Oregon Historical Quarterly/Volume 7/A New Opportunity in the Building of a State
A NEW OPPORTUNITY IN THE BUILDING OF A STATE.
By Luella Clay Carson.
Something like a hundred years ago Maria Edgeworth, with gentle insistence, pleaded for the higher education of women in a quaint book called "Letters to Literary Ladies." She was a pioneer in recognizing the relation to national life of woman to national life; of educated woman to civilization. Charlotte Bronte, some fifty years later, in 1849, wrote a book in which her most lovely character urges that women of the middle class be allowed some variety. "They are only expected," she writes, "to cook and sew all their lives long as if they had no germs or faculties for anything else. Keep your girls' minds narrow and fettered and they will be a care and anxiety. Cultivate them, give them scope and work, they will be your gayest companions in health, your tenderest nurses in sickness, your most faithful prop in age."
These two books urging larger knowledge and freedom, higher education, scope and variety in aim and work, were faint voices dimly heard as they pleaded for what to-day enlightened nations recognize as wise for woman and wise for the race.
Long before the founding of Girton and Newnham, the women's colleges at Cambridge, England, an English poet foresaw and prophesied that woman must gain in mental breadth, in larger mind; man in sweetness and moral height. And then may come a statelier Eden, the crowning race of humankind.
Great movements begin in the minds of few persons. The great movement now going on uplifting womanhood throughout the nations and tribes and in every sphere, had its beginning in obscure places and amidst opposition and derision. Mankind is toiling upward through untold struggles in subduing nature, establishing social, political, commercial standards, economical and philanthropical welfare, and in making all these things work together for righteousness. Womankind also must persistently work out its own salvation with gradual aid from the powers, seen and unseen, that prepare for that consummation toward which the whole world moves.
Since those faint pleadings were published in the land of the Magna Charta, no more remarkable change has taken place in civilization than the change in the status and consequent ambitions of woman. Christianity, freedom, education, and organization have worked together side by side. Christianity prepared the way for her to become a partaker in the thoughts and deeds making for human destiny. Modern governments have found it helpful to give her consideration. In our own country, where education is the safeguard and labor is honorable, the richness of learning is hers if she can but ask for it and the right to make her own living, if need be, and so she may be prepared for a life of usefulness, goodness, health, and self-respect.
Our day of organization for effectiveness invites her to ally herself with other women for the closer study of needs and for the surer planning to fit herself to relieve those needs and so to ameliorate the sufferings of the sick and helpless to enlarge the hopes of the well and strong. Woman is making ready to respond to a double realization of responsibility: a realization that there is strength in union and even a deeper realization that there can be no permanent union without units. Union of many ideas and many ideals for some common purpose is one of the characteristics of our generation. Union of diversity is the highest principle of art, of democracy, and of the modern State.
So must it be the principle governing the work and influence of womanhood in this Northwest. It is essential that there be common bonds; that the great associated body of womankind shall have, as a foundation, common ideas that are steadfast, common ideals that are resolute, purposes that are unquenchable, condemnations that are consistent, repudiations that are uncompromising. It is also just as essential that every woman in this new West be given to the utmost every opportunity to develop her best self in her own best way.
If this two-sided principle be accepted, then it follows that all associations of women can have no surer influence upon the future than by reaching out everywhere for individuals and setting them in paths leading to larger life. The womanhood of our State suggests not artificial distinctions made by wealth, position or geographical situation, but daughters fit to be the corner stones of the temple; daughters of capacious brain, large heart, simple, sincere life; descendants of pioneer mothers, women whom Bryant has called "Mothers of a mighty race."
The women of the State of Oregon come of a long line of mothers who with fearless eye, lit by deep love's truth, looked steadfastly into the unknown with faith and fortitude. There were mothers, who with their courageous husbands and sons, advanced into the solitudes beyond the Alleghanies on to the lonely fastnesses along the Ohio. And there was a bride in 1838 who left the gentle counsels of Mt. Holyoke to come with her husband, Elkanah Walker, to the far away shores of the Pacific; with merry heart she rode on horseback over weary miles of tiresome plain. And Narcissa Whitman came to sustain him who had work to do in this lonely West. Companies of women came, bearing in those emigrant wagons few worldly possessions but that which will enrich forevermore this northwest territory. Who can bind the sweet influences of these mothers? They bequeathed to their daughters the gentleness of ministering angels; the endurance of iron; the philosophical mind, that, looking before and after, believing all things work together for good, will plan large results and calmly direct and control forces to bring about those results.
