July 15, 1871
The young ladies of Selma have formed an organization the object of which is to intimidate young men and make them stop wearing mustachesthey tickle so.
Mrs. Moore is of the stuff heroes are made of. Recently, at Nashville, when her son fell down a well twenty-four feet deep, she neither fainted nor screamed, but instantly swung herself down, "hand over hand," caught the child with her feet, drew herself and son up again, and then, woman like, spanked the boy for falling in.
A poor colored woman in New Haven recently bequeathed between two and three thousand dollarsmoney she had saved by a life of toil in washing and scrubbingto educate any poor colored student who might enter Yale divinity school to become a preacher; and if, no colored student is presented, then the money may be applied for the benefit of a white student.
Dear MadamTo you, the last victim sacrificed on the altar of womans suffrage, I send my first word from the land of freedom.
As Miss Anthony and myself retired for the night, dashing over the prairies of Nebraska, we asked the conductor what hour the train reached Wyoming in the morning. He said 4 oclock; so we closed our eyes, with the satisfaction of knowing that when we awoke we should behold that blessed land where, for the first time in the history of the world, the true idea of a just government is realized, where woman is the political equal of man, with the right of trial by a jury of her own peers, and a voice in the laws that govern her.
Unthinking men often express surprise that those of us who enjoy social and educational advantages should so keenly feel the degradation of disappointment; but that is the very reason we do. It is because we are the equals, in fact, of most men we meet, that we feel the humiliation of their artificial superiority. The lash on the back of Frederick Douglass would be far more galling to his spirit than to that of a groveling, degraded slave.
But you, who have drunk deep from womans cup of bitterness, can understand all this, and so too, you can appreciate the intense joy, the new dignity we fell in treading this sacred soil. "Deprive me of one right," says Daniel Webster," and that is the one of all others I long most to possess."
Tonight we are to speak in Cheyenne, and instead of the wail of twenty-five years, we shall tune our harps to notes of gladness; instead of pleading for womans suffrage, we shall dwell on all the grand reforms she now has the power to inaugurate, in the State, the church, the school and the home for I fully believe, when the mother-soul is infused into our legislation, we shall have better codes and creeds and educational systems, and purer, holier, social relations than we enjoy today.
I left New York after our May Conventions sad and oppressed with the barbarism, falsehood and hypocrisy of the press of our country, knowing that when liberty runs into license the reaction that must come is tyranny. The fearful scenes being enacted in Paris today should warn us who believe in the great idea of self-government to rebuke every violation of individual rights. It may be a light thing for the press of the country to hold up one frail little woman to public ridicule and denunciation, but this reckless hashing of individual reputations is destructive of all sense of justice and honor among our people, and will eventually force on us a censorship of the press. The grief I felt in the vile raking of your personal and family affairs was three-foldsympathy for you, shame for the men who persecuted you and the dangers I saw in the abuse of one of our greatest blessings, a free press.
Why did our editors all over the land dip their pens in gall to crush the one woman whom the Congress of the United States honored, for the first time in the history of our government, with a hearing before the Judiciary Committee of the House and an able report on her memorial? Was it because they so loved purity and principle, and felt the cause of womans suffrage too sacred to be advocated by any one not as pure and chaste as Diana? Nay, nay, but because they hated the principle of equality, and could not answer her able argument. These crafty ones see that this reform has passed the court of moral discussion, and is now fairly ushered into the arena of politics. Jeremy Bentham tells us it is an old dodge of the enemies of progress; when they cannot answer the arguments of reformers, they try to blacken their characters, and thus turn public thought from principles to personalities.
It seems to me that some commentaries on your very able arguments on natural rights and constitutional law would be higher game for men supposed to be specially gifted with the power of reason and trained to logical deductions, and more in harmony with the tastes of educated gentlemen, than all this low gossiping about the blunders of your childhood and the sorrows of your maturer years.
Let not the women of the country be deceived by these hints of the press, lest womans virtue be sacrificed; little care they for that, for the same pens that scarify Victoria Woodhull today, were more remorseless in their persecution of Harriet Beecher Stowe two ears ago, when, by unveiling the social infamies of Lord Byrons life, she shook the civilized world. To a man the press of England and America rushed to his defense. No whinings then about social morals, or warnings to women to beware of the men of their own households, but flat denials of what, from common report, and Byrons own writings, all knew to be true; and stern rebukes of the woman who had thus shaken the confidence of her sex in their natural protectors.
