Thursday, November 8, 2007



They cut a path through tangled underwood
Of old traditions, out to broader ways.
They lived to here their work called brave and good,
But oh! the thorns before the crown of bays.
The world gives lashes to its Pioneers
Until the goal is reached--then deafening cheers.
My father's ancestors were the Shaws of
Rothiemurchus, in Scotland, and the ruins
of their castle may still be seen on the island of
Loch-an-Eilan, in the northern Highlands. It was
never the picturesque castle of song and story, this
home of the fighting Shaws, but an austere fortress,
probably built in Roman times; and even to-day
the crumbling walls which alone are left of it show
traces of the relentless assaults upon them. Of
these the last and the most successful were made
in the seventeenth century by the Grants and
Rob Roy; and it was into the hands of the Grants
that the Shaw fortress finally fell, about 1700, after
almost a hundred years of ceaseless warfare.
It gives me no pleasure to read the grisly details
of their struggles, but I confess to a certain satisfaction
in the knowledge that my ancestors made a
good showing in the defense of what was theirs.
Beyond doubt they were brave fighters and strong
men. There were other sides to their natures,
however, which the high lights of history throw up
less appealingly. As an instance, we have in the
family chronicles the blood-stained page of Allen
Shaw, the oldest son of the last Lady Shaw who
lived in the fortress. It appears that when the
father of this young man died, about 1560, his
mother married again, to the intense disapproval
of her son. For some time after the marriage he
made no open revolt against the new-comer in the
domestic circle; but finally, on the pretext that
his dog had been attacked by his stepfather, he
forced a quarrel with the older man and the two
fought a duel with swords, after which the victorious
Allen showed a sad lack of chivalry. He
not only killed his stepfather, but he cut off that
gentleman's head and bore it to his mother in her bedchamber--
an action which was considered, even in
that tolerant age, to be carrying filial resentment
too far.
Probably Allen regretted it. Certainly he paid
a high penalty for it, and his clan suffered with him.
He was outlawed and fled, only to be hunted down
for months, and finally captured and executed by
one of the Grants, who, in further virtuous disapproval
of Allen's act, seized and held the Shaw
stronghold. The other Shaws of the clan fought
long and ably for its recovery, but though they were
helped by their kinsmen, the Mackintoshes, and
though good Scotch blood dyed the gray walls of
the fortress for many generations, the castle never
again came into the hands of the Shaws. It still
entails certain obligations for the Grants, however,
and one of these is to give the King of England a
snowball whenever he visits Loch-an-Eilan!
As the years passed the Shaw clan scattered.
Many Shaws are still to be found in the Mackintosh
country and throughout southern Scotland. Others
went to England, and it was from this latter branch
that my father sprang. His name was Thomas
Shaw, and he was the younger son of a gentleman--a
word which in those days seemed to define a man
who devoted his time largely to gambling and horseracing.
My grandfather, like his father before him,
was true to the traditions of his time and class.
Quite naturally and simply he squandered all he had,
and died abruptly, leaving his wife and two sons
penniless. They were not, however, a helpless band.
They, too, had their traditions, handed down by
the fighting Shaws. Peter, the older son, became a
soldier, and died bravely in the Crimean War. My
father, through some outside influence, turned his
attention to trade, learning to stain and emboss wallpaper
by hand, and developing this work until he
became the recognized expert in his field. Indeed,
he progressed until he himself checked his rise by
inventing a machine that made his handwork unnecessary.
His employer at once claimed and
utilized this invention, to which, by the laws of
those days, he was entitled, and thus the cornerstone
on which my father had expected to build a
fortune proved the rock on which his career was
wrecked. But that was years later, in America, and
many other things had happened first.
For one, he had temporarily dropped his trade
and gone into the flour-and-grain business; and,
for another, he had married my mother. She was
the daughter of a Scotch couple who had come to
England and settled in Alnwick, in Northumberland
County. Her father, James Stott, was the driver
of the royal-mail stage between Alnwick and Newcastle,
and his accidental death while he was still a
young man left my grandmother and her eight
children almost destitute. She was immediately
given a position in the castle of the Duke of Northumberland,
and her sons were educated in the
duke's school, while her daughters were entered in
the school of the duchess.
My thoughts dwell lovingly on this grandmother,
Nicolas Grant Stott, for she was a remarkable
woman, with a dauntless soul and progressive ideas
far in advance of her time. She was one of the first
Unitarians in England, and years before any thought
of woman suffrage entered the minds of her countrywomen
she refused to pay tithes to the support of
the Church of England--an action which precipitated
a long-drawn-out conflict between her and the law.
In those days it was customary to assess tithes on
every pane of glass in a window, and a portion of the
money thus collected went to the support of the
Church. Year after year my intrepid grandmother
refused to pay these assessments, and year after
year she sat pensively upon her door-step, watching
articles of her furniture being sold for money to pay
her tithes. It must have been an impressive picture,
and it was one with which the community became
thoroughly familiar, as the determined old lady
never won her fight and never abandoned it. She
had at least the comfort of public sympathy, for she
was by far the most popular woman in the countryside.
Her neighbors admired her courage; perhaps
they appreciated still more what she did for them,
for she spent all her leisure in the homes of the very
poor, mending their clothing and teaching them to
sew. Also, she left behind her a path of cleanliness
as definite as the line of foam that follows a ship;
for it soon became known among her protegees that
Nicolas Stott was as much opposed to dirt as she
was to the payment of tithes.
She kept her children in the schools of the duke and
duchess until they had completed the entire course
open to them. A hundred times, and among many
new scenes and strange people, I have heard my
mother describe her own experiences as a pupil.
All the children of the dependents of the castle were
expected to leave school at fourteen years of age.
During their course they were not allowed to study
geography, because, in the sage opinion of their elders,
knowledge of foreign lands might make them discontented
and inclined to wander. Neither was composition
encouraged--that might lead to the writing
of love-notes! But they were permitted to absorb
all the reading and arithmetic their little brains
could hold, while the art of sewing was not only
encouraged, but proficiency in it was stimulated by
the award of prizes. My mother, being a rather precocious
young person, graduated at thirteen and
carried off the first prize. The garment she made
was a linen chemise for the duchess, and the little
needlewoman had embroidered on it, with her own
hair, the august lady's coat of arms. The offering
must have been appreciated, for my mother's story
always ended with the same words, uttered with the
same air of gentle pride, ``And the duchess gave me
with her own hands my Bible and my mug of beer!''
She never saw anything amusing in this association
of gifts, and I always stood behind her when she told
the incident, that she might not see the disrespectful
mirth it aroused in me.
My father and mother met in Alnwick, and were
married in February, 1835. Ten years after his
marriage father was forced into bankruptcy by the
passage of the corn law, and to meet the obligations
attending his failure he and my mother
sold practically everything they possessed--their
home, even their furniture. Their little sons, who
were away at school, were brought home, and
the family expenses were cut down to the barest
margin; but all these sacrifices paid only part of the
debts. My mother, finding that her early gift had
a market value, took in sewing. Father went to
work on a small salary, and both my parents saved
every penny they could lay aside, with the desperate
determination to pay their remaining debts. It was a
long struggle and a painful one, but they finally won
it. Before they had done so, however, and during their
bleakest days, their baby died, and my mother, like
her mother before her, paid the penalty of being
outside the fold of the Church of England. She,
too, was a Unitarian, and her baby, therefore, could
not be laid in any consecrated burial-ground in her
neighborhood. She had either to bury it in the
Potter's Field, with criminals, suicides, and paupers,
or to take it by stage-coach to Alnwick, twenty
miles away, and leave it in the little Unitarian churchyard
where, after her strenuous life, Nicolas Stott
now lay in peace. She made the dreary journey
alone, with the dear burden across her lap.
In 1846, my parents went to London. There
they did not linger long, for the big, indifferent city
had nothing to offer them. They moved to Newcastle-
on-Tyne, and here I was born, on the fourteenth
day of February, in 1847. Three boys and
two girls had preceded me in the family circle, and
when I was two years old my younger sister came.
We were little better off in Newcastle than in
London, and now my father began to dream the
great dream of those days. He would go to America.
Surely, he felt, in that land of infinite promise all
would be well with him and his. He waited for the
final payment of his debts and for my younger
sister's birth. Then he bade us good-by and sailed
away to make an American home for us; and in
the spring of 1851 my mother followed him with her
six children, starting from Liverpool in a sailingvessel,
the John Jacob Westervelt.
I was then little more than four years old, and the
first vivid memory I have is that of being on shipboard
and having a mighty wave roll over me. I was
lying on what seemed to be an enormous red box
under a hatchway, and the water poured from above,
almost drowning me. This was the beginning of a
storm which raged for days, and I still have of it a
confused memory, a sort of nightmare, in which
strange horrors figure, and which to this day haunts
me at intervals when I am on the sea. The thing
that stands out most strongly during that period is
the white face of my mother, ill in her berth. We
were with five hundred emigrants on the lowest
deck of the ship but one, and as the storm grew
wilder an unreasoning terror filled our fellow-passengers.
Too ill to protect her helpless brood, my
mother saw us carried away from her for hours at a
time, on the crests of waves of panic that sometimes
approached her and sometimes receded, as they
swept through the black hole in which we found ourselves
when the hatches were nailed down. No madhouse,
I am sure, could throw more hideous pictures
on the screen of life than those which met our childish
eyes during the appalling three days of the storm.
Our one comfort was the knowledge that our mother
was not afraid. She was desperately ill, but when
we were able to reach her, to cling close to her for a
blessed interval, she was still the sure refuge she had
always been.
On the second day the masts went down, and on
the third day the disabled ship, which now had
sprung a leak and was rolling helplessly in the
trough of the sea, was rescued by another ship and
towed back to Queenstown, the nearest port. The
passengers, relieved of their anxieties, went from
their extreme of fear to an equal extreme of drunken
celebration. They laughed, sang, and danced, but
when we reached the shore many of them returned
to the homes they had left, declaring that they had
had enough of the ocean. We, however, remained
on the ship until she was repaired, and then sailed
on her again. We were too poor to return home;
indeed, we had no home to which we could return.
We were even too poor to live ashore. But we made
some penny excursions in the little boats that plied
back and forth, and to us children at least the weeks
of waiting were not without interest. Among other
places we visited Spike Island, where the convicts
were, and for hours we watched the dreary shuttle
of labor swing back and forth as the convicts carried
pails of water from one side of the island, only
to empty them into the sea at the other side. It
was merely ``busy work,'' to keep them occupied
at hard labor; but even then I must have felt some
dim sense of the irony of it, for I have remembered
it vividly all these years.
Our second voyage on the John Jacob Westervelt
was a very different experience from the first. By
day a glorious sun shone overhead; by night we had
the moon and stars, as well as the racing waves we
never wearied of watching. For some reason, probably
because of my intense admiration for them,
which I showed with unmaidenly frankness, I became
the special pet of the sailors. They taught me
to sing their songs as they hauled on their ropes,
and I recall, as if I had learned it yesterday, one
pleasing ditty:
Haul on the bow-line,
Kitty is my darling,
Haul on the bow-line,
The bow-line--HAUL!
When I sang ``haul'' all the sailors pulled their
hardest, and I had an exhilarating sense of sharing
in their labors. As a return for my service of song
the men kept my little apron full of ship sugar--
very black stuff and probably very bad for me; but
I ate an astonishing amount of it during that voyage,
and, so far as I remember, felt no ill effects.
The next thing I recall is being seriously scalded.
I was at the foot of a ladder up which a sailor was
carrying a great pot of hot coffee. He slipped, and
the boiling liquid poured down on me. I must
have had some bad days after that, for I was terribly
burned, but they are mercifully vague. My
next vivid impression is of seeing land, which we
sighted at sunset, and I remember very distinctly
just how it looked. It has never looked the same
since. The western sky was a mass of crimson and
gold clouds, which took on the shapes of strange and
beautiful things. To me it seemed that we were
entering heaven. I remember also the doctors coming
on board to examine us, and I can still see a line
of big Irishmen standing very straight and holding
out their tongues for inspection. To a little girl
only four years old their huge, open mouths looked
On landing a grievous disappointment awaited
us; my father did not meet us. He was in New
Bedford, Massachusetts, nursing his grief and preparing
to return to England, for he had been told
that the John Jacob Westervelt had been lost at sea
with every soul on board. One of the missionaries
who met the ship took us under his wing and conducted
us to a little hotel, where we remained
until father had received his incredible news and
rushed to New York. He could hardly believe that
we were really restored to him; and even now,
through the mists of more than half a century, I can
still see the expression in his wet eyes as he picked
me up and tossed me into the air.
I can see, too, the toys he brought me--a little
saw and a hatchet, which became the dearest treasures
of my childish days. They were fatidical
gifts, that saw and hatchet; in the years ahead of
me I was to use tools as well as my brothers did,
as I proved when I helped to build our frontier
We went to New Bedford with father, who had
found work there at his old trade; and here I laid
the foundations of my first childhood friendship,
not with another child, but with my next-door
neighbor, a ship-builder. Morning after morning
this man swung me on his big shoulder and took me
to his shipyard, where my hatchet and saw had violent
exercise as I imitated the workers around me.
Discovering that my tiny petticoats were in my way,
my new friend had a little boy's suit made for me;
and thus emancipated, at this tender age, I worked
unwearyingly at his side all day long and day after
day. No doubt it was due to him that I did not
casually saw off a few of my toes and fingers. Certainly
I smashed them often enough with blows of
my dull but active hatchet. I was very, very busy;
and I have always maintained that I began to earn
my share of the family's living at the age of five--
for in return for the delights of my society, which
seemed never to pall upon him, my new friend allowed
my brothers to carry home from the shipyard
all the wood my mother could use.
We remained in New Bedford less than a year,
for in the spring of 1852 my father made another
change, taking his family to Lawrence, Massachusetts,
where we lived until 1859. The years in
Lawrence were interesting and formative ones. At
the tender age of nine and ten I became interested
in the Abolition movement. We were Unitarians,
and General Oliver and many of the prominent citizens
of Lawrence belonged to the Unitarian Church.
We knew Robert Shaw, who led the first negro regiment,
and Judge Storrow, one of the leading New
England judges of his time, as well as the Cabots
and George A. Walton, who was the author of
Walton's Arithmetic and head of the Lawrence
schools. Outbursts of war talk thrilled me, and
occasionally I had a little adventure of my own, as
when one day, in visiting our cellar, I heard a noise
in the coal-bin. I investigated and discovered a
negro woman concealed there. I had been reading
Uncle Tom's Cabin, as well as listening to the
conversation of my elders, so I was vastly stirred
over the negro question. I raced up-stairs in a
condition of awe-struck and quivering excitement,
which my mother promptly suppressed by sending
me to bed. No doubt she questioned my youthful
discretion, for she almost convinced me that I had
seen nothing at all--almost, but not quite; and she
wisely kept me close to her for several days, until
the escaped slave my father was hiding was safely
out of the house and away. Discovery of this serious
offense might have borne grave results for him.
It was in Lawrence, too, that I received and spent
my first twenty-five cents. I used an entire day in
doing this, and the occasion was one of the most
delightful and memorable of my life. It was the
Fourth of July, and I was dressed in white and rode
in a procession. My sister Mary, who also graced
the procession, had also been given twenty-five
cents; and during the parade, when, for obvious
reasons, we were unable to break ranks and spend
our wealth, the consciousness of it lay heavily upon
us. When we finally began our shopping the first
place we visited was a candy store, and I recall distinctly
that we forced the weary proprietor to take
down and show us every jar in the place before we
spent one penny. The first banana I ever ate was
purchased that day, and I hesitated over it a long
time. Its cost was five cents, and in view of that
large expenditure, the eating of the fruit, I was
afraid, would be too brief a joy. I bought it, however,
and the experience developed into a tragedy,
for, not knowing enough to peel the banana, I bit
through skin and pulp alike, as if I were eating an
apple, and then burst into ears of disappointment.
The beautiful conduct of my sister Mary shines
down through the years. She, wise child, had
taken no chances with the unknown; but now,
moved by my despair, she bought half of my banana,
and we divided the fruit, the loss, and the lesson.
Fate, moreover, had another turn of the screw for
us, for, after Mary had taken a bite of it, we gave
what was left of the banana to a boy who stood near
us and who knew how to eat it; and not even the
large amount of candy in our sticky hands enabled
us to regard with calmness the subsequent happiness
of that little boy.
Another experience with fruit in Lawrence illustrates
the ideas of my mother and the character of
the training she gave her children. Our neighbors,
the Cabots, were one day giving a great garden party,
and my sister was helping to pick strawberries for
the occasion. When I was going home from school
I passed the berry-patches and stopped to speak to
my sister, who at once presented me with two strawberries.
She said Mrs. Cabot had told her to eat
all she wanted, but that she would eat two less than
she wanted and give those two to me. To my
mind, the suggestion was generous and proper; in
my life strawberries were rare. I ate one berry,
and then, overcome by an ambition to be generous
also, took the other berry home to my mother, telling
her how I had got it. To my chagrin, mother
was deeply shocked. She told me that the transaction
was all wrong, and she made me take back
the berry and explain the matter to Mrs. Cabot.
By the time I reached that generous lady the berry
was the worse for its journey, and so was I. I was
only nine years old and very sensitive. It was clear
to me that I could hardly live through the humiliation
of the confession, and it was indeed a bitter
experience the worst, I think, in my young life,
though Mrs. Cabot was both sympathetic and
understanding. She kissed me, and sent a quart
of strawberries to my mother; but for a long time
afterward I could not meet her kind eyes, for I believed
that in her heart she thought me a thief.
My second friendship, and one which had a strong
influence on my after-life, was formed in Lawrence.
I was not more than ten years old when I met this
new friend, but the memory of her in after-years,
and the impression she had made on my susceptible
young mind, led me first into the ministry, next into
medicine, and finally into suffrage-work. Living
next door to us, on Prospect Hill, was a beautiful
and mysterious woman. All we children knew of
her was that she was a vivid and romantic figure,
who seemed to have no friends and of whom our
elders spoke in whispers or not at all. To me she
was a princess in a fairy-tale, for she rode a white
horse and wore a blue velvet riding-habit with a
blue velvet hat and a picturesquely drooping white
plume. I soon learned at what hours she went
forth to ride, and I used to hover around our gate
for the joy of seeing her mount and gallop away.
I realized that there was something unusual about
her house, and I had an idea that the prince was
waiting for her somewhere in the far distance, and
that for the time at least she had escaped the ogre
in the castle she left behind. I was wrong about
the prince, but right about the ogre. It was only
when my unhappy lady left her castle that she was
Very soon she noticed me. Possibly she saw the
adoration in my childish eyes. She began to nod
and smile at me, and then to speak to me, but at
first I was almost afraid to answer her. There were
stories now among the children that the house was
haunted, and that by night a ghost walked there and
in the grounds. I felt an extraordinary interest in
the ghost, and I spent hours peering through our
picket fence, trying to catch a glimpse of it; but I
hesitated to be on terms of neighborly intimacy with
one who dwelt with ghosts.
One day the mysterious lady bent and kissed me.
Then, straightening up, she looked at me queerly
and said: ``Go and tell your mother I did that.''
There was something very compelling in her manner.
I knew at once that I must tell my mother what she
had done, and I ran into our house and did so.
While my mother was considering the problem the
situation presented, for she knew the character of
the house next door, a note was handed in to her--
a very pathetic little note from my mysterious lady,
asking my mother to let me come and see her. Long
afterward mother showed it to me. It ended with
the words: ``She will see no one but me. No harm
shall come to her. Trust me.''
That night my parents talked the matter over and
decided to let me go. Probably they felt that the
slave next door was as much to be pitied as the escaped-
negro slaves they so often harbored in our
home. I made my visit, which was the first of many,
and a strange friendship began and developed between
the woman of the town and the little girl she
loved. Some of those visits I remember as vividly
as if I had made them yesterday. There was never
the slightest suggestion during any of them of things
I should not see or hear, for while I was with her
my hostess became a child again, and we played
together like children. She had wonderful toys for
me, and pictures and books; but the thing I loved
best of all and played with for hours was a little
stuffed hen which she told me had been her dearest
treasure when she was a child at home. She had
also a stuffed puppy, and she once mentioned that
those two things alone were left of her life as
a little girl. Besides the toys and books and pictures,
she gave me ice-cream and cake, and told me
fairy-tales. She had a wonderful understanding of
what a child likes. There were half a dozen women
in the house with her, but I saw none of them nor
any of the men who came.
Once, when we had become very good friends
indeed and my early shyness had departed, I
found courage to ask her where the ghost was--
the ghost that haunted her house. I can still see
the look in her eyes as they met mine. She told
me the ghost lived in her heart, and that she did
not like to talk about it, and that we must not
speak of it again. After that I never mentioned it,
but I was more deeply interested than ever, for a
ghost that lived in a heart was a new kind of ghost
to me at that time, though I have met many of
them since then. During all our intercourse my
mother never entered the house next door, nor did
my mysterious lady enter our home; but she constantly
sent my mother secret gifts for the poor and
the sick of the neighborhood, and she was always
the first to offer help for those who were in trouble.
Many years afterward mother told me she was the
most generous woman she had ever known, and
that she had a rarely beautiful nature. Our departure
for Michigan broke up the friendship, but I have
never forgotten her; and whenever, in my later
work as minister, physician, and suffragist, I have
been able to help women of the class to which she
belonged, I have mentally offered that help for credit
in the tragic ledger of her life, in which the clean and
the blotted pages were so strange a contrast.
One more incident of Lawrence I must describe
before I leave that city behind me, as we left it for
ever in 1859. While we were still there a number of
Lawrence men decided to go West, and amid great
public excitement they departed in a body for Kansas,
where they founded the town of Lawrence in that
state. I recall distinctly the public interest which
attended their going, and the feeling every one
seemed to have that they were passing forever out
of the civilized world. Their farewells to their
friends were eternal; no one expected to see them
again, and my small brain grew dizzy as I tried to
imagine a place so remote as their destination. It
was, I finally decided, at the uttermost ends of the
earth, and it seemed quite possible that the brave
adventurers who reached it might then drop off into
space. Fifty years later I was talking to a California
girl who complained lightly of the monotony
of a climate where the sun shone and the flowers
bloomed all the year around. ``But I had a delightful
change last year,'' she added, with animation.
``I went East for the winter.''
``To New York?'' I asked.
``No,'' corrected the California girl, easily, ``to
Lawrence, Kansas.''
Nothing, I think, has ever made me feel quite so
old as that remark. That in my life, not yet, to me
at least, a long one, I should see such an arc described
seemed actually oppressive until I realized
that, after all, the arc was merely a rainbow of time
showing how gloriously realized were the hopes of
the Lawrence pioneers.
The move to Michigan meant a complete upheaval
in our lives. In Lawrence we had around us
the fine flower of New England civilization. We
children went to school; our parents, though they
were in very humble circumstances, were associated
with the leading spirits and the big movements of
the day. When we went to Michigan we went to
the wilderness, to the wild pioneer life of those times,
and we were all old enough to keenly feel the change.
My father was one of a number of Englishmen who
took up tracts in the northern forests of Michigan,
with the old dream of establishing a colony there.
None of these men had the least practical knowledge
of farming. They were city men or followers of
trades which had no connection with farm life.
They went straight into the thick timber-land, instead
of going to the rich and waiting prairies, and
they crowned this initial mistake by cutting down
the splendid timber instead of letting it stand.
Thus bird's-eye maple and other beautiful woods
were used as fire-wood and in the construction of
rude cabins, and the greatest asset of the pioneers
was ignored.
Father preceded us to the Michigan woods, and
there, with his oldest son, James, took up a claim.
They cleared a space in the wilderness just large
enough for a log cabin, and put up the bare walls
of the cabin itself. Then father returned to Lawrence
and his work, leaving James behind. A few
months later (this was in 1859), my mother, my two
sisters, Eleanor and Mary, my youngest brother,
Henry, eight years of age, and I, then twelve, went
to Michigan to work on and hold down the claim
while father, for eighteen months longer, stayed on
in Lawrence, sending us such remittances as he could.
His second and third sons, John and Thomas, remained
in the East with him.
Every detail of our journey through the wilderness
is clear in my mind. At that time the railroad
terminated at Grand Rapids, Michigan, and we
covered the remaining distance--about one hundred
miles--by wagon, riding through a dense and often
trackless forest. My brother James met us at
Grand Rapids with what, in those days, was called
a lumber-wagon, but which had a horrible resemblance
to a vehicle from the health department.
My sisters and I gave it one cold look and turned
from it; we were so pained by its appearance that
we refused to ride in it through the town. Instead,
we started off on foot, trying to look as if we had no
association with it, and we climbed into the unwieldy
vehicle only when the city streets were far
behind us. Every available inch of space in the
wagon was filled with bedding and provisions. As
yet we had no furniture; we were to make that for
ourselves when we reached our cabin; and there
was so little room for us to ride that we children
walked by turns, while James, from the beginning
of the journey to its end, seven days later, led our
weary horses.
To my mother, who was never strong, the whole
experience must have been a nightmare of suffering
and stoical endurance. For us children there were
compensations. The expedition took on the character
of a high adventure, in which we sometimes
had shelter and sometimes failed to find it, sometimes
were fed, but often went hungry. We forded
innumerable streams, the wheels of the heavy wagon
sinking so deeply into the stream-beds that we often
had to empty our load before we could get them out
again. Fallen trees lay across our paths, rivers
caused long detours, while again and again we lost
our way or were turned aside by impenetrable forest
Our first day's journey covered less than eight
miles, and that night we stopped at a farm-house
which was the last bit of civilization we saw. Early
the next morning we were off again, making the slow
progress due to the rough roads and our heavy load.
At night we stopped at a place called Thomas's
Inn, only to be told by the woman who kept it that
there was nothing in the house to eat. Her husband,
she said, had gone ``outside'' (to Grand
Rapids) to get some flour, and had not returned--
but she added that we could spend the night, if
we chose, and enjoy shelter, if not food. We had
provisions in our wagon, so we wearily entered, after
my brother had got out some of our pork and
opened a barrel of flour. With this help the woman
made some biscuits, which were so green that my
poor mother could not eat them. She had admitted
to us that the one thing she had in the house was
saleratus, and she had used this ingredient with an
unsparing hand. When the meal was eaten she
broke the further news that there were no beds.
``The old woman can sleep with me,'' she suggested,
``and the girls can sleep on the floor. The
boys will have to go to the barn.''
She and her bed were not especially attractive,
and mother decided to lie on the floor with us. We
had taken our bedding from the wagon, and we slept
very well; but though she was usually superior to
small annoyances, I think my mother resented being
called an ``old woman.'' She must have felt like
one that night, but she was only about forty-eight
years of age.
At dawn the next morning we resumed our journey,
and every day after that we were able to cover
the distance demanded by the schedule arranged
before we started. This meant that some sort of
shelter usually awaited us at night. But one day
we knew there would be no houses between the place
we left in the morning and that where we were to
sleep. The distance was about twenty miles, and
when twilight fell we had not made it. In the back
of the wagon my mother had a box of little pigs,
and during the afternoon these had broken loose and
escaped into the woods. We had lost much time in
finding them, and we were so exhausted that when
we came to a hut made of twigs and boughs we decided
to camp in it for the night, though we knew
nothing about it. My brother had unharnessed
the horses, and my mother and sister were cooking
dough-god--a mixture of flour, water, and soda,
fried in a pan-when two men rode up on horseback
and called my brother to one side. Immediately
after the talk which followed James harnessed
his horses again and forced us to go on, though by
that time darkness had fallen. He told mother, but
did not tell us children until long afterward, that a
man had been murdered in the hut only the night
before. The murderer was still at large in the woods,
and the new-comers were members of a posse who
were searching for him. My brother needed no
urging to put as many miles as he could between
us and the sinister spot.
In that fashion we made our way to our new home.
The last day, like the first, we traveled only eight
miles, but we spent the night in a house I shall never
forget. It was beautifully clean, and for our evening
meal its mistress brought out loaves of bread
which were the largest we had ever seen. She cut
great slices of this bread for us and spread maple
sugar on them, and it seemed to us that never before
had anything tasted so good.
The next morning we made the last stage of our
journey, our hearts filled with the joy of nearing
our new home. We all had an idea that we were
going to a farm, and we expected some resemblance
at least to the prosperous farms we had seen in New
England. My mother's mental picture was, naturally,
of an English farm. Possibly she had visions
of red barns and deep meadows, sunny skies and
daisies. What we found awaiting us were the four
walls and the roof of a good-sized log-house, standing
in a small cleared strip of the wilderness, its doors
and windows represented by square holes, its floor
also a thing of the future, its whole effect achingly
forlorn and desolate. It was late in the afternoon
when we drove up to the opening that was its front
entrance, and I shall never forget the look my
mother turned upon the place. Without a word
she crossed its threshold, and, standing very still,
looked slowly around her. Then something within
her seemed to give way, and she sank upon the
ground. She could not realize even then, I think,
that this was really the place father had prepared
for us, that here he expected us to live. When she
finally took it in she buried her face in her hands,
and in that way she sat for hours without moving or
speaking. For the first time in her life she had forgotten
us; and we, for our part, dared not speak to
her. We stood around her in a frightened group,
talking to one another in whispers. Our little world
had crumbled under our feet. Never before had
we seen our mother give way to despair.
Night began to fall. The woods became alive
with night creatures, and the most harmless made
the most noise. The owls began to hoot, and soon
we heard the wildcat, whose cry--a screech like
that of a lost and panic-stricken child--is one of
the most appalling sounds of the forest. Later the
wolves added their howls to the uproar, but though
darkness came and we children whimpered around
her, our mother still sat in her strange lethargy.
At last my brother brought the horses close to the
cabin and built fires to protect them and us. He
was only twenty, but he showed himself a man during
those early pioneer days. While he was picketing
the horses and building his protecting fires my
mother came to herself, but her face when she
raised it was worse than her silence had been. She
seemed to have died and to have returned to us
from the grave, and I am sure she felt that she had
done so. From that moment she took up again the
burden of her life, a burden she did not lay down
until she passed away; but her face never lost the
deep lines those first hours of her pioneer life had
cut upon it.
That night we slept on boughs spread on the earth
inside the cabin walls, and we put blankets before
the holes which represented our doors and windows,
and kept our watch-fires burning. Soon the other
children fell asleep, but there was no sleep for me.
I was only twelve years old, but my mind was full of
fancies. Behind our blankets, swaying in the night
wind, I thought I saw the heads and pushing shoulders
of animals and heard their padded footfalls.
Later years brought familiarity with wild things,
and with worse things than they. But to-night that
which I most feared was within, not outside of, the
cabin. In some way which I did not understand
the one sure refuge in our new world had been taken
from us. I hardly knew the silent woman who lay
near me, tossing from side to side and staring into
the darkness; I felt that we had lost our mother.
Like most men, my dear father should never
have married. Though his nature was one of
the sweetest I have ever known, and though he would
at any call give his time to or risk his life for others,
in practical matters he remained to the end of his
days as irresponsible as a child. If his mind turned
to practical details at all, it was solely in their bearing
toward great developments of the future. To
him an acorn was not an acorn, but a forest of young
Thus, when he took up his claim of three hundred
and sixty acres of land in the wilderness of northern
Michigan, and sent my mother and five young children
to live there alone until he could join us eighteen
months later, he gave no thought to the manner in
which we were to make the struggle and survive
the hardships before us. He had furnished us with
land and the four walls of a log cabin. Some day,
he reasoned, the place would be a fine estate, which
his sons would inherit and in the course of time pass
on to their sons--always an Englishman's most iridescent
dream. That for the present we were one
hundred miles from a railroad, forty miles from the
nearest post-office, and half a dozen miles from any
neighbors save Indians, wolves, and wildcats; that
we were wholly unlearned in the ways of the woods
as well as in the most primitive methods of farming;
that we lacked not only every comfort, but even
the bare necessities of life; and that we must begin,
single-handed and untaught, a struggle for existence
in which some of the severest forces of nature would
be arrayed against us--these facts had no weight
in my father's mind. Even if he had witnessed my
mother's despair on the night of our arrival in our
new home, he would not have understood it. From
his viewpoint, he was doing a man's duty. He was
working steadily in Lawrence, and, incidentally,
giving much time to the Abolition cause and to
other big public movements of his day which had
his interest and sympathy. He wrote to us regularly
and sent us occasional remittances, as well as
a generous supply of improving literature for our
minds. It remained for us to strengthen our bodies,
to meet the conditions in which he had placed us,
and to survive if we could.
We faced our situation with clear and unalarmed
eyes the morning after our arrival. The problem
of food, we knew, was at least temporarily solved.
We had brought with us enough coffee, pork, and
flour to last for several weeks; and the one necessity
father had put inside the cabin walls was a great
fireplace, made of mud and stones, in which our food
could be cooked. The problem of our water-supply
was less simple, but my brother James solved it for
the time by showing us a creek a long distance from
the house; and for months we carried from this
creek, in pails, every drop of water we used, save
that which we caught in troughs when the rain fell.
We held a family council after breakfast, and in this,
though I was only twelve, I took an eager and determined
part. I loved work--it has always been my favorite form
of recreation--and my spirit rose to the opportunities of it
which smiled on us from every side. Obviously the first
thing to do was to put doors and windows into the
yawning holes father had left for them, and to lay a board
flooring over the earth inside our cabin walls, and these
duties we accomplished before we had occupied our new
home a fortnight. There was a small saw-mill nine miles
from our cabin, on the spot that is now Big Rapids, and
there we bought our lumber. The labor we supplied
ourselves, and though we put our hearts into it and the
results at the time seemed beautiful to our partial eyes, I
am forced to admit, in looking back upon them, that they
halted this side of perfection. We began by making three
windows and two doors; then, inspired by these
achievements, we ambitiously constructed an attic and
divided the ground floor with partitions, which gave us
four rooms.
The general effect was temperamental and sketchy.
The boards which formed the floor were never even
nailed down; they were fine, wide planks without a knot in
them, and they looked so well that we merely fitted them
together as closely as we could and lightheartedly let them
go at that. Neither did we properly chink the house.
Nothing is more comfortable than a log cabin which has
been carefully built
and finished; but for some reason--probably because
there seemed always a more urgent duty calling to us
around the corner--we never plastered our house at all.
The result was that on many future winter mornings we
awoke to find ourselves chastely blanketed by snow, while
the only warm spot in our living-room was that directly in
front of the fireplace, where great logs burned all day.
Even there our faces scorched while our spines slowly
congealed, until we learned to revolve before the fire like a
bird upon a spit. No doubt we would have worked more
thoroughly if my brother James, who was twenty years
old and our tower of strength, had remained with us; but
when we had been in our new home only a few months he
fell and was forced to go East for an operation. He was
never able to return to us, and thus my mother, we three
young girls, and my youngest brother--Harry, who was
only eight years old--made our fight alone until father
came to us, more than a year later.
Mother was practically an invalid. She had a nervous
affection which made it impossible for her to stand
without the support of a chair. But she sewed with
unusual skill, and it was due to her that our clothes,
notwithstanding the strain to which we subjected them,
were always in good condition. She sewed for hours every
day, and she was able to move about the house, after a
fashion, by pushing herself around on a stool which James
made for her as soon as we arrived. He also built for her a
more comfortable chair with a high back.
The division of labor planned at the first council
was that mother should do our sewing, and my older
sisters, Eleanor and Mary, the housework, which
was far from taxing, for of course we lived in the
simplest manner. My brothers and I were to do
the work out of doors, an arrangement that suited
me very well, though at first, owing to our lack of
experience, our activities were somewhat curtailed.
It was too late in the season for plowing or planting,
even if we had possessed anything with which to
plow, and, moreover, our so-called ``cleared'' land
was thick with sturdy tree-stumps. Even during
the second summer plowing was impossible; we
could only plant potatoes and corn, and follow the
most primitive method in doing even this. We took
an ax, chopped up the sod, put the seed under it,
and let the seed grow. The seed did grow, too--in
the most gratifying and encouraging manner. Our
green corn and potatoes were the best I have ever
eaten. But for the present we lacked these luxuries.
We had, however, in their place, large quantities
of wild fruit--gooseberries, raspberries, and plums
--which Harry and I gathered on the banks of our
creek. Harry also became an expert fisherman.
We had no hooks or lines, but he took wires from
our hoop-skirts and made snares at the ends of
poles. My part of this work was to stand on a log
and frighten the fish out of their holes by making
horrible sounds, which I did with impassioned
earnestness. When the fish hurried to the surface
of the water to investigate the appalling noises
they had heard, they were easily snared by our
small boy, who was very proud of his ability to
contribute in this way to the family table.
During our first winter we lived largely on cornmeal,
making a little journey of twenty miles to the
nearest mill to buy it; but even at that we were
better off than our neighbors, for I remember one
family in our region who for an entire winter lived
solely on coarse-grained yellow turnips, gratefully
changing their diet to leeks when these came in the
Such furniture as we had we made ourselves. In
addition to my mother's two chairs and the bunks
which took the place of beds, James made a settle
for the living-room, as well as a table and several
stools. At first we had our tree-cutting done for
us, but we soon became expert in this gentle art,
and I developed such skill that in later years, after
father came, I used to stand with him and ``heart''
a log.
On every side, and at every hour of the day, we
came up against the relentless limitations of pioneer
life. There was not a team of horses in our entire
region. The team with which my brother had
driven us through the wilderness had been hired
at Grand Rapids for that occasion, and, of course,
immediately returned. Our lumber was delivered
by ox-teams, and the absolutely essential purchases
we made ``outside'' (at the nearest shops, forty
miles away) were carried through the forest on the
backs of men. Our mail was delivered once a
month by a carrier who made the journey in alternate
stages of horseback riding and canoeing. But
we had health, youth, enthusiasm, good appetites,
and the wherewithal to satisfy them, and at night
in our primitive bunks we sank into abysses of dreamless
slumber such as I have never known since.
Indeed, looking back upon them, those first months
seem to have been a long-drawn-out and glorious
picnic, interrupted only by occasional hours of pain
or panic, when we were hurt or frightened.
Naturally, our two greatest menaces were wild
animals and Indians, but as the days passed the first
of these lost the early terrors with which we had
associated them. We grew indifferent to the sounds
that had made our first night a horror to us all--
there was even a certain homeliness in them--while
we regarded with accustomed, almost blase eyes the
various furred creatures of which we caught distant
glimpses as they slunk through the forest. Their
experience with other settlers had taught them caution;
it soon became clear that they were as eager
to avoid us as we were to shun them, and by common
consent we gave each other ample elbow-room.
But the Indians were all around us, and every settler
had a collection of hair-raising tales to tell of them.
It was generally agreed that they were dangerous
only when they were drunk; but as they were drunk
whenever they could get whisky, and as whisky was
constantly given them in exchange for pelts and
game, there was a harrowing doubt in our minds
whenever they approached us.
In my first encounter with them I was alone in
the woods at sunset with my small brother Harry.
We were hunting a cow James had bought, and our
young eyes were peering eagerly among the trees,
on the alert for any moving object. Suddenly, at
a little distance, and coming directly toward us, we
saw a party of Indians. There were five of them,
all men, walking in single file, as noiselessly as ghosts,
their moccasined feet causing not even a rustle
among the dry leaves that carpeted the woods. All
the horrible stories we had heard of Indian cruelty
flashed into our minds, and for a moment we were
dumb with terror. Then I remembered having been
told that the one thing one must not do before them
is to show fear. Harry was carrying a rope with
which we had expected to lead home our reluctant
cow, and I seized one end of it and whispered
to him that we would ``play horse,'' pretending he
was driving me. We pranced toward the Indians
on feet that felt like lead, and with eyes so glazed by
terror that we could see nothing save a line of moving
figures; but as we passed them they did not give
to our little impersonation of care-free children even
the tribute of a side-glance. They were, we realized,
headed straight for our home; and after a few moments
we doubled on our tracks and, keeping at a
safe distance from them among the trees, ran back
to warn our mother that they were coming.
As it happened, James was away, and mother had
to meet her unwelcome guests supported only by
her young children. She at once prepared a meal,
however, and when they arrived she welcomed them
calmly and gave them the best she had. After they
had eaten they began to point at and demand objects
they fancied in the room--my brother's pipe,
some tobacco, a bowl, and such trifles--and my
mother, who was afraid to annoy them by refusal,
gave them what they asked. They were quite
sober, and though they left without expressing any
appreciation of her hospitality, they made her a
second visit a few months later, bringing a large
quantity of venison and a bag of cranberries as a
graceful return. These Indians were Ottawas; and
later we became very friendly with them and their
tribe, even to the degree of attending one of their
dances, which I shall describe later.
Our second encounter with Indians was a less
agreeable experience. There were seven ``Marquette
warriors'' in the next group of callers, and
they were all intoxicated. Moreover, they had
brought with them several jugs of bad whisky--
the raw and craze-provoking product supplied them
by the fur-dealers--and it was clear that our cabin
was to be the scene of an orgy. Fortunately, my
brother James was at home on this occasion, and
as the evening grew old and the Indians, grouped
together around the fire, became more and more irresponsible,
he devised a plan for our safety. Our
attic was finished, and its sole entrance was by a
ladder through a trap-door. At James's whispered
command my sister Eleanor slipped up into the
attic, and from the back window let down a rope,
to which he tied all the weapons we had--his gun
and several axes. These Eleanor drew up and concealed
in one of the bunks. My brother then directed
that as quietly as possible, and at long intervals,
one member of the family after another was
to slip up the ladder and into the attic, going quite
casually, that the Indians might not realize what we
were doing. Once there, with the ladder drawn up
after us and the trap-door closed, we would be reasonably
safe, unless our guests decided to burn the
The evening seemed endless, and was certainly
nerve-racking. The Indians ate everything in the
house, and from my seat in a dim corner I watched
them while my sisters waited on them. I can still
see the tableau they made in the firelit room and
hear the unfamiliar accents of their speech as they
talked together. Occasionally one of them would
pull a hair from his head, seize his scalping-knife;
and cut the hair with it--a most unpleasant sight!
When either of my sisters approached them some
of the Indians would make gestures, as if capturing
and scalping her. Through it all, however, the
whisky held their close attention, and it was due to
this that we succeeded in reaching the attic unobserved,
James coming last of all and drawing the
ladder after him. Mother and the children were
then put to bed; but through that interminable
night James and Eleanor lay flat upon the floor,
watching through the cracks between the boards
the revels of the drunken Indians, which grew wilder
with every hour that crawled toward sunrise.
There was no knowing when they would miss us
or how soon their mood might change. At any
moment they might make an attack upon us or
set fire to the cabin. By dawn, however, their
whisky was all gone, and they were in so deep a
stupor that, one after the other, the seven fell from
their chairs to the floor, where they sprawled unconscious.
When they awoke they left quietly and
without trouble of any kind. They seemed a
strangely subdued and chastened band; probably
they were wretchedly ill after their debauch on the
adulterated whisky the traders had given them.
That autumn the Ottawa tribe had a great corn
celebration, to which we and the other settlers were
invited. James and my older sisters attended it,
and I went with them, by my own urgent invitation.
It seemed to me that as I was sharing the
work and the perils of our new environment, I
might as well share its joys; and I finally succeeded
in making my family see the logic of this position.
The central feature of the festivity was a huge kettle,
many feet in circumference, into which the Indians
dropped the most extraordinary variety of food we
had ever seen combined. Deer heads went into it
whole, as well as every kind of meat and vegetable
the members of the tribe could procure. We all ate
some of this agreeable mixture, and later, with one
another, and even with the Indians, we danced gaily
to the music of a tom-tom and a drum. The affair
was extremely interesting until the whisky entered
and did its unpleasant work. When our hosts began
to fall over in the dance and slumber where they
lay, and when the squaws began to show the same
ill effects of their refreshments, we unostentatiously
slipped away.
During the winter life offered us few diversions
and many hardships. Our creek froze over, and the
water problem became a serious one, which we met
with increasing difficulty as the temperature steadily
fell. We melted snow and ice, and existed through
the frozen months, but with an amount of discomfort
which made us unwilling to repeat at least that
special phase of our experience. In the spring,
therefore, I made a well. Long before this, James
had gone, and Harry and I were now the only outdoor
members of our working-force. Harry was
still too small to help with the well; but a young
man, who had formed the neighborly habit of riding
eighteen miles to call on us, gave me much
friendly aid. We located the well with a switch,
and when we had dug as far as we could reach with
our spades, my assistant descended into the hole
and threw the earth up to the edge, from which I
in turn removed it. As the well grew deeper we
made a half-way shelf, on which I stood, he throwing
the earth on the shelf, and I shoveling it up from
that point. Later, as he descended still farther
into the hole we were making, he shoveled the earth
into buckets and passed them up to me, I passing
them on to my sister, who was now pressed into
service. When the excavation was deep enough
we made the wall of slabs of wood, roughly joined
together. I recall that well with calm content. It was not a
thing of beauty, but it was a thoroughly practical well, and
it remained the only one we had during the twelve years
the family occupied the cabin.
During our first year there was no school within ten
miles of us, but this lack failed to sadden Harry or me. We
had brought with us from Lawrence a box of books, in
which, in winter months, when our outdoor work was
restricted, we found much comfort. They were the only
books in that part of the country, and we read them until
we knew them all by heart. Moreover, father sent us
regularly the New York Independent, and with this
admirable literature, after reading it, we papered our walls.
Thus, on stormy days, we could lie on the settle or the
floor and read the Independent over again with increased
interest and pleasure.
Occasionally father sent us the Ledger, but here
mother drew a definite line. She had a special dislike
for that periodical, and her severest comment
on any woman was that she was the type who would
``keep a dog, make saleratus biscuit, and read the
New York Ledger in the daytime.'' Our modest
library also contained several histories of Greece
and Rome, which must have been good ones, for
years later, when I entered college, I passed my
examination in ancient history with no other preparation
than this reading. There were also a few
arithmetics and algebras, a historical novel or two,
and the inevitable copy of Uncle Tom's Cabin, whose
pages I had freely moistened with my tears.
When the advantages of public education were finally
extended to me, at thirteen, by the opening of a school
three miles from our home, I accepted them with growing
reluctance. The teacher was a spinster forty-four years of
age and the only genuine ``old maid'' I have ever met who
was not a married woman or a man. She was the real
thing, and her name, Prudence Duncan, seemed the fitting
label for her rigidly uncompromising personality. I graced
Prudence's school for three months, and then left it at her
fervid request. I had walked six miles a day through
trackless woods and Western blizzards to get what she
could give me, but she had little to offer my awakened and
critical mind. My reading and my Lawrence school-work
had already taught me more than Prudence knew--a fact
we both inwardry--admitted and fiercely resented from
our different viewpoints. Beyond doubt I was a pert and
trying young person. I lost no opportunity to lead Prudence
beyond her intellectual depth and leave her there, and
Prudence vented her chagrin not alone upon me, but upon
my little brother. I became a thorn in her side, and one
day, after an especially unpleasant episode in which Harry
also figured, she plucked me out, as it were, and cast me
for ever from her. From that time I studied at home, where
I was a much more valuable economic factor than I had
been in school.
The second spring after our arrival Harry and I
extended our operations by tapping the sugarbushes,
collecting all the sap, and carrying it home
in pails slung from our yoke-laden shoulders. Together
we made one hundred and fifty pounds of
sugar and a barrel of syrup, but here again, as always,
we worked in primitive ways. To get the sap
we chopped a gash in the tree and drove in a spile.
Then we dug out a trough to catch the sap. It was
no light task to lift these troughs full of sap and
empty the sap into buckets, but we did it successfully,
and afterward built fires and boiled it down.
By this time we had also cleared some of our ground,
and during the spring we were able to plow, dividing
the work in a way that seemed fair to us both.
These were strenuous occupations for a boy of nine
and a girl of thirteen, but, though we were not inordinately
good children, we never complained; we
found them very satisfactory substitutes for more
normal bucolic joys. Inevitably, we had our little
tragedies. Our cow died, and for an entire winter
we went without milk. Our coffee soon gave out,
and as a substitute we made and used a mixture of
browned peas and burnt rye. In the winter we
were always cold, and the water problem, until we
had built our well, was ever with us.
