Lizzie M. Holmes, “Nina Van Zandt Spies to Marry an Italian Editor” (1891)

Nina Van Zandt SpiesNina Van Zandt Spies to Marry an Italian Editor.


The Romance of the Trial of the Chicago Anarchists Retold.—The Authentic Story of a Woman’s Unwavering Devotion.

ON ENTERING a certain museum in Chicago the first objects that attract the eye of the visitor are two excellent oil paintings, under one of which are the words, “Handsome August Spies,” and beneath the other, “Beautiful Nina Van Zandt.” The crowds invariably pause to gaze upon the pictures as they have done for more than four years. Time has not lessened the interest taken in these two characters and their romantic history, and that interest has been deepened since the announcement is made public that the proxy wife and widow is soon to wed S. S. Malato, a young Italian newspaper man of New York.

Time is sweeping aside the clouds of prejudice that made of August Spies a mere designing, cowardly criminal, and of Nina Van Zandt but a silly, deluded girl. It has also dispelled the sentimental adoration of admirers, and the real story, stripped of the stormy environments of those days, may now be told and appreciated in a clearer atmosphere.

Nina Stuart Clark Van Zandt is a descendant of the royal Stuarts on her mother’s side, and through her father is a member of one of the oldest families of New York. All that many generations of culture, ease and luxury can bequeath to a human being have been given to her, and she does credit to the blood that flows in her veins and the thorough training she has personally received. She was a Vassar student, and a fair specimen of that noted, intelligent and independent class of womankind.

In the summer of 1886, she, her mother and two other ladies were invited to seats one day beside Judge Gary during the trial of the anarchists. These are her own words concerning her experience:

“Having received what information I had through the newspapers, I was expecting to see a rare collection of stupid, vicious, criminal-looking men. I was greatly surprised to find that so far from corresponding with this description, they had intelligent, kindly and good faces. 1 became interested. I soon found that the officers of the court and the entire police and detective force were bent upon their conviction, not because of any crime of theirs, but because of their connection with the labor movement. Desirous of proffering my sympathy, I, with my mother, visited the close, dark prison, and there made the acquaintance of August Spies.”

Upon conversing with Spies it soon flashed upon Miss Van Zandt’s mind that she had met him before. Two years previous she had visited The Arbeiter Zeitung office to insert an advertisement for a lost pet. Even then, strangely attracted, she had tarried in conversation with the handsome editor. Some memory of the interview haunted her for weeks, but finally faded away in the crowding of other events and scenes into her life.

The acquaintance continued, and Nina’s visits were repeated at frequent intervals. A correspondence ensued between the visits, which seemed to have the effect of thoroughly converting Miss Van Zandt to Spies’ views, as well as gaining her affections.

August Spies was accused at the time of duping the girl by working upon her impulsive nature, hoping to gain favor by her Influence, thus interposing her between himself and the gallows. There was nothing in the facts to call out the comments they did. Miss Van Zandt was neither “crazy,” “deluded,” “morbidly sentimental,” nor anxious for notoriety, even though the object of her regard was the inmate of a jail under sentence of death. Apart from his surroundings Spies was good looking, intellectual, possessed of winning manners, and frequent interviews and letters revealed to each strong similarities of tastes and opinions. The one peculiarity of Miss Van Zandt was her strength and independence of character. She believed she was right in her love, and all the world could not frighten her from it.

Early in the winter the two became engaged, the engagement to be fulfilled in case of his release. On the 12th of January, l887, Nina went to the sheriff and asked permission to call on Spies out of the regular visiting hours that their intercourse might not be disturbed by the curious public. The families of the other prisoners were sometimes allowed to sit outside the doors of their relatives’ cells, and hoping to gain some of these privileges she informed Sheriff Matson of their betrothal.

After studying over her request for some minutes Mr. Matson said it was impossible for him to grant it. Had she been his wife, he said, he could have allowed her to visit Spies as the others’ wives did.

“Then,” she said, with her dark, pray eyes flashing, “then I will marry him at once, that I may secure the privilege of visiting and the right to work for him as a wife,” and she went out of the jail with a determined air. It is quite certain that this was the moment in which the decision was made from which no difficulty, ridicule or remonstrance ever afterward moved her.

She sought Captain Black, the attorney for the prisoners, and asked his aid. Seeing that she was thoroughly in earnest, this gentleman gave her his hearty sympathy and assistance. The proposition for an immediate marriage came from Miss Van Zandt herself, as Captain Black testified. August Spies told him “he would not think of asking the lady to make such n sacrifice, but if it was her desire, he would consent, and show to the world their mutual love and trust “

Mr. Van Zandt sympathized with the feelings of his daughter, and, while regretting the peculiar chain of circumstances which had brought her to this step, would not interfere. Mrs. Van Zandt was deeply grieved, but did not try or had no power to control her child. On the 18th of January Captain Black and Nina Van Zandt went to the county courthouse and procured a marriage license. It was arranged that the ceremony should take place in the jailor’s office on Thursday, the 20th. Sheriff Matson had given his full consent and both he and the jailor promised the occupancy of the room for some time. Judge Pendergrast consented to perform the ceremony. City papers of the 19th spoke of the affair as settled, giving various opinions. But on the morning of the 20th The Staats Zeitung and Tribune opened up on the subject and criticized the officials for allowing such a farce to be played, and declared it was making a disreputable place of the county buildings, paid for by citizens for entirely different purposes.

At the same time Matson received a telegram from Mrs. Arthur, of Philadelphia, Nina’s aunt, forbidding the marriage. The pressure was too much for that official, judge forbade any further proceedings, To keep the young lady out he gave orders that no one but relatives should be admitted to visit the prisoners. For a time all parties interested were dismayed. Mr. George Schilling, a friend of both, entered the jail on the evening of the 20th, and was met by a reporter, who said to him: “Ah, you won’t have a wedding after all. The sheriff won’t let Miss Van Zandt come in.” Mr. Schilling retorted on the impulse of the moment:

“What difference do you suppose that makes? They can be married just the same. It isn’t necessary they should stand side by side. Did you ever hear of a marriage by proxy?”

“Is that what you mean to do?”

