REBELS ON THE ROAD
Many suffragists maintained a grueling lecture circuit schedule during the course of their struggle to win the vote. In the early years before the Civil War, women lecturers like Lucy Stone and Lucretia Mott were often pelted with rotten fruit and eggs and had to face down ruffians intent on inciting riots.
Attending lectures was a popular form of entertainment during the 19th Century, and there were several companies which would contract with a number of speakers on various topics, booking them on the companys circuit. The "Chautauquas" were a popular summer circuit.
Mary A. Livermore, a very popular speaker, was signed with the prestigious Redpath Bureau of Boston. Considered the most exclusive of the circuits, Redpath signed on Rev. Dr. Anna Howard Shaw after Livermore retired. Shaw had been with the Slaton Bureau of Chicago.
Suffragists were not always associated with a booking company or circuit. Frequently, they relied on their own funds, organizing abilities and fundraising efforts to send speakers to areas where suffrage campaigns were being waged.
Transportation was by any means available, as were sleeping accommodations. Touring in this fashion was uncomfortable and debilitating. Lecturers were exposed to epidemics, extreme weather conditions, and risked accidents. Accounts suffragists left of travel experiences offer us a very realistic description of 19th Century travel as well as some amusing anecdotes.
THE KANSAS CAMPAIGN - HENRY BLACKWELL
Lucy Stone, who had left the lecture circuit after the birth of her daughter, Alice Stone Blackwell, returned to it when Kansas had two state referendums on the ballot in 1867. One was to secure negro suffrage, the other to secure woman's suffrage. Suffragists descended upon Kansas in turns to campaign for woman suffrage. Unfortunately, this campaign cemented an ideological split among the suffragists that would not be resolved for decades. As the campaign progressed, the interests of the negroes were pitted against the interests of women. The campaign became bitterly divided along racial issues, and both referendums were defeated.
Lucy Stone and Henry Blackwell lead the early stages of the campaign in Kansas. As planned, Susan B. Anthony and Elizabeth Cady Stanton replaced Stone and Blackwell in the subsequent stage of the campaign. Blackwell wrote of the campaign's progress in this letter to Anthony and Stanton, which can be found in the second volume of the History of Woman Suffrage by Anthony, Stanton and Gage.
REBELS IN THE ROUGH HENRY BLACKWELL
"Junction City, Kansas, April 21, 1867. PRIVATE
"Dear Friends, E. C. Stanton and Susan B. Anthony:
"You will be glad to know that Lucy and I are going over the length and breadth of this state speaking every day, and sometimes twice, journeying from twenty-five to forty miles daily, sometimes in a carriage and sometimes in an open wagon, with or without springs. We climb hills and dash down ravines, ford creeks, and ferry over rivers, rattle across limestone ledges, struggle through muddy bottoms, fight the high winds on the high rolling upland prairies, and address the most astonishing (and astonished) audiences in the most extraordinary places. To-night it may be a log school house, to-morrow a stone church; next day a store with planks for seats, and in one place, if it had not rained, we should have held forth in an unfinished court house, with only four stone walls but no roof whatever.
"The people are a queer mixture of roughness and intelligence, recklessness, and conservatism. One swears at women who want to wear the breeches; another wonders whether we ever heard of a fellow named Paul; a third is not going to put women on an equity with niggers. One woman told Lucy that no decent woman would be running over the country talking nigger and woman. Her brother told Lucy that 'he had had a woman who was under the sod, but that if she had ever said she wanted to vote he would have pounded her to death!'
"The fact is, however, that we have on our side all the shrewdest politicians and all the best class of men and women in this State. Our meetings are doing much towards organizing and concentrating public sentiment in our favor, and the papers are beginning to show front in our favor. We fought and won a pitched battle at Topeka in the convention, and have possession of the machine. By the time we get through with the proposed series of meetings, it will be abut the 20th of May, if Lucy's voice and strength hold out. The scenery of this State is lovely. In summer it must be very fine indeed, especially in this Western section the valleys are beautiful, and the bluffs quite bold and romantic.