Father joined us at the end of eighteen months,
but though his presence gave us pleasure and moral
support, he was not an addition to our executive
staff. He brought with him a rocking-chair for
mother and a new supply of books, on which I fell
as a starving man falls upon food. Father read as
eagerly as I, but much more steadily. His mind
was always busy with problems, and if, while he
was laboring in the field, a new problem presented
itself to him, the imperishable curiosity that was
in him made him scurry at once to the house to
solve it. I have known him to spend a planting
season in figuring on the production of a certain
number of kernels of corn, instead of planting the
corn and raising it. In the winter he was supposed
to spend his time clearing land for orchards and
the like, but instead he pored over his books and
problems day after day and often half the night as
well. It soon became known among our neighbors,
who were rapidly increasing in number, that
we had books and that father like to read aloud,
and men walked ten miles or more to spend the night
with us and listen to his reading. Often, as his
fame grew, ten or twelve men would arrive at our
cabin on Saturday and remain over Sunday. When
my mother once tried to check this influx of guests
by mildly pointing out, among other things, the
waste of candles represented by frequent all-night
readings, every man humbly appeared again on the
following Saturday with a candle in each hand.
They were not sensitive; and, as they had brought
their candles, it seemed fitting to them and to father
that we girls should cook for them and supply them
with food.
Father's tolerance of idleness in others, however,
did not extend to tolerance of idleness in us, and
this led to my first rebellion, which occurred when
I was fourteen. For once, I had been in the woods
all day, buried in my books; and when I returned
at night, still in the dream world these books had
opened to me, father was awaiting my coming with
a brow dark with disapproval. As it happened,
mother had felt that day some special need of me,
and father reproached me bitterly for being beyond
reach--an idler who wasted time while mother
labored. He ended a long arraignment by predicting
gloomily that with such tendencies I would make
nothing of my life.
The injustice of the criticism cut deep; I knew
I had done and was doing my share for the family,
and already, too, I had begun to feel the call of my
career. For some reason I wanted to preach--to
talk to people, to tell them things. Just why, just
what, I did not yet know--but I had begun to
preach in the silent woods, to stand up on stumps
and address the unresponsive trees, to feel the stir
of aspiration within me.
When my father had finished all he wished to
say, I looked at him and answered, quietly, ``Father,
some day I am going to college.''
I can still see his slight, ironical smile. It drove
me to a second prediction. I was young enough to
measure success by material results, so I added,
``And before I die I shall be worth ten thousand
The amount staggered me even as it dropped from
my lips. It was the largest fortune my imagination
could conceive, and in my heart I believed that no
woman ever had possessed or would possess so
much. So far as I knew, too, no woman had gone
to college. But now that I had put my secret hopes
into words, I was desperately determined to make
those hopes come true. After I became a wageearner
I lost my desire to make a fortune, but the
college dream grew with the years; and though my
college career seemed as remote as the most distant
star, I hitched my little wagon to that star and never
afterward wholly lost sight of its friendly gleam.
When I was fifteen years old I was offered a situation
as school-teacher. By this time the community
was growing around us with the rapidity
characteristic of these Western settlements, and we
had nearer neighbors whose children needed instruction.
I passed an examination before a schoolboard
consisting of three nervous and self-conscious
men whose certificate I still hold, and I at once
began my professional career on the modest salary
of two dollars a week and my board. The school
was four miles from my home, so I ``boarded round''
with the families of my pupils, staying two weeks
in each place, and often walking from three to six
miles a day to and from my little log school-house
in every kind of weather. During the first year I
had about fourteen pupils, of varying ages, sizes,
and temperaments, and there was hardly a book in
the school-room except those I owned. One little
girl, I remember, read from an almanac, while a
second used a hymn-book.
In winter the school-house was heated by a woodstove,
to which the teacher had to give close personal
attention. I could not depend on my pupils to
make the fires or carry in the fuel; and it was often
necessary to fetch the wood myself, sometimes for
long distances through the forest. Again and again,
after miles of walking through winter storms, I
reached the school-house with my clothing wet
through, and in these soaked garments I taught
during the day. In ``boarding round'' I often found
myself in one-room cabins, with bunks at the end
and the sole partition a sheet or a blanket, behind
which I slept with one or two of the children. It
was the custom on these occasions for the man of
the house to delicately retire to the barn while we
women got to bed, and to disappear again in the
morning while we dressed. In some places the
meals were so badly cooked that I could not eat
them, and often the only food my poor little pupils
brought to school for their noonday meal was a
piece of bread or a bit of raw pork.
I earned my two dollars a week that year, but I
had to wait for my wages until the dog tax was collected
in the spring. When the money was thus
raised, and the twenty-six dollars for my thirteen
weeks of teaching were graciously put into my
hands, I went ``outside'' to the nearest shop and
joyously spent almost the entire amount for my
first ``party dress.'' The gown I bought was, I considered,
a beautiful creation. In color it was a rich
magenta, and the skirt was elaborately braided with
black cable-cord. My admiration for it was justified,
for it did all a young girl's eager heart could
ask of any gown--it led to my first proposal.
The youth who sought my hand was about twenty
years old, and by an unhappy chance he was also
the least attractive young person in the countryside--
the laughing-stock of the neighbors, the butt
of his associates. The night he came to offer me
his heart there were already two young men at our
home calling on my sisters, and we were all sitting
around the fire in the living-room when my suitor
appeared. His costume, like himself, left much to
be desired. He wore a blue flannel shirt and a pair
of trousers made of flour-bags. Such trousers were
not uncommon in our region, and the boy's mother,
who had made them for him, had thoughtfully
selected a nice clean pair of sacks. But on one leg
was the name of the firm that made the flour--A. and
G. W. Green--and by a charming coincidence A.
and G. W. Green happened to be the two young
men who were calling on my sisters! On the back
of the bags, directly in the rear of the wearer, was
the simple legend, ``96 pounds''; and the striking
effect of the young man's costume was completed
by a bright yellow sash which held his trousers in
The vision fascinated my sisters and their two
guests. They gave it their entire attention, and
when the new-comer signified with an eloquent gesture
that he was calling on me, and beckoned me
into an inner room, the quartet arose as one person
and followed us to the door. Then, as we inhospitably
closed the door, they fastened their eyes to
the cracks in the living-room wall, that they might
miss none of the entertainment. When we were
alone my guest and I sat down in facing chairs and
in depressed silence. The young man was nervous,
and I was both frightened and annoyed. I had
heard suppressed giggles on the other side of the
wall, and I realized, as my self-centered visitor failed
to do, that we were not enjoying the privacy the
situation seemed to demand. At last the youth informed
me that his ``dad'' had just given him a
cabin, a yoke of steers, a cow, and some hens. When
this announcement had produced its full effect, he
straightened up in his chair and asked, solemnly,
``Will ye have me?''
An outburst of chortles from the other side of the
wall greeted the proposal, but the ardent youth
ignored it, if indeed he heard it. With eyes staring
straight ahead, he sat rigid, waiting for my answer;
and I, anxious only to get rid of him and to end
the strain of the moment, said the first thing that
came into my head. ``I can't,'' I told him. ``I'm
sorry, but--but--I'm engaged.''
He rose quickly, with the effect of a half-closed
jack-knife that is suddenly opened, and for an instant
stood looking down upon me. He was six feet
two inches tall, and extremely thin. I am very short,
and, as I looked up, his flour-bag trousers seemed to
join his yellow sash somewhere near the ceiling of
the room. He put both hands into his pockets and
slowly delivered his valedictory. ``That's darned disappointing
to a fellow,'' he said, and left the house.
After a moment devoted to regaining my maidenly
composure I returned to the living-room, where I
had the privilege of observing the enjoyment of my
sisters and their visitors. Helpless with mirth and
with tears of pleasure on their cheeks, the four rocked
and shrieked as they recalled the picture my gallant
had presented. For some time after that incident
I felt a strong distaste for sentiment.
Clad royally in the new gown, I attended my first
ball in November, going with a party of eight that
included my two sisters, another girl, and four young
men. The ball was at Big Rapids, which by this
time had grown to be a thriving lumber town. It
was impossible to get a team of horses or even a
yoke of oxen for the journey, so we made a raft and
went down the river on that, taking our party dresses
with us in trunks. Unfortunately, the raft ``hung
up'' in the stream, and the four young men had
to get out into the icy water and work a long time
before they could detach it from the rocks. Naturally,
they were soaked and chilled through, but they
all bore the experience with a gay philosophy.
When we reached Big Rapids we dressed for the
ball, and, as in those days it was customary to
change one's gown again at midnight, I had an opportunity
to burst on the assemblage in two costumes--
the second made of bedroom chintz, with
a low neck and short sleeves. We danced the
``money musk,'' and the ``Virginia reel,'' ``hoeing
her down'' (which means changing partners) in
true pioneer style. I never missed a dance at this
or any subsequent affair, and I was considered the
gayest and the most tireless young person at our
parties until I became a Methodist minister and
dropped such worldly vanities. The first time I
preached in my home region all my former partners
came to hear me, and listened with wide, understanding,
reminiscent smiles which made it very hard for
me to keep soberly to my text.
In the near future I had reason to regret the extravagant
expenditure of my first earnings. For
my second year of teaching, in the same school, I
was to receive five dollars a week and to pay my
own board. I selected a place two miles and a half
from the school-house, and was promptly asked by
my host to pay my board in advance. This, he explained,
was due to no lack of faith in me; the
money would enable him to go ``outside'' to work,
leaving his family well supplied with provisions. I
allowed him to go to the school committee and collect
my board in advance, at the rate of three dollars
a week for the season. When I presented myself
at my new boarding-place, however, two days later,
I found the house nailed up and deserted; the man
and his family had departed with my money, and
I was left, as my committeemen sympathetically
remarked, ``high and dry.'' There were only two
dollars a week coming to me after that, so I walked
back and forth between my home and my school,
almost four miles, twice a day; and during this enforced
exercise there was ample opportunity to reflect
on the fleeting joy of riches.
In the mean time war had been declared. When
the news came that Fort Sumter had been fired
on, and that Lincoln had called for troops, our men
were threshing. There was only one threshingmachine
in the region at that time, and it went
from place to place, the farmers doing their threshing
whenever they could get the machine. I remember
seeing a man ride up on horseback, shouting
out Lincoln's demand for troops and explaining
that a regiment was being formed at Big Rapids.
Before he had finished speaking the men on the machine
had leaped to the ground and rushed off to
enlist, my brother Jack, who had recently joined us,
among them. In ten minutes not one man was left
in the field. A few months later my brother Tom
enlisted as a bugler--he was a mere boy at the time--
and not long after that my father followed the example
of his sons and served until the war was ended. He
had entered on the twenty-ninth of August, 1862, as
an army steward; he came back to us with the rank
of lieutenant and assistant surgeon of field and staff.
Between those years I was the principal support
of our family, and life became a strenuous and tragic
affair. For months at a time we had no news from
the front. The work in our community, if it was
done at all, was done by despairing women whose
hearts were with their men. When care had become
our constant guest, Death entered our home as well.
My sister Eleanor had married, and died in childbirth,
leaving her baby to me; and the blackest hours of
those black years were the hours that saw her passing.
I can see her still, lying in a stupor from which
she roused herself at intervals to ask about her child.
She insisted that our brother Tom should name the
baby, but Tom was fighting for his country, unless
he had already preceded Eleanor through the wide
portal that was opening before her. I could only
tell her that I had written to him; but before the
assurance was an hour old she would climb up from
the gulf of unconsciousness with infinite effort to
ask if we had received his reply. At last, to calm
her, I told her it had come, and that Tom had chosen
for her little son the name of Arthur. She smiled
at this and drew a deep breath; then, still smiling,
she passed away. Her baby slipped into her vacant
place and almost filled our heavy hearts, but only
for a short time; for within a few months after his
mother's death his father married again and took
him from me, and it seemed that with his going
we had lost all that made life worth while.
The problem of living grew harder with everyday.
We eked out our little income in every way
we could, taking as boarders the workers in the logging-
camps, making quilts, which we sold, and losing
no chance to earn a penny in any legitimate manner.
Again my mother did such outside sewing as she
could secure, yet with every month of our effort
the gulf between our income and our expenses grew
wider, and the price of the bare necessities of exisence{
sic} climbed up and up. The largest amount I
could earn at teaching was six dollars a week, and
our school year included only two terms of thirteen
weeks each. It was an incessant struggle to
keep our land, to pay our taxes, and to live. Calico
was selling at fifty cents a yard. Coffee was
one dollar a pound. There were no men left to
grind our corn, to get in our crops, or to care for
our live stock; and all around us we saw our
struggle reflected in the lives of our neighbors.
At long intervals word came to us of battles in
which my father's regiment--the Tenth Michigan
Cavalry Volunteers--or those of my brothers were
engaged, and then longer intervals followed in which
we heard no news. After Eleanor's death my
brother Tom was wounded, and for months we lived
in terror of worse tidings, but he finally recovered.
I was walking seven and eight miles a day, and doing
extra work before and after school hours, and my
health began to fail. Those were years I do not
like to look back upon--years in which life had degenerated
into a treadmill whose monotony was
broken only by the grim messages from the front.
My sister Mary married and went to Big Rapids to
live. I had no time to dream my dream, but the star
of my one purpose still glowed in my dark horizon.
It seemed that nothing short of a miracle could lift
my feet from their plodding way and set them on the
wider path toward which my eyes were turned, but
I never lost faith that in some manner the miracle
would come to pass. As certainly as I have ever
known anything, I KNEW that I was going to college!
The end of the Civil War brought freedom to
me, too. When peace was declared my father
and brothers returned to the claim in the wilderness
which we women of the family had labored so desperately
to hold while they were gone. To us, as to
others, the final years of the war had brought many
changes. My sister Eleanor's place was empty.
Mary, as I have said, had married and gone to live in
Big Rapids, and my mother and I were alone with my
brother Harry, now a boy of fourteen. After the
return of our men it was no longer necessary to devote
every penny of my earnings to the maintenance
of our home. For the first time I could begin to
save a portion of my income toward the fulfilment
of my college dream, but even yet there was a long,
arid stretch ahead of me before the college doors
came even distantly into sight.
The largest salary I could earn by teaching in our
Northern woods was one hundred and fifty-six dollars
a year, for two terms of thirteen weeks each; and
from this, of course, I had to deduct the cost of my
board and clothing--the sole expenditure I allowed
myself. The dollars for an education accumulated
very, very slowly, until at last, in desperation, weary
of seeing the years of my youth rush past, bearing
my hopes with them, I took a sudden and radical
step. I gave up teaching, left our cabin in the
woods, and went to Big Rapids to live with my sister
Mary, who had married a successful man and who
generously offered me a home. There, I had decided,
I would learn a trade of some kind, of any
kind; it did not greatly matter what it was. The
sole essential was that it should be a money-making
trade, offering wages which would make it possible
to add more rapidly to my savings. In those days,
almost fifty years ago, and in a small pioneer town,
the fields open to women were few and unfruitful.
The needle at once presented itself, but at first I
turned with loathing from it. I would have preferred
the digging of ditches or the shoveling of coal;
but the needle alone persistently pointed out my
way, and I was finally forced to take it.
Fate, however, as if weary at last of seeing me
between her paws, suddenly let me escape. Before
I had been working a month at my uncongenial
trade Big Rapids was favored by a visit from a
Universalist woman minister, the Reverend Marianna
Thompson, who came there to preach. Her sermon
was delivered on Sunday morning, and I was, I
think, almost the earliest arrival of the great congregation
which filled the church. It was a wonderful
moment when I saw my first woman minister
enter her pulpit; and as I listened to her sermon,
thrilled to the soul, all my early aspirations to become
a minister myself stirred in me with cumulative
force. After the services I hung for a time on the
fringe of the group that surrounded her, and at last,
when she was alone and about to leave, I found
courage to introduce myself and pour forth the tale
of my ambition. Her advice was as prompt as if
she had studied my problem for years.
``My child,'' she said, ``give up your foolish idea
of learning a trade, and go to school. You can't do
anything until you have an education. Get it, and
get it NOW.''
Her suggestion was much to my liking, and I paid
her the compliment of acting on it promptly, for
the next morning I entered the Big Rapids High
School, which was also a preparatory school for college.
There I would study, I determined, as long
as my money held out, and with the optimism of
youth I succeeded in confining my imagination to
this side of that crisis. My home, thanks to Mary,
was assured; the wardrobe I had brought from the
woods covered me sufficiently; to one who had
walked five and six miles a day for years, walking
to school held no discomfort; and as for pleasure,
I found it, like a heroine of fiction, in my studies.
For the first time life was smiling at me, and with
all my young heart I smiled back.
The preceptress of the high school was Lucy
Foot, a college graduate and a remarkable woman.
I had heard much of her sympathy and understanding;
and on the evening following my first day in
school I went to her and repeated the confidences
I had reposed in the Reverend Marianna Thompson.
My trust in her was justified. She took an immediate
interest in me, and proved it at once by putting
me into the speaking and debating classes, where I
was given every opportunity to hold forth to helpless
classmates when the spirit of eloquence moved
As an aid to public speaking I was taught to ``elocute,''
and I remember in every mournful detail
the occasion on which I gave my first recitation.
We were having our monthly ``public exhibition
night,'' and the audience included not only my classmates,
but their parents and friends as well. The
selection I intended to recite was a poem entitled
``No Sects in Heaven,'' but when I faced my audience
I was so appalled by its size and by the sudden
realization of my own temerity that I fainted
during the delivery of the first verse. Sympathetic
classmates carried me into an anteroom and revived
me, after which they naturally assumed that the
entertainment I furnished was over for the evening.
I, however, felt that if I let that failure stand against
me I could never afterward speak in public; and
within ten minutes, notwithstanding the protests
of my friends, I was back in the hall and beginning
my recitation a second time. The audience gave
me its eager attention. Possibly it hoped to see me
topple off the platform again, but nothing of the
sort occurred. I went through the recitation with
self-possession and received some friendly applause at
the end. Strangely enough, those first sensations of
``stage fright'' have been experienced, in a lesser degree,
in connection with each of the thousands of
public speeches I have made since that time. I
have never again gone so far as to faint in the
presence of an audience; but I have invariably
walked out on the platform feeling the sinking sensation
at the pit of the stomach, the weakness of the
knees, that I felt in the hour of my debut. Now,
however, the nervousness passes after a moment
or two.
From that night Miss Foot lost no opportunity of
putting me into the foreground of our school affairs.
I took part in all our debates, recited yards of poetry
to any audience we could attract, and even shone
mildly in our amateur theatricals. It was probably
owing to all this activity that I attracted the interest
of the presiding elder of our district--Dr.
Peck, a man of progressive ideas. There was at
that time a movement on foot to license women to
preach in the Methodist Church, and Dr. Peck was
ambitious to be the first presiding elder to have a
woman ordained for the Methodist ministry. He
had urged Miss Foot to be this pioneer, but her
ambitions did not turn in that direction. Though
she was a very devout Methodist, she had no wish
to be the shepherd of a religious flock. She loved
her school-work, and asked nothing better than to
remain in it. Gently but persistently she directed
the attention of Dr. Peck to me, and immediately
things began to happen.
Without telling me to what it might lead, Miss
Foot finally arranged a meeting at her home by inviting
Dr. Peck and me to dinner. Being unconscious
of any significance in the occasion, I chatted
light-heartedly about the large issues of life and
probably settled most of them to my personal satisfaction.
Dr. Peck drew me out and led me on,
listened and smiled. When the evening was over
and we rose to go, he turned to me with sudden
``My quarterly meeting will be held at Ashton,''
he remarked, casually. ``I would like you to preach
the quarterly sermon.''
For a moment the earth seemed to slip away from
my feet. I stared at him in utter stupefaction.
Then slowly I realized that, incredible as it seemed,
the man was in earnest.
``Why,'' I stammered, ``_I_ can't preach a sermon!''
Dr. Peck smiled at me. ``Have you ever tried?''
he asked.
I started to assure him vehemently that I never
had. Then, as if Time had thrown a picture on a
screen before me, I saw myself as a little girl preaching
alone in the forest, as I had so often preached
to a congregation of listening trees. I qualified my
``Never,'' I said, ``to human beings.''
Dr. Peck smiled again. ``Well,'' he told me,
``the door is open. Enter or not, as you wish.''
He left the house, but I remained to discuss his
overwhelming proposition with Miss Foot. A sudden
sobering thought had come to me.
``But,'' I exclaimed, ``I've never been converted.
How can I preach to any one?''
We both had the old-time idea of conversion, which
now seems so mistaken. We thought one had to
struggle with sin and with the Lord until at last the
heart opened, doubts were dispersed, and the light
poured in. Miss Foot could only advise me to
put the matter before the Lord, to wrestle and to
pray; and thereafter, for hours at a time, she worked
and prayed with me, alternately urging, pleading,
instructing, and sending up petitions in my behalf.
Our last session was a dramatic one, which took up
the entire night. Long before it was over we were
both worn out; but toward morning, either from
exhaustion of body or exaltation of soul, I seemed
to see the light, and it made me very happy. With
all my heart I wanted to preach, and I believed that
now at last I had my call. The following day we
sent word to Dr. Peck that I would preach the sermon
at Ashton as he had asked, but we urged him to
say nothing of the matter for the present, and Miss
Foot and I also kept the secret locked in our breasts.
I knew only too well what view my family and my
friends would take of such a step and of me. To
them it would mean nothing short of personal disgrace
and a blotted page in the Shaw record.
I had six weeks in which to prepare my sermon,
and I gave it most of my waking hours as well as
those in which I should have been asleep. I took
for my text: ``And as Moses lifted up the serpent
in the wilderness, even so must the Son of Man be
lifted up; that whosoever believeth in Him should
not perish, but have eternal life.''
It was not until three days before I preached the
sermon that I found courage to confide my purpose
to my sister Mary, and if I had confessed my intention
to commit a capital crime she could not have
been more disturbed. We two had always been very
close, and the death of Eleanor, to whom we were
both devoted, had drawn us even nearer to each
other. Now Mary's tears and prayers wrung my
heart and shook my resolution. But, after all, she
was asking me to give up my whole future, to close
my ears to my call, and I felt that I could not do
it. My decision caused an estrangement between
us which lasted for years. On the day preceding
the delivery of my sermon I left for Ashton on the
afternoon train; and in the same car, but as far
away from me as she could get, Mary sat alone and
wept throughout the journey. She was going to
my mother, but she did not speak to me; and I,
for my part, facing both alienation from her and the
ordeal before me, found my one comfort in Lucy
Foot's presence and understanding sympathy.
There was no church in Ashton, so I preached
my sermon in its one little school-house, which was
filled with a curious crowd, eager to look at and hear
the girl who was defying all conventions by getting
out of the pew and into the pulpit. There was
much whispering and suppressed excitement before
I began, but when I gave out my text silence fell
upon the room, and from that moment until I had
finished my hearers listened quietly. A kerosenelamp
stood on a stand at my elbow, and as I preached
I trembled so violently that the oil shook in its glass
globe; but I finished without breaking down, and
at the end Dr. Peck, who had his own reasons for
nervousness, handsomely assured me that my first
sermon was better than his maiden effort had been.
It was evidently not a failure, for the next day he
invited me to follow him around in his circuit, which
included thirty-six appointments; he wished me to
preach in each of the thirty-six places, as it was desirable
to let the various ministers hear and know
me before I applied for my license as a local preacher.
The sermon also had another result, less gratifying.
It brought out, on the following morning, the
first notice of me ever printed in a newspaper.
This was instigated by my brother-in-law, and it
was brief but pointed. It read:
A young girl named Anna Shaw, seventeen years old,[1]
preached at Ashton yesterday. Her real friends deprecate the
course she is pursuing.
[1] A misstatement by the brother-in-law. Dr. Shaw was at this
time twenty-three years old.--E. J.
The little notice had something of the effect of
a lighted match applied to gunpowder. An explosion
of public sentiment followed it, the entire
community arose in consternation, and I became a
bone of contention over which friends and strangers
alike wrangled until they wore themselves out.
The members of my family, meeting in solemn
council, sent for me, and I responded. They had
a proposition to make, and they lost no time in putting
it before me. If I gave up my preaching they
would send me to college and pay for my entire
course. They suggested Ann Arbor, and Ann Arbor
tempted me sorely; but to descend from the pulpit
I had at last entered--the pulpit I had visualized
in all my childish dreams--was not to be considered.
We had a long evening together, and it was a very
unhappy one. At the end of it I was given twentyfour
hours in which to decide whether I would choose
my people and college, or my pulpit and the arctic
loneliness of a life that held no family-circle. It
did not require twenty-four hours of reflection to
convince me that I must go my solitary way.
That year I preached thirty-six times, at each of
the presiding elder's appointments; and the following
spring, at the annual Methodist Conference of
our district, held at Big Rapids, my name was presented
to the assembled ministers as that of a candidate
for a license to preach. There was unusual
interest in the result, and my father was among those
who came to the Conference to see the vote taken.
During these Conferences a minister voted affirmatively
on a question by holding up his hand, and
negatively by failing to do so. When the question
of my license came up the majority of the ministers
voted by raising both hands, and in the pleasant
excitement which followed my father slipped away.
Those who saw him told me he looked pleased; but
he sent me no message showing a change of viewpoint,
and the gulf between the family and its black
sheep remained unbridged. Though the warmth of
Mary's love for me had become a memory, the
warmth of her hearthstone was still offered me. I
accepted it, perforce, and we lived together like
shadows of what we had been. Two friends alone
of all I had made stood by me without qualification
--Miss Foot and Clara Osborn, the latter my
``chum'' at Big Rapids and a dweller in my heart
to this day.
In the mean time my preaching had not interfered
with my studies. I was working day and night,
but life was very difficult; for among my schoolmates,
too, there were doubts and much head-shaking
over this choice of a career. I needed the sound of
friendly voices, for I was very lonely; and suddenly,
when the pressure from all sides was strongest and
I was going down physically under it, a voice was
raised that I had never dared to dream would speak
for me. Mary A. Livermore came to Big Rapids,
and as she was then at the height of her career, the
entire countryside poured in to hear her. Far back
in the crowded hall I sat alone and listened to her,
thrilled by the lecture and tremulous with the hope
of meeting the lecturer. When she had finished
speaking I joined the throng that surged forward
from the body of the hall, and as I reached her and
felt the grasp of her friendly hand I had a sudden
conviction that the meeting was an epoch in my life.
I was right. Some one in the circle around us told
her that I wanted to preach, and that I was meeting
tremendous opposition. She was interested at once.
She looked at me with quickening sympathy, and
then, suddenly putting an arm around me, drew me
close to her side.
``My dear,'' she said, quietly, ``if you want to
preach, go on and preach. Don't let anybody stop
you. No matter what people say, don't let them
stop you!''
For a moment I was too overcome to answer her.
These were almost my first encouraging words, and
the morning stars singing together could not have
made sweeter music for my ears. Before I could
recover a woman within hearing spoke up.
``Oh, Mrs. Livermore,'' she exclaimed, ``don't say
that to her! We're all trying to stop her. Her people
are wretched over the whole thing. And don't
you see how ill she is? She has one foot in the grave
and the other almost there!''
Mrs. Livermore turned upon me a long and deeply
thoughtful look. ``Yes,'' she said at last, ``I see she
has. But it is better that she should die doing the
thing she wants to do than that she should die
because she can't do it.''
Her words were a tonic which restored my voice.
``So they think I'm going to die!'' I cried. ``Well,
I'm not! I'm going to live and preach!''
I have always felt since then that without the
inspiration of Mrs. Livermore's encouragement I
might not have continued my fight. Her sanction
was a shield, however, from which the criticisms of
the world fell back. Fate's more friendly interest
in my affairs that year was shown by the fact that
she sent Mrs. Livermore into my life before I had
met Anna Dickinson. Miss Dickinson came to us
toward spring and lectured on Joan of Arc. Never
before or since have I been more deeply moved by a
speaker. When she had finished her address I made
my happy way to the front of the hall with the others
who wished to meet the distinguished guest. It
was our local manager who introduced me, and he
said, ``This is our Anna Shaw. She is going to be
a lecturer, too.''
I looked up at the brilliant Miss Dickinson with
the trustfulness of youth in my eyes. I remembered
Mrs. Livermore and I thought all great women
were like her, but I was now to experience a bitter
disillusionment. Miss Dickinson barely touched
the tips of my fingers as she looked indifferently
past the side of my face. ``Ah,'' she said, icily,
and turned away. In later years I learned how
impossible it is for a public speaker to leave a
gracious impression on every life that for a moment
touches her own; but I have never ceased to be
thankful that I met Mrs. Livermore before I met
Miss Dickinson at the crisis in my career.
In the autumn of 1873 I entered Albion College,
in Albion, Michigan. I was twenty-five years of
age, but I looked much younger--probably not more
than eighteen to the casual glance. Though I had
made every effort to save money, I had not been
successful, for my expenses constantly outran my
little income, and my position as preacher made it
necessary for me to have a suitable wardrobe.
When the time came to enter college I had exactly
eighteen dollars in the world, and I started for
Albion with this amount in my purse and without
the slightest notion of how I was to add to it. The
money problem so pressed upon me, in fact, that
when I reached my destination at midnight and discovered
that it would cost fifty cents to ride from
the station to the college, I saved that amount by
walking the entire distance on the railroad tracks,
while my imagination busied itself pleasantly with
pictures of the engine that might be thundering upon
me in the rear. I had chosen Albion because Miss
Foot had been educated there, and I was encouraged
by an incident that happened the morning after my
arrival. I was on the campus, walking toward the
main building, when I saw a big copper penny lying
on the ground, and, on picking it up, I discovered
that it bore the year of my birth. That seemed a
good omen, and it was emphatically underlined by
the finding of two exactly similar pennies within a
week. Though there have been days since then
when I was sorely tempted to spend them, I have
those three pennies still, and I confess to a certain
comfort in their possession!
As I had not completed my high-school course,
my first days at Albion were spent in strenuous preparation
for the entrance examinations; and one morning,
as I was crossing the campus with a History
of the United States tucked coyly under my arm,
I met the president of the college, Dr. Josclyn. He
stopped for a word of greeting, during which I betrayed
the fact that I had never studied United
States history. Dr. Josclyn at once invited me into
his office with, I am quite sure, the purpose of explaining
as kindly as he could that my preparation
for college was insufficient. As an opening to the
subject he began to talk of history, and we talked
and talked on, while unheeded hours were born and
died. We discussed the history of the United States,
the governments of the world, the causes which led
to the influence of one nation on another, the philosophical
basis of the different national movements
westward, and the like. It was the longest and by
far the most interesting talk I have ever had with
a highly educated man, and during it I could actually
feel my brain expand. When I rose to go President
Josclyn stopped me.
``I have something to give you,'' he said, and he
wrote a few words on a slip of paper and handed
the slip to me. When, on reaching the dormitory,
I opened it, I found that the president had passed
me in the history of the entire college course! This,
moreover, was not the only pleasant result of our
interview, for within a few weeks President and Mrs.
Josclyn, whose daughter had recently died, invited
me to board with them, and I made my home with
them during my first year at Albion.
My triumph in history was followed by the swift
and chastening discovery that I was behind my associates
in several other branches. Owing to my
father's early help, I was well up in mathematics,
but I had much to learn of philosophy and the
languages, and to these I devoted many midnight
Naturally, I soon plunged into speaking, and my
first public speech at college was a defense of Xantippe.
I have always felt that the poor lady was
greatly abused, and that Socrates deserved all he
received from her, and more. I was glad to put
myself on record as her champion, and my fellowstudents
must soon have felt that my admiration
for Xantippe was based on similarities of temperament,
for within a few months I was leading the first
college revolt against the authority of the men
Albion was a coeducational institution, and the
brightest jewels in its crown were its three literary
societies--the first composed of men alone, the second
of women alone, and the third of men and
women together. Each of the societies made friendly
advances to new students, and for some time I
hesitated on the brink of the new joys they offered,
uncertain which to choose. A representative of the
mixed society, who was putting its claims before
me, unconsciously helped me to make up my mind.
``Women,'' he pompously assured me, ``need to be
associated with men, because they don't know how
to manage meetings.''
On the instant the needle of decision swung around
to the women's society and remained there, fixed.
``If they don't,'' I told the pompous young man,
``it's high time they learned. I shall join the women,
and we'll master the art.''
I did join the women's society, and I had not been
a member very long before I discovered that when
there was an advantage of any kind to be secured
the men invariably got it. While I was brooding
somberly upon this wrong an opportunity came to
make a formal and effective protest against the
men's high-handed methods. The Quinquennial reunion
of all the societies was about to be held, and
the special feature of this festivity was always an
oration. The simple method of selecting the orator
which had formerly prevailed had been for the
young men to decide upon the speaker and then announce
his name to the women, who humbly confirmed
it. On this occasion, however, when the
name came in to us, I sent a message to our brother
society to the effect that we, too, intended to make
a nomination and to send in a name.
At such unprecedented behavior the entire student
body arose in excitement, which, among the
girls, was combined with equal parts of exhilaration
and awe. The men refused to consider our nominee,
and as a friendly compromise we suggested that we
have a joint meeting of all the societies and elect
the speaker at this gathering; but this plan also
the men at first refused, giving in only after weeks
of argument, during which no one had time for
the calmer pleasures of study. When the joint
meeting was finally held, nothing was accomplished;
we girls had one more member than the boys had,
and we promptly re-elected our candidate, who was
as promptly declined by the boys. Two of our girls
were engaged to two of the boys, and it was secretly
planned by our brother society that during a second
joint meeting these two men should take the girls
out for a drive and then slip back to vote, leaving
the girls at some point sufficiently remote from college.
We discovered the plot, however, in time to
thwart it, and at last, when nothing but the unprecedented
tie-up had been discussed for months,
the boys suddenly gave up their candidate and
nominated me for orator.
This was not at all what I wanted, and I immediately
declined to serve. We girls then nominated
the young man who had been first choice of our
brother society, but he haughtily refused to accept
the compliment. The reunion was only a fortnight
away, and the programme had not been printed, so
now the president took the situation in hand and
peremptorily ordered me to accept the nomination
or be suspended. This was a wholly unexpected
boomerang. I had wished to make a good fight for
equal rights for the girls, and to impress the boys
with the fact of our existence as a society; but I
had not desired to set the entire student body by
the ears nor to be forced to prepare and deliver an
oration at the eleventh hour. Moreover, I had no
suitable gown to wear on so important an occasion.
One of my classmates, however, secretly wrote to
my sister, describing my blushing honors and explaining
my need, and my family rallied to the call.
My father bought the material, and my mother and
Mary paid for the making of the gown. It was a
white alpaca creation, trimmed with satin, and the
consciousness that it was extremely becoming sustained
me greatly during the mental agony of preparing
and delivering my oration. To my family
that oration was the redeeming episode of my early
career. For the moment it almost made them forget
my crime of preaching.
My original fund of eighteen dollars was now
supplemented by the proceeds of a series of lectures
I gave on temperance. The temperance women were
not yet organized, but they had their speakers, and
I was occasionally paid five dollars to hold forth
for an hour or two in the little country school-houses
of our region. As a licensed preacher I had no
tuition fees to pay at college; but my board, in the
home of the president and his wife, was costing me
four dollars a week, and this was the limit of my
expenses, as I did my own laundry-work. During
my first college year the amount I paid for amusement
was exactly fifty cents; that went for a lecture.
The mental strain of the whole experience
was rather severe, for I never knew how much I
would be able to earn; and I was beginning to feel
the effects of this when Christmas came and brought
with it a gift of ninety-two dollars, which Miss Foot
had collected among my Big Rapids friends. That,
with what I could earn, carried me through the
The following spring our brother James, who
was now living in St. Johnsbury, Vermont, invited
my sister Mary and me to spend the summer
with him, and Mary and I finally dug a grave for
our little hatchet and went East together with
something of our old-time joy in each other's society.
We reached St. Johnsbury one Saturday,
and within an hour of our arrival learned that my
brother had arranged for me to preach in a local
church the following day. That threatened to spoil
the visit for Mary and even to disinter the hatchet!
At first she positively refused to go to hear me, but
after a few hours of reflection she announced gloomily
that if she did not go I would not have my hair
arranged properly or get my hat on straight. Moved
by this conviction, she joined the family parade to
the church, and later, in the sacristy, she pulled me
about and pinned me up to her heart's content.
Then, reluctantly, she went into the church and
heard me preach. She offered no tributes after our
return to the house, but her protests ceased from
that time, and we gave each other the love and
understanding which had marked our girlhood days.
The change made me very happy; for Mary was the
salt of the earth, and next only to my longing for
my mother, I had longed for her in the years of our
Every Sunday that summer I preached in or near
St. Johnsbury, and toward autumn we had a big
meeting which the ministers of all the surrounding
churches attended. I was asked to preach the sermon--
a high compliment--and I chose that important
day to make a mistake in quoting a passage
from Scripture. I asked, ``Can the Ethiopian change
his spots or the leopard his skin?'' I realized at
once that I had transposed the words, and no doubt
a look of horror dawned in my eyes; but I went on
without correcting myself and without the slightest
pause. Later, one of the ministers congratulated
me on this presence of mind.
``If you had corrected yourself,'' he said, ``all the
young people would have been giggling yet over
the spotted nigger. Keep to your rule of going
right ahead!''
At the end of the summer the various churches
in which I had preached gave me a beautiful gold
watch and one hundred dollars in money, and with
an exceedingly light heart I went back to college
to begin my second year of work.
From that time life was less complex. I had
enough temperance-work and preaching in the
country school-houses and churches to pay my college
expenses, and, now that my financial anxieties
were relieved, my health steadily improved. Several
times I preached to the Indians, and these
occasions were among the most interesting of my
experiences. The squaws invariably brought their
babies with them, but they had a simple and effective
method of relieving themselves of the care of the
infants as soon as they reached the church. The
papooses, who were strapped to their boards, were
hung like a garment on the back wall of the building
by a hole in the top of the board, which projected
above their heads. Each papoose usually had a
bit of fat pork tied to the end of a string fastened
to its wrist, and with these sources of nourishment
the infants occupied themselves pleasantly while
the sermon was in progress. Frequently the pork
slipped down the throat of the papoose, but the
struggle of the child and the jerking of its hands
in the strangulation that followed pulled the piece
safely out again. As I faced the congregation I also
faced the papooses, to whom the indifferent backs
of their mothers were presented; it seemed to me
there was never a time when some papoose was not
choking, but no matter how much excitement or
discomfort was going on among the babies, not one
squaw turned her head to look back at them. In
that assemblage the emotions were not allowed to
interrupt the calm intellectual enjoyment of the
My most dramatic experience during this period
occurred in the summer of 1874, when I went to a
Northern lumber-camp to preach in the pulpit of a
minister who was away on his honeymoon. The
stage took me within twenty-two miles of my destination,
to a place called Seberwing. To my dismay,
however, when I arrived at Seberwing, Saturday
evening, I found that the rest of the journey lay
through a dense woods, and that I could reach my
pulpit in time the next morning only by having some
one drive me through the woods that night. It was
not a pleasant prospect, for I had heard appalling
tales of the stockades in this region and of the
women who were kept prisoners there. But to miss
the engagement was not to be thought of, and when,
after I had made several vain efforts to find a driver,
a man appeared in a two-seated wagon and offered
to take me to my destination, I felt that I had to go
with him, though I did not like his appearance.
He was a huge, muscular person, with a protruding
jaw and a singularly evasive eye; but I reflected
that his forbidding expression might be due, in part
at least, to the prospect of the long night drive
through the woods, to which possibly he objected
as much as I did.
It was already growing dark when we started,
and within a few moments we were out of the little
settlement and entering the woods. With me I had
a revolver I had long since learned to use, but which
I very rarely carried. I had hesitated to bring it
now--had even left home without it; and then, impelled
by some impulse I never afterward ceased
to bless, had returned for it and dropped it into
my hand-bag.
I sat on the back seat of the wagon, directly
behind the driver, and for a time, as we entered
the darkening woods, his great shoulders blotted out
all perspective as he drove on in stolid silence.
Then, little by little, they disappeared like a rapidly
fading negative. The woods were filled with Norway
pines, hemlocks, spruce, and tamaracks-great,
somber trees that must have shut out the light even
on the brightest days. To-night the heavens held
no lamps aloft to guide us, and soon the darkness
folded around us like a garment. I could see neither
the driver nor his horses. I could hear only the
sibilant whisper of the trees and the creak of our
slow wheels in the rough forest road.
Suddenly the driver began to talk, and at first
I was glad to hear the reassuring human tones, for
the experience had begun to seem like a bad dream.
I replied readily, and at once regretted that I had
done so, for the man's choice of topics was most
unpleasant. He began to tell me stories of the
stockades--grim stories with horrible details, repeated
so fully and with such gusto that I soon
realized he was deliberately affronting my ears.
I checked him and told him I could not listen to
such talk.
He replied with a series of oaths and shocking
vulgarities, stopping his horses that he might turn
and fling the words into my face. He ended by
snarling that I must think him a fool to imagine
he did not know the kind of woman I was. What
was I doing in that rough country, he demanded,
and why was I alone with him in those black woods
at night?
Though my heart missed a beat just then, I tried
to answer him calmly.
``You know perfectly well who I am,'' I reminded
him. ``And you understand that I am making this
journey to-night because I am to preach to-morrow
morning and there is no other way to keep my
He uttered a laugh which was a most unpleasant
``Well,'' he said, coolly, ``I'm damned if I'll take
you. I've got you here, and I'm going to keep you
I slipped my hand into the satchel in my lap, and
it touched my revolver. No touch of human fingers
ever brought such comfort. With a deep breath
of thanksgiving I drew it out and cocked it, and
as I did so he recognized the sudden click.
``Here! What have you got there?'' he snapped.
``I have a revolver,'' I replied, as steadily as I
could. ``And it is cocked and aimed straight at
your back. Now drive on. If you stop again, or
speak, I'll shoot you.''
For an instant or two he blustered.
``By God,'' he cried, ``you wouldn't dare.''
``Wouldn't I?'' I asked. ``Try me by speaking
just once more.''
Even as I spoke I felt my hair rise on my scalp
with the horror of the moment, which seemed worse
than any nightmare a woman could experience.
But the man was conquered by the knowledge of
the waiting, willing weapon just behind him. He
laid his whip savagely on the backs of his horses
and they responded with a leap that almost knocked
me out of the wagon.
The rest of the night was a black terror I shall
never forget. He did not speak again, nor stop,
but I dared not relax my caution for an instant.
Hour after hour crawled toward day, and still I
sat in the unpierced darkness, the revolver ready.
I knew he was inwardly raging, and that at any
instant he might make a sudden jump and try to
get the revolver away from me. I decided that
at his slightest movement I must shoot. But dawn
came at last, and just as its bluish light touched
the dark tips of the pines we drove up to the log
hotel in the settlement that was our destination.
Here my driver spoke.
``Get down,'' he said, gruffly. ``This is the place.''
I sat still. Even yet I dared not trust him.
Moreover, I was so stiff after my vigil that I was
not sure I could move.
``You get down,'' I directed, ``and wake up the
landlord. Bring him out here.''
He sullenly obeyed and aroused the hotel-owner,
and when the latter appeared I climbed out of the
wagon with some effort but without explanation.
That morning I preached in my friend's pulpit as I
had promised to do, and the rough building was
packed to its doors with lumbermen who had come
in from the neighboring camp. Their appearance
caused great surprise, as they had never attended
a service before. They formed a most picturesque
congregation, for they all wore brilliant lumber-camp
clothing--blue or red shirts with yellow scarfs
twisted around their waists, and gay-colored jackets
and logging-caps. There were forty or fifty of
them, and when we took up our collection they
responded with much liberality and cheerful shouts
to one another.
``Put in fifty cents!'' they yelled across the church.
``Give her a dollar!''
The collection was the largest that had been taken
up in the history of the settlement, but I soon
learned that it was not the spiritual comfort I
offered which had appealed to the lumber-men.
My driver of the night before, who was one of their
number, had told his pals of his experience, and the
whole camp had poured into town to see the woman
minister who carried a revolver.
``Her sermon?'' said one of them to my landlord,
after the meeting. ``Huh! I dunno what she
preached. But, say, don't make no mistake about
one thing: the little preacher has sure got grit!''
When I returned to Albion College in the
autumn of 1875 I brought with me a problem
which tormented me during my waking hours and
chattered on my pillow at night. Should I devote
two more years of my vanishing youth to the completion
of my college course, or, instead, go at once
to Boston University, enter upon my theological
studies, take my degree, and be about my Father's
I was now twenty-seven years old, and I had been
a licensed preacher for three years. My reputation
in the Northwest was growing, and by sermons and
lectures I could certainly earn enough to pay the
expenses of the full college course. On the other
hand, Boston was a new world. There I would be
alone and practically penniless, and the opportunities
for work might be limited. Quite possibly
in my final two years at Albion I could even save
enough money to make the experience in Boston
less difficult, and the clear common sense I had
inherited from my mother reminded me that in
this course lay wisdom. Possibly it was some inheritance
from my visionary father which made
me, at the end of three months, waive these sage
reflections, pack my few possessions, and start for
Boston, where I entered the theological school of
the university in February, 1876.
It was an instance of stepping off a solid plank
and into space; and though there is exhilaration
in the sensation, as I discovered then and at later
crises in life when I did the same thing, there was
also an amount of subsequent discomfort for which
even my lively imagination had not prepared me.
I went through some grim months in Boston--
months during which I learned what it was to go
to bed cold and hungry, to wake up cold and hungry,
and to have no knowledge of how long these conditions
might continue. But not more than once or
twice during the struggle there, and then only for
an hour or two in the physical and mental depression
attending malnutrition, did I regret coming. At
that period of my life I believed that the Lord had
my small personal affairs very much on His mind.
If I starved and froze it was His test of my worthiness
for the ministry, and if He had really chosen
me for one of His servants, He would see me through.
The faith that sustained me then has still a place
in my life, and existence without it would be an
infinitely more dreary affair than it is. But I admit
that I now call upon the Lord less often and less
imperatively than I did before the stern years taught
me my unimportance in the great scheme of things.
My class at the theological school was composed
of forty-two young men and my unworthy self, and
before I had been a member of it an hour I realized
that women theologians paid heavily for the privilege
of being women. The young men of my class who
were licensed preachers were given free accommodations
in the dormitory, and their board, at a club
formed for their assistance, cost each of them only
one dollar and twenty-five cents a week. For me
no such kindly provision was made. I was not
allowed a place in the dormitory, but instead was
given two dollars a week to pay the rent of a room
outside. Neither was I admitted to the economical
comforts of the club, but fed myself according to
my income, a plan which worked admirably when
there was an income, but left an obvious void when
there was not.
With characteristic optimism, however, I hired a
little attic room on Tremont Street and established
myself therein. In lieu of a window the room
offered a pale skylight to the February storms, and
there was neither heat in it nor running water;
but its possession gave me a pleasant sense of
proprietorship, and the whole experience seemed a
high adventure. I at once sought opportunities to
preach and lecture, but these were even rarer than
firelight and food. In Albion I had been practically
the only licensed preacher available for substitute
and special work. In Boston University's three
theological classes there were a hundred men, each
snatching eagerly at the slightest possibility of
employment; and when, despite this competition,
I received and responded to an invitation to preach,
I never knew whether I was to be paid for my services
in cash or in compliments. If, by a happy chance,
the compensation came in cash, the amount was
rarely more than five dollars, and never more than
ten. There was no help in sight from my family,
whose early opposition to my career as a minister
had hotly flamed forth again when I started East.
I lived, therefore, on milk and crackers, and for
weeks at a time my hunger was never wholly satisfied.
In my home in the wilderness I had often
heard the wolves prowling around our door at night.
Now, in Boston, I heard them even at high noon.
There is a special and almost indescribable depression
attending such conditions. No one who
has not experienced the combination of continued
cold, hunger, and loneliness in a great, strange,
indifferent city can realize how it undermines the
victim's nerves and even tears at the moral fiber.
The self-humiliation I experienced was also intense.
I had worked my way in the Northwest; why could
I not work my way in Boston? Was there, perhaps,
some lack in me and in my courage? Again
and again these questions rose in my mind and
poisoned my self-confidence. The one comfort I
had in those black days was the knowledge that no
one suspected the depth of the abyss in which I
dwelt. We were all struggling; to the indifferent
glance--and all glances were indifferent--my struggle
was no worse than that of my classmates whose
rooms and frugal meals were given them.
After a few months of this existence I was almost
ready to believe that the Lord's work for me lay
outside of the ministry, and while this fear was
gripping me a serious crisis came in my financial
affairs. The day dawned when I had not a cent,
nor any prospect of earning one. My stock of
provisions consisted of a box of biscuit, and my
courage was flowing from me like blood from an
opened vein. Then came one of the quick turns
of the wheel of chance which make for optimism.
