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The Freedom of Our Platform

May 10, 1860 — 10th National Woman’s Rights Convention, Cooper Institute, New York City


I have only to thank you for the honor you have conferred by electing me to preside over the deliberations of this Convention. I shall leave it to others to speak of the purposes of this great movement and of the successes which have already been achieved.

There are those in our movement who ask, “What is the use of these Conventions? What is the use of this constant iterations of the same things?” When we see what has been already achieved, we learn the use of this “foolishness of preaching:” and after all that we demand has been granted, as it will be soon, The New York Observer will piously fold its hands and roll up its eyes, and say, “This beneficent movement we have always advocated,” and the pulpits will say “Amen!” Then will come forward women who have gained courage from the efforts an sacrifices of others, and the great world will say, “Here come the women who are going to do something, and not talk.”

There are those, too, who find fault with the freedom of our platform, who stand aloof and criticize, fearful of being involved in something that they can not fully endorse. Forgetting that, as Macaulay says, “Liberty alone can cure the evils of liberty,” they fear to trust on the platform all who have a word to say,. But we have invited all to come forward and speak, and not to stand aside and afterward criticise what has been said. We trust that those present who have an opinion, who have a word to say, whether they have ever spoken before or not, will speak now. If they disapprove of our resolutions, if they disapprove of anything that is said on this platform, let them oppose if they can not unite with us.



Source: The History of Woman Suffrage, Vol. I, ed. Elizabeth Cady Stanton, Susan B. Anthony, Matilda Joslyn Gage, (Rochester NY: Charles Mann) 1889, p. 689.


Also: Speech of Martha Coffin Wright to the Tenth National Woman’s Rights Convention, May 10, 1860, (New York: Fowler and Wells, Publishers), 1881.