Bloomers ignite an apoplectic fit of misogyny

A pair of Bloomers, champions of women’s rights and alcoholic temperance, as depicted by Charles L. Graves in Mr. Punch’s History of Modern England, London: Cassels and Company, 1921.


Women who wore trousers in the mid-nineteenth century were known as Bloomers, after Amelia Jenks Bloomer, U.S. campaigner for temperance and women’s rights. The impending  arrival of Mrs. Bloomer in Toronto caused the Daily Leader to suffer this apoplectic fit of misogyny, September 12, 1853.

Bloomerism, women’s rights ism! and the Maine Law ism are the triajuncta in uno of New England fanaticism. They spring from the same root, flourish in the same soil, and yield the same quality of fruit. They are bitter apples, all of them.

The convention with which New York has been dishonored within the last few days bear out the remark. The females who mounted platforms to unsex themselves were champions of the united causes. Mrs. Bloomer, Antoinette Brown, Lucy Stone, and the whole tribe of unwomanly women who disgraced themselves, their progenitors, and associates by lecturing noisy audiences night after night, are the prime movers and the proper representatives of these disorganizing developments of modern folly and wickedness.

They figure in the morning, in Bloomer costume, as the advocates of woman’s right to the breeches — of course, with the franchise, the right of divorce at will, and all the other et cetera of what passes under the phrase, women’s rights, crammed into the pockets. In the evenings they elbowed their way through crowds of men, to mix with Negroes of either sex, and to join with practical Mormons in insisting upon the adoption and enforcement of the Maine Law. The last heard of them was the pithy telegraphic statement that “the women’s rights convention broke up in a row.” How else could it end? And what but a general row can follow the practical application of their pestiferous notions?

Hunted from New York, it seems that they are to find refuge in Toronto. The head of all the Bloomers — their pattern, instructress, and editorial advocate — is to show herself, too, not as a fugitive from outraged decency of the Empire City, but as the petted guest, the invited teacher, of the Toronto promoters of the Prohibitory Liquor Law. Mrs. Bloomer is to be brought to prove to our citizens, their wives and daughters, the folly of Paul’s injunction, and the infinite superiority of Neal Dow and Lucy Stone…

Evil communications corrupt good manners.

— Canada @ 150 —


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