Chapter 17: the woman suffrage movement
I sometimes feel as if words could not express the comfort and instruction which have come to me in the later years of my life from two sources.
One of these has been the better acquaintance with my own sex; the other, the experience of the power resulting from associated action in behalf of worthy objects.
During the first two thirds of my life I looked to the masculine ideal of character as the only true one.
I sought its inspiration, and referred my merits and demerits to its judicial verdict.
In an unexpected hour a new light came to me, showing me a world of thought and of character quite beyond the limits within which I had hitherto been content to abide.
The new domain now made clear to me was that of true womanhood, —woman no longer in her ancillary relation to her opposite, man, but in her direct relation to the divine plan and purpose, as a free agent, fully sharing with man every human right and every human responsibility.
This discovery was like the addition of a new continent to the map of the
world, or of a new testament to the old ordinances.
‘Oh, had I earlier known the power, the nobility, the intelligence which lie within the range of true womanhood, I had surely lived more wisely and to better purpose.’
Such were my reflections; yet I must think that the great Lord
of all reserved this new revelation as the crown of a wonderful period of the world's emancipation and progress.
It did not come to me all at once.
In my attempts at philosophizing I at length reached the conclusion that woman must be the moral and spiritual equivalent of man. How, otherwise, could she be entrusted with the awful and inevitable responsibilities of maternity?
The quasiadoration that true lovers feel, was it an illusion partly of sense, partly of imagination?
or did it symbolize a sacred truth?
While my mind was engaged with these questions, the civil war came to an end, leaving the slave not only emancipated, but endowed with the full dignity of citizenship.
The women of the North
had greatly helped to open the door which admitted him to freedom and its safeguard, the ballot.
Was this door to be shut in their face?
While I followed, rather unwillingly, this train of thought, an invitation was sent me to attend a
parlor meeting to be held with the view of forming a woman's club in Boston
I presented myself at this meeting, and gave a languid assent to the measures proposed.
These were to hire a parlor or parlors in some convenient locality, and to furnish and keep them open for the convenience of ladies residing in the city and its suburbs.
Out of this small and modest beginning was gradually developed the plan of the New England
Woman's Club, a strong and stately association destined, I believe, to last for many years, and leaving behind it, at this time of my writing, a record of three decades of happy and acceptable service.
While our club life was still in its beginning, I was invited and induced to attend a meeting in behalf of woman suffrage.
Indeed, I had given my name to the call for this meeting, relying upon the assurance given me by Colonel Thomas Wentworth Higginson
, that it would be conducted in a very liberal and friendly spirit, without bitterness or extravagance.
The place appointed was Horticultural Hall.
The morning was inclement; and as I strayed into the hall in my rainy-day suit, nothing was further from my mind than the thought that I should take any part in the day's proceedings.
I had hoped not to be noticed by the officers of the meeting, and was rather disconcerted when a message reached me requesting me to come up
and take a seat on the platform.
This I did very reluctantly.
I was now face to face with a new order of things.
Here, indeed, were some whom I had long known and honored: Garrison
, Wendell Phillips
, Colonel Higginson
, and my dear pastor, James Freeman Clarke
But here was also Lucy Stone
, who had long been the object of one of my imaginary dislikes.
As I looked into her sweet, womanly face and heard her earnest voice, I felt that the object of my distaste had been a mere phantom, conjured up by silly and senseless misrepresentations.
Here stood the true woman, pure, noble, great-hearted, with the light of her good life shining in every feature of her face.
Here, too, I saw the husband whose devotion so ably seconded her life-work.
The arguments to which I now listened were simple, strong, and convincing.
These champions, who had fought so long and so valiantly for the slave, now turned the searchlight of their intelligence upon the condition of woman, and demanded for the mothers of the community the civil rights which had recently been accorded to the negro.
They asked for nothing more and nothing less than the administration of that impartial justice for which, if for anything, a Republican government should stand.
When they requested me to speak, which they did presently, I could only say, ‘I am with you.’
I have been with them ever since, and have never seen any reason to go back from the pledge then given.
Strangely, as it then seemed to me, the arguments which I had stored up in my mind against the political enfranchisement of women were really so many reasons in its favor.
