The History of Woman Suffrage Volume III Part 66

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Pierce--The Citizens' Suffrage a.s.sociation, 333 Walnut Street, Edward M. Davis, President--Pet.i.tions to the Legislature--Const.i.tutional Convention, 1873--Bishop Simpson, Mary Grew, Sarah C. Hallowell, Matilda Hindman, Mrs. Stanton, Address the Convention--Messrs. Broomall and Campbell Debate With the Opposition--Amendment Making Women Eligible to School Offices--Two Women Elected to Philadelphia School Board, 1874--The Wages of Married Women Protected--J. Edgar Thomson's Will--Literary Women as Editors--The Rev. Knox Little--Anne E.

McDowell--Women as Physicians in Insane Asylums--The Fourteenth Amendment Resolution, 1881--Ex-Governor Hoyt's Lecture on Wyoming.

In the demand for the right of suffrage, women are constantly asked by the opposition if they cannot trust their own fathers, husbands and brothers to legislate for them. The answer to this question may be found in an able digest of the old common laws and the Revised Statutes of Pennsylvania,[255] prepared by Carrie S. Burnham[256]

of Pennsylvania. A careful perusal of this paper will show the relative position of man and woman to be that of sovereign and subject.

To get at the real sentiments of a people in regard to the true status of woman we must read the canon and civil laws that form the basic principles of their religion and government. We must not trust to the feelings and actions of the best men towards the individual women whom they may chance to love and respect. The chivalry and courtesy that the few command through their beauty, wealth and position, are one thing; but justice, equality, liberty for the mult.i.tude, are quite another. And when the few, through misfortune, are made to feel the iron teeth of the law, they regret that they had not used their power to secure permanent protection under just laws, rather than to have trusted the transient favors of individuals to s.h.i.+eld them in life's emergencies.

The law securing to married women the right to property,[257]

inherited by will or bequest, pa.s.sed the legislature of Pennsylvania, and was approved by the governor April 11, 1848, just five days after a similar law had been pa.s.sed in New York. Judge Bovier was the mover for the Pennsylvania Married Women's Property Law. His feelings had been so often outraged with the misery caused by men marrying women for their property, that he was bound the law should be repealed. He prevailed on several young Quakers who had rich sisters, to run for the legislature. They were elected and did their duty. Judge Bovier was a descendent of the Waldenses, a society of French Quakers who fled to the mountains from persecution. Their descendants are still living in France.[258]

The disabilities and degradation that women suffer to-day grow out of the spirit of laws that date from a time when women were viewed in the light of beasts of burden. Scarce a century has pa.s.sed since women were sold in this country with cattle. In the _Pennsylvania Gazette_ for January 7, 1768, is the following advertis.e.m.e.nt:

TO BE SEEN.--At the Crooked Billet, near the Court-house, Philadelphia (Price Three Pence), A Two Year Old Hogg, 12 Hands high, and in length 16 Feet; thought to be the largest of its Kind ever seen in America.

In the same paper of the following week occurs this yet more extraordinary announcement:

TO BE SOLD.--A Healthy Young Dutch Woman, fit for town or country business; about 18 years old; can spin well; she speaks good English, and has about five years to serve. Inquire at James Der Kinderen's, Strawberry alley.

In one century of growth a woman's sewing machine was better protected than the woman herself under the old common law:

AN ACT _to exempt Sewing Machines belonging to Seamstresses in this Commonwealth from levy and sale on execution or distress for rent_:

SECTION 1. Be it enacted by the Senate and House of Representatives of the commonwealth of Pennsylvania in general a.s.sembly met, and it is hereby enacted by the authority of the same, That hereafter all sewing machines belonging to seamstresses in this commonwealth shall be exempt from levy and sale on execution or distress for rent, in addition to any article or money now exempt by law. Approved, April 17, 1869.

While the following order reflects the spirit of the seventeenth century, the comments show the dawning of the right idea, and are worthy the time in which the great State of Pennsylvania could boast such women as Lucretia Mott, Anna E. d.i.c.kinson, Jane G.

