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This Discourse was suggested by a lecture delivered in Philadelphia, in 1819, by Richard H. Dana, of Boston. It was reported by a phonographer and published soon after its delivery. The edition has for many years been exhausted, and it is now reprinted by request.

W. P. Kildare, Printer, 736 Sansom St.


THERE is nothing of greater importance to the well-being of society at large—of man as well as woman—than the true and proper position of woman. Much has been said, from time to time, upon this subject. It has been a theme for ridicule, for satire and sarcasm. We might look for this from the ignorant and vulgar; but from the intelligent and refined we have a right to expect that such weapons shall not be resorted to, that gross comparisons and vulgar epithets shall not be applied, so as to place woman, in a point of view, ridiculous to say the least.

This subject has claimed my earnest interest for many years. I have long wished to see woman occupying a more elevated position than that which custom for ages has allotted to her. It was with great regret, therefore, that I listened a few days ago to a lecture upon this subject, which, though replete with intellectual beauty, and containing much that was true and excellent, was yet fraught with sentiments calculated to retard the progress of woman to the high elevation destined by her Creator. I regretted the more that these sentiments should be presented with such attractiveness, because they would be likely to ensnare the young.

The minds of young people generally, are open to the reception of more exalted views upon this subject. The kind of homage that has been paid to woman, the flattering appeals which have too long satisfied her—appeals to her mere fancy and imagination—are giving place to a more extended recognition of her rights, her important duties and responsibilities in life. Woman is claiming for herself stronger and

more profitable food. Various are the indications leading to this conclusion. The increasing attention to female education, the improvement in the literature of the age, especially in what is called the "Ladies' Department,” in the periodicals of the day, are among the proofs of a higher estimate of woman in society at large. Therefore we may hope that the intellectual and intelligent are being prepared for the discussion of this question, in a manner which shall tend to ennoble woman and dignify man.

Free discussion upon this, as upon all other subjects, is never to be feared; nor will it be, except by such as prefer darkness to light. “ Those only who are in the wrong dread discussion. The light alarms those only who feel the need of darkness.” It was sound philosophy, uttered by Jesus, “He that doeth truth cometh to the light, that his deeds may be made manifest, that they are wrought in God.”

I have not come here with a view of answering any particular parts of the lecture alluded to, in order to point out the fallacy of its reasoning. The speaker, however, did not profess to offer anything like argument on that occasion, but rather a sentiment. I have no prepared address to deliver to you, being unaccustomed to speak in that way; but I felt a wish to offer some views for your consideration, though in a desultory manner, which may lead to such reflection and discussion as will present the subject in a true light.

In the beginning, man and woman were created equal. “Male and female created he them, and blessed them, and called their name Adam.” He gave dominion to both over the lower animals, but not to one over the other.

“ Man o'er woman
He made not lord, such title to himself
Reserving, human left from human free.”


The cause of the subjection of woman to man early ascribed to disobedience to the command of God.

the sexes.

This would seem to show that she was then regarded as not occupying her true and rightful position in society.

The laws given on Mount Sinai for the government of man and woman were equal, the precepts of Jesus make no distinction. Those who read the Scriptures, and judge for themselves, not resting satisfied with the perverted application of the text, do not find the distinction, that theology and ecclesiastical authorities have made, in the condition of

In the early ages, Miriam and Deborah, conjointly with Aaron and Barak, enlisted themselves on the side which they regarded the right, unitedly going up to their battles, and singing their songs of victory. We regard these with veneration. Deborah judged Israel many years—she went up with Barak against their enemies, with an army of 10,000, assuring him that the honor of the battle should not be to him, but to a woman. Revolting as were the circumstances of their success, the acts of a semi-barbarous people, yet we read with reverence the song of Deborah: “Blessed above woman shall Jael, the wife of Heeber, the Kenite be; blessed shall she be above women in the tent.

She put her hand to the nail, and her right hand to the workman's hammer; she smote Sisera through his temples. At her feet he bowed, he fell, he lay down dead.” This circumstance, at variance with Christianity, is recognized as an act befitting woman in that day. Deborah, Huldah, and other honorable women, were looked up to and consulted in times of exigency, and their counsel was received. In that eastern country, with all the customs tending to degrade woman, some were called to fill great and important stations in society. There were also false prophetesses as well as true. The denunciations of Ezekiel were upon those women who would“ prophesy out of their own heart, and sew pillows to all armholes," &c.

Coming down to later times, we find Anna, a prophetess of four-score years, in the temple day and night, speaking

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