“That can be done, and very likely will be,” briefly answered Mr. Schilling, so coolly that the reporter believed it a prearranged matter, whereas Mr. S. had answered with the first words that came into his mind. The next morning the news was telegraphed to the world that Miss Van Zandt and Spies would be married by proxy. It was news to them, but they were immediately struck with the feasibility of the scheme. Nina hastened to find some one who would consent to unite them in this unusual manner. Judge Pendergrast was out of the question. But in the northwestern part of the city lived a justice of the peace who had already evinced his sympathy by the strong stand he had taken among the Turners against the verdict of the court. Nina, with Gretchen Spies, called on him and stated their errand.

Judge Englehardt promised to look up the law, and if it could be done legally he would marry them. He consulted a competent attorney, whose name cannot be given, and together they searched the laws on marriage. They found no statute demanding the presence of both parties before an authorized agent; that mutual consent constitutes a legal marriage, and that a lady living in Massachusetts had been married to a soldier in Canada who could not obtain leave of absence, the two merely declaring their intention and wish. He was afterward killed, and in court it was decided she was his lawful wife and entitled to the property left by him. Justice Englehardt fully believed the marriage could be legally performed by proxy, but took every possible means to make it binding. Ho wrote out two contracts, the one below being that which Nina signed; the one signed by August Spies was nearly the same, except as to the difference in person.

I, Nina Stuart Clark Van Zandt, being of sound mind and body and twenty years of ago, do by these presents hereby take August Theodore Vincent Spies to be my lawful husband from this time forth until death shall part us, and I publish and declare my accepting the said August Theodore Vincent Spies as my husband in the presence of Henry Kraft and Amelia Englehardt, the two witnesses who are by me requested to sign this document. I waive the right and custom to have August Spies present in person, fully agreeing to the action of Henry Spies by August Spies appointed to represent him; In furtherance of his appointment bind myself to all the obligations and duties the relation of husband and wife imposes.

Oscar Neebe, Ida Spies and Gretchen Spies signed as witnesses to August Spies’ signature; Henry Kraft and Amelia Englehardt as witnesses to Nina’s. On the 29th of January Henry Spies stood up to represent his brother, and Justice Englehardt pronounced the marriage ceremony. The justice made the usual returns, and the license and certificate were kept by the county officers for one week and then the papers were sent back for “correction,” as the clerk wrote. “It was found that A. Spies was detained at the jail and could not have been in Jefferson at the time the ceremony was said to have been performed.”

But the devoted lady derived no benefit, from the ceremony She was persistently denied entrance to the jail, and never, until the morning of the 11th of November, did she look upon the face of her lover again. Then she was granted the keenly cruel pleasure of one brief interview, a last and only embrace, and an agonized farewell.

Those who believed in the sincerity of her love and the merit of its object wondered how she endured those terrible days. Even her enemies were silent when they looked upon her pale, worn but still beautiful face.

Now that her marriage to the Italian Signor Malato is announced, some say that this early ending of her widowhood proves that the charge of notoriety seeking was true, especially if she takes out a license under the name of Van Zandt, as she may be forced to do to obtain one at all. But even this does not prove that Nina’s love was ephemeral or partaking of an emotional, excitement craving nature. She is young and has many years before her, she is no more bound to live them all alone than are other bereaved young women.

Robert Emmet’s broken hearted wife married again, though she finally died of grief for her first love. The fact that Nina declined only a year and a half ago the offer of her aunt to take her back as her heiress on condition of repudiating her marriage, discarding the name and the ideas of her radical lover, would prove her sincerity and independence of character. “No,” she said to the writer. “I scorned such a thought. She repudiated us at a time when her influence would have been priceless She might have saved my husband; instead she added to the sorrows we had to bear. I sent her letter back with one decisive, indignant sentence written across it.”


Lizzie M. Holmes, “Nina Van Zandt Spies to Marry an Italian Editor,” Wichita Daily Eagle 15 no. 46 (July 11,1891): 6.

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Lois Waisbrooker: Eighty Years Young

Eighty Years Young and a Human Dynamo.

imageIn reply to your request I would say that I was born in the lower strata of life. My father worked by the day or by the job to support his family. My mother was a quiet retiring woman who died at the age of thirty-six. I have no noted ancestry. I have worked in people’s kitchens year in and year out when I never knew what it was to be rested. Finally I added enough to the little schooling I received in childhood to enable me to meet the requirements of a country school over fifty years ago.

While thus teaching I learned a lesson I have never forgotten. A new edition of Adams’ arithmetic was brought into the school containing eight pages of added examples, and my first work was to solve them, which I did all but one, and oh the weary hours I spent upon that. Neither could I find any one who could solve it for me, the county superintendent and a college educated gentleman both failing to do so.

One Sunday evening as I was looking into the fire and thinking, not of God and heaven, but of that problem, all at once I saw the law involved, the rule under which it came. I turned to one of my pupils, the son of the lady where I boarded, and said:

“Charlie, please take your arithmetic and slate turn to such an example, set it down and work it out so and so.”

The problem was solved. I had no more question as to the result than I had of my own existence, and I knew he would work it out quicker than I could, for I so often blundered in multiplying and dividing. That blundering propensity pertains to more than the handling of figures in arithmetical problems, and under the disability I have staggered through life, but ever since I began to, think independently of Christian teaching I have been studying the problem of society, and fully believe I have found the principle involved. It is that and not my personality which I wish to get before the minds of the thinkers of this age, that they may work out the problem while I go hence.


Address Antioch. Calif.

My Century Plant — So called because so much in advance of the times that only thinkers will appreciate.

Shows the law of regeneration, of materialization, the root of church power, and how to free the earth from sex disease. A remarkable book. Price $1.00.

Perfect Motherhood; or Mabel Raymond’s resolve — This work shows the conditions of motherhood under the present influences of society. A prominent thinker writes: “It is not only one of the most interesting, but one of the most instructive books I have ever read.” Price $1.

A Sex Revolution — This book does not treat of sex as such. It simply reverses the position of the sexes for the time being, bringing woman to the front. The evils of our economic system are graphically illustrated, that woman may observe her true position. Paper. Price 25 cents.

[To-Morrow, October 1906]

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Nelly Roussel, “By Rebellion!” (1904)

To all women, my sisters.

To the Eternal Creatress, aching and unknown.


By Rebellion!




(Mme. Godet)





EVE, sorrowfully.


Oh! My bruised wrists hurt me!… For so long they have borne chains!… My poor eyes, drowning in tears, will go blind!… For so many centuries they have cried!…


         Gazing at her chains and lifting them painfully.


