Resolutions and Debate, Woman's National Loyal League Meeting, New York City, May 14, 1863

Susan B. Anthony presented a series of resolutions,* and said:

There is great fear expressed on all sides lest this war shall be made a war for the negro. I am willing that it shall be. It is a war to found an empire on the negro in slavery, and shame on us if we do not make it a war to establish the negro in freedom-against whom the whole nation, North and South, East and West, in one mighty conspiracy, has combined from the beginning.

Instead of suppressing the real cause of the war, it should have been proclaimed, not only by the people, but by the President, Congress. Cabinet, and every military commander. Instead of President Lincoln's waiting two long years before calling to the side of the Government the four millions of allies whom we have had within the territory of rebellion, it should have been the first decree he sent forth. Every hour's delay, every life sacrificed up to the proclamation that called the slave to freedom and to arms, was nothing less than downright murder by the Government. For by all the laws of common-sense-to say nothing of laws military or national-if the President, as Commander-in-Chief of the Army and Navy, could have devised any possible means whereby he might hope to suppress the rebellion, without the sacrifice of the life of one loyal citizen, without the sacrifice of one dollar of the loyal North, it was clearly his duty to have done so. Every interest of the insurgents, every dollar of their property, every institution, however peculiar, every life in every rebel State, even, if necessary, should have been sacrificed, before one dollar or one man should have been drawn from the free States. How much more, then, was it the President's duty to confer freedom on the four million slaves, transform them into a peaceful army for the Union, cripple the rebellion, and establish justice, the only sure foundation of peace! I therefore hail the day when the Government shall recognize that it is a war for freedom. We talk about returning to the old Union" the Union as it was," and "the Constitution as it is "-about "restoring our country to peace and prosperity-to the blessed conditions that existed before the war! " I ask you what sort of peace, what sort of prosperity, have we had? Since the first slave-ship sailed up the James River with its human cargo, and there, on the soil of the Old Dominion, sold it to the highest bidder, we have had nothing but war. When that pirate captain landed on the shores of Africa, and there kidnapped the first stalwart negro, and fastened the first manacle, the struggle between that captain and that negro was the commencement of the terrible war in the midst of which we are to-day. Between the slave and the master there has been war, and war only. This is only a new form of it. No, no; we ask for no return to the old conditions. We ask for something better. We want a Union that is a Union in fact, a Union in spirit, not a sham. (Applause).

By the Constitution as it is, the North has stood pledged to protect slavery in the States Where it existed. We have been bound, in case of insurrections, to go to the aid, not of those struggling for liberty, but of the oppressors. It was politicians who made this pledge at the beginning, and who have renewed it from year to year to this day. These same men have had control of the churches, the Sabbath-schools, and all religious influences; and the women have been a party in complicity with slavery. They have made the large majority in all the different religious organizations throughout the country, and have without protest, fellowshiped the slave-bolder as a Christian; accepted pro-slavery preaching from their pulpits; suffered the words "slavery a crime " to be expurgated from all the lessons taught their children, in defiance of the Golden Rule, " Do unto others as you would that others should do unto you." They have had no right to vote in their churches. and, like slaves, have meekly accepted whatever morals and religion the selfish interest of politics and trade dictated.

Woman must now assume her God-given responsibilities, and make herself what she is clearly designed to be, the educator of the race. Let her no longer be the mere reflector, the echo of the worldly pride and ambition of man. (Applause). Had the women of the North studied to know and to teach their sons the law of justice to the black man, regardless of the frown or the smile of pro-slavery priest and politician, they would not now be called upon to offer the loved of their households to the bloody Moloch of war. And now, women of the North, I ask you to rise up with earnest, honest purpose, and go forward in the way of right, fearlessly, as independent human beings, responsible to God alone for the discharge of every duty, for the faithful use of every gift, the good Father has given you. Forget conventionalisms; forget what the world will say, whether you are in your place or out of your place; think your best thoughts, speak your best words, do your best works, looking to your own conscience for approval.

Mrs. HOYT, of Wisconsin : Thus far this meeting has been conducted in such a way as would lead one to suppose that it was an anti-slavery convention. There are ladies here who have come hundreds of miles to attend a business meeting of the Loyal Women of the North; and good as anti-slavery conventions are, and anti-slavery speeches are, in their way, I think that here we should attend to our own business.

