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- They insist on their right to petition, and pray
That St. Paul, in Corinthians, has given them rules
But vain such instruction, if woman may scan,
“Our grandmothers' learning consisted of yore,
In spreading their generous boards;
Now misses may reason, and think, and debate,
“Our clergy have preached on the sin and the shame
Of woman when out of her sphere,'
But for spiritual guidance no longer they look,
"Our wise men have tried to exorcise in vain
The turbulent spirits abroad;
Like the devils of Milton, they rise from each blow,
“Our patriot fathers, of eloquent fame,
Waged war against tangible forms;
But, ah! their descendants enjoy not such bliss -
“Could we but array all our force in the field,
We'd teach these usurpers of power
But, alas ! for our tethered and impotent state,
Chained by notions of knighthood, we can but debate.
Place woman again in 'her sphere,'
This doctrine of Jesus, as preached up by Paul,
“LORDS OF CREATION.”
We will venture to predict, from present indications, before the lapse of ten years, men will be perfectly ashamed of the manner in which they have persecuted women, the
war they have waged on their intellects, and the absurd opinions they have advanced. A person would be led to believe that they considered women a different species from themselves; that there were two moral laws--one for men, and another for women. What would be a virtue in men, and their highest ornament, would be a vice in women; that to be an automaton, is woman's most exalted position; that woman's highest duty in the world is to stultify herself, and that to exercise her intellectual faculties, would be entirely displeasing to God.
We have chosen the history of the division of the American Anti-Slavery Society, for the purpose of illustrating the practical observations of public opinion, as it bears upon women in their agency in the promotion of any benevolent or philanthropic enterprise. The degrading position that is assigned to women, is calculated to subvert their influence. The wife is not only a subordinate in the family, according to public opinion, but her husband's authority pursues her in every department of life. Her intellect is not her own; her gift of speech is not her own; nor are these restrictions limited to the wife, but extend to the whole female sex. A woman of correct information and sound judgment, who would acquiesce in such exactions, does not deserve to enjoy her liberty; she does not know how to appreciate it, nor the exalted position she occupies as a human being, and the consequent responsibility. The restrictions of public opinion on woman's intellect, are greater than those of slavery, so far as principle is concerned. A slave, as a moral and intellectual being, might sit on equal terms with his master in a society, without violating any principle of slavery. That it has the power to keep its victims ignorant, and prevent them from exercising their intellect, we know, and it is the policy of all despotisms to do so; the more enlightened the age, the greater the necessity to keep them ignorant, lest they might begin to understand their own rights, or, what is equivalent to keeping them ignorant, prevent them from exercising their intellectual attainments. Tell them peremptorily that it would be a breach of “modesty and decorum” for them to exercise their intellect; or that their state of vassalage made it positively sinful for them to do so. It would have a “disorganizing, revolu
tionary tendency.” No, there is no power in the civilized world that calls for such a sacrifice of our intellectual faculties, or such humble servility, as does this aristocracy of sex. We know of no parallel, excepting caste, among the heathen.
For a woman to appear as an advocate, or use her intellectual exertions for the promotion of any good cause calculated to ameliorate the condition of mankind; is to present herself as a victim to the shafts of persecution. No matter how well she is qualified, the better her qualifications, the more virulent the opposition. If she was only exposed to the attacks of the enemy, it is no more than might be expected; but the members of her own fraternity turn their backs on the enemy, and use their artillery against her, unless she appears as their dupe. Now, this was the conduct of the seceding part of the American anti-slavery society, and is illustrative of public opinion on this question; it shows the ordeal women have to pass through if they presume to exercise their intellectual and moral endowments on their own responsibility. Even supposing there was a distinction between the field of labour, to be occupied by men and women, which we deny, there could be no theatre of action more suitable for woman's exertions than the anti-slavery enterprise. It was entirely of a moral character. She was neither invading the sacerdotal office nor the political.
