resolution, or proposition of any sort pending before them, and have not had for months. But, Mr. President, out of all committees without business, and habitually without business, in this body, there is one that, beyond any question, could take jurisdiction of this matter and do it ample justice. I refer to that most respectable and antique institution, the Committee on Revolutionary Claims. For thirty years it has been without business. For thirty long years the placid surface of that parliamentary sea has been without one single ripple. If the Senator from Massachusetts desires a tribunal for a calm, judicial equilibrium and examination–a tribunal far from the ‘madding crowd’s ignoble strife’–a tribunal eminently respectable, dignified and unique; why not send this question to the Committee on Revolutionary Claims? It is eminently proper that this subject should go to that committee because, if there is any revolutionary claim in this country, it is that of woman suffrage. (Laughter.) It revolutionizes society; it revolutionizes religion; it revolutionizes the Constitution and laws; and it revolutionizes the opinions of those so old-fashioned among us as to believe that the legitimate and proper sphere of woman is the family circle, as wife and mother, and not as politician and voter–those of us who are proud to believe that

“Woman’s noblest station is retreat: Her fairest virtues fly from public sight; Domestic worth–that shuns too strong a light.

“Before that Committee on Revolutionary Claims why could not this most revolutionary of all claims receive immediate and ample attention? More than that, as I said before, if there is any tribunal that could give undivided time and dignified attention, is it not this committee? If there is one peaceful haven of rest, never disturbed by any profane bill or resolution of any sort, it is the Committee on Revolutionary Claims. It is, in parliamentary life, described by that ecstatic verse in Watts’ hymn–

“There shall I bathe my wearied soul In seas of endless rest.
And not one wave of trouble roll
Across my peaceful breast.

“By all natural laws, stagnation breeds disease and death, and what could stir up this most venerable and respectable institution more than an application of the strong-minded, with short hair and shorter skirts, invading its dignified realm and elucidating all the excellences of female suffrage. Moreover, if these ladies could ever succeed in the providence of God in obtaining a report from that committee, it would end this question forever; for the public at large and myself included, in view of that miracle of female blandishment and female influence, would surrender at once, and female suffrage would become constitutional and lawful. Sir, I insist upon it that, in deference to this committee, in deference to the fact that it needs this sort of regimen and medicine, this whole subject should be so referred.”

This gives a very fair idea of the character of the arguments produced by our opponents, from the inauguration of the movement. But, as there are no arguments in a republican government in favor of an aristocracy of sex, ridicule was really the only available weapon. After declaring “that no just government can be formed without the consent of the governed,” “that taxation without representation is tyranny,” it is difficult to see on what basis one-half the people are disfranchised.



The four years following the Centennial were busy, happy ones, of varied interests and employments, public and private. Sons and daughters graduating from college, bringing troops of young friends to visit us; the usual matrimonial entanglements, with all their promises of celestial bliss intertwined with earthly doubts and fears; weddings, voyages to Europe, business ventures–in this whirl of plans and projects our heads, hearts, and hands were fully occupied. Seven boys and girls dancing round the fireside, buoyant with all life’s joys opening before them, are enough to keep the most apathetic parents on the watch-towers by day and anxious even in dreamland by night. My spare time, if it can be said that I ever had any, was given during these days to social festivities. The inevitable dinners, teas, picnics, and dances with country neighbors, all came round in quick succession. We lived, at this time, at Tenafly, New Jersey, not far from the publisher of the _Sun_, Isaac W. England, who also had seven boys and girls as full of frolic as our own. Mrs. England and I entered into all their games with equal zest. The youngest thought half the fun was to see our enthusiasm in “blindman’s buff,” “fox and geese,” and “bean bags.” It thrills me with delight, even now, to see these games!

Mr. England was the soul of hospitality. He was never more happy than when his house was crowded with guests, and his larder with all the delicacies of the season. Though he and Mr. Stanton were both connected with that dignified journal, the New York _Sun_, yet they often joined in the general hilarity. I laugh, as I write, at the memory of all the frolics we had on the blue hills of Jersey.

In addition to the domestic cares which a large family involved, Mrs. Gage, Miss Anthony, and I were already busy collecting material for “The History of Woman Suffrage.” This required no end of correspondence. Then my lecturing trips were still a part of the annual programme. Washington conventions, too, with calls, appeals, resolutions, speeches and hearings before the Committees of Congress and State legislatures, all these came round in the year’s proceedings as regularly as pumpkin pies for Thanksgiving, plum pudding for Christmas, and patriotism for Washington’s birthday. Those who speak for glory or philanthropy are always in demand for college commencements and Fourth of July orations, hence much of Miss Anthony’s eloquence, as well as my own, was utilized in this way.

On October 18, 1880, I had an impromptu dinner party. Elizabeth Boynton Harbert, May Wright Thompson (now Sewall), Phoebe W. Couzins, and Arethusa Forbes, returning from a Boston convention, all by chance met under my roof. We had a very merry time talking over the incidents of the convention, Boston proprieties, and the general situation. As I gave them many early reminiscences, they asked if I had kept a diary. “No,” I said, “not a pen scratch of the past have I except what might be gathered from many family letters.” They urged me to begin a diary at once; so I promised I would on my coming birthday.

My great grief that day was that we were putting in a new range, and had made no preparations for dinner. This completely upset the presiding genius of my culinary department, as she could not give us the bounteous feast she knew was expected on such occasions. I, as usual, when there was any lack in the viands, tried to be as brilliant as possible in conversation; discussing Nirvana, Karma, reincarnation, and thus turning attention from the evanescent things of earth to the joys of a life to come,–not an easy feat to perform with strong-minded women,–but, in parting, they seemed happy and refreshed, and all promised to come again.

But we shall never meet there again, as the old, familiar oaks and the majestic chestnut trees have passed into other hands. Strange lovers now whisper their vows of faith and trust under the tree where a most charming wedding ceremony–that of my daughter Margaret–was solemnized one bright October day. All Nature seemed to do her utmost to heighten the beauty of the occasion. The verdure was brilliant with autumnal tints, the hazy noonday sun lent a peculiar softness to every shadow–even the birds and insects were hushed to silence. As the wedding march rose soft and clear, two stately ushers led the way; then a group of Vassar classmates, gayly decked in silks of different colors, followed by the bride and groom. An immense Saint Bernard dog, on his own account brought up the rear, keeping time with measured tread. He took his seat in full view, watching, alternately, the officiating clergyman, the bride and groom, and guests, as if to say: “What does all this mean?” No one behaved with more propriety and no one looked more radiant than he, with a ray of sunlight on his beautiful coat of long hair, his bright brass collar, and his wonderful head. Bruno did not live to see the old home broken up, but sleeps peacefully there, under the chestnut trees, and fills a large place in many of our pleasant memories.

On November 12, 1880, I was sixty-five years old, and, pursuant to my promise, I then began my diary. It was a bright, sunny day, but the frost king was at work; all my grand old trees, that stood like sentinels, to mark the boundary of my domain, were stripped of their foliage, and their brilliant colors had faded into a uniform brown; but the evergreens and the tall, prim cedars held their own, and, when covered with snow, their exquisite beauty brought tears to my eyes. One need never be lonely mid beautiful trees.

My thoughts were with my absent children–Harriot in France, Theodore in Germany, Margaret with her husband and brother Gerrit, halfway across the continent, and Bob still in college. I spent the day writing letters and walking up and down the piazza, and enjoyed, from my windows, a glorious sunset. Alone, on birthdays or holidays, one is very apt to indulge in sad retrospections. The thought of how much more I might have done for the perfect development of my children than I had accomplished, depressed me. I thought of all the blunders in my own life and in their education. Little has been said of the responsibilities of parental life; accordingly little or nothing has been done. I had such visions of parental duties that day that I came to the conclusion that parents never could pay the debt they owe their children for bringing them into this world of suffering, unless they can insure them sound minds in sound bodies, and enough of the good things of this life to enable them to live without a continual struggle for the necessaries of existence. I have no sympathy with the old idea that children owe parents a debt of gratitude for the simple fact of existence, generally conferred without thought and merely for their own pleasure. How seldom we hear of any high or holy preparation for the office of parenthood! Here, in the most momentous act of life, all is left to chance. Men and women, intelligent and prudent in all other directions, seem to exercise no forethought here, but hand down their individual and family idiosyncrasies in the most reckless mariner.

