Woman’s Profession as Mother and Educator,
With Views in Opposition to Woman Suffrage
December 1870 — The Music Hall, Boston MA
I appear this evening to present the views of that large portion of my sex who are opposed to such a change of our laws and customs as would place the responsibility of civil government on woman.
This may be done without impugning the motives, or the character, or the measures of that respectable party who hold the contrary position. As in the physical universe the nicely-balanced centripetal and centrifugal forces hold in steady curve every brilliant orbit, so, in the moral world, the radical element, which would forsake the beaten path of ages, is held in safe and steady course by the conservative; while that, also, is preserved from dangerous torpor by the antagonistic power.
And so, while claiming to represent the conservative element, I meet with respect and kindness my centrifugal friend.
First, let me state the points in which we agree, that we may more clearly appreciate those in which we differ.
We agree, then, on the general principle, that woman’s happiness and usefulness are equal in value to those of man’s, and, consequently, that she has a right to equal advantages for securing them.
We agree, also, that woman, even in our own age and country, has never been allowed such equal advantages, and that multiplied wrongs and suffering have resulted from this injustice.
Finally, we agree that it is the right and the duty of every woman to employ the power of organization and agitation, in order to gain those advantages which are given to the one sex, and unjustly withheld from the other.
My object, in this address, is not to discuss the question of woman’s natural and abstract right to the ballot, nor to point out the evils that might follow the exercise of this power, nor to controvert the opinions of those advocating woman’s suffrage in any particular point.
Instead of this, I propose, first, to present reasons for assuming that it must be a very long time before woman suffrage can be gained; so that the evils it is hoped to cure by the ballot would continue and increase for a long period; and, secondly, to present another method for gaining the advantages unjustly withheld; and thus to remedy wrongs which both parties are seeking to redress.
The first reason for believing that the gift of the ballot must be long delayed is, that it is contrary to the customs of Christian people, by which the cares of civil life, and the outdoor and heavy labor which take a man from home, are given to the stronger sex, and the lighter labor and care of the family state, to woman.
The more society has advanced in civilization and in Christian culture, the more perfectly have these distinctive divisions of responsibility for the two sexes been maintained; and in no age or country more strictly than in our own.
Those of us who oppose woman suffrage concede that there are occasions in which general laws and customs should yield to temporary emergencies; as when, in the stress of family sickness, the husband becomes nurse and cook; or, in the extremities of war, the women plow, sow, and reap; and it were well if every boy and girl were so trained that they could wisely meet such emergencies.
But while this is conceded, the main question is still open, namely, Is there any such emergency in our national history as demands so great a change in our laws and customs as would be involved in placing the responsibilities of civil government on our whole sex? For, with the gift of the ballot, comes the connected responsibility of framing wise laws to regulate finance, war, agriculture, commerce, mining, manufactures, and all of the many fields of man’s outdoor labor. And the charge of these outdoor responsibilities would be assigned by the ballot; and not alone to that class of women who are demanding woman suffrage, but to our whole sex.
For, whenever the time comes that a single vote of one woman may decide the most delicate, the most profound, and the most perilous measures of the state and nation, it will be the duty of every woman, not only to go to the polls, but to vote intelligently and conscientiously.
It is in view of such considerations that, at the present time, a large majority of American women would regard the gift of the ballot, not as a privilege conferred, but as an act of oppression, forcing them to assume responsibilities belonging to man, for which they are not and can not be qualified; and, consequently, withdrawing attention and interest from the distinctive and more important duties of their sex. For the question is not whether a class of women, who have no family responsibilities, shall take charge of civil government; but it is whether this duty shall be imposed on the whole of our sex. With the chivalrous tenderness toward woman so prevalent in our nation, this would never be done till at least a majority of women ask for it; and the time must be afar off ere such a majority will be found.
I wish to verify this statement by an extract from one of the many letters of sympathy and approbation received since it became known that I am publicly to present my views on Woman Suffrage:
“My DEAR MADAM: Though personally a stranger, I feel strongly impelled to write and thank you for coming before the public in opposition to the advocates of woman suffrage.
“I have no doubt that an exceedingly large majority of the educated and thoughtful women of the country feel a strong personal repugnance to becoming voters, as well as a conviction that this proposed innovation, far from working a beneficial change in the condition of the country, would actually lower the present standard of political morality. But they form a class but little accustomed to make their voices heard outside of their own social circle, and therefore in danger of being overlooked by those reformers who, with a thankworthy zeal for ‘woman’s rights,’ are, as I think, striving to perpetrate a great woman’s wrong.
“It is sometimes said that all women ought at least to have a chance to vote, if they wish it; but none are obliged to do so unless they like. And when compliant men have said this, they consider themselves magnanimous and chivalrous, and think the whole question happily settled.
“It might be so if we had no conscience. But wider privileges mean wider duties. From the bottom of my soul I hate the idea of meeting women at the polls; and yet, if woman suffrage ever becomes a fact, I can not stay away. For my fraction of power inevitably makes me thus much responsible for the civil government of my country. If I may vote, I must vote. I have not right, by withholding my vote, to throw its weight into the wrong scale. And yet, held back as I am, and must be, from the life of the street, the caucus, and the primary political meetings, and not more by my incapacity for man’s work than by his incapacity for mine — living chiefly at home, because my work is home work — what can I know of the fitness of candidates for local offices, or of the machinery of political parties?”
This perspicuous statement expresses the present views of probably nine tenths of the most intelligent and conscientious women of our country. Were it the question whether the responsibilities of civil government should be assumed by this class of women alone, the risks of an affirmative decision would be small. But let us consider the other classes that would be included in universal woman suffrage.
Next to the more intelligent class represented by this letter-writer, would come a large body of those whose generous impulses take the lead, rather than the cool deductions of reason and experience.
It is this class of enthusiasts that would most confidently attempt to conduct the affairs of the state.
Next to these would come the great body of busy and easy women, who, from pliant kindness and confidence, would vote as fathers, brothers, and husbands advised.
Next to these most respectable classes would come the superficial, the unreflecting, and the frolicsome, to serve only as tools for political wire-pullers.
Then would come the lovers of notoriety, the ambitious — the lovers of power — the caterers for public offices, and the seekers for money. Of these, the most unprincipled would employ the distinctive power of their sex in caucuses, in jury-boxes, and in legislative and congressional committees; thus adding another to the many deteriorating influences of political life.
Next would come that vast mass of ignorant women whose consciences and votes would be controlled by a foreign and domestic priesthood.
Lastly would come the most degraded and despised, who would like nothing better than to insult and oppose those who look down upon them with disgust and contempt.
Lead all these classes to the polls, and the result would be a vast increase of the incompetent and dangerous voters. It would, to a still greater extent, place the wealth and intelligence of the nation under those without intelligence, who, for their own advantage, would lavish wealth on useless schemes, and vote away the property of the industrious to support the indolent and vicious. In many of our large cities we are witnessing the beginning of this impending danger.
Still another reason for such a conclusion is the fact that, though the Woman’s Suffrage party at present is increasing in numbers, the discussion it has produced is gradually changing the views of many sensible persons who at first were its advocates. That has been the case with myself. For, on the first consideration of the matter, it seemed right and proper that women should have a voice in deciding who should be their rulers and make their laws; and that the simple dropping a vote into the ballot-box could be done without risk to womanly delicacy, and without danger of any kind. This was before discussion had revealed the more comprehensive bearings of the question, which finally removed me, as it has many others, to the opposite side of the question.
If, then, agitation increases the party seeking the ballot, and yet discussion is constantly withdrawing large numbers of the more intelligent and reflective, the time must be far distant when woman suffrage will be secured.
Another reason for believing that woman suffrage is afar off is the character of the men who appear to favor this change of our political status, and also their modes of meeting the question. The estimate of women by the other sex depends very greatly on the character of the mothers, wives, and sisters with whom they have associated, or on the character of the female society they most frequent. Those who associate with superficial, weak, or unprincipled women, form a low opinion of the whole sex which is false and unjust. On the contrary, those associated with the highest class of women place a halo of purity, strength, and honor on the brow of the whole sex, which is equally exaggerated. It is this last class of men who are foremost advocates of woman suffrage, and their estimate of woman’s ability to manage civil government is to be taken with considerable though honorable deductions.
Another class of amiable, unreflecting men, having had a chivalrous training, are ready to give the “dear creatures” any thing they will please to ask.
Still another class of kind-hearted men say, “Yes, oh! yes, let them have the ballot and all the duties it involves, and they soon will wish to relinquish such responsibilities.”
Then there are the political wire-pullers, who perceive that by catering to this, which they secretly deem a folly, they can make it subserve their selfish plans.
Lastly, there is a large number of intelligent and patriotic men who have not, as yet, so investigated the probable results of so fundamental a change in civil matters as to feel prepared to make any practical decision on the question, and so they give no decided answers.
These several classes of amiable and intelligent men are those who finally will decide the question, and they are the last who would force the responsibilities of the civil state on an unwilling minority of our sex; much less would they force it on a majority who would regard it as an unjust and unchivalrous exercise of power. For this reason it seems almost certain that the ballot will not be given to American women till it is clear that a majority are willing to take such responsibilities; and the time when this assurance can be gained must be at a very remote period.
Another reason for this conclusion is the powerful influences at the command of those of my sex who are opposed to this measure. Multitudes of women are now quiet and silent because they have little fear of danger in this direction. But should a time come when the woman suffrage party seem near achieving their aim, there would be measures instituted the power of which, as yet, is little known or appreciated. For they too would organize all over the nation and summon to their aid both the pulpit and the press. All the Catholic clergy, to a man, would lend their influence against a measure so contrary to the tenets and spirit of a church that enforces subordination and obedience as prime virtues. Not less decided would be the influence of all the Jewish rabbis.