"I think we shall probably succeed in Kansas next fall if the State is thoroughly canvassed, not else. We are fortunate in having Col. Sam N. Wood as an organizer and worker. We owe everything to Wood, and he is really a thoroughly noble, good fellow, and a hero. He is a short, rather thick set, somewhat awkward, and "slouchy" man, extremely careless in his dress, blunt and abrupt in his manner, with a queer inexpressive face, little blue eyes which can look dull or flash fire or twinkle with the wickedest fun. He is so witty, sarcastic, and cutting, that he is a terrible foe, and will put the laugh even on his best friends. The son of a Quaker mother, he held the baby while his wife acted as one of the officers, and his mother another, in a Woman's Rights Convention seventeen years ago. Wood has helped of more runaway slaves than any man in Kansas. He has always been true both to the negro and woman. But the negroes dislike and distrust him because he has never allowed the word white to be struck out, unless the word male should be struck out also. He takes exactly Mrs. Stanton's ground, that the colored men and women shall enter the kingdom together, if at all. So, while he advocates both, he fully realizes the wider scope and far greater grandeur of the battle for woman. Lucy and I like Wood very much. We have seen a good deal of him, first at Topeka, again at Cottonwood Falls, his home, and on the journey thence to Council Grove and to this place. Our arrangements for conveyances failed, and Wood with characteristic energy and at great personal inconvenience brought us through himself. It is worth a journey to Kansas to know him for he is an original and a genius. If he should die next month I should consider the election lost. But if he live, and we all in the East drop other work and spend September and October in Kansas, we shall succeed. I am glad to say that our friend D. R. Anthony is out for both propositions in the Leavenworth Bulletin. But his sympathies are so especially with the negro question that we must have Susan out here to strengthen his hands. We must have Mrs. Stanton, Susan, Mrs. Gage, and Anna Dickinson, this fall. Also Ben Wade and Carl Schurz, if possible. We must also try to get 10,000 each of Mrs. Stanton's address, of Lucy Stone's address, and of Mrs. Mills article on the Enfranchisement of Women, printed for us by the Hovey Fund.
"Kansas is to be the battle ground for 1867. It must not be allowed to fail.
"The politicians here, except Wood and Robinson, are generally 'on the fence.' But they dare not oppose us openly. And the Democratic leaders are quite disposed to take us up. Do not let anything prevent your being here September 1 for the campaign, which will end in November. There will be a big fight and a great excitement. After the fight is over Mrs. Stanton will never have use for notes or written speeches any more. "Yours truly, Henry B. Blackwell."
BED BUGS AND FLEAS ELIZABETH CADY STANTON
Henry James in his novel, The Bostonians, depicts suffragists speaking to middle class matrons in New York and Boston parlors and lecture halls. In truth, suffragists conducted much of their lecture tours through the pioneer areas of a young country that hadn't even had a chance to establish "back roads." The campaign for woman suffrage took place along with the rapid rise of the Industrial Age and the development of new modes of transportation.
Due to the distances between lecture stops and the unreliability of transportation, speakers often arrived at a lecture site just in time (or late) to deliver their lecture, and left immediately afterwards for the next stop.
Stanton and Susan B. Anthony went to Kansas to carry on after Lucy Stone and Henry Blackwell finished the initial stage of the campaign described by Blackwell in the letter above. Stanton and Anthony took the stand that they would not support suffrage for negros if the vote was not extended also to women. Stone and Blackwell took the opposite stand, expressing their opinion that any extension of suffrage to one disenfranchised class would work to hasten the day towards extending suffrage to all citizens on an equal basis. This ideological difference played a crucial role in the split between suffragists that resulted in two suffrage organizations.
In her memoirs, Eighty Years and More, Elizabeth Cady Stanton recalled her experiences on the road during the Kansas campaign in 1867. This campaign, waged so soon after the Civil War, took place just at the eve of the burgeoning railroad expansion, so travel was still primitive.
"Our nights were miserable, owing to the general opinion among pioneers that a certain species of insect must necessarily perambulate the beds in a young civilization. One night, after traveling over prairies all day, eating nothing but what our larder provided, we saw a light in a cottage in the distance which seemed to beckon to us. Arriving, we asked the usual question, - if we could get a night's lodging, - to which the response was inevitably a hearty, hospitable "Yes." One survey of the premises showed me what to look for in the way of midnight companionship, so I said to the Governor, "I will resign in your favor the comforts provided for me to-night, and sleep in the carriage, as you do so often." I persisted against all the earnest persuasions of our host, and in due time I was ensconced for the night, and all about the house was silent.
