A Celebration of Women Writers

"Woman in an Ideal Government." by Mrs. Katherni Van Grinnell (1839-).
Publication: Eagle, Mary Kavanaugh Oldham, ed. The Congress of Women: Held in the Woman's Building, World's Columbian Exposition, Chicago, U. S. A., 1893. Chicago, Ill: Monarch Book Company, 1894. pp. 628-632.

Editor: Mary Mark Ockerbloom

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One of the most notable things said at the great congress of women in Washington in 1888, was the remark of the Rev. Anna Shaw that "every reformer had a vision before he entered the work of reform."

Doubtless many a heart in her audience thrilled in response, in memory of the sublime experiences which opened the spiritual eyes to a perception of the interior forces and principles at work within and upon human society. For many years my mind has been searching for these ultimate principles.

The imperious demand of my spirit at last forced open the gateways that lead to the inner realms, and compelled its hidden meanings to be made plain to my comprehension. "The kingdom of heaven suffereth violence, and the violent take it by force," said Jesus truly.

In answer to my persistent inquiry and demand in the supreme struggle of my soul, was my vision opened to see and understand the great idea and underlying principles of human life, of social and governmental order, of the kingdom of God, in other words. These are expressed in the twelve-tribed nations of Israel, and symbolized in the magnificent vision of the new Jerusalem.

In a vague and undefined way the thoughts and sentiments connected with the idea of the Kingdom of God, or of the millennium, have always been cherished by the human heart. Its approach has been foretold these fifty years or more. The cry of the angel with one foot on the sea and one on the land, that time of the end of the old dispensations had come–remembering not that the Kingdom is first within.

The greatest miracle that can happen, the greatest sign that can be given, is the "sign of the Son of Man."

The spirit must truly desire the truth before it can perceive and receive the stupendous fact that the earth is to be the arena of all that has been foretold concerning the destiny of the human race. The Kingdom of God is a political kingdom, if you please, governed by spiritual laws. That is, it is based upon both the mental and spiritual laws of man's nature, which is a copy and reflex of the nature of God. It has definite organization and form of government. It is not a phantasmagora nor a mere sentiment, but is a real and human fact, involving human beings in their social and [Page 629]  governmental relations. It is the reign of law in every faculty of the human mind, and in every department of human society. All that we have known before about the Kingdom we have found in the Bible. From this book we read of the first inception of the idea, and the historical fact of a nation founded to realize it in their government and personal life. This was the Israelitish nation, and it was founded under the direct influence of Jehovah, who promised that it should be a "holy nation." Its history is one of extreme interest, and has a singular fascination for the devout and spiritual mind, and yet, so strangely have its history and prophecies been ignored, that Christians generally are almost ignorant of its annals, and wholly ignorant of its import as a factor in the evolution of the race.

They miss entirely the purpose and intention of the book; and this notwithstanding their faith in the plenary inspiration of the Bible, and notwithstanding that they think their whole claim to eternal life lies in its pages.

Moses, during the memorable forty days that he was in the mountain with Jehovah, received the instructions which he afterward incorporated in what is known as the Mosaic law, which today stands superior to any other system of laws among ancient or modern nations. For this law was not only the expression of the will and wisdom of Jehovah, but of the internal necessities of the people. It was suited to the people of that child age. But we have come now to a more mature age, when, instead of commands as to children, we need a scientific statement of the laws of the mind, as well as of the physical laws. Law is the mode of action of internal forces. It is never imposed on man against his nature, but in accordance with, and as a part of, the fundamental principles of his nature. Indeed, when Moses finished the delivery of the law, he gave this as its binding force and reason. It was so natural that they needed no teacher, even from the heavens, to teach them how to obey.

Indeed it is now well known that their history and wanderings have been traced by unmistakable signs until their identity with the Anglo-Saxon race, of which we are a part, is fairly well established.

