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conflict, and cannot escape taking part in it. We were not even allowed to take our place in the ranks, but have been pushed into life, to our seeming, arbitrarily, and cannot be discharged until mustered out by death. Nor is it permitted us to furnish a substitute, though we have the wealth of a Rockefeller at our command, and the powerful and farreaching influence of the Czar of all the Russias. We may prove deserters, or traitors, and straggle to the rear during the conflict, or go over to the enemy and fight under the black flag of wrong. But the fact remains that we are all drafted into the battle of life, and are expected to do our duty according to the best of our ability. Do you ask: “Why should life be packed so full of conflict 2 Why was it not planned to be harmonious and congenial 2 ” I am unable to answer that question, and do not propose to discuss the “origin of evil,” which has vexed the various schools of philosophy. I accept the fact that the whole world has been a scene of conflict as far back as we know anything about it. The literature of every nation resounds with it, and the poets, teachers, philosophers, and historians of all languages bear uniform and universal testimony to the effect that “the whole creation has always groaned, and travailed in pain.” Victory has alternated with defeat, and every experience of development in the animal creation has been purchased with a sharp emphasis of pain. For the world has many lives poured into it which are sustained only as “each living thing is up with bill, or beak, or tooth, or claw, or toilsome hand, or sweating brow, to conquer the means of a living.” The fact that we are obliged to provide for our physical needs, and for those who are dependent upon us, makes of life a perpetual struggle. Nature has not dealt with us as with her brute children. For them, in the habitat to which they are native, there is food, water, clothing, and shelter. Everything is provided for them. But with us, nature has dealt otherwise. She has given us light to our eyes, air for our lungs, earth from which to win food, clothing and shelter, and water for our thirst. Everything else that we need or wish we must win by the hardest effort. As civilization has progressed we have lost two of our natural rights, possession of land and water, and must pay the price demanded for them. And if men by business combination could take possession of air and light, we should lose these also, and be allowed only so much air to breathe, and light for our eyes, as we were able to pay for. In our battle for physical existence there are times when the elements of nature seem arrayed against us. The farmer plows and harrows his fields, and with bountiful hand sows his carefully selected seed, and prophecies a harvest. But the clouds withhold their rain, the heavens
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become brass, and the earth iron, and a fierce drought parches the soil of a whole kingdom, and burns the growing grain to stubble, and there is a famine. The accidental upsetting of a lamp starts a tiny fire. Combustibles feed it, winds fan it, and it becomes a roaring conflagration, in which granite and iron melt like lead, a city is consumed by the devouring flames, and hundreds of thousands are rendered homeless and helpless. We launch our proud ship into which have gone the strength of oak, the tenacity of iron, and the skillful workmanship of honorable men. We give to its transportation an argosy of wealth, and to its passengers we gladly toss a “good-by,” confident of their speedy arrival at their destination. But days pass by, then weeks and months, and no message reaches us from this traveler of the sea, and its fate is a matter of conjecture alone. Some iceberg of the North has crushed it, or it has succumbed to the fury of the tempest, or some unrevealed weakness of construction has betrayed it to destruction in mid ocean. Volcanoes and earthquakes, cyclones, storms, and tempests—how helpless are we when overtaken by their wrath, and how heedless they are of human suffering.
When we enter the world of trade and commerce, the business world, to use the vernacular of the day, we find the battle of life raging fiercely. We find competition that leads one man to tread down others that he may rise on their ruin; the financial panics, which arise decade after decade, of whose cause and cure the wisest and shrewdest are ignorant; the business dishonesty, which at times threatens to make dishonesty and business interchangeable terms; the insane and vulgar greed for riches that actuates corporations, monopolies, trusts, and other like organizations, whose tendency is to deprive the wage-earner of a fair share of the wealth which he helps create, that their gains may be larger and increase more rapidly—all these, and many other practices, which obtain in the money-making world, embitter the struggle for existence, and render the failure of the majority inevitable.
FRANCES E. WILLARD (1839-1898)
THE WOMEN'S CRUSADE ORATOR
N 1873 began in Ohio the memorable “Women's Crusade” I against the liquor sellers. For months together bands of devoted women besieged the saloons, entreating their keepers to give up their soul-destroying business, praying and singing hymns in bar-rooms or on the sidewalks, and with such effect that many of the dealers closed their saloons, and some of them emptied barrels of liquor into the gutters. This movement enlisted the heart-felt sympathy of Frances E. Willard, then president of a college for women at Evanston, Illinois. She studied thoroughly the history of the temperance cause, consulted with Neal Dow and other prohibition advocates, and joined in the crusade in Pittsburgh, kneeling in prayer on the sawdust-covered saloon floors, and leading the crusaders in singing “Rock of Ages,” and other hymns. This crusade movement was a temporary one, but in Miss Willard it had found an organizing head and an energetic spirit. There were separate bands of women temperance workers over the country. These she determined to combine into one organization, and this was done in 1874 in the formation of that great body, the National Woman's Christian Temperance Union. From that time forward Miss Willard devoted herself, heart and soul, to the furtherance of this noble temperance organization. Under her leadership it spread to all parts of the country, with main and subordinate branches, it built the great “Temperance Temple’’ at Chicago, it organized an extensive publishing business, and its work for good was extraordinary. Throughout, its energetic president aided it with voice and pen, until, worn out with her labors, death took her work from her hands, leaving it for others to carry on with her resolute spirit. No
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woman in the nation has done more for the good of her fellows than Frances E. Willard, and her name should be honored in our memories.