Ah! Alas! Alas! In my slavery and my abandonment, where will I find a drop of water to quench my thirst, manna to comfort my hunger, rest to relieve my exhausted flesh, and consoling words for my bruised heart?


One hears, in the wings, to the left, a religious song, big and sweet. Eve straightens her head, listens in ecstasy, and turns slowly toward the Church, confident, passionate.


Is it you, divine refuge of sorrowful souls, is it you, holy religion, who will spread hope?


THE CHURCH, cold and severe.


Resign yourself, mortal creature. Life is nothing, and Eternity is everything!


EVE, with a deep sigh.


Eternity!… Alas, must we cry in this world to deserve smiles in the other?


THE CHURCH (the same.)


You have sinned, woman, and every sin demands atonement!… Woman, impure, cursed creature! You were born for suffering and humiliation. To give birth in tears, and without glory; to submit in silence, and always bow, that is your punishment!


EVE, hopeless.


It is too cruel! And even the hope of a distant paradise is powerless to sooth my sorrows!…


         Raising her chains, despondent.


Ah! Heavy, heavy chains, always heavier! My arms are weary from dragging you.


One hears, in the wings, to the right, the muted accents of the Marseillaise. Eve straightens her head, and turns slowly, confident, passionate, toward Society.


And you, Society, great republican society, you who have been called generous, being born of the blood of heroes! Would you have pity on my tears?




Oh! They are sweet to say, the words that you bear on your brow: Liberty!… Equality!… Fraternity!…


Stretching out her arms in a surge of hope.


Creatress of Liberty, rid me of these chains!


SOCIETY, cold and severe.


The words that you speak, woman, were not written for you.


EVE, with despair.


Alas!… Alas!…


SOCIETY, cold and severe.


Enough of your moans. Do your duty, woman; accomplish your task, without allowing yourself to be distracted by useless dreams. Give birth, give birth, give birth; I must have citizens!


EVE, with a bitter smile.


There must be citizens!…


In a surge of grief.


Ah! yes… your citizens!… They all come from my loins! I have molded them with my flesh, with my poor humiliated flesh! I have made them from my blood, from my life, from my sorrows!… But you, ingrate, whose power I have created, what salary have you paid me?…


SOCIETY, sententiously.


You are made to give, not to receive. Woman, to each their fate. To others the enjoyments; to you the sacrifice!… The Republic is equitable, and divides.


EVE, with a heart-rending sob.


Ah!… despair!… despair!… Where are you then, Pity, goddess with eyes so sweet? And you, chains, heavy chains… still more heavy… always more heavy! Rusty chains, cruel chains!… Who will break you?…


One hears in the wings a great clamor, vague and far off at first, that, little by little, grows and approaches, made up of shouts and songs, among which one clearly distinguishes some musical phrases from the Internationale.





REBELLION appears, proud and splendid, draped in scarlet, hair blowing in the wind.




At this voice, the Church and Society start, and fix the newcomers with looks of fearful alarm.


EVE, shuddering.




She half turns and sees Rebellion.


Who then are you, goddess with eyes of flame?…


REBELLION, with a resounding voice.


Rebellion!…  Sublime daughter of Sorrow!


At these words, the church and Society, terrified, turn their heads and cover their faces. Rebellion continues in a passionate voice.


Oh, all you whom must bow and bend to fate, I alone will break your chains!…


She approaches Eve, tears off her chains, throws them away violently, and continues, quivering.


And I will fill with cries of war, with formidable and vengeful clamors, that has, until now, only resounded with your moans and sobs!…


To Eve.


Age-old victim, eternally oppressed, come to me as to your savior!……… Hope for nothing from your prayers, nor from your resignation; do not count on human generosity, and still less on divine protection! Do not wait for someone to throw you, out of pity, as alms, some miserable morsels of the sacred rights that you demand!… But take them all, those sacred rights; take them yourselves, with a splendid, victorious surge!…


Rising up with a regal gesture.


Oh, woman! You do not march towards justice on your knees!…


EVE, standing, trembling and exalted.


Ah! Your powerful breath revives me, uplifts me, carries me!… I feel rising in me the impetuous flood of fertile rage!…

Perfidious Religion, infamous Society, monstrous barrier of prejudice and stupidity, your slave is a rebel!… The prisoner shakes the bars of her prison!


To the church.


Ah! You speak of punishment!


To Society.


And you, you speak of sacrifice!




And for centuries, always the same words, bleak and haunting, have struck my ears like a tolling bell!




Be silent, eternal oppressors! Today, it is a question of rights!…

Oh! Expect nothing more from me!… No labor without wages!… Too long has Humanity, my work, scorned and disowned its author! My loins are weary from bearing ingrates! The tree of life refuses some fruits to its executioners!…

Close then, sorrowful and too-fertile flank!… Shut… until the hour of triumph; the glorious hour when the ancient fortresses crumble before my infuriated protests! when, in the place finally conquered, I will enter, trembling from heroic struggles, to make more love and more beauty germinate there!




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Mary Putnam-Jacobi, obituary for Susan J. Dimock (1847-1875)

Dimock3It should come as no surprise that women who were rebels in other aspects of life would have connections to the anarchist movement. This was certainly true among the pioneering women physicians in the United States. The following obituary was written by Mary Putnam-Jacobi, who boarded with the Reclus family while studying in Paris, for Susan Dimock, whose medical training was partially supported by the family of William B. Greene. Greene’s daughter Bessie was traveling with Dimock when they both died in the shipwreck of the Schiller in 1875. I’ll be posting more about both women in the future.


