The Jan 19 Press and Sun Bulletin article about failure of the NYS Commission of Correction’s response to inmate grievances is barely the tip of the iceberg. The public response to those they deem with multiple stigmas – inmate, mentally ill, and triple diagnosed developmentally impaired is to continually ignore or cut and reduce from …
Clarina H. Nichols defended the propriety of her colleagues, Lucy Stone (professional antislavery lecturer), who were forging a place for women in the lecture hall. Nichols asked Stone for help in her campaign for school suffrage. In 1853 Stone gave two lectures at the Baptist Church in Brattleboro, VT. After Nichols successfully refuted one minister in the Democrat her newspaper circulation soared. Traveling by rail and stagecoach, Nichols spoke frequently at churches and lyceums in the towns of VT and MA. The road had been paved by the Grimke sisters in the 1830s.
In 1853 Clarina sent her eldest daughter and youngest son to attend school at the Theodore and Angelina Grimke Weld boarding school in Belleville, NJ for two winters. When the temperance advocates excluded Susan B. Anthony because of women’s rights, she established the Whole World’s Temperance Convention in NYC that 2 to 3,000 attended including Horace Greeley as business manager. Nichols was appointed a vice president representing VT and she displayed her outspokenness by exhorting Christians to political action. Greeley recommended her to speak in Wisconsin for Sherman M. Booth who wanted to combine temperance with the abolition of slavery. Dr. Lydia Fowler joined her. They took a steamer across the Great lakes. In this six week, 900-mile excursion mostly by carriage she spoke to crowds in over forty towns. While there was some male clergy opposition by extending the time of a business session hoping she would disappear, she still spoke and after hearing her she received apologies and endorsement. As a result of her work, and that of numerous others, a law was enacted in 1855 giving Wisconsin women legal control over family affairs in cases of intemperance. Clarina also spoke in Boston and Rhode Island. Stone and Amelia Bloomer were also on the lecture circuit in the Midwest. They saw potential in the aura of freedom in western settlements where they believed women ought to take their rightful place in society unencumbered by patriarchal legal and political structures and social conventions. They often overlooked the loneliness and privations that normally beset pioneering women.
Clarina interrupted her travel to nurse her father before he died in 1854 missing the national women’s convention. Frustrated with conservative Vermont, she decided to move to Kansas where the newly passed Kansas-Nebraska Act opened up an opportunity to pursue freedom for the slave since the settlers would vote on it.
Clarina Nichols’ contribution to reform in Kansas focused mostly on woman’s rights, but like most activist women of her day, she also was opposed to slavery. Her husband died in 1855, and Nichols spent much of 1856 on the campaign trail seeking support for Kansas and John C. Fremont, Republican presidential nominee. On October 4, 1856, she wrote Thaddeus Hyatt regarding the objectives of her recent speaking tour in Pennsylvania: “In the first place I am laboring . . . to subsist my two sons in the Free State army of Kansas by the pay I get from the lectures.” During this time Clarina wrote articles for the newspaper Herald of Freedom of Lawrence, KS. In May 1856 proslavery forces’ violence escalated as they ransacked the office and threw the press into the river. Abolitionist John Brown and his sons, who had emigrated to this territory, led a party who murdered five proslaverymen near Pottawatomie Creek which catapulted Kansas into the civil war, known as Bleeding Kansas.
Subsequently, Nichols moved the family to Wyandotte County, where in the spring of 1857 she became associate editor of the Quindaro Chindowan, an antislavery newspaper.
Excerpt from a Clarina Nichols letter to the editor of the Wyandotte Gazette tells a tale of Nichols and the western branch of the Underground Railroad:
My cistern – every brick of it rebuilt in the chimney of my late Wyandotte home – played its part in the drama of freedom. One beautiful evening late in October ’61, as twilight was fading from the bluff, a hurrid message came to me from our neighbor – Fielding Johnson – “You must hide Caroline. Fourteen slave hunters are camped on the Park – her master among them.”