This brainy, energetic, practical, but spiritual people, then, are the veritable "lost tribes" of Israel. I do not propose, however, to enter into the details of this account. I only wish to trace the line of history to show our ancestry from whom we receive our inheritance of mental and spiritual power. This race is best adapted to the work of completing a true social and governmental order, based upon scientific principles. In their characters and in their prophecies were the most complete types and symbols of the new order, which is the final outgrowth of our historic ages. All these symbols and types find their key in the nature of man.

Each tribe was marked by distinct characteristics, and each stood for a basic truth and fundamental part of society. This was why God chose them to lead in the development of the Divine principles of life.

The Jews, whom we know as a distinct people today, have come to consider themselves, and to be considered, as the only representatives on earth of this historic people. But the Jewish people comprise only a small portion of the nation of Israel, being the descendants of only two out of the twelve tribes. Ten of the tribes revolted and, choosing a king, set up an independent nation.

This was known as the House or Kingdom of Israel, but was also called Ephraim, because the half tribe led in the revolt. The tribes who remained loyal to Solomon's son were known as the Kingdom of Judah, from which come the Jews. After a few hundred years of almost incessant warfare between these divided nations, the Israelites were captured by the King of Assyria and carried away into captivity, from which they have never returned. From that time they have been known by the descendants of Judah, and all readers of their history, as the "lost tribes." But the burden of the ancient prophecies is the restoration of these two nations under the tribal order, and of their becoming reunited to form one nation again under one King David "whom I will raise up."

At a culminating period in the age of this people came or was sent Jesus. He [Page 630]  offered to the Jews the opportunity of again restoring this ancient nation; not by war-like prowess, but by the simple observance of the spiritual principles of life. He sent His disciples to the lost sheep of the House of Israel, for He well knew that the twelve tribes must all bee represented to complete the nation. History tells us how He was rejected, and how the Jews immediately lost what little power remained to them. For the rejection or acceptance of great and universal principles of truth by the people affects the race universally for good or evil during the ages that follow.

After Jesus, appeared another great prophet who had been one of His disciples. He wrote a new revelation, mostly in symbols. Its symbolism concealed its interior meaning from the people, until the time should come when the human mind would be able to perceive the principles involved and the possibility of their application to earthly affairs and institutions. This is the order of evolution. The burden of this prophecy, which culminates in our day, is the sealing of one hundred and forty-four thousand of the people in tribes, under the name of the twelve tribes of Israel; afterward of a multitude which no man can number. John saw that "Holy City," the New Jerusalem, coming down from God, out of Heaven, prepared as a bride for her husband, "having the glory of God, and the light was like unto a stone, most precious, even like a Jasper stone, clear as crystal." It had twelve gates, and at the gates twelve angels, and names written thereon," which are the names of the twelve tribes of Israel. Have we a right to treat this as a beautiful but meaningless fancy? Theologians have sought in vain for its solution, and make no attempt to explain it. But science has entered the domain of religion, and gives a real theology and a clear explanation of these symbols.

The New Jerusalem is called a bride and seems most distinctly feminine, because here woman's special forces and functions find their first recognition and place in government, and in all the great activities of society. And this place is perceived and stated first through the discoveries of science.

It forever fixes woman's place and shows her to be an equal factor with man in all the departments of government and of society.

She has already begun to perceive this in a limited way, and is seeking recognition in politics as a necessary expression of her natural right and as a tardy act of justice on the part of men toward her. But she needs to have a more definite idea of her place in politics and in government before she will be able to induce man to grant her this right.

But right here is where Science has achieved her most splendid victory, by giving an exact analysis of the faculties of the human brain and their modes of action in individual, social and governmental life. Thus we find the law of the tribes, which I promise to give to you.

The brain is a wonderful organ. The secret of its action has been slow of discovery. Strange that this organ and instrument of the mind, which measures all things in the heavens and earth, should have been so tardy of discovering the laws and process of its own action, or so lately analyzed its own faculties.

"The human brain is constructed upon the mathematical plan of the ellipse," says the Book of Life. A circle has a single center of force, but an ellipse has two centers of force. A circle with its single center has no internal power or movement of life. An ellipse with its two centers has internal power or movement and of life. These two centers are polar to each other. All physiologists agree in saying this: "Polarity involves the concert of opposite tendencies–the attractive and the repulsion; receptive and positive; masculine and feminine."

