can we refuse when a sacrifice of feminine vanity is alone required?
Can we hesitate to yield up luxuries that are so unbecoming when the very earth trembles under our feet from the tread of armed men going down to battle, and almost every roof throughout the land shelters some mother lamenting the son who has fallen gloriously with his face to the foe, or a widow whose husband lies buried so deeply among the masses of slain heroes, that she will never learn where to seek for his grave!
When the wife of a great prince, whose husband was absent at the siege of Troy
, was urged by her friends to put on her royal robes and be cheerful, she answered: “My husband is under the walls of Troy
; shall I adorn my hair while he wears a helmlet?
Shall I dress in new robes while he carries arms?
No I my raiment shall be like his hard labors, and in sadness will I pass the time of this mournful war.”
Patriotism is beautiful in all eyes, and was shared alike by the lady of classic story and the mother of the Revolution, clad in her homespun dress, and steadily performing more than household duties.
Compare the spirit of these women with the reckless extravagance which has marked the duration of this terrible struggle for the Union
, and the contrast is indeed humiliating.
Still, the women of America
are not unworthy of their ancestors.
Thoughtless they may be, and luxuriously extravagant from long habits of prosperity, but cruel and unjust never I Appeal to their reason and gentle feelings, and the women of this day will prove themselves capable of as noble deeds as ever marked the struggles of the Revolution.
Convince them of the evils their thoughtlessness is producing, and the remedy is certain.
It has not yet been sufficiently impressed upon them that the encouragement of extravagant importations is injurious to the public good.
To impress this vital truth upon the women of the Union
, we have entered into this solemn covenant, not only lending ourselves to a general system of economy in our persons, but holding it as a duty to impress upon others how unwomanly it is to make outward display a paramount subject of thought, when the nation is in the throes of a rebellion such as the world never saw. Gathered here in the centre of the nation, a handful of women, intent on a single object, anxious only for the good of the country, we appeal to the patriotism and intelligence of our sister women throughout the length and breadth of the land.
Let it be well understood, that every ounce of gold that goes from the country detracts from the pay of the soldier who is fighting for our salvation, and diminishes the wages of our sister women, who toil for their bread, into a miserable pittance that scarcely suffices to keep them from starvation.
The precious metal that flows from this country to Europe
for the luxuries we do not need increases the price of gold here, depreciates the value of our national currency, and helps to sweep the necessaries of life beyond the reach of the working man.
It is a painful truth, for which we shall yet learn to blush, that the importations of the most expensive goods manufactured in Europe
have been far greater during the war than at any time in the history of our country.
The importations last week at the New York Custom House
alone amounted to five millions of dollars; and all that week — which will yet find its ignoble record in history — the streets of Washington
were blocked up with weary soldiers, marching through mud, rain, or dust, down to the Army of the Potomac, which now lies with bated courage waiting for the carnival of death which is almost flinging its crimson shadow over us.
For the good of our country and the honor of our sex, let us redeem ourselves from this reproach of wanton extravagance.
Let us prove by cheerful retrenchment that the women of the country are not so wedded to luxurious self-indulgence that they cannot fill a glorious page in the history of this war, and yet retain all that is retiring and beautiful in womanhood.
In all humane works they have proved themselves charitable, kind, and munificent.
Let these comprehend that self-abnegation will accomplish more than works of charity, and they will not be less earnest to sacrifice than they have been to act. It must not be said of us that we have been willing to give up our husbands, sons, and brothers to fight or die for the Union
, and yet refuse to renounce our laces, silks, velvets, and diamonds.
That thought would cover us with shame before the nations of the earth.
No; our women of the Union
only lack knowledge of the means by which they can prove themselves true helpmates of the heroes who are fighting our battles.
Impress it upon them that in discouraging excessive importations, and adopting goods manufactured at home, they keep gold in the country, reduce the rates of exchange, and establish confidence in the Government
, and they will prove how far patriotism can rise above feminine vanity in the hearts of American women.
In order to invoke this spirit of self-sacrifice, it is important that the great object of the covenant we have made should be broadly circulated and thoroughly understood.
It discourages profligate expenditures of any kind, recommends the use of domestic fabrics wherever they can be substituted for those of foreign make, and advises simplicity of attire, both as a matter of policy and good taste.
It asks the great sisterhood of American women to aid in this reform before it is too late.
science has given us the means of reaching thousands on thousands in a single hour.
While we make this covenant, the thought that thrills our hearts may tremble in fire along the telegraph, and awake kindred inspiration throughout the entire land.
By every means of communication in our power, let us urge the necessity of prompt action.
In every town and village throughout the Union
, some woman who loves her country is implored to establish an auxiliary society, and forward the names of the