The Protestant clergy, who have ever been like their Master, the sympathizing friends of woman, would be the last to enforce new and heavy responsibilities on our sex, contrary to the wishes even of a small, intelligent, and conscientious minority.
Not less decided are the great majority of the conductors of the press; and if an emergency calls for it, by the cooperation of such powerful auxiliaries, we could bring such an array of petitions and remonstrances in bulk and respectable names as never before entered congressional halls.
The attempt to force woman suffrage on us by making it a political question would also be met by a counter-influence that would convince every demagogue that any man or party which forces us to the polls will be ostracized by the votes of every woman who is thus dragged from her appropriate sphere to bear the burdens of the state.
Another and the final reason for believing female suffrage at a distant future is the proposed circuitous and indirect mode of remedying evils which could be relieved by a much more direct and speedy method. As things now are, men have the physical power that can force obedience; in most cases they have the power of the purse, and in all cases, they have the civil power. They can not be forced by the weaker sex to resign this power. It must be sought, then, as the gift of justice and benevolence. If, then, there are laws and customs that we deem unjust and oppressive, the short and common sense mode would be to petition the lawmakers to change these laws according to the rules of justice and mercy. Instead of this the plea is, “We can not trust you to make laws; give us the ballot, and we will take better care of ourselves than you have done or will do.” Now, any class of men who, after such an implication of their intelligence and justice, would give the ballot to woman, would most surely be those most ready to redress any wrongs for which the ballot is sought. Why should we not rather take shorter and surer mode and ask for the thing needed, instead of the circuitous and uncertain mode involved in the ballot? Any man who would grant the ballot would grant all for which the ballot is sought.
As one proof of this, we have the changes which have been made in the laws of New-York State, as reported in a New-York paper. The agitation for women’s rights commenced in that State, and now its laws give not only as many but more advantages to women than to men. For in that State, the wife has unlimited control of her own property, independently of her husband, while by law he must support her and her children. What is his is hers, but what is hers is not his. She may be rich and the husband poor, and yet he must pay all her debts. Her creditors can seize his property to pay her debts, but must leave hers untouched. He is obliged by law to support her; but however rich she may be, she is not obliged to support him. She may turn her husband out of the house she owns, but the law will not sustain the husband in such an act. The husband can not compel his wife to follow him if he changes residence. She may absent herself night and day, and, unless criminality is proved, the law gives no redress. At the same time, divorce is more easily obtained by a woman than a man.
With such an example before us, will it not be wisest to ask for such laws as we need before we seek the more uncertain ballot?
At the commencement of this discussion, it was stated that the parties at issue agree in these general principles, namely, that woman’s usefulness and happiness are equal in value to man’s, and consequently that she has a right to equal advantages for gaining them; that she is unjustly deprived of such equal advantages, and that organization and agitation to gain them is her privilege and duty.
The points of difference are as to the nature of the advantages of which she is deprived, the consequent evils, and the mode of remedy. One party regard woman’s exclusion from the professions, the universities, and the civil offices of men as the leading injustice from which most of the evils complained of are the result, and that the gift of the ballot will prove the panacea for all these wrongs. The other party believe the chief cause of evils which both are striving to remedy is the want of a just appreciation of woman’s profession, and the want of such a liberal and practical training for its duties as men secure for their most honored professions.
Here we again may refer to a patent maxim of common sense, which is this: that the more difficult and important are any duties, the more scientific care and training should be bestowed on those who are to perform them. It has been in obedience to this maxim that, in Christian countries, the highest advantages have been given to those men who have charge of the spiritual and eternal interests of our race. Most of the universities of Europe and of this country were founded to educate the clergy. Next came the training of those who administer laws, and then of those who cure the sick. These are named the liberal professions, because society has most liberally provided for the scientific training of those who perform these duties.
That women need as much and even more scientific and practical training for their appropriate business than men, arises from the fact that they must perform duties quite as difficult and important, and a much greater variety of them. A man usually selects one branch of business for a son, and, after his school education, secures an apprenticeship of years to perfect his practical skill; and thus a success is attained which would be impossible were he to practice various trades and professions.
Now let us notice the various and difficult duties that are demanded of woman in her ordinary relations as wife, mother, housekeeper, and the mistress of servants.
First, she has charge of the economies of the family state; for, as the general rule, men are to earn the support and women administer these earnings. In this must be included the style in which a house shall be prepared and furnished, so as best to secure pure air, sunlight, and the best arrangement and conveniences for labor. If women were scientifically trained in this particular, their influence would have saved much labor and much expense. But let the graduates of our female colleges be questioned as to the position and swing of doors to avoid draughts; or of windows, to secure sunlight where most needed; or of chimneys, to secure ventilation and economize fuel; or on the most successful modes of ventilation; or on the most economical arrangement of closets, store-room, and pantry, to save time and steps; and it will be found, ordinarily, that nothing at all has been done to prepare them to answer intelligently such important practical questions.
There is no department of domestic economy where there is more enormous waste than in the selection and management of fuel. Much science is involved in learning what fuel is made of; what kinds best furnish warmth without waste; what methods waste heat; what methods preserve it; what spreads it equally; what creates draughts and thus colds and headaches, and many other connected subjects. Having devoted more than usual attention to this topic, and especially to the proper selection and management of furnaces and cook-stoves, it is my firm belief that if I could impart to the housekeepers of our country the knowledge I have gained, (and that without any help from scientific schools,) it would enable them to save millions of money and an enormous amount of ill health and discomfort.
Again, a housekeeper has charge of the selection and preparation of the food on which family health and enjoyment so much depend. To prepare her for this duty she should be taught what kinds of food are most healthful and nutritious; what kinds are best for the young and what for the aged; how each should be cooked to secure most nutriment and least waste; the relative value of buying wholesale or retail; the best modes of storing food and of preserving it from vermin or decay; what dishes are at once economical, comely, and inviting and how a husband’s earnings can secure the most comfort and enjoyment with the most economical outlay. A woman needs training and instruction in this department of her duties as much as her sons need similar instruction and training in agriculture or watch-making, when that is to be their profession.
Again, the mistress of a family controls the selection and making of the clothing and furniture, and will be called to decide what is most suitable and economical; what stuffs wear longest; what hold colors best; what parts wear out soonest, and how they can be made to last the longest; how much is needed for each garment; and what is the proper way to cut and fit each article; what is the proper way of mending; what is the most economical and easiest mode of washing and ironing; and so on through a long list of duties that demand judgment, science, and care.
Again, the health of a family is especially a responsibility that rests upon woman. There is no such wise and needed physician as a well-instructed mother and housekeeper; not to cure — for that is the physician’s part, but to prevent — disease, or stop it at the starting. Our gravest illnesses come from neglected colds, indigestion, and headaches.
Who first finds out when one is ill, and is best prepared to search for the cause? Why should not every housekeeper know the first symptoms of common illnesses, the cause and the cure? Not chiefly in the hospital or by the bedside is a well-instructed nurse needed, but by the family fireside, where she can observe the first symptoms, give early warning, and apply the simple cure. There is no technical training so valuable to a woman as that which enables her to keep the doctor out of the house, and to send for him when he is needed.
Again, to woman must be committed the charge of new-born infants — and of the mothers at the most perilous and most anxious period of life, and one demanding so much discretion, tenderness, and self-denying labor. Thousands of young, uninstructed mothers are sent out of life or made suffering invalids from their own ignorance of all they most need to know, or from the neglect or ignorance of untrained nurses.
The departments of practical life, to which the majority of women are ordained, ought to receive the honors and aid of lectures, professorships, endowments, and scientific treatment; the same as is bestowed to fit men for practical life. The care of a house, the conduct of a home, the management of children, the instruction and government of servants, are as deserving of scientific treatment and scientific professors and lectureships as are the care of farms, the management of manure and crops, and the raising and care of stock. Shall man secure for himself endowments, and professors, and lectures on stock-raising, the diseases of domestic animals, and the laws by which they are preserved in health, and woman be denied equal advantages for learning the laws by which health, beauty, and mental soundness may be secured to the more precious children under her care?
It is granted by all parties that it is women who are to nurse and train the children the first years of life, and they must do it either ignorantly and blunderingly, or intelligently guided by scientific knowledge. For this reason every college and high-school for women should have a well-instructed woman professor, whose duty it shall be to instruct young women (in the last years of their education) in all they need to know as wife, mother, nurse, and guardian of infancy and childhood.
For young men we find endowed scientific schools to teach them agricultural chemistry, that they may learn wisely to conduct a farm; why should not women be taught domestic chemistry and domestic philosophy? The more civilization advances, the more do complicated contrivances multiply for the charge of which women are mainly responsible. The laws that regulate heat, as applied in the construction of furnaces, stoves, ranges, and grates; the principles of hydraulics, as applied in constructing cisterns, boilers, water-pipes, faucets, and other multiplied modern conveniences, demand scientific and intelligent supervision impossible to a woman untrained in this department of her domestic duties.
Again, young men are provided with lectures on political economy, while domestic economy, as yet, has not been so honored. Most women come to the duty of providing for a family utterly ignorant of the science of comparative values, and of the greater or less economies of the articles they arc to provide and preserve.
But the most important of all the departments of a woman’s profession is one for which no college or high-school for women has made any proper provision.
Woman, as mother and as teacher, is to form and guide the immortal mind. She, more than any one else, is to decide the character of her helpless children, both for this and the future eternal life. And for this, liberal provision should be made; so that no woman shall finish her education till all that science and training can do shall be bestowed to fit her for this supernal duty. The preparation of young ministers for the duties of the church does not surpass in importance the training of the minister of the nursery and school-room. The clergyman meets his parishioners two or three times a week to train them for an immortal existence. But the mother and school-teacher have their ministry in charge every hour of the day, and with a power of influence such as no clergyman can command.
