Faith CoLab: Tapestry of Faith: Faith Like a River: A Program on Unitarian Universalist History for Adults

Handout 1: How Is Freedom Achieved?

Mary Livermore, in addresses to the Women's Centenary Aid Society and the mass meeting of the Centennial Assembly of Universalists in Gloucester, Massachusetts, 1870 said:

I long for the women of our church to come up to their birthright, to take their places. I do not mean by this that I have any thought that they shall oust men from any place they occupy, that they shall crowd themselves in officiously where men desire to stand; I only mean by this, that whenever they find a chance to help the cause of Universalism or advance this glorious faith, I long to have them do it.

So I want all the women to work together for our church. Be not content with doing a little; let us do all we can; and when this centenary year closes, let us all reorganize, fall into line, and be ready, when the leaders tell us what to do, to obey. Let us learn one thing, which Universalist men and women have been slow to learn. Let us learn to obey orders, to stand in our rank, in every place, and to do what we are told to do, whether we like to do it or not, and not hang back, and haggle, and palter.

This, then, ladies and gentlemen, is my parting word. We part here, but we women are coming together again, the heart of the denomination, better instructed, larger, warmer, grander, more glowing, and then we are to stand by the side of our brothers, instructed by them, aided by them; for I do not believe in any divorce of the men and the women, all the way through, only we will take our stand by the side of them.

Olympia Brown wrote in "The Higher Education of Women" (1874):

Woman must from the streams of knowledge which come seething from the brains of the wise, forge for herself an armor in which to do battle with the world. There can be for her no great victories without conflict. He is no true soldier who expects to bear off the honors, while he sits on cushioned chairs in luxurious parlors and simply reads books of military tactics. He only is worthy of the name of soldier, who has been the hero of a hundred fights, whose noble scars bear witness of his valor on the field of battle, and whose muscles have been trained to endurance by long and perilous marches and the strict discipline of the camp. So woman must earn her title to valuable attainments, not by merely memorizing bits of information, but by brave and faithful service on the world's great battlefield.

Just the experience in the business of the world which develops character in men, women need to make them self-reliant, brave and true... (It) is only by an experience in the great world of business that woman's knowledge can be ripened, and her character matured. If boys after leaving school went home to be supported, and devoted themselves to needle-work and novels, we should look for no noble manhood, and only when girls cease to do this and seek some business of life whereby to independently support themselves, and benefit society can we look for the truest womanhood. But, says some objector, women will no longer be angels when brought in contact with the rude world. Alas! the United States of America in 1874 is not a favorable place for angels, nor are the men of the nineteenth century suitable companions for them. An angel in American society at the present time, would be sadly out of place and very uncomfortable.