Sir:—The accompanying article was entrusted to me for publication by Dr. Susan Dimock, just before her departure for Europe in the ill-fated Schiller. I had not yet fulfilled her commission when the news of her death reached us. This news is terrible, not only to Dr. Dimock’s personal friends, but to that still wider circle who had recognized her fine talents, and her great value therefore in the difficult enterprise of hewing out for women an equal place in the medical profession. Dr. Dimock graduated with honors at Zurich after the prescribed four years’ term of study. Her thesis was written on the cases of puerperal fever she had had an opportunity of observing in the wards of a hospital. She has been practicing medicine in Boston a little over two years, but in this short time has already won for herself a deserved reputation among some of the best surgeons in the city. As resident physician at the New England Hospital, she has already performed many important surgical operations. A case of vesico-vaginal fistula was published in your columns some months ago. The brief note that I have again the honor of sending you relates a successful operation on a child, on whom so distinguished a surgeon as Dr. Cabot had already operated in vain. Last fall, while on a visit to Boston, Dr. Dimock showed me the photograph of another hospital patient, from whose neck she had removed a large sarcomatous tumor. The operation had been performed in the presence of the students of the hospital and Dr. Cabot, consulting surgeon. After reading the record of the case, I mentioned a precisely similar operation that I had seen performed by Richet in the Clinique at Paris, and the lecture, in which he described the great difficulties of removing a tumor deeply imbedded in so dangerous a locality. The Professor had seemed not a little proud of his own success in coping with these difficulties, and had taken care that a numerous auditorium should witness his triumph. At this Dr. Dimock laughed, and said, “I was asked why I had issued no invitations, but I had forgotten all about them.” She added, “Indeed I have to little personal ambition to care who sees, when I am once assured my work is well done.” The remark was characteristic of the modesty and simplicity that distinguished the young surgeon. She was as fresh and girlish as if such qualities had never been pronounced by competent authorities to be incompatible with medical attainments. She had indeed a certain flower-like beauty, a softness and elegance of appearance and manner such as in abundantly lacking in the women most eager to denounce surgical accomplishments as outrageously unfeminine. I have wondered whether she did not resemble Angelica Kaufman. Underneath this softness, however, lay a decision of purpose, a Puritan austerity of character, that made itself felt, though unseen. “She ruled her hospital like a little Napoleon,” said a lady who had been there under her care. The ideal steadfastness which is only possible in characters of this kind, was shown to me at my first interview with her, when she came—a girl scarcely out of her teens—to Paris, on her way to Zurich. We urged her to spend a few days in the capital, for the sake of the recreation to which American students usually consider themselves entitled before they settle down to their studies. Miss Dimock alone refused, for the reason, which she gave with the utmost frankness, that she had been obliged to borrow money in order to prosecute her studies, and should not feel justified in spending a cent of it for amusement or sight-seeing. She put forward all amusements for the future, until she should have won her university degree, and should have fulfilled a pledge of hospital service in Boston. Towards this horrible voyage of April, 1875, converged the pleasurable anticipations of nearly seven years. Among all the bright lives that have been engulfed in this dreadful shipwrech, none is more valuable than hers. Perhaps no woman’s life of equal social value has met this tragic fate since the body of Margaret Fuller was washed ashore on the western coast of the Atlantic. For the success of the social enterprise of securing for women a place in the medical profession finally depends upon but one condition, the demonstration, namely, by repeated indubitable practical evidence, of their real fitness for each branch of its work. None are fitted for all, and both the surgical talents and surgical training of Dr. Dimock are certainly, at the present date, exceptional among women. It is on this account that her loss is literally irreparable, for at this moment there seems to be no one to take her place. Many battles have been lost from such a cause. But although ours be ultimately won, we woul not, if we could, grieve less loyally for this girl, so brilliant and so gentle, so single of purpose and so wide of aim, whose life has been thus ruthlessly uprooted and thrown upon the waves at the very moment it touched upon fruition.

Mary Putnam-Jacobi

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Nelly Roussel, “What is ‘Feminism’?” (1906)

Nelly Roussel
No French word is more often badly understood and falsely interpreted than the one that designates the ensemble of our demands.
And I do not fear to affirm that some men, and men women, are “feminists” without knowing it, all while rejecting the title.
Some—despite the evidence—persist in seeing in “feminism” only a masculinization of woman, a servile and grotesque copy of the male by his envious companion.
Others believe they have discovered there a disturbing tendency to invert the roles, to replace masculine domination with an equally unjust, equally abusive feminine domination, and to reduce the former “lords and masters” to slavery.
The first of these ideas is, on the part of men, somewhat vain. We do not have such a profound admiration for these gentlemen that we would want to resemble them in every respect. We prefer to be ourselves. We aspire to something other than the role of imitators.
The second attributes to us desires for revenge that are foreign to us, and that would be, moreover, very clumsy. Experience has taught us that there is no harmony possible between the master and the slave. As long as any part of humanity will claim to dominate the other, and believe that it has rights over it,…tyranny will be inevitable and revolt will be legitimate.
We no more approve of gynocracy (government by women)—which, if we must believe the scholars, has existed in very ancient times—than the fiercely masculinist society of today.
The “feminist”—let us repeat it without ceasing—proclaims the natural equivalence and demands the social equality of the two factors of the human race.
Some will objet that they are different. All the more reason to admit that they complement one another, and that no perfect work is possible without their close collaboration.
They will also say that woman is, by reason of her very nature, unsuited to certain functions. That matters little to us. We do no pretend to oblige all women to do such and such a thing. We only demand for them the freedom to choose, judging that every human being knows better than anyone what is suitable for them. We do not know the Woman, a vague abstraction. We see around us women, concrete creatures with very diverse skills, tastes, tendencies, and temperaments. And without being unaware of the differences between the sexes, we want to take account of the differences, no less great, between individuals.
Feminism is also a doctrine of justice. It aspires to balance between duties and rights, compensations and cares. It refuses to accept that a creature can be at once minor and major—minor with regard to rights, major with regard to failings—and that woman, as worker, housewife, or génératrice (sometimes the three at the same time), representing a social value at least equal to that of her companion, should be subordinated to him, and treated as an accessory, always by the laws and often by customs.
Feminism is, finally, a doctrine of harmony. It dreams of the human couple, united by heart and mind—and not only by the senses and especially by interest—composed of two unities equally conscious and free, and sustaining one another mutually; and side by side, hand in hand, always marching towards more love, more light, more beauty!…
L’Almanach Féministe, 1906.
[Working translation by Shawn P. Wilbur.]