Swisshelm and Sarah J. Hale:

A WOMAN ORDER IN PITTSBURGH.--The mayor of Pittsburgh has ordered the arrest of every woman found on the streets alone after 9 o'clock in the evening; the consequence of which has been that some respectable ladies have recently seen the inside of the lock-up.--_Exchange, June, 1869._

Now let the mothers, wives and daughters of Pittsburgh obtain the pa.s.sage, by the city council, of an ordinance causing the arrest of every _man_ found in the streets after 9 o'clock in the evening, and the law will then be equal in its operation. This legislating upon the behavior of one s.e.x by the other exclusively, is one-sided and despotic. Give both s.e.xes a chance at reforming each other.

Another step in progress was indicated by the a.s.sumption of some women to influence civil administration, not only for their own protection, but for that of their sires and sons:

An exchange says that women are becoming perfect nuisances, and to substantiate the a.s.sertion adds that 1,500 women in Chester county, Pennsylvania, have pet.i.tioned the court to grant no more liquor licenses.

Suppose wives should come reeling home, night after night, with curses on their lips, to destroy the food, the dishes, the furniture for which husbands toiled; to abuse trembling children, making the home, from year to year, a pandemonium on earth--would the good men properly be called "nuisances," who should rise up and say this must end; we must protect our firesides, our children, ourselves, society at large? To have women even suggest such beneficent laws for the men of their families is called "a nuisance," while the whole barbarous code for women was declared by Lord to be the "perfection of reason."

The prejudice against s.e.x has been as bitter and unreasonable as against color, and far more reprehensible, because in too many cases it has been a contest between the inferior, with law on his side, and the superior, with law and custom against her, as the following facts in the _Sunday Dispatch_, by Anne E. McDowell, fully show:

The decision of the Court of Common Pleas in the case of Mrs.

McMa.n.u.s, elected of the Mount Vernon Boys' Grammar School, is to the effect that, no rule being in existence prohibiting the exercise of the duties of such office by a woman, the resolution of the controllers against the exercise of the duties of that office by the lady was unjustifiable and illegal.

Since the decision was p.r.o.nounced the controllers have come up to the boundary of the principle held by the court, and a rule has been proposed that in future women shall be ineligible to be princ.i.p.als of boys' grammar schools--the case of Mrs. McMa.n.u.s being specially excepted. That lady, therefore, will be undisturbed. But she may be, like the celebrated "Lady Freemason." an exception to her s.e.x. The controllers have not favored the public with their reasons for opposition to the employment of females in the higher positions of teaching. Women are good enough for inferior service about a boys'

grammar-school, it seems, but they are not capable of superintending it. They may be, and are, teachers in all the in such schools, even to the highest; but when the question arises whether a woman, perfectly competent, shall be superintendent of all the a is little more--the controllers say _no_. If this action is influenced by a belief that women cannot control a school of boys, we hope that the experience in the case of Mrs. McMa.n.u.s will dispel the illusion, and the public can afford to await the result of the trial. But if it is caused by a regard to tradition or precedent, or because there never has yet been an instance of a woman being a of a boys' grammar-school before this case of Mrs.

McMa.n.u.s, we hope that the controllers will soon see the error of their course. The complaints from the sections are to the effect that it is very difficult to get a competent male teacher to remain of a boys' grammar-school for any length of time. The salary attached to that position is inadequate, according to the increased cost of living of the times. Gentlemen who are competent to act as princ.i.p.als of the public schools find that they can make more money by establis.h.i.+ng private schools; and hence they are uneasy and dissatisfied while in the public service. A woman able to take charge of a boys' grammar-school will be paid a more liberal salary (such is the injustice of our social system in relation to female labor) in that position than in any other connected with education that she can command, and she will therefore be likely to be better satisfied with the duties and to perform them more properly. That such advantage ought to be held out to ladies competent to be teachers of the highest grade, we firmly believe. The field of female avocations should be extended in every legitimate direction; and it seems to us, unless some reason can be given for the exception, which has not yet been presented in the case of Mrs. McMa.n.u.s, that the princ.i.p.als.h.i.+ps of the boys' grammar-schools ought to be accessible to ladies of the proper character and qualification, without the imputation that by reason of their s.e.x they must necessarily be unfitted for such duties.

