Metamorphosis by Franz Kafka

Translated by David Wyllie


One morning, when Gregor Samsa woke from troubled dreams, he found himself transformed in his bed into a horrible vermin. He lay on his armour-like back, and if he lifted his head a little he could see his brown belly, slightly domed and divided by arches into stiff sections. The bedding was hardly able to cover it and seemed ready to slide off any moment. His many legs, pitifully thin compared with the size of the rest of him, waved about helplessly as he looked.

“What’s happened to me?” he thought. It wasn’t a dream. His room, a proper human room although a little too small, lay peacefully between its four familiar walls. A collection of textile samples lay spread out on the table – Samsa was a travelling salesman – and above it there hung a picture that he had recently cut out of an illustrated magazine and housed in a nice, gilded frame. It showed a lady fitted out with a fur hat and fur boa who sat upright, raising a heavy fur muff that covered the whole of her lower arm towards the viewer.

Gregor then turned to look out the window at the dull weather. Drops of rain could be heard hitting the pane, which made him feel quite sad. “How about if I sleep a little bit longer and forget all this nonsense”, he thought, but that was something he was unable to do because he was used to sleeping on his right, and in his present state couldn’t get into that position. However hard he threw himself onto his right, he always rolled back to where he was. He must have tried it a hundred times, shut his eyes so that he wouldn’t have to look at the floundering legs, and only stopped when he began to feel a mild, dull pain there that he had never felt before.

“Oh, God”, he thought, “what a strenuous career it is that I’ve chosen! Travelling day in and day out. Doing business like this takes much more effort than doing your own business at home, and on top of that there’s the curse of travelling, worries about making train connections, bad and irregular food, contact with different people all the time so that you can never get to know anyone or become friendly with them. It can all go to Hell!” He felt a slight itch up on his belly; pushed himself slowly up on his back towards the headboard so that he could lift his head better; found where the itch was, and saw that it was covered with lots of little white spots which he didn’t know what to make of; and when he tried to feel the place with one of his legs he drew it quickly back because as soon as he touched it he was overcome by a cold shudder.

He slid back into his former position. “Getting up early all the time”, he thought, “it makes you stupid. You’ve got to get enough sleep. Other travelling salesmen live a life of luxury. For instance, whenever I go back to the guest house during the morning to copy out the contract, these gentlemen are always still sitting there eating their breakfasts. I ought to just try that with my boss; I’d get kicked out on the spot. But who knows, maybe that would be the best thing for me. If I didn’t have my parents to think about I’d have given in my notice a long time ago, I’d have gone up to the boss and told him just what I think, tell him everything I would, let him know just what I feel. He’d fall right off his desk! And it’s a funny sort of business to be sitting up there at your desk, talking down at your subordinates from up there, especially when you have to go right up close because the boss is hard of hearing. Well, there’s still some hope; once I’ve got the money together to pay off my parents’ debt to him – another five or six years I suppose – that’s definitely what I’ll do. That’s when I’ll make the big change. First of all though, I’ve got to get up, my train leaves at five.”

And he looked over at the alarm clock, ticking on the chest of drawers. “God in Heaven!” he thought. It was half past six and the hands were quietly moving forwards, it was even later than half past, more like quarter to seven. Had the alarm clock not rung? He could see from the bed that it had been set for four o’clock as it should have been; it certainly must have rung. Yes, but was it possible to quietly sleep through that furniture-rattling noise? True, he had not slept peacefully, but probably all the more deeply because of that. What should he do now? The next train went at seven; if he were to catch that he would have to rush like mad and the collection of samples was still not packed, and he did not at all feel particularly fresh and lively. And even if he did catch the train he would not avoid his boss’s anger as the office assistant would have been there to see the five o’clock train go, he would have put in his report about Gregor’s not being there a long time ago. The office assistant was the boss’s man, spineless, and with no understanding. What about if he reported sick? But that would be extremely strained and suspicious as in fifteen years of service Gregor had never once yet been ill. His boss would certainly come round with the doctor from the medical insurance company, accuse his parents of having a lazy son, and accept the doctor’s recommendation not to make any claim as the doctor believed that no-one was ever ill but that many were workshy. And what’s more, would he have been entirely wrong in this case? Gregor did in fact, apart from excessive sleepiness after sleeping for so long, feel completely well and even felt much hungrier than usual.

He was still hurriedly thinking all this through, unable to decide to get out of the bed, when the clock struck quarter to seven. There was a cautious knock at the door near his head. “Gregor”, somebody called – it was his mother – “it’s quarter to seven. Didn’t you want to go somewhere?” That gentle voice! Gregor was shocked when he heard his own voice answering, it could hardly be recognised as the voice he had had before. As if from deep inside him, there was a painful and uncontrollable squeaking mixed in with it, the words could be made out at first but then there was a sort of echo which made them unclear, leaving the hearer unsure whether he had heard properly or not. Gregor had wanted to give a full answer and explain everything, but in the circumstances contented himself with saying: “Yes, mother, yes, thank-you, I’m getting up now.” The change in Gregor’s voice probably could not be noticed outside through the wooden door, as his mother was satisfied with this explanation and shuffled away. But this short conversation made the other members of the family aware that Gregor, against their expectations was still at home, and soon his father came knocking at one of the side doors, gently, but with his fist. “Gregor, Gregor”, he called, “what’s wrong?” And after a short while he called again with a warning deepness in his voice: “Gregor! Gregor!” At the other side door his sister came plaintively: “Gregor? Aren’t you well? Do you need anything?” Gregor answered to both sides: “I’m ready, now”, making an effort to remove all the strangeness from his voice by enunciating very carefully and putting long pauses between each, individual word. His father went back to his breakfast, but his sister whispered: “Gregor, open the door, I beg of you.” Gregor, however, had no thought of opening the door, and instead congratulated himself for his cautious habit, acquired from his travelling, of locking all doors at night even when he was at home.

The first thing he wanted to do was to get up in peace without being disturbed, to get dressed, and most of all to have his breakfast. Only then would he consider what to do next, as he was well aware that he would not bring his thoughts to any sensible conclusions by lying in bed. He remembered that he had often felt a slight pain in bed, perhaps caused by lying awkwardly, but that had always turned out to be pure imagination and he wondered how his imaginings would slowly resolve themselves today. He did not have the slightest doubt that the change in his voice was nothing more than the first sign of a serious cold, which was an occupational hazard for travelling salesmen.

It was a simple matter to throw off the covers; he only had to blow himself up a little and they fell off by themselves. But it became difficult after that, especially as he was so exceptionally broad. He would have used his arms and his hands to push himself up; but instead of them he only had all those little legs continuously moving in different directions, and which he was moreover unable to control. If he wanted to bend one of them, then that was the first one that would stretch itself out; and if he finally managed to do what he wanted with that leg, all the others seemed to be set free and would move about painfully. “This is something that can’t be done in bed”, Gregor said to himself, “so don’t keep trying to do it”.

The first thing he wanted to do was get the lower part of his body out of the bed, but he had never seen this lower part, and could not imagine what it looked like; it turned out to be too hard to move; it went so slowly; and finally, almost in a frenzy, when he carelessly shoved himself forwards with all the force he could gather, he chose the wrong direction, hit hard against the lower bedpost, and learned from the burning pain he felt that the lower part of his body might well, at present, be the most sensitive.

So then he tried to get the top part of his body out of the bed first, carefully turning his head to the side. This he managed quite easily, and despite its breadth and its weight, the bulk of his body eventually followed slowly in the direction of the head. But when he had at last got his head out of the bed and into the fresh air it occurred to him that if he let himself fall it would be a miracle if his head were not injured, so he became afraid to carry on pushing himself forward the same way. And he could not knock himself out now at any price; better to stay in bed than lose consciousness.

It took just as much effort to get back to where he had been earlier, but when he lay there sighing, and was once more watching his legs as they struggled against each other even harder than before, if that was possible, he could think of no way of bringing peace and order to this chaos. He told himself once more that it was not possible for him to stay in bed and that the most sensible thing to do would be to get free of it in whatever way he could at whatever sacrifice. At the same time, though, he did not forget to remind himself that calm consideration was much better than rushing to desperate conclusions. At times like this he would direct his eyes to the window and look out as clearly as he could, but unfortunately, even the other side of the narrow street was enveloped in morning fog and the view had little confidence or cheer to offer him. “Seven o’clock, already”, he said to himself when the clock struck again, “seven o’clock, and there’s still a fog like this.” And he lay there quietly a while longer, breathing lightly as if he perhaps expected the total stillness to bring things back to their real and natural state.

But then he said to himself: “Before it strikes quarter past seven I’ll definitely have to have got properly out of bed. And by then somebody will have come round from work to ask what’s happened to me as well, as they open up at work before seven o’clock.” And so he set himself to the task of swinging the entire length of his body out of the bed all at the same time. If he succeeded in falling out of bed in this way and kept his head raised as he did so he could probably avoid injuring it. His back seemed to be quite hard, and probably nothing would happen to it falling onto the carpet. His main concern was for the loud noise he was bound to make, and which even through all the doors would probably raise concern if not alarm. But it was something that had to be risked.

When Gregor was already sticking half way out of the bed – the new method was more of a game than an effort, all he had to do was rock back and forth – it occurred to him how simple everything would be if somebody came to help him. Two strong people – he had his father and the maid in mind – would have been more than enough; they would only have to push their arms under the dome of his back, peel him away from the bed, bend down with the load and then be patient and careful as he swang over onto the floor, where, hopefully, the little legs would find a use. Should he really call for help though, even apart from the fact that all the doors were locked? Despite all the difficulty he was in, he could not suppress a smile at this thought.

After a while he had already moved so far across that it would have been hard for him to keep his balance if he rocked too hard. The time was now ten past seven and he would have to make a final decision very soon. Then there was a ring at the door of the flat. “That’ll be someone from work”, he said to himself, and froze very still, although his little legs only became all the more lively as they danced around. For a moment everything remained quiet. “They’re not opening the door”, Gregor said to himself, caught in some nonsensical hope. But then of course, the maid’s firm steps went to the door as ever and opened it. Gregor only needed to hear the visitor’s first words of greeting and he knew who it was – the chief clerk himself. Why did Gregor have to be the only one condemned to work for a company where they immediately became highly suspicious at the slightest shortcoming? Were all employees, every one of them, louts, was there not one of them who was faithful and devoted who would go so mad with pangs of conscience that he couldn’t get out of bed if he didn’t spend at least a couple of hours in the morning on company business? Was it really not enough to let one of the trainees make enquiries – assuming enquiries were even necessary – did the chief clerk have to come himself, and did they have to show the whole, innocent family that this was so suspicious that only the chief clerk could be trusted to have the wisdom to investigate it? And more because these thoughts had made him upset than through any proper decision, he swang himself with all his force out of the bed. There was a loud thump, but it wasn’t really a loud noise. His fall was softened a little by the carpet, and Gregor’s back was also more elastic than he had thought, which made the sound muffled and not too noticeable. He had not held his head carefully enough, though, and hit it as he fell; annoyed and in pain, he turned it and rubbed it against the carpet.

“Something’s fallen down in there”, said the chief clerk in the room on the left. Gregor tried to imagine whether something of the sort that had happened to him today could ever happen to the chief clerk too; you had to concede that it was possible. But as if in gruff reply to this question, the chief clerk’s firm footsteps in his highly polished boots could now be heard in the adjoining room. From the room on his right, Gregor’s sister whispered to him to let him know: “Gregor, the chief clerk is here.” “Yes, I know”, said Gregor to himself; but without daring to raise his voice loud enough for his sister to hear him.

“Gregor”, said his father now from the room to his left, “the chief clerk has come round and wants to know why you didn’t leave on the early train. We don’t know what to say to him. And anyway, he wants to speak to you personally. So please open up this door. I’m sure he’ll be good enough to forgive the untidiness of your room.” Then the chief clerk called “Good morning, Mr. Samsa”. “He isn’t well”, said his mother to the chief clerk, while his father continued to speak through the door. “He isn’t well, please believe me. Why else would Gregor have missed a train! The lad only ever thinks about the business. It nearly makes me cross the way he never goes out in the evenings; he’s been in town for a week now but stayed home every evening. He sits with us in the kitchen and just reads the paper or studies train timetables. His idea of relaxation is working with his fretsaw. He’s made a little frame, for instance, it only took him two or three evenings, you’ll be amazed how nice it is; it’s hanging up in his room; you’ll see it as soon as Gregor opens the door. Anyway, I’m glad you’re here; we wouldn’t have been able to get Gregor to open the door by ourselves; he’s so stubborn; and I’m sure he isn’t well, he said this morning that he is, but he isn’t.” “I’ll be there in a moment”, said Gregor slowly and thoughtfully, but without moving so that he would not miss any word of the conversation. “Well I can’t think of any other way of explaining it, Mrs. Samsa”, said the chief clerk, “I hope it’s nothing serious. But on the other hand, I must say that if we people in commerce ever become slightly unwell then, fortunately or unfortunately as you like, we simply have to overcome it because of business considerations.” “Can the chief clerk come in to see you now then?”, asked his father impatiently, knocking at the door again. “No”, said Gregor. In the room on his right there followed a painful silence; in the room on his left his sister began to cry.

So why did his sister not go and join the others? She had probably only just got up and had not even begun to get dressed. And why was she crying? Was it because he had not got up, and had not let the chief clerk in, because he was in danger of losing his job and if that happened his boss would once more pursue their parents with the same demands as before? There was no need to worry about things like that yet. Gregor was still there and had not the slightest intention of abandoning his family. For the time being he just lay there on the carpet, and no-one who knew the condition he was in would seriously have expected him to let the chief clerk in. It was only a minor discourtesy, and a suitable excuse could easily be found for it later on, it was not something for which Gregor could be sacked on the spot. And it seemed to Gregor much more sensible to leave him now in peace instead of disturbing him with talking at him and crying. But the others didn’t know what was happening, they were worried, that would excuse their behaviour.

The chief clerk now raised his voice, “Mr. Samsa”, he called to him, “what is wrong? You barricade yourself in your room, give us no more than yes or no for an answer, you are causing serious and unnecessary concern to your parents and you fail – and I mention this just by the way – you fail to carry out your business duties in a way that is quite unheard of. I’m speaking here on behalf of your parents and of your employer, and really must request a clear and immediate explanation. I am astonished, quite astonished. I thought I knew you as a calm and sensible person, and now you suddenly seem to be showing off with peculiar whims. This morning, your employer did suggest a possible reason for your failure to appear, it’s true – it had to do with the money that was recently entrusted to you – but I came near to giving him my word of honour that that could not be the right explanation. But now that I see your incomprehensible stubbornness I no longer feel any wish whatsoever to intercede on your behalf. And nor is your position all that secure. I had originally intended to say all this to you in private, but since you cause me to waste my time here for no good reason I don’t see why your parents should not also learn of it. Your turnover has been very unsatisfactory of late; I grant you that it’s not the time of year to do especially good business, we recognise that; but there simply is no time of year to do no business at all, Mr. Samsa, we cannot allow there to be.”

“But Sir”, called Gregor, beside himself and forgetting all else in the excitement, “I’ll open up immediately, just a moment. I’m slightly unwell, an attack of dizziness, I haven’t been able to get up. I’m still in bed now. I’m quite fresh again now, though. I’m just getting out of bed. Just a moment. Be patient! It’s not quite as easy as I’d thought. I’m quite alright now, though. It’s shocking, what can suddenly happen to a person! I was quite alright last night, my parents know about it, perhaps better than me, I had a small symptom of it last night already. They must have noticed it. I don’t know why I didn’t let you know at work! But you always think you can get over an illness without staying at home. Please, don’t make my parents suffer! There’s no basis for any of the accusations you’re making; nobody’s ever said a word to me about any of these things. Maybe you haven’t read the latest contracts I sent in. I’ll set off with the eight o’clock train, as well, these few hours of rest have given me strength. You don’t need to wait, sir; I’ll be in the office soon after you, and please be so good as to tell that to the boss and recommend me to him!”

And while Gregor gushed out these words, hardly knowing what he was saying, he made his way over to the chest of drawers – this was easily done, probably because of the practise he had already had in bed – where he now tried to get himself upright. He really did want to open the door, really did want to let them see him and to speak with the chief clerk; the others were being so insistent, and he was curious to learn what they would say when they caught sight of him. If they were shocked then it would no longer be Gregor’s responsibility and he could rest. If, however, they took everything calmly he would still have no reason to be upset, and if he hurried he really could be at the station for eight o’clock. The first few times he tried to climb up on the smooth chest of drawers he just slid down again, but he finally gave himself one last swing and stood there upright; the lower part of his body was in serious pain but he no longer gave any attention to it. Now he let himself fall against the back of a nearby chair and held tightly to the edges of it with his little legs. By now he had also calmed down, and kept quiet so that he could listen to what the chief clerk was saying.

“Did you understand a word of all that?” the chief clerk asked his parents, “surely he’s not trying to make fools of us”. “Oh, God!” called his mother, who was already in tears, “he could be seriously ill and we’re making him suffer. Grete! Grete!” she then cried. “Mother?” his sister called from the other side. They communicated across Gregor’s room. “You’ll have to go for the doctor straight away. Gregor is ill. Quick, get the doctor. Did you hear the way Gregor spoke just now?” “That was the voice of an animal”, said the chief clerk, with a calmness that was in contrast with his mother’s screams. “Anna! Anna!” his father called into the kitchen through the entrance hall, clapping his hands, “get a locksmith here, now!” And the two girls, their skirts swishing, immediately ran out through the hall, wrenching open the front door of the flat as they went. How had his sister managed to get dressed so quickly? There was no sound of the door banging shut again; they must have left it open; people often do in homes where something awful has happened.

Gregor, in contrast, had become much calmer. So they couldn’t understand his words any more, although they seemed clear enough to him, clearer than before – perhaps his ears had become used to the sound. They had realised, though, that there was something wrong with him, and were ready to help. The first response to his situation had been confident and wise, and that made him feel better. He felt that he had been drawn back in among people, and from the doctor and the locksmith he expected great and surprising achievements – although he did not really distinguish one from the other. Whatever was said next would be crucial, so, in order to make his voice as clear as possible, he coughed a little, but taking care to do this not too loudly as even this might well sound different from the way that a human coughs and he was no longer sure he could judge this for himself. Meanwhile, it had become very quiet in the next room. Perhaps his parents were sat at the table whispering with the chief clerk, or perhaps they were all pressed against the door and listening.

Gregor slowly pushed his way over to the door with the chair. Once there he let go of it and threw himself onto the door, holding himself upright against it using the adhesive on the tips of his legs. He rested there a little while to recover from the effort involved and then set himself to the task of turning the key in the lock with his mouth. He seemed, unfortunately, to have no proper teeth – how was he, then, to grasp the key? – but the lack of teeth was, of course, made up for with a very strong jaw; using the jaw, he really was able to start the key turning, ignoring the fact that he must have been causing some kind of damage as a brown fluid came from his mouth, flowed over the key and dripped onto the floor. “Listen”, said the chief clerk in the next room, “he’s turning the key.” Gregor was greatly encouraged by this; but they all should have been calling to him, his father and his mother too: “Well done, Gregor”, they should have cried, “keep at it, keep hold of the lock!” And with the idea that they were all excitedly following his efforts, he bit on the key with all his strength, paying no attention to the pain he was causing himself. As the key turned round he turned around the lock with it, only holding himself upright with his mouth, and hung onto the key or pushed it down again with the whole weight of his body as needed. The clear sound of the lock as it snapped back was Gregor’s sign that he could break his concentration, and as he regained his breath he said to himself: “So, I didn’t need the locksmith after all”. Then he lay his head on the handle of the door to open it completely.

Because he had to open the door in this way, it was already wide open before he could be seen. He had first to slowly turn himself around one of the double doors, and he had to do it very carefully if he did not want to fall flat on his back before entering the room. He was still occupied with this difficult movement, unable to pay attention to anything else, when he heard the chief clerk exclaim a loud “Oh!”, which sounded like the soughing of the wind. Now he also saw him – he was the nearest to the door – his hand pressed against his open mouth and slowly retreating as if driven by a steady and invisible force. Gregor’s mother, her hair still dishevelled from bed despite the chief clerk’s being there, looked at his father. Then she unfolded her arms, took two steps forward towards Gregor and sank down onto the floor into her skirts that spread themselves out around her as her head disappeared down onto her breast. His father looked hostile, and clenched his fists as if wanting to knock Gregor back into his room. Then he looked uncertainly round the living room, covered his eyes with his hands and wept so that his powerful chest shook.

So Gregor did not go into the room, but leant against the inside of the other door which was still held bolted in place. In this way only half of his body could be seen, along with his head above it which he leant over to one side as he peered out at the others. Meanwhile the day had become much lighter; part of the endless, grey-black building on the other side of the street – which was a hospital – could be seen quite clearly with the austere and regular line of windows piercing its façade; the rain was still falling, now throwing down large, individual droplets which hit the ground one at a time. The washing up from breakfast lay on the table; there was so much of it because, for Gregor’s father, breakfast was the most important meal of the day and he would stretch it out for several hours as he sat reading a number of different newspapers. On the wall exactly opposite there was photograph of Gregor when he was a lieutenant in the army, his sword in his hand and a carefree smile on his face as he called forth respect for his uniform and bearing. The door to the entrance hall was open and as the front door of the flat was also open he could see onto the landing and the stairs where they began their way down below.

“Now, then”, said Gregor, well aware that he was the only one to have kept calm, “I’ll get dressed straight away now, pack up my samples and set off. Will you please just let me leave? You can see”, he said to the chief clerk, “that I’m not stubborn and I like to do my job; being a commercial traveller is arduous but without travelling I couldn’t earn my living. So where are you going, in to the office? Yes? Will you report everything accurately, then? It’s quite possible for someone to be temporarily unable to work, but that’s just the right time to remember what’s been achieved in the past and consider that later on, once the difficulty has been removed, he will certainly work with all the more diligence and concentration. You’re well aware that I’m seriously in debt to our employer as well as having to look after my parents and my sister, so that I’m trapped in a difficult situation, but I will work my way out of it again. Please don’t make things any harder for me than they are already, and don’t take sides against me at the office. I know that nobody likes the travellers. They think we earn an enormous wage as well as having a soft time of it. That’s just prejudice but they have no particular reason to think better of it. But you, sir, you have a better overview than the rest of the staff, in fact, if I can say this in confidence, a better overview than the boss himself – it’s very easy for a businessman like him to make mistakes about his employees and judge them more harshly than he should. And you’re also well aware that we travellers spend almost the whole year away from the office, so that we can very easily fall victim to gossip and chance and groundless complaints, and it’s almost impossible to defend yourself from that sort of thing, we don’t usually even hear about them, or if at all it’s when we arrive back home exhausted from a trip, and that’s when we feel the harmful effects of what’s been going on without even knowing what caused them. Please, don’t go away, at least first say something to show that you grant that I’m at least partly right!”

But the chief clerk had turned away as soon as Gregor had started to speak, and, with protruding lips, only stared back at him over his trembling shoulders as he left. He did not keep still for a moment while Gregor was speaking, but moved steadily towards the door without taking his eyes off him. He moved very gradually, as if there had been some secret prohibition on leaving the room. It was only when he had reached the entrance hall that he made a sudden movement, drew his foot from the living room, and rushed forward in a panic. In the hall, he stretched his right hand far out towards the stairway as if out there, there were some supernatural force waiting to save him.

Gregor realised that it was out of the question to let the chief clerk go away in this mood if his position in the firm was not to be put into extreme danger. That was something his parents did not understand very well; over the years, they had become convinced that this job would provide for Gregor for his entire life, and besides, they had so much to worry about at present that they had lost sight of any thought for the future. Gregor, though, did think about the future. The chief clerk had to be held back, calmed down, convinced and finally won over; the future of Gregor and his family depended on it! If only his sister were here! She was clever; she was already in tears while Gregor was still lying peacefully on his back. And the chief clerk was a lover of women, surely she could persuade him; she would close the front door in the entrance hall and talk him out of his shocked state. But his sister was not there, Gregor would have to do the job himself. And without considering that he still was not familiar with how well he could move about in his present state, or that his speech still might not – or probably would not – be understood, he let go of the door; pushed himself through the opening; tried to reach the chief clerk on the landing who, ridiculously, was holding on to the banister with both hands; but Gregor fell immediately over and, with a little scream as he sought something to hold onto, landed on his numerous little legs. Hardly had that happened than, for the first time that day, he began to feel alright with his body; the little legs had the solid ground under them; to his pleasure, they did exactly as he told them; they were even making the effort to carry him where he wanted to go; and he was soon believing that all his sorrows would soon be finally at an end. He held back the urge to move but swayed from side to side as he crouched there on the floor. His mother was not far away in front of him and seemed, at first, quite engrossed in herself, but then she suddenly jumped up with her arms outstretched and her fingers spread shouting: “Help, for pity’s sake, Help!” The way she held her head suggested she wanted to see Gregor better, but the unthinking way she was hurrying backwards showed that she did not; she had forgotten that the table was behind her with all the breakfast things on it; when she reached the table she sat quickly down on it without knowing what she was doing; without even seeming to notice that the coffee pot had been knocked over and a gush of coffee was pouring down onto the carpet.

“Mother, mother”, said Gregor gently, looking up at her. He had completely forgotten the chief clerk for the moment, but could not help himself snapping in the air with his jaws at the sight of the flow of coffee. That set his mother screaming anew, she fled from the table and into the arms of his father as he rushed towards her. Gregor, though, had no time to spare for his parents now; the chief clerk had already reached the stairs; with his chin on the banister, he looked back for the last time. Gregor made a run for him; he wanted to be sure of reaching him; the chief clerk must have expected something, as he leapt down several steps at once and disappeared; his shouts resounding all around the staircase. The flight of the chief clerk seemed, unfortunately, to put Gregor’s father into a panic as well. Until then he had been relatively self controlled, but now, instead of running after the chief clerk himself, or at least not impeding Gregor as he ran after him, Gregor’s father seized the chief clerk’s stick in his right hand (the chief clerk had left it behind on a chair, along with his hat and overcoat), picked up a large newspaper from the table with his left, and used them to drive Gregor back into his room, stamping his foot at him as he went. Gregor’s appeals to his father were of no help, his appeals were simply not understood, however much he humbly turned his head his father merely stamped his foot all the harder. Across the room, despite the chilly weather, Gregor’s mother had pulled open a window, leant far out of it and pressed her hands to her face. A strong draught of air flew in from the street towards the stairway, the curtains flew up, the newspapers on the table fluttered and some of them were blown onto the floor. Nothing would stop Gregor’s father as he drove him back, making hissing noises at him like a wild man. Gregor had never had any practice in moving backwards and was only able to go very slowly. If Gregor had only been allowed to turn round he would have been back in his room straight away, but he was afraid that if he took the time to do that his father would become impatient, and there was the threat of a lethal blow to his back or head from the stick in his father’s hand any moment. Eventually, though, Gregor realised that he had no choice as he saw, to his disgust, that he was quite incapable of going backwards in a straight line; so he began, as quickly as possible and with frequent anxious glances at his father, to turn himself round. It went very slowly, but perhaps his father was able to see his good intentions as he did nothing to hinder him, in fact now and then he used the tip of his stick to give directions from a distance as to which way to turn. If only his father would stop that unbearable hissing! It was making Gregor quite confused. When he had nearly finished turning round, still listening to that hissing, he made a mistake and turned himself back a little the way he had just come. He was pleased when he finally had his head in front of the doorway, but then saw that it was too narrow, and his body was too broad to get through it without further difficulty. In his present mood, it obviously did not occur to his father to open the other of the double doors so that Gregor would have enough space to get through. He was merely fixed on the idea that Gregor should be got back into his room as quickly as possible. Nor would he ever have allowed Gregor the time to get himself upright as preparation for getting through the doorway. What he did, making more noise than ever, was to drive Gregor forwards all the harder as if there had been nothing in the way; it sounded to Gregor as if there was now more than one father behind him; it was not a pleasant experience, and Gregor pushed himself into the doorway without regard for what might happen. One side of his body lifted itself, he lay at an angle in the doorway, one flank scraped on the white door and was painfully injured, leaving vile brown flecks on it, soon he was stuck fast and would not have been able to move at all by himself, the little legs along one side hung quivering in the air while those on the other side were pressed painfully against the ground. Then his father gave him a hefty shove from behind which released him from where he was held and sent him flying, and heavily bleeding, deep into his room. The door was slammed shut with the stick, then, finally, all was quiet.


It was not until it was getting dark that evening that Gregor awoke from his deep and coma-like sleep. He would have woken soon afterwards anyway even if he hadn’t been disturbed, as he had had enough sleep and felt fully rested. But he had the impression that some hurried steps and the sound of the door leading into the front room being carefully shut had woken him. The light from the electric street lamps shone palely here and there onto the ceiling and tops of the furniture, but down below, where Gregor was, it was dark. He pushed himself over to the door, feeling his way clumsily with his antennae – of which he was now beginning to learn the value – in order to see what had been happening there. The whole of his left side seemed like one, painfully stretched scar, and he limped badly on his two rows of legs. One of the legs had been badly injured in the events of that morning – it was nearly a miracle that only one of them had been – and dragged along lifelessly.

It was only when he had reached the door that he realised what it actually was that had drawn him over to it; it was the smell of something to eat. By the door there was a dish filled with sweetened milk with little pieces of white bread floating in it. He was so pleased he almost laughed, as he was even hungrier than he had been that morning, and immediately dipped his head into the milk, nearly covering his eyes with it. But he soon drew his head back again in disappointment; not only did the pain in his tender left side make it difficult to eat the food – he was only able to eat if his whole body worked together as a snuffling whole – but the milk did not taste at all nice. Milk like this was normally his favourite drink, and his sister had certainly left it there for him because of that, but he turned, almost against his own will, away from the dish and crawled back into the centre of the room.

Through the crack in the door, Gregor could see that the gas had been lit in the living room. His father at this time would normally be sat with his evening paper, reading it out in a loud voice to Gregor’s mother, and sometimes to his sister, but there was now not a sound to be heard. Gregor’s sister would often write and tell him about this reading, but maybe his father had lost the habit in recent times. It was so quiet all around too, even though there must have been somebody in the flat. “What a quiet life it is the family lead”, said Gregor to himself, and, gazing into the darkness, felt a great pride that he was able to provide a life like that in such a nice home for his sister and parents. But what now, if all this peace and wealth and comfort should come to a horrible and frightening end? That was something that Gregor did not want to think about too much, so he started to move about, crawling up and down the room.

Once during that long evening, the door on one side of the room was opened very slightly and hurriedly closed again; later on the door on the other side did the same; it seemed that someone needed to enter the room but thought better of it. Gregor went and waited immediately by the door, resolved either to bring the timorous visitor into the room in some way or at least to find out who it was; but the door was opened no more that night and Gregor waited in vain. The previous morning while the doors were locked everyone had wanted to get in there to him, but now, now that he had opened up one of the doors and the other had clearly been unlocked some time during the day, no-one came, and the keys were in the other sides.

It was not until late at night that the gaslight in the living room was put out, and now it was easy to see that his parents and sister had stayed awake all that time, as they all could be distinctly heard as they went away together on tip-toe. It was clear that no-one would come into Gregor’s room any more until morning; that gave him plenty of time to think undisturbed about how he would have to re-arrange his life. For some reason, the tall, empty room where he was forced to remain made him feel uneasy as he lay there flat on the floor, even though he had been living in it for five years. Hardly aware of what he was doing other than a slight feeling of shame, he hurried under the couch. It pressed down on his back a little, and he was no longer able to lift his head, but he nonetheless felt immediately at ease and his only regret was that his body was too broad to get it all underneath.

He spent the whole night there. Some of the time he passed in a light sleep, although he frequently woke from it in alarm because of his hunger, and some of the time was spent in worries and vague hopes which, however, always led to the same conclusion: for the time being he must remain calm, he must show patience and the greatest consideration so that his family could bear the unpleasantness that he, in his present condition, was forced to impose on them.

