A voice from the next generation of reformers
Lillie Devereaux Blake, a southern-born woman, became one of the most active protégés of Elizabeth Cady Stanton and a leading force for reform in New York City in the second half of the 19th century.
"Probably the most fiery orator that the early days of the woman's suffrage cause produced…was Ernestine L. Rose. She was born in 1810, and her active years were over before I entered the movement, but from those who knew her in her prime I have heard much of the romantic story of her life…
Her first public appearance (in New York) excited, at the time, great public comment. At a public meeting in the old Broadway tabernacle, held to discuss the question of free schools, one of the speakers deviated from his theme to denounce what he called "infidels." Mrs. Rose stood up in her place in the front of the gallery and called him to order. A wild scene of excitement followed. There were cries of "Throw her down!" "Drag her out!" and so on, but she stood her ground, her clear sweet voice rising above the tumult, her impressive personality commanding respect. In a few moments, silence fell on the crowd, and her eloquent protest against such an attack was listened to with respect and at its close applauded.
She was then only 26 years old, dignified in figure, with keen dark eyes, curling black hair and brilliant complexion… From this period (1836) she became a leading orator of the anti-slavery cause and later of the woman suffrage agitation. I never heard her speak, but once, and she was then an old lady and in frail health, but she thrilled the audience by the electric force of her words, and her dark eyes flashed as her voice rose in the fiery earnestness of her eloquence.
During the years of her prime she traveled and spoke extensively. Her labors were persistent in New York State. She addressed the Legislature many times and it was largely owing to her efforts that the State laws were passed that secure to married women in New York the right to their earnings and their property. Before that time the money due a woman for washing, for school teaching or for literary work belonged to her husband. The liberal laws which we now live under are due to the tireless exertions of this gifted woman, and never ought the women of New York to forget the debt of gratitude they owe to Ernestine L. Rose."