In preparing themselves for the medical profession, for which the most conservative people now admit that women are peculiarly adapted, students have encountered years of opposition, ridicule and persecution. After a college for women was established in Philadelphia,[259] there was another long struggle before their right to attend the clinics in the hospitals was accorded. The faculty and students alike protested against the admission of women into mixed; but as there was no provision to give them the clinics alone, a protest against mixed was a protest against such advantages to women altogether. One would have supposed the men might have left the delicacy of the question to the decision of the women themselves. But in this struggle for education men have always been more concerned about the loss of modesty than the acquirement of knowledge and wisdom. From the opinions usually expressed by these self-const.i.tuted guardians of the feminine character, we might be led to infer that the virtues of women were not a part of the essential elements of their organization, but a sort of temporary scaffolding, erected by society to s.h.i.+eld a naturally weak structure that any wind could readily demolish.

At a meeting convened November 15 at the University of Pennsylvania, to consider the subject of clinical instruction to mixed the following remonstrance was unanimously adopted:

The undersigned, professors in the University of Pennsylvania, professors in Jefferson Medical College, members of the medical staff of various hospitals of Philadelphia, and members of the medical profession in Philadelphia at large, out of respect for their profession, and for the interests of the public, do feel it to be their duty, at the present time, to express their convictions upon the subject of "clinical instruction to _mixed cla.s.ses_ of male and female students of medicine." They are induced to present their views on this question, which is of so grave importance to medical education, from the fact that it is misunderstood by the public, and because an attempt is now being made to force it before the community in a shape which they conceive to be injurious to the progress of medical science, and to the efficiency of clinical teaching. They have no hesitation in declaring that their deliberate conviction is adverse to conducting clinical instruction in the presence of students of _both s.e.xes_. The judgment that has been arrived at is based upon the following considerations:

I. Clinical instruction in practical medicine demands an examination of all the organs and parts of the body, as far as practicable; hence, personal exposure becomes for this purpose often a matter of absolute necessity. It cannot be a.s.sumed, by any right-minded person, that male patients should be subjected to inspection before a cla.s.s of females, although this inspection may, without impropriety, be submitted to before those of their own s.e.x. A thorough investigation, as well as demonstration, in these cases--so necessary to render instruction complete and effective--is, by a mixed audience, precluded; while the clinical lecturer is restrained and embarra.s.sed in his inquiries, and must therefore fall short in the conclusions which he may draw, and in the instruction which he communicates.

II. In many operations upon male patients exposure of the body is inevitable, and demonstrations must be made which are unfitted for the observation of students of the opposite s.e.x. These expositions, when made under the eye of such a conjoined a.s.semblage, are shocking to the sense of decency, and entail the risk of unmanning the surgeon--of distracting his mind, and endangering the life of his patient. Besides this, a large cla.s.s of surgical diseases of the male is of so delicate a nature as altogether to forbid inspection by female students. Yet a complete understanding of this particular cla.s.s of diseases is of preeminent importance to the community. Moreover, such affections can be thoroughly studied only in the clinics of the large cities, and the opportunity for studying them, so far from being curtailed, should be extended to the utmost possible degree. To those who are familiar with such cases as are here alluded to, it is inconceivable that females should ever be called to their treatment.