Mrs. CHALKSTONE, of California: My speech shall be as brief as possible and 1 ask for an excuse for my broken language. Our field is very small, and God has given us character and abilities to follow it out. We do not need to stand at the ballot-boxes and cast our votes, neither to stand and plead as lawyers; but in our homes we have a great office. I consider women a great deal superior to men. (Laughter and applause). Men are physically strong, but women are morally better. I speak of pure women, good women. It is woman who keeps the world in the balance.

I am from Germany, where my brothers all fought against the Government and tried to make us free, but were unsuccessful. My only, son, seventeen years old, is in our great and noble army of the Union. He has fought in many of the battles here, and I only came from California to see him once more. I have not seen him yet; though I was down in the camp, I could not get any pass. But I am willing to lay down all this sacrifice for the cause of liberty. We foreigners know the preciousness of that great, noble gift a great deal better than you, because you never were in slavery, but we are born in it. Germany pines for freedom. In Germany we sacrificed our wealth and ornaments for it, and the women in this country ought to do the same. We can not fight in the battles, but we can do this, and it is all we can do. The speaker, before me, remarked that Abraham Lincoln was two years before he emancipated slaves. She thought it, wrong. It took eighteen hundred years in Europe to emancipate the Jews, and they are not emancipated now. Among great and intelligent peoples like Germany and France, until 1814 no Jew had the right to go on the pavement; they had to go in the middle of the street, where the horses walked It took more than two years to emancipate the people of the North from the idea that the negro was not a human being, and that he had the right to be a free man. A great many will find fault in the resolution that the negro shall be free and equal, because our equal not every human being can be; but free every human being has a right to be. He can only be equal in his rights. (Applause).

Mrs. Rose called for the reading of the resolutions, which after a spirited discussion, all except the fifth, were unanimously adopted.

Mrs. HOYT, of Wisconsin, said: Mrs. President-I object to the passage of the fifth resolution, not because I object to the sentiment expressed; but I do not think it is the time to bring before this meeting, assembled for the purpose of devising the best ways and means by which women may properly assist the Government in its struggle against treason, anything which could in the least prejudice the interest in this cause which is so dear to us all. We all know that Woman's Rights as an 0m has not been received with entire favor by the women of the country, and I know that there are thousands of earnest, loyal, and able women who Will not go into any movement of this kind, if this idea is made prominent. (Applause). I came here from Wisconsin hoping to meet the earnest women of the country. I hoped that nothing that would in any way damage the cause so dear to us all would be brought forward by any of the members. I object to this, because our object should be to maintain, as women properly may, the integrity of our Government; to vindicate its authority; to re-establish it upon a fax more enduring basis. We can do this if we do not involve ourselves in any purely political matter, or any ism obnoxious,; to the people. The one idea should be the maintenance of the authority of the Government as it is, and the integrity of the Republican idea. For this, women may properly work, and I hope this resolution will not pass.

SARAH H. HALLECK, Of Milton, N. Y.: I would make the suggestion that those who approve of this resolution can afford to give way, and allow that part of it which is objectionable to be stricken out. The negroes have suffered more than the women, and the women, perhaps, can afford to give them the preference. Let it stand as regards them, and blot out the word 11 woman." It may possibly be woman's place to suffer. At any rate, let her suffer, if, by that means, mankind may suffer less.

A Voice: You are too self-sacrificing.

ERNESTINE L. Rose: I always sympathize with those who seem to be in the minority. I know it requires a great deal of moral courage to object to anything that appears to have been favorably received. I know very well from long experience how it feels to stand in 9, minority of one; and I am glad that my friend on the other side (Mrs. Halleck) has already added one to make a minority of two, though that is by far too small to be comfortable. 1, for one, object to the proposition to throw woman out of the race for freedom. (Applause). And do you know why? Because she needs freedom for the freedom of man. (Applause)., Our ancestors made a great mistake in not recognizing woman in the rights of man. It has been justly stated that the negro, at present suffers more than woman, but it can do him no injury to place woman in the same category with him. I, for one, object to having that term stricken out, for it can have no possible bearing against anything that we want to promote: we desire to promote human rights and human freedom. It can do no injury, but must do good , for it is a painful fact that woman under the law has been in the same category with the slave. Of late years she has had some small privileges conceded to her. Now, mind, I say conceded; for publicly it has not yet been recognized by the laws of the laud that she has a right to an equality with man. In that resolution it simply states a fact, that in a republic based upon freedom, woman, as well as the negro, should be recognized as an equal with the whole human race. (Applause).

