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W.C. Cope, Elmina Slenker. Tomorrow Magazine, (Chicago: Tomorrow Publishing Company, January, 1907),79-80.

ELMINA DRAKE SLENKER BY W. C. COPE. All of the Old Guard and most of the younger generation of free minded people have heard of "Aunt Elmina." She has been an inspiration to thousands who were trying to break through the prison bars of tradition and conventionalism to a saner, better view of life. The writer well remembers his experience twelve years ago when having broken with orthodoxy he was still surrounded by an orthodox environment and made to feel all the bitterness of society's disapproval of an "infidel!" It was at this time that he began a correspondence with Aunt Elmina. whose kindness, appreciation and sympathy, across the miles of space intervening supplied a need by correspondence that otherwise would have remained unsatisfied. And her kindness did not end with writing helpful letters herself; but she took pains to put him in touch with other emancipated minds so that the feeling of loneliness and isolation was in a large degree removed. From my own experience I have always felt that every liberal

paper and magazine should encourage correspondence among its readers, many of whom are isolated and need the stimulus that comes from the "fellowship of kindred minds." (Such a club is conducted by C. A. Kirk, Box 733, Mitchell, S. D. Send stamp for particulars.)

Elmina Drake Slenker was born of Quaker parents at Lagrange. N. Y., December 23, 1827, so that she is now in her eightieth year. She still uses the Quaker "thee" in conversation and correspondence. As has been the case with many infidels, her father was a preacher, Thomas Drake; but he soon became a "doubting Thomas" concerning the Christian belief. Elmina grew up in the Liberal school prepared to accept the truth wherever found and early in life made the acquaintance of such Liberals as Abby Kelley Foster, Henry C. Wright, Parker Pillsbury, and Ernestine L. Rose. She was the eldest of six girls and grew up in an atmosphere of debate. One by one she adopted and advocated Temperance, Free Soil, Water Cure, Phrenology, Anti-Slavery, Equal Rights, and Liberalism. At the age of fourteen she began taking notes of passages of Scripture that struck her as being objectionable, improbable, impossible, or ridiculous and in 1866 these were worked up into a series of articles for the Boston Investigator and afterwards put into book form by the publisher.

At twenty-six Elmina began thinking about taking a partner for life, and putting in practice her theory of woman's equality, she advertised in the Water-Curc Journal for a husband. The notice called for one who had a soul above mere dollars and a heart willing to love and be loved. Over sixty replies came to her advertisement and from them she selected that of Mr. Slenker whom she soon afterward married. The marriage also differed from the ordinary in that their simple contract to take each other as man and wife was read in the presence of a few friends and signed by them as witnesses. There was no promise made to love, honor and obey, because they deemed it expedient not to promise what they might not be able to perform.

After her marriage Elmina made it her main object in life to advance the cause of Freethought. This she calls her lifework and every leisure moment not given to household duties has been spent in talking, writing, and distributing books, papers and liberal tracts. There is probably not a woman in the country or the world more thoroughly emancipated than Aunt Elmina. She has always been in advance of her time, and being a woman this is all the more remarkable because hero-worship and idealism are thoroughly ingrained in the nature of most women. Being the mothers of the race, nature or evolution has given them the greatest admiration for the strong and robust type of man that being the type, other things being equal most likely to beget and provide for his progeny. So they are prone to make a religion of that which primarily arose in the need of a strong fighting man to protect them and their children from natural enemies.

Elmina rose superior to this reverential instinct if she ever possessed it. She it was who first proclaimed the doctrine of female superiority. "Nature," she says, "always works, if we may so term it, to produce a female. Protoplasm itself may be called female, because it is the mother of all organized life. All through the vegetable and animal world we see life working for the perfection of the female that the female is the acme of all organization."

Now she is old and has outlived her income and is dependent on friends for everything. The church people pension those who grow old in their service, and it is only common fellowship that would urge Liberals to do as much. Those feeling prompted to a kind act can reach Aunt Elmina by addressing Snowville, Va.