"Children--Their Rights and Privileges"
Speech that led to Victoria Woodhull's election as President of the American Association of Spiritualists at their Eighth National Convention on its second day, Wednesday, September 13, 1871, at Troy, New York. From Woodhull & Claflin's Weekly, October 7, 1871.
OFFICIAL REPORT OF THE EIGHTH NATIONAL CONVENTION--THE AMERICAN ASSOCIATION OF SPIRITUALISTS.
BY HENRY T. CHILD, M. D., SECRETARY.
FIRST DAY--TUESDAY, SEPTEMBER 12, 1871.
Song by the choir. The Chair introduced Mrs. Victoria C. Woodhull, who delivered the following address.
MRS. WOODHULL'S ADDRESS.
THE TRAINING OF CHILDREN--GOOD ADVICE TO MOTHERS.
I scarcely know how it has come about that I am on this rostrum, in the midst of a Spiritualistic convention. I have been a Spiritualist and a recipient of heavenly favors ever since I can remember, but for reasons never explained, I have not been known to Spiritualists, nor they to me. In my humble way, I have been an earnest advocate of the principles of the spiritual philosophy, while to me its truths are quite as real as are the facts of material existence; and all my hopes for the future of humanity are founded upon the inauguration of a complete unity of purpose between the two spheres in all things upon which the good of humanity depends. I thank this convention for its hand of fellowship when so many others are set against me. If I have faults and errors, they have come from a misunderstanding of Him to whom I owe all that I am and who in my childhood taught me of the angels, in my youth smoothed the stony paths I trod, and in maturer years instilled in my heart a love for all humanity, and to be whose servant is still my ambition.
I propose to speak briefly of children--a subject which, though comparatively ignored, is to me one of the most important. I believe that Spiritualists have an interest in all kinds of reform; and therefore, must have in this, which lies at the basis of all others, since a perfected humanity must come of perfect children.
We have often wondered that, among all the medical authorities, there have not been more who devoted some part of their profuse writings to the ante-natal care and treatment of children. No more important addition could be made to our system of social economy, nor to our pathological literature, than a strict analysis of foetal life for popular circulation. While so much has been said and written regarding children's care and treatment after birth, that part of their life previously has been entirely ignored. It would be just as proper to ignore their life after birth until some still future period, say three, five or seven years of age, as to do so before birth.
To lay a good foundation for a good life, it is required that the proper care should be bestowed upon it from its very point of beginning. The tiller of the soil exercises special care and his best wisdom in preparation for the future harvest. He knows, from oft repeated experience, how important it is to have the very best seed, of the very best variety. He knows that seed thus selected, planted side by side with unselected seed, and receiving no more care, will yield not only larger harvests but also that they will be of choice quality.
Having the best seed possible, his next step is to have the ground properly prepared, into which at just the proper season, he deposits it. All these preparatory measures are a part of the process by which our fruits, grains, and vegetables have been brought to their present state of perfection. Everybody knows that fruits and vegetables which grow wild are poisonous, [but] are capable of being brought by cultivation to be delicious articles of diet. Everybody knows that by study and care our most celebrated breeds of horses and other stocks of domesticated animals have been obtained. Everybody knows that deep scientific research is constantly being made in almost every department of production, and that those engaged in the respective departments eagerly apply every new fact which science makes clear. It is an admitted fact that the future character of what is to be produced, can be very nearly, if not absolutely determined by those who have charge of the process. Even the color which the herdsman desires for his cattle can be obtained; and what is true regarding color is just as true regarding all other indices of individuality.
Notwithstanding all these accepted facts which are coming to be the rules and guides of people, when we approach the subject of making the same rules and guides so general in their application as to include children--the world stands aghast and with one united effort, frowns it down.
