Half a Century
by Jane Grey Cannon Swisshelm
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This caught the fancy of the street boys, who called him, "Towser, where's your collar?" "Seek him, Towser." He was the last Pittsburg lawyer who took a case against a slave, and public sentiment had so advanced that there never afterwards was a fugitive taken out of the county.



While the bench and bar were thus demanding the attention of the Visiter, the pulpit was examining its morals with a microscope, and defending the sum of all villainies as a Bible institution. The American churches, with three exceptions, not only neglected "the weightier matters of the law, judgment and mercy," but were the main defense of the grossest injustice, the most revolting cruelty; and, to maintain an appearance of sanctity, were particularly devout and searching in the investigation of small sins.

A religions contemporary discovered that the Visiter did actually advertise "Jayne's Expectorant," and such an expectoration of pious reprehension as this did call forth! The Visiter denied that the advertisement was immoral, and carried the war into Africa—that old man-stealing Africa—and there took the ground that chattel slavery never did exist among the Jews; that what we now charge upon them as such was a system of bonded servitude; that the contract was originally between master and servant; the consideration of the labor paid to the servant; that in all cases of transfer, the master sold to another that portion of the time and labor of the servant, which were still due; that there was no hint of any man selling a free man into slavery for the benefit of the seller; that the servants bought from "the heathen around about," were bought from themselves, or in part at least, for their benefit, to bring them under general law and into the church; that nothing like American slavery was ever known in the days of Moses, or any other day than that of this great Republic, since our slavery was "the vilest that ever saw the sun," John Wesley being witness.

The Visiter cited the purchase by Joseph of the people of Egypt, and Leviticus xxv, xxxix: "If thy brother be waxen poor and sell himself unto thee." The Bible had not then been changed to suit the exigencies of slavery. In later editions, "sell himself" is converted into "be sold," but as the passage then stood it was a sledge-hammer with which one might beat the whole pro-slavery Bible argument into atoms, and while the Visiter used it with all the force it could command, it took the ground that if the Bible did sanction slavery, the Bible must be wrong, since nothing could make slavery right.



The Free Soil or Barnburner party was organized in '48, and nominated Martin Van Buren for President. The Visiter dropped its Birney flag and raised the Van Buren standard. In supporting him the editor of the Visiter was charged with being false to the cause of the slave, and of playing into the hands of the Whigs. All the editor had ever said about that pro-slavery ex-President was cast into its teeth by Democratic, Liberty Party and Garrisonian papers, which, one and all, held that Van Buren was a cunning old fox, as pro-slavery as in those days when, as President of the U.S. Senate, he gave his casting vote for the bill which authorized every Southern post-master to open all the mail which came to his office, search for and destroy any matter that he might think dangerous to Southern institutions. In his present hostility to slavery, he was actuated by personal hatred of Louis Cass, the Democratic candidate, and sought to draw off enough. Democratic votes to defeat him.

The object of the Visiter in supporting Van Buren was to smash one of the great pro-slavery parties of the nation, or gain an anti-slavery balance of power to counteract the slavery vote for which both contended. A few thousand reliable votes would compel one party to take anti-slavery ground. The Van Buren movement was almost certain to defeat the Democrats, and force the Whigs to seek our alliance. True, the Free Soil platform did not suit Liberty Party men, who said it simply proposed to confine slavery to its present limits, and not destroy it where it already existed.

To all of which, and much more, the little Visiter replied, that with Van Buren's motives it had nothing to do. His present attitude was one of hostility to the spread of slavery, and this being a long step in advance of other parties, was a position desirable to gain and hold. To decline aiding those who proposed to circumscribe slavery because they did not propose its destruction, was as if a soldier should refuse to storm an outpost on the ground that it was not the citadel.

Checking the advance of an enemy was one step toward driving him off the field, and a rusty cannon might be worth several bright-barreled muskets in holding him at bay. The Lord punished Israel by the hand of Jehu and Hazael, both wicked men. Slavery was bursting her bounds, coming over on us like the sea on Holland. One very dirty shovel might be worth a hundred silver teaspoons in keeping back the waters, and this Free Soil party could do more to check its advance than a hundred of the little Liberty Party with that pure patriot, Gerrit Smith, at its head. In doing right, take all the help you can get, even from Satan. Let him assist to carry your burden as long as he will travel your road, and only be careful not to turn off with him when he takes his own.

The Visitor had thousands of readers scattered over every State and Territory in the nation, in England and the Canadas. It was quoted more perhaps than any other paper in the country, and whether for blame or praise, its sentiments were circulated, and men of good judgment thought it made thousands of votes for the Free Soil party.



When slavery thought to reap the fruits of the war into which she had plunged the nation with Mexico, lo! there was a lion in her path, and not a Bunyan lion either, for this kingly beast wore no collar, no chain held him. The roused North had laid her great labor paw on the California gold fields and stood showing her teeth while the serpent with raised crest was coiled to strike, and the world waited and wondered.

Henry Clay, the synonym for compromise, was still in the United States Senate, and, with his cat-like tread, stepped in between the belligerents with a cunning device—a device similar to that by which the boys disposed of the knife they found jointly—one was to own, the other to carry and use it. So by this plan the lion was to own California, and the snake was to occupy it as a hunting-ground; nay, not it alone, but every State and Territory in the Union must be given up to its slimy purposes. In other words, California was to be admitted as a free State, upon condition of the passage of the Fugitive Slave Bill, which authorized the slave-hunter to follow the fugitive into every home, every spot of this broad land; to tear him from any altar, and demand the services of every "good citizen" in his hellish work. Men by thousands, once counted friends of freedom, bowed abjectly to this infamous decision.

Daniel Webster, the leading Whig statesman, made a set speech in favor of thus giving up the whole country to the dominion of the slave power. It was another great bid for the next presidential nomination, which must be controlled by the South. The danger was imminent, the crisis alarming, and the excitement very great. I longed to be in Washington, so I wrote to Horace Greeley, who answered that he would pay me five dollars a column for letters. It was said that this was the first time a woman had been engaged in that capacity.

I went to Washington in the early part of '50, going by canal to the western foot of the Alleghenies, and then by rail to the foot of the inclined plane, where our cars were wound up and let down by huge windlasses. I was in a whirl of wonder and excitement by this, my first acquaintance with the iron-horse, but had to stay all night in Baltimore because the daily train for Washington had left before ours came.

I had letters to the proprietor of the Irving House, where I took board. Had others to Col. Benton, Henry Clay, and other great men, but he who most interested me was Dr. Gamaliel Bailey, editor of the National Era. The great want of an anti-slavery paper at the capitol had been supplied by five-dollar subscriptions to a publication fund, and Dr. Bailey called from Cincinnati to take charge of it, and few men have kept a charge with more care and skill. He and the Era had just passed the ordeal of a frightful mob, in which he was conciliatory, unyielding and victorious; and he was just then gravely anxious about the great crisis, but most of all anxious that the Era should do yeoman service to the cause which had called it into life. The Era had a large circulation, and high literary standing, but Dr. Bailey was troubled about the difficulty or impossibility of procuring anti-slavery tales. Mrs. Southworth was writing serials for it, and he had hoped that she, a Southern woman with Northern principles, could weave into her stories pictures of slavery which would call damaging attention to it, but in this she had failed.

Anti-slavery tales, anti-slavery tales, was what the good Doctor wanted. Temperance had its story writer in Arthur. If only abolition had a good writer of fiction, one who could interest and educate the young. He knew of but one pen able to write what he wanted, and alas, the finances of the Era could not command it. If only he could engage Mrs. Stowe. I had not heard of her, and he explained that she was a daughter of Lyman Beecher. I was surprised and exclaimed:

"A daughter of Lyman Beecher write abolition stories! Saul among the prophets!"

I reminded the Doctor that President Beecher and Prof. Stowe had broken up the theological department of Lane Seminary by suppressing the anti-slavery agitation raised by Theodore Weld, a Kentucky student, and threw their influence against disturbing the Congregational churches with the new fanaticism; that Edward Beecher invented the "organic sin," devil, behind which churches and individuals took refuge when called upon to "come up to the help of the Lord against the mighty." But Dr. Bailey said he knew them personally, and that despite their public record, they were at heart anti-slavery, and that prudence alone dictated their course. Mrs. Stowe was a graphic story-teller, had been in Kentucky, taken in the situation and could describe the peculiar institution as no one else could. If he could only enlist her, the whole family would most likely follow into the abolition ranks; but the bounty money, alas, where could he raise it?

Where there is the will there is a way, and it was but a few months after that conversation when Dr. Bailey forwarded one hundred dollars to Mrs. Stowe as a retaining fee for her services in the cause of the slave, and lo! the result, "Uncle Tom's Cabin." As it progressed he sent her another, and then another hundred dollars. Was ever money so well expended?

That grand old lion, Joshua R. Giddings, had also passed through the mob, and as I went with him to be presented to President Taylor, a woman in the crowd stepped back, drew away her skirts, and with a snarl exclaimed,

"A pair of abolitionists!"

The whole air of Freedom's capital thrilled and palpitated with hatred of her and her cause. On the question of the pending Fugitive Slave Bill, the feeling was intense and bitterly partisan, although not a party measure. Mr. Taylor, the Whig President, had pronounced the bill an insult to the North, and stated his determination to veto it. Fillmore, the Vice-President, was in favor of it. So, Freedom looked to a man owning three hundred slaves, while slavery relied on "a Northern man with Southern principles." President Taylor was hated by the South, was denounced as a traitor to his section, while Southern men and women fawned upon and flattered Fillmore. Webster, the great Whig statesman of the North, had bowed the knee to Baal, while Col. Benton, of Missouri, was on the side of Freedom.