Gregor soon had the opportunity to test the strength of his decisions, as early the next morning, almost before the night had ended, his sister, nearly fully dressed, opened the door from the front room and looked anxiously in. She did not see him straight away, but when she did notice him under the couch – he had to be somewhere, for God’s sake, he couldn’t have flown away – she was so shocked that she lost control of herself and slammed the door shut again from outside. But she seemed to regret her behaviour, as she opened the door again straight away and came in on tip-toe as if entering the room of someone seriously ill or even of a stranger. Gregor had pushed his head forward, right to the edge of the couch, and watched her. Would she notice that he had left the milk as it was, realise that it was not from any lack of hunger and bring him in some other food that was more suitable? If she didn’t do it herself he would rather go hungry than draw her attention to it, although he did feel a terrible urge to rush forward from under the couch, throw himself at his sister’s feet and beg her for something good to eat. However, his sister noticed the full dish immediately and looked at it and the few drops of milk splashed around it with some surprise. She immediately picked it up – using a rag, not her bare hands – and carried it out. Gregor was extremely curious as to what she would bring in its place, imagining the wildest possibilities, but he never could have guessed what his sister, in her goodness, actually did bring. In order to test his taste, she brought him a whole selection of things, all spread out on an old newspaper. There were old, half-rotten vegetables; bones from the evening meal, covered in white sauce that had gone hard; a few raisins and almonds; some cheese that Gregor had declared inedible two days before; a dry roll and some bread spread with butter and salt. As well as all that she had poured some water into the dish, which had probably been permanently set aside for Gregor’s use, and placed it beside them. Then, out of consideration for Gregor’s feelings, as she knew that he would not eat in front of her, she hurried out again and even turned the key in the lock so that Gregor would know he could make things as comfortable for himself as he liked. Gregor’s little legs whirred, at last he could eat. What’s more, his injuries must already have completely healed as he found no difficulty in moving. This amazed him, as more than a month earlier he had cut his finger slightly with a knife, he thought of how his finger had still hurt the day before yesterday. “Am I less sensitive than I used to be, then?”, he thought, and was already sucking greedily at the cheese which had immediately, almost compellingly, attracted him much more than the other foods on the newspaper. Quickly one after another, his eyes watering with pleasure, he consumed the cheese, the vegetables and the sauce; the fresh foods, on the other hand, he didn’t like at all, and even dragged the things he did want to eat a little way away from them because he couldn’t stand the smell. Long after he had finished eating and lay lethargic in the same place, his sister slowly turned the key in the lock as a sign to him that he should withdraw. He was immediately startled, although he had been half asleep, and he hurried back under the couch. But he needed great self-control to stay there even for the short time that his sister was in the room, as eating so much food had rounded out his body a little and he could hardly breathe in that narrow space. Half suffocating, he watched with bulging eyes as his sister unselfconsciously took a broom and swept up the left-overs, mixing them in with the food he had not even touched at all as if it could not be used any more. She quickly dropped it all into a bin, closed it with its wooden lid, and carried everything out. She had hardly turned her back before Gregor came out again from under the couch and stretched himself.

This was how Gregor received his food each day now, once in the morning while his parents and the maid were still asleep, and the second time after everyone had eaten their meal at midday as his parents would sleep for a little while then as well, and Gregor’s sister would send the maid away on some errand. Gregor’s father and mother certainly did not want him to starve either, but perhaps it would have been more than they could stand to have any more experience of his feeding than being told about it, and perhaps his sister wanted to spare them what distress she could as they were indeed suffering enough.

It was impossible for Gregor to find out what they had told the doctor and the locksmith that first morning to get them out of the flat. As nobody could understand him, nobody, not even his sister, thought that he could understand them, so he had to be content to hear his sister’s sighs and appeals to the saints as she moved about his room. It was only later, when she had become a little more used to everything – there was, of course, no question of her ever becoming fully used to the situation – that Gregor would sometimes catch a friendly comment, or at least a comment that could be construed as friendly. “He’s enjoyed his dinner today”, she might say when he had diligently cleared away all the food left for him, or if he left most of it, which slowly became more and more frequent, she would often say, sadly, “now everything’s just been left there again”.

Although Gregor wasn’t able to hear any news directly he did listen to much of what was said in the next rooms, and whenever he heard anyone speaking he would scurry straight to the appropriate door and press his whole body against it. There was seldom any conversation, especially at first, that was not about him in some way, even if only in secret. For two whole days, all the talk at every mealtime was about what they should do now; but even between meals they spoke about the same subject as there were always at least two members of the family at home – nobody wanted to be at home by themselves and it was out of the question to leave the flat entirely empty. And on the very first day the maid had fallen to her knees and begged Gregor’s mother to let her go without delay. It was not very clear how much she knew of what had happened but she left within a quarter of an hour, tearfully thanking Gregor’s mother for her dismissal as if she had done her an enormous service. She even swore emphatically not to tell anyone the slightest about what had happened, even though no-one had asked that of her.

Now Gregor’s sister also had to help his mother with the cooking; although that was not so much bother as no-one ate very much. Gregor often heard how one of them would unsuccessfully urge another to eat, and receive no more answer than “no thanks, I’ve had enough” or something similar. No-one drank very much either. His sister would sometimes ask his father whether he would like a beer, hoping for the chance to go and fetch it herself. When his father then said nothing she would add, so that he would not feel selfish, that she could send the housekeeper for it, but then his father would close the matter with a big, loud “No”, and no more would be said.

Even before the first day had come to an end, his father had explained to Gregor’s mother and sister what their finances and prospects were. Now and then he stood up from the table and took some receipt or document from the little cash box he had saved from his business when it had collapsed five years earlier. Gregor heard how he opened the complicated lock and then closed it again after he had taken the item he wanted. What he heard his father say was some of the first good news that Gregor heard since he had first been incarcerated in his room. He had thought that nothing at all remained from his father’s business, at least he had never told him anything different, and Gregor had never asked him about it anyway. Their business misfortune had reduced the family to a state of total despair, and Gregor’s only concern at that time had been to arrange things so that they could all forget about it as quickly as possible. So then he started working especially hard, with a fiery vigour that raised him from a junior salesman to a travelling representative almost overnight, bringing with it the chance to earn money in quite different ways. Gregor converted his success at work straight into cash that he could lay on the table at home for the benefit of his astonished and delighted family. They had been good times and they had never come again, at least not with the same splendour, even though Gregor had later earned so much that he was in a position to bear the costs of the whole family, and did bear them. They had even got used to it, both Gregor and the family, they took the money with gratitude and he was glad to provide it, although there was no longer much warm affection given in return. Gregor only remained close to his sister now. Unlike him, she was very fond of music and a gifted and expressive violinist, it was his secret plan to send her to the conservatory next year even though it would cause great expense that would have to be made up for in some other way. During Gregor’s short periods in town, conversation with his sister would often turn to the conservatory but it was only ever mentioned as a lovely dream that could never be realised. Their parents did not like to hear this innocent talk, but Gregor thought about it quite hard and decided he would let them know what he planned with a grand announcement of it on Christmas day.

That was the sort of totally pointless thing that went through his mind in his present state, pressed upright against the door and listening. There were times when he simply became too tired to continue listening, when his head would fall wearily against the door and he would pull it up again with a start, as even the slightest noise he caused would be heard next door and they would all go silent. “What’s that he’s doing now”, his father would say after a while, clearly having gone over to the door, and only then would the interrupted conversation slowly be taken up again.

When explaining things, his father repeated himself several times, partly because it was a long time since he had been occupied with these matters himself and partly because Gregor’s mother did not understand everything the first time. From these repeated explanations Gregor learned, to his pleasure, that despite all their misfortunes there was still some money available from the old days. It was not a lot, but it had not been touched in the meantime and some interest had accumulated. Besides that, they had not been using up all the money that Gregor had been bringing home every month, keeping only a little for himself, so that that, too, had been accumulating. Behind the door, Gregor nodded with enthusiasm in his pleasure at this unexpected thrift and caution. He could actually have used this surplus money to reduce his father’s debt to his boss, and the day when he could have freed himself from that job would have come much closer, but now it was certainly better the way his father had done things.

This money, however, was certainly not enough to enable the family to live off the interest; it was enough to maintain them for, perhaps, one or two years, no more. That’s to say, it was money that should not really be touched but set aside for emergencies; money to live on had to be earned. His father was healthy but old, and lacking in self confidence. During the five years that he had not been working – the first holiday in a life that had been full of strain and no success – he had put on a lot of weight and become very slow and clumsy. Would Gregor’s elderly mother now have to go and earn money? She suffered from asthma and it was a strain for her just to move about the home, every other day would be spent struggling for breath on the sofa by the open window. Would his sister have to go and earn money? She was still a child of seventeen, her life up till then had been very enviable, consisting of wearing nice clothes, sleeping late, helping out in the business, joining in with a few modest pleasures and most of all playing the violin. Whenever they began to talk of the need to earn money, Gregor would always first let go of the door and then throw himself onto the cool, leather sofa next to it, as he became quite hot with shame and regret.

He would often lie there the whole night through, not sleeping a wink but scratching at the leather for hours on end. Or he might go to all the effort of pushing a chair to the window, climbing up onto the sill and, propped up in the chair, leaning on the window to stare out of it. He had used to feel a great sense of freedom from doing this, but doing it now was obviously something more remembered than experienced, as what he actually saw in this way was becoming less distinct every day, even things that were quite near; he had used to curse the ever-present view of the hospital across the street, but now he could not see it at all, and if he had not known that he lived in Charlottenstrasse, which was a quiet street despite being in the middle of the city, he could have thought that he was looking out the window at a barren waste where the grey sky and the grey earth mingled inseparably. His observant sister only needed to notice the chair twice before she would always push it back to its exact position by the window after she had tidied up the room, and even left the inner pane of the window open from then on.

If Gregor had only been able to speak to his sister and thank her for all that she had to do for him it would have been easier for him to bear it; but as it was it caused him pain. His sister, naturally, tried as far as possible to pretend there was nothing burdensome about it, and the longer it went on, of course, the better she was able to do so, but as time went by Gregor was also able to see through it all so much better. It had even become very unpleasant for him, now, whenever she entered the room. No sooner had she come in than she would quickly close the door as a precaution so that no-one would have to suffer the view into Gregor’s room, then she would go straight to the window and pull it hurriedly open almost as if she were suffocating. Even if it was cold, she would stay at the window breathing deeply for a little while. She would alarm Gregor twice a day with this running about and noise making; he would stay under the couch shivering the whole while, knowing full well that she would certainly have liked to spare him this ordeal, but it was impossible for her to be in the same room with him with the windows closed.

One day, about a month after Gregor’s transformation when his sister no longer had any particular reason to be shocked at his appearance, she came into the room a little earlier than usual and found him still staring out the window, motionless, and just where he would be most horrible. In itself, his sister’s not coming into the room would have been no surprise for Gregor as it would have been difficult for her to immediately open the window while he was still there, but not only did she not come in, she went straight back and closed the door behind her, a stranger would have thought he had threatened her and tried to bite her. Gregor went straight to hide himself under the couch, of course, but he had to wait until midday before his sister came back and she seemed much more uneasy than usual. It made him realise that she still found his appearance unbearable and would continue to do so, she probably even had to overcome the urge to flee when she saw the little bit of him that protruded from under the couch. One day, in order to spare her even this sight, he spent four hours carrying the bedsheet over to the couch on his back and arranged it so that he was completely covered and his sister would not be able to see him even if she bent down. If she did not think this sheet was necessary then all she had to do was take it off again, as it was clear enough that it was no pleasure for Gregor to cut himself off so completely. She left the sheet where it was. Gregor even thought he glimpsed a look of gratitude one time when he carefully looked out from under the sheet to see how his sister liked the new arrangement.

For the first fourteen days, Gregor’s parents could not bring themselves to come into the room to see him. He would often hear them say how they appreciated all the new work his sister was doing even though, before, they had seen her as a girl who was somewhat useless and frequently been annoyed with her. But now the two of them, father and mother, would often both wait outside the door of Gregor’s room while his sister tidied up in there, and as soon as she went out again she would have to tell them exactly how everything looked, what Gregor had eaten, how he had behaved this time and whether, perhaps, any slight improvement could be seen. His mother also wanted to go in and visit Gregor relatively soon but his father and sister at first persuaded her against it. Gregor listened very closely to all this, and approved fully. Later, though, she had to be held back by force, which made her call out: “Let me go and see Gregor, he is my unfortunate son! Can’t you understand I have to see him?”, and Gregor would think to himself that maybe it would be better if his mother came in, not every day of course, but one day a week, perhaps; she could understand everything much better than his sister who, for all her courage, was still just a child after all, and really might not have had an adult’s appreciation of the burdensome job she had taken on.

Gregor’s wish to see his mother was soon realised. Out of consideration for his parents, Gregor wanted to avoid being seen at the window during the day, the few square meters of the floor did not give him much room to crawl about, it was hard to just lie quietly through the night, his food soon stopped giving him any pleasure at all, and so, to entertain himself, he got into the habit of crawling up and down the walls and ceiling. He was especially fond of hanging from the ceiling; it was quite different from lying on the floor; he could breathe more freely; his body had a light swing to it; and up there, relaxed and almost happy, it might happen that he would surprise even himself by letting go of the ceiling and landing on the floor with a crash. But now, of course, he had far better control of his body than before and, even with a fall as great as that, caused himself no damage. Very soon his sister noticed Gregor’s new way of entertaining himself – he had, after all, left traces of the adhesive from his feet as he crawled about – and got it into her head to make it as easy as possible for him by removing the furniture that got in his way, especially the chest of drawers and the desk. Now, this was not something that she would be able to do by herself; she did not dare to ask for help from her father; the sixteen year old maid had carried on bravely since the cook had left but she certainly would not have helped in this, she had even asked to be allowed to keep the kitchen locked at all times and never to have to open the door unless it was especially important; so his sister had no choice but to choose some time when Gregor’s father was not there and fetch his mother to help her. As she approached the room, Gregor could hear his mother express her joy, but once at the door she went silent. First, of course, his sister came in and looked round to see that everything in the room was alright; and only then did she let her mother enter. Gregor had hurriedly pulled the sheet down lower over the couch and put more folds into it so that everything really looked as if it had just been thrown down by chance. Gregor also refrained, this time, from spying out from under the sheet; he gave up the chance to see his mother until later and was simply glad that she had come. “You can come in, he can’t be seen”, said his sister, obviously leading her in by the hand. The old chest of drawers was too heavy for a pair of feeble women to be heaving about, but Gregor listened as they pushed it from its place, his sister always taking on the heaviest part of the work for herself and ignoring her mother’s warnings that she would strain herself. This lasted a very long time. After labouring at it for fifteen minutes or more his mother said it would be better to leave the chest where it was, for one thing it was too heavy for them to get the job finished before Gregor’s father got home and leaving it in the middle of the room it would be in his way even more, and for another thing it wasn’t even sure that taking the furniture away would really be any help to him. She thought just the opposite; the sight of the bare walls saddened her right to her heart; and why wouldn’t Gregor feel the same way about it, he’d been used to this furniture in his room for a long time and it would make him feel abandoned to be in an empty room like that. Then, quietly, almost whispering as if wanting Gregor (whose whereabouts she did not know) to hear not even the tone of her voice, as she was convinced that he did not understand her words, she added “and by taking the furniture away, won’t it seem like we’re showing that we’ve given up all hope of improvement and we’re abandoning him to cope for himself? I think it’d be best to leave the room exactly the way it was before so that when Gregor comes back to us again he’ll find everything unchanged and he’ll be able to forget the time in between all the easier”.

Hearing these words from his mother made Gregor realise that the lack of any direct human communication, along with the monotonous life led by the family during these two months, must have made him confused – he could think of no other way of explaining to himself why he had seriously wanted his room emptied out. Had he really wanted to transform his room into a cave, a warm room fitted out with the nice furniture he had inherited? That would have let him crawl around unimpeded in any direction, but it would also have let him quickly forget his past when he had still been human. He had come very close to forgetting, and it had only been the voice of his mother, unheard for so long, that had shaken him out of it. Nothing should be removed; everything had to stay; he could not do without the good influence the furniture had on his condition; and if the furniture made it difficult for him to crawl about mindlessly that was not a loss but a great advantage.

His sister, unfortunately, did not agree; she had become used to the idea, not without reason, that she was Gregor’s spokesman to his parents about the things that concerned him. This meant that his mother’s advice now was sufficient reason for her to insist on removing not only the chest of drawers and the desk, as she had thought at first, but all the furniture apart from the all-important couch. It was more than childish perversity, of course, or the unexpected confidence she had recently acquired, that made her insist; she had indeed noticed that Gregor needed a lot of room to crawl about in, whereas the furniture, as far as anyone could see, was of no use to him at all. Girls of that age, though, do become enthusiastic about things and feel they must get their way whenever they can. Perhaps this was what tempted Grete to make Gregor’s situation seem even more shocking than it was so that she could do even more for him. Grete would probably be the only one who would dare enter a room dominated by Gregor crawling about the bare walls by himself.

So she refused to let her mother dissuade her. Gregor’s mother already looked uneasy in his room, she soon stopped speaking and helped Gregor’s sister to get the chest of drawers out with what strength she had. The chest of drawers was something that Gregor could do without if he had to, but the writing desk had to stay. Hardly had the two women pushed the chest of drawers, groaning, out of the room than Gregor poked his head out from under the couch to see what he could do about it. He meant to be as careful and considerate as he could, but, unfortunately, it was his mother who came back first while Grete in the next room had her arms round the chest, pushing and pulling at it from side to side by herself without, of course, moving it an inch. His mother was not used to the sight of Gregor, he might have made her ill, so Gregor hurried backwards to the far end of the couch. In his startlement, though, he was not able to prevent the sheet at its front from moving a little. It was enough to attract his mother’s attention. She stood very still, remained there a moment, and then went back out to Grete.

Gregor kept trying to assure himself that nothing unusual was happening, it was just a few pieces of furniture being moved after all, but he soon had to admit that the women going to and fro, their little calls to each other, the scraping of the furniture on the floor, all these things made him feel as if he were being assailed from all sides. With his head and legs pulled in against him and his body pressed to the floor, he was forced to admit to himself that he could not stand all of this much longer. They were emptying his room out; taking away everything that was dear to him; they had already taken out the chest containing his fretsaw and other tools; now they threatened to remove the writing desk with its place clearly worn into the floor, the desk where he had done his homework as a business trainee, at high school, even while he had been at infant school – he really could not wait any longer to see whether the two women’s intentions were good. He had nearly forgotten they were there anyway, as they were now too tired to say anything while they worked and he could only hear their feet as they stepped heavily on the floor.

So, while the women were leant against the desk in the other room catching their breath, he sallied out, changed direction four times not knowing what he should save first before his attention was suddenly caught by the picture on the wall – which was already denuded of everything else that had been on it – of the lady dressed in copious fur. He hurried up onto the picture and pressed himself against its glass, it held him firmly and felt good on his hot belly. This picture at least, now totally covered by Gregor, would certainly be taken away by no-one. He turned his head to face the door into the living room so that he could watch the women when they came back.

They had not allowed themselves a long rest and came back quite soon; Grete had put her arm around her mother and was nearly carrying her. “What shall we take now, then?”, said Grete and looked around. Her eyes met those of Gregor on the wall. Perhaps only because her mother was there, she remained calm, bent her face to her so that she would not look round and said, albeit hurriedly and with a tremor in her voice: “Come on, let’s go back in the living room for a while?” Gregor could see what Grete had in mind, she wanted to take her mother somewhere safe and then chase him down from the wall. Well, she could certainly try it! He sat unyielding on his picture. He would rather jump at Grete’s face.

But Grete’s words had made her mother quite worried, she stepped to one side, saw the enormous brown patch against the flowers of the wallpaper, and before she even realised it was Gregor that she saw screamed: “Oh God, oh God!” Arms outstretched, she fell onto the couch as if she had given up everything and stayed there immobile. “Gregor!” shouted his sister, glowering at him and shaking her fist. That was the first word she had spoken to him directly since his transformation. She ran into the other room to fetch some kind of smelling salts to bring her mother out of her faint; Gregor wanted to help too – he could save his picture later, although he stuck fast to the glass and had to pull himself off by force; then he, too, ran into the next room as if he could advise his sister like in the old days; but he had to just stand behind her doing nothing; she was looking into various bottles, he startled her when she turned round; a bottle fell to the ground and broke; a splinter cut Gregor’s face, some kind of caustic medicine splashed all over him; now, without delaying any longer, Grete took hold of all the bottles she could and ran with them in to her mother; she slammed the door shut with her foot. So now Gregor was shut out from his mother, who, because of him, might be near to death; he could not open the door if he did not want to chase his sister away, and she had to stay with his mother; there was nothing for him to do but wait; and, oppressed with anxiety and self-reproach, he began to crawl about, he crawled over everything, walls, furniture, ceiling, and finally in his confusion as the whole room began to spin around him he fell down into the middle of the dinner table.

He lay there for a while, numb and immobile, all around him it was quiet, maybe that was a good sign. Then there was someone at the door. The maid, of course, had locked herself in her kitchen so that Grete would have to go and answer it. His father had arrived home. “What’s happened?” were his first words; Grete’s appearance must have made everything clear to him. She answered him with subdued voice, and openly pressed her face into his chest: “Mother’s fainted, but she’s better now. Gregor got out.” “Just as I expected”, said his father, “just as I always said, but you women wouldn’t listen, would you.” It was clear to Gregor that Grete had not said enough and that his father took it to mean that something bad had happened, that he was responsible for some act of violence. That meant Gregor would now have to try to calm his father, as he did not have the time to explain things to him even if that had been possible. So he fled to the door of his room and pressed himself against it so that his father, when he came in from the hall, could see straight away that Gregor had the best intentions and would go back into his room without delay, that it would not be necessary to drive him back but that they had only to open the door and he would disappear.

His father, though, was not in the mood to notice subtleties like that; “Ah!”, he shouted as he came in, sounding as if he were both angry and glad at the same time. Gregor drew his head back from the door and lifted it towards his father. He really had not imagined his father the way he stood there now; of late, with his new habit of crawling about, he had neglected to pay attention to what was going on the rest of the flat the way he had done before. He really ought to have expected things to have changed, but still, still, was that really his father? The same tired man as used to be laying there entombed in his bed when Gregor came back from his business trips, who would receive him sitting in the armchair in his nightgown when he came back in the evenings; who was hardly even able to stand up but, as a sign of his pleasure, would just raise his arms and who, on the couple of times a year when they went for a walk together on a Sunday or public holiday wrapped up tightly in his overcoat between Gregor and his mother, would always labour his way forward a little more slowly than them, who were already walking slowly for his sake; who would place his stick down carefully and, if he wanted to say something would invariably stop and gather his companions around him. He was standing up straight enough now; dressed in a smart blue uniform with gold buttons, the sort worn by the employees at the banking institute; above the high, stiff collar of the coat his strong double-chin emerged; under the bushy eyebrows, his piercing, dark eyes looked out fresh and alert; his normally unkempt white hair was combed down painfully close to his scalp. He took his cap, with its gold monogram from, probably, some bank, and threw it in an arc right across the room onto the sofa, put his hands in his trouser pockets, pushing back the bottom of his long uniform coat, and, with look of determination, walked towards Gregor. He probably did not even know himself what he had in mind, but nonetheless lifted his feet unusually high. Gregor was amazed at the enormous size of the soles of his boots, but wasted no time with that – he knew full well, right from the first day of his new life, that his father thought it necessary to always be extremely strict with him. And so he ran up to his father, stopped when his father stopped, scurried forwards again when he moved, even slightly. In this way they went round the room several times without anything decisive happening, without even giving the impression of a chase as everything went so slowly. Gregor remained all this time on the floor, largely because he feared his father might see it as especially provoking if he fled onto the wall or ceiling. Whatever he did, Gregor had to admit that he certainly would not be able to keep up this running about for long, as for each step his father took he had to carry out countless movements. He became noticeably short of breath, even in his earlier life his lungs had not been very reliable. Now, as he lurched about in his efforts to muster all the strength he could for running he could hardly keep his eyes open; his thoughts became too slow for him to think of any other way of saving himself than running; he almost forgot that the walls were there for him to use although, here, they were concealed behind carefully carved furniture full of notches and protrusions – then, right beside him, lightly tossed, something flew down and rolled in front of him. It was an apple; then another one immediately flew at him; Gregor froze in shock; there was no longer any point in running as his father had decided to bombard him. He had filled his pockets with fruit from the bowl on the sideboard and now, without even taking the time for careful aim, threw one apple after another. These little, red apples rolled about on the floor, knocking into each other as if they had electric motors. An apple thrown without much force glanced against Gregor’s back and slid off without doing any harm. Another one however, immediately following it, hit squarely and lodged in his back; Gregor wanted to drag himself away, as if he could remove the surprising, the incredible pain by changing his position; but he felt as if nailed to the spot and spread himself out, all his senses in confusion. The last thing he saw was the door of his room being pulled open, his sister was screaming, his mother ran out in front of her in her blouse (as his sister had taken off some of her clothes after she had fainted to make it easier for her to breathe), she ran to his father, her skirts unfastened and sliding one after another to the ground, stumbling over the skirts she pushed herself to his father, her arms around him, uniting herself with him totally – now Gregor lost his ability to see anything – her hands behind his father’s head begging him to spare Gregor’s life.


No-one dared to remove the apple lodged in Gregor’s flesh, so it remained there as a visible reminder of his injury. He had suffered it there for more than a month, and his condition seemed serious enough to remind even his father that Gregor, despite his current sad and revolting form, was a family member who could not be treated as an enemy. On the contrary, as a family there was a duty to swallow any revulsion for him and to be patient, just to be patient.

Because of his injuries, Gregor had lost much of his mobility – probably permanently. He had been reduced to the condition of an ancient invalid and it took him long, long minutes to crawl across his room – crawling over the ceiling was out of the question – but this deterioration in his condition was fully (in his opinion) made up for by the door to the living room being left open every evening. He got into the habit of closely watching it for one or two hours before it was opened and then, lying in the darkness of his room where he could not be seen from the living room, he could watch the family in the light of the dinner table and listen to their conversation – with everyone’s permission, in a way, and thus quite differently from before.

They no longer held the lively conversations of earlier times, of course, the ones that Gregor always thought about with longing when he was tired and getting into the damp bed in some small hotel room. All of them were usually very quiet nowadays. Soon after dinner, his father would go to sleep in his chair; his mother and sister would urge each other to be quiet; his mother, bent deeply under the lamp, would sew fancy underwear for a fashion shop; his sister, who had taken a sales job, learned shorthand and French in the evenings so that she might be able to get a better position later on. Sometimes his father would wake up and say to Gregor’s mother “you’re doing so much sewing again today!”, as if he did not know that he had been dozing – and then he would go back to sleep again while mother and sister would exchange a tired grin.

With a kind of stubbornness, Gregor’s father refused to take his uniform off even at home; while his nightgown hung unused on its peg Gregor’s father would slumber where he was, fully dressed, as if always ready to serve and expecting to hear the voice of his superior even here. The uniform had not been new to start with, but as a result of this it slowly became even shabbier despite the efforts of Gregor’s mother and sister to look after it. Gregor would often spend the whole evening looking at all the stains on this coat, with its gold buttons always kept polished and shiny, while the old man in it would sleep, highly uncomfortable but peaceful.

As soon as it struck ten, Gregor’s mother would speak gently to his father to wake him and try to persuade him to go to bed, as he couldn’t sleep properly where he was and he really had to get his sleep if he was to be up at six to get to work. But since he had been in work he had become more obstinate and would always insist on staying longer at the table, even though he regularly fell asleep and it was then harder than ever to persuade him to exchange the chair for his bed. Then, however much mother and sister would importune him with little reproaches and warnings he would keep slowly shaking his head for a quarter of an hour with his eyes closed and refusing to get up. Gregor’s mother would tug at his sleeve, whisper endearments into his ear, Gregor’s sister would leave her work to help her mother, but nothing would have any effect on him. He would just sink deeper into his chair. Only when the two women took him under the arms he would abruptly open his eyes, look at them one after the other and say: “What a life! This is what peace I get in my old age!” And supported by the two women he would lift himself up carefully as if he were carrying the greatest load himself, let the women take him to the door, send them off and carry on by himself while Gregor’s mother would throw down her needle and his sister her pen so that they could run after his father and continue being of help to him.

Who, in this tired and overworked family, would have had time to give more attention to Gregor than was absolutely necessary? The household budget became even smaller; so now the maid was dismissed; an enormous, thick-boned charwoman with white hair that flapped around her head came every morning and evening to do the heaviest work; everything else was looked after by Gregor’s mother on top of the large amount of sewing work she did. Gregor even learned, listening to the evening conversation about what price they had hoped for, that several items of jewellery belonging to the family had been sold, even though both mother and sister had been very fond of wearing them at functions and celebrations. But the loudest complaint was that although the flat was much too big for their present circumstances, they could not move out of it, there was no imaginable way of transferring Gregor to the new address. He could see quite well, though, that there were more reasons than consideration for him that made it difficult for them to move, it would have been quite easy to transport him in any suitable crate with a few air holes in it; the main thing holding the family back from their decision to move was much more to do with their total despair, and the thought that they had been struck with a misfortune unlike anything experienced by anyone else they knew or were related to. They carried out absolutely everything that the world expects from poor people, Gregor’s father brought bank employees their breakfast, his mother sacrificed herself by washing clothes for strangers, his sister ran back and forth behind her desk at the behest of the customers, but they just did not have the strength to do any more. And the injury in Gregor’s back began to hurt as much as when it was new. After they had come back from taking his father to bed Gregor’s mother and sister would now leave their work where it was and sit close together, cheek to cheek; his mother would point to Gregor’s room and say “Close that door, Grete”, and then, when he was in the dark again, they would sit in the next room and their tears would mingle, or they would simply sit there staring dry-eyed at the table.

Gregor hardly slept at all, either night or day. Sometimes he would think of taking over the family’s affairs, just like before, the next time the door was opened; he had long forgotten about his boss and the chief clerk, but they would appear again in his thoughts, the salesmen and the apprentices, that stupid teaboy, two or three friends from other businesses, one of the chambermaids from a provincial hotel, a tender memory that appeared and disappeared again, a cashier from a hat shop for whom his attention had been serious but too slow, – all of them appeared to him, mixed together with strangers and others he had forgotten, but instead of helping him and his family they were all of them inaccessible, and he was glad when they disappeared. Other times he was not at all in the mood to look after his family, he was filled with simple rage about the lack of attention he was shown, and although he could think of nothing he would have wanted, he made plans of how he could get into the pantry where he could take all the things he was entitled to, even if he was not hungry. Gregor’s sister no longer thought about how she could please him but would hurriedly push some food or other into his room with her foot before she rushed out to work in the morning and at midday, and in the evening she would sweep it away again with the broom, indifferent as to whether it had been eaten or – more often than not – had been left totally untouched. She still cleared up the room in the evening, but now she could not have been any quicker about it. Smears of dirt were left on the walls, here and there were little balls of dust and filth. At first, Gregor went into one of the worst of these places when his sister arrived as a reproach to her, but he could have stayed there for weeks without his sister doing anything about it; she could see the dirt as well as he could but she had simply decided to leave him to it. At the same time she became touchy in a way that was quite new for her and which everyone in the family understood – cleaning up Gregor’s room was for her and her alone. Gregor’s mother did once thoroughly clean his room, and needed to use several bucketfuls of water to do it – although that much dampness also made Gregor ill and he lay flat on the couch, bitter and immobile. But his mother was to be punished still more for what she had done, as hardly had his sister arrived home in the evening than she noticed the change in Gregor’s room and, highly aggrieved, ran back into the living room where, despite her mothers raised and imploring hands, she broke into convulsive tears. Her father, of course, was startled out of his chair and the two parents looked on astonished and helpless; then they, too, became agitated; Gregor’s father, standing to the right of his mother, accused her of not leaving the cleaning of Gregor’s room to his sister; from her left, Gregor’s sister screamed at her that she was never to clean Gregor’s room again; while his mother tried to draw his father, who was beside himself with anger, into the bedroom; his sister, quaking with tears, thumped on the table with her small fists; and Gregor hissed in anger that no-one had even thought of closing the door to save him the sight of this and all its noise.