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Suzanne Voilquin, “Suicide of Claire Démar and Perret Desessarts” (1855)

of Claire Démar and Perret Desessarts.
My soul painfully gripped by the dismal drama that has just played out before our eyes, I can, today, only deplore the loss of these two victims of the social and religious anarchy of the century, and share the reflections that this sad event has engendered in me. But, above all, I must seek to destroy a calumny that all the newspapers have been pleased to repeat. All have made known, coldly citing the event, that intimate relations existed between Claire and Desessarts. For those who have sounded the depths of the human heart, this act remains unbelievable. If they had loved, if love, that creative fire, had animated their souls, they would have had faith in one another, and they would still be among us. For isn’t love, taken in its most noble, most elevated, most extended expression, a belief? Isn’t it a religion? Isn’t it life? And it is, on the contrary, because they no longer lover, because the sweet and invigorating sentiments no longer circulated in their hearts, which were as if petrified by struggle and doubt, that they were discouraged by the cold and colorless existence, and would employ the rest of their energy to finalize the association of the tomb…. It was during the night August 4, in the year [185]5 that they would execute that deadly resolution; that double suicide displays a group of arrangements that proclaim an extraordinary sang-froid and vigorous strength. Perret Désessarts, age 25, had recently left Grenoble, the city of his birth. Already haunted by an obsession with suicide, he came to Paris around the beginning of that year; it was also at that time that he saw, for the first time, Claire Démar. That woman, still young, with an agreeable exterior and a strongly tempered soul, had the courage to accept poverty, and to cast far away a position that was comfortable, but suspect and without respect, glory to her! By that act, she had climbed back to the rank of woman, since that determination was free and spontaneous. It is then that she saw Désessarts. Both loved and sought glory; they understood each other. The analogy that existed between their characters made them friends. Since, in that capacity, they often met and associated their efforts of propagation. Some very interesting letters that they have written as a final farewell (which will probably be made public), only affirm that simple liaison. So let doubt not be raised before the assertion statement of the casket!
These unfortunate victims of skepticism needed, in order to accept life as it is, and not consider it a great foolishness without any solution, they need, I say, for poetry, for religion to come and revive their souls. They looked around them: everything, in these great ruins of Christendom, morals, cult, dogma, everything seemed to them lackluster, dead. This society of the nineteenth century, so cold, so selfish, only cast over their enthusiasm a frosting of mockery and disdain.
Their understanding darkened by doubt, they came then to demand of the new religion the guiding thread of life, the truth. But, wounded and fatigued by the struggle they had to maintain with the world, they could not look without fright at the numberless obstacles that selfishness, that profound evil that gnaws at the heart of all of society, brought to bear against their efforts. Despairing of easing so many sorrows, they fell into the most absolute despondency, doubted themselves and renounced their mission. It was thus that they would reproduce the drama of the young [Victor] Escousse and his friend; like them, they would demand of death the poetry of a beautiful departure; taking one another’s hands, they would fall together, finding a sort of horrible delight in this fraternity of the tomb. The young man wrote to some of his friends, a few moments before his death: “I wish you, my friend, in order to die with calm and happiness, to find, as I have, a friendto accompany you to the place where doubt is no longer possible.”
To die, failing to find your place in life!… What an energetic protest against that which exists. To die exhausted by the struggle! What despair is as great as the one that proves itself by death? Unfortunate Claire! Poor Desessarts! Would that you could be reborn in more harmonious times! When the great, beautiful religion that we proclaim, and that is now still only a faint point on the horizon, will have grown enough to shine in the eyes of all and serve as a flambeau to all of humanity, oh! then, the cold poison of skepticism will no longer freeze your young hearts from your childhood. You believe in God, for you feel the harmony, your place, which you have not been able to find now, will be for you; for then there will be a socialand maternalprovidence that will ensure your individual development.
Journalists, people of the world, a woman and a man who, in the prime of life, die from lack of belief, are not pallid individualities of whom we may speak lightly; respect, then, these two caskets
As for us, who should not only limit ourselves to recording this fatal event, but who must see in it the indication of a great progress to be accomplished, this misfortune will bring us closer together; we will feel the need to mutually sustain each other, to join ourselves more and more by the link of a religious fraternity, and to make it so that the women who, in order to adopt more completely the new faith, break with the old world, are not led, by isolation and the lack of support they find among us, to despondency and death.
Believe it well: for that to happen it is not enough to call women to liberty, and to leave them then to struggle alone with this selfish world, which has money as its sole regulator and only God; this cold, immature world that laughs with pity at any enthusiasm, for apart from the religious sentiment that the new faithseeks to establish in minds, to what anchor of salvation could the women who sense the future attach themselves? Is it liberty, so poorly understood by all those who desire it? But we still only have the right to pronounce this magic word, which makes so many hearts resonate, in this French society, the most advanced of all societies, under the patronage of men and on their behalf; the most intelligent of the republicans still has yet to include woman in it, or to feel that justice, that right, that Godis equally in our cause.
If, turning our gaze on ourselves, I ask myself: Is there in our belleFrance a woman capable, by her position, of lending support to all the others? Who can represent the unity of our rights? Can those most elevated in dignity, like that placed on the dernier echelon? What are they? Legally speaking, they are nothing; all are sheltered behind a name, a place, a social position that they received passively at the good pleasure of another. Alas! The French have one queen, but women have no mother!
With thoughts oppressed by ideas of the future, ideas as immense as the world, since they tend to encircle it, what are the means of propagation left to women in order to attempt to cultivate or bring closer that future? Whatever their moral strength, what can they do alone? Wear themselves out in useless attempts, and then…, think of Claire Démar
Therefore, our hope of emancipation rests entirely on that family of men dispersed almost everywhere throughout the world, preaching our rights, our equality. But it is especially when the propagation of these ideas could be combining and made by group, by complete family, that they will gain force and activity; it is not advice that I hazard; I even believe that it would still be premature to try that attempt: the thought, the desire that has long dominated me, and that I naively express today, could also have troubled other hearts; it is good that we reflect on it….. But before that link can be formed, new believers, think about what duties your faith commits you to, all you who call yourself the apostles, the companions of woman; by the privileges attached to your sex, you are still in possession of the immense power to direct opinion; let the moral support that springs from it be lavished on all, and principally on those who have the courage to descend into the arena and take an active part in the action. Strong man, devoted as far as the sublime! Say to all those who hear you and who love you that the essential notion, the accomplishment of which has been confided to the religious men of our era, is the elevation of woman, it is her place, acknowledged, and finally her complete liberty and her rights assured to her by the whole world.
Oh! Doubtless it is useful and just that the devotion of men be brought to light, and I applaud with my whole heart every work that aims at this result; but before the world worships and recognizes in the divinity the attributes of a God that is both good and bonne, father and mother of the human family, and does not reclassify itself according to that divine thought, it is still more just and more useful, that transitorily the action of man be regarded as secondary to that of woman. Thus, to contribute with enthusiasm to facilitate any work that would glorify man alone would be, in my opinion, to take the detail for the whole, to put the accessory in relief and the principal in shadow. So, courage! The most beautiful crown is for those who reach the goal!
August 11, 1855.                                                                                                                   Suzanne.

