United States Nineteenth Amendment and Edmunds Tucker Act [Early Access - Work in Progress]

The Nineteenth Amendment to the United States Constitution secured the right to vote to women.

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Session 7793: 1887-01-25 00:00:00

S. R. 5 is debated and voted in the negative

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Arguments Before the Select Committee on Woman Suffrage, United States Senate, March 7, 1884

There are 0 proposed amendments related to this document on which decisions have not been taken.


By a committee of Sixteenth Annual Washington Convention of the National Woman Suffrage Association, in favor of a sixteenth amendment to the Constitution of the United States, that shall protect the right of women citizens to vote in the several States of the Union.

Order of proceeding.

THE CHAIRMAN (Senator COCKRELL). We have allotted the time to be divided as the speakers may edsire among themselves. We are now ready to hear the ladies.

MISS SUSAN B. ANTHONY. Mr. Chairman and gentlemen of the select committee: This is the sixteenth time that we have come before Congress in person, and the nineteenth annually by petitions. Ever since the war, from the winter of 1865-’66, we have regularly sent up petitions asking for the national protection of the citizen’s right to vote when the citizen happens to be a woman. We are here again for the same purpose. I do not propose to speak now, but to introduce the other speakers, and at the close perhaps will state to the committee the reasons why we come to Congress. The other speakers will give their thought from the standpoint of their respective States. I will first introduce to the committee Mrs. Harriet R. Shattuck, of Boston, Mass.


MRS. SHATTUCK. Mr. Chairman and gentlemen: It seems as if it were almost unnecessary for us to come here at this meeting, because I feel that all we have to say and all we have to claim is known to you, and we can not add anything to what has been said in the past sixteen years.

But I should like to say one thing, and that is, that in my work it has seemed that if we could convince everybody of the motives of the suffragists we would go far toward removing prejudices. I know that those motives are very much misunderstood. Persons think of us as ambitious women, who are desirous for fame, and who merely come forward to make speeches and get before the public, or else they think that we are unfortunate beings with no homes, or unhappy wives, who are getting our livelihood in this sort of way. If we could convince every man who has a vote in this Republic that this is not the case. I believe we could go far toward removing the prejudice against us. If we could make them see that we are working here merely because we know that the cause is right, and we. Feel that we must work for it, that there is a power outside of ourselves which impels us onward, which says to us: go forward and speak to the people and try to bring them up to a sense of their duty and of our right. This is the belief that I have in regard to our position on this question. It is a matter of duty with us, and that is all.

In Massachusetts I represent a very much large number of women than is supposed. It has always been said that very few women wish to vote. Believing that this objection, although it has nothing to do with the rights of the cause, ought to be met, the association of which I am president inaugurated last year a sort of canvass, which I believe never had been attempted before, whereby we obtained the proportion of women in favor and opposed to suffrage in different localities of our State. We took four localities in the city of Boston, two in smaller cities, and two in the. Country districts, and one also of school teachers in nine schools of one town. Those school teachers were unanimously in favor of suffrage, and in the nine localities we found that the proportion of women in favor was very large as against those opposed. The total of women canvassed was 814. Those in favor were 405; those opposed, 44; indifferent, 166; refused to sing, 160; not seen, 39. This, you see, is a very large proportion in favor. Those indifferent ,and those who were not seen, were not included, because we claim that nobody can yet say that they are opposed or included, because we claim that nobody can yet say that they are opposed or in favor until they declare themselves, but the 405 in favor against the 44 opposed were as 9 to 1. these canvasses were made by women who were of the perfect respectability and responsibility, and they swore before a justice of the peace as to the truth of their statements.

So we have in Massachusetts this reliable canvass of the number of women in favor as to those opposed, and we find that it is 9 to 1.

These women, then, are the class whom I represent here, and they are women who can not come here themselves. Very few women in the country can come here and do this work, or do the work in their States, because they are in their homes attending to their duties, but none the less are they believers in this cause. We would not any more than any man in the country ask a woman to leave her home duties to go into this work, but a few of us are so situated that we can do it, and we come here and we go to the State Legislatures representing all the women of the country in work.

What we ask is, not that we many have the ballot to obtain any particular thing, although we know that better things will come about from it, but merely because it is our right, and as a matter of justice we claim it as human beings and as citizens, and as moral, responsible, and spiritual beings, whose voice ought to be heard in the Government, and who ought to take hand with men and help the world to become better.

Gentlemen, you have kept women just a little step below you. It is only a short step. You shower down favors upon us it is true, still we remain below you, the recipients of favors without the right to take what is our own. We ask that this shall be changed; that you shall take us by the hand and lift us up to the same political level with you, where we shall have rights with you, and stand equal with you before the law.


MISS ANTHONY. I will now introduce to the committee Mrs. May Wright Sewall, of Indianapolis, who is the chairman of our executive committee.

MRS. SEWALL. Gentlemen of the committee: Gentlemen, I believe, differ somewhat in their political opinions. It will not then be surprising, I suppose, that I should differ somewhat from my friend in regard to the knowledge that you probably possess upon our question. I do not believe that you know all we know about the women of this country, for I believe that if you did know eve all that I know, and my knowledge is much more limited than that of many of my sisters, long ago the sixteenth amendment, for which we ask, would have been passed through your influence.

I remember that when I was here two years ago and had the honor of appearing before the committee, who granted us, on that occasion, what you are so kind and courteous to grant on this occasion, an opportunity to speak before you, I told you that I represented at least seventy thousand women who had asked for the ballot in my State, and I tried then to remind the members of the committee that had seventy thousand Indiana men asked for any measure form the Congress that then occupied this Capitol, that measure would have secured the most deliberate consideration from their hands, and, in all probability, its passage by the Congress. Of that there can be no doubt.

