I was all in a tremble when it came to that. Somehow Mr. Wrangle's acceptance of the bid did not inspire me, although it promised so much. I had anticipated opposition, dissatisfaction, tumult. So had Mrs. Whiston, and I could see, and the crowd could see, that she was not greatly elated.
Mr. Wrangle made a very significant bow to Mr. Tumbrill, and then sat down. There were cries of "Tumbrill!" and that gentleman--none of us, of course, believing him sincere, for we knew his private views--came forward and made exactly the same pledge. I will do both parties the justice to say that they faithfully kept their word; nay, it was generally thought the repetition of their brief pleas for woman, at some fifty meetings before election came, had gradually conducted them to the belief that they were expressing their own personal sentiments. The mechanical echo in public thus developed into an opinion in private. My own political experience has since demonstrated to me that this is a phenomenon very common among men.
The impulse generated at that meeting gradually spread all over the State. We--the leaders of the Women's Movement--did not rest until we had exacted the same pledge from all the candidates of both parties; and the nearer it drew towards election-day, the more prominence was given, in the public meetings, to the illustration and discussion of the subject. Our State went for Lincoln by a majority of 2763 (as you will find by consulting the "Tribune Almanac"), and Mr. Wrangle was elected to Congress, having received a hundred and forty-two more votes than his opponent. Mr. Tumbrill has always attributed his defeat to his want of courage in not taking up at once the glove which Selina Whiston threw down.
I think I have said enough to make it clear how the State of Atlantic came to be the first to grant equal civil and political rights to women. When the Legislature of 1860-'61 met at Gaston, we estimated that we might count upon fifty-three out of the seventy-one Republican Senators and Assemblymen, and on thirty-four out of the sixty-five Democrats. This would give a majority of twenty-eight in the House, and ten in the Senate. Should the bill pass, there was still a possibility that it might be vetoed by the Governor, of whom we did not feel sure. We therefore arranged that our Annual Fair should be held a fortnight later than usual, and that the proceeds (a circumstance known only to the managers) should be devoted to a series of choice suppers, at which we entertained, not only the Governor and our friends in both Houses, but also, like true Christians, our legislatorial enemies. Olympia Knapp, who, you know, is so very beautiful, presided at these entertainments. She put forth all her splendid powers, and with more effect than any of us suspected. On the day before the bill reached its third reading, the Governor made her an offer of marriage. She came to the managers in great agitation, and laid the matter before them, stating that she was overwhelmed with surprise (though Sarah Pincher always maintained that she wasn't in the least), and asking their advice. We discussed the question for four hours, and finally decided that the interests of the cause would oblige her to accept the Governor's hand. "Oh, I am so glad!" cried Olympia, "for I accepted him at once." It was a brave, a noble deed!
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."