There is in the western mind a peculiar power of organization and of working under organized direction. I have often noticed how natural it seems for a company of young college men to organize into something, elect officers, draft constitution and bylaws, and set to work—or to athletics. If several start on a day's tramp they come back an organized golf club. If two or three meet to study a few lines of the Æneid they call themselves Societas Quirinalis. A few years ago a class that happened to include but one man, organized, elected that man president, and then carried a motion compelling all members to wear ear-rings as a symbol of membership. A study of the records of the young men who have gone from our State to Eastern colleges will show that the majority of them have been elected to some undergraduate office, and the proportion of Oregon young men now instructing in Eastern institutions is surprising unless explained under the hypothesis that the western mind has peculiar qualities of effectiveness. The remarkable growth of remote Oregon in all that makes for a commonwealth is surprising unless explained under the same hypothesis. Admiral Dewey, recently at a banquet in Chicago, in speaking of the enlisted men in the navy, said: "These men come largely from the West, and are the finest specimens of manhood that America can produce."
Here in the West, by all evidences, is a peculiar field for organized bodies dedicated to lofty ideals under consecrated leadership.
Miss Fawcett says when the Albemarle, the first woman's club in England, was started there were gloomy forebodings as to its effect "on the foundations of society," and its harm to the womanliness of women. The forerunners of the federated clubs in America were the New England Woman's Club of Boston and the New York Sorosis. The work of these clubs was the study of social questions and their recreations were from art and literature. The Sorosis called the first convention of woman's clubs. This convention has grown into a federation which binds together in common purposes the women of a vast domain, from the New England farms of Vermont to the frontier boundary of Texas; from the gentle, academic environs of Wellesley and Bryn Mawr to the hillsides about the little schoolhouse on the slopes of the coast mountains.
It is indicative of the enlightenment of the West that our own State, great in its distances, great in its growing consciousness of responsibility and in its sure future, has many organizations of women; women interested in literature, art, economics, public health, government, philanthropies; women advocating the higher life, the house beautiful, and whatsoever things are lovely, whatsoever things are pure and of good report. And, at this auspicious moment, the Oregon women of all these organizations are facing an opportunity hitherto granted to no federation.
Victor Hugo predicted that the nineteenth century would be known as "woman's century," and the remarkable advance surely justifies that prediction. It has been an advance along every line of woman's capacities.
In the cathedral at Durham in northern England a cross is fitted into the stone floor, only a short distance from the door. To-day when a woman visits the cathedral the verger will point out the cross and tell her that once it was the boundary beyond which no woman worshipper could pass. She must remain at a distance from the chancel and the altar; she was not worthy to worship with her husband or son. Pathetic, indeed, that the religious fervor that built that massive cathedral and entombed the venerable Bede within its sacred crypt, yet shut out from woman the solace of higher spiritual communion! The monks of Durham, like many teachers and preachers of long centuries after, held what Lyman Abbott calls the "priestly account" of the creation of the human race. The "prophetic account" has through the last century come more and more into recognition. It holds that both were created for themselves and for God, that they are coequals. Tennyson's lofty interpretation of the destiny of man will endure as truth when Milton's harmonious and wonderful interpretation of the creation of the world will be read only as a poem of magnificent conception.
The spiritual equality of man and woman is no longer a question except in those benighted countries where woman has not yet been permitted to rise into her own estate. Throughout Christendom now there are women working soul to soul and spirit to spirit with consecrated men. In the temples of philanthropy and humanity no cross is set to bar woman from the chancel. In our day if woman has a spiritual message to give and can give it well, who shall set before her a boundary? The tender-hearted Frances Willard left our country better because she did not keep silence. She left womanhood stronger in faith and in efficiency. Whittier wrote,
"She knew the power of banded ill,
But felt that love was stronger still,
And organized for doing good,
The world's united womanhood."
Another means of advance given to woman by the nineteenth century was a growing recognition before the law. A hundred years ago woman had little legal status. Wives and daughters of the poor had no legal standing; mothers did not own their children nor the clothes they wore nor the money they inherited or earned. A married woman could not make a will. Lucretia Mott, of the Society of Friends, in 1848 pleaded for legal rights. The civil war with its devastation brought women face to face with their helplessness before the law. Sympathy and justice were aroused. Bills were devised and passed. Gradually fair and equitable dealing is evolving under the larger conditions of peace and progress. Slowly from precedent to precedent, law is broadening in its recognition of inalienable rights of men, women, and children. "Men's rights" is a term that is sacred. Battles have been fought to secure those rights, documents wrought out to define them, and democracy is ready to defend them. "Women's rights" will outgrow being a term of reproach. Whether suffrage shall become a possession and responsibility of woman or not, her rights shall become more and more understood and protected by the race. "Children's rights" engage the attention of philanthropy and the judiciary. The juvenile courts are more concerned with justice to childhood than with punishment of wrong. In deed and in truth "right" and "rights" for all alike are becoming more identical in the public mind and so law broadens in its definition and application.
