Oakland Tribune Cartoon

On August 24, 1909  socialite Alva Belmont opened her Marble House for the benefit of the suffrage movement.  Nine hundred guest held tickets.  Guests came from Newport society, local residents and from Boston.  Those holding dollar tickets were able to visit the grounds and the lecture tent.  Those holding the five dollar tickets were able to view the interior of the grand home.

As the hour for the lectures approached, Ninety year old Julia Ward Howe was brought in with an invalid chair.  After the Newport Mayor introduced her, Julia was lifted from her chair to the platform.  She was supported on one side by Mayor Boyle and on the other by her daughter Florence Howe Hall.  Although her voice was not as strong as it once was, she was heard distinctly.

Hartford Sentinel Cartoon

“Dear Friends, I feel a very pleasant inspiration to speak to you on this occasion so novel and to me so unusually full of interest.  Mrs. Shaw and I have addressed many gatherings in different parts of the county.  We have spoken in rural districts, where we could not hold a meeting in the morning because the farmers’ wives had to stay at home and get the farmers’ dinners.  We told the farmers’ wives what they ought to have and what they ought to do, and I have watched the movement from these early beginnings to this time, when we seem to have come into the full sunshine of human favor.

The change that I have seen in the position of women in the ninety years of my life is something miraculous.  I remember the colleges, where no one would have thought of inviting us, and now how welcome women are to the women’s colleges and co-educational colleges.  The many professions that are open to women that never were thought of then have increased and are increasing every year, and women are better friends with each other because they so much better understand each other.

Men used to say ‘women cannot reason, women have no logic,’ but always when a woman amounted to something, they would say that that woman was an exception.

We used to believe that once, but then we could not believe it any more, because we knew better.  A man would say, ‘Madame is an exception’ but I lost illusion in regard to my own superiority and realized that the majority of the women were capable of intellectuality.  The world will be very enlarged for us when we appreciate what women really are.

We are coming to find out what the capacity of the real woman really is,  that she is making up for centuries of waste behind her.  The blessing of happy service is ordained for us and we will do our best to fulfill it.”

Words of Julia’s speech from New York Times, 25 August 1909.

Details of events from Newport Mercury, August 28, 1909.