The History of Woman Suffrage Volume III Part 86
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_Sixth_--She must take an active part in the management of County Teachers' Inst.i.tutes, and labor in every way to improve the quality of teaching in her county.
_Seventh_--She must hear, examine, and determine all questions and controversies under school law, which may be referred to her, and must carefully prepare, to the best of her knowledge and ability, such replies to all letters from school officers and teachers as each case demands.
_Eighth_--She must examine all candidates desiring to teach in her county, and grant certificates to such, and such only, as she honestly thinks are of good moral character and sufficient scholastic attainments. As no one can teach in a public school without such certificate, this gives her the veto power over all teachers. Dr. Bateman, commenting on fourteen specifications, of which the foregoing const.i.tute but eight, says these are _some_ of the _many_ duties made obligatory upon the county superintendent by law. Besides all these, is the visitation of schools, which every true superintendent considers a very important part of the work.
For convenience we will group these duties in three cla.s.ses: 1. Those concerning finance. 2. Legal duties. 3. Duties to teachers and schools.
I. To give an idea of the financial interests intrusted to the hands of these women, we find by reference to the State superintendent's report for last year that the total receipts for school purposes in these ten counties which they superintend was $1,009,441. So far as can be learned from the records, not one cent of the large sums over which they had supervision has been lost through their dishonesty, or, what was more to be feared, their ignorance of business.
Unlike those of Dora Copperfield, their accounts _will_ "add up." In the county (Knox) where the receipts are greatest, aggregating $182,423.22, the greatest difference between receipts and expenditures, as shown by the superintendent's books, is ten cents. In many of these counties the financial affairs were in the greatest confusion when the ladies came into office. In one, perhaps more, the preceding superintendent was a defaulter, in another he was engaged in a law-suit with the county board, and in still others strange irregularities were discovered. In every instance, so far as we can ascertain, these crookednesses have been straightened out, the finances put upon a surer basis, hundreds, we believe thousands, of dollars of bad debts have been collected, treasurers and directors have been induced to keep their books with greater care and in better shape, reckless expenditure of school funds has been discouraged, and directors encouraged to expend the money for things which will permanently benefit the schools. So much for finance.
II. _Legal Duties._--Rightly to discharge the duties imposed by specification 7, the county superintendent needs to be a very good lawyer, for school law in its ramifications reaches many other departments of law. Especially is it inextricably mixed up with election laws, and all know that cases arising under election laws are among the most complex and difficult to handle. Probably a school election never occurrs in which some such cases are not referred to the county superintendent. In the settlement of these and other cases arising under school law, these women have been peculiarly successful, and some of them have earned the blessing bestowed upon the peacemakers. We know of one county where, after last spring's election, five contested cases were referred to the superintendent for settlement; these were all satisfactorily adjusted by her. During her four years' administration, scores of controversies were referred to her, and there has never been a single appeal from her decisions. Another most complicated case involving a defaulting treasurer, was conducted entirely by the county superintendent until it became necessary to employ a lawyer to argue the case in court. What she had done was then submitted to one of the leading lawyers of the State, and he sanctioned and approved each step. Numerous other instances might be cited to show that woman has not failed in the legal part of her work as superintendent of schools.
III. _Her Work with Teachers and Schools._--Here our superintendents were perfectly at home. Each of the ten had taught successfully for years, and so knew the wants of the school-room. This knowledge was invaluable, both in the examination of teachers and in the supervision of schools.
Fears were expressed lest in the examination of candidates, womanly sympathy would lead them to grant certificates to needy applicants who were not altogether qualified. But the motherliness which is in every true woman's heart, warded off this danger. As one remarked, "I have a great deal of the milk of human kindness in my nature, but its streams flow toward the roomful of children to be injured by an incompetent teacher, rather than toward that teacher, however needy he may be. If his claims rest on his needs rather than his merits, let the poormaster attend to his wants, not the superintendent. School money is not a pauper fund." This motherliness comes in good play in school visitation. It draws the children to the superintendent; keeps them from being afraid of her, and hence leads them to work naturally during her visit; thus she can obtain a true idea of the status of the school, and know just how to advise and direct the teacher. The same thing holds true in regard to teachers; the majority of them are ladies, and they will come to a lady for the solution of their doubts and difficulties much more freely than to a gentleman. This gives her better opportunity to "impart instruction and give directions to inexperienced teachers." Woman's power to lift up the teachers under her control to a higher plane, both intellectually and morally, has been signally demonstrated by the experience of the past four years.
