Elizabeth Cady Stanton's Speech

to the American Anti-Slavery Society, May, 1860 (excerpt)

The grand declaration of rights made by William Lloyd Garrison, while yet a printer's boy, was on a higher plane than that of '76. His was uttered with the Christian's view of the dignity of man, the value of the immortal being; the other but from the self-respect of one proud race. But, in spite of noble words, deeds of thirty years of protest, prayers and preaching, slavery still lives, the negro toils on in his weary bondage, his chains have not yet melted in the intense heat of the sun of righteousness; but in the discussion of this question, in grappling with its foes, how many of us have worked out our salvation; what mountains of superstition have been rolled off the human soul! I have always regarded Garrison as the great missionary of the gospel of Jesus to this guilty nation, for he has waged an uncompromising warfare with the sins of both Church and State. My own experience is, no doubt, that of many others. In the darkness and gloom of false theology, I was slowly sawing off the chains of my own spiritual bondage, when, for the first time, I met Garrison in London. A few bold strokes from the hammer of his truth, I was free! Only those who have lived their lives under the dark clouds of vague, undefined fears can appreciate the joy of a doubting soul suddenly born into the kingdom of reason and free thought. Is the bondage of the priest-ridden less galling than that of the slave, because we do not see the chains, the indelible scars, the festering wounds, the deep degradation of all the powers of the God-like mind?..

I do not believe all history affords another such example as the so-called "Garrison Conspiracy" - a body of educated men of decided talent, wealth, rank and position, standing for a quarter of a century battling a whole nation, Church and State, law and public sentiment, without the shadow of ever wavering, turning, or faltering, as if chained to the great Gibraltar-truth of human freedom and equality. This unheard-of steadgfastness can only be accounted for in the fact that woman too is represented in this 'conspiracy.' Yes, Marys and Marthas have gathered around the prophets of our day. With noble words and deeds, and holy sympathy, they have cheered these exiles from the love and honor of their own false countrymen. At their family altars they have been remembered, and unseen spirits of the brave and the good have hovered over them, and rejoiced in these true sons of earth.

Yes, this is the only organization on God's footstool where the humanity of woman is recognized, and these are the only men who have ever echoed back her cries for justice and equality. I shall never forget our champions in the World's Anti-Slavery Convention; how nobly [Wendell] Phillips did speak, and how still more nobly Garrison would not speak, because woman was there denied her rights. Think of a World's Convention and one half of the world is left out! Shame on the women of this nation who help to swell the cry of 'INFIDEL' against men like these! All time would not be long enough to pay the debt of gratitude we owe these noble men, who spoke for us when we were dumb, who roused us to a sense of our own rights, to the dignity of our high calling.

No the mission of this Radical Anti-Slavery Movement is not to the African Slave alone, but to the slaves of custom, creed and sex as well; and most faithfully has it done its work... As we rejoice this day in our deliverance from the sad train of fears and errors that have so long dwarfed the greatest minds of earth..., let us seek a new and holier baptism for the work that lies for each of us in the future.

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