womens rights 3

Women’s Rights in The Lily (1856)

I ask if the laws are right, in case a married woman possess real estate, (for of course she can possess no personal property,) and dies, leaving a husband; according to the laws of Ohio, (if I mistake not,) he is entitled to the whole amount. But if a man possesses property and dies, leaving a widow, she is entitled to none of his personal property, and only allowed the use of the third of his real estate; the surplus is to be divided equally among the children, if they have any, when the youngest is twenty-one years of age; also the remaining third, after the death of the widow. But if she has no children, it will go to the deceased husband’s relatives.

I would like to know if a woman does not need as much property to support a family of children as a man, who gets higher wages for labor?

But no; they deprive her of property, reduce her wages, and then compel her to wear away her life in unremitting toil, for a mere pittance, to provide for herself and her helpless children. Now, I ask, what justice is there in this? It is no wonder that people blush at the name of Slavery!

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I do not intend to cast reflections upon all; for I am sure that we have some true and earnest friends—even among gentlemen—who consider that women are capable of fulfilling a higher mission than what is generally assigned them. But I do censure our unjust rulers, who pride themselves in revelry and drunkenness—and he is considered the greatest hero, who can display the most vulgarity, and trample upon the rights of his fellow men!

What an example is this to place before a congregated nation? Well, may Virtue weep over fallen humanity, crushed affections, and ruined hopes! For what have we to hope under existing circumstances? What have we to expect but the downfall of this once glorious Republic, unless vice, intemperance, and pro-slavery principles be once and forever banished from our Legislative Halls?

It is impossible for the Nation to prosper under self-government. If we refer to Ancient History, we find that ever since the creation of the world, nations have continued to rise and fall; and their decline has almost invaribly been occasioned by intemperance and slavery. We are told by Plato, that “abject submission and slavery were the causes of the declension of the Pessiam Empire.” The subjects were compelled to prostrate themselves before the king, when admitted into his presence. This, Seneca calls “Persian Slavery.’

Therefore, if we would save our country from the fate that other despotic nations have, and are destined to receive, to receive, let us who are friends of freedom, raise our united voices in protest against laws that deprive a part of the citizens of their unalienable right; and pray that our rulers may yet learn what is true greatness. Let us remember the counsel of the Father of our Country, that “no principle can be safely trusted which does not flow from a sense of religious obligation.” Like the brave and noble son of Ireland, let our motto be—“Where virtue dwells there will I hold; and the last intrenchment of Liberty shall be my grave!”

ALMIRA M. SMITH.
Spencer, Medina County, Ohio.

Source: The Lily, April 15, 1856

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