Late in the afternoon I was asked to do a week of
revival work with a minister in a local church, and
when I accepted his invitation I mentally resolved
to let that week decide my fate. My shoes had
burst open at the sides; for lack of car-fare I had
to walk to and from the scene of my meetings, though
I had barely strength for the effort. If my week
of work brought me enough to buy a pair of cheap
shoes and feed me for a few days I would, I decided,
continue my theological course. If it did not, I
would give up the fight.
Never have I worked harder or better than during
those seven days, when I put into the effort not
only my heart and soul, but the last flame of my
dying vitality, We had a rousing revival--one of
the good old-time affairs when the mourners' benches
were constantly filled and the air resounded with
alleluias. The excitement and our success, mildly
aided by the box of biscuit, sustained me through the
week, and not until the last night did I realize how
much of me had gone into this final desperate charge
of mine. Then, the service over and the people
departed, I sank, weak and trembling, into a chair,
trying to pull myself together before hearing my
fate in the good-night words of the minister I had
assisted. When he came to me and began to compliment
me on the work I had done, I could not
rise. I sat still and listened with downcast eyes,
afraid to lift them lest he read in them something
of my need and panic in this moment when my whole
future seemed at stake.
At first his words rolled around the empty church
as if they were trying to get away from me, but
at last I began to catch them. I was, it seemed,
a most desirable helper. It had been a privilege
and a pleasure to be associated with me. Beyond
doubt, I would go far in my career. He heartily
wished that he could reward me adequately. I
deserved fifty dollars.
My tired heart fluttered at this. Probably my
empty stomach fluttered, too; but in the next
moment something seemed to catch my throat and
stop my breath. For it appeared that, notwithstanding
the enthusiasm and the spiritual uplift
of the week, the collections had been very disappointing
and the expenses unusually heavy. He
could not give me fifty dollars. He could not give
me anything at all. He thanked me warmly and
wished me good night.
I managed to answer him and to get to my feet,
but that journey down the aisle from my chair to
the church door was the longest journey I have ever
made. During it I felt not only the heart-sick
disappointment of the moment, but the cumulative
unhappiness of the years to come. I was friendless,
penniless, and starving, but it was not of these
conditions that I thought then. The one overwhelming
fact was that I had been weighed and
found wanting. I was not worthy.
I stumbled along, passing blindly a woman who
stood on the street near the church entrance. She
stopped me, timidly, and held out her hand. Then
suddenly she put her arms around me and wept.
She was an old lady, and I did not know her, but it
seemed fitting that she should cry just then, as it
would have seemed fitting to me if at that black
moment all the people on the earth had broken into
sudden wailing.
``Oh, Miss Shaw,'' she said, ``I'm the happiest
woman in the world, and I owe my happiness to
you. To-night you have converted my grandson.
He's all I have left, but he has been a wild boy,
and I've prayed over him for years. Hereafter he
is going to lead a different life. He has just given
me his promise on his knees.''
Her hand fumbled in her purse.
``I am a poor woman,'' she went on, ``but I have
enough, and I want to make you a little present.
I know how hard life is for you young students.''
She pressed a bill into my fingers. ``It's very
little,'' she said, humbly; ``it is only five dollars.''
I laughed, and in that exultant moment I seemed
to hear life laughing with me. With the passing
of the bill from her hand to mine existence had
become a new experience, wonderful and beautiful.
``It's the biggest gift I have ever had,'' I told her.
``This little bill is big enough to carry my future
on its back!''
I had a good meal that night, and I bought the
shoes the next morning. Infinitely more sustaining
than the food, however, was the conviction that
the Lord was with me and had given me a sign of
His approval. The experience was the turningpoint
of my theological career. When the money
was gone I succeeded in obtaining more work from
time to time--and though the grind was still cruelly
hard, I never again lost hope. The theological school
was on Bromfield Street, and we students climbed
three flights of stairs to reach our class-rooms.
Through lack of proper food I had become too
weak to ascend these stairs without sitting down
once or twice to rest, and within a month after my
experience with the appreciative grandmother I
was discovered during one of these resting periods
by Mrs. Barrett, the superintendent of the Woman's
Foreign Missionary Society, which had offices in
our building. She stopped, looked me over, and
then invited me into her room, where she asked
me if I felt ill. I assured her that I did not. She
asked a great many additional questions and, little
by little, under the womanly sympathy of them,
my reserve broke down and she finally got at the
truth, which until that hour I had succeeded in
concealing. She let me leave without much comment,
but the next day she again invited me into
her office and came directly to the purpose of the
``Miss Shaw,'' she said, ``I have been talking to a
friend of mine about you, and she would like to
make a bargain with you. She thinks you are working
too hard. She will pay you three dollars and
a half a week for the rest of this school year if
you will promise to give up your preaching. She
wants you to rest, study, and take care of your
I asked the name of my unknown friend, but
Mrs. Barrett said that was to remain a secret. She
had been given a check for seventy-eight dollars,
and from this, she explained, my allowance would
be paid in weekly instalments. I took the money
very gratefully, and a few years later I returned
the amount to the Missionary Society; but I never
learned the identity of my benefactor. Her three
dollars and a half a week, added to the weekly two
dollars I was allowed for room rent, at once solved
the problem of living; and now that meal-hours
had a meaning in my life, my health improved and
my horizon brightened. I spent most of my evenings
in study, and my Sundays in the churches of Phillips
Brooks and James Freeman Clark, my favorite
ministers. Also, I joined the university's prayingband
of students, and took part in the missionarywork
among the women of the streets. I had never
forgotten my early friend in Lawrence, the beautiful
``mysterious lady'' who had loved me as a child,
and, in memory of her, I set earnestly about the
effort to help unfortunates of her class. I went
into the homes of these women, followed them to
the streets and the dance-halls, talked to them,
prayed with them, and made friends among them.
Some of them I was able to help, but many were
beyond help; and I soon learned that the effective
work in that field is the work which is done for
women before, not after, they have fallen.
During my vacation in the summer of 1876 I went
to Cape Cod and earned my expenses by substituting
in local pulpits. Here, at East Dennis, I formed the
friendship which brought me at once the greatest
happiness and the deepest sorrow of that period of
my life. My new friend was a widow whose name
was Persis Addy, and she was also the daughter of
Captain Prince Crowell, then the most prominent
man in the Cape Cod community--a bank president,
a railroad director, and a citizen of wealth, as wealth
was rated in those days. When I returned to the
theological school in the autumn Mrs. Addy came
to Boston with me, and from that time until her
death, two years later, we lived together. She was
immensely interested in my work, and the friendly
part she took in it diverted her mind from the bereavement
over which she had brooded for years,
while to me her coming opened windows into a new
world. I was no longer lonely; and though in my
life with her I paid my way to the extent of my
small income, she gave me my first experience of an
existence in which comfort and culture, recreation,
and leisurely reading were cheerful commonplaces.
For the first time I had some one to come home to,
some one to confide in, some one to talk to, listen
to, and love. We read together and went to concerts
together; and it was during this winter that I
attended my first theatrical performance. The star
was Mary Anderson, in ``Pygmalion and Galatea,''
and play and player charmed me so utterly that I
saw them every night that week, sitting high in the
gallery and enjoying to the utmost the unfolding of
this new delight. It was so glowing a pleasure that
I longed to make some return to the giver of it; but
not until many years afterward, when I met Madame
Navarro in London, was I able to tell her
what the experience had been and to thank her
for it.
I did not long enjoy the glimpses into my new
world, for soon, and most tragically, it was closed
to me. In the spring following our first Boston
winter together Mrs. Addy and I went to Hingham,
Massachusetts, where I had been appointed temporary
pastor of the Methodist Church. There Mrs.
Addy was taken ill, and as she grew steadily worse
we returned to Boston to live near the best available
physicians, who for months theorized over her
malady without being able to diagnose it. At last
her father, Captain Crowell, sent to Paris for Dr.
Brown-Sequard, then the most distinguished specialist
of his day, and Dr. Brown-Sequard, when he
arrived and examined his patient, discovered that
she had a tumor on the brain. She had had a great
shock in her life--the tragic death of her husband
at sea during their wedding tour around the world--
and it was believed that her disease dated from that
time. Nothing could be done for her, and she failed
daily during our second year together, and died in
March, 1878, just before I finished my theological
course and while I was still temporary pastor of the
church at Hingham. Every moment I could take
from my parish and my studies I spent with her, and
those were sorrowful months. In her poor, tortured
brain the idea formed that I, not she, was the sick
person in our family of two, and when we were at
home together she insisted that I must lie down and
let her nurse me; then for hours she brooded over
me, trying to relieve the agony she believed I was
experiencing. When at last she was at peace her
father and I took her home to Cape Cod and laid
her in the graveyard of the little church where we
had met at the beginning of our brief and beautiful
friendship; and the subsequent loneliness I felt
was far greater than any I had ever suffered in the
past, for now I had learned the meaning of companionship.
Three months after Mrs. Addy's death I graduated.
She had planned to take me abroad, and
during our first winter together we had spent countless
hours talking and dreaming of our European
wanderings. When she found that she must die she
made her will and left me fifteen hundred dollars
for the visit to Europe, insisting that I must carry
out the plan we had made; and during her conscious
periods she constantly talked of this and made me
promise that I would go. After her death it seemed
to me that to go without her was impossible. Everything
of beauty I looked upon would hold memories
of her, keeping fresh my sorrow and emphasizing
my loneliness; but it was her last expressed desire
that I should go, and I went.
First, however, I had graduated--clad in a brandnew
black silk gown, and with five dollars in my
pocket, which I kept there during the graduation
exercises. I felt a special satisfaction in the possession
of that money, for, notwithstanding the
handicap of being a woman, I was said to be the
only member of my class who had worked during
the entire course, graduated free from debt, and
had a new outfit as well as a few dollars in cash.
I graduated without any special honors. Possibly
I might have won some if I had made the effort,
but my graduation year, as I have just explained,
had been very difficult. As it was, I was merely a
good average student, feeling my isolation as the
only woman in my class, but certainly not spurring
on my men associates by the display of any brilliant
gifts. Naturally, I missed a great deal of class
fellowship and class support, and throughout my
entire course I rarely entered my class-room without
the abysmal conviction that I was not really
wanted there. But some of the men were goodhumoredly
cordial, and several of them are among
my friends to-day. Between myself and my family
there still existed the breach I had created when
I began to preach. With the exception of Mary and
James, my people openly regarded me, during my
theological course, as a dweller in outer darkness,
and even my mother's love was clouded by what
she felt to be my deliberate and persistent flouting
of her wishes.
Toward the end of my university experience, however,
an incident occurred which apparently changed
my mother's viewpoint. She was now living with
my sister Mary, in Big Rapids, Michigan, and, on
the occasion of one of my rare and brief visits to
them I was invited to preach in the local church.
Here, for the first time, my mother heard me.
Dutifully escorted by one of my brothers, she attended
church that morning in a state of shivering
nervousness. I do not know what she expected me
to do or say, but toward the end of the sermon it
became clear that I had not justified her fears.
The look of intense apprehension left her eyes, her
features relaxed into placidity, and later in the day
she paid me the highest compliment I had yet received
from a member of my family.
``I liked the sermon very much,'' she peacefully
told my brother. ``Anna didn't say anything about
hell, or about anything else!''
When we laughed at this handsome tribute, she
hastened to qualify it.
``What I mean,'' she explained, ``is that Anna
didn't say anything objectionable in the pulpit!''
And with this recognition I was content.
Between the death of my friend and my departure
for Europe I buried myself in the work of the university
and of my little church; and as if in answer
to the call of my need, Mary E. Livermore, who had
given me the first professional encouragement I
had ever received, re-entered my life. Her husband,
like myself, was pastor of a church in Hingham, and
whenever his finances grew low, or there was need
of a fund for some special purpose--conditions that
usually exist in a small church--his brilliant wife
came to his assistance and raised the money, while
her husband retired modestly to the background
and regarded her with adoring eyes. On one of
these occasions, I remember, when she entered the
pulpit to preach her sermon, she dropped her bonnet
and coat on an unoccupied chair. A little later
there was need of this chair, and Mr. Livermore,
who sat under the pulpit, leaned forward, picked up
the garments, and, without the least trace of selfconsciousness,
held them in his lap throughout the
sermon. One of the members of the church, who
appeared to be irritated by the incident, later spoke
of it to him and added, sardonically, ``How does it
feel to be merely `Mrs. Livermore's husband'?''
In reply Mr. Livermore flashed on him one of his
charming smiles. ``Why, I'm very proud of it,''
he said, with the utmost cheerfulness. ``You see,
I'm the only man in the world who has that distinction.''
They were a charming couple, the Livermores,
and they deserved far more than they received from
a world to which they gave so freely and so richly.
To me, as to others, they were more than kind; and
I never recall them without a deep feeling of gratitude
and an equally deep sense of loss in their passing.
It was during this period, also, that I met Frances
E. Willard. There was a great Moody revival in
progress in Boston, and Miss Willard was the righthand
assistant of Mr. Moody. To her that revival
must have been marked with a star, for during it
she met for the first time Miss Anna Gordon, who
became her life-long friend and her biographer.
The meetings also laid the foundation of our friendship,
and for many years Miss Willard and I were
closely associated in work and affection.
On the second or third night of the revival, during
one of the ``mixed meetings,'' attended by both
women and men, Mr. Moody invited those who were
willing to talk to sinners to come to the front. I
went down the aisle with others, and found a seat
near Miss Willard, to whom I was then introduced
by some one who knew us both. I wore my hair
short in those days, and I had a little fur cap on my
head. Though I had been preaching for several
years, I looked absurdly young--far too young, it
soon became evident, to interest Mr. Moody. He
was already moving about among the men and
women who had responded to his invitation, and
one by one he invited them to speak, passing me
each time until at last I was left alone. Then he
took pity on me and came to my side to whisper
kindly that I had misunderstood his invitation.
He did not want young girls to talk to his people,
he said, but mature women with worldly experience.
He advised me to go home to my mother,
adding, to soften the blow, that some time in the
future when there were young girls at the meeting
I could come and talk to them.
I made no explanations to him, but started to
leave, and Miss Willard, who saw me departing, followed
and stopped me. She asked why I was going,
and I told her that Mr. Moody had sent me home
to grow. Frances Willard had a keen sense of humor,
and she enjoyed the joke so thoroughly that she
finally convinced me it was amusing, though at first
the humor of it had escaped me. She took me back
to Mr. Moody and explained the situation to him,
and he apologized and put me to work. He said
he had thought I was about sixteen. After that I
occasionally helped him in the intervals of my other
The time had come to follow Mrs. Addy's wishes
and go to Europe, and I sailed in the month of
June following my graduation, and traveled for three
months with a party of tourists under the direction
of Eben Tourgee, of the Boston Conservatory of
Music. We landed in Glasgow, and from there
went to England, Belgium, Holland, Germany,
France, and last of all to Italy. Our company included
many clergymen and a never-to-be-forgotten
widow whose light-hearted attitude toward the memory
of her departed spouse furnished the comedy
of our first voyage. It became a pet diversion to
ask her if her husband still lived, for she always
answered the question in the same mournful words,
and with the same manner of irrepressible gaiety.
``Oh no!'' she would chirp. ``My dear departed
has been in our Heavenly Father's house for the
past eight years!''
At its best, the vacation without my friend was
tragically incomplete, and only a few of its incidents
stand out with clearness across the forty-six years
that have passed since then. One morning, I remember,
I preached an impromptu sermon in the
Castle of Heidelberg before a large gathering; and
a little later, in Genoa, I preached a very different
sermon to a wholly different congregation. There
was a gospel-ship in the harbor, and one Saturday
the pastor of it came ashore to ask if some American
clergyman in our party would preach on his ship
the next morning. He was an old-time, orthodox
Presbyterian, and from the tips of his broad-soled
shoes to the severe part in the hair above his sanctimonious
brow he looked the type. I was not pressent
when he called at our hotel, and my absence
gave my fellow-clergymen an opportunity to play a
joke on the gentleman from the gospel-ship. They
assured him that ``Dr. Shaw'' would preach for him,
and the pastor returned to his post greatly pleased.
When they told me of his invitation, however, they
did not add that they had neglected to tell him Dr.
Shaw was a woman, and I was greatly elated by
the compliment I thought had been paid me.
Our entire party of thirty went out to the gospelship
the next morning, and when the pastor came
to meet us, lank and forbidding, his austere lips vainly
trying to curve into a smile of welcome, they introduced
me to him as the minister who was to deliver
the sermon. He had just taken my hand; he
dropped it as if it had burned his own. For a moment
he had no words to meet the crisis. Then he
stuttered something to the effect that the situation
was impossible that his men would not listen to
a woman, that they would mob her, that it would
be blasphemous for a woman to preach. My associates,
who had so light-heartedly let me in for this
unpleasant experience, now realized that they must
see me through it. They persuaded him to allow
me to preach the sermon.
With deep reluctance the pastor finally accepted
me and the situation; but when the moment came
to introduce me, he devoted most of his time to
heartfelt apologies for my presence. He explained
to the sailors that I was a woman, and fervidly
assured them that he himself was not responsible
for my appearance there. With every word he uttered
he put a brick in the wall he was building between
me and the crew, until at last I felt that I
could never get past it. I was very unhappy, very
lonely, very homesick; and suddenly the thought
came to me that these men, notwithstanding their
sullen eyes and forbidding faces, might be lonely
and homesick, too. I decided to talk to them as a
woman and not as a minister, and I came down from
the pulpit and faced them on their own level, looking
them over and mentally selecting the hardest
specimens of the lot as the special objects of my
appeal. One old fellow, who looked like a pirate
with his red-rimmed eyes, weather-beaten skin, and
fimbriated face, grinned up at me in such sardonic
challenge that I walked directly in front of him and
began to speak. I said:
``My friends, I hope you will forget everything
Dr. Blank has just said. It is true that I am a
minister, and that I came here to preach. But now
I do not intend to preach--only to have a friendly
talk, on a text which is not in the Bible. I am very
far from home, and I feel as homesick as some of
you men look. So my text is, `Blessed are the homesick,
for they shall go home.' ''
In my summers at Cape Cod I had learned something
about sailors. I knew that in the inprepossessing
congregation before me there were many
boys who had run away from home, and men who
had left home because of family troubles. I talked
to the young men first, to those who had forgotten
their mothers and thought their mothers had forgotten
them, and I told of my experiences with
waiting, heavy-hearted mothers who had sons at
sea. Some heads went down at that, and here and
there I saw a boy gulp, but the old fellow I was particularly
anxious to move still grinned up at me like
a malicious monkey. Then I talked of the sailor's
wife, and of her double burden of homemaking and
anxiety, and soon I could pick out some of the husbands
by their softened faces. But still my old
man grinned and squinted. Last of all I described
the whalers who were absent from home for years,
and who came back to find their children and their
grandchildren waiting for them. I told how I had
seen them, in our New England coast towns, covered,
as a ship is covered with barnacles, by grandchildren
who rode on their shoulders and sat astride of their
necks as they walked down the village streets. And
now at last the sneer left my old man's loose lips.
He had grandchildren somewhere. He twisted uneasily
in his seat, coughed, and finally took out a big
red handkerchief and wiped his eyes. The episode
encouraged me.
``When I came here,'' I added, ``I intended to
preach a sermon on `The Heavenly Vision.' Now I
want to give you a glimpse of that in addition to
the vision we have had of home.''
I ended with a bit of the sermon and a prayer,
and when I raised my head the old man of the sardonic
grin was standing before me.
``Missus,'' he said in a husky whisper, ``I'd like
to shake your hand.''
I took his hard old fist, and then, seeing that
many of the other sailors were beginning to move
hospitably but shyly toward me, I said:
``I would like to shake hands with every man
At the words they surged forward, and the affair
became a reception, during which I shook hands
with every sailor of my congregation. The next day
my hand was swollen out of shape, for the sailors had
gripped it as if they were hauling on a hawser; but
the experience was worth the discomfort. The best
moment of the morning came, however, when the
pastor of the ship faced me, goggle-eyed and marveling.
``I wouldn't have believed it,'' was all he could
say. ``I thought the men would mob you.''
``Why should they mob me?'' I wanted to know.
``Why,'' he stammered, ``because the thing is so
``Well,'' I said, ``if it is unnatural for women to
talk to men, we have been living in an unnatural
world for a long time. Moreover, if it is unnatural,
why did Jesus send a woman out as the first preacher?''
He waived a discussion of that question by inviting
us all to his cabin to drink wine with him--and
as we were ``total abstainers,'' it seemed as unnatural
to us to have him offer us wine as a woman's
preaching had seemed to him.
The next European incident on which memory
throws a high-light was our audience with Pope
Leo XIII. As there were several distinguished
Americans in our party, a private audience was arranged
for us, and for days before the time appointed
we nervously rehearsed the etiquette of the occasion.
When we reached the Vatican we were
marched between rows of Swiss Guards to the
Throne Room, only to learn there that we were to
be received in the Tapestry Room. Here we found
a very impressive assemblage of cardinals and
Vatican officials, and while we were still lost in the
beauty of the picture they made against the room's
superb background, the approach of the Pope was
announced. Every one immediately knelt, except a
few persons who tried to show their democracy by
standing; but I am sure that even these individuals
felt a thrill when the slight, exquisite figure appeared
at the door and gave us a general benediction. Then
the Pope passed slowly down the line, offering his
hand to each of us, and radiating a charm so gracious
and so human that few failed to respond to the
appeal of his engaging personality. There was
nothing fleshly about Leo XIII. His body was so
frail, so wraithlike, that one almost expected to see
through it the magnificent tapestries on the walls.
But from the moment he appeared every eye clung
to him, every thought was concentrated upon him.
This effect I think he would have produced even if
he had come among us unrecognized, for through
the thin shell that housed it shone the steady flame
of a wonderful spirit.
I had previously remarked to my friends that
kissing the Pope's ring after so many other lips had
touched it did not appeal to me as hygienic, and that
I intended to kiss his hand instead. When my opportunity
came I kept my word; but after I had
kissed the venerable hand I remained kneeling for
an instant with bowed head, a little aghast at my
daring. The gentle Father thought, however, that
I was waiting for a special blessing. He gave it to
me gravely and passed on, and I devoted the next
few hours to ungodly crowing over the associates
who had received no such individual attention.
In Venice we attended the great fete celebrating
the first visit of King Humbert and Queen Margherita.
It was also the first time Venice had entertained
a queen since the Italian union, and the
sea-queen of the Adriatic outdid herself in the gorgeousness
and the beauty of her preparations. The
Grand Canal was like a flowing rainbow, reflecting
the brilliant decorations on every side, and at night
the moonlight, the music, the chiming church-bells,
the colored lanterns, the gay voices, the lapping
waters against the sides of countless gondolas made
the experience seem like a dream of a new and unbelievably
beautiful world. Forty thousand persons
were gathered in the Square of St. Mark and
in front of the Palace, and I recall a pretty incident
in which the gracious Queen and a little street
urchin figured. The small, ragged boy had crept
as close to the royal balcony as he dared, and then,
unobserved, had climbed up one of its pillars. At
the moment when a sudden hush had fallen on the
crowd this infant, overcome by patriotism and a
glimpse of the royal lady on the balcony above him,
suddenly piped up shrilly in the silence. `` Long live
the Queen!'' he cried. ``Long live the Queen!''
The gracious Margherita heard the childish voice,
and, amused and interested, leaned over the balcony
to see where it came from. What she saw
doubtless touched the mother-heart in her. She
caught the eye of the tattered urchin clinging to the
pillar, and radiantly smiled on him. Then, probably
thinking that the King was absorbing the attention
of the great assemblage, she indulged in a
little diversion. Leaning far forward, she kissed the
tip of her lace handkerchief and swept it caressingly
across the boy's brown cheek, smiling down at him
as unconsciously as if she and the enraptured youngster
were alone together in the world. The next
instant she had straightened up and flushed, for the
watchful crowd had seen the episode and was wild
with enthusiasm. For ten minutes the people
cheered the Queen without ceasing, and for the next
few days they talked of little but the spontaneous,
girlish action which had delighted them all.
One more sentimental record, and I shall have
reached another mile-stone. As I have said, my
friend Mrs. Addy left me in her will fifteen hundred
dollars for my visit to Europe, and before I sailed
her father, who was one of the best friends I have
ever had, made a characteristically kind proposition
in connection with the little fund. Instead of giving
me the money, he gave me two railroad bonds, one
for one thousand dollars, the other for five hundred
dollars, and each drawing seven per cent. interest.
He suggested that I deposit these bonds in the bank
of which he was president, and borrow from the
bank the money to go abroad. Then, when I returned
and went into my new parish, I could use
some of my salary every month toward repaying
the loan. These monthly payments, he explained,
could be as small as I wished, but each month the
interest on the amount I paid would cease. I gladly
took his advice and borrowed seven hundred
dollars. After I returned from Europe I repaid the
loan in monthly instalments, and eventually got my
bonds, which I still own. They will mature in 1916.
I have had one hundred and five dollars a year from
them, in interest, ever since I received them in 1878
--more than twice as much interest as their face
value--and every time I have gone abroad I have
used this interest toward paying my passage. Thus
my friend has had a share in each of the many visits
I have made to Europe, and in all of them her
memory has been vividly with me.
With my return from Europe my real career as
a minister began. The year in the pulpit at Hingham
had been merely tentative, and though I had
succeeded in building up the church membership to
four times what it had been when I took charge, I
was not reappointed. I had paid off a small church
debt, and had had the building repaired, painted, and
carpeted. Now that it was out of its difficulties it
offered some advantages to the occupant of its pulpit,
and of these my successor, a man, received the
benefit. I, however, had small ground for complaint,
for I was at once offered and accepted the
pastorate of a church at East Dennis, Cape Cod.
Here I went in October, 1878, and here I spent seven
of the most interesting years of my life.
On my return from Europe, as I have said, I
took up immediately and most buoyantly the
work of my new parish. My previous occupation
of various pulpits, whether long or short, had always
been in the role of a substitute. Now, for the first
time, I had a church of my own, and was to stand
or fall by the record made in it. The ink was barely
dry on my diploma from the Boston Theological
School, and, as it happened, the little church to
which I was called was in the hands of two warring
factions, whose battles furnished the most fervid
interest of the Cape Cod community. But my inexperience
disturbed me not at all, and I was blissfully
ignorant of the division in the congregation.
So I entered my new field as trustfully as a child
enters a garden; and though I was in trouble from
the beginning, and resigned three times in startling
succession, I ended by remaining seven years.
My appointment did not cause even a lull in the
warfare among my parishioners. Before I had
crossed the threshold of my church I was made to
realize that I was shepherd of a divided flock.
Exactly what had caused the original breach I never
learned; but it had widened with time, until it
seemed that no peacemaker could build a bridge
large enough to span it. As soon as I arrived in
East Dennis each faction tried to pour into my ears
its bitter criticisms of the other, but I made and
consistently followed the safe rule of refusing to
listen to either side, I announced publicly that I
would hear no verbal charges whatever, but that if
my two flocks would state their troubles in writing
I would call a board meeting to discuss and pass
upon them. This they both resolutely refused to
do (it was apparently the first time they had ever
agreed on any point); and as I steadily declined
to listen to complaints, they devised an original
method of putting them before me.
During the regular Thursday-night prayer-meeting,
held about two weeks after my arrival, and at
which, of course, I presided, they voiced their difficulties
in public prayer, loudly and urgently calling
upon the Lord to pardon such and such a liar, mentioning
the gentleman by name, and such and such
a slanderer, whose name was also submitted. By
the time the prayers were ended there were few untarnished
reputations in the congregation, and I
knew, perforce, what both sides had to say.
The following Thursday night they did the same
thing, filling their prayers with intimate and surprising
details of one another's history, and I endured
the situation solely because I did not know
how to meet it. I was still young, and my theological
course had set no guide-posts on roads as
new as these. To interfere with souls in their communion
with God seemed impossible; to let them
continue to utter personal attacks in church, under
cover of prayer, was equally impossible. Any course I
could follow seemed to lead away from my new parish,
yet both duty and pride made prompt action necessary.
By the time we gathered for the third prayermeeting
I had decided what to do, and before the
services began I rose and addressed my erring children.
I explained that the character of the prayers
at our recent meetings was making us the laughingstock
of the community, that unbelievers were
ridiculing our religion, and that the discipline of
the church was being wrecked; and I ended with
these words, each of which I had carefully weighed:
``Now one of two things must happen. Either
you will stop this kind of praying, or you will remain
away from our meetings. We will hold prayermeetings
on another night, and I shall refuse admission
to any among you who bring personal criticisms
into your public prayers.''
As I had expected it to do, the announcement
created an immediate uproar. Both factions sprang
to their feet, trying to talk at once. The storm
raged until I dismissed the congregation, telling the
members that their conduct was an insult to the
Lord, and that I would not listen to either their
protests or their prayers. They went unwillingly,
but they went; and the excitement the next day
raised the sick from their beds to talk of it, and
swept the length and breadth of Cape Cod. The
following Sunday the little church held the largest
attendance in its history. Seemingly, every man
and woman in town had come to hear what more
I would say about the trouble, but I ignored the
whole matter. I preached the sermon I had prepared,
the subject of which was as remote from
church quarrels as our atmosphere was remote from
peace, and my congregation dispersed with expressions
of such artless disappointment that it was all
I could do to preserve a dignified gravity.
That night, however, the war was brought into
my camp. At the evening meeting the leader of one
of the factions rose to his feet with the obvious purpose
of starting trouble. He was a retired sea-captain,
of the ruthless type that knocks a man down
with a belaying-pin, and he made his attack on me
in a characteristically ``straight from the shoulder''
fashion. He began with the proposition that my
morning sermon had been ``entirely contrary to the
Scriptures,'' and for ten minutes he quoted and misquoted
me, hammering in his points. I let him go
on without interruption. Then he added:
``And this gal comes to this church and undertakes
to tell us how we shall pray. That's a highhanded
measure, and I, for one, ain't goin' to stand
it. I want to say right here that I shall pray as I
like, when I like, and where I like. I have prayed
in this heavenly way for fifty years before that gal
was born, and she can't dictate to me now!''
By this time the whole congregation was aroused,
and cries of ``Sit down!'' ``Sit down!'' came from
every side of the church. It was a hard moment,
but I was able to rise with some show of dignity.
I was hurt through and through, but my fighting
blood was stirring.
``No,'' I said, ``Captain Sears has the floor. Let
him say now all he wishes to say, for it is the last
time he will ever speak at one of our meetings.''
Captain Sears, whose exertions had already made
him apoplectic, turned a darker purple. ``What's
that?'' he shouted. ``What d'ye mean?''
``I mean,'' I replied, ``that I do not intend to
allow you or anybody else to interfere with my
meetings. You are a sea-captain. What would
you do to me if I came on board your ship and
started a mutiny in your crew, or tried to give you
Captain Sears did not reply. He stood still, with
his legs far apart and braced, as he always stood
when talking, but his eyes shifted a little. I answered
my own question.
``You would put me ashore or in irons,'' I reminded
him. ``Now, Captain Sears, I intend to
put you ashore. I am the master of this ship. I
have set my course, and I mean to follow it. If
you rebel, either you will get out or I will. But
until the board asks for my resignation, I am in
As it happened, I had put my ultimatum in the
one form the old man could understand. He sat
down without a word and stared at me. We sang
the Doxology, and I dismissed the meeting. Again
we had omitted prayers. The next day Captain
Sears sent me a letter recalling his subscription toward
the support of the church; and for weeks he
remained away from our services, returning under
conditions I will mention later. Even at the time,
however, his attack helped rather than hurt me.
At the regular meeting the following Thursday
night no personal criticisms were included in the
prayers, and eventually we had peace. But many
battles were lost and won before that happy day
Captain Sears's vacant place among us was
promptly taken by another captain in East Dennis,
whose name was also Sears. A few days after my
encounter with the first captain I met the second on
the street. He had never come to church, and I
stopped and invited him to do so. He replied with
simple candor.
``I ain't comin','' he told me. ``There ain't no
gal that can teach me nothin'.''
``Perhaps you are wrong, Captain Sears,'' I replied.
``I might teach you something.''
``What?'' demanded the captain, with chilling
``Oh,'' I said, cheerfully, ``let us say tolerance, for
one thing.''
``Humph!'' muttered the old man. ``The Lord
don't want none of your tolerance, and neither
do I.''
I laughed. ``He doesn't object to tolerance,'' I
said. ``Come to church. You can talk, too; and
the Lord will listen to us both.''
To my surprise, the captain came the following
Sunday, and during the seven years I remained in
the church he was one of my strongest supporters
and friends. I needed friends, for my second battle
was not slow in following my first. There was, indeed,
barely time between in which to care for the
We had in East Dennis what was known as the
``Free Religious Group,'' and when some of the
members of my congregation were not wrangling
among themselves, they were usually locking horns
with this group. For years, I was told, one of the
prime diversions of the ``Free Religious'' faction
was to have a dance in our town hall on the night
when we were using it for our annual church fair.
The rules of the church positively prohibited dancing,
so the worldly group took peculiar pleasure in
attending the fair, and during the evening in getting
up a dance and whirling about among us, to the
horror of our members. Then they spent the remainder
of the year boasting of the achievement.
It came to my ears that they had decided to follow
this pleasing programme at our Christmas church
celebration, so I called the church trustees together
and put the situation to them.
``We must either enforce our discipline,'' I said,
``or give it up. Personally I do not object to dancing,
but, as the church has ruled against it, I intend
to uphold the church. To allow these people to
make us ridiculous year after year is impossible.
Let us either tell them that they may dance or that
they may not dance; but whatever we tell them,
let us make them obey our ruling.''
The trustees were shocked at the mere suggestion
of letting them dance.
``Very well,'' I ended. ``Then they shall not
dance. That is understood.''
Captain Crowell, the father of my dead friend
Mrs. Addy, and himself my best man friend, was a
strong supporter of the Free Religious Group.
When its members raced to him with the news that
I had said they could not dance at the church's
Christmas party, Captain Crowell laughed goodhumoredly
and told them to dance as much as they
pleased, cheerfully adding that he would get them
out of any trouble they got into. Knowing my
friendship for him, and that I even owed my church
appointment to him, the Free Religious people
were certain that I would never take issue with him
on dancing or on any other point. They made all
their preparations for the dance, therefore, with
entire confidence, and boasted that the affair would
be the gayest they had ever arranged. My people
began to look at me with sympathy, and for a time
I felt very sorry for myself. It seemed sufficiently
clear that ``the gal'' was to have more trouble.
On the night of the party things went badly from
the first. There was an evident intention among
the worst of the Free Religious Group to embarrass
us at every turn. We opened the exercises with the
Lord's Prayer, which this element loudly applauded.
A live kitten was hung high on the Christmas tree,
where it squalled mournfully beyond reach of
rescue, and the young men of the outside group
threw cake at one another across the hall. Finally
tiring of these innocent diversions, they began to
prepare for their dance, and I protested. The
spokesman of the group waved me to one side.
``Captain Crowell said we could,'' he remarked,
``Captain Crowell,'' I replied, ``has no authority
whatever in this matter. The church trustees have
decided that you cannot dance here, and I intend
to enforce their ruling.''
It was interesting to observe how rapidly the
men of my congregation disappeared from that hall.
Like shadows they crept along the walls and vanished
through the doors. But the preparations for the
dance went merrily on. I walked to the middle of
the room and raised my voice. I was always listened
to, for my hearers always had the hope, usually
realized, that I was about to get into more trouble.
``You are determined to dance,'' I began. ``I
cannot keep you from doing so. But I can and will
make you regret that you have done so. The law
of the State of Massachusetts is very definite in regard
to religious meetings and religious gatherings.
This hall was engaged and paid for by the Wesleyan
Methodist Church, of which I am pastor, and we
have full control of it to-night. Every man and
woman who interrupts our exercises by attempting
to dance, or by creating a disturbance of any kind,
will be arrested to-morrow morning.''
Surprise at first, then consternation, swept through
the ranks of the Free Religious Group. They denied
the existence of such a law as I had mentioned, and
I promptly read it aloud to them. The leaders went
off into a corner and consulted. By this time not
one man in my parish was left in the hall. As a
result of the consultation in the corner, a committee
of the would-be dancers came to me and suggested
a compromise.
``Will you agree to arrest the men only?'' they
wanted to know.
``No,'' I declared. ``On the contrary, I shall have
the women arrested first! For the women ought to
be standing with me now in the support of law and
order, instead of siding with the hoodlum element
you represent.''
That settled it. No girl or woman dared to go
on the dancing-floor, and no man cared to revolve
merrily by himself. A whisper went round, however,
that the dance would begin when I had left.
When the clock struck twelve, at which hour, according
to the town rule, the hall had to be closed,
I was the last person to leave it. Then I locked the
door myself, and carried the key away with me.
There had been no Free Religious dance that night.
On the following Sunday morning the attendance
at my church broke all previous records. Every
seat was occupied and every aisle was filled. Men
and women came from surrounding towns, and
strange horses were tied to all the fences in East
Dennis. Every person in that church was looking
for excitement, and this time my congregation got
what it expected. Before I began my sermon I
read my resignation, to take effect at the discretion
of the trustees. Then, as it was presumably my
last chance to tell the people and the place what I
thought of them, I spent an hour and a half in fervidly
doing so. In my study of English I had acquired
a fairly large vocabulary. I think I used it
all that morning--certainly I tried to. If ever an
erring congregation and community saw themselves
as they really were, mine did on that occasion. I
was heartsick, discouraged, and full of resentment
and indignation, which until then had been pent
up. Under the arraignment my people writhed
and squirmed. I ended:
``What I am saying hurts you, but in your hearts
you know you deserve every word of it. It is high
time you saw yourselves as you are--a disgrace to
the religion you profess and to the community you
live in.''
I was not sure the congregation would let me
finish, but it did. My hearers seemed torn by
conflicting sentiments, in which anger and curiosity
led opposing sides. Many of them left the
church in a white fury, but others--more than I had
expected--remained to speak to me and assure me
of their sympathy. Once on the streets, different
groups formed and mingled, and all day the little
town rocked with arguments for and against ``the gal.''
Night brought another surprisingly large attendance.
I expected more trouble, and I faced it with
difficulty, for I was very tired. Just as I took my
place in the pulpit, Captain Sears entered the church
and walked down the aisle--the Captain Sears who
had left us at my invitation some weeks before
and had not since attended a church service. I was
sure he was there to make another attack on me
while I was down, and, expecting the worst, I
wearily gave him his opportunity. The big old fellow
stood up, braced himself on legs far apart, as
if he were standing on a slippery deck during a high
sea, and gave the congregation its biggest surprise
of the year.
He said he had come to make a confession. He
had been angry with ``the gal'' in the past, as they
all knew. But he had heard about the sermon she
had preached that morning, and this time she was
right. It was high time quarreling and backbiting
were stopped. They had been going on too long,
and no good could come of them. Moreover, in
all the years he had been a member of that congregation
he had never until now seen the pulpit occupied
by a minister with enough backbone to uphold
the discipline of the church. ``I've come here
to say I'm with the gal,'' he ended. ``Put me down
for my original subscription and ten dollars extra!''
So we had the old man back again. He was a
tower of strength, and he stood by me faithfully
until he died. The trustees would not accept my
resignation (indeed, they refused to consider it at all),
and the congregation, when it had thought things
over, apparently decided that there might be worse
things in the pulpit than ``the gal.'' It was even
known to brag of what it called my ``spunk,'' and
perhaps it was this quality, rather than any other,
which I most needed in that particular parish at
that time. As for me, when the fight was over I
dropped it from my mind, and it had not entered
my thoughts for years, until I began to summon
these memories.
At the end of my first six months in East Dennis
I was asked to take on, also, the temporary charge
of the Congregational Church at Dennis, two miles
and a half away. I agreed to do this until a permanent
pastor could be found, on condition that I
should preach at Dennis on Sunday afternoons, using
the same sermon I preached in my own pulpit in the
morning. The arrangement worked so well that it
lasted for six and a half years--until I resigned from
my East Dennis church. During that period, moreover,
I not only carried the two churches on my
shoulders, holding three meetings each Sunday, but
I entered upon and completed a course in the
Boston Medical School, winning my M.D. in 1885,
and I also lectured several times a month during
the winter seasons. These were, therefore, among
the most strenuous as well as the most interesting
years of my existence, and I mention the strain of
them only to prove my life-long contention, that
congenial work, no matter how much there is of
it, has never yet killed any one!
After my battle with the Free Religious Group
things moved much more smoothly in the parish.
Captain Crowell, instead of resenting my defiance
of his ruling, helped to reconcile the divided factions
in the church; and though, as I have said, twice
afterward I submitted my resignation, in each case
the fight I was making was for a cause which I
firmly believed in and eventually won. My second
resignation was brought about by the unwillingness
of the church to have me exchange pulpits with the
one minister on Cape Cod broad-minded enough to
invite me to preach in his pulpit. I had done so,
and had then sent him a return invitation. He was
a gentleman and a scholar, but he was also a Unitarian;
and though my people were willing to let
me preach in his church, they were loath to let him
preach in mine. After a surprising amount of discussion
my resignation put a different aspect on the
matter; it also led to the satisfactory ruling that
I could exchange pulpits not only with this minister,
but with any other in good standing in his own
My third resignation went before the trustees in
consequence of my protest from the pulpit against
a small drinking and gambling saloon in East Dennis;
which was rapidly demoralizing our boys. Theoretically,
only ``soft drinks'' were sold, but the
gambling was open, and the resort was constantly
filled with boys of all ages. There were influences
back of this place which tried to protect it, and its
owner was very popular in the town. After my first
sermon I was waited upon by a committee, that
warmly advised me to ``let East Dennis alone'' and
confine my criticisms ``to saloons in Boston and
other big towns.'' As I had nothing to do with
Boston, and much to do with East Dennis, I preached
on that place three Sundays in succession, and
feeling became so intense that I handed in my resignation
and prepared to depart. Then my friends
rallied and the resort was suppressed.
That was my last big struggle. During the remaining
five years of my pastorate on Cape Cod
the relations between my people and myself were
wholly harmonious and beautiful. If I have seemed
to dwell too much on these small victories, it must
be remembered that I find in them such comfort as
I can. I have not yet won the great and vital fight
of my life, to which I have given myself, heart and
soul, for the past thirty years--the campaign for
woman suffrage. I have seen victories here and
there, and shall see more. But when the ultimate
triumph comes--when American women in every
state cast their ballots as naturally as their husbands
do--I may not be in this world to rejoice over it.
It is interesting to remember that during the
strenuous period of the first few months in East
Dennis, and notwithstanding the division in the
congregation, we women of the church got together
and repainted and refurnished the building, raising
all the money and doing much of the work ourselves,
as the expense of having it done was prohibitive. We
painted the church, and even cut down and modernized
the pulpit. The total cost of material and
furniture was not half so great as the original estimate
had indicated, and we had learned a valuable
lesson. After this we spent very little money for
labor, but did our own cleaning, carpet-laying, and
the like; and our little church, if I may be allowed
to say so, was a model of neatness and good taste.
I have said that at the end of two years from the
time of my appointment the long-continued warfare
in the church was ended. I was not immediately
allowed, however, to bask in an atmosphere of
harmony, for in October, 1880, the celebrated contest
over my ordination took place at the Methodist
Protestant Conference in Tarrytown, New York;
and for three days I was a storm-center around which
a large number of truly good and wholly sincere
men fought the fight of their religious lives. Many
of them strongly believed that women were out of
place in the ministry. I did not blame them for
this conviction. But I was in the ministry, and I
was greatly handicapped by the fact that, although
I was a licensed preacher and a graduate of the
Boston Theological School, I could not, until I had
been regularly ordained, meet all the functions of
my office. I could perform the marriage service,
but I could not baptize. I could bury the dead, but
I could not take members into my church. That had
to be done by the presiding elder or by some other
minister. I could not administer the sacraments.
So at the New England Spring Conference of the
Methodist Episcopal Church, held in Boston in
1880, I formally applied for ordination. At the same
time application was made by another woman--
Miss Anna Oliver--and as a preliminary step we
were both examined by the Conference board, and
were formally reported by that board as fitted for
ordination. Our names were therefore presented at
the Conference, over which Bishop Andrews presided,
and he immediately refused to accept them.
Miss Oliver and I were sitting together in the gallery
of the church when the bishop announced his
decision, and, while it staggered us, it did not really
surprise us. We had been warned of this gentleman's
deep-seated prejudice against women in the
After the services were over Miss Oliver and I
called on him and asked him what we should do.
He told us calmly that there was nothing for us to
do but to get out of the Church. We reminded him
of our years of study and probation, and that I had
been for two years in charge of two churches. He
set his thin lips and replied that there was no place
for women in the ministry, and, as he then evidently
considered the interview ended, we left him with
heavy hearts. While we were walking slowly away,
Miss Oliver confided to me that she did not intend
to leave the Church. Instead, she told me, she
would stay in and fight the matter of her ordination
to a finish. I, however, felt differently. I had done
considerable fighting during the past two years, and
my heart and soul were weary. I said: ``I shall get
out, I am no better and no stronger than a man,
and it is all a man can do to fight the world, the
flesh, and the devil, without fighting his Church as
well. I do not intend to fight my Church. But I
am called to preach the gospel; and if I cannot
preach it in my own Church, I will certainly preach
it in some other Church!''
As if in response to this outburst, a young minister
named Mark Trafton soon called to see me.
He had been present at our Conference, he had seen
my Church refuse to ordain me, and he had come to
suggest that I apply for ordination in his Church--
the Methodist Protestant. To leave my Church,
even though urged to do so by its appointed spokesman,
seemed a radical step. Before taking this I
appealed from the decision of the Conference to the
General Conference of the Methodist Episcopal
Church, which held its session that year in Cincinnati,
Ohio. Miss Oliver also appealed, and again
we were both refused ordination, the General Conference
voting to sustain Bishop Andrews in his
decision. Not content with this achievement, the
Conference even took a backward step. It deprived
us of the right to be licensed as local preachers.
After this blow I recalled with gratitude the Reverend
Mark Trafton's excellent advice, and I immediately
applied for ordination in the Methodist Protestant
Church. My name was presented at the Conference
held in Tarrytown in October, 1880, and the fight
was on.
During these Conferences it is customary for each
candidate to retire while the discussion of his individual
fitness for ordination is in progress. When
my name came up I was asked, as my predecessors
had been, to leave the room for a few moments. I
went into an anteroom and waited--a half-hour, an
hour, all afternoon, all evening, and still the battle
raged. I varied the monotony of sitting in the anteroom
by strolls around Tarrytown, and I think I
learned to know its every stone and turn. The next
day passed in the same way. At last, late on Saturday
night, it was suddenly announced by my opponents
that I was not even a member of the Church in
which I had applied for ordination. The statement
created consternation among my friends. None of
us had thought of that! The bomb, timed to explode
at the very end of the session, threatened to
destroy all my hopes. Of course, my opponents
had reasoned, it would be too late for me to do
anything, and my name would be dropped.
But it was not too late. Dr. Lyman Davis, the
pastor of the Methodist Protestant Church in Tarrytown,
was very friendly toward me and my ordination,
and he proved his friendship in a singularly
prompt and efficient fashion. Late as it was, he
immediately called together the trustees of his
church, and they responded. To them I made my
application for church membership, which they accepted
within five minutes. I was now a member
of the Church, but it was too late to obtain any
further action from the Conference. The next day,
Sunday, all the men who had applied for ordination
were ordained, and I was left out.
On Monday morning, however, when the Conference
met in its final business session, my case was
reopened, and I was eventually called before the
members to answer questions. Some of these were
extremely interesting, and several of the episodes
that occurred were very amusing. One old gentleman
I can see as I write. He was greatly excited,
and he led the opposition by racing up and down
the aisles, quoting from the Scriptures to prove his
case against women ministers. As he ran about he
had a trick of putting his arms under the back of
his coat, making his coat-tails stand out like wings
and incidentally revealing two long white tapestrings
belonging to a flannel undergarment. Even
in the painful stress of those hours I observed with
interest how beautifully those tape-strings were
I was there to answer any questions that were
asked of me, and the questions came like hailstones
in a sudden summer storm.