On November 13 the New York _Tribune_ announced the death of Lucretia Mott, eighty-eight years old. Having known her in the flush of life, when all her faculties were at their zenith, and in the repose of age, when her powers began to wane, her withdrawal from among us seemed as beautiful and natural as the changing foliage, from summer to autumn, of some grand old oak I have watched and loved.

The arrival of Miss Anthony and Mrs. Gage, on November 20, banished all family matters from my mind. What planning, now, for volumes, chapters, footnotes, margins, appendices, paper, and type; of engravings, title, preface, and introduction! I had never thought that the publication of a book required the consideration of such endless details. We stood appalled before the mass of material, growing higher and higher with every mail, and the thought of all the reading involved made us feel as if our lifework lay before us. Six weeks of steady labor all day, and often until midnight, made no visible decrease in the pile of documents. However, before the end of the month we had our arrangements all made with publishers and engravers, and six chapters in print. When we began to correct proof we felt as if something was accomplished. Thus we worked through the winter and far into the spring, with no change except the Washington Convention and an occasional evening meeting in New York city. We had frequent visits from friends whom we were glad to see. Hither came Edward M. Davis, Sarah Pugh, Adeline Thompson, Frederick Cabot of Boston, Dr. William F. Channing, and sweet little Clara Spence, who recited for us some of the most beautiful selections in her repertoire.

In addition we had numberless letters from friends and foes, some praising and some condemning our proposed undertaking, and, though much alone, we were kept in touch with the outside world. But so conflicting was the tone of the letters that, if we had not taken a very fair gauge of ourselves and our advisers, we should have abandoned our project and buried all the valuable material collected, to sleep in pine boxes forever.

At this time I received a very amusing letter from the Rev. Robert Collyer, on “literary righteousness,” quizzing me for using one of his anecdotes in my sketch of Lucretia Mott, without giving him credit. I laughed him to scorn, that he should have thought it was my duty to have done so. I told him plainly that he belonged to a class of “white male citizens,” who had robbed me of all civil and political rights; of property, children, and personal freedom; and now it ill became him to call me to account for using one of his little anecdotes that, ten to one, he had cribbed from some woman. I told him that I considered his whole class as fair game for literary pilfering. That women had been taxed to build colleges to educate men, and if we could pick up a literary crumb that had fallen from their feasts, we surely had a right to it. Moreover, I told him that man’s duty in the world was to work, to dig and delve for jewels, real and ideal, and lay them at woman’s feet, for her to use as she might see fit; that he should feel highly complimented, instead of complaining, that he had written something I thought worth using. He answered like the nobleman he is; susceptible of taking in a new idea. He admitted that, in view of the shortcomings of his entire sex, he had not one word to say in the way of accusation, but lay prostrate at my feet in sackcloth and ashes, wondering that he had not taken my view of the case in starting.

Only twice in my life have I been accused of quoting without giving due credit. The other case was that of Matilda Joslyn Gage. I had, on two or three occasions, used a motto of hers in autograph books, just as I had sentiments from Longfellow, Lowell, Shakespeare, Moses, or Paul. In long lyceum trips innumerable autograph books met one at every turn, in the cars, depots, on the platform, at the hotel and in the omnibus. “A sentiment, please,” cry half a dozen voices. One writes hastily different sentiments for each. In this way I unfortunately used a pet sentiment of Matilda’s. So, here and now, I say to my autograph admirers, from New York to San Francisco, whenever you see “There is a word sweeter than Mother, Home, or Heaven–that word is Liberty,” remember it belongs to Matilda Joslyn Gage. I hope, now, that Robert and Matilda will say, in their posthumous works, that I made the _amende honorable_, as I always strive to do when friends feel they have not been fairly treated.

In May, 1881, the first volume of our History appeared; it was an octavo, containing 871 pages, with good paper, good print, handsome engravings, and nicely bound. I welcomed it with the same feeling of love and tenderness as I did my firstborn. I took the same pleasure in hearing it praised and felt the same mortification in hearing it criticised. The most hearty welcome it received was from Rev. William Henry Channing. He wrote us that it was as interesting and fascinating as a novel. He gave it a most flattering notice in one of the London papers. John W. Forney, too, wrote a good review and sent a friendly letter. Mayo W. Hazeltine, one of the ablest critics in this country, in the New York _Sun_, also gave it a very careful and complimentary review. In fact, we received far more praise and less blame than we anticipated. We began the second volume in June. In reading over the material concerning woman’s work in the War, I felt how little our labors are appreciated. Who can sum up all the ills the women of a nation suffer from war? They have all of the misery and none of the glory; nothing to mitigate their weary waiting and watching for the loved ones who will return no more.

In the spring of 1881, to vary the monotony of the work on the history, we decided to hold a series of conventions through the New England States. We began during the Anniversary week in Boston, and had several crowded, enthusiastic meetings in Tremont Temple. In addition to our suffrage meetings, I spoke before the Free Religious, Moral Education, and Heredity associations. All our speakers stayed at the Parker House, and we had a very pleasant time visiting together in our leisure hours. We were received by Governor Long, at the State House. He made a short speech, in favor of woman suffrage, in reply to Mrs. Hooker. We also called on the Mayor, at the City Hall, and went through Jordan & Marsh’s great mercantile establishment, where the clerks are chiefly young girls, who are well fed and housed, and have pleasant rooms, with a good library, where they sit and read in the evening. We went through the Sherborn Reformatory Prison for Women, managed entirely by women. We found it clean and comfortable, more like a pleasant home than a place of punishment.

Mrs. Robinson, Miss Anthony, and I were invited to dine with the Bird Club. No woman, other than I, had ever had that honor before. I dined with them in 1870, escorted by “Warrington” of the Springfield _Republican_ and Edwin Morton. There I met Frank Sanborn for the first time. Frank Bird held about the same place in political life in Massachusetts, that Thurlow Weed did in the State of New York for forty years. In the evening we had a crowded reception at the home of Mrs. Fenno Tudor, who occupied a fine old residence facing the Common, where we met a large gathering of Boston reformers. On Decoration Day, May 30, we went to Providence, where I was the guest of Dr. William F. Channing. We had a very successful convention there. Senator Anthony and ex-Governor Sprague were in the audience and expressed great pleasure, afterward, in all they had heard. I preached in Rev. Frederick Hinckley’s church the previous Sunday afternoon.

From Providence I hurried home, to meet my son Theodore and his bride, who had just landed from France. We decorated our house and grounds with Chinese lanterns and national flags for their reception. As we had not time to send to New York for bunting, our flags–French and American–were all made of bright red and blue cambric. The effect was fine when they arrived; but, unfortunately, there came up a heavy thunderstorm in the night and so drenched our beautiful flags that they became colorless rags. My little maid announced to me early in the morning that “the French and Americans had had a great battle during the night and that the piazza was covered with blood.” This was startling news to one just awakening from a sound sleep. “Why, Emma!” I said, “what do you mean?” “Why,” she replied, “the rain has washed all the color out of our flags, and the piazza is covered with red and blue streams of water.” As the morning sun appeared in all its glory, chasing the dark clouds away, our decorations did indeed look pale and limp, and were promptly removed.

I was happily surprised with my tall, stately daughter, Marguerite Berry. A fine-looking girl of twenty, straight, strong, and sound, modest and pleasing. She can walk miles, sketches from nature with great skill and rapidity, and speaks three languages. I had always said to my sons: “When you marry, choose a woman with a spine and sound teeth; remember the teeth show the condition of the bones in the rest of the body.” So, when Theodore introduced his wife to me, he said, “You see I have followed your advice; her spine is as straight as it should be, and every tooth in her head as sound as ivory.” This reminds me of a young man who used to put my stoves up for the winter. He told me one day that he thought of getting married. “Well,” I said, “above all things get a wife with a spine and sound teeth.” Stove pipe in hand he turned to me with a look of surprise, and said: “Do they ever come without spines?”