Gregor’s sister was exhausted from going out to work, and looking after Gregor as she had done before was even more work for her, but even so his mother ought certainly not to have taken her place. Gregor, on the other hand, ought not to be neglected. Now, though, the charwoman was here. This elderly widow, with a robust bone structure that made her able to withstand the hardest of things in her long life, wasn’t really repelled by Gregor. Just by chance one day, rather than any real curiosity, she opened the door to Gregor’s room and found herself face to face with him. He was taken totally by surprise, no-one was chasing him but he began to rush to and fro while she just stood there in amazement with her hands crossed in front of her. From then on she never failed to open the door slightly every evening and morning and look briefly in on him. At first she would call to him as she did so with words that she probably considered friendly, such as “come on then, you old dung-beetle!”, or “look at the old dung-beetle there!” Gregor never responded to being spoken to in that way, but just remained where he was without moving as if the door had never even been opened. If only they had told this charwoman to clean up his room every day instead of letting her disturb him for no reason whenever she felt like it! One day, early in the morning while a heavy rain struck the windowpanes, perhaps indicating that spring was coming, she began to speak to him in that way once again. Gregor was so resentful of it that he started to move toward her, he was slow and infirm, but it was like a kind of attack. Instead of being afraid, the charwoman just lifted up one of the chairs from near the door and stood there with her mouth open, clearly intending not to close her mouth until the chair in her hand had been slammed down into Gregor’s back. “Aren’t you coming any closer, then?”, she asked when Gregor turned round again, and she calmly put the chair back in the corner.

Gregor had almost entirely stopped eating. Only if he happened to find himself next to the food that had been prepared for him he might take some of it into his mouth to play with it, leave it there a few hours and then, more often than not, spit it out again. At first he thought it was distress at the state of his room that stopped him eating, but he had soon got used to the changes made there. They had got into the habit of putting things into this room that they had no room for anywhere else, and there were now many such things as one of the rooms in the flat had been rented out to three gentlemen. These earnest gentlemen – all three of them had full beards, as Gregor learned peering through the crack in the door one day – were painfully insistent on things’ being tidy. This meant not only in their own room but, since they had taken a room in this establishment, in the entire flat and especially in the kitchen. Unnecessary clutter was something they could not tolerate, especially if it was dirty. They had moreover brought most of their own furnishings and equipment with them. For this reason, many things had become superfluous which, although they could not be sold, the family did not wish to discard. All these things found their way into Gregor’s room. The dustbins from the kitchen found their way in there too. The charwoman was always in a hurry, and anything she couldn’t use for the time being she would just chuck in there. He, fortunately, would usually see no more than the object and the hand that held it. The woman most likely meant to fetch the things back out again when she had time and the opportunity, or to throw everything out in one go, but what actually happened was that they were left where they landed when they had first been thrown unless Gregor made his way through the junk and moved it somewhere else. At first he moved it because, with no other room free where he could crawl about, he was forced to, but later on he came to enjoy it although moving about in that way left him sad and tired to death, and he would remain immobile for hours afterwards.

The gentlemen who rented the room would sometimes take their evening meal at home in the living room that was used by everyone, and so the door to this room was often kept closed in the evening. But Gregor found it easy to give up having the door open, he had, after all, often failed to make use of it when it was open and, without the family having noticed it, lain in his room in its darkest corner. One time, though, the charwoman left the door to the living room slightly open, and it remained open when the gentlemen who rented the room came in in the evening and the light was put on. They sat up at the table where, formerly, Gregor had taken his meals with his father and mother, they unfolded the serviettes and picked up their knives and forks. Gregor’s mother immediately appeared in the doorway with a dish of meat and soon behind her came his sister with a dish piled high with potatoes. The food was steaming, and filled the room with its smell. The gentlemen bent over the dishes set in front of them as if they wanted to test the food before eating it, and the gentleman in the middle, who seemed to count as an authority for the other two, did indeed cut off a piece of meat while it was still in its dish, clearly wishing to establish whether it was sufficiently cooked or whether it should be sent back to the kitchen. It was to his satisfaction, and Gregor’s mother and sister, who had been looking on anxiously, began to breathe again and smiled.

The family themselves ate in the kitchen. Nonetheless, Gregor’s father came into the living room before he went into the kitchen, bowed once with his cap in his hand and did his round of the table. The gentlemen stood as one, and mumbled something into their beards. Then, once they were alone, they ate in near perfect silence. It seemed remarkable to Gregor that above all the various noises of eating their chewing teeth could still be heard, as if they had wanted to show Gregor that you need teeth in order to eat and it was not possible to perform anything with jaws that are toothless however nice they might be. “I’d like to eat something”, said Gregor anxiously, “but not anything like they’re eating. They do feed themselves. And here I am, dying!”

Throughout all this time, Gregor could not remember having heard the violin being played, but this evening it began to be heard from the kitchen. The three gentlemen had already finished their meal, the one in the middle had produced a newspaper, given a page to each of the others, and now they leant back in their chairs reading them and smoking. When the violin began playing they became attentive, stood up and went on tip-toe over to the door of the hallway where they stood pressed against each other. Someone must have heard them in the kitchen, as Gregor’s father called out: “Is the playing perhaps unpleasant for the gentlemen? We can stop it straight away.” “On the contrary”, said the middle gentleman, “would the young lady not like to come in and play for us here in the room, where it is, after all, much more cosy and comfortable?” “Oh yes, we’d love to”, called back Gregor’s father as if he had been the violin player himself. The gentlemen stepped back into the room and waited. Gregor’s father soon appeared with the music stand, his mother with the music and his sister with the violin. She calmly prepared everything for her to begin playing; his parents, who had never rented a room out before and therefore showed an exaggerated courtesy towards the three gentlemen, did not even dare to sit on their own chairs; his father leant against the door with his right hand pushed in between two buttons on his uniform coat; his mother, though, was offered a seat by one of the gentlemen and sat – leaving the chair where the gentleman happened to have placed it – out of the way in a corner.

His sister began to play; father and mother paid close attention, one on each side, to the movements of her hands. Drawn in by the playing, Gregor had dared to come forward a little and already had his head in the living room. Before, he had taken great pride in how considerate he was but now it hardly occurred to him that he had become so thoughtless about the others. What’s more, there was now all the more reason to keep himself hidden as he was covered in the dust that lay everywhere in his room and flew up at the slightest movement; he carried threads, hairs, and remains of food about on his back and sides; he was much too indifferent to everything now to lay on his back and wipe himself on the carpet like he had used to do several times a day. And despite this condition, he was not too shy to move forward a little onto the immaculate floor of the living room.

No-one noticed him, though. The family was totally preoccupied with the violin playing; at first, the three gentlemen had put their hands in their pockets and come up far too close behind the music stand to look at all the notes being played, and they must have disturbed Gregor’s sister, but soon, in contrast with the family, they withdrew back to the window with their heads sunk and talking to each other at half volume, and they stayed by the window while Gregor’s father observed them anxiously. It really now seemed very obvious that they had expected to hear some beautiful or entertaining violin playing but had been disappointed, that they had had enough of the whole performance and it was only now out of politeness that they allowed their peace to be disturbed. It was especially unnerving, the way they all blew the smoke from their cigarettes upwards from their mouth and noses. Yet Gregor’s sister was playing so beautifully. Her face was leant to one side, following the lines of music with a careful and melancholy expression. Gregor crawled a little further forward, keeping his head close to the ground so that he could meet her eyes if the chance came. Was he an animal if music could captivate him so? It seemed to him that he was being shown the way to the unknown nourishment he had been yearning for. He was determined to make his way forward to his sister and tug at her skirt to show her she might come into his room with her violin, as no-one appreciated her playing here as much as he would. He never wanted to let her out of his room, not while he lived, anyway; his shocking appearance should, for once, be of some use to him; he wanted to be at every door of his room at once to hiss and spit at the attackers; his sister should not be forced to stay with him, though, but stay of her own free will; she would sit beside him on the couch with her ear bent down to him while he told her how he had always intended to send her to the conservatory, how he would have told everyone about it last Christmas – had Christmas really come and gone already? – if this misfortune hadn’t got in the way, and refuse to let anyone dissuade him from it. On hearing all this, his sister would break out in tears of emotion, and Gregor would climb up to her shoulder and kiss her neck, which, since she had been going out to work, she had kept free without any necklace or collar.

“Mr. Samsa!”, shouted the middle gentleman to Gregor’s father, pointing, without wasting any more words, with his forefinger at Gregor as he slowly moved forward. The violin went silent, the middle of the three gentlemen first smiled at his two friends, shaking his head, and then looked back at Gregor. His father seemed to think it more important to calm the three gentlemen before driving Gregor out, even though they were not at all upset and seemed to think Gregor was more entertaining than the violin playing had been. He rushed up to them with his arms spread out and attempted to drive them back into their room at the same time as trying to block their view of Gregor with his body. Now they did become a little annoyed, and it was not clear whether it was his father’s behaviour that annoyed them or the dawning realisation that they had had a neighbour like Gregor in the next room without knowing it. They asked Gregor’s father for explanations, raised their arms like he had, tugged excitedly at their beards and moved back towards their room only very slowly. Meanwhile Gregor’s sister had overcome the despair she had fallen into when her playing was suddenly interrupted. She had let her hands drop and let violin and bow hang limply for a while but continued to look at the music as if still playing, but then she suddenly pulled herself together, lay the instrument on her mother’s lap who still sat laboriously struggling for breath where she was, and ran into the next room which, under pressure from her father, the three gentlemen were more quickly moving toward. Under his sister’s experienced hand, the pillows and covers on the beds flew up and were put into order and she had already finished making the beds and slipped out again before the three gentlemen had reached the room. Gregor’s father seemed so obsessed with what he was doing that he forgot all the respect he owed to his tenants. He urged them and pressed them until, when he was already at the door of the room, the middle of the three gentlemen shouted like thunder and stamped his foot and thereby brought Gregor’s father to a halt. “I declare here and now”, he said, raising his hand and glancing at Gregor’s mother and sister to gain their attention too, “that with regard to the repugnant conditions that prevail in this flat and with this family” – here he looked briefly but decisively at the floor – “I give immediate notice on my room. For the days that I have been living here I will, of course, pay nothing at all, on the contrary I will consider whether to proceed with some kind of action for damages from you, and believe me it would be very easy to set out the grounds for such an action.” He was silent and looked straight ahead as if waiting for something. And indeed, his two friends joined in with the words: “And we also give immediate notice.” With that, he took hold of the door handle and slammed the door.

Gregor’s father staggered back to his seat, feeling his way with his hands, and fell into it; it looked as if he was stretching himself out for his usual evening nap but from the uncontrolled way his head kept nodding it could be seen that he was not sleeping at all. Throughout all this, Gregor had lain still where the three gentlemen had first seen him. His disappointment at the failure of his plan, and perhaps also because he was weak from hunger, made it impossible for him to move. He was sure that everyone would turn on him any moment, and he waited. He was not even startled out of this state when the violin on his mother’s lap fell from her trembling fingers and landed loudly on the floor.

“Father, Mother”, said his sister, hitting the table with her hand as introduction, “we can’t carry on like this. Maybe you can’t see it, but I can. I don’t want to call this monster my brother, all I can say is: we have to try and get rid of it. We’ve done all that’s humanly possible to look after it and be patient, I don’t think anyone could accuse us of doing anything wrong.”

“She’s absolutely right”, said Gregor’s father to himself. His mother, who still had not had time to catch her breath, began to cough dully, her hand held out in front of her and a deranged expression in her eyes.

Gregor’s sister rushed to his mother and put her hand on her forehead. Her words seemed to give Gregor’s father some more definite ideas. He sat upright, played with his uniform cap between the plates left by the three gentlemen after their meal, and occasionally looked down at Gregor as he lay there immobile.

“We have to try and get rid of it”, said Gregor’s sister, now speaking only to her father, as her mother was too occupied with coughing to listen, “it’ll be the death of both of you, I can see it coming. We can’t all work as hard as we have to and then come home to be tortured like this, we can’t endure it. I can’t endure it any more.” And she broke out so heavily in tears that they flowed down the face of her mother, and she wiped them away with mechanical hand movements.

“My child”, said her father with sympathy and obvious understanding, “what are we to do?”

His sister just shrugged her shoulders as a sign of the helplessness and tears that had taken hold of her, displacing her earlier certainty.

“If he could just understand us”, said his father almost as a question; his sister shook her hand vigorously through her tears as a sign that of that there was no question.

“If he could just understand us”, repeated Gregor’s father, closing his eyes in acceptance of his sister’s certainty that that was quite impossible, “then perhaps we could come to some kind of arrangement with him. But as it is …”

“It’s got to go”, shouted his sister, “that’s the only way, Father. You’ve got to get rid of the idea that that’s Gregor. We’ve only harmed ourselves by believing it for so long. How can that be Gregor? If it were Gregor he would have seen long ago that it’s not possible for human beings to live with an animal like that and he would have gone of his own free will. We wouldn’t have a brother any more, then, but we could carry on with our lives and remember him with respect. As it is this animal is persecuting us, it’s driven out our tenants, it obviously wants to take over the whole flat and force us to sleep on the streets. Father, look, just look”, she suddenly screamed, “he’s starting again!” In her alarm, which was totally beyond Gregor’s comprehension, his sister even abandoned his mother as she pushed herself vigorously out of her chair as if more willing to sacrifice her own mother than stay anywhere near Gregor. She rushed over to behind her father, who had become excited merely because she was and stood up half raising his hands in front of Gregor’s sister as if to protect her.

But Gregor had had no intention of frightening anyone, least of all his sister. All he had done was begin to turn round so that he could go back into his room, although that was in itself quite startling as his pain-wracked condition meant that turning round required a great deal of effort and he was using his head to help himself do it, repeatedly raising it and striking it against the floor. He stopped and looked round. They seemed to have realised his good intention and had only been alarmed briefly. Now they all looked at him in unhappy silence. His mother lay in her chair with her legs stretched out and pressed against each other, her eyes nearly closed with exhaustion; his sister sat next to his father with her arms around his neck.

“Maybe now they’ll let me turn round”, thought Gregor and went back to work. He could not help panting loudly with the effort and had sometimes to stop and take a rest. No-one was making him rush any more, everything was left up to him. As soon as he had finally finished turning round he began to move straight ahead. He was amazed at the great distance that separated him from his room, and could not understand how he had covered that distance in his weak state a little while before and almost without noticing it. He concentrated on crawling as fast as he could and hardly noticed that there was not a word, not any cry, from his family to distract him. He did not turn his head until he had reached the doorway. He did not turn it all the way round as he felt his neck becoming stiff, but it was nonetheless enough to see that nothing behind him had changed, only his sister had stood up. With his last glance he saw that his mother had now fallen completely asleep.

He was hardly inside his room before the door was hurriedly shut, bolted and locked. The sudden noise behind Gregor so startled him that his little legs collapsed under him. It was his sister who had been in so much of a rush. She had been standing there waiting and sprung forward lightly, Gregor had not heard her coming at all, and as she turned the key in the lock she said loudly to her parents “At last!”.

“What now, then?”, Gregor asked himself as he looked round in the darkness. He soon made the discovery that he could no longer move at all. This was no surprise to him, it seemed rather that being able to actually move around on those spindly little legs until then was unnatural. He also felt relatively comfortable. It is true that his entire body was aching, but the pain seemed to be slowly getting weaker and weaker and would finally disappear altogether. He could already hardly feel the decayed apple in his back or the inflamed area around it, which was entirely covered in white dust. He thought back of his family with emotion and love. If it was possible, he felt that he must go away even more strongly than his sister. He remained in this state of empty and peaceful rumination until he heard the clock tower strike three in the morning. He watched as it slowly began to get light everywhere outside the window too. Then, without his willing it, his head sank down completely, and his last breath flowed weakly from his nostrils.

When the cleaner came in early in the morning – they’d often asked her not to keep slamming the doors but with her strength and in her hurry she still did, so that everyone in the flat knew when she’d arrived and from then on it was impossible to sleep in peace – she made her usual brief look in on Gregor and at first found nothing special. She thought he was laying there so still on purpose, playing the martyr; she attributed all possible understanding to him. She happened to be holding the long broom in her hand, so she tried to tickle Gregor with it from the doorway. When she had no success with that she tried to make a nuisance of herself and poked at him a little, and only when she found she could shove him across the floor with no resistance at all did she start to pay attention. She soon realised what had really happened, opened her eyes wide, whistled to herself, but did not waste time to yank open the bedroom doors and shout loudly into the darkness of the bedrooms: “Come and ‘ave a look at this, it’s dead, just lying there, stone dead!”

Mr. and Mrs. Samsa sat upright there in their marriage bed and had to make an effort to get over the shock caused by the cleaner before they could grasp what she was saying. But then, each from his own side, they hurried out of bed. Mr. Samsa threw the blanket over his shoulders, Mrs. Samsa just came out in her nightdress; and that is how they went into Gregor’s room. On the way they opened the door to the living room where Grete had been sleeping since the three gentlemen had moved in; she was fully dressed as if she had never been asleep, and the paleness of her face seemed to confirm this. “Dead?”, asked Mrs. Samsa, looking at the charwoman enquiringly, even though she could have checked for herself and could have known it even without checking. “That’s what I said”, replied the cleaner, and to prove it she gave Gregor’s body another shove with the broom, sending it sideways across the floor. Mrs. Samsa made a movement as if she wanted to hold back the broom, but did not complete it. “Now then”, said Mr. Samsa, “let’s give thanks to God for that”. He crossed himself, and the three women followed his example. Grete, who had not taken her eyes from the corpse, said: “Just look how thin he was. He didn’t eat anything for so long. The food came out again just the same as when it went in”. Gregor’s body was indeed completely dried up and flat, they had not seen it until then, but now he was not lifted up on his little legs, nor did he do anything to make them look away.

“Grete, come with us in here for a little while”, said Mrs. Samsa with a pained smile, and Grete followed her parents into the bedroom but not without looking back at the body. The cleaner shut the door and opened the window wide. Although it was still early in the morning the fresh air had something of warmth mixed in with it. It was already the end of March, after all.

The three gentlemen stepped out of their room and looked round in amazement for their breakfasts; they had been forgotten about. “Where is our breakfast?”, the middle gentleman asked the cleaner irritably. She just put her finger on her lips and made a quick and silent sign to the men that they might like to come into Gregor’s room. They did so, and stood around Gregor’s corpse with their hands in the pockets of their well-worn coats. It was now quite light in the room.

Then the door of the bedroom opened and Mr. Samsa appeared in his uniform with his wife on one arm and his daughter on the other. All of them had been crying a little; Grete now and then pressed her face against her father’s arm.

“Leave my home. Now!”, said Mr. Samsa, indicating the door and without letting the women from him. “What do you mean?”, asked the middle of the three gentlemen somewhat disconcerted, and he smiled sweetly. The other two held their hands behind their backs and continually rubbed them together in gleeful anticipation of a loud quarrel which could only end in their favour. “I mean just what I said”, answered Mr. Samsa, and, with his two companions, went in a straight line towards the man. At first, he stood there still, looking at the ground as if the contents of his head were rearranging themselves into new positions. “Alright, we’ll go then”, he said, and looked up at Mr. Samsa as if he had been suddenly overcome with humility and wanted permission again from Mr. Samsa for his decision. Mr. Samsa merely opened his eyes wide and briefly nodded to him several times. At that, and without delay, the man actually did take long strides into the front hallway; his two friends had stopped rubbing their hands some time before and had been listening to what was being said. Now they jumped off after their friend as if taken with a sudden fear that Mr. Samsa might go into the hallway in front of them and break the connection with their leader. Once there, all three took their hats from the stand, took their sticks from the holder, bowed without a word and left the premises. Mr. Samsa and the two women followed them out onto the landing; but they had had no reason to mistrust the men’s intentions and as they leaned over the landing they saw how the three gentlemen made slow but steady progress down the many steps. As they turned the corner on each floor they disappeared and would reappear a few moments later; the further down they went, the more that the Samsa family lost interest in them; when a butcher’s boy, proud of posture with his tray on his head, passed them on his way up and came nearer than they were, Mr. Samsa and the women came away from the landing and went, as if relieved, back into the flat.

They decided the best way to make use of that day was for relaxation and to go for a walk; not only had they earned a break from work but they were in serious need of it. So they sat at the table and wrote three letters of excusal, Mr. Samsa to his employers, Mrs. Samsa to her contractor and Grete to her principal. The cleaner came in while they were writing to tell them she was going, she’d finished her work for that morning. The three of them at first just nodded without looking up from what they were writing, and it was only when the cleaner still did not seem to want to leave that they looked up in irritation. “Well?”, asked Mr. Samsa. The charwoman stood in the doorway with a smile on her face as if she had some tremendous good news to report, but would only do it if she was clearly asked to. The almost vertical little ostrich feather on her hat, which had been a source of irritation to Mr. Samsa all the time she had been working for them, swayed gently in all directions. “What is it you want then?”, asked Mrs. Samsa, whom the cleaner had the most respect for. “Yes”, she answered, and broke into a friendly laugh that made her unable to speak straight away, “well then, that thing in there, you needn’t worry about how you’re going to get rid of it. That’s all been sorted out.” Mrs. Samsa and Grete bent down over their letters as if intent on continuing with what they were writing; Mr. Samsa saw that the cleaner wanted to start describing everything in detail but, with outstretched hand, he made it quite clear that she was not to. So, as she was prevented from telling them all about it, she suddenly remembered what a hurry she was in and, clearly peeved, called out “Cheerio then, everyone”, turned round sharply and left, slamming the door terribly as she went.

“Tonight she gets sacked”, said Mr. Samsa, but he received no reply from either his wife or his daughter as the charwoman seemed to have destroyed the peace they had only just gained. They got up and went over to the window where they remained with their arms around each other. Mr. Samsa twisted round in his chair to look at them and sat there watching for a while. Then he called out: “Come here, then. Let’s forget about all that old stuff, shall we. Come and give me a bit of attention”. The two women immediately did as he said, hurrying over to him where they kissed him and hugged him and then they quickly finished their letters.

After that, the three of them left the flat together, which was something they had not done for months, and took the tram out to the open country outside the town. They had the tram, filled with warm sunshine, all to themselves. Leant back comfortably on their seats, they discussed their prospects and found that on closer examination they were not at all bad – until then they had never asked each other about their work but all three had jobs which were very good and held particularly good promise for the future. The greatest improvement for the time being, of course, would be achieved quite easily by moving house; what they needed now was a flat that was smaller and cheaper than the current one which had been chosen by Gregor, one that was in a better location and, most of all, more practical. All the time, Grete was becoming livelier. With all the worry they had been having of late her cheeks had become pale, but, while they were talking, Mr. and Mrs. Samsa were struck, almost simultaneously, with the thought of how their daughter was blossoming into a well built and beautiful young lady. They became quieter. Just from each other’s glance and almost without knowing it they agreed that it would soon be time to find a good man for her. And, as if in confirmation of their new dreams and good intentions, as soon as they reached their destination Grete was the first to get up and stretch out her young body.


Published with permission from Project Gutenberg.

The Yellow Wallpaper by Charlotte Perkins Gilman

“The Yellow Wallpaper” by Charlotte Perkins Gilman published with permission by Project Gutenberg.

It is very seldom that mere ordinary people like John and myself secure ancestral halls for the summer.

A colonial mansion, a hereditary estate, I would say a haunted house, and reach the height of romantic felicity—but that would be asking too much of fate!

Still I will proudly declare that there is something queer about it.

Else, why should it be let so cheaply? And why have stood so long untenanted?

John laughs at me, of course, but one expects that in marriage.

John is practical in the extreme. He has no patience with faith, an intense horror of superstition, and he scoffs openly at any talk of things not to be felt and seen and put down in figures.

John is a physician, and PERHAPS—(I would not say it to a living soul, of course, but this is dead paper and a great relief to my mind)—PERHAPS that is one reason I do not get well faster.

You see he does not believe I am sick!

And what can one do?

If a physician of high standing, and one’s own husband, assures friends and relatives that there is really nothing the matter with one but temporary nervous depression—a slight hysterical tendency—what is one to do?

My brother is also a physician, and also of high standing, and he says the same thing.

So I take phosphates or phosphites—whichever it is, and tonics, and journeys, and air, and exercise, and am absolutely forbidden to “work” until I am well again.

Personally, I disagree with their ideas.

Personally, I believe that congenial work, with excitement and change, would do me good.

But what is one to do?

I did write for a while in spite of them; but it DOES exhaust me a good deal—having to be so sly about it, or else meet with heavy opposition.

I sometimes fancy that in my condition if I had less opposition and more society and stimulus—but John says the very worst thing I can do is to think about my condition, and I confess it always makes me feel bad.

So I will let it alone and talk about the house.

The most beautiful place! It is quite alone, standing well back from the road, quite three miles from the village. It makes me think of English places that you read about, for there are hedges and walls and gates that lock, and lots of separate little houses for the gardeners and people.

There is a DELICIOUS garden! I never saw such a garden—large and shady, full of box-bordered paths, and lined with long grape-covered arbors with seats under them.

There were greenhouses, too, but they are all broken now.

There was some legal trouble, I believe, something about the heirs and coheirs; anyhow, the place has been empty for years.

That spoils my ghostliness, I am afraid, but I don’t care—there is something strange about the house—I can feel it.

I even said so to John one moonlight evening, but he said what I felt was a DRAUGHT, and shut the window.

I get unreasonably angry with John sometimes. I’m sure I never used to be so sensitive. I think it is due to this nervous condition.

But John says if I feel so, I shall neglect proper self-control; so I take pains to control myself—before him, at least, and that makes me very tired.

I don’t like our room a bit. I wanted one downstairs that opened on the piazza and had roses all over the window, and such pretty old-fashioned chintz hangings! but John would not hear of it.

He said there was only one window and not room for two beds, and no near room for him if he took another.

He is very careful and loving, and hardly lets me stir without special direction.

I have a schedule prescription for each hour in the day; he takes all care from me, and so I feel basely ungrateful not to value it more.

He said we came here solely on my account, that I was to have perfect rest and all the air I could get. “Your exercise depends on your strength, my dear,” said he, “and your food somewhat on your appetite; but air you can absorb all the time.” So we took the nursery at the top of the house.

It is a big, airy room, the whole floor nearly, with windows that look all ways, and air and sunshine galore. It was nursery first and then playroom and gymnasium, I should judge; for the windows are barred for little children, and there are rings and things in the walls.

The paint and paper look as if a boys’ school had used it. It is stripped off—the paper—in great patches all around the head of my bed, about as far as I can reach, and in a great place on the other side of the room low down. I never saw a worse paper in my life.

One of those sprawling flamboyant patterns committing every artistic sin.

It is dull enough to confuse the eye in following, pronounced enough to constantly irritate and provoke study, and when you follow the lame uncertain curves for a little distance they suddenly commit suicide—plunge off at outrageous angles, destroy themselves in unheard of contradictions.

The color is repellent, almost revolting; a smouldering unclean yellow, strangely faded by the slow-turning sunlight.

It is a dull yet lurid orange in some places, a sickly sulphur tint in others.

No wonder the children hated it! I should hate it myself if I had to live in this room long.

There comes John, and I must put this away,—he hates to have me write a word.

We have been here two weeks, and I haven’t felt like writing before, since that first day.

I am sitting by the window now, up in this atrocious nursery, and there is nothing to hinder my writing as much as I please, save lack of strength.

John is away all day, and even some nights when his cases are serious.

I am glad my case is not serious!

But these nervous troubles are dreadfully depressing.

John does not know how much I really suffer. He knows there is no REASON to suffer, and that satisfies him.

Of course it is only nervousness. It does weigh on me so not to do my duty in any way!

I meant to be such a help to John, such a real rest and comfort, and here I am a comparative burden already!

Nobody would believe what an effort it is to do what little I am able,—to dress and entertain, and order things.

It is fortunate Mary is so good with the baby. Such a dear baby!

And yet I CANNOT be with him, it makes me so nervous.

I suppose John never was nervous in his life. He laughs at me so about this wall-paper!

At first he meant to repaper the room, but afterwards he said that I was letting it get the better of me, and that nothing was worse for a nervous patient than to give way to such fancies.

He said that after the wall-paper was changed it would be the heavy bedstead, and then the barred windows, and then that gate at the head of the stairs, and so on.

“You know the place is doing you good,” he said, “and really, dear, I don’t care to renovate the house just for a three months’ rental.”

“Then do let us go downstairs,” I said, “there are such pretty rooms there.”

Then he took me in his arms and called me a blessed little goose, and said he would go down to the cellar, if I wished, and have it whitewashed into the bargain.

But he is right enough about the beds and windows and things.

It is an airy and comfortable room as any one need wish, and, of course, I would not be so silly as to make him uncomfortable just for a whim.

I’m really getting quite fond of the big room, all but that horrid paper.

Out of one window I can see the garden, those mysterious deepshaded arbors, the riotous old-fashioned flowers, and bushes and gnarly trees.

Out of another I get a lovely view of the bay and a little private wharf belonging to the estate. There is a beautiful shaded lane that runs down there from the house. I always fancy I see people walking in these numerous paths and arbors, but John has cautioned me not to give way to fancy in the least. He says that with my imaginative power and habit of story-making, a nervous weakness like mine is sure to lead to all manner of excited fancies, and that I ought to use my will and good sense to check the tendency. So I try.

I think sometimes that if I were only well enough to write a little it would relieve the press of ideas and rest me.

But I find I get pretty tired when I try.

It is so discouraging not to have any advice and companionship about my work. When I get really well, John says we will ask Cousin Henry and Julia down for a long visit; but he says he would as soon put fireworks in my pillow-case as to let me have those stimulating people about now.

I wish I could get well faster.

But I must not think about that. This paper looks to me as if it KNEW what a vicious influence it had!

There is a recurrent spot where the pattern lolls like a broken neck and two bulbous eyes stare at you upside down.

I get positively angry with the impertinence of it and the everlastingness. Up and down and sideways they crawl, and those absurd, unblinking eyes are everywhere. There is one place where two breadths didn’t match, and the eyes go all up and down the line, one a little higher than the other.

I never saw so much expression in an inanimate thing before, and we all know how much expression they have! I used to lie awake as a child and get more entertainment and terror out of blank walls and plain furniture than most children could find in a toy store.

I remember what a kindly wink the knobs of our big, old bureau used to have, and there was one chair that always seemed like a strong friend.

I used to feel that if any of the other things looked too fierce I could always hop into that chair and be safe.

The furniture in this room is no worse than inharmonious, however, for we had to bring it all from downstairs. I suppose when this was used as a playroom they had to take the nursery things out, and no wonder! I never saw such ravages as the children have made here.

The wall-paper, as I said before, is torn off in spots, and it sticketh closer than a brother—they must have had perseverance as well as hatred.

Then the floor is scratched and gouged and splintered, the plaster itself is dug out here and there, and this great heavy bed which is all we found in the room, looks as if it had been through the wars.

But I don’t mind it a bit—only the paper.

There comes John’s sister. Such a dear girl as she is, and so careful of me! I must not let her find me writing.

She is a perfect and enthusiastic housekeeper, and hopes for no better profession. I verily believe she thinks it is the writing which made me sick!

But I can write when she is out, and see her a long way off from these windows.

There is one that commands the road, a lovely shaded winding road, and one that just looks off over the country. A lovely country, too, full of great elms and velvet meadows.

This wall-paper has a kind of sub-pattern in a different shade, a particularly irritating one, for you can only see it in certain lights, and not clearly then.

But in the places where it isn’t faded and where the sun is just so—I can see a strange, provoking, formless sort of figure, that seems to skulk about behind that silly and conspicuous front design.

There’s sister on the stairs!

Well, the Fourth of July is over! The people are gone and I am tired out. John thought it might do me good to see a little company, so we just had mother and Nellie and the children down for a week.

Of course I didn’t do a thing. Jennie sees to everything now.

But it tired me all the same.

John says if I don’t pick up faster he shall send me to Weir Mitchell in the fall.

But I don’t want to go there at all. I had a friend who was in his hands once, and she says he is just like John and my brother, only more so!

Besides, it is such an undertaking to go so far.

I don’t feel as if it was worth while to turn my hand over for anything, and I’m getting dreadfully fretful and querulous.

I cry at nothing, and cry most of the time.

Of course I don’t when John is here, or anybody else, but when I am alone.

And I am alone a good deal just now. John is kept in town very often by serious cases, and Jennie is good and lets me alone when I want her to.

So I walk a little in the garden or down that lovely lane, sit on the porch under the roses, and lie down up here a good deal.

I’m getting really fond of the room in spite of the wall-paper. Perhaps BECAUSE of the wall-paper.

It dwells in my mind so!