"I had just fallen into a gentle slumber, when a chorus of pronounced grunts and a spasmodic shaking of the carriage revealed to me the fact that I was surrounded by those long-nosed black pigs, so celebrated for their courage and pertinacity. They had discovered that the iron steps of the carriage made most satisfactory scratching posts, and each one was struggling for his turn. This scratching suggested fleas. Alas! Thought I, before morning I shall be devoured. I was mortally tired and sleepy, but I reached for the whip and plied it lazily from side to side; but I soon found nothing but a constant and most vigorous application of the whip could hold them at bay one moment. I had heard that this type of pig was very combative when thwarted in its desires, and they seemed in such sore need of relief that I thought there was a danger of their jumping into the carriage and attacking me. This thought was more terrifying than that of the fleas, so I decided to go to sleep and let them alone to scratch at their pleasure. I had a sad night of it, and never tried the carriage again, though I had many equally miserable experiences within four walls."
RIDING THE ACCOMMODATION TRAIN MARY A. LIVERMORE
As the century progressed, so did the modes of transportation available to suffragists. Mary A. Livermore, a popular speaker on behalf of woman suffrage and the Temperance movement, wrote frequently of her travel experiences. Her descriptions capture the flavor of traveling throughout many of these progressions. Some of Livermore's travel experiences include a trip over the Erie Canal, a journey on the first American railroad, and an unforgettable carriage ride to a Southern plantation when she was a teenager.
Here, she compares the luxuries of Fisk's Erie Railroad to the Atlantic and Great Western in one of many reports she wrote for The Woman's Journal. This appeared in the April 22, 1871 issue.
"James Fisk, Jr., may be an irredeemable sinner, or he may be what one of Bret Harte's characters calls a "cherrybum"-I will not pretend to decide. But one thing I am sure of. His railroad is a very comfortable one to ride on, and his drawing-room and sleeping-coaches are unsurpassed in luxurious ease. But the moment you transfer your corporeal existence to the Atlantic and Great Western R. R. you find a rough road, vexatious delays, and poor accommodation. I was sorry I took it, and shall not of choice go over it again. On my way West from Edinboro' I was obliged to take a 'mixed train' to Meadville, there to wait nine hours for a through train to Cincinnati. And on reaching that city, there were seven long hours more of waiting, before the train left on the Ohio and Mississippi R. R. for St. Louis. Such delays, when one is in haste, tax one's piety very severely.
"The 'mixed train' on which I rode to Meadville was an immensely long freight train, with a caboose attached. They called it an 'accommodation train,' though who or what it accommodated it was impossible to learn. It picked up way passengers, who were herded together in this abominably filthy caboose. Like all freight trains, its modus operandi consisted of three parts standing still at stations, and one part traveling. But when it went-it went-as if 'Jehu the son of Nimshi' were engineer. Round the sharp curves it would tear like mad, writhing and twisting like a huge anaconda, and the light caboose-the tail of the monster-would whiz round after it like the snapper to a whip, throwing us all in a heap, together. There was a tipsy Irishwoman on board in an utterly maudlin state, to whom sitting and lying were alike, and a furiously drunken American, with gleaming eyes, and frightened face, just on the verge of delirium tremens, beating the air, and defending himself with frantic gestures from unseen phantoms of his crazed brain. But before we reached Meadville, what with the swinging and the swaying and upsetting we received we all felt as if we had become infected with the tipsiness of our drunken fellow-passengers, and could hardly tell ourselves, who was who, just as, when foul water and clear are mixed and stirred together, the whole becomes foul a little.
