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Woodhull, Victoria) Tilton.

Rights of Woman, The.


A Gilded Age Argument for Women's Suffrage
Tilton, Theodore. The Golden Age. Tracts. No. 1. The Rights of Women. Letter to Horace Greeley. New York: The Golden Age, 1871.
Slim 12mo.; printed wrappers, string-tied; lower corners of several pages creased; several tears to the left margin; upper wrapper foxed; dark smudge on lower wrapper.
First edition of the inaugural issue of Tilton's weekly literary and political publication, The Golden Age. The content is a lengthy letter to Horace Greeley, in which Tilton makes a case for women's suffrage and equal treatment of women under the law. Tilton bases his argument on the tenets of democracy, positing that a government of the people, by the people and for the people should not exclude one-half of the population. For each of his points, Tilton challenges something Greeley said or wrote, using reason to show the flaws in Greeley's logic. On the question of suffrage, Tilton writes:
You say, "My conception of the nature and scope of the marriage relation renders my conversion to woman suffrage a moral impossibility." Your implication is that woman suffrage tends to dissolve marriage. If you mean by this that woman suffrage will give to women their just rights in the marriage relation, including the right to dissolve it for good cause, then I should be still more eager for woman suffrage than I now am…Men have the franchise, but have they used it to vote away marriage? When women get the franchise, will they use it to vote away marriage? No. If the marriage institution is ever to be done away with, the first motion toward its abolition will come from men, not from women. It was Hamlet, not Ophelia, who said, "I will have no more marriages." (p. 7)    
Tilton uses similar tactics to deconstruct Greeley's opinions toward limiting women's access to education (specifically, the exclusion of women from several top universities) and public speaking, divorce laws, and the right for women to run for public office. Tilton also rebukes Greeley for printing only his own side of their ongoing debate in the New York Tribune and says that if Greeley responds to this letter in the Tribune, he will reprint the full correspondence in The Golden Age. He writes, "In this way, since I shall never hope to equal you in ability, I shall at least have the honor of excelling you in fairness" (p. 11). Greeley never publicly responded to Tilton, possibly because of his departure from the Tribune in order to campaign for President that same year.
The Golden Age was a weekly publication founded by Tilton in 1871. Tilton had previously worked for The Observer and as editor-in-chief of The Independent, a Congregationalist weekly. According to the lower wrapper, The Golden Age was "a Weekly Journal devoted to the Free Discussion of all Lively Questions of Church, State, Society, Literature, Art, and Moral Reform." Tilton devoted Tract 3 to a glowing biography of Victoria Woodhull, the prominent suffragist who announced her intention to run for President in 1872. The Golden Age was sold for $.07 per copy (yearly subscriptions cost $3) and Tilton published it for four years.
Theodore Tilton (1835-1907) is best known for the scandal involving his wife and Congregationalist minister Henry Ward Beecher-Tilton and his wife were parishioners in Beecher's church and Tilton sued her for having an adulterous affair with Beecher. The trial resulted in a hung jury. Tilton produced one novel in his lifetime, Tempest Tossed (New York: John W. Lovell Co., 1873) and several volumes of poetry.
Scarce; OCLC locates only one copy.

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