``Paul said, `Wives, obey your husbands,' '' shouted
my old man of the coat-tails. ``Suppose your husband
should refuse to allow you to preach? What
``In the first place,'' I answered, ``Paul did not
say so, according to the Scriptures. But even if he
did, it would not concern me, for I am a spinster.''
The old man looked me over. ``You might marry
some day,'' he predicted, cautiously.
``Possibly,'' I admitted. ``Wiser women than I
am have married. But it is equally possible that I
might marry a man who would command me to
preach; and in that case I want to be all ready to
obey him.''
At this another man, a bachelor, also began to
draw from the Scriptures. ``An elder,'' he quoted,
``shall be the husband of one wife.'' And he demanded,
triumphantly, ``How is it possible for you
to be the husband of a wife?''
In response to that I quoted a bit myself. ``Paul
said, `Anathema unto him who addeth to or taketh
from the Scriptures,' '' I reminded this gentleman;
and added that a twisted interpretation of the
Scriptures was as bad as adding to or taking from
them, and that no one doubted that Paul was
warning the elders against polygamy. Then I went
a bit further, for by this time the absurd character
of the questions was getting on my nerves.
``Even if my good brother's interpretation is correct,''
I said, ``he has overlooked two important
points. Though he is an elder, he is also a bachelor;
so I am as much of a husband as he is!''
A good deal of that sort of thing went on. The
most satisfactory episode of the session, to me, was
the downfall of three pert young men who in turn
tried to make it appear that as the duty of the Conference
was to provide churches for all its pastors,
I might become a burden to the Church if it proved
impossible to provide a pastorate for me. At that,
one of my friends in the council rose to his feet.
``I have had official occasion to examine into the
matter of Miss Shaw's parish and salary,'' he said,
``and I know what salaries the last three speakers
are drawing. It may interest the Conference to
know that Miss Shaw's present salary equals the
combined salaries of the three young men who are
so afraid she will be a burden to the Church. If,
before being ordained, she can earn three times as
much as they now earn after being ordained, it seems
fairly clear that they will never have to support her.
We can only hope that she will never have to support
The three young ministers subsided into their
seats with painful abruptness, and from that time
my opponents were more careful in their remarks.
Still, many unpleasant things were said, and too
much warmth was shown by both sides. We
gained ground through the day, however, and at
the end of the session the Conference, by a large
majority, voted to ordain me.
The ordination service was fixed for the following
evening, and even the gentlemen who had most
vigorously opposed me were not averse to making
the occasion a profitable one. The contention had
already enormously advertised the Conference, and
the members now helped the good work along by
sending forth widespread announcements of the
result. They also decided that, as the attendance
at the service would be very large, they would take
up a collection for the support of superannuated
ministers. The three young men who had feared I
would become a burden were especially active in
the matter of this collection; and, as they had no
sense of humor, it did not seem incongruous to them
to use my ordination as a means of raising money
for men who had already become burdens to the
When the great night came (on October 12, 1880),
the expected crowd came also. And to the credit
of my opponents I must add that, having lost their
fight, they took their defeat in good part and gracefully
assisted in the services. Sitting in one of the
front pews was Mrs. Stiles, the wife of Dr. Stiles,
who was superintendent of the Conference. She
was a dear little old lady of seventy, with a big,
maternal heart; and when she saw me rise to walk
up the aisle alone, she immediately rose, too, came
to my side, offered me her arm, and led me to the
The ordination service was very impressive and
beautiful. Its peace and dignity, following the
battle that had raged for days, moved me so deeply
that I was nearly overcome. Indeed, I was on
the verge of a breakdown when I was mercifully
saved by the clause in the discipline calling for the
pledge all ministers had to make--that I would
not indulge in the use of tobacco. When this vow
fell from my lips a perceptible ripple ran over the
I was homesick for my Cape Cod parish, and I
returned to East Dennis immediately after my
ordination, arriving there on Saturday night. I
knew by the suppressed excitement of my friends
that some surprise awaited me, but I did not learn
what it was until I entered my dear little church
the following morning. There I found the communion-
table set forth with a beautiful new communion-
service. This had been purchased during
my absence, that I might dedicate it that day and
for the first time administer the sacrament to my
Looking back now upon those days, I see my
Cape Cod friends as clearly as if the intervening
years had been wiped out and we were again together.
Among those I most loved were two widely
differing types--Captain Doane, a retired sea-captain,
and Relief Paine, an invalid chained to her
couch, but whose beautiful influence permeated the
community like an atmosphere. Captain Doane
was one of the finest men I have ever known--highminded,
tolerant, sympathetic, and full of understanding,
He was not only my friend, but my
church barometer. He occupied a front pew, close
to the pulpit; and when I was preaching without
making much appeal he sat looking me straight in
the face, listening courteously, but without interest.
When I got into my subject, he would lean forward
--the angle at which he sat indicating the degree
of attention I had aroused--and when I was strongly
holding my congregation Brother Doane would bend
toward me, following every word I uttered with
corresponding motions of his lips. When I resigned
we parted with deep regret, but it was not until I
visited the church several years afterward that he
overcame his reserve enough to tell me how much
he had felt my going.
``Oh, did you?'' I asked, greatly touched. ``You're
not saying that merely to please me?''
The old man's hand fell on my shoulder. ``I miss
you,'' he said, simply. ``I miss you all the time.
You see, I love you.'' Then, with precipitate selfconsciousness,
he closed the door of his New England
heart, and from some remote corner of it sent out
his cautious after-thought. ``I love you,'' he repeated,
primly, ``as a sister in the Lord.''
Relief Paine lived in Brewster. Her name seemed
prophetic, and she once told me that she had always
considered it so. Her brother-in-law was my Sunday-
school superintendent, and her family belonged
to my church. Very soon after my arrival in East
Dennis I went to see her, and found her, as she always
was, dressed in white and lying on a tiny white
bed covered with pansies, in a room whose windows
overlooked the sea. I shall never forget the picture
she made. Over her shoulders was an exquisite
white lace shawl brought from the other side of the
world by some seafaring friend, and against her
white pillow her hair seemed the blackest I had
ever seen. When I entered she turned and looked
toward me with wonderful dark eyes that were quite
blind, and as she talked her hands played with the
pansies around her. She loved pansies as she
loved few human beings, and she knew their colors
by touching them. She was then a little more than
thirty years of age. At sixteen she had fallen downstairs
in the dark, receiving an injury that paralyzed
her, and for fifteen years she had lain on one side,
perfectly still, the Stella Maris of the Cape. All
who came to her, and they were many, went away
the better for the visit, and the mere mention of
her name along the coast softened eyes that had
looked too bitterly on life.
Relief and I became close friends. I was greatly
drawn to her, and deeply moved by the tragedy of
her situation, as well as by the beautiful spirit with
which she bore it. During my first visit I regaled
her with stories of the community and of my own
experiences, and when I was leaving it occurred to
me that possibly I had been rather frivolous. So
I said:
``I am coming to see you often, and when I come
I want to do whatever will interest you most. Shall
I bring some books and read to you?''
Relief smiled--the gay, mischievous little smile
I was soon to know so well, but which at first seemed
out of place on the tragic mask of her face.
``No, don't read to me,'' she decided. ``There
are enough ready to do that. Talk to me. Tell
me about our life and our people here, as they
strike you.'' And she added, slowly: ``You are a
queer minister. You have not offered to pray with
``I feel,'' I told her, ``more like asking you to pray
for me.''
Relief continued her analysis. ``You have not
told me that my affliction was a visitation from God,''
she added; ``that it was discipline and well for me
I had it.''
``I don't believe it was from God,'' I said. ``I
don't believe God had anything to do with it. And
I rejoice that you have not let it wreck your life.''
She pressed my hand. ``Thank you for saying
that,'' she murmured. ``If I thought God did it
I could not love Him, and if I did not love Him I
could not live. Please come and see me VERY often--
and tell me stories!''
After that I collected stories for Relief. One of
those which most amused her, I remember, was about
my horse, and this encourages me to repeat it here.
In my life in East Dennis I did not occupy the lonely
little parsonage connected with my church, but instead
boarded with a friend--a widow named Crowell.
(There seemed only two names in Cape Cod:
Sears and Crowell.) To keep in touch with my two
churches, which were almost three miles apart, it
became necessary to have a horse. As Mrs. Crowell
needed one, too, we decided to buy the animal in
partnership, and Miss Crowell, the daughter of the
widow, who knew no more about horses than I did,
undertook to lend me the support of her presence
and advice during the purchase. We did not care
to have the entire community take a passionate interest
in the matter, as it would certainly have done
if it had heard of our intention; so my friend and I
departed somewhat stealthily for a neighboring
town, where, we had heard, a very good horse was
offered for sale. We saw the animal and liked it;
but before closing the bargain we cannily asked the
owner if the horse was perfectly sound, and if it
was gentle with women. He assured us that it was
both sound and gentle with women, and to prove the
latter point he had his wife harness it to the buggy
and drive it around the stable-yard. The animal
behaved beautifully. After it had gone through
its paces, Miss Crowell and I leaned confidingly
against its side, patting it and praising its beauty,
and the horse seemed to enjoy our attentions.
We bought it then and there, drove it home, and
put it in our barn; and the next morning we hired
a man in the neighborhood to come over and take
care of it.
He arrived. Five minutes later a frightful racket
broke out in the barn--sounds of stamping, kicking,
and plunging, mingled with loud shouts. We ran
to the scene of the trouble, and found our ``hired
man'' rushing breathlessly toward the house. When
he was able to speak he informed us that we had ``a
devil in there,'' pointing back to the barn, and that
the new horse's legs were in the air, all four of them
at once, the minute he went near her. We insisted
that he must have frightened or hurt her, but, solemnly
and with anxious looks behind, he protested
that he had not. Finally Miss Crowell and I went
into the barn, and received a dignified welcome from
the new horse, which seemed pleased by our visit.
Together we harnessed her and, without the least
difficulty, drove her out into the yard. As soon as
our man took the reins, however, she reared, kicked,
and smashed our brand-new buggy. We changed
the man and had the buggy repaired, but by the
end of the week the animal had smashed the buggy
again. Then, with some natural resentment, we
made a second visit to the man from whom we
had bought her, and asked him why he had sold
us such a horse.
He said he had told us the exact truth. The horse
WAS sound and she WAS extremely gentle with women,
but--and this point he had seen no reason to mention,
as we had not asked about it--she would not
let a man come near her. He firmly refused to take
her back, and we had to make the best of the bargain.
As it was impossible to take care of her ourselves,
I gave some thought to the problem she presented,
and finally devised a plan which worked very
well. I hired a neighbor who was a small, slight
man to take care of her, and made him wear his wife's
sunbonnet and waterproof cloak whenever he approached
the horse. The picture he presented in
these garments still stands out pleasantly against the
background of my Cape Cod memories. The horse,
however, did not share our appreciation of it. She
was suspicious, and for a time she shied whenever
the man and his sunbonnet and cloak appeared;
but we stood by until she grew accustomed to them
and him; and as he was both patient and gentle,
she finally allowed him to harness and unharness
her. But no man could drive her, and when I
drove to church I was forced to hitch and unhitch
her myself. No one else could do it, though
many a gallant and subsequently resentful man attempted
the feat.
On one occasion a man I greatly disliked, and who I
had reason to know disliked me, insisted that he could
unhitch her, and started to do so, notwithstanding
my protests and explanations. At his approach she
rose on her hind-legs, and when he grasped her bridle
she lifted him off his feet. His expression as he
hung in mid-air was an extraordinary mixture of
surprise and regret. The moment I touched her,
however, she quieted down, and when I got into the
buggy and gathered up the reins she walked off like
a lamb, leaving the man staring after her with his
eyes starting from his head.
The previous owner had called the horse Daisy,
and we never changed the name, though it always
seemed sadly inappropriate. Time proved, however,
that there were advantages in the ownership of
Daisy. No man would allow his wife or daughter
to drive behind her, and no one wanted to borrow
her. If she had been a different kind of animal she
would have been used by the whole community,
We kept Daisy for seven years, and our acquaintance
ripened into a pleasant friendship.
Another Cape Cod resident to whose memory I
must offer tribute in these pages was Polly Ann
Sears--one of the dearest and best of my parishioners.
She had six sons, and when five had gone
to sea she insisted that the sixth must remain at
home. In vain the boy begged her to let him follow
his brothers. She stood firm. The sea, she said,
should not swallow all her boys; she had given it
five--she must keep one.
As it happened, the son she kept at home was the
only one who was drowned. He was caught in a
fish-net and dragged under the waters of the bay
near his home; and when I went to see his mother
to offer such comfort as I could, she showed that
she had learned the big lesson of the experience.
``I tried to be a special Providence,'' she moaned,
``and the one boy I kept home was the only boy
I lost. I ain't a-goin' to be a Providence no
The number of funerals on Cape Cod was tragically
large. I was in great demand on these occasions,
and went all over the Cape, conducting funeral
services--which seemed to be the one thing people
thought I could do--and preaching funeral sermons.
Besides the victims of the sea, many of the residents
who had drifted away were brought back to
sleep their last sleep within sound of the waves.
Once I asked an old sea-captain why so many Cape
Cod men and women who had been gone for years
asked to be buried near their old homes, and his reply
still lingers in my memory. He poked his toe in
the sand for a moment and then said, slowly:
``Wal, I reckon it's because the Cape has such
warm, comfortable sand to lie down in.''
My friend Mrs. Addy lay in the Crowell family
lot, and during my pastorate at East Dennis I
preached the funeral sermon of her father, and later
of her mother. Long after I had left Cape Cod I
was frequently called back to say the last words
over the coffins of my old friends, and the saddest
of those journeys was the one I made in response to
a telegram from the mother of Relief Paine. When
I had arrived and we stood together beside the exquisite
figure that seemed hardly more quiet in
death than in life, Mrs. Paine voiced in her few
words the feeling of the whole community--``Where
shall we get our comfort and our inspiration, now
that Relief is gone?''
The funeral which took all my courage from me,
however, was that of my sister Mary. In its suddenness,
Mary's death, in 1883, was as a thunderbolt
from the blue; for she had been in perfect health
three days before she passed away. I was still in
charge of my two parishes in Cape Cod, but, as it
mercifully happened, before she was stricken I had
started West to visit Mary in her home at Big
Rapids. When I arrived on the second day of her
illness, knowing nothing of it until I reached her,
I found her already past hope. Her disease was
pneumonia, but she was conscious to the end, and
her greatest desire seemed to be to see me christen
her little daughter and her husband before she left
them. This could not be realized, for my brotherin-
law was absent on business, and with all his
haste in returning did not reach his wife's side until
after her death. As his one thought then was to
carry out her last wishes, I christened him and his
little girl just before the funeral; and during the
ceremony we all experienced a deep conviction
that Mary knew and was content.
She had become a power in her community, and
was so dearly loved that on the day her body was
borne to its last resting-place all the business houses
in Big Rapids were closed, and the streets were filled
with men who stood with bent, uncovered heads as
the funeral procession went by. My father and
mother, also, to whom she had given a home after
they left the log-cabin where they had lived so long,
had made many friends in their new environment
and were affectionately known throughout the whole
region as ``Grandma and Grandpa Shaw.''
When I returned to East Dennis I brought my
mother and Mary's three children with me, and
they remained throughout the spring and summer.
I had hoped that they would remain permanently,
and had rented and furnished a home for them with
that end in view; but, though they enjoyed their
visit, the prospect of the bleak winters of Cape Cod
disturbed my mother, and they all returned to Big
Rapids late in the autumn. Since entering upon my
parish work it had been possible for me to help my
father and mother financially; and from the time
of Mary's death I had the privilege, a very precious
one, of seeing that they were well cared for and contented.
They were always appreciative, and as
time passed they became more reconciled to the
career I had chosen, and which in former days had
filled them with such dire forebodings.
After I had been in East Dennis four years I began
to feel that I was getting into a rut. It seemed
to me that all I could do in that particular field had
been done. My people wished me to remain, however,
and so, partly as an outlet for my surplus
energy, but more especially because I realized the
splendid work women could do as physicians, I began
to study medicine. The trustees gave me permission
to go to Boston on certain days of each week,
and we soon found that I could carry on my work
as a medical student without in the least neglecting
my duty toward my parish.
I entered the Boston Medical School in 1882, and
obtained my diploma as a full-fledged physician in
1885. During this period I also began to lecture
for the Massachusetts Woman Suffrage Association,
of which Lucy Stone was president. Henry Blackwell
was associated with her, and together they developed
in me a vital interest in the suffrage cause,
which grew steadily from that time until it became
the dominating influence in my life. I preached it
in the pulpit, talked it to those I met outside of the
church, lectured on it whenever I had an opportunity,
and carried it into my medical work in the
Boston slums when I was trying my prentice hand
on helpless pauper patients.
Here again, in my association with the women of
the streets, I realized the limitations of my work in
the ministry and in medicine. As minister to soul
and body one could do little for these women. For
such as them, one's efforts must begin at the very
foundation of the social structure. Laws for them
must be made and enforced, and some of those laws
could only be made and enforced by women. So
many great avenues of life were opening up before
me that my Cape Cod environment seemed almost
a prison where I was held with tender force. I
loved my people and they loved me--but the big
outer world was calling, and I could not close my
ears to its summons. The suffrage lectures helped
to keep me contented, however, and I was certainly
busy enough to find happiness in my work.
I was in Boston three nights a week, and during
these nights subject to sick calls at any hour. My
favorite associates were Dr. Caroline Hastings, our
professor of anatomy, and little Dr. Mary Safford,
a mite of a woman with an indomitable soul. Dr.
Safford was especially prominent in philanthropic
work in Massachusetts, and it was said of her that
at any hour of the day or night she could be found
working in the slums of Boston. I, too, could frequently
be found there--often, no doubt, to the disadvantage
of my patients. I was quite famous in
three Boston alleys--Maiden's Lane, Fellows Court,
and Andrews Court. It most fortunately happened
that I did not lose a case in those alleys, though I
took all kinds, as I had to treat a certain number
of surgical and obstetrical cases in my course. No
doubt my patients and I had many narrow escapes
of which we were blissfully ignorant, but I remember
two which for a long time afterward continued to
be features of my most troubled dreams.
The first was that of a big Irishman who had
pneumonia. When I looked him over I was as much
frightened as he was. I had got as far as pneumonia
in my course, and I realized that here was a
bad case of it. I knew what to do. The patient
must be carefully packed in towels wrung out of
cold water. When I called for towels I found that
there was nothing in the place but a dish-towel,
which I washed with portentous gravity. The man
owned but one shirt, and, in deference to my visit,
his wife had removed that to wash it. I packed the
patient in the dish-towel, wrapped him in a piece of
an old shawl, and left after instructing his wife to
repeat the process. When I reached home I remembered
that the patient must be packed ``carefully,''
and I knew that his wife would do it carelessly.
That meant great risk to the man's life. My impulse
was to rush back to him at once, but this
would never do. It would destroy all confidence
in the doctor. I walked the floor for three hours,
and then casually strolled in upon my patient,
finding him, to my great relief, better than I had left
him. As I was leaving, a child rushed into the room,
begging me to come to an upper floor in the same
``The baby's got the croup,'' she gasped, ``an'
he's chokin' to death.''
We had not reached croup in our course, and I
had no idea what to do, but I valiantly accompanied
the little girl. As we climbed the long flights of
stairs to the top floor I remembered a conversation
I had overheard between two medical students. One
of them had said: ``If the child is strangling when it
inhales, as if it were breathing through a sponge,
then give it spongia; but if it is strangling when it
breathes out, give it aconite.''
When I reached the baby I listened, but could
not tell which way it was strangling. However,
I happened to have both medicines with me, so I
called for two glasses and mixed the two remedies,
each in its own glass. I gave them both to the
mother, and told her to use them alternately, every
fifteen minutes, until the baby was better. The
baby got well; but whether its recovery was due to
the spongia or to the aconite I never knew.
In my senior year I fell in love with an infant
of three, named Patsy. He was one of nine children
when I was called to deliver his mother of her tenth
child. She was drunk when I reached her, and so
were two men who lay on the floor in the same room.
I had them carried out, and after the mother and
baby had been attended to I noticed Patsy. He was
the most beautiful child I had ever seen--with eyes
like Italian skies and yellow hair in tight curls over
his adorable little head; but he was covered with
filthy rags. I borrowed him, took him home with me,
and fed and bathed him, and the next day fitted him
out with new clothes. Every hour I had him
tightened his hold on my heart-strings. I went to
his mother and begged her to let me keep him, but
she refused, and after a great deal of argument and
entreaty I had to return him to her. When I went
to see him a few days later I found him again in his
horrible rags. His mother had pawned his new
clothes for drink, and she was deeply under its influence.
But no pressure I could exert then or later
would make her part with Patsy. Finally, for my
own peace of mind, I had to give up hope of getting
him--but I have never ceased to regret the little
adopted son I might have had.
There is a theory that every seven years each
human being undergoes a complete physical
reconstruction, with corresponding changes in his
mental and spiritual make-up. Possibly it was due
to this reconstruction that, at the end of seven years
on Cape Cod, my soul sent forth a sudden call to
arms. I was, it reminded me, taking life too easily;
I was in danger of settling into an agreeable routine.
The work of my two churches made little drain on
my superabundant vitality, and not even the winning
of a medical degree and the increasing demands
of my activities on the lecture platform wholly eased
my conscience. I was happy, for I loved my people
and they seemed to love me. It would have been
pleasant to go on almost indefinitely, living the life
of a country minister and telling myself that what
I could give to my flock made such a life worth while.
But all the time, deep in my heart, I realized the
needs of the outside world, and heard its prayer for
workers. My theological and medical courses in
Boston, with the experiences that accompanied them,
had greatly widened my horizon. Moreover, at my
invitation, many of the noble women of the day were
coming to East Dennis to lecture, bringing with them
the stirring atmosphere of the conflicts they were
waging. One of the first of these was my friend
Mary A. Livermore; and after her came Julia Ward
Howe, Anna Garlin Spencer, Lucy Stone, Mary F.
Eastman, and many others, each charged with inspiration
for my people and with a special message
for me, which she sent forth unknowingly and which I
alone heard. They were fighting great battles, these
women--for suffrage, for temperance, for social
purity--and in every word they uttered I heard a
rallying-cry. So it was that, in 1885, I suddenly
pulled myself up to a radical decision and sent my
resignation to the trustees of the two churches
whose pastor I had been since 1878.
The action caused a demonstration of regret
which made it hard to keep to my resolution and
leave these men and women whose friendship was
among the dearest of my possessions. But when we
had all talked things over, many of them saw the
situation as I did. No doubt there were those, too,
who felt that a change of ministry would be good
for the churches. During the weeks that followed
my resignation I received many odd tributes, and
of these one of the most amusing came from a
young girl in the parish, who broke into loud protests
when she heard that I was going away. To comfort
her I predicted that she would now have a man
minister--doubtless a very nice man. But the young
person continued to sniffle disconsolately.
``I don't want a man,'' she wailed. ``I don't like to
see men in pulpits. They look so awkward.'' Her
grief culminated in a final outburst. ``They're all
arms and legs!'' she sobbed.
When my resignation was finally accepted, and
the time of my departure drew near, the men of the
community spent much of their leisure in discussing
it and me. The social center of East Dennis was
a certain grocery, to which almost every man in
town regularly wended his way, and from which all
the gossip of the town emanated. Here the men sat
for hours, tilted back in their chairs, whittling the
rungs until they nearly cut the chairs from under
them, and telling one another all they knew or had
heard about their fellow-townsmen. Then, after
each session, they would return home and repeat the
gossip to their wives. I used to say that I would
give a dollar to any woman in East Dennis who
could quote a bit of gossip which did not come from
the men at that grocery. Even my old friend Captain
Doane, fine and high-minded citizen though he
was, was not above enjoying the mild diversion of
these social gatherings, and on one occasion at least
he furnished the best part of the entertainment.
The departing minister was, it seemed, the topic
of the day's discussion, and, to tease Captain Doane
one young man who knew the strength of his friendship
for me suddenly began to speak, then pursed
up his lips and looked eloquently mysterious. As he
had expected, Captain Doane immediately pounced
on him.
``What's the matter with you?'' demanded the
old man. ``Hev you got anything agin Miss
The young man sighed and murmured that if he
wished he could repeat a charge never before made
against a Cape Cod minister, but--and he shut his
lips more obviously. The other men, who were in
the plot, grinned, and this added the last touch to
Captain Doane's indignation. He sprang to his
feet. One of his peculiarities was a constant misuse
of words, and now, in his excitement, he outdid
``You've made an incineration against Miss Shaw,''
he shouted. ``Do you hear--AN INCINERATION! Take
it back or take a lickin'!''
The young man decided that the joke had gone
far enough, so he answered, mildly: ``Well, it is said
that all the women in town are in love with Miss
Shaw. Has that been charged against any other
minister here?''
The men roared with laughter, and Captain
Doane sat down, looking sheepish.
``All I got to say is this,'' he muttered: ``That gal
has been in this community for seven years, and she
'ain't done a thing during the hull seven years that
any one kin lay a finger on!''
The men shouted again at this back-handed tribute,
and the old fellow left the grocery in a huff.
Later I was told of the ``incineration'' and his eloquent
defense of me, and I thanked him for it. But
I added:
``I hear you said I haven't done a thing in seven
years that any one can lay a finger on?''
``I said it,'' declared the Captain, ``and I'll stand
by it.''
``Haven't I done any good?'' I asked.
``Sartin you have,'' he assured me, heartily.
``Lots of good.''
``Well,'' I said, ``can't you put your finger on
The Captain looked startled. ``Why--why--
Sister Shaw,'' he stammered, ``you know I didn't
mean THAT! What I meant,'' he repeated, slowly and
solemnly, ``was that the hull time you been here
you ain't done nothin' anybody could put a finger
Captain Doane apparently shared my girl parishioner's
prejudice against men in the pulpit, for long
afterward, on one of my visits to Cape Cod, he admitted
that he now went to church very rarely.
``When I heard you preach,'' he explained, ``I
gen'ally followed you through and I knowed where
you was a-comin' out. But these young fellers that
come from the theological school--why, Sister Shaw,
the Lord Himself don't know where they're comin'
For a moment he pondered. Then he uttered a
valedictory which I have always been glad to recall
as his last message, for I never saw him again.
``When you fust come to us,'' he said, ``you had
a lot of crooked places, an' we had a lot of crooked
places; and we kind of run into each other, all of
us. But before you left, Sister Shaw, why, all the
crooked places was wore off and everything was as
smooth as silk.''
``Yes,'' I agreed, ``and that was the time to leave
--when everything was running smoothly.''
All is changed on Cape Cod since those days, thirty
years ago. The old families have died or moved
away, and those who replaced them were of a different
type. I am happy in having known and loved
the Cape as it was, and in having gathered there a
store of delightful memories. In later strenuous
years it has rested me merely to think of the place,
and long afterward I showed my continued love of
it by building a home there, which I still possess.
But I had little time to rest in this or in my Moylan
home, of which I shall write later, for now I was
back in Boston, living my new life, and each crowded
hour brought me more to do.
We were entering upon a deeply significant period.
For the first time women were going into industrial
competition with men, and already men were intensely
resenting their presence. Around me I saw
women overworked and underpaid, doing men's
work at half men's wages, not because their work
was inferior, but because they were women. Again,
too, I studied the obtrusive problems of the poor and
of the women of the streets; and, looking at the
whole social situation from every angle, I could find
but one solution for women--the removal of the
stigma of disfranchisement. As man's equal before
the law, woman could demand her rights, asking
favors from no one. With all my heart I joined in
the crusade of the men and women who were fighting
for her. My real work had begun.
Naturally, at this period, I frequently met the
members of Boston's most inspiring group--the
Emersons and John Greenleaf Whittier, James Freeman
Clark, Reverend Minot Savage, Bronson Alcott
and his daughter Louisa, Wendell Phillips, William
Lloyd Garrison, Stephen Foster, Theodore Weld, and
the rest. Of them all, my favorite was Whittier. He
had been present at my graduation from the theological
school, and now he often attended our suffrage
meetings. He was already an old man, nearing the
end of his life; and I recall him as singularly tall and
thin, almost gaunt, bending forward as he talked,
and wearing an expression of great serenity and
benignity. I once told Susan B. Anthony that if I
needed help in a crowd of strangers that included her,
I would immediately turn to her, knowing from her
face that, whatever I had done, she would understand
and assist me. I could have offered the same
tribute to Whittier. At our meetings he was like a
vesper-bell chiming above a battle-field. Garrison
always became excited during our discussions, and
the others frequently did; but Whittier, in whose big
heart the love of his fellow-man burned as unquenchably
as in any heart there, always preserved his exquisite
Once, I remember, Stephen Foster insisted on
having the word ``tyranny'' put into a resolution,
stating that women were deprived of suffrage by the
TYRANNY of men. Mr. Garrison objected, and the
debate that followed was the most exciting I have
ever heard. The combatants actually had to adjourn
before they could calm down sufficiently to go
on with their meeting. Knowing the stimulating
atmosphere to which he had grown accustomed, I
was not surprised to have Theodore Weld explain
to me; long afterward, why he no longer attended
suffrage meetings.
``Oh,'' he said, ``why should I go? There hasn't
been any one mobbed in twenty years!''
The Ralph Waldo Emersons occasionally attended
our meetings, and Mr. Emerson, at first opposed to
woman suffrage, became a convert to it during the
last years of his life--a fact his son and daughter
omitted to mention in his biography. After his
death I gave two suffrage lectures in Concord,
and each time Mrs. Emerson paid for the hall. At
these lectures Louisa M. Alcott graced the assembly
with her splendid, wholesome presence, and on
both occasions she was surrounded by a group of
boys. She frankly cared much more for boys than
for girls, and boys inevitably gravitated to her whenever
she entered a place where they were. When
women were given school suffrage in Massachusetts,
Miss Alcott was the first woman to vote in Concord,
and she went to the polls accompanied by a group
of her boys, all ardently ``for the Cause.'' My general
impression of her was that of a fresh breeze
blowing over wide moors. She was as different as
possible from exquisite little Mrs. Emerson, who,
in her daintiness and quiet charm, suggested an old
New England garden.
Of Abby May and Edna Cheney I retain a general
impression of ``bagginess''--of loose jackets over
loose waistbands, of escaping locks of hair, of bodies
seemingly one size from the neck down. Both
women were utterly indifferent to the details of
their appearance, but they were splendid workers and
leading spirits in the New England Woman's Club.
It was said to be the trouble between Abby May and
Kate Gannett Wells, both of whom stood for the
presidency of the club, that led to the beginning of
the anti-suffrage movement in Boston. Abby May
was elected president, and all the suffragists voted
for her. Subsequently Kate Gannett Wells began
her anti-suffrage campaign. Mrs. Wells was the
first anti-suffragist I ever knew in this country.
Before her there had been Mrs. Dahlgren, wife of
Admiral Dahlgren, and Mrs. William Tecumseh Sherman.
On one occasion Elizabeth Cady Stanton challenged
Mrs. Dahlgren to a debate on woman suffrage,
and in the light of later events Mrs. Dahlgren's reply
is amusing. She declined the challenge, explaining
that for anti-suffragists to appear upon a public
platform would be a direct violation of the principle
for which they stood--which was the protection of
female modesty! Recalling this, and the present
hectic activity of the anti-suffragists, one must feel
that they have either abandoned their principle or
widened their views.
For Julia Ward Howe I had an immense admiration;
but, though from first to last I saw much of
her, I never felt that I really knew her. She was a
woman of the widest culture, interested in every
progressive movement. With all her big heart she
tried to be a democrat, but she was an aristocrat to
the very core of her, and, despite her wonderful work
for others, she lived in a splendid isolation. Once
when I called on her I found her resting her mind
by reading Greek, and she laughingly admitted that
she was using a Latin pony, adding that she was
growing ``rusty.'' She seemed a little embarrassed
by being caught with the pony, but she must have
been reassured by my cheerful confession that if
_I_ tried to read either Latin or Greek I should need
an English pony.
Of Frances E. Willard, who frequently came to
Boston, I saw a great deal, and we soon became closely
associated in our work. Early in our friendship,
and at Miss Willard's suggestion, we made a compact
that once a week each of us would point out
to the other her most serious faults, and thereby
help her to remedy them; but we were both too sane
to do anything of the kind, and the project soon
died a natural death. The nearest I ever came to
carrying it out was in warning Miss Willard that she
was constantly defying all the laws of personal
hygiene. She never rested, rarely seemed to sleep,
and had to be reminded at the table that she was
there for the purpose of eating food. She was always
absorbed in some great interest, and oblivious
to anything else, I never knew a woman who could
grip an audience and carry it with her as she could.
She was intensely emotional, and swayed others by
their emotions rather than by logic; yet she was the
least conscious of her physical existence of any one
I ever knew, with the exception of Susan B. Anthony.
Like ``Aunt Susan,'' Miss Willard paid no heed to
cold or heat or hunger, to privation or fatigue. In
their relations to such trifles both women were disembodied
Another woman doing wonderful work at this time
was Mrs. Quincy Shaw, who had recently started her
day nurseries for the care of tenement children whose
mothers labored by the day. These nurseries were
new in Boston, as was the kindergarten system she
also established. I saw the effect of her work in the
lives of the people, and it strengthened my growing
conviction that little could be done for the poor in a
spiritual or educational way until they were given
a certain amount of physical comfort, and until more
time was devoted to the problem of prevention.
Indeed, the more I studied economic issues, the more
strongly I felt that the position of most philanthropists
is that of men who stand at the bottom
of a precipice gathering up and trying to heal those
who fall into it, instead of guarding the top and preventing
them from going over.
Of course I had to earn my living; but, though I
had taken my medical degree only a few months
before leaving Cape Cod, I had no intention of practising
medicine. I had merely wished to add a
certain amount of medical knowledge to my mental
equipment. The Massachusetts Woman Suffrage
Association, of which Lucy Stone was president, had
frequently employed me as a lecturer during the
last two years of my pastorate. Now it offered me
a salary of one hundred dollars a month as a lecturer
and organizer. Though I may not have seemed so
in these reminiscences, in which I have written as
freely of my small victories as of my struggles and
failures, I was a modest young person. The amount
seemed too large, and I told Mrs. Stone as much,
after which I humbly fixed my salary at fifty dollars
a month. At the end of a year of work I felt that
I had ``made good''; then I asked for and received
the one hundred dollars a month originally offered
During my second year Miss Cora Scott Pond and
I organized and carried through in Boston a great
suffrage bazaar, clearing six thousand dollars for
the association--a large amount in those days.
Elated by my share in this success, I asked that my
salary should be increased to one hundred and
twenty-five dollars a month--but this was not done.
Instead, I received a valuable lesson. It was freely
admitted that my work was worth one hundred and
twenty-five dollars, but I was told that one hundred
was the limit which could be paid, and I was reminded
that this was a good salary for a woman.
The time seemed to have come to make a practical
stand in defense of my principles, and I did so by
resigning and arranging an independent lecture tour.
The first month after my resignation I earned three
hundred dollars. Later I frequently earned more
than that, and very rarely less. Eventually I lectured
under the direction of the Slaton Lecture
Bureau of Chicago, and later still for the Redpath
Bureau of Boston. My experience with the Redpath
people was especially gratifying. Mrs. Livermore,
who was their only woman lecturer, was growing
old and anxious to resign her work. She saw
in me a possible successor, and asked them to take
me on their list. They promptly refused, explaining
that I must ``make a reputation'' before they
could even consider me. A year later they wrote
me, making a very good offer, which I accepted. It
may be worth while to mention here that through
my lecture-work at this period I earned all the money
I have ever saved. I lectured night after night, week
after week, month after month, in ``Chautauquas''
in the summer, all over the country in the winter,
earning a large income and putting aside at that
time the small surplus I still hold in preparation for
the ``rainy day'' every working-woman inwardly
I gave the public at least a fair equivalent for
what it gave me, for I put into my lectures all my
vitality, and I rarely missed an engagement, though
again and again I risked my life to keep one. My
special subjects, of course, were the two I had most
at heart-suffrage and temperance. For Frances
Willard, then President of the Woman's Christian
Temperance Union, had persuaded me to head the
Franchise Department of that organization, succeeding
Ziralda Wallace, the mother of Gen. Lew
Wallace; and Miss Susan B. Anthony, who was beginning
to study me closely, soon swung me into
active work with her, of which, later, I shall have
much to say. But before taking up a subject as
absorbing to me as my friendship for and association
with the most wonderful woman I have ever known,
it may be interesting to record a few of my pioneer
experiences in the lecture-field.
In those days--thirty years ago--the lecture bureaus
were wholly regardless of the comfort of their
lecturers. They arranged a schedule of engagements
with exactly one idea in mind--to get the lecturer
from one lecture-point to the next, utterly regardless
of whether she had time between for rest or food or
sleep. So it happened that all-night journeys in
freight-cars, engines, and cabooses were casual commonplaces,
while thirty and forty mile drives across
the country in blizzards and bitter cold were equally
inevitable. Usually these things did not trouble
me. They were high adventures which I enjoyed at
the time and afterward loved to recall. But there
was an occasional hiatus in my optimism.
One night, for example, after lecturing in a town
in Ohio, it was necessary to drive eight miles across
country to a tiny railroad station at which a train,
passing about two o'clock in the morning, was to be
flagged for me. When we reached the station it was
closed, but my driver deposited me on the platform
and drove away, leaving me alone. The night was
cold and very dark. All day I had been feeling ill
and in the evening had suffered so much pain that
I had finished my lecture with great difficulty. Now
toward midnight, in this desolate spot, miles from
any house, I grew alarmingly worse. I am not
easily frightened, but that time I was sure I was
going to die. Off in the darkness, very far away, as
it seemed, I saw a faint light, and with infinite effort
I dragged myself toward it. To walk, even to stand,
was impossible; I crawled along the railroad track,
collapsing, resting, going on again, whipping my
will power to the task of keeping my brain clear,
until after a nightmare that seemed to last through
centuries I lay across the door of the switch-tower
in which the light was burning. The switchman
stationed there heard the cry I was able to utter,
and came to my assistance. He carried me up to
his signal-room and laid me on the floor by the stove;
he had nothing to give me except warmth and shelter;
but these were now all I asked. I sank into a
comatose condition shot through with pain. Toward
two o'clock in the morning he waked me and
told me my train was coming, asking if I felt able
to take it. I decided to make the effort. He dared
not leave his post to help me, but he signaled to the
train, and I began my progress back to the station.
I never clearly remembered how I got there; but
I arrived and was helped into a car by a brakeman.
About four o'clock in the morning I had to change
again, but this time I was left at the station of a town,
and was there met by a man whose wife had offered
me hospitality. He drove me to their home, and
I was cared for. What I had, it developed, was a
severe case of ptomaine poisoning, and I soon recovered;
but even after all these years I do not
like to recall that night.
To be ``snowed in'' was a frequent experience.
Once, in Minnesota, I was one of a dozen travelers
who were driven in an omnibus from a country hotel
to the nearest railroad station, about two miles away.
It was snowing hard, and the driver left us on the
station platform and departed. Time passed, but
the train we were waiting for did not come. A true
Western blizzard, growing wilder every moment, had
set in, and we finally realized that the train was not
coming, and that, moreover, it was now impossible
to get back to the hotel. The only thing we could
do was to spend the night in the railroad station.
I was the only woman in the group, and my fellowpassengers
were cattlemen who whiled away the
hours by smoking, telling stories, and exchanging
pocket flasks. The station had a telegraph operator
who occupied a tiny box by himself, and he finally
invited me to share the privacy of his microscopic
quarters. I entered them very gratefully, and he
laid a board on the floor, covered it with an overcoat
made of buffalo-skins, and cheerfully invited
me to go to bed. I went, and slept peacefully until
morning. Then we all returned to the hotel, the
men going ahead and shoveling a path.
Again, one Sunday, I was snowbound in a train
near Faribault, and this time also I was the only
woman among a number of cattlemen. They were
an odoriferous lot, who smoked diligently and played
cards without ceasing, but in deference to my presence
they swore only mildly and under their breath.
At last they wearied of their game, and one of them
rose and came to me.
``I heard you lecture the other night,'' he said,
awkwardly, ``and I've bin tellin' the fellers about it.
We'd like to have a lecture now.''
Their card-playing had seemed to me a sinful
thing (I was stricter in my views then than I am
to-day), and I was glad to create a diversion. I
agreed to give them a lecture, and they went through
the train, which consisted of two day coaches, and
brought in the remaining passengers. A few of
them could sing, and we began with a Moody and
Sankey hymn or two and the appealing ditty,
``Where is my wandering boy to-night?'' in which
they all joined with special zest. Then I delivered
the lecture, and they listened attentively. When I
had finished they seemed to think that some slight
return was in order, so they proceeded to make a
bed for me. They took the bottoms out of two seats,
arranged them crosswise, and one man folded his
overcoat into a pillow. Inspired by this, two others
immediately donated their fur overcoats for upper
and lower coverings. When the bed was ready they
waved me toward it with a most hospitable air, and
I crept in between the overcoats and slumbered
sweetly until I was aroused the next morning by the
welcome music of a snow-plow which had been
sent from St. Paul to our rescue.
To drive fifty or sixty miles in a day to meet a
lecture engagement was a frequent experience. I
have been driven across the prairies in June when
they were like a mammoth flower-bed, and in January
when they seemed one huge snow-covered
grave--my grave, I thought, at times. Once during a
thirty-mile drive, when the thermometer was twenty
degrees below zero, I suddenly realized that my face
was freezing. I opened my satchel, took out the
tissue-paper that protected my best gown, and put
the paper over my face as a veil, tucking it inside
of my bonnet. When I reached my destination the
tissue was a perfect mask, frozen stiff, and I
had to be lifted from the sleigh. I was due on the
lecture platform in half an hour, so I drank a huge
bowl of boiling ginger tea and appeared on time.
That night I went to bed expecting an attack of
pneumonia as a result of the exposure, but I awoke
next morning in superb condition. I possess what
is called ``an iron constitution,'' and in those days
I needed it.
That same winter, in Kansas, I was chased by
wolves, and though I had been more or less intimately
associated with wolves in my pioneer life
in the Michigan woods, I found the occasion extremely
unpleasant. During the long winters of my girlhood
wolves had frequently slunk around our log
cabin, and at times in the lumber-camps we had
even heard them prowling on the roofs. But those
were very different creatures from the two huge,
starving, tireless animals that hour after hour loped
behind the cutter in which I sat with another woman,
who, throughout the whole experience, never lost
her head nor her control of our frantic horses. They
were mad with terror, for, try as they would, they
could not outrun the grim things that trailed us,
seemingly not trying to gain on us, but keeping always
at the same distance, with a patience that was
horrible. From time to time I turned to look at
them, and the picture they made as they came on
and on is one I shall never forget. They were so near
that I could see their eyes and slavering jaws, and
they were as noiseless as things in a dream. At
last, little by little, they began to gain on us, and
they were almost within striking distance of the
whip, which was our only weapon, when we reached
the welcome outskirts of a town and they fell back.
Some of the memories of those days have to do
with personal encounters, brief but poignant. Once
when I was giving a series of Chautauqua lectures,
I spoke at the Chautauqua in Pontiac, Illinois.
The State Reformatory for Boys was situated in
that town, and, after the lecture the superintendent
of the Reformatory invited me to visit it and say
a few words to the inmates. I went and spoke for
half an hour, carrying away a memory of the place
and of the boys which haunted me for months. A
year later, while I was waiting for a train in the
station at Shelbyville, a lad about sixteen years old
passed me and hesitated, looking as if he knew me.
I saw that he wanted to speak and dared not, so
I nodded to him.
``You think you know me, don't you?'' I asked,
when he came to my side.
``Yes'm, I do know you,'' he told me, eagerly.
``You are Miss Shaw, and you talked to us boys at
Pontiac last year. I'm out on parole now, but I
'ain't forgot. Us boys enjoyed you the best of any
show we ever had!''
I was touched by this artless compliment, and
anxious to know how I had won it, so I asked,
``What did I say that the boys liked?''
The lad hesitated. Then he said, slowly, ``Well,
you didn't talk as if you thought we were all
``My boy,'' I told him, ``I don't think you are all
bad. I know better!''
As if I had touched a spring in him, the lad
dropped into the seat by my side; then, leaning
toward me, he said, impulsively, but almost in a
Rarely have I had a tribute that moved me more
than that shy confidence; and often since then, in
hours of discouragement or failure, I have reminded
myself that at least there must have been something
in me once to make a lad of that age so open up
his heart. We had a long and intimate talk, from
which grew the abiding interest I feel in boys today.
Naturally I was sometimes inconvenienced by
slight misunderstandings between local committees
and myself as to the subjects of my lectures, and the
most extreme instance of this occurred in a town
where I arrived to find myself widely advertised
as ``Mrs. Anna Shaw, who whistled before Queen
Victoria''! Transfixed, I gaped before the billboards,
and by reading their additional lettering
discovered the gratifying fact that at least I was
not expected to whistle now. Instead, it appeared,
I was to lecture on ``The Missing Link.''
As usual, I had arrived in town only an hour or
two before the time fixed for my lecture; there was
the briefest interval in which to clear up these painful
misunderstandings. I repeatedly tried to reach
the chairman who was to preside at the entertainment,
but failed. At last I went to the hall at the
hour appointed, and found the local committee
there, graciously waiting to receive me. Without
wasting precious minutes in preliminaries, I asked
why they had advertised me as the woman who had
``whistled before Queen Victoria.''
``Why, didn't you whistle before her?'' they exclaimed
in grieved surprise.
``I certainly did not,'' I explained. ``Moreover, I
was never called `The American Nightingale,' and
I have never lectured on `The Missing Link.'
Where DID you get that subject? It was not on the
list I sent you.''
The members of the committee seemed dazed.
They withdrew to a corner and consulted in whispers.
Then, with clearing brow, the spokesman returned.
``Why,'' he said, cheerfully, ``it's simple enough!
We mixed you up with a Shaw lady that whistles;
and we've been discussing the missing link in our
debating society, so our citizens want to hear your
``But I don't know anything about the missing
link,'' I protested, ``and I can't speak on it.''
``Now, come,'' they begged. ``Why, you'll have
to! We've sold all our tickets for that lecture.
The whole town has turned out to hear it.''
Then, as I maintained a depressed silence, one
of them had a bright idea.
``I'll tell you how to fix it!'' he cried. ``Speak on
any subject you please, but bring in something about
the missing link every few minutes. That will satisfy
``Very well,'' I agreed, reluctantly. ``Open the
meeting with a song. Get the audience to sing
`America' or `The Star-spangled Banner.' That
will give me a few minutes to think, and I will see
what can be done.''
Led by a very nervous chairman, the big audience
began to sing, and under the inspiration of the music
the solution of our problem flashed into my mind.
``It is easy,'' I told myself. ``Woman is the missing
link in our government. I'll give them a suffrage
speech along that line.''
When the song ended I began my part of the entertainment
with a portion of my lecture on ``The
Fate of Republics,'' tracing their growth and decay,
and pointing out that what our republic needed to
give it a stable government was the missing link
of woman suffrage. I got along admirably, for every
five minutes I mentioned ``the missing link,'' and
the audience sat content and apparently interested,
while the members of the committee burst into
bloom on the platform.
My most dramatic experience occurred in a
city in Michigan, where I was making a
temperance campaign. It was an important lumber
and shipping center, and it harbored much
intemperance. The editor of the leading newspaper
was with the temperance-workers in our
fight there, and he had warned me that the liquor
people threatened to ``burn the building over my
head'' if I attempted to lecture. We were used to
similar threats, so I proceeded with my preparations
and held the meeting in the town skating-rink--
a huge, bare, wooden structure.
Lectures were rare in that city, and rumors of
some special excitement on this occasion had been
circulated; every seat in the rink was filled, and
several hundred persons stood in the aisles and at
the back of the building. Just opposite the speaker's
platform was a small gallery, and above that, in
the ceiling, was a trap-door. Before I had been
speaking ten minutes I saw a man drop through this
trap-door to the balcony and climb from there to
the main floor. As he reached the floor he shouted
``Fire!'' and rushed out into the street. The next
instant every person in the rink was up and a panic
had started. I was very sure there was no fire,
but I knew that many might be killed in the
rush which was beginning. So I sprang on a chair
and shouted to the people with the full strength of
my lungs:
``There is no fire! It's only a trick! Sit down!
Sit down!''
The cooler persons in the crowd at once began to
help in this calming process.
``Sit down!'' they repeated. ``It's all right!