I lie here on this great immovable bed—it is nailed down, I believe—and follow that pattern about by the hour. It is as good as gymnastics, I assure you. I start, we’ll say, at the bottom, down in the corner over there where it has not been touched, and I determine for the thousandth time that I WILL follow that pointless pattern to some sort of a conclusion.

I know a little of the principle of design, and I know this thing was not arranged on any laws of radiation, or alternation, or repetition, or symmetry, or anything else that I ever heard of.

It is repeated, of course, by the breadths, but not otherwise.

Looked at in one way each breadth stands alone, the bloated curves and flourishes—a kind of “debased Romanesque” with delirium tremens—go waddling up and down in isolated columns of fatuity.

But, on the other hand, they connect diagonally, and the sprawling outlines run off in great slanting waves of optic horror, like a lot of wallowing seaweeds in full chase.

The whole thing goes horizontally, too, at least it seems so, and I exhaust myself in trying to distinguish the order of its going in that direction.

They have used a horizontal breadth for a frieze, and that adds wonderfully to the confusion.

There is one end of the room where it is almost intact, and there, when the crosslights fade and the low sun shines directly upon it, I can almost fancy radiation after all,—the interminable grotesques seem to form around a common centre and rush off in headlong plunges of equal distraction.

It makes me tired to follow it. I will take a nap I guess.

I don’t know why I should write this.

I don’t want to.

I don’t feel able.

And I know John would think it absurd. But I MUST say what I feel and think in some way—it is such a relief!

But the effort is getting to be greater than the relief.

Half the time now I am awfully lazy, and lie down ever so much.

John says I musn’t lose my strength, and has me take cod liver oil and lots of tonics and things, to say nothing of ale and wine and rare meat.

Dear John! He loves me very dearly, and hates to have me sick. I tried to have a real earnest reasonable talk with him the other day, and tell him how I wish he would let me go and make a visit to Cousin Henry and Julia.

But he said I wasn’t able to go, nor able to stand it after I got there; and I did not make out a very good case for myself, for I was crying before I had finished.

It is getting to be a great effort for me to think straight. Just this nervous weakness I suppose.

And dear John gathered me up in his arms, and just carried me upstairs and laid me on the bed, and sat by me and read to me till it tired my head.

He said I was his darling and his comfort and all he had, and that I must take care of myself for his sake, and keep well.

He says no one but myself can help me out of it, that I must use my will and self-control and not let any silly fancies run away with me.

There’s one comfort, the baby is well and happy, and does not have to occupy this nursery with the horrid wall-paper.

If we had not used it, that blessed child would have! What a fortunate escape! Why, I wouldn’t have a child of mine, an impressionable little thing, live in such a room for worlds.

I never thought of it before, but it is lucky that John kept me here after all, I can stand it so much easier than a baby, you see.

Of course I never mention it to them any more—I am too wise,—but I keep watch of it all the same.

There are things in that paper that nobody knows but me, or ever will.

Behind that outside pattern the dim shapes get clearer every day.

It is always the same shape, only very numerous.

And it is like a woman stooping down and creeping about behind that pattern. I don’t like it a bit. I wonder—I begin to think—I wish John would take me away from here!

It is so hard to talk with John about my case, because he is so wise, and because he loves me so.

But I tried it last night.

It was moonlight. The moon shines in all around just as the sun does.

I hate to see it sometimes, it creeps so slowly, and always comes in by one window or another.

John was asleep and I hated to waken him, so I kept still and watched the moonlight on that undulating wall-paper till I felt creepy.

The faint figure behind seemed to shake the pattern, just as if she wanted to get out.

I got up softly and went to feel and see if the paper DID move, and when I came back John was awake.

“What is it, little girl?” he said. “Don’t go walking about like that—you’ll get cold.”

I though it was a good time to talk, so I told him that I really was not gaining here, and that I wished he would take me away.

“Why darling!” said he, “our lease will be up in three weeks, and I can’t see how to leave before.

“The repairs are not done at home, and I cannot possibly leave town just now. Of course if you were in any danger, I could and would, but you really are better, dear, whether you can see it or not. I am a doctor, dear, and I know. You are gaining flesh and color, your appetite is better, I feel really much easier about you.”

“I don’t weigh a bit more,” said I, “nor as much; and my appetite may be better in the evening when you are here, but it is worse in the morning when you are away!”

“Bless her little heart!” said he with a big hug, “she shall be as sick as she pleases! But now let’s improve the shining hours by going to sleep, and talk about it in the morning!”

“And you won’t go away?” I asked gloomily.

“Why, how can I, dear? It is only three weeks more and then we will take a nice little trip of a few days while Jennie is getting the house ready. Really dear you are better!”

“Better in body perhaps—” I began, and stopped short, for he sat up straight and looked at me with such a stern, reproachful look that I could not say another word.

“My darling,” said he, “I beg of you, for my sake and for our child’s sake, as well as for your own, that you will never for one instant let that idea enter your mind! There is nothing so dangerous, so fascinating, to a temperament like yours. It is a false and foolish fancy. Can you not trust me as a physician when I tell you so?”

So of course I said no more on that score, and we went to sleep before long. He thought I was asleep first, but I wasn’t, and lay there for hours trying to decide whether that front pattern and the back pattern really did move together or separately.

On a pattern like this, by daylight, there is a lack of sequence, a defiance of law, that is a constant irritant to a normal mind.

The color is hideous enough, and unreliable enough, and infuriating enough, but the pattern is torturing.

You think you have mastered it, but just as you get well underway in following, it turns a back-somersault and there you are. It slaps you in the face, knocks you down, and tramples upon you. It is like a bad dream.

The outside pattern is a florid arabesque, reminding one of a fungus. If you can imagine a toadstool in joints, an interminable string of toadstools, budding and sprouting in endless convolutions—why, that is something like it.

That is, sometimes!

There is one marked peculiarity about this paper, a thing nobody seems to notice but myself, and that is that it changes as the light changes.

When the sun shoots in through the east window—I always watch for that first long, straight ray—it changes so quickly that I never can quite believe it.

That is why I watch it always.

By moonlight—the moon shines in all night when there is a moon—I wouldn’t know it was the same paper.

At night in any kind of light, in twilight, candle light, lamplight, and worst of all by moonlight, it becomes bars! The outside pattern I mean, and the woman behind it is as plain as can be.

I didn’t realize for a long time what the thing was that showed behind, that dim sub-pattern, but now I am quite sure it is a woman.

By daylight she is subdued, quiet. I fancy it is the pattern that keeps her so still. It is so puzzling. It keeps me quiet by the hour.

I lie down ever so much now. John says it is good for me, and to sleep all I can.

Indeed he started the habit by making me lie down for an hour after each meal.

It is a very bad habit I am convinced, for you see I don’t sleep.

And that cultivates deceit, for I don’t tell them I’m awake—O no!

The fact is I am getting a little afraid of John.

He seems very queer sometimes, and even Jennie has an inexplicable look.

It strikes me occasionally, just as a scientific hypothesis,—that perhaps it is the paper!

I have watched John when he did not know I was looking, and come into the room suddenly on the most innocent excuses, and I’ve caught him several times LOOKING AT THE PAPER! And Jennie too. I caught Jennie with her hand on it once.

She didn’t know I was in the room, and when I asked her in a quiet, a very quiet voice, with the most restrained manner possible, what she was doing with the paper—she turned around as if she had been caught stealing, and looked quite angry—asked me why I should frighten her so!

Then she said that the paper stained everything it touched, that she had found yellow smooches on all my clothes and John’s, and she wished we would be more careful!

Did not that sound innocent? But I know she was studying that pattern, and I am determined that nobody shall find it out but myself!

Life is very much more exciting now than it used to be. You see I have something more to expect, to look forward to, to watch. I really do eat better, and am more quiet than I was.

John is so pleased to see me improve! He laughed a little the other day, and said I seemed to be flourishing in spite of my wall-paper.

I turned it off with a laugh. I had no intention of telling him it was BECAUSE of the wall-paper—he would make fun of me. He might even want to take me away.

I don’t want to leave now until I have found it out. There is a week more, and I think that will be enough.

I’m feeling ever so much better! I don’t sleep much at night, for it is so interesting to watch developments; but I sleep a good deal in the daytime.

In the daytime it is tiresome and perplexing.

There are always new shoots on the fungus, and new shades of yellow all over it. I cannot keep count of them, though I have tried conscientiously.

It is the strangest yellow, that wall-paper! It makes me think of all the yellow things I ever saw—not beautiful ones like buttercups, but old foul, bad yellow things.

But there is something else about that paper—the smell! I noticed it the moment we came into the room, but with so much air and sun it was not bad. Now we have had a week of fog and rain, and whether the windows are open or not, the smell is here.

It creeps all over the house.

I find it hovering in the dining-room, skulking in the parlor, hiding in the hall, lying in wait for me on the stairs.

It gets into my hair.

Even when I go to ride, if I turn my head suddenly and surprise it—there is that smell!

Such a peculiar odor, too! I have spent hours in trying to analyze it, to find what it smelled like.

It is not bad—at first, and very gentle, but quite the subtlest, most enduring odor I ever met.

In this damp weather it is awful, I wake up in the night and find it hanging over me.

It used to disturb me at first. I thought seriously of burning the house—to reach the smell.

But now I am used to it. The only thing I can think of that it is like is the COLOR of the paper! A yellow smell.

There is a very funny mark on this wall, low down, near the mopboard. A streak that runs round the room. It goes behind every piece of furniture, except the bed, a long, straight, even SMOOCH, as if it had been rubbed over and over.

I wonder how it was done and who did it, and what they did it for. Round and round and round—round and round and round—it makes me dizzy!

I really have discovered something at last.

Through watching so much at night, when it changes so, I have finally found out.

The front pattern DOES move—and no wonder! The woman behind shakes it!

Sometimes I think there are a great many women behind, and sometimes only one, and she crawls around fast, and her crawling shakes it all over.

Then in the very bright spots she keeps still, and in the very shady spots she just takes hold of the bars and shakes them hard.

And she is all the time trying to climb through. But nobody could climb through that pattern—it strangles so; I think that is why it has so many heads.

They get through, and then the pattern strangles them off and turns them upside down, and makes their eyes white!

If those heads were covered or taken off it would not be half so bad.

I think that woman gets out in the daytime!

And I’ll tell you why—privately—I’ve seen her!

I can see her out of every one of my windows!

It is the same woman, I know, for she is always creeping, and most women do not creep by daylight.

I see her on that long road under the trees, creeping along, and when a carriage comes she hides under the blackberry vines.

I don’t blame her a bit. It must be very humiliating to be caught creeping by daylight!

I always lock the door when I creep by daylight. I can’t do it at night, for I know John would suspect something at once.

And John is so queer now, that I don’t want to irritate him. I wish he would take another room! Besides, I don’t want anybody to get that woman out at night but myself.

I often wonder if I could see her out of all the windows at once.

But, turn as fast as I can, I can only see out of one at one time.

And though I always see her, she MAY be able to creep faster than I can turn!

I have watched her sometimes away off in the open country, creeping as fast as a cloud shadow in a high wind.

If only that top pattern could be gotten off from the under one! I mean to try it, little by little.

I have found out another funny thing, but I shan’t tell it this time! It does not do to trust people too much.

There are only two more days to get this paper off, and I believe John is beginning to notice. I don’t like the look in his eyes.

And I heard him ask Jennie a lot of professional questions about me. She had a very good report to give.

She said I slept a good deal in the daytime.

John knows I don’t sleep very well at night, for all I’m so quiet!

He asked me all sorts of questions, too, and pretended to be very loving and kind.

As if I couldn’t see through him!

Still, I don’t wonder he acts so, sleeping under this paper for three months.

It only interests me, but I feel sure John and Jennie are secretly affected by it.

Hurrah! This is the last day, but it is enough. John is to stay in town over night, and won’t be out until this evening.

Jennie wanted to sleep with me—the sly thing! but I told her I should undoubtedly rest better for a night all alone.

That was clever, for really I wasn’t alone a bit! As soon as it was moonlight and that poor thing began to crawl and shake the pattern, I got up and ran to help her.

I pulled and she shook, I shook and she pulled, and before morning we had peeled off yards of that paper.

A strip about as high as my head and half around the room.

And then when the sun came and that awful pattern began to laugh at me, I declared I would finish it to-day!

We go away to-morrow, and they are moving all my furniture down again to leave things as they were before.

Jennie looked at the wall in amazement, but I told her merrily that I did it out of pure spite at the vicious thing.

She laughed and said she wouldn’t mind doing it herself, but I must not get tired.

How she betrayed herself that time!

But I am here, and no person touches this paper but me—not ALIVE!

She tried to get me out of the room—it was too patent! But I said it was so quiet and empty and clean now that I believed I would lie down again and sleep all I could; and not to wake me even for dinner—I would call when I woke.

So now she is gone, and the servants are gone, and the things are gone, and there is nothing left but that great bedstead nailed down, with the canvas mattress we found on it.

We shall sleep downstairs to-night, and take the boat home to-morrow.

I quite enjoy the room, now it is bare again.

How those children did tear about here!

This bedstead is fairly gnawed!

But I must get to work.

I have locked the door and thrown the key down into the front path.

I don’t want to go out, and I don’t want to have anybody come in, till John comes.

I want to astonish him.

I’ve got a rope up here that even Jennie did not find. If that woman does get out, and tries to get away, I can tie her!

But I forgot I could not reach far without anything to stand on!

This bed will NOT move!

I tried to lift and push it until I was lame, and then I got so angry I bit off a little piece at one corner—but it hurt my teeth.

Then I peeled off all the paper I could reach standing on the floor. It sticks horribly and the pattern just enjoys it! All those strangled heads and bulbous eyes and waddling fungus growths just shriek with derision!

I am getting angry enough to do something desperate. To jump out of the window would be admirable exercise, but the bars are too strong even to try.

Besides I wouldn’t do it. Of course not. I know well enough that a step like that is improper and might be misconstrued.

I don’t like to LOOK out of the windows even—there are so many of those creeping women, and they creep so fast.

I wonder if they all come out of that wall-paper as I did?

But I am securely fastened now by my well-hidden rope—you don’t get ME out in the road there!

I suppose I shall have to get back behind the pattern when it comes night, and that is hard!

It is so pleasant to be out in this great room and creep around as I please!

I don’t want to go outside. I won’t, even if Jennie asks me to.

For outside you have to creep on the ground, and everything is green instead of yellow.

But here I can creep smoothly on the floor, and my shoulder just fits in that long smooch around the wall, so I cannot lose my way.

Why there’s John at the door!

It is no use, young man, you can’t open it!

How he does call and pound!

Now he’s crying for an axe.

It would be a shame to break down that beautiful door!

“John dear!” said I in the gentlest voice, “the key is down by the front steps, under a plantain leaf!”

That silenced him for a few moments.

Then he said—very quietly indeed, “Open the door, my darling!”

“I can’t,” said I. “The key is down by the front door under a plantain leaf!”

And then I said it again, several times, very gently and slowly, and said it so often that he had to go and see, and he got it of course, and came in. He stopped short by the door.

“What is the matter?” he cried. “For God’s sake, what are you doing!”

I kept on creeping just the same, but I looked at him over my shoulder.

“I’ve got out at last,” said I, “in spite of you and Jane. And I’ve pulled off most of the paper, so you can’t put me back!”

Now why should that man have fainted? But he did, and right across my path by the wall, so that I had to creep over him every time!


History of Woman Suffrage: Preface and Chapter XXVII (1876-1885)



[quote]This heralds a turn in the tide of benevolence, when, instead of building churches and monuments to great men, and endowing colleges for boys, women will make the education and enfranchisement of their own sex the chief object of their lives.[/quote]



The labors of those who have edited these volumes are not only finished as far as this work extends, but if three-score years and ten be the usual limit of human life, all our earthly endeavors must end in the near future. After faithfully collecting material for several years, and making the best selections our judgment has dictated, we are painfully conscious of many imperfections the critical reader will perceive. But since stereotype plates will not reflect our growing sense of perfection, the lavish praise of friends as to the merits of these pages will have its antidote in the defects we ourselves discover. We may however without egotism express the belief that this volume will prove specially interesting in having a large number of contributors from England, France, Canada and the United States, giving personal experiences and the progress of legislation in their respective localities.

Into younger hands we must soon resign our work; but as long as health and vigor remain, we hope to publish a pamphlet report at the close of each congressional term, containing whatever may be accomplished by State and National legislation, which can be readily bound in volumes similar to these, thus keeping a full record of the prolonged battle until the final victory shall be achieved. To what extent these publications may be multiplied depends on when the day of woman’s emancipation shall dawn.

For the completion of this work we are indebted to Eliza Jackson Eddy, the worthy daughter of that noble philanthropist, Francis Jackson. He and Charles F. Hovey are the only men who have ever left a generous bequest to the woman suffrage movement. To Mrs. Eddy, who bequeathed to our cause two-thirds of her large fortune, belong all honor and praise as the first woman who has given alike her sympathy and her wealth to this momentous and far-reaching reform. This heralds a turn in the tide of benevolence, when, instead of building churches and monuments to great men, and endowing colleges for boys, women will make the education and enfranchisement of their own sex the chief object of their lives.

The three volumes now completed we leave as a precious heritage to coming generations; precious, because they so clearly illustrate—in her ability to reason, her deeds of heroism and her sublime self-sacrifice—that woman preeminently possesses the three essential elements of sovereignty as defined by Blackstone: “wisdom, goodness and power.” This has been to us a work of love, written without recompense and given without price to a large circle of friends. A thousand copies have thus far been distributed among our coadjutors in the old world and the new. Another thousand have found an honored place in the leading libraries, colleges and universities of Europe and America, from which we have received numerous testimonies of their value as a standard work of reference for those who are investigating this question. Extracts from these pages are being translated into every living language, and, like so many missionaries, are bearing the glad gospel of woman’s emancipation to all civilized nations.

Since the inauguration of this reform, propositions to extend the right of suffrage to women have been submitted to the popular vote in Kansas, Michigan, Colorado, Nebraska and Oregon, and lost by large majorities in all; while, by a simple act of legislature, Wyoming, Utah and Washington territories have enfranchised their women without going through the slow process of a constitutional amendment. In New York, the State that has led this movement, and in which there has been a more continued agitation than in any other, we are now pressing on the legislature the consideration that it has the same power to extend the right of suffrage to women that it has so often exercised in enfranchising different classes of men.

Eminent publicists have long conceded this power to State legislatures as well as to congress, declaring that women as citizens of the United States have the right to vote, and that a simple enabling act is all that is needed. The constitutionality of such an act was never questioned until the legislative power was invoked for the enfranchisement of women. We who have studied our republican institutions and understand the limits of the executive, judicial and legislative branches of the government, are aware that the legislature, directly representing the people, is the primary source of power, above all courts and constitutions. Research into the early history of this country shows that in line with English precedent, women did vote in the old colonial days and in the original thirteen States of the Union. Hence we are fully awake to the fact that our struggle is not for the attainment of a new right, but for the restitution of one our fore-mothers possessed and exercised.

All thoughtful readers must close these volumes with a deeper sense of the superior dignity, self-reliance and independence that belong by nature to woman, enabling her to rise above such multifarious persecutions as she has encountered, and with persistent self-assertion to maintain her rights. In the history of the race there has been no struggle for liberty like this. Whenever the interest of the ruling classes has induced them to confer new rights on a subject class, it has been done with no effort on the part of the latter. Neither the American slave nor the English laborer demanded the right of suffrage. It was given in both cases to strengthen the liberal party. The philanthropy of the few may have entered into those reforms, but political expediency carried both measures. Women, on the contrary, have fought their own battles; and in their rebellion against existing conditions have inaugurated the most fundamental revolution the world has ever witnessed. The magnitude and multiplicity of the changes involved make the obstacles in the way of success seem almost insurmountable.

The narrow self-interest of all classes is opposed to the sovereignty of woman. The rulers in the State are not willing to share their power with a class equal if not superior to themselves, over which they could never hope for absolute control, and whose methods of government might in many respects differ from their own. The annointed leaders in the Church are equally hostile to freedom for a sex supposed for wise purposes to have been subordinated by divine decree. The capitalist in the world of work holds the key to the trades and professions, and undermines the power of labor unions in their struggles for shorter hours and fairer wages, by substituting the cheap labor of a disfranchised class, that cannot organize its forces, thus making wife and sister rivals of husband and brother in the industries, to the detriment of both classes. Of the autocrat in the home, John Stuart Mill has well said: “No ordinary man is willing to find at his own fireside an equal in the person he calls wife.” Thus society is based on this fourfold bondage of woman, making liberty and equality for her antagonistic to every organized institution. Where, then, can we rest the lever with which to lift one-half of humanity from these depths of degradation but on “that columbiad of our political life—the ballot—which makes every citizen who holds it a full-armed monitor”?




The Dawn of the New Century—Washington Convention—Congressional Hearing—Woman’s Protest—May Anniversary—Centennial Parlors in Philadelphia—Letters and Delegates to Presidential Conventions—50,000 Documents sent out—The Centennial Autograph Book—The Fourth of July—Independence Square—Susan B. Anthony reads the Declaration of Rights—Convention in Dr. Furness’ Church, Lucretia Mott, Presiding—The Hutchinson Family, John and Asa—The Twenty-eighth Anniversary, July 19, Edward M. Davis, Presiding—Letters, Ernestine L. Rose, Clarina I. H. Nichols—The Ballot-Box—Retrospect—The Woman’s Pavilion.

During the sessions of 1871-72 congress enacted laws providing for the celebration of the one-hundredth anniversary of American independence, to be held July 4, 1876, in Philadelphia, the historic city from whence was issued the famous declaration of 1776.

The first act provided for the appointment by the president of a “Centennial Commission,” consisting of two members from each State and territory in the Union; the second incorporated the Centennial Board of Finance and provided for the issue of stock to the amount of $10,000,000, in 1,000,000 shares of $10 each. It was at first proposed to distribute the stock among the people of the different States and territories according to the ratio of their population, but subscriptions were afterward received without regard to States. The stockholders organized a board of directors, April 1, 1873. The design of the exhibition was to make it a comprehensive display of the industrial, intellectual and moral progress of the nation during the first century of its existence; but by the earnest invitation of our government foreign nations so generally participated that it was truly, as its name implied, an “International and World’s Exposition.”

The centennial year opened amid the wildest rejoicing. In honor of the nation’s birthday extensive preparations were made for the great event. Crowds of people eager to participate in the celebration, everywhere flocked from the adjacent country to the nearest village or city, filling the streets and adding to the general gala look, all through the day and evening of December 31, 1875. From early gas-light upon every side the blowing of horns, throwing of torpedos, explosion of fire-crackers, gave premonition of more enthusiastic exultation. As the clock struck twelve every house suddenly blossomed with red, white and blue; public and private buildings burst into a blaze of light that rivaled the noon-day sun, while screaming whistles, booming cannon, pealing bells, joyous music and brilliant fire-works made the midnight which ushered in the centennial 1876, a never-to-be-forgotten hour.

Portraits of the presidents from Washington and Lincoln laurel-crowned, to Grant, sword in hand, met the eye on every side. Stars in flames of fire lighted the foreign flags of welcome to other nations. Every window, door and roof-top was filled with gay and joyous people. Carriages laden with men, women and children in holiday attire enthusiastically waving the national flag and singing its songs of freedom. Battalions of soldiers marched through the streets; Roman candles, whizzing rockets, and gaily-colored balloons shot upward, filling the sky with trails of fire and adding to the brilliancy of the scene, while all minor sounds were drowned in the martial music. Thus did the old world and the new commemorate the birth of a nation founded on the principle of self-government.

The prolonged preparations for the centennial celebration naturally roused the women of the nation to new thought as to their status as citizens of a republic, as well as to their rightful share in the progress of the century. The oft-repeated declarations of the fathers had a deeper significance for those who realized the degradation of disfranchisement, and they queried with each other as to what part, with becoming self-respect, they could take in the coming festivities. Woman’s achievements in art, science and industry would necessarily be recognized in the Exposition; but with the dawn of a new era, after a hundred years of education in a republic, she asked more than a simple recognition of the products of her hand and brain; with her growing intelligence, virtue and patriotism, she demanded the higher ideal of womanhood that should welcome her as an equal factor in government, with all the rights and honors of citizenship fully accorded. During the entire century, women who understood the genius of free institutions had ever and anon made their indignant protests in both public and private before State legislatures, congressional committees and statesmen at their own firesides; and now, after discussing the right of self-government so exhaustively in the late anti-slavery conflict, it seemed to them that the time had come to make some application of these principles to the women of the nation. Hence it was with a deeper sense of injustice than ever before that the National Suffrage Association issued the call for the annual Washington Convention of 1876:

Call for the Eighth Annual Washington Convention.—The National Woman Suffrage Association will hold its Eighth Annual Convention in Tallmadge Hall, Washington, D. C., January 27, 28, 1876. In this one-hundredth year of the Republic, the women of the United States will once more assemble under the shadow of the national capitol to press their claims to self-government.

That property has its rights, was acknowledged in England long before the revolutionary war, and this recognized right made “no taxation without representation” the most effective battle-cry of that period. But the question of property representation fades from view beside the greater question of the right of each individual, millionaire or pauper, to personal representation. In the progress of the war our fathers grew in wisdom, and the Declaration of Independence was the first national assertion of the right of individual representation. That “governments derive their just powers from the consent of the governed,” thenceforward became the watchword of the world. Our flag, which beckons the emigrant from every foreign shore, means to him self-government.

But while in theory our government recognizes the rights of all people, in practice it is far behind the Declaration of Independence and the national constitution. On what just ground is discrimination made between men and women? Why should women, more than men, be governed without their own consent? Why should women, more than men, be denied trial by a jury of their peers? On what authority are women taxed while unrepresented? By what right do men declare themselves invested with power to legislate for women? For the discussion of these vital questions friends are invited to take part in the convention.

Matilda Joslyn Gage, President, Fayetteville, N. Y.

Susan B. Anthony, Ch’n Ex. Com., Rochester, N. Y.


At the opening session of this convention the president, Matilda Joslyn Gage, said:

I would remind you, fellow-citizens, that this is our first convention in the dawn of the new century. In 1776 we inaugurated our experiment of self-government. Unbelief in man’s capacity to govern himself was freely expressed by every European monarchy except France. When John Adams was Minister to England, the newspapers of that country were filled with prophecies that the new-born republic would soon gladly return to British allegiance. But these hundred years have taught them the worth of liberty; the Declaration of Independence has become the alphabet of nations; Europe, Asia, Africa, South America and the isles of the sea, will unite this year to do our nation honor. Our flag is everywhere on sea and land. It has searched the North Pole, explored every desert, upheld religious liberty of every faith and protected political refugees from every nation, but it has not yet secured equal rights to women.

This year is to be one of general discussion upon the science of government; its origin, its powers, its history. If our present declaration cannot be so interpreted as to cover the rights of women, we must issue one that will. I have received letters from many of the Western States and from this District, urging us to prepare a woman’s declaration, and to celebrate the coming Fourth of July with our own chosen orators and in our own way. I notice a general awakening among women at this time. But a day or two since the women of this District demanded suffrage for themselves in a petition of 25,000 names. The men are quiet under their disfranchisement, making no attempt for their rights—fit slaves of a powerful ring.

The following protest was presented by Mrs. Gage, adopted by the convention, printed and extensively circulated:

To the Political Sovereigns of the United States in Independence Hall assembled:

We, the undersigned women of the United States, asserting our faith in the principles of the Declaration of Independence and in the constitution of the United States, proclaiming it as the best form of government in the world, declare ourselves a part of the people of the nation unjustly deprived of the guaranteed and reserved rights belonging to citizens of the United States; because we have never given our consent to this government; because we have never delegated our rights to others; because this government is false to its underlying principles; because it has refused to one-half its citizens the only means of self-government—the ballot; because it has been deaf to our appeals, our petitions and our prayers;

Therefore, in presence of the assembled nations of all the world, we protest against this government of the United States as an oligarchy of sex, and not a true republic; and we protest against calling this a centennial celebration of the independence of the people of the United States.


Letters were read and a series of resolutions were discussed and adopted:

Resolved, That the demand for woman suffrage is but the next step in the great movement which began with Magna Charta, and which has ever since tended toward vesting government in the whole body of the people.

Resolved, That we demand of the forty-fourth congress, in order that it may adequately celebrate the centennial year, the admission to the polls of the women of all the territories, and a submission to the legislatures of the several States of an amendment securing to women the elective franchise.

Resolved, That the enfranchisement of women means wiser and truer wedlock, purer and happier homes, healthier and better children, and strikes, as nothing else does, at the very roots of pauperism and crime.

Resolved, That if Colorado would come into the Union in a befitting manner for the celebration of the centennial of the Declaration of Independence, she should give the ballot to brothers and sisters, husbands and wives, and thus present to the nation a truly free State.

Resolved, That the right of suffrage being vested in the women of Utah by their constitutional and lawful enfranchisement, and by six years of use, we denounce the proposition about to be again presented to congress for the disfranchisement of the women in that territory, as an outrage on the freedom of thousands of legal voters and a gross innovation of vested rights; we demand the abolition of the system of numbering the ballots, in order that the women may be thoroughly free to vote as they choose, without supervision or dictation, and that the chair appoint a committee of three persons, with power to add to their number, to memorialize congress, and otherwise to watch over the rights of the women of Utah in this regard during the next twelve months.

Belva A. Lockwood presented the annual report: The question of woman suffrage is to be submitted to the people of Iowa during the present centennial year, if this legislature ratifies the action of the previous one. Colorado has not embodied the word “male” in her constitution, and a vigorous effort is being made to introduce woman suffrage there. In Minnesota women are allowed to vote on school questions and to hold office by a recent constitutional amendment. In Michigan, in 1874, the vote for woman suffrage was 40,000, about 1,000 more votes than were polled for the new constitution. The Connecticut legislature, during the past year appointed a committee to consider and report the expediency of making women eligible to the position of electors for president and vice-president. The committee made a unanimous report in its favor, and secured for its passage 82 votes, while 101 votes were cast against it. In Massachusetts, Governor Rice, in his inaugural address, recommended to the legislature to secure to women the right to vote for presidential electors. An address to the legislature of New York by Mesdames Gage, Blake and Lozier upon this question, was favorably received and extensively quoted by the press. At an agricultural fair in Illinois the Hon. James R. Doolittle advocated household suffrage. In the Senate of the thirteenth legislature of the State of Texas, Senator Dohoney, Chairman of the Judiciary Committee, made a report strongly advocating woman suffrage; and in 1875, when a member of the Constitutional Convention, he advocated the same doctrine, and was ably assisted by Hon. W. G. L. Weaver. The governor of that State, in his message, recommended that women school teachers should receive equal pay for equal work. The word “male” does not occur in the new constitution. In the territories of Wyoming and Utah, woman suffrage still continues after five years’ experiment, and we have not learned that households have been broken up or that babies have ceased to be rocked.

Women physicians, women journalists and women editors have come to be a feature of our institutions. Laura De Force Gordon, a member of our association, is editing a popular daily—the Leader—in Sacramento, Cal. Women are now admitted to the bar in Kansas, Illinois, Wisconsin, Iowa, Missouri, Utah, Wyoming and the District of Columbia. They are eligible and are serving as school superintendents in Kansas, Nebraska, Illinois, Iowa and Wisconsin. Illinois allows them to be notaries public. As postmasters they have proved competent, and one woman, Miss Ada Sweet, is pension agent at Chicago. Julia K. Sutherland has been appointed commissioner of deeds for the State of California. In England women vote on the same terms as men on municipal, parochial and educational matters. In Holland, Austria and Sweden, women vote on a property qualification. The Peruvian Minister of Justice has declared that Peru places women on the same footing as men. Thus all over the world is the idea of human rights taking root and cropping out in a healthful rather than a spasmodic outgrowth.