In looking after the details of official work, those tiresome minutiae so often left at "loose ends," producing endless confusion, woman has shown great apt.i.tude. You say, "this is but the clean sweeping of a new broom." May be so, in part; but in part it comes from the womanly instinct to "look well to the ways of her household," whether that household be the occupants of a cottage or the schools of a county. In the work of the State a.s.sociation of County Superintendents, the ladies have well sustained their part.
When placed on the programme, they have come prepared with carefully written papers, showing their desire to give the a.s.sociation the benefit of their best thoughts, and not put off upon it such crudely digested ideas as may spring up at the moment. At the last meeting at Springfield, four out of the nine superintendents now in office were present, 44 per cent.; out of the 93 gentlemen in the same office, 18 were present, 19 per cent. The ratio of attendance has been about the same for the four years.
How has woman's work as county superintendent impressed other educators? State-Superintendent Etter, who confesses that he was not in favor of the plan, said at the State Teachers' a.s.sociation, above referred to: "The ladies compare very favorably with their gentlemen co-laborers."
Mr. E.L. Wells, for twelve years county superintendent of Ogle county, and thoroughly conversant with the work throughout the State, concurs in this opinion. President Newton Bateman, than whom no man in the State is better fitted to speak on this subject, in his political-economy cla.s.s in Knox college, took occasion to commend the efficiency of women as county superintendents of our State.
A gentleman who travels extensively, and looks into school affairs closely, says he is convinced that in every county where a woman was elected four years ago, the efficiency of the office had been doubled and in some cases increased four or even ten fold. If this be not an exaggeration, an explanation may be found in the fact that in most of these counties the best ladies were put in the place of gentlemen most poorly fitted for the place. The office had become a political foot-ball, kicked about as party exigencies demanded, and often came into possession of political hacks who "must be provided for," and for whom no other place could be found. They had no qualifications for the office, and, of course, could not perform its duties. The people, disgusted, turned to the women for relief, and took good care to elect the ones best fitted to do the work. Had equal care been used in the selection of their predecessors, they might have done equally good work. In quoting opinions, I have purposely confined myself to those given by gentlemen.
The limits of this paper have restricted this discussion to the work of woman as a county superintendent; but in other school offices she is doing efficient work. All over the State we have examples of her efficiency as school director.
Miss Sarah E. Raymond, in Bloomington, and Miss Ludlow, in Davenport (by the way, the Iowa State Teachers' a.s.sociation last year honored itself by electing her president), abundantly proves woman's ability to superintend the schools of large cities. M.A.W.
In _Zion's Herald_ 1873, on the origin of the Woman's College in Evanston, Miss Frances E. Willard writes:
In 1866, when we were all tugging away to build Heck Hall for ministers, I heard several thoughtful women say, "We ought to be doing this for our own s.e.x. Men have help from every side, while no one thinks of women." In the summer of 1868 Mrs. Mary F. Haskins, who had been treasurer of the American Methodist Ladies' Centenary a.s.sociation, which built Heck Hall, raising for the purpose $50,000, invited the ladies of Evanston to her home to talk over the subject of founding a Woman's College, which should secure to young women the highest educational advantages. Mrs. Haskin originated the thought--with her own hands a.s.sisted in laying the corner-stone, and in her first address as president she said: "I have often thought that to the successful teacher the words must be full of hope and promise, which a great writer uses of education: 'It is a companion which no misfortune can distress, no crime destroy, no enemy alienate, no despot enslave; at home a friend, abroad an introduction; in solitude a solace, in society an ornament. It chastens vice, it guides virtue, it adds a grace to genius. Without it what is man?'--and I would add with emphasis, Without an education, what is woman?"
