Documents 3: Lucy Stanton to
Reverend George Whipple, 26 April 18641
This letter, written by Lucy Stanton Day to Reverend George Whipple, Secretary of the American Missionary Association, concerned her application to the American Missionary Association. In it, Stanton Day acknowledged the concerns raised about her peculiar marital status, and went on to defend her situation, attempting to redeem her character by explaining the way in which she has supported herself and her daughter in their difficult situation. Stanton Day's attempt to establish her femininity and frame her situation within a moral context is typical of the time. While the AMA sought dedicated, well-educated teachers, they weighed the eligibility of a woman in terms of the traditional values of the time and ultimately rejected Stanton's application despite her many qualifications and achievements.
Cleveland April 26th, 64
Rev. George Whipple,
I thank you for the circular given me by Rev. J.A. Thome through whom I learned that my child would be an objection. This was the reason of my not writing sooner: for although I knew that under ordinary circumstances Florence- who is over seven years old- who can sew, knit, sweep, dust and do thoroughly many little services that children are not expected to perform, would not interfere with my duties- yet I could readily perceive that others might not think with me- and shrank from thrusting forward my petition- when I was told there were so many applicants. But after consulting my friends- they as well as my sense of charity urged me to write.
If I write I must write frankly, I must try to make you understand just how I feel in regard to this matter confident from your known philanthropy, that I shall have your sympathy, if your judgment refuses me your support.
These are details of no interest to the Ex. Com.2 You will therefore please show them such portions of this letter as you deem best- this is no sudden fancy of mine- When I read of the surrender of Sumter3 I said God helping me if ever there is an opening, I will go South to teach. I believe I have had a peculiar discipline for this work- that is for this- props upon which I have leaned have been taken away- for my good- came this knowledge of economy- of fashioning almost every kind of garment in short- of earning my daily bread with my needle-this school of activity which to one as poised as I had been seemed hard and was needed to fit me to succeed in any good work- though I trust for long I have had a missionary spirit.
Believing this a field in which a great deal should be taught that is not found in books- the fact of motherhood defining, broadening, and strengthening my sympathies- my practical knowledge of labor, my love for and identity of race- are my highest claims.
Thanking you for your patience in reading such a long letter, I will now try to answer the questions found in the circular.
I Lucie Stanton Day am over thirty years of age- more for the last two or three years supported simply by dress making- my health has been uniformly good. I am married though myself and child are entirely dependent upon my exertions for support- I hold a diploma from the Ladies Department of Oberlin College- have taught District School in Columbus Ohio some years since also school. Have had certificates but have not preserved them. Have been a member of the Presbyterian Church for years. I wish to engage in this work because I desire the elevation of my race. In regards to location I have no choice other than this- if Miss L.E. Lewis (whose letters are enclosed with mine) and myself should receive an appointment, I should greatly desire that it be to the same place and if possible to the school or rather school in the same building. I expect no assistance save that which the Executive Committee may give- I desire to engage for at least six months or as much longer as I may prove myself equal to the work and Providence may direct.4