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Jane Swisshelm
Letters of an Abolitionist 1858 and 1865

"The lecture was "Woman and Politics" and it was received with a favor far beyond my highest hopes...." Jane Swisshelm, Minnesota 1860


St. Paul [February] 26th, 1860

Dear Will:1-- Here I am snugly ensconsed in the Merchants Hotel, looking out over the icy chains of the Mississippi. Mr. [George A.] Nourse whose guest I was at first, lives too far up town for me to attend to any business.2 I have had several kind invitation to other private houses, but thought it better to come here; and find that Mrs. [E. C.] Belotte [Belote] the proprietor's wife, is a sister of one of my pupils in the Butler Seminary.

So I am at home all at once, snug as a flea in a blanket. I do not wonder your father likes to stop at the Merchants, for it is pleasant, comfortable quarters. I lectured in the Hall of Representatives on Tuesday [Thursday] evening the 23d. The House was so full that there were seats in the aisles, and it appeared as if one third the audience were standing. The lecture was "Woman and Politics" and it was received with a favor far beyond my highest hopes. This fills my heart with so much gratitude to our Father the Great Disposer, to think that I should at last, have such an opportunity to speak unto the people that they go forward! That the best and most honorable of our State should listen at last with approval to the great cry which has been bursting my heart for long, long years!--It is worth while to have lived and suffered, to have labored and waited, long years for such an opportunity of pleading for the Slave mothers of our land, before such an audience. Those who wait upon the Lord will surely see his salvation!

On Tuesday evening I lecture in the Atheneum, on "Slavery as I have seen it in a slave State." We chose the Atheneum because it is larger than any other room in the city. It belongs to a German company who have given me the use of it at half price. Mr. [Joseph] Louis [Lewis] who used to keep an Intelligence office in Pittsburg, and was one of my subscribers there, attended to securing it for me. He is Gov. Ramsey's business man, or as Judge [Aaron] Goodrich5 express it, "The Governor's Legal Representative!" He has shown me much kindness. Gov. Ramsey and his lady with other people who combine real merit, with social and political distinction, have extended to me a cordial recognition. They thus lend me moral power, which I pray God I may pay back with interest, upon the altar of His glory, and the redemption of our race.

Col. [Daniel A.] Robertson, who is Mayor of the City, called upon me by my request. I had learned that my first impression of proposing me as Surveyor General, is the correct one.6 He is a jolly man, and it was simply a jest. He was one of my readers years ago, and a good friend, would be the last man to insult any body; but he pronounces himself to have been so much in earnest as to be quite ready to support me for any office I may desire. His lady came with him. She is a lovely woman, and they are to send their carriage to take me to tea with them on Tuesday evening; and the only question on which the Col. and I are at variance is Slavery.....

Find your ancestors!Read more of Jane Swisshelm, Letters of an Abolitionist on Ancestry.com. To browse the letter collection, type in SLAVERY in the search engine. When the new page loads, simply choose any one of the 'hits' and click on VIEW FULL CONTEXT. Then you can browse to your heart's content. If you need a subscription to view the letters you can take advantage of the FREE Access

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Note: 1 "Will," to whom many of these letters are addressed, was William B. Mitchell
Note: 2 Nourse was an active organizer and leader in the Republican party in Minnesota, Eugene V. Smalley, A History of the Republican Party, 153 (St. Paul, 1896);

Jane Grey Swisshelm (1815-1884) was an antislavery advocate, newspaper editor, lecturer, crusader, feminist, and Civil War nurse. She edited two newspapers in Minnesota during the period 1858-1865, when these letters were written: first, the St. Cloud Visiter [sic] and, afterward, the St. Cloud Democrat.

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