The Papers of Elizabeth Cady Stanton and Susan B. Anthony

SBA to Matilda Joslyn Gage

Dear Mrs. Gage

The Woman's Rights Cause, already greatly indebted to you for past services, solicits another favor at your hands. You will see by the enclosed plan of prosecuting the present campaign, what the cause now asks. You, I trust, agree with me, that the great work before us is the enlightening of Public Sentiment— & will take measures in your village, to raise a fund for the purchase & distribution of Mrs. Stantons Address— a copy of which I sent you last winter from Albany—
I know Slavery is the All-absorbing question of the day, still we must push forward this great Central question, which underlies all others, not excepting that of Slavery even—   With much Love I am Yours for the Right

Susan B. Anthony


Woman's Rights. Circulate the Petition

The Albany Woman's Rights Convention, held in February last, resolved to continue the work of Petitioning our State Legislature, from year to year, until the law of Justice and Equality shall be dispensed to the whole people, without distinction of sex.
In order to systematize and facilitate the labors of the friends who shall engage in the work of circulating the Petitions, a Committee was appointed to devise and present some definite plan of action.[1] In the estimation of that Committee, the first and most important work to be done is to enlighten the people as to the real claims of the Woman's Rights movement; thereby dispelling their many prejudices, and securing their hearty good will. To aid in the accomplishment of this first great object, the committee propose holding Woman's Rights Meetings in all the cities and many of the larger villages of the State, during the coming fall and winter, and gladly— could they command the services of Lecturing Agents— would they thoroughly canvass the entire State. But, since to do so is impossible, they would urge upon the friends in every county, town, village and school district, to hold public meetings in their respective localities, and, if none among their own citizens feel themselves competent to address the people, invite speakers from abroad. Let the question be fully and freely discussed, both pro and con, by both friends and opponents.
Though the living speaker cannot visit every hearth-stone throughout the length and breadth of the Empire State, and personally present the claims of our cause to the hearts and consciences of those who surround them, his arguments, by the aid of the invaluable art of printing, may. Therefore the committee have resolved to circulate as widely as possible the written statement of Woman's Political and Legal Rights, as contained in the Address, written by Elizabeth Cady Stanton, of Seneca Falls, N.Y., and adopted by the Albany Convention— presented to our Legislature, at its last session. This Address has been highly spoken of by many of the best papers in the State; and pronounced, by eminent lawyers and statesmen, an able and unanswerable argument. And the committee, being fully confident of its power to convince every candid enquirer after truth of the justice and mercy of our claims, do urgently call upon the friends everywhere to aid them in giving to it a thorough circulation.
There is no reform question of the day that meets so ready, so full, so deep a response from the masses, as does this Woman's Rights question. To ensure a speedy triumph, we have only to take earnest hold of the work of disseminating its immutable truths. Let us, then, agitate the question— hold public meetings— widely circulate Woman's Rights Tracts, and show to the world that we are in earnest— that we will be heard— that our demands stop not short of justice and perfect equality to every human being. Let us, at least, see to it, that this admirable Address of Mrs. Stanton is placed in the hands of every intelligent man and woman in the State, and thus the way prepared for the gathering up of a mighty host of names to our petitions, to be presented to our next Legislature. A mammoth roll, that shall cause our law makers to know that the People are with us, and that if our prayer be not wisely and justly answered by them, other and truer representatives will fill those Legislative Halls.
