From Lucy Stone to her parents
I must write to you about my affairs here, and then I want you to tell me honestly just whether you think I have done right. It has been the custom for the ladies who were appointed to write for the Commencement to have their essays read by Professor Thome. Some of them thought ladies ought to have the privilege of reading for themselves. Accordingly, I prepared a petition to the faculty asking that we might do so; but the petition was rejected, on the ground that it was improper for women to participate in public exercises with men. I came at once to the conclusion that I would not write.
I said to President Mahan that I wished to be excused. Several members of the class spoke at once; said they hoped I would not resign then, but would take time to consider. I told them I had already considered. President Mahan said he thought that we ought to have the privilege of reading for ourselves; that he did all he could to get the consent of the faculty, but they were all against him.
Miss Adams and some members of the class who were particularly anxious that I should read, called on President Mahan. He said that he had just been speaking of the same thing to Mrs. Mahan; that he was very, very desirous that Miss Stone should read; that he thought she ought to and would represent the class well; that there had never been a students here who had gone through a course of study with whom he was better satisfied, etc., etc., etc. The matter has been before the faculty more than two weeks. I don't know what they will decide, but I certainly shall not write if I cannot read for myself. By so doing I would make a public acknowledgment of the rectitude of the principle which takes away from women their equal rights.
Now, don't you think I did right? Isn't it better that I should be true to my principles than to have the honor (?) of writing for Commencement what another must read for me? not because I could not just as well read it for myself, but because I am a woman, and women must not speak in the church when men are on the same platform. When you write, please tell me honestly just what you think of it.
Quoted in Lucy Stone: Pioneer of Woman's Rights, by Alice Stone Blackwell (Little, Brown, 1930).