Nobody denies the importance of the subject, but those who speak at all argue that it is one of those things which we are not prepared to meet. Not prepared to meet! And the whole Christian world has been preaching regeneration these eighteen hundred years! which they tell us is the one thing necessary. All the importance claimed for regeneration we willingly admit; all badly produced persons require regeneration; but as to it being the main thing, we beg to demur. If regeneration is an important matter, generation is still more so. It is to the consideration of this fact, as demonstrated and practiced in all departments of nature below, that the human must come and acknowledge itself a proper subject of. Just so far as science can demonstrate and humanity will put its demonstrations to practice, just so far can the necessity for regeneration be done away.
It is too true that the courage to face this question is generally wanting and when it is attempted, all society pretends to be outraged. Are human beings, then, to be always considered of so much less importance than the things they make subservient, that they should forever be left to come into this world's existence as individuals at random? We know the obloquy that has fallen upon all who have ever attempted to hold the mirror so that society would be obliged to contemplate itself; but, notwithstanding all this, we feel there is not a more noble object. We have considered all the bearings of this matter, and have determined to stand by the flag we have thrown to the world: --"Children their Rights, Privileges, and Relations," and we shall maintain it argumentatively, if possible; defiantly, if need be, against all opposition, let it come from whence it may, or let its character be what it may. Argument we know we shall not have to encounter. Scientific hindrances we know we shall not find in our path. Common sense we know will offer no word of reproof. We shall, however, encounter hoary-headed bigotry, blind intolerance and fossilized authority--and we are prepared.
It is laid down as an undeniable proposition, that the human race can never even approximate to perfection until all the means of which men make use to produce perfect things are also made use of in their own production. Let those who decry the proposition turn to their so much revered Bible and read: "Ye cannot gather figs of thorns nor grapes from thistles"--and learn wisdom therefrom. It must be remembered how great an "Infidel" was he who first demonstrated Arterial and Venous Circulation, which has come to be of such importance in diagnosing diseases. It is generally true that those things which result in the greatest benefit to humanity, meet with the most blind and insane opposition in their first struggles for recognition. If this subject of children is to be judged by this rule, it is to develop into greater importance than any which has yet occupied the human mind.
But it is said, how can this be done? It cannot be done immediately to the fullest extent, but the recognition of its importance can be forced upon humanity, and the practice of its evident deductions can be attained by degrees. Once let it become divested of this absurd idea of "impropriety," and humanity will begin to practice its teachings. It is only required that reason be exalted to its proper place and influence, and analogies, with which nature abounds, will become the great teachers.
The difficulty with which we shall be met at every step is, that it is nearly impossible to make people realize that their lives here are for any other or higher purpose than for each of them to acquire for him or herself the greatest amount of personal gratification. They cannot yet sufficiently realize that each individual is made one of the means by which the whole of humanity is advanced. They cannot yet be brought to reduce to practice what all admit, that he or she is the greatest man or woman who does the most for humanity; nor have they more than an undefined belief that in doing the most for humanity, they do most for themselves. Yet this has been the logic of the doctrine of Christianity nearly two thousand years.
The teachings of Christianity are well enough, they have been taught persistently. But we have now arrived at that age of the world which demands adequate results as proofs of the validity of assumed positions. The Apostles taught that "certain signs" should follow those who believed. Do these signs exist within the heart of the professed representatives of true Christianity? By their fruits shall ye know them. We do know them by their fruits, which are not so perfect as to warrant the conclusion that humanity has passed from being "professors" into being "possessors."
Human life may be compared to a military campaign, in which no amount of valiancy and good generalship can overcome the defects of an imperfect organization of the "body" with which it is to be made. We may as consistently expect a badly organized army to make a good military campaign as to expect a badly organized child to make a good social campaign. To this the very beginning of organization should all reformers turn who expect to produce any beneficial results, which shall be ultimate and lasting, and which shall mark the perfecting process of humanity.
Women by nature, are appointed to the holy mission of motherhood, and by this mission, are directly charged with the care of the embryotic life, upon which so much of future good or ill depends. It is during this brief period that the initials of character are stamped upon the receptive, incipient mentality, which, expanding first into childhood and on to manhood or womanhood reveals the true secrets of its nature.