My cistern had been cleaned and nicely dried preparatory to a wash of cement for some undiscernable leakage. Its dimensions were 7 by 12 (square) and a rock bottom; eight feet in depth and reached from a trap in the floor of the wing; an open space between the floor and mouth – when left uncovered – affording ventilation from the outside.
Into this cistern Caroline was lowered with comforters, pillow and chair. A washtub over the trap with the usual appliances of a washroom standing around, completed the hiding. But poor Caroline trembling and almost paralyzed with fear of discovery her nerves weakened by grieving for her little girl transported to Texas, and the cruel blows which had broken her arm and scarred her body – could not be left alone through the night.
As I must have an excuse if found up at an unusual hour, I improvised a sick room. My son sleeping on the sitting-room lounge for a patient; my rocking chair; a stand with cups, vials and night lamp beside him were above suspicion. All night I crept to and fro in slippered feet. Peering from the skylight in the roof, from which in the bright moonlight all the approaches could be plainly seen anon; whispering words of cheer to Caroline in her cell, and back again to watch and wait and whisper.
At 12 o’clock – mid the cheerful crowing of cocks on both sides of the river – having taken a careful survey from the skylight, I passed a cup of fresh hot coffee to Caroline and sitting by the open floor drank my own with apparent cheerfulness, but really in a tremor of indignation and fear; fear of a prolonged incarceration of the poor victim of oppression and indignation at the government that protected and the manhood that stayed its hand from “breaking the bonds and telling the oppressed go free.”
Seven o’clock in the morning the slave-hunters rode out of town into the interior. When evening fell again Caroline and another girl of whom the hunters were in pursuit found a safe conveyance to Leavenworth friends.
Nichols traveled throughout the territory lecturing about equality, gathering signatures on petitions, and by 1859 building support for her participation at the Wyandotte Constitutional Convention. These petitions persuaded the delegates to give Nichols a voice and a platform. She sat in on the convention’s daily proceedings, occupying a seat of prominence next to the chaplain. While there, she lobbied the delegates to grant women equal educational opportunities and the right to vote in school district elections, as well as equal standing on child custody matters and equality in holding real and personal property. Largely due to Nichols’ lobbying efforts, the Wyandotte Constitution guaranteed these rights to Kansas women, and once the convention finished its work, Nichols campaigned for the constitution’s adoption by the electorate. This successful campaign, which ended with the referendum of October 4, 1859, however, did not end the struggle for equality.
Kansas was a vital battleground for woman’s rights, and events there remained important to the national movement. Thus, when the Kansas campaign for equal suffrage was launched in 1867, Susan B. Anthony, Lucy Stone, Olympia Brown, and Elizabeth Cady Stanton joined Clarina I. H. Nichols in a valiant but futile effort. Stanton went on an exhaustive 1500-mile tour in an open carriage on dusty roads, slept in a log hut and spoke in unfinished schools and churches. Kansas voters rejected amendments for both female and African American suffrage. The cause of woman’s rights advanced slowly, thereafter, but it did advance, thanks to Nichols and many other selfless and dedicated women. Nichols left Kansas in 1871 to be with two of her children in California, where she died on January 11, 1885. But, of course, the cause lived on. Two years after Nichols’ death, Kansas women could vote in municipal elections, and in 1912 they succeeded in their long effort to amend the state constitution and gain equality at the polls.1
Chapter VII – History of Woman Suffrage, S.B. Anthony, E. C. Stanton & Matilda Joslyn Gage; Reminiscences by Clarina I. Howard Nichols
Clarina Howard Nichols 1810 – 1885 Could a woman support herself and children by writing an article like this for the local newspaper today? NO. In fact, it is very difficult to get one’s viewpoint printed at all. Only if you are a celebrity or other notable do you get paid for writing.
