“Spirit of 1776,” Part II by Elizabeth Cady Stanton
The continuing story of the suffragists’ protest at the nation’s 1876 celebration of the Declaration of Independence, held in Philadelphia. This year is the 165th anniversary of the Seneca Falls convention. Let’s celebrate!
by Elizabeth Cady Stanton
Among the most enjoyable experiences at our headquarters were the frequent visits of our beloved Lucretia Mott, who used to come from her country home bringing us eggs, cold chicken, and fine Oolong tea. As she had presented us with a little black teapot that, like Mercury’s mysterious pitcher of milk, filled itself for
every coming guest, we often improvised luncheons with a few friends. At parting, Lucretia always made a contribution to our depleted treasury.
Here we had many prolonged discussions as to the part we should take on the Fourth of July in the public celebration. We thought it would be fitting for us to read our Declaration of Rights immediately after that of the Fathers was read, as an impeachment of them and their male descendants for their injustice and oppression. Ours contained as many counts, and quite as important, as those against King George in 1776. Accordingly, we applied to the authorities to allow us seats on the platform and a place in the program of the public celebration, which was to be held in the historic old Independence Hall. As General Hawley
was in charge of the arrangements for the day, I wrote to him as follows:
143 1 Chestnut Street, July 1, 1876.
Honored Sir, — As President of the National Woman’s Suffrage Association, I am authorized to ask you for tickets to the platform, at Independence Hall, for the celebration on the Fourth of July. We should like to have seats for at least one representative woman from each State. We also ask your permission to read our Declaration of Rights immediately after the reading of the Declaration of Independence of the Fathers is finished. Although these are small favors to ask as representatives of one-half of the nation, yet we shall be under great obligations to you if granted.
Respectfully Yours, Elizabeth Cady Stanton.
To this, I received the following reply: U. S. C. C. Headquarters, July 2.
Mrs. Elizabeth Cady Stanton. Dear Madam, — I send you, with pleasure, half a dozen cards of invitation. As the platform is already crowded, it is impossible to reserve the number of seats you desire. I regret to say it is also impossible for us to make any change in the programme at this late hour. We are crowded for time to carry out what is already proposed.
Yours Very Respectfully, Joseph R. Hawley,President, U. S. C. C.
Image: Puck magazine cover, Library of Congress. For regular updates on suffrage news notes and the continuing campaign centennial coverage of Long Island organizing for Votes for Women, see Suffrage Wagon News Channel. Part III and final selection of Elizabeth Cady Stanton’s report from Philadelphia coming soon.