The rights of children, then, as individuals, begin while yet they are in foetal life. Children do not come into existence by any will or consent of their own. With their origin they have nothing to do, but in after life they become liable for action which perhaps was predetermined long prior to their assuming personal responsibility. In youth, children are virtually the dependencies of their parents, subject to their government, which may be either wise or mischievous, and is often the latter as the former. But having arrived at the proper age, they step into the world upon an equality with others previously there. At this time they are the result of the care which has been bestowed upon them from the time of conception, and whether they are delivered over to the world so as to be useful members of society, or whether they go into it to prove a constant annoyance and curse, seems to be a matter which cannot be made into such personal responsibility as to make it a subject of their own determining. At this period they find themselves possessed of a body and a partially developed mind, in the union of which a harmonious disposition and character may have resulted. Respectively, they are possessed of all shades of disposition and character, from the angelic down to the most demoniacal; but all these are held accountable to the same laws; are expected to govern themselves by the same formula of associative justice, and are compelled by the power of public opinion to subscribe to the same general customs.
All people are obliged to meet the world with the characteristics with which they have been clothed, and which they had no choice in selecting. When all things which go to make up society are analyzed and formulated, it comes out that society holds its individual members responsible for deeds of which it is itself indirectly the cause, and therefore responsible for.
It is a scientifically demonstrated fact that the mind of every individual member of society is the result of a continued series of impressions, which are continually being received by their senses, and transmitted to and taken up by consciousness, which becomes the individuality of the person. If any one doubt this, let him listen to what Prof. J. W. Draper, President of the New York Medical University College, says upon this subject:
"There are successive phases . . . in the early action of the mind. As soon as the senses are in working order . . . a process for collecting facts is commenced. These are the first of the most homely kind, but the sphere from which they are gathered is extended by degrees. We may, therefore, consider that this collecting of facts is the earliest indication of the action of the brain, and it is an operation which, with more or less activity, continues through life. . . . Soon a second characteristic appears--the learning of the relationship of the facts thus acquired to one another. This stage has been sometimes spoken of as the dawn of the reasoning faculty. A third characteristic of almost contemporaneous appearance may be remarked--it is the putting to use facts that have been acquired and the relationships that have been determined. . . . Now this triple natural process . . . must be the basis of any right system of instruction."
It appears, then, that contact and constant intercourse with external manifestations is not only necessary for the productionof thought and its collaterals, but that to retain the consciousness which makes thought possible such manifestations must be continuously impressed upon the individual. This seems to be conclusive that mind is the result of the experiences of the manifestations of power.
Without these experiences, children would grow up simply idiotic. The "Professor" says emphatically, that a recognition of this process must be the basis of any right system of instruction. To state the proposition comprehensively, the education of children should consist in surrounding them by such circumstances and facts as will produce upon them those effects which will tend to develop them toward our highest idea of perfect men and women.
The chief difficulty about these things is that their direction has been assumed by the professors of religion rather than by scientists. Science is eminently progressive; religion is as eminently conservative. Science, in its analysis of the facts of the age, comes in direct conflict with the theories of religious sects. Happily, these things are now undergoing change, and they who once taught that the world was created out of nothing in six days and nights, of twenty-four hours each, have given way to the demonstrations of geology, and are forced to admit that their previous belief was founded in an allegory.
The common practice of the world, in all things which it desires to modify or remedy, is to begin at the extreme, where the effects are found, and from them to work backward toward the beginning. The whole course of the world regarding crime has been to punish rather than to prevent it; to work with the effects of education. What men or women are at the time they become recognized citizens, society makes them. They are its production, as much as the apple is the production of the tree. If the apple is a bad apple, it is not its fault; that lies in the tree. If men and women are bad men and women when they arrive at legal age, it is not their fault, but it is the fault of society in which they are born, raised and educated.
