Ill.) Western Baptist Educational Convention. (1871 : Ch.

Proceedings of the Western Baptist Educational Convention, held in the First Baptist Church, Chicago, May 24 and 25, 1871 online

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Online LibraryIll.) Western Baptist Educational Convention. (1871 : ChProceedings of the Western Baptist Educational Convention, held in the First Baptist Church, Chicago, May 24 and 25, 1871 → online text (page 3 of 13)
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involved, and of the impossibility of giving them due consideration in the
scanty and weary hours left from the task of creating the means of existence
for a feeble and struggling college.

The subject naturally presents itself under three heads :
I. The Education of Women, considered at large;
II. The Education of the Women of the West;

III. The question of the joint education of the two sexes, in our higher

I. Of the Education of Women, considered at large :

Shall women have as good an education as is enjoyed by men.? I employ
the term Education for the sake of brevity. I mean, of course, shall
they have as good opportunities of education 'i We are responsible for giving
women opportunities. Education depends on themselves, and their use of
the opportunities. But I presume that I run no risk of being misunderstood
when I ask : Shall women have as good an education as is enjoyed by men 'i

Yes, and, first, on the ground oi justice. Woman is a human being, and


SO, entitled to all the rights inherited bj anj human being. We may venture
to reckon this as a self-evident principle.

If any one should assert that women are by nature inferior to men in
mental endowment, and therefore are not competent to use, and therefore
can not claim, equal opportunities, I think the burden of proof would rest
against him who made the assertion, and we may defer any disproof, till
something more than assertion is adduced.

If indeed it should be alleged that women have not shoivn themselves the
equals of men in achievement, that, of the great triumphs won by mankind,
the vast preponderance has been due to men, and an almost infinitesimal
proportion to women, may not a sufficient reply be found in the fact, that
men, with a selfishness truly masculine, have usurped all the opportunities;
that women, destitute, on the one hand of the cultivated powers coming from
a large education, have, on the other hand, been without avenues to greatness
and without the stimulus which the existence of these avenues would have
imparted ?

Were not the preternatural achievements of the army of Marengo and of
Austerlitz due largely to the principle announced by their leader, " the career
open to genius," and to the apothegm, " every French soldier carries a
marshal's baton in his knapsack?" Are not the limited attainments and
achievements of woman explained by the want of possibilities, the absence
of a career ?

The enlistment of the Baptist women of America in the work of Foreign
Missions, just inaugurated, is to be hailed with gratitude, not only for the
blessings that will result to the heathen, but equally for the reflex influence
upon our own women, providing for them a great object, and a worthy
employment for powers that have so often been wasted in idleness, or have
toiled ingloriously in the service of fashion and of interests mopt con-

But, after all, the question scarcely demands discussion. Let both sexes
be treated with absolute justice, in the matter of education, both be allowed
equal advantages, both be subjected to the same demands, and very soon the
feebler, the less capable will fall behind and disappear from the competition.
The question will settle itself.

Surely, on the ground of justice, women are entitled to as good an oppor-
tunity of education as men.

And if there is to be any discrimination, the same justice would indicate
that it should be in favor of women.

First, because they suffer under so many difficulties, that they require some
compensating advantage to place them on a level. While men are possessed
of superior physical strength, and hold in their hands the vast preponderance
of wealth, and wield the law-making power in their own behalf, it certainly
appears that women, in order to have any show for a fair chance, need the
mental and moral force derived from a large and true education.

Everyone must have remarked that women possessed of high intelligence
and education, find themselves no more than able to hold their own, in the
varied relations which they sustain to men, often vastly their inferiors in
everything but in the adva.itages given them by the constitution of society.
But for the possession of the faculties derived from high culture, Mrs. Butler
and Mrs. Norton would have truly been objects of pity.

