The Papers of Elizabeth Cady Stanton and Susan B. Anthony


SBA to Martha Coffin Wright

Mr. Bingham, the chairman of the Judiciary Committee, will bring in a radical report in favor of all our claims, but previous to his doing so he wishes our strongest arguments made before the Committee, and he says Mrs. Stanton must come.[2] I write her this mail, but I wish you would step over there and make her feel that the salvation of the Empire State, at least the women in it, depends upon her bending all her powers to moving the hearts of our law-makers at this time. Mr. Bingham says our Convention here has wrought wondrous changes with a large number of the members who attended, and so says Mr. Mayo, of the Albanians; indeed our claims are so patent they need only to be known to be approved. Mrs. Stanton must move heaven and earth now to secure this bill, and she can, if she will only try. I should go there myself this very night, but I must watch and encourage friends here. The Earnings Bill has passed the House, and is in Committee of the Whole in the Senate. Then a Guardianship Bill must be drafted and put through if possible.[3] I returned from New York last evening; have taken the "Cooper Union," for our National Convention in May. Saw Miss Howland;[4] she said Mr. Beecher's lecture is to be in this week's Independent.[5] Only think how many priestly eyes will be compelled to look at its defiled page. Theodore Tilton[6] told me that Mr. Beecher had had a severe battle to get into The Independent.
History, 1:678-79.
    [1.] Dated by SBA's return to Albany on 14 February, noted in a letter to James F. Clarke, Film, 9:524-28.
    [2.] In January, SBA and other activists carried their woman's rights campaign to the legislature, working closely with Anson Bingham, chair of the assembly's judiciary committee, and Andrew J. Colvin, his law partner and a Democratic member of the senate judiciary committee. SBA reports on one stage of drafting the act concerning the property of married women, passed in March 1860. Bingham steered an amendment to the property act of 1848 through the assembly to protect property in trade and earnings. SBA refers to this as the "Earnings Bill," passed by the assembly on February 10 and scheduled for debate in the senate at the end of the month. But SBA, Bingham, and Colvin wanted to substitute a bill under consideration in Massachusetts that would add more rights, and Bingham sought ECS's help getting the new text through his committee. In the senate, Colvin substituted the Massachusetts bill for his original one when debate began in the committee of the whole. (Journal of the New York Assembly, February 1860, 13, 16, 27 January, 7, 10 February, pp. 102, 112, 205, 308, 334; Journal of the New York Senate, February 1860, 11, 19, 27 January, 11, 23 February, pp. 57, 89, 130, 221, 261; Albany Atlas and Argus, February 1860, 12, 14, 17, 28 January, 6, 8, 13, 24 February.)
    [3.] A guardianship bill was introduced in the senate on March 16, but the assembly amended the property bill to incorporate equal custody for mothers.
    [4.] Emily Howland (c. 1830-?) was the daughter of a wealthy merchant, Benjamin Howland, who was born in Massachusetts, and she, like her brothers and sisters, was born in South Carolina. She lived with her parents at 78 Tenth Street in New York City. In 1860 she ran an impressive lecture series to complement the lobbying in Albany for a new married women's property law. (New York City directory, 1858; Federal Census, 1860; History, 1:666, 688.)
    [5.] Henry Ward Beecher (1813-1887) spoke in a lecture series at the Cooper Institute, organized by Emily Howland to publicize the campaign in Albany. Pastor of Plymouth Church in Brooklyn and one of the best-known ministers in the country, Beecher had issued periodic pronouncements on woman's rights that indicated a growing acceptance of her capacities but not of her equality. In "Women's Influence in Politics," he declared that men and women had the same right of suffrage. (History, 1:688; Dictionary of American Biography; Independent 12 [16 February 1860]: 2.)
    [6.] Theodore Tilton (1835-1907) was managing editor of the Independent and a member of Plymouth Church. He joined the staff of the Presbyterian New York Observer in the 1850s, with the assignment to report Beecher's sermons. From there he moved to the Independent, a journal more in tune with his abolitionism and took over as editor in chief in 1862. Under his leadership until 1871, the paper grew into one of broad appeal and influence and became a forum for advocating a radical reconstruction. (Dictionary of American Biography; Waller, Reverend Beecher and Mrs. Tilton, 38-53.)