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grossly insulting to the dignity of woman to be longer, quietly submitted
Elizabeth Cady Stanton's
"Man cannot fulfill
his destiny alone,
Elizabeth Cady Stanton's Keynote Address:
We have met here today to discuss our rights and wrongs, civil and political, and not, as some have supposed, to go into the detail of social life alone.
We do not propose to petition the legislature to make our husbands just, generous, and courteous, to seat every man at the head of a cradle, and to clothe every woman in male attire.
None of these points, however important they may be considered by leading men, will be touched in this convention.
As to their costume, the gentlemen need feel no
fear of our imitating that, for we think it in violation of every principle
of taste, beauty, and dignity; notwithstanding all the contempt cast upon
our loose, flowing garments, we still admire the graceful folds, and consider
our costume far more artistic than theirs.
No, we shall not molest you in your philosophical
experiments with stocks, pants, high-heeled boots, and Russian belts.
Gave Man Power to Imprison His Wife
But we are assembled to protest against a form of government existing without the consent of the governed to declare our right to be free as man is free, to be represented in the government which we are taxed to support, to have such disgraceful laws as give man the power to chastise and imprison his wife, to take the wages which she earns, the property which she inherits, and, in case of separation, the children of her love; laws which make her the mere dependent on his bounty.
It is to protest against such unjust laws as these that we are assembled today, and to have them, if possible, forever erased from our statute books, deeming them a shame and a disgrace to a Christian republic in the nineteenth century. We have met
To uplift woman's fallen divinity
And, strange as it may seem to many, we now demand
our right to vote according to the declaration of the government under
which we live.
Equality Distinct from Rights
We need not prove ourselves equal to Daniel Webster
to enjoy this privilege, for the ignorant Irishman in the ditch has all
the civil rights he has.
The Right is Ours
The right is ours. The question now is: how shall we get possession of what rightfully belongs to us?
We should not feel so sorely grieved if no man
who had not attained the full stature of a Webster, Clay, Van Buren, or
Gerrit Smith could claim the right of the elective franchise.
Have It, We Must
The right is ours.
The pens, the tongues, the fortunes, the indomitable wills of many women are already pledged to secure this right.
The great truth that no just government can be formed without the consent of the governed we shall echo and re-echo in the ears of the unjust judge, until by continual coming we shall weary him. .
There seems now to be a kind of moral stagnation
in our midst.
Our churches are multiplying on all sides, our missionary societies, Sunday schools, and prayer meetings and innumerable charitable and reform organizations are all in operation, but still the tide of vice is swelling, and threatens the destruction of everything, and the battlements of righteousness are weak against the raging elements of sin and death.
Woman Has Been Silenced
Verily, the world waits the coming of some new
element, some purifying power, some spirit of mercy and love.
The world has never yet seen a truly great and virtuous nation, because in the degradation of woman the very fountains of life are poisoned at their source. It is vain to look for silver and gold from mines of copper and lead. It is the wise mother that has the wise son.
So long as your women are slaves you may throw your colleges and churches to the winds. You can't have scholars and saints so long as your mothers are ground to powder between the upper and nether millstone of tyranny and lust. How seldom, now, is a father's pride gratified, his fond hopes realized, in the budding genius of his son!
The wife is degraded, made the mere creature of caprice, and the foolish son is heaviness to his heart. Truly are the sins of the fathers visited upon the children to the third and fourth generation.
Now is the Time for Women
God, in His wisdom, has so linked the whole human family together that any violence done at one end of the chain is felt throughout its length, and here, too, is the law of restoration, as in woman all have fallen, so in her elevation shall the race be recreated.
"Voices" were the visitors and advisers of Joan of Arc. Do not "voices" come to us daily from the haunts of poverty, sorrow, degradation, and despair, already too long unheeded.
Now is the time for the women of this country, if they would save our free institutions, to defend the right to buckle on the armor that can best resist the keenest weapons of the enemy contempt and ridicule.
The same religious enthusiasm that nerved Joan of Arc to her work nerves us to ours.
Path Not Strewn With Flowers
In every generation God calls some men and women for the utterance of truth, a heroic action, and our work today is the fulfilling of what has long since been foretold by the Prophet Joel 2:28: "And it shall come to pass afterward, that I will pour out my spirit upon all flesh; and your sons and your daughters shall prophesy."
We do not expect our path will be strewn with the flowers of popular applause, but over the thorns of bigotry and prejudice will be our way, and on our banners will beat the dark storm clouds of opposition from those who have entrenched themselves behind the stormy bulwarks of custom and authority, and who have fortified their position by every means, holy and unholy.
But we will steadfastly abide the result.
Unmoved we will bear it aloft.
Undauntedly we will unfurl it to the gale, for we know that the storm cannot rend from it a shred, that the electric flash will but more clearly show to us the glorious words inscribed upon it, "Equality of Rights."
NOTE: It would take women until 1920 to be ensured of the the vote under the U.S. Constituion - a campaign of 72 years. As of the year 2000 - 152 years after ECS received thunderous applause for her "Equality of Rights," we still don't have them.
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© 1990-2006 Irene Stuber, Hot Springs National Park, AR 71902. Originally web-published at http://www.undelete.org/
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