There's no fire! Sit down!''
It looked as if we had the situation in hand, for
the people hesitated, and most of them grew quiet;
but just then a few words were hissed up to me that
made my heart stop beating. A member of our local
committee was standing beside my chair, speaking
in a terrified whisper:
``There IS a fire, Miss Shaw,'' he said. ``For God's
sake get the people out--QUICKLY!''
The shock was so unexpected that my knees almost
gave way. The people were still standing,
wavering, looking uncertainly toward us. I raised
my voice again, and if it sounded unnatural my
hearers probably thought it was because I was speaking
so loudly.
``As we are already standing,'' I cried, ``and are
all nervous, a little exercise will do us good. So
march out, singing. Keep time to the music!
Later you can come back and take your seats!''
The man who had whispered the warning jumped
into the aisle and struck up ``Jesus, Lover of My
Soul.'' Then he led the march down to the door,
while the big audience swung into line and followed
him, joining in the song. I remained on the chair,
beating time and talking to the people as they went;
but when the last of them had left the building I
almost collapsed; for the flames had begun to eat
through the wooden walls and the clang of the fireengines
was heard outside.
As soon as I was sure every one was safe, however,
I experienced the most intense anger I had yet known.
My indignation against the men who had risked
hundreds of lives by setting fire to a crowded building
made me ``see red''; it was clear that they must be
taught a lesson then and there. As soon as I was
outside the rink I called a meeting, and the Congregational
minister, who was in the crowd, lent us his
church and led the way to it. Most of the audience
followed us, and we had a wonderful meeting, during
which we were able at last to make clear to
the people of that town the character of the liquor
interests we were fighting. That episode did the
temperance cause more good than a hundred ordinary
meetings. Men who had been indifferent before
became our friends and supporters, and at the following
election we carried the town for prohibition
by a big majority.
There have been other occasions when our opponents
have not fought us fairly. Once, in an
Ohio town, a group of politicians, hearing that I was
to lecture on temperance in the court-house on a
certain night, took possession of the building early
in the evening, on the pretense of holding a meeting,
and held it against us. When, escorted by a committee
of leading women, I reached the building and
tried to enter, we found that the men had locked
us out. Our audience was gathering and filling the
street, and we finally sent a courteous message to the
men, assuming that they had forgotten us and reminding
them of our position. The messenger reported
that the men would leave ``about eight,''
but that the room was ``black with smoke and filthy
with tobacco-juice. ``We waited patiently until eight
o'clock, holding little outside meetings in groups,
as our audience waited with us. At eight we again
sent our messenger into the hall, and he brought
back word that the men were ``not through, didn't
know when they would be through, and had told
the women not to wait.''
Naturally, the waiting townswomen were deeply
chagrined by this. So were many men in the outside
crowd. We asked if there was no other entrance
to the hall except through the locked front
doors, and were told that the judge's private room
opened into it, and that one of our committee had
the key, as she had planned to use this room as a
dressing and retiring room for the speakers. After
some discussion we decided to storm the hall
and take possession. Within five minutes all the
women had formed in line and were crowding up
the back stairs and into the judge's room. There
we unlocked the door, again formed in line, and
marched into the hall, singing ``Onward, Christian
There were hundreds of us, and we marched directly
to the platform, where the astonished men
got up to stare at us. More and more women
entered, coming up the back stairs from the street
and filling the hall; and when the men realized
what it all meant, and recognized their wives, sisters,
and women friends in the throng, they sheepishly
unlocked the front doors and left us in possession,
though we politely urged them to remain. We
had a great meeting that night!
Another reminiscence may not be out of place.
We were working for a prohibition amendment in
the state of Pennsylvania, and the night before
election I reached Coatesville. I had just completed
six weeks of strenuous campaigning, and that
day I had already conducted and spoken at two big
outdoor meetings. When I entered the town hall
of Coatesville I found it filled with women. Only
a few men were there; the rest were celebrating
and campaigning in the streets. So I arose and
``I would like to ask how many men there are in
the audience who intend to vote for the amendment
Every man in the hall stood up.
``I thought so,'' I said. ``Now I intend to ask
your indulgence. As you are all in favor of the
amendment, there is no use in my setting its claims
before you; and, as I am utterly exhausted, I
suggest that we sing the Doxology and go home!''
The audience saw the common sense of my
position, so the people laughed and sang the Doxology
and departed. As we were leaving the hall
one of Coatesville's prominent citizens stopped me.
``I wish you were a man,'' he said. ``The town
was to have a big outdoor meeting to-night, and
the orator has failed us. There are thousands of
men in the streets waiting for the speech, and the
saloons are sending them free drinks to get them
drunk and carry the town to-morrow.''
``Why,'' I said, ``I'll talk to them if you wish.''
``Great Scott!'' he gasped. ``I'd be afraid to let
you. Something might happen!''
``If anything happens, it will be in a good cause,''
I reminded him. ``Let us go.''
Down-town we found the streets so packed with
men that the cars could not get through, and with
the greatest difficulty we reached the stand which
had been erected for the speaker. It was a gorgeous
affair. There were flaring torches all around it, and
a ``bull's-eye,'' taken from the head of a locomotive,
made an especially brilliant patch of light. The
stand had been erected at a point where the city's
four principal streets meet, and as far as I could
see there were solid masses of citizens extending
into these streets. A glee-club was doing its best
to help things along, and the music of an organette,
an instrument much used at the time in campaign
rallies, swelled the joyful tumult. As I mounted
the platform the crowd was singing ``Vote for Betty
and the Baby,'' and I took that song for my text,
speaking of the helplessness of women and children
in the face of intemperance, and telling the crowd
the only hope of the Coatesville women lay in the
vote cast by their men the next day.
Directly in front of me stood a huge and extraordinarily
repellent-looking negro. A glance at
him almost made one shudder, but before I had
finished my first sentence he raised his right arm
straight above him and shouted, in a deep and
wonderfully rich bass voice, ``Hallelujah to the
Lamb!'' From that point on he punctuated my
speech every few moments with good, old-fashioned
exclamations of salvation which helped to inspire
the crowd. I spoke for almost an hour. Three
times in my life, and only three times, I have made
speeches that have satisfied me to the degree, that
is, of making me feel that at least I was giving the
best that was in me. The speech at Coatesville was
one of those three. At the end of it the good-natured
crowd cheered for ten minutes. The next day
Coatesville voted for prohibition, and, rightly or
wrongly, I have always believed that I helped to win
that victory.
Here, by the way, I may add that of the two other
speeches which satisfied me one was made in Chicago,
during the World's Fair, in 1893, and the other in
Stockholm, Sweden, in 1912. The International
Council of Women, it will be remembered, met in
Chicago during the Fair, and I was invited to preach
the sermon at the Sunday-morning session. The
occasion was a very important one, bringing together
at least five thousand persons, including
representative women from almost every country
in Europe, and a large number of women ministers.
These made an impressive group, as they all wore
their ministerial robes; and for the first time I
preached in a ministerial robe, ordered especially
for that day. It was made of black crepe de Chine,
with great double flowing sleeves, white silk undersleeves,
and a wide white silk underfold down the
front; and I may mention casually that it looked
very much better than I felt, for I was very nervous.
My father had come on to Chicago especially to
hear my sermon, and had been invited to sit on the
platform. Even yet he was not wholly reconciled
to my public work, but he was beginning to take a
deep interest in it. I greatly desired to please him
and to satisfy Miss Anthony, who was extremely
anxious that on that day of all days I should do my
I gave an unusual amount of time and thought to
that sermon, and at last evolved what I modestly
believed to be a good one. I never write out a
sermon in advance, but I did it this time, laboriously,
and then memorized the effort. The night before
the sermon was to be delivered Miss Anthony asked
me about it, and when I realized how deeply interested
she was I delivered it to her then and there
as a rehearsal. It was very late, and I knew we
would not be interrupted. As she listened her
face grew longer and longer and her lips drooped
at the corners. Her disappointment was so obvious
that I had difficulty in finishing my recitation; but
I finally got through it, though rather weakly toward
the end, and waited to hear what she would say,
hoping against hope that she had liked it better
than she seemed to. But Susan B. Anthony was
the frankest as well as the kindest of women. Resolutely
she shook her head.
``It's no good, Anna,'' she said; firmly. ``You'll
have to do better. You've polished and repolished
that sermon until there's no life left in it. It's dead.
Besides, I don't care for your text.''
``Then give me a text,'' I demanded, gloomily.
``I can't,'' said Aunt Susan.
I was tired and bitterly disappointed, and both
conditions showed in my reply.
``Well,'' I asked, somberly, ``if you can't even
supply a text, how do you suppose I'm going to
deliver a brand-new sermon at ten o'clock to-morrow
``Oh,'' declared Aunt Susan, blithely, ``you'll find
a text.''
I suggested several, but she did not like them.
At last I said, ``I have it--`Let no man take thy
crown.' ''
``That's it!'' exclaimed Miss Anthony. ``Give us
a good sermon on that text.''
She went to her room to sleep the sleep of the
just and the untroubled, but I tossed in my bed the
rest of the night, planning the points of the new
sermon. After I had delivered it the next morning
I went to my father to assist him from the platform.
He was trembling, and his eyes were full of tears.
He seized my arm and pressed it.
``Now I am ready to die,'' was all he said.
I was so tired that I felt ready to die, too; but
his satisfaction and a glance at Aunt Susan's contented
face gave me the tonic I needed. Father
died two years later, and as I was campaigning in
California I was not with him at the end. It was
a comfort to remember, however, that in the twilight
of his life he had learned to understand his most
difficult daughter, and to give her credit for earnestness
of purpose, at least, in following the life that had
led her away from him. After his death, and immediately
upon my return from California, I visited
my mother, and it was well indeed that I did, for
within a few months she followed father into the
other world for which all of her unselfish life had
been a preparation.
Our last days together were perfect. Her attitude
was one of serene and cheerful expectancy, and I
always think of her as sitting among the primroses
and bluebells she loved, which seemed to bloom
unceasingly in the windows of her room. I recall,
too, with gratitude, a trifle which gave her a pleasure
out of all proportion to what I had dreamed it would
do. She had expressed a longing for some English
heather, ``not the hot-house variety, but the kind that
blooms on the hills,'' and I had succeeded in getting
a bunch for her by writing to an English friend.
Its possession filled her with joy, and from the
time it came until the day her eyes closed in their
last sleep it was rarely beyond reach of her hand.
At her request, when she was buried we laid the
heather on her heart--the heart of a true and loyal
woman, who, though her children had not known
it, must have longed without ceasing throughout
her New World life for the Old World of her youth.
The Scandinavian speech was an even more vital
experience than the Chicago one, for in Stockholm
I delivered the first sermon ever preached by a
woman in the State Church of Sweden, and the
event was preceded by an amount of political and
journalistic opposition which gave it an international
importance. I had also been invited by the Norwegian
women to preach in the State Church of
Norway, but there we experienced obstacles. By
the laws of Norway women are permitted to hold
all public offices except those in the army, navy, and
church--a rather remarkable militant and spiritual
combination. As a woman, therefore, I was denied
the use of the church by the Minister of Church
The decision created great excitement and much
delving into the law. It then appeared that if the
use of a State Church is desired for a minister of a
foreign country the government can give such permission.
It was thought that I might slip in through
this loophole, and application was made to the
government. The reply came that permission could
be received only from the entire Cabinet; and while
the Cabinet gentlemen were feverishly discussing
the important issue, the Norwegian press became
active, pointing out that the Minister of Church
Affairs had arrogantly assumed the right of the
entire Cabinet in denying the application. The
charge was taken up by the party opposed to the
government party in Parliament, and the Minister
of Church Affairs swiftly turned the whole matter
over to his conferees.
The Cabinet held a session, and by a vote of four
to three decided NOT to allow a woman to preach in
the State Church. I am happy to add that of the
three who voted favorably on the question one was
the Premier of Norway. Again the newspapers
grasped their opportunity--especially the organs of
the opposition party. My rooms were filled with
reporters, while daily the excitement grew. The
question was brought up in Parliament, and I was
invited to attend and hear the discussion there.
By this time every newspaper in Scandinavia was
for or against me; and the result of the whole matter
was that, though the State Church of Norway was
not opened to me, a most unusual interest had been
aroused in my sermon in the State Church of Sweden.
When I arrived there to keep my engagement, not
only was the wonderful structure packed to its walls,
but the waiting crowds in the street were so large
that the police had difficulty in opening a way for
our party.
I shall never forget my impression of the church
itself when I entered it. It will always stand forth
in my memory as one of the most beautiful churches
I have ever visited. On every side were monuments
of dead heroes and statesmen, and the high,
vaulted blue dome seemed like the open sky above
our heads. Over us lay a light like a soft twilight,
and the great congregation filled not only all the
pews, but the aisles, the platform, and even the
steps of the pulpit. The ushers were young women
from the University of Upsala, wearing white university
caps with black vizors, and sashes in the
university colors. The anthem was composed especially
for the occasion by the first woman cathedral
organist in Sweden--the organist of the cathedral
in Gothenburg--and she had brought with her
thirty members of her choir, all of them remarkable
The whole occasion was indescribably impressive,
and I realized in every fiber the necessity of being
worthy of it. Also, I experienced a sensation such
as I had never known before, and which I can only
describe as a seeming complete separation of my
physical self from my spiritual self. It was as if my
body stood aside and watched my soul enter that
pulpit. There was no uncertainty, no nervousness,
though usually I am very nervous when I begin to
speak; and when I had finished I knew that I had
done my best.
But all this is a long way from the early days I
was discussing, when I was making my first diffident
bows to lecture audiences and learning the lessons
of the pioneer in the lecture-field. I was soon to
learn more, for in 1888 Miss Anthony persuaded me
to drop my temperance work and concentrate my
energies on the suffrage cause. For a long time I
hesitated. I was very happy in my connection
with the Woman's Christian Temperance Union,
and I knew that Miss Willard was depending on me
to continue it. But Miss Anthony's arguments
were irrefutable, and she was herself, as always,
``You can't win two causes at once,'' she reminded
me. ``You're merely scattering your energies. Begin
at the beginning. Win suffrage for women, and
the rest will follow.'' As an added argument, she
took me with her on her Kansas campaign, and after
that no further arguments were needed. From then
until her death, eighteen years later, Miss Anthony
and I worked shoulder to shoulder.
The most interesting lecture episode of our first
Kansas campaign was my debate with Senator John
J. Ingalls. Before this, however, on our arrival
at Atchison, Mrs. Ingalls gave a luncheon for Miss
Anthony, and Rachel Foster Avery and I were also
invited. Miss Anthony sat at the right of Senator
Ingalls, and I at his left, while Mrs. Ingalls, of course,
adorned the opposite end of her table. Mrs. Avery
and I had just been entertained for several days at
the home of a vegetarian friend who did not know
how to cook vegetables, and we were both half
starved. When we were invited to the Ingalls home
we had uttered in unison a joyous cry, ``Now we shall
have something to eat!'' At the luncheon, however,
Senator Ingalls kept Miss Anthony and me talking
steadily. He was not in favor of suffrage for women,
but he wished to know all sorts of things about the
Cause, and we were anxious to have him know them.
The result was that I had time for only an occasional
mouthful, while down at the end of the table Mrs.
Avery ate and ate, pausing only to send me glances
of heartfelt sympathy. Also, whenever she had an
especially toothsome morsel on the end of her fork
she wickedly succeeded in catching my eye and thus
adding the last sybaritic touch to her enjoyment.
Notwithstanding the wealth of knowledge we had
bestowed upon him, or perhaps because of it, the
following night Senator Ingalls made his famous
speech against suffrage, and it fell to my lot to
answer him. In the course of his remarks he asked
this question: ``Would you like to add three million
illiterate voters to the large body of illiterate voters
we have in America to-day?'' The audience applauded
light-heartedly, but I was disturbed by the
sophistry of the question. One of Senator Ingalls's
most discussed personal peculiarities was the parting
of his hair in the middle. Cartoonists and newspaper
writers always made much of this, so when I
rose to reply I felt justified in mentioning it.
``Senator Ingalls,'' I began, ``parts his hair in the
middle, as we all know, but he makes up for it by
parting his figures on one side. Last night he gave
you the short side of his figures. At the present time
there are in the United States about eighteen million
women of voting age. When the Senator asked
whether you wanted three million additional illiterate
women voters, he forgot to ask also if you didn't want
fifteen million additional intelligent women voters!
We will grant that it will take the votes of three
million intelligent women to wipe out the votes of
three million illiterate women. But don't forget that
that would still leave us twelve million intelligent
votes to the good!''
The audience applauded as gaily as it had applauded
Senator Ingalls when he spoke on the other
side, and I continued:
``Now women have always been generous to men.
So of our twelve million intelligent voters we will
offer four million to offset the votes of the four
million illiterate men in this country--and then
we will still have eight million intelligent votes to
add to the other intelligent votes which are cast.''
The audience seemed to enjoy this.
``The anti-suffragists are fairly safe,'' I ended,
``as long as they remain on the plane of prophecy.
But as soon as they tackle mathematics they get
into trouble!''
Miss Anthony was much pleased by the wide
publicity given to this debate, but Senator Ingalls
failed to share her enthusiasm.
It was shortly after this encounter that I had
two traveling experiences which nearly cost me my
life. One of them occurred in Ohio at the time of
a spring freshet. I know of no state that can cover
itself with water as completely as Ohio can, and for
no apparent reason. On this occasion it was breaking
its own record. We had driven twenty miles
across country in a buggy which was barely out of the
water, and behind horses that at times were almost
forced to swim, and when we got near the town
where I was to lecture, though still on the opposite
side of the river from it, we discovered that the
bridge was gone. We had a good view of the town,
situated high and dry on a steep bank; but the river
which rolled between us and that town was a roaring,
boiling stream, and the only possible way to cross
it, I found, was to walk over a railroad trestle, already
trembling under the force of the water.
There were hundreds of men on the river-bank
watching the flood, and when they saw me start
out on the empty trestle they set up a cheer that
nearly threw me off. The river was wide and the
ties far apart, and the roar of the stream below was
far from reassuring; but in some way I reached the
other side, and was there helped off the trestle by
what the newspapers called ``strong and willing
Another time, in a desperate resolve to meet a
lecture engagement, I walked across the railroad
trestle at Elmira, New York, and when I was halfway
over I heard shouts of warning to turn back, as
a train was coming. The trestle was very high at
that point, and I realized that if I turned and faced
an oncoming train I would undoubtedly lose my
nerve and fall. So I kept on, as rapidly as I could,
accompanied by the shrieks of those who objected
to witnessing a violent death, and I reached the end
of the trestle just as an express-train thundered on
the beginning of it. The next instant a policeman
had me by the shoulders and was shaking me as if
I had been a bad child.
``If you ever do such a thing again,'' he thundered,
``I'll lock you up!''
As soon as I could speak I assured him fervently
that I never would; one such experience was all I
Occasionally a flash of humor, conscious or unconscious,
lit up the gloom of a trying situation.
Thus, in Parkersburg, West Virginia, the train I
was on ran into a coal-car. I was sitting in a sleeper,
leaning back comfortably with my feet on the
seat in front of me, and the force of the collision lifted
me up, turned me completely over, and deposited
me, head first, two seats beyond. On every side I
heard cries and the crash of human bodies against
unyielding substances as my fellow-passengers flew
through the air, while high and clear above the
tumult rang the voice of the conductor:
``Keep your seats!'' he yelled. ``KEEP YOUR SEATS!''
Nobody in our car was seriously hurt; but, so
great is the power of vested authority, no one smiled
over that order but me.
Many times my medical experience was useful.
Once I was on a train which ran into a buggy and
killed the woman in it. Her little daughter, who
was with her, was badly hurt, and when the train
had stopped the crew lifted the dead woman and
the injured child on board, to take them to the next
station. As I was the only doctor among the passengers,
the child was turned over to me. I made up
a bed on the seats and put the little patient there,
but no woman in the car was able to assist me. The
tragedy had made them hysterical, and on every
side they were weeping and nerveless. The men were
willing but inefficient, with the exception of one uncouth
woodsman whose trousers were tucked into
his boots and whose hands were phenomenally big
and awkward. But they were also very gentle, as
I realized when he began to help me. I knew at
once that he was the man I needed, notwithstanding
his unkempt hair, his general ungainliness, the
hat he wore on the back of his head, and the pink
carnation in his buttonhole, which, by its very incongruity,
added the final accent to his unprepossessing
appearance. Together we worked over the child,
making it as comfortable as we could. It was hardly
necessary to tell my aide what I wanted done;
he seemed to know and even to anticipate my efforts.
When we reached the next station the dead woman
was taken out and laid on the platform, and a nurse
and doctor who had been telegraphed for were waiting
to care for the little girl. She was conscious by
this time, and with the most exquisite gentleness my
rustic Bayard lifted her in his arms to carry her off
the train. Quite unnecessarily I motioned to him
not to let her see her dead mother. He was not the
sort who needed that warning; he had already turned
her face to his shoulder, and, with head bent low
above her, was safely skirting the spot where the
long, covered figure lay.
Evidently the station was his destination, too,
for he remained there; but just as the train pulled
out he came hurrying to my window, took the carnation
from his buttonhole, and without a word
handed it to me. And after the tragic hour in
which I had learned to know him the crushed flower,
from that man, seemed the best fee I had ever
In The Life of Susan B. Anthony it is mentioned
that 1888 was a year of special recognition of our
great leader's work, but that it was also the year
in which many of her closest friends and strongest
supporters were taken from her by death. A. Bronson
Alcott was among these, and Louisa M. Alcott,
as well as Dr. Lozier; and special stress is laid on
Miss Anthony's sense of loss in the diminishing circle
of her friends--a loss which new friends and workers
came forward, eager to supply.
``Chief among these,'' adds the record, ``was Anna
Shaw, who, from the time of the International Council
in '88, gave her truest allegiance to Miss Anthony.''
It is true that from that year until Miss Anthony's
death in 1906 we two were rarely separated; and
I never read the paragraph I have just quoted without
seeing, as in a vision, the figure of ``Aunt Susan''
as she slipped into my hotel room in Chicago late
one night after an evening meeting of the International
Council. I had gone to bed--indeed, I was
almost asleep when she came, for the day had been
as exhausting as it was interesting. But notwithstanding
the lateness of the hour, ``Aunt Susan,''
then nearing seventy, was still as fresh and as full
of enthusiasm as a young girl. She had a great deal
to say, she declared, and she proceeded to say it--
sitting in a big easy-chair near the bed, with a rug
around her knees, while I propped myself up with
pillows and listened.
Hours passed and the dawn peered wanly through
the windows, but still Miss Anthony talked of the
Cause always of the Cause--and of what we two
must do for it. The previous evening she had been
too busy to eat any dinner, and I greatly doubt
whether she had eaten any luncheon at noon. She
had been on her feet for hours at a time, and she
had held numerous discussions with other women
she wished to inspire to special effort. Yet, after
it all, here she was laying out our campaigns for years
ahead, foreseeing everything, forgetting nothing, and
sweeping me with her in her flight toward our common
goal, until I, who am not easily carried off my
feet, experienced an almost dizzy sense of exhilaration.
Suddenly she stopped, looked at the gas-jets paling
in the morning light that filled the room, and for a
fleeting instant seemed surprised. In the next she
had dismissed from her mind the realization that we
had talked all night. Why should we not talk all
night? It was part of our work. She threw off
the enveloping rug and rose.
``I must dress now,'' she said, briskly. ``I've
called a committee meeting before the morning
On her way to the door nature smote her with a
rare reminder, but even then she did not realize that
it was personal. ``Perhaps,'' she remarked, tentatively,
``you ought to have a cup of coffee.''
That was ``Aunt Susan.'' And in the eighteen
years which followed I had daily illustrations of her
superiority to purely human weaknesses. To her
the hardships we underwent later, in our Western
campaigns for woman suffrage, were as the airiest
trifles. Like a true soldier, she could snatch a moment
of sleep or a mouthful of food where she found
it, and if either was not forthcoming she did not
miss it. To me she was an unceasing inspiration--
the torch that illumined my life. We went
through some difficult years together--years when
we fought hard for each inch of headway we gained
--but I found full compensation for every effort in
the glory of working with her for the Cause that was
first in both our hearts, and in the happiness of being
her friend. Later I shall describe in more detail the
suffrage campaigns and the National and International
councils in which we took part; now it is
of her I wish to write--of her bigness, her manysidedness,
her humor, her courage, her quickness,
her sympathy, her understanding, her force, her
supreme common-sense, her selflessness; in short, of
the rare beauty of her nature as I learned to know it.
Like most great leaders, she took one's best work
for granted, and was chary with her praise; and even
when praise was given it usually came by indirect
routes. I recall with amusement that the highest
compliment she ever paid me in public involved her
in a tangle from which, later, only her quick wit
extricated her. We were lecturing in an especially
pious town which I shall call B----, and just before
I went on the platform Miss Anthony remarked,
``These people have always claimed that I am irreligious.
They will not accept the fact that I am
a Quaker--or, rather, they seem to think a Quaker
is an infidel. I am glad you are a Methodist, for
now they cannot claim that we are not orthodox.''
She was still enveloped in the comfort of this reflection
when she introduced me to our audience,
and to impress my qualifications upon my hearers
she made her introduction in these words:
``It is a pleasure to introduce Miss Shaw, who
is a Methodist minister. And she is not only orthodox
of the orthodox, but she is also my right bower!''
There was a gasp from the pious audience, and
then a roar of laughter from irreverent men, in
which, I must confess, I light-heartedly joined. For
once in her life Miss Anthony lost her presence of
mind; she did not know how to meet the situation,
for she had no idea what had caused the laughter.
It bubbled forth again and again during the evening,
and each time Miss Anthony received the demonstration
with the same air of puzzled surprise.
When we had returned to our hotel rooms I explained
the matter to her. I do not remember now where
I had acquired my own sinful knowledge, but that
night I faced ``Aunt Susan'' from the pedestal of a
sophisticated worldling.
``Don't you know what a right bower is?'' I demanded,
``Of course I do,'' insisted ``Aunt Susan.'' ``It's
a right-hand man--the kind one can't do without.''
``It is a card,'' I told her, firmly--``a leading card
in a game called euchre.''
``Aunt Susan'' was dazed. ``I didn't know it had
anything to do with cards,'' she mused, mournfully.
``What must they think of me?''
What they thought became quite evident. The
newspapers made countless jokes at our expense,
and there were significant smiles on the faces in the
audience that awaited us the next night. When
Miss Anthony walked upon the platform she at
once proceeded to clear herself of the tacit charge
against her.
``When I came to your town,'' she began, cheerfully,
``I had been warned that you were a very
religious lot of people. I wanted to impress upon
you the fact that Miss Shaw and I are religious, too.
But I admit that when I told you she was my right
bower I did not know what a right bower was. I
have learned that, since last night.''
She waited until the happy chortles of her hearers
had subsided, and then went on.
``It interests me very much, however,'' she concluded,
``to realize that every one of you seemed to
know all about a right bower, and that I had to come
to your good, orthodox town to get the information.''
That time the joke was on the audience.
Miss Anthony's home was in Rochester, New
York, and it was said by our friends that on the
rare occasions when we were not together, and I was
lecturing independently, ``all return roads led
through Rochester.'' I invariably found some excuse
to go there and report to her. Together we
must have worn out many Rochester pavements,
for ``Aunt Susan's'' pet recreation was walking, and
she used to walk me round and round the city
squares, far into the night, and at a pace that made
policemen gape at us as we flew by. Some disrespectful
youth once remarked that on these occasions
we suggested a race between a ruler and a
rubber ball--for she was very tall and thin, while
I am short and plump. To keep up with her I
literally bounded at her side.
A certain amount of independent lecturing was
necessary for me, for I had to earn my living. The
National American Woman Suffrage Association
has never paid salaries to its officers, so, when I became
vice-president and eventually, in 1904, president
of the association, I continued to work gratuitously
for the Cause in these positions. Even Miss
Anthony received not one penny of salary for all
her years of unceasing labor, and she was so poor
that she did not have a home of her own until she
was seventy-five. Then it was a very simple one,
and she lived with the utmost economy. I decided
that I could earn my bare expenses by making one
brief lecture tour each year, and I made an arrangement
with the Redpath Bureau which left me
fully two-thirds of my time for the suffrage work
I loved.
This was one result of my all-night talk with Miss
Anthony in Chicago, and it enabled me to carry
out her plan that I should accompany her in most
of the campaigns in which she sought to arouse the
West to the need of suffrage for women. From that
time on we traveled and lectured together so constantly
that each of us developed an almost uncanny
knowledge of the other's mental processes. At any
point of either's lecture the other could pick it up
and carry it on--a fortunate condition, as it sometimes
became necessary to do this. Miss Anthony
was subject to contractions of the throat, which for
the moment caused a slight strangulation. On such
occasions--of which there were several--she would
turn to me and indicate her helplessness. Then I
would repeat her last sentence, complete her speech,
and afterward make my own.
The first time this happened we were in Washington,
and ``Aunt Susan'' stopped in the middle of a
word. She could not speak; she merely motioned
to me to continue for her, and left the stage. At the
end of the evening a prominent Washington man
who had been in our audience remarked to me, confidentially:
``That was a nice little play you and Miss Anthony
made to-night--very effective indeed.''
For an instant I did not catch his meaning, nor
the implication in his knowing smile.
``Very clever, that strangling bit, and your going
on with the speech,'' he repeated. ``It hit the audience
``Surely,'' I protested, ``you don't think it was a
deliberate thing--that we planned or rehearsed it.''
He stared at me incredulously. ``Are you going
to pretend,'' he demanded, ``that it wasn't a put-up
I told him he had paid us a high compliment, and
that we must really have done very well if we had
conveyed that impression; and I finally convinced
him that we not only had not rehearsed the episode,
but that neither of us had known what the other
meant to say. We never wrote out our speeches,
but our subject was always suffrage or some ramification
of suffrage, and, naturally, we had thoroughly
digested each other's views.
It is said by my friends that I write my speeches
on the tips of my fingers--for I always make my
points on my fingers and have my fingers named for
points. When I plan a speech I decide how many
points I wish to make and what those points shall
be. My mental preparation follows. Miss Anthony's
method was much the same; but very frequently
both of us threw over all our plans at the last
moment and spoke extemporaneously on some theme
suggested by the atmosphere of the gathering or by
the words of another speaker.
From Miss Anthony, more than from any one else,
I learned to keep cool in the face of interruptions
and of the small annoyances and disasters inevitable
in campaigning. Often we were able to help each
other out of embarrassing situations, and one incident
of this kind occurred during our campaign in South
Dakota. We were holding a meeting on the hottest
Sunday of the hottest month in the year--August--
and hundreds of the natives had driven twenty,
thirty, and even forty miles across the country to
hear us. We were to speak in a sod church, but it
was discovered that the structure would not hold half
the people who were trying to enter it, so we decided
that Miss Anthony should speak from the door, in
order that those both inside and outside might hear
her. To elevate her above her audience, she was
given an empty dry-goods box to stand on.
This makeshift platform was not large, and men,
women, and children were seated on the ground
around it, pressing up against it, as close to the
speaker as they could get. Directly in front of Miss
Anthony sat a woman with a child about two years
old--a little boy; and this infant, like every one else
in the packed throng, was dripping with perspiration
and suffering acutely under the blazing sun. Every
woman present seemed to have brought children with
her, doubtless because she could not leave them
alone at home; and babies were crying and fretting
on all sides. The infant nearest Miss Anthony fretted
most strenuously; he was a sturdy little fellow with
a fine pair of lungs, and he made it very difficult for
her to lift her voice above his dismal clamor. Suddenly,
however, he discovered her feet on the drygoods
box, about on a level with his head. They
were clad in black stockings and low shoes; they
moved about oddly; they fascinated him. With a
yelp of interest he grabbed for them and began
pinching them to see what they were. His howls
ceased; he was happy.
Miss Anthony was not. But it was a great relief
to have the child quiet, so she bore the infliction of
the pinching as long as she could. When endurance
had found its limit she slipped back out of reach,
and as his new plaything receded the boy uttered
shrieks of disapproval. There was only one way to
stop his noise; Miss Anthony brought her feet forward
again, and he resumed the pinching of her
ankles, while his yelps subsided to contented murmurs.
The performance was repeated half a dozen
times. Each time the ankles retreated the baby
yelled. Finally, for once at the end of her patience,
``Aunt Susan'' leaned forward and addressed the
mother, whose facial expression throughout had
shown a complete mental detachment from the situation.
``I think your little boy is hot and thirsty,'' she
said, gently. ``If you would take him out of the
crowd and give him a drink of water and unfasten
his clothes, I am sure he would be more comfortable.''
Before she had finished speaking the woman had
sprung to her feet and was facing her with fierce
``This is the first time I have ever been insulted
as a mother,'' she cried; ``and by an old maid at
that!'' Then she grasped the infant and left the
scene, amid great confusion. The majority of those
in the audience seemed to sympathize with her.
They had not seen the episode of the feet, and they
thought Miss Anthony was complaining of the child's
crying. Their children were crying, too, and they
felt that they had all been criticized. Other women
rose and followed the irate mother, and many men
gallantly followed them. It seemed clear that
motherhood had been outraged.
Miss Anthony was greatly depressed by the episode,
and she was not comforted by a prediction one
man made after the meeting.
``You've lost at least twenty votes by that little
affair,'' he told her.
``Aunt Susan'' sighed. ``Well,'' she said, ``if those
men knew how my ankles felt I would have won
twenty votes by enduring the torture as long as I did.''
The next day we had a second meeting. Miss
Anthony made her speech early in the evening, and
by the time it was my turn to begin all the children
in the audience--and there were many--were both
tired and sleepy. At least half a dozen of them
were crying, and I had to shout to make my voice
heard above their uproar. Miss Anthony remarked
afterward that there seemed to be a contest between
me and the infants to see which of us could make
more noise. The audience was plainly getting restless
under the combined effect, and finally a man in
the rear rose and added his voice to the tumult.
``Say, Miss Shaw,'' he yelled, ``don't you want
these children put out?''
It was our chance to remove the sad impression
of yesterday, and I grasped it.
``No, indeed,'' I yelled back. ``Nothing inspires
me like the voice of a child!''
A handsome round of applause from mothers and
fathers greeted this noble declaration, after which
the blessed babies and I resumed our joint vocal
efforts. When the speech was finished and we were
alone together, Miss Anthony put her arm around
my shoulder and drew me to her side.
``Well, Anna,'' she said, gratefully, ``you've certainly
evened us up on motherhood this time.''
That South Dakota campaign was one of the
most difficult we ever made. It extended over nine
months; and it is impossible to describe the poverty
which prevailed throughout the whole rural community
of the State. There had been three consecutive
years of drought. The sand was like powder,
so deep that the wheels of the wagons in which
we rode ``across country'' sank half-way to the
hubs; and in the midst of this dry powder lay withered
tangles that had once been grass. Every one
had the forsaken, desperate look worn by the pioneer
who has reached the limit of his endurance, and the
great stretches of prairie roads showed innumerable
canvas-covered wagons, drawn by starved horses,
and followed by starved cows, on their way ``Back
East.'' Our talks with the despairing drivers of
these wagons are among my most tragic memories.
They had lost everything except what they had with
them, and they were going East to leave ``the woman''
with her father and try to find work. Usually,
with a look of disgust at his wife, the man would
say: ``I wanted to leave two years ago, but the
woman kept saying, `Hold on a little longer.' ''
Both Miss Anthony and I gloried in the spirit of
these pioneer women, and lost no opportunity to
tell them so; for we realized what our nation owes
to the patience and courage of such as they were.
We often asked them what was the hardest thing to
bear in their pioneer life, and we usually received
the same reply:
``To sit in our little adobe or sod houses at night
and listen to the wolves howl over the graves of our
babies. For the howl of the wolf is like the cry of
a child from the grave.''
Many days, and in all kinds of weather, we rode
forty and fifty miles in uncovered wagons. Many
nights we shared a one-room cabin with all the members
of the family. But the greatest hardship we
suffered was the lack of water. There was very
little good water in the state, and the purest water
was so brackish that we could hardly drink it. The
more we drank the thirstier we became, and when
the water was made into tea it tasted worse than
when it was clear. A bath was the rarest of luxuries.
The only available fuel was buffalo manure, of which
the odor permeated all our food. But despite these
handicaps we were happy in our work, for we had
some great meetings and many wonderful experiences.
When we reached the Black Hills we had more of
this genuine campaigning. We traveled over the
mountains in wagons, behind teams of horses, visiting
the mining-camps; and often the gullies were so
deep that when our horses got into them it was almost
impossible to get them out. I recall with
special clearness one ride from Hill City to Custer
City. It was only a matter of thirty miles, but it was
thoroughly exhausting; and after our meeting that
same night we had to drive forty miles farther over
the mountains to get the early morning train from
Buffalo Gap. The trail from Custer City to Buffalo
Gap was the one the animals had originally made in
their journeys over the pass, and the drive in that
wild region, throughout a cold, piercing October
night, was an unforgetable experience. Our host at
Custer City lent Miss Anthony his big buffalo overcoat,
and his wife lent hers to me. They also heated
blocks of wood for our feet, and with these protections
we started. A full moon hung in the sky.
The trees were covered with hoar-frost, and the cold,
still air seemed to sparkle in the brilliant light.
Again Miss Anthony talked to me throughout the
night--of the work, always of the work, and of what
it would mean to the women who followed us; and
again she fired my soul with the flame that burned
so steadily in her own.
It was daylight when we reached the little station
at Buffalo Gap where we were to take the
train. This was not due, however, for half an hour,
and even then it did not come. The station was
only large enough to hold the stove, the ticket-office,
and the inevitable cuspidor. There was barely
room in which to walk between these and the wall.
Miss Anthony sat down on the floor. I had a few
raisins in my bag, and we divided them for breakfast.
An hour passed, and another, and still the train did
not come. Miss Anthony, her back braced against
the wall, buried her face in her hands and dropped
into a peaceful abyss of slumber, while I walked
restlessly up and down the platform. The train
arrived four hours late, and when eventually we had
reached our destination we learned that the ministers
of the town had persuaded the women to give
up the suffrage meeting scheduled for that night, as
it was Sunday.
This disappointment, following our all-day and
all-night drive to keep our appointment, aroused
Miss Anthony's fighting spirit. She sent me out to
rent the theater for the evening, and to have some
hand-bills printed and distributed, announcing that
we would speak. At three o'clock she made the
concession to her seventy years of lying down for
an hour's rest. I was young and vigorous, so I
trotted around town to get somebody to preside,
somebody to introduce us, somebody to take up
the collection, and somebody who would provide
music--in short, to make all our preparations for
the night meeting.
When evening came the crowd which had assembled
was so great that men and women sat in the
windows and on the stage, and stood in the flies.
Night attractions were rare in that Dakota town,
and here was something new. Nobody went to
church, so the churches were forced to close. We
had a glorious meeting. Both Miss Anthony and I
were in excellent fighting trim, and Miss Anthony
remarked that the only thing lacking to make me
do my best was a sick headache. The collection we
took up paid all our expenses, the church singers
sang for us, the great audience was interested, and
the whole occasion was an inspiring success.
The meeting ended about half after ten o'clock,
and I remember taking Miss Anthony to our hotel
and escorting her to her room. I also remember
that she followed me to the door and made some
laughing remark as I left for my own room; but I
recall nothing more until the next morning when
she stood beside me telling me it was time for breakfast.
She had found me lying on the cover of my
bed, fully clothed even to my bonnet and shoes.
I had fallen there, utterly exhausted, when I entered
my room the night before, and I do not think I had
even moved from that time until the moment--
nine hours later--when I heard her voice and felt
her hand on my shoulder.
After all our work, we did not win Dakota that
year, but Miss Anthony bore the disappointment
with the serenity she always showed. To her a
failure was merely another opportunity, and I mention
our experience here only to show of what she
was capable in her gallant seventies. But I should
misrepresent her if I did not show her human and
sentimental side as well. With all her detachment
from human needs she had emotional moments, and
of these the most satisfying came when she was
listening to music. She knew nothing whatever
about music, but was deeply moved by it; and I remember
vividly one occasion when Nordica sang
for her, at an afternoon reception given by a Chicago
friend in ``Aunt Susan's'' honor. As it happened,
she had never heard Nordica sing until that day;
and before the music began the great artiste and the
great leader met, and in the moment of meeting
became friends. When Nordica sang, half an hour
later, she sang directly to Miss Anthony, looking
into her eyes; and ``Aunt Susan'' listened with her
own eyes full of tears. When the last notes had been
sung she went to the singer and put both arms
around her. The music had carried her back to her
girlhood and to the sentiment of sixteen.
``Oh, Nordica,'' she sighed, ``I could die listening
to such singing!''
Another example of her unquenchable youth has
also a Chicago setting. During the World's Fair a
certain clergyman made an especially violent stand
in favor of closing the Fair grounds on Sunday.
Miss Anthony took issue with him.
``If I had charge of a young man in Chicago at this
time,'' she told the clergyman, ``I would much
rather have him locked inside the Fair grounds on
Sunday or any other day than have him going
about on the outside.''
The clergyman was horrified. ``Would you like
to have a son of yours go to Buffalo Bill's Wild West
Show on Sunday?'' he demanded.
``Of course I would,'' admitted Miss Anthony.
``In fact, I think he would learn more there than
from the sermons preached in some churches.''
Later this remark was repeated to Colonel Cody
(``Buffalo Bill''), who, of course, was delighted with
it. He at once wrote to Miss Anthony, thanking
her for the breadth of her views, and offering her a
box for his ``Show.'' She had no strong desire
to see the performance, but some of us urged her to
accept the invitation and to take us with her. She
was always ready to do anything that would give
us pleasure, so she promised that we should go the
next afternoon. Others heard of the jaunt and
begged to go also, and Miss Anthony blithely took
every applicant under her wing, with the result that
when we arrived at the box-office the next day
there were twelve of us in the group. When she
presented her note and asked for a box, the local
manager looked doubtfully at the delegation.
``A box only holds six,'' he objected, logically.
Miss Anthony, who had given no thought to that
slight detail, looked us over and smiled her seraphic
``Why, in that case,'' she said, cheerfully, ``you'll
have to give us two boxes, won't you?''
The amused manager decided that he would, and
handed her the tickets; and she led her band to
their places in triumph. When the performance began
Colonel Cody, as was his custom, entered the
arena from the far end of the building, riding his
wonderful horse and bathed, of course, in the effulgence
of his faithful spot-light. He rode directly
to our boxes, reined his horse in front of Miss Anthony,
rose in his stirrups, and with his characteristic
gesture swept his slouch-hat to his saddle-bow in
salutation. ``Aunt Susan'' immediately rose, bowed
in her turn and, for the moment as enthusiastic as a
girl, waved her handkerchief at him, while the big
audience, catching the spirit of the scene, wildly
applauded. It was a striking picture this meeting
of the pioneer man and woman; and, poor as I am,
I would give a hundred dollars for a snapshot of it.
On many occasions I saw instances of Miss Anthony's
prescience--and one of these was connected
with the death of Frances E. Willard. ``Aunt
Susan'' had called on Miss Willard, and, coming to
me from the sick-room, had walked the floor, beating
her hands together as she talked of the visit.
``Frances Willard is dying,'' she exclaimed, passionately.
``She is dying, and she doesn't know it,
and no one around her realizes it. She is lying there,
seeing into two worlds, and making more plans than
a thousand women could carry out in ten years.
Her brain is wonderful. She has the most extraordinary
clearness of vision. There should be a stenographer
in that room, and every word she utters
should be taken down, for every word is golden.
But they don't understand. They can't realize that
she is going. I told Anna Gordon the truth, but she
won't believe it.''
Miss Willard died a few days later, with a suddenness
which seemed to be a terrible shock to those
around her.
Of ``Aunt Susan's'' really remarkable lack of selfconsciousness
we who worked close to her had a
thousand extraordinary examples. Once, I remember,
at the New Orleans Convention, she reached
the hall a little late, and as she entered the great
audience already assembled gave her a tremendous
reception. The exercises of the day had not yet
begun, and Miss Anthony stopped short and looked
around for an explanation of the outburst. It never
for a moment occurred to her that the tribute was
to her.
``What has happened, Anna?'' she asked at last.
``You happened, Aunt Susan,'' I had to explain.
Again, on the great ``College Night'' of the Baltimore
Convention, when President M. Carey Thomas
of Bryn Mawr College had finished her wonderful
tribute to Miss Anthony, the audience, carried away
by the speech and also by the presence of the venerable
leader on the platform, broke into a whirlwind
of applause. In this ``Aunt Susan'' artlessly joined,
clapping her hands as hard as she could. ``This is
all for you, Aunt Susan,'' I whispered, ``so it isn't
your time to applaud.''
``Aunt Susan'' continued to clap. ``Nonsense,''
she said, briskly. ``It's not for me. It's for the
Cause--the Cause!''
Miss Anthony told me in 1904 that she regarded
her reception in Berlin, during the meeting of the
International Council of Women that year, as the
climax of her career. She said it after the unexpected
and wonderful ovation she had received from
the German people, and certainly throughout her
inspiring life nothing had happened that moved her
more deeply.
For some time Mrs. Carrie Chapman Catt, of
whose splendid work for the Cause I shall later have
more to say, had cherished the plan of forming an
International Suffrage Alliance. She believed the
time had come when the suffragists of the entire
world could meet to their common benefit; and Miss
Anthony, always Mrs. Catt's devoted friend and admirer,
agreed with her. A committee was appointed
to meet in Berlin in 1904, just before the meeting
of the International Council of Women, and Miss
Anthony was appointed chairman of the committee.
At first the plan of the committee was not welcomed
by the International Council; there was even a suspicion
that its purpose was to start a rival organization.
But it met, a constitution was framed, and
officers were elected, Mrs. Catt--the ideal choice
for the place--being made president. As a climax
to the organization, a great public mass-meeting had
been arranged by the German suffragists, but at the
special plea of the president of the International
Council Miss Anthony remained away from this
meeting. It was represented to her that the interests
of the Council might suffer if she and other
of its leading speakers were also leaders in the suffrage
movement. In the interest of harmony, there
fore, she followed the wishes of the Council's president--
to my great unhappiness and to that of other
When the meeting was opened the first words of
the presiding officer were, ``Where is Susan B. Anthony?''
and the demonstration that followed the
question was the most unexpected and overwhelming
incident of the gathering. The entire audience
rose, men jumped on their chairs, and the cheering
continued without a break for ten minutes. Every
second of that time I seemed to see Miss Anthony,
alone in her hotel room, longing with all her big
heart to be with us, as we longed to have her. I
prayed that the loss of a tribute which would have
meant so much might be made up to her, and it was.
Afterward, when we burst in upon her and told her
of the great demonstration the mere mention of her
name had caused, her lips quivered and her brave
old eyes filled with tears. As we looked at her I
think we all realized anew that what the world called
stoicism in Susan B. Anthony throughout the years
of her long struggle had been, instead, the splendid
courage of an indomitable soul--while all the time
the woman's heart had longed for affection and
recognition. The next morning the leading Berlin
newspaper, in reporting the debate and describing
the spontaneous tribute to Miss Anthony, closed
with these sentences: ``The Americans call her
`Aunt Susan.' She is our `Aunt Susan,' too!''
Throughout the remainder of Miss Anthony's
visit she was the most honored figure at the International
Council. Every time she entered the great
convention-hall the entire audience rose and remained
standing until she was seated; each mention
of her name was punctuated by cheers; and the enthusiasm
when she appeared on the platform to say
a few words was beyond bounds. When the Empress
of Germany gave her reception to the officers
of the Council, she crowned the hospitality of her
people in a characteristically gracious way. As soon
as Miss Anthony was presented to her the Empress
invited her to be seated, and to remain seated, although
every one else, including the august lady
herself, was standing. A little later, seeing the intrepid
warrior of eighty-four on her feet with the
other delegates, the Empress sent one of her aides
across the room with this message: ``Please tell my
friend Miss Anthony that I especially wish her to
be seated. We must not let her grow weary.''
In her turn, Miss Anthony was fascinated by the
Empress. She could not keep her eyes off that
charming royal lady. Probably the thing that most
impressed her was the ability of her Majesty as a
linguist. Receiving women from every civilized
country on the globe, the Empress seemed to address
each in her own tongue-slipping from one language
into the next as easily as from one topic to another.
``And here I am,'' mourned ``Aunt Susan,'' ``speaking
only one language, and that not very well.''