Second, the discrimination should be made in favor of woman, because
man finds, as she does not, an education in the very circumstances and
necessities of his life. A husband and a wife were, at the time of their mar-


riage, equals in education and in intellectul activity. Compare them now,
after twenty years. The man has mingled with his fellows, in business,
trade, politics, legislation: has bought and sold, lost money, made money,
cheated and been cheated, has served in the militia, and been out in the
three months, has exhorted in religious meetings, has attended caucusses,
and made nominations, has had his mind exercised in hearing and weighing
the arguments adduced by the ablest political speakers of the State; has
been on the School Committee, has been elected to the Legislature, has run
for Congress, and in common with every adult male citizen of the United
States, has expected to be president Though- ignorant of books, he is, in
some sense, an educated man. possessor of himself, a person, whom, though
you do not love, you can not ignore.

And his wife.'' She has baked, and ironed, taken the baby to meeting,
and entered the Kingdom of Heaven at odd spells. Possibly she has given
and attended tea-parties, and been Treasurer of the Sewing Societv. And
the world says : " Dear me ! How could Gen. Blank marry such a common-
place woman.-"'

Not long ago an intelligent man said to me : " If I had two sons, one of
whom was to be a professional man, and the other a mechanic or tradesman,
and if I should make any distinction between them, I would give the better
education to the latter, because the former would soon acquire an education
in the very practice of his calling." The sentiment is not without an element
of justice and at any rate is useful as a corrective of an injurious excess in
an opposite direction. I apprehend that the same principle may find appli-
cation to the matter now under review."

In the long run, the most impartial justice is always promotive of the
largest good. And then, I am led to remark that a regard for the £reneral
' demands the equal education of women It is not, and can not be,
for the good of society at large that any portion of it should be hampered
and crippled. No part of the race can attain its development, while any
part lags. The right side can not be in health, while the left is dwarfed.
Assuredly women have, even more lamentably than men, failed of the
divinely appointed destiny. And in this failure, have we not all been kin-
dred .'' Has not the injustice avenged itself, by the lowered tone imparted to
society, by the feeble mental and spiritual life transmitted to the coming

There is, I believe, in woman, a wealth of nature, a power of aspiration,
attainment, and achievement, now lying dormant, that needs only oppor-
tunity and inspiration to awake to conscious existence. Atid who can tell
how vastly the riches, the happiness, the elevation and glory of humanity
will be enhanced, when these, now undeveloped resources shall be called
into activity.' Truly, " if one member sutlers all the members suffer with
it, if one member be honored all the members rejoice with it."

What then.' Granting that women are to have an equal education with
men. shall they have just the same education.' Not necessarily. I do not
think that every woman should have just the same education as every man,
nor every man the same as every other man, nor every woman as every other
woman. The Deity has not made any two leaves, any two blades of grass,
any two flowers, exactly similar. No two faces are precise duplicates. Shall
we suppose that He has so constructed minds, that every one shall be an
absolute repetition of every other.'

" No compound of this earthly ball
Is like another, all in all."


And diverse as are the minds of men, so diverse are their destinies.
The education, then, suited to each person would seem to be the one which
will enable him to use to the best advantage his native powers so as to
attain in the highest degree to the destiny which God and nature assigned
him. It would appear, that to no two persons is there precisely the same
education, that there is no one absolute education, any more than there is
one absolute rainbow, but rather, as many as there are persons.

To the question then, Shall we give to women and tojnen the self-same
education.' I answer, not necessarily the same, but on the same principles.
I would not create one education and say, "this is for men," and then another
and say, •' this is for women." I would provide for all, for men, for women,
the largest and widest facilities of choice, and then I would say to every one,
be it man or woman, "consider 30ur own constitution: consider the work to
which you are led bv your inward character and your outward surroundings.
And, whatever is the utterance of the divine voice to _vou, whether it say:
be an artist; be a statesman; be a linguist; be a naturalist; be a tourist; be
a preacher; be a house-keeper; be a trader; heed and follow this voice.

You understand that I am now speaking, not of primary scholars, not of
babies at the breast, but of young zi'omen in our higher institutions, young
women corresponding to the young men in our colleges, as I am advised that
they are sometimes compared with them.

