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Debate On Woman Suffrage In The Senate Of The United States, by Henry W. Blair, J.E. Brown, J.N. Dolph, G.G. Vest, Geo. F. Hoar.

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DECEMBER 8, 1886, AND JANUARY 23, 1887,




* * * * *

_Wednesday, December 8, 1886._

On the joint resolution (S.R. 5) proposing an amendment to the
Constitution of the United States extending the right of suffrage to

Mr. BLAIR said:

Mr. PRESIDENT: I ask the Senate to proceed to the consideration of
Order of Business 122, being the joint resolution (S.R. 5) proposing
an amendment to the Constitution of the United States extending the
right of suffrage to women.

The motion was agreed to.

The PRESIDENT _pro tempore_. The joint resolution will be read.

The Chief Clerk read as follows:

Joint resolution proposing an amendment to the Constitution of the
United States extending the right of suffrage to women.

_Resolved by the Senate and House of Representatives of the United
States of America in Congress assembled (two-thirds of each House
concurring therein)_, That the following article be proposed to
the Legislatures of the several States as an amendment to the
Constitution of the United States; which, when ratified by
three-fourths of the said Legislatures, shall be valid as part of
said Constitution, namely:


SECTION 1. The rights of citizens of the United States to vote
shall not be denied or abridged by the United States or by any
State on account of sex.

SEC. 2. The Congress shall have power, by appropriate legislation,
to enforce the provisions of this article.

Mr. BLAIR. Mr. President, the question before the Senate is this:
Shall a joint resolution providing for an amendment of the national
Constitution, so that the right of citizens of the United States to
vote shall not be denied or abridged by the United States, or by
any State, on account of sex, and that Congress shall have power to
enforce the article, be submitted to the Legislatures of the several
States for ratification or rejection?

The answer to this question does not depend necessarily upon the
reply to that other question, whether women ought to be permitted
to exercise the right or privilege of suffrage as do men. The
Legislatures of the several States must decide this in ratifying or
rejecting the proposed amendment.

Upon solemn occasions concerning grave public affairs, and when large
numbers of the citizens of the country desire to test the sentiments
of the people upon an amendment of the organic law in the manner
provided to be done by the provisions of that law, it may well become
the duty of Congress to submit the proposition to the amending power,
which is the same as that which created the original instrument
itself--the people of the several States.

It can hardly be claimed that two-thirds of each branch of Congress
must necessarily be convinced that the Constitution should be amended
as proposed in the joint resolution to be submitted before it has
discretion to submit the same to the judgment of the States. Any
citizen has the right to petition or, through his representative, to
bring in his bill for redress of grievances, or to promote the public
good by legislation; and it can hardly be maintained that, before
any citizen or large body of citizens shall have the privilege of
introducing a bill to the great legislative tribunal, which alone has
primary jurisdiction of the organic law and power to amend or change
it, the Congress, which under the Constitution is simply the moving or
initiating power, must by a two-thirds vote approve the proposition
at issue before its discussion shall be permitted in the forum of the
States. To hold such a doctrine would be contrary to all our ideas of
free discussion, and to lock up the institutions and the interests of
a great and progressive people in fetters of brass.

It is only essential that two-thirds of each House of the Congress
shall deem it necessary for the public good, that the amendment
be proposed to the States for their action. But two-thirds of the
Congress will hardly consider it "necessary" to submit a joint
resolution proposing an amendment of the National Constitution to
the States for consideration, unless the subject matter be of grave
importance, with strong reasons in its favor, and a large support
already developed among the people themselves.

If there be any principle upon which our form of government is
founded, and wherein it is different from aristocracies, monarchies,
and despotisms, that principle is this:

Every human being of mature powers, not disqualified by ignorance,
vice or crime, is the equal of and is entitled to all the rights and
privileges which belong to any other such human being under the law.

The independence, equality, and dignity of all human souls is the
fundamental assertion of those who believe in what we call human
freedom. This principle will hardly be denied by any one, even by
those who oppose the adoption of the resolution. But we are informed
that infants, idiots, and women are represented by men. This cannot
reasonably be claimed unless it be first shown that the consent of
these classes has been given to such representation, or that they
lack the capacity to consent. But the exclusion of these classes from
participation in the Government deprives them of the power of assent
to representation even when they possess the requisite ability; and to
say there can be representation which does not presuppose consent
or authority on the part of the principal who is represented is to
confound all reason and to assert in substance that all actual power,
whether despotic or otherwise, is representative, and therefore free.
In this sense the Czar represents his whole people, just as voting men
represent women who do not vote at all.