The grand-daughter of Paley, true to her ancestral blood, has excelled all the young men in Cambridge in moral science. Julia J. Thomas, of Cornell University, daughter of Dr. Mary F. Thomas, of Indiana, in the recent inter-collegiate contest, took the first prize of $300, over eight male competitors, in Greek. The recent decision in the United States Supreme Court, of Minor vs. Happersett, will have as much force in suppressing the individuality and self-assertion of women as had the opinion of Judge Taney, in the Dred-Scott case, in suppressing the emancipation of slavery. The day has come when precedents are made rather than blindly followed. The refusal of the Superior Court of Philadelphia to allow Carrie S. Burnham to practice law, because there was no precedent, was a weak evasion of common law and common sense. One hundred years ago there was no precedent for a man practicing law in the State of Pennsylvania, and yet we have not learned that there was any difficulty in establishing a precedent. I do not now remember any precedent for the Declaration of Independence of the United Colonies, and yet during a century it has not been overturned. The rebellion of the South had no precedent, and yet, if I remember, there was an issue joined, and the United States found that she had jurisdiction of the case.

The admission of women to Cornell University; their reception on equal footing in Syracuse University, receiving in both equal honorary degrees; the establishment of Wellesley College, with full professorships and capable women to fill them; the agitation of the question in Washington of the establishment of a university for women, all show a mental awakening in the popular mind not hitherto known. A new era is opening in the history of the world. The seed sown twenty-five years ago by Mrs. Stanton and other brave women is bearing fruit.

Sara Andrews Spencer said it was interesting to pair off the objections and let them answer each other like paradoxes. Women will be influenced by their husbands and will vote for bad men to please them. Women have too much influence now, and if we give them any more latitude they will make men all vote their way. Owing to the composition and structure of the female brain, women are incapable of understanding political affairs. If women are allowed to vote they will crowd all the men out of office, and men will be obliged to stay at home and take care of the children. That is, owing to the composition and structure of the female brain, women are so exactly adapted to political affairs that men wouldn’t stand any chance if women were allowed to enter into competition with them. Women don’t want it. Women shouldn’t have it, for they don’t know how to use it. Grace Greenwood (who was one of the seventy-two women who tried to vote) said men were like the stingy boy at school with a cake. “Now,” said he, “all you that don’t ask for it don’t want it, and all you that do ask for it sha’n’t have it.”

Rev. Olympia Brown, pastor of the Universalist church in Bridgeport, Conn., gave her views on the rights of women under the constitution, and believed that they were entitled to the ballot as an inalienable right. In this country, under existing rulings of the courts as to the meaning of the constitution, no one appeared likely to enjoy the ballot for all time except the colored men, unless the clause, “previous condition of servitude,” as a congressman expressed it, referred to widows. That being true, the constitution paid a premium only on colored men, and widows. If the constitution did not guarantee suffrage, and congress did not bestow it, then the republic was of no account and its boast devoid of significance and meaning. Its life had been in vain—dead to the interests for which it was created. She wanted congress to pass a sixteenth amendment, declaring all its citizens enfranchised, or a declaratory act setting forth that the constitution already guaranteed to them that right.

Hon. Frederick Douglass said he was not quite in accord with all the sentiments that had been uttered during the afternoon, yet he was willing that the largest latitude should be taken by the advocates of the cause. He was not afraid that at some distant period the blacks of the South would rise and disfranchise the whites. While he was not willing to be addressed as the ignorant, besotted creature that the negro is sometimes called, he was willing to be a part of the bridge over which women should march to the full enjoyment of their rights.

Miss Phœbe Couzins of St. Louis reviewed in an able manner the decision of the Supreme Court in the case of Virginia L. Minor.

Mrs. Devereux Blake spoke on the rights and duties of citizenship. She cited a number of authorities, including a recent decision of the Supreme Court, to prove that women are citizens, although deprived of the privileges of citizenship. Taking up the three duties of citizenship—paying taxes, serving on jury, and military service—she said woman had done her share of the first for a hundred years; that the women of the country now contributed, directly and indirectly, one-third of its revenues, and that the House of Representatives had just robbed them of $500,000 to pay for a centennial celebration in which they had no part. As for serving on jury, they did not claim that as a privilege, as it was usually regarded as a most disagreeable duty; but they did claim the right of women, when arraigned in court, to be tried by a jury of their peers, which was not accorded when the jury was composed wholly of men. Lastly, as to serving their country in time of war, it was a fact that women had actually enlisted and fought in our late war, until their sex was discovered, when they were summarily dismissed without being paid for their services.

Hon. Aaron A. Sargent, of California, in the United States Senate, and Hon. Samuel S. Cox, of New York, in the House of Representatives, presented the memorial asking the enfranchisement of the women of the District of Columbia, as follows:

In the Senate, Tuesday, January 25, 1876.

Mr. Sargent: I present a memorial asking for the establishment of a government in the District of Columbia which shall secure to its women the right to vote. This petition is signed by many eminent ladies of the country: Mrs. Matilda Joslyn Gage, President of the National Woman Suffrage Association, and the following officers of that society: Lucretia Mott, Elizabeth Cady Stanton, Susan B. Anthony, Henrietta Payne Westbrook, Isabella Beecher Hooker, Mathilde F. Wendt, Ellen Clark Sargent; also by Mary F. Foster, President of the District of Columbia Woman’s Franchise Association; Susan A. Edson, M. D.; Mrs. E. D. E. N. Southworth, the distinguished authoress; Mrs. Dr. Caroline B. Winslow; Belva A. Lockwood, a practicing lawyer in this District; Sara Andrews Spencer, and Mrs. A. E. Wood.

These intelligent ladies set forth their petition in language and with facts and arguments which I think should meet the ear of the Senate, and I ask that it be read by the secretary in order that their desires may be known.

The President pro tempore: Is there objection? The chair hears none, and the secretary will report the petition. The secretary read:

To the Senate and House of Representatives of the United States in Congress assembled:

Whereas the Supreme Court of the United States has affirmed the decision of the Supreme Court of the District of Columbia in the cases of Spencer vs. The Board of Registration, and Webster vs. The Judges of Election, and has decided that “by the operation of the first section of the fourteenth amendment to the Constitution of the United States, women have been advanced to full citizenship and clothed with the capacity to become voters; and further, that this first section of the fourteenth amendment does not execute itself, but requires the supervision of legislative power in the exercise of legislative discretion to give it effect”; and whereas the congress of the United States is the legislative body having exclusive jurisdiction over the District of Columbia, and in enfranchising the colored men and refusing to enfranchise women, white or colored, made an unjust discrimination against sex, and did not give the intelligence and moral power of the citizens of said District a fair opportunity for expression at the polls; and whereas woman suffrage is not an experiment, but has had a fair trial in Wyoming, where women hold office, where they vote, where they have the most orderly society of any of the territories, where the experiment is approved by the executive officers of the United States, by their courts, by their press and by the people generally, and where it has “rescued that territory from a state of comparative lawlessness” and rendered it “one of the most orderly in the Union”; and whereas upon the woman suffrage amendment to Senate bill number 44 of the second session of the forty-third congress, votes were recorded in favor of woman suffrage by the two senators from Indiana, the two from Florida, the two from Michigan, the two from Rhode Island, one from Kansas, one from Louisiana, one from Massachusetts, one from Minnesota, one from Nebraska, one from Nevada, one from Oregon, one from South Carolina, one from Texas, and one from Wisconsin; and whereas a fair trial of equal suffrage for men and women in the District of Columbia, under the immediate supervision of congress, would demonstrate to the people of the whole country that justice to women is policy for men; and whereas the women of the United States are governed without their own consent, are denied trial by a jury of their peers, are taxed without representation, and are subject to manifold wrongs resulting from unjust and arbitrary exercise of power over an unrepresented class; and whereas in this centennial year of the republic the spirit of 1776 is breathing its influence upon the people, melting away prejudices and animosities and infusing into our national councils a finer sense of justice and a clearer perception of individual rights; therefore,

We pray your honorable body to establish a government for the District of Columbia which shall secure to its women the right to vote.

Mr. Sargeant: Even if this document were not accompanied by the signatures of eminent ladies known throughout the land for their virtues, intelligence and high character, the considerations which it presents would be worthy of the attention of the senate. I have no doubt that the great movement of which this is a part will prevail. It is working its progress day by day throughout the country. It is making itself felt both in social and political life. The petitioners here well say that there has been a successful experiment of the exercise of female suffrage in one of our territories; that a territory has been redeemed from lawlessness; that the judges, the press, the people generally of Wyoming approve the results of this great experiment. I know of no better place than the capital of a nation where a more decisive trial can be made, if such is needed, to establish the expediency of woman suffrage. As to its justice, who shall deny it? I ask, for the purpose of due consideration, that this petition be referred to the Committee on the District of Columbia, so that in preparing any scheme for the government of the District which is likely to come before this congress, due weight may be given to the considerations presented.

The President pro tempore: The petition will be referred to the Committee on the District of Columbia.

In the House of Representatives, Friday, March 31, 1876.

Mr. Cox: Mr. Speaker, I am requested to present a memorial, asking for a form of government in the District of Columbia which shall secure to its women the right to vote; and I ask the grace and favor to have this memorial printed in the Record.

Mr. Banks: Mr. Speaker, I beg the privilege of saying a few words in favor of the request made by the gentleman from New York who presents this memorial. It is a hundred years this day since Mrs. Abigail Adams, of Massachusetts, wrote to her husband, John Adams, then a member of the continental convention, entreating him to give to women the power to protect their own rights and predicting a general revolution if justice was denied them. Mrs. Adams was one of the noblest women of that period, distinguished by heroism and patriotism never surpassed in any age. She was wife of the second and mother of the sixth president of the United States, and her beneficent influence was felt in political as well as in social circles. It was perhaps the first demand for the recognition of the rights of her sex made in this country, and is one of the centennial incidents that should be remembered. It came from a good quarter. This memorial represents half a million of American women. They ask for the organization of a government in the District of Columbia that will recognize their political rights. I voted some years ago to give women the right to vote in this District, and recalling the course of its government I think it would have done no harm if they had enjoyed political rights.

Mr. Kasson: I suggest that the memorial be printed without the names.

Mr. Cox: There are no names appended except those of the officers of the National Woman Suffrage Association; and I hope they will be printed with the memorial.

Mr. Hendee: I trust the gentleman will allow this petition to be referred to the committee of which I am a member: the Committee for the District of Columbia. There being no objection, the memorial was read and referred to the Committee for the District of Columbia, and ordered to be printed in the Record.

At the close of the convention a hearing was granted to the ladies before the committees of the Senate and House of Representatives on the District of Columbia.

Matilda Joslyn Gage, of New York, said: Mr. Chairman and Gentlemen of the Committee: On behalf of the National Association, which has its officers in every State and territory of the Union, and which numbers many thousands of members, and on behalf of the Woman’s Franchise Association of the District of Columbia, we appear before you, asking that the right of suffrage be secured equally to the men and women of this District. Art. 1, sec. 8, clauses 17, 18 of the Constitution of the United States reads:

Congress shall have power to exercise exclusive legislation in all cases whatsoever over such district as may become the seat of government of the United States, to make all laws which shall be necessary and proper for carrying into execution the foregoing powers.

Congress is therefore constitutionally the special guardian of the rights of the people of the District of Columbia. It possesses peculiar rights, peculiar duties, peculiar powers in regard to this District. At the present time the men and women are alike disfranchised. Our memorial asks that in forming a new government they may be alike enfranchised. It is often said as an argument against granting suffrage to women that they do not wish to vote; do not ask for the ballot. This association, numbering thousands in the United States, through its representatives, now asks you, in this memorial, for suffrage in this District. Petitions from every State in the Union have been sent to your honorable body. One of these, signed by thirty-five thousand women, was sent to congress in one large roll; but what is the value of a petition signed by even a million of an unrepresented class?

The city papers of the national capital, once bitterly opposed to all effort in this direction, now fully recognize the dignity of the demand, and have ceased to oppose it. One of these said, editorially, to-day, that the vast audiences assembling at our conventions, the large majority being women, and evidently in sympathy with the movement, were proof of the great interest women take in this subject, though many are too timid to openly make the demand. The woman’s temperance movement began two years ago as a crusade of prayer and song, and the women engaged therein have now resolved themselves into a national organization, whose second convention, held in October last, numbering delegates from twenty-two States, almost unanimously passed a resolution demanding the ballot to aid them in their temperance work. We who make our constant demand for suffrage, knew that these women were in process of education, and would soon be forced to ask for the key to all reform.

The ballot says yes or no to all questions. Without it women are prohibited from practically expressing their opinions. The very fact that the women of this District make this demand of you more urgently than men proves that they desire it more and see its uses better. The men of this District who quietly remain disfranchised have the spirit of slaves, and if asking for the ballot is any proof of fitness for its use, then the women who do ask for it here prove themselves in this respect superior to men, more alive to the interests of this District, and better fitted to administer the government. Women who are not interested in questions of reform would soon become so if they possessed the ballot. They are now in the condition we were when we heard of the famine in Persia two years ago. Our sympathies were aroused for a brief while, but Persia was far away, we could render it no certain aid, and the sufferings of the people soon passed from our minds.

Our approaching centennial celebration is to commemorate the Declaration of Independence, which was based on individual rights. For ages it was a question where the governing power rightfully belonged; patriarch, priest, and monarch each claimed it by divine right. Our country declared it vested in the individual. Not only was this clearly stated in the Declaration of Independence, but the same ground was maintained in the secret proceedings upon framing the constitution. The old confederation was abandoned because it did not secure the independence and safety of the people. It has recently been asked in congressional debates, “What is the grand idea of the centennial?” The answer was, “It is the illustration in spirit and truth of the principles of the Declaration of Independence and of the constitution.”

These principles are:

First—The natural rights of each individual.

Second—The exact equality of these rights.

Third—That rights not delegated are retained by the individual.

Fourth—That no person shall exercise the rights of others without delegated authority.

Fifth—That non-use of rights does not destroy them.

Rights did not come new-born into the world with the revolution. Our fathers were men of middle age before they understood their own rights, but when they did they compelled the recognition of the world, and now the nations of the earth are this year invited to join you in the celebration of these principles of free government.

We have special reasons for asking you to secure suffrage to the women of the District of Columbia. Woman Suffrage has been tried in Wyoming, and ample testimony of its beneficial results has been furnished, but it is a far distant territory, and those not especially interested will not examine the evidence. It has been tried in Utah, but with great opposition on account of the peculiar religious belief and customs of the people. But the District of Columbia is directly under the eye of congress. It is the capital of the nation, and three-fifths of the property of the District belongs to the United States. The people of the whole country would therefore be interested in observing the practical workings of this system on national soil. With 7,316 more women than men in this District, we call your special attention to the inconsistency and injustice of granting suffrage to a minority and withholding it from a majority, as you have done in the past. If the District is your special ward, then women, being in the majority here, have peculiar claims upon you for a consideration of their rights. The freedom of this country is only half won. The women of to-day have less freedom than our fathers of the revolution, for they were permitted local self-government, while women have no share in local, State, or general government.

Our memorial calls your attention to the Pembina debate in 1874, when senators from eighteen States recognized the right of self-government as inhering in women. One senator said: “I believe women never will enjoy equality with men in taking care of themselves until they have the right to vote.” Another, “that the question was being considered by a large portion of the people of the United States.” When the discussion was concluded and the vote taken, twenty-two senators recorded their votes for woman suffrage in that distant territory. During the debate several senators publicly declared their intention of voting for woman suffrage in the District of Columbia whenever the opportunity was presented. These senators recognize the fact that the ballot is not only a right, but that it is opportunity for woman; that it is the one means of helping her to help herself. In asking you to secure the ballot to the women of the District we do not ask you to create a right. That is beyond your power. We ask you to protect them in the exercise of a right.

Mrs. Sara Andrews Spencer, Secretary of the District of Columbia Woman’s Franchise Association, said: For no legal or political right I have ever claimed in the District of Columbia do I ask a stronger, clearer charter than the Declaration of Independence, and the constitution of the United States as it stood before the fourteenth amendment had entered the minds of men. A judicial decision, rendered by nine men, upon the rights of ten millions of women of this republic, need not, does not, change the convictions of one woman in regard to her own heaven-endowed rights, duties, and responsibilities.

We have resorted to all the measures dictated by those who rule over us for securing the freedom to exercise rights which are sacredly our own, rights which are ours by Divine inheritance, and which men can neither confer nor take away. We are not only daughters of our Father in heaven, and joint heirs with you there; but we are daughters of this republic, and joint heirs with you here. Every act of legislation which has been placed as a bar in our way as citizens has been an act of injustice, and every expedient to which we have resorted for securing recognition of citizenship has been with protest against the existence of these acts of unauthorized power.

When any man expresses doubt to me as to the use that I or any other woman might make of the ballot if we had it, my answer is, What is that to you? If you have for years defrauded me of my rightful inheritance, and then, as a stroke of policy, or from late conviction, concluded to restore to me my own domain, must I ask you whether I may make of it a garden of flowers, or a field of wheat, or a pasture for kine? If I choose I may counsel with you. If experience has given you wisdom, even of this world, in managing your property and mine, I should be wise to learn from you. But injustice is not wont to yield wisdom; grapes do not grow of thorns, nor figs of thistles.

Born of the unjust and cruel subjection of woman to man, we have in these United States a harvest of 116,000 paupers, 36,000 criminals, and such a mighty host of blind, deaf and dumb, idiotic, insane, feeble-minded, and children with tendencies to crime, as almost to lead one to hope for the extinction of the human race rather than for its perpetuation after its own kind. The wisdom of man licenses the dram-shop, and then rears station-houses, jails, and gibbets to provide for the victims. In this District we have 135 teachers of public schools and 238 police officers, and the last report shows that public safety demands a police force of 900. We have 31,671 children of school age; 31,671 reasons why I want to vote. We have here 7,000 more children of school age than there are seats in all the public schools, and from the swarm of poor, ignorant, and vagrant children, the lists of criminals and paupers are constantly supplied. To provide for these evils there is an annual expenditure of $350,000, not including expenses of courts, while for education the annual expenditure is $280,000.

Will you say that the wives and the mothers, the house and homekeepers of this small territory, have no interest in all these things? If dram-shops are licensed and brothels protected, are not our sons, our brothers, tempted and ruined, our daughters lured from their homes, and lost to earth and heaven? Long and patiently women have borne wrongs too deep to be put into words; wrongs for which men have provided no redress and have found no remedy. When five years ago, with our social atmosphere poisoned with vices which as women we had no power to remove, men in authority began a series of attempts to fasten upon us by law the huge typical vice of all the ages—the social evil—in a form so degrading to all womanhood that no man, though he were the prince of profligates, would submit to its regulations for a day; then we cried out so that the world heard us. We know the plague is only stayed for a brief while. The hydra-headed monster every now and then lifts a new front, and must be smitten again. Four times in four successive years a little company of women of the District have appeared before committees and compelled the discussion and defeat of bills designed to fasten these measures upon the community under the guise of security for public health and morality. The last annual report of the board of health speaks tenderly of the need of protecting vicious men by these regulations, and says:

The legalization of houses of ill-fame for so humane a purpose, startling as it may be to the moral sense, has many powerful advocates among the thoughtful, wise, and philanthropic of communities.

The report quotes approvingly Dr. Gross, of Philadelphia, who says in behalf of laws to license the social evil:

The prejudices which surround the subject must be swept away, and men must march to the front and discharge their duty, however much they may be reproached and abused by the ignorant and foolish.

Aside from the higher ground of our inherent right to self-government, we declare here and now that the women of this District are not safe without the ballot. Our firesides, our liberties are in constant peril, while men who have no concern for our welfare may legislate against our dearest interests. If we would inaugurate any measure of protection for our own sex, we are bound hand and foot by man. The law is his, the treasury is his, the power is his, and he need not even hear our cry, except at his good will and pleasure.

If man had legislated justly and wisely for the interests of this District, if its financial condition was sound, its social and moral atmosphere pure, and all was well, there would be some show of reason in your refusing to hazard a new experiment, even though we could demonstrate it to be founded upon eternal justice. But the history of the successive forms of government in the District of Columbia is a history of failures. So will it continue to be until you adopt a plan founded upon truly republican principles. When, a few years ago, you put the ballot into the hands of the swarming masses of freedmen who had gathered here with the ignorance and vices of slaves, and refused to enfranchise women, white or colored, you gave this District no fair trial of a republican form of government. You did not even protect the interests of the colored race. You admitted that the colored man was not really free until he held the ballot in his hand, and therefore you enfranchised him and left the woman twice his slave. I know colored women in Washington far the superiors, intellectually and morally, of the masses of men, who declare that they now endure wrongs and abuses unknown in slavery.

There is not an interest in this District that is not as vital to me as to any man in Washington—that is not more vital to me than it can be to any member of this honorable body. As a citizen, seeking the welfare of this community, as a wife and mother desiring the safety of my children, which of you can claim a deeper interest than I in questions of markets, taxes, finance, banks, railroads, highways, the public debt and interest thereon, boards of health, sanitary and police regulations, station-houses (wherein I find many a wreck of womanhood, ruined in her youth and beauty), schools, asylums, and charities? Why deny me a voice in any or all of these? Do you doubt that I would use the ballot in the interests of order, retrenchment, and reform? Do you deny a right of mine, which you will admit I know how to prize, because there are women who do not appreciate its value, do not demand it, possibly might not (any better than men) know how to use it? What a mockery of justice! What a flagrant violation of individual rights! I would cry out against it if no other woman in the land felt the wrong. But among the 10,000,000 of mothers of 14,000,000 of children in this country, vast numbers of thoughtful, philanthropic, and pure women have come to see this truth, and desire to express their mother love and home love at the ballot-box!

Frederick Douglass once said: “Whole nations have been bathed in blood to establish the simplest possible propositions. For instance, that a man’s head is his head; his body is hisbody; his feet are his feet, and if he chooses to run away with them it is nobody’s business”; and all honor to him, he added, “Now, these propositions have been established for the colored man. Why does not man establish them for woman, his wife, his mother?”

Determined to surround the colored man with every possible guarantee of protection in the possession of his freedom, congress stopped the wheels of legislation, and made the whole country wait, while day after day and night after night his friends fought inch by inch the ground for the civil rights bill. During that debate Senator Frelinghuysen said:

When I took the oath as senator, I took the oath to support the Constitution of the United States, which declares equality for all: and in advocating this bill I am doing my sworn duty in endeavoring to secure equal rights for every citizen of the United States.

But where slept his “sworn duty” when he recorded his vote in the Senate against woman suffrage? With marvelous inconsistency, as a reason for opposing woman suffrage, during the Pembina debate, May 27, 1874, Senator Merrimon said of the relation of women to the Constitution of the United States:

They have sustained it under all circumstances with their love, their hands, and their hearts; with their smiles and their tears they have educated their children to live for it, and to die for it.

Therefore the honorable gentleman denies them the right to vote.

Upon the civil rights bill, Senator Howe said:

I do not know but what the passage of this bill will break up the common schools. I admit that I have some fear on that point. Every step of this terrible march has been met with a threat; but let justice be done although the common schools and the heavens do fall.


In reply to the point made by Mr. Stockton that the people of the United States would not accept this bill, Mr. Howe said:

I would not turn back if I knew that of the forty million people of the United States not one million would sustain it. If this generation does not accept it there is a generation to come that will accept it. What does this provide? Not that the black man should be helped on his way; not at all; but only that, as he staggers along, he shall not be retarded, shall not be tripped up and made to fall.

Brave and tender words these for our black brother; but see how prone men are to invert truth, justice, and mercy in dealing with women. During the Pembina debate, Senator Merrimon said:

I know there are a few women in the country who complain; but those who complain, compared with those who do not complain, are as one to a million.

As a literal fact, the women who have complained, have petitioned, sued, reasoned, plead, have knocked at the doors of your legislatures and courts, are as one to fifty in this country, as we who watch the record know; and even that is a small proportion of those who would, but dare not; who are bound hand and foot, and will be bound until you make them free. But if no others feel the wrong but those who have dared to complain; if the poor, the ignorant, the betrayed, the ruined do not understand the question, and the well-fed and comfortable “have all the rights they want,” do you give that for answer to our just demand? What do we ask? Not that poor woman “shall be helped on her way”—not at all; but only that, “as she staggers along, she shall not be retarded, shall not be tripped up, shall not be made to fall.”

And here on this national soil, for the women of this District of Columbia—your peculiar wards—I ask you to try the experiment of exact, even-handed justice; to give us a voice in the laws under which we must live, by which we are tried, judged and condemned. I ask it for myself, that I may the better help other women. I ask it for other women, that they may the better help themselves. As you hope for justice and mercy in your hour of need, may you hear and answer.

Rev. Olympia Brown, of Connecticut; Belva A. Lockwood, of Washington; and Phoebe Couzins, of St. Louis, also addressed the committees; enforcing their arguments with wit, humor, pathos and eloquence.

On her way home from Washington, Mrs. Gage stopped in Philadelphia to secure rooms for the National Association during the centennial summer, and decided upon Carpenter Hall, in case it could be obtained. This hall belongs to the Carpenter Company of Philadelphia, perhaps the oldest existing association of that city, it having maintained an uninterrupted organization from the year 1724, about forty years after the establishment of the colonial government by William Penn, and was much in use during the early days of the revolution. The doors of the State House, where the continental congress intended to meet, were found closed against it; but the Carpenter Company, numbering many eminent patriots, offered its hall for their use; and here met the first continental congress, September 5, 1774. John Adams, describing its opening ceremonies, said:

Here was a scene worthy of the painter’s art. Washington was kneeling there, and Randolph, Rutledge, Lee and Jay; and by their side there stood, bowed in reverence, the Puritan patriots of New England, who at that moment had reason to believe that an armed soldiery was wasting their humble households. It was believed that Boston had been bombarded and destroyed. They prayed fervently for America, for the congress, for the province of Massachusetts Bay, and especially for the town of Boston. Who can realize the emotions with which in that hour of danger they turned imploringly to heaven for Divine interposition. It was enough to melt a heart of stone. I saw the tears gush into the eyes of old, gray, pacific Quakers of Philadelphia.

The action of this congress, which sat but seven weeks, was momentous in the history of the world. “From the moment of their first debate,” said De Tocqueville, “Europe was moved.” The convention which in 1781 framed the constitution of the United States, also met in Carpenter Hall in secret session for four months before agreeing upon its provisions. This hall seemed the most appropriate place for establishing the centennial rooms of the National Woman Suffrage Association, but the effort to obtain it proved unavailing as will be seen by the following correspondence:

To the President and Officers of the Carpenter Company of Philadelphia:

The National Woman Suffrage Association will hold its headquarters in Philadelphia the centennial season of 1876, and desires to secure your historic hall for that purpose. We know your habit and custom of denying its use to all societies, yet we make our request because our objects are in accord with the principles which emanated from within its walls a hundred years ago, and we shall use it in carrying out those principles of liberty and equality upon which our government is based.

We design to advertise our headquarters to the world, and old Carpenter Hall, if used by us, would become more widely celebrated as the birth-place of liberty. Our work in it would cause it to be more than ever held in reverence by future ages, and pilgrimages by men and women would be made to it as to another Mecca shrine.

We propose to place a person in charge, with pamphlets, speeches, tracts, etc., and to hold public meetings for the enunciation of our principles and the furtherance of our demands. Hoping you will grant this request,

Matilda Joslyn Gage
President of the National Woman Suffrage Association.

I am respectfully yours,


Two months afterward, the following reply was received:

Hall, Carpenter Court, 322 Chestnut St., }
Philadelphia, April 24, 1876. }

Matilda Joslyn Gage, President of the Woman Suffrage Association:

Your communication asking permission to occupy Carpenter Hall for your convention was duly received, and presented to the company at a stated meeting held the 16th instant, when on motion it was unanimously resolved to postpone the subject indefinitely.

George Watson, Secretary.

(Extract of minutes).

It was a matter of no moment to those men that women were soon to assemble in Philadelphia, whose love of liberty was as deep, whose patriotism was as pure as that of the fathers who met within its walls in 1774, and whose deliberations had given that hall its historic interest.

In the midst of these preparations the usual May anniversary was held:

Call for the May Anniversary, 1876.—The National Woman Suffrage Association will hold its Ninth Annual Convention in Masonic Hall, New York, corner of Sixth avenue and Twenty-third street, May 10, 11, 1876.

This convention occuring in the centennial year of the republic, will be a most important one. The underlying principles of government will this year be discussed as never before; both foreigners and citizens will query as to how closely this country has lived up to its own principles. The long-debated question as to the source of the governing power was answered a century ago by the famous Declaration of Independence which shook to the foundation all recognized power and proclaimed the right of the individual as above all forms of government; but while thus declaring itself, it has held the women of the nation accountable to laws they have had no share in making, and taught as their one duty, that doctrine of tyrants, unquestioning obedience. Liberty to-day is, therefore, but the heritage of one-half the people, and the centennial will be but the celebration of the independence of one-half the nation. The men alone of this country live in a republic, the women enter the second hundred years of national life as political slaves.

That no structure is stronger than its weakest point is a law of mechanics that will apply equally to government. In so far as this government has denied justice to woman, it is weak, and preparing for its own downfall. All the insurrections, rebellions, and martyrdoms of history have grown out of the desire for liberty, and in woman’s heart this desire is as strong as in man’s. At every vital time in the nation’s life, men and women have worked together; everywhere has woman stood by the side of father, brother, husband, son in defense of liberty; without her aid the republic could never have been established; and yet women are still suffering under all the oppressions complained of in 1776; which can only be remedied by securing impartial suffrage to all citizens without distinction of sex.

All persons who believe republican principles should be carried out in spirit and in truth, are invited to be present at the May convention.

Matilda Joslyn Gage, President.

Susan B. Anthony, Chairman Executive Committee.

This May anniversary, commencing on the same day with the opening of the centennial exhibition, was marked with more than usual earnestness. As popular thought naturally turned with increasing interest at such an hour to the underlying principles of government, woman’s demand for political equality received a new impulse. The famous Smith sisters, of Glastonbury, Connecticut, attended this convention, and were most cordially welcomed. The officers for the centennial year were chosen and a campaign and congressional committee appointed to take charge of affairs at Philadelphia and Washington. The resolutions show the general drift of the discussions:

Whereas, The right of self-government inheres in the individual before governments are founded, constitutions framed, or courts created; and

Whereas, Governments exist to protect the people in the enjoyment of their natural rights, and when any government becomes destructive of this end, it is the right of the people to resist and abolish it; and

Whereas, The women of the United States, for one hundred years, have been denied the exercise of their natural right of self-government and self-protection; therefore,

Resolved, That it is the natural right and most sacred duty of the women of these United States to rebel against the injustice, usurpation and tyranny of our present government.

Whereas, The men of 1776 rebelled against a government which did not claim to be of the people, but, on the contrary, upheld the “divine right of kings”; and

Whereas, The women of this nation to-day, under a government which claims to be based upon individual rights, to be “of the people, by the people, and for the people,” in an infinitely greater degree are suffering all the wrongs which led to the war of the revolution; and Whereas, The oppression is all the more keenly felt because our masters, instead of dwelling in a foreign land, are our husbands, our fathers, our brothers and our sons; therefore,

Resolved, That the women of this nation, in 1876, have greater cause for discontent, rebellion and revolution, than the men of 1776.

Resolved, That with Abigail Adams, in 1776, we believe that “the passion for liberty cannot be strong in the breasts of those who are accustomed to deprive their fellow-creatures of liberty”; that, as Abigail Adams predicted, “We are determined to foment a rebellion, and will not hold ourselves bound by laws in which we have no voice or representation.”

Whereas, We believe in the principles of the Declaration of Independence and of the Constitution of the United States, and believe a true republic is the best form of government in the world; and

Whereas, This government is false to its underlying principles in denying to women the only means of self-government, the ballot; and

Whereas, One-half of the citizens of this nation, after a century of boasted liberty, are still political slaves; therefore,

Resolved, That we protest against calling the present centennial celebration a celebration of the independence of the people of the United States.

Resolved, That we meet in our respective towns and districts on the Fourth of July, 1876, and declare ourselves no longer bound to obey laws in whose making we have had no voice, and, in presence of the assembled nations of the world gathered on this soil to celebrate our nation’s centennial, demand justice for the women of this land.

Whereas, The men of this nation have established for men of all nations, races and color, on this soil, at the cost of countless lives, the proposition (in the language of Frederick Douglass) “that a man’s head is his head, his body is his body, his feet are his feet”; therefore,

Resolved, That justice, equity and chivalry demand that man at once establish for his wife and mother the corresponding proposition, that a woman’s head is her head, her body is her body, her feet are her feet, and that all ownership and mastery over her person, property, conscience, and liberty of speech and action, are in violation of the supreme law of the land.