The success of our first appeal to our Legislature, made last winter, encourages us to persevere. That the united prayer of only 6000 men and women, should cause the reporting and subsequent passage in the House, of a bill granting two of our most special claims, that of the wife to her earnings, and the mother to her children, is indeed a result the most sanguine scarce dared to hope for. What may we not expect from our next appeal, that shall be 20,000, nay more, if we but be faithful, 100,000 strong. To the work, then friends, of renovating public sentiment, and circulating petitions. There is no time to be lost. Our Fourth of July gatherings will afford fit opportunity for both distributing the Address, and circulating the petitions. And Women of the Empire State, it is for you to do the work, it is for you to shake from your feet the dust of tyrant custom, it is for you to remember that "he who would be free, must himself strike the blow."[2]
The petitions to be circulated, are the same as last year— one asking for the Just and Equal Rights of Women, and the other for Women's Right of Suffrage. The petitions are to be signed by both men and women, the men's names placed in the right column, and the women's in the left. All intelligent persons must be ready and willing to sign the first, asking a revision of the laws relative to the property rights of woman, and surely, no true republican can refuse to give his or her name to the second, asking for woman the Right of Representation— a practical application of the great principles of '76.
It is desirable that there shall be one person in each county to whom all the petitions circulated in its several towns, villages and school districts, shall be forwarded, and who shall arrange and attach them in one roll, stating upon a blank sheet, placed between the petition and the signatures, the number of signers, the name of the county, and the number of towns represented, and forward them as early as the 1st of December next, to Susan B. Anthony, Rochester, N.Y. Where no person volunteers, or is appointed such county agent, the petitions, properly labeled, may be sent direct to Rochester.
Mrs. Stanton's Address is published in neat, pamphlet form, in large type, and may be had at the following prices: $2 per 100, 37½ cts. per dozen; or if sent by mail, $3 per 100, and 50 cts. per dozen. Packages of over 25, may be sent by express to all places on the line of the railroads, at a less cost than mail.
It is hoped that every person who reads this notice, and feels an interest in the universal diffusion of the true aim and object of the Woman's Rights agitation, will without delay, order copies of this address to distribute gratuitously or otherwise, among their neighbors and townsmen. Should there be any wishing to aid in this work, who cannot command the money necessary to purchase the address, their orders will be cheerfully complied with, free of charge.
The Committee have on hand a variety of Woman's Rights Tracts, written by S. J. May, Wendell Phillips, Elizabeth C. Stanton, Mrs. C. I. H. Nichols, Ernestine L. Rose, T. W. Higginson, and others.[3] Also the Reports of the several National Woman's Rights Conventions, all of which may be had at very low prices.
All correspondence and orders for address, petitions, & c. should be addressed to Susan B. Anthony, General Agent, Rochester, N.Y.
ALS and circular, in the collection of Robert A. Baum, Woodland Hills, Calif. Published in Rochester Daily Union, 24 June 1854, and Frederick Douglass' Paper, 30 June 1854.
    [1.] The Albany meeting named SBA the general agent of a canvass to reach into every school district of the state with the petitions for just and equal rights and suffrage. Officers of the convention were to act as acommittee to help her. (Albany Evening Journal, 15 February 1854, and New York Daily Tribune, 17 February 1854, Film, 7:965ff.)
    [2.] Lord Byron, "Childe Harold's Pilgrimage," canto 2, stanza 76.
    [3.] The absence of dates of publication on most of the early woman's rights tracts and the dearth of bibliographic attention to the tracts make it difficult to know which edition SBA offered in 1854. The titles that follow were available by 1853. Many of them went through at least two printings, at Syracuse in 1852 and Rochester in 1853, and most were reprinted at later dates. Samuel J. May, A Discourse on the Rights and Condition of Women, probably in the third edition, published at Syracuse in 1852; Wendell Phillips, The Speech of Wendell Phillips, to the Convention in Worcester, Oct., 1851; ECS, Letters from Mrs. E. C. Stanton— 1st, to the Convention at Worcester, Oct. 1850; 2d, to the Convention at Syracuse, Sept. 1852; Clarina I. H. Nichols, Speech of Mrs. C. I. H. Nichols to the Worcester Convention, Oct. 1851, "On the Responsibilities of Women"; Ernestine L. Rose, Speech of Mrs. Ernestine L. Rose, to the Convention at Syracuse, containing her criticism upon remarks of the Hon. Mr. Roebuck, in the British Parliament; and Thomas Wentworth Higginson, Woman and Her Wishes: An Essay. All but Higginson's tract were listed in the Proceedings of Woman's Rights Convention, 1852, back cover, as "in press."