In July, 1881, sitting under the trees, Miss Anthony and I read and discussed Wendell Phillips’ magnificent speech before the Phi Beta Kappa Society at Harvard College. This society had often talked of inviting him, but was afraid of his radical utterances. At last, hoping that years might have modified his opinions and somewhat softened his speech, an invitation was given. The elite of Boston, the presidents and college professors from far and near, were there. A great audience of the wise, the learned, the distinguished in State and Church assembled. Such a conservative audience, it was supposed, would surely hold this radical in check. Alas! they were all doomed, for once, to hear the naked truth, on every vital question of the day. Thinking this might be his only opportunity to rouse some liberal thought in conservative minds, he struck the keynote of every reform; defended labor strikes, the Nihilists of Russia, prohibition, woman suffrage, and demanded reformation in our prisons, courts of justice, and halls of legislation. On the woman question, he said:

“Social science affirms that woman’s place in society marks the level of civilization. From its twilight in Greece, through the Italian worship of the Virgin, the dreams of chivalry, the justice of the civil law, and the equality of French society, we trace her gradual recognition, while our common law, as Lord Brougham confessed, was, with relation to women, the opprobrium of the age of Christianity. For forty years earnest men and women, working noiselessly, have washed away the opprobrium, the statute books of thirty States have been remodeled, and woman stands, to-day, almost face to face with her last claim–the ballot. It has been a weary and thankless, though successful struggle. But if there be any refuge from that ghastly curse, the vice of great cities, before which social science stands palsied and dumb, it is in this more equal recognition of women.

“If, in this critical battle for universal suffrage, our fathers’ noblest legacy to us and the greatest trust God leaves in our hands, there be any weapon, which, once taken from the armory, will make victory certain, it will be as it has been in art, literature, and society, summoning woman into the political arena. The literary class, until within half a dozen years, has taken no note of this great uprising; only to fling every obstacle in its way.

“The first glimpse we get of Saxon blood in history is that line of Tacitus in his ‘Germany,’ which reads, ‘In all grave matters they consult their women.’ Years hence, when robust Saxon sense has flung away Jewish superstition and Eastern prejudice, and put under its foot fastidious scholarship and squeamish fashion, some second Tacitus from the valley of the Mississippi will answer to him of the Seven Hills: ‘In all grave questions, we consult our women.’

“If the Alps, piled in cold and silence, be the emblem of despotism, we joyfully take the ever restless ocean for ours, only pure because never still. To be as good as our fathers, we must be better. They silenced their fears and subdued their prejudices, inaugurating free speech and equality with no precedent on the file. Let us rise to their level, crush appetite, and prohibit temptation if it rots great cities; intrench labor in sufficient bulwarks against that wealth which, without the tenfold strength of modern incorporations, wrecked the Grecian and Roman states; and, with a sterner effort still, summon woman into civil life, as re-enforcement to our laboring ranks, in the effort to make our civilization a success. Sit not like the figure on our silver coin, looking ever backward.

“‘New occasions teach new duties,
Time makes ancient good uncouth, They must upward still and onward,
Who would keep abreast of truth. Lo! before us gleam her watch fires–
We ourselves must pilgrims be,
Launch our _Mayflower_, and steer boldly Through the desperate winter sea,
Nor attempt the future’s portal
With the past’s blood-rusted key.'”

That Harvard speech in the face of fashion, bigotry, and conservatism–so liberal, so eloquent, so brave–is a model for every young man, who, like the orator, would devote his talents to the best interests of the race, rather than to his personal ambition for mere worldly success.

Toward the end of October, Miss Anthony returned, after a rest of two months, and we commenced work again on the second volume of the History. November 2 being election day, the Republican carriage, decorated with flags and evergreens, came to the door for voters. As I owned the house and paid the taxes, and as none of the white males was home, I suggested that I might go down and do the voting, whereupon the gentlemen who represented the Republican committee urged me, most cordially, to do so. Accompanied by my faithful friend, Miss Anthony, we stepped into the carriage and went to the poll, held in the hotel where I usually went to pay taxes. When we entered the room it was crowded with men. I was introduced to the inspectors by Charles Everett, one of our leading citizens, who said: “Mrs. Stanton is here, gentlemen, for the purpose of voting. As she is a taxpayer, of sound mind, and of legal age, I see no reason why she should not exercise this right of citizenship.”

The inspectors were thunderstruck. I think they were afraid that I was about to capture the ballot box. One placed his arms round it, with one hand close over the aperture where the ballots were slipped in, and said, with mingled surprise and pity, “Oh, no, madam! Men only are allowed to vote.” I then explained to him that, in accordance with the Constitution of New Jersey, women had voted in New Jersey down to 1801, when they were forbidden the further exercise of the right by an arbitrary act of the legislature, and, by a recent amendment to the national Constitution, Congress had declared that “all persons born or naturalized in the United States, and subject to the jurisdiction thereof, are citizens of the United States and of the State wherein they reside” and are entitled to vote. I told them that I wished to cast my vote, as a citizen of the United States, for the candidates for United States offices. Two of the inspectors sat down and pulled their hats over their eyes, whether from shame or ignorance I do not know. The other held on to the box, and said “I know nothing about the Constitutions, State or national. I never read either; but I do know that in New Jersey, women have not voted in my day, and I cannot accept your ballot.” So I laid my ballot in his hand, saying that I had the same right to vote that any man present had, and on him must rest the responsibility of denying me my rights of citizenship.

All through the winter Miss Anthony and I worked diligently on the History. My daughter Harriot came from Europe in February, determined that I should return with her, as she had not finished her studies. To expedite my task on the History she seized the laboring oar, prepared the last chapter and corrected the proof as opportunity offered. As the children were scattered to the four points of the compass and my husband spent the winter in the city, we decided to lease our house and all take a holiday. We spent a month in New York city, busy on the History to the last hour, with occasional intervals of receiving and visiting friends. As I dreaded the voyage, the days flew by too fast for my pleasure.



Having worked diligently through nearly two years on the second volume of “The History of Woman Suffrage,” I looked forward with pleasure to a rest, in the Old World, beyond the reach and sound of my beloved Susan and the woman suffrage movement. On May 27, 1892, I sailed with my daughter Harriot on the _Chateau Leoville_ for Bordeaux. The many friends who came to see us off brought fruits and flowers, boxes of candied ginger to ward off seasickness, letters of introduction, and light literature for the voyage. We had all the daily and weekly papers, secular and religious, the new monthly magazines, and several novels. We thought we would do an immense amount of reading, but we did very little. Eating, sleeping, walking on deck, and watching the ever-changing ocean are about all that most people care to do. The sail down the harbor that bright, warm evening was beautiful, and, we lingered on deck in the moonlight until a late hour.

I slept but little, that night, as two cats kept running in and out of my stateroom, and my berth was so narrow that I could only lie in one position–as straight as if already in my coffin. Under such circumstances I spent the night, thinking over everything that was painful in my whole life, and imagining all the different calamities that might befall my family in my absence. It was a night of severe introspection and intense dissatisfaction. I was glad when the morning dawned and I could go on deck. During the day my couch was widened one foot, and, at night, the cats relegated to other quarters.

We had a smooth, pleasant, uneventful voyage, until the last night, when, on nearing the French coast, the weather became dark and stormy. The next morning our good steamer pushed slowly and carefully up the broad, muddy Gironde and landed us on the bustling quays of Bordeaux, where my son Theodore stood waiting to receive us. As we turned to say farewell to our sturdy ship–gazing up at its black iron sides besprinkled with salty foam–a feeling of deep thankfulness took possession of us, for she had been faithful to her trust, and had borne us safely from the New World to the Old, over thousands of miles of treacherous sea.

