ANTHONY'S NEWSPAPER: THE REVOLUTION
What advertisements did The Revolution refuse to run?
The verbiage for abortifacient advertisement was thinly-veiled and disguised. One recent Smithsonian scholar wrote, “Victorian-era women experiencing ‘female trouble’ could pick up a daily newspaper, scan the advertisements and translate the euphemisms…. euphemisms such as ‘cathartic pills’ and ‘women’s tonic’ meant to ‘remove a lady’s obstructions’ and cure ‘private ailments.’
Did other suffrage publications condemn abortion too?
Yes. The Union Signal (the official publication of the National Women’s Christian Temperance Union), The Woman’s Medical Journal (pg. 71), and Woodhull and Claflin’s Weekly, written by free-love advocate Victoria Woodhull, opposed abortion. The biography of Sylvia Pankhurst, the radical socialist and leader of Great Britain’s suffrage movement spoke about her opposition to abortion.
However, no other publication spoke about it as frequently and as directly as the editorials, letters, and articles in The Revolution. This is likely for the following reasons:
The NYC abortionist Madame Restell was in and out of court during the same 2-year period that The Revolution was printed. Besides internally driven, many of the articles published were reprinted from other newspapers across the country;
The Revolution prided itself on demanding that women be educated about pregnancy and sex, subjects forbidden by mainstream, and even many other suffrage newspapers;
Elizabeth Cady Stanton, one of the most radical and outspoken suffragist leaders of the time, was editor of The Revolution.
Stanton’s views were more progressive than Anthony’s. She was critical of religious leaders, causing her to write The Woman’s Bible’. But like many other suffragists, she valued the role of motherhood. “We are as a sex infinitely superior to men and if we were free and developed…our motherhood would be our glory. That function gives women such wisdom and power as no man can possess (Diary and Reminiscences).”
How were the ‘quack or immoral’ medicines, opposed in The Revolution’s inaugural edition, differentiated?
In the 19th century, “quacks” or “quack medicines” did not necessarily mean doctors practicing medicine or prescribing medicines without a license. The Revolution itself ran ads for therapists and medical treatments that were ‘unlicensed.’ While the paper refused alcohol-based products, the health benefits of some medicines it advertised were questionable or unknown. For instance, one medicinal ad that appeared in The Revolution contained mercury.
Quack was more closely defined as practices that violated the purpose of medicine, that is to heal. Over 20 editorials in The Revolution explained the advertising policy by condemning abortion, a practice which they believed destroyed life and dishonored the practice of medicine. No reference to the advertisement policy indicated any practice other than abortion. The Revolution opposed even ‘patent’ medicines if they were abortifacients.
The Revolution ran many anti-abortion articles and opinion pieces written by editors and suffrage leaders other than Anthony. How then can we know that Anthony herself opposed abortion?
Except for her Social Purity speech and two diary entries condemning abortion, Anthony herself wrote little about abortion. However, because of the sheer number of articles condemning the practice, and not found to that extent in any other publication of the day, it can be said that Anthony’s newspaper, The Revolution, was a virtual national mouthpiece against ‘the evil practice.’ The paper, that was owned and managed by Anthony, ran over 100 articles, letters, and editorials condemning the practice. It boldly served as a platform to air suffrage condemnation on the subject. No other feminist paper of the day spoke as frequently and vehemently about abortion as The Revolution.
She attributed financial failure of The Revolution to this policy, a policy she refused to abandon. The Revolution’s policy forbidding advertising for lucrative abortifacients was her own. She was personally congratulated for this policy by other publications.
The Revolution was created to be an expression of suffrage opinion, an opinion often suppressed in other papers. It was not created to give voice to opinions suffrage leaders did not support. The paper had the practice of reprinting opinions from other papers and letters that took a counter position from their own so that they could expressly refute an argument with their own rebuttal.
How did the suffragist publication view Restellism?