All that I had felt regarding the sacredness and importance of the woman's part in private life now appeared to me equally applicable to the part which she should bear in public life.
One of the comforts which I found in the new association was the relief which it afforded me from a sense of isolation and eccentricity.
For years past I had felt strongly impelled to lend my voice to the convictions of my heart.
I had done this in a way, from time to time, always with the feeling that my course in so doing was held to call for apology and explanation by the men and women with whose opinions I had hitherto been familiar.
I now found a sphere of action in which this mode of expression no longer appeared singular or eccentric, but simple, natural, and, under the circumstances, inevitable.
In the little band of workers which I had joined, I was soon called upon to perform yeoman's service.
I was expected to attend meetings and to address audiences, at first in the neighborhood of Boston
, afterwards in many remote places, Cleveland
, St. Louis
who led or followed the new movement, I naturally encountered some individuals in whom vanity and personal ambition were conspicuous.
But I found mostly among my new associates a great heart of religious conviction and a genuine spirit of selfsacrifice.
My own contributions to the work appeared to me less valuable than I had hoped to find them.
I had at first everything to learn with regard to public speaking, and Lucy Stone
and Mrs. Livermore
were much more at home on the platform than I was. I was called upon to preside over conventions, having never learned the rules of debate.
I was obliged to address large audiences, having been accustomed to use my voice only in parlors.
Gradually all this bettered itself.
I became familiar with the order of proceedings, and learned to modulate my voice.
More important even than these things, I learned something of the range of popular sympathies, and of the power of apprehension to be found in average audiences.
All of these experiences, the failures, the effort, and the final achievement, were most useful to me.
In years that followed I gave what I could to the cause, but all that I gave was repaid to me a thousand fold.
I had always had to do with women of character and intelligence, but I found in my new friends a clearness of insight, a strength
and steadfastness of purpose, which enabled them to take a position of command, in view of the questions of the hour.
Among the manifold interests which now opened up before me, the cause of woman suffrage was for a time predominant.
The novelty of the topic in the mind of the general public brought together large audiences in Boston
and in the neighboring towns.
's fervent zeal, always guided by her faultless feeling of propriety, the earnest pleading of her husband, the brilliant eloquence and personal magnetism of Mary A. Livermore
,—all these things combined to give to our platform a novel and sustained attraction.
Noble men, aye, the noblest, stood with us in our endeavor,— some, like Senator Hoar
and George S. Hale
, to explain and illustrate the logical sequence which should lead to the recognition of our citizenship; others, like Wendell Phillips
, George William Curtis
, and Henry Ward Beecher
, able to overwhelm the crumbling defenses of the old order with the storm and flash of their eloquence.
We acted, one and all, under the powerful stimulus of hope.
The object which we labored to accomplish was so legitimate and rational, so directly in the line of our religious belief, of our political institutions, that it appeared as if we had only to unfold our new banner, bright with the
blazon of applied Christianity, and march on to victory.
The black man had received the vote.
Should the white woman be less considered than he?
During the recent war the women of our country had been as ministering angels to our armies, forsaking homes of ease and luxury to bring succor and comfort to the camp-hospital and battlefield.
Those who tarried at home had labored incessantly to supply the needs of those at the front.
Should they not be counted among the citizens of the great Republic?
Moreover, we women had year after year worked to build, maintain, and fill the churches throughout the land with a patient industry akin to that of coral insects.
Surely we should be invited to pass in with our brothers to the larger liberty now shown to be our just due.
We often spoke in country towns, where our morning meetings could be but poorly attended, for the reason that the women of the place were busy with the preparation of the noonday meal.
Our evening sessions in such places were precious to school-teachers and factory hands.
Ministers opened to us their churches, and the women of their congregations worked together to provide for us places of refreshment and repose.
We met the real people face to face and hand to hand.
It was a period of awakened thought, of quickened and enlarged sympathy.
I recall with pleasure two campaigns which we made in Vermont
, where the theme of woman suffrage was quite new to the public mind.
I started on one of these journeys with Mr. Garrison
, and enjoyed with him the great beauty of the winter landscape in that most lovely State.