I do not wish to exaggerate my constituency, but during the last two years, and since I had the honor of addressing the committee, the work of woman suffrage has progressed very rapidly in my State. The number of women who have found themselves in circumstances to work openly, and whose spirit has been drawn into it, has largely increased, and as the workers have multiplied the results have increased. While we have not taken the careful canvass that has been so wisely and judiciously taken in Massachusetts, so that I can present to you the exact number of women who would to-day appeal for suffrage, I know that I can, far within the bounds of possible truth, state that while I represented seventy thousand women in my State two year ago, who desired the adoption of the sixteenth amendment, I represent to-day twice that number.

Should any one come up from Indiana, pivotal State as it has been long called in national elections, saying that he represented the wish of one hundred and forty thousand Indiana men, gentlemen, would you scorn his appeal? Would you treat it lightly? Not at all. You know that it would receive the most candid consideration. You know that it would receive not merely respectful consideration, but immediate and prompt and just action upon your part.

I have been told since I have reached Washington that of all women in the country Indiana women have the least to complain of, and the least reason for coming to the United States Capitol with their petitions and the statement of their needs, because we have received from our own Legislature such amendments and amelioration of the old unjust laws. In one sense it is true that we are the recipients in our own State of many civil rights and of a very large degree of civil equality. It is true that as respects property rights, and as respects industrial rights, the women of my own State may perhaps be the envy of all other women in the land, but gentlemen, you have always told men that the greater their rights and the more numerous their privileges the greater their responsibilities. That is equally true of woman, and simply because our property rights are enlarged, because our industrial field is enlarged, because we have more women who are producers in the industrial world, recognized as such, who own property in their own names, and consequently pay taxes upon that property, and thereby have greater financial and larger social, as well as industrial and business interests at stake in our own commonwealth, and in the manner in which the administration of national affairs is conducted-because of all these privileges we the more need the power which shall emphasize our influence upon political action.

You know that industrial and property rights are in the hands of the lawmakers and the executors of the laws. Therefore, because of our advanced position in that matter, we the more need the recognition of our political equality. I say the recognition of our political equality, because I believe the equality already exists. I believe it waits simply for your recognition; that were the Constitution now justly construed, and the word “citizens,” as used in your Constitution, justly applied it would include us, the women of this country. So I ask for the recognition of equality that we already possess.

Further, because of what we have we ask for more. Because of the duties that we are commanded to do, we ask for more. My friend has said, and it is that we are commanded to do, we ask for more. My friend has said, and it is true in some respects, that men have always kept us just a little below them where they could shower upon us favors and they have always done that generously. So they have, but, gentlemen, has your sex been more generous in its favor to women than women have been generous toward your sex in their favors? Neither one can do without the other; neither can dispense with the service of the other; neither can dispense with the reverence of the other, with the aid of the other in domestic life, in social life. The men of this nation are rapidly finding that they can not dispense with the service of women in business life. I know that they are also feeling the need of what they call the moral support of women in their public life, and in their political life.

I always feel that it is not for women alone that I appeal.as men have long represented me, or assumed to do so, and as the men of my own family always have done so justly and most. Chivalrously, I feel that in my appeal for political recognition I represent them; that I represent my husband and my brother and the interest of the sex to which they belong, for you, gentlemen, by lifting the women of the nation into political equality would simply place us where we could lift you where you never yet have stood, upon a moral equality with us. Gentlemen, that is true. You know it as well as I. I do not speak to you as individuals; I speak to you as the representatives of your sex, as I stand here the representative of mine; and never until we are your equals politically will the moral standard for men be what it now is for women, and it is none too high. Let it grow the more elevated by our growth in spiritually, by every aspiration which we receive from the God whence we draw our life and whence we draw our impulses of life. Let our standard remain where it is and be more elevated. Yours must. Come up to match it, and never will it until we are your equals politically. So it is for men, as well as for women, that I make my appeal.

I know that there are some gentlemen upon this committee who, when we were here two years ago, had something to say about the rights of the States and of their disinclination to interfere with the rights of the States in this matter. I have great sympathy with the gentlemen from the South, who, I hope, do not forget that they are representing the women of th6 South in their work here at the national capital. Already some Northern States are making rapid strides towards the enfranchisement of their women. The men of some of the Northern States see that they can no longer accomplish the purposes politically which they desire to accomplish without the aid of the women of their respective States. Washington is the third Territory that has added women to its voting force, and consequently to its political power at the national capital as well as its own capital. Oregon will undoubtedly, as her representative will tell you to-day, soon add its women to its voting force. The men who believe that each State must be left to do this for itself will soon find that the balance of power between the North and South is destroyed, unless the women of the South are brought forward to add to the political force of the South as the women of the North are being brought forward to add to the political force of the North.

This should not be acted upon as a partisan measure. We do not appeal to you as Republicans or as Democrats. We have among us Republicans and Democrats; we have our party affiliations. We, of course, were reared with our brothers under the political belief and faith of our fathers, and probably as much influenced by that rearing as our brothers were. We shall go to strengthen both the political parties, neither one nor the other the more, probably. So that it is not as a partisan measure; it is as a just measure, which is our due, not because of what we are, gentlemen, but because of what you are, and because of what we are through you, of what you shall be through us; of what we, men and women, both are by virtue of our heritage and our one Father, our one mother eternal, the spirit created and progressive, that has thus far sustained us, and that will carry us and you forward to the action which we demand of you to take, and to the results which we anticipate will attend upon that action.


MISS ANTHONY. I think I will call upon the other representative of the State of Indiana to speak now, Mrs. Helen M. Gougar, of Lafayette, Ind.

Mrs. GOUGAR. Gentlemen, we are here on behalf of the women citizens of this Republic, asking for political freedom. I maintain that there is no political question paramount to that of woman suffrage before the people of America to-day. Political parties would fain have us believe that tariff is the great; question of the hour. Political parties know better. It is an insult to the intelligence of the present hour to say that when one-half of the citizens of this Republic are denied a direct voice in making the laws under which they shall live, that tariff, or that the civil rights of the negro, or any ether question that can be brought up, is equal to the one of giving political freedom to women. So I come to ask you, as representative men, making laws to govern the women the same as the men of this country (and there is not a law that you make-in the United States Congress in which woman has not an equal interest with man), to take the word "male" out of the constitutions of the United States and the several States, as you have taken the word "white" out, and give to us women a voice in the laws under which we live.