We spent a day in driving about Bordeaux, enjoying the mere fact of restoration to _terra firma_ after twelve days’ imprisonment on the ocean. Maritime cities are much the same all the world over. The forests of masts, the heavily laden drays, the lounging sailors, the rough ‘longshoremen, and the dirty quays, are no more characteristic of Bordeaux than New York, London, and Liverpool. But Bordeaux was interesting as the birthplace of Montesquieu and as the capital of ancient Guienne and Gascony.

But I must not forget to mention an accident that happened on landing at Bordeaux. We had innumerable pieces of baggage, a baby carriage, rocking chair, a box of “The History of Woman Suffrage” for foreign libraries, besides the usual number of trunks and satchels, and one hamper, in which were many things we were undecided whether to take or leave. Into this, a loaded pistol had been carelessly thrown. The hamper being handled with an emphatic jerk by some jovial French sailor, the pistol exploded, shooting the bearer through the shoulder. He fell bleeding on the quay. The dynamite scare being just at its height, the general consternation was indescribable. Every Frenchman, with vehement gestures, was chattering to his utmost capacity, but keeping at a respectful distance from the hamper. No one knew what had caused the trouble; but Theodore was bound to make an investigation. He proceeded to untie the ropes and examine the contents, and there he found the pistol, from which, pointing upward, he fired two other bullets. “Alas!” said Hattie, “I put that pistol there, never dreaming it was loaded.” The wounded man was taken to the hospital. His injuries were very slight, but the incident cost us two thousand francs and no end of annoyance. I was thankful that by some chance the pistol had not gone off in the hold of the vessel and set the ship on fire, and possibly sacrificed three hundred lives through one girl’s carelessness. Verily we cannot be too careful in the use of firearms.

Bordeaux is a queer old town, with its innumerable soldiers and priests perambulating in all directions. The priests, in long black gowns and large black hats, have a solemn aspect; but the soldiers, walking lazily along, or guarding buildings that seem in no danger from any living thing, are useless and ridiculous. The heavy carts and harness move the unaccustomed observer to constant pity for the horses. Besides everything that is necessary for locomotion, they have an endless number of ornaments, rising two or three feet above the horses’ heads–horns, bells, feathers, and tassels. One of their carts would weigh as much as three of ours, and all their carriages are equally heavy.

It was a bright, cool day on which we took the train for Toulouse, and we enjoyed the delightful run through the very heart of old Gascony and Languedoc. It was evident that we were in the South, where the sun is strong, for, although summer had scarcely begun, the country already wore a brown hue. But the narrow strips of growing grain, the acres of grape vines, looking like young currant bushes, and the fig trees scattered here and there, looked odd to the eye of a native of New York.

We passed many historical spots during that afternoon journey up the valley of the Garonne. At Portets are the ruins of the Chateau of Langoiran, built before America was discovered, and, a few miles farther on, we came to the region of the famous wines of Sauterne and Chateau-Yquem. Saint Macaire is a very ancient Gallo-Roman town, where they show one churches, walls, and houses built fifteen centuries ago. One of the largest towns has a history typical of this part of France, where wars of religion and conquest were once the order of the day. It was taken and retaken by the Goths, Huns, Burgundians, and Saracens, nobody knows how many times, and belonged, successively, to the kings of France, to the dukes of Aquitaine, to the kings of England, and to the counts of Toulouse. I sometimes wonder whether the inhabitants of our American towns, whose growth and development have been free and untrammeled as that of a favorite child, appreciate the blessings that have been theirs. How true the lines of Goethe: “America, thou art much happier than our old continent; thou hast no castles in ruins, no fortresses; no useless remembrances, no vain enemies will interrupt the inward workings of thy life!”

We passed through Moissac, with its celebrated organ, a gift of Mazarin; through Castle Sarrazin, founded by the Saracens in the eighth century; through Montauban, that stronghold of the early Protestants, which suffered martyrdom for its religious faith; through Grisolles, built on a Roman highway, and, at last, in the dusk of the evening, we reached “the Capital of the South,” that city of learning–curious, interesting old Toulouse.

Laura Curtis Bullard, in her sketch of me in “Our Famous Women,” says: “In 1882, Mrs. Stanton went to France, on a visit to her son Theodore, and spent three months at the convent of La Sagesse, in the city of Toulouse.” This is quite true; but I have sometimes tried to guess what her readers thought I was doing for three months in a convent. Weary of the trials and tribulations of this world, had I gone there to prepare in solitude for the next? Had I taken the veil in my old age? Or, like high-church Anglicans and Roman Catholics, had I made this my retreat? Not at all. My daughter wished to study French advantageously, my son lived in the mountains hard by, and the garden of La Sagesse, with its big trees, clean gravel paths, and cool shade, was the most delightful spot.

In this religious retreat I met, from time to time, some of the most radical and liberal-minded residents of the South. Toulouse is one of the most important university centers of France, and bears with credit the proud title of “the learned city.” With two distinguished members of the faculty, the late Dr. Nicholas Joly and Professor Moliner of the law school, I often had most interesting discussions on all the great questions of the hour. That three heretics–I should say, six, for my daughter, son, and his wife often joined the circle–could thus sit in perfect security, and debate, in the most unorthodox fashion, in these holy precincts, all the reforms, social, political, and religious, which the United States and France need in order to be in harmony with the spirit of the age, was a striking proof of the progress the world has made in freedom of speech. The time was when such acts would have cost us our lives, even if we had been caught expressing our heresies in the seclusion of our own homes. But here, under the oaks of a Catholic convent, with the gray-robed sisters all around us, we could point out the fallacies of Romanism itself, without fear or trembling. Glorious Nineteenth Century, what conquests are thine!

I shall say nothing of the picturesque streets of antique Toulouse; nothing of the priests, who swarm like children in an English town; nothing of the beautifully carved stone facades of the ancient mansions, once inhabited by the nobility of Languedoc, but now given up to trade and commerce; nothing of the lofty brick cathedrals, whose exteriors remind one of London and whose interiors transfer you to “the gorgeous East”; nothing of the Capitol, with its gallery rich in busts of the celebrated sons of the South; nothing of the museum, the public garden, and the broad river winding through all. I must leave all these interesting features of Toulouse and hasten up into the Black Mountains, a few miles away, where I saw the country life of modern Languedoc.

At Jacournassy, the country seat of Mme. Berry, whose daughter my son Theodore married, I spent a month full of surprises. How everything differed from America, and even from the plain below! The peasants, many of them at least, can neither speak French nor understand it. Their language is a patois, resembling both Spanish and Italian, and they cling to it with astonishing pertinacity. Their agricultural implements are not less quaint than their speech. The plow is a long beam with a most primitive share in the middle, a cow at one end, and a boy at the other. The grain is cut with a sickle and threshed with a flail on the barn floor, as in Scripture times. Manure is scattered over the fields with the hands. There was a certain pleasure in studying these old-time ways. I caught glimpses of the anti-revolutionary epoch, when the king ruled the state and the nobles held the lands. Here again I saw, as never before, what vast strides the world has made within one century.

But, indoors, one returns to modern times. The table, beds, rooms of the chateau were much the same as those of Toulouse and New York city. The cooking is not like ours, however, unless Delmonico’s skill be supposed to have extended to all the homes in Manhattan Island, which is, unfortunately, not the case. What an admirable product of French genius is the art of cooking! Of incalculable value have been the culinary teachings of Vatel and his followers.

