The Revolution

Elizabeth Cady Stanton and Susan B. Anthony

Elizabeth Cady Stanton and Susan B. Anthony

The Revolution, a weekly women’s rights newspaper, was the official publication of the National Woman Suffrage Association formed by feminists Elizabeth Cady Stanton and Susan B. Anthony to secure women’s enfranchisement through a federal constitutional amendment. Published between January 8, 1868 and February, 1872, it was edited by Stanton and Parker Pillsbury and initially funded by George Francis Train, a wealthy and eccentric Democrat, and David Melliss, financial editor of the New York World newspaper. Coincidentally, The Revolution was run out of a small office in the same building that housed the New York World.

A rival organization, the American Woman Suffrage Association, believed success of the equal rights issue could be more easily achieved through state-by-state campaigns. A scant three years after the end of the Civil War, the United States was embroiled in the issue of suffrage for African American men, and many suffragists–notably those who formed the American Woman Suffrage Association–felt it necessary to postpone the fight for woman suffrage. The editors of The Revolution, however, emphatically disagreed and boldly maintained their uncompromising position. In 1890 the National Woman Suffrage Association and the American Woman Suffrage Association merged to form the National American Woman Suffrage Association.

National Woman Suffrage AssociationThe Revolution’s motto, printed on the masthead of the first edition’s front page, was, “Principle, not policy; Justice, not favors.” Beginning with the second edition, the following was added: “Men, their rights and nothing more; Women, their rights and nothing less.” Later editions had this motto: “The True Republic–Men, their rights and nothing more; Women, their rights and nothing less.”

Although its circulation never exceeded 3,000, The Revolution’s influence on the national woman’s rights movement was enormous. As the official voice of the National Woman Suffrage Association the paper confronted subjects not discussed in most mainstream publications of the time including sex education, rape, domestic violence, divorce, prostitution and reproductive rights. It was instrumental in attracting working-class women to the movement by devoting columns to concerns such as unionization and discrimination against female workers.

The Revolution - June 18, 1868

The Revolution – June 18, 1868

By May 1869 the paper began to operate in debt as Train’s contributions to the paper declined after he was imprisoned in England for backing Irish rebels.. Anthony insisted on expensive, high-quality printing equipment, and paid women workers the high wages she thought they deserved. She banned advertisements for alcohol- and morphine-laden patent medicines as all such medicines were abhorrent to her. However, revenue from non-patent-medicine advertisements was too low to cover costs.

On May 22, 1870 Laura Curtis Bullard bought The Revolution for one dollar, with Anthony assuming its $10,000 debt, an amount equal to $184,000 in current value. Anthony used her lecture fees to repay the debt, completing the task in six years. Bullard was a Brooklyn-based writer whose parents became wealthy from selling a popular morphine-laden patent medicine called “Mrs. Winslow’s Soothing Syrup”. Under Bullard, the paper reorganized as a literary and society periodical that included more social gossip and mainstream literature. It also began to carry the lucrative patent medicine advertisements that Anthony had banned. Nevertheless, without Stanton, Pillsbury or Anthony The Revolution did not thrive, and its last issue was published in February 1872.

Collection Notes

  • 1868 to 1871

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