Is that Christianity which has so long said to one-half of the race, “Thou shalt not use any gift of the Creator, if it be not approved by thy brother; and unto man, not God, thou shalt ever turn and ask, ’What wilt thou have me to do?’”
It was not only my art-love which must be sacrificed to my duty as a wife, but my literary tastes must go with it. “The husband is the head of the wife.” To be head, he must be superior. An uncultivated husband could not be the superior of a cultivated wife. I knew from the first that his education had been limited, but thought the defect would be easily remedied as he had good abilities, but I discovered he had no love for books. His spiritual guides derided human learning and depended on inspiration. My knowledge stood in the way of my salvation, and I must be that odious thing—a superior wife—or stop my progress, for to be and appear were the same thing. I must be the mate of the man I had chosen; and if he would not come to my level, I must go to his. So I gave up study, and for years did not read one page in any book save the Bible. My religions convictions I could not change, but all other differences should disappear.
Mother moved to the city in the spring of 1838, and my health was rapidly failing. I had rebelled against my mother-in-law, returned her supplies, and refused to receive anything from her. This brought on a fearful crisis, in which my husband threatened suicide; but I was firm, and he concluded to rent the mills and take me away. This he did. His father lived but a few months, and died on the second anniversary of our marriage. He lies buried in the ground he donated as “God’s acre,” with only this inscription at his head: “John Swisshelm, aged 86.” No sign that he was one of the world’s heroes—yet, when our revolution broke out, his parents had but two children. The oldest enlisted and was killed, when John caught up his rifle, took his place, and kept it until the close of the war. He spent the winter in Valley Forge, and once, in the darkest time, discovered Washington on his knees in a lonely thicket, praying aloud for his country. This gave him hope, when hope was well-nigh dead, and he followed his commander across the Jerseys, one of the two thousand who wrote in blood, from their shoeless feet, their protest against British rule on the soil they thus consecrated to Freedom.
HABITATIONS OF HORRID CRUELTY.—AGE, 23, 24.
On the 6th of June, 1838, the white frost lay on the west side of Pittsburg roofs as we steamed away from her wharf, bound for Louisville, where my husband proposed going into a business already established by his brother Samuel.
On the boat, all the way down the river, the general topic of conversation was the contrast between the desolate slave-cursed shores of Kentucky, and the smiling plenty of the opposite bank; but Louisville was largely settled by Northern people, and was to prove an oasis in the desert of slavery.