ANGELINE Q. WELD: Mrs, President-I rejoice exceedingly that that resolution should combine us with the negro. I feel that we have been with him; that the iron has entered into our souls. True, we have not felt the slave-holder's lash; true, we have not had our hands manacled, but our hearts have been crushed. Was there a single institution in this country that would throw open its doors to the acknowledgment of woman's equality with man in the race for science and the languages, until Oberlin, Antioch, Lima, and a very few others opened their doors, twenty years ago ? Have I not heard women say- I said thus to my own brother, as I used to receive from him instruction and reading: 'Oh, brother, that I could go to college with you! that I could have the instruction you do I but I am crushed! I hear nothing, I know nothing, except in the fashionable circle." A teacher said to a young lady, who had been studying for several years, on the day she finished her course of instruction, " I thought you would be very glad that you were so soon to go home. so soon to leave your studies." She looked up, and said, " What was I made for? When I go home I shall live in a circle of fashion and folly. I was not made for embroidery and dancing; I was made a woman; but I can not be a true woman, a full-grown woman, in America."

Now, my friends, I do not want to find fault with the past. I believe that men did for women the best that they knew how to do. They did not know their own rights: they did not recognize the rights of any man who had a black face. We can not wonder that, in their tenderness for woman, they wanted to shelter and protect her, and they made those laws from true, human, generous feelings. Woman was then too undeveloped to demand anything else. But woman is is full-grown to-day, whether man knows it or not, equal to her rights, and equal to the responsibilities of the hour. I want to be identified with the negro; until he gets his rights, we never shall have ours. (Applause).

SUSAN B. ANTHONY: This resolution brings in no question, no ism. It merely makes the assertion that in a true democracy, in a genuine republic, every citizen who lives under, the government must have the right of representation. You remember the maxim, " Governments derive their just powers from the consent of the governed." This is the fundamental principle of democracy; and before our Government can be a true democracy- before our republic can be placed upon lasting and enduring foundations -the civil and political rights of every citizen must, be practically established. This is the assertion of the resolution. It Is a philosophical statement. It is Dot because women suffer, it is Dot because slaves suffer, it is not because of any individual rights or wrongs it is the simple assertion of the great fundamental truth of democracy that was proclaimed by our Revolutionary fathers. I hope the discussion will no longer be continued as to the comparative rights or wrongs of one class or another. The question before us is: Is it possible that peace and union shall be established in this country ; is it possible for this Government to be a true democracy, a genuine republic, while one-sixth or one-half of the people are disfranchised?

MM. HOYT: I do not object to the philosophy of these resolutions. I believe in the advancement of the human race, and certainly not in a retrograde movement of the Woman's Rights question; but at the same time I do insist that nothing that has become obnoxious to a portion of the people of the country shall b3 dragged into this meeting. (applause). The women of the North were invited here to meet in convention, not to hold a Temperance meeting, not to hold an Anti-Slavery meeting, not to hold a Woman's Rights Convention, but to consult as to the best practical way for the advancement of the loyal cause. To my certain knowledge there are ladies in this house who have come hundreds of miles, who will withdraw from this convention, who will go home disappointed, and be thrown back on their own resources, and form other plans of organization ; whereas they would much prefer to co-operate with the National Convention if this matter were not introduced. This movement must be sacred to the one object of assisting our Government. I would add one more remark, that though the women of the Revolution did help our Government in that early struggle, they did not find it necessary to set forth in any theoretical or clamorous way their right to equal suffrage or equal political position, though doubtless they believed, as much as any of us, in the advancement of woman.

A LADY: I want to ask the lady who just spoke if the women of the Revolution found it necessary to form Loyal Leagues? We are not bound to do just as the women of the Revolution did. (Applause and laughter).

