Eighty Years and More; Reminiscences 1815-1897 eBook

This eBook from the Gutenberg Project consists of approximately 480 pages of information about Eighty Years and More; Reminiscences 1815-1897.

Knowing the confidence Miss Anthony felt in the wisdom of Mr. Garrison and Mr. Phillips, they were implored to use their influence with her to give up the fugitives.  Letters and telegrams, persuasions, arguments, and warnings from Mr. Garrison, Mr. Phillips, and the Senator on the one side, and from Lydia Mott, Mrs. Elizabeth F. Ellet, and Abby Hopper Gibbons, on the other, poured in upon her, day after day; but Miss Anthony remained immovable, although she knew that she was defying and violating the law and might be arrested any moment on the platform.  We had known so many aggravated cases of this kind that, in daily counsel, we resolved that this woman should not be recaptured if it were possible to prevent it.  To us it looked as imperative a duty to shield a sane mother, who had been torn from a family of little children and doomed to the companionship of lunatics, and to aid her in fleeing to a place of safety, as to help a fugitive from slavery to Canada.  In both cases an unjust law was violated; in both cases the supposed owners of the victims were defied; hence, in point of law and morals, the act was the same in both cases.  The result proved the wisdom of Miss Anthony’s decision, as all with whom Mrs. P. came in contact for years afterward, expressed the opinion that she was, and always had been, perfectly sane.  Could the dark secrets of insane asylums be brought to light we should be shocked to know the great number of rebellious wives, sisters, and daughters who are thus sacrificed to false customs and barbarous laws made by men for women.



The widespread discussion we are having, just now, on the subject of marriage and divorce, reminds me of an equally exciting one in 1860.  A very liberal bill, introduced into the Indiana legislature by Robert Dale Owen, and which passed by a large majority, roused much public thought on the question, and made that State free soil for unhappy wives and husbands.  A similar bill was introduced into the legislature of New York by Mr. Ramsey, which was defeated by four votes, owing, mainly, to the intense opposition of Horace Greeley.  He and Mr. Owen had a prolonged discussion, in the New York Tribune, in which Mr. Owen got decidedly the better of the argument.

There had been several aggravated cases of cruelty to wives among the Dutch aristocracy, so that strong influences in favor of the bill had been brought to bear on the legislature, but the Tribune thundered every morning in its editorial column its loudest peals, which reverberated through the State.  So bitter was the opposition to divorce, for any cause, that but few dared to take part in the discussion.  I was the only woman, for many years, who wrote and spoke on the question.  Articles on divorce, by a number of women, recently published in the North American Review, are a sign of progress, showing that women dare speak out now more freely on the relations that most deeply concern them.

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