One of the sources of amusement, during my sojourn at Jacournassy, was of a literary nature. My son Theodore was then busy collecting the materials for his book entitled “The Woman Question in Europe,” and every post brought in manuscripts and letters from all parts of the continent, written in almost every tongue known to Babel. So just what I came abroad to avoid, I found on the very threshold where I came to rest. We had good linguists at the chateau, and every document finally came forth in English dress, which, however, often needed much altering and polishing. This was my part of the work. So, away off in the heart of France, high up in the Black Mountains, surrounded with French-speaking relatives and patois-speaking peasants, I found myself once more putting bad English into the best I could command, just as I had so often done in America, when editor of _The Revolution_, or when arranging manuscript for “The History of Woman Suffrage.” But it was labor in the cause of my sex; it was aiding in the creation of “The Woman Question in Europe,” and so my pen did not grow slack nor my hand weary.

The scenery in the Black Mountains is very grand, and reminds one of the lofty ranges of mountains around the Yosemite Valley in California. In the distance are the snow-capped Pyrenees, producing a solemn beauty, a profound solitude. We used to go every evening where we could see the sun set and watch the changing shadows in the broad valley below. Another great pleasure here was watching the gradual development of my first grandchild, Elizabeth Cady Stanton, born at Paris, on the 3d of May, 1882. She was a fine child; though only three months old her head was covered with dark hair, and her large blue eyes looked out with intense earnestness from beneath her well-shaped brow.

One night I had a terrible fright. I was the only person sleeping on the ground floor of the chateau, and my room was at the extreme end of the building, with the staircase on the other side. I had frequently been cautioned not to leave my windows open, as someone might get in. But, as I always slept with an open window, winter and summer, I thought I would take the risk rather than endure a feeling of suffocation night after night. The blinds were solid, and to close them was to exclude all the air, so I left them open about a foot, braced by an iron hook. A favorite resort for a pet donkey was under my window, where he had uniformly slept in profound silence. But one glorious moonlight night, probably to arouse me to enjoy with him the exquisite beauty of our surroundings, he put his nose through this aperture and gave one of the most prolonged, resounding brays I ever heard. Startled from a deep sleep, I was so frightened that at first I could not move. My next impulse was to rush out and arouse the family, but, seeing a dark head in the window, I thought I would slam down the heavy sash and check the intruder before starting. But just as I approached the window, another agonizing bray announced the innocent character of my midnight visitor. Stretching out of the window to frighten him away, a gentleman in the room above me, for the same purpose, dashed down a pail of water, which the donkey and I shared equally. He ran off at a double-quick pace, while I made a hasty retreat.

On August 20, I returned to Toulouse and our quiet convent. The sisters gave me a most affectionate welcome and I had many pleasant chats, sitting in the gardens, with the priests and professors. Several times my daughter and I attended High Mass in the cathedral, built in the eleventh century. Being entirely new to us it was a most entertaining spectacular performance. With our American ideas of religious devotion, it seemed to us that the people, as well as the building, belonged to the Dark Ages. About fifty priests, in mantles, gowns, and capes, some black, some yellow,–with tinseled fringes and ornamentation,–with all manner of gestures, genuflections, salutations, kneelings, and burning of incense; with prayers, admonitions, and sacraments, filled the altar with constant motion.

A tall man, dressed in red, wheeled in a large basket filled with bread, which the priests, with cups of wine, passed up and down among those kneeling at the altar. At least half a dozen times the places at the altar were filled–chiefly with women. We counted the men,–only seven,–and those were old and tremulous, with one foot in the grave. The whole performance was hollow and mechanical. People walked in, crossed themselves at the door with holy water, and, while kneeling and saying their prayers, looked about examining the dress of each newcomer, their lips moving throughout, satisfied in reeling off the allotted number of prayers in a given time. The one redeeming feature in the whole performance was the grand music. The deep-toned organ, whose sounds reverberated through the lofty arches, was very impressive.

The convent consisted of three large buildings, each three stories high, and a residence for the priests; also a chapel, where women, at their devotions, might be seen at various hours from four o’clock in the morning until evening. Inclosed within a high stone wall were beautiful gardens with fountains and shrines, where images of departed saints, in alcoves lighted with tapers were worshiped on certain days of the year.

Such were our environments, and our minds naturally often dwelt on the nature and power of the religion that had built up and maintained for centuries these peaceful resorts, where cultivated, scholarly men, and women of fine sensibilities, could find rest from the struggles of the outside world. The sisters, who managed this large establishment, seemed happy in the midst of their severe and multifarious duties. Of the undercurrent of their lives I could not judge, but on the surface all seemed smooth and satisfactory. They evidently took great pleasure in the society of each other. Every evening, from six to eight, they all sat in the gardens in a circle together, sewing, knitting, and chatting, with occasional merry bursts of laughter. Their existence is not, by many degrees, as monotonous as that of most women in isolated households–especially of the farmer’s wife in her solitary home, miles away from a village and a post office. They taught a school of fifty orphan girls, who lived in the convent, and for whom they frequently had entertainments. They also had a few boarders of the old aristocracy of France, who hate the Republic and still cling to their belief in Popes and Kings. For the purpose of perfecting herself in the language, my daughter embraced every opportunity to talk with all she met, and thus learned the secrets of their inner life. As Sister Rose spoke English, I gleaned from her what knowledge I could as to their views of time and eternity. I found their faith had not made much progress through the terrible upheavals of the French Revolution. Although the Jesuits have been driven out of France, and the pictures of Saints, the Virgin Mary, and Christ, have been banished from the walls of their schools and colleges, the sincere Catholics are more devoted to their religion because of these very persecutions.

Theodore, his wife, and baby, and Mr. Blatch, a young Englishman, came to visit us. The sisters and school children manifested great delight in the baby, and the former equal pleasure in Mr. Blatch’s marked attention to my daughter, as babies and courtships were unusual tableaux in a convent. As my daughter was studying for a university degree in mathematics, I went with her to the Lycee, a dreary apartment in a gloomy old building with bare walls, bare floors, dilapidated desks and benches, and an old rusty stove. Yet mid such surroundings, the professor always appeared in full dress, making a stately bow to his class. I had heard so much of the universities of France that I had pictured to myself grand buildings, like those of our universities; but, instead, I found that the lectures were given in isolated rooms, here, there, and anywhere–uniformly dreary inside and outside.

The first day we called on Professor Depesyrons. After making all our arrangements for books and lectures, he suddenly turned to my daughter, and, pointing to the flounces on her dress, her jaunty hat, and some flowers in a buttonhole, he smiled, and said: “All this, and yet you love mathematics?” As we entered the court, on our way to the Lycee and inquired for the professor’s lecture room, the students in little groups watched us closely. The one who escorted us asked several questions, and discovered, by our accent, that we were foreigners, a sufficient excuse for the novelty of our proceeding. The professor received us most graciously, and ordered the janitor to bring us chairs, table, paper, and pencils.

Then we chatted pleasantly until the hour arrived for his lecture. As I had but little interest in the subject, and as the problems were pronounced in a foreign tongue, I took my afternoon nap. There was no danger of affronting the professor by such indifference to his eloquence, as he faced the blackboard, filling it with signs and figures as rapidly as possible; then expunging them to refill again and again, without a break in his explanations; talking as fast as his hand moved. Harriot struggled several days to follow him, but found it impossible, so we gave up the chase after cubes and squares, and she devoted herself wholly to the study of the language. These were days, for me, of perfect rest and peace. Everything moved as if by magic, no hurry and bustle, never a cross or impatient word spoken. As only one or two of the sisters spoke English, I could read under the trees uninterruptedly for hours. Emerson, Ruskin, and Carlyle were my chosen companions.

We made several pleasant acquaintances among some Irish families who were trying to live on their reduced incomes in Toulouse. One of these gave us a farewell ball. As several companies of the French army were stationed there, we met a large number of officers at the ball. I had always supposed the French were graceful dancers. I was a quiet “looker on in Vienna,” so I had an opportunity of comparing the skill of the different nationalities. All admitted that none glided about so easily and gracefully as the Americans. They seemed to move without the least effort, while the English, the French, and the Germans labored in their dancing, bobbing up and down, jumping and jerking, out of breath and red in the face in five minutes. One great pleasure we had in Toulouse was the music of the military band in the public gardens, where, for half a cent, we could have a chair and enjoy pure air and sweet music for two hours.

