Tag Archives: 19th century
Woman Suffrage and the Darwinian Theory

Woman Suffrage and the Darwinian Theory (1878)

DEAR BALLOT BOX: Do you know that this interminable drudgery imposed on American mothers of petitioning—petitioning for the ballot—this humiliation of forever praying to their own sons to be allowed to enjoy their birthright with the men born of them, furnishes me with stronger evidence of the Darwinian theory than anything I am able to find elsewhere. Were it not for this relic which has no parallel in the history left us of the dark ages—of the long ago buried past, there would be little proof of such an age having once enshrouded the earth.

The brutish vulgarity which we see cropping out in men who ignorantly disgrace themselves by ignoring their own mothers, is conclusive evidence to me that the race must have come up through the long line of animal ancestry to the “man in the dugout,” and from thence to the men in our present Congress, some of whom still seem inclined to root, and grunt, and squeal, if others assert rights equal to their own: lest the visual line of their own pen be the world’s extent, and, if others should be allowed to enjoy like blessings, they would be crowded, off the stage of action. While there are other men on the same floor, who, I am proud to say, are infinitely in advance of all this, which is a promise and prophecy of the oncoming of those others, for which I thank God and take courage; and love to accept this theory because it gives us a better outlook—this law of eternal progress must in cycles of years lift the most sordid to a higher plane of nobler action.

This item, and others like it, can be found in Accessible Archive’s Newspapers Collection. We can provide access to fully searchable newspapers by and for women including The Lily, The Revolution, and the National Citizen and Ballot Box.

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A Look Inside - Reminiscences of Levi Coffin

A Look Inside: Reminiscences of Levi Coffin

The full title of Coffin’s book is REMINISCENCES OF LEVI COFFIN, THE REPUTED PRESIDENT OF THE UNDERGROUND RAILROAD (BEING A BRIEF HISTORY OF THE LABORS OF A LIFETIME IN BEHALF OF THE SLAVE, WITH THE STORIES OF NUMEROUS FUGITIVES, WHO GAINED THEIR FREEDOM THROUGH HIS INSTRUMENTALITY, AND MANY OTHER INCIDENTS.) It was published by the Western Tract Society in 1876.

Accessible Archives subscribers can find this fully searchable 712-page book in part VII of our Civil War collectionAbraham Lincoln Library Abolitionist Books.

Preface

I have been solicited for many years to write a history of my anti-slavery labors and underground railroad experiences, and although I had kept a diary the most of my life, it was without any prospect of ever putting it into book form. I had no desire to appear before the public as an author, having no claim to literary merit.

What I had done I believed was simply a Christian duty and not for the purpose of being seen of men, or for notoriety, which I have never sought. But I was continually urged by my friends to engage in the work, believing that it would be interesting to the rising generation; but being so fully occupied with other duties, I seemed to find no time that I could devote to this work, so that it was put off from year to year. I also often received letters from different parts of the country, desiring me to write the history of my life and labors in the anti-slavery cause, reminding me that the most of my co-laborers had passed away, and that I must soon follow, and that these stirring anti-slavery times in which I lived and labored were a part of the history of our country, which should not be lost.

But still, I deferred it until now, in the seventy-eighth year of my age. And although I feel the infirmities of that period of life fast gathering around me, I have gathered up my diaries, and other documents that had been preserved, and have written a book. In my own plain, simple style, I have endeavored to tell the stories without any exaggeration. Errors no doubt will appear, which I trust the indulgent reader will pardon, in consideration of my advanced age and feebleness. It is here proper also to acknowledge the valuable services of a kind friend, for aid received in preparing these pages for the press. I regret that I have been obliged to leave out many interesting stories and thrilling incidents, on account of swelling the size and cost of the book beyond what was agreed upon with the publishers.

Among the stories omitted is the account of the long imprisonment and sufferings of Calvin Fairbank, of Massachusetts, in the Kentucky penitentiary, for aiding fugitives, and of Richard Dillingham, of Ohio, who suffered and died in the penitentiary at Nashville, Tennessee, for a similar offense.

