The Papers of Elizabeth Cady Stanton and Susan B. Anthony


ECS to Wendell Phillips

Wendell Phillips, Dear Friend,

It is a great disappointment not to meet you here. The Mayor is behaving very well. His letter to the citizens of Albany is admirable.[1] He was present during the entire meeting last evening. We were however very much disturbed & compelled to give way at last to the tumult. Cousin Gerrit is to have a hearing in the Capitol to morrow[2] & we shall struggle through the remaining time, as best we can. We have some fears that our woman's rights convention may be disturbed also, as the same persons must figure on both occasions.[3] You have so much to meet in Boston[4] that it is too bad to urge you to come here, but if you can possible come it would be a great pleasure to all of us to listen you, to see how you look out of the union.
I must confess to one fraud that I have been extensively practising, that is to using your "clown" "with his arrow ["] & "eagle" in my "Free speech" speech.[5] But if Dan Rice's clown[6] may travel over the states why not yours. We all feel exceedingly proud of you. You are spoken of in all the journals as the leader of "those people". No other party can in my opinion boast a leader so noble & brave & true as ours.
Much love to Mrs Phillips. I am sorry to hear that her health is so delicate. adieu your friend, sincerely

E Cady Stanton.

ALS, bMS Am 1953(1152), Wendell Phillips Papers, MH-H.
    [1.] George Hornell Thacher (1818-1887) was the Democratic mayor of Albany from 1860 to 1862. In response to petitions that he prohibit the meeting of abolitionists, he wrote a public letter about his duty to protect the rights of free speech and peaceful assembly. At the meeting he sat on the platform with the antislavery speakers and used the police to clear the gallery when disorder threatened. (Howell and Tenney, County of Albany, N.Y., 578-79, 665; Union University, Centennial Catalog, 64; Liberator, 15 February 1861, and National Anti-Slavery Standard, 23 February 1861, Film, 9:1078-79, 1085-87.)
    [2.] Gerrit Smith spoke against repeal of the personal liberty laws.
    [3.] The New York State Woman's Rights Convention met on 7-8 February but received very little notice from the press. (Albany Atlas and Argus, 8 February 1861; unidentified clipping, SBA scrapbooks, Film, 9:1100.)
    [4.] Phillips, who continued to demand disunion as the southern states seceded, was the target of mob attacks in Boston in the winter of 1861. (Stewart, Wendell Phillips, 212-15.)
    [5.] ECS modified a passage from his speech "The Pulpit," in which he said, the "idea that agitation was needless is like the clown in the old classic play two thousand years ago, who seeing a man bring down with an arrow an eagle floating in the blue ether above, said, 'You need not have wasted that arrow, the fall would have killed him.'" (Phillips, Speeches, Lectures, and Letters, 272; Free Speech: by Elizabeth Cady Stanton, at the Fourth Annual N.Y. State Anti-Slavery Convention [Albany, 1861], Film, 9:1092-95.)
    [6.] Dan Rice (1823-1900) was a circus clown and showman at the height of his popularity. (Dictionary of American Biography.)