The Revolution, a weekly women’s rights newspaper, was the official publication of the National Woman Suffrage Association formed by feminists Elizabeth Cady Stanton and Susan B. Anthony to secure women’s enfranchisement through a federal constitutional amendment. Published between January 8, 1868 and February, 1872, it was edited by Stanton and Parker Pillsbury and initially funded by George Francis Train, a wealthy and eccentric Democrat, and David Melliss, financial editor of the New York World newspaper. Coincidentally, The Revolution was run out of a small office in the same building that housed the New York World (from the digital archives of The Revolution).
Throughout the four years of its circulation, The Revolution featured articles on women farmers as well as pieces that promoted penal reform via agricultural and educational training. It took stances on higher education, advocating equal access for women as well as equal pay. But it also featured pro-temperance articles that descried women who visited taverns, and it offered a platform for officials who were denying claims that they had encouraged slaves to arm themselves and revolt from their masters.
Thus, some might argue that The Revolution was flawed, its ideology fractured, its sentiments inconsistent. But perhaps its editors were also concerned with showcasing a more nuanced display of the debates that were raging in antebellum America.
In fact, the Declaration of Sentiments, which formed the foundational ideology of the Seneca Falls Convention in July of 1848 – and was, according to Seneca Falls historian Judith Wellman, “the single most important factor in spreading news of the women’s rights movement around the country in 1848 and into the future” – was not just the progeny of Elizabeth Cady Stanton and Mary Ann M’Clintock. Stanton’s husband, abolitionist and lawyer Henry Brewster Stanton, added clauses about property rights. The support of the convention’s figurehead, Lucretia Mott, along with Quaker activist Amy Post and abolitionist Frederick Douglass, led to a unanimous adoption of the document by the delegates, resulting in its adoption by the National Women’s Rights Convention in 1851. Not only had the tenets of the first wave of American feminism been cemented in a document that was modeled after the Declaration of Independence, the practice of writing the feminist revolution was underway, and it wasn’t being inscribed exclusively by white women.
Some might argue that The Revolution (Relaunch) is singular in its objectives, that by focusing on issues that continue to plague historically marginalized populations, we’re simply voicing one side of the argument. As we see it, our objective is to provide a multitudinous space for creative activism, for arts-based research and commentary, thereby producing a diverse body of compassionate, lyrical resistance as opposed to an inflamed polemic. Furthermore, by addressing the concerns of myriad cultures and populations affected by the growing totalitarian sentiments within our country, we’re highlighting many facets of the American socio-political narrative, all of which is the antithesis of “a singularity of purpose.”
Tragically, in the wake of clinic closures and state bans on reproductive rights, as well as the detention of infants and children by both U.S. Customs and Border Protection (CBP) and Immigration and Customs Enforcement (ICE), it has begun to feel like we are re-entering an era that demands the kind of visibility and political passion of the first wave of feminism, a relaunching of the fervor and spirit of The Revolution with a revisionary eye toward the creative. From the battle for basic rights of citizenship and parenthood, to the right to claim our own bodies and access the care we deem appropriate, we are fighting for the lives of women, children, and the historically disenfranchised, and we will not relinquish our creativity in the process.