No larger recognition has been given than to woman's right to earn her living. What a marvelous transformation here in the last half of the nineteenth century! When Harriet Martineau visited our country in 1840 she found only seven occupations open to women: Teaching, needlework, typesetting, working in factories, keeping boarders, binding books, and household service. The last report of the Commissioner of Labor names over three hundred ways in which women may earn an honest living. The economic development of the country brought larger industrial demands. The invention of machinery, the establishment of factories took the manufacture of cloth and clothing from the home. A man could not and can not provide for his family when he must buy so much that used to be home-made. Women were driven into wage-earning occupations, and society soon realized the need of higher education and better qualifications. Occupations have grown with the complexity of life, and women are demonstrating that they are able to do work of many kinds. In 1890 one woman in six was engaged in gainful occupations; nearly four millions of working women; now there are over five millions. The Rev. Lyman Abbott, in a recent number of The World's Work, points out some of the results of this industrial growth: "Better wages to self-supporting women; enlarged opportunities for productive industry; consequent industrial independence for unmarried women; a resultant release from the odious compulsion which drove women into marriage as the only means of livelihood open to them."
Economic dependence is the basis of all slavery. To-day in any large city scores of women are enjoying the health and independence that come from labor and the approval of public opinion.
The growing complexity of life during the last seventy years, the growing demands from women in the working world, the increase of art and refinements,—these have brought new ambitions and necessities that can only be met through higher education.
A comparison of woman's condition at the opening and the close of the nineteenth century in educational affairs alone would show the truth of Victor Hugo's prediction. In the time of Hannah More it was unwomanly to learn Latin; eighty years ago Sidney Smith tried to reassure the readers of the Edinburgh Review that womanly qualities did not really depend on ignorance of Greek and Latin, and that "a woman might even learn mathematics without forsaking her infant for a quadratic equation." It was once unwomanly to write a book and had electric cars existed it would have been unwomanly to ride in one,—as it actually was in a hansom cab.
In our country at the beginning of the nineteenth century it was generally assumed that intellectual matters did not concern woman. No colleges for her existed, though I believe there were twenty-four for men; girls had no high schools, and grammar schools in cities were open to them under restrictions.
One of the earliest pioneers in establishing a girl's seminary was Miss Willard, who laid her plans before President Monroe in 1819, and her address reads today as a wise presentation of the needs of a republic for trained womanhood. Miss Willard conducted her school in Troy, N. Y., for seventeen years with great success. Then another pioneer, Mary Lyon, recognizing that women must be fitted if a nation would prosper, inspired both men and women to believe that knowledge and character must be at the foundation of woman's influence. In 1837 Mt. Holyoke Seminary was established in Massachusetts. The influence of Mary Lyon still lives in devoted teachers, seminaries, and colleges all over our country. Who can estimate the debt of womanhood in the Northwest to Mrs. Mills of California, who embodies the spirit of her own beloved teacher, Mary Lyon?
Ohio has the distinction of first admitting women into its colleges. Oberlin opened in 1833 as a collegiate institute and admitted women. It granted three diplomas in 1841 to women and was chartered as a college in 1850. Antioch College opened to both men and women in 1853 under Horace Mann, a pioneer friend of college women. In 1855 Elmira College was the first woman's college chartered.
About the middle of the century three movements began which have spread rapidly; the opening of state universities to women; the founding of coeducational colleges, and the organization of women's colleges. From their opening the state universities have admitted women as follows: Utah, 1850; Iowa, 1856; Washington, 1862; Kansas, 1866; Minnesota, 1868; Nebraska, 1871; Oregon, 1876. Indiana, founded in 1820, opened its doors in 1868; Michigan, in 1870. At present all the colleges and universities in the West,—excepting those under Catholic management,—admit women, though Stanford University will not admit more than 500 at one time. A few years ago among the state universities Virginia, Georgia, and Louisiana alone remained closed. In addition to all these open doors immense endowments were bestowed upon colleges during this period. At the end of the nineteenth century the United States had 480 colleges and 336 admitted women. Of the sixty leading colleges only ten (all on the Atlantic Coast) did not admit women to some department. The four leading women's colleges,—Vassar, 1861, Smith, 1875, Wellesley, 1875, Byrn Mawr, 1885, stand among the sixty leading colleges in wealth, equipment, teachers, students, and curricula. Indeed, it is said that a woman who completes the course at Bryn Mawr does more work than is required in any man's college.