You ask me why I am inclined to be practical in my view of this question. In the first place, speaking from my own standpoint, I ask you to let me have a voice in the laws under which I shall live because the older empires of the earth are sending in upon our American shores a population drawing very largely from the asylums, yes, from the penitentiaries, the jails, and the poor-houses of the Old World. They are emptying those men upon our shores, and within a few months they are intrusted with the ballot, the law-making power in this Republic, and they and their representatives are seated in official and legislative positions. I, as an American-born woman, to-day enter my protest at being compelled to live under laws made by this class of men very largely, and myself being rendered utterly incapable of the protection that can only come from the ballot. While I would not have you take this right or privilege from those men whom we invite to our shores, I do ask you, in the face of this immense foreign immigration, to enfranchise the tax-paying, intelligent, moral, native born women of America.

MISS ANTHONY. And foreign women, too.

MRS. GOUGAR. Miss Anthony suggests an amendment, and I indorse it most heartily, and foreign women too, because if we let a foreign man vote I say let the foreign woman vote. I am in favor of universal suffrage.

Gentlemen, I ask this as a matter of justice; I ask it because it is an insult to the intelligence of the present to draw the sex line upon any right whatever. I know there are many objections urged, and I am sure that you have considered this question; but I only make the demand from the standpoint, not of sex, but of humanity.

As a Northern woman, as a woman from Indiana, I know that we have the intelligent, thinking, cultured, pure, patriotic men and women with us. We have the women who are engaged in philanthropic enterprises. We have in our own State the signatures of over 5,000 of the school teachers asking for woman's ballot. I ask you if the United States Government does not need the voice of those 5,000 educated school teachers as much as it needs the voice of the 240 male criminals who are, on an average, sent out of the penitentiary of Indiana every year, who go to the ballot-box upon every question whatever, and make laws under which those school teachers must live, and under which the mothers of our State must keep their homes and rear their children?

On behalf of the mothers of this country I demand that their hands shall be loosened before the ballot-box, and that they shall have the privilege of throwing the mother heart into the laws that shall follow their sons not only to the age of majority that only bas been made legal, but is never recognized, and so I ask you to let the mothers carry their influence in protecting Iaws around the footsteps of those boys, even after their hair has turned gray and they have seats in the United States Congress. I ask you to give them the power to throw protecting laws around those boys to the very confines of eternity. This can be done in no indirect. way; it can not be done by the silent influence; it can not be done by prayer. 'While I do not underestimate the power of prayer, I say give me my ballot on election day that shall send pure men, good men, intelligent men, statesmen, instead of the modern politician, into our legislative balls. I would rather have that ballot on election day than the prayers of all the disfenchised women in the universe.

So I ask you to loosen our hands. I ask you to let us join with you in developing this science of human government. What is politics after all but the science of government? We are interested in these questions, and we are investigating them already. We have our opinions. Recently an able man has said that we have been grandly developed physically and mentally, but as a nation we are a political infant. So we are, gentlemen; we are to-day in America. politically simply an infant. Why is it? It is because we have not recognized God's family plan in government-man and woman together. He created the male and female, and gave them dominion together. We have dominion in every other interest in society, and why shall we not stand shoulder to shoulder and have dominion in the science in government, in making the laws under which we shall live?

we are taxed to support this Government-this immense Capitol building is built largely from the industries of the tax-paying women of this country-and yet we are denied the slightest voice in distributing our taxes. Our foreparents did not object to taxation, but they did object to taxation without representation, and we, as thinking, industrious, active American women, object to taxation without representation. We are willing to contribute our share to the support of this Government, as we always have done, but we have a right to ask for our little yes and no in the form of the ballot so that we shall have a direct influence in distributing the taxes.

Gentlemen, I am amenable to the gallows and the penitentiary, and it is no more than right that I shall have a voice in framing the laws under which I shall be rewarded or punished. Am I asking too much of you as representative men of this great Government when I ask you to let me have a voice in making the laws under which I shall be rewarded or punished? It is written in the law of every State in this Union that a person in the courts shall have a jury of his peers, yet so long as the word" male" stands as it does in the Constitutions of the United States and the States no woman in any State of this Union can have a jury of her peers. I protest in the name of justice against going into the court-room and being compelled to run the gauntlet of the gutter and of the saloon-yes, even of the police court and of the jail-as we are compelled to do to select a male jury to try the interests of women, whether relating to life, property, or reputation. So long as the word "male" is in our constitution just so long we can not have a jury of our peers in any State in the Union.

I ask that the women shall have the right of the ballot that they may go into our legislative halls and there provide for the prevention rather than the cure of crime. I ask you on behalf of the twelve hundred children under twelve years of age who are in the poor-houses of Indiana, of the sixteen hundred in the poor-homes of Illinois, and on that average in every State in the Union, that you shall take the word "male" out of the constitutions and allow the women of this country to sit in legislative balls and provide homes for and look after the little waifs of society. There are hundreds of moral questions to-day requiring the assistance of the moral element of womanhood to help make the laws under which we shall live.

Gentlemen, the political party that lives in the future must fight the moral battles of humanity. The day of blood is passed; the day of brain and heart is upon us; and I ask you to let the moral constituency that resides in woman's nature be represented. Let me say right here that I do not believe that there is morality in sex, but the social customs have been such that woman has been held to a higher standard. May the day hasten when the social custom shall hold man to as high a moral standard as it to-day holds woman.

This is the condition of things. The political party that presumes to fight the moral battles of the future must have the women in its ranks. Weare non-partisan, as has been well said by my friend from lndiana [Mrs. Sewall.] We come Democrats, Republicans, and Greenbackers, and I expect if there were a half dozen other political parties some of us would belong to them. We ask this beneficent action upon your part because we believe that the intelligence and the justice of the hour is demanding it. We do not want a political party action. We want you to keep this question out of the canvass. We ask you in the name of justice and humanity alone, and not on the part of party.