In this review of the varied and complicated duties of a woman’s profession, we find that she needs not only the general discipline and training for the development of mental faculties, but a special training for a far greater diversity of duties than are ever to be undertaken by men. We claim that woman’s profession demands such very diverse training from the professions of the other sex that access to universities for men does not meet her most sacred necessities. A university education for woman should be as diverse from that of man’s as are her duties and responsibilities.
We will now notice what has been done to prepare young men for their several professions, that we may sustain our position, that such advantages are unjustly withheld from their sisters, and that this has engendered multiplied evils to our sex, and thus to the commonwealth.
The mode of providing for the professions of men has been, not to trust chiefly to tuition fees for the support of instructors, but to secure the highest class of teachers by endowments insuring a salary independent of popular whims and changes. By means of such endowment, such a division of labor and responsibility is secured that each teacher is responsible for only one or two branches of instruction, and to only one class, and for only one or two hours each day.
The president of a college teaches only one class, and has no care or responsibility as to the proper performance of the several professors. Each professor has charge of only one class in one or two branches, and is responsible for only those branches; while neither president nor any other officer has any control or responsibility except in his own department. For the president is only primus inter pares (first among equals) as presiding officer of a faculty, in which every question is decided by majority vote. He has not (as do principals of most female colleges) the selection and direction of all the teachers, the supervision of finance and expenditure, the authority to inspect and control in every department, and the regulation of all salaries and expenditures for apparatus and libraries.
By this college method, every professor is made the honorable and independent controller of his own department, responsible to no one but the corporation or trustees. By this method, each teacher having in charge only one or two classes, and a single department, is able to devote much time to self-improvement and the advancement of his specialty.
Endowments also render the college permanent in its course of instruction and in retaining a permanent faculty, which can never be the case in schools that must change with every changing principal.
Endowments also open avenues of honor and support to large numbers of young men who eventually become professors, or who are stimulated to exertion by the hope of winning such permanent and honorable positions. No such opening for independence is provided for women.
Endowments have secured to young men not only a thorough training in branches of literature and science which enlarge the mental powers, but also have served to honor and elevate several of the trades and professions to which they are devoted, so that they are now on an honorable equality with the so-called liberal professions. The scientific schools, the art schools, and the schools of technology are fast elevating many heretofore degraded professions to equal honor with law, medicine, and divinity. The more these various arts and professions are made honorable by endowments to support learned professors, the larger the number of honorable and remunerative professions are provided for young men; and, as yet, woman (with one or two exceptions) has had no such opportunities provided. To support such institutions for young men, every State in the Union has been taxed, and large grants of land made by the general government, while individual benefactions have been still more abundant. Our oldest colleges all count their endowments as valued from half a million to four and five millions each. There are now more than two hundred well endowed colleges and scientific schools for young men, supporting many hundred professors. The State of New-York has twelve endowed colleges, having doubled the number in twenty years. Connecticut has three endowed colleges, and four endowed professional schools. Massachusetts has four colleges and six professional schools for young men, and other States in similar proportions.
As a contrast to this liberal provision for young men, I may be allowed to narrate some of my own experience. When I commenced my profession as teacher, the most popular boarding-schools taught little except the primary branches, though occasionally was executed by the pupils a “mourning piece,” that is, an embroidered tombstone under an apparition by courtesy called a weeping willow, with a row of darkly-clad weeping friends approaching it. I was among the first to introduce what are called the higher branches. My school soon numbered over one hundred; and yet I had only one room and one assistant, while I had both to teach the higher branches and to study them myself; not having been taught them in my school days. I also had to prepare my teachers, who like myself had never been trained for these departments. And as my school rose in popularity, other schools followed the example, so that as fast as I trained reliable teachers, they were drawn off by the offers of higher salaries.
Meantime all the responsibilities, which in colleges are divided among the president, the professors, the tutors, and the treasurer, rested on me. Ten years of such complicated labor, study, and responsibility destroyed health, as it has done for multitudes of other women, who have thus toiled unaided by any of the advantages given to college teachers.
Ever since that time, I have devoted my income, strength, and time to efforts for securing professional advantages of education for my sex equal to those bestowed on men. It is over forty years that these efforts have been continued. And now, after remarkable and unexpected restoration to health, the institution I founded so many years ago is again committed to my charge.
In all this period, not a single institution has been founded which includes in its curriculum the course of practical training that prepares a woman for the complicated responsibilities I have enumerated as included in her profession. The Mount Holyoke plan does not even aim at any thing of this kind, but is only a method of economy to lessen expenditure. Vassar College has no endowment to support teachers, and so its tuition fees far exceed those of colleges for men. Nor is the industrial training of woman for her distinctive profession any part of its aim, while the largest portion of the income of that institution goes for the support of men instead of women teachers, five out of seven professors being men. And the excuse for this is, that well-trained female teachers can not be found, and so more highly educated men must be taken. But if woman had received the advantages given to men, most of these honorable and remunerative positions would have been hers.
The fact that men have been so much more highly educated in literature and science than women, causes the unjust discrimination in giving men the most honorable and remunerative positions even in female schools, where women equal or surpass them as successful teachers; so also in the comparatively unjust wages given to them in public schools.
The history of some of the most prominent female institutions shows that women are equal if not superior to men, in ability to educate their own sex, even when so little has been done for them and so much for men. For example, about the time I commenced my school, Mrs. Willard petitioned the Legislature of New-York to bestow some endowments on her flourishing institution, but without success; and yet without any such aid that institution has carried out a high course of literary education for woman, has had uninterrupted success, and still offers equal advantages with most female colleges where college-trained men are the chief recipients of the income, and are chief managers.
The Ingham University, of Central New-York, was founded by two women, and when it numbered over two hundred, sought endowments in vain. A man was then placed at its head, hoping thus to gain endowments; but under his administration the institution ran down, and was restored to prosperity only by restoration to woman’s care.
The institution I founded at Hartford has always run down with college-educated men as principals, and flourished most under the charge of women.
The Milwaukee Female College, established by my influence, rose to prosperity under women, failed under a man, and was restored to prosperity by a woman.
The Mount Holyoke Female Seminary was founded by a woman, and has been sustained forty years by women alone. In all these cases, the men had a college education, and the women gained an education chiefly by unaided personal efforts. I think similar illustrations can be found all over the nation.
It is the unvarying testimony of the supervisors of public schools that women teachers are equal to men in ability and success, and yet to men, as the general rule, are given the best places and the largest salaries. While so many avenues to wealth and honor are open to men and so few to women, all will allow, that this is neither just nor generous, and if women can do so well at such disadvantage, what would they do if equal in privileges?
To illustrate still further the unjust discrimination in educational advantages, I will state that in Hartford, close beside my institution, is a college founded at nearly the same time, the numbers being about the same as in my school. The president teaches only one or two hours a day, and has no responsibility for any department except his own. The college treasurer has all the care of the finances, and, having endowments for this purpose, pays salaries to the president and five or six other teachers which would provide a house and support for a family to each. There are only four classes, and each teacher is required to instruct only one or two hours a day, having the remaining time for self-improvement and for literary labor to add to his income.
In the same city is a theological seminary with only twenty-five young men.* For them are provided spacious accommodations, with furniture frequently provided by generous women. Women also are among the most liberal founders of those endowments, valued at nearly or quite half a million, by which four professors and their families are supported and the board and expenses of a good portion of the pupils are paid. In Middletown is another endowed theological seminary, where ten instructors are provided for only thirty-six students. At New-Haven is another endowed theological seminary, where six instructors are employed to teach fifty-two young men, and so endowed that four professors and their families are supported by funds. And in all these cases, each professor teaches only one or two hours a day in only one or two branches. And in more than half the States of our Union, are similar institutions to train young men for church ministries, a large portion of them largely endowed by women; while not even one has yet been established to train woman for her no less sacred ministry.
When I took charge of the Hartford Female Seminary, this fall, the trustees and former principal had established a course of study, and pupils were preparing to graduate as in past time; while many reasons were urged for making no great changes.
The list of branches to be taught, as exhibited in the circular, is no larger than is common in many women high-schools and colleges, each one requiring a text-book, and reads thus: Spelling, reading, writing, grammar, arithmetic, higher arithmetic, algebra, history of the United States, physiology, physical geography, geometry, natural philosophy, chemistry, astronomy, mental philosophy, Butler’s Analogy of Natural and Revealed Religion, æsthetics, English literature, history of Greece, history of Rome, philology, ancient and modern history, composition, natural history, history of England, history of France, botany, geology, rhetoric, trigonometry, moral philosophy, history of literature, history of arts and sciences, Latin, Greek, French, German, Italian, Spanish, drawing, painting in water-colors, painting in oil, vocal music, instrumental music, and gymnastics; forty-four in the whole.
For all these I am responsible to select teachers, to examine text-books, to decide on the modes of teaching, and to see that all departments are administered properly.
I can not carry out all these without at least seven English teachers, and four or five for the languages and accomplishments. And in arranging classes in so many branches, these teachers, on an average, must teach four or five hours a day, and have charge of six or seven classes in nearly as many different studies.
Though tuition charges have ever been larger than young men pay in colleges, in my former experience forty years ago, I could not retain the best teachers and furnish apparatus and advantages needed, only by using the whole income, except what I paid for my own board and my very economical personal expenses. And now, the income from one hundred pupils would not save me from embarrassing debt had I not other resources.
