Remarks to the Woman’s Auxiliary Congress
of the Public Press Congress
May 23, 1893 — panel on women in journalism, Woman’s Auxiliary Congress of the Public Press Congress, Chicago IL
Mrs. President and Sisters, I might almost say daughters — I cannot tell you how much joy has filled my heart as I have sat here listening to these papers and noting those characteristics that made each in its own way beautiful and masterful. I would in no wise lessen the importance of these expressions by your various representatives, but I want to say that the words that specially voiced what I may call the up-gush of my soul were to be found in the paper read by Mrs. Swalm on “The Newspaper as a Factor of Civilization.” I have never been a pen artist and I have never succeeded with rhetorical flourishes unless it were by accident. I never made a peroration in oratory in my life, I think. At any rate, if I did, it was accidental and never with malice premeditated. But I have always admired supremely that which I could realize the least. The woman who can coin words and ideas to suit me best would not be unlike Mrs. Swalm, and when I heard her I said: “That is worthy of Elizabeth Cady Stanton.”
While I have been sitting here I have been thinking that we have made strides in journalism in the last forty years. I recall the fist time I ever wrote for a paper. The periodical was called the Lily. It was edited — and quite appropriated — by a Mrs. Bloomer. The next paper to which I contributed was the Una. These two journals were the only avenues women had through which to put themselves in type to any extent worthy of note before the war. The press was as kind as it knew how to be. It meant well and did all for us it knew how to do. We couldn’t ask it to do more than it knew how. But that was little enough and I tried an experiment in editing a newspaper myself. I started a paper and ran it for two years at a vast cost to every one concerned it in. I served seven years at lecturing to pay off the debt and interest on that paper and I considered myself fortunate to get off as easily as that.
We have had admirable papers this morning on journalism among the women of Canada. The trouble with Canada is the dependence of the government and the dependence of the women. Dependence among women on the other sex in journalism is the bane of women. I remember well the days in New York when we couldn’t’ get any kind of a report in the papers except in the way of a caricature. Things have changed and we are not caricatured now; but it isn’t because we look any better than we did thirty or forty years ago. We don’t look half so well. They called up cackling hens and other complimentary names. I can see the headlines now as they used to stare us in the face.
Now, if we could have controlled a paper in those days above a party and politics and everything else, we could have had fair representation. We have advanced, but there is still further reach to be gained. The time has come when women should organize a stock company and run a newspaper on their own basis. When woman has a newspapers which fear and favor cannot touch, then it will be that she can freely writer her own thoughts. I do not mean that any individual woman should strive to get a newspaper of her own, but that all should combine. I fancy that Chicago is the place to start such a newspaper in, since Chicago has shown such superiority was a World’s Fair city. we must have a great daily paper her edited, printed and controlled by women. Now it is quite generally known, I suppose, that I am somewhat of a woman suffragist myself. But in this daily paper I would not ask for any special phase of woman’s ideas. I would ask that the paper be edited form a woman’s standpoint and not in the interests of any “ism.” Let it be from a woman’s point of view just as a Republican paper is edited and filled with news form a Republican standpoint, and as a Presbyterian periodical is given its tone from a Presbyterian point of view.
We need a daily paper edited and composed according to woman’s own thoughts, and not as a woman thinks a man wants her to think and write. As it is now, the men who control the finances control the paper. As long as we occupy our present position we are mentally and morally in the power of the men who engineer the finances. Horace Greely once said that women ought not to expect the same pay for work that men received. He advised women to go down into New Jersey, buy a parcel of ground, and go to raising strawberries. Then when they came up to New York with their strawberries the men wouldn’t dare to offer them half price for their produce. I say, my journalistic sisters, that it is high time we were raising our own strawberries on our own land.
Source: Chicago Daily Tribune, 24 May 1893.