I hold in my hand a petition sent from one district in the State of Illinois with the request that I bear it to you. Out of three hundred electors the names of two hundred stand in this petition that I shall leave in your hands. In this list stand not the wife-whippers, not the drunkards, not the dissolute, but every minister in that town, every editor in that town, every professional man in that town, every banker, and every prominent business man in that town of three hundred electors. I believ6 that petitions could be rolled up in this way in every town in the Northern and in many of the Southern States. I leave this petition with you for your consideration.

Upon no question whatever has such a large number of petitions been sent as upon this demand for woman suffrage. You have the petitions in your hands, and I ask you in the name of justice and humanity not t-o let this Congress adjourn without action.

You ask us if we are impatient. Yes; we are impatient. Some of us may die, and I want our grand old standard-bearer, Susan B. Anthony, whose name will go down to history beside that of George Washington, Abraham Lincoln, and Wendell Phillips-I want that woman to go to heaven a free angel from this Republic. The power lies in your hands to make us all free. May the blessing of God be upon the hearts of every one of you, gentlemen; may the scales of prejudice fall from your eyes, and may you, representing the Senate of the United States, have the grand honor of telegraphing to us, to the millions of waiting women from one end of this country to the other, that the sixteenth amendment has been submitted to the ratification of the several legislatures of our States striking the word "male" out of the constitutions; and that this shall be, as we promise it to be, a government of the people, for the people, and by the people.


MISS ANTHONY. I now, gentlemen of the committee, introduce to you Mrs. Abigail Scott Duniway, from the extreme Northwest; and before she speaks I wish to say that she has been the one canvasser in the great State of Oregon and Washington Territory, and that it is to Mrs. Duniway that the women of Washington Territory are more indebted than to all other influences for their enfranchisement.

MRS. DUNIWAY. Gentlemen of the committee, do you think it possible that an agitation like this can go on and on forever without a victory? Do you not see that the golden moment has come for this grand committee to achieve immortality upon the grandest idea that has ever stirred the heart-beats of American citizens, and will you not in the magnanimity of noble purposes rise to meet the situation and accede to our demand, which in your hearts you must know is just?

I do not come before you, gentlemen, with the expectation to instruct you in regard to the laws of our country. The women around us are law-abiding women. They are the· mothers, many of them, of true and noble men, the wives, many of them, of grand, free husbands, who are listening, watching, waiting eagerly for successful tidings of this great experiment.

There never was a grander theory of government than that of these United States. Never were grander principles enunciated upon any platform, never so grand before and never can be grander again, than the declaration that "all men," including of course all women, since women are amenable to the laws," are created equal; that they are endowed by their Creator with certain inalienable rights * * * that to secure these rights governments are instituted among men, deriving their just powers from the consent of the governed."

Gentlemen, are we allowed the opportunity of consent? These women who are here from Maine to Oregon, from the Straits of Fuca to the reefs of Florida, who in their representative capacity have come up here so often, augmented in their numbers year by year, looking with eyes of hope and hearts of faith, but oftentimes with hopes deferred, upon the final solution of this great problem, which it is so much in your bands to hasten in its solution-these women are in earnest. My State is far away beyond the confines of the Rocky Mountains, away over beside the singing Pacific sea, but the spirit of liberty is among us there, and the public heart has been stirred. The hearts of our men have been moved to listen to our demands, and in Washington Territory, as one speaker has informed you, women to-day are endowed with full and free enfranchisement, and the rejoicing throughout that Territory is universal.

In Oregon men have also listened to our demand, and the Legislature has in two successive sessions agreed upon a proposition to amend our State constitution, a proposition which will be submitted for ratification to our voters at the coming June election. It is simply a proposition declaring that the right of suffrage shall not hereafter be prohibited in the State of Oregon on account of sex. Your action in the Senate of the United States will greatly determine the action of the voters of Oregon on our, or rather on their, election day, for we stand before the public in the anomaly of petitioners upon a great question in which we, in its final decision, are allowed no voice, and we can only stand with expectant hearts and almost bated breath awaiting the action of men who are to make this decision.

We have great hope for our victory, bemuse the men of the broad, free West are grand, and chivalrous, and free. They have gone across the mighty continent with free steps; they have raised the standard of a new Pacific empire; they have imbibed the spirit of liberty with their very breath, and they have listened to us far in advance of many of the men of the older States who have not had their opportunity among the grand free wilds of nature for expansion.

So all of our leaders are with us to-day. You may go to either member of the Senate of the United States from Oregon, and while I can not speak so positively for the senior member, as he came over here some years ago before the public were so well educated as now. I can and do proudly vouch for the late Senator-elect DOLPH, who now has a seat upon the floor of the Senate, who is heart and soul and hand and purse in sympathy with this great movement for the enfranchisement of the women of Oregon. I would also be unjust to our worthy representative in the lower house, Hon. M. C. George, did I not proudly speak his name in this great connection. Men of this class are with us, and without regard to party affiliations we know that they are upon our side. Our governor, our associate supreme judge for the district of the Pacific, all of these men, are leading in the grand free way that characterizes the men of the West in assisting in this work. But we have-alas, that I should be compelled to say it-a great many men who pay no heed whatever to this question. Men will be entitled to a voice in this decision who are not, like members of Congress, the picked men of the nation or the State, but men, many of whom can not rend, who will have an opportunity to decide this question as far as their ballots can go. These are they to whom the enlightened, educated motherhood of the State of Oregon must look largely for the decision.

This brings me to the grand point of our coming to Congress. Some of you say to us, ''Why not leave this matter for settlement in the different States?" When we leave it for settlement in the different States we leave it just as I have told you, because of the constitutional provisions of our organic law we can not do otherwise; but if the question were to be settled by the Legislature of Oregon alone it would be settled now; and I, as a representative of that State only, would have no need of coming here; it would be settled just as it has been settled in Washington Territory; but when we come here to Congress it is the great nation asking you to take such legislative action in submitting an amendment to the Constitution of the United States as shall recognize the equality of these women who are here; these women who have come here from all parts of the country, whose constituents are looking on while we are here before you. As we reflect that our feeblest words uttered before this committee will go to the confines of this nation and be cabled across the great Atlantic and around the globe, we realize that more and more prominently our cause is growing into public favor, and the time Is just upon us when some decision must be made.