This Woman's College at Evanston is the first on record to which a charter, granting full collegiate powers, was ever given by legislative act, including only names of women in its board of trustees. This board, elected Miss Frances E. Willard president, who presided over the inst.i.tution for two years, during which term a cla.s.s of young women was graduated, the first in history to whom diplomas were voted and conferred by women. The degree of A. M. was given Mrs. Jennie Fowler Willing, of Chicago, who preached the baccalaureate sermon at the unique commencement exercises. Mrs. Mary F. Haskin, and Mrs. Elizabeth Greenleaf were respectively presidents of the board of trustees.
Later on, as a higher evolution of the central thought, an arrangement was made between the Woman's College and the Northwestern University, by which the former became the woman's department of the latter, on condition that in its board of trustees, faculty of instruction, and all its departments of culture, women should be admitted on an equality with men, as to opportunities, positions and salaries. Miss Willard was then chosen dean of the Woman's College, and professor of aesthetics in the University. Mrs. Emily Huntington Miller was placed on the executive committee of the board, and Mrs. R. F. Queal, Mrs.
Jennie Fowler Willing, Mrs. Mary Bannister Willard, and Mrs. L.
L. Greenleaf were elected trustees. One year later, Miss Willard entered the temperance work since which time Miss Ellen M. Soule and Miss Jane Bancroft have successively served in the position of dean.
The young women have led in scholars.h.i.+p, taken prizes in composition and oratory, while upon one occasion the delighted students dragged forth the only artillery in the village to voice their enthusiasm over the fact that to Miss Lizzie R. Hunt had been awarded at the great international contest the first prize for the best English essay.
In 1873, while filling the duties of professor in Wesleyan University, Mrs. Jennie Fowler Willing was licensed as a local preacher in the Methodist Episcopal Church, the first woman engaged as evangelist in Illinois.
The Monticello Ladies' Seminary at G.o.dfrey is worthy of mention.
Miss Harriet N. Haskell, its president, has done a n.o.ble work there in making possible for many girls, by labor under her roof to pay in part for a liberal education. She has been at the head of this inst.i.tution for thirty years. Mrs. F.A. s.h.i.+ner at Mt.
Carroll, is another grand woman worthy of mention. She, too, gives poor girls an opportunity in her household to pay in part for their education. In this way many are being trained in domestic accomplishments as well as the higher branches of education. There is no distinction made between those who work a certain number of hours each day and those who pay in full for their advantages; and in many cases the best scholars have been found from year to year among those who had the stimulus of labor. As Miss Haskell and Mrs. s.h.i.+ner have uniformly entertained all the lyceum lecturers at their beautiful homes, many have had the pleasure of seeing and talking with these bright girls, and the worthy presidents of the inst.i.tutions.
We believe to Illinois belongs the distinction of being the birthplace of the first woman admitted to the American Medical a.s.sociation--Dr. Sarah Hackett Stevenson, born at Buffalo Grove, Ogle county. Dr. Stevenson was admitted to this time-honored a.s.sociation June, 1876. The Philadelphia _Evening Bulletin_ thus refers to the innovation:
The doctors have combined millennial with centennial glories. The largest a.s.semblage of the medical profession ever held in America yesterday honored itself by bursting the bonds of ancient prejudice, and admitting a woman to its members.h.i.+p by a vote that proved the battle won, and that henceforth professional qualification, and not s.e.x, is to be the test of standing in the medical world. Looking over the past fierce resistance by which every advance of woman into the field of medical life was met, yesterday's action seems like the opening of a scientific millennium. It was a most appropriate time and place for the beginning of this new era of medical righteousness and peace. Here, in the centennial year, in the "City of Brotherly Love," where the first organized effort for the medical education of women was made, where the oldest medical college for women in the world is located, and where the fight against woman's entry into the medical profession was most hotly waged, was the place to take the manly new departure, which, so far as the National a.s.sociation is concerned, began yesterday in the election of Dr. Sarah Hackett Stevenson as a member in full standing from the State of Illinois.
Dr. Mary H. Thompson, who was graduated at Boston in 1863, and who, removing to Chicago, succeeded in establis.h.i.+ng a woman's hospital, is included in a short list of notable alumnae of the Boston Medical School. Dr. Lelia G. Bedell, Dr. E. G. Cook, Dr.