If I worked my teachers at the risk of their health, and employed those of humbler qualifications, I might, perhaps, make a small profit, but not otherwise. And as fast as teachers are trained, so as to be most valuable, (as in my earlier experience,) they will leave for posts offering higher pay and less labor. Neither Mrs. Stowe, nor myself, nor any of the most highly qualified ladies of our country, could take charge of such an institution without a sacrifice of an income counting by thousands. Will not a time come when ladies, the most highly qualified to educate their own sex, shall receive such advantages and compensation for these duties as now are exclusively given to men? My extensive acquaintance with ladies of this class all over the land enables me to predict an abundant supply of highly-trained educators to the duties of our sex, if the appropriate facilities, such as college professors obtain, were offered to them. But to take such a post as I now occupy, or to become a hard-working, ill-paid subordinate, or to become a family assistant, would not tempt them from present advantages of usefulness, independence, and comfort.
The present agitation as to woman’s rights and wrongs is the natural and necessary result of the want of appreciation and neglect of the claims and duties of the family state. It is the manifest design of our Creator that each man should seek a wife and establish a family. And the family state has two ends to be accomplished; one is the increase and perpetuity of our race, and the other is its education and training; not chiefly to enjoy this life, but mainly to form a character that will secure endless happiness in the life to come.
The distinctive feature of the family state is, the training of a small number by self-sacrificing labor and love. Abraham, the friend of God, and the great model of faith and obedience to both Jews and Christians, was not allowed to have a child of his own till he had trained six hundred servants, each man dwelling in his tent with a family of his own, forming a religious community that obeyed the true God. This shows that it was not for personal gratification as the chief end that God instituted the family, and that those who are childless may have as great a work to perform as the parental.
But the more our nation has advanced in wealth and civilization, the more have the labors and the duties of the family state been shunned. Many virtuous young men are withheld from it from the incompetence and the extravagant habits and tastes of those they would otherwise seek for wives. Another class is withheld by guilty courses that destroy the hope of family love and purity. Another large class shun the toil, self-denial, and trials of married life, and prefer their ease and the many other enjoyments wealth will secure.
To these add the hundreds of thousands of young men who perished in our destructive war, and the emigration to new settlements where early marriage is impracticable, and as the consequence, the census shows hundreds of thousands of women who can never commence the family state as wife and mother. This is the great emergency that agitates society and forms the chief moral problem of our age. The question in its simplest form is this, What is to be done to secure the highest usefulness and happiness of woman as a sex, when marriage and the family state are more and more passing away? Our customs and our laws are all framed on the assumption that women are to be supported by husbands to rear up families; and yet marriage and the family state are more and more avoided. And what is the remedy to be sought? Will the ballot relieve this difficulty? Can any laws be enforced that will oblige men to marry? and if not, what are we to do to meet the emergency?
In reply, I will first state some important facts developed here in Massachusetts, where well-educated marriageable women most abound; not in employments for which God designed them, but in shops and mills and employment detrimental both to health and morals.
The report of the Massachusetts Board of State Charitie states that the present mode of collecting special classes of the helpless, the unfortunate, and the vicious into great establishments, managed by paid agents, is not the best method to secure their physical, moral, and social improvement, and that it involves many unfortunate influences.
Then it is suggested that the better way would be to scatter these helpless and unfortunate ones in families of Christian people. Now, as before stated, the family is God’s mode of training our race to self-denying love and labor; and the Christian family, in contrast to the worldly, is the one in which a small number is given to one or two, who have the spirit of Christ and live as he lived, to labor for others, and not for self-indulgent ease and worldly enjoyments.
Hundreds of Massachusetts women have this spirit of Christ and are pining for this ministry, which is as sacred and as effective as that of the church. Thousands of neglected orphans, or worse than orphans, abound on every side. The homeless, the aged, the weak, the sick, and the sinful, also, are all around us.
And how can truly Christian homes be established where there are no young children to train, no aged persons to watch over, no invalids to nurse, and no vicious to reclaim? Why are orphans thrown upon the cold world, and why are the aged held in a useless, suffering life except to furnish opportunities for Christian love and self-sacrifice? Here is the problem for Massachusetts. Let her do for her daughters as liberally as for her sons, and it will speedily be solved.
There are multitudes of women in unwomanly employments, who, if educated to the scientific duties of a nurse for young infants and their mothers, with all the advantages of high culture given to medical men, and with the social honor accorded to high culture, would be greeted in many a family, be sought as the most welcome benefactors of the family state, and take a superior position to that now given to the teachers of music, French, and drawing.
Again, there is no agent of the family state who has a more constant, daily influence on the character of childhood than the one who shares with a mother the cares of the nursery. And yet where shall we find an institution in which young women are properly trained for these sacred offices? The heir of an earthly kingdom is surrounded by the noblest and the wisest, who deem the humblest office an honor in his service. But the young heir of an immortal kingdom, whose career, not for a few earthly days, but for eternal ages, is to be decided in this life, to whom is he committed, and where and how were they trained for these supernal duties? The bogs of Ireland — the shanty tenement-houses — the plantation huts — the swarming, poverty-stricken wanderers from Europe, China, and Japan are coming to reply!
The influx of wealth, the building of expensive houses demanding many servants, and the increasing demands of social life, are changing mothers from the educational training of their own offspring to the training and care of servants; and yet, in our boarding-schools and colleges for women, how much is done to train them for such duties?
When I read the curriculum of Vassar and other female colleges, methinks their graduates by such a course as this will be as well prepared to nurse the sick, train servants, take charge of infants, and manage all departments of the family state, as they would be to make and regulate chronometers, or to build and drive steam-engines.
The number of branches introduced into female schools has nearly doubled since I commenced my school, while the real advantages gained by this increase have been lessened. And as yet little or no progress has been made in preparing women for the practical duties of their profession. The expenses of most popular boarding-schools confine their advantages to the rich, who do not aim to have daughters trained to do woman’s work, or to earn their own independence.
The evils that women suffer from the want of proper training for their appropriate duties, few can fully realize. The Working-Woman’s Union, in New-York City, reports that of the 13,000 applicants for work, not one half were qualified to any kind of work in a proper manner. The societies for aiding poor women report as their greatest embarrassment that but few can sew decently, or do any other work properly. The heads of dress-making establishments complain that few can be found who can be trusted to complete a dress properly, and say that those properly trained find abundant work and good pay. The demand for good mantua-makers in country towns is universal. In former days, plain sewing was taught in schools; but now it is banished, and mothers are too pressed with labor, or too negligent, to supply the deficiency.
In the middle classes, unmarried women and widows feel that they are an incumbrance on fathers and brothers, who, from pride or duty, feel bound to support them, and yet no openings offer for them to earn an independence. Thousands of ladies of good families and good education, with aged mothers or young children to support, can find either no employments or those offering starvation wages. The school or the boarding-house is the chief alternative for such persons; and yet every opening for a school-teacher has scores, and sometimes hundreds of applicants.
The factory-girls, and those in shops and stores, must stand six, eight, or ten hours a day in bad air and unwholesome labor. The influx of ignorant and uncleanly foreigners into our kitchens, and the exactions of thriftless young housekeepers from boarding-schools, drive self-respecting American women from many of our kitchens.
Meantime, in our more wealthy classes, those who have generous and elevated aspirations feel that they have no object in life¾no profession, like their brothers, by which they can secure their own independence, and aid in elevating others. Our young girls are trained only for marriage; and when that fails, fathers and brothers forbid their earning an independence, as implying disgrace to themselves.
The remedy for all this would soon be achieved were woman’s work elevated to an honorable and remunerative science and profession, by the same methods that men have taken to elevate their various professions. The establishment of Woman’s Universities, in which every girl shall secure as good a literary training as her brothers, and then be trained to some profession adapted to her taste and capacity, by which she can establish a home of her own, and secure an independent income — this is what every woman may justly claim and labor for, as the shortest, surest, and safest mode of securing her own highest usefulness and happiness, and that of her sex; a mode which demands only what, if once achieved as practicable, every intelligent and benevolent man would approve and delight to promote.
Here I feel bound to express dissent from the frequent implication that men are alone responsible for the present disabilities and wrongs of woman, owing to a selfish and tyrannical spirit not existing in my sex. There is no nation in the world, and never has been one, in which all classes of men were so trained to honor, protect, and provide for women as in our own. On the contrary, women with us have been trained to expect care and protection, and not to a chivalrous and tender regard for their own sex, such as has been cultivated in brothers, fathers, and husbands.
Moreover, women are trained to economy in details more than men, and have not the free use of money as have those who earn family support. As a consequence, when the raising of the wages of a school-teacher, or the charges of a seamstress, or the pay of a cook is discussed, it is often the case that women are no more ready than men thus to increase the advantages of their sex.
In the matter of educational benefactions, women have given liberally to endow colleges and professional schools for men; and it is a remarkable fact that, if we except Roman Catholic nunneries, I know not of even one case in this nation where a woman is supported as an educator by an endowment given by a woman.
As previously indicated, the main causes of the evils that now press on my sex are the want of appreciation of the honor and duties of the family state, and the decrease of marriage, owing to war, emigration, self-indulgence, and vices consequent on increase of civilization and wealth.
There is every evidence that men are as sympathetic, and as anxious to devise remedies for the evils complained of, as are our own sex; and the impolitic and unjust manner in which they have been treated by some who are generously laboring for the relief and elevation of woman, is greatly to be regretted. In all my past efforts, I have depended mainly on the powerful influence of my sex in gaining what was sought; for I believe there is no benevolent plan, which is so approved by judicious and benevolent women as to secure their earnest efforts, which will not receive from fathers, brothers, and husbands all that is sought. My only difficulty in the past has been to secure such appreciation from my sex of the honor and duties of the family state, of the need of scientific and practical training for these duties, as would secure their earnest attention, influence, and efforts.