True it is that the voting men, by excluding women and other classes
from the suffrage, by that act charge themselves with the trust of
administering justice to all, even as the monarch whose power is based
upon force is bound to rule uprightly. But if it be true that "all
just government is founded upon the consent of the governed," then
the government of woman by man, without her consent, given in her
sovereign capacity, if indeed she be an intelligent creature, and
provided she be competent to exercise the power of suffrage, which is
the sovereignty, even if that government be wise and just in itself,
is a violation of natural right and an enforcement of servitude and
slavery against her on the part of man. If woman, like the infant
or the defective classes, be incapable of self-government, then
republican society may exclude her from all participation in the
enactment and enforcement of the laws under which she lives. But in
that case, like the infant and the fool and the unconsenting subject
of tyrannical forms of government, she is ruled and not represented by

Thus much I desire to say in the beginning in reply to the broad
assumption of those who deny women the suffrage by saying that they
are already represented by their fathers, their husbands, their
brothers, and their sons, or to state the proposition in its only
proper form, that woman whose assent can only be given by an exercise
of sovereignty on her part is represented by man who denies and by
virtue of power and possession refuses to her the exercise of the
suffrage whereby that representation can be made valid.

The claim, then, of the minority of the committee that woman is
represented by the other sex is not well founded, and is based upon
the same assumption of power which lies at the base of all government
anti-republican in form. It can not be claimed that she is as a free
being already represented, for she can only be represented according
to her will by the exercise of her will through the suffrage itself.

As already observed, the exclusion of woman from the suffrage under
our form of government can be justified upon proof, and only upon
proof, that by reason of her sex she is incompetent to exercise that
power. This is a question of fact.

The common ground upon which all agree may be stated thus: All males
having certain qualifications are in reason and in law entitled to
vote. Those qualifications affect either the body or the mind or both.

First, the attainment of a certain age. The age in itself is not
material, but maturity of mental and moral development is material,
soundness of body in itself not being essential, and want of it alone
never working forfeiture of the right, although it may prevent its

Age as a qualification for suffrage is by no means to be confounded
with age as a qualification for service in war. Society has well
established the distinction, and that one has no relation whatever to
the other; the one having reference to physical prowess, while the
other relates only to the mental and moral state. This is shown by the
ages fixed by law for these qualifications, that of eighteen years
being fixed as the commencement of the term of presumed fitness
for military service, and forty-five years as the period of its
termination; while the age of presumed fitness for the suffrage, which
requires no physical superiority certainly, is set at twenty-one
years, when still greater strength of body has been attained than
at the period when liability to the dangers and hardships of war
commences; and there are at least three millions more male voters in
our country than of the population liable by law to the performance of
military duty. It is still further to be observed, that the right of
suffrage continues as long as the mind lasts, while ordinary liability
to military service ceases at a period when the physical powers,
though still strong, are beginning to wane. The truth is, that there
is no legal or natural connection between the right or liability to
fight and the right to vote.

The right to fight may be exercised voluntarily or the liability to
fight may be enforced by the community whenever there is an invasion
of right, and the extent to which the physical forces of society
may be called upon in self-defense or in justifiable revolution is
measured not by age or sex, but by necessity, and may go so far as to
call into the field old men and women and the last vestige of physical
force. It can not be claimed that woman has no right to vote because
she is not liable to fight, for she is so liable, and the freest
government on the face of the earth has the reserved power under the
call of necessity to place her in the forefront of battle itself, and
more than this, woman has the right, and often has exercised it, to go

If any one could question the existence of this reserved power of
society to call the force of woman to the common defense, either in
the hospital or the field, it would be woman, who has been deprived of
participation in the government and in shaping the public policy which
has resulted in dire emergency to the state. But in all times, and
under all forms of government and of social existence, woman has given
her body and her soul to the common defense.

The qualification of age, then, is imposed for the purpose of securing
mental and moral fitness for the suffrage on the part of those who
exercise it. It has no relation to the possession of physical powers
at all.

All other qualifications imposed upon male citizens, save only that of
their sex, as prerequisites to the exercise of suffrage have the same
objects in view, and can have no other.

The property qualification is, to my mind, an invasion of natural
right, which elevates mere property to an equality with life and
personal liberty, and ought never to be imposed upon the suffrage.
But, however that may be, its application or removal has no relation
to sex, and its only object is to secure the exercise of the
suffrage under a stronger sense of obligation and responsibility--a
qualification, be it observed, of no consequence save as it influences
the mind of the voter in the exercise of his right.

