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  • Aug. 12, 1871


    Said a pompous husband, whose wife had stolen up behind and given him a kiss, "Madam, I consider such an act indecorous." "Excuse me," said the wife, "I didn’t know it was you."

    A man who married a buxom Irish girl, greatly to the horror of his mother and sister, made the following defense: "If I married an American girl I must have an Irish girl to take are of her, and I cannot afford to support both of them."

    Mr. David Walker, a slave, was sold in Norfolk, Va., thirty-two years ago, to another master residing in New Orleans, and separated from a colored woman, Mary Gibbs, with whom he had been living as his wife. Hearing a few days since that his former partner was still in the old Virginia home, he went back there, and found her, and married her. He is now 83 and she 74; but they still look forward to years of wedded joy.

    Mrs. Colt, widow of Colonel Colt, is said to be the richest woman in America. She lives at Hartford, Conn. Many anecdotes are told of her liberality, her kindness and her prompt business habits. She is a warm patron and good judge of art. But the most honorable chapter in her biography is the interest she takes in the welfare and advancement of her work, people and dependents.


    Everybody prates of the wonders of the present age of the world, and yet it may be doubted whether any of us half estimate its really marvelous character. Every age, objects some captious reader, or some discontented pessimist, is a a great age to those that live in it, just as everybody’s own country is the greatest of all countries, or as every mother’s baby is the finest baby that ever was born. . . . [W]e must still regard this latter half of the nineteenth century as the most distinguished speck in the world’s history. There is, we believe, a hundred times more mental activity at this time in the world at large than at any previous period, and events are progressing in a proportionately rapid ratio. It is an error to suppose that evolution in anything always takes place at the same even rate. . .

    Physically, but in respect to man, the world is undergoing just at this nick of time, in several respects, the greatest changes it has ever undergone or can ever undergo, the transition from the fragmentary and imperfect state to that which is integral and complete.

    Notably, in physical geography we are just solving the last problems, finding the sources of the Nile, laying open the closed frontiers of China and Japan, and the hidden secrets of Central Africa, and searching the North Polar Sea. Every ocean is already navigated, every continent and island familiarized to our acquaintanceship. A labor that has thus occupied the race of man for five or ten thousand years, demanding the greatest sacrifices and the most strenuous exertions, is getting itself finished up, and the books of that business enterprise of humanity are being closed up just about now. We have gone over the surface of our entire inheritance in respect to landed estate, waterfront, fisheries and navigation; and so to say, we have got our farm fenced in. That makes an epoch.

    But we have done more. We have begun the unitary culture and administration of this human habitat and domicile, instead of the fragmentary and patchwork management which has prevailed through all the past ages. We have learned how to put a girdle round the earth in forty minutes, and we compass the earth’s circumference with steamers as regularly as we cross a ferry; and all this has happened just now for the first time, in all ages.

    And we are talking glibly of unitary weights and measures, of a unitary currency, of a common and universal language, and finally of a Universal Government; and nobody thinks stage of, or laughs at, these stupendous propositions which fifty years ago would have been received perhaps with a guffaw of derision. The world has been astonished so many times that it refuses to be astonished any longer. The greater an enterprise or a proposition nowadays the more likely it is to be believed in. Progression has reached, or is just now reaching, the pivot-point of equilibration where in place of resistance to elevation we gain acceleration and momentum from mere weight; when reform of all sorts, instead of struggling laboriously up hill, will be rushing down a declivity, helped by the same law which has hitherto retarded it, the mere inertia of public opinion. It is going presently to be easier to go ahead with increasing velocity than it will be to stop, or even to be still.

    Who can calculate the immense revolution that such a state of things will make in every sphere and department of human affairs. If inventors, discoverers and experimenters had no difficulty whatever in commanding sympathy and capital to test at the earliest moment every project of human improvement; if money flowed all the more regularly and readily into novelties, and because merely that they were novelties, if the new dominated generally over the load, and the future over the past, there is no calculating the velocity of human progress and growth of society.

    And it is because we are just at the turning point from an old fogy and conservative order of things, which has predominated through all the past periods of history, and the more so the further back we look, to just this normal and universal career of predominate progress; that indeed this progress has begun already; that we have entered on the descending grade, and so past the turning point; that we call this a wonderful and exceptional age in the world’s history.

    A few grand hindrances, accumulated obstructions, and formidable obstacles have hitherto hedged the tendency to this easy-going tendency to the easy and rapid progression of the race. Despotism, slavery and oppressive restrictions on women are or have been the chief barriers. despotism still lingers on the stage in Europe, but shudders with instinct of its own early destruction or decay. Slavery has just met with its quietus. Hindrances to the freedom of woman are rapidly yielding, and will dissolve into nothing sooner than either of the other obstructions referred to, as there are a thousand causes favoring that revolution which have not favored the others, and as the accelerated movements of reform itself is now brought to bear on this new subject of thought, discussion. and action.

    So far, indeed, are we already under full headway in the new career of evolution that we may claim to have entered already upon the coming order of things….




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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 (....)