Lucy N. COLFMAN, of Rochester, N. Y.: I wish to say, in the first place, something a little remote from the point, which I have in my mind just now. A peculiar sensitiveness seems to have come over some of the ladies here in reference to the anti-slavery spirit of the resolutions. It seems to me impossible that a company of women could stand upon this platform without catching something of the anti-slavery spirit, and without expressing, to some extent, their sympathy with the advancement of human rights. It is the Anti-Slavery women and the Woman's Rights women who called this meeting, and who have most effectually aided in this movement. Their hearts bleed to the very core that our nation is to-day suffering to its depths, and they came together to devise means whereby they could help the country in its great calamity. I respect the woman who opposed this resolution, for daring to say so much. She says that it is an Anti-Slavery Convention that is in session. So it is, and something more. (Applause). She says it is a Woman's Rights Convention. So it is, and even more than that; it is a World's Convention. (Applause). Another woman (I rejoice to hear that lisping. foreign tongue) says that our sphere is so narrow that we should be careful to keep within it. All honor to her, that she dared to say even that. I recognize for myself no narrow sphere. (Applause). Where you may work, my brother, I may work. I would willingly stand upon the battle-field, and would be glad to receive the balls in my person, if in that way I could do more for my country's good than in any other. I recognize no right of any man or of any woman to say that I should not stand there. Our sphere is not narrow-it is broad.

In reference to this resolution, Mrs. Halleck thinks it might be well to leave out woman. No, no. Do you remember, friends, long, long ago here in New York, an Anti-Slavery convention broke up in high dudgeon, because a woman was put upon a committee? But that Anti-Slavery Society, notwithstanding those persons who felt so sensitive withdrew from it, has lived thirty years, and to-day it has the honor of being credited as the cause of this war. Perhaps if the principle which was then at stake-that a woman had a right to be on a committee - had been waived, from the very fact that the principle of right was overruled. that Society would have failed. I would not yield one iota, one particle. to this clamor for compromise. Be it understood that it is a Woman's Rights matter; for the Woman's Rights women have the same right to dictate to a Loyal League that the Anti-Woman's Rights women have, and the side that is strongest will carry the resolution, of course. But do not withdraw it. Do not say, " We will take it away because it is objectionable."

I want the people to understand that this Loyal League-because it is a Loyal League-must of necessity bring in Anti-Slavery and Woman's Rights. (Applause). Is it possible that any of you believe that there is such a being in this country to-day as a loyal man or woman who is not anti-slavery to the backbone ? (Applause). Neither is there a loyal man or woman whose intellect is clear enough to take in a broad, large idea, who is not to the very core a Woman's Rights man or woman. (Applause).

MRS. HOYT: As I have said before, I am not opposed to Anti-Slavery. I stand here an Abolitionist from the earliest childhood, and a stronger anti-slavery woman lives. not On the soil of America (Applause). I voted Yea on the anti-slavery resolution, and I would vote it ten times over. But, at the same time, in the West, which I represent, there is a very strong objection to Woman's Rights; in fact, this *Woman's Rights matter is odious to some of us from the manner in which it has been conducted; not that we object to the philosophy-we believe in the philosophy-but object to this matter being tacked on to a purely loyal convention. . . . . I will make one more statement which bears upon the point which I have been trying to make. I have never before spoken exception p Ovate meetings, and therefore must ask the indulgence of the audience. The women of Madison, Wisconsin, feeling the necessity and importance of doing something more than women were doing to assist the Government in this struggle, organized a Ladies? Union League, which has been in operation some time, and is very efficient.

A Voice: -What are they doing? Please state.