The same is true of the qualifications of sanity, education, and
obedience to the laws, which exclude dementia, ignorance, and
crime from participation in the sovereignty. Every condition or
qualification imposed upon the exercise of the suffrage by the citizen
save only sex has for its only object or possible justification
the possession of mental and moral fitness, and has no relation to
physical power.

The question then arises why is the qualification of masculinity
required at all?

The distinction between human beings by reason of sex is a physical
distinction. The soul is of no sex. If there be a distinction of soul
by reason of the physical difference, or accompanying that physical
difference, woman is the superior of man in mental and moral
qualities. In proof of this see the report of the minority and all the
eulogiums of woman pronounced by those who, like the serpent of old,
would flatter her vanity that they may continue to wield her power.

I repeat it, that the soul is of no sex, and that sex is, so far as
the possession and exercise of human rights and powers are concerned,
but a physical property, in which the female is just as important as
the male, and the possessor thereof under just as great need of power
in the organization and management of society and the government of
society as man; and if there be a difference, she, by reason of her
average physical inferiority, is really protected, and ought to be
protected, by a superior mental and moral fitness to give direction to
the course of society and the policy of the state. If, then, there be
a distinction between the souls of human beings resulting from sex, I
claim that, by the report of the minority and the universal testimony
of all men, woman is better fitted for the exercise of the suffrage
than man.

It is claimed by some that the suffrage is an inherent natural right,
and by others that it is merely a privilege extended to the individual
by society in its discretion. However this may be, practically any
extension of the exercise of the suffrage to individuals or classes
not now enjoying it must be by concession of those who already possess
it, and such extension without revolution will be through the suffrage
itself exercised by those who have it under existing forms.

The appeal by those who have it not must be made to those who are
asked to part with a portion of their own power, and it is not strange
that human nature, which is an essential element in the male sex,
should hesitate and delay to yield one-half its power to those whose
cause, however strong in reason and justice, lacks that physical
force which so largely has been the means by which the masses of men
themselves hare wrung their own rights from rulers and kings.

It is not strange that when overwhelmed with argument and half won by
appeals to his better nature to concede to woman her equal power in
the state, and ashamed to blankly refuse that which he finds no
reason for longer withholding, man avoids the dilemma by a pretended
elevation of his helpmeet to a higher sphere, where, as an angel,
she has certain gauzy ethereal resources and superior functions,
occupations, and attributes which render the possession of mere
earthly every-day powers and privileges non-essential to woman,
however mere mortal men themselves may find them indispensable to
their own freedom and happiness.

But to the denial of her right to vote, whether that denial be the
blunt refusal of the ignorant or the polished evasion of the refined
courtier and politician, woman can oppose only her most solemn and
perpetual appeal to the reason of man and to the justice of Almighty
God. She must continually point out the nature and object of the
suffrage and the necessity that she possess it for her own and the
public good.

What, then, is the suffrage, and why is it necessary that woman should
possess and exercise this function of freemen? I quote briefly from
the report of the committee:

The rights for the maintenance of which human governments are
constituted are life, liberty, and property. These rights are
common to men and women alike, and whatever citizen or subject
exists as a member of any body-politic, under any form of
government, is entitled to demand from the sovereign power the
full protection of these rights.

This right to the protection of rights appertains to the
individual, not to the family alone, or to any form of
association, whether social or corporate. Probably not more than
five-eighths of the men of legal age, qualified to vote, are heads
of families, and not more than that proportion of adult women
are united with men in the legal merger of married life. It is,
therefore, quite incorrect to speak of the state as an aggregate
of families duly represented at the ballot-box by their male head.
The relation between the government and the individual is direct;
all rights are individual rights, all duties are individual

Government in its two highest functions is legislative and
judicial. By these powers the sovereignty prescribes the law,
and directs its application to the vindication of rights and the
redress of wrongs. Conscience and intelligence are the only forces
which enter into the exercise of this highest and primary function
of government. The remaining department is the executive or
administrative, and in all forms of government--the republican
as well as in tyranny--the primary element of administration is
force, and even in this department conscience and intelligence are
indispensable to its direction.

If now we are to decide who of our sixty millions of human beings
are to constitute the citizenship of this Republic and by virtue
of their qualifications to be the law-making power, by what tests
shall the selection be determined?

The suffrage which is the sovereignty is this great primary
law-making power. It is not the executive power proper at all. It
is not founded upon force. Only that degree of physical strength
which is essential to a sound body--the home of the healthy mental
and moral constitution--the sound soul in the sound body
is required in the performance of the function of primary
legislation. Never in the history of this or any other genuine
republic has the law-making power, whether in general elections or
in the framing of laws in legislative assemblies, been vested in
individuals who have exercised it by reason of their physical
powers. On the contrary, the physically weak have never for that
reason been deprived of the suffrage nor of the privilege of
service in the public councils so long as they possessed the
necessary powers of locomotion and expression, of conscience and
intelligence, which are common to all. The aged and the physically
weak have, as a rule, by reason of superior wisdom and moral
sense, far more than made good any bodily inferiority by which
they have differed from the more robust members of the community
in the discussion and decisions of the ballot-box and in councils
of the state.

The executive power of itself is a mere physical
instrumentality--an animal quality--and it is confided from
necessity to those individuals who possess that quality, but
always with danger, except so far as wisdom and virtue control its
exercise. And it is obvious that the greater the mass of higher
and spiritual forces, whether found in those to whom the execution
of the law is assigned or in the great mass by whom the suffrage
is exercised, and who direct the execution of the law, the greater
will be the safety and the surer will be the happiness of the

It is too late to question the intellectual and moral capacity
of woman to understand great political issues (which are always
primarily questions of conscience--questions of the intelligent
application of the principles of right and of wrong in public and
private affairs) and properly decide them at the polls. Indeed,
so far as your committee are aware, the pretense is no longer
advanced that woman should not vote by reason of her mental or
moral unfitness to perform this legislative function; but the
suffrage is denied to her because she can not hang criminals,
suppress mobs, nor handle the enginery of war. We have already
seen the untenable nature of this assumption, because those who
make it bestow the suffrage upon very large classes of men who,
however well qualified they may be to vote, are physically unable
to perform any of the duties which appertain to the execution of
the law and the defense of the state. Scarcely a Senator on
this floor is liable by law to perform a military or other
administrative duty, yet the rule so many set up against the right
of women to vote would disfranchise nearly this whole body.

But it unnecessary to grant that woman can not fight. History is
full of examples of her heroism in danger, of her endurance and
fortitude in trial, and of her indispensable and supreme service
in hospital and field; and in the handling of the deft and
horrible machinery and infernal agencies which science and art
have prepared and are preparing for human destruction in future
wars, woman may perform her whole part in the common assault or
the common defense. It is hardly worth while to consider this
trivial objection that she is incompetent for purposes of national
murder or of bloody self-defense as the basis of the denial of a
great fundamental right, when we consider that if that right were
given to her she would by its exercise almost certainly abolish
this great crime of the nations, which has always inflicted upon
her the chief burden of woe.

It will be admitted that the act of voting is operative in government
only as a means of deciding upon the adoption or rejection of measures
or of the selection of officers to enact, administer, and execute the

In the discharge of these functions it also must be admitted that
intelligence and conscience are the faculties requisite to secure
their proper performance.

In this day when woman has demonstrated that she is fully the
intellectual equal of man in the profound as well as in the politer
walks of learning--in art, science, literature, and, considering her
opportunities, that she is not his inferior in any of the professions
or in the great mass of useful occupations, while she is, in fact,
becoming the chief educator of the race and is the acknowledged
support of the great ministrations of charity and religion; when in
such great organizations as the suffrage associations, missionary
societies, the National Woman's Christian Temperance Union, and even
upon the still larger scale of international action, she has exhibited
her power by mere moral influences and the inspiration of great
purposes, without the aid of legal penalties or even of tangible
inconveniences, to mold and direct the discordant thought and action
of thousands and millions of people scattered over separate States,
and sometimes even living in countries hostile to each other to the
accomplishment of great earthly or heavenly ends, it is unreasonable
to deny to woman the suffrage in political affairs upon the
false allegation that she is wanting in the very qualities most
indispensable and requisite for the proper exercise of this great

The advocates of universal male suffrage have long since ceased
to deny the ballot to woman upon the ground that she is unfit or
incompetent to exercise it.