[Working translation by Shawn P. Wilbur.]

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Amilcare Cipriani, “A Woman” (1902)

Nature had been kind in bestowing her gifts on her; beauty, goodness, strength, will and energy, she possessed all these in the highest degree. She might have been happy, she chose instead to embrace and devote herself, to the “cause” which spreads fear amongst cowards and governments.
Life had just commenced to smile on her, when the Italian war of Independence broke out.
Three of her brothers took up arms to deliver their enslaved motherland.
She had already been asked in marriage, but refused. “I cannot think of marriage,” said she, “while my brothers are risking their lives on the battlefield.” And she valiantly remained at home to take care of her mother, her father, and her fourth brother who was blind.
She preferred celibacy to a rich marriage, poverty to luxury, solitude to the empty noise of society, sufferings to the joys which so often prove false in life.
She worked to help her parents, nor ever forgot her brother who was imprisoned and persecuted. She buried her old parents and became the “Antigone” to her blind brother, to whom she was as a mother all her life.
Her love for her brothers, the supervision of their correspondence, their trial, and the many incidents or their lives, became her only care; she embraced their principles with enthusiasm, and became a. Socialist after she had dispersed every vestige of belief in a religion she had learnt to abhor.
Monarchy could not strike at her directly: it took revenge on her remaining brother by throwing him into its prison cells.
She found herself thus alone between the prisons which enclosed her beloved brothers. Known as an Atheist, a Socialist, a revolutionist, government spies forced their way into her house on every occasion, searched everywhere, upset, smashed everything, in the hope of finding compromising papers—which she knew better than to keep.
To terrify and force her into submission, these ignoble searches were, throughout 40 years, carried out during night-time. Ill or Well, she was made to get up; they shook her bedding, knocked about her furniture, in order to search for correspondence from her persecuted brother.
All this only added fuel to her hatred against monarchy, the priests and the bourgeoisie, and increased her attachment to the social cane.
Her home, once filled with a numerous and happy family, had been depopulated by death and persecution. A lonely woman, she calmly withstood the implacable enmity of the monarchy’s secret spies, who respect neither virtue nor honesty, nor sorrow, nor illness, nor death.
But this strong-hearted woman gave way to nothing, bent low before no one; neither the ferocious persecutions directed against and which reflected upon her, nor the misery, nor the solitude, nor even death itself, drew a complaint or a tear from her brave soul.
She did cry, however, but with joy; it was on the day when she embraced her brother after an absence of 30 years spent in battle, in prison, in exile. They had parted as children, they met when old.
In her youth—and even in her last days—her dream was to fight and die for the social cause side by side with her brothers.
But her brothers will not have the consolation of seeing her a standard-bearer in the great fight which is preparing everywhere!
On December 12th of this sad year now drawing to a close, she died.
She died smiling and tranquil, for her blind brother had been by her side day and night.
The Romagnol Socialists, who adored her, gave her a funeral worthy of her virtues, her strength, her courage, and her Socialist convictions, which she retained to her last breath.
Here name was Amelia Cipriani.
She was my sister.
Amilcare Cipriani
(Translated from La Petite Republique for Justice.)
Amilcare Cipriani, “A Woman,” Freedom 16 no, 167 (April-May, 1902):13-14.

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Pauline Roland, Have Women the Right to Labor? (1851)