The third, or anti-slavery party, represented by Chase and Hale in the Senate, was beginning to make itself felt, and must be crushed and stamped out at all hazards—the infant must be strangled in its cradle.

While abolition was scoffed at by hypocritical priests as opening a door to amalgamation, here, in the nation's capital, lived some of our most prominent statesmen in open concubinage with negresses, adding to their income by the sale of their own children, while one could neither go out nor stay in without meeting indisputable testimony of the truth of Thomas Jefferson's statement: "The best blood of Virginia runs in the veins of her slaves." But the case which interested me most was a family of eight mulattoes, bearing the image and superscription of the great New England statesman, who paid the rent and grocery bills of their mother as regularly as he did those of his wife.

Pigs were the scavengers, mud and garbage the rule, while men literally wallowed in the mire of licentiousness and strong drink. In Congress they sat and loafed with the soles of their boots turned up for the inspection of the ladies in the galleries. Their language and gestures as they expectorated hither and thither were often as coarse as their positions, while they ranted about the "laws and Constitution," and cracked their slave-whips over the heads of the dough-faces sent from the Northern States.

Washington was a great slave mart, and her slave-pen was one of the most infamous in the whole land. One woman, who had escaped from it, was pursued in her flight across the long bridge, and was gaining on the four men who followed her, when they shouted to some on the Virginia shore, who ran and intercepted her. Seeing her way blocked, and all hope of escape gone, with one wild cry she clasped her hands above her head, sprang into the Potomac, and was swept into that land beyond the River Death, where alone was hope for the American slave. Another woman with her two children was captured on the steps of the capitol building, whither she had fled for protection, and this, too, while the stars and stripes floated over it.

One of President Tyler's daughters ran away with the man she loved, in order that they might be married, but for this they must reach foreign soil. A young lady of the White House could not marry the man of her choice in the United States. The lovers were captured, and she was brought to His Excellency, her father, who sold her to a slave-trader. From that Washington slave-pen she was taken to New Orleans by a man who expected to get twenty-five hundred dollars for her on account of her great beauty.

My letters to the New York Tribune, soon attracted so much attention that is was unpleasant for me to live in a hotel, and I became the guest of my friend Mrs. Emma D.E.N. Southworth. It was pleasant to look into her great, dreamy grey eyes, with their heavy lashes, at the broad forehead and the clustering brown curls, and have her sit and look into the fire and talk as she wrote of the strange fancies which peopled her busy brain.

Among the legislative absurdities which early attracted my attention was that of bringing every claim against the government before Congress. If a man thought government owed him ten dollars, the only way was to have the bill pass both houses. In my Tribune letters, I ventilated that thoroughly, and suggested a court, in which Brother Jonathan could appear by attorney. Mr. Greeley seconded the suggestion warmly, and this, I think, was the origin of the Court of Claims.

There was yet one innovation I wanted to make, although my stay in Washington would necessarily be short. No woman had ever had a place in the Congressional reporter's gallery. This door I wanted to open to them, called on Vice-President Fillmore and asked him to assign me a seat in the Senate gallery. He was much surprised and tried to dissuade me. The place would be very unpleasant for a lady, would attract attention, I would not like it; but he gave me the seat. I occupied it one day, greatly to the surprise of the Senators, the reporters, and others on the floor and in the galleries; but felt that the novelty would soon wear off, and that women would work there and win bread without annoyance.

But the Senate had another sensation that day, for Foot, in a speech alluded to "the gentleman from Missouri." Benton sprang to his feet, and started toward him, but a dozen members rushed up to hold him, and he roared:

"Stand off, gentlemen! Unhand me! Let me reach the scoundrel!" Everyone stamped, and ran, and shouted "Order!" The speaker pounded with his mallet, and Foot ran down the aisle to the chair, drawing out a great horse-pistol and cocking it, cried:

"Let him come on, gentlemen! let him come on!" while he increased the distance between them as fast as time and space would permit. After the hubbub had subsided, Foot explained:

"Mr. Speaker, I saw the gentleman coming, and I advanced toward the chair."

I have never seen a well-whipped rooster run from his foe, without thinking of Foot's advance.



Darkest of the dark omens for the slave, in that dark day, was the defalcation of Daniel Webster. He whose eloquence had secured in name the great Northwest to freedom, and who had so long been dreaded by the slave-power, had laid his crown in the dust; had counseled the people of the North to conquer their prejudices against catching slaves, and by his vote would open every sanctuary to the bloodhound. The prestige of his great name and the power of his great intellect were turned over to slavery, and the friends of freedom deplored and trembled for the result.

There was some general knowledge through the country of the immorality of Southern men in our national capital. Serious charges had been made by abolitionists against Henry Clay, but Webster was supposed to be a moral as well as an intellectual giant. Brought up in Puritan New England, he was accredited with all the New England virtues; and when a Southern woman said to me, in answer to my strictures on Southern men:

"Oh, you need not say anything! Look at your own Daniel Webster!" I wondered and began to look at and inquire about him, and soon discovered that his whole panoply of moral power was a shell—that his life was full of rottenness. Then I knew why I had come to Washington. I gathered the principal facts of his life at the Capitol, stated them to Dr. Snodgrass, a prominent Washington correspondent, whose anti-slavery paper had been suppressed in Baltimore by a mob, to Joshua R. Giddings and Gamaliel Bailey. They assured me of the truth of what had been told me, but advised me to keep quiet, as other people had done. I took the whole question into careful consideration; wrote a paragraph in a letter to the Visiter, stating the facts briefly, strongly; and went to read it to my friend, Mrs. George W. Julian.

I found her and her husband together, and read the letter to them. They sat dumb for a moment, then he exclaimed:

"You must not publish that!"

"Is it true?"

"Oh, yes! It is true! But none the less you must not publish it!"

"Can I prove it?"

"No one will dare deny it. We have all known that for years, but no one would dare to make it public. No good can come of its publication; it would ruin you, ruin your influence, ruin your work. You would lose your Tribune engagement, by which you are now doing so much good. We all feel the help you are to the good cause. Do not throw away your influence!"

"Does not the cause of the slave hang on the issue in Congress?"

"I think it does."

"Is not Mr. Webster's influence all against it?"

"Yes, of course!"

"Would not that influence be very much less if the public knew just what he is?"

"Of course it would, but you cannot afford to tell them. You have no idea what his friends would say, what they would do. They would ruin you."

I thought a moment, and said:

"I will publish it, and let God take care of the consequences."

"Good!" exclaimed Mrs. Julian, clapping her hands. "I would if I were in your place."

But when I went to post the letter, I hesitated, walked back and forth on the street, and almost concluded to leave out that paragraph. I shuddered lest Mr. Julian's prediction should prove true. I was gratified by my position on the Tribune—the social distinction it gave me and courtesy which had been shown me. Grave Senators went out of their way to be polite, and even pro-slavery men treated me with distinguished consideration. My Washington life had been eminently agreeable, and I dreaded changing popularity for public denunciation. But I remembered my Red Sea, and my motto—"Speak unto the children of Israel that they go forward." The duty of destroying that pro-slavery influence was plain. All the objections were for fear of the consequences to me. I had said God should take care of these, and mailed the letter, but I must leave Washington. Mr. Greeley should not discharge me. I left the capitol the day after taking my seat in the reporter's gallery, feeling that that door was open to other women.

The surprise with which the Webster statement was received was fully equalled by the storm of denunciation it drew down upon me. The New York Tribune regretted and condemned. Other secular papers made dignified protests. The religious press was shocked at my indelicacy, and fellows of the baser sort improved their opportunity to the utmost. I have never seen, in the history of the press, such widespread abuse of any one person as that with which I was favored; but, by a strange fatality, the paragraph was copied and copied. It was so short and pointed that in no other way could its wickedness be so well depicted as by making it a witness against itself.

I had nothing to do but keep quiet. The accusation was made. I knew where to find the proof if it should be legally called for, and until it was I should volunteer no evidence, and my witnesses could not be attacked or discredited in advance. By and by people began to ask for the contradiction of this "vile slander." It was so circumstantial as to call for a denial. It could not be set aside as unworthy of attention.

What did it mean? Mr. Webster was a prominent candidate for President. Would his friends permit this story to pass without a word of denial? Mr. Julian was right; no one would dare deny the charge. He was, however, wrong in saying it would ruin me. My motive was too apparent, and the revelations too important, for any lasting disgrace to attach to it. On all hands it was assured that the disclosure had had a telling effect in disposing of a formidable power which had been arrayed against the slave, as Mr. Webster failed to secure the nomination.

Some one started a conundrum: "Why is Daniel Webster like Sisera? Because he was killed by a woman," and this had almost as great a run as the original accusation.

When the National Convention met in Pittsburg, in 1852, to form the Free Democratic party, there was an executive and popular branch held in separate halls. I attended the executive. Very few women were present, and I the only one near the platform. The temporary chairman left the chair, came to me to be introduced, saying:

"I want to take the hand that killed Daniel Webster."

Henry Wilson was permanent chairman of that convention, and he came, too, with similar address. Even Mr. Greeley continued to be my friend, and I wrote for the Tribune often after that time.