"Five of us were to take the Western express at Meadville at three in the morning. We were promised at the office of the hotel that we should be waked in season to dress for the train, and on the strength of this promise, four went to bed. I have learned to rely on myself in these cases. Just as the express was whistling into town, the Irish porter started to call us. I met him in the hall half way down, with my luggage in my hand, ready for the train. He declared with solemn face, that 'he had waked iv'ry sowl of 'em oop' and then they had gone to sleep again. Which was a great round lie, as our rooms were all near together, on the same floor, and I had been up, writing all the while. Just as the train was starting one of the men rushed breathless into the car, with boots and valise in hand, and vest and coats on his arm, about as angry as a man can be, and threatening, when he returned, 'to talk to that boy like a Dutch uncle.' He looked oaths, and I am afraid would have talked them but for the presence of women in the car.
"The heat for three days was overwhelming, the thermometer standing at 90 in the shade, as we entered Cincinnati.. In the sleeping-car, with the hot steam-pipes engirding every berth, all of us clad in winter clothing, it seemed as if it must stand at 190. Amid the dreary trash provided by the self-constituted literary caterers for the traveling public, I was so unspeakably fortunate as to find a volume of Bret Harte's stories, Louise Alcott's 'Moods,' and Miss Phelp's new book, 'The Silent Partner.' While these lasted I forgot the purgatorial heat and the suffocating dust."
FORTUNE HAS FAVORED ME IN THE MATTER OF ACCIDENTS MARY A. LIVERMORE
Not all of Livermore's train traveling experiences were as benign in their inconveniences as her previous account. 19th Century travel was wrought with hazards. As a very popular lecturer, and probably one of the most traveled, Livermore could hardly escape some of the more harrowing aspects of a life on the road.
"Fortune has favored me in the matter of accidents. In all my journeyings through this country and across the water, and I have traveled in every state of the Union but two, and in every territory but two, no harm has befallen me. I have been on trains that have collided, where my fellow travelers have met death and frightful injury, but I have been unharmed. The locomotive and forward cars of a train on which I was traveling went through a bridge, drowning some and maiming others. But the car in which I was riding was checked, and held by the brakeman, on the very verge of destruction, and we were saved before we knew of our danger. The side of the car where I had been quietly sitting for two hours was torn entirely out by collision with empty, derailed freight cars at one time, as we were entering Canadaigua, New York. Again I escaped injury, while every other passenger on that side was more or less cut or bruised. Not three seconds before the collision, I sprang from the seat where I was dozing and reclining against the window, for an unaccountable feeling of fear seized me, for which there was no visible reason, and the accident found me unharmed, standing in the aisle."
THE BEWILDERMENT OF BEING TWO MARY A. LIVERMORE
The novelty of a woman urging her own humanity seemed extraordinarily unique to many. Of course, one never knew beforehand how the audience would react. Equally unpredictable was the introduction to the audience. In this case, a young lawyer had a difficult time overcoming his incredulity at the prospect of there being more than one such novelty.
"One evening I was presented to my audience by a young lawyer, whose dead mother had been one of my girl friends and who evidently desired to make the occasion as pleasant as possible for me. He had personally attended to the decoration of the platform, which was bright and fragrant with flowers. This was the introduction:
"'Ladies and gentlemen: I have great pleasure in presenting to you this evening, a lady of whom you have read and heard for forty years. During that time she has written and lectured extensively under the nom de plume of Lucy Stone. Tonight I present her by her true name, Mrs. Mary A. Livermore.'
"I had great difficulty in persuading the young fellow that I know who I was better then he did. When finally convinced that Lucy Stone was the real name of a very much alive woman, I think he was somewhat appalled to find there was two of us."
THE ADVANTAGE OF BEING CHATTEL MARY A. LIVERMORE
During the course of her distinguished career, Mary A. Livermore became very adept at resolving all sorts of travel difficulties. She found one instance in which the irony at being considered chattel was not lost to her.
"Unity Club in Cincinnati has maintained a most successful course of Sunday afternoon lectures for nearly twenty years. On one occasion, when I had an engagement in this course, my agent arranged for a lecture on the Saturday evening previous, to be given in a large town some fifty miles from Cincinnati. There was but one train by which I could reach Cincinnati on Sunday, and that passed through the town at five o'clock in the morning. It was so important a matter that I would run no risk, and made my own arrangements with the proprietor of the best livery stable in the town, who agreed to call for me and drive me to the station in season for this early train. I was informed to the matter, as the man was know to be perfectly reliable, and had never failed to keep an engagement. 'Give yourself no anxiety, Madam,' were the parting words of the stable proprietor; 'if I am alive to-morrow morning, I shall call for you promptly.'