We gave a farewell dinner at the Tivollier Hotel to some of our friends. With speeches and toasts we had a merry time. Professor Joly was the life of the occasion. He had been a teacher in France for forty years and had just retired on a pension. I presented to him “The History of Woman Suffrage,” and he wrote a most complimentary review of it in one of the leading French journals. Every holiday must have its end. Other duties called me to England. So, after a hasty good-by to Jacournassy and La Sagesse, to the Black Mountains and Toulouse, to Languedoc and the South, we took train one day in October, just as the first leaves began to fall, and, in fourteen hours, were at Paris. I had not seen the beautiful French capital since 1840. My sojourn within its enchanting walls was short,–too short,–and I woke one morning to find myself, after an absence of forty-two years, again on the shores of England, and before my eyes were fairly open, grim old London welcomed me back. But the many happy hours spent in “merry England” during the winter of 1882-83 have not effaced from my memory the four months in Languedoc.



Reaching London in the fogs and mists of November, 1882, the first person I met, after a separation of many years, was our revered and beloved friend William Henry Channing. The tall, graceful form was somewhat bent; the sweet, thoughtful face somewhat sadder; the crimes and miseries of the world seemed heavy on his heart. With his refined, nervous organization, the gloomy moral and physical atmosphere of London was the last place on earth where that beautiful life should have ended. I found him in earnest conversation with my daughter and the young Englishman she was soon to marry, advising them not only as to the importance of the step they were about to take, but as to the minor points to be observed in the ceremony. At the appointed time a few friends gathered in Portland Street Chapel, and as we approached the altar our friend appeared in surplice and gown, his pale, spiritual face more tender and beautiful than ever. This was the last marriage service he ever performed, and it was as pathetic as original. His whole appearance was so in harmony with the exquisite sentiments he uttered, that we who listened felt as if, for the time being, we had entered with him into the Holy of Holies.

Some time after, Miss Anthony and I called on him to return our thanks for the very complimentary review he had written of “The History of Woman Suffrage.” He thanked us in turn for the many pleasant memories we had revived in those pages, “but,” said he, “they have filled me with indignation, too, at the repeated insults offered to women so earnestly engaged in honest endeavors for the uplifting of mankind. I blushed for my sex more than once in reading these volumes.” We lingered long, talking over the events connected with our great struggle for freedom. He dwelt with tenderness on our disappointments, and entered more fully into the humiliations suffered by women, than any man we ever met. His views were as appreciative of the humiliation of woman, through the degradation of sex, as those expressed by John Stuart Mill in his wonderful work on “The Subjection of Women.” He was intensely interested in Frances Power Cobbe’s efforts to suppress vivisection, and the last time I saw him he was presiding at a parlor meeting where Dr. Elizabeth Blackwell gave an admirable address on the cause and cure of the social evil. Mr. Channing spoke beautifully in closing, paying a warm and merited compliment to Dr. Blackwell’s clear and concise review of all the difficulties involved in the question.

Reading so much of English reformers in our journals, of the Brights, McLarens, the Taylors; of Lydia Becker, Josephine Butler, and Octavia Hill, and of their great demonstrations with lords and members of Parliament in the chair,–we had longed to compare the actors in those scenes with our speakers on this side of the water. At last we met them one and all in great public meetings and parlor reunions, at dinners and receptions. We listened to their public men in Parliament, the courts, and the pulpit; to the women in their various assemblies; and came to the conclusion that Americans surpass them in oratory and the conduct of their meetings. A hesitating, apologetic manner seems to be the national custom for an exordium on all questions. Even their ablest men who have visited this country, such as Kingsley, Stanley, Arnold, Tyndall, and Coleridge, have all been criticised by the American public for their elocutionary defects. They have no speakers to compare with Wendell Phillips, George William Curtis, or Anna Dickinson, although John Bright is without peer among his countrymen, as is Mrs. Besant among the women. The women, as a general rule, are more fluent than the men.

I reached England in time to attend the great demonstration in Glasgow, to celebrate the extension of the municipal franchise to the women of Scotland. It was a remarkable occasion. St. Andrew’s immense hall was packed with women; a few men were admitted to the gallery at half a crown apiece. Over five thousand people were present. When a Scotch audience is thoroughly roused, nothing can equal the enthusiasm. The arrival of the speakers on the platform was announced with the wildest applause; the entire audience rising, waving their handkerchiefs, and clapping their hands, and every compliment paid the people of Scotland was received with similar outbursts. Mrs. McLaren, a sister of John Bright, presided, and made the opening speech. I had the honor, on this occasion, of addressing an audience for the first time in the Old World. Many others spoke briefly. There were too many speakers; no one had time to warm up to the point of eloquence.

Our system of conventions, of two or three days’ duration, with long speeches discussing pointed and radical resolutions, is quite unknown in England. Their meetings consist of one session of a few hours, into which they crowd all the speakers they can summon. They have a few tame, printed resolutions, on which there can be no possible difference of opinion, with the names of those who are to speak appended. Each of these is read and a few short speeches are made, that may or may not have the slightest reference to the resolutions, which are then passed. The last is usually one of thanks to some lord or member of the House of Commons, who may have condescended to preside at the meeting or do something for the measure in Parliament. The Queen is referred to tenderly in most of the speeches, although she has never done anything to merit the approbation of the advocates of suffrage for women.

From Glasgow quite a large party of the Brights and McLarens went to Edinburgh, where the Hon. Duncan McLaren gave us a warm welcome to Newington House, under the very shadow of the Salisbury crags. These and the Pentland Hills are remarkable features in the landscape as you approach this beautiful city with its mountains and castles. We passed a few charming days driving about, visiting old friends, and discussing the status of woman on both sides of the Atlantic. Here we met Elizabeth Pease Nichol and Jane and Eliza Wigham, whom I had not seen since we sat together in the World’s Anti-slavery Convention, in London, in 1840. Yet I knew Mrs. Nichol at once; her strongly marked face was not readily forgotten.

I went with the family on Sunday to the Friends’ meeting, where a most unusual manifestation for that decorous sect occurred. I had been told that, if I felt inclined, it would be considered quite proper for me to make some remarks, and just as I was revolving an opening sentence to a few thoughts I desired to present, a man arose in a remote part of the house and began, in a low voice, to give his testimony as to the truth that was in him. All eyes were turned toward him, when suddenly a Friend leaned over the back of the seat, seized his coat tails and jerked him down in a most emphatic manner. The poor man buried his face in his hands, and maintained a profound silence. I learned afterward that he was a bore, and the Friend in the rear thought it wise to nip him in the bud. This scene put to flight all intentions of speaking on my part lest I, too, might get outside the prescribed limits and be suppressed by force. I dined, that day, with Mrs. Nichol, at Huntly Lodge, where she has entertained in turn many of our American reformers. Her walls have echoed to the voices of Garrison, Rogers, Samuel J. May, Parker Pillsbury, Henry C. Wright, Douglass, Remond, and hosts of English philanthropists. Though over eighty years of age, she was still awake to all questions of the hour, and generous in her hospitalities as of yore.

Mrs. Margaret Lucas, whose whole soul was in the temperance movement, escorted me from Edinburgh to Manchester, to be present at another great demonstration in the Town Hall, the finest building in that district. It had just been completed, and, with its ante-room, dining hall, and various apartments for social entertainments, was by far the most perfect hall I had seen in England. There I was entertained by Mrs. Matilda Roby, who, with her husband, gave me a most hospitable reception. She invited several friends to luncheon one day, among others Miss Lydia Becker, editor of the _Suffrage Journal_ in that city, and the Rev. Mr. Steinthal, who had visited this country and spoken on our platform. The chief topic at the table was John Stuart Mill, his life, character, writings, and his position with reference to the political rights of women. In the evening we went to see Ristori in ‘”Queen Elizabeth.” Having seen her, many years before, in America, I was surprised to find her still so vigorous. And thus, week after week, suffrage meetings, receptions, dinners, luncheons, and theaters pleasantly alternated.

The following Sunday we heard in London a grand sermon from Moncure D. Conway, and had a pleasant interview with him and Mrs. Conway at the close of the session. Later we spent a few days at their artistic home, filled with books, pictures, and mementos from loving friends. A billiard room, with well-worn cues, balls, and table–quite a novel adjunct to a parsonage–may, in a measure, account for his vigorous sermons. A garden reception to Mr. and Mrs. Howells gave us an opportunity to see the American novelist surrounded by his English friends.

Soon after this Mr. Conway asked me to fill his pulpit. I retired Saturday night, very nervous over my sermon for the next day, and the feeling steadily increased until I reached the platform; but once there my fears were all dissipated, and I never enjoyed speaking more than on that occasion, for I had been so long oppressed with the degradation of woman under canon law and church discipline, that I had a sense of relief in pouring out my indignation. My theme was, “What has Christianity done for Woman?” and by the facts of history I showed clearly that to no form of religion was woman indebted for one impulse of freedom, as all alike have taught her inferiority and subjection. No lofty virtues can emanate from such a condition. Whatever heights of dignity and purity women have individually attained can in no way be attributed to the dogmas of their religion.

With my son Theodore, always deeply interested in my friends and public work, I called, during my stay in London, on Mrs. Grey, Miss Jessie Boucherett, and Dr. Hoggan, who had written essays for “The Woman Question in Europe”; on our American minister (Mr. Lowell), Mr. and Mrs. George W. Smalley, and many other notable men and women. By appointment we had an hour with the Hon. John Bright, at his residence on Piccadilly. As his photograph, with his fame, had reached America, his fine face and head, as well as his political opinions, were quite familiar to us. He received us with great cordiality, and manifested a clear knowledge and deep interest in regard to all American affairs. Free trade and woman suffrage formed the basis of our conversation; the literature of our respective countries and our great men and women were the lighter topics of the occasion. He was not sound in regard to the political rights of women, but it is not given to any one man to be equally clear on all questions. He voted for John Stuart Mill’s amendment to the Household Suffrage Bill in 1867, but he said, “that was a personal favor to a friend, without any strong convictions as to the merits of what I considered a purely sentimental measure.”

We attended the meeting called to rejoice over the passage of the Married Women’s Property Bill, which gave to the women of England, in 1882, what we had enjoyed in many States in this country since 1848. Mrs. Jacob Bright, Mrs. Scatcherd, Mrs. Elmy, and several members of Parliament made short speeches of congratulation to those who had been instrumental in carrying the measure. It was generally conceded that to the tact and persistence of Mrs. Jacob Bright, more than to any other person, belonged the credit of that achievement. Jacob Bright was at the time a member of Parliament, and fully in sympathy with the bill; and, while Mrs. Bright exerted all her social influence to make it popular with the members, her husband, thoroughly versed in Parliamentary tactics, availed himself of every technicality to push the bill through the House of Commons. Mrs. Bright’s chief object in securing this bill, aside from establishing the right that every human being has to his own property, was to place married women on an even plane with widows and spinsters, thereby making them qualified voters.

The next day we went out to Barn Elms to visit Mr. and Mrs. Charles McLaren. He was a member of Parliament, a Quaker by birth and education, and had sustained, to his uttermost ability, the suffrage movement. His charming wife, the daughter of Mrs. Pochin, is worthy of the noble mother who was among the earliest leaders on that question–speaking and writing with ability, on all phases of the subject. Barn Elms is a grand old estate, a few miles out of London. It was the dairy farm of Queen Elizabeth, and was presented by her to Sir Francis Walsingham. Since then it has been inhabited by many persons of note. It has existed as an estate since the time of the early Saxon kings, and the record of the sale of Barn Elms in the time of King Athelstane is still extant. What with its well-kept lawns, fine old trees, glimpses here and there of the Thames winding round its borders, and its wealth of old associations, it is, indeed, a charming spot. Our memory of those days will not go back to Saxon kings, but remain with the liberal host and hostess, the beautiful children, and the many charming acquaintances we met at that fireside. I doubt whether any of the ancient lords and ladies who dispensed their hospitalities under that roof did in any way surpass the present occupants. Mrs. McLaren, interested in all the reforms of the day, is radical in her ideas, a brilliant talker, and, for one so young, remarkably well informed on all political questions.

It was at Barn Elms I met, for the first time, Mrs. Fannie Hertz, to whom I was indebted for many pleasant acquaintances afterward. She is said to know more distinguished literary people than any other woman in London. I saw her, too, several times in her home; meeting, at her Sunday-afternoon receptions, many persons I was desirous to know. On one occasion I found George Jacob Holyoake there, surrounded by several young ladies, all stoutly defending the Nihilists in Russia, and their right to plot their way to freedom. They counted a dynasty of Czars as nothing in the balance with the liberties of a whole people. As I joined the circle, Mr. Holyoake called my attention to the fact that he was the only one in favor of peaceful measures. “Now,” said he, “I have often heard it said on your platform that the feminine element in politics would bring about perpetual peace in government, and here all these ladies are advocating: the worst forms of violence in the name of liberty.” “Ah!” said I, “lay on their shoulders the responsibility of governing, and they would soon become as mild and conservative as you seem to be.” He then gave us his views on co-operation, the only remedy for many existing evils, which he thought would be the next step toward a higher civilization.

There, too, I met some Positivists, who, though liberal on religious questions, were very narrow as to the sphere of woman. The difference in sex, which is the very reason why men and women should be associated in all forms of activity, is to them the strongest reason why they should be separated. Mrs. Hertz belongs to the Harrison school of Positivists. I went with her to one of Mrs. Orr’s receptions, where we met Robert Browning, a fine-looking man of seventy years, with white hair and mustache. He was frank, easy, playful, and brilliant in conversation. Mrs. Orr seemed to be taking a very pessimistic view of our present sphere of action, which Mr. Browning, with poetic coloring, was trying to paint more hopefully.

The next day I dined with Margaret Bright Lucas, in company with John P. Thomasson, member of Parliament, and his wife, and, afterward, we went to the House of Commons and had the good fortune to hear Gladstone, Parnell, and Sir Charles Dilke. Seeing Bradlaugh seated outside of the charmed circle, I sent my card to him, and, in the corridor, we had a few moments’ conversation. I asked him if he thought he would eventually get his seat. He replied, “Most assuredly I will. I shall open the next campaign with such an agitation as will rouse our politicians to some consideration of the changes gradually coming over the face of things in this country.”

The place assigned ladies in the House of Commons is really a disgrace to a country ruled by a queen. This dark perch is the highest gallery, immediately over the speaker’s desk and government seats, behind a fine wire netting, so that it is quite impossible to see or hear anything. The sixteen persons who can crowd into the front row, by standing with their noses partly through the open network, can have the satisfaction of seeing the cranial arch of their rulers and hearing an occasional paean to liberty, or an Irish growl at the lack of it. I was told that this network was to prevent the members on the floor from being disturbed by the beauty of the women. On hearing this I remarked that I was devoutly thankful that our American men were not so easily disturbed, and that the beauty of our women was not of so dangerous a type. I could but contrast our spacious galleries in that magnificent Capitol at Washington, as well as in our grand State Capitols, where hundreds of women can sit at their ease and see and hear their rulers, with these dark, dingy buildings. My son, who had a seat on the floor just opposite the ladies’ gallery, said he could compare our appearance to nothing but birds in a cage. He could not distinguish an outline of anybody. All he could see was the moving of feathers and furs or some bright ribbon or flower.

In the libraries, the courts, and the House of Lords, I found many suggestive subjects of thought. It was interesting to find, on the frescoed walls, many historical scenes in which women had taken a prominent part. Among others there was Jane Lane assisting Charles II. to escape, and Alice Lisle concealing the fugitives after the battle of Sedgemoor. Six wives of Henry VIII. stood forth, a solemn pageant when one recalled their sad fate. Alas! whether for good or ill, women must ever fill a large space in the tragedies of the world.