MRs. HOYT: In Madison we had a very large and flourishing "Soldiers' Aid Society." We were the headquarters for that part of the State. A great many ladies worked in our Aid Society, and assisted us, who utterly refused to join with the Loyal League, because, they said, it would damage the Aid Society. We recognized that fact, and kept it purely distinct as a Ladies' Loyal League, for the promotion of the loyal sentiment of the North, and to reach the soldiers in the field by the most direct and practical means which were in our power. We have a great many very flourishing Ladies' Loyal Leagues throughout the West, and we have kept them sacred from Anti-Slavery, Woman's Rights, Temperance, and everything else, good though they may be. In our League we have three objects in view. The first is, retrenchment in household expenses, to the end that the material resources of the Government may be, so far as possible, applied to the entire and thorough vindication of its authority. Second, to strengthen the loyal sentiment of the people at home, and instill a deeper love of the national flag. The third and most important object is, to write to the soldiers in the field, thus reaching nearly every private in the army, to encourage and stimulate him in the way that ladies know how to do. I state again, it is not an Anti-Slavery objection. I will vote for every Anti-Slavery movement in this Convention. I object to the Woman's Rights resolutions, and nothing else.

Ernestine L. Rose: It is exceedingly amusing to hear persons talk about throwing out Woman's Rights, when, if it had not been for Woman's Rights, that lady would not have had the courage to stand here and say what she did. (Applause). Pray, what means "loyal"? Loyal means to be true to one's highest conviction. Justice, like charity, begins at home. It is because we are loyal to truth, loyal to justice, loyal to right, loyal to humanity, that woman is included in that resolution. Now, what does this discussion mean? The lady acknowledges that it is not against Woman's Rights itself; she is for Woman's Rights. We are here to endeavor to help the cause of human rights and human freedom. We ought not to be afraid. You may depend upon it, if there are any of those who are called copperheads - but I don't like to call names, for even a copperhead is better than no head at all- (laughter)if there are any copperheads here, I am perfectly sure they will object to this whole Convention; and if we want to consult them, lot us adjourn sine die. If we axe loyal to our highest convictions, we need not care how far it may lead. For truth, like water, will find its own level. No, friends, in the name of consistency let us not wrangle here simply be cause we associate the name of woman with human justice and human rights. Although I always like to see opposition on any subject, for it elicits truth much better than any speech, still I think it will be exceedingly inconsistent if, because some women out, in the West axe opposed to the Woman's Rights movement-though at the same time they take advantage of it-that therefore we shall throw it out of this resolution.

Mrs. SPENCE, of New York: I didn't come to this meeting to participate-only to listen. I don't claim to be a Northerner or a Southerner; but I claim to be a human. being, and to belong to the human family (Applause). I belong to no sect or creed of politics or religion; I stand as an individual, defending the rights of every one as far as I can see them. It seems to me we have met here to come to some unity of action. If we attempt to bring in religious, political, or moral questions, we all must of necessity differ. We came here hoping to be inspired by each other to lay some plan by which we can unite in practical action. I have nut heard such a proposition made; but I anticipate that it will be. (Hear, hear). Then if we are to unite on some proposition which is to be presented, it seems to me that our resolutions should be practical and directed to the main business. Let the object of the meeting be unity of action and expression in behalf of what we feel to be the highest right, our highest idea of liberty.

The PRESIDENT (Lucy Stone): Every good cause can afford to be just. The lady from Wisconsin, who differs from some of us here, says she is an Anti-Slavery woman. We ought to believe her. She accepts the principles of the Woman's Rights movement, but she does not like the way in which it has been carried on. We ought to believe her. It is not, then, that she objects to the idea of the equality of women and negroes, but because she does not wish to have anything " tacked on 11 to the Loyal League, that to the mass of people does not seem to belong there. She seems to me to stand precisely in the position of those good people just at the close of the war of the Revolution. The people then, as now, had their hearts aching with the memory of their buried dead. They had had years of war from which they had garnered out sorrows as well as hopes; and when they came to establish a Union, they found that one black, unmitigated curse of slavery rooted in the soil. Some men said, " We can have no true Union where there is not justice to the negro. The black man is a human being, like us, with the same equal rights." They had given to the world the Declaration of Independence, grand and brave and beautiful. They said, "How can we form a true Union?" Some people representing the elms that Mrs. Hoyt represents, answered, " Let us have a Union. We are weak; we have been beset for seven long years; do not lot us meddle with the negro, question. What we are for is a Union; let us have a Union at all hazards." There were earnest men, men of talent, who could speak well and earnestly, and they persuaded the others to silence. So they said nothing about slavery, and let the wretched monster live.

