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Lowell Mill Girl Letters

Sarah Bagley January 1, 1846

                                  Courtesy: Ohio Historical Society, Lilly Martin Spencer Collection 
                          Transcribed: University of Massachusetts Lowell, Center for Lowell History 
                                                                See: Sarah George Bagley Essay  

                            Lowell Jan. 1st 1846 
Mrs. Martin, 
     Dear Madam, We received your kind communication with much pleasure and as I am President and have also acted as Corresponding Secy - it has devolved upon me to make a reply and I regret my inability to do justice to myself, or your communication. It is hardly possible for you to imagine the encouragement and hope with which your kind letter has inspired us, it is like an oasis in the desert of a weary journey.  It is but one year since we commenced our association when five of our number met in “Anti-Slavery Hall” and made a beginning,  and pledge our mutual assistance to each other, and though our beginning was 
very small – by perseverance and united effort, we now number six hundredIt may not be uninteresting to you; to learn the secret of our success.

We labored long and hard to procure a press through which to spread our proposed remedies, for the ills, which society have forced upon us. Thanks Heaven! We have at length succeeded, and the laborers of New England have taken hold of the subject  

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and our paper promises to meet the expense of publication.  But the “Factory Tracts” it is for those to decide whether they shall be published, who are not willing to see our sex, made into living machines to do the bidding of incorporated aristocrats and reduced to a sum for their services hardly sufficient to keep soul and body together.

I commenced them without any assistance from any one and “they” have not yet met half the expense of printing. I shall publish No. 3 and then if I do not receive aid sufficient to warrant the continuation of them I shall be obliged to discontinue them for the present at least. I have not taken any subscriptions for them 
but sell them in copies. I would not abandon an enterprise like the publication of a series of tracts, under other circumstances, but I have an aged father and mother to support, and with the mean and paltry sum allowed to females, who work for the rich, you may be assured that I am obliged to make the most of my time and means I possibly can.  I have sent you a copy of the paper published by us, and also tract No. 2 which I trust you have received ‘ere this, and as you have kindly offered to lend your assistance 

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in behalf of womans rights, by giving circulation to our paper, or selling tracts for us or in any way spreading abroad the truths which these contain you will do something to aid suffering humanity. If you think you can sell a few copies I will forward them, if you will signify it. I shall see Mr. Brisbane in two weeks and will attend to your request and think it would be likely to meet the approbation of our Association, if it savors of the spirit of your letter.  I have a personal acquaintance with Mr. Brisbane, and regard him as a real laborer in the cause of human improvement. I am very sorry to see the undue kindness of sothern abolitionists towards our brethen of the south = not that I am pro-slavery No! God forbid, but because they have  
boxed up their sympathy and hold themselves ready to send it across the Atlantic or Louisiana at any time  
when it shall be called for. Alas!! How it is at home?  How are they developed here?  Why by compelling the females of New England to labor thirteen hours per day in rooms heated by hot air furnaces and sleep on the average from six to ten in a room. These very men are now carrying into the rooms of these operatives protests against 

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the annexation of Texas, and insulting them by asking them for their names Am I in error when I say that these men are mere partisans and not lovers of human rights.

[Address written across this section]

Mrs. A. L. P. Martin 
Duppurford (near Marietta) 
Washington County, Ohio

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I would not be understood as saying that there are no exceptions to this rule, but I speak of the mass and I am sure I am not mistaken.  Many of those who contend warmly for the emancipation of slavery that does not affect their own interest or popularity = are really rivet the chains of the present factory system with all its abominations, upon the operatives of Massachusetts. Miserable inconsistency!  Who can be right on this subject, but those who labor for universal emancipation?  Surely nothing can meet  the case, but the broad platform of the universal brotherhood of man and those who take a fragment of the work because it is more popular then another or does not conflict with his own interest = has not yet reformed himself and instead of being a teacher needs to be taught himself. I have written more than I at first intended but when I begin on such a subject my whole soul becomes engaged in the work and I lose myself – therefore I will not  

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I trust the pleasant acquaintance just commenced between us, will be often renewed. If you have any friends who would like to correspond with us = or myself please encourage them to do so it will be very satisfying! Accept our warmest gratitude for your kind solicitude in our behalf and my own hearts sincerest grateful remembrance. Please write often and I should be greatly pleased to make your personal acquaintance. 

            Address           Sarah G. Bagley 
                                    Lowell, Massachusetts

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March 13, 1846

Courtesy: Ohio Historical Society, Lilly Martin Spencer Collection 
Transcribed: University of Massachusetts Lowell, Center for Lowell History 
See: Sarah George Bagley Essay - 

                             Lowell March 13, 1846 
Mrs. Martin 
                             Dear Madam, I wrote you some few weeks since and as I had not received a reply I thought my letter might be miss sent and I would write again.  You wrote me some two months ago that you would interest yourself sufficiently to become our agent to procure means to purchase a press if we  
would commence such an enterprise we have bought a press and fixtures at an expense of $500 and paid $100 on the delivery of the property.  Our next payment becomes due on the first of June, and we hope through the faithful exertions of the friends the enterprise to be able to meet it. We have rented our press $15 per year and shall be obliged to take the rent to meet our engagements. We shall publish for circulation all that we rent our press for after we have paid first, and if the manuscript of which you wrote me should not be previously published we should like it. 

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I have not seen Mr. Brisbane since you wrote us, but he has engaged to be here the first of June when I will speak to him about your manuscript considerable interest is manifested in the subject of woman’s rights and our association have procured a course of lectures on that subject.  We are indeed indebted to you for the new Goal of the friends of rights your letter gave them a new impulse. I trust you will write.  To us and  offer us words of encouragement and hope. Yours in the cause of the progress of our race. 

                                    Sarah G. Bagley 
Lowell county of Middlesex Mass 

P.S. I have sent you several papers and tracts and should pay the expense of them and this, could I know whether you received them. 

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January 13, 1847

Courtesy: Ohio Historical Society, Lilly Martin Spencer Collection 
Transcribed: University of Massachusetts Lowell, Center for Lowell History 
See: Sarah George Bagley Essay - 

                                     Springfield, Mass March 13

Mrs. Martin 
            Dear Madam – You will pardon my long, delay when I tell you that your arrived in Lowell during my absence from the City to attend the sick bed of our aged father, who I am happy to inform you has, recovered. I would offer an apology for my long silence but be assured that you have given no offence in writing but I have always felt a great interest in your communications.  I feel that I am deeply indebted  
for your generosity and hope you will let me hear often from you.  My duties have been very pressing of late, and the business of my office has almost made me ungrateful to my correspondents.  I left Lowell about three months since and am in charge of the magnetic telegraph in this place during the present year.  
I have an aged father and mother to support, to whom my duty is first and greatest. I regret to say to you, that the “Voice of Industry” is quite conservative and must be with its present conductor.  The present editor thinks that a middle ground or half and half in our opinions is good policy.  He thinks that truth ought to be spoken in such honeyed words that if it hits any one, it shall not affect him unfavorably. He found fault with my communications and I would not remain on the committee of publication with him for editor. He does not want a female department it would conflict with the opinions of the mushroom aristocracy that he seeks  to favor, and beside it would not be dignified.

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