When it became certain that the Fugitive Slave Bill could pass Congress, but could not command a two-thirds vote to carry it over the assured veto of President Taylor, he ate a plate of strawberries, just as President Harrison had done when he stood in the way of Southern policy, and like his great predecessor Taylor, died opportunely, when Mr. Fillmore became President, and signed the bill. When it was the law of the land, there was a rush of popular sentiment in favor of obedience, and a rush of slave-catchers to take advantage of its provisions. Thousands of slaves were returned to bondage. Whigs and Democrats were still bidding for the Southern vote, and now vied with each other as to who should show most willingness to aid their Southern brethren in the recovery of their lost property. The church also rushed to the front to show its Christian zeal for the wrongs of those brethren, who, by the escape of their slaves, lost the means of building churches and buying communion services, and there was no end of homilies on the dishonesty of helping men to regain possession of their own bodies. All manner of charges were rung about Onesimus, and Paul became the patron saint of slave-catchers.

Among the many devices brought to bear on the consciences of Pittsburgers, was a sermon preached, as per announcement, by Rev. Riddle, pastor of the Third Presbyterian church. It was received with great favor, by his large wealthy congregation, was printed in pamphlet form, distributed by thousands and made a profound impression, for Pittsburg is a Presbyterian city, and a sermon by its leading pastor was convincing. The sermon was an out and out plea for the bill and obedience to its requirements. Did not Paul return Onesimus to his master? Were not servants told to obey their masters? Running away was gross disobedience, etc., etc.

Robt. M. Riddle, in a careful leader in The Journal, deprecated the existence of the law, but since it did exist, counseled obedience. He was a polished and forcible writer and his arguments had great weight.

The Visiter published an article on "The Two Riddles," in which was drawn a picture of a scantily clad woman, with bruised and bleeding feet, clasping an infant to her bosom, panting before her pursuers up Third street. The master called on all good citizens for help. The cry reached the ears of the tall editor of the Journal seated at his desk. He dropped his pen, hastily donned his new brass collar and started in hot pursuit of this wicked woman, who was feloniously appropriating the property of her master.

The other Riddle—the Presbyterian pastor—planted himself by the lamp post on the corner of Third and Market streets, and with spectacles on nose and raised hands, loudly implored divine blessing on the labors of his tall namesake. The Visiter concluded by advising masters who had slaves to catch, to apply to these gentlemen, who would attend to business from purely pious and patriotic motives.

I did not see Mr. Riddle for two weeks after the publication of the sketch, and then we met on the street. He had never before been angry or vexed with me, but now he was both, and said:

"How could you do me such an injustice?"

"Why is it an injustice?"

"Oh you know it is! You know I would cut off my right hand, before I would aid in capturing a fugitive."

"Then why do you counsel others to do it?"

"Oh you know better! and Rev. Riddle, he and his friends are distressed about it. You do not know what you have done! I have already had three letters from the South, asking me to aid in returning fugitives, and he, too, has had similar applications. Oh it is too humiliating, too bad. You must set it right!"

I agreed to do so, and the Visiter explained that it had been mistaken in saying that both or either of the two Riddles would aid in returning fugitives. They both scorned the business, and Robt. M., would cut off his right hand, rather than engage in it. He only meant that other people should do what would degrade him. He was not a good citizen, and did not intend to be. As for his Reverence, he would shirk his Christian duties; would not pray by that lamppost, or any other lamp-post, for the success of slave-catchers. He had turned his back upon Paul, and had fallen from grace since preaching his famous sermon. The gentlemen had been accredited with a patriotism and piety of which they were incapable, and a retraction was necessary; but if any other more patriotic politician or divine, further advanced in sanctification would send their names to the Visiter, it would notify the South.

In answering Bible arguments, as to the righteousness of the Fugitive Slave Bill, the main dependence of the Visiter was Deuteronomy xxiii: 15 and 16:

"Thou shalt not deliver unto his master, the servant which is escaped from his master unto thee.

"He shall dwell with thee, even among you, in that place where he shall choose, in one of thy gates, where it liketh him best, thou shalt not oppress him."

That old Bible, in spite of pro-slavery interpreters, proved to be the great bulwark of human liberty.

In 1852, Slavery and Democracy formed that alliance to which we owe the Great Rebellion. The South became solid, and Whigs had no longer any motive for catching slaves.



The appearance of The Visiter was the signal for an outbreak, for which I was wholly unprepared, and one which proved the existence of an eating cancer of discontent in the body politic. Under the smooth surface of society lay a mass of moral disease, which suddenly broke out into an eruption of complaints, from those who felt themselves oppressed by the old Saxon and ecclesiastical laws under which one-half the people of the republic still lived.

In the laws governing the interests peculiar to men, and those affecting their interests in common with woman, great advance had been made during the past six centuries, but those regarding the exclusive interests of women, had remained in statu quo, since King Alfred the Great and the knights of his Round Table fell asleep. The anti-negro slavery object of my paper seemed to be lost sight of, both by friends and foes of human progress, in the surprise at the innovation of a woman entering the political arena, to argue publicly on great questions of national policy, and while men were defending their pantaloons, they created and spread the idea, that masculine supremacy lay in the form of their garments, and that a woman dressed like a man would be as potent as he.

Strange as it may now seem, they succeeded in giving such efficacy to the idea, that no less a person than Mrs. Elizabeth Cady Stanton was led astray by it, so that she set her cool, wise head to work and invented a costume, which she believed would emancipate woman from thraldom. Her invention was adopted by her friend Mrs. Bloomer, editor and proprietor of the Lily, a small paper then in infancy in Syracuse, N.Y., and from her, the dress took its name—"the bloomer." Both women believed in their dress, and staunchly advocated it as the sovereignest remedy for all the ills that woman's flesh is heir to.

I made a suit and wore it at home parts of two days, long enough to feel assured that it must be a failure; and so opposed it earnestly, but nothing I could say or do could make it apparent that pantaloons were not the real objective point, at which all discontented woman aimed. I had once been tried on a charge of purloining pantaloons, and been acquitted for lack of evidence; but now, here was the proof! The women themselves, leaders of the malcontents, promulgated and pressed their claim to bifurcated garments, and the whole tide of popular discussion was turned into that ridiculous channel.

The Visiter had a large list of subscribers in Salem, Ohio, and in the summer of '49 a letter from a lady came to me saying, that the Visiter had stirred up so much interest in women's rights that a meeting had been held and a committee appointed to get up a woman's rights convention, and she, as chairman of that committee, invited me to preside. I felt on reading this as if I had had a douche bath; then, as a lawyer might have felt who had carried a case for a corporation through the lower court, and when expecting it up before the supreme bench, had learned that all his clients were coming in to address the court on the merits of the case.

By the pecks of letters I had been receiving, I had learned that there were thousands of women with grievances, and no power to state them or to discriminate between those which could be reached by law and those purely personal; and that the love of privacy with which the whole sex was accredited was a mistake, since most of my correspondents literally agonized to get before the public. Publicity! publicity! was the persistent demand. To meet the demand, small papers, owned and edited by women, sprang up all over the land, and like Jonah's gourd, perished in a night. Ruskin says to be noble is to be known, and at that period there was a great demand on the part of women for their full allowance of nobility; but not one in a hundred thought of merit as a means of reaching it. No use waiting to learn to put two consecutive sentences together in any connected form, or for an idea or the power of expressing it. One woman was printing her productions, and why should not all the rest do likewise? They had so long followed some leader like a flock of sheep, that now they would rush through the first gap into newspaperdom.

I declined the presidential honors tendered me, on the ground of inability to fill the place; and earnestly entreated the movers to reconsider and give up the convention, saying:

"It will open a door through which fools and fanatics will pour in, and make the cause ridiculous."

The answer was that it was too late to recede. The convention was held, and justified my worst fears. When I criticised it, the reply was:

"If you had come and presided, as we wished you to do, the result would have been different. You started the movement and now refuse to lead it, but cannot stop it."

The next summer a convention was held in Akron, Ohio, and I attended, hoping to modify the madness, but failed utterly, by all protests I could make, to prevent the introduction by the committee on resolutions of this:

"Resolved, that the difference in sex is one of education."

A man stood behind the president to prompt her, but she could not catch his meaning, and when confusion came, she rose and made a little speech, in which she stated that she knew nothing of parliamentary rules, and when consenting to preside had resolved, if there were trouble, to say to the convention as she did to her boys at home: "Quit behaving yourselves!"

This brought down the house, but brought no order, and she sat down, smiling, a perfect picture of self-complaisance.

People thought the press unmerciful in its ridicule of that convention, but I felt in it all there was much forbearance. No words could have done justice to the occasion. It was so much more ridiculous than ridicule, so much more absurd than absurdity. The women on whom that ridicule was heaped were utterly incapable of self-defense, or unconscious of its need. The mass of nobility seekers seemed content to get before the public by any means, and to wear its most stinging sarcasms as they would a new dress cap.

In those days I reserved all my hard words for men, and in my notice of the convention mildly suggested that it would have been better had Mrs. Oliver Johnson been made president, as she had great executive ability and a good knowledge of parliamentary rules. This suggestion was received by the president as an insult never to be forgiven, and in the Visiter defended herself against it. I replied, and in the discussion which followed she argued that the affairs of each family should be so arranged that the husband and wife would be breadwinner and housekeeper by turns, day or oven half day about. He should go to business in the forenoon, then in the afternoon take care of baby and permit her to go to the office, shop or warehouse from which came the family supplies.

I took the ground that baby would be apt to object, and that in our family the rule would not work, since I could not put a log on the mill-carriage, and the water would be running to waste all my day or half-day as bread-winner.