III. By the joint partic.i.p.ation, on the part of male and female students, in the instruction and in the demonstrations which properly belong to the clinical lecture-room, the barrier of respect is broken down, and that high estimation of womanly qualities, which should always be sustained and cherished, and which has its origin in domestic and social a.s.sociations, is lost, by an inevitable and positive demoralization of the individuals concerned, thereby entailing most serious detriment to the morals of society. In view of the above considerations, the undersigned[260] do earnestly and solemnly protest against the admixture of the s.e.xes at clinical instruction in medicine and surgery, and do respectfully lay these their views before the board of managers of the hospitals in Philadelphia.

_November 15, 1869._

At meetings held at the University and Jefferson Medical Colleges, by the students, on Wednesday evening, the following preambles and resolutions were adopted:

WHEREAS, The managers of the Pennsylvania Hospital have seen fit to admit female students to the clinics of that establishment, thereby excluding from the lectures many cases, medical and surgical; and

WHEREAS, We consider that in our purchase of tickets of admission there was a tacit agreement that we should have the benefit of all cases which the medical and surgical staff of that hospital should deem fit for our instruction:

_Resolved_, That a respectful request be made to the managers of the Pennsylvania Hospital that we be informed as to whether the usual character of the clinics will be changed.

_Resolved_, That pending the action of the managers on this question, we as a cla.s.s and individually absent ourselves from the clinical lectures. And

WHEREAS, The levity of a few thoughtless young men in the presence of the females at the hospital has caused the journals of this city to a.s.sume that the whole cla.s.s of medical students are utterly devoid of all the attributes of gentlemen,

_Resolved_, That while we do not by any means concede that the published accounts of the affair are correct, we deplore the fact that _any_ demonstration should have taken place; for although the female students may be considered by their presence at the hospital where male students are present, to have cast aside that delicacy and modesty which const.i.tutes the aegis of their s.e.x, they are women, and as such demand our forbearance, if not our respect.

_Resolved_, That these preambles and resolutions be published in some respectable journal of this city.[261]

On these remonstrances of the faculty and students, _The Press_, John W. Forney, editor, had many able editorials condemning the action of the medical fraternity. The leading journals throughout the country advocated the right of the women to enjoy the advantages of the hospital clinics. _The Press_, November 22, 1869, said:

The proceedings of the meeting held by the faculties of our two leading medical schools evince the disposition which lurks at the bottom of the movement against women as physicians. The hospital managers are to be browbeaten into the stand taken by the students, and now sanctioned by the professors. If the women are to be denied the privilege of clinical lectures, why do not learned professors, or students, or both, have the manliness to suggest and advocate some means of solving the difficulty so that the rights of neither s.e.x shall be impaired? Would any professor agree to lecture to the women separately? Would any professor favor the admission of women into the female wards of the hospitals? Would any professor agree to propose anything, or do anything that would weaken the firm stand taken against the admission of women to professional privileges? If so, why not do it at once? Nothing else will make protestations of fairness appear at all genuine. Nothing else will remove the stigma of attempting to drag the hospitals into a support of this crusade against women. * * * How absurd the solemn declaration, "it cannot be a.s.sumed by any right-minded person that male patients should be subjected to inspection before a cla.s.s of females, although this inspection may, without impropriety, be submitted to before those of their own s.e.x." This cuts both ways. If it be improper for female students to be present when patients of the other s.e.x are treated, is it proper for male students to witness the treatment of female patients?

The practical good sense shown in the following report of a committee of the Faculty of the Woman's Medical College of Pennsylvania, makes a very favorable contrast with the unreasonable remonstrances of the so-called superior s.e.x:


As the relation of students of medicine to public clinics, and the views entertained by those ent.i.tled to speak for their medical education, are now extensively discussed in the public journals, it seems necessary for us to state our position.

Considering it decided that, as pract.i.tioners of medicine, the guardians.h.i.+p of life and health is to be placed in the keeping of women, it becomes the interest of society and the duty of those entrusted with their professional training to endeavor to provide for them all suitable means for that practical instruction which is gained at hospital clinics.