It is scientifically true that the life which develops into the individual life never begins. That is to say, there is no time in which it can be said life begins where there was no life. The structural unit of nucleated protoplasm, which forms the center around which aggregation proceeds, contains a pulsating life before it takes up this process. The character of the nerve stimula of which this is possessed and which sustains this evidence of life, must depend upon the source from which it proceeds. In other words, and plainly, the condition of the parents at the time of the conception is a matter of prime importance, since the life principle with which the new organism is to begin its growth should be of the highest order.
Cases of partial and total idiocy have been traced to the beastly inebriation of the parents at and previous to conception. On the other extreme, some of the highest intellects and the most noble and loveable characters the world ever produced, owed their condition to the peculiarly happy circumstances under which they began life, much of the after portion of the growing process of which having been under favorable circumstances. Many mothers can trace the irritable and nervously disagreeable condition of their children to their own condition at this time.
We are aware that these subjects are almost unanimously ignored by society; also that society pretends to blush at the mention of them; and well it may blush, for the abortions* of nature which it is continually turning upon the world to be its pests, its devils, its damnation and their own worst enemies are sufficiently hideous to make all humanity blush with well-founded shame.
But the time must come wherein they will not only be discussed, but when a full knowledge of what pertains to conception, foetal life, birth and growth to full manhood and womanhood will be an important part of every child's education.
Virtue nor modesty does not consist in the avoidance, the ignoring or ignorance of these things, but true virtue, true modesty and true general worth consist, in part, at least, of a complete knowledge and practice of them. It is full time that we have done with the sham modesty and affected virtue with which humanity has been cursed.
It is required that we begin at the very root of the matter, and that lies in the condition of persons about to become parents. And just to this point is where the woman question leads. It is the important question of the age, and it will rise to be thus acknowledged. All present humanity has a direct interest in it, and all future humanity demands of the present its right to the best life which it is possible to have under the best arrangement of present circumstance which can be formulated. And there are those who will not permit that their rights be much longer ignored. There will be "John the Baptists" preaching in the wilderness, "Prepare ye the way," and humanity must and will heed them. Such is the prophecy of the present; and the present will do well to listen to its teachings.
The New York Tribune asserts that the cause of half the vice among us is the ignorance of parents of the fact that certain nervous and cerebral diseases transmitted from themselves tend to make of their children from their birth criminals or drunkards and that only incessant and skillful care can avert the danger. The editor then goes on to philosophize in this way:
"A man may drink moderately but steadily all his life, with no apparent harm to himself, but his daughters become nervous wrecks, his sons epileptics, libertines, or incurable drunkards, the hereditary tendency to crime having its pathology and unvaried laws, precisely as scrofula, consumption, or any other purely physical disease. These are stale truths to medical men, but the majority of parents, even those of average intelligence, are either ignorant or wickedly regardless of them. There will be a chance of ridding our jails and almhouses of half their tenants when our people are taught to treat drunkenness as a disease of the stomach and blood as well as of the soul, to meet it with common sense and a physician, as well as with threats of eternal damnation, and to remove gin-shops and gin-sellers for the same reason that they would stagnant ponds or uncleaned sewers. Another fatal mistake is pointed out in the training of children--the system of cramming, hot-house forcing of their brains, induced partly by the unhealthy, feverish ambition and struggle that mark every phase of our society, and partly for the short time allowed for education. The simplest physical laws that regulate the use and abuse of the brain are utterly disregarded by educated parents. To gratify a mother's silly vanity during a boy's school days, many a man is made incompetent and useless. If the boy show any sign of unnatural ambition and power, instead of regarding it as a symptom of an unhealthy condition of the blood vessels or other cerebral disease, and treating it accordingly, it is accepted as an evidence of genius, and the inflamed brain is taxed to the uttermost, until it gives way exhausted."
