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tv   [untitled]    May 2, 2012 1:00am-1:30am EDT

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now, as douglass's and white's experience remind us, this was dangerous. this was a dangerous line of work. and some people would fight back. some abolitionist speakers when they were attacked, when they were physically assaulted, they would fight back. obviously, douglass and white are ready to fight back. some speakers believed in non-resistance, non-violence. and they would not fight back. the men would just curl up in a ball on the ground and not fight back. pacifists, believing totally and completely in pacifism. and it's interesting that the female abolitionists were often threatened with violence, but we don't have any accounts of female abolitionists actually being physically assaulted and nearly killed, like what happened to some of the men. so let's talk for a few minutes about some of those female aboliti
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abolitionists. probably one of the most beloved of the white women who became aboliti abolitionists in this period was a woman from massachusetts named lucretia mott. lucretia mott. lucretia mott was a quaker. her parents are very interesting people. her father was a sea captain. and he was gone for months and months at a time. sometimes he would be gone for a full year. and while he was away traveling the globe as a sea captain, lucretia mott's mother would run the household. and she was very capable and very well organized. i guess she had to be if you were going to be married to a sea captain. so she grew up in a household with a woman who was a strong, competent woman. lucretia got a good education at quaker schools. she fell in love with and married a quaker businessman, james mott.
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and they settled in philadelphia. and in philadelphia lucretia mott got more and more interested in the anti-slavery movement. and both of the motts supported the anti-slavery movement, although mr. mott is really a businessman and it's lucretia who's the activist. and their house in philadelphia was often a stop on the underground railroad. fugitive slaves stayed at the mott household. and in the 1830s lucretia mott begins to speak out against slavery. and she goes out on the lecture circuit. she admitted that she was an average speaker. she didn't describe herself as a brilliant orator like some of the other abolitionists. but she impressed audiences nonetheless with her force of character, with her integrity, and also her sweetness. she seemed to have had a very sweet nature and was much beloved by other abolitionists,
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her sweetness and strength of character. however, she too is ridiculed in the mainstream press. she was called a "she-devil." that's a favorite insult directed at female abolitionists in this period. unfeminine. unnatural. but she keeps at it. and in the 1830s this is the approach of most abolitionists. they're still trying to persuade people. they're trying to change public opinion. and they do that by writing and by speaking. there were other abolitionist papers aside from the ones i've discussed. there were dozens of people who would go out on the lecture circuit. some abolitionists petitioned congress to try to end slavery. the petitions were rejected. some of them advocated boycotts, that people should try to boycott items that were made by
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slave labor. but that's very hard to do. that doesn't really pan out. you know, because slaves raised cotton and cotton is used in so many aspects of daily life in so many different households. and in the 1840s more and more aboliti abolitionists start to debate going into politics. should we go into politics? well, some of them said no. william lloyd garrison said no. he said politics is a dirty business, we should just stick with what we're doing. but some other abolitionists said, well, maybe we can have more impact if we get inside the political system. so in the 1840s and '50s you start to see a tiny number of abolitionists getting elected to national office. and sometimes local office. for example, a congressman from pennsylvania, thaddeus stevens, he's an abolitionist. in the 1850s the united states senator from massachusetts,
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charles sumner, although there are still abolitionists who say this is a mistake, the abolitionists are focused on the goal of ending slavery, but they do have some rather spirited internal debates about how to do that. they also debate the role of women. and believe it or not, some abolitionist men said that female abolitionists were hurting the cause, that they were distracting people from the important issue, that they were discrediting the movement. frederick douglass and william lloyd garrison said no, they're n not. they advocated the right of women to participate in the movement. so let's talk more about some of the female abolitionists, shall we? these are very interesting people who have been the subject of some really excellent biographies. the grinke sisters of south
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carolina. and grimke is a french name. their ancestors were french protestants who came to south carolina in the colonial period. the family by the early 19th century was very wealthy. they had a beautiful house in charleston. they had plantations out in the countryside. and two of the daughters in the grimke family, sarah grimke and angelina grimke, are the ones who become abolitionists. and even as children they seem to have been very sensitive to wrongdoing. they noticed when they thought people were badly treated. and sarah, the older of the two sisters, started saying when she was, you know, still a pubescent girl, she started saying that slaves should be able to read so they could read the bible. well, it was illegal in south carolina to teach slaves how to
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read. and the younger sister, angelina-s also very tense tiff to wrongdoing and exploitation. and when both of the sisters were in their 20s they became quakers. they became born again protestants and they joined the local quaker church. and in their conversations with other people they get more and more outspoken in their criticisms of slavery. and the family tries to shut them up. the grimke relatives are embarrassed, deeply embarrassed by this. and some local law enforcement figures visit the household in charleston and say can't you get them to stop? you know, can't you bget them t stop saying these things at prayer group meetings? they would meet with other people and talk about the bible and their interpretations of the bible. and finally, the family pays them to leave. the family pays them off to go
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away. and they move to philadelphia, where they get active in the abolitionist movement. and both of the grimke sisters went out on the lecture circuit. and they were both apparently excellent speakers. they both had very melodic, silvery speaking voices, based on eyewitness accounts, and they're talking about things that they have witnessed themselves. frederick douglass was talking about his experience as a slave. and the grimke sisters are talking about what it's like to be inside the slave-owning class. and they talked about the terrible punishments they witnessed being inflicted on slaves, you know, and how horrifying it was to even witness this. and they talked about the corrupting influence that being a slave owner had on white people. and they ground their criticisms in their christian beliefs.