Is it said they may choose unwisely.' But is it an\' more true here, than
everywhere else in life.' They may choose unwisely in religion, in employ-
ment, in marriage ; but shall we therefore take from them the power of choice i

I learn with pleasure from my valued friend. Dr. Gregory, of the Illinois
Industrial University, an Institution whose brief past has been emiriently
glorious and which promises to achieve a future even more splendid, that the
Faculty of Instruction have arranged six courses of study and that they say
to each pupil, male or female. " Unless you have some reason to the con-
trary, we advise you to select and follow some one of these. But 3-ou are not
restricted. You may make up a course containing parts of two or more.
You may select any that you please of the branches here pursued."

II. We are next to consider the education of the women of the West. And
here I profess myself a little at a loss. I take the topic as it is given me;
yet I am not sure that I plainly see wherein the education required for the
women of the West differs from that demanded for their sisters of the East,
save in this : that it is similar to that for the women of the East, only more so.

Should not the education of the women of the West be,

1st An education of poivers rather than accomplishments^ f Is it not one
of the crying sins of our female education that it gives so much time to mere
accomplishments.' Thousands of voung women are spending from two to
seven hours daily for five, or perhaps ten, successive years upon the piano,
and kindred instruments of torture. Nor do they intend this as a means of
subsistence. If so. their perseverance would be praiseworthy. It is to them
an accomplishment, pure and simple. So of the time given to drawing,
painting and other ornamental branches. Let me not be misunderstood. If
a person has a natural bent for any one ot these pursuits, or if circumstan-
ces point it out as his means of gaining a livelihood, or of conferring pleas-
ure upon himself or his friends, it is well. Nor do I object to these branches
being pursued, in moderation, by persons even who have no special genius
for them. No doubt it would be for the benefit of us all, men and women,
to understand something of the rudiments of music, as also of the laws of


outline and color. It would enable us, in a higher degree, to appreciate the
sounds and the aspects of nature.

But I object to the excessive time devoted to these branches by those who
have no aptitude for them, who will make no use of them and who will shed
all these fine feathers immediately after pairing.

I have no acquaintance with these matters myself, but I have been told
by persons versed in music that they find in it but a very sliglit discipline and
improvement of the mental faculties.

And the value of these accomplishments is largely incidental. They are
greatly dependent upon accidental circumstances, for the power to give
pleasure to one's self or to others. So long as pianos are in fashion, and so
long as a person has one at hand, the power of performing upon it may be
useful. But it is not always that one has a piano. There are a great many
circumstances in life where skill in the use of this instrument would be ab-
solutely worthless.

But the power of reasoning, the power of generalizing, the power of
gaining knowledge from books or from nature, — it is not possible to con-
ceive of a position where these powers will not be in the highest degree use-
ful and beneficent. At the head of a prosperous family, or in poverty and
widowhood, amid society or in loneliness, in youth and attractiveness, or in
old age, amid civilization and outside its bounds, she who is possessed of
these powers can hardly fail to convey pleasure and to confer benefits.

2. It should be an education of character rather than of acquisitions. It
is a good thing to kiioiv Spanish, German, French, Latin, Greek, the scien-
ces, history and music. It is a better thing to be a woman, well-balanced,
master of her own resources, calm, prudent, inventive, resolute, self-reliant,
hospitable to ideas and sentiments, so pure, so large, so high, as to com-
mand reverence, fulfilling that lofty ideal, so familiar that I beg pardon for
quoting it, so just that it can nardly be quoted too often :

" A heing' breathing thoughtful breath;
A traveler between life and death;
The reason firm, the temperate will ;
Endurance, foresight, strength and skill;
A perfect woman, nobly planned,
To guide, to counsel and command;
And yet a spirit too, and bright
With something of an angel light."

"I am" was the lofty designation by which the Deity chose to reveal Him-
self to mankind. And I would have the women of the West so educated that
they shall say "I am" rather than "I know."

