Flowers for Susan

This letter from Elizabeth Cady Stanton to Matilda Joslyn Gage was printed in the June 1879 issue of Gage’s National Citizen and Ballot Box.

CHICAGO, May 15th.

Dear Friend:

I reached the St. Louis Convention at the last moment, and was sorry to find that you and Olympia Brown had just gone. However, I was in time to make a short. speech, preside for two hours, and witness one of the most touching incidents that ever occurred on our platform.

The ladies of the convention, delegates from many different states, presented our dear friend, Susan B. Anthony, two beautiful baskets of flowers, in the presence of the immense audience which had gathered through all the long sessions for three days.

Mrs. May W. Thompson of Indianapolis, in presenting the flowers referred in the most happy way, to Miss Anthony’s unselfish and untiring devotion to all the unpopular reforms, through long years of pitiless persecution and ridicule, and thanked her in behalf of the young womanhood of the nation, that their path had been made smoother by her brave life. Our Susan was so overcome with the delicate compliments offered her, and the fragrant flowers at her feet, that for a moment she could find no words to express her appreciation of the unexpected acknowledgment of what all American women do indeed owe her.

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), and the antisuffrage newspaper, The Remonstrance (1890-1913).


As she stood before that hushed audience, her silence was more eloquent than words, for her emotion was shared by all. With an effort she at last said: “Friends, I have no words to express my gratitude for this marked attention. I have so long been the target for the criticism and ridicule of our cause, I am so unused to praise and compliment, that I stand before you surprised and disarmed. If any one had come on this platform and abused all womankind, called me hard names, ridiculed our arguments or denied the justice of our demands, I should with readiness and confidence have rushed to the defence, but my Quaker education unfits me to make any appropriate reply for this offering of eloquent words and flowers, and I shall not attempt it.”

Being advertised as the speaker of the evening, she at once began her address, and as that grand woman stood there and made an argument worthy a Senator of the United States, I recalled the infinite patience with which for upwards of thirty years she had labored for educational reforms, temperance, anti-slavery and woman suffrage, ridiculed by the press, arrested, tried and fined for exercising an American citizen’s right to vote, misrepresented and ignored by women themselves, whose rights she had struggled to secure, with an earnestness and faithfulness worthy the martyrs in the early days of the Christian Church, I said to myself, verily the world now as ever crucifies its saviors!

Thanks to the untiring industry of Mrs. Minor and Miss Couzins the Convention was in every way a success, morally, financially, in crowded audiences, and in the fair, respectful and complimentary tone of the press. Looking over the proceedings and resolutions, the thought struck me that the National Woman Suffrage Association is the only organization that has steadily maintained the doctrine of Federal power, against state rights.

The great truths set forth in the 14th and 15th amendments, of United States supremacy, so clearly seen by us, seem to be vague and dim to our leading statesmen and judges, if we may judge by their speeches and decisions. Your superb speech on state rights should be published in tract form and scattered over this entire nation. How can we ever have a homogeneous government so long as great universal principles are bounded by state lines. I am homeward bound at last, after eight months of continual speaking, having filled one hundred and fifty engagements. The first of June will find me once more on the blue hills of Jersey. The prairies are beautiful in their fresh spring grass and flowers, but the valleys of the Mohawk and Hudson are more to my taste. Perhaps it is well for “the young man to go west” and grow up with the country, but for women on the shady side of sixty, whose eyes have always dwelt on rocks, trees, mountains, hills and rivers, the east must ever be more congenial.

As ever yours,

Elizabeth Cady Stanton

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