Julia Holmes Smith, Dr. Alice B. Stockham, and many others have won honorable distinction in this profession.
One of the marked crises in the history of the reform we trace was the centennial Fourth of July. The daughters of the Pilgrims realized as never before the cruel injustice by which they were deprived of their birthright, and from the Western prairies and Eastern hills their earnest protest was given to the nation. As early as May 2, 1876, at a special convention of the Illinois Woman Suffrage a.s.sociation, two vigorous protests were read as the official utterances of State and National a.s.sociations. The convention was called to order by Mrs. Alma Van Winkle, who stated that Mrs. Jane Graham Jones, the beloved and efficient president of the a.s.sociation, having determined upon a European sojourn, had sent her resignation to the executive committee, and that Mrs. Elizabeth Boynton Harbert, recently removed to the State, had been elected to fill her place. This action being ratified, Susan B. Anthony was introduced, and although she had just concluded an intensely vigorous lyceum tour, extending through many months, she spoke with unusual power. Just here I wish to emphasize the great loss to women in the fact that as Miss Anthony's speeches were never written, but came with thrilling effect from her patriotic soul, scarce any record of them remains, other than the intangible memories of her grateful countrywomen. At this convention the following address was read and adopted:
_To the Women of the United States of America, greeting:_
While the centennial clock is striking the hour of opportunity for the Pilgrims' daughters to prove themselves regenerate children of a worthy ancestry, while the air reverberates to the watchwords of the statesmen of the Revolution, let the daughters of the nation, in clear, steady and womanly voices, chorus through the States: "Taxation without representation is tyranny," and "all governments derive their just powers from the consent of the governed."
Womanly hands, firm, capable and loving, have been steadily, persistently and unceasingly knocking, knocking at the doors of judicial, ecclesiastical and legislative halls, until at last the rusty bars are yielding and the persistent knocking is beginning to tell upon iron nerves and all kinds of masculine const.i.tutions. Just now, in the centennial year, another door has opened, preparing the way for the Pilgrims'
daughters to present their claim before the a.s.sembled nation on the "Fourth of July, 1876."
A joint resolution of congress, signed by the president of the United States, and made the subject of proclamation by the governor of the State, reads as follows:
_Be it resolved by the Senate and House of Representatives of the United States of America_, That it be, and is hereby, recommended by the Senate and the House of Representatives to the people of the several States, that they a.s.semble in the several counties and towns on the approaching centennial anniversary of our national independence, and that they cause to have delivered on such day an historical sketch of said county or town from its foundation, and that a copy of said sketch may be filed, in print or ma.n.u.script, in the clerk's office of said county, and an additional copy be filed in the office of the librarian of congress at the city of Was.h.i.+ngton, to the intent that a complete record may thus be obtained of the progress of our inst.i.tutions during the first centennial of their existence.
The governor of this State earnestly recommends that prompt measures be taken in each county and town for the selection of one or more persons who shall prepare complete, thorough and accurate historical sketches of each county, city, town or village, from the date of the settlement to the present time.
In view of the fact that since our civil war thousands of charitable, scientific, philanthropic, religious and political a.s.sociations have been organized among women, of which but few accurate records are now accessible to the general public, and in view of the fact that the Supreme Court and many of our legislators construe "persons" to indicate only men (except when persons are to be taxed, fined or executed), we respectfully suggest that in all cases one member of the committee shall be a woman, to the end that there may be submitted to future historians accurate data of the extent and scope of the work of American women; that this historian of woman shall carefully and impartially record the literary, educational, journalistic, industrial, charitable and political work of woman as expressed in temperance, missionary and woman suffrage organization.
Let a meeting of every woman suffrage organization throughout the State, or, where none exists, let any friend of the cause call a meeting, at which a committee shall be appointed to present this suggestion to the people as they may meet in the different cities, villages and towns, to perfect arrangements for their local celebration.
As American citizens we salute the tri-color, emblem of the rights obtained and liberties won by husbands, fathers and sons, meanwhile pledging, if need be, another century of toil and effort to the sacred cause of human rights, and the establishment of a genuine republic.
