The American orator and abolitionist leader Wendell Phillips lectured on "The Lost Arts."  Although Matthew Vassar himself was proud that Phillips had spoken at the college in November 1867, the trustee lecture committee refused the Students' Association's request in December 1869 that Phillips be invited to deliver this address—part of his repertoire for nearly two decades. In a letter to her mother Ellen Swallow '70 surmised that the committee "thought that a man so identified with extreme views ought not to come here as we were not to be exposed to radical doctrines of any sort. 'The sacred trust of fathers and mothers,' etc....  We are about tired of poky lectures."    Caroline Louisa Hunt, The Life of Ellen H. Richards

The editors of the first issue (April 1, 1872) of the Students' Association's publication, The Vassar Miscellany, called Phillips's appearance a "long cherished wish of the students," and noted that the speech—a detailed comparison of the arts of ancient civilizations with contemporary ones, with the conclusion that “democracy” was the current civilization’s uniquely fine creation—"is too well known and too generally appreciated to need comment."