The Papers of Elizabeth Cady Stanton and Susan B. Anthony


William H. Channing to ECS

Dear Mrs Stanton

Let me add my word of earnest request to that of Judge Hay— given in the enclosed letter[1]— that you will draft the Address to the Legislature, on the Legal Disabilities of Women. On all accounts you are the person to do it, at once from your sex, talent, knowledge of the subject, and influence. There is not a man of us, who could tell the story of Woman's wrongs as strongly, clearly, tersely, eloquently, as yourself. Some woman, too ought to be the voice of her sisterhood,— at once to prove woman's sagacity and justice & power to right herself, and because men will listen to a woman's claim in her own behalf as they will not to any words of men. There is an air of earnest reality in such an address, from a representative of the aggrieved party,— which cannot be given by any friend outside the circle, however zealous. And then as to the time,— requisite for gaining & moulding materials aid can readily be commanded. Judge Hay will send a contribution; Mr Burroughs Phillips of Syracuse,[2] who at Mr May's request drew up a paper for the Convention will send one; Mr Wright of Auburn[3] will doubtless gladly give his help & advice; and other lawyers will do the like. I propose too if necessary, that you should employ the services of some one to study the details thoroughly out for your use,— at the expense of the Committee & Friends. Miss Anthony will be able to suggest, I doubt not yet other ways of shorting your labor. We want from you the Preface, the closing Appeal, and the general form and style; the materials will easily fall into place. Please then to enter into correspondence with Mr May; and I will on my return to Rochester give all assistance in my power.
I have been here for a week and a half, having preached two sundays, and am to leave Jan 9th for Rochester. I came on to see men, for myself, & form clearer impressions than I could gain through the press of the real state of feeling on the Slavery question. On the whole I am much encouraged. Trouble may grow out of this Nebraska question, to be sure;[4] & bargaining politicians are ready to throw millions of "niggers" in to the scale to add weight to their claims for party. Yet after all a good mutual understanding, a higher sense of justice and clearer view of the duties of the whole Nation are rapidly growing. We have entered on a better era. You of course have read of and rejoiced in the grand debut of Gerrit Smith.[5] It was a rare triumph. The scene was worth a journey from Rochester to look at; and I cannot but draw happy auguries from his reception. His health too constantly improves. Day before yesterday,— when I last saw them,— I was told that Mr & Mrs Preston[6] had just been there to call on Mrs Miller. But I am at the end of my paper. With cordial respect Yrs,

W H Channing

ALS, ECS Papers, DLC.
    [1.] Enclosure missing. William Hay, in a letter to SBA on 10 December 1853, offered to help identify unjust laws, but added that "the person who arranges and condenses our suggestions into an address should, from every consideration, be Mrs. Stanton, because her style is admirably suited to such a subject." Hay (1793-1870), who lived in Saratoga Springs after 1840, began the practice of law in 1812 and served in the state assembly in 1822. He was regarded as a scholar in the legal profession, and he published a book of poetry in 1832. A champion of woman's rights, he joined in lobbying at Albany, and he helped to organize meetings held in Saratoga Springs. (Film, 7:855; Sylvester, Saratoga County, New York, 193.)
    [2.] Burroughs Phillips married Elizabeth W. McClintock in 1852 and lived in Syracuse, where, judging by this and other brief references, he practiced law. He attended the national woman's rights convention at Syracuse in 1852 and the state convention at Rochester in 1853, and he had died by 1855. (Quaker Genealogy, 2:815; research by Judith Wellman.)
    [3.] David Wright (1805-1897) was a lawyer from Philadelphia who moved to New York in 1829 with his wife, woman's rights activist, Martha Coffin Pelham Wright. He assisted his wife and her allies in their agitation for woman's rights. For Wright's response, on 21 November 1853, to SBA's request for a list of unjust laws, see Film, 7:837-39. (Notable American Women, s.v. "Wright, Martha Coffin Pelham.")
    [4.] A bill to organize the territory of Nebraska was introduced in the Senate on 14 December. By the terms of the Missouri Compromise of 1820, Nebraska would be free of slavery, but in the previous session southerners refused to support an identical bill unless it repealed that compromise. Channing's fears proved to be well grounded, when Senator Stephen A. Douglas of Illinois accepted southern terms and amended the bill to allow the territory's settlers to decide the future of slavery. (Malin, Nebraska Question; Potter, Impending Crisis, 145-76.)
    [5.] Gerrit Smith won election to the Thirty-third Congress that convened in December 1853. Smith took his seat on or about 12 December, after an illness, and delivered his first speech on 20 December during discussions of the president's message to Congress. Ostensibly a criticism of the administration's Austrian policy, Smith made it an antislavery address. Both Ann Smith and Elizabeth Smith Miller joined him in the capital. (Congressional Globe, 33d Cong., 1st sess., Appendix, 50-52; Harlow, Gerrit Smith, 317-20.)
    [6.] Possibly Congressman William Preston (1816-1887) and his wife Margaret Wickliffe Preston. On 20 December Preston defended slavery in reply to Smith's address. A Whig from Kentucky, he earned a law degree at Harvard in 1838. (Dictionary of American Biography; Congressional Globe, 33d Cong., 1st sess., 72-73.)