SAFEGUARDS FOR WOMEN [Miss Willard's voice was often heard in telling appeals for the cause she had most at heart, and for its sister cause, woman suffrage, since she looked to the possession of the ballot by women as an efficient aid in promoting the cause of temperance. From an address delivered in Philadelphia in 1876 we make the following characteristic selection.] Longer ago than I shall tell, my father returned one night to the far-. off Wisconsin home where I was reared, and, sitting by my mother's chair, with a child's attentive ear I listened to their words. He told us of the news that day had brought about Neal Dow, and the great fight for Prohibition down in Maine, and then he said: “I wonder if poor, rumcursed Wisconsin will ever get a law like that l’’ And mother rocked awhile in silence, in the dear old chair I love, and then she gently said: “Yes, Josiah, there'll be such a law all over the land some day, when women vote.” My father had never heard her say as much before. He was a great conservative; so he looked tremendously astonished, and replied in his keen, sarcastic voice: “And pray, how will you arrange it so that women shall vote?” Mother's chair went to and fro a little faster for a minute, and then, looking not into his face, but into the flickering flames of the grate, she slowly answered : “Well, I say to you, as the Apostle Paul said to his jailor : ‘You have put us into prison, we being Romans, and you must come and take us out.’” That was a seed-thought in a girl's brain and heart. Years passed on, in which nothing more was said upon the dangerous theme. My brother grew to manhood, and soon after he was twenty-one years old he went with father to vote. Standing by the window, a girl of sixteen years, a girl of simple, homely fancies, not at all strong-minded, and altogether ignorant of the world, I looked out as they drove away, my father and brother, and as I looked I felt a strange ache in my heart, and tears sprang to my eyes. Turning to my sister Mary, who stood beside me, I saw that the dear little innocent seemed wonderfully sober, too. I said, “Don’t you wish that we could go with them when we are old enough 2 Don't we love our country just as well as they do?” and her little frightened voice piped out: “Yes, of course we ought. Don't I know that; but you mustn't tell a soul—not mother, even ; we should be called strongminded.” In all the years since then, I have kept those things, and many others like them, and pondered them in my heart; but two years of struggle in
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this temperance reform have shown me, as they have ten thousand other women, so clearly and so impressively my duty, that I have passed the Rubicon of Silence, and am ready for any battle that shall be involved in this honest declaration of the faith that is within me. “Fight behind masked batteries a little longer,” whisper good friends and true. So I have been fighting hitherto ; but it is a style of warfare altogether foreign to my temperament and mode of life. Reared on the prairies, I seemed pre-determined to join the cavalry force in this great spiritual war, and I must tilt a free lance henceforth on the splendid battlefield of this reform ; where the earth shall soon be shaken by the onset of contending hosts; where legions of valiant soldiers are deploying ; where to the grand encounter marches to-day a great army, gentle of mien and mild of utterance, but with hearts for any fate; where there are trumpets and bugles calling strong souls onward to a victory which Heaven might envy, and “Where, behind the dim Unknown, Standeth God within the shadow, Keeping watch above His own.”
I thought that women ought to have the ballot as I paid the hardearned taxes upon my mother's cottage home—but I never said as much —somehow the motive did not command my heart. For my own sake, I had not courage; but I have for thy sake, dear native land, for thy necessity is as much greater than mine as thy transcendent hope is greater than the personal interest of thy humble child. For love of you, heart-broken wives, whose tremulous lips have blessed me; for love of you, sweet mothers, who in the cradle's shadow kneel this night, beside your infant sons; and you, sorrowful little children, who listen at this hour, with faces strangely old, for him whose footsteps frighten you ; for love of you have I thus spoken.
Ah, it is women who have given the costliest hostages to fortune. Out into the battle of life they have sent their best beloved, with fearful odds against them, with snares that men have legalized and set for them on every hand. Beyond the arms that held them long, their boys have gone forever. Oh by the danger they have dared ; by the hours of patient watching over beds where helpless children lay; by the incense of ten thousand prayers wafted from their gentle lips to Heaven, I charge you give them power to protect, along life's treacherous highway, those whom they have so long loved. Let it no longer be that they must sit back among the shadows, hopelessly mourning over their strong staff broken, and their beautiful rod ; but when the sons they love shall go forth to life's battle, still let their mothers walk beside them, sweet and serious, and clad in the garments of power.