The evergreen forests through which we passed were hung with icicles, which glittered like diamonds in the bright winter sun. Lucy Stone
, Mr. Blackwell
, and Mrs. Livermore
had preceded us, and when we reached the place of destination we found everything in readiness for our meeting.
At one town in Vermont
some opposition to our coming had been manifested beforehand.
We found, on arriving, that the chairman of our committee of arrangements had left town suddenly as if unwilling to befriend us. A vulgar and silly ballad had been printed and circulated, in which we three ladies were spoken of as three old crows.
The prospect for the evening was not encouraging.
We deliberated for a moment in the anteroom of our hall.
I said, ‘Let me come first in the order of exercises, as I read from a manuscript, and shall not be disconcerted even if they throw chairs at us.’
As we entered some noise was heard from the gallery.
came forward and asked whether we were to be given a hearing or not. Instantly a group of small boys were ejected from their seats by some one
now stepped to the front and looked the audience through and through.
Silence prevailed, and she was heard as usual with repeated applause.
I read my paper without interruption.
The honors of the evening belonged to us.
I remember another journey, a nocturnal one, which I undertook alone, in order to join the friends mentioned above at a suffrage meeting somewhere in New England
As I emerged from the Pullman in the cold twilight of an early winter morning, carrying a heavy bag, and feeling friendless and forlorn, I met Mrs. Livermore
, who had made the journey in another car. At sight of her I cried, ‘Oh, you dear big Livermore
Moved by this appeal, she at once took me under her protection, ordered a hotel porter to relieve me of my bag, and saw me comfortably housed and provided for. It was fortunate for us that the time of our deliverance appeared to us so near, as fortunate perhaps as the misinterpretation which led the early Christians to look daily for the reappearing on earth of their Master.
Among my most valued recollections are those of the many legislative hearings in which I have had the privilege of taking part, and which cover period of more than twenty years. Mr. Garrison
, Lucy Stone
, and Mr. Blackwell
long continued to be our most prominent advocates, supported
at times by Colonel Higginson
, Wendell Phillips
, and James Freeman Clarke
was with us whenever her numerous lecture engagements allowed her to be present.
, Judge Sewall
, and several lawyers of our own sex gave us valuable aid. These hearings were mostly held in the well-known Green Room of the Boston State House
, but a gradual crescendo
of interest sometimes led us to ask for the use of Representatives' Hall, which was often crowded with the friends and opponents of our cause.
Among the remonstrants who spoke at these hearings occasionally appeared some illiterate woman, attracted by the opportunity of making a public appearance.
I remember one of these who, after asking to be heard, began to read from an elaborate manuscript which had evidently been written for her. After repeatedly substituting the word ‘communionism’ for ‘communism,’ she abandoned the text and began to abuse the suffragists in language with which she was more familiar.
When she had finished her diatribe the chairman of the legislative committee said to our chairman, Mr. Blackwell
A list of questions has been handed to me which the petitioners for woman suffrage are requested to answer.
The first on the list is the following:—
If the suffrage should be granted to women, would not the ignorant and degraded ones hasten
to crowd the polls while those of the better sort would stay away from them?
, rising, said in reply, ‘Mr. Chairman
, it seems to me that the question just propounded is answered by the present occasion.
Here are education, character, intelligence, asking for suffrage, and here are ignorance and vulgarity protesting against it.’
This crushing sentence was uttered by Mr. Garrison
in a tone of such bland simplicity that it did not even appear unkind.
On a later occasion a lady of excellent character and position appeared among the remonstrants, and when asked whether she represented any association replied rather haughtily, ‘I think that I represent the educated women of Massachusetts
,’ a goodly number of whom were present in behalf of the petition.
The remonstrants had hearings of their own, at one of which I happened to be present.
On this occasion one of their number, after depicting at some length the moral turpitude which she considered her sex likely to evince under political promise, concluded by saying: ‘No woman should be allowed the right of suffrage until every
woman shall be perfectly wise, perfectly pure, and perfectly good.’
