Should the Sexes Study Together? (1868)

My Dear Mrs. Stanton: Allow me to say in reply to the Many queries on the subject of educating the sexes together, and particularly in reference to a desire you expressed to me, when passing some time in your society under the roof of a mutual friend at Peterboro, that the Cornell University should commence its labors with an organization of both sexes, that the Cornell University as I understand it, is neither a college nor a school, but a combination of both: in which every liberal art and science is to be, not exclusively, but universally taught. The mental as well as the physical and material. Indeed, the word University signifies an assemblage of colleges and schools. It is a body selected from the head of these colleges and schools to govern the whole. It is a mistake, then, to call it a “Free Agricultural College.” This is only one of its many departments, of which you can easily satisfy yourself by a careful perusal of a “Report of the committee on organization, presented to the Trustees of the Cornell University, October 21, 1866, by the Hon. Andrew D. White. “That an University founded upon the liberal principles of the Cornell, would be of great service in the cause of woman’s higher education, I admit; but I am not in a position to state whether an association of the sexes, in the pursuit of such education, would be an advantage either to society or the country at large. In the study of poetry, music and dramatic literature, in which I am especially interested, I think it would be an advantage to include the presence and association of the fair sex, whether in the schools or at the public lectures. Indeed, should a professorship of these refining branches of education be established at Cornell University, it would, I think, necessitate the admission of ladies to that especial course.

I have no objection to the development of the mind, to the utmost, in either sex, but in the woman, I would very much prefer that the heart should be thoroughly cultivated. There is, in both sexes, too little stress laid on the education of the heart and the affections, in preparing for a life which is to be spent in personal aggrandizement or in developing the physical resources of a new country. Yet, a cultivation of the moral and intellectual sides of both man and woman’s nature has much to do with the formation of a pure domestic and social life, and of their ultimate rest and happiness.

This item, and others like it, can be found in Accessible Archive’s Women’s Suffrage Collection. We can provide access to fully searchable newspapers by and for women including The Lily (1849-1856), National Citizen and Ballot Box (1878-1881), The Revolution (1868-1872), The New Citizen (1909-1912), The Western Woman Voter (1911-1913), The Woman’s Tribune (1883-1909) and the antisuffrage newspaper, The Remonstrance (1890-1913).

Society, however, is always in motion, and every accident in its progress contributes to effect a Revolution, by which the infallibility of its constitution is deposed. I am inclined to believe, that were there now no monopoly in learning, the education of the sexes might be equally developed, and the sources of information thrown open alike to the man and woman. I think, whenever a woman desires it, her impulse towards the improvement of her mind and condition should be carefully and generously encouraged, and the stately and formal advances of scholastic pursuits of man be shared in by every mother, wife and sister. I am not in a position to say in what way or to what extent this view can be carried out, but the altered character of the times suggests to us the necessity of modeling our institutions to the gradual but certain Revolution which the world is silently undergoing. I feel, however, that in the education of woman, the future ought to combine with lighter literature, practical knowledge and solid erudition; by which her usefulness, not alone in the domestic and social, but in every sphere of life, may be rendered complete, and by which the fabrics of the state and society may receive the best disposition of her strength and ornament.

Scholars accustomed to recluse and attracted exertions, and statesmen giddy in the vortex of politics, isolated from the influence of the feminine sex, are but little acquainted with the powers of woman’s mind; or how far, properly and completely developed, she would give, in association with man, a wholesome direction to every phase of existence, social, religious and political. Attributing too high an influence to his own powers, man neglects to avail himself of the powers which woman possesses, through her effective agencies, in the affairs of life. A closer intercourse with them in educational and practical life, and the tuition of experience, however, will eventually give to the general mind a better appreciation of woman’s influence in every sphere. Of this I am rally convinced, that the age will yet learn to bless any favorable opportunities extended to woman, by which, in all her relations to the state, she may, with equal rights and privileges, present to the world the approaches to various and consummate refinement. I am, most truly yours,

–James Pech
6 Lafayette Place, New York.

Source: The Revolution – August 27, 1868
Top Photo: Cornell University between 1900-1905 by the Detroit Publishing Company.

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