Resolved, That we rejoice in the resistance of Julia and Abby Smith, Abby Kelly Foster, Sarah E. Wall and many more resolute women in various parts of the country, to taxation without representation.

Resolved, That the thanks of the National Woman Suffrage Association are hereby tendered to Hon. A. A. Sargent, of California, for his earnest words in behalf of woman suffrage on the floor of the United States Senate, Jan. 25, 1876; and to Hon. N. P. Banks, of Massachusetts, for his appeal in behalf of the centennial woman suffrage memorial in the United States House of Representatives, March 31, 1876.

Resolved, That the repeated attempts to license the social evil are a practical confession of the weakness, profligacy and general unfitness of men to legislate for women, and should be regarded with alarm as a proof that their firesides and liberties are in constant peril while men alone make and execute the laws of this country.

Whereas, There are 7,000 more women than men in the District of Columbia, and no form of government for said District has allowed women any voice in making the laws under which they live; therefore,

Resolved, That in this centennial year the congress of the United States having exclusive jurisdiction over that territory should establish a truly republican form of government by granting equal suffrage to the men and women of the District of Columbia.

Immediately at the close of the May convention Mrs. Gage again went to Philadelphia to complete the arrangements in regard to the centennial headquarters. Large and convenient rooms were soon found upon Arch street, terms agreed upon and a lease drawn, when it transpired that a husband’s consent and signature must be obtained, although the property was owned by a woman, as by the laws of Pennsylvania a married woman’s property is under her husband’s control. Although arrangements for this room had been made with the real owner, the terms being perfectly satisfactory to her, the husband refused his ratification, tearing up the lease, with abuse of the women who claimed control of their own property, and a general defiance of all women who dared work for the enfranchisement of their sex. Thus again were women refused rooms in Philadelphia in which to enter their protest against the tyranny of this republic, and for the same reason—they were slaves. Had the patriots of the revolutionary period asked rooms of King George, in which to foster their treason to his government, the refusal could have been no more positive than in these cases.

The quarters finally obtained were very desirable; fine large parlors on the first floor, on Chestnut street, at the fashionable west end, directly opposite the Young Men’s Christian Association. The other members of the committee being married ladies, Miss Anthony, as a feme sole, was alone held capable of making a contract, and was therefore obliged to assume the pecuniary responsibility of the rooms. Thus it is ever the married women who are more especially classed with lunatics, idiots and criminals, and held incapable of managing their own business. It has always been part of the code of slavery, that the slave had no right to property; all his earnings and gifts belonging by law, to the master. Married women come under this same civil code. The following letter was extensively circulated and published in all the leading journals:

National Woman Suffrage Parlors, }
1,431 Chestnut Street, Philadelphia, Pa. }

The National Woman Suffrage Association has established its centennial headquarters in Philadelphia, at 1,431 Chestnut street. The parlors, in charge of the officers of the association, are devoted to the special work of the year, pertaining to the centennial celebration and the political party conventions; also to calls, receptions, conversazioni, etc. On the table a centennial autograph book receives the names of visitors. Friends at a distance, both men and women, who cannot call, are invited to send their names, with date and residence, accompanied by a short expressive sentiment and a contribution toward expenses. In the rooms are books, papers, reports and decisions, speeches, tracts, and photographs of distinguished women; also mottoes and pictures expressive of woman’s condition. In addition to the parlor gatherings, meetings and conventions will be held during the season in various halls and churches throughout the city.

On July Fourth, while the men of this nation and the world are rejoicing that “All men are free and equal” in the United States, a declaration of rights for women will be issued from these headquarters, and a protest against calling this centennial a celebration of the independence of the people, while one-half are still political slaves.

Let the women of the whole land, on that day, in meetings, in parlors, in kitchens, wherever they may be, unite with us in this declaration and protest. And, immediately thereafter, send full reports, in manuscript or print, of their resolutions, speeches and action, for record in our centennial book, that the world may see that the women of 1876 know and feel their political degradation no less than did the men of 1776.

The first woman’s rights convention the world ever knew, called by Lucretia Mott and Elizabeth Cady Stanton, met at Seneca Falls, N. Y., July 19, 20, 1848. In commemoration of the twenty-eighth anniversary of that event, the National Woman Suffrage Association will hold in —— hall, Philadelphia, July 19, 20, of the present year, a grand mass convention, in which eminent reformers from the new and old world will take part. Friends are especially invited to be present on this historic occasion.

Matilda Joslyn Gage, Chairman Executive Committee.

Susan B. Anthony, Corresponding Secretary.

From these headquarters numberless documents were issued during the month of June. As the presidential nominating conventions were soon to meet, letters were addressed to both the Republican and Democratic parties, urging them to recognize the political rights of women in their platforms. Thousands of copies of these letters were scattered throughout the nation:

To the President and Members of the National Republican Convention, Cincinnati, O., June 14, 1876.

Gentlemen: The National Woman Suffrage Association asks you to place in your platform the following plank:

Resolved, That the right to the use of the ballot inheres in every citizen of the United States; and we pledge ourselves to secure the exercise of this right to all citizens, irrespective of sex.

In asking the insertion of this plank, we propose no change of fundamental principles. Our question is as old as the nation. Our government was framed on the political basis of the consent of the governed. And from July 4, 1776, until the present year, 1876, the nation has constantly advanced toward a fuller practice of our fundamental theory, that the governed are the source of all power. Your nominating convention, occurring in this centennial year of the republic, presents a good opportunity for the complete recognition of these first principles. Our government has not yet answered the end for which it was framed, while one-half the people of the United States are deprived of the right of self-government. Before the Revolution, Great Britain claimed the right to legislate for the colonies in all cases whatsoever; the men of this nation now as unjustly claim the right to legislate for women in all cases whatsoever.

The call for your nominating convention invites the coöperation of “all voters who desire to inaugurate and enforce the rights of every citizen, including the full and free exercise of the right of suffrage.” Women are citizens; declared to be by the highest legislative and judicial authorities; but they are citizens deprived of “the full and free exercise of the right of suffrage.” Your platform of 1872 declared “the Republican party mindful of its obligations to the loyal women of the nation for their noble devotion to the cause of freedom.” Devotion to freedom is no new thing for the women of this nation. From the earliest history of our country, woman has shown herself as patriotic as man in every great emergency in the nation’s life. From the Revolution to the present hour, woman has stood by the side of father, husband, son and brother in defense of liberty. The heroic and self-sacrificing deeds of the women of this republic, both in peace and war, must not be forgotten. Together men and women have made this country what it is. And to-day, in this one-hundredth year of our existence, the women—as members of the nation—as citizens of the United States—ask national recognition of their right of suffrage.

The Declaration of Independence struck a blow at every existent form of government, by declaring the individual the source of all power. Upon this one newly proclaimed truth our nation arose. But if States may deny suffrage to any class of citizens, or confer it at will upon any class—as according to the Minor-Happersett decision of the Supreme Court—a decision rendered under the auspices of the Republican party against suffrage as a constituent element of United States citizenship—we then possess no true national life. If States can deny suffrage to citizens of the United States, then States possess more power than the United States, and are more truly national in the character of their governments. National supremacy does not chiefly mean power “to levy war, conclude peace, contract alliances, establish commerce”; it means national protection and security in the exercise of the right of self-government, which comes alone, by and through the use of the ballot.

Even granting the premise of the Supreme-Court decision that “the Constitution of the United States does not confer suffrage on any one”; our national life does not date from that instrument. The constitution is not the original declaration of rights. It was not framed until eleven years after our existence as a nation, nor fully ratified until nearly fourteen years after the commencement of our national life. This centennial celebration of our nation’s birth does not date from the constitution, but from the Declaration of Independence. The declared purpose of the civil war was the settlement of the question of supremacy between the States and the United States. The documents sent out by the Republican party in this present campaign, warn the people that the Democrats intend another battle for State sovereignty, to be fought this year at the ballot-box.

The National Woman Suffrage Association calls your attention to the fact that the Republican party has itself reopened this battle, and now holds the anomalous position of having settled the question of State sovereignty in the case of black men, and again opened it, through the Minor-Happersett decision, not only in the case of women citizens, but also in the case of men citizens, for all other causes save those specified in the fifteenth amendment. Your party has yet one opportunity to retrieve its position. The political power of this country has always shown itself superior to the judicial power—the latter ever shaping and basing its decisions on the policy of the dominant party. A pledge, therefore, by your convention to secure national protection in the enjoyment of perfect equality of rights, civil and political, to all citizens, will so define the policy of the Republican party as to open the way to a full and final adjustment of this question on the basis of United States supremacy.

Aside from the higher motive of justice, we suggest your adoption of this principle of equal rights to women, as a means of securing your own future existence. The party of reform in this country is the party that lives. The party that ceases to represent the vital principles of truth and justice dies. If you would save the life of the Republican party you should now take broad national ground on this question of suffrage.

By this act you will do most to promote the general welfare, secure the blessings of liberty to yourselves and your posterity, and establish on this continent a genuine republic that shall know no class, caste, race, or sex—where all the people are citizens, and all citizens are equal before the law.

Matilda Joslyn Gage, Chairman Executive Committee.

Susan B. Anthony, Corresponding Secretary.
Centennial Headquarters, 1,431 Chestnut street, Philadelphia, June 10, 1876.

To the President and Members of the National Democratic Convention assembled at St. Louis, June 27, 1876:

Gentlemen: In reading the call for your convention, the National Woman Suffrage Association was gratified to find that your invitation was not limited to voters, but cordially extended to all citizens of the United States. We accordingly send delegates from our association, asking for them a voice in your proceedings, and also a plank in your platform declaring the political rights of women.

Women are the only class of citizens still wholly unrepresented in the government, and yet we possess every qualification requisite for voters in the several States. Women possess property and education; we take out naturalization papers and passports; we preëmpt lands, pay taxes, and suffer for our own violation of the laws. We are neither idiots, lunatics, nor criminals; and, according to your State constitutions, lack but one qualification for voters, namely, sex, which is an insurmountable qualification, and therefore equivalent to a bill of attainder against one-half the people; a power no State nor congress can legally exercise, being forbidden in article 1, sections 9, 10, of our constitution. Our rulers may have the right to regulate the suffrage, but they can not abolish it altogether for any class of citizens, as has been done in the case of the women of this republic, without a direct violation of the fundamental law of the land.

As you hold the constitution of the fathers to be a sacred legacy to us and our children forever, we ask you to so interpret that Magna Charta of human rights as to secure justice and equality to all United States citizens irrespective of sex. We desire to call your attention to the violation of the essential principle of self-government in the disfranchisement of the women of the several States, and we appeal to you, not only because as a minority you are in a position to consider principles, but because you were the party first to extend suffrage by removing the property qualification from all white men, and thus making the political status of the richest and poorest citizen the same. That act of justice to the laboring masses insured your power, with but few interruptions, until the war.

When the District of Columbia suffrage bill was under discussion in 1866, it was a Democratic senator (Mr. Cowan, of Pennsylvania) who proposed an amendment to strike out the word “male,” and thus extend the right of suffrage to the women, as well as the black men of the District. That amendment gave us a splendid discussion on woman suffrage that lasted three days in the Senate of the United States. It was a Democratic legislature that secured the right of suffrage to the women of Wyoming, and we now ask you in national convention to pledge the Democratic party to extend this act of justice to the women throughout the nation, and thus call to your side a new political force that will restore and perpetuate your power for years to come.

The Republican party gave us a plank in their platform in 1872, pledging themselves to a “respectful consideration” of our demands. But by their constitutional interpretations, legislative enactments, and judicial decisions, so far from redeeming their pledge, they have buried our petitions and appeals under laws in direct opposition to their high-sounding promises and professions. And now (1876) they give us another plank in their platform, approving the “substantial advance made toward the establishment of equal rights for women”; cunningly reminding us that the privileges and immunities we now enjoy are all due to Republican legislation—although, under a Republican dynasty, inspectors of election have been arrested and imprisoned for taking the votes of women; temperance women arrested and imprisoned for praying in the streets; houses, lands, bonds, and stock of women seized and sold for their refusal to pay unjust taxation—and, more than all, we have this singular spectacle: a Republican woman, who had spoken for the Republican party throughout the last presidential campaign, arrested by Republican officers for voting the Republican ticket, denied the right of trial by jury by a Republican judge, convicted and sentenced to a fine of one hundred dollars and costs of prosecution; and all this for asserting at the polls the most sacred of all the rights of American citizenship—the right of suffrage—specifically secured by recent Republican amendments to the federal constitution.

Again, the Supreme Court of the United States, by its recent decision in the Minor-Happersett case, has stultified its own interpretation of constitutional law. A negro, by virtue of his United States citizenship, is declared under recent amendments a voter in every State in the Union; but when a woman, by virtue of her United States citizenship, applies to the Supreme Court for protection in the exercise of this same right, she is remanded to the State by the unanimous decision of the nine judges on the bench, that “the Constitution of the United States does not confer the right of suffrage upon any one.”

All concessions of privileges or redress of grievances are but mockery for any class that has no voice in the laws and lawmakers. Hence we demand the ballot—that scepter of power—in our own hands, as the only sure protection for our rights of person and property under all conditions. If the few may grant or withhold rights at their own pleasure, the many cannot be said to enjoy the blessings of self-government. Jefferson said, “The God who gave us life gave us liberty at the same time. The hand of force may destroy, but cannot disjoin them.” While the first and highest motive we would urge on you is the recognition in all your action of the great principles of justice and equality that underlie our form of government, it is not unworthy to remind you that the party that takes this onward step will reap its just reward.

Had you heeded our appeals made to you in Tammany Hall, New York, in 1868, and again in Baltimore, in 1872, your party might now have been in power, as you would have had, what neither party can boast to-day, a live issue on which to rouse the enthusiasm of the people. Reform is the watchword of the hour; but how can we hope for honor and honesty in either party in minor matters, so long as both consent to rob one-half the people—their own mothers, sisters, wives and daughters—of their most sacred rights? As a party you defended the right of self-government in Louisiana ably and eloquently during the last session of congress. Are the rights of women in all the Southern States, whose slaves are now their rulers, less sacred than those of the men of Louisiana? “The whole art of government,” says Jefferson, “consists in being honest.”

It needs but little observation to see that the tide of progress, in all countries, is setting toward the emancipation and enfranchisement of women; and this step in civilization is to be taken in our day and generation. Whether the Democratic party will take the initiative in this reform, and reap the glory of crowning fifteen million women with the rights of American citizenship, and thereby vindicate our theory of self-government, is the momentous question we ask you to decide in this eventful hour, as we round out the first century of our national life.

Elizabeth Cady Stanton, President.

Matilda Joslyn Gage, Chairman Executive Committee.
Susan B. Anthony, Corresponding Secretary.
Centennial Headquarters, 1,431 Chestnut street, Philadelphia, June 20, 1876.

In addition to these letters delegates were sent to both the Republican and Democratic conventions. Sara Andrews Spencer and Elizabeth Boynton Harbert were present at the Republican convention at Cincinnati; both addressed the committee on platform and resolutions, and Mrs. Spencer, on motion of Hon. George F. Hoar, was permitted to address the convention. Mrs. Virginia L. Minor and Miss Phoebe W. Couzins were the delegates to the Democratic convention at St. Louis, and the latter addressed that vast assembly.

For a long time there had been a growing demand for a woman’s declaration to be issued on July Fourth, 1876. “Let us then protest against the falsehood of the nation”; “If the old Declaration does not include women, let us have one that will”; “Let our rulers be arraigned”; “A declaration of independence for women must be issued on the Fourth of July, 1876,” were demands that came from all parts of the country. The officers of the association had long had such action in view, having, at the Washington convention, early in 1875, announced their intention of working in Philadelphia during the centennial season, and were strengthened in their determination by the hearty indorsement they received. At the May convention in New York, Matilda Joslyn Gage, in her opening speech, announced that a declaration of independence for women would be issued on the Fourth of July, 1876. In response to this general feeling, the officers of the National Association prepared a declaration of rights of the women of the United States, and articles of impeachment against the government.

Application was made by the secretary, Miss Anthony, to General Hawley, president of the centennial commission, for seats for fifty officers of the association. General Hawley replied that “only officials were invited”—that even his own wife had no place—that merely representatives and officers of the government had seats assigned them. “Then” said she, “as women have no share in the government, they are to have no seats on the platform,” to which General Hawley assented; adding, however, that Mrs. Gillespie, of the woman’s centennial commission, had fifty seats placed at her disposal, thus showing it to be in his power to grant places to women whenever he so chose to do. Miss Anthony said: “I ask seats for the officers of the National Woman Suffrage Association; we represent one-half the people, and why should we be denied all part in this centennial celebration?” Miss Anthony, however, secured a reporter’s ticket by virtue of representing her brother’s paper, The Leavenworth Times, and, ultimately, cards of invitation were sent to four others,(10) representing the 20,000,000 disfranchised citizens of the nation.

Mrs. Stanton, as president of the association, wrote General Hawley, asking the opportunity to present the woman’s protest and bill of rights at the close of the reading of the Declaration of Independence. Just its simple presentation and nothing more. She wrote:

We do not ask to read our declaration, only to present it to the president of the United States, that it may become an historical part of the proceedings.

Mrs. Spencer, bearer of this letter, in presenting it to General Hawley, said:

The women of the United States make a slight request on the occasion of the centennial celebration of the birth of the nation; we only ask that we may silently present our declaration of rights.

General Hawley replied: It seems a very slight request, but our programme is published, our speakers engaged, our arrangements for the day decided upon, and we can not make even so slight a change as that you ask.

Mrs. Spencer replied: We are aware that your programme is published, your speakers engaged, your entire arrangements decided upon, without consulting with the women of the United States; for that very reason we desire to enter our protest. We are aware that this government has been conducted for one hundred years without consulting the women of the United States; for this reason we desire to enter our protest.

General Hawley replied: Undoubtedly we have not lived up to our own original Declaration of Independence in many respects. I express no opinion upon your question. It is a proper subject of discussion at the Cincinnati convention, at the St. Louis convention,, in the Senate of the United States, in the State legislatures, in the courts, wherever you can obtain a hearing. But to-morrow we propose to celebrate what we have done the last hundred years; not what we have failed to do. We have much to do in the future. I understand the full significance of your very slight request. If granted, it would be the event of the day—the topic of discussion to the exclusion of all others. I am sorry to refuse so slight a demand; we cannot grant it.

General Hawley also addressed a letter to Mrs. Stanton:

Dear Madam: I regret to say it is impossible for us to make any change in our programme, or make any addition to it at this late hour.

Yours very respectfully,

Jos. R. Hawley, President U. S. C. C.

As General Grant was not to attend the celebration, the acting vice-president, Thomas W. Ferry, representing the government, was to officiate in his place, and he, too, was addressed by note, and courteously requested to make time for the reception of this declaration. As Mr. Ferry was a well-known sympathizer with the demands of woman for political rights, it was presumable that he would render his aid. Yet he was forgetful that in his position that day he represented, not the exposition, but the government of a hundred years, and he too refused; thus this simple request of woman for a half moment’s recognition on the nation’s centennial birthday was denied by all in authority.(11)) While the women of the nation were thus absolutely forbidden the right of public protest, lavish preparations were made for the reception and entertainment of foreign potentates and the myrmidons of monarchial institutions. Dom Pedro, emperor of Brazil, a representative of that form of government against which the United States is a perpetual defiance and protest, was welcomed with fulsome adulation, and given a seat of honor near the officers of the day; Prince Oscar of Sweden, a stripling of sixteen, on whose shoulder rests the promise of a future kingship, was seated near. Count Rochambeau of France, the Japanese commissioners, high officials from Russia and Prussia, from Austria, Spain, England, Turkey, representing the barbarism and semi-civilization of the day, found no difficulty in securing recognition and places of honor upon that platform, where representative womanhood was denied.

Though refused by their own countrymen a place and part in the centennial celebration, the women who had taken this presentation in hand were not to be conquered. They had respectfully asked for recognition; now that it had been denied, they determined to seize upon the moment when the reading of the Declaration of Independence closed, to proclaim to the world the tyranny and injustice of the nation toward one-half its people. Five officers of the National Woman Suffrage Association, with that heroic spirit which has ever animated lovers of liberty in resistance to tyranny, determined, whatever the result, to present the woman’s declaration of rights at the chosen hour. They would not, they dared not sacrifice the golden opportunity to which they had so long looked forward; their work was not for themselves alone, nor for the present generation, but for all women of all time. The hopes of posterity were in their hands and they determined to place on record for the daughters of 1976, the fact that their mothers of 1876 had asserted their equality of rights, and impeached the government of that day for its injustice toward woman. Thus, in taking a grander step toward freedom than ever before, they would leave one bright remembrance for the women of the next centennial.

That historic Fourth of July dawned at last, one of the most oppressive days of that terribly heated season. Susan B. Anthony, Matilda Joslyn Gage, Sara Andrews Spencer, Lillie Devereux Blake and Phoebe W. Couzins made their way through the crowds under the broiling sun to Independence Square, carrying the Woman’s Declaration of Rights. This declaration had been handsomely engrossed by one of their number, and signed by the oldest and most prominent advocates of woman’s enfranchisement. Their tickets of admission proved open sesame through the military and all other barriers, and a few moments before the opening of the ceremonies, these women found themselves within the precincts from which most of their sex were excluded.

The declaration of 1776 was read by Richard Henry Lee, of Virginia, about whose family clusters so much of historic fame. The close of his reading was deemed the appropriate moment for the presentation of the woman’s declaration. Not quite sure how their approach might be met—not quite certain if at this final moment they would be permitted to reach the presiding officer—those ladies arose and made their way down the aisle. The bustle of preparation for the Brazilian hymn covered their advance. The foreign guests, the military and civil officers who filled the space directly in front of the speaker’s stand, courteously made way, while Miss Anthony in fitting words presented the declaration. Mr. Ferry’s face paled, as bowing low, with no word, he received the declaration, which thus became part of the day’s proceedings; the ladies turned, scattering printed copies, as they deliberately walked down the platform. On every side eager hands were stretched; men stood on seats and asked for them, while General Hawley, thus defied and beaten in his audacious denial to women the right to present their declaration, shouted, “Order, order!”

Passing out, these ladies made their way to a platform erected for the musicians in front of Independence Hall. Here on this old historic ground, under the shadow of Washington’s statue, back of them the old bell that proclaimed “liberty to all the land, and all the inhabitants thereof,” they took their places, and to a listening, applauding crowd, Miss Anthony read(12) the Declaration of Rights for Women by the National Woman Suffrage Association, July 4, 1876:

While the nation is buoyant with patriotism, and all hearts are attuned to praise, it is with sorrow we come to strike the one discordant note, on this one-hundredth anniversary of our country’s birth. When subjects of kings, emperors, and czars, from the old world join in our national jubilee, shall the women of the republic refuse to lay their hands with benedictions on the nation’s head? Surveying America’s exposition, surpassing in magnificence those of London, Paris, and Vienna, shall we not rejoice at the success of the youngest rival among the nations of the earth? May not our hearts, in unison with all, swell with pride at our great achievements as a people; our free speech, free press, free schools, free church, and the rapid progress we have made in material wealth, trade, commerce and the inventive arts? And we do rejoice in the success, thus far, of our experiment of self-government. Our faith is firm and unwavering in the broad principles of human rights proclaimed in 1776, not only as abstract truths, but as the corner stones of a republic. Yet we cannot forget, even in this glad hour, that while all men of every race, and clime, and condition, have been invested with the full rights of citizenship under our hospitable flag, all women still suffer the degradation of disfranchisement.

The history of our country the past hundred years has been a series of assumptions and usurpations of power over woman, in direct opposition to the principles of just government, acknowledged by the United States as its foundation, which are:

First—The natural rights of each individual.

Second—The equality of these rights.

Third—That rights not delegated are retained by the individual.

Fourth—That no person can exercise the rights of others without delegated authority.

Fifth—That the non-use of rights does not destroy them.

And for the violation of these fundamental principles of our government, we arraign our rulers on this Fourth day of July, 1876,—and these are our articles of impeachment:

Bills of attainder have been passed by the introduction of the word “male” into all the State constitutions, denying to women the right of suffrage, and thereby making sex a crime—an exercise of power clearly forbidden in article I, sections 9, 10, of the United States constitution.

The writ of habeas corpus, the only protection against lettres de cachet and all forms of unjust imprisonment, which the constitution declares “shall not be suspended, except when in cases of rebellion or invasion the public safety demands it,” is held inoperative in every State of the Union, in case of a married woman against her husband—the marital rights of the husband being in all cases primary, and the rights of the wife secondary.

The right of trial by a jury of one’s peers was so jealously guarded that States refused to ratify the original constitution until it was guaranteed by the sixth amendment. And yet the women of this nation have never been allowed a jury of their peers—being tried in all cases by men, native and foreign, educated and ignorant, virtuous and vicious. Young girls have been arraigned in our courts for the crime of infanticide; tried, convicted, hanged—victims, perchance, of judge, jurors, advocates—while no woman’s voice could be heard in their defense. And not only are women denied a jury of their peers, but in some cases, jury trial altogether. During the war, a woman was tried and hanged by military law, in defiance of the fifth amendment, which specifically declares: “No person shall be held to answer for a capital or otherwise infamous crime, unless on a presentment or indictment of a grand jury, except in cases … of persons in actual service in time of war.” During the last presidential campaign, a woman, arrested for voting, was denied the protection of a jury, tried, convicted, and sentenced to a fine and costs of prosecution, by the absolute power of a judge of the Supreme Court of the United States.

Taxation without representation, the immediate cause of the rebellion of the colonies against Great Britain, is one of the grievous wrongs the women of this country have suffered during the century. Deploring war, with all the demoralization that follows in its train, we have been taxed to support standing armies, with their waste of life and wealth. Believing in temperance, we have been taxed to support the vice, crime and pauperism of the liquor traffic. While we suffer its wrongs and abuses infinitely more than man, we have no power to protect our sons against this giant evil. During the temperance crusade, mothers were arrested, fined, imprisoned, for even praying and singing in the streets, while men blockade the sidewalks with impunity, even on Sunday, with their military parades and political processions. Believing in honesty, we are taxed to support a dangerous army of civilians, buying and selling the offices of government and sacrificing the best interests of the people. And, moreover, we are taxed to support the very legislators and judges who make laws, and render decisions adverse to woman. And for refusing to pay such unjust taxation, the houses, lands, bonds, and stock of women have been seized and sold within the present year, thus proving Lord Coke’s assertion, that “The very act of taxing a man’s property without his consent is, in effect, disfranchising him of every civil right.”

Unequal codes for men and women. Held by law a perpetual minor, deemed incapable of self-protection, even in the industries of the world, woman is denied equality of rights. The fact of sex, not the quantity or quality of work, in most cases, decides the pay and position; and because of this injustice thousands of fatherless girls are compelled to choose between a life of shame and starvation. Laws catering to man’s vices have created two codes of morals in which penalties are graded according to the political status of the offender. Under such laws, women are fined and imprisoned if found alone in the streets, or in public places of resort, at certain hours. Under the pretense of regulating public morals, police officers seizing the occupants of disreputable houses, march the women in platoons to prison, while the men, partners in their guilt, go free. While making a show of virtue in forbidding the importation of Chinese women on the Pacific coast for immoral purposes, our rulers, in many States, and even under the shadow of the national capitol, are now proposing to legalize the sale of American womanhood for the same vile purposes.

Special legislation for woman has placed us in a most anomalous position. Women invested with the rights of citizens in one section—voters, jurors, office-holders—crossing an imaginary line, are subjects in the next. In some States, a married woman may hold property and transact business in her own name; in others, her earnings belong to her husband. In some States, a woman may testify against her husband, sue and be sued in the courts; in others, she has no redress in case of damage to person, property, or character. In case of divorce on account of adultery in the husband, the innocent wife is held to possess no right to children or property, unless by special decree of the court. But in no State of the Union has the wife the right to her own person, or to any part of the joint earnings of the co-partnership during the life of her husband. In some States women may enter the law schools and practice in the courts; in others they are forbidden. In some universities girls enjoy equal educational advantages with boys, while many of the proudest institutions in the land deny them admittance, though the sons of China, Japan and Africa are welcomed there. But the privileges already granted in the several States are by no means secure. The right of suffrage once exercised by women in certain States and territories has been denied by subsequent legislation. A bill is now pending in congress to disfranchise the women of Utah, thus interfering to deprive United States citizens of the same rights which the Supreme Court has declared the national government powerless to protect anywhere. Laws passed after years of untiring effort, guaranteeing married women certain rights of property, and mothers the custody of their children, have been repealed in States where we supposed all was safe. Thus have our most sacred rights been made the football of legislative caprice, proving that a power which grants as a privilege what by nature is a right, may withhold the same as a penalty when deeming it necessary for its own perpetuation.

Representation of woman has had no place in the nation’s thought. Since the incorporation of the thirteen original States, twenty-four have been admitted to the Union, not one of which has recognized woman’s right of self-government. On this birthday of our national liberties, July Fourth, 1876, Colorado, like all her elder sisters, comes into the Union with the invidious word “male” in her constitution.

Universal manhood suffrage, by establishing an aristocracy of sex, imposes upon the women of this nation a more absolute and cruel depotism than monarchy; in that, woman finds a political master in her father, husband, brother, son. The aristocracies of the old world are based upon birth, wealth, refinement, education, nobility, brave deeds of chivalry; in this nation, on sex alone; exalting brute force above moral power, vice above virtue, ignorance above education, and the son above the mother who bore him.

The judiciary above the nation has proved itself but the echo of the party in power, by upholding and enforcing laws that are opposed to the spirit and letter of the constitution. When the slave power was dominant, the Supreme Court decided that a black man was not a citizen, because he had not the right to vote; and when the constitution was so amended as to make all persons citizens, the same high tribunal decided that a woman, though a citizen, had not the right to vote. Such vacillating interpretations of constitutional law unsettle our faith in judicial authority, and undermine the liberties of the whole people.

These articles of impeachment against our rulers we now submit to the impartial judgment of the people. To all these wrongs and oppressions woman has not submitted in silence and resignation. From the beginning of the century, when Abigail Adams, the wife of one president and mother of another, said, “We will not hold ourselves bound to obey laws in which we have no voice or representation,” until now, woman’s discontent has been steadily increasing, culminating nearly thirty years ago in a simultaneous movement among the women of the nation, demanding the right of suffrage. In making our just demands, a higher motive than the pride of sex inspires us; we feel that national safety and stability depend on the complete recognition of the broad principles of our government. Woman’s degraded, helpless position is the weak point in our institutions to-day; a disturbing force everywhere, severing family ties, filling our asylums with the deaf, the dumb, the blind; our prisons with criminals, our cities with drunkenness and prostitution; our homes with disease and death. It was the boast of the founders of the republic, that the rights for which they contended were the rights of human nature. If these rights are ignored in the case of one-half the people, the nation is surely preparing for its downfall. Governments try themselves. The recognition of a governing and a governed class is incompatible with the first principles of freedom. Woman has not been a heedless spectator of the events of this century, nor a dull listener to the grand arguments for the equal rights of humanity. From the earliest history of our country woman has shown equal devotion with man to the cause of freedom, and has stood firmly by his side in its defense. Together, they have made this country what it is. Woman’s wealth, thought and labor have cemented the stones of every monument man has reared to liberty.

And now, at the close of a hundred years, as the hour-hand of the great clock that marks the centuries points to 1876, we declare our faith in the principles of self-government; our full equality with man in natural rights; that woman was made first for her own happiness, with the absolute right to herself—to all the opportunities and advantages life affords for her complete development; and we deny that dogma of the centuries, incorporated in the codes of all nations—that woman was made for man—her best interests, in all cases, to be sacrificed to his will. We ask of our rulers, at this hour, no special favors, no special privileges, no special legislation. We ask justice, we ask equality, we ask that all the civil and political rights that belong to citizens of the United States, be guaranteed to us and our daughters forever.(13)

The declaration was warmly applauded at many points, and after scattering another large number of printed copies, the delegation hastened to the convention of the National Association. A meeting had been appointed for twelve, in the old historic First Unitarian church, where Rev. Wm. H. Furness preached for fifty years, but whose pulpit was then filled by Joseph May, a son of Rev. Samuel J. May. To this place the ladies made their way to find the church crowded with an expectant audience, which greeted them with thanks for what they had just done; the first act of this historic day taking place on the old centennial platform in Independence Square, the last in a church so long devoted to equality and justice. The venerable Lucretia Mott, then in her eighty-fourth year, presided. Elizabeth Cady Stanton read the Declaration of Rights. Its reception by the listening audience proclaimed its need and its justice. The reading was followed by speeches upon the various points of the declaration.