Fortunately, Clarina’s parents encouraged her to get educated. From an early age she wrote prose and poetry. Her father Chapin Howard was a successful entrepreneur in Townsend, VT. As a child she witnessed interviews he had with local poor people as supervisor of the poor. This was the beginning of her awareness of women’s lack of property rights. Although her first husband had literary aspirations, her marriage crumbled when he was unable to support the family. Her father provided her with a dowry of $1500 of which her husband became “owner” as well as of her earnings from writing. She had three children, taught school, and worked for a newspaper.1 She started writing in Brockport, NY. She and her husband Justin Carpenter became involved in the Young Gentlemen and Ladies Temperance Society. He had difficulty supporting his family and they tried to regroup in New York City but that also failed. She ran a boarding house, took in sewing and millinery work.
She consoled herself with writing. As a Baptist she was plagued by moral failure and social disgrace. He absconded with the children and then she mobilized for their return and she moved back home to her parents in 1839. Her father’s stature as a selectman, former town representative and experienced justice of the peace gave him influence with legislators. In 1840 they initiated a bill to the Vermont legislature to allow for divorce even if a couple’s problems occurred outside of the state. This reform opened the way for Clarina to receive a divorce (with a three-year residency requirement). This was a lesson on how laws could be changed through political action. She lived with her parents during this time.
In 1840 she started submitting her poetry to a newspaper in Brattleboro using a byline of anonymity. Coupling romantic phraseology with reverence for God and earth she used her memory to write about domestic and historical topics. Her professional relationship with the paper’s owner and widower George Nichols blossomed into a marriage after her divorce in 1843. As his health declined Clarina became the editor. Although 25 years older he was the support she needed as she pursued political action. Local newspapers were partisan in those days, but there were more than one choice, not as today. Women were not allowed to speak publicly. She supported Horace Mann’s education reforms and temperance. In 1846-7 she evolved into supporting antislavery policy and the Free Soil Party. She then started occasional columns written by a pseudo-name, Deborah Van Winkle who would sit in a legislative gallery knitting and then write about the proceedings.
This was a time when petitions were effective. Women began attending political party rallies. In 1852 Clarina attended the Women’s Rights Convention in Syracuse, NY. She was a favorite for her heartfelt and earnest oratory. Here she met Susan B. Anthony and they became lifelong friends. 1852 was Clarina’s initial foray when she initiated a petition pleading for the right to vote in school meetings that was submitted to the Vermont legislature. She went door to door getting 200 signatures. The following year she submitted a petition for equal custody for mothers. She was even invited to speak for her cause; with great trepidation she spoke for an hour and a half. The Broome County legislature restricts to three minutes. “Even though she had ‘earned’ the dress she wore, she noted indignantly, her husband owned it, not because he wanted to, but because of a law passed by “bachelors and other women’s husbands.” “She challenged lawmakers’ manly sense of honor for tolerating committee chair Barrett’s taunts while having “legislated our skirts into their possession.” She claimed the respect due to a woman of refinement.2 Although the effort failed, she gained recognition of the New York Tribune. She went on to support the temperance movement.
Locally, in Broome County a grassroots-organized public hearing on public transportation was attended by 100 people but the BC administrator of transit was not allowed to attend. Six hundred people signed a petition to restore bus services that the legislature ignored. Take note of the Broome County Legislature – Rule 17 PRIVILEGE OF THE FLOOR Except as otherwise provided herein, no person shall be entitled to the privilege of the floor during a meeting of the Legislature unless, either a member of the Legislature requests said privilege on behalf of a person and the Legislature grants said privilege by a majority vote of the whole number of the members of the Legislature, or a special or standing committee grants said privilege by majority vote of the whole number of the members of the Committee on behalf of a person who has appeared before the Committee. The Chair of the Legislature may recognize and grant privilege of the floor to any County, State, Federal or municipal official. The granting of the privilege of the floor may be conditioned upon such terms of time and content as the Chair may impose. 1 – www.kshs.org/kansapedia 2- Frontier Feminist, Clarina Howard Nichols. p.115
STATE: “May we now safely prophesy justice, liberty, equality for our daughters ere another centennial birthday shall dawn upon us.”EC Stanton
Gage: “A proper self-respect cannot inhere in any person under governmental control of others. Unless the person so governed constantly maintains a system of rebellion in thought or deed, the soul gradually becomes debased and the finest principles of human nature suffer a rapid process of disintegration.”
