"NEVER HAVING ENJOYED POLITICAL RIGHTS, NO PARTY IN POWER HAS ANY PRETEXT FOR DICTATING TO US OUR POLITICAL DUTIES": FIRST EDITION OF THE PROCEEDINGS OF A PEACE MEETING, HELD IN 1870, LED BY JULIA WARD HOWE, WITH HER MAJOR SPEECHES ON WOMEN'S RIGHTS AND WORLD PEACE
HOWE, Julia Ward. Proceedings of a Peace Meeting Held at Union League Hall, New York, December 23, 1870, For the Purpose of Free Consultation on the Subject of a Woman's Peace Congress for the World, As Proposed by Mrs. Julia Ward Howe of Boston. Philadelphia: John Gillam, 1871. Slim octavo, original orange wrappers, original stitching as issued; pp. 30. $2250.
First edition of an elusive work in women's history, documenting the December 23, 1870 conference led by Julia Ward Howe to organize a "Woman's Peace Congress for the World," featuring major speeches by her along with those by Lucretia Mott and others, affirming Howe's importance as an activist and leader in "empowering women to exert political influence," in fragile original wrappers.
"Although her best-known contribution to American history was providing the lyrics for the Battle Hymn of the Republic… Howe's most substantial contribution lay in women's rights… She single-handedly laid foundations for woman's rights groups while asserting her own right to participate in public life against formidable opposition" (ANB). This elusive and fragile work documents both her vital role in woman suffrage and her activism as President of the World's Peace Congress, which organized this December 23, 1870 "Peace Meeting." Prominently featured within are Howe's "Opening Address" and her "Address to the Women of the World," where she deftly turns a mark of oppression into a cause for action. "Never having enjoyed political rights," she declares, "no party in power has any pretext for dictating to us our political duties." The work also includes speeches and writings by figures such as Lucretia Mott and Gerrit Smith, and particularly features Howe's "Closing Remarks," as well as her fiery speech, "Putting Down Murder: An Appeal to Womanhood Throughout the World." It is there, decades before the creation of the United Nations, that she calls for "a general Congress of women without limitation of country… to promote the general alliance of nations… the great and enduring interests of peace."
Howe's activism always "focused on empowering women to exert political influence." She would go on to organize "the first Woman's Peace Congress in London in 1872 and in 1873 established a Mothers' Day of Peace to be observed annually." Her commitment to "suffrage movements over the next four decades meant that hundreds of thousands of women belonged to groups… committed to denouncing militarism and promoting peace" (Ziegler in Opposition to War, 322-23). Howe's speech, "Putting Down Murder," issued separately as a broadside the same year, where it used the subtitle, "An Appeal to Womanhood…" as its title. Front wrapper with small inkstamp and deaccession inkstamp of the University of Michigan library. Title page with small corner notation, "saved by Jay C—."
Text very fresh, faint small bit of dampstaining to lower edge of front wrapper. A handsome near-fine copy.