Gentlemen of the committee, will you not recognize the importance of the movement? Who among you will be our standard-bearer? Who among you will achieve immortality by standing up in these halls in which we are forbidden to speak, and in the magnanimity of your own free wills and noble hearts champion the woman's cause and make us before the law, as we of right ought now to be, free and independent?


MISS ANTHONY. now call upon Mrs. Caroline Gilkey Rogers, of Lansingburg, N.Y., to address the committee.

MRS. ROGERS. Mr. Chairman and gentlemen of the committee, in our efforts to secure the right of citizenship we appeal only to your sense of justice and love of fair dealing.

We ask for the ballot because it is the symbol of equality: There is no other recognized symbol of equality in this country. We ask for the ballot that wo may be equal to man before the law. We urge a twofold right-our right to the Republic, the Republic's right to us. We believe the interests of the country are identical with the interests of all its citizens, including women, and that the Government can no longer afford to shut women out from the affairs of the State and nation, and wise men are beginning to know that they are needed in the Government; that they are needed where our laws are made as well as where they are violated.

Many admit the justice of our claim, but will say, Is it safe? Is it expedient? It is always safe to do right; is always expedient to be just. Justice can never bring evil in its train.

The question is asked how and what would the women do in the State and nation? We do not pledge ourselves to anything. I claim that we can not have a better government than that of the people. The present Government is of only a part of the people. We have not yet entered upon the system of higher arbitration, because the Government is of man only. If we had been marching along with you all this time I trust we should have reached a higher plane of civilization.

We believe that all the virtue of the world can take care of all the evil, and nil the intelligence can take care of all the ignorance. Let us have all the virtue confront all the vice.

There is no need to do battle in this matter. In all kindness and gentleness we urge our claims. There is no need to declare war upon men, for the best of men in this country are with us heart and soul.

It is a common remark that unless some new element is infused into our political life our nation is doomed to destruction. What more fitting element than the noble type of American womanhood, who have taught our Presidents, Senators, and Congressmen the rudiments of all they know.

Think of all the foreigners and all our own native-born ignorant men who can not write their own names or read the Declaration of Independence making laws for such women as Elizabeth Cady Stanton and Susan B. Anthony. Think of jurors drawn from these ranks to watch and try young girls for crimes often committed against them when the male criminal goes free. Think of a single one of these votes on election day outweighing all the women in the country Is it not humiliating for me to sit, a political cipher, and see the colored man. ln my employ, to whom I have taught the alphabet, go out on election day and say by his vote what shall be done with my tax money. How would you like it?

When we think of the wives trampled on by husbands whom the law has taught them to regard as inferior beings, and of the mothers whose children are torn from their arms by the direct behest of the law at the bidding of a dead or living father, when we think of these things, our hearts ache with pity and indignation.

If mothers could only realize how the laws which they have no voice in making and no power to change affect them at every point, how they enter every door, whether palace or hovel, touch, limit, and bind, every article and inmate from the smallest child up, no woman, however shrinking and delicate, can escape it, they would get beyond the meaningless cry, "I have all the rights l want." Do these women know that in most States in the Union the shameful fact that no woman has any legal rights to her own child, except it is born out of wedlock I In these States there is not a line of positive law to protect the mother; the father is the legal protector and guardian of the children.

Under the laws of most of the States to-day a husband may be his last will bequeath his child away from its mother, so that she might, if the guardian chose, never see it again.

The husband may have been a very bad man, and in a moment of anger made the will. The guardian be has appointed may turn out a malicious man, and take pleasure in tormenting the mother, or he may bring up the children in a way that the mother thinks ruinous to them, and she has no redress in law. Why do not all the fortunate mothers in the land cry out against such a law? Why do not all women say, "Inasmuch as the law has done this wrong unto the least of these my sisters it has done it unto me." It is true that men are almost always better than their laws, but while a bad law remains on the statute- books it gives to an unscrupulous man a right to be as bad as the law.

It is often said to us when all the women ask for the ballot it will be granted. Did all the married women petition the Legislatures of their States to secure to them the right to hold in their own name the property that belonged to them? To secure to the poor forsaken wife the right to her earnings?

All the women did not ask for these rights, but all accepted them with joy and gladness when they were obtained, and so it will be with the franchise. But woman's right to self-government does not depend upon the numbers that demand it, but upon precisely the same principles that man claims it for himself.

Where did man get the authority that he now claims to govern one-half of humanity, from what power the right to place woman, his helpmeet in life, in an inferior position? Came it from nature? Nature made woman his superior when she made her his mother-his equal when she fitted her to hold the sacred position of wife. Did women meet in council and voluntarily give up all their claim to be their own law-makers?

The power of t e strong over the weak makes ma the master. Yes, then, and then only, does he gain the authority.

It; is all very well to say "convert the women." While we most heartily wish they could all feel as we do, yet when it comes to the decision of this great question they are mere ciphers, for if this question is settled by the States it will be left to the voters, not to the women to decide. Or if suffrage comes to women through a sixteenth amendment of the national Constitution, it will be decided by Legislatures elected by men. In neither case will women have an opportunity of passing upon the question. So reason tells us we must devote our best efforts to converting those to whom we must look for the removal of our disabilities, which now prevent our exercising the right of suffrage.

The arguments in favor of the enfranchisement of women are truths strong and unanswerable, and as old as the free institutions of our Government. The principle of "taxation without representation is tyranny" applies to women as well as men, and is as true to-day as it was a hundred years ago.

Our demand for the ballot is the great onward step of the century, and not, as some claim, the idiosyncracies of a few unbalanced minds.

Every argument that has been urged against this question of woman’s suffrage has been urged against every reform. Yet the reforms have fought their way onward and become a part of the glorious history of humanity.

So it will be with suffrage. “You can stop the crowing of the cock, but you can not stop the dawn of the morning.” and now, gentlemen, you are responsible not for the laws you find on the statue books, but for those you leave there.


MISS ANTHONY. I now introduce to the committee Mrs. Mary Seymour Howell, the president of the Albany, N. Y., State society.

MRS. HOWELL. Mr. Chairman and gentlemen of the committee: Miss Anthony gives me five minutes. l shall have to talk very rapidly. I ask you for the ballot because of the very first principle that is often repeated to you, that "taxation without representation is tyranny." I come from the city of Albany, where many of my sisters are taxed for millions of dollars. There are three or four women in the city of Albany who are worth their millions, and yet they have no voice in the laws that govern and control them. One of our great State senators has said that you can not argue five minutes against woman suffrage without repudiating every principle that this great Republic is founded upon.

I ask you also for the ballot for the large class of women who are not taxed. They need it more than the women who are taxed. I have found in every work that I have conducted that because I am a woman I am not paid for that work as a man is paid for similar work.

You have heard, and perhaps some of you are thinking-I hope not-that women should be at home. I wish to say to you that there are millions of women in the United States who have no homes. There are millions of women who are trying to earn their bread and bold their purity sacred. For that class of women I appeal to you. In the city of Albany there are hundreds of women in our factories making the shirts that you can buy for $1.50 and $2, and all those women are paid for making the shirts is 4 cents apiece. There are in the State of New York 18,000 teachers. When I was a teacher and taught with gentlemen in our academies, I received about one fourth of the pay because I happened to be a woman. I consider it an insult that forever burns in my soul, that I am to be handed a mere pittance in comparison with what man receives for same quality of work. When I was sent out by our superintendent of public instruction to hold conventions of teachers, as I have often done in our State of New York, and when I did one-third more work than the men teachers so sent out, but because I was a woman and had not the ballot, I was only paid about half as much as the man; and saying that once to our superintendent of public instruction in Albany, he said, "Mrs. Howell, just as soon as you get the ballot and have a political influence in the work you will have the same pay as a man."

We ask for the ballot for that great army of fallen women who walk our streets and who break up our homes and ruin our husbands and our dear boys. We ask it for those women. The ballot will lift them up. Hundreds and thousands of women give up their purity for the sake of starving children and families. There is many a woman who goes to a life of degradation and pollution shedding burning tears over her 4-cent shirts.

We ask for the ballot for the good of the race. Huxley says, "admitting for the sake of argument that woman is the weaker, mentally and physically, for that reason she should have the ballot and should have every help that the world can give her." When you debar from your councils and legislative halls the purity, the spirituality, and the love of woman then those legislative halls and those councils are apt to become coarse and brutal. God gave us to you to help you in this little journey to a better land, and by our love and our intellect to help to make our country pure and noble, and if you would have statesmen you must have stateswomen to bear them.

I ask you also for the ballot that I may decide what I am. I stand before you, but I do not know to-day whether I am legally a "person" according to the law. It has been decided in some States that we are not" persons." In the State of New York, in one village, it was decided that women are not inhabitants. So I should like to know whether I am a person, whether I am an inhabitant, and above all I ask you for the ballot that I may become a citizen of this great Republic.

Gentlemen, you see before you this great convention of women from the Atlantic slopes to the Pacific Ocean, from the North to the South. We are in dead earnest. A reform never goes backward. This is a question that is before the American nation. Will you do your duty and give us our liberty, or will you leave it for braver hearts to do what must be done? For, like our forefathers, we will ask until we have gained it.

Ever the world goes round and round;

Ever the truth comes uppermost; and ever is justice done.


MISS ANTHONY. I now have the pleasure of introducing to the committee Mrs. Lillie Devereux Blake, of New York. New York is a great State, and therefore it has three representatives here to-day.

Mrs. BLAKE. Mr. Chairman and gentlemen of the committee: A recent writer in an English magazine, in speaking of the great advantage which to-day flows to the laboring classes of that nation from having received the right of suffrage, made the statement that disfranchised classes are oppressed, not because there is any desire whatever to do injustice to them, but because they are forgotten. We have year after year and session after session of our legislatures and of our Congresses proved the correctness of this statement. While we have nothing to complain of in the courtesy which we receive in private life, still when we see masses of men assembled together for political action, whether it be of the nation or of the State, we find that the women are totally forgotten.

In the limited time that is mine I can not go into any lengthy exposition upon this point. I will simply call your attention to the total forgetfulness of the Congress of the United States to the debt owed to the women of this nation during the war. You have passed a pension bill upon which there has been much comment throughout the nation, and yet, when an old army nurse applies for a pension, a woman who is broken down by her devotion to the nation in hospitals and upon the battle-field, she is met at the door of the Pension Bureau by this statement. "the Government has made no appropriation for the services of women in the war." One of these women is an old nurse whom some of you may remember, Mother Bickerdyke, who went out onto many a battle-field when she was in the prime of life, twenty years ago, and at the risk of her life lifted men, who were wounded, in her arms, and carried them to a place of safety. She is an old woman now, and where is she? What reward has the nation bestowed to her faithful services? The nation has a pension for every man who has served this nation, even down to the boy recruit who was out but three months; but Mother Bickerdyke, though her health has never been good since her service then, is earning her living at the wash-tub, a monument to the ingratitude of a Republic as great as was that when Belisarius begged in the streets of Rome.

I bring up this illustration alone out of innumerable others that are possible, to try to impress upon your minds that we are forgotten. It is not from any unkindness on your part. Who would think for one moment, looking upon the kindly faces of this committee; that any man on it would do an injustice to women, especially if she were old and feeble? But because we have no right to vote, as I said, our interests are overlooked and forgotten.

It is often said that we have too many voters; that the aggregate of vice and ignorance among us should not be increased by giving women the right of suffrage. I wish to remind you of the fact that in the enormous immigration that pours to our shores every year, numbering somewhere in the neighborhood of half a million, there come twice as many men as women. The figures for the last year were two hundred and twenty-three thousand men, and one hundred and thirteen thousand women.