When a paper, which so religiously ostracizes so much which is involved in the principles of general reform, as the Tribune does, comes so near to the "root of the matter," it may be seriously considered whether the time has not arrived in which to speak directly to the point. The remedy is twofold: first, and mainly, to prevent the union of persons addicted to false practices; second, to endeavor to reform those who are already united.
A positive assertion is here made. No two persons have the right to produce a human life and irremediably entail upon it such a load of physical and mental hell as the Tribune cites. It is the merest sham of justice to punish the drunkard for the sins of his or her parents. It is the most superficial nonsense and the purest malice to curse the bad fruit which grows in your orchard because you do not take care of the trees; but it is no more so than it is to curse and punish children for the crime of their parents.
Marriage or the union of the sexes is a natural condition of the human race. Whatever relations they may sustain to the children they produce, those which society as a whole sustains to them are broader and more comprehensive. The parents are but parts of society, and their children are nothing less, so that while they, by present social systems, are for a long time left to the special control and guardianship of their parents, it can be considered only as in trust for society.
The relations which should be considered as the foundation of society are those which exist between society and marriage in its special function of reproduction, which thus far has been utterly ignored. When two are about to form a marriage union, does society in its legitimate functions of promoting and protecting the public welfare ever stop to ask what the results of the union are likely to be? Instead of this question entering into the consideration, the only one that has been thought of is: How shall these two be compelled to live out the remainder of their natural lives together, utterly regardless of the higher thought of children?
It is a well-established fact among the medical profession that nearly all the consumption [tuberculosis] which hurries so many victims through life has its source in hereditary syphilitic taint, which for delicacy, has been christened scrofula. Now what business or right has a man or woman, who knows that his or her system is loaded with this infernal poison, to become the propagator of the species? The same is equally true of all other diseases and damnations which can be transmitted, and not more of those which pertain to the purely physical than of those which relate to the mental and the moral. When the world shall begin to act upon this deduction, it will have commenced a course of advancement which will never be intermixed with retreats.
Education in matters which refer to these vital points should be one of the first steps to be taken by society. They have been foolishly and criminally ignored upon the false premises that to instruct children in them would be to lead them into unfortunate conditions, whereas the very reverse is the truth. If there are dangers to be avoided, the very best way to prepare children to avoid them is to give them a perfect understanding of what they are. In knowledge there is always safety. In ignorance there is always danger.
Let these truths be adopted in the education of children, regarding their duties as the future parents of society, and one-half the ills with which society is inflicted would soon disappear.
If our houses of prostitution were searched and their inmates questioned, none would be found whose mothers had the good sense to teach them the objects and functions of their sexual systems. It is the ignorance of these things which fills these blotches upon the fair face of humanity.
There is a law common to nature by which those things that are best adapted to each other are brought and held together. There is a chemistry of the social, intellectual and moral sentiments as well as of the material elements. Education should include a perfect knowledge of this chemistry, so that compatibles may be apparent at once to all people of both sexes. Open the fountains of knowledge, so that all may drink of the waters of a true life.
Children, by the little things they so readily gather about the difference of sex, are made curious to just the extent the means of satisfying that curiosity is difficult, and they pursue their means by stealth whenever and wherever possible. This results in producing a morbid condition of the mind about it, and encourages all kinds of secret vices, which are sapping the very life and beauty of the coming generation. No one can doubt this who will give it the attention it merits, to be one of the crying evils of present systems of education. If instruction were begun in these matters at or about the age when curiosity is developed, and it is made a matter of course, is it not plain that it would produce effectual results?
We are aware that "conservatives" will decry this plain way of treating this subject, and make use of the usual method of manifesting their condemnation; nevertheless, the proposition to us is a simple one, over which we have spent many weary hours. A secret attracts everybody's attention. When it is a secret no longer it ceases to attract attention, and becomes reduced to its legitimate and natural uses. We assert our belief the same results would follow the education of children in sexual matters; knowledge would succeed curiosity , and healthy action of the mind a morbid desire.