Women have proved capacity and desire for training. In 1872 America had 50 college women to each million population; in 1899, 323. In 1900 a third of all the college students in America were women: 4,000 in women's colleges; 20,000 in coeducational institutions.
It is not necessary at this time to enter upon an argument for the increased efficiency of these women and of the homes, communities, and nation to which they belong. One prodigious undertaking alone is their work as teachers in the secondary-schools and the colleges. The purpose of all education is to develop character and the chief test of character is to render service. Service is the end; education only the means. A French writer has said "The test of civilization is the place which it affords to women." Is it not true that the test of an educated woman is some sort of service to her day and generation?
We are as thoroughly committed to higher education of women as to universal education of the masses. We have faith to believe that such education not only imparts information, but lessens wrong and crime, lessens temptation, increases content and happiness, increases the earning power of the working woman, increases the influence of mother and daughter and sister in the home, increases the refined qualities and graces of womanhood, and the effective forces of the nation.
Individuals there were, in the older times, queens of powerful nations, mothers of mighty rulers. We may regard as an omen that it was Isabella that aided Columbus; the peasant girl Joan of Arc heard voices calling her to rescue France. The women of our nation erected last summer at the head of the grand entrance to the beautiful Lewis and Clark Exposition a bronze statue designed by a woman to the memory of Sacajawea, whose intrepid valor and courageous soul and mother's heart guided Lewis and Clark through trackless forests, over unsealed mountains to these shores. What soul of womanhood pent up in the child-mother Sacajawea! As she heard the cooing of the baby she carried she never forgot that she was a guide, a lamp unto the feet of valiant men; a lover of baby Baptiste, her husband Charboneau, her people the Shoshones, she never relinquished her mission: to lead men to the land they sought for. The humble Indian woman, like Spencer's Britomart, was "clear to discern her aim; as valiant to pursue it."
Our country can not forget that it was the burning heart of Harriet Beecher Stowe that set communities aflame with indignation at the wrongs of slavery. England will never forget that the tender heart of Florence Nightingale in ministering to the Crimean soldiers laid the foundation of the humane hospitals of modern wars. It is these women who have seen the thing to do and have done the thing that made possible the great advance. It has been the faith, the hope, the enthusiasm of strong men and women that have made possible the steady climb of manhood and womanhood; they rise together. And it is indeed a lofty height to which our nation has arisen at the beginning of this century.
More favorable environments should produce larger results; more favorable possessions should bring larger returns and prompt larger benefactions. The democracy and isolation of the new world gave new opportunities to our race. The freedom, power, vantage ground of this new empire of the West bestows a new opportunity upon the women of these northern States. The women of Idaho, Washington, Oregon have an inheritance now in their keeping that is inspiring; all that the nineteenth century accomplished in spiritual freedom, in legal protection, industrial possibility, educational benevolence and benificence,—all this rich inheritance is ours to begin with. Therefore we have the means to seize a new opportunity in the world's history.
Our unique historical and social setting is inspiring. If not "the noblest offspring of time," this Western civilization is surely a choice product of time. Those who laid its foundations were a peculiar type, pioneers of the pioneers, men and women of heroic mould.
"Stern men with empires in their brains,
Grown strong through shifts and wants and pains;
Men, skilled by freedom and by great events,
To pitch new States as Old-World men pitch tents."
The framework they erected was in accord with the might and majesty of nature around them and the puissant ambitions within them. Their purpose was writ large; they planted universities in log houses in the wilderness and established a Christian civilization. Shut in by ocean and mountain-barrier, this vast region slowly became the home of a group of states. No problem of alien blood is here; no problem of crowded poverty is here; no menace from anarchy; no blight of atheism. A home sweet with the odors of forest trees, fragrant with the breath of wild flowers, purified by cleansing torrents, cooled by snow-capped mountains piercing skies whose blue would have entranced Ruskin and the painters who first saw nature; a home of virgin fields and virgin gold; a home of villages and towns and wholesome simplicity and generous hospitality. And we of Oregon have come up and possessed part of this land. The doors of our State are open to the world and a vast procession is tending thitherward. Time and the race have so decreed. We can not call a halt if we would. In the next ten years towns will grow into cities; farms into towns; remote settlements into neighborhoods.
Hence it is that the women of Oregon, inheriting the best attained by the womanhood of time, possessing this beautiful home and standing on the threshold to greet the incoming civilization,—are facing a new opportunity that in magnitude, in possibilities, exceeds any before placed in the keeping of a company of women.
Language is inadequate to express crises in history; words are weak to reveal a supreme moment in the development of a noble epic. And so now how shall I utter the thoughts that arise as I try to define this crisis, this supreme historical moment?