3. The education of the women of the West should be one that Avill con-
tinue through life Women pursue various studies and make fair profi-
ciency in them. Then they drop them for aye, and languages, science and
music seem like a dream of childhood to the woman who has been married ten
years. But is it not possible to impart to them an education that shall be
so far in accordance with the demands and pursuits of their lives as to be
carried on.'' And if there are two educations, whereof the one is sure to be
very early discontinued, while the other, possessing equal disciplinary value
in the present, has a prospect of being carried forward through life, shall
we not prefer the latter? Physiology, organic chemistry, hygiene, — surely
the daily experience of every mother and housewife ought to keep these
studies bright by use. And so of intellectual philosophy. It has often been
said that if any one could observe and record the history of his own mind


and its gradual unfoldings, he would write the most valuable treatise on
metaphysics ever produced. But who has a better opportunity than the
mother to know the genesis of the mind ? Is it not to the nursery and to the
observations of the mother that we must look for the facts that shall lie at
the foundation of a true educational philosophy? And who has more need
to know the principles of ethics and to be able to apply them than the
mother, called upon to decide a thousand questions of right, for her little
kingdom, and often compelled to be a conscience to her husband?

4. The education of the women of the West ought to be one that shall in-
duce in them iiidefendcncc rather than the reverse, dependence ; — does not
this one word express the state of our women ? Dependent, before marriage,
upon their fathers, after marriage, upon their husbands; dependent upon
Mrs. Grundy for their opinions and rules of conduct, dependent upon the
courtesans of Paris for their manner of dress, dependent upon Bridget for
their dailv bread; dependent because of their ignorance of the world, their
ignorance of the laws affecting themselves, their children, their property,
their ignorance of the commonest things. And this dependence, is it acci-
dental? Is it not rather the result toward which their education has pur-
posely tended? In 1858, Dr. Nott, in reply to enquiries addressed to him by
the regents of the University of Michigan, touching the proposed co-educa-
cation of the two sexes in that Institution, wrote : " A difference of sex and of
destination through the entire journey of life, has, in the judgment of man-
kind, been thought to require a difference in the distinctive attributes to be
called into exercise, and the peculiar type of character to be formed. Delicacy
of sentiment, ^feeling of dependence-, and shrinking from the public view, are
attributes sought for in the one sex; in the other, decision of character, self-
reliance, a feeling of personal independence and a willingness to meet opposi-
tion and encounter difficulties " Surely, if it was the design of our system of
education to produce in woman a feeling and a condition of dependence, the
experiment has been a glorious success. But, despite the sincere veneration
I feel for the memory of the Nestor of American instructors; despite, also,
the unutterable pangs which it costs me even to differ in opinion from any
human being, I must express my opinion that dependence is not a thing to
be cultivated, but rather that women, no less than men, should be self reli-
ant, forceful, in a word, independent, and that our education should have
this aim. It should create in woman an aspiration for independence, a
sense of its dignity a sense of the humiliation ever attendant upon voluntary
vassalage ; a conviction that " to be weak is to be miserable." It should give
to her the power of achieving an independence. It should give her an
industry, a means of support. It should teach her her rights, and should
enable her to maintain them. It should teach her to judge, to reason, to form
her own opinions, and to rely upon them. Let her begin to do something
for her own support when she attains to womanhood, reckoning it unworthy
of herself, as she would deem it unworthy of her brother, to remain a pen-
sioner on her father. Let her be prepared to maintain herself, whether she
chance to find a husband, or not Let her not be forced to accept of anj-
offer, however distasteful, for the sake of a home, saying, " Put me into one
of the priest's offices, (the priestship of wifehood and maternity,) that I may
eat but a morsel of bread." Let her be mistress in her own house, able to
rule it, able to hold in control her domestic forces, or, if need be, to dispense
with them. I think I have heard that on the 4th of July, 1776, our fathers
declared tliemselves independent of England. How happy shall we be, if,
by a century later, their daughters shall be independent of Ireland. And