"It is fair to assume that the man died suddenly during the night, for I never saw him after this interview. I waited on the piazza of my friend's house, 'gripsack' in hand, and trunk by my side,-and heard the morning train whistle into town and whistle out again, and I was left. As soon as the telegraph offices were open, I notified the Cincinnati committee of the contretemps that had befallen me. No one could be found on so short notice to take my place, and the committee proposed to send an engine for me, if I were willing to ride in the engineer's cab. This was the best arrangement that could be made, for it was Sunday. I had traveled on a locomotive before in emergencies, and so at one o'clock, dressed for the lecture, and wrapped from head to foot as a protection from dust and cinders, I started with the engineer. We spun along merrily until within sixteen miles of our destination, and then we came upon a derailed freight train. We could go no farther. Consulting various time tables that hung in the cab, the engineer's face suddenly brightened. 'In seven minutes,' said he, 'a fast cattle train leaves the next station beyond this broken-down freight, which goes through to Cincinnati without stopping. We must catch that train, Madam.'
"He assisted me to alight, and then to mount into a beer wagon which some one had hitched to a post, climbed in himself, and drove rapidly. There was no seat for me, so I stood behind the driver and steadied myself with my hands on his shoulders, not a little concerned about my feet, over which the empty beer kegs in the bottom of the wagon were in danger of rolling. Just as the conductor of the cattle train was giving the signal to start, we reached the station, and I asked him for passage to Cincinnati. Producing his printed instructions, which forbade him to carry any freight but 'live stock,' or any passengers but the drovers of the animals, the conductor refused my request, saying:
"'You see that I cannot take you, Madam; you will have to wait for another train.'"
"'If I am not 'live stock,' will you please tell me what I am?' I queried impatiently and in dismay.
"There was a laugh, a hurried parley between the two men, and then the conductor of the cattle train decided to transport me to Cincinnati, if I would go as 'live stock." I was weighed as 'live stock,' billed as 'live stock,'-but put into the caboose, not into the cattle car,-and when I reached my destination, my bill was made out according to my weight avoirdupois, and I did what my four-footed traveling companions never do,- I paid my bill, and took a receipt for it. It was a hard, weary afternoon's work, but I kept my engagement, and was enthusiastically welcomed by the audience that had waited for me an hour and a half, in a packed and crowded Opera House.
A GENTLEMEN'S CLUB IN REBEL'S CLOTHING MARY A. LIVERMORE
Of course, travel had its lighter moments
"On another occasion I had an engagement at Lansing, Michigan. We were two hours late when we reached Jackson, Michigan, and failed to make connection with the train to Lansing. I have always been very punctilious in keeping my engagements, and doubt whether any lecturer has disappointed audiences less frequently than myself. Desiring to reach Lansing if it could be done, I sought the Division superintendent of the road, and bargained for a special train to Lansing, for which I was to pay almost the entire amount of the lecture fee promised me. I telegraphed the lecture committee the cause of my detention, and that they might expect me twenty minutes behind time. I had lectured in that (town) three years in succession, and was quire certain of the patience and good nature of the audience.
"On my arrival, I was conducted to a large parlor adjoining the lecture room, handsome in its appointments, and evidently the headquarters of a society club. Here I hurriedly changed my dress, leaving my traveling suit, bonnet, cloak, and other discarded articles of apparel on chairs and sofas, n a very helter-skelter fashion. My large valise wide open on the floor, revealed its contents at a glance, which were of a miscellaneous character, an abbreviated hoopskirt with bustle attachment, such as was worn at that time, being among them. There was no time for an orderly arrangement of my belongings, and I supposed the apartment was at my service until after the lecture.