What peculiar responsibility is given into the keeping of the women of our day and region? It is this: It is an opportunity to aid in establishing standards of social character and attainment in the making of a great State from its infancy to its maturity. A woman in Massachusetts or Ohio to-day touches a fractional part of State history; a woman in Oregon to-day is herself part of a transfiguration. Whenever in history has there been so rapid and so vast a growth as will take place in the Northwest in the next fifty years? A seer standing on our Pacific shores, looking into the faces of our Western children, might well prophesy:
"Here about the beach I wandered, nourishing a youth sublime
With the fairy tales of science, and the long result of Time;
When the centuries behind me like a fruitful land reposed;
When I clung to all the present for the promise that it closed;
When I dipt into the future far as human eye could see;
Saw the vision of the world, and all the wonder that would be."
A civilization now in its beginnings will pass through youth to middle age in a lifetime and the young men and women about us will guide it to its maturity. No ruins are here. The work is one of construction. It is a responsibility to tear down errors of the past and to put in their places new ideals. It is a greater responsibility to hold fast to the truth in the past, undisturbed by the crowding fads and theories in the complex, unsettled, experimental conditions of the present. It is the greatest responsibility to lay foundations for the future in which no flaw may be discovered to weaken the structure.
It is for Oregon to hold fast only to the best in the old, to evolve into the new, and to accept no block in the structure it is rearing that can not stand the test of time. As freedom has broadened slowly down from precedent to precedent,—so has civilization. But this "broadened slowly" was said by an Englishman fifty years ago; "expanded rapidly" will be said by a Westerner fifty years hence.
In the preparation for the rapid growth on this coast women have already had an important part. Mrs. Mills, Mrs. Hearst, and Mrs. Stanford, in California, have laid enduring foundations for education. In Portland, Miss Smith for the library; Mrs. Ladd for the Art Museum; Mrs. Reed for the Reed Institute; for cultured, ennobled womanhood, Miss Mary B. Rodney. It would be impossible to name here the many workers in many fields: pioneer women who endured and had faith; who saw visions of the future; who led their children and neighbors along paths of hope and action.
There must be leaders in adversity. But there is still greater need of leadership in times of prosperity, when something of enthusiasm fills the air and great projects are talked of. Here and now such a period is upon us. Leaders are wanted in every town and in every country community. Women are needed in every district of our State who see into the future; who shall lay plans and organize means to prepare a womanhood fit to shape that future. No ideal of womanhood and womanliness is too lofty for Oregon to reach; and none is too inaccessible. But forces must be alert that would prepare for the demands of the next ten and twenty-five years.
I would like in the time remaining to try to group together a few plans, familiar though they be, through which our federations and all our associations of Oregon women,—each in its own way,—may prepare to meet the larger statehood upon whose threshold we now stand. These plans group themselves about two centers: the conservation of the home and the building of the State.
Our age is becoming commercial and material and money-making. In the hurry that is coming upon us bridges must be built, ships sent across the waters, railroads must pierce the Cascades. Our mountain streams must be converted into colored electric lights "watching Tacoma grow." Money will pour into our valleys and the race for wealth and dominion will be quickened. What shall women and organizations of women do? Far be it from our federation to think that they shall enter into the race for wealth and dominion! It is a time for thoughtful working out of plans that will keep alive and foster the finer issues of mind and heart and soul and spirit. There must be inculcated the supreme belief in goodness as the one law of life. If we would secure honesty in public service we must have honesty and unquestioning obedience in childhood. At the root of civic integrity is childhood in the home and school. Modern methods of home keeping and school keeping can not supplant the influence of the sterling virtues on the growing child. Ever should plans for the improvement of any enterprise in a community point like the needle to the north pole of integrity in all that enters into the character and habits of the youth. It goes without saying that the home is the first source of honesty and righteousness. Constancy there, pride in the home and an enduring love of it will engender a sentiment that will make impossible the growing idea that a decree of court absolves all responsibility. Broken homes, broken words, broken vows, broken contracts, broken lives,—how often these result somewhere in further dishonor and dishonesty!
The rapid growth of the cities with the restlessness and temptations of city life is a menace to the old-fashioned attraction of the home and faithfulness to it. To the children reared in the country home the big fireplace is the center around which they revolve. In the early evenings they listen to father's counsel and prognostication of national affairs; they grow under the affectionate virtue of mother. No centrifugal force is strong enough to attract them from that center. A safeguard for the West is the conversion of our great ranches and vast tracts of unoccupied land into small farms and then such a management of suburban schools and traveling libraries and the refinements of culture as to surround these country homes with the advantages of the city. Is it not a problem for sociology to work out? And surely never was a better opportunity than here with soil so productive; resources so varied. Cheap railway transportation sometimes means cheap immigration and overcrowded cities. Oregon is too choice and has too great a future to build to be encumbered with other than good raw material out of which to make a State. If the thoughtful sociologist and the beneficent railways will only combine to protect our cities from worthless migratory classes; to fill our verdant country lands with home-building immigrants there will be indeed, for altruistic women, an opportunity to aid in building a commonwealth.