Oh, how history repeats itself. We now in 2016 just witnessed the death of the lead conservative woman Phyllis Schlafly who attacked the ERA, Equal Rights Amendment, to the US Constitution in the 70s.
Matilda Joslyn Gage, Fayetteville, NY and Elizabeth Cady Stanton’s, Seneca Falls, NY institutional analysis of oppression of women in the 1850s was based on the four-fold bondage of woman—Church, State, Capital and Society.
CHURCH: Stanton: “Every form of religion that has breathed upon the earth has degraded women.”
Gage: “the laws, civil and social, each equally burdensome, are of church origin, and not until the church is destroyed will women be freed.” (This was when women were not allowed to speak in church or public.)
CAPITAL: Stanton: “Married women are upper servants without wages. . .. It is impossible to have ‘equal rights for all’ under our present competitive system…The few have no right to the luxuries of life, while the many are denied its necessities.”
Gage: “ In European countries and in the US we find her everywhere receiving less pay than man for the same kind and quality of work…the church teaching that woman was made for man still exerts its poisonous influence, still destroys woman…not alone employers and male laborers oppress woman but legislation is frequently invoked to prevent her entering certain occupations.”
SOCIETY: Stanton: “Society as organized today under the man power is one grand rape of womanhood.”
Gage: “Although our country makes great professions in regard to general liberty, yet the right to particular liberty, natural equality, and personal independence, of two great portions of this country, is treated, from custom, with the greatest contempt; and color in the one instance, and sex in the other; are brought as reasons why they should be so derided; and the mere mention of such natural rights is frowned upon, as tending to promote sedition and anarchy.”
All quotes from Sisters in Spirit by historian Sally Roesch Wagner.
Friday, April 17, the UUCB Social Justice Committee and the Greater Binghamton Labor-Religion Coalition hosted a forum about current wage theft affecting assembly line workers, university adjunct faculty and teaching assistants and fast food workers. Mandatory overtime (or be fired), changing job/tenure requirements, high temperatures, and diluted wages cause hunger, stress and even physical disability.
Reynolds (Aluminum) has 45 Pactiv subsidiaries in 16 US states (Canandaigua and Plattsburg, NY) that produce the food packaging products and utensils used by Binghamton University/Sodexho, Starbucks, etc. Workers at the Kearney, NJ plant who attempted to form a union at Pactiv were intimidated, fired, and one so disabled she needed metal rods in her back before Pactiv closed the plant to end their democratic rights.
Rank Group/Wells Fargo, the parent company of Reynolds, is a worldwide packaging(Hefty bags) empire under its billionaire owner Graeme Hart, New Zealand’s richest man, $7.3B. Hart has a new yacht built at Kleven Verft in the community of Ulstein in Norway. The yard specializes in off-shore vessels and the 107-meter long yacht is constructed to sail under rough conditions, equipped with helicopter deck, hangar and accommodation for 60 persons, useful at his 2009 bought company called Knight Services (Fiji). The seller of the company, Pacific Islands Partnership (PIP), markets 99-year leases on Fijian islands.
Locally, as reported by several BU students, they have attempted to meet with President H. Stenger to no avail; his Administrative Chief of Staff, Terrence Kane, former State regional director of economic development, barely gave the activists lip service nor listened to their petition to divest from such companies/products.
