April 1851 — Woman’s Rights Association, Hall of Science, Sheffield, England
[Because Ann Knight was in Paris, this message was read out loud to attendees]
My dear honoured friends of the Sheffield tea party and friends of human right, —
Your distant friend, who has not had the pleasure of seeing one of your faces, begs to express to you her rejoicings that there are at length in our beloved land of so-called liberty, those of her sex who feel that liberty cannot be complete, entire, while the majority of that land are forbidden to enjoy the birthright of every human being, to choose the being who is to inflict the taxes which that being is called to pay, to make those laws which that being is compelled to endure; and she entreats her friends of Sheffield, whether wearing coats or gowns, to help and cheer each other on in the arduous conflict of right against might. You have planted the tree of liberty, my sisters of Sheffield, and see that you neglect not the young plant in its infant strugglings with the wide north eastern blasts of opposition from proud conceit or educational prejudice, the sternest foe; guard the young sapling, fence it round with zealous affection; water its tender root, that it may strike deep into Britain’s soil, and invoking for it the guardian care of the God of justice, go on in your work rejoicing, and plant your trees of liberty in every country north and south of Yorkshire, till you come to my poor county of Essex, which is a very besotted country. It grows, perhaps, the finest wheat in England: but for the tree of liberty, our members of Parliament, at least one of them, is too assinine in his discourse, as you may have seen, to favour the young plant; his very bray might almost upheave it, without your special guard. Another country, parted from it only by the Thames, will give it good soil and tendance; send them your good nurselings, and forget not to appeal to all the stirring spirits of the age — the Cobdens, the Walmsleys, the Vincents, the Humes, and Reynolds, and O’Connor. These last have declared themselves. Repeat your demand, and beg them to persevere till our bands are broken. Encourage and strengthen each other, dear sisters, for the prison doors are not closing upon you as upon our noble Jeanne Deroin and her companion. Yes, my country-women, be entreated to persevere earnestly in this good cause; it is the genuine anti-slavery. The black slavery was a very small portion; it was only the anti-black slavery. This is anti-slavery complete; and had we begun with this, insisting on our own emancipation first of all, we should not have had to deplore the imbecility of our parliamentary doings for poor negroes, nor the plunder of our county in a compensation of twenty millions. Our very hearts bleed over masculine monopolous legislation: our brothers want us at their sides. I remain, my beloved sisters, your ardently hoping and affectionate friend.
Avenue St. Marie du Roule, 8
Source: Reynold’s Newspaper, (London) 4 May, 1851.