ELIZABETH BOYNTON HARBERT, _Pres. Ill. Woman Suffrage Society._
It was decided at this convention to celebrate the Fourth of July in some appropriate manner. Under the auspices of Mrs. Harbert this was done at Evanston. The occasion was heralded as "The Woman's Fourth," and programmes were scattered through the village.
The auditorium of the large Methodist Church was tastefully decorated with exquisite flowers; flags were gracefully festooned about the pulpit, and all the appointments were p.r.o.nounced artistic by the most critical, and Mrs. Harbert's oration, of which we give a few extracts, aimed to be in keeping with her surroundings:
If possessed of artistic genius, I would seize the pencil and imprison in rich and gorgeous coloring two pictures for the woman's pavilion of our centennial; for the first I would reproduce that prophetically symbolic scene at the dawn of our history, when with a faith and generosity worthy of honorable mention, Isabella of Castile placed her jewels in the almost discouraged mariner's hands, and bade Columbus give to the world Columbia. The second scene would be the ant.i.thesis of the first, as to-day, the women of the United States make haste to lay at the feet of our statesmen and prophets their jewels of thought and influence, bidding them, in the name of woman, give to the world a perfected government, a genuine republic, a purer civilization. Now, as then, there are many ready with mocking jeers; but, turning not to the right nor the left, the faith of woman and the courage of man move on apace to sure success. That historic "first gun" not only jarred loose every rivet in the manacles of 4,000,000 slaves, but when the smoke of the cannonading had lifted, the entire horizon of woman was broadened, illuminated, glorified. On that April day when a nation of citizens were suddenly transformed into an army of warriors, American women, with a patriotism as intense as theirs, a consecration as true, quietly a.s.sumed their vacated places and became citizens. Out from market-place and forum, counting-house and farm--keeping time to the chime of the music of the Union--marched father, husband and son; into office, store and farm, called there by no ambitious desire to wander out of their sphere, but by the same dire military necessity that called our men to the front stepped orphaned daughter and widowed wife. Anna d.i.c.kinson captured the lyceum and platform. The almost cla.s.sic scene of "Corinne at the Capitol" is not more remarkable than that historic scene of the Quaker girl at Was.h.i.+ngton, called there to receive the plaudits of the highest officials of our nation, for services rendered in the then vital political campaigns of New Hamps.h.i.+re, Connecticut, Pennsylvania and New York.
The cruel, scarlet days of war dragged wearily on. Up from the Southern battle-fields, borne northward in the lull of the war tempest, came a wailing appeal from "the boys," who hitherto had never appealed to "mother" in vain: "We are wounded, sick and starving." Instantly the mother-heart responded--waiting not for "orders," snapping official red-tape, as though it had been woven of cob-webs, two women started southward with the needed supplies, and this great, anxious, agonized North gave a sob of relief when the message thrilled through the land that Jane C. Hoge and Mary A. Livermore had arrived at the front with the needed supplies. Idle, helpless, dependent queens were not then in demand, but women fitted to be wives of heroes. Because our lake-bordered, tree-fringed village was once her home, I lovingly trace first on Evanston's scroll of honor the name of Jane C. Hoge, while just underneath it I write that of our venerable philanthropist, who was the first woman in these United States to receive the badge of the Christian commission, Mrs. Arza Brown.
And now, standing here upon the border-land of two centuries, over-shadowed by the dear old flag, re-baptized with the blood of my beloved as of yours--standing here, a native-born citizen, as a woman to whom the honor, purity, peace and freedom of native land is dear as life; as a wife vitally interested in the interests of manhood; as a mother responsible for the best development of her children; as a human being, responsible to her Creator for the highest possible usefulness, I claim equality before the law.
Mrs. Mary Bannister Willard gave some surprising facts in regard to woman's work in connection with the North Western University, and reminded us that foremost among the women of the dawning century was Eliza Garret of Chicago, who secured to the Garret Biblical Inst.i.tute its endowment of a quarter of a million of dollars, with the proviso that a certain increase of income from the same after the wants of the young theologues had been met, should be applied to the erection and endowment of a seminary for young ladies. But alas! the theological appet.i.te has been insatiate, even unto this last, and deliverance has come to our girls from another quarter. And this was the throwing down of university gates and bars, and a free extension of all educational privileges to women. Upon the roll of honor connected with this work we gratefully place the names of many brave, self-sacrificing women.
