Words of Wisdom

"For here lies the corner stone of all the injustices done woman, the wrong idea from which all other wrongs proceed. She is not acknowledged as mistress of herself. For her cradle to her grave she is another's. We do indeed need and demand the other rights of which I have spoken, but let us first obtain ourselves." - At the National Woman's Rights Convention, Cleveland, Ohio. 1853.

Ernestine Rose Speech Excerpts

On Women's Rights:

"What rights have women? ...(they are) punished for breaking laws which they have no voice in making. All avenues to enterprise and honors are closed against them. If poor, they must drudge for a mere pittance - if of the wealthy classes, they must be dressed dolls of fashion - parlor puppets..." - At the Social Reform Convention, Boston, 1844 (Kolmerten, p. 49)

"We have heard a great deal of our Pilgrim Fathers...but who has heard of the Pilgrim Mothers? Did they not endure as many perils, encounter as many hardships, and do as much to form and fashion the institutions of New England as the Pilgrim Fathers? And were not their trials, and is not their glory equally great? Yet they are hardly remembered." - From newspaper report of Rose's speech at the 1850 National Woman's Rights Convention, Worcester, Mass. (Suhl, p. 112)

"I suppose you all grant that woman is a human being. If she has a right to life she has a right to earn a support for that life. If a human being, she has a right to have her powers and faculties as a human being developed. If developed, she has a right to exercise them." - At a New York State convention, Rochester, N.Y., 1853 (Kolmerten, p. 129-130)

On Marriage and Divorce

"I ask for a law of Divorce...to prevent the crimes and immoralities now practiced... too often under the name of marriage ....I believe in true marriages, and therefore I ask for a law to free men and women from false ones." - At the Tenth National Woman's Rights Convention, Cooper Institute, N.Y., 1860. (History of Woman Suffrage, Vol.1, p. 731)

On Ending Poverty

"...There is 10 times more in the world than would maintain all in yet unknown luxury. Yet how much misery there is in our midst; not because there is not enough, but owing to the misdirection of it." - At a convention organized by Ernestine and William Rose in honor of a visit to New York by Robert Owen in 1845. (Boston Investigator, May 14, 1845)

On Abolition of Slavery, Freedom and Human Rights

"Who that has human blood flowing in his veins, who that ever felt the warm gush of affection thrill his being, can hesitate whether to throw his weight into the balance of life and freedom, or that of chains, oppression or death?....to him who fears only your opposition...silence is consent. And silence where life and liberty is at stake, where by a timely protest we could stay the destroyer's hand, and do not do so, is as criminal as giving actual aid to the oppressor, for it answers his purpose..." - At the Thomas Paine anniversary celebration, New York, Jan. 29, 1852

"....In comparison to the liberation of 800,000 slaves (in 1834 in the British West Indies), the Declaration of Independence falls into utter insignificance. It falls short, just as theory falls short of practice. There is almost an immeasurable distance between the two. The one was an utterance of a great truth; the other was a practical application of it. How different the results! The Declaration of Independence - has it yet abolished slavery?....Nature has not created masters and slaves; nature has created man free as the air of heaven. The black man and the white man are equally the children of nature. Slavery deprives us of ourselves. The slave has no power to say, 'I will go here, or I will go yonder.' The slave cannot say, 'My wife, my husband, or my child.'...This is the great abomination of slavery, that it deprives a man of the common rights of humanity, stamped upon him by his Maker." - On the occasion of the anniversary of the West Indian emancipation, New York, 1853.

"Human rights include the rights of all, not only man, but woman, not only white but black; wherever there is a being called human, his rights are as full and expressive as his existence, and ought to be without limits or distinction of sex, country, or color...and only ignorance, superstition, and tyranny - both the basis and the influence of the Bible - deprive him of it." - Hartford Bible Convention, Hartford, Conn., 1853.

Defending Jews against anti-Semitism in the Freethinker movement

"...The nature of the Jew is governed by the same laws as human nature in general...In England, France, Germany, and in the rest of Europe (except Spain), in spite of the barbarous treatment and deadly persecution they suffered, they have lived and spread and outlived much of the poisonous rancor and prejudice against them, and Europe has been none the worse on their account....Are the Jews in Boston so much worse, that their spread is to be dreaded even by Infidels? ...Let us as Infidels ...not add to the prejudice already existing towards the Jews, or any other sect. Yours for justice." - From a letter to the Boston Investigator, Feb. 10, 1864.