This dictum, pronounced in a most authoritative manner, at once brought to my mind the
homely proverb, ‘What is sauce for the goose is sauce for the gander;’ and I could not help asking permission to suggest a single question, upon which a prominent Boston
lawyer instantly replied: ‘No, Mrs. Howe
, you may not [speak]. We wish to use all our time.’
The chairman of the committee here interposed, saying: ‘Mr. Blank
, it does not belong to you to say who shall or shall not be heard here.’
He advised me at the same time to reserve my question until the remonstrants should have been fully heard.
As no time then remained for my question, I will ask it now: ‘If, as is just, we should apply the test proposed by Mrs.
W. to the men of the community, how long would it be before they could properly claim the privilege of the franchise?’
, the gentleman in question, with whom my relations have always been entirely friendly, explained himself to me at the close of the hearing by saying: ‘I treated you as I would have treated a man under similar circumstances.’
I now considered my occupations as fully equal to the capacity of my time and strength.
My family, my studies, and my club demanded much attention.
My elder children were now grown up, and some social functions were involved in this fact, such as chaperonage, the giving of parties, and much entertainment of college and school friends.
Nevertheless, a new claimant for my services was about to come upon the scene.
In the early summer of the year 1868, the Sorosis of New York issued a call for a congress of women to be held in that city in the autumn of the same year.
Many names, some known, others unknown to me, were appended to the document first sent forth in this intention.
My own was asked for. Should I give or withhold it?
Among the signatures already obtained, I saw that of Maria Mitchell
, and this determined me to give my own.
Who was Maria Mitchell
A woman from Nantucket
, and of Quaker
origin, who had been brought to public notice by her discovery of a new comet, a service which the King
had offered to reward with a gold medal.
This prize was secured for her through the intervention of Hon. Edward Everett
She had also been appointed Professor
of Astronomy at Vassar College.
What was Maria Mitchell
A gifted, noble, lovable woman, devoted to science, but heartloyal to every social and personal duty.
I seemed to know this of her when I knew her but slightly.
At the time appointed, the congress assembled, and proved to be an occasion of much interest.
, Mrs. Stanton
, Mrs. Isabella Beecher Hooker
, Lucy Stone
, Mrs. Charlotte B. Wilbour
were prominent among the speakers
heard at its sessions.
I viewed its proceedings a little critically at first, its plan appearing to me rather vast and vague.
But it had called out the sympathy of many earnest women, and the outline of an association presented was a good one, although the machinery for filling it up was deficient.
was elected president, Mrs. Wilbour
chairman of executive committee, and I was glad to serve on a sub-committee, charged with the duty of selecting topics and speakers for the proposed annual congress.
's presidency lasted but two years, her extraordinary success as a lecturer making it impossible for her to give to the new undertaking the attention which it-required.
would no doubt have proved an efficient aid to her chief, but at this juncture a change of residence became desirable for her, and she decided to reside abroad for some years.
Miss Alice Fletcher
, now so honorably known as the friend and champion of our Indian tribes, was a most efficient secretary.
The governing board was further composed of a vice president and director from each of the States represented by membership in the association.
The name had been decided upon from the start.
It was the Association for the Advancement of Women, and its motto was: ‘Truth, Justice, and Honor.’
succeeded Mrs. Livermore
in the office of president.
I think that the congress held in Philadelphia
in the Centennial year was the occasion of her first presiding.
Her customary manner had in it a little of the Quaker
shyness, but when she appeared upon the platform the power of command, or rather of control, appeared in all that she said or did. In figure she was erect and above middle height.
Her dress was a rich black silk, made after a plain but becoming fashion.
The contrast between her silver curls and black eyes was striking.
Her voice was harmonious, her manner at once gracious and decided.
The question of commencing proceedings with prayer having been raised, Miss Mitchell
invited those present to unite in a silent prayer, a form of worship common among the Friends.
The impression made by our meetings was such that we soon began to receive letters from distant parts of the country, inviting us to journey hither and thither, and to hold our congresses east, west, north, and south.
Our year's work was arranged by committees, which had reference severally to science, art, education, industrial training, reforms, and statistics.
Our association certainly seemed to have answered an existing need.