"The brain is the seat of all animal life; every bodily function receives its power to act from the brain," says one scientist. The brain is the seat also of spiritual life. From and through these centers of spiritual force every faculty of the human mind or spirit receives its powers to act. They are not only the centers of organizing power in forming the body, but of all thought. There could be no activity or power to create thought or being but for these polar, responsive and co-operative, masculine [Page 631]  and feminine forces, which center in the human brain. Let me emphasize this. As in the physical organization of the brain, the structural fibers center here; so in the metal organization. There are twelve groups of faculties which also center in these brain centers. The faculties have each a distinctive location in the brain, the result of the operation of a mathematical law. The special traits and characteristics of each group of faculties characterized one of the tribes of Israel.

This fact was observed and stated by the great historians, Kitto, Evald Milmann and other historians of the Jews.

The names of the twelve groups of faculties are: Art, which characterized the tribe of Simeon; science, which characterized the tribe of Asher; letters, which characterized the tribe of Gad; culture, which characterized the tribe of Naphtali; religion, which characterized the tribe of Levi; marriage, which characterized the tribe of Judah; familism, which characterized the tribe of Reuben; home, which characterized the tribe of Zebulon; rulership, which characterized the tribe of Joseph; labor, which characterized the tribe of Dan; wealth, which characterized the tribe of Benjamin; commerce, which characterized the tribe of Isaacher. Each group is subdivided into faculties. The functions of each group are dual, or masculine and feminine; the masculine quality dominating in man and the feminine in the woman, for both elements have entered into every part of each organism through the united forces of the parents.

I will now give the primary or dual division of the faculties, the first in each group being masculine, the second feminine:

Culture, subdivided into amity and reform; religion, subdivided into faith and love; rulership, subdivided into dignity and laudation; science, subdivided into reason and inspiration; marriage, subdivided into devotion and mating; labor, subdivided into justice and industry; letters, subdivided into memory and attention; familism, subdivided into parentity and reverence; wealth, subdivided into defense and economy; art, subdivided into form and color; home, subdivided into appetite and feeling; commerce, subdivided into locomotion and aversion.

These form the different departments of society and government in a complete organization. We readily recognize that in each of the faculties the masculine faculty dominates in man, and the feminine in woman. Every brain organ or faculty produces a distinctive kind of want that has a natural right to a means of satisfaction or expression.

A government, to be truly representative, must not only represent human beings as a mass; but as each class of wants in society has its distinct or producing cause in a mental faculty, this faculty must be represented in government by an officer.

In the Hebrew language, the language of Israel, in which Jehovah gave his name to Moses, each letter has a number which determines its meaning. The number of the name Jehovah is twenty-six (26), but none of the rabbis have ever been able to determine its meaning. It has always remained the mystery of God. However, they have always had a belief that it would be revealed in the day or age when Israel should be restored. John, in his revelations, foretells the time as being one of the events which we perceive is culminating in our day, when "they mystery of God" shall be "finished." In the vision of St. John, he says: "A throne was set in Heaven, and (one) sat on the throne, and he that sat was to look upon like a Jasper and a Sardine stone." The word "one" in the sentence is an interpolation, and the colors of the Jasper and Sardine stones are masculine and feminine; for the law holds good among the colors that prevail in every realm of nature. It is a well-known scientific fact that colors are masculine and feminine to each other. This, John said, was a vision of that time that was to be hereafter, and although it was represented as being in Heaven, and was undoubtedly an actual vision of Jehovah and the officers of the Celestial Government, it represented the form of government which is to be the center and model of all earthly governments, because it is based upon the nature of God and of man, and for this reason is a subject of prophecy. [Page 632] 

