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LYDIA SAYER HASBROUCK & THE SIBYL: WOMEN'S RIGHTS ACTIVIST

A guide to the life and accomplishments of Lydia Sayer Hasbrouck of Warwick, New York.

Manuscripts and letters

Transcription of Lincoln Letter

Mch 8th 1861 President Lincoln May I a wife, mother tax payer and hard working woman of America be heard, when I ask from you, a man in power a juster recognition of woman's individuality than has hitherto been shown her in the distribution of such offices as she is well fitted to fill? It is useless for me to remind an intelagent citizen of our progressive west of the growing spirit of discontent among the hard working, unrepresented tax paying women of America in relation to the manner in which men arrogate to themselves all power offices &c &c. The power is now yours to heal to some extent this growing spirit of discontent and wounded selfhood by giving to the working inteligent tax paying women who have (indirectly helped to raise you to power, a small share in the many offices at your disposal- It will be only an act of simple justice which thousands of women trust you will honor your administration by performing Thousands of Post and other offices might be filled in this way by worthy women in lieu of making them pass for able bodied men to such who are too lazy to split rails or plow. I have consulted none of your political friends here save my husband as to the propriety of offering myself as an applicant for the P. M. department here-- I know I have acted unusual but did not care to imitate the dozen or more corner lounging polititians circulating papers for the place -- my claims are full as good as theirs while I would refer you to Hon Wm H. Seward & Hon C. H. Van Wyck as to my probible abilities for the place duties -- though I trust you will alone consult President Lincoln the choise of the people as to the propriety of giving women at least one recognition of selfhood in old Orange, though I hope thousands of women will thus be recognised through the land, not merely in the by way and unprofitable offices which men refuse to accept but in the places of trust and good pay-- I will not enlarge on woman's "rights" and "wrongs" but will trust to you to right some of the injustice meted out to her at present Respt From Mrs Lydia Sayer Hasbrouck M. D

  • Lydia's statement to Ruttenber and Clark in History of Orange County, New York, 1881, p. 196

"Mrs. Hasbrouck desires the fact put on record that she was once refused admission to the Seward Seminary, at Florida, simply because she wore the (reform) dress.  A facrulty meeting was called solely to take the cut of her dress into consideration.  The trustees, knowing her and her family, expressed the highest estemm for her aried gifts and graces, and the pleasure they would feel in having her an inmate of the school if she would only dress in harmony with fashion.  She says,---

'Up to this time I loved the physical freedom of my dress.  I had thought but little of woman's political freedom or her unequal rights before the law.  I had never suffered from them, and enjoyed too many other privileges to feel their lack. The chances are, if i had not been persecuted i would have returned to fashion's requirements.  But my every sense of right and justice was outraged.  I knew I was doing that which should have met with approval, because it was to better the physical woman, then weighted down with bustles and heavy underskirts.  As I went out from the interview with that committee, I was kindly shown by the lady principal into her private room.  I fairly bathed my soul in an agony of tears and silent prayers for knowledge of the right and guidance therein.  Remember, i was then young, and had often heard it was not dress that made the man; but was now bitterly learning that it was the principal part of the woman.  This treatment anchored me into the ranks of women's rights advocates, and as I left that house I registered the vow that I would stand or fall in the battle for woman's physical, political, and educational freedom and equality.  I felt that if there had been a principle that justified men and women going to the stake and faggot rather than renounce it, that principle was now mine to defend; and come what might, I would stand tru to its requirements.'