Leading women from many States joined us, and we distributed our congresses as widely as the limits of our purses
Journeys to Utah
were beyond the means of most of our workers, and we regretfully declined invitations received from friends in these States.
In our earlier years our movements were mainly west and east.
We soon felt, however, that we must make acquaintance with our Southern sisters.
In the face of some discouragement, we arranged to hold a congress in Baltimore
, and had every reason to be satisfied with its result.
followed on our list of Southern States, and the progressive women of Louisville
accorded us a warm welcome and a three days hearing in one of the finest churches of the city.
, east and west, we gave two visits, both of which were amply justified by the cordial reception given us. In process of time Atlanta
and New Orleans claimed our presence.
Among the many mind-pictures left by our congresses, let me here outline one.
The place is the court-house of Memphis, Tenn.
, which has been temporarily ceded for our use. The time is that of one of our public sessions, and the large audience is waiting in silent expectancy, when the entrance of a quaint figure attracts all eyes to the platform.
It is that of a woman of middle height and past middle age, dressed in plain black, her nearly white hair cut short, and surmounted by a sort of student's cap
of her own devising.
Her appearance at first borders on the grotesque, but is presently seen to be nearer the august.
She turns her pleasant face toward the audience, takes off her cap, and unrolls the manuscript from which she proposes to read.
Her eyes beam with intelligence and kindly feeling.
The spectators applaud her before she has opened her lips.
Her aspect has taken them captive at once.
Her essay, on some educational theme, is terse, direct, and full of good thought.
It is heard with close attention and with manifest approbation, and whenever, in the proceedings that follow, she rises to say her word, she is always greeted with a murmur of applause.
This lady is Miss Mary Ripley
, a public school teacher of Buffalo city
, wise in the instruction of the young and in the enlightenment of elders.
We all rejoice in her success, which is eminently that of character and intellect.
I feel myself drawn on to offer another picture, not of our congress, but of a scene which grew out of it.
The ladies of our association have been invited to visit a school for young girls, of which Miss Conway
, one of our members, is the principal.
After witnessing some interesting exercises, we assemble in the large hall, where a novel entertainment has been provided for us. A band of
twelve young ladies appear upon the platform They wear the colors of ‘Old Glory,’ but after a new fashion, four of them being arrayed from head to foot in red, four in blue, and four in white.
While the John Brown
tune is heard from the piano, they proceed to act in graceful dumb show the stanzas of my Battle Hymn
How they did it I cannot tell, but it was a most lovely performance.
In the year 1898, for the first time since its first meeting, our association issued no call for a congress of women.
The reasons for our failure to do so may be briefly stated.
Some of our most efficient members had been removed by death, some by unavoidable circumstances.
But more than this, the demands made upon the time and strength of women by the women's clubs, which are now numerous and universal, had come to occupy the attention of many who in other times had leisure to interest themselves in our work.
The biennial conventions of the general federation of women's clubs no doubt appear to many to fill the place which we have honorably held, and may in some degree answer the ends which we have always had in view.
Yet a number of us still hold together, united in heart and in hand.
Although we have sadly missed our departed friends, I have never felt that the interest or value of our meetings suffered any decline.
The spirit of those dear ones has seemed, on the contrary, to abide among us, holding us pledged to undertake the greater effort made necessary by their absence.
We still count among our members many who keep the inspiration under which we first took the field.
We feel, moreover, that our happy experience of many years has brought us lessons too precious to hide or to neglect.
The coming together either of men or of women from regions widely separate from each other naturally gives occasion for comparison.
So far as I have known, the comparisons elicited by our meetings have more and more tended to resolve imagined discords into prevailing harmony.
The sympathy of feeling aroused by our unity of object has always risen above the distinctions of section and belonging.
Honest differences of opinion, honestly and temperately expressed, tend rather to develop good feeling than to disturb it. I am glad to be able to say that sectional prejudice has appeared very little, if at all, in the long course of our congresses, and that selfglorifica-tion, whether of State or individual, has never had any place with us, while the great instruction of meeting with earnest and thoughtful workers from every part of our country's vast domain has been greatly appreciated by us and by those who, in various places, have met with us.
We have presented at our meetings reports on
a variety of important topics.
