“Men, their rights and nothing more; women, their rights and nothing less” so read the first masthead for “The Revolution,” a short-lived but highly influential weekly periodical from the National Women’s Suffrage Association (NWSA) created by Elizabeth Cady Stanton and Susan B. Anthony, edited by Stanton and minister Parker Pillsbury, in January of 1868.
Despite its circulation never getting higher than 3000 subscribers, the fact that it was starting conversations on subjects that affected everyone but no one was daring to talk about made it a foundational part of women’s rights. The publication addressed suffrage, of course, but also sex education, domestic violence, rape, prostitution, and divorce. Columns on unionization and fair treatment of women workers brought many working-class women to the suffrage movement and gave hope that their voices could be heard.
A year and a half after it began, the paper was already incurring debt due to a number of factors. Stanton insisted on only top-quality equipment and materials. She also paid her staff the high wages she thought writers deserved and the main financial backer, George Francis Train, was imprisoned in England for helping fund Irish rebels. Finally, she refused to accept ads for alcohol and morphine-based phony patent medicines which were lucrative but morally unsavory and contributing to the serious addiction problems plaguing America.
Ironically, in May of 1869 “The Revolution” was sold to the heiress of morphine-based “Mrs. Winslow’s Soothing Syrup,” for the sum of $1 who turned it into a literary and social gossip circular, chock full of ads for patent medicine. By February of 1872 the paper closed for good but its impact had been made.
The second edition masthead was changed to the now famous quote “Men, their rights and nothing more; women, their rights and nothing less.” A sentiment which still resonates today.
This week’s song pick:
“Do Right Woman, Do Right Man” by Aretha Franklin, covered by Sheryl Crow and Willie Nelson https://youtu.be/5jfy62xKElc
Episode 20 Sources: