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January 27, 1872

THE WASHINGTON CONVENTION

[From the Washington Patriot, Jan. 11]

. . .The woman suffrage movement is one that cannot be ignored. There can be no doubt but that the advocates of the cause are gaining not only ground but strength, as during the three sessions held yesterday the audience was made up of some of our most prominent citizens, both male and female . . .

The earnestness of the women having the cause in charge, of course, cannot be doubted, and in order to make the convention as effective as possible, the best available talent has been brought forward. Miss Anthony, who reminds one of Senator Trumbull, is on hand ready to combat any argument that may be sprung by the opponents of the cause. Mrs. Woodhull, the enthusiast and able legal advocate, is ready and willing to argue the question from that standpoint. Mrs. Stanton, the good, matronly-looking dame, whose face is adorned with smiles and full of sunshine, makes converts by her lucid reasoning and happy, winning ways, while others of well-known ability lend aid with their powerful voice and argument.

Just before 10 o'clock the leaders made their appearance on the stage. First came Mrs. Elizabeth Cady Stanton, in a heavy black silk, trimmed with taste, and cut after an approved modern pattern. She has a handsome face, and is of portly proportions. Then followed Miss Susan B. Anthony, a woman evidently well over the forties, of angular features and wiry, active frame. No endowed with a handsome face, but full of vim and logic. She was dressed in a wine-colored silk, with two narrow flounces of the same material. Her white collar was relieved with a blue tie. Victoria C Woodhull came next, and was greeted with applause. She wore her usual plain suit of blue broadcloth and a double-breasted chinchilla coat trimmed with black velvet. She is quick of movement, and of well-developed form; has a pleasing face. Her hair is cut short, and is given to a slight curl. . . .

A few minutes past 10 o'clock the assemblage was called to order by Mrs. Elizabeth Cady Stanton, the president . . . Miss Susan B. Anthony was then introduced, who said that for the past two weeks she had been in a snow bank in the Rocky Mountains, and had with much difficulty succeeded in reaching Washington in time to attend the convention, but that she was glad she was here . . .

Mrs. Victoria C. Woodhull was the next speaker, and delivered a short address on the relations of Spiritualism, to political reform, claiming that it recognized the doctrine of equal rights. She wanted all evangelical bodies to organize for political purposes against all class rule and legislation. The duty of the hour was to overthrow all inequalities before the law and to inaugurate justice. . . .

SECOND DAY'S PROCEEDINGS

. . . Miss Anthony advanced to the front and stated that Mrs. [Laura De Force] Gordon was one of those dug out of the mountain snow banks. I want to say that Mrs. Gordon was regularly nominated for the State Senate of California last August, and that she canvassed her district and received over one hundred and sixteen votes, which was within one vote of an election. All along the line in the far West the suffrage questions is becoming a matter of fact. You now listen to a woman regularly nominated as a candidate for the State Senate of California.

Mrs. Laura de Force Gordon, a rather handsome woman, then appeared on the stage and said that it was true she had been dug out of a snow bank, and had scarcely thawed out. Since Miss Anthony has spoken of my Senatorial canvass, I am loth [sic] to alluded to it. Three years ago I delivered the first lecture on woman suffrage in San Francisco ever delivered on the Pacific coast; it was hard to get even a corporal's guard. From that primitive beginning, by dint of hard work, Territories had granted woman the ballot. She then spoke of how she had endeavored to have the word male stricken out of the statutes, and the vacillating course of politicians with regard to lending a helping hand; how, when the woman's petition was presented to the California Legislature, an honorable member moved that it be referred to the Committee on Swamp Lands. She argued that politicians were given to the doctrines of neutrality where a large number of votes were concerned.

Now, those in favor of female suffrage disclaim any sympathy with either the Republican or Democratic party; all political parties are humbugs. Both will talk nonsense and try to pacify us just so long as any of our number have influence to help them to positions of honor and trust.

And not a few Republican politicians in California: They were strong woman suffragists s long as they could make a point in favor of their own party. When an independent--candidate--a woman--loomed up in the political horizon, they wrote letters deprecating the same. . . .

Miss Anthony, without introduction, then advanced to the front and said that the previous speaker had touched on a subject in which she was interested. It is this: If any part put a woman's suffrage plank in its platform and nominate candidates in accordance therewith who are above-board in favor of woman having the ballot, that party is my party, and that party will I support. (Applause)

I shall take the stump for that party at the next presidential campaign. (Laughter) Women have a name and principle of their own. We have a kite to fly ourselves. Any party that is a woman's suffrage party I am in for--(applause)--and I will help to fly its kite; but I am not willing to be the last little paper knot in the tail of any political kit. (Laughter and immense applause.)