What does this mean? It means a steady influx of this foreign element; it means a constant preponderance of the masculine over the feminine; and it means also, of course, a preponderance of the voting power of the foreigner as compared to the native born. To those who fear that our American institutions are threatened by this gigantic inroad of foreigners I commend the reflection that the best safeguard against any such preponderance of foreign nations or of foreign influence is to put the ballot in the hands of the American-born women, and of all other women also, so that if the foreign-born man overbalance us in numbers we shall be always in a preponderance on the side of the liberty which is secured by our institutions.

It is because, as many of my predecessors have said, of the different elements represented by the two sexes, that we are asking for this liberty. When I was recently in the capitol of my own State of New York, I was reminded there of the difference of temperament between the sexes by seeing how children act when coming to the doors of the capitol, which have been constructed so that they are very hard to open. Whether that is because they want to keep us women out or not I am not able to say; but for some reason the doors are so constructed that it is nearly impossible to open them. I saw a number of little girls coming in through those doors-every child held the door for those who were to follow. A number of little boys followed just after, and every boy rushed through and let the door shut in the face of the one who was coming behind him. That is a good illustration of the different qualities of the sexes. Those boys were not unkind, they simply represented that onward push which is one of the grandest characteristics of your sex; and the little girls, on the other hand, represented that gentleness and thoughtfulness of others which is eminently a characteristic of women.

This woman element is needed in every branch of the Government. Look at the wholesale destruction of the forests throughout our nation, which has gone on until it brings direct destruction to the land on the lines of the great rivers of the West, and threatens us even in New York with destroying at once the beauty and usefulness of our far-famed Hudson. If women were in the Government do you not think they would protect the economic interests of the nation? They are the born and trained economists of the world, and when you call them to your assistance you will find an element that has not heretofore been felt with the weight which it deserves.

As we walk through the Capitol we are struck with the significance of the symbolism on every side; we view the adornments in the beautiful room, and we find here everywhere emblematically woman's figure. Here is woman representing even war, and there are women representing grace and loveliness and the fullness of the harvest; and, above all, they are extending heir protecting arms over the little children. Gentlemen, I leave you under this symbolism, hoping that you will see in it the type of a coming day when we shall have women and men united together in the national councils in this great building.


MISS ANTHONY. I meant to have said, as I have introduced Mrs. Blake, that sitting on the sofa is Dr. Clemence S. Lozier, who declines to speak, but I want her to stand up, because she represents New York city.

Dr. LOZIER. I thank you. I am very happy to be here, but I am not a fluent speaker. I feel in my heart that I know what Justice means; that I know what mercy means, and in all my rounds of duty in my profession I am happy to extend not only food but shelter to many poor ones. The need of the ballot for working-girls and those who pay no taxes is not understood. The Saviour said, seeing the poor widow cast her two mites, which make a farthing, into the public treasury, "This poor widow hath cast more in than all they which have cast into the treasury." I see this among the poor working-girls of the city of New York; sick, in a little garret bedroom, perhaps, and although needing medical care and needing food, they will say to me, "above all things else, if I could only pay the rent." The rent of their little rooms goes into the coffers of their landlords and pays taxes. The poor women of the city of New York and everywhere are the grandest upholders of this Government. I believe they pay indirectly more taxes than the monopoly kings of our country. It is for them that I want the ballot.


MISS ANTHONY. I now introduce to the committee Mrs. Elizabeth Boynton Harbert, of Illinois, and before Mrs. Harbert speaks I wish to say that for the last six years she has edited a department of he Chicago Inter-Ocean called the “Women’s Kingdom.”

Mrs. HARBERT. Mr. Chairman and honorable gentlemen of the committee, after the eloquent rhetoric to which you have listened I merely come in these five minutes with a plain statement of facts. Some friends have said," Here is the same company of women that year after year besiege you with their petitions." We are here to-day in a representative capacity. From the great State of Illinois I come, representing 200,000 men and women of that State who have recorded their written petitions for woman's ballot, 90,000 of these being citizens under the law-male voters; those 90,000 having signed petitions for the right of women to vote on the temperance question; 90,000 women also signed those petitions; 50,000 men and women signed the petitions for the school vote, and nearly 60,000 more have signed petitions that the right of suffrage might be accorded to woman.

This growth of public sentiment has been occasioned by the needs of the children and the working-women of that great State. I come here to ask you to make a niche in the statesmanship and legislation of the nation for the domestic interests of the people. You recognize that the masculine thought is more often turned to the material and political interests of the nation. I claim that the mother thought, the woman element needed, is to supplement the concurrent statesmanship of American men on political and industrial affairs with the domestic legislation of the nation.

There are good men and women who believe that women should use their influence merely through their social sphere. I believe both of the great parties are represented by us. You remember that a few weeks ago when there came across the country the news of the decision of the Supreme Court as regards the negro race the politicians sprang to the platform, and our editors hastened to their sanctums, to proclaim to the people that that did not interfere with the civil rights of the negro ; that only their social rights were affected, and that the civil rights of man, those rights worth dying for, were not affected. Gentlemen, we who are trying to help the men in our municipal governments, who are trying to save the children from our poor-houses, begin to realize that whatever is good and essential for the liberty of the black man is good for the white woman and for all women. We are here to claim that whatever liberty has done for you it should be allowed to do for us. Take a single glance through the past; recognize the position of American manhood before the world to-day, and whatever liberty has done for you, liberty will surely do for the mothers of the race.


MIiss ANTHONY. Gentlemen of the committee, here is another woman I wish to show you, Sarah E. Wall, of Worcester, Mass., who, for the last twenty-five years, has resisted the tax gatherer when he came around. I want you to look at her. She looks very harmless, but she will not pay a dollar of tax. She says when the Commonwealth of Massachusetts will give her the right of representation she will pay her taxes. I do not know exactly how it is now, but the assessor bas left her name off the tax-list, and passed her by rather than have a. lawsuit with her.