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you know, they're devout protestants. they know the bible very well. and that's their -- the foundation of their argument. but they're such good speakers that believe it or not some of their critics said they're not really women, they're men disguised as women, because a woman could not be that eloquent or that articulate. and sarah grimke, the older of the two, starts to think about gender. you know, in addition to abolition, slavery, and race, she starts to think about and speak about gender. and she published an essay in 1838 summarizing her thoughts. it was called letters on the equality of the sexes. and she too uses very blunt, straightforward language. no one can accuse william lloyd garrison, frederick douglass, or the grimke sisters of being shy about what they really believed.
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she says that men and women are equal in the eyes of god. and she says, "all history attests that men have subjected women to their will. man has done all he could to debase and enslave her mind. now he looks triumphantly on the ruin he has wrought and says this being he has thus deeply injured is his inferior." you know, so that's a sample quote from a very fiery essay. and the grimke sisters got a lot of criticism. they -- for example, in massachusetts in 1837, the year before this essay was published, they gave 17 lectures in the space of a month in different towns in massachusetts. and since the bell has just sounded, let's take a break for about ten minutes, and then we'll come back and resume our discussion of the grimke sisters.
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>> okay. let's resume our discussion. does anybody have any questions about anything i've talked about so far? please feel free to ask. now, you know, if you have a question during the lecture, please raise your hand. okay? okay. he all right. well, let's resume our discussion of the grimke sisters of south carolina, who are now leading extraordinary lives as outspoken abolitionists in the north. and in 1837 the sisters gave 17 lectures in the space of about a month all over massachusetts. and we have a rare eyewitness account of what they said and how they related to the audience. this person witnessed angelina, the younger of the grimke sisters, speaking.
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one man said that he would never forget the wonderful manifestation of her power as a speaker. "she had a calm and simple eloquence as she spoke." and furthermore elaborated, "angelina grimke had a wonderful gift which disarmed prejudice and carried her audience with her." the congregational ministers of massachusetts were not impressed, however, and in june of 1837 they wrote a public letter to the grimke sisters criticizing them. and they had this letter read at the pulpit of every kong gagsal church in the state of massachusetts. so they mean business. this is a public condemnation. and their language is quite critical. they start off by saying "your minister," the word minister underlined, "your minister is ordained by god to be your teacher. we appreciate the unostentatious
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prayers of women in advancing the cause of religion at home. but when a woman assumes the place of a man as a public reformer, she becomes unnatural. the way is open for he dege he degeneracy and ruin." so the language here is quite sharp. and this is the kind of criticism that the grimke sisters got, lucretia mott got, and eventually this resistance to women participating in reform leads to the woman's rights movement. and the birth date, as it were, for the woman's rights movement is 1848, a meeting in seneca falls, new york. and in the 19th century they said woman's rights, woman singul
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singular. and the first real convention dedicated to issues having to do with women only took place in 1848 in a little town in upstate new york called seneca falls. and the chief figure at this conference is a woman from upstate new york. her name was elizabeth katy stanton. maiden name katy. and married name stanton. elizabeth cady stanton. and one history yab has looked at the women who became abolitionists and/or women's rights activists in this generation and has discovered that many of them were first-borns. they were either the oldest child in the family or the oldest daughter in the family. many of them were highly educated. and that's certainly true for elizabeth cady. she's the daughter of a judge.
