Our Sisters in Germany
Have Long Desired Freedom
September 7, 1853 — Woman’s Rights Convention, Broadway Tabernacle, New York City
I wish to say only a few words. On the other side of the Atlantic there is no freedom of any kind, and we have not even the right to claim freedom of speech. But can it be that here, too, there are tyrants who violate individual right to express our opinions on any subject. And do you call yourselves republicans? No; there is no republic without freedom of speech.”
[interrupted by the audience]
I saw this morning, in a paper, that the women of America have met in convention to claim their rights. I rejoiced when I saw that they recognized their equality; and I rejoiced when I saw that they have not forgotten their sisters in German. I wished to be here with my American sisters, to tell them that I sympathize in their effort; but I was too sick to come, and would probably not have been here but that another German woman, a friend of this movement, came to Newark and took me out of my sick bed. But it was the want of a knowledge of the English language that kept me away, more than sickness.
Before I came here, I knew the tyranny and oppression of kings; I felt it in my own person, and friends, and country; and when I came here I expected to find that freedom which is denied us at home. Our sisters in Germany have long desired freedom, but there the desire is repressed as well in man as in woman. There is no freedom there, even to claim human rights. Here they expect to find freedom of speech; here, for if we can not claim it here, where should we go for it? Here, at least, we ought to be able to express our opinions on all subjects; and yet, it would appear, there is no freedom here even to claim human rights, although the only hope in our country for freedom of speech and action, is directed to this country for illustration and example. The freedom I claim. The women of my country look to this for encouragement and sympathy; and they, also sympathize with this cause. We hope it will go on and prosper; and many hearts across the ocean in Germany are beating in union with those here.
Translation by Ernestine Rose.
Source: The History of Woman Suffrage: 1861-1876. Vol I, (Rochester, NY: Charles Mann) 1887, pp. 572.