The Progress of Fifty Years

Columbian Exposition - World's Fair 1893

Lucy Stone
Lucy Stone. Fotosearch / Getty Images

This was Lucy Stone's last public speech, and she died a few months later at age 75. The speech was originally presented as a speech to the Congress of Women held in the Woman's Building at the World's Columbian Exposition (World's Fair), Chicago, 1893.  Stone is known as a proponent of women's suffrage and, earlier in her life, as an abolitionist.

A short biography below (before Stone's speech) was published with the speech in the official edition of the record of the Congress of Women, published at the direction of the Lady Managers, a committee charged by the United States Congress with overseeing the Woman's Building and its events.

Points covered in this speech:

  • Education: a reflection that Oberlin College opened itself to "both sexes and to all classes" in 1833, followed by Mary Lyon opening Mt. Holyoke.
  • Free speech: Anti-Slavery activism had led to questioning women's role as well, though the anti-slavery movement was divided on women's rights. She mentions the Grimke sisters and Abby Kelly. Abby Kelly's role in establishing the right to free speech for women, defended by Garrison and Phillips.
  • Women's Sphere and women's work: women began to enter new occupations. She mentions Harriet Hosmer among artists, business owners, Elizabeth Blackwell and medicine, ministry and Antoinette Brown, law and Lelia Robinson.
  • Married women's rights: the property rights and legal existence of married women.
  • Political power: some limited suffrage for women had already been won, including full suffrage in Wyoming, school and municipal suffrage in other places.
  • Women's organizations: women's clubs, colleges for women and co-educational colleges, the Woman's Christian Temperance Union and other reform groups and beneficent societies, factory and prison inspectors, and the Board of Lady Managers for the Columbian Exposition, at which Stone was speaking.

She closed with:

And not one of these things was allowed women fifty years ago, except the opening at Oberlin. By what toil and fatigue and patience and strife and the beautiful law of growth has all this been wrought? These things have not come of themselves. They could not have occurred except as the great movement for women has brought them out and about. They are part of the eternal order, and they have come to stay. Now all we need is to continue to speak the truth fearlessly, and we shall add to our number those who will turn the scale to the side of equal and full justice in all things.

Full text: The Progress of Fifty Years: Lucy Stone, 1893​

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Lewis, Jone Johnson. "The Progress of Fifty Years." ThoughtCo, Apr. 13, 2017, thoughtco.com/the-progress-of-fifty-years-3530454. Lewis, Jone Johnson. (2017, April 13). The Progress of Fifty Years. Retrieved from https://www.thoughtco.com/the-progress-of-fifty-years-3530454 Lewis, Jone Johnson. "The Progress of Fifty Years." ThoughtCo. https://www.thoughtco.com/the-progress-of-fifty-years-3530454 (accessed December 15, 2017).