While I would urge these views on the attention of all women who have any influence, I beg leave to suggest other modes by which the same ends may be promoted. Thus, every cultivated woman who dignifies domestic labor, by living in such a style as enables her to work herself, and to train her sons and daughters to work with her, is a co-laborer in this beneficent enterprise. Every woman who goes to her kitchen in the spirit of Christ, by self-denying efforts to train her servants to intelligence, honesty, and benevolence, is another blessed laborer on the same field. Every young lady who seeks to impart some of her advantages to those who labor in her service will be preparing to hear from their and her Lord, “Inasmuch as ye did it to these the least of my brethren, ye did it to me.” Every school-teacher who trains her pupils to value home labor, and to learn to do all woman’s proper work in the best manner, is also a minister of good to the family state. Every woman who uses her influence to introduce sewing into public schools, or to establish sewing-schools among the poor, is another co-laborer for the same high aim. Every woman who can bring the views here presented to the notice of wealthy and influential men and women, may be sowing seed that will yield rich fruits even for ages to come, by endowments secured through such quiet influences.
A Woman’s University, that will realize the ideal aimed at, may, perhaps, come by no sudden growth, but by many experiments in different fields and diverse departments, each aiding to advance every other, till all eventually will be combined in a harmonious and perfected result. And for this consummation my good friend and opponent is as ready to labor as those of us who have not her courage and hopes as to the results of woman suffrage.
I stated that I have resumed the charge of the seminary I founded forty years ago, to teach the higher branches, with Mrs. Stowe, then, as now, my associate. We began when women were trained to domestic labor, and almost nothing else. We have seen the pendulum swing to the other extreme, till, both in families and schools, women are taught the higher branches, and almost nothing else. We now begin at the other end, and, by the aid and counsel of the judicious women of Hartford, we hope to set an example of a woman’s university which shall combine the highest intellectual culture with the highest practical skill in all the distinctive duties of womanhood.
Our good friends of the women suffrage cause often liken their agitation to that which ended the slavery of a whole race doomed to unrequited toil for selfish, cruel masters. When so many men are toiling to keep daughters, wives, and mothers from any kind of toil, it is difficult to trace the resemblance.
Moreover, we of the other side are believers in slavery, and we mean to establish it all over the land. We mean to force men to resign their gold, and even to forge chains for themselves with it; and when we have trained their fair and rosy daughters, we will enforce a “Pink and White Tyranny” more stringent than any other earthly thraldom. And we will make our slaves work, and work from early dawn to dark night, under the Great Taskmaster, the Lord of love and happiness, until every one on earth shall fear him, as “the beginning of wisdom;” and then “do justly, love mercy, and walk humbly with God,” as the whole end and perfection of man.
For want of time, only a part of this address was delivered at the Boston Music Hall. Mrs. Livermore followed, and at Note A are remarks in reply to some of hers. What follows will present further views on the subject of Woman’s Profession.
After resigning the charge of the Hartford Female Seminary, many circumstances combined to give me unusual facilities for observing educational influences in various institutions for both sexes.
Continued ill health led to extensive travels, and to protracted visits to a widely dispersed family and to former pupils settled in every section of the country. My father was president of a theological seminary, and my brother-in-law has been professor in two colleges and one theological seminary. One brother was valedictorian and tutor at Yale, and then president of one of the first Western colleges. Six brothers were educated in five different colleges, and thirteen nephews were students in six different colleges. Thirty-four nieces and nephews have been connected with a great number of different boarding-schools as scholars or teachers, while several hundred of my former pupils have been teachers or pupils in almost every State of the Union, and have extensively reported to me their experiences and observations.
I have also been connected with two organizations for establishing schools and female colleges in such a way as to make it a part of my duties to select teachers for schools and to organize faculties for large female institutions.
These opportunities, extended over a period of nearly forty years, have secured principles and conclusions of such importance as warrants not only general statements, but some details to illustrate.
A fundamental principle thus gained is, that the school should be an appendage of the family state, and modeled on its primary principle, which is, to train the ignorant and weak by self-sacrificing labor and love; and to bestow the most on the weakest, the most undeveloped, and the most sinful.
It is exactly the opposite course to which teachers are most tempted. The bright, the good, the industrious are those whom it is most agreeable to teach, who win most affection, and who most promote the reputation of a teacher and of a school or college. To follow this principle, therefore, demands more clear views of duty and more self-denying benevolence than ordinarily abound.
Moreover, the common practice of schools and colleges is, after a certain amount of trial, to turn out those who are too dull to reach a given line of scholarship, or too mischievous to conform to rules. It is assumed that the interests of the more intelligent and docile are to override those of the stupid and disobedient, and that schools and colleges are not to adopt the great principle illustrated in the story of the prodigal son, the strayed lamb, and the heavenly joy over one that was lost more than over the ninety and nine that went not astray.
The results of attempts to carry out this divine principle in school management, in my earlier years, were very encouraging. The frequent teachers’ meetings were made the means of discovering the intellectual and moral deficiencies of each pupil, and then the difficult cases were apportioned to the care and watch of the several teachers, according to their adaptation to the duty assigned. Each was to consult and devise methods, report to me, and to receive counsel from me as to further measures. A few specific cases will illustrate some results.
For example, one of our best pupils and very intelligent in certain directions, was reported as utterly incapable of understanding the reasoning process in geometry. After experiments for more than a year, this pupil became not only one of our best mathematical scholars, but one of our most successful teachers in that study.
In another case, the pupil was one of a numerous class that have imagination and fancy undeveloped and apparently wanting, having little or no appreciation of poetry, fine writing, or works of imagination. A long course of discipline and practice so developed these dormant powers that this pupil not only became an admirer and critic of poetry and fine writing, but presented, as her closing public exercise, a specimen of poetry, devised and completed without aid, which would favorably compare with half of that which is written and admired in our current literature.
In other cases, in my school and among my friends, I have noticed that, while some children have all the mental faculties equally developed, others appear to possess small capacities, except in one or two directions, which in some cases are prominent and in others so undeveloped as to appear wanting.
For example, the son of a dear friend had been trained by good teachers and sent to a first-class college, where every ordinary method was employed to carry him through with at least moderate respectability, and all proved an utter failure. The young man was then placed with a good private teacher, who, after repeated experiments, ascertained that in certain directions the mental faculties were above mediocrity, but in points not reached by college training. Another method was adopted, and the result was, that the young man became distinguished in one branch of practical science, and eventually a popular and successful professor in a scientific school.
In treating both intellectual and moral deficiencies, great attention and care are demanded; so as not to deal with the willing but weak as with the careless or mischievous. Both efforts demand the labor of self-sacrificing love, and the rewards for such efforts have been witnessed in such abundance as to cause great regret that so seldom our higher schools and colleges aim at such results.
Another very important principle, especially in the training of women, is, that the duties of the family state, as performed when parents and children are united in domestic labors, have a direct and very decided influence in training the intellectual powers.
In such families, the first-born, especially if a daughter, begins almost in infant days to aid the mother in the care of the younger. Discretion, quickness, invention, and many other faculties are cultivated in the care of the little one, in regulating its caprices and controlling its mischievous impulses. She learns to wash and dress a younger child, to execute contrivances for its amusement, to regulate its habits, and to aid as a teacher in its first school lessons. She is trained to sew, mend, and to make family clothing, and then to aid in teaching these arts to the younger.
The first rudiments of culture in the fine arts commence when assisting in ornamenting garden and parlor with flowers and with various contrivances. She learns to cook food, and to understand the varieties and the modes of preservation. And so of many other household duties which demand quickness of apprehension, discretion, energy, and perseverance. It is an unconscious intellectual training, usually enforced by limited means, and insuring benefits which the offspring of the rich rarely enjoy.
It is on this principle that Frobel arranged his system of the Kindergarten, which develops many mental faculties and trains to intellectual exercises before book knowledge is sought, chiefly by exercises that cultivate taste, ingenuity, contrivance, and skill in the use of the hand and eye.
The early training in my own personal and family history is a remarkable illustration of this principle. This was at a time when book-learning for the young was at its lowest stage. The whole of my childhood was a play-spell, where my chief contrivances were to avoid all kinds of confinement to study, or any kind of intellectual taxation, except in practical employments, for which happily I had a decided taste.
The death of a wise and tender mother at sixteen, and the consequent responsibilities that came on the eldest of eight children, still further developed the intellectual powers which are cultivated in domestic employments. But school duties were never relished, except as opportunities of furnishing merriment and various amusing contrivances for escaping study. No discipline by book knowledge was gained, and no reading attempted except in works of imagination.
It was not till school-days were over, that the discipline of sorrow, and the consequent forces of religion, sobered an exuberant nature and led to preparation for the office of a teacher.
Then, for the first time, commenced a training in book knowledge under the care of a college-trained brother, and then a few months accomplished what, with most school-girls, demands as many years. And this speed and success were secured by aid of faculties developed and strengthened chiefly by domestic training, together with the conversation and intellectual influence of the parents and family friends who were my educators.
The mental history of these family friends is an additional illustration of this principle. My father had a college education; my mother and an aunt, who was a member of our family, had only that of a country home, when reading, writing, and arithmetic were the only branches in children’s schools. My mother had a natural taste for profound investigation, and, with no aid but a small encyclopedia, performed some remarkable mathematical calculations where my father was helpless. But apparently she had no talent for poetry or fine writing, though having a high appreciation of both. On the contrary, my aunt was a fine writer, and composed poetry of a high order. Both the ladies were extensive readers of the best English classics, much more so than my father.
And now in my recollections of home discussions, and of the admiration universally accorded to my mother’s intellectual gifts, I should say that by the common school, by domestic duties, by English literature, and by the sciences studied in one small encyclopedia and two or three other scientific books, my mother was, if not superior, fully equal to my father in mental power and culture. And in fine writing and most æsthetic developments my aunt was superior to both, though she was their inferior in several other directions.
