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Frances Wright excerpts

Bashed by her detractors as the "Red Harlot of Infidelity," Frances "Fanny" Wright, early feminist, freelover, atheist, socialist, slavery abolitionist, and founder of the Nashoba Commune, was both eloquent and active in her day.  Catherine Beecher said of Frances: "Who can look without disgust and abhorrence upon such a one as Fanny Wright."  She died in 1852, never to have seen the eventual emancipation of slaves in America and woman's suffrage many years later.  Her tombstone inscription: "I have wedded the cause of human improvement, staked on it my fortune, my reputation and my life."  Below are clips from her lectures.




"However novel it may appear, I shall venture the assertion, that, until women assume the place in society which good sense and good feeling alike, assign to them, human improvement must advance but feebly. It is in vain that we would circumscribe the power of one half of our race, and that half by far the most important and influential. If they exert it not for good, they will for evil; if they advance not knowledge, they will perpetuate ignorance. Let women stand where they may in the scale of improvement, their position decides that of the race. Are they cultivated? - so is society polished and enlightened. Are they ignorant? - so is it gross and insipid. Are they wise? - so is the human condition prosperous. Are they foolish? - so is it unstable and unpromising. Are they free? - so is the human character elevated. Are they enslaved? - so is the whole race degraded. Oh! that we could learn the advantage of just practice and consistent principles!"





"How are men to be secured in any rights without instruction; how to be secured in the equal exercise of those rights without equality of instruction? By instruction understand me to mean knowledge - just knowledge; not talent, not genius, not inventive mental powers. These will vary in every human being; but knowledge is the same for every mind, and every mind may and ought to be trained to receive it. If then, ye have pledged, at each anniversary of your political independence, your lives, properties, and honor, to the securing of your common liberties, ye have pledged your lives, properties, and honor, to the securing of your common instruction.

All men are born free and equal! That is: our moral feelings acknowledge it to be just and proper, that we respect those liberties in others, which we lay claim to for ourselves; and that we permit the free agency of every individual, to any extent which violates not the free agency of his fellow creatures.

There is but one honest limit to the rights of a sentient being; it is where they touch the rights of another sentient being. Do we exert our own liberties without injury to others - we exert them justly; do we exert them at the expense of others - unjustly. And, in thus doing, we step from the sure platform of liberty upon the uncertain threshold of tyranny."



"The industrious classes have been called the bone and marrow of the nation; but they are in fact the nation itself. The fruits of their industry are the nation's wealth; their moral integrity and physical health is the nation's strength; their ease and independence is the nation's prosperity; their intellectual intelligence is the nation's hope. Where the producing laborer and useful artisan eat well, sleep well, live comfortably, think correctly, speak fearlessly, and act uprightly, the nation is happy, free and wise. Has such a nation ever been? No. Can such a nation ever be? Answer, men of industry of the United States! If such can be, it is here. If such is to be, it must be your work."
















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