Monday, January 9, 2017

Back in the Day

This year, 2017, marks the 100th anniversary of women achieving the right to vote in New York. With that in mind, I recently came upon a commencement speech delivered by the Right Reverend William Croswell Doane, who was the First Episcopal Bishop of Albany. Doane Stuart School, which founded in 1975 by merging the Roman Catholic Kenwood Academy and the Episcopal St. Agnes School, was named for him. The speech was delivered in June 1895 to the graduating class of St. Agnes's School, an "institution maintained in connection with the Episcopal Cathedral for the education of young women." The entire speech, which was printed in the New York Times, can be read here, but here's a paragraph from it.
I believe that God will yet save this State and Nation from the aggravated miseries of an enlarged, unqualified suffrage which, in its universality of male voters, is our most threatening danger to-day. But if we are to be visited with this infliction, as a well-earned punishment for many national sins, then I believe that, when we have tasted its bitterness, we shall be brought back, perhaps through anarchy and revolution, to a democracy which shall demand for its existence government by men whom education and actual Americanism, of final interest in the Nation, qualify to govern. Meanwhile, when constitutions shall have been altered, to disturb the equipoise of the relation between man and woman, when motherhood shall be replaced by mismanaged offices, when money shall buy the votes of women, as it does now themselves; when the fires of political discord shall be lighted on the hearthstone of domestic peace, when the assertion of demanded right shall have destroyed the instinctive chivalry of conceded courtesies, when "woman," as has been well said, "once the superior, has become the equal of man, then the reaped whirlwind of some violent political reaction will be gathered in tears," by those who are sowing the wind in the mad "joy" of the Petroleuse of the French revolutions.
Doane, who was consecrated first bishop in 1869, was 63 when he delivered this commencement address. He died in 1913, at the age of 81, four years before women achieved the right to vote in New York, so he never lived to see the "fires of political discord" lighted "on the hearthstone of domestic peace" or to witness the "assertion of demanded right" destroy "the instinctive chivalry of conceded courtesies."

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