Moreover, five of my father’s sons were trained in the best colleges, while his daughters all knew little or nothing of the chief branches included in the college course. And yet the domestic training of the daughters and their more extensive reading, as I view it, made them fully equal to my brothers in intellectual development.
Similar observations met me in general society when comparing the mental development of sisters having only a common school education with that of college-trained brothers, and this at all periods and in every direction. And it is in view of such multiplied illustrations that I understand how it is that women, with much fewer advantages of classic and mathematical training than college graduates enjoy, prove better educators than men for children and for the more mature of their own sex.
Here I wish it to be understood, that my aim in remarks on colleges is not to present their advantages or deficiencies, except so far as they are influencing female institutions to the same courses of study and organization. I am not qualified to advise as to institutions for men; but the profession and pursuits of women as a sex are to be so widely diverse from those of men that they should secure as diverse methods of training.
I regard the effort to introduce women into colleges for young men as very undesirable, and for many reasons. That the two sexes should be united, both as teachers and pupils, in the same institution seems very desirable, but rarely in early life by a method that removes them from parental watch and care, and the protecting influences of a home.
There will always be exceptional cases when children have no suitable parents or guardians; while at a maturer period, after the principles and habits are largely solidified, there are advantages in sending a child from home. The true method, at the immature periods of life, is the union of the home and the school in protecting from dangers and in forming good habits and principles.
I have repeatedly resided in the immediate vicinity of boarding-schools for boys, embracing the children of my relatives or intimate friends, and never without wonder and distress at the risks to some and the ruin to others constantly going on. Such institutions always have had inmates shrewd and often malignant, while the rash curiosity of youth is ready to meet any danger.
Withdrawn from parents and sisters, and all home influences, the young boy is lodged, often in isolated dormitories or in negligent private families, with class-mates of all kinds of habits. And so tobacco, creating an unnatural thirst for other exciting stimulants, is secretly introduced; then alcoholic drinks; then the most gross and licentious literature; and all so secretly that teachers can not meet the evil. I have known these results repeatedly in schools under the most careful, pious, and celebrated teachers.
Thus, at the age most susceptible and most dangerous, the young boy is taken from mother and sisters and the safe guardianship of a home, and amid such perils committed to strangers who, with multitudinous pupils and cares, can give no special care to any one child.
Another general principle attained by my experience is, that both quickness of perception and retention of memory depend very greatly on the degree of interest excited. It is not the most learned teacher that always has most success in imparting permanent knowledge. As an illustration, when I commenced teaching Latin, it was under the care of a very accurate and faithful brother, who stood first in scholarship in Yale as valedictorian. I was then only a few pages ahead of my scholars in the Liber Primus, and yet, when they had finished most of Virgil and selections from Cicero, this brother and several other examiners said that they had never seen any classes of boys superior to my class in accurate and complete scholarship.
Even in the pronunciation of the French, I have found that it was not the best educated teacher, speaking with the purest Parisian accent, who was most successful, but rather a lady whose enthusiasm and perseverance and carefulness would not allow a single syllable to be mispronounced by her pupils. This explains how it is that women with less education so often prove more successful than men in managing female institutions.
By this same general principle of quickening intellect by exciting interest, I learned the importance of educating every young girl with some practical aim, by which, in case of poverty, she might support herself; and also, of selecting for this end some pursuit suited to her natural tastes and character. To study what is liked and with the hope of thus securing some agreeable and substantial advantage in future life more than doubles the interest, and thus quickens and exalts the intellectual powers.
In this view of the case, it became an important inquiry as to which of the employments and studies of our higher female seminaries could be made available in securing a remunerative profession to a woman, and one that would be suitable for her sex. Here, again, I may be allowed to introduce some of my own experience as guiding to a conclusion, at least in one particular.
All through my childhood, my father daily read the Bible, in course, at family prayers, and when his inquisitive children asked questions as to matters of delicacy, they were told that the Bible was given by God to instruct men in all their duties, and that some things were not for children to know till they were men and women; that this inquiry was about things they could not understand, and that it was wrong to try to do so.
After such wise training, my first experience as a teacher of Latin was to a class of young girls as ignorant as myself of all the wickedness of the world; and then I was plied with questions I could not answer except by aid of a brother; when to my dismay and disgust I found the worst vices of heathenism, and those most likely to tempt young boys, made respectable and attractive by the charms of classic poetry, and forming a part of a boy’s training for college.
And here I would ask why it has come to pass that the Bible, in its original Greek, is turned out of the college course of most of our leading collages, (for it formerly was required,) while the vulgarity and vice of heathenism are preserved and made attractive in fitting boys for college? Is it not time for woman to have a more decided ministry in training young boys for their college life? Should not women be trained in Latin and Greek, so that mothers and sisters thus taught could fit young boys for college, instead of sending them at the must perilous age away from the watch and care of a home and all female influence, to boys’ boarding-schools, to mix with all sorts, and there be taught all manner of evil? Teachers trained in these languages could go into families to aid a mother in these duties, and would be liberally compensated. This, then, is a profession for which a woman can be trained even in our common schools as well as in female colleges.
Another very interesting fact revealed by personal experience is, that there is no knowledge so thorough and permanent as that gained in teaching others. Repeatedly, in my own case, and still oftener in the case of my teachers, has it been observed that a lesson or problem supposed to be comprehended, was imperfect, and corrected only in attempts to aid others in understanding it. In no other profession is the sacred promise, “Give and it shall be given unto you,” so fully realized as in that of a teacher.
This view of the case has led me to devise methods by which every pupil, in school-days, shall have an opportunity to attempt to teach, and be taught how to do it in the best manner; and that, too, in every stage of advancement from lowest to highest. There are methods which secure this advantage with great economy of time and labor which can not be detailed here.
Another very important principle in acquiring knowledge is the taking of a few branches at one time, and especially in having these associated in their character, so that each is an assistance in understanding and remembering the other. For illustration, let geography, history, polite literature, and composition, for a certain period, be the leading studies of a class which has completed a short course in these studies in the preparatory school. Then let history be studied by successive periods, marked by some great events or by some distinguished characters; and as each country is introduced, let its civil, political, and physical geography be fully studied; its animals and productions be illustrated by drawings and by selection from travels read to the class; this might be done either in connection with the history or as a separate class in geography, conducted in connection with the class of history and reciting at a different hour.
At the same time, the teacher of the class in literature and belles-lettres could be presenting at another hour the state of science, literature, and the fine arts, with illustrative drawings, and also an account of the prominent learned men and authors of that period, with some account of their most celebrated works, reading some selections. For example, suppose, the period that of Alexander the Great, by this method, one teacher would introduce most of the geography of countries of the ancient world, while the literature and the fine arts of Greece in its palmy days would, under another teacher, be connected with the study of its history. At the same time the exercises in a daily class in composition might have topics and exercises to correspond.
So in the period of the crusades; in one class, the history would be studied; in another, the civil, political, and physical geography of the countries introduced; in another, the history of literature, the fine arts, and the distinguished authors, with some account of their works. This period might be still more vividly presented in standard works of fiction, such as Scott’s Talisman and Ivanhoe, to be read in hours of social gathering or at home.
To make room for such a method, much of the minute and uninteresting details now so excessive in our geographies and histories, which are forgotten as soon as learned, would be omitted for these more valuable and more interesting exercises. On such a plan, the pupil would have three or four recitations on diverse topics, and yet so connected that each would illustrate and vivify the other, while the interest thus excited would make permanent in the memory all these details.
There is great loss of time and labor in the common method of pursuing four, five, or six disconnected branches of study. The mind is distracted by the variety, and feels a feeble and divided interest in all. In many cases, this method of cramming the mind with uninteresting and disconnected details serves to debilitate rather than to promote mental power. The memory is the faculty chiefly cultivated, and this at the expense of the others. This method has been greatly increased since the honors of graduating have become so popular in female colleges and high-schools.
The excess of uninteresting details is a serious objection to many text-books of history and geography. It is very much to be regretted that the plan introduced in Woodbridge and Willard’s Geography, by which details are systematized under general heads, is so widely neglected.
No experience has been more valuable to me than that relating to physical training. Few are aware how much can be done in schools to promote development, health, and the proper and graceful use of the body and limbs. My residence in such a large number and variety of health establishments, in studying the causes and cure of the prevailing debility and diseases of American women, has led to the conviction that there are very few diseases or deformities which a teacher properly trained may not remedy by natural methods, and those which may be made a part of school training.
Here I would invite the special attention of mothers and teachers to a work on the Diseases of Women, by Dr. George H. Taylor, published by G. Maclean, 85 Nassau St., N.Y., in which such natural methods are presented, many of which can be employed in the family and school without the attendance of a physician.
In the early part of my school experience, a European lady artist of fine personal appearance offered to teach in my school a system of exercises by which she herself, once a humpback cripple, was restored to a perfect and graceful figure. These were disconnected exercises, one portion of which I introduced into my work on physiology and calisthenics as what could be easily used in all schools without demanding a separate room and dress for the purpose.
Other portions I combined into a system of calisthenic exercises set to music, and demanding a separate room, and this method was extensively introduced into schools until Dr. Dio Lewis prepared his system, now extensively used.
The difficulties of Dr. Lewis’s method are, that it demands a separate dress and room for the purpose, which multitudes of schools will not adopt, and also is so violent as to endanger the health of delicate young girls, while it has but little tendency to promote ease and gracefulness of person and movements. For these reasons it is constantly passing out of use after a short trial.
In place of this, I have originated another method by which personal defects and deformities are remedied, and gracefulness in the movement of head, body, and limbs promoted. It includes exercises which gently train all the muscles, which are varied and entertaining, and which are performed to music, the pupils singing songs prepared for each exercise.