this independence, I think that a true education can do much to create and
foster. For example, in regard to her own household, a woman truly edu-
cated will have her own faculties perfectly in hand, so that she can bring
them to bear on her household work, in the best way and in the shortest
time, making it perceptible that even in these ordinary material concerns
there is a difference, and that mind tells in keeping house as in commanding
an army and in writing a poem. A woman truly educated woufd discover
the difference between the real and the unreal, between the essentials of
comfort and the demands of fashion, and would reduce the labors of the
house by emancipating herself from many enslaving burdens. If she should
have company, she would have fewer pies and jellies, but more heart and
brains and tongue. If she has servants, she will herself be at the head of
the house, wielding the supremacy to which she is entitled by virtue of her
character, her manifest superiority. One reason why the domestic does not
acknowledge the superiority of the lady of the house, is, because there is no
superiority to acknowledge, except in the accident of birth and position.

I do not affirm that such an education as I have feebly described, would
be out of place at the East. I am sure that it is demanded for the women of
the West. •

There remains but the question,

III. Shall the tv/o sexes be educated together in our higher institutions
of learning.?

Permit me to say that I regard this as eminently an open question. While
I shall offer such remarks as have occurred to me, I am well aware that
many instructors, entitled to far more Consideration than myself, have been
led, by weighty arguments, to a different conclusion. I can but present the
matter as it appears to me.

What is our design in the education of the two sexes.'' If the opinion
lately cited from Dr. Nott is granted, his conclusion would seem inevitable.
If we want to produce in men and in women characters utterly diverse, to
cherish as virtues in the one sex what we repress as vices in the other, then
surely he is right in deciding against co-education ; for, as he justly observes,
" it is not easy to see how appliances for the production of such opposite
results can be furnished by the same agencies, at the same time, and in the
same place."

But shall we grant the premises? Is it our design to produce in woman
a character all softness, gentleness, guilelessness, tenderness, modesty,
purity, ignorance of ill, and to create in man a character all wisdom,
strength, force, might, self-reliance, boldness in attempting^ pride in achiev-
ing, awed by no obstacles, withheld by no restraints.? Did Grace Darling
and Florence Nightingale, and Dorothy L. Dix and Deborah, the prophetess,
violate the proprieties of the one sex, when they faced obstacles, underwent
dangers, exhibited self-reliance, and did not shrink from public observation.'
And was Napoleon less a man when he shed a tear at the sight of a dog
watching by the body of his slain master.?

Closely allied to this notion of a. male and a female character is that of a
male and a female standard of servitude. A man may be sensual, over-
bearing, unscrupulous, unfeeling, provided only he is not wanting in cotirage.
A woman may be cowardlj', ignorant, insufficient, indolent, deceitful, pro-
vided only she retain what the world calls virtue, and provided she has no
opinion — or, at any rate, carefully conceals this possession. A man may
violate the seventh commandment, and be the idol of the nation, as was
Admiral Nelson. A woman!


Are there, then, two standards of rectitude? Are there two decalogues?
Are there with us, as with the heathen, two classes of deities, male and
female, given as models for the two sexes respectively? Or have we rather
one perfect type and exemplar, who has given us an example that we should
follow in his steps, and in whom is neither male nor female? Is Christ
divided, and shall the one sex take His courage and His self-reliance, while
the other appropriates His purity and His tenderness? Is there any trait that
is noble in the one sex that is not admirable in the other as well?

It being understood, then, that we do not wish, as the result of education,
to produce diverse and opposite traits of character; that we regard no virtue
as being the property of either sex alone, no vice as being tolerable in either,
and that we shall secure the best results by letting not only each sex, but
each human being of whatever sex, reach the highest development possible
on the line which God has indicated, permit me to remark :

1. Co-education seems the system approved by nature. The sexes are
associated in families during youth, and the invariable experience is that
those are the noblest women and those the most lovely men who grow up
in a house where are both brothers and sisters. The sexes are together in
the earlier part of their education, and I think I have observed a tendency
on the part of the two to become closely associated during the period of

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Online LibraryIll.) Western Baptist Educational Convention. (1871 : ChProceedings of the Western Baptist Educational Convention, held in the First Baptist Church, Chicago, May 24 and 25, 1871 → online text (page 3 of 13)