Part VII of our Civil War collection, Abraham Lincoln Library Abolitionist Books: Compiled by the Abraham Lincoln Memorial Library in Springfield, Illinois this unique collection brings together a disparate group of abolitionist era reference materials.
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Bonnets

Reminiscences of Bonnets (1857)

By Florence Fashionhunter

“In my young days bonnets were bonnets, and not little dress-caps, quivering in a very precarious situation, pinned to the twist of the hair. They are not pinned? Oh, you needn’t tell me! There is nothing but pinning that can induce them to remain in place. When I was a girl, things were different; then the bonnets rested on a secure foundation. Fashion?

Figure 1

Figure 1

Well, suppose little bonnets are the fashion; is that any reason why a large red face, round as a full moon, should be ‘set out’ by a tiny gauze bonnet about the proper size for Titania. Oh, don’t talk to me! If you really want to see what I think is a respectable proper bonnet for a lady, hand me that yellow bandbox at the end of my closet-shelf. There, that bonnet (Fig. 1) was made from the highest fashionable authority, Godey’s Lady’s Book for January, 1834! Looks faded? Of course, it does; you would, too, if you had been shut up in a bandbox for more than twenty years. What do I keep it for? Because I like to have some proof that women were not always the foo–. Well, I don’t want to be uncharitable. But, I do wonder Mr. Godey will encourage them in their nonsensical ways; of course, they’ll wear little bonnets as long as they have pages of pretty ones to choose from.

Figure 2

Figure 2

If I was his Fashion Editor, I would show the folly of their ways, and try to correct their tastes. Do I consider my bonnet tasty? Of course I do! You think the plume looks like an enraged chanticleer’s tail, and the whole bonnet has rather a fierce look? Let me tell you that plume cost $25, and is not to be laughed at. Just look on the shelf of my bookcase and bring me Godey, Vol. VIII, and I will enlighten you on the subject of fashions as they were in my day. Am I in an antiquarian mood? Never mind my mood; bring me the book. Turn to page 60, and there you will see what I call a handsome substantial bonnet (Fig. 2). You think the bows look as if they were made of a tablecloth each, and the shape looks as if the pattern was taken from the head-piece of a French bedstead!”

And finishing her long indignant speech with a sigh over my want of taste, my dear Aunt Peggy left me to look over her Godey. I did look! I have seen the Crystal Palace, and most of the things therein! I have seen Tom Thumb, the Bearded Lady, Kossuth, the Aztec Children, President Pierce, Parkinson’s Gardens, the Ravels, and various fashion -plates; but I never—never did see such a figure as the lady in a riding-habit I found in this wonderful book (Fig. 3).

Figure 3

Figure 3

Such a collar! I believe they called them by the very appropriate name of ‘chokers;’ such a belt, and such a perfect dinner-plate of a buckle; such sleeves, swelling out from under a minute cap, with a defiant puff, like a—Ahem! garment on a clothes-line in a high wind; or, to speak more poetically, a rose bursting from the green the bud inclosed it with; such a whip for a lady; oh, I pity her poor horse if she is as independent and high-tempered as she looks. Such a hat and veil; of what fabric can that veil be composed to float in such an eccentric sweep? Such an air and attitude; such, in short, such a tout ensemble! Don’t she look ‘peart,’ with her head thrown back, and her feet in a polka position, as if she meant to “dance up to that man with the goose’s on his buttons there,” and ask him to please to place her on her horse. To judge from appearances, Lady Gay Spanker must have been quite a mild, unassuming person compared with this fair equestrian.

“Look on this picture and on this” (Fig. 4).

Figure 4

Figure 4

From our defiant rider to this lovely ball-room belle. Mark the modest arrangement of the hair, and the bows blushingly putting forward their claims to notice. (Beaux are such modest arrangements.) Mark the necklace, composed apparently of small spikes, which can, I suppose, be converted into deadly weapons on occasions. Mark the breadth of shoulders, the cape of black lace, the full sleeves, and the bows. Did ladies widen their doorways in 1833 (I have Aunt Peggy’s Godey for 1833 now) for their guests to pass in without diminishing their “breadth of effect?” Look at the languishing air of our “’33” belle, and compare her with the “’34” equestrian.

