The Papers of Elizabeth Cady Stanton and Susan B. Anthony


SBA to Lucy Stone

Dear Lucy

I am now in Mrs. Stanton's nursery, have been enjoying a good chat, one that strengthens. . . . In my last letter I urged you to attend our Temperance meeting at Albany.[1] I am not now less anxious that you should be there at that time, but wish to say in addition, that we all want you at the "People's College Meeting." The form of petition which they have got up is a miserable noncommittal sort of a thing. . . .[2] Mrs. Stanton is writing the Appeal to the Legislature, and says I must read it, and Lucy Stone must follow it. She says, "Lucy may think that since she is not a resident of the State, it is not fitting for her to address the Honorable Body, but says Angelina Grimké went before the Massachusetts Legislature, when she was a resident of South Carolina[3]. . . . What think you Lucy, I am in short skirts and trowsers,[4] and have spoken in Auburn![5]

Susan B. Anthony

Transcript in hand of I. P. Boyer, Blackwell Papers, DLC; ellipses in original.
    [1.] Called for 21 January 1853, this mass meeting would deliver petitions for the Maine law to the legislature.
    [2.] In its request to be incorporated by the legislature, the association included among the school's objectives, "to afford suitable and proper facilities for the education of young women as well as young men; all the sciences taught in the college being as freely imparted to the female as to the male"; and "to enable the female student to be instructed in housewifery in all its branches, and in such branches of manufacture as may be deemed most desirable." When the act of incorporation was approved on 12 April 1853, the charter stated that "provision will be made to educate young men corporeally and mentally." In a history of the People's College, Harrison Howard noted, in the passive voice, that the admission of females "was struck out" of the charter. (Unidentified clippings and Sketch of the Origin of the 'Mechanics' Mutual Protection Organization, and the Establishment of the People's College, People's College Papers, NIC.)
    [3.] On February 21, 1838, abolitionist lecturer, Angelina Emily Grimké Weld (1805-1879), addressed the legislature of the Commonwealth of Massachusetts, thus becoming the first American woman ever to speak before a legislative body. She and her older sister, Sarah Moore Grimké (1792-1873), left their slaveowning family in South Carolina in the 1820s to live in Philadelphia and, by 1835, began to work for the abolition of slavery. Eloquent speakers with first-hand knowledge of their subject, they found audiences in female antislavery societies but soon attracted large, mixed audiences. Their unseemly behavior of preaching to men elicited sharp attacks from the New England clergy and precipitated the crisis over women's role in antislavery work. Undaunted by opposition, the sisters continued to lecture and advocated woman's liberation while presenting the case for liberating the slave. Since Angelina's marriage in 1838 to Theodore Dwight Weld (1803-1895), she and Sarah had retired from the platform. Living legends by 1840, the sisters had written important statements about women's duties and capacities that continued to influence abolitionists. (Notable American Women; Lerner, Grimké Sisters; Thomas, Theodore Weld.)
    [4.] The short dress and trousers introduced by Elizabeth Smith Miller in 1850 and named for Lily editor Amelia Bloomer was donned by a number of woman's rights activists, including ECS, SBA, and Lucy Stone as part of a campaign for dress reform.
    [5.] SBA spoke in Auburn on 16 November. (Lily, November 1852.)