Eden 18:3

Sophia - Version 2July 1902, Boston

Dearest Eden,

Mother and I went to hear a suffrage lecture yesterday. You will remember Mrs. Park, whom we saw in March, reporting on the hearings in Washington? She is barely twenty-five—only four years out of Radcliffe—and so accomplished a speaker! I could never stand before so many and say anything sensible, even if every one of them agreed with my premise. But Thursday’s lecture was not filled with such a friendly audience and the meeting quickly became a heated debate. A large contingent of anti-suffragists had come, prepared as if it were their own meeting to counter everything Maud had to say.

In short, they (the antis, that is), maintain that all the gains of women reformers will be lost if we are given votes and take up political concerns instead of our social ones.

But Maud said—so eloquently!—that our social concerns are political and that if the politicians know they must answer to women voters they will take our reform efforts as seriously as we take them.

How anyone could think that an injustice—that is, the disenfranchisement of half the citizenry—could promote social reform better than justice, is beyond my ability to understand.

It is a western tradition to let the women vote and you have your social reforms there too. Maud spoke of the conditions of Colorado and Idaho at length. Certainly, if Arizona were to become a state, it would have the sense to enfranchise its women. Don’t you think it would?

I hope I do not bore you repeating what you already know I believe. I wished you were there with us. But even more I wish—I hope—that someday you and I will cast our votes together. We will someday—someday soon—I am sure of it.

Send me more news of your family and of your work. I am longing to see your real pictures of the desert, I so cherish the little sketches you have been sending. They are posted all around my bed and Mother shakes her head a little but says nothing when she sees them. But Father has admired them in his quiet way. He says perhaps you ought to go to work as a newspaper correspondent.

Is it still only July, darling Eden? The summer used to fly but this year it drags along. I am counting the days until September when I will see you again. Write and say you will still love me then. You know I am always and only your,


Eden - Version 2August 1902, Arizona Territory

Dearest Sophie,

I don’t think very often about voting, but I am sure you are right about everything you say. Mama says she would surely vote if Arizona ever lets her and Dora says I should go to the polls in my trousers and vote for woman suffrage. I don’t think I quite have the courage for that, though. I guess I’ll just go to the meetings with you when I get back to Boston.

Sophie, are you sure your mother doesn’t object to your friendship with me? Maybe the sketches of my family are too shocking for her, and you had better to put them away. Maybe she minds about Peter and Minna being married but is too kind to say. I feel she has never quite liked me somehow and I don’t want you to displease her for my sake.

I told Minna about you, like you asked me to, and she was so happy for me she nearly smothered me in embraces. She says to send you her love.

You have mine of course, as always.



Sophia - Version 2August 1902, Boston

Sweet boy,

Mother does not object to you as you say you fear. I assure you she only objects that I love anyone or anything as much as my studies. (Though I love you more, Eden, I surely won’t tell Mother that!) But you are wrong, she does not mind your sister’s marriage. Her own father, after all, stayed loyal to Mr. Douglass when he married a white woman and so many of his friends, Negroes and whites too, turned against him.

Nothing like that would bother Mother as long as you were just another of my friends, and not the dearest darling of my heart. She has dreamed things for me since I was a baby—especially when it became clear that there would be no others to dream for. She wants me to show the fruit of all the work her mother and father did before her, and all the work she and my own father have done to educate and free so many people from bondage of all kinds. She wants me to carry a torch into the next generation unswervingly past all personal temptations. She has said these things to me many times, in words exactly like these. And she fears now that I am “obsessed with a person who cannot possibly understand the importance of my life’s calling” as she puts it.

But you do of course. I know you understand me just as I understand you. Mother says that however admirable you and your people might be, we come from different worlds. I say that we will make a yet another world together—a kind of territory of the heart—where both of us are free and where we can love each other as freely.

Your own devoted,



One response to “Eden 18:3

  1. I love that last sentence. Beautifully put.


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