About the same time, Mrs. Stanton published a series of articles in Mrs. Bloomer's paper, the Lily, in which she taught that it was right for a mother to make baby comfortable, lay him in his crib, come out, lock the door, and leave him to develop his lungs by crying or cooing, as he might decide, while mamma improved her mind and attended to her public and social duties.

Against such head winds, it was hard for my poor little craft to make progress in asserting the right of women to influence great public questions.

For something over twenty years, after that Akron meeting, I did not see a woman's rights convention, and in all have seen but five. Up to 1876 there had been no material improvement in them, if those I saw were a fair specimen. Their holders have always seemed to me like a woman who should undertake at a state fair to run a sewing machine, under pretense of advertising it, while she had never spent an hour in learning its use.

However, those conventions have probably saved the republic. From the readiness with which Pennsylvania legislators responded to the petition of three of four women, acting without concert, in the matter of property rights, it is probable that in a fit of generosity the men of the United States would have enfranchised its women en masse; and the government now staggering under the ballots of ignorant, irresponsible men, must have gone down under the additional burden of the votes which would have been thrown upon it, by millions of ignorant, irresponsible women. Before that time, the unanswerable argument of Judge Hurlbut had been published, and had made a deep impression on the minds of thinking men. Had this been followed by the earnest, thrilling appeals of Susan B. Anthony, free from all alliance with cant and vanity, we should no doubt have had a voting population to-day, under which no government could exist ten years; but those conventions raised the danger signal, and men took heed to the warning.



The period of the Visiter was one of great mental activity—a period of hobbies—and it, having assumed the reform roll, was expected to assume all the reforms. Turkish trowsers, Fourierism, Spiritualism, Vegetarianism, Phonetics, Pneumonics, the Eight Hour Law, Criminal Caudling, Magdaleneism, and other devices for teaching pyramids to stand on their apex was pressed upon the Visiter, and it held by the disciples of each as "false to all its professions," when declining to devote itself to its advocacy. There were a thousand men and women, who knew exactly what it ought to do; but seldom two of them agreed, and none ever thought of furnishing funds for the doing of it. Reformers insisted that it should advocate their plan of hurrying up the millenium, furnish the white paper and pay the printers. Pond parents came with their young geniuses to have them baptized in type from the Visiter font. Male editors were far away folks, but the Visiter would sympathize with family hopes.

Ah, the crop of Miltons, Shakespeares, and Drydens which was growing up in this land, full forty years ago. What has ever become of them? Here conscience gives a twinge, for that wicked Visiter did advise that parents should treat young genius as scientists do wood, which they wish to convert into pure carbon, i.e., cover it up with neglect and discouragement, and pat these down with wholesome discipline, solid study and useful work, and so let the fire smoulder out of sight.

The policy of the Visiter in regard to Woman's Rights, was to "go easy," except in the case of those slave-women, who had no rights. For others, gain an advance when you could. Educate girls with boys, develop their brains, and take away legal disabilities little by little, as experience should show was wise; but never dream of their doing the world's hard work, either mental or physical; and Heaven defend them from going into all the trades.

The human teeth proved that we should eat flesh, and the human form proved that men should take the ore out of the mines, subdue the inertia of matter and the ferocity of animals; that they should raise the grain, build the houses, roads and heavy machinery; and that women should do the lighter work. As this work was as important as the heavier, and as it fell principally on wives and mothers, they in these relations should receive equal compensation with the husband and father. By this plan, the estate acquired by a matrimonial firm, would belong equally to both parties, and each could devise his or her share, so that a woman would know that her accumulations would go to her heirs, not to her successor. Consequently, every wife would have an incentive to industry and economy, instead of being stimulated to idleness and extravagance as by existing laws.

Women should not weaken their cause by impracticable demands. Make no claim which could not be won in a reasonable time. Take one step at a time, get a good foothold in it and advance carefully. Suffrage in municipal elections for property holders who could read, and had never been connected with crime, was the place to strike for the ballot. Say nothing about suffrage elsewhere until it proved successful here.

Intemperance was then under treatment by Washingtonianism. By this philosophy it was held that each man consists of about thirty pounds of solid matter, wet up with several buckets of water; that in youth his mother and sweetheart, kneads, rolls, pats and keeps him in shape, until his wife takes charge of him and makes him into large loaves or little cakes, according to family requirements; but must not stop kneading, rolling, patting, on pain of having him all flatten out.

The diagnosis of drunkenness was that it was a disease for which the patient was in no way responsible, that it was created by existing saloons, and non-existing bright hearths, smiling wives, pretty caps and aprons. The cure was the patent nostrum of pledge-signing, a lying-made-easy invention, which like calomel, seldom had any permanent effect on the disease for which it was given, and never failed to produce another and a worse. Here the cure created an epidemic of forgery, falsehood and perjury.

Napoleon selected his generals for their large noses. Dr. Washingtonian chose his leaders for their great vices. The honors bestowed upon his followers were measured by their crimes, and that man who could boast the largest accumulation was the hero of the hour. A decent, sober man was a mean-spirited fellow; while he who had brought the grey hair of parents in sorrow to the grave, wasted his patrimony and murdered his wife and children, was "King o' men for a' that." The heroines were those women who had smilingly endured every wrong, every indignity that brutality could inflict; had endured them not alone for themselves but for their children; and she who had caressed the father of her child while he dashed its brains out, headed the list in saintship; for love was the kneading trough, and obedience the rolling pin, in and with which that precious mess called a man was to be made into an angel.

The Visiter held that the law-giver of Mount Sinai knew what was in man, and had not given any such account of him; that the commands, "Thou shalt," and "Thou shalt not," were addressed to each individual; that the disease of opening one's mouth and pouring whisky into it was under the control of the mouth-opener; that drunkenness was a crime for which the criminal should be punished by such terms of imprisonment as would effectually protect society and prevent its confirmation. It told women that that dough ought to be baked in the furnace of affliction; that the coil of an anaconda was preferable to the embraces of a drunken man; that it is a crime for a woman to become the mother of a drunkard's child; that she who fails to protect her child from the drunken fury of any man, even to the extent of taking his life on the spot, if possible, is a coward and a traitor to the highest impulses of humanity.

These sentiments made a stir in temperance ranks, and there was much defense of the dear fellows. The organization, seemed to be principally occupied in teaching, that among men, only rumsellers are free moral agents, and that they and the women are to bear the iniquity of us all. One Philadelphia woman, engaged in scattering rose-leaf remedies over the great cancer of the land, concluded that the editor of the Visiter horsewhipped the unfortunate man she called husband, once a day, with great regularity. Much sympathy was expressed for that much-abused man; and this was amusing to those who knew he could have tied four such tyrants in a sheaf, and carried them off like a bundle of sticks. But people had found a monster, a giantess, with flaming black eyes, square jaws and big fists, who lived at the top of a very high bean-pole, and ate nothing but the uncooked flesh of men.

However, the man-eating idea came to be useful, and proved that a bad name is better than none.

In '49, the Visiter began a weekly series of "Letters to Country Girls," which were seized upon as a new feature in journalism, were very extensively copied, and won golden opinions from all sorts of men. In '54 they were collected in book form, and "mine ancient enemy," George D. Prentiss, gave them kindly notice.



When the Visiter entered life, it was still doubtful which side of the slavery question the Roman church would take. O'Connell was in the zenith of his power and popularity, was decidedly anti-slavery, and members of Catholic churches chose sides according to personal feeling, as did those of other churches. It was not until 1852, that abolitionists began to feel the alliance between Romanism and slavery; but from that time, to be a member of the Roman church was to be a friend of "Southern interests."

In Pittsburg there was great harmony between Catholics and Protestants, for the Protestant-Irish, by which Western Pennsylvania was so largely settled, were generally refugees driven from Ireland for their connection with the Union, or Robert Emmet rebellion. Our pastor, Rev. John Black, escaped in the night, and he and the only Catholic priest in Pittsburg, Father McGuire, were intimate friends.

The Bishop of the diocese, R.R. O'Conner, was, I think, a priest of the Capponsacchi order, one of those men by whose existence the Creator renders a reason for the continuance of the race. After the days of which I write, there was an excitement in Pittsburg about Miss Tiernan, a beautiful, accomplished girl, who became a nun, and was said to have mysteriously disappeared. When the Bishop resigned his office and became a member of an austere order of monks, there were not lacking those who charged the act to remorse for his connection with her unexplained death; but I doubt not, that whatever that connection was, it did honor to his manhood, however it may have affected his priesthood.

In the days of his Episcopal honors, he was a favorite with all sorts and conditions of men, and when he published a letter condemning our infant-system of public schools, and demanding a division of the school fund, he produced a profound sensation. I think this letter appeared in '49. It was the morning of one of the days of the week I spent regularly at the office. I found Mr. Riddle waiting to ask what I proposed to do about it. I stated, without hesitation, that I would oppose it to the best of my ability, when he replied:

"I took it for granted that you would have consulted Mr. White (conductor of the Gazette), and we feel that we cannot afford to lose our Catholic patronage by taking issue with the Bishop, and that it will not be necessary. You, as a pupil of Dr. Black, ought to be able to answer Bishop O'Conner's arguments, and we will leave him to you. The religious press will, of course, be a unit against him, and the secular press need not fear to leave the case in your hands."

The two papers for which he spoke, were the two great Whig dailies of the western part of the State. The other daily was the Democratic Post, conducted by a Catholic, and virtually the Bishop's organ; and to meet this attack on the very foundations of civil liberty, the Visitor, a weekly, was the only representative of the secular press.