The taunt has heretofore been frequently thrown out that ladies have not attended the great clinical schools of the country, nor listened to its celebrated teachers, and that, consequently, they cannot be as well prepared as men for medical practice. We believe, as we have always done, that in all special diseases of men and women, and in all operations necessarily involving embarra.s.sing exposure of person, it is not fitting or expedient that students of different s.e.xes should attend promiscuously; that all special diseases of men should be treated by men in the presence of men only, and those of women, where it is practicable, by women in the presence of women only. It was this feeling, founded on the respect due to the delicacy of women as patients, perhaps more than any other consideration, which led to the founding of the Women's Hospital in Philadelphia. There the clinical demonstration of special diseases is made by and before women alone. As we would not permit men to enter these clinics, neither would we be willing--out of regard to the feelings of men as patients, if for no other considerations--that our students should attend clinics where men are specially treated, and there has been no time in the history of our college when our students could intentionally do so, save in direct contravention of our known views. In nearly all the great public hospitals, however, by far the larger proportion of cases suited for clinical ill.u.s.tration--whether medical or surgical--is of those which involve no necessary exposure, and are the results of diseases and accidents to which man and woman are subject alike, and which women are constantly called upon to treat. Into these clinics, women also--often sensitive and shrinking, albeit poor--are brought as patients to ill.u.s.trate the lectures, and we maintain that wherever it is proper to introduce women as patients, there also is it but just and in accordance with the instincts of the truest womanhood for women to appear as physicians and students.

We had arranged when our cla.s.s was admitted to the Pennsylvania hospital to attend on alternate clinic days only, so as to allow ample opportunity for the unembarra.s.sed exhibition of special cases to the other students by themselves. We encouraged our students to visit the hospital upon this view, sustained by our confidence in the sound judgment and high-minded courtesy of the medical gentlemen in charge of the wards. All the objections that have been made to our students' admission to these clinics seem to be based upon the mistaken a.s.sumption that they had designed to attend them indiscriminately. As we state distinctly and unequivocally that this was not the fact, that they had no idea or intention of being present except on one day of the week, and when no cases which it would not be proper to ill.u.s.trate before both of students would necessarily be brought in--it seems to us that all these objections are destroyed, and we cannot but feel that those fair-minded professional gentlemen, who, under this false impression as to facts, have objected to our course, will, upon a candid reconsideration, acknowledge that our position is just and intrinsically right. The general testimony of those who attended the clinics last winter at the Philadelphia Hospital at Blockley, when about forty ladies made regular visits, was that the tone and bearing of the students were greatly improved, while the usual cases were brought forward and the full measure of instruction given without any violation of refined propriety.

We maintain, in common with all medical men, that science is impersonal, and that the high aim of relief to suffering humanity sanctifies all duties: and we repel, as derogatory to the science of medicine, the a.s.sertion that the physician who has risen to the level of his high calling need be embarra.s.sed, in treating general diseases, by the presence of earnest women. The movement for woman's medical education has been sustained from the beginning by the most refined, intelligent, and religious women, and by the n.o.blest and best men in the community. It has ever been regarded by these as the cause of humanity, calculated in its very nature to enlarge professional experience, bless women, and refine society. It has in our own city caused a college and a hospital not only to be founded, but to be sustained and endowed by those who have known intimately the character and objects of this work, and the aims and efforts of those connected with it.

It has this year brought to this city some fifty educated and earnest women to study medicine, women who have come to this labor enthusiastically but reverently, as to a great life-interest and a holy calling. These ladies purchased tickets, and entered the clinic of the Pennsylvania Hospital, with no obtrusive spirit, and with no intention of interfering with the legitimate advantages of other students. If they have been forced into an unwelcome notoriety, it has not been of their own seeking.

ANN PRESTON, M. D., _Dean_.

EMELINE H. CLEVELAND, M. D., _Secretary_.

We are indebted to James Truman, D. D. S., of the Pennsylvania College of Dental Surgery, for the following account of the admission of women into that branch of the medical profession:

The History of Woman Suffrage Volume III Part 66

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