In so far as the inner life of a home may be influenced by environments is it possible and practical to plan for the strengthening of the home life of a community and no phase of life, in country or city, is too unimportant to engage notice. So closely is physical health connected with moral health that incalculable good may result from the creation of sanitary conditions. And so associations of women are going to the root of the matter when they bring about improvements in the public health, in the inspection and display of foods, in the supply and quality of water, in the establishing of public baths. It was women who influenced the appointment of Colonel Waring, the great health officer, to superintend the sanitation of New York City.
The courses in domestic science at the Agricultural College in Corvallis are demonstrating to many homes not only the health and economy in foods scientifically prepared, but what is of hardly less importance, something of the grace and beauty in the drudgery of everyday life. The association of everyday work on the farm,—for the men in the fields, for the women in the homes,—with the processes of science is uplifting and enlightening. It dignifies toil, brings reproach upon prodigality and neglect, and magnifies the relation of order and beauty of surroundings to good health.
Homes must be kept sweet, wholesome, and attractive if their inmates would be kept loyal, and surely there is no nobler work for woman than to conserve inviolability in the home-spirit through all the means possible. Health, cheerfulness, comfort inside and nature outside make a home dear. May the day never come when a large population of Oregon will dwell in apartment houses with window gardens for nature! The ownership of a home with a yard and trees, flowers, and garden—can not this desire and tradition be fostered in our towns? Simplicity in the home, and nature, face to face, in its surroundings generate loyalty and truth in its household. Now is the time to plan for parks on a neighboring hill, or by the stream or lake, before land has grown too valuable and trees too scarce. Now is the time to preserve our beautiful native shrubs and vines and wild flowers. In Stratford-upon-Avon in a little garden at the rear of the house in which Shakespeare was born, you may see at any hour of the day a care-taker affectionately cultivating and preserving in their immortal freshness all the flowers Shakespeare loved well enough to mention in his plays.
That come before the swallow dares, and take
The winds of March with beauty; violets dim,
But sweeter than the lids of Juno's eyes,
Or Cytherea's breath; pale primroses.
***** In emerald tufts, flowers purple, blue, and white;
Like sapphire, pearl, and rich embroidery."
And though the buttercups still gild the fields on the way to Shottery they find a place in a little corner of that garden.
Some of our infinite varieties of flowers in valley and on mountain side might be collected and preserved in the town gardens. The Calypso Borealis, the most beautiful orchid native to parts of our Willamette Valley, is fast disappearing. The tall Oregon lily in our sunny fields and the maidenhair ferns in our cool ravines will not refuse to grow if nurtured by loving children in the schoolyards. A member of the Fortnightly Club in Eugene is principal of one of the schools there. Every class in that large building has a flower bed, and in the early spring the children begin to cultivate their gardens. Many transplant their new-found industry and knowledge and love to the home gardens.
Another conservator of the home is public recognition of noble traits of character or great deeds. Monuments and memorials that testify before children to faithfulness to duty are like anchors to public morals. Until the last few years no public monument stood on Oregon soil and now they can be counted on the fingers of two hands. How might the youth be inspired if forces were set going that might dot Oregon with shafts, statues, memorial windows and tablets to the good and great of history! In one community let a bronze statue of Chief Justice Marshall remind youth of the integrity of law; on the walls of a courthouse let a tablet inscribe the virtues of some Oregon pioneer. In the English city of Bristol, on a statue in memory of Edmund Burke, is the inscription: "I want to be a member of Parliament in order to take my share in doing good and resisting evil." In a corridor of Oxford University hangs an inscription of a letter by Abraham Lincoln to a Massachusetts mother whose five sons had died gloriously on the field of battle. Among all the lessons of the Lewis and Clark Fair none is more lasting than the teaching of reverence for those who have achieved through difficulty, who were steadfast through danger.
It may take fifty years to carry out large plans that will make Oregon a witness to the best in the past, but the preparation will foster reverence and stimulate ambition. It is significant to the youth of our State that the oldest building on the campus of the State University is named Deady Hall in memory of one who for nearly twenty years as first president of its board of regents was devoted to its interests. Villard Hall keeps ever before them the generosity of a benefactor, the faith of Henry Villard in the West and in higher education. McClure Hall with its marble tablet in the entrance corridor reminds the students of the industry, devotion, and manliness of a fellow student and a beloved instructor.
