The Papers of Elizabeth Cady Stanton and Susan B. Anthony

Remarks by SBA at Utica Antislavery Meeting

Pursuant to notice, a Convention of Garrison-ian Abolitionists assembled at Mechanics' Hall[1] at 2 p.m. yesterday, and were called to order by Miss Susan B. Anthony, who remarked that as the Utica Herald had termed the meeting her Convention, everybody would know who was speaking. She regretted to learn from the Janitor of the Hall that some of the members of the Association objected to renting the Hall, on the ground that the Convention was improper, outrageous, and sundry other dreadful things. She was gratified, therefore, to perceive that so large an audience of respectable looking men and women were present. (There were some two hundred and fifty persons in the Hall.) She did not think the services of any police would be required.
Miss A. then suggested that the Convention should nominate some suitable person to preside, declaring that no one should be so cowardly as to suppose himself responsible for everything that might be said at the Convention.
No one thought proper to nominate, and Miss Anthony said she would name Mr. Ezra Thompson as President; although he was not present, he doubtless would be at the subsequent sessions. Mrs. A. declared Mr. Thompson elected, although nobody voted on either side.
Miss Anthony then suggested that Vice Presidents be nominated, but as no one thought fit to name any, she proceeded to make a few remarks in explanation of the objects of the Convention and in denunciation of slavery. She read the article in yesterday's Morning Herald headed "Miss Anthony's Convention," and proceeded to comment thereon with some severity, considering it an indication of weakness for a Republican paper to urge people to stay away. The Republicans were not Abolitionists; they were nonextensionists. The Abolitionists believed slavery an evil and were for extinguishing it utterly. The Democratic paper could not be more outrageous than the Herald. The editor who wrote the paragraph knows unless he is stupidly ignorant, that Mr. Garrison and the leaders in this movement are non resistants. Hence they did not go for "civil war" as charged. The Herald had confessed that Abolitionists found the Constitution and Union in their way. Abolitionists were for the extirpation of slavery whatever stood in the way, and the editor of the Herald would be, and for civil war into the bargain, if thirty two States were banded together to hold him and his family in slavery.
Miss Anthony also read an extract from the Observer,[2] and subsequently denied that the movers in the Convention believed in Mr. Seward's doctrines or were Republicans. After proclaiming that the platform was free for discussion even to the most violent apologist for slavery, if he were decent and respectful in urging his views, Miss A. introduced Marius R. Robinson of Ohio.
Utica Morning Herald and Daily Gazette, 17 January 1860.

    Editorial note: Marius Robinson and Aaron Powell then spoke, and Powell introduced a series of resolutions calling for a personal liberty law and condemning compromise with the South. Parker Pillsbury, Robinson, and Powell addressed the evening session. Powell again spoke in behalf of a personal liberty bill during the afternoon session of 17 January. SBA spoke during the evening session.
Miss Anthony followed in a speech in behalf of woman's rights, arguing that we not only needed an insurrection on the plantations, but there should be an insurrection among the women. Miss A. seemed to think that the women were laboring under some great oppression at the hands of the men, though the precise character of her bondage was not clearly indicated. We conclude that woman's slavery in the matrimonial yoke, being a state they are extremely anxious to run into, is a kind of voluntary servitude, which was allowed among the Jews, and therefore can not share her feelings on the subject. She concluded by expressing her gratification at the good order and attention maintained by the audience throughout the sessions of the Convention; even the rowdy boys who came to make a disturbance, had heard something which touched their hearts, and had been awed into silence.
Utica Morning Herald and Daily Gazette, 18 January 1860.
    [1.] The hall of the Utica Mechanics' Association, built in 1837.
    [2.] The New York Observer printed several editorials critical of abolitionists and supportive of efforts at reconciliation with the South between December 1859 and January 1860. SBA probably refers to the editorial "The Great Re-Action," which charged that all antislavery meetings were a "declaration in favor of the law of barbarism," but warned against mob attacks on abolitionists for fear that "sympathy will be roused in their behalf, while now they are despised." (New York Observer, 29 December 1859.)