We now approach a part of the subject which is of supreme moment, and that is the care which embryotic life demands. During this period, every influence to which the mother is subjected, be it ill or good, produces its effect upon the embryo. Whoever is an adept in these matters can go through society and from each individual tell what circumstances his or her mother was surrounded by during her pregnancy. Mothers of humanity! Yours is a fearful duty and one which should in its importance lift you entirely above the customs of society, its frivolities, superficialities and deformities, and make you realize that to you is committed the divine work of perfecting humanity.
Under our systems the interests of children are utterly ignored. No matter how illy-mated people may be, children will result. It will be difficult to find a case, even where actual hate exists, and not find children. What can be expected of children generated, born and raised under such influences. There are numerous influences constantly being made public where mothers are even brutally treated during pregnancy, and oftentimes because they are pregnant.
Just the life the mother leads will she prepare her child to lead. Just what the mother desires to make her child she can mould and fashion it to be. What a condemnation these considerations are upon the practices of fashionable society. How utterly worthless are the lives of so many mothers, and how devoid of purpose. Just so are their children. In the insane desire for dress and display , which characterizes so many women, lies the bane of life for their children. The cold heartlessness of the woman of fashion contains the germ of destruction for her daughter and the seeds of vice for her son. No warm-hearted, generous-souled children can spring from such soil.
So also is abortion a practice which spreads damnation world-wide. Not so much, perhaps, in those cases where it is accomplished, but in those much more numerous cases where it is desired and attempted, but not reached. When a woman becomes conscious that she is pregnant, and a desire comes up in her heart to shirk the duties it involves, that moment the foetal life is the unloved, the unwished child. Is it to be wondered that there are so many undutiful children--so many who instinctively feel that they are "encumbrances" rather than the beautiful necessities of the home?
What true mother's heart but bounds with pride and joy when she sees the beauteous results of her constructive work? Why should she not also feel happiness when she realizes she is performing that constructive process? Is it to be wondered that there are so many children lacking all confidence in themselves and so foolishly diffident that it follows them through life, when we consider the conduct of women during pregnancy? It should be the pride of every woman to be the willing, the anxious, the contented mother, and if she be so under the guidance of the knowledge we deem essential, she will never have cause to regret that she fulfilled the duties of maternity. All practices which degenerate the character of children should be discountenanced by every humanitarian, and women encouraged to wisely and perfectly mould and fashion the life which they shall give to the world.
But we must pass from ante-natal life to that which has so generally been considered the beginning of it, and here a searching examination develops little more to be approved than found previously. How little scientific or acquired knowledge there is in regarding the early care of children their immense death rate clearly shows. It seems one of the most sorrowful things of life to see the merest babes drop off by thousands for the reason that mothers do not know how to rear them.
If wives will become mothers without the knowledge requisite to fit them to perform their duties to their children then they should themselves be put under the care of some competent authority, so that the life they have been instrumental in organizing may not be uselessly thrown away. We are arguing, pleading, urging the rights of children; those rights which shall make every child, male and female, honorable and useful members of society.
Whether in acquiring this right, all old forms, all present customs, all supposed interests are found standing in the way, matters not, the question is, "What is for the best interests of children, not merely as children, but principally as the basis of future society?" Scarcely any of the practices of education, of family duties or of society's rights in regard to children are worthy of anything but the severest condemnation. They do not have their inherent rights at all in view. They consult the affections to the exclusion of all reason and common sense. They forget that the human is more than an affectional being; that he has other than family duties to fulfill, and that he belongs to humanity, which is utterly ignored by all present practices.
Let the father and mother of every family ask themselves: Are we fully capable of so rearing our children that no other means could make them better citizens and better men and women? And how many could conscientiously give you an affirmative answer? The fact that children are born and grown to be citizens, and not to remain children of the parents simply, is overlooked.