A Letter from Pauline Roland
We extract from the Espérance a letter of a courageous and intelligent woman, a martyr of modern times, a heroine of Socialism, dead fighting for Progress and for Humanity.
Pauline Roland is no more—and yet she still fights among us, with the drops of her blood as with the pearls of her thought, she shakes the scourge at the heads of the reactionaries, revolution in the faces of the civilized?
Have Women the Right to Labor? [1]
A Simple Question
Addressed by a captive to the citizen Emile de Girardin,
editor of the Bien-Etre universel
Prison of Saint-Lazare, April 1851
I just read the first issues of your new publication, and I must confess, one article among those that it contained attracted my attention in a very particular manner. So permit me to chat with you about a subject that, no doubt, concerns as much as it does me.
If, in what you wrote on the subject of my sex, you were moved by serious moral considerations and the love of truth, deign to give some clarifications to a woman who finds herself in prison for having believed that labor is the right of every human being, and that women are human beings just like men, equal to them, and having roughly the same rights and the same duties.
Let us see, then, and respond in good faith: you have enough wit to admit when you are wrong. I cite your words:
The first and supreme function of women is tobear strongly constituted, healthy and robust children, to feed and raise them.
“It is thus for men to labor,
“For the woman to administer her household.
“She must only do what she can without leaving the paternal roof when she is a child; the conjugal roof when she is a wife; the cradle of her children when she is  mother.”
That is, in all its simplicity, the law of the life of woman as you will decree it if tomorrow, which God forbid, citizen Emile de Girardin, should call you, like the Bérards or Armand Marrasts, to produce some Constitution for us: you would give us the right to idleness, which we do not want, by holding us under a perpetual tutelage, which we equally reject; for, as the popular song says:
Labor is liberty.
But let us continue.
Does woman have a soul? wonderedthe doctors of Mohammedanism, as, before them, had wondered a certain bishop of the Council of Macon, whose question, according to Gregory ofTours, was drowned in the general disapproval of his colleagues.
Has woman a life of her own, or is she only an appendix of the life of man? Is she a free, equal being, existing as a member of Humanity, independent of the functions that are assigned to her? As a human being, does she have the right, as much for herself as in the interest of the family of which she is a part, of the society of which she is a member, of acquiring all the physical, moral, and intellectual development of which she is susceptible? That, citizen, is the moral question that in three lines – tossed out a bit absent-mindedly, allow me to say – you have resolved in the negative. If the thing had occurred under some Council of Macon, they would not have let you pursue it, and I doubt that you would have been more fortunate if you had posed it at a conference of doctors the new faith, of which you proclaimyourself a follower.
Here, allow me to tell you a little anecdote, very truthful, the principal character of which is one of the most illustrious physiologists of our times, doctor Lallemand. One day, in Montpellier, that learned man having to examine an aspiring doctor, he asked him what the role of woman was in the life of Humanity. – “To charm our existence by making herself love, then to reproduce the species and nurse the children,” the candidate responded immediately. – “And that is all?” – “Yes, Monsieur!” – “All! The whole role of woman?” – “Without any doubt.” – “Young man, do you have a mother? – “Yes, Monsieur.” – “How old is she? – “Fifty.” – Well! You must drown her!’’, responded the doctor, sharply. And, in truth, if your system prevailed, that would be true.
But let us take up the debate seriously again.
No doubt woman is a mother, and it is a holy law of nature that that long confides the child to her tenderness. No doubt it is desirable for society that the son she gave birth to developes a robust constitution—to which you would have added a solid soul, if universal well-being did not reside for you in life and government at the lowest price. No doubt she must, when possible, nourish the baby with her milk, and in any case watch over its crib. She also needs to educate it, together with the father and society. But, in good faith, is that the occupation of a lifetime? Many women do not have children. The average maternity may be three per household. By greatly extending the cares of food and primary education, the only cares, certainly, we deign to confide solely to the mother, we would have ten years from an active life which can be about sixty years. The rest will go to dressing up, knitting socks, playing the piano, cleaning pans, or playing a game of whist. Thank you for your generosity, citizen, but we prefer real work to this boring leisure, and we affirm that the household will only be better when it is no longer our only business.
Moreover, citizen, even though woman shouldaccept the lot you want to make for her, is that by confining her to the gynaeceum, which never takes long to become theharem or theslaves’ quarters, that you will make her the robustgeneratrix that you depict; the healthynurse, the sensible educator that you want for your son? Some examples drawn from antiquity can illuminate the question.
The Athenian women livedat the back of the women’s quarters, and one can not doubt, it seems to me,that the terrible corruption that Platoand Plutarch depict, just like Aristophanes,comes, among themost gifted people on earth, from the absence of women in all transactions of civil and political life. As feminine types, the City of Arts andleaves us Xantippe and Aspasia: the nagginghousewife, the shameless courtesan.
On the contrary, the Spartangirls took part in the games of the gymasium indeed even the struggles by whichadolescents of the austere city gave a prelude to thecombats; and the ideal of the mother of the citizen, if not the citizen woman, stillremains today the Spartiate.
Finally, let us see some features of the portrait of the virtuous woman, according to the famous book of Proverbs attributed to Solomon:
‘”Who will find a valiant woman?Because her price surpasses many pearls. Theheart of her husband is assured in her She knows to do good every day of his life, andnever evil. Sheseeks wool and flax, and she does what she wantswith her hands. She is like the merchants’ ships, she brings her bread from afar Sheconsiders a field and acquires it, she plants a vineyard with the fruit of herhands. Shegirds her loins with strength and strengthens her arms… She makes cloth and sells it; she makes belts that she to gives the merchant She contemplates the progress of her house, and eateth not the bread of idleness.”
I know, citizen, that you could tell me that you do see any harm in the woman as Solomon paints her, since she still seems a bit confinedin the household; however, to be consistent, you must reject several of the verses that I quoted. I also would respondthat I myself have too much faith in the holy law of progress to satisfy myself with an ideal conceived twenty-eight centuries ago, any more than the virtue of the Spartan woman.
The life of the modern woman must be superior to both, because the progress of Humanity profits the woman like the man. And if we have gained in value, we should have gained equally in right.
So I summarize, and to the four propositions advanced by you, and cited at the beginning of my letter, I respond:
Woman is a free being, equal to man, whose sister she is. Like him, she has to fulfill some duties towards himself, by preserving, out of reach, her individual dignity, by developing herself in virtue, by making her life, not from the labor, the love, and intelligence of another – be that other her father, her husband or her son –, but of her own labor, her own love, and her own intelligence. Like man, she has to fulfill some duties to her family, which are the sweetest reward of the other labors, but cannot absorb her, even when the man, as happens to often, no longer fulfills towards the family other duties than that of provider of material bread. Finally the woman is a citizen, by right, if not in fact, and as such, she must be involved in the life outside, in the social life, which will only be normal when the entire family is represented there.
There, citizen, is my response to your first proposition.
As for the second and third, which, properly speaking, are only one, I would say: woman has the right to work like man, and to a productive, independent work, which frees her from all guardianship. She has a right to choose her own work, as much as the man, and no one can legitimately confine her to the home, if she feels herself called otherwise.
Finally as soon as the woman reaches the age of maturity, she is entitled to do with her life as she sees fit. The paternal roof should be a refuge for her, not a prison from which she can escape only to pass into another prison. The marital home is her home, her property, at the same time it is that of the man andwithin the same limits. She is no more forced to remain there than he is, if her conscience calls her elsewhere. Finally,her arms being the natural cradle of her children, she carries wherever seems good to her, and we can imagine nothing more beautiful, more respectable in the future, and that the woman adorned with all her duties, of her virtues, of her loves,taking part as a human being, in industrial and civil life.
All of this, citizen, was discussed twenty years ago in Saint-Simonianism; and it seemed to me that the cause of theemancipation of women was so wellwon that, when someone began to cut and thrust to gain the equality of the sexes, I used to laugh, saying that it didn’t seem necessary to me to break down open doors. You and the citizen Proudhon have just shown me that unfortunately we still must fight again!
I appear weak, almostunarmed, before such illustrious champions, but I stand with faith, remembering theoutcome of the struggle of David withGoliath. Those who fight for the truth have no need of armor.
Awaiting your response, whatever it may be, I pray you, citizen, acceptmy fraternal greetings.
Pauline Roland
[1] Also published as “Does Woman have a Right to Liberty?”
[Working translation by Shawn P. Wilbur]

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André Léo in Pierre Leroux’s “Revue Sociale”

It’s certainly no surprise to find work by André Léo in Pierre Leroux’s journal La Revue Sociale. The prolific writer, whose real name was Victoire Léodile Béra, was married to the editor, Grégoire Champseix. But much of her literary output was later, after Champseix’s death, and despite all the very interesting material that I have pulled from La Revue Sociale, I’ll admit that I have never been able to steal the time to give the journal all the attention I’m sure it deserves. So it was nice to find that members of L’Association André Léo have identified a number of contributions, under the pseudonyms Victor Léo and Léo, as also being the work of this woman with so very many names. I started my workday with a quick translation of the shortest of them:

This is the time when the wild rose and honeysuckle bushes extend fragrant garlands, when a thousand wonders frail blossom in the grass, under the foliage, in the hollows of rocks. This is the time when amidst the wheat the cornflower shines; when the wild thyme, with its soft color, lines the edges of the roads.
How sweet it is to tread the carpet meadows, when every step brings forth a perfume!
How sweet is the shade of the trees, from which we hear, stretched out on the moss, the song of the birds and the call of the cicada!
When nature lulls with a monotonous voice her voluptuous daytime sleep.
What fragrance does that breeze carry?… My spirit has leapt like the exile at the song of their homeland. – Let us go to the country; Let us worship God.
So said the young girl from the city; but they respond to her: “Custom shuts up your life.” – And, crying, she went to sit before the cage of her favorite bird, which each day she fills with seed and fresh biscuit.
“You cry,” Said the bird. “Your breast swells with indignation because they refuse you, O daughter of infinity, air and space. – And yet I, whose wings travel farther in an hour than your steps will take you in a week, you hold me in this narrow cage, far from the flowers and the sun.”
— Thus, absorbed in ourselves, we do not find in our own misfortunes a feeling for those of others. Mutually, at every opportunity, we shatter our destinies; in our hands, space has become a prison. The body lacks air and the spirit love. We suffer without understanding; and each complains by striking.

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Jenny d’Héricourt, A letter from America (1868)

I’ve been working on the remaining untranslated portions of Jenny d’Héricourt’s Woman Affranchised, which has included a number of pleasant surprises, including some borrowings from her adversary Proudhon that suggest she was a close and careful reader of much of his work. I also made another search through the online archives for material I hadn’t seen and ran across this letter to La Solidarité: journal des principes, a journal published by Charles Fauvety, who was both a friend of Héricourt and an old collaborator of Proudhon’s. Fauvety was also indirectly connected, through association with Alphonse-Louis Constant, aka Eliphas Lévi, with Flora Tristan, whose posthumous work, The Emancipation of Woman, or Testament of the Pariah, I should be able to present in English translation soon. (Here’s a taste.) The letter hints at all sorts of contexts that I cannot supply at present, and which make the final section, on “reparation,” hard to translate precisely. Did she believe that she had been a “tyrant”? There were certainly some who had accused her of “masculine” prejudices, though they were mostly men, who saw nothing much wrong with them than their unfitness for her sex. And we have Juliette Adam’s account of her dismissive attitude toward the younger woman. (Proudhon’s critics seem to have been pretty hard on each other.) I’ll certainly be digging to see if there is more to this correspondence, but, for now, we can certainly say that we see flashes of Jenny d’Héricourt’s larger-than-life personality throughout the letter. Along with the apparently penitent moments, there also moments of colossal pride, which recall Constant’s characterization of Flora Tristan: “Flora Tristan is the splendid personification of the most complete and most implacable pride. Milton’s Satan must be dead of bitterness since she came into the world.” There are other connections between the two remarkable women, including a shared interest in the sort of secular religion which Fauvety was exploring. More about that as the relevant texts get translated…

Chicago, May 27, 1868.
         Dear sir,
By way of our friend Faisandié, I have received the issue of la Solidarité where you recall to the public, and in particular to Mr. Montanier, la Femme affranchie and its author. I come to thank you for it. Before settling down to that subject, allow me to thank you for your article against materialist morality. Another article also gave me great pleasure, signed Pérès. Finally, we arrive then at the true foundation of ontology! From the beginning, the being is thus an appetite, force pursuing a finality; so the finality is the cause of all movement, of all determination in the being, from its first, atomic stage to its last, terrestrial stage, when it feels, knows itself, and wants—when it is a human being. Compliment Mr. Pérès for me, if you think that a compliment from me would be agreeable. It is a great satisfaction to always find myself in the same current of ideas and feeling as the one I followed in your midst; it even happens that I have drawn closer to you since our separation, for I have worked for a year on the preparation of a volume where the science of being and the solidarity of man with himself in the past and the future, his solidarity with all nature, are based on the positive sciences. My claims are irrefutably established by laws and facts; but a work, in order to make a durable impression, must, you know, foresee and resolve all the negations and objections of the adversaries; it is always my method of criticizing without mercy first before making assertions. Now, that preliminary work cannot be made in America: for that I need Paris, the readings by opponents, your conversations of thinkers and philosophers; all that is lacking here, and I do not have the time to read enough. This grips my heart so much, that it takes all my reason not to spend the end of July and August in Paris; but I hope that I will not give in to a temptation that would perhaps delay my definitive return by a year or two, the hope that in five years you will count one more champion in the ranks of the army of solidarity. In the meantime, if some articles would be agreeable to you, I am at your service; I will find a few hours to write them.
You end les Femmes médecins by saying that I have found in America the justice that I did not find in France. No, dear sir, women find only obstacles everywhere. Whatever their good will, whatever their aptitudes, they will always see ordinary men supplant them, either because the prejudice of intellectual inferiority is raised against them because of their sex, or because all men wanting women to remain subordinate, and using their unfitness as an excuse, do not want, for anything in the world, give any emphasis to a woman who is the incarnate refutation of what they want to convince themselves of. I have had to fight like ten men. If I was an average, clever man, I would probably have made my little fortune; but I am a woman, and if I had only had my individual value, without a nearly superhuman persistence and a courage, I would be dead of hunger. I make money, I am busy; but, I repeat, a woman of ordinary courage would not have been able to undergo the trial, and, thank the gods, I have sustained it and done so with dignity: the respect and esteem of a whole great city surrounds me today. I don’t complain; these terrible four years of my life have tempered my character: I have less passion, but the firmness of steel. I am not embittered, I have just learned to know my species and my sex; and I said to myself that my present life being with connected my previous existence, I must submit to logic under its terrible form of reparation. If I had the odious prejudices of the males, if I had been a tyrant, I should condemn myself to return in order to atone and suffer: there would be no point in rebelling, but to bow my head and bless a trial that improves and sets things right. Moreover, apart from some difficulties inseparable from my sex, what have I to complain of? My health is vigorous, I am ten years younger and two years stronger than in France; I have lost none of my intellectual faculties and aptitudes; I have honorably earned more than my living, and I posses an honorable independence made by myself alone; my character is honored, and a complete confidence surrouns me: haven’t I had a happier fate than thousands of other worthy beings?
I bid you adieu, shaking your hand fraternally.
Jenny P. d’Héricourt.
La Solidarité : journal des principes 2 no. 8 (July 1, 1868): 127.
[Working translation by Shawn P. Wilbur]

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