"Ah!" cried these gentlemen of the press, "what monstrous sacrilege, thus to unveil the dead!"
Do dead men feel persecution or betrayal more than living women?
Is it harder for a man to hear the worlds scorn and contumely in the solitude of a British sepulcher than for a woman while earning her living in the busy streets of our metropolis, with the scarlet letter forever beating on her bruised heart.
Hawthornes sketch of that base, craven coward sitting high in the judgment seat, to pass sentence on the woman he had seduced, standing alone in the market-place, with the eyes of the multitude and the intense rays of a summers sun burning into her very soul, is all realized in our midst every day.
When I think of all the worlds baseness, selfishness and hypocrisy toward my sex through the long, long past, and the mountains of sorrow and shame they groan under, even in this Christian civilization, I sometimes blush that one drop of my womans blood has every warmed the heart of any living man.
But you have not suffered in vain. You have made some grand points of assault on the old tyrant Custom.
In declaring that women are already citizens and pointing the short way to freedom, you have inspired the strongest of us with new hope and enthusiasm. In securing a hearing before the Judiciary Committee of Congress, and that able report of Butler and Loughridge, you have lifted the debate on womans suffrage from the low ground of expediency, where ordinary men insist on holding it, into the higher realm of constitutional law. You have attacked, too, the last stronghold of the enemythe social subordination of woman.
You have also done a good thing in suing some of our leading journals for libel. If you do not gain your suits, you will teach these editors that women, as citizens, have some rights white men are bound to respect. They have misrepresented and vilified the leading women in our reform so long, without the least sense of guilt or fear of penalty, that they have really come to consider us all as legitimate subjects for their amusement or abusedocile, pliant tools, adapted alike to their sunny or their savage words.
At one time the press of this nation made itself merry over the bulls and blunders of the Irishman. Then "poor Pat" was the target for the peoples ridicule and scorn. But that is all passed away. With the ballot in his hand, the Irishman soon became a power that editors and politicians could not afford to ridicule or ignore.
Then Sambo took his turn. Our journals delighted to dwell on his thick skull, woolly head, shin-bone and long heel; but we hear no more of that now. Sambo is crowned with the rights of citizenship; he holds that scepter of power, the ballot, in his hand. He sits in the Senate of the United States and the Legislature of Massachusetts; and lo! editors and politicians are compelled to do him reverence.
But poor human nature must have someone to look down on, our sires and sons something to laugh at, and so woman is the target today, and will be until we make it the political interest of editors and politicians to mend their manners.
Libel suits are good for the transition period; but the ballot is the mightiest leveler yet discovered in governments.
When the votes of women make and unmake Presidents, the philosopher of the New York Tribune will soon find as many arguments in favor of Woman Suffrage as he now does against it.
Miss Anthony and I have laughed over a letter of Warringtons in the Springfield Republican, describing the trepidation of our friends at the Hub, lest your friend Mrs. Hookers presence should make them responsible for your social theories and your advent to the Womans Rights platform. Why did they not pass a resolution against Congress for giving you a hearing and reporting on your memorial? If you are the questionable character they assume, your wiles would be far more dangerous among our representatives at the capital than in a convention of strong-minded women in Boston.
But you must pardon those sweet sisters, for most of their speakers on the occasion seem to have been new recruits who did not believe in womans suffrage five years ago.
But their alarm is not more amusing than the prophetic vision of their chosen seer, in the Womans Journal, V.W.H., who now thinks we may vote in sixty years. Does not the reverend gentleman know that all women are voting in Wyoming today, and some have voted in other States? That we have declared ourselves "citizens" and intend to maintain our rights at the ballot box and in the courts, and that unless Congress gives us a declaratory act securing us in all our inalienable rights we shall secede from this bogus republic, and set up a pure democracy of our own, assisted by all the just men who wish to enjoy the blessings of liberty and equality in government.
Verily, this New England prophet has more skill in the rhetorical turn of sentence than in reaching the sins of the time. From Cheyenne we go to Denver,
Respectfully Yours, Elizabeth Cady Stanton
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