The Whig papers might have taken a different course, had it been known at first that Bishop O'Conner's letter was only a part of a concerted attack, and that all over the Union the Bishops had published similar letters. But this was before the days of telegraphy, and we were weeks learning the length and breadth of the movement.

Bishop O'Conner replied very courteously to my strictures on his letter, and we maintained the controversy for some length of time. Having all the right on my side, I must have been a dolt not to make it apparent; and the friends of the Bishop must have felt that he gained nothing, else they would not have been so angry; but he was courteous until he dropped the subject.

My Catholic patrons gradually withdrew their advertisements and subscriptions. Thousands of Protestants were rejoiced at what they called my triumph, and borrowed the Visiter to read my articles. Very many bought copies, but I think I did not gain one subscriber or advertiser by that labor in defense of a common cause. Nay, I lost Protestant as well as Catholic support, for business men did not care to be known to Catholic customers as a patron of a paper which had strenuously opposed the policy of the church. That experience and a close observation for many years have taught me that the secular papers of the United States, with a few exceptions, are almost as much under the control of the Pontiff as the press of Austria. Nor is it the secular press alone which is thus controlled. There are religions papers who throw "sops to Cerebus," as an offset to teachings demanded by Protestant readers. These "sops" are paid for indirectly by patronage, which would be withdrawn whenever the Bishop took alarm at an article in that same paper.

Protestants do not carry their religion either into political or business relations, and so there is no offset to the religious, political and business concentration of Romanism.

There was no other outbreak between me and my Catholic neighbors until the dedication of the Pittsburg cathedral, when my report gave serious offense, and caused Bishop O'Conner to make a very bitter personal attack on me. He did not know how truly the offensive features of my report were the result of ignorance; but thought me irreverent, blasphemous. I had never before been inside a Catholic church; never seen a Catholic ceremonial; did not know the name of a single vestment; was overwhelmed with astonishment, and thought my readers as ignorant as I; so tried to give a description which would enable them to see what I had seen, hear what I had heard.

Every bishop and priest and member of any religions brotherhood in this country and Canada was said to be present. Some of the things they wore looked like long night-gowns, some short ones; some like cradle quilts, some like larger quilts. There were many kinds of patch-work and embroidery; some of the men wore skirts and looked very funny. Quite a number wore something on their heads which looked like three pieces of pasteboard, the shape of a large flat-iron, and fastened together at the right angles and points. They formed into procession and started around the outside of the building. I thought of going "around and about" Jerusalem, and the movement had a meaning; but they walked into a fence corner, swung a censor, turned and walked into another corner, and then back into the house, without compassing the building. I said there was nothing to prevent bad spirits coming in at that side.

I copied the Bishop's angry reply, plead my ignorance and that of Protestants in general for all that seemed irreverent, and called upon him for explanations. What did it all mean? What was the spiritual significance of those externals? I ignored his evident anger; had no reason to be other than personally respectful to him, yet my second article irritated him more than the first.

I had stated that the men in the procession were the most villainous-looking set I had ever seen; that every head and face save those of the Bishops of Orleans and Pittsburg, were more or less stamped by sensuality and low cunning. In Bishop O'Conner's reply, he said I had gone to look for handsome men. I answered that I had, and that it was right to do so. The Church, in her works of art, had labored to represent Christ and his apostles as perfectly-formed men—men with spiritual faces. She had never represented any of her saints as a wine-bibber, a gross beef-eater, or a narrow-headed, crafty, cringing creature. These living men could not be the rightful successors of those whose statues and pictures adorned that cathedral. Archbishop Hughes, in his sermon on that occasion, had argued that all the forms of the church had a holy significance. What was that significance? Moreover, in the days of John there were seven churches. Whatever had the Church of Rome done with the other six owned on the Isle of Patmos by him who stood in the midst of the seven golden candlesticks?

For two months every issue of the Visiter copied and replied to one of the Bishop's articles, but never could bring him to the point of explaining any portion of that great mystery. But the discussion marked me as the subject of a hatred I had not deemed possible, and I have seldom, if ever, met a Catholic so obscure that he did not recognize my name as that of an enemy. So bitter was the feeling, that when my only baby came great fears were felt lest she should be abducted; but this I knew never could be done with Bishop O'Conner's consent.



When the Pittsburg National Convention, which formed the Free Democratic party, had finished its labors, a committee waited on the Visiter, to bespeak that support which had already been resolved upon, and soon after a State Convention in Harrisburg indorsed it by formal resolution as a party organ. It did its best to spread the principles of the party, and its services called out commendations, as well as the higher compliments of stalwart opposition, from the foes of those principles. Allegheny county was overwhelmingly Whig. The Visiter worked against the party, and the cry from the Whig press became:

"Why attack our party? It is better than the Democratic. If you were honest, you would devote yourself to its destruction, not to that of the Whig."

To this, the answer was:

"The Whig party is a gold-bearing quartz rock, and we mean to pound it into the smallest possible pieces, in order to get out the gold. The Democratic party is an old red sandstone, and there is plenty of sand lying all around about."

In the summer of 1852 the editor visited the World's Fair, held in New York, and on her return found the office machinery at a stand-still. She had a contract with two printers, who, in making it, had given no notice that they were the irresponsible agents of a union, and therefore had no right to dispose of their own labor. They professed to be entirely satisfied with their work and wages, and loath to leave them; but Mars' Union had cracked his whip, and disobedience was ruin, if not death. For these poor Pennsylvania self-made slaves the Visiter had no pity, although they plead for it. It advertised for women to take their places, stating that its editor was in its composing-room. Other, if not all other city papers, did likewise, and there was a rush of women to the printing offices; but ninety out of a hundred had not passed that stage of development in which women live by wheedling men. Those who wheedled most winningly got the places, and the result in less than two months was such a mess of scandal, as drove them, like whipped curs, back to their kennels; but the editor of the Visiter took a good look at each of the hundred applicants, and from them selected three, who had heads, not hat pins, on their shoulders.

Mr. Riddle was a partner in the Visiter, and engaged a woman. The editor refused to give her a case, when he indignantly said:

"Women have no mercy on each other. There is that poor woman who has been trying to make a living at her trade making vests, and is now on the point of starvation. I have mercy on her, but you have none."

The answer was:

"A woman who cannot make a living at one good trade already learned, will not mend matters by learning another. I do not propose to turn this office into an eleemosynary establishment. I want the women whom the work wants, not those who want the work. How long could that weak woman maintain her respectability among all these men? Would it be any kindness to put her in a place she is incapable of filling, and where she must inflict incalculable injury on herself, and the general cause of woman's right to labor? Do not let your generosity run away with your judgment."

My three typos came to be the main stay of the Journal, as well as the only typos of the Visiter, for they were the nucleus of an efficient corps of female type-setters, who held their places until Mr. Riddle's last illness broke down his establishment.

Soon after the opening of the Pa.C.R.R., there was a bad accident, one train running into another in a deep cut, at night; commenting on it the Visiter suggested a red light on the rear of every train. The suggestion was accepted immediately, and this is the origin of the red light signal.



The Republican party was organized in Pittsburg, and when it became national through the Philadelphia convention in the summer of '56, and nominated Fremont, it seemed that it might injure rather than aid the party to have a woman take a prominent place in it. The nurseling—political abolition—was out of its cradle, had grown to man's estate, and with bearded lip had gone forth to battle, a man among men. There were honors and emoluments to be won in the cause of the slave, and no doubt of its final triumph.

The Visiter had been sold to Mr. Riddle and united with his weekly, thus extending its circulation, and cutting off the ruinous expense of its publication. The Journal was thoroughly Republican, and would be ably conducted. No further need of a page devoted to freedom, when every page was consecrated to the overthrow of slavery.

Before taking action, it was best to consult an old subscriber, Charles Sumner, then on the Allegheny Mountains, recovering from the Brook's assault. I took baby and went to see him.

He was domiciled in the family of Dr. Jackson, Pennsylvania State Geologist, and seemed to be one of it. In the sitting-room were his desk and lounge, where he wrote or lay and talked, principally with Dr. Furness, of Philadelphia, who was with him, devoting an ever-growing store of information to the amusement of his friend. Dr. Jackson was full of instruction, and no man more ready than Sumner to learn. He held that all knowledge was useful in adding to one's resources—inquired minutely about the shoeing of the horse he rode; and over a watermelon at dessert the doctor gave a lecture on amputation, which became a large capital to one at least of his hearers, and was of intense interest to Sumner.

The children loved him, loved to be near him, and never seemed to be in his way. Once when a toddling wee thing crept to his side while he was absorbed in writing, took hold of his clothes, drew herself to his feet and laid her head against his knee, he placed a weight to hold his paper, laid his hand on her head and went on with his work. When some one would have removed her, he looked up and said:

"Oh, let the little one alone!"

He spoke with profound admiration of Mrs. Purviance, wife of the member of Congress from Butler, Pa. Said he was sorry never to have met her. Her influence in Washington society had been so ennobling that the friends of freedom owed her a lasting debt of gratitude. She boarded with her husband at the National where her wealth, independence and sparkling social qualities made her a recognized leader, while all her influence was cast upon the right side. He thought the success of the North in the famous struggle which elected Banks Speaker of the House, was largely due to Mrs. Purviance.

He was oppressed with anxiety about Burlingame, who had gone to Canada to fight a duel, and there was great rejoicing, when he suddenly appeared one evening after the sun had hidden behind the pine trees.