Just after finishing the above sentence, the speaker removed from her shoulders her shawl, and, with a vengeance, threw it to the rear of the stage. The action was quite vigorous, and produced roars of laughter. Resuming, she said, you may laugh at me just as much as you please, for I am just as mad as I can be. You think we came here for notoriety. Now, I have been speaking in this cause for over twenty years, and have been called everything but decent. Think you, if I desired notoriety, I could not secure it much cheaper. People tell us to wait--that our time is coming. Now, I have waited long enough . . . . That party has been in power since the war, and one scratch of the pen could have enfranchised women. Still they tell us to wait. I charge that those composing it are not Republicans. Some one says I am mad. Victoria Woodhull was mad last night, but she did not begin to be as mad as I am now. [Laughter.] She has been abused, but not half as much as I have. I have been on the public platform for twenty years as an advocate of equal rights, and have been scoffed and scorned. . . . When I heard of a woman on Wall Street, I went to see how a woman looked among the bulls and bears. Women have the same right there as men. Who brought Victoria C. Woodhull to the front? I have been asked by many, why did you drag her to the front? Now bless your souls, she was not dragged to the front: she came to Washington from Wall street with a powerful argument and with lots of cash behind her, and I bet you cash is a big thing with Congress. [Uproarious applause.] She presented her memorial to Congress, and it was a power. I should have been glad to call it the Dickinson memorial, or the Beecher memorial, or even the Anthony memorial. It was a mighty effort, and one that nay woman might be proud of. She had an interview with the Judiciary Committee; we could never secure that privilege. She is young, handsome and rich. Now, if it takes youth, beauty and money to capture Congress, Victoria is the woman we are after. [Laughter and applause.]

Women have too much false modesty. I was asked by the editors of the New York papers if I knew of Mrs. Woodhull's antecedents. I said I didn't, and I did not care nay more about them than those of Congress. Her antecedents will compare favorably with any member of Congress. I will not allow any human being, wearing the form of manhood, to ask me to desist working with any woman; for what woman is to-day is the result of man's handiwork.

I have been asked all along the line of the Pacific coast, what about Woodhull? You make her your leader? Now, we don't make leaders, they make themselves. If any can accomplish a more brilliant effort than Victoria C. Woodhull, let him or her go ahead and they shall be the leaders. [Applause] The fountain-head of this movement is in dispute. Spiritualists say they began it. I am a Quaker, and the Quakers say they sounded the tocsin. Then the Abolitionists claim it. Next, I presume the Presbyterians will claim it. Mrs. Hooker will, perhaps, say it was the Beecher family who originated it.

[Mrs. Hooker, shaking her head: No; you must take that back"]

Now, all I want is that all shall come together on the platform of equal rights to all, and work for woman suffrage. We don't endorse any sect, breed or political power. We don't endorse temperance, labor reform or Spiritualism, but we do emphatically endorse woman suffrage. . . .

Miss Susan B. Anthony read letters, bearing upon the subject under discussion . . . . Among these was one from Gen. J. A. Garfield [future President Garfield], politely declining the invitation which had been sent to him to appear upon the platform. Miss Anthony stated, in this connection, that when she had last seen this honorable member, he had said to her "Well, to tell the truth, I don't know but that it is about as you say; that if women were to vote, we should be deprived of our pet vices." These, Miss Anthony continued, these pet vices mean chewing, drinking and smoking, with a few other "pet vices" which she would not mention. . . .

Mrs. Laura Cuppy Smith said: Mrs. Woodhull told you last night that we were already citizens under the provisions of the fourteenth amendment, and that we should no longer petition Congress; but if they failed to pass a declaratory act we should launch our bark Constitution and rally about us the People, who make Congressmen and Presidents. We shall pass our measures over the heads of Congressmen, and leave them to be educated by the results . . . I have alluded to Victoria C. Woodhull. I am not a hero worshiper but my whole soul does homage to the principles of which I deem this grand woman to be the inspired representative. [Great applause.]

In the few remarks made by this lady a sensation was created. The earnestness of her manner, the apparent truth of her convictions and the real gift of imparting to an audience her own enthusiasm riveted the attention of the audience. She answered the objection against suffrage that its tendency would be to unsex women.

Mrs. Smith closed her remarks by stating that neither she, nor her sisters on the platform, were there for their own sake, but for the sake of their children, and those who should come after them. We stand here, she said, advocating the truth as we understand it; realizing that we are opening the door for thousands of men and women who shall come after us . . . .

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Webmaster's Note: Except for some headings, these are actual extracts from the Woodhull & Claflin's Weekly. Some spelling and punctuation has been changed. If an article was too long, some sentences were removed. Sentences or paragraphs that have been removed are indicated with the ellipsis (....)