I passed a few pleasant hours in the house where Macaulay spent his last years. The once spacious library and the large bow-window, looking out on a beautiful lawn, where he sat, from day to day, writing his glowing periods, possessed a peculiar charm for me, as the surroundings of genius always do. I thought, as I stood there, how often he had unconsciously gazed on each object in searching for words rich enough to gild his ideas. The house was owned and occupied by Mr. and Mrs. Stephen Winckworth. It was at one of their sociable Sunday teas that many pleasant memories of the great historian were revived.

One of the most remarkable and genial women I met was Miss Frances Power Cobbe. She called one afternoon, and sipped with me the five o’clock tea, a uniform practice in England. She was of medium height, stout, rosy, and vigorous-looking, with a large, well-shaped head, a strong, happy face, and gifted with rare powers of conversation. I felt very strongly attracted to her. She was frank and cordial, and pronounced in all her views. She gave us an account of her efforts to rescue unhappy cats and dogs from the hands of the vivisectionists. We saw her, too, in her home, and in her office in Victoria Street. The perfect order in which her books and papers were arranged, and the exquisite neatness of the apartments, were refreshing to behold.

My daughter, having decided opinions of her own, was soon at loggerheads with Miss Cobbe on the question of vivisection. After we had examined several German and French books, with illustrations showing the horrible cruelty inflicted on cats and dogs, she enlarged on the hypocrisy and wickedness of these scientists, and, turning to my daughter, said: “Would you shake hands with one of these vivisectionists? Yes,” said Harriot, “I should be proud to shake hands with Virchow, the great German scientist, for his kindness to a young American girl. She applied to several professors to be admitted to their classes, but all refused except Virchow; he readily assented, and requested his students to treat her with becoming courtesy. ‘If any of you behave otherwise,’ said he, ‘I shall feel myself personally insulted.’ She entered his classes and pursued her studies, unmolested and with great success. Now, would you, Miss Cobbe, refuse to shake hands with any of your statesmen, scientists, clergymen, lawyers, or physicians who treat women with constant indignities and insult?” “Oh, no!” said Miss Cobbe. “Then,” said Harriot, “you estimate the physical suffering of cats and dogs as of more consequence than the humiliation of human beings. The man who tortures a cat for a scientific purpose is not as low in the scale of beings, in my judgment, as one who sacrifices his own daughter to some cruel custom.”

As we were, just then, reading Froude’s “Life of Carlyle,” we drove by the house where Carlyle had lived, and paused a moment at the door where poor Jennie went in and out so often with a heavy heart. The book gives a painful record of a great soul struggling with poverty and disappointment; the hope of success, as an author, so long deferred and never realized. His foolish pride of independence and headship, and his utter indifference to his domestic duties and the comfort of his wife made the picture still darker. Poor Jennie! fitted to shine in any circle, yet doomed, all her married life, to domestic drudgery, instead of associations with the great man for whose literary companionship she had sacrificed everything.

At one of Miss Biggs’ receptions Miss Anthony and I met Mr. Stansfeld, M.P., who had labored faithfully for the repeal of the Contagious Diseases Act, and had in a measure been successful. We had the honor of an interview with Lord Shaftesbury, at one of his crowded “at homes,” and found him a little uncertain as to the wisdom of allowing married women to vote, for fear of disturbing the peace of the family. I have often wondered if men see, in this objection, what a fatal admission they make as to their love of domination.

Miss Anthony was present at the great Liberal Conference, at Leeds, on October 17, 1882, to which Mrs. Helen Bright Clark, Miss Jane Cobden, Mrs. Tanner, Mrs. Scatcherd, and several other ladies were duly elected delegates from their respective Liberal Leagues. Mrs. Clark and Miss Cobden, daughters of the great corn-law reformers, spoke eloquently in favor of the resolution to extend Parliamentary suffrage to women, which was presented by Walter McLaren of Bradford. As Mrs. Clark made her impassioned appeal for the recognition of woman’s political equality in the next bill for extension of suffrage, that immense gathering of sixteen hundred delegates was hushed into profound silence. For a daughter to speak thus in that great representative convention, in opposition to her loved and honored father, the acknowledged leader of that party, was an act of heroism and fidelity to her own highest convictions almost without a parallel in English history, and the effect on the audience was as thrilling as it was surprising. The resolution was passed by a large majority. At the reception given to John Bright that evening, as Mrs. Clark approached the dais on which her noble father stood shaking the hands of passing friends, she remarked to her husband, “I wonder if father has heard of my speech this morning, and if he will forgive me for thus publicly differing with him?” The query was soon answered. As he caught the first glimpse of his daughter he stepped down, and, pressing her hand affectionately, kissed her on either cheek.

The next evening the great Quaker statesman was heard by the admiring thousands who could crowd into Victoria Hall, while thousands, equally desirous to hear, failed to get tickets of admission. It was a magnificent sight, and altogether a most impressive gathering of the people. Miss Anthony, with her friends, sat in the gallery opposite the great platform, where they had a fine view of the whole audience. When John Bright, escorted by Sir Wilfrid Lawson, took his seat, the immense crowd rose, waving hats and handkerchiefs, and, with the wildest enthusiasm, gave cheer after cheer in honor of the great leader. Sir Wilfrid Lawson, in his introductory remarks, facetiously alluded to the resolution adopted by the Conference as somewhat in advance of the ideas of the speaker of the evening. The house broke into roars of laughter, while the Father of Liberalism, perfectly convulsed, joined in the general merriment.

But when at length his time to speak had come, and Mr. Bright went over the many steps of progress that had been taken by the Liberal party, he cunningly dodged the question of the emancipation of the women of England. He skipped round the agitation of 1867, and John Stuart Mill’s amendment presented at that time in the House of Commons; the extension of the municipal suffrage in 1869; the participation of women in the establishment of national schools under the law of 1870, both as voters and members of school boards; the Married Women’s Property Bill of 1882; the large and increasing vote for the extension of Parliamentary suffrage in the House of Commons, and the adoption of the resolution by that great Conference the day before. All these successive steps toward woman’s emancipation he carefully remembered to forget.

While in London Miss Anthony and I attended several enthusiastic reform meetings. We heard Bradlaugh address his constituency on that memorable day at Trafalgar Square, at the opening of Parliament, when violence was anticipated and the Parliament Houses were surrounded by immense crowds, with the military and police in large numbers, to maintain order. We heard Michael Davitt and Miss Helen Taylor at a great meeting in Exeter Hall; the former on home rule for Ireland, and the latter on the nationalization of land. The facts and figures given in these two lectures, as to the abject poverty of the people and the cruel system by which every inch of land had been grabbed by their oppressors, were indeed appalling. A few days before sailing we made our last visit to Ernestine L. Rose, and found our noble coadjutor, though in delicate health, pleasantly situated in the heart of London, as deeply interested as ever in the struggles of the hour.

A great discomfort, in all English homes, is the inadequate system of heating. A moderate fire in the grate is the only mode of heating, and they seem quite oblivious to the danger of throwing a door open into a cold hall at one’s back, while the servants pass in and out with the various courses at dinner. As we Americans were sorely tried, under such circumstances, it was decided, in the home of my son-in-law, Mr. Blatch, to have a hall-stove, which, after a prolonged search, was found in London and duly installed as a presiding deity to defy the dampness that pervades all those ivy-covered habitations, as well as the neuralgia that wrings their possessors. What a blessing it proved, more than any one thing making the old English house seem like an American home! The delightful summer heat we, in America, enjoy in the coldest seasons, is quite unknown to our Saxon cousins. Although many came to see our stove in full working order, yet we could not persuade them to adopt the American system of heating the whole house at an even temperature. They cling to the customs of their fathers with an obstinacy that is incomprehensible to us, who are always ready to try experiments. Americans complain bitterly of the same freezing experiences in France and Germany, and, in turn, foreigners all criticise our overheated houses and places of amusement.