Universal Suffrage and an Earnest Zeal for the Right

Sarah A. Talbot’s letter was published in The Revolution on November 4, 1871, almost fifty years before women won the right to vote throughout the country.

To the Editor of the Revolution:

What the cause of Universal Suffrage most needs, is the co-operation of both sexes to improve the condition of humanity everywhere by manifesting an earnest zeal for the right, and a strong determination to oppose wrong in all its forms. The ministration of good women is needed in our jails and asylums. Their influence is particularly required in the temperance cause and in the cure of the social evil.

I sometimes ask myself will the women of America, when admitted to the ballot, have the courage to attack these monster evils? When I heard Susan B. Anthony hissed while in the act of uttering wholesome but unpalatable truths to a Sin Francisco audience, I realized as never before what the women of this land might expect if they dared attack the evils of society! 

Do you think the base men and women, who grow rich from any business that appeals to the lower appetites, are going to release their unholy grasp upon the besotted portions of the community without a violent struggle? Those who think so do not understand human nature. Like the shrine-makers of the goddess Diana, their “craft is in danger of being set at naught,” and they will oppose with bitter persecution those who attempt to liberate the race from their dominion.

If the women who contend for the ballot are merely desirous to gain the honors and rewards of office, to obtain eclat and hear the huzzas of the world sounded in their ears, they will signally fail! They may obtain a present reward, but at the risk of all true success and progress. Only those can finally sit on thrones who are ready “to be baptized with the baptism” of suffering, or “drink the cup” of stern adherence to duty. It will be no light task to assume the duties which our country has in store for those resolute souls who plainly see what is needed, and have the courage to attempt radical reform. The intrigue and corruption now so prevalent in our party politics, like a huge cancer, need the skill and nerve of a master-hand to remove.

The heroism lately shown in Washington by a few women in grappling with one of the greatest evils of society in a new way, by the invisible forces of purity and gentleness, has never been witnessed before. No missionary to foreign shores has displayed greater courage than these noble women have shown. Let the good women and men of our country unite with like earnestness in every great and good cause, and, above all, in the cause of woman’s enfranchisement, and our success is assured.

-Sarah A. Talbot

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).

All images included in blog posts are from either Accessible Archives collections or out of copyright public sources unless otherwise noted. Common sources include the Library of Congress, The Flickr Commons, Wikimedia Commons, and other public archives.

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