To learn more: www.aintiawoman.org, www.Pactiv.com, www.boycottreynolds.org/petition, http://www.indeed.com/cmp/Pactiv/reviews
www.nmass.org (national mobilization against sweatshops);
While billionaires buy their own islands at $15 million a clip to park their yachts, the top 10 hedge fund managers only pay 15% tax on their $12 billion(compared to 70% in the past) while you pay 20% if you are lucky to make $40,000, or you may have lost your home in the mortgage debacle or from your health care bankruptcy. Citigroup with $6.4 B and J.P. Morgan with $17.2 B in 2013 paid NO taxes. The MAKERS are all on Wall Street along with the banks like HSBC who laundered money to dodge taxes while George Will’s TAKERS wait in the food line for over an hour. What George does not tell you(Press Jan 22) about his policy wonk Nicholas Eberstadt is that he is funded by the neoconservative American Enterprise Institute, a right-wing, pro-business think tank. Even though George and Eberstadt state the growth in their ‘welfare state’ occurred to those who were ‘means- tested’ (which means they qualified by the Puritanical hoop they jumped), they blame it on a lack of personal character. And where do the CEOs of the media empires who spread the greed message take responsibility? The wealthy do not like it that the paupers picked up their cocaine habits and want one of their tvs. Even though 80% of the middle class has awoken to the lack of jobs sent overseas and that the bill was sent to them, these economists will not take the responsibility for these policies and the income inequality, instead they cry foul. The lower-skilled workers have known this for 25 years as the manufacturing jobs vanished. Instead they should tell the capitalists to make more jobs. The gall of dumping people on charity and then blaming them. The playing field is not fair nor level. “Privilege is not knowing that you’re hurting others and not listening when they tell you.”—Dashanne Stokes So how does the trickle down of greed play out locally? Foremost it began with shallow giveaways to millionaire developers that pay no taxes and then leave town while local four-unit landlords had a 30% tax increase. Then came raising the bus rates. The lack of a seat and your claustrophobia does not matter. More rural Tioga lost bus service. Further proof we are eliminating human services was the closure of the County mental health clinic. Some private providers already closed the intake door, other mentally ill are jammed up waiting months for treatment. Even though you do not know them, someone who cannot afford their medication lurkes in the health care shadows. The proposed TPP will extend monopoly drug patents for pharmaceutical giants maintaining high prices. And will the poor elderly be easily visited by their family and protected by local accountability in the County nursing home or tossed aside like the mentally ill? Heed the words of John Adams: “Government is instituted for the common good; for the protection, safety, prosperity, and happiness of the people; and not for profit, honor or private interest of any one man, family, or class of men..”
Will you join with one of the 10 percent of the 550 people on Save Our Clinic Facebook who
support keeping the BC MH Clinic to write an editorial?
Sharpen those pencils. Your letter is needed.
THURSDAY, AUGUST 21, be there at 4:30pm at the Broome County Office Building for
a press conference and stay to STAND UP for mental health services before the vote
at 5 pm, sixth floor. YOU are needed to literally back up over 800 people who signed
petitions and facebook in support.
SHAME on Broome County for not having a public hearing.
You have heard a lot lately about veterans waiting a long time for services. Well, here in River City, i.e., Broome County, the legislature is blasé about the mentally ill who have been denied entry or had to wait six to nine months to get into private agencies. For those who do not know that we have had open access for 45 years at the County Mental Health Clinic, this is happening because the Commissioner and the administration want to close it. Now when you think you are sick and need to see your primary doctor you expect to see them within a day or a week, right? It is called parity to have the same ability to see a Mental health doctor. When you hurt, you hurt, in fact it is a symptom and needs expedient care. The BC Legislature will vote THIS Thursday, July 17; please attend the meeting at 5 pm on the 6th Floor of the County Office Bldg, Hawley St. Send a letter also at: http://act.aflcio.org/c/135/p/dia/action3/common/public/?action_KEY=8802