He and Sumner met and greeted each other with the abandon of boys. No duel had been fought, since Brooks, the challenger, had refused to pass through Pennsylvania to Clifton, the place of meeting, for fear of mob violence. Even the offer of a safe conduct of troops by the governor, failed to reassure him, and Burlingame had hurried on to set his friend's mind at rest. After the general rejoicing, the two sat facing each other, when Sumner leaned forward, placed a hand on each of Burlingame's shoulders, and said:

"Tell me, Anson, you did not mean to shoot that man, did you?"

Burlingame's head dropped an instant, then raising it, he said, slowly:

"I intended to take the best aim I could." Here he drew back his right arm, and took the position of holding a gun, "at the broadest part of him, his breast; wait for the word, and then—fire!"

Sumner dropped back in his chair, let his hands fall on his knees and exclaimed, sorrowfully:

"Oh, Anson! I did not believe it."

Burlingame's eyes filled with tears, and he said:

"Charles, I saw you lying bleeding and insensible on the Senate floor, when I did not expect ever again to hear you speak; and I intended then to kill him. I tell you, Charles, we have got to meet those fellows with guns, some day, and the sooner we begin, the better." On being consulted, both these champions of the right said the Visiter must not desert the cause. Sumner added solemnly:

"The slave never had more need of it; never had more need of you."

So that editor went on with her work, feeling such an opinion as almost a divine call.

In talking with Mr. Sumner during that visit, I learned that the same doctor attended both President Harrison and President Taylor in their last illness, and used his professional authority to prevent their friends seeing them until the fatal termination of their illness was certain. Also, that it was that same doctor who was within call when Brooks made his assault on Sumner, took charge of the case, and made an official statement that the injury was very slight, gave it a superficial dressing, and sought to exclude every one from the room of his patient. Said Sumner:

"I shuddered when I recovered consciousness, and found this man beside me."

He dismissed him promptly, and did not hesitate to say that he believed he would not have recovered under his treatment. When the South seceded, this useful man left Washington and joined the Confederacy.

The campaign of 1856 was very spirited. A large mass meeting was held in Pittsburg, and Cassius M. Clay was the orator of the occasion. He was at the heighth of a great national popularity, and seemed as if any honor might be open to him. He dined that evening with Robert Palmer, of Allegheny, and a small party of friends. The house was brilliantly lighted, and at the table, while Clay was talking, and every one in gala day spirits, the light suddenly went out, and what a strange sensation fell on one guest—a feeling of coming evil.

There was no re-lighting. The gas had failed, prophetic of the going out of that brilliant career, and its slow ending in the glimmer of a single candle.



The Pittsburg Saturday Visiter began life with two subscribers, and in the second year reached six thousand, but was always a heavy drain on my income. My domestic duties made it impossible I could give any attention to the business department, and I was glad, at the close of the first year, to transfer a half interest to Mr. Riddle, who became equal partner and co-editor. At the end of the second year he proposed to buy my interest, unite the Visiter with his weekly, and pay me a salary for editing a page.

Had the proposal been made directly to me, I should have accepted at once, but it was made through my brother-in-law, William Swisshelm, who had been clerk and business manager of the Visiter for eighteen months. He advised me not to accept; said the paper was netting fifteen hundred a year, and that if I would retain my interest he would purchase Mr. Riddle's, get type, have all the work done in a separate establishment, and make it a decided success.

I was afraid of this arrangement, but was anxious to keep up the paper as a separate publication, and agreed on condition that he would assume the entire financial responsibility, keep my interest at Mr. Riddle's valuation, and leave me no further risk than my services. If there were profits, we would share them; if none, I got no pay, as usual, but sunk no money. To make the changes he desired, I loaned him money until I had most of my small estate invested, and supposed the paper was prospering until suddenly informed that the sheriff was about to sell it. We transferred it to Mr. Riddle, with my services two years in advance, to pay the debts, and I wrote for the New York Tribune, at five dollars a column, to meet my personal expenses, as my income from my property was gone.

I forget at what time the Visiter was united to the weekly Journal; but very soon after the presidential campaign of '52, I learned that my late partner had endorsed several notes which were not likely to be paid by the persons who gave them, and that one of these was already entered as a lien against his interest in the family estate. We had had no settlement, so I went to my lawyer, William M. Shinn, who said that the entire interest of my debtor in his father's will was worth less than my claim since his death, without heirs, before his mother transferred his share to the other heirs. He advised me, if possible, to get a deed of that share as the only security for which I could hope. I directed him to prepare it, went immediately to the office, saw my late partner, and told him that if he did not execute that deed, I would sue him for a settlement before I left the city. He did, and I took it home early in the afternoon. In March '57, I resigned my place on the Family Journal and Visiter, feeling that my public work was over, and that no life save one of absolute solitude was possible for me.

I had lived over twenty years without the legal right to be alone one hour—to have the exclusive use of one foot of space—to receive an unopened letter, or to preserve a line of manuscript

"From sharp and sly inspection."

In the latter half of the nineteenth century, a Pennsylvania court decided that a husband had a right to open and read any communication addressed to his wife. Living as I did, under this law I had burned the private journal kept in girlhood, and the letters received from my brother, mother, sister and other friends, to preserve their contents from the comments of the farm laborers and female help, who, by common custom, must eat at our table and take part in our conversation. At the office I had received, read and burned, without answer, letters from some of the most prominent men and women of the era; letters which would be valuable history to-day; have, therefore, no private papers, and write this history, except a few public dates, entirely from memory.

Into the mists some rays of light penetrated, and by them I saw that the marriage contract by which I was bound, was that one which I had made and which secured my liberty of conscience and voice in choosing a home.

The fraud by which church, and state substituted that bond made for Saxon swine-herds, who ate boar's heads, lived in unchinked houses and wore brass collars, in the days when Alfred the Great was king, was such as would vitiate any other contract, and must annul even that of marriage; but, granting that it was binding, it must bind both parties, and had been broken by the party of the other part through failure to comply with its requirements.

Our marriage had been a mistake, productive of mutual injury; but for one, it was not too late to repair the wrong. He, a man in the prime of life, with unspotted reputation, living without labor, on the income of a patrimonial estate, to which he had made large additions, could easily find a help-mate for him; one who could pad matrimonial fetters with those devices by which husbands are managed. My desertion would leave him free to make a new choice, and I could more easily earn a living alone.

The much-coveted and long-delayed birth of a living child appeared to have barred my appeal to this last resort, but the mother's right to the custody of her infant is one I would defend to the taking of life.

My husband would consent to no separation, and we had a struggle for my separate, personal property or its equivalent; a struggle in which Wm. M. Shinn was my lawyer, and Judge Mellon his, and in which I secured my piano by replevin, Dr. John Scott being my bondsman, and learned that I might not call a porter into the house to remove my trunk. I therefore got my clothing, some books, china and bedding by stealth, and the assistance of half a dozen families of neighbors.

A test suit as to my right to support was decided in 1859, and in it a judge in my native city, charged the jury that: "If a wife have no dress and her husband refuse to provide one, she may purchase one—a plain dress—not silk, or lace, or any extravagance; if she have no shoes, she may get a pair; if she be sick and he refuse to employ a physician, she may send for one, and get the medicine he may prescribe; and for these necessaries the husband is liable, but here his liability ceases."

The suit was about goods I had purchased by my lawyer's advice—two black silk dresses, a thirty dollar shawl, a dozen pairs black kid gloves, stockings, flannel, linen, half dozen yards white Brussels lace, any one of which would have outlawed the bill, even if I had gone in an Eden costume to make the purchase; but being clothed when I made my appearance at the counter, the merchant could not plead that I "had no dress," and lost his case.

In a subsequent suit carried up to the Supreme Court and decided in '68, it was proved that my husband had forbidden our merchant to credit me on his account, and the merchant's books presented in court showed that for twelve years he had kept two separate accounts, one against my husband and one against me. On his were charged clothing for himself, mother, brothers and employes, common groceries, etc.; while on mine were entered all my clothing, all high-priced tea, white sugar, etc., all tableware, fine cutlery, table linen, bedding, curtains and towels; on his were, credits for farm products; on mine, only cash; and he was credited with butter and eggs on the same day that I was charged with bed-ticking and towels. My personal expenses from Nov. 18, '36, the date of our marriage, until Nov. 18, '56, twenty years, averaged less than fifty dollars a year. All my husband's labor for all his life, and mine for twenty years, with a large part of my separate property, had gone to swell his mother's estate, on the proceeds of which she kept her carriage and servants until she died, aged ninety-four, while I earned a living for myself and his only child.

I left Pittsburg with my baby about the 20th of May, '57, and went by boat to St. Paul. Before leaving, I went to settle with Mr. Riddle and say goodbye, and found him much troubled. He said:

"Why is it I have known nothing of all this? I did not dream there was anything wrong in your domestic relations, and may have been selfish and inconsiderate."

My husband, mine no more, came upon the boat while she lay at the wharf, held baby on his knee and wept over her; when the last bell rang, he bade me good-bye; carried her to the gangway, held her to the last moment, then placed her in my arms, sprang ashore and hurried up the wharf. He would, I think, have carried her off, but that he knew she would break his heart crying for mother before I could get to her.

He had once taken her away in a fit of anger and walked the floor with her most of the night, seriously alarmed for her life, and could not venture on that experiment again. He loved her most tenderly, and his love was as tenderly returned. Since, as a duty to her, I was careful to teach her to "honor thy father" on earth as well as in heaven.