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she was born in the 18 teens. she grows up in a household of considerable comfort. her family is quite affluent. and hir father had a large private library in the house. and young elizabeth loved to read those books. and she said to her father once, you know, when i grow up i'm going to be a lawyer. and her father said to her -- this is the early 19th century. he said to her, what? just take a guess. he said no. he said you can't be a lawyer because you're a? you're a girl. you know, women cannot be lawyers. and mr. cady, without perhaps intending to be cruel, said to his daughter elizabeth several times, because elizabeth was a very smart little girl and loved books and was very curious and interested in the world she
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lived in, and her father said to her several times, "if only you had been a boy woechlt you know, that's one way to create a social activist. he's saying to her basically, you're the wrong gender. and he said that to her once on the day of her brother's funeral. she had a brother who died young. you know, that happened a lot in the 19th century. children would die young of diseases. and he said that to her on the day of her brother's funeral, "if only you had been a boy." so that's the atmosphere that elizabeth cady grows up in. her parents are not reformers by any stretch. but she had relatives who were. one of her cousins was an abolitionist. and she through her cousin met other reformers and abolitionists. and she married an abolitionist when she was in her 20s, henry stanton. and the parents were not too happy because henry stanton didn't have much money and he was an abolitionist. you know, he went out on the lecture circuit. but she was in love with him and they got married.
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and they went to london on their honeymoon. london, england. they went to an anti-slavery convention that was taking place in the city. even though the british had just abolished slavery in all their overseas colonies in the 1830s, nonetheless, abolitionists in england still would host these big conventions and this was a world anti-slavery convention. so delegates came from all over the planet. well, mostly the english-speaking world anyway. so the stantons traveled together to england in 1840 and they go with mr. and mrs. mott, james mott and lucretia mott. you know, the two couples go together. and then when they got to england, they were told that the women would not be allowed to attend the meeting but they could listen if they wanted to. if they sat behind a screen where none of the men could see them. because if the men saw them they would be distracted. and lucretia mott didn't like
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that and neither did elizabeth cady. and when they were traveling back to the u.s., they said to each other, you know, we should have a meeting about women's rights or, you know, woman's rights. you know, we should address discrimination against women as women. and they talked about it. but the meeting doesn't actually take place until eight years that's largely because elizabeth cady stanton has so many children. elizabeth stanton was highly fertile. she had one child after another. she had a lot of children, one pregnancy after another. it's not until 1848 that she can finally focus on this meeting. they have it in seneca falls, it's advertised in the newspapers in upstate new york. they got a turnout of a couple hundred people. and at this meeting, they meet for several days, and in a small
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local chapel, that building where the meeting was held is still standing. it's now a historic site. they discuss various issues that pertain to discrimination against women. and elizabeth cady stanton writes up a document and she models it on -- anybody know? what was her model for this document which she called the declaration of principles? right. very good. she modeled it on the declaration of independence. and she starts off by saying, we hold these truths to be self-evident that all men and women are created equal. and you can see her background as the daughter of a lawyer, she talks about the legal discrimination that women face, she talks about the fact that women are closed out of the professions, out of the ministry, most universities don't admit women. she talks about the fact that believe it or not in the 19th century when a couple gets divorced, the husband almost
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always gets custody of the children because it was assumed in this generation that if a marriage didn't work out it was probably the woman's fault. that she was probably a bad mother and a bad wife so the husband would usually get the custody. and stanton thought that was unfair and she lines up all of these points of discrimination. and she also calls for woman suffrage. that was controversial. there were even some activists at seneca falls who said isn't that a bit too much, too radical. and elizabeth cady stanton said no, i don't think it is. and in fact, she got older, she came to see it as the key to changing women's lives. so there's a suffrage resolution which is passed in the meeting then closes in july of 1848. now, does any one know when did american women get the right to vote? 19th amendment, in the year --
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1920. very good. and one person who attended the seneca falls conference lived long enough to vote. one woman, charlotte woodward, she was a farmer's daughter and a teenager from upstate new york and she had seen the notice in the newspaper, and she was in favor of woman's suffrage so she went to this conference and was very happy to see there were other people there who thought the same way. she was still alive in 1920, so she lived long enough to vote. she was quite old by then but did live long enough to vote. i'm sure that nobody at seneca falls thought it would take that long. most of them thought it would probably happen within maybe a generation or less. and in terms of enfranchising women, the united states is in the middle of the pack, you know, behind new zealand, 1893, the first western style democracy to enfranchise women, behind australia, behind great britain, ahead of portugal,