The results in curing defects and promoting health, ease, and gracefulness of movement and manner have been so remarkable as to excite some wonder that, even in dancing-schools, so little has been attempted in these particulars, when so much might be so easily effected. The proper and graceful mode of walking, sitting, and using the hands and arms is rarely taught in any schools. So, also, the training of the voice to agreeable tones and enunciation in conversation is almost never attempted, and yet few things have a more constant influence in giving pleasure.
The regulation and use of amusements as a part of education is, as yet, scarcely recognized as a school duty. There is nothing that gains more personal regard and influence with pupils than joining in their amusements, while opportunities are thus given to promote both health and literary improvement. And teachers need this kind of exercise and relaxation as much or more than their scholars.
One very valuable method is combining the reading of interesting works of fiction with the period of history pursued in school hours, and also with ornamental needle-work pursued while listening to reading. In long winter evenings, an hour for study, an hour for active amusements, and an hour for this kind of reading and needle-work would unite health, pleasure, and literary improvement in an unusual degree.
In resuming the religious training of an institution embracing pupils whose parents hold views differing essentially from mine, it becomes my duty to state the method I shall pursue. I propose to avoid all conflict with opinions taught to my pupils by their parents and clergymen. I shall simply take the teachings of Christ as my only guide, and present, as he did, “Our Father in heaven” as a kind and sympathizing parent, who loves and cares for all the children he has created more tenderly than any earthly parent can do; who ever is seeking their best good; who is pleased when they strive to do right, and grieved when they do wrong.
If any come to me for help in regard to theological doctrines, I shall teach them the simple laws of interpretation used in common life, and how to employ them in studying for themselves the teachings of the Bible. I shall assume the foundation principle of the teachings of Jesus Christ as the basis of religious training. I mean the dangers of the future world. For it was the prime object of his advent to teach us these dangers, and the way of escape.
Here I shall avoid all theories and all speculations, and confine myself strictly to the facts taught by Jesus Christ. I shall assume as true the fact revealed by the only person who has died and returned to this life to tell us what awaits us in that dark and silent land toward which we all are hastening; the solemn and dreadful fact that there are such awful dangers in the world to come that the chief end and aim of this life should be to save ourselves and all we can influence, and, if need be, at the sacrifice of every earthly plan and enjoyment.
Still more solemn to each individual mind is the fact taught by our Lord, that the number of those who escape an awful doom in the future life depends on the character and efforts of the followers of Christ.
I shall assume as true the fact revealed by Jesus Christ that the only way of salvation is by faith in our Creator; not a mere intellectual belief in his existence and laws, but a faith including this belief and also practical obedience to his laws; by repentance, not a mere emotion of sorrow, but including the ceasing of disobedience; by love, not chiefly emotional, but rather that which is thus defined by inspiration, “This is the love of God, that ye keep his commandments.”
Obedience to the laws of our Creator, physical, social, and moral, being the chief element of the faith, repentance, and love by which alone we escape the dangers of the future world, the question will be urged as to the degree of obedience which will secure safety. Here we find in Christ’s teachings that perfect obedience is not indispensable to salvation. The demand is that “the heart” (that is, the chief aim and interest) be devoted to such obedience. We are to “seek first” the kingdom of God and his righteousness. And all who do this, in both the Old Testament and the New, are recognized as the righteous, as the children of God, and as heirs to the eternal blessedness of his kingdom.
It is the revelation of the dangers of the life to come which decides the character of the worldly educator in contrast to that of the Christian. The one has for the leading interest and aim to secure the enjoyments of this life; the other has as the chief interest and aim to follow Christ in self-denying labors to save as many as possible from the dangers of the life to come. The one lives as if there were little or no danger in the future world. The Other toils, as if in the perils of a shipwreck, to save as many as possible and at whatever personal sacrifice of ease or worldly enjoyment. The one finds little occasion for self-sacrificing labors; the other is constantly aiming to save others from sin and its ruin by daily selfdenying efforts.
It was “for the joy that was set before him” that “the Shepherd and Bishop of souls” “endured the cross, despising the shame.” And when he invites his followers to take and bear the same cross, he encourages with the assurance that this yoke is easy and this burden light, and that it brings “rest to the soul.”
And here, for the encouragement of my pupils and friends, I feel bound to give my testimony to the verity of these promises.
It is now more than forty years that my chief interest and aim has been to labor to save my fellow-men to the full extent of my power. To this end I have sacrificed all my time, all my income, my health, and every plan of worldly ease and pleasure. With sympathies that would naturally seek the ordinary lot of woman as the ideal of earthly happiness, with no natural taste for notoriety or public action, with tastes for art, and imaginative and quiet literary pursuits, I have, for all that period, been doing what, as to personal taste, I least wished to do, and leaving undone what I should most like to do. I have been for many years a wanderer without a home, in delicate health, and often baffled in favorite plans of usefulness. And yet my life has been a very happy one, with more enjoyments and fewer trials than most of my friends experience who are surrounded by the largest share of earthly gratifications. And since health is restored, except as I sympathize in the sorrows of others, I am habitually as happy as I wish to be in this world. And this is not, as some may say, the result of a happy temperament; for in early life, at its most favored period, I was happy chiefly by anticipations that were not realized, and never with that satisfying, peaceful enjoyment of the present, which is now secured, and is never to end.
The preceding views lead to inquiries of great practical importance, such as these:
Is it consistent with Christian principles to take children from the care of parents at the most critical period of life, and congregate them in large boarding-schools and colleges, where temptations multiply and individual love and care are diminished?
Is it practicable, in public and private schools, to institute methods by which each pupil shall be trained according to peculiar wants, so that deficient faculties shall be developed, and unfortunate intellectual, physical, and moral traits or habits be rectified?
Can such schools institute methods by which every pupil shall, at least, commence a training for some business in future life, to which natural abilities and tastes incline, and in which success would be most probable?
Can woman’s distinctive profession be made a large portion of her school education?
To aid in deciding these questions, the following is given as the ideal at which I have been aiming in efforts to establish a Woman’s University; by which I mean, not a large boarding-establishment of pupils removed from parental care, but an institution embracing the whole course of a woman’s training from infancy to a self-supporting profession, in which both parents and teachers have a united influence and agency.
According to this ideal, such an institution would be divided into distinct schools; all under the same board of supervision, and all carrying out a connected and appropriate portion of the same plan. These are:
1. The Kindergarten, for the youngest children, who are not to use books;
2. The Primary School, for children just commencing the use of books;
3. The Preparatory School, introductory to the higher;
4. The Collegiate School, embracing a course of four years;
5. The Professional School, to prepare a woman for all domestic duties and for a self-supporting profession.
For the control of all these there would be such a division of responsibilities as follows:
1. The first would be the department of intellectual training; committed to a woman of high culture in every branch taught in the collegiate school; possessing quick discernment, intellectual and moral force, and great interest in her special department. To her would be committed the superintendence of all the schools, except the professional, and it would be her duty to secure perfect lessons from every pupil by the following method.
She would first gain from the teachers such an arrangement of lessons for every child as is fitted to its ability, and, if need be, have classes so divided that those of nearly equal ability shall be in one class, that the brighter or more advanced might not be retarded. Then, at the close of the daily school, it would be the duty of every teacher to send every pupil who has not a perfect lesson, whatever might be the cause, to the charge of this lady superintendent, who would keep them with her until each had studied and recited the imperfect lesson in the most satisfactory manner. By this method perfect lessons will be secured every day from every pupil.
It would also be her duty to carry out a method, which will not here be detailed, by which, after due training, every pupil shall occasionally act as teacher under her supervision. By this and another method, not here indicated, great economy of time will be secured to pupils who ordinarily are obliged to spend much time in recitation-rooms in hearing others recite, without any special benefit to themselves, and involving great trial of their patience, and also temptation to irregularities. Likewise it would be the duty of this teacher to ascertain intellectual defects, and adapt measures for the remedy; also to ascertain, by aid of both parents and teachers, natural tastes and aptitudes, with reference to special school-training in branches preparatory to a self-supporting profession.
2. The department of moral training would be given to a woman of high moral and mental culture, whose tastes, talents, and experience prepare her to excel in this department. It would be her duty to study the character and discover the excellences of every pupil, by aid both of the other teachers and the parents, and then to devise methods of improvement; instructing the other teachers how to aid in these efforts. She also would seek the aid and cooperation of the most mature and influential pupils, and direct them how to exert a cooperating influence. The general religious instruction of the institution also would be conducted under her supervision and control.
3. The department of the physical training of all the institution would be committed to a woman of good practical common sense, of refined culture and manners, and one expressly educated for this department. By the aid of both parents and teachers, she would study the constitution and habits of every pupil, and administer a method of training to develop healthfully every organ and function, and to remedy every defect in habits, person, voice, movements, and manners.
Here I would remark that my extensive investigations in many health-establishments as to the causes of the decay of female health, and my extensive opportunities for gaining the opinions and counsels of the most learned and successful physicians of all schools, lead me to the belief that there are few chronic maladies, deformities, or unhealthful habits that may not be entirely remedied by a system of physical exercise and training in schools, under the charge of a woman properly qualified for these duties.
If a similar officer were provided for our colleges, whose official duty should be to train the body to health, strength, grace, and good manners, should we not see much fewer sallow faces, round shoulders, projecting necks, shambling gaits, awkward gestures, and gawky and slovenly manners, such as now too frequently mark the college-graduate? Why have the heathen youth of ancient Greece so excelled those of our age and religion in manly strength, beauty, and grace?
And if a department in colleges should be instituted, on the plan here indicated for moral training, would not the barbarous and vulgar practices that so often degrade the manners, and endanger life and limb, be ended?
It is a great evil in many of our colleges and professional schools, that when a professor has once gained his chair, no degree of dullness or neglect will oust him, especially if supported by nepotism or a clique. This I have so often heard reported of institutions with which my family and personal friends have been connected, that it would seem as if few such institutions escaped this evil. And it seems to be one which might be remedied by means of such an officer as has been described as head of the department of intellectual training, whose official duty it should be to examine every department and report deficiencies to the faculty and corporation for remedy.
