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“A Moment in Time” The Fight for Women’s Suffrage March 1875 from the Stoneham Historical Society & Museum Archives

 In the 1870’s, many of the former abolitionists from Stoneham and surrounding towns who previously supported the 15th Amendment redirected their energy to Women’s Suffrage and Equal Rights. The following articles were originally published in the Stoneham Independent in 1875.

“Lucy Stone: First female college graduate from MA, Ardent Women’s Suffrage and Equal Rights Advocate to Speak at Town Hall”  Stoneham Independent,  March 7, 1875

“Miss Lucy Stone, the well-known and able “defender of women’s rights,” will lecture in Town Hall on Friday evening, March 12th, 1875.  Subject: “Women’s Suffrage.” Aside from the subject, Miss Stone is a thorough and interesting speaker, and although the question she proposes to discuss at this time has many bitter opponents, also has friends, and in this talented lady an able expenent, whose independence of character enable her to stand undaunted and proclaim what she believe to be truth and principles of justice and equity.  We hope to see the house well filled on this occasion, as many truths may be advanced which interest all.”

 “ Lecture Well Attended Despite The Weather” Stoneham Independent, March 19, 1875

       The lecture on Friday evening last at Town Hall was well attended, notwithstanding the extremely bad conditions on the streets, “the water and slosh” to be waded through to get to the hall.  A few minutes before eight o’clock, she commenced her lecture and held her audience in a remarkably attentive and quiet manner for about an hour and a half. Subject: “Women’s Suffrage. Which was labeled as one having had a thorough acquaintance with the laws of the nation, and much thought upon the subject of human rights and equality of the sexes.  The injustice of taxation without representation was discussed; also the right of women, especially married women, to hold and dispose of their own property; the inequality in the price of the same labor in men; the relative position of men and women in the right to a voice in the election of officers to enact our laws, or the enactment of the laws; women being placed in the category with idiots, insane and felons.

     She spoke of the modification of the laws that had been made relative to the subject under consideration within the past few years, and of the course to be pursued for the enactment of laws in accordance  with the laws of equity, by sending the right men to Congress and the Legislature. She is associated in her work with such persons as Mrs. Julian Ward Howe, Mary F. Eastman, and Miss Hulda Loud. The speaker, although nearly three score years of age and the mother of a family, is nevertheless much younger in appearance and retains the fire and energy which had characterized her for the last quarter of a century. Her voice, though not loud, could distinctly be heard in the rear of the hall.  And she is overall a very pleasing and interesting speaker, illustrating her subject as she proceeds, and securing every point and position by argument, fair and logical. May she live to reap the full fruition of her labors in the cause so dear to her and which she has so faithfully and fearlessly advocated before a prejudicial community.

Lucy Stone was a prominent United States orator, abolitionist, and a vocal advocate and organizer promoting rights for women.  In 1847, Stone became the first woman from Massachusetts to earn a college degree. She spoke out for women’s rights and against slavery at a time when women were discouraged and prevented from public speaking. Stone was known for using her birth name after marriage, the custom being for women to take their husband’s surname. Unfortunately, it would be another 45 years until the 19th Amendment would be ratified.  Sadly, Stone had passed away two years before at the age of 75.

In recognition of the 100th Anniversary of the 19th Amendment, Performer Sheryl Faye will tell the story of prominent Women’s Suffrage Advocate, Susan B. Anthony on June 11th at 7:00 p.m. at the Stoneham Historical Society & Museum.  This program is generously sponsored by Northeast Manufacturing Company in Stoneham and is free and open to the public.