Writing Desk

The Apple-Headed Young Man

Mrs. Stanton tells a capital story of a spruce, conceited-looking young man, with head the size of an apple, who approached her in the cars the morning after she had given one of her strong lectures. “I do not agree with your views, Madam,” said this small-headed youth, evidently thinking that his opposition would stop the wheels of progress, and change the whole current of reform.

We everywhere meet apple-headed young men—persons attempting to block advancement, whether material or spiritual. “I do not agree with you” murdered Lovejoy at Alton, imprisoned Garrison in Baltimore, burned Hess and Servetius at the stake, persecuted Luther, crucified our Lord. But, despite it all, reform goes on.

When Stephenson invented the locomotive it was bitterly opposed; scientific men declared it impracticable; men of wealth opposed it on the ground of its frightening the deer and other game; landlords objected on the ground of its taking away their custom. Amid the multitude of opponents; one man gravely saul, “And what, Mr. Stephenson, would be the consequences if your engine met a cow?” “It would be varry bod for the coo,” responded Mr. Stephenson in his broad Scotch dialect. And so it ever is.

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).

Those who attempt to oppose the engine of reform find it very hard for themselves in the end. Progress is the everlasting motto of the world. It cannot stand still; where there is not progression there is retrogression. There are ten thousand capabilities before us; even now we see the glimmering of changes which will make of this a new world even materially. When I recall all that has taken place during my own short life, I feel like a veritable Methuselah. I can recollect the first friction matches, and earlier still, when the mysterious splints of wood plunged into a small bottle holding a mysterious compound, struck fire. Thenceforth no more borrowing fire at a neighbor’s to get the summer tea,—no more covering the maple knot at the precise moment of its proper ignition, sending every one off to bed, will I nill I, or to sit up in the cold.

I remember the small old passenger coaches on the railroads, which to-day a pig would disdain. The first electric telegraph is an early acquaintances of mine. The daguerreotype came when I was a girl, bringing its long host of followers; the Atlantic cable, burning fluid, camphene and kerosene are acquaintances of my married life, while the telephone, electric light and northeast passage are but babies in their swaddling clothes; flooding the Sahara and the inter-ocean canal are coming events which cast their shadows before. In my day the sources of the Nile have been discovered, the Alps tunneled, Japan and China opened to the civilized world, Australia practically added to the continents of the earth, while the microscope and the telescope have brought new worlds to our vision. We need not sigh like Alexander for worlds to conquer, we have but to wish and they lie at our feet.

So short a time back is it that even man had acknowledged the right of self-government, that I feel surging in my veins, only one generation removed, the blood of him who fought in the Revolution to secure to the people of this country that priceless boon; while my youngest child dates her birth since the commencement of the last wild struggle whose end was striking off the fetters from the black man and hurling to destruction every auction block whereon a human being was sold into slavery.

The world moves—moves no less to-day than in the time of Galileo—moves no less than when Garrison’s radicalism frightened away the subscribers to his first anti-slavery paper—moves no less than when Lincoln signed the Emancipation Proclamation; and amid all this moral advance, this progress of ideas, woman’s hour has come. No man, be he great or be he small, can with his puny arm stay this advance, because it is of God. Whoso is in the right has God as his helper. Though in a minority to-day, to-morrow he must be triumphant.

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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