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Address to the First Graduating Class of Rutgers F

ADDRESS TO THE FIRST GRADUATING CLASS OF Rutgers Female College;

DELIVERED IN

THE FOURTH AVENUE PRESBYTERIAN CHURCH, (REV. DR. CROSBY'S),

ON

SABBATH EVENING, JUNE 2D, 1867.

BY HENRY M. PIERCE, LL.D., PRESIDENT OF THE COLLEGE.

PUBLISHED BY REQUEST OF THE TRUSTEES.

[Illustration]

New York: AGATHYNIAN PRESS. 1867

PRESIDENT'S ADDRESS.

In the year 1839, with great labor, care, expense, and after long consultation, was the Rutgers Female Institute founded. It grew out of an increasing sense of the importance of the duties of women, and of the need that her work should be well done. Hence the establishment of the school, with its course of studies, its libraries, its apparatus, its teachers. A quarter of a century has witnessed a great change in the education of woman; and the position of Rutgers Institute to-day, as a College, marks the character and degree of that change.

It has been my custom, to make a personal address to the members of each graduating class, as they have gone forth from the quiet of the school to the busy walks of life. My heart now impels me to follow this usage, but the change that has taken place in this institution, during the past year, seems to make appropriate to the present occasion, a few preliminary statements of my views as to what is the true position of woman, and what should be her education.

These are questions that deeply agitate the public mind. They are, in fact, the leading questions of the day; but in regard to them, I shall not shrink from the utterance of my opinions. Underlying the question of the education of woman, is the question of her equality with man; for if woman be inferior to man, so should be her education.

Some might be disposed to reverse this proposition, and to say that just in proportion to her inferiority, should her training be more careful and complete. There might seem to be some truth in this idea; but a little deeper thinking will convince us that to try to make up in this way for her supposed deficiency, would be to attempt an impossibility. The end could not be reached; the bounds that nature had appointed could not be passed.

It is also clear that if woman be the equal of man, she should receive as good an education as man, a proposition too plain for argument. So is also our third proposition--which exhausts this branch of the subject--that if woman be superior to man, she should receive a better education than man: for it is a first principle in morals, that every power which God gave, He meant should be unfolded to its fullest extent.

I am fully persuaded that the time is not far distant, when it will be thought almost incredible that the question of the inferiority of woman should ever have been seriously debated. For it is not without higher warrant than that of human reason, that I would claim for woman an equal place by the side of man. When in the beginning God created the heavens, the earth, the sea, and all that in them is, even as He then made laws for the stars and the seas, so did He then fix and determine forever the sphere and the destiny of man and of woman. Driven out of Paradise into the world on account of sin, neither man nor woman took their place at once; and in the nature of the case, woman's sphere was the last of the two to be understood.


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