Our congress of three days usually concluding on Saturday, such of our speakers as are accustomed to the pulpit have often been invited to hold forth in one or more of the churches.
In Knoxville, Tenn.
, for example, I was cordially bidden to lift up my voice in an orthodox Presbyterian church, Mrs. Ednah D. Cheney
spoke before the Unitarian society, Rev. Antoinette Brown Blackwell
preached to yet another congregation, and Mrs. Henrietta L. T. Wolcott
improved the Sunday by a very interesting talk on waifs, of which class of unfortunates she has had much official and personal knowledge.
An extended account of our many meetings would be out of place in this volume, but some points in connection with them may be of interest.
It often happened that we visited cities in which no associations of women, other than the church and temperance societies, existed.
After our departure, women's clubs almost invariably came into being.
Our eastern congresses have been held in Portland
, and Boston
In the Empire State
, we have visited Buffalo
, and New York.
and Colorado Springs
have been our limit in the west.
Northward, we have met in Toronto
and at St. John
In the south, as already said, our pilgrimages have reached Atlanta
and New Orleans.
We have sometimes been requested to supplement our annual congress by an additional day's session at some place easily reached from the city in which the main meeting had been appointed to be held.
Of these supplementary congresses I will mention a very pleasant one at St. Paul, Minn.
, and a very useful one held by some of our number in Salt Lake City
At the congress held in Boston
in the autumn of 1879, I was elected president, my predecessor in the office, Mrs. Daggett
, declining further service.
As the years have gone on, Death has done his usual work upon our number.
I have already spoken of our second president, Maria Mitchell
, who continued, after her term of office, to send us valuable statements regarding the scientific work of women.
Mrs. Kate Newell Daggett
, our third president, had long been recognized as a leader of social and intellectual progress in her adopted city of Chicago
The record in our calendar is that of an earnest worker, well fitted to commend the woman's cause by her attractive presence and cultivated mind.
Miss Abby W. May
was a tower of strength to our association.
She excelled in judgment, and in the sense of measure and of fitness.
Her sober taste in dress did not always commend her to our assemblage, composed largely of women, but the
plainness of her garb was redeemed by the beauty of her classic head and by the charm of her voice and manner.
She was grave in demeanor, but with an undertone of genuine humor which showed her to be truly human.
She was the worthy cousin of Rev. Samuel Joseph May
, and is remembered by me as the crown of a family of more than common distinction.
The progress of the woman question naturally developed a fresh interest in the industrial capacity of the sex. Experts in these matters know that the work of woman enters into almost every department of service and of manufacture.
In order to make this more evident, it seemed advisable to ask that a separate place might be assigned at some of the great industrial fairs, for the special showing of the inventions and handicraft of women.
Such a space was conceded to us at one of the important fairs held in Boston
in 1882, and I was invited to become president of this, the first recognized Woman's Department.
In this work I received valuable aid from Mrs. Henrietta L. T. Wolcott
, who, in the capacity of treasurer, was able to exercise a constant supervision over the articles consigned to our care.
On the opening day of the fair General Butler
, who was then governor of Massachusetts
In introducing me, he said, in a playfully apologetic manner, ‘Mrs. Howe
may say some
things which we might not wish to hear, but it is my office to present her to this audience.’
He probably thought that I was about to speak of woman suffrage.
My address, however, did not touch upon that topic, but upon the present new departure, its value and interest.
, indeed, sometimes claimed to be a friend of woman suffrage, but one of our number said of him in homely phrase: ‘He only wants to have his dish right side up when it rains.’
The most noticeable points in our exhibit were, first, the number of useful articles invented by women; secondly, a very creditable exhibition of scientific work, largely contributed by the lady students and graduates of the Massachusetts Institute of Technology; lastly, a collection of books composed by women, among which were some volumes of quite ancient date.
I suppose that my connection with this undertaking led to my receiving and accepting an invitation to assume the presidency of a woman's department in a great World's Fair to be held in New Orleans in the late autumn
Coupled with this invitation was the promise of a sum of money amply sufficient to defray all the expenses involved in the management of so extensive a work.