Had he and I gone into the pine woods, as he proposed, upon marriage; had we been married under an equitable law or had he emigrated to Minnesota, as he proposed, before I thought of going, there would have been no separation; but after fifteen years in his mother's house I must run away or die, and leave my child to a step-mother. So I ran away. He thought I would return; enlarged and improved the house, wrote and waited for us; could make no deed without my signature; I would sign none, and after three years he got a divorce for desertion. In '70 he married again, and I having, voluntarily, assumed the legal guilt of breaking my marriage contract, do cheerfully accept the legal penalty—a life of celibacy—bringing no charge against him who was my husband, save that he was not much better than the average man. Knew his rights, and knowing sought to maintain them against me; while, in some respects, he was to me incalculably more than just. Years after I left him, he said to our neighbor, Miss Hawkins, when speaking of me:

"I believe she is the best woman God ever made, and we would have had no trouble but for her friends."

My sister had removed with her husband to St. Cloud, Minnesota, and through him I had secured forty acres of land on the shore of one of a nest of lovely lakes, lying on the east side of the Mississippi, twelve miles from St. Cloud. On this little farm I would build a cabin of tamarac logs, with the bark on and the ends sticking out at the corners criss-cross. My cabin would have one room and a loft, each with a floor of broad rough boards well jointed, and a ladder to go from one to the other. It would have an open fire-place, a rough flag hearth, and a rustic porch, draped with hop vines and wild roses. I would have a boat, catch fish and raise poultry. No sound of strife should ever come into my cabin but those of waves, winds, birds and insects. Ah, what a paradise it would be!

I had not yet learned that every human soul is a Shunamite, "a company of two armies," and wherever there is one, there is strife.

To live is to contend, And life is finished when contentions end.

At St. Paul I took a stage, and night came on when we were still twenty miles from St. Cloud. The wolves stood and looked at the stage, and I knew they were between me and my hermitage; but they were only prairie wolves, and all day my cabin had been growing more and more beautiful. The lakes, the flowers, the level prairies and distant knolls, but most of all the oak openings were enchanting, and in one of these my cabin would stand.

The passengers talked politics and I talked too, and one man said to me:

"Did you say you were going to St. Cloud?


"Well, I tell you, madam, them sentiments of yours won't go down there. Gen. Lowrie don't allow no abolition in these parts and he lives in St. Cloud."

I had had many surprises, but few to equal this; had heard of Gen. Lowrie as a man of immense wealth and influence, but no one had hinted at this view of his character. I had thought of him as the friend of my friends; but as the other passengers were confirming this account and I watching the wolves, there flashed across my mind the thought: "This is a broad country; but if this be true, there is not room in it for Gen. Lowrie and me."



It was midnight before we reached East St. Cloud, and the ferry-boat had stopped running, so that it was a bright morning the 7th of June when I found myself in half a dozen pairs of loving arms. In a few days we made an excursion to the site of my cabin. It was more beautiful than I had thought. On the opposite side of the lake lived Captain Briggs, with a head full of sea-stories, and a New England wife. My hermitage would be greatly improved by such neighbors only one mile distant, and as the captain had lately killed two large bears between his house and the site of mine, there would soon be no more bears. But I must have the loft of my cabin large enough for several beds, as the children insisted on spending their summers with me. Brother Harry bespoke a second room, for he would want a place to stay all night when out hunting with his friends, and my hermitage began to grow into a hotel.

I had commenced arrangements with workmen, when Harry said to me:

"Sis, Elizabeth and I have talked this matter over, and if you persist, we will take out a writ of lunacy. There is not a man in this territory who would not say on oath, that you are insane to think of going where the bears would eat you if the Indians did not kill you. The troops are ordered away from the forts; you'll get frontier life enough with us, for we are going to have music with the Indians."

Next day the troops from Fort Ripley marched past, on their way to Kansas, to put down the Free State party. Bleeding Kansas was called on for more blood, and United States soldiers were to sacrifice the friends of freedom on the altar of slavery. The people of Minnesota were left without protection from savages, that the people of Kansas might be given over to the tender mercies of men no less barbarous than the Sioux.

I had run away from the irrepressible conflict, feeling that my work was done; had fled to the great Northwest—forever consecrated to freedom by solemn act and deed of the nation—thinking I should see no more of our national curse, when here it confronted me as it had never done before.

My cabin perished in a night, like Jonah's gourd—perished that liberty might be crushed in Kansas; for without a garrison at Fort Ripley, my project was utterly insane.



Every day, from my arrival in St. Cloud, evidence had been accumulating of the truth of that stage-whisper about Gen. Lowrie, who lived in a semi-barbaric splendor, in an imposing house on the bank of the Mississippi, where he kept slaves, bringing them from and returning them to his Tennessee estate, at his convenience, and no man saying him nay.

He owned immense tracts of land; had and disposed of all the government contracts he pleased; traveled over Europe with his salaried physician; said to this man "go," and he went, to that "come," and he came, and to a third "do this," and it was done. But of all his commands "go" was most potent; for, as president of a claim club, his orders to pre-emptors were enforced by Judge Lynch. He never condescended to go to Congress, but sent an agent; furnished all the Democratic votes that could possibly be wanted in any emergency, and nobody wondered when a good list came from a precinct in which no one lived.

Republicans on their arrival in his dominion, were converted to the Democratic faith, fast as sinners to Christianity in a Maffitt meeting, and those on whom the spirit fell not, kept very quiet. People had gone there to make homes, not to fight the Southern tiger, and any attempt against such overwhelming odds seemed madness, for Lowrie's dominion was largely legitimate. He was one of those who are born to command—of splendid physique and dignified bearing, superior intellect and mesmeric fascination. His natural advantages had been increased by a liberal education; he had been brought up among slaves, lived among Indians as agent and interpreter, felt his own superiority, and asserted it with the full force of honest conviction.

On all hands he was spoken of as Dictator, and there was both love and respect mingled with the fear by which he governed. His father was a Presbyterian minister, who taught that slavery was divine, and both were generous and lenient masters. He was the embodiment of the slave power. All its brute force, pious pretenses, plausibility, chivalry, all the good and bad of the Southern character; all the weapons of the army of despotism were concentrated in this man, the friend of my friends, the man who stood ready to set me on the pinnacle of social distinction by his recognition. Across the body of the prostrate slave lay the road to wealth, and many good men had shut their eyes and stepped over.

The territorial government under Buchanan was a mere tool of slavery. Every federal officer was a Southerner, or a Northern man with Southern principles. Government gold flowed freely in that channel, and to the eagles Gen. Lowrie had but to say, as to his other servants, "come," and they flew into his exchequer.

So thoroughly was Minnesota under the feet of slavery, that in September, '60—after we thought the State redeemed—the house of William D. Babbitt, in Minneapolis, was surrounded from midnight until morning by a howling mob, stoning it, firing guns and pistols, attempting to force doors and windows, and only prevented gaining entrance by the solidity of the building and the bravery of its defense. It was thus besieged because its owner and occupant had dared interfere to execute the common law in favor of freedom.

Minneapolis and its twin-city St. Anthony each had a large first-class hotel, to which Southern people resorted in summer, bringing their slaves, holding them often for months, and taking them back to the South, no one daring to make objection; until one woman, Eliza Winston, appealed to Mr. Babbitt, who took her into court, where Judge Vanderbilt decreed her freedom, on the ground that her claimant had forfeited his title by bringing her into a free State.

At the rendering of this decree, Rev. Knickerbocker, rector of the only Protestant Episcopal Church in the city, arose in open court, and charged the judge with giving an unrighteous judgment. He condemned the law as at war with Scripture and the rights of the master, and its enforcement as injurious to the best interests of the community. It was the old story of Demetrius; and the people, already keenly alive to the profit of boarding Southern families with their servants, were glad to have a mantle of piety thrown over their love of gain. The court room was packed, and under the eloquent appeal of the reverend gentleman, it soon became evident the populace would make a rush, take the woman out of the hands of the law, and deliver her to the master.

She and her friends had about lost hope, when an unlooked for diversion called attention from them. The red head of "Bill King," afterwards post-master of the U.S. House of Representatives, arose, like the burning bush at the foot of Mount Horeb, and his stentorian voice poured forth such a torrent of denunciation on priest-craft, such a flood of solid swearing against the insolence and tyranny of ecclesiasticism, that people were surprised into inactivity, until Mr. Babbitt got the woman in his carriage and drove off with her.

There could no longer be a question of her legal right to her own body and soul; but her friends knew that the law of freedom had lain too long dormant to be enforced now without further serious opposition, and Mr. Babbitt brought into use his old training on the underground railroad to throw the blood-hounds off the scent, so secreted the woman in the house of Prof. Stone, and prepared his own strong residence to bear a siege. For that siege preparations were made by the clerical party during the afternoon and evening, without any effort at concealment, and to brute force the besieging party added brute cunning.

It was known that in my lecturing tours, I was often Mr. Babbitt's guest, and might arrive at any hour. So, shortly after midnight, the doorbell was rung, when Mr. Babbitt inquired:

"Who is there?"

"Mrs. Swisshelm.'

"It is not Mrs. Swisshelm's voice?"

"William Griffin (a colored porter) is with her."

"It is not William Griffin's voice."

Then, for the first time, there were signs of a multitude on the porch, and with an oath the speaker replied:

"We want that slave."

"You cannot have her."

