Ernestine Rose Society

Original Graveside Eulogy by George Jacob Holyoake

"The grave at which we assemble is that of Mrs. Ernestine L. Rose, who has lived until her 83rd year, notwithstanding the stress and storm of agitation through which she'd passed in perilous days. She was Polish by birth, Jewish by race, German by education, American by adoption and English by affection. Her husband, a jeweller of New York, died in London 10 years ago. His regard for his wife exceeded anything of the kind I have ever known, and her affection for him was such that though she had numerous personal friends in every great city of America, she would never leave England, where her husband lay buried. Her desire was to be in the same grave, and today, in this spot, her desire is fulfilled.

Mrs. Rose was the first woman who presented herself on a public platform in America as a speaker against Negro slavery. It was perilous in a man to do it when she did it. She even went into the slave states (where) she was threatened with tar and feathers. She answered that "for the sake of humanity she would risk the tar."… Mrs. Rose had a voice which at once arrested attention by its strength and melody. She spoke with easy accuracy and with eloquence and reason. Robert Owen, on his visits to America, paid her great respect. From being an opponent she became the most influential advocate of his views in that country. There was genius in her sympathy with social improvement…

Her German education gave her intellectual intrepidity. In her youth her dark hair and gleaming eyes showed she had the fire of Judith in her; and her passion was to see women possess civil and social equality, and to inspire women and men with self-helping sense, not taking religion, politics or social ideas secondhand from their "pastors and masters" but choosing principles of belief, government and conduct for themselves. Like her great co-worker in the anti-slavery movement, Lucretia Mott, Mrs. Rose took truth for authority, not authority for truth.

After 40 years of agitation - the period of her public activity — her end was painless peace. In her closing days she would often say, "It is no longer necessary for me to live. I can do nothing now. But I have lived." The slave she had helped to free from bondage of ownership, and the minds she had set free from the bondage of authority, were the glad and proud remembrance of her last days."

Reprinted in "Boston Investigator," Aug. 24, 1892 from "London Daily News," August 9, 1892.