The capital city will be at Jerusalem, "for the law shall go forth from Zion," and a new city, the form and architecture of which will be based upon the laws of the Divine and human mind, will be built upon the site of the ancient city of historic fame. This is what is meant by the New Jerusalem–not a phantom city in the skies, but an earthly–expressing in its external form and its internal harmony the laws of the Divine and human mind. But here we find that the equality of woman with man as an associate ruler was foretold or foreshadowed in the ancient days. David, in his prophetic psalm, picturing the beauties of the Messianic age, says: "Upon the right hand did stand the queen in gold of Ophir." These two central rulers or officers will administer the Divine government, not as autocrats, but as elected rulers by virtue of their eminent fitness representing the functions of the brain centers, which are called by physiologists the "throne of the brain." A man and woman representing each tribe, and also each dual group of faculties as manifested in the departments of society, will be associated officers in each department of government, the male officers representing and exercising the masculine functions, and the female officers the feminine functions. This makes the twenty-four rulers which John saw around the throne, and, with the two central male and female officers which represent the throne of the brain, makes the significant number twenty-six, the number of the name of Jehovah, the finished mystery of the ages.

It is not in the smallest degree necessary for woman to establish her ability to do precisely the same kind of work that man does, or has done. The sphere of woman is equal to that of man, and is as important. The natures of the two are so linked and interwoven and so equal in necessity that there should be no quarrel between them as to supremacy. It is only a question of defining accurately the differences between them and the functions each shall fill, not only in politics and government, but in all the social and industrial activities of life. This is, I have stated and partly demonstrated, the office of Science. All the employments of society are dual; that is, each has its masculine and feminine side, as well as the offices of government; that is, one side of it is more suited to the distinct characteristics of man, and another to that of woman.

By organizing society and government upon a purely scientific basis, we can secure opportunity for the full exercise of all the faculties of both man and woman, without the functions of one interfering with the functions of the other. But by their co-operation in orderly ways, the work of the world will be accomplished harmoniously, and the currents of human life be united and blended with the central forces of the Universe, and the Divine order and harmonies become established upon earth.

Let woman but proclaim this law of universal right and fundamental principle, and like the army of Joshua before Jericho, so shall the walls of prejudice, superstition and weakness which now hedge her in fall like those ancient walls of stone, and she shall enter into her eternal possessions, and so shall come the Kingdom of Woman. Of woman, I say, not because of her dominance, except during her period of gestation or organization, but because here alone, after all the ages of the dominion of man, the functions of woman find their complete exercise as the real companion of man.

As an evolutionary step, I would suggest that women organize themselves into one great party, elect their leaders among women who have proven themselves fit for such grave responsibilities, study these scientific principles of life and government, and apply them as far as possible by forming departments which shall represent the twelve groups of faculties of the mind. In this way you will necessarily create the distinctive feminine offices and positions where woman can make herself an effective power which man will gladly recognize and seek to co-operate with her, and so shall cease the humiliating struggle for recognition which is so painful to the soul of the true woman, and her suffrage will be practically accomplished to her honor, and generations of futile labor be saved.

May the grace and intelligence of the divine beings adorn and illuminate the human mind, perfect the human character, and guide the nations of the earth to the supreme fulfillment of their destiny–the establishment of that great and perfect system of life and government, the Kingdom of God.

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Mrs. Katherni Van Grinnell was born in New York in 1839. Her parents were religious, enterprising and public spirited. They spared no pains to educate their children to become valuable members of society. She married Graham G. Grinnell of New York, a gentleman of culture, and has five children, three daughters and two sons, who are a crown of rejoicing to her. Her special work has been in the interest of a new social order which will give place to every interest of society in systematic form, and place woman in her right position as helper of man in every department of society. Her principal literary works are scientific essays and a monthly magazine. The character of Mrs. Grinnell is marked by a singular openness to truth in its exactness of detail and fidelity to her perceptions and convictions. Her postoffice address is Mayfair, Ill.

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* This article is an extract from an address, the full title of which is, "Woman's Position in an Ideal Government."


Editor: Mary Mark Ockerbloom

This chapter has been put on-line as part of the BUILD-A-BOOK Initiative at the
Celebration of Women Writers.
Initial text entry and proof-reading of this chapter were the work of volunteer
Simone Fluter.

Editor: Mary Mark Ockerbloom