But, how I am wandering off from my bonnets! The fact is, fashions are so entirely different from what they were some twenty or thirty years ago, that I sit with the Book before me, in blank amazement, and wonder what we shall wear next.

(To the tune of  “Little Bo-peep.)

I take the book
To have a good look,
And turn the pages in haste, oh!
And try to think,
As I scan each one,
That they were in very good taste, oh!

If it e’er befall
That, at Fashion’ s call,
We wear the same again, oh!
We shall probably think,
As we tie the string,
That they are just the thing, oh!

Godey’s Lady’s Book— Louis Antoine Godey began publishing Godey’s Lady’s Book in 1830. He designed his monthly magazine specifically to attract the growing audience of literate American women. The magazine was intended to entertain, inform, and educate the women of America.

Source: Godey’s Lady’s Book – August 1857


gal_Petersburg_bnr

The South’s Colored Troops Problem [1864]

This article was reproduced in The Liberator on September 9, 1864. The report from Richmond sheds light on the feelings of many Southern supporters of the Confederacy to how to handle black combatants and prisoners of war.

Richmond Dispatch, Aug. 5th, 1864:

Among the eleven hundred prisoners taken by our forces last Saturday, before Petersburg, two hundred were negroes, many of them, perhaps all of them, stolen or runaway slaves. If any advertisement has yet been published in the papers, calling upon persons who have lost slaves to come forward and identify their property and take it away, we have not observed such advertisement.

Lately, there were many negroes recovered from the raiding party of Kautz and Wilson;, their names were very properly published, and their owners informed where they could come and take them. The two hundred black rascals taken alive in the Petersburg trenches, (most improperly taken alive, as they proclaimed “No quarter,”) now that they are in our hands, are worth half a million. It may be hoped that, strict examination will be made among them, and due notice given to such as have lately, been robbed of such property, with a view of making restitution of such of them as are slaves.

The right of the Yankee Government is undoubted to enlist, or to draft , or to procure how they can, free negroes whose residence is at the North.

They would have a perfect right to make war upon us with elephants, or to stampede us with wild cattle, or to set dogs upon us—and our men an equal right to kill them; a perfect right, therefore, to employ negroes as soldiers.  (more…)


Germany countryside, rural marriage, XIX century engraving

Newlywed Advice: A Whisper to the Husband on Expenditure

This advice to newly married men on the management of household expenses appeared in Godey’s Lady’s Book in the December 1860 issue.

In pecuniary matters, do not be penurious, or too particular. Your wife has an equal right with yourself to all your worldly possessions. “With all my worldly goods I thee endow,” was one of the most solemn vows that ever escaped your lips; and if she be a woman of prudence, she will in all her expenses be reasonable and economical; what more can you desire? Besides, really, a woman has innumerable trifling demands on her purse, innumerable little wants, which it is not necessary for a man to be informed of, and which, if he even went to the trouble of investigating, he would hardly understand.

You give your wife a certain sum of money. If she be a woman of prudence, if your table be comfortably kept, and your household managed with economy and regularity, I really cannot see the necessity of obliging her to account to you for the exact manner in which she has laid it out. Pray, do allow her the power of buying a yard of muslin, or a few pennyworth of pins, without consulting the august tribunal of your judgment whether they shall be quaker-pins or minikins.

I have often with wonder remarked the indifference with which some men regard the amiable and superior qualities of their wives! I by no means intend to say that every wife possesses those qualities; I only speak of a description of females who are, in truth, an ornament to their sex— women who would go the world over with the husband they love, and endure, without shrinking, every hardship that world could inflict.

Godey’s Lady’s Book— Louis Antoine Godey began publishing Godey’s Lady’s Book in 1830. He designed his monthly magazine specifically to attract the growing audience of literate American women. The magazine was intended to entertain, inform, and educate the women of America.

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