My daughter Maud was also engaged to take charge of an alcove especially devoted to the literary work of women.
We arrived in New Orleans in November, and found our affairs at a standstill.
Our ‘chief of exposition,’ as she was called, Mrs. Cloudman
, had measured and marked off the spaces requisite for the exhibits of the several States, but no timber was forthcoming with which to erect the necessary stands, partitions, etc. On inquiry, I was told that the funds obtained in support of the enterprise had proved insufficient, and that some expected contributions had failed.
There was naturally some censure of the manner in which the resources actually at hand had been employed, and some complaining of citizens of New Orleans who had been expected to contribute thousands of dollars to the exposition, and who had subscribed only a few hundreds.
I proceeded at once to organize a board of direction for the department, composed of the lady commissioners in charge of exhibits from their several States.
One or two of these ladies objected to the separate showing of woman's work, and were allowed to place their goods in the general exhibit of their States.
I had friendly relations with these ladies, but they were not under my jurisdiction.
Our embarrassing deadlock lasted for some time, but at length a benevolent lumber dealer endowed us with three thousand feet of pine boards.
The management furnished no workman for us, but the commanders of two
warships in the harbor lent us the services of their ship-carpenters, and in process of time the long gallery set apart for our use was partitioned off in pretty alcoves, draped with bright colors, and filled with every variety of handiwork.
I was fond of showing, among other novelties, a heavy iron chain, forged by a woman-blacksmith, and a set of fine jewelry, entirely made by women.
The exposition was a very valuable one, and did not fail to attract a large concourse of people from all parts of the country.
In the great multitude of things to be seen, and in the crowded attendance, visitors were easily confused, and often failed to find matters which might most interest them.
In order to improve the opportunity offered, I bethought me of a series of short talks on the different exhibits, to be given either by the commissioners in charge of them, or by experts whose services could be secured.
These twelve o'clock talks, as they were called, became very popular, and were continued during the greater part of the season.
In the same gallery with ourselves was the exhibit made by the colored people of New Orleans.
Of this I remember best a pathetic little art gallery, in which was conspicuous a portrait of Governor Andrew
I proposed one day to the directors of this exhibit that they should hold a meeting in
their compartment, and that I should speak to them of their great friends at the North
, whom I had known familiarly, and whose faces they had never seen.
They responded joyfully to my offer; and on a certain day assembled in their alcove, which they had decorated with flowers, surrounding a portrait of Abraham Lincoln
A choir of melodious voices sang my Battle Hymn
, and all listened while I spoke of Garrison
, and Dr. Howe
A New Orleans lady who was present, Mrs. Merritt
, also made a brief address, bidding the colored people remember that ‘they had good friends at the South
also,’ which I was glad to hear and believe.
The funds placed at our disposal falling far short of what had been promised us at the outset, we found ourselves under the necessity of raising money to defray our necessary expenses, among which was that of a special police, to prevent pilfering.
To this end, a series of entertainments was devised, beginning with a lecture of my own, which netted over six hundred dollars.
Several other lectures were given, and Colonel Mapleson
allowed some of his foremost artists to give a concert for the benefit of our department, by which something over a thousand dollars was realized.
We should still have suffered much embarrassment had not Senator Hoar
managed to secure from Congress an appropriation of ten thousand
dollars, from which our debts were finally paid in full.
The collection over which my daughter presided, of books written by women, scientific drawings, magazines, and so on, attracted many visitors.
Her colleague in this charge was Mrs. Eveline M. Ordway
Through their efforts, the authors of these works permitted the presentation of them to the Ladies
' Art Association of New Orleans.
This gift was much appreciated.
My management of the woman's department brought upon me some vulgar abuse from local papers, which was more than compensated for by the great kindness which I received from leading individuals in the society of the place.
At the exposition I made acquaintance with many delightful people, among whom I will mention Captain Pym
, who claimed to be the oldest Arctic voyager living, President Johnston
of Tulane University, and Mrs. Townsend
, a poet of no mean merit, who had had the honor of being chosen as the laureate of the opening exposition.
When my duties as president were at an end, I parted from my late associates with sincere regret, and turned my face northward, with grateful affection for the friends left behind me.