“The day will come when man will recognize woman as his peer, not only at the fireside but in the councils of the nation. Then, and not until then, will there be the perfect comradeship, the ideal union between the sexes that shall result in the highest development of the race…This we...
“The day will come when man will recognize woman as his peer, not only at the fireside but in the councils of the nation. Then, and not until then, will there be the perfect comradeship, the ideal union between the sexes that shall result in the highest development of the race…This we know, that only good can come to the individual or to the nation through the rendering of exact justice.”
In all her speeches and writings, Susan B. Anthony displayed her single-minded devotion to the cause of women’s rights – particularly the right to vote. Over the years, she honed her arguments until the success of the cause of suffrage and women’s rights became inevitable. This major shift in public opinion was the result in large part of Anthony’s work. In her 1897 article for The Arena magazine, “The Status of Woman, Past, Present, and Future,” Anthony reflected on the efforts to change the status of women over the last 50 years since the Seneca Falls convention in July 1848. She outlined the status of woman at that time, which was restricted in all areas of life. She then reviewed some of the changes that had occurred, both in the personal lives of women and progress being made towards voting rights. She wrote that efforts were being focused on an Amendment to the U.S. Constitution to grant suffrage to women, and that until "the right protective of all other rights -the ballot" is achieved, women must continue to work together to that purpose.
In the article, she recalled the lives of women at the start of her time period: “A vast amount of the household drudgery that once monopolized the whole time and strength of the mother and daughters has been taken outside and turned over to machinery in vast establishments.” Bringing the situation up to the present, she saw with gratification: “The close of this 19th century finds every trade, vocation, and profession open to women, and every opportunity at their command for preparing themselves to follow these occupations. She who can make for herself a place of distinction in any line of work receives commendation instead of condemnation.
Her important points can be glimpsed in the following excerpts from the article:
“Fifty years ago woman in the United States was without a recognized individuality in any department of life. No provision was made in public or private schools for her education in anything beyond the rudimentary branches. An educated woman was a rarity and was gazed upon with something akin to awe. The women who were known in the world of letters, in the entire country, could be easily counted upon the ten fingers…Such was the helpless, dependent, fettered condition of woman when the first Woman’s Rights Convention was called just forty-nine years ago, at Seneca Falls, N. Y., by Elizabeth Cady Stanton and Lucretia Mott…From that little convention at Seneca Falls, with a following of a handful of women scattered through half-a-dozen different states, we have now the great National Association, with headquarters in New York City, and auxiliaries in almost every state in the Union. These state bodies are effecting a thorough system of county and local organizations for the purpose of securing legislation favorable to women, and especially to obtain amendments to their state constitutions. As evidence of the progress of public opinion, more than half of the legislatures in session during the past winter have discussed and voted upon bills for the enfranchisement of women, and in most of them they were adopted by one branch and lost by a very small majority in the other. The legislatures of Washington and South Dakota have submitted woman-suffrage amendments to their electors for 1898, and vigorous campaigns will be made in those states during the next two years.
“For a quarter of a century Wyoming has stood as a conspicuous object lesson in woman suffrage, and is now reinforced by the three neighboring states of Colorado, Utah, and Idaho. With this central group, standing on the very crest of the Rocky Mountains, the spirit of justice and freedom for women cannot fail to descend upon all the Western and Northwestern states. No one who makes a careful study of this question can help but believe that, in a very few years, all the states west of the Mississippi River will have enfranchised their women. While the efforts of each state are concentrated upon its own legislature, all of the states combined in the national organization are directing their energies toward securing a 16th Amendment to the Constitution of the United States. The demands of this body have been received with respectful and encouraging attention from Congress…[of course, women’s suffrage ended up being the 19th Amendment].
“Until woman has obtained ‘that right protective of all other rights–the ballot,’ this agitation must still go on, absorbing the time and energy of our best and strongest women. Who can measure the advantages that would result if the magnificent abilities of these women could be devoted to the needs of government, society, home, instead of being consumed in the struggle to obtain their birthright of individual freedom? Until this be gained we can never know, we cannot even prophesy, the capacity and power of woman for the uplifting of humanity. It may be delayed longer than we think; it may be here sooner than we expect; but the day will come when man will recognize woman as his peer, not only at the fireside but in the councils of the nation. Then, and not until then, will there be the perfect comradeship, the ideal union between the sexes that shall result in the highest development of the race. What this shall be we may not attempt to define, but this we know, that only good can come to the individual or to the nation through the rendering of exact justice.”
We offer the entire 8 page article, “From The Arena”, inscribed and signed “With compliments of the season, December 25, 1897, Susan B. Anthony, Rochester, N.Y.” This is the first signed copy of this article we have ever seen, and a search of public sale records going back forty years reveals none. So while Anthony’s signed books are often available, no so this article.
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