We are aware that this, if intended for any considerable and comprehensive application, would be regarded as a startling assertion. Many true things when first announced startle the world which thought differently so long. For ourselves we make the distinct assertion that we are thoroughly convinced that fully one half the whole number of children now living, between the ages of ten and fifteen, would have been in a superior condition--physically, mentally, and morally--to what they are, had they been early entrusted to the care of the proper kind of industrial institutions.
We hold it to be an absolute and fundamental right that every child female and male, has, that when they are received into society as determining powers, they shall be possessed of the required capacity and experience to take care of themselves, and to perform what may be required of them. Those who are best prepared to fulfill the duties which can by any possibility devolve upon them as members of society, are the best citizens, and give unanswerable evidence of having been the recipients of the best means of growth and education.
To make the best citizens of children, then, is the object of education, and in whatever way this can be best attained, that is the one which should be pursued, even if it be to the complete abrogation of the present supposed rights of parents to control them. It is better that parents should be able to look with pride upon their children grown into maturity, as youthful citizens by the assistance of the State, having been unable to make them thus themselves, than to consult the sentiments of the heart, by having them constantly under their care, and by so doing allow them to grow into maturity in form and grace, yet lacking the necessary elements to make them acceptable to, or to be desired by, society. One of these is the result of the existence of wisdom; of affection, guided by reason; the other that of selfishness in which the good of the child is sunk in the mere promptings of affection, regardless of consequences. No reasonable person can question which of the two is the better for all concerned for children, for parents and for society.
The weight of our proposition, that society is itself responsible to children for the condition in which they are admitted to it as constituent members of itself, must begin to be apparent, for so far as they are concerned up to that time they are not responsible. This being self-evident, is it not also self-evident that they can not with any consideration of justice, be held to account for that which is the legitimate consequences of, and which is positively determined by, that condition?
We trust that the time is near when the rights and privileges of children will be duly accorded and guaranteed to them by society, and when their true relations to society will be scientifically analyzed and understood and properly enforced.
Then will the prophecies of all ages have reached the consummation; then will commence the earthly reign of the King of kings and Lord of lords, as prophesied by all the holy prophets of the world; then old things shall pass away, and all things become new; then The Christ shall sit upon the throne, and from his inexhausted fountain of love, justice shall continually flow over all the earth, "as the waters cover the sea."
As vanish the heavy mists of the morning before the radiance of the rising sun, so will vanish the clouds that hang around the minds of men, and shut out the rising spiritual sun, for whose "star in the East" wise men are constantly watching; the sun that will rise higher and higher, and extend its rays wider and wider, until it shall enlighten the minds of all mankind, until the icebergs of ignorance, tradition, and superstition are dissolved which now float in the ocean of progress--society with its cankered, festering heart; commerce robbed of its legitimate function; labor of its recompense, and religion of its spirituality, education lacking wisdom, marriages forming disunions, and women without rights.
All the false forms of the present must yield their sway to God's command--"Let there be light." The laws of God are never changed--though old as creation, they are ever new, ever sufficient for all the vicissitudes of life; they are ever full of wisdom, justice, and love; they are written all over the face of creation, in the bosom of the earth, and in the heart of man; they are uttered by the raging tempest that rocks the mighty ocean; in the terrible mutterings of the earthquake, in the fury of destructive battle, when hosts are hurled on hosts in fratricidal strife; through all these the voice of God proclaims--"Let there be light," and there is light.
We also hear its whispers in the gentle zephyrs that stir the bursting buds, and in the blooming flowers that lift their heads to drink the falling dew; in the hum of busy nature; in the gushing fountain; we see it in the gambols of the bubbling brook; in the mother's love for the new-born life; in the father's pride; in the unspoken joy of the maiden's soul, listening to the first sweet tones of love; in the magneticities of human sympathy which bind all mankind in a common brotherhood and in the dawning light of heaven brought to earth by the angelic hosts to usher in the reign of universal, justice, peace and love."At the conclusion of Mrs. Woodhull's remarks, Dr. H. B. Starr of Boston, offered the following resolution:
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