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Kate Field, "All Depends on Our Women"



Consider This Question


In the early 1890s, the American Press Association put together a feature series of writings in preparation for the World's Columbian Exposition in Chicago. They commissioned 74 notable Americans to make predictions about American life in the 1990s, in the process producing an interesting commentary on life in the 1890s. The variety of essays reflected the diversity of the contributors, including a senator (John J. Ingalls), an electrical engineer (John J. Carty), a poet (Elizabeth Akers Allen), and a minister (Thomas De Witt Talmage). The segments ran in newspapers across the country from March through May 1893, in time for the World's Fair opening.

What American now living will be most honored in 1993?

Grover Cleveland, if he fulfills the expectations of his best friends. Never were the problems confronting this republic so great and so many as those which the next President of the United States must meet and answer. On thee answers depends our salvation for many a year to come. Hence the necessity of a great and enlightened patriot in the White House. And hence such a verdict as I predict should Grover Cleveland prove himself to be the George Washington and Abraham Lincoln of this generation.

Where will be our greatest city?

In all probability Chicago. There will be wonderful cities in the West, none more beautiful and extensive than Salt Lake City. But unless all signs fail, Chicago will take precedence.

Will the race be happier, healthier, handsomer than now?

All depends on our women. If they marry for love and not for convenience;

If they cultivate the inside of their heads as sedulously as they now study fashion;

If they "go in" for sound bodies, such as nature intended that the mothers of the human race possess;

If they teach their children self-respect and respect for authority;

Then Americans of 1993 will regard their ancestors of 1893 as more than vulgar, ignorant heathens.

What is the future of the servant problem?

Again, all depends on women. When they know their own business and learn the meaning of Christianity, there will be no servant problem.

What is the future in dress?

Once more the question must be settled by women. Should American women do their own thinking in the next hundred years, they will not import their fashions, and they will wear nothing that interferes with a magnificent physical development. Trains will be reserved for the house; corsets and high heels will be sent to the coventry; the waist line will be just below the bosom; and [mythical Greek maiden] Atalanta will live again.

Is the condition of the laboring class likely to become more or less dependent?

There has been a steady improvement in the condition of what is falsely called the "laboring class," as though no one worked except the manual laborer. I only hope that the brain worker will be as well paid in 1993 as will be the manual laborer, who is fast controlling the fates of this republic and reducing human capacity to a dead level of mediocrity. All men should be born free, but all men are not born equal, trades unions to the contrary. There always have been, as there always will be, leaders.

What is the future in temperance legislation?

So-called temperance legislation is a temporary aberration of well-meaning but narrow-minded men and women with whom sentimentality supplants reason, and who actually think morals are an affair of legislation. One hundred years hence, personal liberty will be more than a phrase. When it is a fact, sumptuary laws will be as impossible as witch-burning is now.


Consider This Question



1. How does Field's essay differ in tone as compared to those of the male authors?

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