MY FIRST SPEECH BEFORE A LEGISLATURE.
Women had been willing so long to hold a subordinate position, both in private and public affairs, that a gradually growing feeling of rebellion among them quite exasperated the men, and their manifestations of hostility in public meetings were often as ridiculous as humiliating.
True, those gentlemen were all quite willing that women should join their societies and churches to do the drudgery; to work up the enthusiasm in fairs and revivals, conventions and flag presentations; to pay a dollar apiece into their treasury for the honor of being members of their various organizations; to beg money for the Church; to circulate petitions from door to door; to visit saloons; to pray with or defy rumsellers; to teach school at half price, and sit round the outskirts of a hall, in teachers’ State conventions, like so many wallflowers; but they would not allow them to sit on the platform, address the assembly, or vote for men and measures.
Those who had learned the first lessons of human rights from the lips of Henry B. Stanton, Samuel J. May, and Gerrit Smith would not accept any such position. When women abandoned the temperance reform, all interest in the question gradually died out in the State, and practically nothing was done in New York for nearly twenty years. Gerrit Smith made one or two attempts toward an “anti-dramshop” party, but, as women could not vote, they felt no interest in the measure, and failure was the result.
I soon convinced Miss Anthony that the ballot was the key to the situation; that when we had a voice in the laws we should be welcome to any platform. In turning the intense earnestness and religious enthusiasm of this great-souled woman into this channel, I soon felt the power of my convert in goading me forever forward to more untiring work. Soon fastened, heart to heart, with hooks of steel in a friendship that years of confidence and affection have steadily strengthened, we have labored faithfully together.