In this connection I would entreat special attention to the perils of young girls in most large boarding-schools, and such as are little realized. The collecting of many into buildings and rooms imperfectly warmed and ventilated, the overtasking the brain by excessive study, the excitements of boarding-school life in contrast to home quietude, the unhealthful food and condiments bought at shops or sent from home and distributed to companions, the want of proper healthful exercise, the want of maternal watch and care at critical periods and at commencing disease, the debilitating practices taught at the most dangerous period to the ignorant by the thoughtless or vicious, and many other unfortunate influences, combine to a greater or less extent in all large boarding-schools.
Having had charge of one myself for nearly ten years, in which, as it seemed to me, every thing was done that could be to abate such evils, I have concluded that such institutions for both boys and girls may be called successful only on the same calculation as would be made in cultivating a garden on the top of a house. The best of soil, seed, manure, and labor, with water and sun and awnings, may be provided, and yet the proper place to make a good garden is on mother earth. And so the proper place to educate children before maturity is under the mother’s care, with the cooperating aid of a school.
If I could narrate one half of the sad histories of the ruined boys and girls, and the consequent agonies from blasted parental hopes, that have come to my personal knowledge, where health or morals, or both, were destroyed for a whole life at large boarding-schools, this false and fatal method would be greatly abated.
And here I would direct attention to one item so pernicious, and yet so common and so misunderstood as to excite constant wonder and regret as connected with boarding institutions for both sexes, and that is the want of effective methods for providing pure air. In private families, only a few lungs vitiate the inhaled air; but the larger the number in one building, the larger are the arrangements needed for emptying out the foul air and introducing the pure.
An open fire is a sure and certain method. But when buildings are warmed by hot-air furnaces, or by hot-water or steam-pipes, the almost inevitable results are pernicious. In the case of heated air from a furnace, it always will find exit from a building in the shortest or most available direction, and then all the rooms not in this line of draught will have the air nearly stationary, to be breathed over and over again by their inmates.
Heating by steam or by hot-water pipes involves still greater difficulties, when no arrangement is made for carrying off the foul air, inasmuch as it is the air in the house which is heated without introducing pure air.
This is the most dangerous of all methods of warming when there is no connected ventilating arrangement, while it is the best and most agreeable of all methods when properly managed. Mr. Lewis Leeds, ventilating engineer in New-York City, has invented the following method. The coils of steam or hot-water pipes are placed close to a window, with an opening at the bottom of it, regulated by a register which admits pure air directly on to the coils, and thus it is warmed.
Thus a person can sit by the coils and secure radiated heat as from a fire, have the light of the window and the influx of perfectly pure and yet warm air. In addition, every room has an opening both at top and bottom into a warm-air flue, through which the impure air of the room is constantly carried off.
Any room can be perfectly ventilated which has openings at the top and bottom of a flue, through which warm air is passing. But no flues filled with cold air will ventilate a room, though housebuilders, and householders, and school committees have been ignorantly providing such useless arrangements all over the land.
And here I affirm with heart-felt sorrow that never, in a single instance, have I known or even heard of a large boarding-school with any proper arrangements for ventilation. Even Vassar College, now so extensively regarded as a model institution, has adopted the most dangerous mode of warming without any arrangement but doors and windows to supply pure air to its recitation-rooms and sleeping-rooms.
And so, as in all similar cases, the strong and well, who are distressed for want of pure air, will have windows open, and then the delicate, who are not inured to sudden changes or to great extremes, will take colds. There is no doubt that the reports of the miasmatic diseases and lung affections of teachers and pupils in this institution have been greatly exaggerated; but not because there has not been abundant reason for expecting such results.
When I took charge of my present school, I found neither the boarding-house nor school-building provided with any proper modes of ventilation, and after making all changes for improvement at command, it is still needful to make it the constant duty of one teacher to see that, so far as practicable, every room in school and boarding-house is properly warmed and ventilated every hour of the day and night.
In regard to the course of study in the collegiate department of a woman’s university, there should be as great an amount as is required in any of our colleges, yet only a few studies carried to so great an extent as in many sciences pursued by men. But there should be a much greater variety, together with an accuracy and thoroughness that colleges rarely secure. And all should have reference to women’s profession, and not to the professions of men. Much in this department at first must be experimental, having in view the ideal indicated.
So in regard to introducing practical training for woman’s domestic duties as a part of common school education; although it is certain that much more can be done than ever has been attempted, and that, too, as a contribution to intellectual development rather than the reverse, this also must be a matter of experiment.
In regard to a special training in the preparatory and the collegiate schools for future self-supporting employments, much more can be done than has ever been supposed, and a few particulars will be enumerated to illustrate. Young women of affectionate disposition, good intelligence and morals, having only limited means, might be trained to become a mother’s assistant in charge of a nursery, partly by the studies of the primary and preparatory schools and partly by learning the methods of the Kindergarten. Thousands of parents in all parts of our nation would offer liberal wages to young women thus trained for one of the most sacred offices of the family state.
Women of suitable social and moral character might be trained, in connection with school studies, to be superior seamstresses and mantua-makers, and thus be enabled to gain liberal wages.
If young ladies knew how much usefulness and comfort may be connected with this domestic art, they would seek it with more interest than any school study. The scarcity of well-trained mantua-makers in all parts of the land has made my early training in this art a great blessing to me and to many others whom I have been thus enabled to aid and to teach; and there is no branch of school training that can be made so directly available in promoting economy, comfort, and usefulness.
Women trained to fit young boys for college, in private families or in small neighborhood schools, would command very high remuneration in many quarters. Every young girl whose means will allow it ought to be prepared for this duty.
Pupils who have a decided talent for either music, drawing, or other fine arts, might have a special training for one of these professions; while those without any such tastes or aptitudes should be dissuaded from wasting time, labor, and money, as is so absurdly and widely practiced, in learning to play the piano and acquiring other accomplishments never pursued in after-life. Nine tenths of young girls thus instructed lose all they learn in a very short period.
Some pupils have fine voices and a talent and taste for elocution, and such might be trained for teachers of this art or for public readings.
Some pupils have talents that prepare them to excel in authorship, and to such an appropriate and more extensive literary culture could be afforded.
The art of book-keeping and of quick and legible penmanship insures remunerative employment; and many other specialties might be enumerated in which, during school-days, a woman might be trained to a self-supporting profession. And every woman should be trained for all the duties that may in future life be demanded as wife, mother, nurse, and school-teacher, if not in the ordinary school, in a separate professional school.
When institutions are endowed to train women for all departments connected with the family state, domestic labor, now so shunned and disgraced, will become honorable, will gain liberal compensation, and will enable every woman to secure an independence in employments suited to her sex. And when this is attained, there will be few or none who will wish to enter the professions of men or take charge of civil government.
Having expressed so strongly my views in reference to large boarding-schools for both sexes, I will add some further details of my ideal for organizing a Woman’s University. This has been suggested by recent interviews with some who may have much influence in managing the large funds recently bequeathed in Massachusetts for establishing institutions for women, in one case a lady having bestowed what will probably amount to nearly half a million, and in another case a gentleman has bequeathed a million and a half for this purpose.
This, I believe, is but the beginning of similar benefactions that will be provided for women in all parts of our country. There are men of wealth who have lost a dear mother, wife, or daughter, who would find comfort and pleasure in perpetuating a beloved name by an endowment that for age after age will minister to the education and refinement of women and the support and training of orphans.
In this view, it seems very important that the first endowed institutions of this kind should adopt plans that may be wisely imitated.
It seems desirable that such endowed institutions should be placed in or so near a large town that the pupils of all the schools, except the professional one, should reside with their parents instead of congregating in a great boarding-house. The professional school would ordinarily embrace only women of maturity, and might demand a location with surrounding land for floriculture, horticulture, and other feminine professions.
The Kindergarden, the primary school, and the preparatory school might each have a principal and an associate principal, supported partly by tuition fees and partly by endowment. These principals might establish a family, consisting of the two, who would take the place of parents to several adopted orphans and to several pay-pupils whose parents, from ill health or other causes, would relinquish the care of their children.
The collegiate schools might have endowed departments corresponding to professorships in colleges, each having a principal and associate principal, who also could establish families on the same plan. When completed, the university would then consist of a central building for school purposes, surrounded by fifteen or twenty families, each having a principal and associate principal, acting as parents to a family of from ten to twelve pupils, and all in some department of domestic training.
Thus some thirty or forty ladies of high character and culture would be provided with the independence and advantages now exclusively bestowed on men, while at the same time the institution would practically and to a considerable extent be an orphan asylum offering unusual advantages.
In regard to the practicability of finding women properly qualified to carry on such a university with success, there is no difficulty. Few know so well as I do how many women of benevolence and high culture are living with half their noblest energies unemployed for want of the opportunities and facilities provided for men. There is nothing needed but endowments to secure the services of a large number of ladies of the highest culture and moral worth, well qualified to establish not only one but many such institutions.
In my attempts to organize female institutions on the college plan of independent principals of endowed departments, responsible not to an individual but to a faculty and corporation, I have been met with objections that apply as much to colleges for men. The jealousies and jars incident to all complex institutions are the result of the frailties of humanity common to both sexes. I have, in a large number of instances, organized institutions on the college plan, which for years were conducted with perfect harmony, some of them are still prospering, and others were ended only for want of endowments to retain the highest class of teachers.
Source: Woman’s Profession as Mother and Educator, with Views in Opposition to Woman Suffrage, by Catharine E. Beecher (New York: Maclean, Gibson & Co.,) 1872, pp. 3-106.