The Papers of Elizabeth Cady Stanton and Susan B. Anthony


SBA to the Editor, Lily [1]

Dear Mrs. Bloomer:

Your readers will doubtless expect to hear that the Women's New York State Temperance Society has adopted some efficient means for the revolutionizing of public sentiment on the great question of the Liquor traffic. Allow me to inform them that that Society proposes to accomplish its work through the "Foolishness of Preaching"[3] and has already two Lecturing agents in the field, and intends as soon as practicable to largely increase the number, so that previous to the time of the next election of Town and State officers, they may thoroughly canvass our state and rouse the women of every City, Village and School district to active efforts for the suppression of the Liquor traffic. It is said that woman's influence over man is all powerful; then let us exert it for the enactment of the "Maine Liquor Law."
Miss Clark addressed the people of Batavia last evening, in a most earnest and truthful manner; and was listened to with marked attention. After the address the Secretary of the Society stated its objects and the means by which it is proposed to effect them, and called upon the friends present to co-operate with the Women's New York State Temperance Society.[4] Several constituted themselves members, and large numbers will, without doubt, join and form an auxiliary society, which shall have for its object the purchase of Temperance newspapers, tracts, &c., for gratuitous distribution among those classes of persons who most need temperance light and truth, and are least likely to furnish themselves with it. I would like to give your readers the plan recommended for auxiliary societies, but it is now nearly mail time so I must bid them wait one month longer when we hope to be able to show them that we are at work in earnest, and in a manner that shall cause the downfall of the Liquor Traffic.

S. B. Anthony.

Lily, June 1852.
    [1.] Amelia Jenks Bloomer (1818-1894) was a temperance lecturer and editor of the Lily, a monthly published at Seneca Falls. She had been a governess and tutor in Waterloo before she married Seneca Falls lawyer and newspaperman Dexter Bloomer (1820-1900) in 1840. Bloomer encouraged his wife to contribute to the Seneca County Courier, of which he was coeditor, and in 1848, her Ladies' Temperance Society decided to publish a paper. Though left to do the job on her own, she produced the first issue of the Lily in January 1849. In the pages of the Lily, Bloomer popularized the reform costume, consisting of shortened skirt worn over trousers, and her name became synonymous with dress reform. (Notable American Women; Bloomer, Amelia Bloomer; Branch, "The Lily & the Bloomer." )
    [2.] SBA was on the road as an agent of the Women's New York State Temperance Society. The committee named at the women's temperance meeting held in Albany on 28 January 1852 called a convention in Rochester for 20-21 April. Five hundred women attended the opening session, and the audience swelled to one thousand when men were admitted. After addresses by ECS, Amelia Bloomer, and Mary Vaughan and several hours of debate dominated by the men, the convention voted to form this new temperance society and elected ECS its president. An executive committee appointed SBA an agent on 23 May, and she joined agent Emily Clark at Batavia, west of Rochester. Emily Clark is identified only through her work for the society. She was single, and the press described her as of LeRoy, in Genesee County. She was elected an officer at the founding meeting in April 1852, and on 21 January 1853, when the year's petitions for the Maine law were presented, she addressed the New York State Assembly in the capitol. An opponent of changing the constitution to allow men to hold office in the society, she won reelection to office at the annual meeting in 1853. (Film, 7:217.)
    [3.] 1 Cor. 1:21.
    [4.] SBA herself. See manuscript that fits this description, marked "Delivered for the First, at Batavia— N.Y. in company with Emily Clark," in Film, 7:221-33.