Now, I would ask those who assert that women are incapable of conducting the business of politics, to say whether any set of men, of either party, could have played their cards more skilfully? Even after the campaign was over we might have failed, had it not been for the suppers. We owed this idea, like the first, to the immortal Selina Whiston. A lucky accident--as momentous in its way as the fall of an apple to Newton, or the flying of a kite to Dr. Franklin--gave her the secret principle by which the politics of men are directed. Her house in Whittletown was the half of a double frame building, and the rear-end of the other part was the private office of--but no, I will not mention the name--a lawyer and a politician. He was known as a "wirepuller," and the other wire-pullers of his party used to meet in his office and discuss matters. Mrs. Whiston always asserted that there was a mouse-hole through the partition; but she had energy enough to have made a hole herself, for the sake of the cause.
She never would tell us all she overheard. "It is enough," she would say, "that I know how the thing is done."
I remember that we were all considerably startled when she first gave us an outline of her plan. On my saying that I trusted the dissemination of our principles would soon bring us a great adhesion, she burst out with:
"Principles! Why if we trust to principles, we shall never succeed! We must rely upon INFLUENCES, as the men do; we must fight them with their own weapons, and even then we are at a disadvantage, because we cannot very well make use of whiskey and cigars."
We yielded, because we had grown accustomed to be guided by her; and, moreover, we had seen, time and again, how she could succeed-- as, for instance, in the Nelson divorce case (but I don't suppose you ever heard of that), when the matter seemed nigh hopeless to all of us. The history of 1860 and the following winter proves that in her the world has lost a stateswoman. Mr. Wrangle and Governor Battle have both said to me that they never knew a measure to be so splendidly engineered both before the public and in the State Legislature.
After the bill had been passed, and signed by the Governor, and so had become a law, and the grand Women's Jubilee had been held at Gaston, the excitement subsided. It would be nearly a year to the next State election, and none of the women seemed to care for the local and municipal elections in the spring. Besides, there was a good deal of anxiety among them in regard to the bill, which was drawn up in almost the exact terms used by Mr. Wrangle at the political meeting. In fact, we always have suspected that he wrote it. The word "male" was simply omitted from all laws. "Nothing is changed," said Mrs. Whiston, quoting Charles X., "there are only 201,758 more citizens in Atlantic!"
This was in January, 1861, you must remember; and the shadow of the coming war began to fall over us. Had the passage of our bill been postponed a fortnight it would have been postponed indefinitely, for other and (for the men) more powerful excitements followed one upon the other. Even our jubilee was thinly attended, and all but two of the members on whom we relied for speeches failed us. Governor Battle, who was to have presided, was at Washington, and Olympia, already his wife, accompanied him. (I may add that she has never since taken any active part with us. They have been in Europe for the last three years.)
Most of the women--here in Burroak, at least--expressed a feeling of disappointment that there was no palpable change in their lot, no sense of extended liberty, such as they imagined would come to transform them into brighter and better creatures. They supposed that they would at once gain in importance in the eyes of the men; but the men were now so preoccupied by the events at the South that they seemed to have forgotten our political value. Speaking for myself, as a good Union woman, I felt that I must lay aside, for a time, the interests of my sex. Once, it is true, I proposed to accompany Mr. Strongitharm to a party caucus at the Wrangle House; but he so suddenly discovered that he had business in another part of the town, that I withdrew my proposition.