Silence Dogood essay 5: "Sir, I Shall here Present your Readers with a Letter ..."
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The 21-28 May 1722 issue of The New-England Courant includes Silence Dogood's fifth essay, an eloquent defense of the rights of women against the charges of "Ephraim Censorious" (Franklin writing under a second pseudonym). Included in Dogood's response are these questions:
I find it a very difficult Matter to reprove Women separate from the Men; for what Vice is there in which the Men have not as great a Share as the Women? and in some have they not a far greater, as in Drunkenness, Swearing, &c.?
Whether this makes teenage Benjamin Franklin a proto-Feminist or not, this letter scores telling blows against male idleness, ignorance, and folly, and goes on to quote at length from Daniel DeFoe's An Essay upon Projects on the "barbarous Custom" of denying education to women.
To examine the entire newspaper, please see the online display of The New-England Courant, Number 43, 21-28 May 1722.
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