Painted As Figure Of Fun, Susan B. Anthony Went On To Make History
Editor’s Note: Here is The Freeman’s Journal Feb. 9, 1855, account – in prose and poetry – of Susan B. Anthony’s appearance in Cooperstown, to be commemorated with a State Historical Marker that has just arrived at the village’s First Presbyterian Church. The tone marks the flippant attitude in some quarters at that time.
Your readers should be apprised that last Friday was a great and eventful day in the history of human events. It was one of these epochs whereat Time pauses to set down a stake from which after generations may measure his further flight.
Henceforth, let it be noted in Phinney’s calendar that the 9th day of February, 1855, was the day when the memorable “Woman’s Rights Convention” was held at Cooperstown! – and let the mothers of Otsego, in all coming ages, teach their children to revere its anniversary, as the day when “the strong-minded women” gave the horn of liberty such a rousing blast among the echoing hills of our county.
…A gentleman was called to the chair, and a secretary and two vice-presidentesses were appointed. The president, after a few appropriate remarks, introduced to the audience, Miss Susan B. Anthony, who took the rostrum.
Her theme – the wrongs that
patient woman bears;
To sew, to spin, to mop and darn
To do the drudg’ry, while man
takes the pay.
She all the pangs of Eden’s curse endures,
While man her pleasures shares,
but not her pains.
Give woman but the right of
Will soon have equal laws,
and what is wrong
Will speedily set right.
Audible sobs were heard among the henpecks while the speaker depicted the “pangs and fears that women have.”
She had hardly regained her seat, when, “gay as a lark to meet the morn,” up sprang the sparkling Miss Filkins, with a mischievous little Cupid dancing out at every angle of her smile, and riding astride her eyelashes.
Was she “prospecting” round the land to get a husband?
No, not she! – And what was more,
She would not give a fig for
the best man
That lives, could she not be
on equal terms,
And in all things go snacks.
(Here, a bach. in the corner began
humming “Rock o-bye baby upon the
tree-top,” probably intending to signify
to the lady a willingness to bear his share of the domestic burdens.)
And, as for laws
That bind a wrangling twain
in fixed embrace,
When they would fain be
wide asunder, she
Did not believe in such downright
But tho’t the rather that when
birds did cloy
Of their old mates, t’were best to
Whereupon, several scowling Benedicks who had been frowning disapprovingly upon the proceedings, brightened up amazingly, and were observed, when the fair damoiselles came round with the hat, to be among the most liberal contributors.
In the evening at the Court House, the sage and astute Anthony set forth the legal disabilities which rest upon woman, in so minutely a manner that certain limbs of the law who were present, had not a word to answer her withal. Indeed, it might be said of some of them, in the language of the poet –
‘That fools who came to scoff, “
remained to’ put their names
to Miss Anthony’s petition.
The beneficial effects of the convention were at once apparent. Men who had always been careless and indifferent upon the subject of domestic duties, went home singing , “Bye-o-Baby bunting, Mama’s gone a’hunting,” and other similar airs, in anticipation, I suppose, of the time when they should be attending to matters adapted to their capacities at home, while their wives, having ascended to their appropriate spheres, should be displaying their graces in legislative halls.
I ought not to close this notice, Mr. Editor, without mentioning that the bachelors held an anxious meeting after the convention adjourned. They had been quite jubilant, before the convention, cracking their jokes at every hen-hearted husband they met; but when they perceived how the tide was turning in favor of the “strong-minded,” and remembered too, the pains and penalties which women lawgivers would be likely to impose upon their fraternity, they became frightened in their turn; and adopted, in their meeting, the most spirited resolutions, declaring that they never would submit to female legislation – never! – they’d emigrate to Utah first!
Yours, &c. Uxorius