"I was detained in the lecture hall at the close some ten or fifteen minutes, by old friends, and when I returned to the parlor to pack my valise, I found a company of young men in possession, not only of the room, but of my goods and chattels. It was their club room, and its occupancy had been given me without their knowledge, their consent to my use of it being taken for granted. They were having a gay time, and the hall resounded with their badinage and shouts of laughter. One of them, with his hat on one side, and a cigar in his mouth, was attired in my hoopskirt, and was strutting about with a great pretense of being hampered by it. Another had donned my traveling dress, and was caricaturing a woman's way of managing skirts. A third had dressed himself in my bonnet, which he had put on hind side before, and then tied on with my veil to keep it on his head, and was marching about the room wrapped in my long winter cloak. Others were rummaging my valise, in quest of something for their transformation or adornment, while a few were protesting against the performance. To say that they were surprised at my appearance is to state the situation feebly. Never was a company of young people so abashed as they.
They tried to escape from the room, but their unaccustomed garments impeded their progress. Nor could they easily remove them. They had fastened themselves to my clothes, but they could not get out of them without my assistance, and I was obliged to unbuckle, unhook, untie, and unbutton the "feminine attire," into which they had intruded."
THE GAL REV. DR. ANNA HOWARD SHAW
The partnership between Susan B. Anthony and Elizabeth Cady Stanton is legendary among those familiar with the suffrage movement. It was not, however, the only partnership of Anthony's long career. Dr. Anna Howard Shaw was a co-worker and frequent traveling companion of Anthony's during Anthony's later years. Anthony was grooming Shaw with the intention of passing the leadership of the suffrage movement over to Shaw. It was Shaw's most cherished dream to assume that leadership role.
Born in England, Shaw's father decided to relocate the family to America. After a brief stay in the east, he sent his family to the wilderness in Michigan without him, to a plot of land which he had purchased. When the family arrived, Shaw's mother collapsed in grief and disbelief. Their home was to be a one room wooden cabin with a hole in one wall for a window and an entrance with no door. It was the first time Shaw and her siblings saw their mother give way to despair.
They scrounged for food. Water had to be carried a long distance from a creek. A neighbor who lived 18 miles away, helped them locate a well. He and twelve year old Shaw dug the well together. Deprivation and hard work became the operative forces in Shaw's life at an early age. They were forces which she would face repeatedly in adulthood.
Shaw determined she would go to college and become a preacher. Shaw worked and studied for years to get through school. She was given opportunities to preach, and took them.
Once, while attending a speech given by a traveling lecturer, Shaw received the words of encouragement she needed to carry her through the rough times. The lecturer had been told of Shaw's wish to become a preacher and was entreated to help dissuade her. They pointed out that Shaw, who was weak from overwork and the effects of poverty, was killing herself in the effort. The lecturer said, "It is better that she should die doing the thing she wants to do than that she should die because she can't do it." It was the first encouragement Shaw received. The lecturer was Mary A. Livermore.
Shaw moved to Boston where she graduated from theological school. She became the temporary pastor of a church in Hingham, Massachusetts. Here, she had the good fortune to become friends with the woman who had given her the words of encouragement that sustained her during the hard times. Mary A. Livermore's husband, Daniel, was the pastor of another church in Hingham, and the three became friends.
Her next appointment was with a church in East Dennis, Cape Cod. The congregation got more than they bargained from "the gal" as many called her. Shaw dealt forcefully with the bickering factions and stood strong in defending church discipline where previous ministers had failed. "The gal" became a controversial subject of the Cape and attracted large attendances, mostly of people who were in hope of a good row. At one point she handed in her resignation and gave what she thought would be her last sermon from this church's pulpit. It was a blistering indictment of the congregation's behavior, and she spared nothing in telling her listeners exactly what she thought of them. It set off a great deal of discussion, and in the end, the congregation decided Shaw was the first minister with backbone they had had. Her resignation was not considered by the board, and she stayed for over six years.
During that time, she was asked by a Congregational church to serve as minister until they found a minister. She agreed providing that she could give the same sermon at the Congregational church in the afternoon that she gave at her church in the morning. This arrangement continued for the duration of her six years in Cape Cod. What makes this accomplishment of holding down two simultaneous ministries even more remarkable is that Shaw entered Boston Medical School and earned her M. D. during this same period.
