Eighty Years and More; Reminiscences 1815-1897 eBook

This eBook from the Gutenberg Project consists of approximately 399 pages of information about Eighty Years and More; Reminiscences 1815-1897.

CHAPTER XI.

SUSAN B. ANTHONY—­Continued.

It was in 1852 that anti-slavery, through the eloquent lips of such men as George Thompson, Phillips, and Garrison, first proclaimed to Miss Anthony its pressing financial necessities.  To their inspired words she gave answer, four years afterward, by becoming a regularly employed agent in the Anti-slavery Society.  For her espoused cause she has always made boldest demands.  In the abolition meetings she used to tell each class why it should support the movement financially; invariably calling upon Democrats to give liberally, as the success of the cause would enable them to cease bowing the knee to the slave power.

There is scarce a town, however small, from New York to San Francisco, that has not heard her ringing voice.  Who can number the speeches she has made on lyceum platforms, in churches, schoolhouses, halls, barns, and in the open air, with a lumber wagon or a cart for her rostrum?  Who can describe the varied audiences and social circles she has cheered and interested?  Now we see her on the far-off prairies, entertaining, with sterling common sense, large gatherings of men, women, and children, seated on rough boards in some unfinished building; again, holding public debates in some town with half-fledged editors and clergymen; next, sailing up the Columbia River and, in hot haste to meet some appointment, jolting over the rough mountains of Oregon and Washington; and then, before legislative assemblies, constitutional conventions, and congressional committees, discussing with senators and judges the letter and spirit of constitutional law.

Miss Anthony’s style of speaking is rapid and vehement.  In debate she is ready and keen, and she is always equal to an emergency.  Many times in traveling with her through the West, especially on our first trip to Kansas and California, we were suddenly called upon to speak to the women assembled at the stations.  Filled with consternation, I usually appealed to her to go first; and, without a moment’s hesitation, she could always fill five minutes with some appropriate words and inspire me with thoughts and courage to follow.  The climax of these occasions was reached in an institution for the deaf and dumb in Michigan.  I had just said to my friend, “There is one comfort in visiting this place; we shall not be asked to speak,” when the superintendent, approaching us, said, “Ladies, the pupils are assembled in the chapel, ready to hear you.  I promised to invite you to speak to them as soon as I heard you were in town.”  The possibility of addressing such an audience was as novel to Miss Anthony as to me; yet she promptly walked down the aisle to the platform, as if to perform an ordinary duty, while I, half distracted with anxiety, wondering by what process I was to be placed in communication with the deaf and dumb, reluctantly followed.  But the manner was simple enough, when illustrated.  The superintendent, standing by our side, repeated, in the sign language, what was said as fast as uttered; and by laughter, tears, and applause, the pupils showed that they fully appreciated the pathos, humor, and argument.

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Eighty Years and More; Reminiscences 1815-1897 from Project Gutenberg. Public domain.
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