What Good to Humanity ~ March 1865

In the March issue, the women’s magazine with the greatest readership at the time, calls for financial support for the education of women.

Emma Hart Willard, 1787 - 1870, pioneering women's educator

Emma Hart Willard, 1787 – 1870, pioneering women’s educator

March– Philadelphia, Pennsylvania– “During the past year the colleges and seminaries of this country have received liberal contributions. Yale College has received $450,000; Amherst, $110,000; Princeton (New Jersey), $130,000; the Syrian College, $103,000; ‘Trinity (Hartford), $100,000; Rutgers (New Jersey), $100,000; Chicago Theological Seminary, $80,000; Bowdoin (Maine), $72,000; New York University, $60,000; Wesleyan University (St. Louis), $50,000; Andover Theological Seminary, $50,000; Dartmouth, $47,000; Harvard, $44,000; Williams, $25,000; Middlebury, $10,000. These are some of the figures, and they tell a good story. All this in war times shows that we are a good deal of a people. We are always interested in education, and happy to give honor, in our Lady’s Book, to the noble generosity which has made these large appropriations and donations. The whole sum, which this record shows has been given in one year to aid old established Institutions of Education for Young Men, amounts to one million three hundred and fifty thousand dollars! This habit of generosity is particularly American; one of the glorious patents of that nobility of popular institutions which seeks to improve the world. But we would suggest that the fountains of useful knowledge should not be sealed to half the human race. We would entreat that these rivers of beneficent bounty should be as freely poured out to fertilize the mind and enrich the soul of woman as of man. An eminent lawyer says: ‘The History of Woman is the History of the Domestic and Moral Life of Mankind. It is the social development of the Internal Constitution of the Race. It exhibits more justly and transparently the character of the original germ, than any of those external manifestations in Art, Literature, Commerce, and Nationality, which have heretofore formed the chief subjects of Historical Pictures. As the child is nursed on the bosom of its mother so, on the character of Woman the internal character of the Race is formed and shaped.’ We are not among those who desire to see woman ‘shake alike the senate and the field,’ as man may do. We wish her to mount no rostrum, to take no office engage in no profession that would wound the delicacy of her mind, or derogate from her womanly dignity of fame. The old comparison of the oak and vine does not express the differences between the sexes. Inspired wisdom has drawn the parallel. Our sons are as plants (or trees); our daughters, the polished corners of the temple. With this testimony of feminine worth, we ask that the faculties of woman may be exercised in their true specialty, and may receive countenance and culture from the assistance or those beneficent minds that have so largely contributed to the improvement of their brother man. The sons of the Republic are its strength and honor; the daughters are its grace and glory. It must be a very shallow mind that cannot see the influence which the mother will have on her son for good or for grief. What is to be hoped for our Country in the future, if the men who direct and sway its interests receive their first impressions from ignorance and frivolity? It requires the steady, moral force of disciplined character to form the principles of the young; it needs a cultivated understanding, as well as elegant accomplishments in the mother who is the model for her son’s mind, in the waxen and obedient age of early childhood. The better that is, the more thoroughly trained the mother has been in all branches of learning which her children will need to study, the better able she will be to form their minds for the reception of culture. Moreover, women have never yet had any suitable means of education for their household duties. Domestic Science, far more important to the health, happiness, and moral improvement of mankind than any other sort of scientific learning, has never yet had a College, nor even a School founded to teach its arts, rules, methods of practice, and deep mysteries of knowledge. Congress has liberally given millions of acres of the public lands to found Agricultural Colleges for working men; working women have no recognition in this National bounty. Is it not time to try the experiment of fitting woman for her own work? She certainly has many things to do. Among these duties there must be some of paramount importance to the public weal. We would not change the stations of the sexes, or give to women the work and offices of men. But fit them for their own work. Besides all household duties and childward care, three important professions belong to women requiring that the education of young ladies should be as liberally provided for as the instruction of young gentlemen. 1st. Women are the Teachers. They should be fitted for this great office and employed in it, not to the exclusion of men, but in a seven-fold proportion. 2nd. Women are the Preservers. There should be endowed Medical Colleges for those who wish to enter this profession. A lady is the true Doctress [sic] for her own sex and children. 3rd. Women are the Helpers. They should be so trained that they may become Deaconesses in the Church of Christ, as the great Apostle ordained. All Hospitals for the sick, all Charities for the poor should have the appointed and rewarded ministry of women as well as men. The idea of Savings Banks was originated by a woman. Why might they not help in these Institutions? If the $350,000 over the $1,000,000 of money given had been distributed among the Medical Colleges for Women now established in our land, what good to humanity might have been effected!” ~ Godey’s Lady’s Book

Mary Lyon, 1797 - 1849, pioneering women's educator

Mary Lyon, 1797 – 1849, pioneering women’s educator

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