Belva A. Lockwood took up the judiciary, showing the way that body lends itself to party politics. Matilda Joslyn Gage spoke upon the writ of habeas corpus, showing what a mockery to married women was that constitutional guarantee. Lucretia Mott reviewed the progress of the reform from the first convention. Sara Andrews Spencer illustrated the evils arising from two codes of morality. Mrs. Devereux Blake spoke upon trial by jury; Susan B. Anthony upon taxation without representation, illustrating her remarks by incidents of unjust taxation of women during the present year. Elizabeth Cady Stanton spoke upon the aristocracy of sex, and the evils arising from manhood suffrage. Judge Esther Morris, of Wyoming, said a few words in regard to suffrage in that territory. Mrs. Margaret Parker, president of the woman suffrage club of Dundee, Scotland, and of the newly-formed Christian Woman’s International Temperance Union, said she had seen nothing like this in Great Britain—it was worth the journey across the Atlantic. Mr. J. H. Raper, of Manchester, England, characterized it as the historic meeting of the day, and said the patriot of a hundred years hence would seek for every incident connected with it, and the next centennial would be adorned by the portraits of the women who sat upon that platform.

The Hutchinsons, themselves of historic fame, were present. They were in their happiest vein, interspersing the speeches with appropriate and felicitous songs. Lucretia Mott did not confine herself to a single speech, but, in Quaker style, whenever the spirit moved made many happy points. When she first arose to speak, a call came from the audience for her to ascend the pulpit in order that she might be seen. As she complied with this request, ascending the long winding staircase into the old-fashioned octagon pulpit, she said, “I am somewhat like Zaccheus of old who climbed the sycamore tree his Lord to see; I climb this pulpit, not because I am of lofty mind, but because I am short of stature that you may see me.” As her sweet and placid countenance appeared above the pulpit, the Hutchinsons, by happy inspiration, burst into “Nearer, my God, to Thee.” The effect was marvelous; the audience at once arose, and spontaneously joined in the hymn.

Phoebe W. Couzins, with great pathos, referred to woman’s work in the war, and the parade of the Grand Army of the Republic the preceding evening; she said:

In such an hour as this, with my soul stirred to its deepest depths, I feel unequal to the task of uttering words befitting the occasion, and to follow the dear saint who has just spoken; how can I? I am but a beginner, and to-day I feel that to sit at the feet of these dear women who have borne the heat and burden of this contest, and to learn of them is the attitude I should assume. It is not the time for argument or rhetoric. It is the time for introspection and prayer. We have come from Independence Square, where the nation is celebrating its centennial birthday of a masculine freedom. You have just heard from Mrs. Stanton the reading of Woman’s Declaration of Rights; that document has already been presented in engrossed form, tied with the symbolic red, white and blue, to the presiding officer of the day, Senator Thomas W. Ferry, on their platform in yonder square; and the John Hampden of our cause, the immortal Susan B. Anthony, rendered it historic, by reading it from the steps of Independence Hall, to an immense audience there gathered, that could not gain access to the square or platform. (Great applause.) I cannot express to you in fitting language the thoughts and feelings which stirred me as I sat on the platform, awaiting the presentation of that document.

We were about to commit an overt act. Gen. Hawley, president of the centennial commission and manager of the programme, had peremptorily forbidden its presentation. Yet in the face of this—in the face of the assembled nation and representatives from the crowned heads of Europe, a handful of women actuated by the same high principles as our fathers, stirred by the same desire for freedom, moved by the same impulse for liberty, were to again proclaim the right of self-government; were again to impeach the spirit of King George manifested in our rulers, and declare that taxation without representation is tyranny, that the divine right of one-half of the people to rule the other half is also despotism. As I followed the reading of Richard Henry Lee, and marked the wild enthusiasm of its reception, and remembered that at its close, a document, as noble, as divine, as grand, as historic as that, was to be presented in silence; an act, as heroic, as worthy, as sublime, was to be performed in the face of the contemptuous amazement of the assembled world, I trembled with suppressed emotion. When Susan Anthony arose, with a look of intense pain, yet heroic determination in her face, I silently committed her to the Great Father who seëth not in part, to strengthen and comfort her heroic heart, and then she was lost to view in the sudden uprising caused by the burst of applause instituted by General Hawley in behalf of the Brazilian emperor. And thus at the close of the reading of a document which repudiated kings and declared the right of every person to life, to liberty and the pursuit of individual happiness, the American people, applauding a crowned monarch, received in silence the immortal document and protest of its discrowned queens!

Shall I recount the emotion that swayed me, as I thought of all that woman had done to build up this country; to sustain its unity, to perpetuate its principles; of its self-denying and heroic Pilgrim and revolutionary mothers; of the work of woman in the anti-slavery cause; the agony and death of her travail in its second birth for freedom; sustaining the nation by prayers, by self-sacrificing contributions, by patriotic endeavors, by encouraging words; and, reviewing the programme, and all the attendant pageants, remembered that in these grand centennial celebrations, when the nation rounded out its first century, not a tribute, not a recognition in any shape, form or manner was paid to woman; that upon the platform, as honored guests, sat those who had been false in the hour of our country’s peril; that upon this historic soil, stood the now freeman, once a slave, whose liberty and life were given him at the hands of woman; that the inhabitants of the far off isles of the sea, India, Asia, Africa, Europe, were gladly welcomed as free citizens, while woman, a suppliant beggar, pleaded of one man, invested with autocratic power, for the simple boon of presenting a protest in silence, against her degradation, and was denied!

I stood yesterday on the corner of Broad and Chestnut streets, watching the march of the Grand Army of the Republic. As the torn and tattered battle flags came by, all the terrors of that war tragedy suddenly rushed over me, and I sat down and wept. Looking again, I saw the car of wounded, soldiers; as in thought I was suddenly transported to the banks of the Mississippi I felt the air full of the horrors of the battle of Shiloh, and saw two young girls waiting the landing of a steamer that had been dispatched to succor the wounded on that terrible field. They were watching for “mother”—who for the first time had left her home charge, and hushing her own heart’s pleadings, heard only her country’s call, and gone down to that field of carnage to tenderly care for the soldier. As they boarded the steamer; what a sight met their eyes! Maimed, bleeding, dying soldiers by the hundreds, were on cots on deck, on boxes filled with amputated limbs, and the dead were awaiting the last sad rites. Like ministering angels walked two women, their mother and the now sainted Margaret Breckenridge of Kentucky, amid these rows of sufferers, with strong nerve and steady arm, comforting the soldier boy, so far from friends and home; binding up the ghastly wound, bathing the feverish brow, smoothing the dying pillow, and with tender mother’s prayer and tear, closing the eyes of the dead. The first revelation of war; how it burned our youthful brain! How it moved us to divine compassion, how it stirred us to even give up our mother to the work for years, as we heard the piteous pleading, “Don’t leave us, mother”—”Oh, mother, we can never forget.” But alas they did forget! This scene repeated again, and again, during that long conflict, with hundreds of women offering a like service in camp and floating hospital, leaving sweet homes, without money, price or thought of emolument, going to these battle-fields and tenderly nursing the army of the republic to life again; while back of them were tens of thousands other women of the great sanitary army, who, in self-sacrifice at home, were sending lint, bandages, clothing, delicacies of food and raiment of all kinds, by car-load and ship-load, to comfort and ameliorate the sufferings of the grand army of the republic, and yet as I watched its march in this centennial year, its gala day—not a tribute marked its gratitude to her who had proved its savior and friend, in the hour of peril.

Again, came the colored man in rank and file—and in thought I saw the fifteenth-amendment jubilee, which proclaimed his emancipation. As banner after banner passed me, with the name of Garrison, of Phillips, of Douglass, I looked in vain for the name of Harriet Beecher Stowe, whose one book, “Uncle Tom’s Cabin”—did more to arouse the whole world to the horrors of slavery, than did the words or works of any ten men. I searched for a tribute to Lucretia Mott and other women of that conflict, but none appeared. And so to-day, standing here with heart and brain convulsed with all these memories and scenes, can you wonder that we are stirred to profoundest depths, as we review the base ingratitude of this nation to its women? It has taxed its women, and asked the women, in whose veins flows the blood of their Pilgrim and Revolutionary mothers, to assist by money, individual effort and presence, to make it a year of jubilee for the proclamation of a ransomed male nationality. Zenobia, in gilded chains it may be, but chains nevertheless, marches through the streets of Philadelphia to-day, an appendage of the chariot wheels which proclaim the coming of her king, her lord, her master, whether he be white or black, native or foreign-born, virtuous or vile, lettered or unlettered. As the state-house bell, with its inscription, “Proclaim liberty—throughout the land, unto all the inhabitants thereof,” pealed forth its jubilant reiteration,—the daughters of Jefferson, of Hancock, of Adams, and Patrick Henry, who have been politically outlawed and ostracized by their own countrymen, here had no liberty proclaimed for them; they are not inhabitants, only sojourners in the land of their fathers, and as the slaves in meek subjection to the will of the master placed the crown of sovereignty on the alien from Europe, Asia, Africa, she is asked to sing in dulcet strains: “The king is dead—long live the king!”

And thus to-day we round out the first century of a professed republic,—with woman figuratively representing freedom—and yet all free, save woman.

For five long hours of that hot mid-summer’s day, that crowded audience listened earnestly to woman’s demand for equality of rights before the law. When the convention at last adjourned, the Hutchinsons singing, “A Hundred Years Hence,”(14) it was slowly and reluctantly that the great audience left the house. Judged by its immediate influence, it was a wonderful meeting. No elaborate preparations had been made, for not until late on Friday evening had it been decided upon, hoping still, as we did, for a recognition in the general celebration on Independence Square. Speakers were not prepared, hardly a moment of thought had been given as to what should be said, but words fitting for the hour came to lips rendered eloquent by the pressure of intense emotion.

Day after day visitors to the woman suffrage parlors referred to this meeting in glowing terms. Ladies from distant States, in Philadelphia to visit the exposition, said that meeting was worth the whole expense of the journey. Young women with all the attractions of the day and the exposition enticing them, yet said, “The best of all I have seen in Philadelphia was that meeting.” Women to whom a dollar was of great value, said, “As much as I need money, I would not have missed that meeting for a hundred dollars”; while in the midst of conversation visitors would burst forth, “Was there ever such a meeting as that in Dr. Furness’ church?” and thus was Woman’s Declaration of Rights joyously received.

The day was also celebrated by women in convocations of their own all over the country.(15)

An interesting feature of the centennial parlors was an immense autograph book, in which the names of friends to the movement were registered by the thousands, some penned on that historic day and sent from the old world and the new, and others written on the spot during these eventful months. From the tidings of all these enthusiastic assemblies and immense number of letters(16) received in Philadelphia, unitedly demanding an extension of their rights, it was evident that the thinking women of the nation were hopefully waiting in the dawn of the new century for greater liberties to themselves.

From “Aunt Lottie’s Centennial Letters to her Nieces and Nephews,” we give the one describing this occasion:

My Dears: I suppose I had best tell you in this letter about the Fourth of July celebration at the centennial city—at least that portion of it that I know about, and which I would not have missed for the exhibition itself, and which I would not have you miss for all the rest of my letters. I cannot expect you to be as much interested in it as was I, but it is time you were becoming interested in the subject; and, if you live a half century from this time (in less than that, I hope,) you will see that what I am about to relate was, as General Hawley admitted it would be, “the event of the occasion.”

At the commencement of the exhibition, Miss Susan B. Anthony and Mrs. Matilda Joslyn Gage came to Philadelphia and procured the parlors of 1,431 Chestnut street for the accommodation of the National Woman Suffrage Association. These rooms were open to the friends of the association, and public receptions were held and well attended every Tuesday and Friday evening. During these months these two ladies—assisted the latter part of the time by Mrs. Elizabeth Cady Stanton—were engaged in preparing a history of the suffrage movement and a declaration of rights to be presented at the great centennial celebration of the Fourth of July, 1876. This document is in form like the first declaration of a hundred years ago, handsomely engrossed by Mrs. Sara Andrews Spencer, of Washington—a lady delegate to the Cincinnati Republican convention, June 12.

The celebration was held in Independence Square, just back of the old state-house where the first declaration was signed. There was a great crowd of people collected; a poem was read by Bayard Taylor and a speech delivered by William M. Evarts. But I knew it was useless to go there expecting to hear any portion of either; so I waited until twelve o’clock and then rode down in the cars to Dr. Furness’ church, corner of Broad and Locust streets, where these ladies were to hold their meeting. The church was full, and the exercises were opened by Mrs. Mott—the venerable and venerated president—a Quaker lady of slight form, attired in a plain, light-silk gown, white muslin neckerchief and cap, after that exquisitely neat and quaint fashion. Then the Hutchinsons sang a hymn, in which all were requested to join. Afterward Mrs. Stanton came to the front of the pulpit, the house was hushed, to a reverential stillness, and I never yet heard anything so solemn and impressive as her reading of the Declaration of Rights of the Women of the United States.

A printed copy had been given me the day before, when between the sessions of the New England American Association in the Academy of Music, where were Lucy Stone, Julia Ward Howe, Rev. Antoinette Brown Blackwell, Elizabeth K. Churchill and other pleasant-faced, sweet-voiced ladies, I had called at the rooms on Chestnut street and folded declarations, for half an hour with Mrs. Stanton, which they were distributing by post and in every way all over the land. When I read it at home that night I realized its importance, but as the next day (the Fourth) was excessively warm, I very nearly gave up going, and then I should have missed the impressiveness of her reading. When she first commenced, her voice seemed choked with emotion. She must have realized what she was doing, as we all knew it was the grandest thing that had been done in a hundred years. Thrill after thrill went through my veins, and the whole scene formed a picture that will yet be the subject of artists’ pencils and poets’ pens. I should have been contented to have had the meeting closed then with that best song of the Hutchinsons upon the progress of reform, where the young gentleman was so much applauded for his solo, “When Women Shall be Free.” Still we were all interested in Mrs. Spencer’s account of her interview with General Hawley, and his refusal to permit the silent handing-in of the declaration, which, after her persistence, assuring him “it would not take three minutes,” he was obliged to confess was because he was “very well aware it would be the event of the occasion.” “Immediately,” said Mrs. Spencer, “you cannot imagine what an inspiration we all had to do it; for,” added the slight, fair-haired, fluent lady, in a humorous manner that called forth laughter and applause, “I never yet was forbidden by a man to do a thing, but that I resolved to do it.”

We were also pleased to hear from that earnest woman, Susan B. Anthony, inspired by the immutable abstract truths of justice and equity. Reports say that she has the air of a Catholic devotee. She said that in defiance of “the powers that be” she took a place on that platform in Independence square, and at the proper time delivered the engrossed copy of the declaration to the Hon. T. W. Ferry, who received it with a courteous bow; and afterward on the steps of Independence Hall she read it to an assembled multitude. She had done her centennial day’s work for all time; and small wonder that mind and body craved rest after such tension. She is yet under a hundred dollars fine for voting at Rochester, and although from her lectures the last six years she has paid $10,000 indebtedness on The Revolution, she said she never would have paid that fine had she been imprisoned till now.

Mrs. Lucretia Mott, whom the younger Hutchinson(17) assisted into the pulpit—a beautiful sight to see cultured youth supporting refined old age—stated that she went up there, “not because she was higher-minded than the rest, but so that her enfeebled voice might be better heard.” The dear old soul is so much stronger than her body, that it would seem that she must have greatly overtasked herself; though an inspired soul has wonderful recuperative forces at command for the temple it inhabits. A goodly number of gentlemen were present at this meeting and that of the day before—three or four of them making short speeches. A Mr. Raper of England, strongly interested in the temperance and woman suffrage cause, told us that in his country “all women tax-payers voted for guardians of the poor, upon all educational matters, and also upon all municipal affairs. In that respect she was in advance of this professed republic. In England there is an hereditary aristocracy, here, an aristocracy of sex”; or, as the spirited Lillie Devereux Blake who was present once amusingly termed it, of “the bifurcated garment.” And now perhaps some materially-minded person will ask, “What are you going to do about it? You can’t fight!” forgetting that we are now fighting the greatest of all battles, and that the weapons of woman’s warfare, like her nature at its best development, are moral and spiritual.

Lewise Oliver.

Philadelphia, July 13, 1876.

The press of the country commented extensively upon the action of the women:

At noon to-day, in the First Unitarian church, corner Tenth and South, the National Woman Suffrage Association will present the Woman’s Declaration of Rights. The association will hold a convention at the same time and place, at which Lucretia Mott is announced to preside, and several ladies to make speeches. Most of the ladies are known as women of ability and earnest apostles of the creed they have espoused for the political enfranchisement of women. Their declaration of rights, we do not doubt, will be strongly enforced. These ladies, or some of them, have been assigned places upon the platform at the grand celebration ceremonies to take place in Independence Square to-day; and they have requested leave to present their declaration of rights in form on that occasion. They do not ask to have it read, we believe, but simply that the statement of their case shall go on file with the general archives of the day, so that the women of 1976 may see that their predecessors of 1876 did not let the centennial year of independence pass without protest.—(Philadelphia Ledger, July 4.

There was yet another incident of the Fourth, in Independence Square. Immediately after the Declaration of Independence had been read by Richard Henry Lee, and while the strains of the “Greeting from Brazil” were rising upon the air, two ladies pushed their way vigorously through the crowd and appeared upon the speaker’s platform. They were Susan B. Anthony and Matilda Joslyn Gage. Hustling generals aside, elbowing governors, and almost upsetting Dom Pedro in their charge, they reached Vice-President Ferry, and handed him a scroll about three feet long, tied with ribbons of various colors. He was seen to bow and look bewildered; but they had retreated in the same vigorous manner before the explanation was whispered about. It appears that they demanded a change of programme for the sake of reading their address; but if so, this was probably a mere form intended for future effect. More than six months ago some of the advocates of female suffrage began in this city their crusade against celebrating the centennial anniversary of a nation wherein women are not permitted to vote. The demand of Miss Anthony and Mrs. Gage to be allowed to take part in a commemoration which many of their associates discouraged and denounced, would have been a cool proceeding had it been made in advance. Made, as it was, through a very discourteous interruption, it pre-figures new forms of violence and disregard of order which may accompany the participation of women in active partisan politics.—(New York Tribune.

The letter of a correspondent, printed in another column, describing the presentation of a woman’s bill of rights, in Independence Square on the Fourth of July, will interest all readers, whether or not they think with the correspondent, that this little affair was the most important of the day’s proceedings. We have not a doubt that the persons who were concerned in the affair enjoyed it heartily. Those of them who made speeches naturally regarded their eloquence as a thing to stir the nation. All persons who make speeches do. The day was a warm one, and imagination, like the fire-cracker, was on fire. In the heat of the occasion, of course, the women who want to vote and who desire the protection of the writ of habeas corpus against the tyranny of actual or possible husbands, felt that they were making great folios of history; but the sagacity of the press agents and reporters was not at fault. The gatherers of news know very well what they are about; and when they decided to omit this part of the proceedings from their reports, they simply obeyed that instinct upon which their livelihood depends—the instinct, namely, to write only of matters in which the public is interested.

The good women who wrote and published this declaration, fancying that they were throwing a bombshell into the gathered crowds of American (male) citizens, are very much in earnest, doubtless, and are entitled—we have platform authority for saying it—to “respectful consideration”; but their movement scarcely rises, as yet at least, to the dignity of a great historical event. There is a prevailing indifference to their cause which is against it. The public is not aroused to a fever heat of indignation over the wrongs which women are everywhere suffering at the hands of the tyrants called husbands. The popular mind is not yet awake to the fact that men usually imprison their wives in back parlors and maltreat them shamefully. The witnesses, wives to wit, refuse to bear testimony to this effect, and the public placidly accepts appearance for reality and believes that the gentlewomen who ride about in their carriages or haunt the shops of our cities in gay apparel are reasonably well contented with their lot in life. In a word, it is not hostility so much as calm indifference with which the advocates of woman suffrage have to contend, and unluckily for them the indifference is very largely feminine.—(New York Evening Post.

There is something awful in the thought that should the woman suffragists be continually refused a voice in the affairs of the nation they might at last in a fit of desperation, do what our fathers did, and frame a declaration of independence, No, 2. Just think of an army of crinolines willing to take arms against the tyrant man, and sacrifice their lives, if need be, to carry out their principles! It is easier to ridicule the woman suffrage movement than to answer the arguments advanced by some of the leading advocates of that question. It is only the innate mildness of the position of women in general that has prevented a revolution on this same subject long ago. One hundred thousand such fire-eaters as Susan B. Anthony or Elizabeth Cady Stanton in the land, could raise a rumpus which would cause the late unpleasantness to pale into insignificance. Armed and equipped, what a sight would be presented by an army of strong-minded women! There would be no considering the question of whether the cavalry should ride side-saddle, or a la clothes-pin. Such detail would be of too small importance to receive the slightest attention; the more vital questions would be, “How can we slaughter the most men?” “How can we soonest convince the demons that we have rights which must be respected?” The fact is, that if these down-trodden women would take a firm stand in any thing like respectable numbers, and assert their claims to suffrage at the point of the bayonet, they would be allowed everything they asked for. There is not a man in the land who would dare to take up arms against a woman. Such a dernier resort on the part of the women would be truly laughable, but the matter would cease to be a joke, if General Susan B. Anthony, in command of a bloomer regiment, should march into the halls of congress, armed cap-a-pie, and demand the passage of a law in behalf of woman suffrage, or the alternative of the general cleaning out of the whole body. There is no immediate prospect of such an event, but “hell hath no furies like a woman scorned.” Long and loud have been the appeals of the fair sex for recognition at the ballot-box. With that faithful zeal so truly characteristic of her sex, she has each time, for many years in the history of this country, presented herself before the curious gaze of our national conventions, asking, with no little stress of argument, for a woman’s plank in the platforms. If she has been heard at all in the framed resolutions of the parties, the feeling prevailing in the conventions has been rather to pacify and put her off, than to grant her request through motives of political policy. If perseverance is to be awarded, the agitators of the woman question will yet carry off the prize they seek. Death alone can silence such women as Susan B. Anthony and Cady Stanton, and their teachings will live after them and unite others of their sex into strong bands of sisterhood in a common cause. It is safe to say, if events march on in the same direction they have since the calling of the first National Woman’s Convention, another centennial will see woman in the halls of legislation throughout the land, and so far as we are concerned we have no objection, so long as she behaves herself.—(St. Louis Dispatch, July 13.

It is a curious anomaly that the movement for national woman suffrage in our country is most obstructed by women, and that even where the men have doubts, their natural admiration for the gentler sex almost converts them into champions. Certain it is that the Declaration of Rights of the Women of the United States that the National Woman Suffrage Association presented to the vice-president, Mr. Ferry, while he was surrounded by foreign princes and potentates and by the governors of most of the States of the union, faced at the same time by a countless mass of American and foreign visitors—certain it is, we repeat, that when this altogether unique paper was presented by Miss Susan B. Anthony and her sisters, it became a record in the minds and memory of all who witnessed the strange proceeding. And it is a very well written statement, and no doubt one hundred years hence it will be read with an interest not less ecstatic than the enthusiasm of its present pioneers; for, in the interval, these advanced women may have won for their withholding sisters the entire list of male prerogatives. What adds to the force of the present woman suffrage party is the dignity, intelligence and purity of its participants. The venerable Lucretia Mott; the honest, straightforward Susan B. Anthony; the cultivated Ellen Clark Sargent (wife of the California senator); the beloved Elizabeth Cady Stanton, and indeed all the names attached to the declaration command our respect. Whatever we may think of the points of the declaration itself, with all our sincere admiration of these gentlewomen, increased by the knowledge everywhere that they are ardent republicans, we fear that their weakness, to employ a paradox, consists in their strength, or, in other words, that it is difficult to induce even the most benevolent and sympathetic observer to believe that they are really as much persecuted and oppressed as they claim to be. When the colored man demanded his rights they were given to him because these rights in republican constitutions were regarded as inherent, and also because he had reciprocal duties to discharge, and heavy burdens to carry, and when the Southern confederate demanded restitution of his rights, he rested his claim upon the double basis that he had earned forgiveness by his bravery, and that political disfranchisement did not belong to a republican example. Fortunately or unfortunately, it is very different with the ladies; and so when they come forward insisting upon rights heretofore accorded to men alone, they must encounter all the differences created by the delicacy of their own sisters and the reverence and love of the men, and the hard fact that these two influences have made it heretofore impossible for women to descend to the arena of politics. Having said this much, we present a few of the cardinal points of the woman’s declaration of rights laid before the august memorial centennial celebration last Tuesday, July 4, 1876.—(Philadelphia Press, July 15.

On July 19, the Citizens’ Suffrage Association, of Philadelphia, joined with the National Association in commemorating the first woman’s rights convention called by Lucretia Mott and Elizabeth Cady Stanton, at Seneca Falls, N. Y., July 19, 1848—thus celebrating the twenty-eighth anniversary of that historic event. The meeting was presided over by Edward M. Davis, president of the association, son-in-law of Lucretia Mott, and one of the most untiring workers in the cause. The venerable Lucretia Mott addressed the meeting, and Miss Anthony read letters from several of the earliest and most valued pioneers of the movement:

Tenafly, New Jersey, July 19, 1876.

Lucretia Mott—Esteemed Friend: It is twenty-eight years ago to-day since the first woman’s rights convention ever held assembled in the Wesleyan chapel at Seneca Falls, N. Y. Could we have foreseen, when we called that convention, the ridicule, persecution, and misrepresentation that the demand for woman’s political, religious and social equality would involve; the long, weary years of waiting and hoping without success; I fear we should not have had the courage and conscience to begin such a protracted struggle, nor the faith and hope to continue the work. Fortunately for all reforms, the leaders, not seeing the obstacles which block the way, start with the hope of a speedy success. Our demands at the first seemed so rational that I thought the mere statement of woman’s wrongs would bring immediate redress. I thought an appeal to the reason and conscience of men against the unjust and unequal laws for women that disgraced our statute books, must settle the question. But I soon found, while no attempt was made to answer our arguments, that an opposition, bitter, malignant, and persevering, rooted in custom and prejudice, grew stronger with every new demand made, with every new privilege granted.

How well I remember that July day when the leading ladies and gentlemen of the busy town crowded into the little church; lawyers loaded with books, to expound to us the laws; ladies with their essays, and we who had called the convention, with our declaration of rights, speeches, and resolutions. With what dignity James Mott, your sainted husband, tall and stately, in Quaker costume, presided over our novel proceedings. And your noble sister, Martha C. Wright, was there. Her wit and wisdom contributed much to the interest of our proceedings, and her counsel in a large measure to what success we claimed for our first convention. While so many of those early friends fell off through indifference, fear of ridicule and growing conservatism, she remained through these long years of trial steadfast to the close of a brave, true life. She has been present at nearly every convention, with her encouraging words and generous contributions, and being well versed in Cushing’s Manual, has been one of our chief presiding officers. And my heart is filled with gratitude, even at this late day, as I recall the earnestness and eloquence with which Frederick Douglass advocated our cause, though at that time he had no rights himself that any white man was bound to respect. I marvel now, that in our inexperience the interest was so well sustained through two entire days, and that when the meeting adjourned everybody signed the declaration and went home feeling that a new era had dawned for woman. What had been done and said seemed so preëminently wise and proper that none of us thought of being ridiculed, ostracised, or suspected of evil. But what was our surprise and chagrin to find ourselves, in a few days, the target for the press of the nation; the New York Tribune being our only strong arm of defense.

Looking over these twenty-eight years, I feel that what we have achieved, as yet, bears no proportion to what we have suffered in the daily humiliation of spirit from the cruel distinctions based on sex. Though our State laws have been essentially changed, and positions in the schools, professions, and world of work secured to woman, unthought of thirty years ago, yet the undercurrent of popular thought, as seen in our social habits, theological dogmas, and political theories, still reflects the same customs, creeds, and codes that degrade women in the effete civilizations of the old world. Educated in the best schools to logical reasoning, trained to liberal thought in politics, religion and social ethics under republican institutions, American women cannot brook the discriminations in regard to sex that were patiently accepted by the ignorant in barbarous ages as divine law. And yet subjects of emperors in the old world, with their narrow ideas of individual rights, their contempt of all womankind, come here to teach the mothers of this republic their true work and sphere. Such men as Carl Schurz, breathing for the first time the free air of our free land, object to what we consider the higher education of women, fitting them for the trades and professions, for the sciences and arts, and self-complacently point Lucretia Mott, Maria Mitchell, Harriet Beecher Stowe, Susan B. Anthony, to their appropriate sphere, as housekeepers with a string of keys, like Madam Bismark, dangling around their waists.

The Rev. J. G. Holland, the Tupper of our American literature, thanks his Creator that woman has no specialty. She was called into being for man’s happiness and interest—his helpmeet—to wait and watch his movements, to second his endeavors, to fight the hard battle of life behind him whose brain may be dizzy with excess, whose limbs may be paralyzed, or if sound in body, may be without aim or ambition, without plans or projects, destitute of executive ability or good judgment in the business affairs of life. And such sentimentalists, after demoralizing women with their twaddle, discourage our demand for the right of suffrage by pointing us to the fact that the majority of women are indifferent to this movement in their behalf. Suppose they are; have not the masses of all oppressed classes been apathetic and indifferent until partial success crowned the enthusiasm of the few? Carl Schurz would not have been exiled from his native land could he have roused the majority of his countrymen to the same love of liberty which burned in his own soul. Were his dreams of freedom less real because the stolid masses were not awake to their significance? Shall a soul that accepts martyrdom for a principle be told he is sacrificing himself to a shadow because the multitude can neither see nor appreciate the idea?

I do not feel like rejoicing over any privileges already granted to my sex, until all our rights are conceded and secured and the principle of equality recognized and proclaimed, for every step that brings us to a more equal plane with man but makes us more keenly feel the loss of those rights we are still denied—more susceptible to the insults of his assumptions and usurpations of power. As I sum up the indignities toward women, as illustrated by recent judicial decisions—denied the right to vote, denied the right to practice in the Supreme Court, denied jury trial—I feel the degradation of sex more bitterly than I did on that July 19, 1848, and never more than in listening to your speech in Philadelphia on the Fourth of July, our nation’s centennial birthday, remembering that neither years nor wisdom, brave words nor noble deeds, could secure political honor or call forth national homage for women. Let it be remembered by our daughters in future generations that Lucretia Mott, in the eighty-fourth year of her age, asked permission, as the representative woman of this great movement for the enfranchisement of her sex, to present at the centennial celebration of our national liberties, Woman’s Declaration of Rights, and was refused! This was the “respectful consideration” vouchsafed American women at the close of the first century of our national life.

May we now safely prophesy justice, liberty, equality for our daughters ere another centennial birthday shall dawn upon us!

Elizabeth Cady Stanton.

Sincerely yours,

Detroit, July 17, 1876.

To Lucretia Mott, Elizabeth Cady Stanton, Mary Ann McClintock and daughters, Amy Post, and all associated with them and myself in the first Woman’s Rights Convention, held in Seneca Falls, N. Y., July 19, 1848, as well as to our later and present associates, Greeting:

Not able to be with you in your celebration of the nineteenth, I will yet give evidence that I prize your remembrance of our first assemblage and of our earliest work. That is, and will ever be as the present is a memorable year; and may this be memorable too for the same reason, a brave step in advance for human freedom. I would that it could be a conclusive step in legislation for the political freedom of the women of the nation. For it is only in harmony with reason and experience to predict that the men as well as the women of the near future will rejoice if this centennial year is thus marked and glorified by so grand a deed.

We may well congratulate each other and have satisfaction in knowing that we have changed the public sentiment and the laws of many States by our advocacy and labors. We also know that while helping the growth of our own souls, we have set many women thinking and reading on this vital question, who in turn have discussed it in private and public, and thus inspired others. So that at this present time few who have examined can deny our claim. But we are grateful to remember many women who needed no arguments, whose clear insight and reason, pronounced in the outset that a woman’s soul was as well worth saving as a man’s; that her independence and free choice are as necessary and as valuable to the public virtue and welfare; who saw and still see in both, equal children of a Father who loves and protects all.