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1976, ahead of kuwait, 2006. so the u.s. is sort of in the middle of the pack. and if elizabeth cady stanton had then told in 1888 that the female suffrage was something that was going to happen decades into the future i think she would have been disbelieving. she had a lot of confidence as did many other reformers that this was the right thing to do. it's interesting, however, that stanton doesn't mention the fact that women had already voted in a part of the united states. we talked about that in an earlier lecture. does any one remember where they used to vote? yeah, new jersey. they voted in new jersey for about a generation from the 1770s to the early 1800s then were disenfranchised, i think i mentioned this. they were disenfranchised
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because a member of the new jersey state legislature had lost a race earlier and he blamed it on women voters for some reason. it was actually a kind of ordinary dispute about where to build a court house in a county in new jersey, but he vowed when he got into the state legislature he was going to take away the female suffrage and that's what he did. but stanton never mentions this. it doesn't come up at all at the meeting in seneca falls. she apparently didn't know it. even though she lived in new york most of her life, right next to new jersey, it's very strange. she apparently didn't know because if she did know that women had once voted in the united states surely she would have included it in her argument as to why women should vote. abigail adams knew it. she mentioned it in a letter in the 1790s. it's puzzling how it is that stanton didn't know this. she also apparently didn't know that a black woman named maria
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stewart had written essays earlier in the any 20s, she was a school teacher, she had called for woman suffrage. stanton apparently didn't know. hi joe. i saw your hand. they were enfranchised during the revolution when new jersey wrote its state constitution, 1776, and they lost the suffrage in the early 1800s. and they lost it permanent. and didn't vote anywhere else. the whole episode is very puzzling. it's a very strange aspect of american political history and american reform, that stanton who was highly literate, very smart, she published several books, she had a long career as an activist, she lived until the end of the century. that she didn't know that women
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had once voted in new jersey. it's funny how history gets buried sometimes. knowledge just gets lost. but she never brought it up. nonetheless, there are other woman's rights conventions begin to take place in the u.s. in the 1850s. usually in the northeast and in the midwest. this is a movement that is largely based in those regions. at a convention here in ohio, in 1851, woman's rights convention we see one of the most famous speeches made by a woman about this whole issue. and that person who made that speech was a black woman, an ex-slave from new york named sojourner truth. sojourner truth was the name she chose for herself when she became emancipated. she said she was on a sojourn
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and her goal was truth. her given name was isabella. she was born a slave at the end of the 18th century. she was emancipated because the state of new york put in a law in 1799 stipulating for gradual emancipation. when slaves reach a certain age they would be freed. ironically, she's a slave, ex-slave, but she's a new yorker. and many of the people in the world she grew up in spoke dutch, so she spoke dutch and english. and she apparently at least early in her life, spoke english with a faint dutch accent. so she's very interesting culturally. in the 1820s when she becomes emancipated she moved to new york city, she has a conversion experience, she joins the methodist church, she was a gifted public speaker, she was
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interested in various reform issues, she moved around, lived in several places. and she was in akron in 1851 when this woman's rights convention took place. she was already quite well known in reform circles as a powerful speaker. sojourner truth was very tall. she was at least 6 feet tall, she had a very imposing presence. and this convention in akron included some speakers who were against woman's suffrage. and said that women were too weak and delicate for public life and for exercising the suffrage. and that bothered sojourner truth. she asked for permission to speak and she was given permission and she stood up and made this spontaneous speech talking about her life as a woman. and what that had been like.
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and the famous refrain sort of rhetorical question she asked is, aren't i a woman? or maybe you know, ain't i a woman. there are several slightly different versions of what she said because this was not a prepared speech, this was a spontaneous speech. and she stood up and she said people say you know, that women are too weak to do this, that and the other. when i was a slave i worked hard all day. i worked as hard as any man ever worked. and she said aren't i a woman? and then she talked about the fact she had children when she was a slave and some of her children were sold away from her in the slave trade. she said and i called out to god to comfort me and nobody heard my suffering except god. she said aren't i a woman? this was a very dramatic speech. and people remembered it for years although you know, as i say, we don't have a transcript, we don't have an actual document. and there has been some debate among historians exactly what she said. but sojourner truth was pointing out the inconsistencies in the
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criticisms of -- that were directed at female reformers and woman's rights activists. the official ideology of the 19th century is that men are different from women and women are delicate, weak and inferior and have to be protected. sojourner truth says in this extraordinary speech, nobody ever protected me. she's talking about the hypocrisy underlying it all. now, are there any questions about the woman's rights movement or abolition before we move on to the pro slavery argument? lee. >> are there any books that are still published as far as like the autobiography of frederick douglas? >> oh, sure. you mean memoirs b


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