At this Berlin quinquennial, by the way, I preached
the Council sermon, and the occasion gained a certain
interest from the fact that I was the first ordained
woman to preach in a church in Germany.
It then took on a tinge of humor from the additional
fact that, according to the German law, as suddenly
revealed to us by the police, no clergyman was permitted
to preach unless clothed in clerical robes in
the pulpit. It happened that I had not taken my
clerical robes with me--I am constantly forgetting
those clerical robes!--so the pastor of the church
kindly offered me his robes.
Now the pastor was six feet tall and broad in proportion,
and I, as I have already confessed, am very
short. His robes transformed me into such an absurd
caricature of a preacher that it was quite impossible
for me to wear them. What, then, were we to do?
Lacking clerical robes, the police would not allow
me to utter six words. It was finally decided that
the clergyman should meet the letter of the law by
entering the pulpit in his robes and standing by my
side while I delivered my sermon. The law soberly
accepted this solution of the problem, and we offered
the congregation the extraordinary tableau of a
pulpit combining a large and impressive pastor
standing silently beside a small and inwardly convulsed
woman who had all she could do to deliver
her sermon with the solemnity the occasion required.
At this same conference I made one of the few
friendships I enjoy with a member of a European
royal family, for I met the Princess Blank of Italy,
who overwhelmed me with attention during my visit,
and from whom I still receive charming letters. She
invited me to visit her in her castle in Italy, and to
accompany her to her mother's castle in Austria,
and she finally insisted on knowing exactly why I
persistently refused both invitations.
``Because, my dear Princess,'' I explained, ``I am
a working-woman.''
``Nobody need KNOW that,'' murmured the Princess,
``On the contrary,'' I assured her, ``it is the first
thing I should explain.''
``But why?'' the Princess wanted to know.
I studied her in silence for a moment. She was a
new and interesting type to me, and I was glad to
exchange viewpoints with her.
``You are proud of your family, are you not?'' I
asked. ``You are proud of your great line?''
The Princess drew herself up. ``Assuredly,'' she
``Very well,'' I continued. ``I am proud, too.
What I have done I have done unaided, and, to be
frank with you, I rather approve of it. My work
is my patent of nobility, and I am not willing to
associate with those from whom it would have to be
concealed or with those who would look down upon
The Princess sighed. I was a new type to her,
too, as new as she was to me; but I had the advantage
of her, for I could understand her point of
view, whereas she apparently could not follow mine.
She was very gracious to me, however, showing me
kindness and friendship in a dozen ways, giving me
an immense amount of her time and taking rather
more of my time than I could spare, but never forgetting
for a moment that her blood was among the
oldest in Europe, and that all her traditions were in
keeping with its honorable age.
After the Berlin meeting Miss Anthony and I
were invited to spend a week-end at the home of
Mrs. Jacob Bright, that ``Aunt Susan'' might renew
her acquaintance with Annie Besant. This
visit is among my most vivid memories. Originally
``Aunt Susan'' had greatly admired Mrs. Besant,
and had openly lamented the latter's concentration
on theosophical interests--when, as Miss Anthony
put it, ``there are so many live problems here in this
world.'' Now she could not conceal her disapproval
of the ``other-worldliness'' of Mrs. Besant, Mrs.
Bright, and her daughter. Some remarkable and,
to me, most amusing discussions took place among
the three; but often, during Mrs. Besant's most sustained
oratorical flights, Miss Anthony's interest
would wander, and she would drop a remark that
showed she had not heard a word. She had a great
admiration for Mrs. Besant's intellect; but she disapproved
of her flowing and picturesque white robes,
of her bare feet, of her incessant cigarette-smoking;
above all, of her views. At last, one day.{sic} the climax
of the discussions came.
``Annie,'' demanded ``Aunt Susan,'' ``why don't
you make that aura of yours do its gallivanting in
this world, looking up the needs of the oppressed,
and investigating the causes of present wrongs?
Then you could reveal to us workers just what we
should do to put things right, and we could be
about it.''
Mrs. Besant sighed and said that life was short
and aeons were long, and that while every one would
be perfected some time, it was useless to deal with
individuals here.
``But, Annie!'' exclaimed Miss Anthony, pathetically.
``We ARE here! Our business is here! It's
our duty to do what we can here.''
Mrs. Besant seemed not to hear her. She was in
a trance, gazing into the aeons.
``I'd rather have one year of your ability, backed
up with common sense, for the work of making this
world better,'' cried the exasperated ``Aunt Susan,''
``than a million aeons in the hereafter!''
Mrs. Besant sighed again. It was plain that she
could not bring herself back from the other world,
so Miss Anthony, perforce, accompanied her to it.
``When your aura goes visiting in the other
world,'' she asked, curiously, ``does it ever meet
your old friend Charles Bradlaugh?''
``Oh yes,'' declared Mrs. Besant. ``Frequently.''
``Wasn't he very much surprised,'' demanded Miss
Anthony, with growing interest, ``to discover that he
was not dead?''
Mrs. Besant did not seem to know what emotion
Mr. Bradlaugh had experienced when that revelation
``Well,'' mused ``Aunt Susan,'' ``I should think
he would have been surprised. He was so certain
he was going to be dead that it must have been
astounding to discover he wasn't. What was he
doing in the other world?''
Mrs. Besant heaved a deeper sigh. ``I am very
much discouraged over Mr. Bradlaugh,'' she admitted,
wanly. `` He is hovering too near this
world. He cannot seem to get away from his mundane
interests. He is as much concerned with parliamentary
affairs now as when he was on this
``Humph!'' said Miss Anthony; ``that's the most
sensible thing I've heard yet about the other world.
It encourages me. I've always felt sure that if I
entered the other life before women were enfranchised
nothing in the glories of heaven would interest
me so much as the work for women's freedom
on earth. Now,'' she ended, ``I shall be like Mr.
Bradlaugh. I shall hover round and continue my
work here.''
When Mrs. Besant had left the room Mrs. Bright
felt that it was her duty to admonish ``Aunt Susan''
to be more careful in what she said.
``You are making too light of her creed,'' she expostulated.
``You do not realize the important
position Mrs. Besant holds. Why, in India, when
she walks from her home to her school all those she
meets prostrate themselves. Even the learned men
prostrate themselves and put their faces on the
ground as she goes by.''
``Aunt Susan's'' voice, when she replied, took on
the tones of one who is sorely tried. ``But why in
Heaven's name does any sensible Englishwoman
want a lot of heathen to prostrate themselves as she
goes up the street?'' she demanded, wearily. ``It's
the most foolish thing I ever heard.''
The effort to win Miss Anthony over to the theosophical
doctrine was abandoned. That night, after
we had gone to our rooms, ``Aunt Susan'' summed up
her conclusions on the interview:
``It's a good thing for the world,'' she declared,
``that some of us don't know so much. And it's a
better thing for this world that some of us think a
little earthly common sense is more valuable than
too much heavenly knowledge.''
On one occasion Miss Anthony had the doubtful
pleasure of reading her own obituary notices,
and her interest in them was characteristically naive.
She had made a speech at Lakeside, Ohio, during
which, for the first time in her long experience, she
fainted on the platform. I was not with her at the
time, and in the excitement following her collapse
it was rumored that she had died. Immediately
the news was telegraphed to the Associated Press
of New York, and from there flashed over the
country. At Miss Anthony's home in Rochester a
reporter rang the bell and abruptly informed her
sister, Miss Mary Anthony, who came to the door,
that ``Aunt Susan'' was dead. Fortunately Miss
Mary had a cool head.
``I think,'' she said, ``that if my sister had died
I would have heard about it. Please have your
editors telegraph to Lakeside.''
The reporter departed, but came back an hour
later to say that his newspaper had sent the telegram
and the reply was that Susan B. Anthony was
``I have just received a better telegram than that,''
remarked Mary Anthony. `` Mine is from my
sister; she tells me that she fainted to-night, but
soon recovered and will be home to-morrow.''
Nevertheless, the next morning the American
newspapers gave much space to Miss Anthony's
obituary notices, and ``Aunt Susan'' spent some interesting
hours reading them. One that pleased her
vastly was printed in the Wichita Eagle, whose editor,
Mr. Murdock, had been almost her bitterest opponent.
He had often exhausted his brilliant vocabulary
in editorial denunciations of suffrage and
suffragists, and Miss Anthony had been the special
target of his scorn. But the news of her death seemed
to be a bitter blow to him; and of all the tributes
the American press gave to Susan B. Anthony dead,
few equaled in beauty and appreciation the one
penned by Mr. Murdock and published in the Eagle.
He must have been amused when, a few days later,
he received a letter from ``Aunt Susan'' herself,
thanking him warmly for his changed opinion of her
and hoping that it meant the conversion of his soul
to our Cause. It did not, and Mr. Murdock, though
never again quite as bitter as he had been, soon
resumed the free editorial expression of his antisuffrage
sentiments. Times have changed, however,
and to-day his son, now a member of Congress, is
one of our strongest supporters in that body.
In 1905 it became plain that Miss Anthony's
health was failing. Her visits to Germany and
England the previous year, triumphant though they
had been, had also proved a drain on her vitality;
and soon after her return to America she entered
upon a task which helped to exhaust her remaining
strength. She had been deeply interested in securing
a fund of $50,000 to enable women to enter
Rochester University, and, one morning, just after
we had held a session of our executive committee
in her Rochester home, she read a newspaper announcement
to the effect that at four o'clock that
afternoon the opportunity to admit women to the
university would expire, as the full fifty thousand
dollars had not been raised. The sum of eight
thousand dollars was still lacking.
With characteristic energy, Miss Anthony undertook
to save the situation by raising this amount
within the time limit. Rushing to the telephone,
she called a cab and prepared to go forth on her
difficult quest; but first, while she was putting on
her hat and coat, she insisted that her sister, Mary
Anthony, should start the fund by contributing one
thousand dollars from her meager savings, and this
Miss Mary did. ``Aunt Susan'' made every second
count that day, and by half after three o'clock she
had secured the necessary pledges. Several of the
trustees of the university, however, had not seemed
especially anxious to have the fund raised, and at
the last moment they objected to one pledge for a
thousand dollars, on the ground that the man who
had given it was very old and might die before the
time set to pay it; then his family, they feared,
might repudiate the obligation. Without a word
Miss Anthony seized the pledge and wrote her name
across it as an indorsement. ``I am good for it,''
she then said, quietly, ``if the gentleman who signed
it is not.''
That afternoon she returned home greatly fatigued.
A few hours later the girl students who
had been waiting admission to the university came
to serenade her in recognition of her successful work
for them, but she was too ill to see them. She was
passing through the first stage of what proved to
be her final breakdown.
In 1906, when the date of the annual convention of
the National American Woman Suffrage Association
in Baltimore was drawing near, she became convinced
that it would be her last convention. She was right.
She showed a passionate eagerness to make it one
of the greatest conventions ever held in the history
of the movement; and we, who loved her and saw
that the flame of her life was burning low, also bent
all our energies to the task of realizing her hopes.
In November preceding the convention she visited me
and her niece, Miss Lucy Anthony, in our home in
Mount Airy, Philadelphia, and it was clear that her
anxiety over the convention was weighing heavily
upon her. She visibly lost strength from day to
day. One morning she said abruptly, ``Anna, let's
go and call on President M. Carey Thomas, of
Bryn Mawr.''
I wrote a note to Miss Thomas, telling her of Miss
Anthony's desire to see her, and received an immediate
reply inviting us to luncheon the following
day. We found Miss Thomas deep in the work
connected with her new college buildings, over which
she showed us with much pride. Miss Anthony, of
course, gloried in the splendid results Miss Thomas
had achieved, but she was, for her, strangely silent
and preoccupied. At luncheon she said:
``Miss Thomas, your buildings are beautiful;
your new library is a marvel; but they are not the
cause of our presence here.''
``No,'' Miss Thomas said; ``I know you have
something on your mind. I am waiting for you to
tell me what it is.''
``We want your co-operation, and that of Miss
Garrett,'' began Miss Anthony, promptly, ``to make
our Baltimore Convention a success. We want you
to persuade the Arundel Club of Baltimore, the
most fashionable club in the city, to give a reception
to the delegates; and we want you to arrange
a college night on the programme--a great college
night, with the best college speakers ever brought
These were large commissions for two extremely
busy women, but both Miss Thomas and Miss
Garrett--realizing Miss Anthony's intense earnestness--
promised to think over the suggestions and
see what they could do. The next morning we received
a telegram from them stating that Miss
Thomas would arrange the college evening, and that
Miss Garrett would reopen her Baltimore home,
which she had closed, during the convention. She
also invited Miss Anthony and me to be her guests
there, and added that she would try to arrange the
reception by the Arundel Club.
``Aunt Susan'' was overjoyed. I have never seen
her happier than she was over the receipt of that
telegram. She knew that whatever Miss Thomas
and Miss Garrett undertook would be accomplished,
and she rightly regarded the success of the convention
as already assured. Her expectations were
more than realized. The college evening was undoubtedly
the most brilliant occasion of its kind
ever arranged for a convention. President Ira
Remsen of Johns Hopkins University presided, and
addresses were made by President Mary E. Woolley
of Mount Holyoke, Professor Lucy Salmon of Vassar,
Professor Mary Jordan of Smith, President Thomas
herself, and many others.
From beginning to end the convention was probably
the most notable yet held in our history.
Julia Ward Howe and her daughter, Florence Howe
Hall, were also guests of Miss Garrett, who, moreover,
entertained all the speakers of ``College Night.''
Miss Anthony, now eighty-six, arrived in Baltimore
quite ill, and Mrs. Howe, who was ninety, was taken
ill soon after she reached there. The two great
women made a dramatic exchange on the programme,
for on the first night, when Miss Anthony was unable
to speak, Mrs. Howe took her place, and on the
second night, when Mrs. Howe had succumbed,
Miss Anthony had recovered sufficiently to appear
for her. Clara Barton was also an honored figure
at the convention, and Miss Anthony's joy in the
presence of all these old and dear friends was overflowing.
With them, too, were the younger women,
ready to take up and carry on the work the old
leaders were laying down; and ``Aunt Susan,'' as
she surveyed them all, felt like a general whose
superb army is passing in review before him.
At the close of the college programme, when the
final address had been made by Miss Thomas, Miss
Anthony rose and in a few words expressed her
feeling that her life-work was done, and her consciousness
of the near approach of the end. After
that night she was unable to appear, and was indeed
so ill that she was confined to her bed in Miss Garrett's
most hospitable home. Nothing could have
been more thoughtful or more beautiful than the
care Miss Garrett and Miss Thomas bestowed on her.
They engaged for her one of the best physicians in
Baltimore, who, in turn, consulted with the leading
specialists of Johns Hopkins, and they also secured
a trained nurse. This final attention required
special tact, for Miss Anthony's fear of ``giving
trouble'' was so great that she was not willing to
have a nurse. The nurse, therefore, wore a housemaid's
uniform, and ``Aunt Susan'' remained wholly
unconscious that she was being cared for by one of
the best nurses in the famous hospital.
Between sessions of the convention I used to
sit by ``Aunt Susan's'' bed and tell her what was
going on. She was triumphant over the immense
success of the convention, but it was clear that
she was still worrying over the details of future
work. One day at luncheon Miss Thomas asked
me, casually:
``By the way, how do you raise the money to
carry on your work?''
When I told her the work was wholly dependent
on voluntary contributions and on the services of
those who were willing to give themselves gratuitously
to it, Miss Thomas was greatly surprised.
She and Miss Garrett asked a number of practical
questions, and at the end of our talk they looked at
each other.
``I don't think,'' said Miss Thomas, ``that we have
quite done our duty in this matter.''
The next day they invited a number of us to
dinner, to again discuss the situation; and they
admitted that they had sat up throughout the
previous night, talking the matter over and trying
to find some way to help us. They had also discussed
the situation with Miss Anthony, to her vast
content, and had finally decided that they would
try to raise a fund of $60,000, to be paid in yearly
instalments of $12,000 for five years--part of these
annual instalments to be used as salaries for the
active officers.
The mere mention of so large a fund startled us
all. We feared that it could not possibly be raised.
But Miss Anthony plainly believed that now the
last great wish of her life had been granted. She
was convinced that Miss Thomas and Miss Garrett
could accomplish anything--even the miracle
of raising $60,000 for the suffrage cause--and they
did, though ``Aunt Susan'' was not here to glory
over the result when they had achieved it.
On the 15th of February we left Baltimore for
Washington, where Miss Anthony was to celebrate
her eighty-sixth birthday. For many years
the National American Woman Suffrage Association
had celebrated our birthdays together, as hers
came on the 15th of the month and mine on the
14th. There had been an especially festive banquet
when she was seventy-four and I was forty-seven,
and our friends had decorated the table with floral
``4's'' and ``7's''--the centerpiece representing ``74''
during the first half of the banquet, and ``47'' the
latter half. This time ``Aunt Susan'' should not
have attempted the Washington celebration, for she
was still ill and exhausted by the strain of the convention.
But notwithstanding her sufferings and
the warnings of her physicians, she insisted on being
present; so Miss Garrett sent the trained nurse to
Washington with her, and we all tried to make the journey
the least possible strain on the patient's vitality.
On our arrival in Washington we went to the
Shoreham, where, as always, the proprietor took pains
to give Miss Anthony a room with a view of the
Washington monument, which she greatly admired.
When I entered her room a little later I found her
standing at a window, holding herself up with hands
braced against the casement on either side, and so
absorbed in the view that she did not hear my approach.
When I spoke to her she answered without
turning her head.
``That,'' she said, softly, ``is the most beautiful
monument in the world.''
I stood by her side, and together we looked at it
in silence I realizing with a sick heart that ``Aunt
Susan'' knew she was seeing it for the last time.
The birthday celebration that followed our executive
meeting was an impressive one. It was held
in the Church of Our Father, whose pastor, the Rev.
John Van Schaick, had always been exceedingly kind
to Miss Anthony. Many prominent men spoke.
President Roosevelt and other statesmen sent most
friendly letters, and William H. Taft had promised to
be present. He did not come, nor did he, then or
later, send any excuse for not coming--an omission
that greatly disappointed Miss Anthony, who had
always admired him. I presided at the meeting,
and though we all did our best to make it gay, a
strange hush hung over the assemblage a solemn
stillness, such as one feels in the presence of death.
We became more and more conscious that Miss
Anthony was suffering, and we hastened the exercises
all we could. When I read President Roosevelt's
long tribute to her, Miss Anthony rose to
comment on it.
``One word from President Roosevelt in his message
to Congress,'' she said, a little wearily, ``would
be worth a thousand eulogies of Susan B. Anthony.
When will men learn that what we ask is not praise,
but justice?''
At the close of the meeting, realizing how weak
she was, I begged her to let me speak for her. But
she again rose, rested her hand on my shoulder,
and, standing by my side, uttered the last words
she ever spoke in public, pleading with women to
consecrate themselves to the Cause, assuring them
that no power could prevent its ultimate success,
but reminding them also that the time of its coming
would depend wholly on their work and their loyalty.
She ended with three words--very fitting words
from her lips, expressing as they did the spirit of her
The next morning she was taken to her home in
Rochester, and one month from that day we conducted
her funeral services. The nurse who had
accompanied her from Baltimore remained with
her until two others had been secured to take her
place, and every care that love or medical science
could suggest was lavished on the patient. But
from the first it was plain that, as she herself had
foretold, ``Aunt Susan's'' soul was merely waiting
for the hour of its passing.
One of her characteristic traits was a dislike to
being seen, even by those nearest to her, when she
was not well. During the first three weeks of her
last illness, therefore, I did what she wished me to
do--I continued our work, trying to do hers as well
as my own. But all the time my heart was in her
sick-room, and at last the day came when I could
no longer remain away from her. I had awakened
in the morning with a strong conviction that she
needed me, and at the breakfast-table I announced
to her niece, Miss Lucy Anthony, the friend who for
years has shared my home, that I was going at once
to ``Aunt Susan.''
``I shall not even wait to telegraph,'' I declared.
``I am sure she has sent for me; I shall take the
first train.''
The journey brought me very close to death. As
we were approaching Wilkes-Barre our train ran into
a wagon loaded with powder and dynamite, which
had been left on the track. The horses attached to
it had been unhitched by their driver, who had spent
his time in this effort, when he saw the train coming,
instead of in signaling to the engineer. I was on
my way to the dining-car when the collision occurred.
and, with every one else who happened to be standing,
I was hurled to the floor by the impact; flash
after flash of blinding light outside, accompanied by
a terrific roar, added to the panic of the passengers.
When the train stopped we learned how narrow had
been our escape from an especially unpleasant form
of death. The dynamite in the wagon was frozen,
and therefore had not exploded; it was the explosion
of the powder that had caused the flashes
and the din. The dark-green cars were burned
almost white, and as we stood staring at them, a
silent, stunned group, our conductor said, quietly,
``You will never be as near death again, and escape,
as you have been to-day.''
The accident caused a long delay, and it was ten
o'clock at night when I reached Rochester and Miss
Anthony's home. As I entered the house Miss
Mary Anthony rose in surprise to greet me.
``How did you get here so soon?'' she cried.
And then: ``We sent for you this afternoon. Susan
has been asking for you all day.''
When I reached my friend's bedside one glance
at her face showed me the end was near; and from
that time until it came, almost a week later, I remained
with her; while again, as always, she talked
of the Cause, and of the life-work she must now lay
down. The first thing she spoke of was her will,
which she had made several years before, and in
which she had left the small property she possessed
to her sister Mary, her niece Lucy, and myself, with
instructions as to the use we three were to make of
it. Now she told me we were to pay no attention
to these instructions, but to give every dollar of her
money to the $60,000 fund Miss Thomas and Miss
Garrett were trying to raise. She was vitally interested
in this fund, as its success meant that for
five years the active officers of the National American
Woman Suffrage Association, including myself
as president, would for the first time receive salaries
for our work. When she had given her instructions
on this point she still seemed depressed.
``I wish I could live on,'' she said, wistfully.
``But I cannot. My spirit is eager and my heart
is as young as it ever was, but my poor old body is
worn out. Before I go I want you to give me a
promise: Promise me that you will keep the presidency
of the association as long as you are well
enough to do the work.''
``But how can I promise that?'' I asked. ``I can
keep it only as long as others wish me to keep
``Promise to make them wish you to keep it,''
she urged. ``Just as I wish you to keep it.''
I would have promised her anything then. So,
though I knew that to hold the presidency would tie
me to a position that brought in no living income,
and though for several years past I had already
drawn alarmingly upon my small financial reserve,
I promised her that I would hold the office as long
as the majority of the women in the association
wished me to do so. ``But,'' I added, ``if the time
comes when I believe that some one else can do
better work in the presidency than I, then let me
feel at liberty to resign it.''
This did not satisfy her.
``No, no,'' she objected. ``You cannot be the
judge of that. Promise me you will remain until
the friends you most trust tell you it is time to withdraw,
or make you understand that it is time.
Promise me that.''
I made the promise. She seemed content, and
again began to talk of the future.
``You will not have an easy path,'' she warned
me. ``In some ways it will be harder for you than it
has ever been for me. I was so much older than the
rest of you, and I had been president so long, that
you girls have all been willing to listen to me. It
will be different with you. Other women of your
own age have been in the work almost as long as you
have been; you do not stand out from them by age
or length of service, as I did. There will be inevitable
jealousies and misunderstandings; there will
be all sorts of criticism and misrepresentation. My
last word to you is this: No matter what is done
or is not done, how you are criticized or misunderstood,
or what efforts are made to block your path,
remember that the only fear you need have is the
fear of not standing by the thing you believe to be
right. Take your stand and hold it; then let come
what will, and receive blows like a good soldier.''
I was too much overcome to answer her; and
after a moment of silence she, in her turn, made me
a promise.
``I do not know anything about what comes to us
after this life ends,'' she said. ``But if there is a
continuance of life beyond it, and if I have any
conscious knowledge of this world and of what you
are doing, I shall not be far away from you; and in
times of need I will help you all I can. Who knows?
Perhaps I may be able to do more for the Cause
after I am gone than while I am here.''
Nine years have passed since then, and in each
day of them all it seems to me, in looking back, I
have had some occasion to recall her words. When
they were uttered I did not fully comprehend all
they meant, or the clearness of the vision that had
suggested them. It seemed to me that no position
I could hold would be of sufficient importance to
attract jealousy or personal attacks. The years have
brought more wisdom; I have learned that any one
who assumes leadership, or who, like myself, has
had leadership forced upon her, must expect to bear
many things of which the world knows nothing.
But with this knowledge, too, has come the memory
of ``Aunt Susan's'' last promise, and again and yet
again in hours of discouragement and despair I have
been helped by the blessed conviction that she was
keeping it.
During the last forty-eight hours of her life she
was unwilling that I should leave her side. So day
and night I knelt by her bed, holding her hand and
watching the flame of her wonderful spirit grow dim.
At times, even then, it blazed up with startling suddenness.
On the last afternoon of her life, when she
had lain quiet for hours, she suddenly began to utter
the names of the women who had worked with her,
as if in a final roll-call. Many of them had preceded
her into the next world; others were still splendidly
active in the work she was laying down. But young
or old, living or dead, they all seemed to file past
her dying eyes that day in an endless, shadowy review,
and as they went by she spoke to each of them.
Not all the names she mentioned were known in
suffrage ranks; some of these women lived only in
the heart of Susan B. Anthony, and now, for the
last time, she was thanking them for what they had
done. Here was one who, at a moment of special
need, had given her small savings; here was another
who had won valuable recruits to the Cause; this
one had written a strong editorial; that one had
made a stirring speech. In these final hours it
seemed that not a single sacrifice or service, however
small, had been forgotten by the dying leader. Last
of all, she spoke to the women who had been on her
board and had stood by her loyally so long--Rachel
Foster Avery, Alice Stone Blackwell, Carrie Chapman
Catt, Mrs. Upton, Laura Clay, and others.
Then, after lying in silence for a long time with her
cheek on my hand, she murmured: ``They are still
passing before me--face after face, hundreds and
hundreds of them, representing all the efforts of
fifty years. I know how hard they have worked
I know the sacrifices they have made. But it has
all been worth while!''
Just before she lapsed into unconsciousness she
seemed restless and anxious to say something, searching
my face with her dimming eyes.
``Do you want me to repeat my promise?'' I
asked, for she had already made me do so several
times. She made a sign of assent, and I gave her
the assurance she desired. As I did so she raised
my hand to her lips and kissed it--her last conscious
action. For more than thirty hours after that I
knelt by her side, but though she clung to my hand
until her own hand grew cold, she did not speak
She had told me over and over how much our long
friendship and association had meant to her, and the
comfort I had given her. But whatever I may have
been to her, it was as nothing compared with what
she was to me. Kneeling close to her as she passed
away, I knew that I would have given her a dozen
lives had I had them, and endured a thousand times
more hardship than we had borne together, for the
inspiration of her companionship and the joy of her
affection. They were the greatest blessings I have
had in all my life, and I cherish as my dearest treasure
the volume of her History of Woman Suffrage
on the fly-leaf of which she had written this inscription:
This huge volume IV I present to you with the love that
a mother beareth, and I hope you will find in it the facts about
women, for you will find them nowhere else. Your part will
be to see that the four volumes are duly placed in the libraries
of the country, where every student of history may have access
to them.
With unbounded love and faith,
That final line is still my greatest comfort. When
I am misrepresented or misunderstood, when I am
accused of personal ambition or of working for personal
ends, I turn to it and to similar lines penned
by the same hand, and tell myself that I should not
allow anything to interfere with the serenity of my
spirit or to disturb me in my work. At the end of
eighteen years of the most intimate companionship,
the leader of our Cause, the greatest woman I have
ever known, still felt for me ``unbounded love and
faith.'' Having had that, I have had enough.
For two days after ``Aunt Susan's'' death she lay
in her own home, as if in restful slumber, her face
wearing its most exquisite look of peaceful serenity;
and here her special friends, the poor and the unfortunate
of the city, came by hundreds to pay their
last respects. On the third day there was a public
funeral, held in the Congregational church, and,
though a wild blizzard was raging, every one in
Rochester seemed included in the great throng of
mourners who came to her bier in reverence and
left it in tears. The church services were conducted
by the pastor, the Rev. C. C. Albertson, a lifelong
friend of Miss Anthony's, assisted by the Rev. William
C. Gannett. James G. Potter, the Mayor of
the city, and Dr. Rush Rhees, president of Rochester
University, occupied prominent places among the
distinguished mourners, and Mrs. Jerome Jeffries,
the head of a colored school, spoke in behalf of the
negro race and its recognition of Miss Anthony's
services. College clubs, medical societies, and reform
groups were represented by delegates sent from
different states, and Miss Anna Gordon had come
on from Illinois to represent the Woman's National
Christian Temperance Union. Mrs. Catt delivered a
eulogy in which she expressed the love and recognition
of the organized suffrage women of the world for Miss
Anthony, as the one to whom they had all looked
as their leader. William Lloyd Garrison spoke of
Miss Anthony's work with his father and other antislavery
leaders, and Mrs. Jean Brooks Greenleaf
spoke in behalf of the New York State Suffrage
Association. Then, as ``Aunt Susan'' had requested,
I made the closing address. She had asked me to
do this and to pronounce the benediction, as well as
to say the final words at her grave.
It was estimated that more than ten thousand
persons were assembled in and around the church,
and after the benediction those who had been patiently
waiting out in the storm were permitted to
pass inside in single file for a last look at their
friend. They found the coffin covered by a large
American flag, on which lay a wreath of laurel and
palms; around it stood a guard of honor composed
of girl students of Rochester University in their
college caps and gowns. All day students had
mounted guard, relieving one another at intervals.
On every side there were flowers and floral emblems
sent by various organizations, and just over ``Aunt
Susan's'' head floated the silk flag given to her by
the women of Colorado. It contained four gold
stars, representing the four enfranchised states,
while the other stars were in silver. On her breast
was pinned the jeweled flag given to her on her
eightieth birthday by the women of Wyoming--the
first place in the world where in the constitution of
the state women were given equal political rights
with men. Here the four stars representing the
enfranchised states were made of diamonds, the
others of silver enamel. Just before the lid was
fastened on the coffin this flag was removed and
handed to Mary Anthony, who presented it to me.
From that day I have worn it on every occasion of
importance to our Cause, and each time a state is
won for woman suffrage I have added a new diamond
star. At the time I write this--in 1914--there are
As the funeral procession went through the streets
of Rochester it was seen that all the city flags were
at half-mast, by order of the City Council. Many
houses were draped in black, and the grief of the
citizens manifested itself on every side. All the way
to Mount Hope Cemetery the snow whirled blindingly
around us, while the masses that had fallen
covered the earth as far as we could see a fitting
winding-sheet for the one who had gone. Under the
fir-trees around her open grave I obeyed ``Aunt
Susan's'' wish that I should utter the last words
spoken over her body as she was laid to rest:
``Dear friend,'' I said, ``thou hast tarried with us
long. Now thou hast gone to thy well-earned rest.
We beseech the Infinite Spirit Who has upheld thee
to make us worthy to follow in thy steps and to
carry on thy work. Hail and farewell.''
In my chapters on Miss Anthony I bridged the
twenty years between 1886 and 1906, omitting
many of the stirring suffrage events of that long
period, in my desire to concentrate on those which
most vitally concerned her. I must now retrace my
steps along the widening suffrage stream and describe,
consecutively at least, and as fully as these
incomplete reminiscences will permit, other incidents
that occurred on its banks.
Of these the most important was the union in
1889 of the two great suffrage societies--the American
Association, of which Lucy Stone was the president,
and the National Association, headed by Susan
B. Anthony and Elizabeth Cady Stanton. At a
convention held in Washington these societies were
merged as The National American Woman Suffrage
Association--the name our association still bears--
and Mrs. Stanton was elected president. She was
then nearly eighty and past active work, but she
made a wonderful presiding officer at our subsequent
meetings, and she was as picturesque as she was
Miss Anthony, who had an immense admiration
for her and a great personal pride in her, always
escorted her to the capital, and, having worked her
utmost to make the meeting a success, invariably
gave Mrs. Stanton credit for all that was accomplished.
She often said that Mrs. Stanton was the
brains of the new association, while she herself was
merely its hands and feet; but in truth the two
women worked marvelously together, for Mrs.
Stanton was a master of words and could write and
speak to perfection of the things Susan B. Anthony
saw and felt but could not herself express. Usually
Miss Anthony went to Mrs. Stanton's house and
took charge of it while she stimulated the venerable
president to the writing of her annual address.
Then, at the subsequent convention, she would listen
to the report with as much delight and pleasure as
if each word of it had been new to her. Even after
Mrs. Stanton's resignation from the presidency--
at the end, I think, of three years--and Miss Anthony's
election as her successor, ``Aunt Susan'' still
went to her old friend whenever an important resolution
was to be written, and Mrs. Stanton loyally
drafted it for her.
Mrs. Stanton was the most brilliant conversationalist
I have ever known; and the best talk I
have heard anywhere was that to which I used to
listen in the home of Mrs. Eliza Wright Osborne,
in Auburn, New York, when Mrs. Stanton, Susan
B. Anthony, Emily Howland, Elizabeth Smith
Miller, Ida Husted Harper, Miss Mills, and I were
gathered there for our occasional week-end visits.
Mrs. Osborne inherited her suffrage sympathies, for
she was the daughter of Martha Wright, who, with
Mrs. Stanton and Lucretia Mott, called the first
suffrage convention in Seneca Falls, New York. I
must add in passing that her son, Thomas Mott
Osborne, who is doing such admirable work in
prison reform at Sing Sing, has shown himself worthy
of the gifted and high-minded mother who gave him
to the world.
Most of the conversation in Mrs. Osborne's home
was contributed by Mrs. Stanton and Miss Anthony,
while the rest of us sat, as it were, at their feet.
Many human and feminine touches brightened the
lofty discussions that were constantly going on, and
the varied characteristics of our leaders cropped up
in amusing fashion. Mrs. Stanton, for example, was
rarely accurate in giving figures or dates, while Miss
Anthony was always very exact in such matters.
She frequently corrected Mrs. Stanton's statements,
and Mrs. Stanton usually took the interruption in
the best possible spirit, promptly admitting that
``Aunt Susan'' knew best. On one occasion I recall,
however, she held fast to her opinion that she
was right as to the month in which a certain incident
had occurred.
``No, Susan,'' she insisted, ``you're wrong for
once. I remember perfectly when that happened,
for it was at the time I was beginning to wean
Aunt Susan, though somewhat staggered by the
force of this testimony, still maintained that Mrs.
Stanton must be mistaken, whereupon the latter
repeated, in exasperation, ``I tell you it happened
when I was weaning Harriet.'' And she added,
scornfully, ``What event have you got to reckon
Miss Anthony meekly subsided.
Mrs. Stanton had wonderful blue eyes, which
held to the end of her life an expression of eternal
youth. During our conventions she usually took
a little nap in the afternoon, and when she awoke
her blue eyes always had an expression of pleased
and innocent surprise, as if she were gazing on
the world for the first time--the round, unwinking,
interested look a baby's eyes have when something
attractive is held up before them.
Let me give in a paragraph, before I swing off into
the bypaths that always allure me, the consecutive
suffrage events of the past quarter of a century.
Having done this, I can dwell on each as casually
as I choose, for it is possible to describe only a few
incidents here and there; and I shall not be departing
from the story of my life, for my life had become
merged in the suffrage cause.
Of the preliminary suffrage campaigns in Kansas,
made in company with ``Aunt Susan,'' I have already
written, and it remains only to say that during
the second Kansas campaign yellow was adopted
as the suffrage color. In 1890, '92, and '93 we again
worked in Kansas and in South Dakota, with such
indefatigable and brilliant speakers as Mrs. Catt
(to whose efforts also were largely due the winning
of Colorado in '93), Mrs. Laura Johns of Kansas,
Mrs. Julia Nelson, Henry B. Blackwell, Dr. Helen
V. Putnam of Dakota, Mrs. Emma Smith DeVoe,
Rev. Olympia Browne of Wisconsin, and Dr. Mary
Seymour Howell of New York. In '94, '95, and '96
special efforts were devoted to Idaho, Utah, California,
and Washington, and from then on our
campaigns were waged steadily in the Western
The Colorado victory gave us two full suffrage
states, for in 1869 the Territory of Wyoming had enfranchised
women under very interesting conditions,
not now generally remembered. The achievement
was due to the influence of one woman, Esther
Morris, a pioneer who was as good a neighbor as
she was a suffragist. In those early days, in homes
far from physicians and surgeons, the women cared
for one another in sickness, and Esther Morris, as it
happened, once took full and skilful charge of a
neighbor during the difficult birth of the latter's
child. She had done the same thing for many other
women, but this woman's husband was especially
grateful. He was also a member of the Legislature,
and he told Mrs. Morris that if there was any
measure she wished put through for the women of
the territory he would be glad to introduce it.
She immediately took him at his word by asking
him to introduce a bill enfranchising women, and
he promptly did so.
The Legislature was Democratic, and it pounced
upon the measure as a huge joke. With the amiable
purpose of embarrassing the Governor of the territory,
who was a Republican and had been appointed
by the President, the members passed the bill and
put it up to him to veto. To their combined horror
and amazement, the young Governor did nothing
of the kind. He had come, as it happened, from
Salem, Ohio, one of the first towns in the United
States in which a suffrage convention was held.
There, as a boy, he had heard Susan B. Anthony
make a speech, and he had carried into the years
the impression it made upon him. He signed that
bill; and, as the Legislature could not get a twothirds
vote to kill it, the disgusted members had to
make the best of the matter. The following year
a Democrat introduced a bill to repeal the measure,
but already public sentiment had changed and he
was laughed down. After that no further effort
was ever made to take the ballot away from the
women of Wyoming.
When the territory applied for statehood, it was
feared that the woman-suffrage clause in the constitution
might injure its chance of admission, and
the women sent this telegram to Joseph M. Carey:
``Drop us if you must. We can trust the men of
Wyoming to enfranchise us after our territory becomes
a state.''
Mr. Carey discussed this telegram with the other
men who were urging upon Congress the admission
of their territory, and the following reply went
``We may stay out of the Union a hundred years,
but we will come in with our women.''
There is great inspiration in those two messages--
and a great lesson, as well.
In 1894 we conducted a campaign in New York,
when an effort was made to secure a clause to enfranchise
women in the new state constitution; and
for the first time in the history of the woman-suffrage
movement many of the influential women in
the state and city of New York took an active part
in the work. Miss Anthony was, as always, our
leader and greatest inspiration. Mrs. John Brooks
Greenleaf was state president, and Miss Mary
Anthony was the most active worker in the Rochester
headquarters. Mrs. Lily Devereaux Blake had
charge of the campaign in New York City, and Mrs.
Marianna Chapman looked after the Brooklyn section,
while a most stimulating sign of the times
was the organization of a committee of New York
women of wealth and social influence, who established
their headquarters at Sherry's. Among these
were Mrs. Josephine Shaw Lowell, Mrs. Joseph H.
Choate, Dr. Mary Putnam Jacobi, Mrs. J. Warren
Goddard, and Mrs. Robert Abbe. Miss Anthony,
then in her seventy-fifth year, spoke in every county
of the state sixty in all. I spoke in forty, and Mrs.
Catt, as always, made a superb record. Miss Harriet
May Mills, a graduate of Cornell, and Miss Mary
G. Hay, did admirable organization work in the different
counties. Our disappointment over the result
was greatly soothed by the fact that only two
years later both Idaho and Utah swung into line as
full suffrage states, though California, in which we
had labored with equal zeal, waited fifteen years
Among these campaigns, and overlapping them,
were our annual conventions--each of which I attended
from 1888 on--and the national and international
councils, to a number of which, also, I have
given preliminary mention. When Susan B. Anthony
died in 1906, four American states had granted
suffrage to woman. At the time I write--1914--the
result of the American women's work for suffrage
may be briefly tabulated thus:
Number of
State Year Won Electoral Votes
Wyoming 1869 3
Colorado 1893 6
Idaho 1896 4
Utah 1896 4
Washington 1910 7
California 1911 13
Arizona 1912 3
Kansas 1912 10
Oregon 1912 5
Alaska 1913 --
Nevada 1914 3
Montana 1914 4
Number of
State Year Won Electoral Votes
Illinois 1913 29
Goes to of Elec-
State House Senate Voters toral Votes
Iowa 81-26 31-15 1916 13
Massachusetts 169-39 34-2 1915 18
New Jersey 49-4 15-3 1915 14
New York 125-5 40-2 1915 45
North Dakota 77-29 31-19 1916 5
Pennsylvania 131-70 26-22 1915 38
To tabulate the wonderful work done by the
conventions and councils is not possible, but a consecutive
list of the meetings would run like this:
First National Convention, Washington, D.C., 1887.
First International Council of Women, Washington, D.C., 1888.
National Suffrage Convention, Washington, D.C., 1889.
National Suffrage Convention, Washington, D.C., 1890.
National Suffrage Convention, Washington, D.C., 1891.
National Suffrage Convention, Washington, D.C., 1892.
National Suffrage Convention, Washington, D.C., 1893.
International Council, Chicago, 1893.
National Suffrage Convention, Washington, D.C., 1894.
National Suffrage Convention, Atlanta, Ga., 1895.
National Suffrage Convention, Washington, D.C., 1896.
National Suffrage Convention, Des Moines, Iowa, 1897.
National Suffrage Convention, Washington, D.C., 1898.
National Suffrage Convention, Grand Rapids, Mich., 1899.
International Council, London, England, 1899.
National Suffrage Convention, Washington, D.C., 1900.
National Suffrage Convention, Minneapolis, Minn., 1901.
National Suffrage Convention, Washington, D.C., 1902.
National Suffrage Convention, New Orleans, La., 1903.
National Suffrage Convention, Washington, D.C., 1904.
International Council of Women, Berlin, Germany, 1904.
Formation of Intern'l Suffrage Alliance, Berlin, Germany, 1904.
National Suffrage Convention, Portland, Oregon, 1905.
National Suffrage Convention, Baltimore, Md., 1906.
International Suffrage Alliance, Copenhagen, Denmark, 1906.
National Suffrage Convention, Chicago, III., 1907.
International Suffrage Alliance, Amsterdam, Holland, 1908.
National Suffrage Convention, Buffalo, N. Y., 1908.
New York Headquarters established, 1909.
National Suffrage Convention, Seattle, Wash., 1909.
International Suffrage Alliance, London, England, 1909.
National Suffrage Convention, Washington, D.C., 1910.
International Council, Genoa, Italy, 1911.
National Suffrage Convention, Louisville, Ky., 1911.
International Suffrage Alliance, Stockholm, Sweden, 1911.
National Suffrage Convention, Philadelphia, Pa., 1912.
International Council, The Hague, Holland, 1913
National Suffrage Convention, Washington, D.C.; 1913.
International Suffrage Alliance, Budapest, Hungary, 1913.
National Suffrage Convention, Nashville, Tenn., 1914.
International Council, Rome, Italy, 1914.
The winning of the suffrage states, the work in the
states not yet won, the conventions, gatherings, and
international councils in which women of every
nation have come together, have all combined to
make this quarter of a century the most brilliant
period for women in the history of the world. I
have set forth the record baldly and without comment,
because the bare facts are far more eloquent
than words. It must not be forgotten, too, that these
great achievements of the progressive women of
to-day have been accomplished against the opposition
of a large number of their own sex--who, while
they are out in the world's arena fighting against
progress for their sisters, still shatter the ear-drum
with their incongruous war-cry, ``Woman's place
is in the home!''
Of our South Dakota campaign in 1890 there remains
only one incident which should have a place
here: We were attending the Republican state
nominating convention at Mitchell--Miss Anthony,
Mrs. Catt, other leaders, and myself--having been
told that it would be at once the largest and the
most interesting gathering ever held in the state
as it proved to be. All the leading politicians of the
state were there, and in the wake of the white men
had come tribes of Indians with their camp outfits,
their wives and their children--the groups forming
a picturesque circle of tents and tepees around the
town. It was a great occasion for them, an Indian
powwow, for by the law all Indians who had lands
in severalty were to be permitted to vote the following
year. They were present, therefore, to
study the ways of the white man, and an edifying
exhibition of these was promptly offered them.
The crowd was so great that it was only through
the courtesy of Major Pickler, a member of Congress
and a devoted believer in suffrage, that Miss
Anthony, Mrs. Catt, and the rest of us were able to
secure passes to the convention, and when we
reached the hall we were escorted to the last row of
seats on the crowded platform. As the space between
us and the speakers was filled by rows upon
rows of men, as well as by the band and their instruments,
we could see very little that took place.
Some of our friends pointed out this condition to the
local committee and asked that we be given seats
on the floor, but received the reply that there was
``absolutely no room on the floor except for delegates
and distinguished visitors.'' Our persistent
friends then suggested that at least a front seat
should be given to Miss Anthony, who certainly
came under the head of a ``distinguished visitor'';
but this was not done--probably because a large
number of the best seats were filled by Russian laborers
wearing badges inscribed ``Against Woman
Suffrage and Susan B. Anthony.'' We remained,
perforce, in our rear seats, finding such interest as
we could in the back view of hundreds of heads.
Just before the convention was called to order it
was announced that a delegation of influential Indians
was waiting outside, and a motion to invite
the red men into the hall was made and carried with
great enthusiasm. A committee of leading citizens
was appointed to act as escort, and these gentlemen
filed out, returning a few moments later with a
party of Indian warriors in full war regalia, even
to their gay blankets, their feathered head-dresses,
and their paint. When they appeared the band
struck up a stirring march of welcome, and the entire
audience cheered while the Indians, flanked by
the admiring committee, stalked solemnly down the
aisle and were given seats of honor directly in front
of the platform.
All we could see of them were the brilliant feathers
of their war-bonnets, but we got the full effect of
their reception in the music and the cheers. I dared
not look at Miss Anthony during this remarkable
scene, and she, craning her venerable neck to get a
glimpse of the incident from her obscure corner,
made no comment to me; but I knew what she was
thinking. The following year these Indians would
have votes. Courtesy, therefore, must be shown
them. But the women did not matter, the politicians
reasoned, for even if they were enfranchised
they would never support the element represented
at that convention. It was not surprising that,
notwithstanding our hard work, we did not win
the state, though all the conditions had seemed
most favorable; for the state was new, the men
and women were working side by side in the fields,
and there was discontent in the ranks of the political
After the election, when we analyzed the vote
county by county, we discovered that in every county
whose residents were principally Americans the
amendment was carried, whereas in all counties
populated largely by foreigners it was lost. In certain
counties--those inhabited by Russian Jews--
the vote was almost solidly against us, and this notwithstanding
the fact that the wives of these Russian
voters were doing a man's work on their farms
in addition to the usual women's work in their
homes. The fact that our Cause could be defeated
by ignorant laborers newly come to our country was
a humiliating one to accept; and we realized more
forcibly than ever before the difficulty of the task
we had assumed--a task far beyond any ever undertaken
by a body of men in the history of democratic
government throughout the world. We not only
had to bring American men back to a belief in the
fundamental principles of republican government,
but we had also to educate ignorant immigrants,
as well as our own Indians, whose degree of civilization
was indicated by their war-paint and the
flaunting feathers of their head-dresses.
The Kansas campaign, which Miss Anthony, Mrs.
Catt, Mrs. Johns, and I conducted in 1894, held a
special interest, due to the Populist movement.
There were so many problems before the people--
prohibition, free silver, and the Populist propaganda
--that we found ourselves involved in the bitterest
campaign ever fought out in the state. Our desire,
of course, was to get the indorsement of the different
political parties and religious bodies, We succeeded
in obtaining that of three out of four of the
Methodist Episcopal conferences--the Congregational,
the Epworth League, and the Christian Endeavor
League--as well as that of the State Teachers'
Association, the Woman's Christian Temperance
Union, and various other religious and philanthropic
societies. To obtain the indorsement of the political
parties was much more difficult, and we were
facing conditions in which partial success was worse
than complete failure. It had long been an unwritten
law before it became a written law in our
National Association that we must not take partisan
action or line up with any one political party. It
was highly important, therefore, that either all
parties should support us or that none should.
The Populist convention was held in Topeka before
either the Democratic or Republican convention,
and after two days of vigorous fighting, led by Mrs.