Men do not need to be convinced of the righteousness of entire freedom for us; they have long been convinced of its justice; they confess that it is only expediency which makes them withhold that which they profess is precious to them. We await only an awakened conscience and an enlarged statesmanship.

I bid you and the women of the republic God-speed, and close in the language of one who went before us, Mary Wollstonecraft, who did so much in a thoughtless age to bring both men and women back to virtue and religion. She says: “Contending for the rights of woman, my main argument is built on this simple principle, that if she be not prepared by education to become the companion of man, she will stop the progress of knowledge and virtue; for truth must be common to all or it will be inefficacious with respect to its influence in general practice. And how can woman be expected to coöperate unless she know why she ought to be virtuous; unless freedom strengthen her reason till she comprehends her duty and sees in what manner it is connected with her real good? If children are to be educated to understand the true principle of patriotism, their mother must be a patriot; and the love of mankind from which an orderly train of virtues spring, can only be produced by considering the moral and civil interests of mankind; but the education and situation of woman at present, shuts her out from such investigations.”

With the greatest possible interest in your celebration and deliberations, and assuring you that I shall be with you in thought and spirit, I am most earnestly and cordially yours,

Catharine A. F. Stebbins.

Rochester, N. Y., June 27, 1876.

My Dear Susan Anthony: I thank thee most deeply for the assurance of a welcome to your deliberative councils in our country’s centennial year, to reannounce our oft-repeated protest against bondage to tyrant law. Most holy cause! Woman’s equality, why so long denied?… I was ready at the first tap of the drum that sounded from that hub of our country, Seneca Falls, in 1848, calling for an assembly of men and women to set forth and remonstrate against the legal usurpation of our rights…. I cannot think of anything that would give me as much pleasure as to be able to meet with you at this time. I am exceedingly glad that you appreciate the blessings of frequent visits and wise counsel from our beloved and venerated pioneer, Lucretia Mott. I hope her health and strength will enable her to see and enjoy the triumphant victory of this work, and I wish you all the blessings of happiness that belong to all good workers, and my love to them all as if named.

Amy Post.

Pomo, Mendocino Co., California, June 26, 1876.

July 4, 1776, our revolutionary fathers—in convention assembled—declared their independence of the mother country; solemnly asserted the divine right of self-government and its relation to constituted authority. With liberty their shibboleth, the colonies triumphed in their long and fierce struggle with the mother country, and established an independent government. They adopted a “bill of rights” embodying their ideal of a free government.

With singular inconsistency almost their first act, while it secured to one-half the people of the body politic the right to tax and govern themselves, subjected the other half to the very oppression which had culminated in the rebellion of the colonies, “taxation without representation,” and the inflictions of an authority to which they had not given their consent. The constitutional provision which enfranchised the male population of the new State and secured to it self-governing rights, disfranchised its women, and eventuated in a tyrannical use of power, which, exercised by husbands, fathers, and brothers, is infinitely more intolerable than the despotic acts of a foreign ruler.

As if left ignobly to illustrate the truths of their noble declarations, no sooner did the enfranchised class enter upon the exercise of their usurped powers than they proceeded to alienate from the mothers of humanity rights declared to be inseparable from humanity itself! Had they thrust the British yoke from the necks of their wives and daughters as indignantly as they thrust it from their own, the legal subjection of the women of to-day would not stand out as it now does—the reproach of our republican government. As if sons did not follow the condition of the mothers—as if daughters had no claim to the birthright of the fathers—they established for disfranchised woman a “dead line,” by retaining the English common law of marriage, which, unlike that of less liberal European governments, converts the marriage altar into an executioner’s block and recognizes woman as a wife only when so denuded of personal rights that in legal phrase she is said to be—”dead in law”!

More considerate in the matter of forms than the highwayman who kills that he may rob the unresisting dead, our gallant fathers executed women who must need cross the line of human happiness—legally; and administered their estate; and decreed the disposition of their defunct personalities in legislative halls; only omitting to provide for the matrimonial crypt the fitting epitaph: “Here lies the relict of American freedom—taxed to pauperism, loved to death!”

With all the modification of the last quarter, of a century, our English law of marriage still invests the husband with a sovereignty almost despotic over his wife. It secures to him her personal service and savings, and the control and custody of her person as against herself. Having thus reduced the wife to a dead pauper owing service to her husband, our shrewd forefathers, to secure the bond, confiscated her natural obligations as a child and a mother. Whether married or single, only inability excuses a son from the legal support of indigent and infirm parents. The married daughter, in the discharge of her wifely duties, may tenderly care and toil for her husband’s infirm parents, or his children and grandchildren by a prior marriage, while her own parents, or children by a prior marriage—legally divested of any claim on her or the husband who absorbs her personal services and earnings—are sent to the poor-house, or pine in bitter privation; except with consent of her husband, she can give neither her personal care nor the avails of her industry, for their benefit. So, to be a wife, woman ceases, in law, to be anything else—yields up the ghost of a legal existence! That she escapes the extreme penalty of her legal bonds in any case is due to the fact that the majority of men, married or single, are notably better than their laws.

Our fathers taught the quality and initiated the form of free government. But it was left to their posterity to learn from the discipline of experience, that truths, old as the eternities, are forever revealing new phases to render possible more perfect interpretations; and to accumulate unanswerable reasons for their extended application. That the sorest trials and most appreciable failures of the government our fathers bequeathed, to us, have been the direct and inevitable results of their departures from the principles they enunciated, is so patent to all Christendom, that free government itself has won from our mistakes material to revolutionize the world—lessons that compel depotisms to change their base and constitutional monarchies to make broader the phylacteries of popular rights.

Is it not meet then, that on this one-hundredth anniversary of American independence the daughters of revolutionary sires should appeal to the sons to fulfill what the fathers promised but failed to perform—should appeal to them as the constituted executors of the father’s will, to give full practical effect to the self-evident truths, that “taxation without representation is tyranny”—that “governments derive their just powers from the consent of the governed”? With an evident common interest in all the affairs of which government properly or improperly takes cognizance, we claim enfranchisement on the broad ground of human right, having proved the justice of our claim by the injustice which has resulted to us and ours through our disfranchisement.

We ask enfranchisement in the abiding faith that with our coöperative efforts free government would attain to higher averages of intelligence and virtue; with an innate conviction, that the sequestration of rights in the homes of the republic makes them baneful nurseries of the monopolies, rings, and fraudulent practices that are threatening the national integrity; and that so long as the fathers sequester the rights of the mothers and train their sons to exercise, and the daughters to submit to the exactions of usurped powers, our government offices will be dens of thieves and the national honor trail in the dust; and honest men come out from the fiery ordeals of faithful service, denuded of the confidence and respect justly their due. Give us liberty! We are mothers, wives, and daughters of freemen.

C. I. H. Nichols.

London, Eng., July 4, 1876.

My Dear Susan: I sincerely thank you for your kind letter. Many times I have thought of writing to you, but I knew your time was too much taken up with the good cause to have any to spare for private correspondence. Occasionally I am pleased to see a good account of you and your doings in the Boston Investigator. Oh, how I wish I could be with you on this more than ordinarily interesting and important occasion; or that I could at least send my sentiments and views on human rights, which I have advocated for over forty years, to the convention.

This being the centenary day of the proclamation of American independence, I must write a few lines, if but to let the friends know that though absent in body I am with you in the cause for which, in common with you, I have labored so long, and I hope not labored in vain.

The glorious day upon which human equality was first proclaimed ought to be commemorated, not only every hundred years, or every year, but it ought to be constantly held before the public mind until its grand principles are carried into practice. The declaration that “All men (which means all human beings irrespective of sex) have an equal right to life, liberty, and the pursuit of happiness,” is enough for woman as for man. We need no other; but we must reassert in 1876 what 1776 so gloriously proclaimed, and call upon the law-makers and the law-breakers to carry that declaration to its logical consistency by giving woman the right of representation in the government which she helps to maintain; a voice in the laws by which she is governed, and all the rights and privileges society can bestow, the same as to man, or disprove its validity. We need no other declaration. All we ask is to have the laws based on the same foundation upon which that declaration rests, viz.: upon equal justice, and not upon sex. Whenever the rights of man are claimed, moral consistency points to the equal rights of woman.

I hope these few lines will fill a little space in the convention at Philadelphia, where my voice has so often been raised in behalf of the principles of humanity. I am glad to see my name among the vice-presidents of the National Association. Keep a warm place for me with the American people. I hope some day to be there yet. Give my love to Mrs. Mott and Sarah Pugh. With kind regards from Mr. Rose,

Ernestine L. Rose.

Yours affectionately,

A new paper, The Ballot-Box, was started in the centennial year at Toledo, Ohio, owned and published by Mrs. Sarah Langdon Williams. The following editorial on the natal day of the republic is from her pen:

The Retrospect.—Since our last issue the great centennial anniversary of American independence has come and gone; it has been greeted with rejoicing throughout the land; its events have passed into history. The day in which the great principles embodied in the Declaration of Independence were announced by the revolutionary fathers to the world has been celebrated through all this vast heritage, with pomp and popular glorification, and the nation’s finest orators have signalized the event in “thoughts that breathe and words that burn.” Everywhere has the country been arrayed in its holiday attire—the gay insignia which, old as the century, puts on fresh youth and brilliancy each time its colors are unfurled. The successes which the country has achieved have been portrayed with glowing eloquence, the people’s sovereignty has been the theme of congratulation and the glorious principles of freedom and equal rights have been enthusiastically proclaimed. In the magnificent oration of Mr. Evarts delivered in Independence Square, the spot made sacred by the signing of the Declaration of Independence which announced that “Governments derive their just powers from the consent of the governed,” these words occur:

The chief concern in this regard, to us and the rest of the world is, whether the proud trust, the profound radicalism, the wide benevolence which spoke in the declaration and were infused into the constitution at the first, have been in good-faith adhered to by the people, and whether now the living principles supply the living forces which sustain and direct government and society. He who doubts needs but to look around to find all things full of the original spirit and testifying to its wisdom and strength.

Yet that very day in that very city was a large assemblage of women convened to protest against the gross wrongs of their sex—the representatives of twenty millions of citizens of the United States, composing one-half of the population being governed without their consent by the other half, who, by virtue of their superior strength, held the reins of power and tyrannically denied them all representation. At that very meeting at which that polished falsehood was uttered had the women, but shortly before, been denied the privilege of silently presenting their declaration of rights. More forcibly is this mortifying disregard of the claims of women thrust in their faces from the fact that, amid all this magnificent triumph with which the growth of the century was commemorated, amid the protestations of platforms all over the country of the grand success of the principle of equal rights for all, the possibility of the future according equal rights to women as well as to men was, with the exception of one or two praiseworthy instances, as far as reports have reached us, utterly ignored. The women have no country—their rights are disregarded, their appeals ignored, their protests scorned, they are treated as children who do not comprehend their own wants, and as slaves whose crowning duty is obedience.

Whether, on this great day of national triumph and national aspiration, the possibilities of a better future for women were forgotten; whether, from carelessness, willfulness, or wickedness, their grand services and weary struggles in the past and hopes and aspirations for the future were left entirely out of the account, certain it is that our orators were too much absorbed in the good done by men and for men, to once recur to the valuable aid, self-denying patriotism and lofty virtues of the nation’s unrepresented women. There were a few exceptions: Col. Wm. M. Ferry, of Ottawa county, Michigan, in his historical address delivered in that county, July Fourth, took pains to make favorable mention of the daughter of one of the pioneers, as follows:

Louisa Constant, or “Lisette,” as she was called, became her father’s clerk when twelve years old, and was as well known for wonderful faculties for business as she was for her personal attractions. In 1828, when Lisette was seventeen years old, her father died. She closed up his business with the British Company, engaged with the American Fur Company, at Mackinaw, receiving from them a large supply of merchandise, and for six years conducted the most successful trading establishment in the northwest.

Think of it, ye who disparage the ability of woman! This little tribute we record with gratification. Colonel Ferry remembered woman. Henry Ward Beecher, in his oration, delivered at Peekskill, is reported, to have said:

And now there is but one step more—there is but one step more. We permit the lame, the halt and the blind to go to the ballot-box; we permit the foreigner and the black man, the slave and the freeman, to partake of the suffrage; there is but one thing left out, and that is the mother that taught us, and the wife that is thought worthy to walk side by side with us. It is woman that is put lower than the slave, lower than the ignorant foreigner. She is put among the paupers whom the law won’t allow to vote; among the insane whom the law won’t allow to vote. But the days are numbered in which this can take place, and she too will vote.

But these words are followed by others somewhat problematical, at least in the respect rendered to women:

As in a hundred years suffrage has extended its bounds till it now includes the whole population, in another hundred years everything will vote, unless it be the power of the loom, and the locomotive, and the watch, and I sometimes think, looking at these machines and their performances, that they too ought to vote.

But Mr. Evarts approached the close of his oration with these words—and may they not be prophetic—may not the orator have spoken with a deeper meaning than he knew?

With these proud possessions of the past, with powers matured, with principles settled, with habits formed, the nation passes as it were from preparatory growth to responsible development of character and the steady performance of duty. What labors await it, what trials shall attend it, what triumphs for human nature, what glory for itself, are prepared for this people in the coming century, we may not assume to foretell.

Whether the wise (?) legislators see it or not—whether the undercurrent that is beating to the shore speaks with an utterance that is comprehensible to their heavy apprehensions or not, the coming century has in preparation for the country a truer humanity, a better justice of which the protest and declaration of the fathers pouring its vital current down through the departed century, and surging on into the future, is, to the seeing eye, the sure forerunner, the seed-time, of which the approaching harvest will bring a better fruition for women—and they who scoff now will be compelled to rejoice hereafter. But as Mr. Evarts remarked in his allusions to future centennials:

By the mere circumstance of this periodicity our generation will be in the minds, in the hearts, on the lips of our countrymen at the next centennial commemoration in comparison with their own character and condition and with the great founders of the nation. What shall they say of us? How shall they estimate the part we bear in the unbroken line of the nation’s progress? And so on, in the long reach of time, forever and forever, our place in the secular roll of the ages must always bring us into observation and criticism.

Shall it then be recorded of us that the demand and the protest of the women were not made in vain? Shall it be told to future generations that the cry for justice, the effort to sunder the shackles with which woman has been oppressed from the dim ages of the past, was heeded? Or, shall it be told of us, in the beginning of this second centennial, that justice has been ignored, that only liberty to men entered at this stage of progress, into the American idea of self-government? Freedom to men and women alike is but a question of time—is America now equal to the great occasion? Has her development expanded to that degree where her legislators can say in very truth, as of the colored man, “Let the oppressed go free”?


The woman’s pavilion upon the centennial grounds was an after-thought, as theologians claim woman herself to have been.(18) The women of the country after having contributed nearly $100,000 to the centennial stock, found there had been no provision made for the separate exhibition of their work. The centennial board, Mrs. Gillespie, president, then decided to raise funds for the erection of a separate building to be known as the Woman’s Pavilion. It covered an acre of ground and was erected at an expense of $30,000, a small sum in comparison with the money which had been raised by women and expended on the other buildings, not to speak of State and national appropriations which the taxes levied on them had largely helped to swell.

The pavilion was no true exhibit of woman’s work. First, few women are as yet owners of business which their industry largely makes remunerative. Cotton factories in which thousands of women work, are owned by men. The shoe business, in some branches of which women are doing more than half, is under the ownership of men. Rich embroideries from India, rugs of downy softness from Turkey, the muslin of Dacca, anciently known as “The Woven Wind,” the pottery and majolica ware of P. Pipsen’s widow, the cartridges and envelopes of Uncle Sam, Waltham watches whose finest mechanical work is done by women, and ten thousand other industries found no place in the pavilion. Said United States Commissioner Meeker,(19) of Colorado, “Woman’s work comprises three-fourths of the exposition; it is scattered through every building; take it away and there would be no exposition.”

But this pavilion rendered one good service to woman in showing her capabilities as an engineer. The boiler which furnished the force for running its work was under the management of a young Canadian girl, Miss Alison, who from a child loved machinery, spending much time in the large saw and grist mills of her father, run by engines of two- and three-hundred horse-power, which she sometimes managed for amusement. When her name was proposed for running the pavilion machinery it brought much opposition. It was said the committee would some day find the pavilion blown to atoms; that the woman engineer would spend her time reading novels, instead of watching the steam gauge; that the idea was impracticable and should not be thought of. But Miss Alison soon proved her own capabilities and the falseness of these prophecies by taking her place in the engine-room and managing its workings with the ease that a child spins a top. Six power looms on which women wove carpets, webbing, silks, etc., were run by this engine. At a later period the printing of The New Century for Women, a paper published by the centennial commission in the woman’s building, was also done by its means. Miss Alison declared the work to be more cleanly, more pleasant, and infinitely less fatiguing than cooking over a kitchen stove. “Since I have been compelled to earn my own livelihood,” she said, “I have never been engaged in work I liked so well. Teaching school is much harder, and one is not paid as well.” She expressed confidence in her ability to manage the engine of an ocean steamer, and said there were thousands of small engines in use in various parts of the country, and no reason existed why women should not be employed to manage them—following the profession of engineer as a regular business—an engine requiring far less attention than is given by a nurse-maid or mother to a child.

But to have made the woman’s pavilion grandly historic, upon its walls should have been hung the yearly protest of Harriet K. Hunt against taxation without representation; the legal papers served upon the Smith sisters when their Alderny cows were seized and sold for their refusal to pay taxes while unrepresented; the papers held by the city of Worcester for the forced sale of the house and lands of Abby Kelly Foster, the veteran abolitionist, because she refused to pay taxes, giving the same reason our ancestors gave when they resisted taxation; a model of Bunker Hill monument, its foundation laid by Lafayette in 1825, but which remained unfinished nearly twenty years until the famous French danseuse Fanny Ellsler, gave the proceeds of an exhibition for that purpose. With these should have been exhibited framed copies of all the laws bearing unjustly upon woman—those which rob her of her name, her earnings, her property, her children, her person; also, the legal papers in the case of Susan B. Anthony, who was tried and fined for seeking to give consent to the laws which governed her; and the decision of Mr. Justice Miller (Chief-Justice Chase dissenting) in the case of Myra Bradwell, denying national protection for woman’s civil rights; and the later decision of Chief-Justice Waite of the Supreme Court against Virginia L. Minor, denying to women national protection for their political rights, decisions in favor of state-rights which imperil the liberties not only of all women, but of every white man in the nation.

Woman’s most fitting contributions to the centennial exposition would have been these protests, laws and decisions which show her political slavery. But all this was left for rooms outside of the centennial grounds, upon Chestnut street, where the National Woman Suffrage Association hoisted its flag, made its protests, and wrote the Declaration of Rights of the Women of the United States.

To many thoughtful people it seemed captious and unreasonable for women to complain of injustice in this free land, amidst such universal rejoicings. When the majority of women are seemingly happy, it is natural to suppose that the discontent of the minority is the result of their unfortunate individual idiosyncrasies, and not of adverse influences in their established conditions.

But the history of the world shows that the vast majority in every generation passively accept the conditions into which they are born, while those who demand larger liberties are ever a small, ostracised minority whose claims are ridiculed and ignored. From our stand-point we honor the Chinese women who claim the right to their feet and powers of locomotion, the Hindoo widows who refuse to ascend the funeral pyre of their husbands, the Turkish women who throw off their masks and veils and leave the harem, the Mormon women who abjure their faith and demand monogamic relations; why not equally honor the intelligent minority of American women who protest against the artificial disabilities by which their freedom is limited and their development arrested? That only a few under any circumstances protest against the injustice of long established laws and customs does not disprove the fact of the oppressions, while the satisfaction of the many, if real, only proves their apathy and deeper degradation. That a majority of the women of the United States accept without protest the disabilities that grow out of their disfranchisement, is simply an evidence of their ignorance and cowardice, while the minority who demand a higher political status clearly prove their superior intelligence and wisdom.


 Some suggested that the women in their various towns and cities, draped in black, should march in solemn procession, bells slowly tolling, bearing banners with the inscriptions: “Taxation without representation is tyranny,” “No just government can be formed without the consent of the governed,” “They who have no voice in the laws and rulers are in a condition of slavery.”

Others suggested that instead of women wearing crape during the centennial glorification, the men should sit down in sackcloth and ashes, in humiliation of spirit, as those who repented in olden times were wont to do. The best centennial celebration, said they, for the men of the United States, the one to cover them with glory, would be to extend to the women of the nation all the rights, privileges and immunities that they themselves enjoy.

Others proposed that women should monopolize the day, have their own celebrations, read their own declarations and protests demanding justice, liberty and equality. The latter suggestion was extensively adopted, and the Fourth of July, 1876, was remarkable for the large number of women who were “the orators of the day” in their respective localities.

 Letters were read from the Hon. Alexander H. Stephens, of Georgia; William J. Fowler, of Rochester, N. Y.; Isabella Beecher Hooker, of Connecticut, and Susan B. Anthony.

 News of the cannonade of Boston had been received the day previous.

 Though thus discourteously refused to an association to secure equality of rights for women, it was subsequently rented to “The International Peace Association.”

 President—Elizabeth Cady Stanton, Tenafly, New Jersey.

Vice-Presidents—Lucretia Mott, Pa.; Ernestine L. Rose, England; Paulina Wright Davis, R. I.; Clarina I. H. Nichols, Cal.; Amelia Bloomer, Iowa; Mathilde Franceska Anneke, Wis.; Virginia L. Minor, Mo.; Catharine A. F. Stebbins, Mich.; Julia and Abby Smith, Conn.; Abby P. Ela, N. H.; Mrs. W. H. H. Murray, Mass.; Ann T. Greely, Me.; Eliza D. Stewart, Ohio; Mary Hamilton Williams, Ind.; Elizabeth Boynton Harbert, Ill.; Sarah Burger Stearns, Minn.; Ada W. Lucas, Neb.; Helen E. Starrett, Kan.; Ann L. Quinby, Ky.; Elizabeth Avery Meriwether, Tenn.; Mrs. L. C. Locke, Texas; Emily P. Collins, La.; Mary J. Spaulding, Ga.; Mrs. P. Holmes, Drake, Ala.; Flora M. Wright, Fla.; Frances Annie Pillsbury, S. C.; Cynthia Anthony, N. C.; Carrie F. Putnam, Va.; Anna Ella Carroll, Md.; Abigail Scott Duniway, Oregon; Hannah H. Clapp, Nevada; Dr. Alida C. Avery, Col.; Mary Olney Brown, Wash. Ter.; Esther A. Morris, Wyoming Ter.; Annie Godbe, Utah.

Advisory Committee—Sarah Pugh, Pa.; Isabella Beecher Hooker, Conn.; Charlotte B. Wilbour, N. Y.; Mary J. Channing, R. I.; Elizabeth B. Schenck, Cal.; Judith Ellen Foster, Iowa; Lavinia Goodell, Wis.; Annie R. Irvine, Mo.; Marian Bliss, Mich.; Mary B. Moses, N. H.; Sarah A. Vibbart, Mass.; Lucy A. Snowe, Me.; Marilla M. Ricker, N. H.; Mary Madden, Ohio; Emma Molloy, Ind.; Cynthia A. Leonard, Ill.; Mrs. Dr. Stewart, Minn.; Julia Brown Bemis, Neb.; Mrs. N. H. Cramer, Tenn.; Mrs. W. V. Tunstall, Tex.; Mrs. A. Millspaugh, La.; Hannah M. Rogers, Fla.; Sally Holly, Va.; Sallie W. Hardcastle, Md.; Mary P. Sautelle, Oregon; Mary F. Shields, Col.; Amelia Giddings, Wash. Ter.; Amalia B. Post, Wyoming Ter.

Corresponding Secretaries—Susan B. Anthony, Rochester, N. Y.; Laura Curtis Bullard, New York; Jane Graham Jones, Chicago, Ill.

Recording Secretary—Lillie Devereux Blake, New York.

Treasurer—Ellen Clark Sargent, Washington, D. C.

Executive Committee—Matilda Joslyn Gage, Fayetteville, N. Y.; Clemence S. Lozier, M. D., Elizabeth B. Phelps, Mathilde F. Wendt, Phebe H. Jones, New York; Rev. Olympia Brown, Connecticut; Sarah R. L. Williams, Ohio; M. Adeline Thomson, Pennsylvania; Henrietta Payne Westbrook, Pennsylvania; Nancy R. Allen, Iowa.

 1876 Campaign Committee—Susan B. Anthony, N. Y.; Matilda Joslyn Gage, N. Y.; Phoebe W. Couzins, Mo.; Rev. Olympia Brown, Conn.; Jane Graham Jones, Ill.; Abigail Scott Duniway, Oregon; Laura De Force Gordon, Cal.; Annie C. Savery, Iowa.

 Resident Congressional Committee—Sara Andrews Spencer, Ellen Clark Sargent, Ruth Carr Denison, Belva A. Lockwood, Mrs. E. D. E. N. Southworth.

 Among those who took part in the discussions were Dr. Clemence Lozier, Susan B. Anthony, Helen M. Slocum, Sarah Goodyear, Helen M. Cook, Abby and Julia Smith, Sara Andrews Spencer, Miss Charlotte Ray, Lillie Devereux Blake and Matilda Joslyn Gage.

 Letters were written to these conventions from different States. Mrs. Elizabeth L. Saxon, New Orleans, La.; Elizabeth A. Meriwether, Memphis, Tenn.; Mrs. Margaret V. Longley, Cincinnati, O., all making eloquent appeals for some consideration of the political rights of women.

(10)Mrs. Mott, Mrs. Stanton, Mrs. Gage, and Mrs. Spencer.

(11)On the receipt of these letters a prolonged council was held by the officers of the association at their headquarters, as to what action they should take on the Fourth of July. Mrs. Mott and Mrs. Stanton decided for themselves that after these rebuffs they would not even sit on the platform, but at the appointed time go to the church they had engaged for a meeting, and open their convention. Others more brave and determined insisted that women had an equal right to the glory of the day and the freedom of the platform, and decided to take the risk of a public insult in order to present the woman’s declaration and thus make it an historic document.—(E.C.S.

(12)During the reading of the declaration to an immense concourse of people, Mrs. Gage stood beside Miss Anthony, and held an umbrella over her head, to shelter her friend from the intense heat of the noonday sun; and thus in the same hour, on opposite sides of old Independence Hall, did the men and women express their opinions on the great principles proclaimed on the natal day of the republic. The declaration was handsomely framed and now hangs in the vice-president’s room in the capitol at Washington.

(13)This document was signed by Lucretia Mott, Elizabeth Cady Stanton, Paulina Wright Davis, Ernestine L. Rose, Clarina I. H. Nichols, Mary Ann McClintock, Mathilde Franceska Anneke, Sarah Pugh, Amy Post, Catharine A. F. Stebbins, Susan B. Anthony, Matilda Joslyn Gage, Clemence S. Lozier, Olympia Brown, Mathilde F. Wendt, Adleline Thomson, Ellen Clark Sargent, Virginia L. Minor, Catherine V. Waite, Elizabeth B. Schenck, Phoebe W. Couzins, Elizabeth Boynton Harbert, Laura De Force Gordon, Sara Andrews Spencer, Lillie Devereux Blake, Jane Graham Jones, Abigail Scott Duniway, Belva A. Lockwood, Isabella Beecher Hooker, Sarah L. Williams, Abby P. Ela.

(14) One hundred years hence, what a change will be made, In politics, morals, religion and trade, In statesmen who wrangle or ride on the fence, These things will be altered a hundred years hence. Our laws then will be uncompulsory rules, Our prisons converted to national schools. The pleasure of sinning ’tis all a pretense, And the people will find it so, a hundred years hence. Lying, cheating and fraud will be laid on the shelf, Men will neither get drunk, nor be bound up in self, But all live together, good neighbors and friends, Just as Christian folks ought to, a hundred years hence. Then woman, man’s partner, man’s equal shall stand, While beauty and harmony govern the land, To think for oneself will be no offense, The world will be thinking a hundred years hence. Oppression and war will be heard of no more, Nor the blood of a slave leave his print on our shore, Conventions will then be a useless expense, For we’ll all go free-suffrage a hundred years hence. Instead of speech-making to satisfy wrong, All will join the glad chorus to sing Freedom’s song; And if the Millenium is not a pretense, We’ll all be good brothers a hundred years hence.

This song was written in 1852, at Cleveland, Ohio, by Frances Dana Gage, expressly for John W. Hutchinson. Several of the friends were staying with Mrs. Caroline M. Severance, on their way to the Akron convention, where it was first sung.

(15)Protests and declarations were read by Mrs. Elizabeth Boynton Harbert, in Evanston, Ill.; Sarah L. Knox, California; Mrs. Rosa L. Segur, Toledo, Ohio; Mrs. Mary Olney Brown, Olympia, Washington territory; Mrs. Henrietta Paine Westbrook, New York city. In Maquoketa, Iowa; Mrs. Nancy R. Allen read the declaration at the regular county celebration. Madam Anneke, Wis.; Elizabeth Avery Meriwether, Tenn.; Lucinda B. Chandler, N. J.; Jane E. Telker, Iowa; S. P. Abeel, D. C.; Mrs. J. A. Johns, Oregon; Elizabeth Lisle Saxon, La.; Mrs. Elsie Stewart, Kan.; and many others impossible to name, sent in protests and declarations.

(16)See Appendix.

(17)Henry Hutchinson, the son of John.

(18)A German legend says, God first made a mouse, but seeing he had made a mistake he made the cat as an afterthought, therefore if woman is God’s afterthought, man must be a mistake.

(19)Afterwards killed by the Indians in Colorado.


JHU Diversity Inclusion Excellence LogoJohns Hopkins Diversity Leadership Council is comprised of students, faculty, and staff from all divisions of Johns Hopkins, the DLC works to help Hopkins achieve its goals of diversity and inclusion. To be sure, Hopkins is a diverse community: people here bring with them not only their connections to social and ethnic groups but also their individual life experiences. From students to patients to faculty to support staff, ours is a rich and vibrant community. But that diversity means little without the second of these goals: inclusion. We see inclusion as active, thoughtful, and ongoing engagement with each other. When inclusion works, we better understand the people around us, better understand the complex ways that individuals interact within systems and institutions, and ultimately do our best work. Johns Hopkins is dedicated to the world of ideas and that world expands exponentially as those with different experiences and points of view share their knowledge and interpretations with one another. Our commitment to diversity and inclusion reflects both a recognition of the past and the promise of the future, something owed to everyone in the Hopkins community.


Susan B. Anthony was born February 15, 1820 in Adams, Massachusetts. She was brought up in a Quaker family with long activist traditions. Early in her life she developed a sense of justice and moral zeal. A fter teaching for fifteen years, she became active in temperance. Because she was a woman, she was not allowed to speak at temperance rallies. This experience, and her acquaintance with Elizabeth Cady Stanton, led her to join the women’s rights movement in 1852. Soon after, she dedicated her life to woman suffrage.

Ignoring opposition and abuse, Anthony traveled, lectured, and canvassed across the nation for the vote. She also campaigned for the abolition of slavery, the right for women to own their own property and retain their earnings, and she advocated for women’s labor organizations. In 1900, Anthony persuaded the University of Rochester to admit women.

Anthony, who never married, was aggressive and compassionate by nature. She had a keen mind and a great ability to inspire. She remained active until her death on March 13, 1906.

Elizabeth Cady StantonElizabeth Cady Stanton(1815-1902) is believed to be the driving force behind the 1848 Convention, and for the next fifty years played a leadership role in the women’s rights movement. Somewhat overshadowed in popular memory by her long time colleague Susan B. Anthony, Stanton was for many years the architect and author of the movement’s most important strategies and documents. Though she became increasingly estranged from the mainstream of the movement, particularly near the end of her career, she maintained to the end her long time friendship with Anthony.

Elizabeth Cady Stanton died in 1902, and like Anthony and Gage, did not live to see women’s suffrage in the United States. She is nonetheless regarded as one of the true major forces in the drive toward equal rights for women in the United States and throughout the world. The statue of Stanton, Mott and Anthony housed in the U.S. Capitol was used as the symbol of the American Delegation to the 1995 Peking Conference.

Matilda Joslyn GageOne of the most radical, far-sighted and articulate early feminists, Matilda Joslyn Gage was deliberately written out of history after her death in 1898 by an increasingly conservative suffrage movement.