W2056 Circular to the Female Reform Societies of the United States,
Jan 1 1839 (estimate)
To: Dr. Calvin Brooks McQuesten New York City
To the Female Moral Reform Societies of the United States.
The New York Female Moral Reform Society, and the delegates from its Auxiliaries, at their Fourth Annual Meeting, have appointed a Committee to confer with you concerning the interests of the great cause, on the success of which so much is depending.
The resolutions that have been unanimously passed at this meeting, are many of them of vital importance, and in order that they should be carried out, in the spirit as well as the letter, your active co-operation is especially necessary. These resolutions embody great principles, but if simply passed and printed, and no individual responsibility is felt in sustaining them, they will be but an empty sound.
A copy of them will be laid before you in the Advocate of June 1st, and we trust will bet with your cordial approbation. We wish you not only to read them, but adopt and make them your own, and let the action that shall be taken upon them, witness to the world your solemn purpose to sustain the cause of purity until it shall prevail over every opposing influence.
Is it not a fact, dear Sisters, that our views have been two limited, and that we have been content with doing but little, while much was required of us? Is it not our duty and privilege to devise great things, and expect great things? It has been truly said, that "we live in an eventful age", and that "our Heavenly Father has laid upon us high responsibilities." Those whose hearts are enlisted in this cause are permitted to labor in a great field, with great objects, and "a great recompense of reward," constantly before them. This field is the world, both Heathen and Christian, and objects nothing less than the entire suppression of the worst class of moral evils; and the preservation and salvation of our rising race. The reward, the fulfillment of the precious promise that "lewdness shall crease out of the land," and the happy prospect realized of having been instrumental, in the hands of God, of rendering the domestic constitution sacred and holy as when it came from the hand of its great Author, and thus preventing, in thousands of families, the keenest anguish of which the human mind is susceptible.
Notwithstanding the much we have to do at home an appeal comes to us from the distant islands of the sea. It comes from the Principles of a Moral Reform School of heathen children. Forty little girls from five to ten years of age, have been rescued by the dear missionaries from degradation and vice, but for want of means are now liable to be sent back, and to be sent back, and again immersed in pollution and crime. Can we not, dear sisters, respond to this cry, and will you not aid us? For further particulars we refer you to the letter from Mr. Green, published in the Advocate of June 1st. For Children of this early age there is hope, if Gospel influences can be placed around them until right principles are established. A small amount of pecuniary aid, from each Auxiliary, would gladden the hearts and strengthen the hands of those beloved missionaries, whose fondest hopes will be blasted, if compelled to disband this infant institution. When such an appeal, is preferred from fellow-laborers in such a field, we cannot pass it coldly by without doing violence to all the nobler feelings of the soul. Let us make new sacrifices, if need be, that we may continue and extend the work at home, and be enabled to water others, even to the remotest regions of the earth.
The subject of Petitions to the Legislatures of the several States, relative to legal enactments, has been taken up after deliberate and prayerful consideration. We are duly sensible of the difficulties that lie in our path, and the sacrifices of feeling, together with the amount of time and labor that may be required, ere the object will be effected. But, dear Sisters, we have before us the example of one, who for our sakes endured contumely without murmuring, and for the sake of the thousands and tens of thousands of our suffering sex, for the honor of the great Lawgiver, whose claims are so entirely set at nought [sic], shall we not be willing to go without the camp, bearing his reproach. "If by this means sin and suffering may be lessened, and some be saved from death eternal, the scarifies now required will in a little time, seem but "as the dust in the balance" We ask your special assistance in the work of obtaining signature. Printed petitions will be sent on by mail, or other wise, to order; and we hope that not only the members of your society hope that not only the members of your society, but every friend of morality and virtue within the sphere of your influence, will be induced to enrol [sic] their names. We surely have a right to petition for a redress of grievances that are sending a withering blight over our domestic relations, subverting a family constitution, and threatening to call down the severest judgments of Heaven upon our guilty land. It is the professed purpose of government to support morality, and if an appeal in behalf of this object is made to our representatives, if "good men and true," they cannot refuse to hear us; if otherwise, their conscience may be probed by such a measure, and while they shall refuse to legislate upon the subject, they may be reminded of the unwelcome truth, that there is a tribunal to which themselves are amenable.
The pledge has been adopted at this meeting, that, if possible, during the coming year, a copy of our publications shall be placed in every family in the several towns where we reside, who are willing to receive them. This is a most desirable work, and one in which every member may do something. These periodicals, whenever they may go, will be preceded and followed by the prayers of multitudes, and there is no question that, if we are faithful to this pledge, incalculable good will be the result.
Frequent allusion has been made in our periodical, to the moral tendency of books. We would commend to the attention of Auxiliaries, the plan of procuring a small library for the special use of the members. A selection might be made from the best works of the most approved authors, that would be a valuable acquisition to the Society, and an important means of moral and mental improvement. This is emphatically a reading age, and a large majority of the young have acquired a thirst for knowledge that leads them to grasp with eagerness whatever comes before them in the shape of books. Now, if we would exclude light reading and books of an immoral tendency, let us place in the hands of our daughters and sisters a choice substitute, calculated to mould and form a character consecrated to virtue and to God. Such a library would, of course, require some expense, but it would soon be repaid with interest to the possessors, and remain a rich legacy to the rising generation.
The subject of the duties in connection with the rights of woman commends itself to your serious and prayerful consideration. As Christian mothers, wives, and daughters, we have but just begun to open our eyes to the light that is every where beaming around us; and to appreciate the mighty influence woman is destined to exert in the conversion of the world to Christ. Woman, who was "last at the cross and earliest at the grave," is still honored by that same ascended Redeemer, and from the indications of his providence, we may safely infer that, though self-destroyed, "Jesus still bears her on his heart," and is ready and willing to impart wisdom to guide, strength to support, and grace to sustain, in every field of labor that shall be assigned her.
The "Moral Reform Convention of American Women," that has been appointed by a unanimous vote of this meeting to take place in May, 1839, demands early and vigorous action in order that the measure may be sustained with efficiency, and result in promoting the great objects of Moral Reform in its best and wildest sense. It is hoped the commencement of the necessary preparations for this meeting will not be deferred a single month. The items alluded to above, if they shall receive prompt and united attention, will provide a work for all, sufficient for the year, which if well done, will furnish an interesting report to place in the hands of delegates, cheering to your own hearts, and animating to others. A delegation of one or more from every Auxiliary, is exceedingly desirable, for the feeble may thus gain strength, and the strong impart it. It is also necessary that they be chosen in season, so as to correspond with the Parent Society relative to the special business of the meeting, that a mutual understanding and concert of action may exist on the part of all concerned.
We are well aware that prayer has been the weapon that has prevailed more than any and every other in behalf of this cause, and we would affectionately and renewedly [sic] urge you to make it still more and more the medium of your largest desires. We have abundant reason, in view of the past, to exercise the faith of expectation with regard to the future, for the Lord has not spurned our petitions, nor sent us empty away. In the family, in the social circle, and in the closet may you continue to bear the interests of this cause before the mercy seat. Confide in the promises. Search and know them; and "what thy hand findeth to do, do it with thy might." Farewell, dear Sisters,-May the Lord unite us in love and fellowship, and in more abundant labors; and reunite us in the paradise of God.
Signed on behalf of the Anniversary Meeting.
M.A. HAWKINS, President.
S.R. Ingraham, Secretary