Anna Diggs and other prominent Populist women,
a suffrage plank was added to the platform. The
Populist party invited me, as a minister, to open
the convention with prayer. This was an innovation,
and served as a wedge for the admission of
women representatives of the Suffrage Association
to address the convention. We all did so, Miss
Anthony speaking first, Mrs. Catt second, and I
last; after which, for the first time in history, the
Doxology was sung at a political convention.
At the Democratic convention we made the same
appeal, and were refused. Instead of indorsing us,
the Democrats put an anti-suffrage plank in their
platform--but this, as the party had little standing
in Kansas, probably did us more good than harm.
Trouble came thick and fast, however, when the
Republicans, the dominant party in the state, held
their convention; and a mighty struggle began over
the admission of a suffrage plank. There was a
Woman's Republican Club in Kansas, which held
its convention in Topeka at the same time the
Republicans were holding theirs. There was also
a Mrs. Judith Ellen Foster, who, by stirring up opposition
in this Republican Club against the insertion
of a suffrage plank, caused a serious split in
the convention. Miss Anthony, Mrs. Catt, and I,
of course, urged the Republican women to stand by
their sex, and to give their support to the Republicans
only on condition that the latter added suffrage
to their platform. At no time, and in no field of
work, have I ever seen a more bitter conflict in progress
than that which raged for two days during this
Republican women's convention. Liquor-dealers,
joint-keepers, ``boot-leggers,'' and all the lawless
element of Kansas swung into line at a special convention
held under the auspices of the Liquor
League of Kansas City, and cast their united weight
against suffrage by threatening to deny their votes
to any candidate or political party favoring our
Cause. The Republican women's convention finally
adjourned with nothing accomplished except the
passing of a resolution mildly requesting the Republican
party to indorse woman suffrage. The
result was, of course, that it was not indorsed by
the Republican convention, and that it was defeated
at the following election.
It was at the time of these campaigns that I was
elected Vice-President of the National Association
and Lecturer at Large, and the latter office brought
in its train a glittering variety of experiences. On
one occasion an episode occurred which ``Aunt
Susan'' never afterward wearied of describing.
There was a wreck somewhere on the road on which
I was to travel to meet a lecture engagement, and
the trains going my way were not running. Looking
up the track, however, I saw a train coming
from the opposite direction. I at once grasped my
hand-luggage and started for it.
``Wait! Wait!'' cried Miss Anthony. ``That
train's going the wrong way!''
``At least it's going SOMEWHERE!'' I replied, tersely,
as the train stopped, and I climbed the steps.
Looking back when the train had started again,
I saw ``Aunt Susan'' standing in the same spot on
the platform and staring after it with incredulous
eyes; but I was right, for I discovered that by going
up into another state I could get a train which
would take me to my destination in time for the
lecture that night. It was a fine illustration of my
pet theory that if one intends to get somewhere it
is better to start, even in the wrong direction, than
to stand still.
Again and again in our work we had occasion to
marvel over men's lack of understanding of the
views of women, even of those nearest and dearest to
them; and we had an especially striking illustration
of this at one of our hearings in Washington.
A certain distinguished gentleman (we will call him
Mr. H----) was chairman of the Judiciary, and after
we had said what we wished to say, he remarked:
``Your arguments are logical. Your cause is just.
The trouble is that women don't want suffrage.
My wife doesn't want it. I don't know a single
woman who does want it.''
As it happened for this unfortunate gentleman,
his wife was present at the hearing and sitting beside
Miss Anthony. She listened to his words with surprise,
and then whispered to ``Aunt Susan'':
``How CAN he say that? _I_ want suffrage, and I've
told him so a hundred times in the last twenty
``Tell him again NOW,'' urged Miss Anthony.
``Here's your chance to impress it on his memory.''
``Here!'' gasped the wife. ``Oh, I wouldn't
``Then may I tell him?''
``Why--yes! He can think what he pleases, but
he has no right to publicly misrepresent me.''
The assent, hesitatingly begun, finished on a sudden
note of firmness. Miss Anthony stood up.
``It may interest Mr. H----,'' she said, ``to know
that his wife DOES wish to vote, and that for twenty
years she has wished to vote, and has often told him
so, though he has evidently forgotten it. She is
here beside me, and has just made this explanation.''
Mr. H---- stammered and hesitated, and finally
decided to laugh. But there was no mirth in the
sound he made, and I am afraid his wife had a bad
quarter of an hour when they met a little later in
the privacy of their home.
Among other duties that fell to my lot at this
period were numerous suffrage debates with prominent
opponents of the Cause. I have already referred
to the debate in Kansas with Senator Ingalls.
Equaling this in importance was a bout with Dr.
Buckley, the distinguished Methodist debater, which
had been arranged for us at Chautauqua by Bishop
Vincent of the Methodist Church. The bishop was
not a believer in suffrage, nor was he one of my
admirers. I had once aroused his ire by replying
to a sermon he had delivered on ``God's Women,''
and by proving, to my own satisfaction at least,
that the women he thought were God's women had
done very little, whereas the work of the world had
been done by those he believed were not ``God's
Women.'' There was considerable interest, therefore,
in the Buckley-Shaw debate he had arranged;
we all knew he expected Dr. Buckley to wipe out
that old score, and I was determined to make it as
difficult as possible for the distinguished gentleman
to do so. We held the debate on two succeeding
days, I speaking one afternoon and Dr. Buckley
replying the following day. On the evening before
I spoke, however, Dr. Buckley made an indiscreet
remark, which, blown about Chautauqua on the
light breeze of gossip, was generally regarded as both
unchivalrous and unfair.
As the hall in which we were to speak was enormous,
he declared that one of two things would certainly
happen. Either I would scream in order to
be heard by my great audience, or I would be unable
to make myself heard at all. If I screamed it
would be a powerful argument against women as
public speakers; if I could not be heard, it would be
an even better argument. In either case, he summed
up, I was doomed to failure. Following out
this theory, he posted men in the extreme rear of
the great hall on the day of my lecture, to report to
him whether my words reached them, while he himself
graciously occupied a front seat. Bishop Vincent's
antagonistic feeling was so strong, however,
that though, as the presiding officer of the occasion,
he introduced me to the audience, he did not wait
to hear my speech, but immediately left the hall--
and this little slight added to the public's interest
in the debate. It was felt that the two gentlemen
were not quite ``playing fair,'' and the champions
of the Cause were especially enthusiastic in their
efforts to make up for these failures in courtesy.
My friends turned out in force to hear the lecture,
and on the breast of every one of them flamed the
yellow bow that stood for suffrage, giving to the
vast hall something of the effect of a field of yellow
tulips in full bloom.
When Dr. Buckley rose to reply the next day
these friends were again awaiting him with an equally
jocund display of the suffrage color, and this did
not add to his serenity. During his remarks he
made the serious mistake of losing his temper; and,
unfortunately for him, he directed his wrath toward
a very old man who had thoughtlessly applauded by
pounding on the floor with his cane when Dr.
Buckley quoted a point I had made. The doctor
leaned forward and shook his fist at him.
``Think she's right, do you?'' he asked.
``Yes,'' admitted the venerable citizen, briskly,
though a little startled by the manner of the question.
``Old man,'' shouted Dr. Buckley, ``I'll make you
take that back if you've got a grain of sense in your
The insult cost him his audience. When he
realized this he lost all his self-possession, and, as
the Buffalo Courier put it the next day, ``went up
and down the platform raving like a Billingsgate
fishwife.'' He lost the debate, and the supply of
yellow ribbon left in the surrounding counties was
purchased that night to be used in the suffrage
celebration that followed. My friends still refer to
the occasion as ``the day we wiped up the earth
with Dr. Buckley''; but I do not deserve the implied
tribute, for Dr. Buckley would have lost his
case without a word from me. What really gave
me some satisfaction, however, was the respective
degree of freshness with which he and I emerged
from our combat. After my speech Miss Anthony
and I were given a reception, and stood for hours
shaking hands with hundreds of men and women.
Later in the evening we had a dinner and another
reception, which, lasting, as they did, until midnight,
kept us from our repose. Dr. Buckley, poor gentleman,
had to be taken to his hotel immediately after
his speech, given a hot bath, rubbed down, and put
tenderly to bed; and not even the sympathetic
heart of Susan B. Anthony yearned over him when
she heard of his exhaustion.
It was also at Chautauqua, by the way, though a
number of years earlier, that I had my much misquoted
encounter with the minister who deplored
the fashion I followed in those days of wearing my
hair short. This young man, who was rather a
pompous person, saw fit to take me to task at a
table where a number of us were dining together.
``Miss Shaw,'' he said, abruptly, ``I have been
asked very often why you wear your hair short,
and I have not been able to explain. Of course''--
this kindly--'' I know there is some good reason. I
ventured to advance the theory that you have been
ill and that your hair has fallen out. Is that it?''
``No,'' I told him. ``There is a reason, as you
suggest. But it is not that one.''
``Then why--'' he insisted.
``I am rather sensitive about it,'' I explained.
``I don't know that I care to discuss the subject.''
The young minister looked pained. ``But among
friends--'' he protested.
``True,'' I conceded. ``Well, then, among friends,
I will admit frankly that it is a birthmark. I was
born with short hair.''
That was the last time my short hair was criticized
in my presence, but the young minister was right
in his disapproval and I was wrong, as I subsequently
realized. A few years later I let my hair grow long,
for I had learned that no woman in public life can
afford to make herself conspicuous by any eccentricity
of dress or appearance. If she does so she
suffers for it herself, which may not disturb her, and
to a greater or less degree she injures the cause she
represents, which should disturb her very much.
It is not generally known that the meeting of
the International Council of Women held in
Chicago during the World's Fair was suggested by
Miss Anthony, as was also the appointment of the
Exposition's ``Board of Lady Managers.'' ``Aunt
Susan'' kept her name in the background, that she
might not array against these projects the opposition
of those prejudiced against woman suffrage.
We both spoke at the meetings, however, as I have
already explained, and one of our most chastening
experiences occurred on ``Actress Night.'' There
was a great demand for tickets for this occasion, as
every one seemed anxious to know what kind of
speeches our leading women of the stage would make;
and the programme offered such magic names as
Helena Modjeska, Julia Marlowe, Georgia Cayvan,
Clara Morris, and others of equal appeal. The hall
was soon filled, and to keep out the increasing throng
the doors were locked and the waiting crowd was
directed to a second hall for an overflow meeting.
As it happened, Miss Anthony and I were among
the earliest arrivals at the main hall. It was the
first evening we had been free to do exactly as we
pleased, and we were both in high spirits, looking
forward to the speeches, congratulating each other
on the good seats we had been given on the platform,
and rallying the speakers on their stage fright;
for, much to our amusement, we had found them all
in mortal terror of their audience. Georgia Cayvan,
for example, was so nervous that she had to be
strengthened with hot milk before she could speak,
and Julia Marlowe admitted freely that her knees
were giving way beneath her. They really had
something of an ordeal before them, for it was decided
that each actress must speak twice going
immediately from the hall to the overflow meeting
and repeating there the speech she had just made.
But in the mean time some one had to hold the impatient
audience in the second hall, and as it was a
duty every one else promptly repudiated, a row of
suddenly imploring faces turned toward Miss Anthony
and me. I admit that we responded to the
appeal with great reluctance. We were SO comfortable
where we were--and we were also deeply
interested in the first intimate glimpse we were
having of these stars in the dramatic sky. We saw
our duty, however, and with deep sighs we rose and
departed for the second hall, where a glance at the
waiting throng did not add to our pleasure in the
prospect before us.
When I walked upon the stage I found myself
facing an actually hostile audience. They had come
to look at and listen to the actresses who had been
promised them, and they thought they were being
deprived of that privilege by an interloper. Never
before had I gazed out on a mass of such unresponsive
faces or looked into so many angry eyes. They
were exchanging views on their wrongs, and the general
buzz of conversation continued when I appeared.
For some moments I stood looking at them, my
hands behind my back. If I had tried to speak they
would undoubtedly have gone on talking; my silence
attracted their attention and they began to
wonder what I intended to do. When they had
stopped whispering and moving about, I spoke
to them with the frankness of an overburdened
``I think,'' I said, slowly and distinctly, ``that you
are the most disagreeable audience I ever faced in
my life.''
They gasped and stared, almost open-mouthed in
their surprise.
``Never,'' I went on, ``have I seen a gathering of
people turn such ugly looks upon a speaker who has
sacrificed her own enjoyment to come and talk to
them. Do you think I want to talk to you?'' I demanded,
warming to my subject. ``I certainly do
not. Neither does Miss Anthony want to talk to
you, and the lady who spoke to you a few moments
ago, and whom you treated so rudely, did not wish
to be here. We would all much prefer to be in the
other hall, listening to the speakers from our comfortable
seats on the stage. To entertain you we
gave up our places and came here simply because
the committee begged us to do so. I have only one
thing more to say. If you care to listen to me
courteously I am willing to waste time on you; but
don't imagine that I will stand here and wait while
you criticize the management.''
By this time I felt as if I had a child across my
knee to whom I was administering maternal chastisement,
and the uneasiness of my audience underlined
the impression. They listened rather sulkily at first;
then a few of the best-natured among them laughed,
and the laugh grew and developed into applause.
The experience had done them good, and they were
a chastened band when Clara Morris appeared, and
I gladly yielded the floor to her.
All the actresses who spoke that night delivered
admirable addresses, but no one equaled Madame
Modjeska, who delivered exquisitely a speech written,
not by herself, but by a friend and countrywoman,
on the condition of Polish women under
the regime of Russia. We were all charmed as we
listened, but none of us dreamed what that address
would mean to Modjeska. It resulted in her banishment
from Poland, her native land, which she was
never again permitted to enter. But though she
paid so heavy a price for the revelation, I do not
think she ever really regretted having given to
America the facts in that speech.
During this same period I embarked upon a high
adventure. I had always longed for a home, and
my heart had always been loyal to Cape Cod. Now
I decided to have a home at Wianno, across the Cape
from my old parish at East Dennis. Deep-seated
as my home-making aspiration had been, it was
realized largely as the result of chance. A special
hobby of mine has always been auction sales. I
dearly love to drop into auction-rooms while sales
are in progress, and bid up to the danger-point,
taking care to stop just in time to let some one else
get the offered article. But of course I sometimes
failed to stop at the psychological moment, and the
result was a sudden realization that, in the course
of the years, I had accumulated an extraordinary
number of articles for which I had no shelter and
no possible use.
The crown jewel of the collection was a bedroom
set I had picked up in Philadelphia. Usually,
cautious friends accompanied me on my auctionroom
expeditions and restrained my ardor; but this
time I got away alone and found myself bidding
at the sale of a solid bog-wood bedroom set which
had been exhibited as a show-piece at the World's
Fair, and was now, in the words of the auctioneer,
``going for a song.'' I sang the song. I offered
twenty dollars, thirty dollars, forty dollars, and
other excited voices drowned mine with higher bids.
It was very thrilling. I offered fifty dollars, and
there was a horrible silence, broken at last by the
auctioneer's final, ``Going, going, GONE!'' I was mistress
of the bog-wood bedroom set--a set wholly
out of harmony with everything else I possessed,
and so huge and massive that two men were required
to lift the head-board alone. Like many of
the previous treasures I had acquired, this was a
white elephant; but, unlike some of them, it was
worth more than I had paid for it. I was offered
sixty dollars for one piece alone, but I coldly refused
to sell it, though the tribute to my judgment warmed
my heart. I had not the faintest idea what to do
with the set, however, and at last I confided my
dilemma to my friend, Mrs. Ellen Dietrick, who
sagely advised me to build a house for it. The idea
intrigued me. The bog-wood furniture needed a
home, and so did I.
The result of our talk was that Mrs. Dietrick
promised to select a lot for me at Wianno, where she
herself lived, and even promised to supervise the
building of my cottage, and to attend to all the other
details connected with it. Thus put, the temptation
was irresistible. Besides Mrs. Dietrick, many other
delightful friends lived at Wianno--the Garrisons,
the Chases of Rhode Island, the Wymans, the Wellingtons--
a most charming community. I gave Mrs.
Dietrick full authority to use her judgment in every
detail connected with the undertaking, and the
cottage was built. Having put her hand to this
plow of friendship, Mrs. Dietrick did the work with
characteristic thoroughness. I did not even visit
Wianno to look at my land. She selected it, bought
it, engaged a woman architect--Lois Howe of
Boston--and followed the latter's work from beginning
to end. The only stipulation I made was
that the cottage must be far up on the beach, out of
sight of everybody--really in the woods; and this
was easily met, for along that coast the trees came
almost to the water's edge.
The cottage was a great success, and for many
years I spent my vacations there, filling the place with
young people. From the time of my sister Mary's
death I had had the general oversight of her two
daughters, Lola and Grace, as well as of Nicolas
and Eleanor, the two motherless daughters of my
brother John. They were all with me every summer
in the new home, together with Lucy Anthony,
her sister and brother, Mrs. Rachel Foster Avery,
and other friends. We had special fishing costumes
made, and wore them much of the time. My nieces
wore knickerbockers, and I found vast contentment
in short, heavy skirts over bloomers. We
lived out of doors, boating, fishing, and clamming
all day long, and, as in my early pioneer days in
Michigan, my part of the work was in the open. I
chopped all the wood, kept the fires going, and
looked after the grounds.
Rumors of our care-free and unconventional life
began to circulate, and presently our Eden was invaded
by the only serpent I have ever found in the
newspaper world--a girl reporter from Boston. She
telegraphed that she was coming to see us; and
though, when she came, we had been warned of her
propensities and received her in conventional attire,
formally entertaining her with tea on the veranda,
she went away and gave free play to a hectic fancy.
She wrote a sensational full-page article for a Sunday
newspaper, illustrated with pictures showing us
all in knickerbockers. In this striking work of art
I carried a fish net and pole and wore a handkerchief
tied over my head. The article, which was headed
THE ADAMLESS EDEN, was almost libelous, and I
admit that for a long time it dimmed our enjoyment
of our beloved retreat. Then, gradually, my
old friends died, Mrs. Dietrick among the first;
others moved away; and the character of the entire
region changed. It became fashionable, privacy
was no longer to be found there, and we ceased to
visit it. For five years I have not even seen the
In 1908 I built the house I now occupy (in Moylan,
Pennsylvania), which is the realization of a desire
I have always had--to build on a tract which had a
stream, a grove of trees, great boulders and rocks,
and a hill site for the house with a broad outlook,
and a railroad station conveniently near. The
friend who finally found the place for me had begun
his quest with the pessimistic remark that I would
better wait for it until I got to Paradise; but two
years later he telegraphed me that he had discovered
it on this planet, and he was right. I have only
eight acres of land, but no one could ask a more ideal
site for a cottage; and on the place is my beloved
forest, including a grove of three hundred firs.
From every country I have visited I have brought
back a tiny tree for this little forest, and now it
is as full of memories as of beauty.
To the surprise of my neighbors, I built my house
with its back toward the public road, facing the
valley and the stream. ``But you will never see
anybody go by,'' they protested. I answered that
the one person in the house who was necessarily interested
in passers-by was my maid, and she could see
them perfectly from the kitchen, which faced the
road. I enjoy my views from the broad veranda
that overlooks the valley, the stream, and the
country for miles around.
Every suffragist I have ever met has been a
lover of home; and only the conviction that she is
fighting for her home, her children, for other women,
or for all of these, has sustained her in her public
work. Looking back on many campaign experiences,
I am forced to admit that it is not always the
privations we endure which make us think most
tenderly of home. Often we are more overcome
by the attentions of well-meaning friends. As an
example of this I recall an incident of one Oregon
campaign. I was to speak in a small city in the
southern part of the state, and on reaching the
station, hot, tired, and covered with the grime
of a midsummer journey, I found awaiting me a
delegation of citizens, a brass-band, and a white
carriage drawn by a pair of beautiful white horses.
In this carriage, and devotedly escorted by the citizens
and the band, the latter playing its hardest, I
was driven to the City Hall and there met by the
mayor, who delivered an address, after which I was
crowned with a laurel wreath. Subsequently, with
this wreath still resting upon my perspiring brow, I
was again driven through the streets of the city;
and if ever a woman felt that her place was in the
home and longed to be in her place, I felt it that day.
An almost equally trying occasion had San Francisco
for its setting. The city had arranged a Fourth
of July celebration, at which Miss Anthony and I
were to speak. Here we rode in a carriage decorated
with flowers--yellow roses--while just in front
of us was the mayor in a carriage gorgeously festooned
with purple blossoms. Behind us, for more
than a mile, stretched a procession of uniformed
policemen, soldiers, and citizens, while the sidewalks
were lined with men and women whose enthusiastic
greetings came to Miss Anthony from every side.
She was enchanted over the whole experience, for
to her it meant, as always, not a personal tribute,
but a triumph of the Cause. But I sat by her side
acutely miserable; for across my shoulders and
breast had been draped a huge sash with the word
``Orator'' emblazoned on it, and this was further
embellished by a striking rosette with streamers
which hung nearly to the bottom of my gown. It
is almost unnecessary to add that this remarkable
decoration was furnished by a committee of men, and
was also worn by all the men speakers of the day.
Possibly I was overheated by the sash, or by the
emotions the sash aroused in me, for I was stricken
with pneumonia the following day and experienced
my first serious illness, from which, however, I soon
On our way to California in 1895 Miss Anthony
and I spent a day at Cheyenne, Wyoming, as the
guests of Senator and Mrs. Carey, who gave a dinner
for us. At the table I asked Senator Carey what he
considered the best result of the enfranchisement of
Wyoming women, and even after the lapse of twenty
years I am able to give his reply almost word for
word, for it impressed me deeply at the time and I
have since quoted it again and again.
``There have been many good results,'' he said,
``but the one I consider above all the others is the
great change for the better in the character of our
candidates for office. Consider this for a moment:
Since our women have voted there has never been
an embezzlement of public funds, or a scandalous
misuse of public funds, or a disgraceful condition of
graft. I attribute the better character of our public
officials almost entirely to the votes of the women.''
``Those are inspiring facts,'' I conceded, ``but
let us be just. There are three men in Wyoming
to every woman, and no candidate for office could
be elected unless the men voted for him, too. Why,
then, don't they deserve as much credit for his
election as the women?''
``Because,'' explained Senator Carey, promptly,
``women are politically an uncertain factor. We
can go among men and learn beforehand how they
are going to vote, but we can't do that with women;
they keep us guessing. In the old days, when we
went into the caucus we knew what resolutions put
into our platforms would win the votes of the ranchmen,
what would win the miners, what would win
the men of different nationalities; but we did not
know how to win the votes of the women until we
began to nominate our candidates. Then we immediately
discovered that if the Democrats nominated
a man of immoral character for office, the
women voted for his Republican opponent, and we
learned our first big lesson--that whatever a candidate's
other qualifications for office may be, he must
first of all have a clean record. In the old days,
when we nominated a candidate we asked, `Can he
hold the saloon vote?' Now we ask, `Can he hold
the women's vote?' Instead of bidding down to
the saloon, we bid up to the home.''
Following the dinner there was a large public
meeting, at which Miss Anthony and I were to speak.
Mrs. Jenkins, who was president of the Suffrage
Association of the state, presided and introduced us
to the assemblage. Then she added: ``I have introduced
you ladies to your audience. Now I would
like to introduce your audience to you.'' She began
with the two Senators and the member of Congress,
then introduced the Governor, the Lieutenant-
Governor, the state Superintendent of Education,
and numerous city and state officials. As she went
on Miss Anthony grew more and more excited, and
when the introductions were over, she said: ``This is
the first time I have ever seen an audience assembled
for woman suffrage made up of the public officials
of a state. No one can ever persuade me now that
men respect women without political power as much
as they respect women who have it; for certainly
in no other state in the Union would it be possible
to gather so many public officials under one roof to
listen to the addresses of women.''
The following spring we again went West, with
Mrs. Catt, Lucy Anthony, Miss Hay and Miss
Sweet, her secretary, to carry on the Pacific coast
campaign of '96, arranged by Mrs. Cooper and her
daughter Harriet, of Oakland--both women of remarkable
executive ability. Headquarters were secured
in San Francisco, and Miss Hay was put in
charge, associated with a large group of California
women. It was the second time in the history of
campaigns--the first being in New York--that all
the money to carry on the work was raised by the
people of the state.
The last days of the campaign were extremely
interesting, and one of their important events was
that the Hon. Thomas Reed, then Speaker of the
House of Representatives, for the first time came
out publicly for suffrage. Mr. Reed had often expressed
himself privately as in favor of the Cause--
but he had never made a public statement for us.
At Oakland, one day, the indefatigable and irresistible
``Aunt Susan'' caught him off his guard by persuading
his daughter, Kitty Reed, who was his idol,
to ask him to say just one word in favor of our
amendment. When he arose we did not know
whether he had promised what she asked, and as
his speech progressed our hearts sank lower and
lower, for all he said was remote from our Cause.
But he ended with these words:
``There is an amendment of the constitution
pending, granting suffrage to women. The women
of California ought to have suffrage. The men of
California ought to give it to them--and the next
speaker, Dr. Shaw, will tell you why.''
The word was spoken. And though it was not a
very strong word, it came from a strong man, and
therefore helped us.
Election day, as usual, brought its surprises and
revelations. Mrs. Cooper asked her Chinese cook
how the Chinese were voting--i. e., the native-born
Chinamen who were entitled to vote--and he replied,
blithely, ``All Chinamen vote for Billy McKee
and `NO' to women!'' It is an interesting fact that
every Chinese vote was cast against us.
All day we went from one to another of the pollingplaces,
and I shall always remember the picture of
Miss Anthony and the wife of Senator Sargent wandering
around the polls arm in arm at eleven o'clock
at night, their tired faces taking on lines of deeper
depression with every minute; for the count was
against us. However, we made a fairly good showing.
When the final counts came in we found that
we had won the state from the north down to Oakland,
and from the south up to San Francisco; but
there was not a sufficient majority to overcome the
adverse votes of San Francisco and Oakland. With
more than 230,000 votes cast, we were defeated by
only 10,000 majority. In San Francisco the saloon
element and the most aristocratic section of the
city made an equal showing against us, while the
section occupied by the middle working-class was
largely in favor of our amendment. I dwell especially
on this campaign, partly because such splendid
work was done by the women of California, and
also because, during the same election, Utah and
Idaho granted full suffrage to women. This gave
us four suffrage states--Wyoming, Colorado, Utah,
and Idaho--and we prepared for future struggles
with very hopeful hearts.
It was during this California campaign, by the
way, that I unwittingly caused much embarrassment
to a worthy young man. At a mass-meeting
held in San Francisco, Rabbi Vorsanger, who was not
in favor of suffrage for women, advanced the heartening
theory that in a thousand years more they
might possibly be ready for it. After a thousand
years of education for women, of physically developed
women, of uncorseted women, he said, we
might have the ideal woman, and could then begin
to talk about freedom for her.
When the rabbi sat down there was a shout from
the audience for me to answer him, but all I said
was that the ideal woman would be rather lonely, as
it would certainly take another thousand years to
develop an ideal man capable of being a mate for
her. On the following night Prof. Howard Griggs,
of Stanford University, made a speech on the modern
woman--a speech so admirably thought out and
delivered that we were all delighted with it. When
he had finished the audience again called on me, and
I rose and proceeded to make what my friends frankly
called ``the worst break'' of my experience.
Rabbi Vorsanger's ideal woman was still in my
mind, and I had been rather hard on the men in
my reply to the rabbi the night before; so now I
hastened to give this clever young man his full due.
I said that though the rabbi thought it would take
a thousand years to make an ideal woman, I believed
that, after all, it might not take as long to make the
ideal man. We had something very near it in a
speaker who could reveal such ability, such chivalry,
and such breadth of view as Professor Griggs had
just shown that he possessed.
That night I slept the sleep of the just and the
well-meaning, and it was fortunate I did, for the
morning newspapers had a surprise for me that
called for steady nerves and a sense of humor. Across
the front page of every one of them ran startling
head-lines to this effect:
The Prospects Are That She Will
Remain in California
Professor Griggs was young enough to be my son,
and he was already married and the father of two
beautiful children; but these facts were not permitted
to interfere with the free play of fancy in
journalistic minds. For a week the newspapers
were filled with all sorts of articles, caricatures, and
editorials on my ideal man, which caused me much
annoyance and some amusement, while they plunged
Professor Griggs into an abysmal gloom. In the
end, however, the experience proved an excellent
one for him, for the publicity attending his speech
made him decide to take up lecturing as a profession,
which he eventually did with great success. But
neither of us has yet heard the last of the Ideal Man
episode. Only a few years ago, on his return to
California after a long absence, one of the leading
Sunday newspapers of the state heralded Professor
Griggs's arrival by publishing a full-page article
bearing his photograph and mine and this flamboyant
And Dr. Shaw's Ideal Man Became the
Idol of American Women and
Earns $30,000 a Year
We had other unusual experiences in California,
and the display of affluence on every side was not
the least impressive of them. In one town, after
a heavy rain, I remember seeing a number of little
boys scraping the dirt from the gutters, washing it,
and finding tiny nuggets of gold. We learned that
these boys sometimes made two or three dollars a
day in this way, and that the streets of the town--
I think it was Marysville--contained so much gold
that a syndicate offered to level the whole town and
repave the streets in return for the right to wash out
the gold. This sounds like the kind of thing Americans
tell to trustful visitors from foreign lands, but
it is quite true.
Nuggets, indeed, were so numerous that at one
of our meetings, when we were taking up a collection,
I cheerfully suggested that our audience drop
a few into the box, as we had not had a nugget since
we reached the state. There were no nuggets in the
subsequent collection, but there was a note which
read: ``If Dr. Shaw will accept a gold nugget, I will
see that she does not leave town without one.'' I
read this aloud, and added, ``I have never refused
a gold nugget in my life.''
The following day brought me a pin made of a
very beautiful gold nugget, and a few days later
another Californian produced a cluster of smaller
nuggets which he had washed out of a panful of
earth and insisted on my accepting half of them. I
was not accustomed to this sort of generosity, but
it was characteristic of the spirit of the state. Nowhere
else, during our campaign experiences, were
we so royally treated in every way. As a single
example among many, I may mention that Mrs.
Leland Stanford once happened to be on a train
with us and to meet Miss Anthony. As a result of
this chance encounter she gave our whole party
passes on all the lines of the Southern Pacific Railroad,
for use during the entire campaign. Similar
generosity was shown us on every side, and the question
of finance did not burden us from the beginning
to the end of the California work.
In our Utah and Idaho campaigns we had also our
full share of new experiences, and of these perhaps
the most memorable to me was the sermon I preached
in the Mormon Tabernacle at Salt Lake City.
Before I left New York the Mormon women had sent
me the invitation to preach this sermon, and when I
reached Salt Lake City and the so-called ``Gentile''
women heard of the plan, they at once invited me
to preach to the ``Gentiles'' on the evening of the
same Sunday, in the Salt Lake City Opera House.
On the morning of the sermon I approached the
Mormon Tabernacle with much more trepidation
than I usually experienced before entering a pulpit.
I was not sure what particular kind of trouble I
would get into, but I had an abysmal suspicion
that trouble of some sort lay in wait for me, and I
shivered in the anticipation of it. Fortunately, my
anxiety was not long drawn out. I arrived only a few
moments before the hour fixed for the sermon, and
found the congregation already assembled and the
Tabernacle filled with the beautiful music of the great
organ. On the platform, to which I was escorted
by several leading dignitaries of the church, was the
characteristic Mormon arrangement of seats. The
first row was occupied by the deacons, and in the
center of these was the pulpit from which the deacons
preach. Above these seats was a second row, occupied
by ordained elders, and there they too had
their own pulpit. The third row was occupied by,
the bishops and the highest dignitaries of the church,
with the pulpit from which the bishops preach; and
behind them all, an effective human frieze, was the
really wonderful Mormon choir.
As I am an ordained elder in my church, I occupied
the pulpit in the middle row of seats, with the
deacons below me and the bishops just behind.
Scattered among the congregation were hundreds of
``Gentiles'' ready to leap mentally upon any concession
I might make to the Mormon faith; while
the Mormons were equally on the alert for any
implied criticism of them and their church. The
problem of preaching a sermon which should offer
some appeal to both classes, without offending either,
was a perplexing one, and I solved it to the best of
my ability by delivering a sermon I had once given
in my own church to my own people. When I had
finished I was wholly uncertain of its effect, but at
the end of the services one of the bishops leaned
toward me from his place in the rear, and, to my
mingled horror and amusement, offered me this
tribute, ``That is one of the best Mormon sermons
ever preached in this Tabernacle.''
I thanked him, but inwardly I was aghast. What
had I said to give him such an impression? I racked
my brain, but could recall nothing that justified it.
I passed the day in a state of nervous apprehension,
fully expecting some frank criticism from the ``Gentiles''
on the score of having delivered a Mormon
sermon to ingratiate myself into the favor of the
Mormons and secure their votes for the constitutional
amendment. But nothing of the kind was
said. That evening, after the sermon to the ``Gentiles,''
a reception was given to our party, and I
drew my first deep breath when the wife of a wellknown
clergyman came to me and introduced herself
in these words:
``My husband could not come here to-night, but
he heard your sermon this morning. He asked me
to tell you how glad he was that under such unusual
conditions you held so firmly to the teachings of
The next day I was still more reassured. A reception
was given us at the home of one of Brigham
Young's daughters, and the receiving-line was
graced by the presiding elder of the Methodist
Episcopal Church. He was a bluff and jovial gentleman,
and when he took my hand he said, warmly,
``Well, Sister Shaw, you certainly gave our Mormon
friends the biggest dose of Methodism yesterday
that they ever got in their lives.''
After this experience I reminded myself again
that what Frances Willard so frequently said is true;
All truth is our truth when it has reached our hearts;
we merely rechristen it according to our individual
During the visit I had an interesting conversation
with a number of the younger Mormon women. I
was to leave the city on a midnight train, and about
twenty of them, including four daughters of Brigham
Young, came to my hotel to remain with me
until it was time to go to the station. They filled
the room, sitting around in school-girl fashion on the
floor and even on the bed. It was an unusual opportunity
to learn some things I wished to know, and
I could not resist it.
``There are some questions I would like to ask
you,'' I began, ``and one or two of them may seem
impertinent. But they won't be asked in that
spirit--and please don't answer any that embarrass
They exchanged glances, and then told me to
ask as many questions as I wished.
``First of all,'' I said, ``I would like to know the
real attitude toward polygamy of the present generation
of Mormon women. Do you all believe
in it?''
They assured me that they did.
``How many of you,'' I then asked, ``are polygamous
There was not one in the group.
``But,'' I insisted, ``if you really believe in polygamy,
why is it that some of your husbands have
not taken more than one wife?''
There was a moment of silence, while each woman
looked around as if waiting for another to answer.
At last one of them said, slowly:
``In my case, I alone was to blame. For years I
could not force myself to consent to my husband's
taking another wife, though I tried hard. By the
time I had overcome my objection the law was
passed prohibiting polygamy.''
A second member of the group hastened to tell
her story. She had had a similar spiritual struggle,
and just as she reached the point where she was
willing to have her husband take another wife, he
died. And now the room was filled with eager
voices. Four or five women were telling at once
that they, too, had been reluctant in the beginning,
and that when they had reached the point of consent
this, that, or another cause had kept the husbands
from marrying again. They were all so passionately
in earnest that they stared at me in puzzled
wonder when I broke into the sudden laughter I
could not restrain.
``What fortunate women you all were!'' I exclaimed,
teasingly. ``Not one of you arrived at the
point of consenting to the presence of a second wife
in your home until it was impossible for your husband
to take her.''
They flushed a little at that, and then laughed
with me; but they did not defend themselves against
the tacit charge, and I turned the conversation into
less personal channels. I learned that many of the
Mormon young men were marrying girls outside of
the Church, and that two sons of a leading Mormon
elder had married and were living very happily with
Catholic girls.
At this time the Mormon candidate for Congress
(a man named Roberts) was a bitter opponent of
woman suffrage. The Mormon women begged me
to challenge him to a debate on the subject, which
I did, but Mr. Roberts declined the challenge. The
ground of his refusal, which he made public through
the newspapers, was chastening to my spirit. He
explained that he would not debate with me because
he was not willing to lower himself to the intellectual
plane of a woman.
In 1900 Miss Anthony, then over eighty, decided
that she must resign the presidency of our National
Association, and the question of the successor she
would choose became an important one. It was
conceded that there were only two candidates in
her mind--Mrs. Carrie Chapman Catt and myself--
and for several months we gave the suffrage world
the unusual spectacle of rivals vigorously pushing
each other's claims. Miss Anthony was devoted
to us both, and I think the choice was a hard one
for her to make. On the one hand, I had been
vice-president at large and her almost constant
companion for twelve years, and she had grown accustomed
to think of me as her successor. On the
other hand, Mrs. Catt had been chairman of the
organization committee, and through her splendid
executive ability had built up our organization in
many states. From Miss Anthony down, we all
recognized her steadily growing powers; she had,
moreover, abundant means, which I had not.
In my mind there was no question of her superior
qualification for the presidency. She seemed to me
the logical and indeed the only possible successor
to Miss Anthony; and I told ``Aunt Susan'' so with
all the eloquence I could command, while simultaneously
Mrs. Catt was pouring into Miss Anthony's
other ear a series of impassioned tributes to me. It
was an unusual situation and a very pleasant one,
and it had two excellent results: it simplified ``Aunt
Susan's'' problem by eliminating the element of personal
ambition, and it led to her eventual choice
of Mrs. Catt as her successor.
I will admit here for the first time that in urging
Mrs. Catt's fitness for the office I made the greatest
sacrifice of my life. My highest ambition had been
to succeed Miss Anthony, for no one who knew her
as I did could underestimate the honor of being
chosen by her to carry on her work.
At the convention in Washington that year she
formally refused the nomination for re-election, as
we had all expected, and then, on being urged to
choose her own successor, she stepped forward to
do so. It was a difficult hour, for her fiery soul resented
the limitations imposed by her worn-out
body, and to such a worker the most poignant experience
in life is to be forced to lay down one's
work at the command of old age. On this she
touched briefly, but in a trembling voice; and then,
in furtherance of the understanding between the
three of us, she presented the name of Mrs. Catt to
the convention with all the pride and hope a mother
could feel in the presentation of a daughter.
Her faith was fully justified. Mrs. Catt made
an admirable president, and during every moment
of the four years she held the office she had Miss
Anthony's whole-hearted and enthusiastic support,
while I, too, in my continued office of vice-president,
did my utmost to help her in every way. In 1904,
however, Mrs. Catt was elected president of the
International Suffrage Alliance, as I have mentioned
before, and that same year she resigned the presidency
of our National Association, as her health
was not equal to the strain of carrying the two
Miss Anthony immediately urged me to accept
the presidency of the National Association, which
I was now most unwilling to do; I had lost my
ambition to be president, and there were other reasons,
into which I need not go again, why I felt that
I could not accept the post. At last, however, Miss
Anthony actually commanded me to take the place,
and there was nothing to do but obey her. She was
then eighty-four, and, as it proved, within two years
of her death. It was no time for me to rebel against
her wishes; but I yielded with the heaviest heart
I have ever carried, and after my election to the
presidency at the national convention in Washington
I left the stage, went into a dark corner of the
wings, and for the first time since my girlhood ``cried
myself sick.''
In the work I now took up I found myself much
alone. Mrs. Catt was really ill, and the strength
of ``Aunt Susan'' must be saved in every way.
Neither could give me much help, though each
did all she should have done, and more. Mrs.
Catt, whose husband had recently died, was in a
deeply despondent frame of mind, and seemed to
feel that the future was hopelessly dark. My own
panacea for grief is work, and it seemed to me that
both physically and mentally she would be helped
by a wise combination of travel and effort. During
my lifetime I have cherished two ambitions, and
only two: the first, as I have already confessed,
had been to succeed Miss Anthony as president of
our association; the second was to go around the
world, carrying the woman-suffrage ideal to every
country, and starting in each a suffrage society.
Long before the inception of the International Suffrage
Alliance I had dreamed this dream; and,
though it had receded as I followed it through life,
I had never wholly lost sight of it. Now I realized
that for me it could never be more than a dream.
I could never hope to have enough money at my
disposal to carry it out, and it occurred to me that
if Mrs. Catt undertook it as president of the International
Suffrage Alliance the results would be of
the greatest benefit to the Cause and to her.
In my first visit to her after her husband's death
I suggested this plan, but she replied that it was
impossible for her to consider it. I did not lose
thought of it, however, and at the next International
Conference, held in Copenhagen in 1907, I suggested
to some of the delegates that we introduce the
matter as a resolution, asking Mrs. Catt to go
around the world in behalf of woman suffrage. They
approved the suggestion so heartily that I followed
it up with a speech setting forth the whole plan and
Mrs. Catt's peculiar fitness for the work. Several
months later Mrs. Catt and Dr. Aletta Jacobs, president
of the Holland Suffrage Association, started on
their world tour; and not until after they had gone
did I fully realize that the two great personal ambitions
of my life had been realized, not by me, but
by another, and in each case with my enthusiastic
In 1904, following my election to the presidency,
a strong appeal came from the Board of Managers
of the exposition to be held in Portland, Oregon,
urging us to hold our next annual convention there
during the exposition. It was the first time an
important body of men had recognized us in this
manner, and we gladly responded. So strong a
political factor did the men of Oregon recognize us
to be that every political party in the state asked
to be represented on our platform; and one entire
evening of the convention was given over to the
representatives chosen by the various parties to
indorse the suffrage movement. Thus we began
in Oregon the good work we continued in 1906, and
of which we reaped the harvest in 1912.
Next to ``Suffrage Night,'' the most interesting
feature of the exposition to us was the unveiling of
the statue of Saccawagea, the young Indian girl
who led the Lewis and Clark expedition through the
dangerous passes of the mountain ranges of the
Northwest until they reached the Pacific coast.
This statue, presented to the exposition by the
women of Oregon, is the belated tribute of the state
to its most dauntless pioneer; and no one can look
upon the noble face of the young squaw, whose outstretched
hand points to the ocean, without marveling
over the ingratitude of the nation that ignored
her supreme service. To Saccawagea is due the
opening up of the entire western country. There
was no one to guide Lewis and Clark except this
Indian, who alone knew the way; and she led the
whole party, carrying her papoose on her back.
She was only sixteen, but she brought every man
safely through an experience of almost unparalleled
hardship and danger, nursing them in sickness and
setting them an example of unfaltering courage and
endurance, until she stood at last on the Pacific
coast, where her statue stands now, pointing to the
wide sweep of the Columbia River as it flows into
the sea.
This recognition by women is the only recognition
she ever received. Both Lewis and Clark were sincerely
grateful to her and warmly recommended her
to the government for reward; but the government
allowed her absolutely nothing, though each man
in the party she had led was given a large tract of
land. Tradition says that she was bitterly disappointed,
as well she might have been, and her Indian
brain must have been sadly puzzled. But she was
treated little worse than thousands of the white
pioneer women who have followed her; and standing:
there to-day on the bank of her river, she still seems
sorrowfully reflective over the strange ways of the
nation she so nobly served.
The Oregon campaign of 1906 was the carrying
out of one of Miss Anthony's dearest wishes, and we
who loved her set about this work soon after her
death. In the autumn preceding her passing, headquarters
had been established in Oregon, and Miss
Laura Gregg had been placed in charge, with Miss
Gale Laughlin as her associate. As the money for
this effort was raised by the National Association,
it was decided, after some discussion, to let the
National Association develop the work in Oregon,
which was admittedly a hard state to carry and full
of possible difficulties which soon became actual
As a beginning, the Legislature had failed to submit
an amendment; but as the initiative and referendum
was the law in Oregon, the amendment was submitted
through initiative patent. The task of securing
the necessary signatures was not an easy one,
but at last a sufficient number of signatures were
secured and verified, and the authorities issued the
necessary proclamation for the vote, which was to
take place at a special election held on the 5th of
June. Our campaign work had been carried on as
extensively as possible, but the distances were great
and the workers few, and as a result of the strain
upon her Miss Gregg's health soon failed alarmingly.
All this was happening during Miss Anthony's
last illness, and it added greatly to our anxieties.
She instructed me to go to Oregon immediately
after her death and to take her sister Mary and
her niece Lucy with me, and we followed these
orders within a week of her funeral, arriving in
Portland on the third day of April. I had attempted
too much, however, and I proved it by
fainting as I got off the train, to the horror of
the friendly delegation waiting to receive us. The
Portland women took very tender care of me,
and in a few days I was ready for work, but we
found conditions even worse than we had expected.
Miss Gregg had collapsed utterly and was unable
to give us any information as to what had been done
or planned, and we had to make a new foundation.
Miss Laura Clay, who had been in the Portland work
for a few weeks, proved a tower of strength, and we
were soon aided further by Ida Porter Boyer, who
came on to take charge of the publicity department.
During the final six weeks of the campaign Alice
Stone Blackwell, of Boston, was also with us, while
Kate Gordon took under her special charge the organization
of the city of Portland and the parlormeeting
work. Miss Clay went into the state, where
Emma Smith DeVoe and other speakers were also
working, and I spent my time between the office
headquarters and ``the road,'' often working at my
desk until it was time to rush off and take a train
for some town where I was to hold a night meeting.
Miss Mary and Miss Lucy Anthony confined themselves
to office-work in the Portland headquarters,
where they gave us very valuable assistance. I
have always believed that we would have carried
Oregon that year if the disaster of the California
earthquake had not occurred to divert the minds of
Western men from interest in anything save that
great catastrophe.
On election day it seemed as if the heavens had
opened to pour floods upon us. Never before or
since have I seen such incessant, relentless rain.
Nevertheless, the women of Portland turned out
in force, led by Mrs. Sarah Evans, president of the
Oregon State Federation of Women's Clubs, while
all day long Dr. Pohl took me in her automobile
from one polling-place to another. At each we found
representative women patiently enduring the drenching
rain while they tried to persuade men to vote for
us. We distributed sandwiches, courage, and inspiration
among them, and tried to cheer in the same
way the women watchers, whose appointment we
had secured that year for the first time. Two women
had been admitted to every polling-place--but the
way in which we had been able to secure their presence
throws a high-light on the difficulties we were
meeting. We had to persuade men candidates to
select these women as watchers; and the only men
who allowed themselves to be persuaded were those
running on minority tickets and hopeless of election
--the prohibitionists, the socialists, and the candidates
of the labor party.
The result of the election taught us several things.
We had been told that all the prohibitionists and
socialists would vote for us. Instead, we discovered
that the percentage of votes for woman suffrage was
about the same in every party, and that whenever
the voter had cast a straight vote, without independence
enough to ``scratch'' his ticket, that vote
was usually against us. On the other hand, when
the ticket was ``scratched'' the vote was usually in
our favor, whatever political party the man belonged
Another interesting discovery was that the early
morning vote was favorable to our Cause the vote
cast by working-men on their way to their employment.
During the middle of the forenoon and afternoon,
when the idle class was at the polls, the vote
ran against us. The late vote, cast as men were
returning from their work, was again largely in our
favor--and we drew some conclusions from this.
Also, for the first time in the history of any campaign,
the anti-suffragists had organized against us.
Portland held a small body of women with antisuffrage
sentiments, and there were others in the
state who formed themselves into an anti-suffrage
society and carried on a more or less active warfare.
In this campaign, for the first time, obscene cards
directed against the suffragists were circulated at
the polls; and while I certainly do not accuse the
Oregon anti-suffragists of circulating them, it is a
fact that the cards were distributed as coming from
the anti-suffragists--undoubtedly by some vicious
element among the men which had its own good reason
for opposing us. The ``antis'' also suffered in
this campaign from the ``pernicious activity'' of
their spokesman--a lawyer with an unenviable
reputation. After the campaign was over this man
declared that it had cost the opponents of our
measure $300,000.
In 1907 Mrs. O. H. P. Belmont began to show an
interest in suffrage work, and through the influence
of several leaders in the movement, notably that of
Mrs. Ida Husted Harper, she decided to assist in
the establishment of national headquarters in the
State of New York. For a long time the association's
headquarters had been in Warren, Ohio, the
home of Mrs. Harriet Taylor Upton, then national
treasurer, and it was felt that their removal to a
larger city would have a great influence in developing
the work. In 1909 Mrs. Belmont attended as
a delegate the meeting of the International Suffrage
Alliance in London, and her interest in the Cause
deepened. She became convinced that the headquarters
of the association should be in New York
City, and at our Seattle convention that same year
I presented to the delegates her generous offer to
pay the rent and maintain a press department for
two years, on condition that our national headquarters
were established in New York.
