Famed woman educator intimidated by presenting suggestions to male educators
The following was written 169 years, 24 days ago.
It was a Wednesday.
97 ½ Seventh Street
I forgot to say to you the most important thing for which I called. It was this: One object I wish to effect, is the resolution of the Committee of the Free Academy, to make a knowledge at [?] Bem’s Ancient Chart the qualification for entrance into the Free Academy—Hon. Horace Mann has made it the qualification of entrance into the Historic Classes of the new college he is to preside over in Ohio—by putting it into the Preparatory School where it is to be taught by the same professor who will teach history in the college/ & who has taught it already some three years at the W. Newton Normal School of Massachusetts/--If the Free Academy should receive its pupils prepared in this—it might give a really noble instruction & to the profit of the pupils who would have a chronological & synchronistic frame work in which to receive general news of the meaning of Providence in the past, which now however eloquently set forth are apt to pass & leave no trace in the mind of accurate knowledge—nor can these even be received & appreciated at the moment when the outlines of history are not clear
I have never had a good talk with the President on the subject—he has sent me to the teacher. But the present teacher is young & very inexperienced in this subject, however fine a classical scholar he maybe, & he will need to leave his attention commanded to the subject by somebody more venerable in his eyes—than unknown lady whom he is liable to mistake for a book peddler. I thought it might well to see Dr. King of Columbia College, & have some conversation with him; and perhaps he might think fit to have it introduced into the preparatory school, & then it might come before young Mr. Anthon in a somewhat imposing form—I shall proceed to do this through Professor Hackly—but besides I wrote that incidentally and in your private capacity, when you see Dr. Webster that you would say something to him of these views of mine and perhaps he will invite me to a personal conversation with himself.
Not all my zeal and enthusiasm can inspire me with a personal courage & freedom from embarrassment in going forward to talk with gentlemen without being invited---and I feel the attitude taken by the heroic ladies/ whom I feel indignant should be insulted in their conscientious motives/ but whose methods I cannot sympathize with—being something of an old fogy by age and habit and feeling that the genius of women is to reconcile and not make war—I would like to go and have a friendly conversation with Dr. Webster, and be received rather as a friend of education than as a mercantile adventuress which I am not, although heavily embarrassed by the proprietorship of Bem and likely to continue so until it is no longer necessary to make any sacrifices or extra exertions for it.
E. P. Peabody
Mr. Webster can address me at So. 20 Park Place if he would like to see me—In looking over my letter, I see I have implied that the ladies of the Convention would make war. I would not be so mean as to slander if I cannot help them. It is only defensive war they make, I know, and they are not wholly responsible for even this.