To-day, over all our land, the unburied bones of our fathers and sons and brothers tell the sad mistake that those men made when long ago they left this one great wrong in the land. They could not accomplish good bypassing over a wrong. If the right of one single human being is to be disregarded by us, we fail in our loyalty to the country. All over this land women have no political existence. Laws pass over our heads that we can not unmake. Our property is taken from us without our consent. The babes we bear in anguish and carry in our arms are not ours. The few rights that we have, have been wrung from the Legislature by the Woman's Rights movement. We come to-day to say to those who are administering our Government and fighting our battles, "While you are going through this valley of humiliation, do not forget that you must be true alike to the women and the negroes." We can never be truly " loyal 11 if we leave them out. Leave, them out, and we take the same backward step that our fathers took when they left out slavery. If justice to the negro and to woman is right, it can not hurt our loyalty to the country and the Union. If it is not right, let it go out of the way; but if it is right, there is no occasion that we should reject it, or ignore it. We make the statement that the Government derives its just powers from the consent of the governed, and that all human beings have equal rights. This is not an ism-it is simply an assertion that we shall be true to the highest truth.

A MAN IN THE AUDIENCE: The question was asked, as I entered this house, "' Is it right for women to meet here and intermeddle in our public affairs?" It is the greatest possible absurdity for women to stand on that platform and talk of loyalty to a Government in which nine-tenths of the politicians of the land say they have no right to interfere, and still oppose Woman's Rights. The very act of standing there is an endorsement of Woman's Rights.

A voice: I believe this is a woman's meeting. Men have no right to speak here.

THE GENTLEMAN CONTINUED: It is on woman more than on man that the real evils of this war settle. It is not the soldier on the battle-field that suffers most; it is the wife, the mother, the daughter. (Applause. , Cries of " Question, Question ").

A voice: You are not a woman, sit down.

SUSAN B. Anthony. Some of us who sit upon this platform have many a time been clamored down, and told that we had no right to speak, and that we were out of our place in public meetings; far be it from us, when women assemble, and a man has a thought in his soul, burning for utterance, to retaliate upon him. (Laughter and applause).

The resolution was then put to vote.

A VOICE : Allow me to inquire if men have a right to vote on this question ?

THE PRESIDENT : I suppose men who are used to business know that they should not vote here. We give them the privilege of speaking.

The resolution was carried by a large majority.

Susan B. ANTHONY: The resolution recommending the practical work, has not yet been prepared, We have a grand platform on which to stand, and I hope we shall be able to present a plan of work equally grand. But, Mrs. President, if we should fail in doing this, we shall not fall to ,enunciate the principles of democracy and republicanism which underlie the structure of a free government. When the heads' and hearts of the women of the North are fully imbued with the true idea, their hands will find a way to secure its accomplishment.

There is evidently very great earnestness on the part of all present to settle upon some practical work. I therefore ask that the women from every State of the Union, who are delegates here from Loyal Leagues and Aid Societies, shall retire, at the close of this meeting, to the lecture room of this church, and there we will endeavor to fix upon the best possible plan we can gather from the counsels of the many. I hope this enthusiasm may be directed to good and legitimate ends, and not allowed to evaporate into thin air. I hope we shall aid greatly in the establishment of this Government on the everlasting foundation of justice to all.


* Resolved, 2. That we heartily approve that part of the President's Proclamation which decrees freedom to the slaves of rebel masters, and we earnestly urge him to devise measures for emancipating all slaves throughout the country.

Resolved, 3. That the national pledge to the freedmen must be redeemed, and the integrity of the Government in making it vindicated, at whatever cost.

Resolved, 4. That while we welcome to legal freedom the recent slaves, we solemnly remonstrate against all State or National legislation which may exclude them from any locality, or debar them from any rights or privileges as free and equal citizens of a common Republic.

Resolved, 5. There never can be a true peace in this Republic until the civil and political rights of all citizens of African descent and all women are practically established.

Resolved, 7. That the women of the Revolution were not wanting in heroism and self sacrifice, and we, their daughters, are ready in this war to pledge our time, our means, our talents, and our lives, if need be, to secure the 11nal and complete consecration of America to freedom.