The Rev. Mr. Chappell, pastor of the Baptist church, then gave a most eloquent, liberal oration. In closing, he said: "But what think you, sisters, of the dangers that threaten the republic? Do they lie on your hearts? Are they in your prayers? Do they enter into your plans? All compliments and gallantries aside, it makes a vast difference in the destiny of the republic whether you understand and feel its dangers. The scale has turned. No longer need we dread oppression, disability, power; but on the other hand, license, luxury, listlessness, forgetfulness of G.o.d and the wholesome truth. This watch-night of the republic augurs well.
This gathering of the sisterhood has its meaning. You are the power behind the throne; with you and with G.o.d lies the destiny of the republic." After the benediction the audience dispersed, all expressing of the entire programme the most enthusiastic approval.
About the close of the year 1876, a noticeable change in the direction of thought and effort was very apparent in the State of Illinois. As a result of the ravages of the fire and the severe mental strain to which business men were subjected, women sprang to the rescue, and actively engaged in business. These additional burdens a.s.sumed by the many, the few were left to bear the weight of religious, philanthropic and social duties. Women had tested their powers sufficiently to realize their strength, and were impatient for immediate results, hence many of the active friends of woman suffrage, believing that the temperance ballot could be more speedily secured than entire political equality, joined the home-protection movement, while through the broadening and helpful influence of the Grange in the farm-homes of the northwest, requests for aids to organization came from all quarters. In order that the earnest thoughts of the one cla.s.s and the practical methods of the other, might be rendered mutually beneficial, I one day entered the sanctum of the progressive editor of the _Inter-Ocean_, and asked for a ten-minute audience.
The request was granted, and Wm. Penn Nixon, esq., courteously listened to the following questions: "As a progressive journalist, and one who must recognize the philanthropic activity of the women of the Northwest, has it ever occurred to you that there is nowhere in journalism a special recognition of their interests? We have special fas.h.i.+on departments, special cooking departments, but no niche or corner devoted to the moral, industrial, educational, philanthropic and political interests of women; and does not your judgment a.s.sure you that such a department could be rendered popular?" As a result of this conversation a special corner of the _Inter-Ocean_ was yielded to woman's interests, designated by the editors, "Woman's Kingdom,"
and on January 6, 1877, the following announcement appeared:
Congratulations to women that we have at last found a home in journalism; that amid the clas.h.i.+ng of sabers of our modern press tournament, the knights of the quill recognize that women have some rights that journalists are bound to respect. These columns are in the interest of no cla.s.s, clique, sect, or section, and we earnestly request accurate data of woman's work. All missionary, literary, temperance and woman suffrage organizations, will be accorded s.p.a.ce for announcing their aims. With an occasional review of new books, we will confer in regard to what woman has written; wandering through studios and sanctums, we will record what she is painting and preaching. Pleading an intense and loving interest in the splendid opportunities now opening to American women, we shall hope that some truth may be evolved that may enrich their lives.
Notwithstanding this was the first special department of the kind, much of the best journalistic work of the State was being done by women, who seemed to have received a new baptism to serve the higher interests of humanity. From the desire for cooperation expressed by many contributors to "Woman's Kingdom,"
the following little item was set afloat in May, 1877:
Many facts recently arresting attention, in connection with the industrial, political, and moral interests of women, seem to render a conference of their representatives in regard to business aims, expedient. There is need of a bureau through which the industrial interests of women can be promoted and some practical answer given to the question everywhere heard, "How can we earn a living?" There is a demand for an educational bureau of correspondence and also a lyceum bureau through whose agency good lectures upon practical subjects can be secured in every city and village.
All interested in such a conference are requested to send their names to Mrs. Elizabeth Boynton Harbert, Evanston, Ill., or Mrs. Louise Rockwood Wardner, Cairo, Ill.
The History of Woman Suffrage Volume III Part 86
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