A rush was made to burst in the door, but it was of solid walnut and would not yield, when the assailants brought fenceposts to batter it in, and were driven back by a shot from a revolver in the hall. The mob retired to a safer distance, and the leader—mine host of a first-class hotel—mounted the carriage-block and harangued his followers on the sacred duty of securing the financial prosperity of the two cities by restoring Eliza Winston to her owners, and made this distinct declaration of principles:

"I came to this State with five thousand dollars; have but five hundred left, but will spend the last cent to see 'Bill' Babbitt's heart's blood."

After which heroic utterance a fresh volley of stones and shots were fired, and fresh rush made for doors and windows. The sidelights of the front door had been shattered, and one burly ruffian thrust himself halfway in, but stuck, when a defender leveled a revolver at his head, and said to Mrs. Babbitt, who was then in command of the hall, while her husband defended the parlor windows:

"Shall I shoot him?"

"Yes, shoot him like a dog."

But Mrs. Edward Messer, her sister, who knew Mr. Babbitt's dread of taking life, knocked the pistol up and struck the ruffian's head with a stick, when it was withdrawn, and again the mob fell back and resorted to stones and sticks and oaths and howlings and gunshots, and threats of firing the house.

Mrs. Babbitt thought that personal appeals might bring citizens to the rescue, and in an interval of black darkness between lightning flashes, escaped through a back cellar way, and had almost reached the shelter of a cornfield adjoining the garden, when the lightning revealed her and three men started in pursuit. It was two months before the birth of one of her children, and Mr. Elliott, a neighbor who was hastening to the rescue, saw her danger and ran to engage her pursuers. Stumbling through the corn, he encountered one and cudgeled him, but all were separated by the darkness. Mrs. Babbitt, however, succeeded in reaching the more thickly settled portion of the city, and the first man she called upon for help, replied:

"You have made your bed—lie in it!"

The sheriff came, with two or three men, and talked to the mob, which dispersed before daylight, with open threats to "have Babbitt's heart's blood," and for months his family lived in momentary apprehension of his murder. For months he was hooted at in the streets of Minneapolis as "nigger thief," and called "Eliza." No arrests were made, and he has always felt it fortunate that Mrs. Messer prevented the shooting of the man in the side-light, as he thinks to this day that in the state of public sentiment, the man firing the shot would have been hanged for murder by any Hennepin county jury, and his home razed to the ground or burned.

Eliza Winston was sent by underground railroad to Canada, because Minnesota, in the year of grace, 1860, could not or would not defend the freedom of one declared free by decision of her own courts.

When such events were actual facts in '60, near the center of the State, under a Republican administration, what was the condition of public sentiment in the northern portion of the territory in '57, when there was scarce a pretense of law or order, and the Southern democracy held absolute sway? I soon understood the situation; had known for years that the Southern threats, which Northern men laughed at as "tin kettle thunder," were the desperate utterances of lawless men, in firm alliance with the "Hierarchy of Rome for the overthrow of this Republic."



George Brott was proprietor of lower St. Cloud and had started a paper, The Advertiser, to invite immigration. There were two practical printers in town, both property-owners, both interested in its growth, and when the resources of The Advertiser had been consumed and they had had union rates for work done on it, they fell back on their dignity and did nothing. They had enlisted in the wrong army, did not belong with this band of pioneers, making its way against savage beasts and men. They were soldiers of a union whose interests were all opposed to those of St. Cloud, so they were looking on, waiting to see if the great need of a paper would not compel their neighbors to pay tribute to their union.

Mr. Brott asked me if I would take charge of a paper and take town lots for a salary. I told him I was an abolitionist. He laughed, and said:

"A lady has a right to be of whatever politics she pleases," and went on to say, that if I could recommend Minnesota to emigrants, and St. Cloud as a town site, he cared nothing for my opinions on other points. He thought we might unite all the town proprietors, and so raise money to pay the printers, so I wrote to each one, asking his support to the St. Cloud Visiter, as an advertising medium. All, save Gen. Lowrie, were prompt in making favorable response; but from him I had not heard, when there had been three issues of the paper. Mr. Brott was in the office, and I said:

"There is one thing more. I feel that some day I will attack Gen. Lowrie, who is your friend. He will set Shepley on me; I will make short work of him. Then we will have a general melee, and I will clear out that clique. Shepley is your lawyer, and I do not want to use your press in that way without your consent."

While I spoke, his jaw dropped and he sat staring at me in literal open-mouthed wonder, then threw back his head, laughed heartily and said:

"Oh, go ahead! I bake no bread in any of their ovens!"

Very soon I had a letter from Gen. Lowrie, saying:

"I myself will give the St. Cloud Visiter a support second to that of no paper in the territory, if it will support Buchanan's administration. Otherwise I can do nothing."

I had not finished reading, when the thought came: "Now I have you." Yet still I knew it looked like, ah, very like a man catching a whale with a fish hook secured to his own person, when there were a hundred chances to one that the whale had caught him. I replied that the St. Cloud Visiter would support Mr. Buchanan's administration, since it could not live without Gen. Lowrie's assistance, and such was his ultimatum.

On the second day after that contract was made, brother Harry came, all trembling with rage, and said:

"Lowrie is telling all over town that he has bought you, and that the Visiter is to support Buchanan!"

"It is true," was the astounding answer, when he said bad words, rushed from the room and slammed the door. Then followed ten days, the only ones since he became my brother when he would not call me "Sis." Elizabeth said:

"I would have seen Lowrie and his money in the bottom of the sea, first! What would mother say?"

The next issue of the Visiter made no allusion to its change of base, and there was plenty of time to discuss the question. Those who knew my record refused to believe I had sold out, and took bets on it. However, the next number contained an editorial which relieved the minds of friends, but which created the gravest apprehension. It stated that the Visiter would, in future, support Buchanan's administration, and went on to state the objects of that administration as being the entire subversion of Freedom and the planting of Slavery in every State and Territory, so that Toombs could realize his boast, and call the roll of his slaves at the foot of Bunker Hill. It reminded its readers that John Randolph had said in the United States Senate when speaking to Northern men:

"We have driven you to the wall, and will drive you there again, and next time we will keep you there and nail you to the counter like base money."

Mr. Buchanan, a Northern man, had fulfilled the prediction. Henry Clay had said that Northern workingmen were "mudsills, greasy mechanics and small-fisted farmers." These mudsills had been talking of voting themselves farms; but it would be much more appropriate if they would vote themselves masters. Southern laborers were blessed with kind masters, and Mr. Buchanan and the St. Cloud Visiter were most anxious that Northern laborers should be equally well provided for.

When the paper was read, there was a cry of "Sold! Sold! Lowrie had sold himself instead of buying the Visiter." At first there was a laugh, then a dead stillness of dread, and men looked at me as one doomed.



In Lowrie's first ebulition of wrath, he vowed vengeance, but an intimate friend of his, who had been a Democrat in Pittsburg, begged him to do nothing and said:

"Let her alone, for God's sake! Let her alone, or she will kill you. I know her, and you do not. She has killed every man she ever touched. Let her alone!"

But Lowrie knew it was too late for letting alone, and sent me a verbal message, by one he knew I would believe, that I must stop or the consequences would be fatal. Stopping was no part of my plan, and so I told his messenger.

The second number of Buchanan's organ explained how it was that I became a supporter of a policy I had so long opposed. Gen. Lowrie owned Northern Minnesota, land and inhabitants, bought folks up as fast as they came to it, and had bought me. He was going to support the Visiter great power and glory, if it gave satisfaction as a democratic organ. I would work hard for the money, and it would be odd if any one gave Mr. Buchanan a more enthusiastic support than I. Indeed, I was his only honest supporter. All the others pretended he was going to do something quite foreign to his purpose, while I was in his confidence. The one sole object of his administration was the perpetuation and spread of slavery, and this object the Visiter would support with the best arguments in its power.

This was vitriol dressing on a raw wound, and the suppression of the Visiter was expected by Judge Lynch. Brave men held their breath to see me beard the lion in his den, not knowing my armor as I did.

Then came an announcement with a great flourish of trumpets of a lecture on "Woman," by the Hon. Shepley, the great legal light and democratic orator of Minnesota. The lecture was delivered in due time to a densely packed house, and was as insulting as possible. The lecture divided women into four classes—coquettes, flirts, totally depraved, and strong-minded. He painted each class and found some redeeming trait in all save the last.

The speaker might as well have named me as the object of his attack, and his charges thus publicly made were not to be misunderstood. At every point there were rounds and shouts of applause by clacquers, and brother Harry once rose in a towering rage, but I dragged him down and begged him to keep quiet.

In my review of the lecture, I praised it, commended its eloquence and points, but suggested that the learned gentleman had not included all women in his classification. For instance, he had left out the frontier belle who sat up all night playing cards with gentlemen; could beat any man at a game of poker, and laugh loud enough to be heard above the roaring of a river. In this I struck at gambling as a social amusement, which was then rapidly coming into fashion in our little city, and which to me was new and alarming.

Mr. Shepley pretended to think that the picture resembled his wife, and this idea was seized upon as drowning men catch at straws. Behind this they sought to conceal the whole significance of the quarrel. Gen. Lowrie cared not for my attacks on himself. Oh, no, indeed! He was suddenly seized by a fit of chivalry, and would defend to the death, a lady whom he had never seen.

An effort was made to dispose of me by mob, as a means of clearing the moral atmosphere of the city. It was being discussed in a grocery while "Tom" Alden lay on the counter. He rose, brought down his big fist, and with a preface of oaths, said:

"Now, boys, I tell you what it is. We're Democrats. This is a fight between her and Lowrie, and we're going to see fair play. If she licks him, let him take it. No woman is going to be mobbed in this city! So there!"

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