One grave reason brought against woman's agency in the society, was, that it would neutralize her influence. What benefit could arise from the presence of a being who had no moral right to act? They seemed to award a magical influence to her presence, provided she did not act. James tells us, “Faith without works is dead.” That her active agency will exasperate the enemy, we are well aware, and we consider this a favourable omen. When they writhe and turn, it is a sign they feel the blow, for although men profess to despise the opposition of woman, they fear it. Satan both fears and hates his first victim. “I will put enmity between thee and the woman.” God has given woman a powerful moral influence. Those who have the wrong side of the question, fear her as an antagonist; when she properly arrays her force in the field, they know she is a potent auxiliary. Men will acknowledge this and far more when they
are suppliants for her aid, when they get into a quandary. She will then be permitted to give her aid in her own way. Women spoke in the American anti-slavery society at its first organization without any opposition.
There is no portion of the community more opposed to the acknowledgment of the entire brotherhood of the whole human family, or an equality of rights among its members, than were one class of abolitionists; that division that called themselves the “liberty party,” (misnamed.) There were individuals in that party who were true liberty men, and made humanity the basis of rights, and knew nothing of men's rights or women's rights, but human rights. But take the party in the aggregate, there was no portion of the community more opposed to woman's enjoying what they themselves called human rights, than was the liberty party.
We were informed by a whole-souled liberty man, that he was a member of a committee at a “liberty” meeting; the business of said committee was to devise means for the promotion of the liberty cause-one means was the circulation of tracts—he proposed to have some women appointed in different places to assist in circulating these documents, but the other members of the committee scoffed at the idea of employing woman's agency; so the appointment of women as auxiliaries was trampled under foot. When we are speaking of political abolition parties, we with pleasure award a meed of praise to the party known by the appellation of “the liberty league," with Gerrit Smith at their head. They are the only political party in the world, that we are advised of, that acknowledges the entire brotherhood of the whole human family. A political party composed of individuals of such high standing for their moral and intellectual attainments, making humanity their platform, gives us reason to “thank God and take courage;" although their numerical strength may not be great. We consider it a ray of the dawn of that day when all members of the human family will be invested with their “natural and inalienable rights. To secure these rights, governments are instituted among men, deriving their just powers from the consent of the governed.” When these principles shall be fairly carried out, there will be no “class legislation,” then laws will not be framed for woman or for man, but for mankind. All rights are human rights, and pertain to human beings without distinction of sex or colour. Woman will then be permitted to do her duty in a political capacity to her God, to herself, and to her fellow-man. “Queens shall be your nursing mothers.”
It was peculiarly out of place for abolitionists to proscribe any portion of the human family, thus divesting them of their liberties, as far as their jurisdiction was concerned; they ought to have acknowledged the entire brotherhood of the whole human family. They were requiring the same rights for the female slave that they were for the male. If women are such subordinates, and have such a disparity of rights, how could it be made appear, that the female slaves had the same right to liberty as the males? If women have fewer rights in one respect, why not in another? Perhaps they adopt Mr. Barnes' argument, that the husband is the master, by scriptural authority, therefore his rights are violated by domestic slavery. It is passing strange, that our brethren did not perceive that the very arguments which were made use of to proscribe women, are made use of to support slavery; and this is not very strange, for all despotisms are supported by the same arguments.
If men do not see proper to labour in conjunction with women, and do not consider them “help-meets” to God, let men be accountable for their conduct; but in all important reformations that have taken place in the world, women have always appeared in the field, ready for action, and God has equipped them from the armory of heaven, and endowed them with courage and skill for the warfare. They fight under His banners, whom they followed to the cross and to the grave. With God's assistance, they will neither prove cowards nor traitors. God has ordained it: they have not received this appointment from men, nor are they accountable to men. Women had the same authority to appear as agents in the anti-slavery cause, as had men. “Remember them that are in bonds, as bound with them, and them which suffer adversity, as being yourselves also in the body," Heb. xii., 3. Now, this call is presented to all that are in the body, without distinction of sex. Every means that would be morally right for a male slave to adopt, to acquire his liberty, would be morally right for a female slave. There would be