It was while she was working on her medical degree between 1882 through 1885, that Shaw began lecturing for the Massachusetts Woman Suffrage Association. Shaw met Lucy Stone and Henry Blackwell, and through their association Shaw's interest in woman suffrage grew to be the dominate interest in her life. Shaw spent three evenings a week working as a physician in the poorest areas of Boston. Here, she saw the deplorable lot of the women of these slums, and came to believe that only voting women would ever enact laws that would benefit these people. Increasingly, Shaw felt drawn herself drawn to the suffrage movement and felt the need to take a more active role in social reform. After seven years with her two congregations, she tendered her resignations. The reaction of one young member of her church was unique to the situation.
"During the weeks that followed my resignation I received many odd tributes, and of these one of the most amusing came from a young girl in the parish, who broke into loud protests when she heard that I was going away. To comfort her I predicted that she would now have a man minister-doubtless a very nice man. But the young person continued to sniffle disconsolately.
"'I don't want a man,' she wailed. 'I don't like to see men in the pulpits. They look so awkward.' Her grief culminated in a final outburst. 'They're all arms and legs!' she sobbed.
REBEL WITH A WHISTLE REV. DR. ANNA SHAW
Despite her little parishioner's abhorrence of male arms and legs, Rev. Dr. Anna Howard Shaw resigned from the ministry and devoted her life to the cause of winning the vote for women. She became a lecturer, and began working side by side with Susan B. Anthony. Anthony knowing that she would not live to see women vote, began grooming Shaw as her possible replacement. Shaw kept the same incredible pace as Anthony, whose energy remained legendary. It is only natural that Shaw collected some lecture stories of her own to tell.
"Naturally I was sometimes inconvenienced by slight misunderstandings between local committees and myself as to the subjects of my lectures, and the most extreme instance of this occurred in a town where I arrived to find myself widely advertised as "Mrs. Anna Shaw, who whistled before Queen Victoria"! Transfixed, I gaped before the billboards, and by reading their additional lettering discovered the gratifying fact that at least I was not expected to whistle now. Instead, it appeared, I was to lecture on 'The Missing Link.'
"As usual, I had arrived in town only an hour or two before the time fixed for my lecture; there was the briefest interval in which to clear up these painful misunderstandings. I repeatedly tried to reach the chairman who was to preside at the entertainment, but failed. At last I went to the hall at the hour appointed, and found the local committee there, graciously waiting to receive me. Without wasting precious minutes in preliminaries, I asked why they had advertised me as the woman who had 'whistled before Queen Victoria.'
"'Why, didn't you whistle before her?' they exclaimed in grieved surprise.
"'I certainly did not,' I explained. 'Moreover, I was never called 'The American Nightingale,' and I have never lectured on 'The Missing Link.' Where did you get that subject? It was not on the list I sent you.'
"The members of the committee seemed dazed. They withdrew to a corner and consulted in whispers. Then, with clearing brow, the spokesman returned. "'Why," he said, cheerfully, 'it's simple enough! We mixed you up with a Shaw lady that whistles; and we've been discussing the missing link in our debating society, so our citizens want to hear your views.'
"'But I don't know anything about the missing link,' I protested, 'and I can't speak on it.'
"'Now come,' they begged. 'Why, you'll have to! We've sold all our tickets for that lecture. The whole town has turned out to hear it.'
"Then, as I maintained a depressed silence, one of them had a bright idea.
"'I'll tell you how to fix it!' he cried. 'Speak on any subject you please, but bring in something about the missing link every few minutes. That will satisfy 'em.'
"'Very well,' I agreed, reluctantly. 'Open the meeting with a song. Get the audience to sing 'America' or 'The Star-spangled Banner.' That will give me a few minutes to think, and I will see what can be done.'
"Led by a very nervous chairman, the big audience began to sing, and under the inspiration of the music the solution of our problem flashed into my mind.
"'It is easy,' I told myself. 'Woman is the missing link in our government. I'll give them a suffrage speech along that line.'
"When the song ended I began my part of the entertainment with a portion of my lecture on 'The Fate of Republics,' tracing their growth and decay, and pointing out that what our republic needed to give it a stable government was the missing link of woman suffrage. I got along admirably, for every five minutes I mentioned 'the missing link,' and the audience sat content and apparently interested, while the members of the committee burst into bloom on the platform."