Emerson said when he read Plato all men seemed to him gods. Admiral Dewey said when he stood before the statue of Ethan Allen as a boy in his native town he resolved to make something of himself. What the boys and girls breathe into their souls they give out in character and achievement and citizenship.
Results may be raised to the nth power by manifold utilization of means. Our State Board of Education and State Library Commission give avenues always through which the homes and the State may be reached directly. We have one hundred and twenty schools doing high school work scattered over the State; twenty of these do four years' work, and twenty more three years' work. There is one interesting venture: a union high school at Hood River collecting students from several districts. There are forty traveling libraries going about the State. One of the commissioners, Mr. W. B. Ayer of Portland, has just given another $500 to the library fund. Now, are not each of these one hundred and twenty high schools and forty traveling libraries means through which farseeing women of the State may achieve two or three things at once?
In contemplating the ways and means at command through which to aid permanently in the building of a State a peculiarly congenial field offers a plan that must come in early in previsions for the welfare of any community, and that is a plan to develop definite, feasible methods of fostering industry, manufacture of something, the love of labor and the productive spirit. Whatever we wish to put into Oregon's life we must put into Oregon's homes and Oregon's schools. Not the idle whittling of many whistles and the noisy blowing of them is the best thing for a boy. Let him grow early into the knowledge that he can make things for use and for beauty; let the girl early learn how to shape cloth into a garment. Manual training for boys and girls means more than dexterity. The use of the hands and the achievement of things home-made and hand-made with the growing sense of power over raw material and love of industry,—these will give vigor to any community; will help to prevent wasted days and wasted lives for young men and indolence and frivolty for young women.
Over 2,500 boys are taking courses in manual training in the Portland public schools. Professor Stanley, the superintendent, lately said: "Some of these boys have recently made a weaving loom for the manufacture of rag carpet, and a potter's wheel for the manufacture of pottery. Others plan this winter to make an artistic piece of furniture, art metal work, tools, and other things." Sewing classes are organized and domestic science is under consideration for the girls.
A lecturer at the Educational Congress last summer said: "The rural schools of our country train nearly one half of the citizens and they should adopt manual training." Industry is the mother of invention; invention is the forerunner of art. France is first in art because the people are trained as to the hand. Germany is first in industry because the teaching is of the man, the citizen. The master of Germany is the schoolmaster. Nothing promotes honest labor more surely than power to labor effectively. Nothing promotes art more surely than power to labor constructively. Nothing promotes a home-building nation more surely than steady habits of self-reliance and self-support.
There is in our day an outcry against women as wage-earners; and let the cry go on. It is a healthful cry for women and more especially for men. The greatest danger growing out of the fact that women are crowding into the offices and professions is not that men are crowded out, but that too many men are growing indifferent, willing to be crowded out. As men grow indifferent to their responsibility and duty to care for the women of their households they lose fibre, initiative, stature, physical and mental. Stand on a busy street corner in one of our large eastern cities and note the great number of young men, low of stature, weak of physique; a powerfully-built young man is the exception. Is vigor of intellect, intellectual independence sure to wane with a sense of financial responsibility? Young men indifferent, relieved of the stress and strain, of helping to clothe and feed the household have leisure and relaxation of body and mind. Leisure for what? Comradeship; wasteful hours of idle, aimless talk. It is not leisure but labor that young men need. Labor and sacrifice and responsibility make manhood and nations.
Emancipation of women—so-called—must not contribute toward putting the shackles of indolence, irresponsibility, aimlessness upon men. The work of women must coöperate with the work of men and inspire it, else women would better forever remain in the home, and leave man to wrestle with the outside world as his sphere to subdue unaided and alone. In the transformation now going on here is a problem for woman to work out: How to burgeon out of herself, not encroaching upon the rights of others, not minimizing the powers of others. "Balance of trade" is much talked of in the commercial world; "balance of labor," "balance of financial responsibility"; "balance of industrial ambition";—violation of these is unsafe for the home and for society. Society to preserve itself and to evolve into higher conditions must develop lines of activity for both men and woman and however many lines are identical every community ought to provide work and workers in lines not identical, and there should be enough variety and attractiveness about these kinds of work to give every man an opportunity and every woman an opportunity.