MISS ANTHONY. I wish I could state the avocations and professions of the various women who have spoken in our convention during the last three days. I do not wish to speak disparagingly in regard to the men in Congress, but I doubt if a man on the floor of either House could have made a better speech than some of those which have been made by women during this convention. Twenty-six States and Territories are represented with live women, traveling all the way from Kansas, Arkansas, Oregon, and Washington Territory. It does seem to me that after all these years of coming up to this Capitol an impression should be made upon the minds of legislators that we are never to be silenced until we gain the demand. We have never had in the whole thirty years of our agitation so many States represented in any convention as we have bad this year.

This fact shows the growth of public sentiment. Mrs. Duniway is here all the way from Oregon, and you say, when Mrs. Duniway is doing so well up there, and is so hopeful of carrying the State of Oregon, why do not you all rest satisfied with that plan of gaining the suffrage? My answer is that! do not wish to see the women of the thirty-eight States of this Union compelled to leave their homes and canvass each State, school district by school district. It is asking too much of a moneyless class of people, disfranchised by the constitution of every State in the Union. The joint earnings of the marriage copartnership in all the States belong legally to the husband. If the wife goes outside the home to work, the law in most of the States permits her to own and control the money thus earned. We have not a single State in the Union where the wife's earnings inside the marriage copartnership are owned by her. Therefore, to ask the vast majority of women who are thus situated, without an independent dollar of their own, to make a canvass of the States is asking to much.

Mrs. GOUGAR. Why did they not ask the negro to do that?

Miss ANTHONY. Of course the negro was not asked to go begging the white man from school district to school district to get his ballot. If it was known t-hat we could be driven to the ballot-box like a flock of sheep, and all vote for one party, there would be a bid made for us; but that is not done, because we can not promise you any such thing; because we stand before you and honestly tell you that the women of this nation are educated equally with the men, and that they, too, have political opinions. There is not a woman on our platform, there is scarcely a woman in this city of Washington, whether the wife of a Senator or a Congressman-I do not believe you can find a score of women in the whole nation-who have not opinions on the pending Presidential election. We all have opinions; we all have parties. Some of us like one party and one candidate and some another.

Therefore we can not promise you that women will vote as a unit when they are enfranchised. Suppose the Democrats shall put a woman-suffrage plank in their platform in their Presidential convention, and nominate an open and avowed friend of woman suffrage to stand upon that platform; we can not pledge you that all the women of this nation will work for the success of that party, nor can I pledge you that they will all vote for the Republican party if it should be the one to take the lead in their enfranchisement. Our women will not toe a mark anywhere; they will think and act for themselves, and when they are enfranchised they will divide upon all political questions, as do intelligent, educated men.

I have tried the experiment of canvassing four States prior to Oregon, and in each State with the best canvass that it was possible for us to make we obtained a vote of one-third. One man out of every three men voted for the enfranchisement of the women of their households, while two voted against it. But we are proud to say that our splendid minority is always composed of the very best men of the State, and I think Senator PALMER will agree with roe that the forty thousand men of Michigan who voted for the enfranchisement of the women of his State were really the picked men in intelligence, in culture, in morals, in standing, and in every direction.

It is too much to say that the majority of the voters in any State are superior, educated, and capable, or that they investigate every question thoroughly, and cast the ballot thereon intelligently. We all know that the majority of the voters of any State are not of that stamp. The vast masses of the people, the laboring classes, have all they can do in their struggle to get food and shelter for their families. They have very little time or opportunity to study great questions of constitutional law.

Because of this impossibility for women to canvass the States over and over to educate the rank and file of the voters we come to you to ask you to make it possible for the Legislatures of the thirty-eight States to settle the question, where we shall have a few representative men assembled before whom we can make our appeals and arguments.

This method of settling the question by the Legislatures is just as much in the line of States' rights as is that of the popular vote. The one question before you is, will you insist that a. majority of the individual voters of every States must be converted before its women shall have the right to vote, or will you allow the matter to be settled by the representative men in the Legislatures of the several States? You need not fear that we shall get suffrage too quickly if Congress shall submit the proposition, for even then we shall have a hard time in going from Legislature to Legislature to secure the two-thirds votes of three-fourths of the States necessary to ratify the amendment. It may take twenty years after Congress has taken the initiative step to make action by the State Legislatures possible.

I pray you, gentlemen, that you will make your report to the Senate speedily. I know you are ready to make a favorable one. Some of our speakers way not have known this as well as I. I ask you to make a report and to bring it to a discussion and a vote on the floor of the Senate.

You ask me if we want to press this question to a vote provided there is not a majority to carry it. I say yes, because we want the reflex Influence of the discussion and of the opinions of Senators to go back into the States to help us to educate the people of the States.

Senator LAPHAM. It would require a two-thirds vote in both the House and the Senate to submit the amendment to the State Legislatures for ratification.

Miss ANTHONY. I know that it requires a two-thirds vote of both Houses. But still, I repeat, even if you can not get the two-thirds vote, we ask you to report the bill and bring it to a discussion and a vote at the earliest day possible. We feel that this question should be brought before Congress at every session. We ask this little attention from Congressmen whose salaries are paid from the taxes; women do their share for the support of this great Government. We think we are entitled to two or three days of each session of Congress in both the Senate and House. Therefore I ask of you to help us to a discussion in the Senate this session. There is no reason why the Senate, composed of seventy-six of the most intelligent and liberty-loving men of the nation, shall not pass the resolution by a two-thirds vote. I really believe it will do so if the friends on this committee and on the floor of the Senate will champion the measure as earnestly as if it were to benefit themselves instead of their mothers and sisters.

Gentlemen, I thank you for this hearing granted, and I hope the telegraph wires will soon tell us that your report is presented, and that a discussion is inaugurated on the floor of the Senate.

Decisions yet to be taken

  • Arguments Before the Select Committee on Woman Suffrage, United States Senate, March 7, 1884 (introduced on 1887-01-25 00:00:00 - CREATE) [This document]