This proposition was most gratefully accepted,
and we promptly secured headquarters in one of
the most desirable buildings on Fifth Avenue. The
wisdom of the change was demonstrated at once by
the extraordinary growth of the work. During our
last year in Warren, for example, the proceeds from
the sale of our literature were between $1,200 and
$1,300. During the first year in New York our
returns from such sales were between $13,000 and
$14,000, and an equal growth was evident in our
other departments.
At the end of two years Mrs. Belmont ceased to
support the press department or to pay the rent,
but her timely aid had put us on our feet, and we
were able to continue our splendid progress and to
meet our expenses.
The special event of 1908 was the successful completion
of the fund President M. Carey Thomas of
Bryn Mawr and Miss Mary Garrett had promised in
1906 to raise for the Cause. For some time after Miss
Anthony's death nothing more was said of this, but
I knew those two indefatigable friends were not idle,
and ``Aunt Susan'' had died in the blessed conviction
that their success was certain. In 1907 I received a
letter from Miss Thomas telling me that the project
was progressing; and later she sent an outline of
her plan, which was to ask a certain number of
wealthy persons to give five hundred dollars a year
each for a term of years. In all, a fund of $60,000
was to be raised, of which we were to have $12,000
a year for five years; $4,500 of the $12,000 was to
be paid in salaries to three active officers, and the
remaining $7,500 was to go toward the work of the
association. The entire fund was to be raised by
May 1, 1908, she added, or the plan would be
I was on a lecture tour in Ohio in April, 1908,
when one night, as I was starting for the hall where
the lecture was to be given, my telephone bell rang.
``Long distance wants you,'' the operator said, and
the next minute a voice I recognized as that of Miss
Thomas was offering congratulations. ``The last
dollar of the $60,000,'' she added, ``was pledged at
four o'clock this afternoon.''
I was so overcome by the news that I dropped the
receiver and shook in a violent nervous attack,
and this trembling continued throughout my lecture.
It had not seemed possible that such a burden could
be lifted from my shoulders; $7,500 a year would
greatly aid our work, and $4,500 a year, even though
divided among three officers, would be a most welcome
help to each. As subsequently arranged,
the salaries did not come to us through the National
Association treasury; they were paid directly by
Miss Thomas and Miss Garrett as custodians of the
fund. So it is quite correct to say that no salaries
have ever been paid by the National Association to
its officers.
Three years later, in 1911, another glorious surprise
came to me in a very innocent-looking letter.
It was one of many in a heavy mail, and I opened it
absent-mindedly, for the day had been problem-filled.
The writer stated very simply that she wished
to put a large amount into my hands to invest,
to draw on, and to use for the Cause as I saw fit.
The matter was to be a secret between us, and she
wished no subsequent accounting, as she had entire
faith in my ability to put the money to the best
possible use.
The proposition rather dazed me, but I rallied my
forces and replied that I was infinitely grateful, but
that the amount she mentioned was a large one and I
would much prefer to share the responsibility of disbursing
it. Could she not select one more person, at
least, to share the secret and act with me? She replied,
telling me to make the selection, if I insisted on
having a confidante, and I sent her the names of Miss
Thomas and Miss Garrett, suggesting that as Miss
Thomas had done so much of the work in connection
with the $60,000 fund, Miss Garrett might
be willing to accept the detail work of this fund.
My friend replied that either of these ladies would
be perfectly satisfactory to her. She knew them
both, she said, and I was to arrange the matter as I
chose, as it rested wholly in my hands.
I used this money in subsequent state campaigns,
and I am very sure that to it was largely due the
winning of Arizona, Kansas, and Oregon in 1912,
and of Montana and Nevada in 1914. It enabled
us for the first time to establish headquarters, secure
an office force, and engage campaign speakers.
I also spent some of it in the states we lost then
but will win later--Ohio, Wisconsin, and Michigan--
using in all more than fifteen thousand dollars. In
September, 1913, I received another check from the
same friend, showing that she at least was satisfied
with the results we had achieved.
``It goes to you with my love,'' she wrote, ``and
my earnest hopes for further success--not the least
of this a crowning of your faithful, earnest, splendid
work for our beloved Cause. How blessed it is that
you are our president and leader!''
I had talked to this woman only twice in my life,
and I had not seen her for years when her first check
came; so her confidence in me was an even greater
gift than her royal donation toward our Cause.
The interval between the winning of Idaho and
Utah in 1896 and that of Washington in 1910
seemed very long to lovers of the Cause. We were
working as hard as ever--harder, indeed, for the
opposition against us was growing stronger as our
opponents realized what triumphant woman suffrage
would mean to the underworld, the grafters,
and the whited sepulchers in public office. But in
1910 we were cheered by our Washington victory,
followed the next year by the winning of California.
Then, with our splendid banner year of 1912 came
the winning of three states--Arizona, Kansas, and
Oregon--preceded by a campaign so full of vim and
interest that it must have its brief chronicle here.
To begin, we conducted in 1912 the largest number
of campaigns we had ever undertaken, working
in six states in which constitutional amendments
were pending--Ohio, Michigan, Wisconsin, Oregon,
Arizona, and Kansas. Personally, I began my work
in Ohio in August, with the modest aspiration of
speaking in each of the principal towns in every one
of these states. In Michigan I had the invaluable
assistance of Mrs. Lawrence Lewis, of Philadelphia,
and I visited at this time the region of my old home,
greatly changed since the days of my girlhood, and
talked to the old friends and neighbors who had
turned out in force to welcome me. They showed
their further interest in the most satisfactory way,
by carrying the amendment in their part of the
At least four and five speeches a day were expected,
and as usual we traveled in every sort of conveyance,
from freight-cars to eighty horse-power French automobiles.
In Eau Clair, Wisconsin, I spoke at the
races immediately after the passing of a procession
of cattle. At the end of the procession rode a woman
in an ox-cart, to represent pioneer days. She
wore a calico gown and a sunbonnet, and drove her
ox-team with genuine skill; and the last touch to
the picture she made was furnished by the presence
of a beautiful biplane which whirred lightly in the
air above her. The obvious comparison was too
good to ignore, so I told my hearers that their women
to-day were still riding in ox-teams while the men
soared in the air, and that women's work in the
world's service could be properly done only when
they too were allowed to fly.
In Oregon we were joined by Miss Lucy Anthony.
There, at Pendleton, I spoke during the great
``round up,'' holding the meeting at night on the
street, in which thousands of horsemen--cowboys,
Indians, and ranchmen--were riding up and down,
blowing horns, shouting, and singing. It seemed
impossible to interest an audience under such conditions,
but evidently the men liked variety, for
when we began to speak they quieted down and
closed around us until we had an audience that filled
the streets in every direction and as far as our voices
could reach. Never have we had more courteous or
enthusiastic listeners than those wild and happy
horsemen. Best of all, they not only cheered our
sentiments, but they followed up their cheers with
their votes. I spoke from an automobile, and when
I had finished one of the cowboys rode close to me
and asked for my New York address. ``You will
hear from me later,'' he said, when he had made a
note of it. In time I received a great linen banner,
on which he had made a superb pen-and-ink sketch
of himself and his horse, and in every corner sketches
of scenes in the different states where women voted,
together with drawings of all the details of cowboy
equipment. Over these were drawn the words:
The banner hangs to-day in the National Headquarters.
In California Mr. Edwards presented me with the
money to purchase the diamond in Miss Anthony's
flag pin representing the victory of his state the
preceding year; and in Arizona one of the highlights
of the campaign was the splendid effort of
Mrs. Frances Munds, the state president, and Mrs.
Alice Park, of Palo Alto, California, who were carrying
on the work in their headquarters with tremendous
courage, and, as it seemed to me, almost
unaided. Mrs. Park's specialty was the distribution
of suffrage literature, which she circulated with
remarkable judgment. The Governor of Arizona
was in favor of our Cause, but there were so few
active workers available that to me, at least, the
winning of the state was a happy surprise.
In Kansas we stole some of the prestige of Champ
Clark, who was making political speeches in the
same region. At one station a brass-band and a
great gathering were waiting for Mr. Clark's train
just as our train drew in; so the local suffragists persuaded
the band to play for us, too, and I made a
speech to the inspiring accompaniment of ``Hail to
the Chief.'' The passengers on our train were greatly
impressed, thinking it was all for us; the crowd
at the station were glad to be amused until the great
man came, and I was glad of the opportunity to
talk to so many representative men--so we were
all happy.
In the Soldiers' Home at Leavenworth I told the
old men of the days when my father and brothers
left us in the wilderness, and my mother and I cared
for the home while they fought at the front--and
I have always believed that much of the large vote
we received at Leavenworth was cast by those old
No one who knows the conditions doubts that we
really won Michigan that year as well as the three
other states, but strange things were done in the
count. For example, in one precinct in Detroit
forty more votes were counted against our amendment
than there were voters in the district. In
other districts there were seven or eight more votes
than voters. Under these conditions it is not surprising
that, after the vigorous recounting following
the first wide-spread reports of our success, Michigan
was declared lost to us.
The campaign of 1914, in which we won Montana
and Nevada, deserves special mention here. I must
express also my regret that as this book will be on
the presses before the campaign of 1915 is ended, I
cannot include in these reminiscences the results
of our work in New York and other states.
As a beginning of the 1914 campaign I spent a day
in Chicago, on the way to South Dakota, to take my
part in a moving-picture suffrage play. It was my
first experience as an actress, and I found it a taxing
one. As a modest beginning I was ordered to make
a speech in thirty-three seconds--something of a
task, as my usual time allowance for a speech is one
hour. The manager assured me, however, that a
speech of thirty-three seconds made twenty-seven
feet of film--enough, he thought, to convert even a
The Dakota campaigns, as usual, resolved themselves
largely into feats of physical endurance, in
which I was inspired by the fine example of the state
presidents--Mrs. John Pyle of South Dakota and
Mrs. Clara V. Darrow of North Dakota. Every day
we made speeches from the rear platform of the
trains on which we were traveling--sometimes only
two or three, sometimes half a dozen. One day I
rode one hundred miles in an automobile and spoke
in five different towns. Another day I had to make
a journey in a freight-car. It was, with a few exceptions,
the roughest traveling I had yet known,
and it took me six hours to reach my destination.
While I was gathering up hair-pins and pulling myself
together to leave the car at the end of the ride
I asked the conductor how far we had traveled.
``Forty miles,'' said he, tersely.
``That means forty miles AHEAD,'' I murmured.
``How far up and down?''
``Oh, a hundred miles up and down,'' grinned the
conductor, and the exchange of persiflage cheered
us both.
Though we did not win, I have very pleasant
memories of North Dakota, for Mrs. Darrow accompanied
me during the entire campaign, and took
every burden from my shoulders so efficiently that
I had nothing to do but make speeches.
In Montana our most interesting day was that
of the State Fair, which ended with a suffrage parade
that I was invited to lead. On this occasion the
suffragists wished me to wear my cap and gown and
my doctor's hood, but as I had not brought those
garments with me, we borrowed and I proudly wore
the cap and gown of the Unitarian minister. It was
a small but really beautiful parade, and all the costumes
for it were designed by the state president,
Miss Jeannette Rankin, to whose fine work, by the
way, combined with the work of her friends, the
winning of Montana was largely due.
In Butte the big strike was on, and the town was
under martial law. A large banquet was given us
there, and when we drove up to the club-house
where this festivity was to be held we were stopped
by two armed guards who confronted us with stern
faces and fixed bayonets. The situation seemed so
absurd that I burst into happy laughter, and thus
deeply offended the earnest young guards who were
grasping the fixed bayonets. This sad memory was
wiped out, however, by the interest of the banquet--
a very delightful affair, attended by the mayor of
Butte and other local dignitaries.
In Nevada the most interesting feature of the
campaign was the splendid work of the women. In
each of the little towns there was the same spirit
of ceaseless activity and determination. The president
of the State Association, Miss Anne Martin,
who was at the head of the campaign work, accompanied
me one Sunday when we drove seventy miles
in a motor and spoke four times, and she was also
my companion in a wonderful journey over the
mountains. Miss Martin was a tireless and worthy
leader of the fine workers in her state.
In Missouri, under the direction of Mrs. Walter
McNabb Miller, and in Nebraska, where Mrs. E.
Draper Smith was managing the campaign, we had
some inspiring meetings. At Lincoln Mrs. William
Jennings Bryan introduced me to the biggest audience
of the year, and the programme took on a special
interest from the fact that it included Mrs. Bryan's
debut as a speaker for suffrage. She is a tall and
attractive woman with an extremely pleasant voice,
and she made an admirable speech--clear, terse, and
much to the point, putting herself on record as a
strong supporter of the woman-suffrage movement.
There was also an amusing aftermath of this occasion,
which Secretary Bryan himself confided to me
several months later when I met him in Atlantic
City. He assured me, with the deep sincerity he
assumes so well, that for five nights after my speech
in Lincoln his wife had kept him awake listening to
her report of it--and he added, solemnly, that he
now knew it ``by heart.''
A less pleasing memory of Nebraska is that I lost
my voice there and my activities were sadly interrupted.
But I was taken to the home of Mr. and
Mrs. Francis A. Brogan, of Omaha, and supplied
with a trained nurse, a throat specialist, and such
care and comfort that I really enjoyed the enforced
rest--knowing, too, that the campaign committee
was carrying on our work with great enthusiasm.
In Missouri one of our most significant meetings
was in Bowling Green, the home of Champ Clark,
Speaker of the House. Mrs. Clark gave a reception,
made a speech, and introduced me at the meeting,
as Mrs. Bryan had done in Lincoln. She is one of
the brightest memories of my Missouri experience,
for, with few exceptions, she is the most entertaining
woman I have ever met. Subsequently we had an
all-day motor journey together, during which Mrs.
Clark rarely stopped talking and I even more rarely
stopped laughing.
From 1887 to 1914 we had a suffrage convention
every year, and I attended each of them. In preceding
chapters I have mentioned various convention
episodes of more or less importance. Now, looking
back over them all as I near the end of these reminiscences,
I recall a few additional incidents which
had a bearing on later events.
There was, for example, the much-discussed attack
on suffrage during the Atlanta convention of
1895, by a prominent clergyman of that city whose
name I mercifully withhold. On the Sunday preceding
our arrival this gentleman preached a sermon
warning every one to keep away from our meetings,
as our effort was not to secure the franchise for
women, but to encourage the intermarriage of the
black and white races. Incidentally he declared that
the suffragists were trying to break up the homes
of America and degrade the morals of women, and
that we were all infidels and blasphemers. He ended
with a personal attack on me, saying that on the
previous Sunday I had preached in the Epworth
Memorial Methodist Church of Cleveland, Ohio, a
sermon which was of so blasphemous a nature that
nothing could purify the church after it except to
burn it down.
As usual at our conventions, I had been announced
to preach the sermon at our Sunday conference, and
I need hardly point out that the reverend gentleman's
charge created a deep public interest in this
effort. I had already selected a text, but I immediately
changed my plans and announced that
I would repeat the sermon I had delivered in Cleveland
and which the Atlanta minister considered so
blasphemous. The announcement brought out an
audience which filled the Opera House and called
for a squad of police officers to keep in order the
street crowd that could not secure entrance. The
assemblage had naturally expected that I would
make some reply to the clergyman's attack, but I
made no reference whatever to him. I merely repeated,
with emphasis, the sermon I had delivered
in Cleveland.
At the conclusion of the service one of the trustees
of my reverend critic's church came and apologized
for his pastor. He had a high regard for him, the
trustee said, but in this instance there could be no
doubt in the mind of any one who had heard both
sermons that of the two mine was the tolerant, the
reverent, and the Christian one. The attack made
many friends for us, first because of its injustice,
and next because of the good-humored tolerance
with which the suffragists accepted it.
The Atlanta convention, by the way, was arranged
and largely financed by the Misses Howard--
three sisters living in Columbus, Georgia, and each
an officer of the Georgia Woman Suffrage Association.
It is a remarkable fact that in many of our Southern
states the suffrage movement has been led by three
sisters. In Kentucky the three Clay sisters were
for many years leaders in the work. In Texas the
three Finnegan sisters did splendid work; in Louisiana
the Gordon sisters were our stanchest allies,
while in Virginia we had the invaluable aid of Mary
Johnston, the novelist, and her two sisters. We
used to say, laughingly, if there was a failure to
organize any state in the South, that it must be due
to the fact that no family there had three sisters
to start the movement.
From the Atlanta convention we went directly
to Washington to attend the convention of the
National Council of Women, and on the first day
of this council Frederick Douglass came to the meeting.
Mr. Douglass had a special place in the hearts
of suffragists, for the reason that at the first convention
ever held for woman suffrage in the United
States (at Seneca Falls, New York) he was the only
person present who stood by Elizabeth Cady Stanton
when she presented her resolution in favor of
votes for women. Even Lucretia Mott was startled
by this radical step, and privately breathed into the
ear of her friend, ``Elizabeth, thee is making us
ridiculous!'' Frederick Douglass, however, took the
floor in defense of Mrs. Stanton's motion, a service
we suffragists never forgot.
Therefore, when the presiding officer of the council,
Mrs. May Wright Sewall, saw Mr. Douglass enter the
convention hall in Washington on this particular morning,
she appointed Susan B. Anthony and me a committee
to escort him to a seat on the platform, which
we gladly did. Mr. Douglass made a short speech
and then left the building, going directly to his home.
There, on entering his hall, he had an attack of heart
failure and dropped dead as he was removing his
overcoat. His death cast a gloom over the convention,
and his funeral, which took place three
days later, was attended by many prominent men
and women who were among the delegates. Miss
Anthony and I were invited to take part in the
funeral services, and she made a short address,
while I offered a prayer.
The event had an aftermath in Atlanta, for it
led our clerical enemy to repeat his charges against
us, and to offer the funeral of Frederick Douglass as
proof that we were hand in glove with the negro
Under the gracious direction of Miss Kate Gordon
and the Louisiana Woman Suffrage Association, we
held an especially inspiring convention in New
Orleans in 1903. In no previous convention were
arrangements more perfect, and certainly nowhere
else did the men of a community co-operate more generously
with the women in entertaining us. A club
of men paid the rent of our hall, chartered a steamboat
and gave us a ride on the Mississippi, and in
many other ways helped to make the occasion a success.
Miss Gordon, who was chairman of the
programme committee, introduced the innovation of
putting me before the audience for twenty minutes
every evening, at the close of the regular session,
as a target for questions. Those present were
privileged to ask any questions they pleased, and I
answered them--if I could.
We were all conscious of the dangers attending
a discussion of the negro question, and it was understood
among the Northern women that we must
take every precaution to avoid being led into such
discussion. It had not been easy to persuade Miss
Anthony of the wisdom of this course; her way was
to face issues squarely and out in the open. But
she agreed that we must respect the convictions of
the Southern men and women who were entertaining
us so hospitably.
On the opening night, as I took my place to answer
questions, almost the first slip passed up bore these
What is your purpose in bringing your convention to the
South? Is it the desire of suffragists to force upon us the
social equality of black and white women? Political equality
lays the foundation for social equality. If you give the ballot
to women, won't you make the black and white woman equal
politically and therefore lay the foundation for a future claim
of social equality?
I laid the paper on one side and did not answer
the question. The second night it came to me
again, put in the same words, and again I ignored
it. The third night it came with this addition:
Evidently you do not dare to answer this question. Therefore
our conclusion is that this is your purpose.
When I had read this I went to the front of the
``Here,'' I said, ``is a question which has been
asked me on three successive nights. I have not
answered it because we Northern women had decided
not to enter into any discussion of the race
question. But now I am told by the writer of this
note that we dare not answer it. I wish to say that
we dare to answer it if you dare to have it answered
--and I leave it to you to decide whether I shall
answer it or not.''
I read the question aloud. Then the audience
called for the answer, and I gave it in these words,
quoted as accurately as I can remember them:
``If political equality is the basis of social equality,
and if by granting political equality you lay the
foundation for a claim of social equality, I can only
answer that you have already laid that claim. You
did not wait for woman suffrage, but disfranchised
both your black and your white women, thus making
them politically equal. But you have done more
than that. You have put the ballot into the hands
of your black men, thus making them the political
superiors of your white women. Never before in the
history of the world have men made former slaves
the political masters of their former mistresses!''
The point went home and it went deep. I drove
it in a little further.
``The women of the South are not alone,'' I said,
``in their humiliation. All the women of America
share it with them. There is no other nation in the
world in which women hold the position of political
degradation our American women hold to-day.
German women are governed by German men;
French women are governed by French men. But
in these United States American women are governed
by every race of men under the light of the
sun. There is not a color from white to black, from
red to yellow, there is not a nation from pole to
pole, that does not send its contingent to govern
American women. If American men are willing to
leave their women in a position as degrading as this
they need not be surprised when American women
resolve to lift themselves out of it.''
For a full moment after I had finished there was
absolute silence in the audience. We did not know
what would happen. Then, suddenly, as the truth
of the statement struck them, the men began to
applaud--and the danger of that situation was over.
Another episode had its part in driving the suffrage
lesson home to Southern women. The Legislature
had passed a bill permitting tax-paying women
to vote at any election where special taxes were to
be imposed for improvements, and the first election
following the passage of this bill was one in New
Orleans, in which the question of better drainage
for the city was before the public. Miss Gordon
and the suffrage association known as the Era
Club entered enthusiastically into the fight for good
drainage. According to the law women could vote
by proxy if they preferred, instead of in person, so
Miss Gordon drove to the homes of the old conservative
Creole families and other families whose
women were unwilling to vote in public, and she
collected their proxies while incidentally she showed
them what position they held under the law.
With each proxy it was necessary to have the signature
of a witness, but according to the Louisiana law
no woman could witness a legal document. Miss
Gordon was driven from place to place by her colored
coachman, and after she had secured the proxy of
her temporary hostess it was usually discovered that
there was no man around the place to act as a witness.
This was Miss Gordon's opportunity. With
a smile of great sweetness she would say, ``I will
have Sam come in and help us out''; and the colored
coachman would get down from his box, and by
scrawling his signature on the proxy of the aristocratic
lady he would give it the legal value it lacked.
In this way Miss Gordon secured three hundred
proxies, and three hundred very conservative women
had an opportunity to compare their legal standing
with Sam's. The drainage bill was carried and interest
in woman suffrage developed steadily.
The special incident of the Buffalo convention of
1908 was the receipt of a note which was passed up
to me as I sat on the platform. When I opened it
a check dropped out--a check so large that I was
sure it had been sent by mistake. However, after
asking one or two friends on the platform if I had
read it correctly, I announced to the audience that
if a certain amount were subscribed immediately I
would reveal a secret--a very interesting secret.
Audiences are as curious as individuals. The amount
was at once subscribed. Then I held up a check
for $10,000, given for our campaign work by Mrs.
George Howard Lewis, in memory of Susan B. Anthony,
and I read to the audience the charming
letter that accompanied it. The money was used
during the campaigns of the following year--part of
it in Washington, where an amendment was already
In a previous chapter I have described the establishment
of our New York headquarters as a result
of the generous offer of Mrs. O. H. P. Belmont at
the Seattle convention in 1909. During our first
year in these beautiful Fifth Avenue rooms Mrs.
Pankhurst made her first visit to America, and we
gave her a reception there. This, however, was
before the adoption of the destructive methods which
have since marked the activities of the band of
militant suffragists of which Mrs. Pankhurst is
president. There has never been any sympathy
among American suffragists for the militant suffrage
movement in England, and personally I am wholly
opposed to it. I do not believe in war in any form;
and if violence on the part of men is undesirable in
achieving their ends, it is much more so on the part
of women; for women never appear to less advantage
than in physical combats with men. As for
militancy in America, no generation that attempted
it could win. No victory could come to us in any
state where militant methods were tried. They are
undignified, unworthy--in other words, un-American.
The Washington convention of 1910 was graced
by the presence of President Taft, who, at the invitation
of Mrs. Rachel Foster Avery, made an
address. It was understood, of course, that he was
to come out strongly for woman suffrage; but, to
our great disappointment, the President, a most
charming and likable gentleman, seemed unable
to grasp the significance of the occasion. He began
his address with fulsome praise of women, which was
accepted in respectful silence. Then he got round
to woman suffrage, floundered helplessly, became
confused, and ended with the most unfortunately
chosen words he could have uttered: ``I am opposed,''
he said, ``to the extension of suffrage to
women not fitted to vote. You would hardly expect
to put the ballot into the hands of barbarians or
savages in the jungle!''
The dropping of these remarkable words into a
suffrage convention was naturally followed by an
oppressive silence, which Mr. Taft, now wholly
bereft of his self-possession, broke by saying that
the best women would not vote and the worst women
In his audience were many women from suffrage
states--high-minded women, wives and mothers,
who had voted for Mr. Taft. The remarks to which
they had just listened must have seemed to them a
poor return. Some one hissed--some man, some
woman--no one knows which except the culprit--
and a demonstration started which I immediately
silenced. Then the President finished his address.
He was very gracious to us when he left, shaking
hands with many of us, and being especially cordial
to Senator Owens's aged mother, who had come to
the convention to hear him make his maiden speech
on woman suffrage. I have often wondered what
he thought of that speech as he drove back to the
White House. Probably he regretted as earnestly
as we did that he had made it.
In 1912, at an official board meeting at Bryn
Mawr, Mrs. Stanley McCormack was appointed
to fill a vacancy on the National Board. Subsequently
she contributed $6,000 toward the payment
of debts incident to our temporary connection
with the Woman's Journal of Boston, and did
much efficient work for us, To me, personally,
the entrance of Mrs. Stanley McCormack into
our work has been a source of the deepest gratification
and comfort. I can truly say of her what
Susan B. Anthony said of me, ``She is my right
bower.'' At Nashville, in 1914, she was elected first
vice-president, and to a remarkable degree she has
since relieved me of the burden of the technical
work of the presidency, including the oversight of
the work at headquarters. To this she gives all her
time, aided by an executive secretary who takes
charge of the routine work of the association. She
has thus made it possible for me to give the greater
part of my time to the field in which such inspiring
opportunities still confront us--campaign work in
the various states.
To Mrs. Medill McCormack also we are indebted
for most admirable work and enthusiastic support.
At the Washington (D.C.) convention in 1913 she
was made the chairman of the Congressional Committee,
with Mrs. Antoinette Funk, Mrs. Helen
Gardner of Washington, and Mrs. Booth of Chicago
as her assistants. The results they achieved were
so brilliant that they were unanimously re-elected
to the same positions this year, with the addition
of Miss Jeannette Rankin, whose energy and service
had helped to win for us the state of Montana.
It was largely due to the work of this Congressional
Committee, supported by the large number of
states which had been won for suffrage, that we
secured such an excellent vote in the Lower House
of Congress on the bill to amend the national Constitution
granting suffrage to the women of the
United States. This measure, known as the Susan
B. Anthony bill, had been introduced into every
Congress for forty-three years by the National
Woman Suffrage Association. In 1914, for the
first time, it was brought out of committee, debated,
and voted upon in the Lower House. We received
174 votes in favor of it to 204 against it. The
previous spring, in the same Congress, the same bill
passed the Senate by 35 votes for it to 33 votes
against it.
The most interesting features of the Washington
convention of 1913 were the labor mass-meetings
led by Jane Addams and the hearing before the
Rules Committee of the Lower House of Congress--
the latter the first hearing ever held before
this Committee for the purpose of securing a
Committee on Suffrage in the Lower House to
correspond with a similar committee in the Senate.
For many years we had had hearings before
the Judiciary Committee of the Lower House,
which was such a busy committee that it had neither
time nor interest to give to our measure. We therefore
considered it necessary to have a special committee
of our own. The hearing began on the
morning of Wednesday, the third of December, and
lasted for two hours. Then the anti-suffragists were
given time, and their hearing began the following
day, continued throughout that day and during
the morning of the next day, when our National
Association was given an opportunity for rebuttal
argument in the afternoon. It was the longest hearing
in the history of the suffrage movement, and one
of the most important.
During the session of Congress in 1914 another
strenuous effort was made to secure the appointment
of a special suffrage committee in the Lower
House. But when success began to loom large before
us the Democrats were called in caucus by the
minority leader, Mr. Underwood, of Alabama, and
they downed our measure by a vote of 127 against
it to 58 for it. This was evidently done by the
Democrats because of the fear that the united votes
of Republican and Progressive members, with those
of certain Democratic members, would carry the
measure; whereas if this caucus were called, and
an unfavorable vote taken, ``the gentlemen's agreement''
which controls Democratic party action in
Congress would force Democrats in favor of suffrage
to vote against the appointment of the committee,
which of course would insure its defeat.
The caucus blocked the appointment of the committee,
but it gave great encouragement to the suffragists
of the country, for they knew it to be a tacit
admission that the measure would receive a favorable
vote if it came before Congress unhampered.
Another feature of the 1913 convention was the
new method of electing officers, by which a primary
vote was taken on nominations, and afterward a
regular ballot was cast; one officer was added to the
members of the official board, making nine instead
of eight, the former number. The new officers
elected were Mrs. Breckenridge of Kentucky, the
great-granddaughter of Henry Clay, and Mrs.
Catherine Ruutz-Rees of Greenwich, Connecticut.
The old officers were re-elected--Miss Jane Addams
as first vice-president, Mrs. Breckenridge and Mrs.
Ruutz-Rees as second and third vice-presidents,
Mrs. Mary Ware Dennett as corresponding secretary,
Mrs. Susan Fitzgerald as recording secretary,
Mrs. Stanley McCormack as treasurer, Mrs. Joseph
Bowen of Chicago and Mrs. James Lees Laidlaw of
New York City as auditors.
It would be difficult to secure a group of women
of more marked ability, or better-known workers in
various lines of philanthropic and educational work,
than the members composing this admirable board.
At the convention of 1914, held in Nashville, several
of them resigned, and at present (in 1914) the
``National's'' affairs are in the hands of this inspiring
group, again headed by the much-criticized
and chastened writer of these reminiscences:
Mrs. Stanley McCormack, first vice-president.
Mrs. Desha Breckenridge, second vice-president.
Dr. Katharine B. Davis, third vice-president.
Mrs. Henry Wade Rogers, treasurer.
Mrs. John Clark, corresponding secretary.
Mrs. Susan Walker Fitzgerald, recording secretary.
Mrs. Medill McCormack, }
} Auditors
Mrs. Walter McNabb Miller, of Missouri }
In a book of this size, and covering the details
of my own life as well as the development of the
great Cause, it is, of course, impossible to mention
by name each woman who has worked for us--
though, indeed, I would like to make a roll of honor
and give them all their due. In looking back I am surprised
to see how little I have said about many women
with whom I have worked most closely--Rachel
Foster Avery, for example, with whom I lived happily
for several years; Ida Husted Harper, the historian
of the suffrage movement and the biographer of Miss
Anthony, with whom I made many delightful voyages
to Europe; Alice Stone Blackwell, Rev. Mary
Saffard, Jane Addams, Katharine Waugh McCullough,
Ella Stewart, Mrs. Mary Wood Swift, Mrs.
Mary S. Sperry, Mary Cogshall, Florence Kelly,
Mrs. Ogden Mills Reid and Mrs. Norman Whitehouse
(to mention only two of the younger ``live
wires'' in our New York work), Sophonisba Breckenridge,
Mrs. Clara B. Arthur, Rev. Caroline Bartlett
Crane, Mrs. James Lees Laidlaw, Mrs. Raymond
Brown, the splendidly executive president of our
New York State Suffrage Association, and my benefactress,
Mrs. George Howard Lewis of Buffalo. To
all of them, and to thousands of others, I make my
grateful acknowledgment of indebtedness for friendship
and for help.
I have said much of the interest attending the
international meetings held in Chicago, London,
Berlin, and Stockholm. That I have said less about
those in Copenhagen, Geneva, The Hague, Budapest,
and other cities does not mean that these were less
important, and certainly the wonderful women
leaders of Europe who made them so brilliant must
not be passed over in silence.
First, however, the difference between the Suffrage
Alliance meetings and the International Council
meetings should be explained. The Council
meetings are made up of societies from the various
nations which are auxiliary to the International
Council--these societies representing all lines of
women's activities, whether educational, industrial,
or social, while the membership, including more
than eleven million women, represents probably the
largest organization of women in the world. The
International Suffrage Alliance represents the suffrage
interest primarily, whereas the International
Council has only a suffrage department. So popular
did this International Alliance become after its
formation in Berlin by Mrs. Catt, in 1904, that at
the Copenhagen meeting, only three years later,
more than sixteen different nations were represented
by regular delegates.
It was unfortunate, therefore, that I chose this
occasion to make a spectacular personal failure in
the pulpit. I had been invited to preach the convention
sermon, and for the first time in my life
I had an interpreter. Few experiences, I believe,
can be more unpleasant than to stand up in a pulpit,
utter a remark, and then wait patiently while it
is repeated in a tongue one does not understand, by
a man who is putting its gist in his own words and
quite possibly giving it his own interpretative twist.
I was very unhappy, and I fear I showed it, for I
felt, as I looked at the faces of those friends who
understood Danish, that they were not getting what
I was giving them. Nor were they, for I afterward
learned that the interpreter, a good orthodox
brother, had given the sermon an ultra-orthodox
bias which those who knew my creed certainly did
not recognize. The whole experience greatly disheartened
me, but no doubt it was good for my
During the Copenhagen meeting we were given
a banquet by the City Council, and in the course of
his speech of welcome one of the city fathers airily
remarked that he hoped on our next visit to Copenhagen
there would be women members in the Council
to receive us. At the time this seemed merely a
pleasant jest, but two years from that day a bill
was enacted by Parliament granting municipal suffrage
to the women of Denmark, and seven women
were elected to the City Council of Copenhagen.
So rapidly does the woman suffrage movement grow
in these inspiring days!
Recalling the International Council of 1899 in
London, one of my most vivid pictures has Queen
Victoria for its central figure. The English court
was in mourning at the time and no public audiences
were being held; but we were invited to Windsor
with the understanding that, although the Queen
could not formally receive us, she would pass
through our lines, receiving Lady Aberdeen and
giving the rest of us an opportunity to courtesy
and obtain Her Majesty's recognition of the Cause.
The Queen arranged with her chamberlain that we
should be given tea and a collation; but before this
refreshment was served, indeed immediately after
our arrival, she entered her familiar little pony-cart
and was driven slowly along lines of bowing women
who must have looked like a wheat-field in a high
Among us was a group of Indian women, and
these, dressed in their native costumes, contributed
a picturesque bit of brilliant color to the scene as
they deeply salaamed. They arrested the eye of
the Queen, who stopped and spoke a few cordial
words to them. This gave the rest of us an excellent
opportunity to observe her closely, and I admit that
my English blood stirred in me suddenly and loyally
as I studied the plump little figure. She was dressed
entirely and very simply in black, with a quaint
flat black hat and a black cape. The only bit
of color about her was a black-and-white parasol
with a gold handle. It was, however, her face which
held me, for it gave me a wholly different impression
of the Queen from those I had received from her
photographs. Her pictured eyes were always rather
cold, and her pictured face rather haughty; but there
was a very sweet and winning softness in the eyes
she turned upon the Indian women, and her whole
expression was unexpectedly gentle and benignant.
Behind her, as a personal attendant, strode an
enormous East-Indian in full native costume, and
closely surrounding her were gentlemen of her household,
each in uniform.
By this time my thoughts were on my courtesy,
which I desired to make conventional if not graceful;
but nature has not made it easy for me to
double to the earth as Lady Aberdeen and the Indian
women were doing, and I fear I accomplished
little save an exhibition of good intentions. The
Queen, however, was getting into the spirit of the
occasion. She stopped to speak to a Canadian
representative, and she would, I think, have ended
by talking to many others; but, just at the psychological
moment, a woman rushed out of the line,
seized Her Majesty's hand and kissed it--and Victoria,
startled and possibly fearing a general onslaught,
hurriedly passed on.
Another picture I recall was made by the Duchess
of Sutherland, the Countess of Aberdeen, and the
Countess of Warwick standing together to receive
us at the foot of the marble stairway in Sutherland
House. All of them literally blazed with jewels, and
the Countess of Aberdeen wore the famous Aberdeen
emerald. At Lady Battersea's reception I had
my first memorial meeting with Mary Anderson
Navarro, and was able to thank her for the pleasure
she had given me in Boston so long ago. Then I
reproached her mildly for taking herself away from
us, pointing out that a great gift had been given
her which she should have continued to share with
the world.
``Come and see my baby,'' laughed Madame
Navarro. ``That's the best argument I can offer
to refute yours.''
At the same reception I had an interesting talk
with James Bryce. He had recently written his
American Commonwealth, and I had just read it.
It was, therefore, the first subject I introduced in
our conversation. Mr. Bryce's comment amused
me. He told me he had quite changed his opinion
toward the suffrage aspirations of women, because
so many women had read his book that he really
believed they were intelligent, and he had come to
feel much more kindly toward them. These were
not his exact words, but his meaning was unmistakable
and his mental attitude artlessly sincere. And,
on reflection, I agree with him that the American
Commonwealth is something of an intellectual hurdle
for the average human mind.
In 1908 the International Council was held in
Geneva, and here, for the first time, we were shown,
as entertainment, the dances of a country--the
scene being an especially brilliant one, as all the
dancers wore their native costumes. Also, for the
first time in the history of Geneva, the buildings of
Parliament were opened to women and a woman's
organization was given the key to the city. At
that time the Swiss women were making their fight
for a vote in church matters, and we helped their
cause as much as we could. To-day many Swiss
women are permitted to exercise this right--the
first political privilege free Switzerland has given
The International Alliance meeting in Amsterdam
in 1909 was the largest held up to that time,
and much of its success was due to Dr. Aletta Jacobs,
the president of the National Suffrage Association
of Holland. Dr. Jacobs had some wonderful helpers
among the women of her country, and she herself
was an ideal leader--patient, enthusiastic, and tireless.
That year the governments of Australia, Norway,
and Finland paid the expenses of the delegates
from those countries--a heartening innovation. One
of the interesting features of the meeting was a
cantata composed for the occasion and given by
the Queen's Royal Band, under the direction of a
woman--Catharine van Rennes, one of the most
distinguished composers and teachers in Holland.
She wrote both words and music of her cantata and
directed it admirably; and the musicians of the
Queen's Band entered fully into its spirit and played
like men inspired. That night we had more music,
as well as a never-to-be-forgotten exhibition of folkdancing.
The same year, in June, we held the meeting of
the International Council in Toronto, and, as Canada
has never been eagerly interested in suffrage, an unsuccessful
effort was made to exclude this subject
from the programme. I was asked to preside at the
suffrage meetings on the artless and obvious theory
that I would thus be kept too busy to say much.
I had hoped that the Countess of Aberdeen, who was
the president of the International Council, would take
the chair; but she declined to do this, or even to
speak, as the Earl of Aberdeen had recently been
appointed Viceroy of Ireland, and she desired to
spare him any embarrassment which might be
caused by her public activities. We recognized the
wisdom of her decision, but, of course, regretted
it; and I was therefore especially pleased when, on
suffrage night, the countess, accompanied by her
aides in their brilliant uniforms, entered the hall.
We had not been sure that she would be with us,
but she entered in her usual charming and gracious
manner, took a seat beside me on the platform,
and showed a deep interest in the programme and
the great gathering before us.
As the meeting went on I saw that she was growing
more and more enthusiastic, and toward the
end of the evening I quietly asked her if she did
not wish to say a few words. She said she would
say a very few. I had put myself at the end of the
programme, intending to talk about twenty minutes;
but before beginning my speech I introduced the
countess, and by this time she was so enthusiastic
that, to my great delight, she used up my twenty
minutes in a capital speech in which she came out
vigorously for woman suffrage. It gave us the best
and timeliest help we could have had, and was a
great impetus to the movement.
In London, at the Alliance Council of 1911, we
were entertained for the first time by a suffrage
organization of men, and by the organized actresses
of the nation, as well as by the authors.
In Stockholm, the following year, we listened to
several of the most interesting women speakers in
the world--Selma Lagerlof, who had just received
the Nobel prize, Rosica Schwimmer of Hungary,
Dr. Augsburg of Munich, and Mrs. Philip Snowden
of England. Miss Schwimmer and Mrs. Snowden
have since become familiar to American audiences,
but until that time I had not heard either of them,
and I was immensely impressed by their ability and
their different methods--Miss Schwimmer being all
force and fire, alive from her feet to her finger-tips,
Mrs. Snowden all quiet reserve and dignity. Dr.
Augsburg wore her hair short and dressed in a most
eccentric manner; but we forgot her appearance as
we listened to her, for she was an inspired speaker.
Selma Lagerlof's speech made the great audience
weep. Men as well as women openly wiped their
eyes as she described the sacrifice and suffering of
Swedish women whose men had gone to America
to make a home there, and who, when they were
left behind, struggled alone, waiting and hoping for
the message to join their husbands, which too often
never came. The speech made so great an impression
that we had it translated and distributed among
the Swedes of the United States wherever we held
meetings in Swedish localities.
Miss Lagerlof interested me extremely, and I was
delighted by an invitation to breakfast with her one
morning. At our first meeting she had seemed
rather cold and shy--a little ``difficult,'' as we say;
but when we began to talk I found her frank, cordial,
and full of magnetism. She is self-conscious
about her English, but really speaks our language
very well. Her great interest at the time was in
improving the condition of the peasants near her
home. She talked of this work and of her books
and of the Council programme with such friendly intimacy
that when we parted I felt that I had always
known her.
At the Hague Council in 1913 I was the guest of
Mrs. Richard Halter, to whom I am also indebted
for a beautiful and wonderful motor journey from
end to end of Holland, bringing up finally in Amsterdam
at the home of Dr. Aletta Jacobs. Here we
met two young Holland women, Miss Boissevain and
Rosa Manus, both wealthy, both anxious to help
their countrywomen, but still a little uncertain as
to the direction of their efforts. They came to Mrs.
Catt and me and asked our advice as to what they
should do, with the result that later they organized
and put through, largely unaided, a national exposition
showing the development of women's work
from 1813 to 1913. The suffrage-room at this exposition
showed the progress of suffrage in all parts
of the world; but when the Queen of Holland visited
the building she expressed a wish not to be detained
in this room, as she was not interested in suffrage.
The Prince Consort, however, spent much time in it,
and wanted the whole suffrage movement explained
to him, which was done cheerfully and thoroughly
by Miss Boissevain and Miss Manus. The following
winter, when the Queen read her address
from the throne, she expressed an interest in so
changing the Constitution of Holland that suffrage
might possibly be extended to women. We felt that
this change of heart was due to the suffrage-room
arranged by our two young friends--aided, probably,
by a few words from the Prince Consort!
Immediately after these days at Amsterdam we
started for Budapest to attend the International
Alliance Convention there, and incidentally we indulged
in a series of two-day conventions en route--
one at Berlin, one at Dresden, one at Prague, and
one at Vienna. At Prague I disgraced myself by
being in my hotel room in a sleep of utter exhaustion
at the hour when I was supposed to be responding
to an address of welcome by the mayor; and the
high-light of the evening session in that city falls on
the intellectual brow of a Bohemian lady who insisted
on making her address in the Czech language,
which she poured forth for exactly one hour and
fifteen minutes. I began my address at a quarter of
twelve and left the hall at midnight. Later I learned
that the last speaker began her remarks at a quarter
past one in the morning.
It may be in order to add here that Vienna did
for me what Berlin had done for Susan B. Anthony--
it gave me the ovation of my life. At the conclusion
of my speech the great audience rose and, still standing,
cheered for many minutes. I was immensely
surprised and deeply touched by the unexpected
tribute; but any undue elation I might have experienced
was checked by the memory of the skeptical
snort with which one of my auditors had received
me. He was very German, and very, very frank.
After one pained look at me he rose to leave the
``THAT old woman!'' he exclaimed. ``She cannot
make herself heard.''
He was half-way down the aisle when the opening
words of my address caught up with him and stopped
him. Whatever their meaning may have been, it
was at least carried to the far ends of that great hall,
for the old fellow had piqued me a bit and I had
given my voice its fullest volume. He crowded into
an already over-occupied pew and stared at me with
goggling eyes.
``Mein Gott!'' he gasped. ``Mein Gott, she could
be heard ANYWHERE.''
The meeting at Budapest was a great personal
triumph for Mrs. Catt. No one, I am sure, but the
almost adored president of the International Suffrage
Alliance could have controlled a convention
made up of women of so many different nationalities,
with so many different viewpoints, while the confusion
of languages made a general understanding
seem almost hopeless. But it was a great success in
every way--and a delightful feature of it was the
hospitality of the city officials and, indeed, of the
whole Hungarian people. After the convention I
spent a week with the Contessa Iska Teleki in her
chateau in the Tatra Mountains, and a friendship
was there formed which ever since has been a joy
to me. Together we walked miles over the mountains
and along the banks of wonderful streams, while
the countess, who knows all the folk-lore of her
land, told me stories and answered my innumerable
questions. When I left for Vienna I took with me
a basket of tiny fir-trees from the tops of the Tatras;
and after carrying the basket to and around Vienna,
Florence, and Genoa, I finally got the trees home in
good condition and proudly added them to the
``Forest of Arden'' on my place at Moylan.
In looking back over the ten years of my administration
as president of the National American
Woman Suffrage Association, there can be no feeling
but gratitude and elation over the growth of the
work. Our membership has grown from 17,000
women to more than 200,000, and the number
of auxiliary societies has increased in proportion.
Instead of the old-time experience of one campaign
in ten years, we now have from five to ten campaigns
each year. From an original yearly expenditure of
$14,000 or $15,000 in our campaign work, we now
expend from $40,000 to $50,000. In New York, in
1915, we have already received pledges of $150,000
for the New York State campaign alone, while
Pennsylvania, Massachusetts, and New Jersey have
made pledges in proportion.
In 1906 full suffrage prevailed in four states;
we now have it in twelve. Our movement has
advanced from its academic stage until it has
become a vital political factor; no reform in the
country is more heralded by the press or receives
more attention from the public. It has become
an issue which engages the attention of the entire
nation--and toward this result every woman working
for the Cause has contributed to an inspiring
degree. Splendid team-work, and that alone, has
made our present success possible and our eventual
triumph in every state inevitable. Every officer
in our organization, every leader in our campaigns,
every speaker, every worker in the ranks, however
humble, has done her share.
I do not claim anything so fantastic and Utopian
as universal harmony among us. We have had our
troubles and our differences. I have had mine.
At every annual convention since the one at Washington
in 1910 there has been an effort to depose
me from the presidency. There have been some
splendid fighters among my opponents--fine and
high-minded women who sincerely believe that at
sixty-eight I am getting too old for my big job.
Possibly I am. Certainly I shall resign it with
alacrity when the majority of women in the organization
wish me to do so. At present a large majority
proves annually that it still has faith in my leadership,
and with this assurance I am content to
work on.
Looking back over the period covered by these
reminiscences, I realize that there is truth in the
grave charge that I am no longer young; and this
truth was once voiced by one of my little nieces in
a way that brought it strongly home to me. She
and her small sister of six had declared themselves
suffragettes, and as the first result of their conversion
to the Cause both had been laughed at by their
schoolmates. The younger child came home after
this tragic experience, weeping bitterly and declaring
that she did not wish to be a suffragette any
more--an exhibition of apostasy for which her wise
sister of eight took her roundly to task.
``Aren't you ashamed of yourself,'' she demanded,
``to stop just because you have been laughed at
once? Look at Aunt Anna! SHE has been laughed
at for hundreds of years!''
I sometimes feel that it has indeed been hundreds
of years since my work began; and then again it
seems so brief a time that, by listening for a
moment, I fancy I can hear the echo of my childish-
voice preaching to the trees in the Michigan
But long or short, the one sure thing is that, taking
it all in all, the struggles, the discouragements, the
failures, and the little victories, the fight has been,
as Susan B. Anthony said in her last hours, ``worth
while.'' Nothing bigger can come to a human being
than to love a great Cause more than life itself, and
to have the privilege throughout life of working for
that Cause.
As for life's other gifts, I have had some of them,
too. I have made many friendships; I have looked
upon the beauty of many lands; I have the assurance
of the respect and affection of thousands of
men and women I have never even met. Though I
have given all I had, I have received a thousand
times more than I have given. Neither the world
nor my Cause is indebted to me but from the depths
of a full and very grateful heart I acknowledge my
lasting indebtedness to them both.

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