It must be recognized as best in our present conditions of society and as best for the hopes of society that women be prepared to enter the avenues of self-support if necessary. Slavery and subservience result from dependence that is not justifiable. Content and happiness come to her and to him whose labor is wisely adjusted. And surely an equitable adjustment so that neither crowd out the other can be arrived at and preserved. If so, then will not, in the long run, the civilization be saner and more philanthropic if woman help to build it? As woman enters the daily toil she will learn of the travail under which the world struggles. She will learn how man has to strive to maintain himself and those dependent upon him and how he has sometimes to agonize. And if they mutually find that their cause is mutual may not the world grow? It is not woman's rivalry and man's defeat that labor wants, but woman's faith and patience and spirit and man's persistence and conquest.
But if the schools take no part in developing the great need of our growing communities, many kinds of work and different kinds, and in training the hands and habits of the boys and girls,—then will our larger Oregon suffer from dissatisfaction and contention, indolence, and inefficiency.
Sir Galahad had the strength of ten men because his heart was pure. In the next twenty, ten, and even five years we shall be in a struggle for industrial and commercial supremacy. There must be skilled, expert workmen to direct and educated leaders to organize, and more than all, there must be integrity and character that will not yield to the temptations of money making. There must be education for commerce, education for trades, education for agriculture, ships and ship lore for the Orient, inland lore for the Occident, cosmopolitan lore,—we must know it all. But we must hold fast to education for culture, for refinement, for pure love of knowledge and wisdom, for purity of heart. We need education of the soul and spirit regardless of wealth and dominion.
This was the ideal of those early pioneers who founded Willamette University, the first protestant institution this side the Rocky Mountains; Pacific University, whose first graduate has borne witness these many years to its rigorous standards of integrity. Mr. Henry Villard whose unbounded faith in the people and resources of the Northwest led him to build a great transcontinental line, recognized that educated citizenship and character are the best possessions of a State. His benefactions to the State University grow in value with time and scores of men and women are blessed in his generosity.
There is in the field of higher education a great work to be done in our State. Ought not our people to cultivate in our boys and girls, young men and maidens, during the four college years, love of home and loyalty to State, and a sense of responsibility for its welfare? What of the wisdom in having large numbers go abroad for undergraduate work? Our home institutions need to be developed to be worthy of the best that Oregon can do for its youth.
It is indeed enriching to our State-life that from year to year students return bringing home something of the wealth of thought and culture from the great colleges. And the coming years will add increasingly to this value from our professional and graduate students. But as our material prosperity grows there must be larger equipment for our undergraduate work. Libraries are to be collected and housed; laboratories are to be fitted; art must be brought that the youth may find kinship with the masters and that an artistic spirit may be fostered into creative power. Above all there must be communion with the great and good. No institution can fulfill its mission in the Northwest that does not establish and hold traditions for democracy and lofty patriotism, and reverence for holy things.
Our Oregon colleges have thus far written no mean records. You may find on any campus in the State a pure democracy. The standard is merit, not wealth or influence. What a man is establishes his position. Large members of the students are self-supporting and from humble homes. The idle spending of money is rare. It sounds strange indeed to say, in these days of college extravagance, that at our State University $350 will provide all the needs for a college year, for a man or woman, comfortably. I know of but one student who spends as much as $500, though he is not limited. He is a lover of books, and too busy to desire luxuries.
I plead that the women of our State visit our colleges and enter into the sacrifices, purposes, and longings of the students, and so fill those students with their own ideals and larger faith and aspirations.
Emerson says: "The youth who surrenders himself to a great ideal himself becomes great." How to bring the youth into the presence of great ideals,—this is a work for our federations. What better way is there for our far-seeing women and our organizations to meet the new opportunity now confronting us than by aiding young women of the State to grow into nobler ideals? There are daughters everywhere in Oregon who are longing for a glimpse into the beauties of art, the heavenly fields of larger thought. One earnest, devoted woman who has secured efficiency through higher education is of untold value to a community in her influence for character and for all that refines and purifies. There is no surer way for the clubs to contribute to the welfare and steadiness and loftiness of our larger State life than by aiding our women to secure increased powers and deepened spirituality. It seems most fitting that every club select, in its community, some young woman of promise who could not hope unaided to secure a higher education, and through some annual fund, small though it be, help her to help herself. Let each woman's club in the State thus foster the true college education of some high-minded girl, and there will come to Oregon added strength in the forces that make for grace and charity and reverence and beauty of holiness.
And so I come to the close. A modern State is building before our eyes as a representative of modern civilization. The corner stones were firmly laid. Within a lifetime we shall see the capitals crown the columns. Here and now is indeed a new opportunity for free woman inspired by love. In the materialistic years of construction, of conquest over matter, as a commonwealth rises from foundation to pinnacles it is for her, singing the deathless song of idealism, nourishing exaltation of the soul, to keep burning the pure, white light of moral integrity, culture, and righteousness.
- Address delivered before the State Federation of Women's Clubs, October 4, 1905.