Seth Kaller, Inc.

Inspired by History

Other Women's History and First Ladies Offerings

More...

Mocking First National Women’s Rights Convention
Click to enlarge:
Select an image:

From their own talk it is easy to see that it was mainly a gathering of uncomfortable females—some of whom by their own avowal are infidels—consisting of disappointed spinsters (who never spin)—disaffected wives (who want to be husbands) and widows of ‘uneasy virtue’ and more uneasy ambition, whose wants are not exactly understood by themselves.

This issue includes a front-page reprint of a Burlington Sentinel (Vermont) article scoffing at the first national “Woman’s Rights Convention” held in Worcester, Massachusetts.

[WOMEN’S RIGHTS]. Newspaper. The Caledonian, November 16, 1850. St. Johnsbury, Vermont: Albert G. Chadwick. 4 pp.

Inventory #24971       Price: $1,600

Excerpts:

We go for the ‘largest liberty’ for men, women and children. We would have no human being, of whatever sex or condition, deprived of any ‘right’ to which they were fairly entitled. Nay, we go further in regard to the ‘gentle sex’ (as long as they remain the gentle sex) and would freely accord to them not only all their ‘rights’ but the many privileges also, they now enjoy in America and in many parts of Europe by the kindness and courtesy of their Scriptural lords, irrespective of any beyond all claim on the score of obvious natural or social right.” (p1/c5)

Excepting in the large cities, however, where there are local and peculiar grievances to be redressed, we do not see any ‘wrongs of women’ that call for special attention. We assert boldly, and in the full belief of the truth of the allegation, that there is no human being that already enjoys social rights to an extent so full and thorough, as the New England Woman.” (p1/c5)

From their own talk it is easy to see that it was mainly a gathering of uncomfortable females—some of whom by their own avowal are infidels—consisting of disappointed spinsters (who never spin)—disaffected wives (who want to be husbands) and widows of ‘uneasy virtue’ and more uneasy ambition, whose wants are not exactly understood by themselves.” (p1/c5)

Miss Lucretia Mott spoke again, under some excitement—not from drink but choler—and said that we paid too much devotion to priestcraft, and too much attention to the bible.” (p1/c5)

Mr Wendell Phillips told the convention that ‘the cobwebs and superstitions of the bible ought to be swept away,’ and that he wanted women to be mingled up in society, in the trial by jury, in representation and in suffrage for her self defense,’ and then he said that public opinion was the silliest thing in the world.” (p1/c5-6)

Mr Wm. Loyd Garrison felt that the Spirit of God had brooded over the assembly. No doubt of it—in disgust at its blasphemy, impiety and mock of every kind.” (p1/c6)

Miss Lucretia Mott tho’t that St. Paul had never been married, that he was a miserable old bachelor, and ignorant of the rights of women; and she inferred, therefore, that his teachings were not good for much.” (p1/c6)

Historical Background

Late in the Spring of 1850, advocates of women’s rights decided to hold a national convention. Leaders Elizabeth Cady Stanton, Lucy Stone, Abby Kelley, and Lucretia Mott all signed the call for the convention, as did male reformers such as Ralph Waldo Emerson, Wendell Phillips, and William Lloyd Garrison.

On October 23, 1850, more than 1,000 delegates from eleven different states assembled in Worcester, Massachusetts, at the first meeting of the National Women’s Rights Convention. Speakers at the two-day convention included Lucy Stone, Sojourner Truth, Abby Kelley Foster, Lucretia Mott, William Lloyd Garrison, Wendell Phillips, Frederick Douglass, and several other prominent male and female reformers. Elizabeth Cady Stanton was in the last stages of pregnancy and did not attend but sent a speech to be read. Antislavery reformer Susan B. Anthony was also not at the convention but later said that reading Stone’s closing speech converted her to the cause of women’s rights.

Although a few newspapers, such as the Massachusetts Spy (whose editor was the husband of one of the convention’s main supporters), published positive reports, most, like The Burlington Sentinel and The Caledonian, were hostile and dismissive. Other newspapers across the nation took a mocking tone to the convention, though even their negative coverage drew attention to the women’s rights movement and helped win converts. Organizers held a second national convention in October 1851, again in Worcester. The National Women’s Rights Convention continued to meet annually until 1860, when the Civil War ended the annual meetings and focused women’s activism on abolitionism. Organizers held two more conventions after war’s end—in 1866 in New York and in 1869 in Washington, D.C.—after which efforts turned to other organizations such as the National Woman Suffrage Association and the American Equal Rights Association.

Additional Content

This issue also includes a letter from Elisha K. Kane’s Arctic expedition (p1/c1-4); the story of “A Faithful Slave” from a New Orleans newspaper (p1/c6-7); proceedings of the Vermont legislature (p2/c7-p3/c2); the arrival of a railroad to St. Johnsbury in the following week (p3/c3); and a large number of advertisements, many of them with illustrations.

The Caledonian (1837-1920) was established as a weekly newspaper in St. Johnsbury, Vermont, in 1837 by Albert G. Chadwick. Beginning the newspaper with “fear and doubt,” Chadwick retired in 1855 with the newspaper prosperous and thriving. Charles M. Stone became Chadwick’s partner in 1855 and sole owner in 1857. Stone and his son Arthur F. Stone ran the paper until 1909. Initially espousing Whig principles, the Caledonian later supported the Free Soil and then the Republican Party. In 1920, it merged with a competitor, which ended as a weekly newspaper in 1958. A daily edition began in 1916 and continues to the present as the Caledonian-Record.


Add to Cart Ask About This Item Add to Favorites