There is a class of high-stepping objectors, like Ouida, who decry the
sound judgment and moral excellence of woman as compared with man, but
in the same breath these people deny the suffrage to the masses of men
and advocate "the just supremacy of the fittest," so that no time need
be wasted in refutation of those malignant and libelous aspersions
upon our mothers, sisters, and wives, which, when carried to logical
conclusions by their own authors, deny the fundamental principles of
liberty to man and woman alike, and reassert in its baldest form the
dogma that "the existing system of electoral power all over the world
is absurd, and will remain so because in no nation is there the
courage, perhaps in no nation is there the intellectual power, capable
of putting forward and sustaining the logical doctrine of the just
supremacy of the fittest."

In fact the minority of the committee, and this is true of all honest,
intelligent men who believe in the republican system of government at
all, concede that woman has the capacity and moral fitness requisite
to exercise the ballot. That class of women represented by the author
of "Letters from a Chimney Corner," whose work has been adopted by
the minority as the basis of their report, speaking through the "fair
authoress," say that "if women were to be considered in their highest
and final estate as merely individual beings, and if the right to the
ballot were to be conceded to man as an individual, it might perhaps
he logically argued that women also possessed the inherent right to
vote." Let me read from the views of the minority on page 1:

The undersigned minority of the Committee of the Senate on Woman
Suffrage, to whom was referred Senate Resolution No. 5, proposing
an amendment to the Constitution of the United States to grant
the right to vote to the women of the United States, beg leave to
submit the following minority report, consisting of extracts from
a little volume entitled, "Letters from a Chimney Corner," written
by a highly cultivated lady, Mrs. ----, of Chicago, This gifted
lady has discussed the question with so much clearness and force
that we make no apology to the Senate for substituting quotations
from her book in place of anything we might produce. We quote
first from chapter 3, which is entitled "The value of suffrage to
women much overestimated."

The fair authoress says:

"If women were to be considered in their highest and final estate
as merely individual beings, and if the right to the ballot were
to be conceded to man as an individual, it might perhaps be
logically argued that women also possessed the inherent right to
vote. But from the oldest times, and through all the history
of the race, has run the glimmer of an idea, more or less
distinguishable in different ages and under different
circumstances, that neither man nor woman is, as such, individual;
that neither being is of itself a whole, a unit, but each requires
to be supplemented by the other before its true structural
integrity can be achieved. Of this idea, the science of botany
furnishes the moat perfect illustration. The stamens on the one
hand, and the ovary and pistil on the other, may indeed reside in
one blossom, which then exists in a married or reproductive state.
But equally well, the stamens or male organs may reside in one
plant, and the ovary and pistil or female organs may reside in
another. In that case, the two plants are required to make one
structurally complete organization. Each is but half a plant, an
incomplete individual by itself. The life principle of each must
be united to that of the other; the twain must be indeed one flesh
before the organization is either structurally or functionally

This is a concession of the whole argument, unless the highest and
final estate of woman is to be something else than a mere individual.
It would also follow that if such be her destiny--that is, to be
something else than a mere "individual being"--and if for that reason
she is to be denied the suffrage, then man equally should be denied
the ballot if his highest and final estate is to be something else
than a "mere individual."

Thereupon the minority of the committee, through the "Fair Authoress,"
proceed to show that both man and woman are designed for a higher
final estate--to wit, that of matrimony. It seems to be conceded
that man is just as much fitted for matrimony as woman herself, and
thereupon the whole subject is illuminated with certain botanical lore
about stamens and pistils, which, however relevant to matrimony, does
not seem to me to prove that therefore woman should not vote unless at
the same time it proves that man should not vote either. And certainly
it can not apply to those women any more than to those men whose
highest and final estate never is merged in the family relation at
all, and even "Ouida" concedes "that the project ... to give votes
only to unmarried women may be dismissed without discussion, as it
would be found to be wholly untenable."

There is no escape from it. The discussion has passed so far that
among intelligent people who believe in the republican form--that
is, free government--all mature men and women have under the same
circumstance and conditions the same rights to defend, the same
grievances to redress, and, therefore, the same necessity for the
exercise of this great fundamental right, of all human beings in free
society. For the right to vote is the great primitive right. It is the
right in which all freedom originates and culminates. It is the right
from which all others spring, in which they merge, and without which
they fall whenever assailed.

This right makes, and is all the difference between government by and
with the consent of the governed and government without and against
the consent of the governed; and that is the difference between
freedom and slavery. If the right to vote be not that difference, what
is? No, sir. If either sex as a class can dispense with the right to
vote, then take it from the strong, and no longer rob the weak of
their defense for the benefit of the strong.

But it is impossible to conceive of the suffrage as a right dependent
at all upon such an irrelevant condition as sex. It is an individual,
a personal right. It may be withheld by force; but if withheld by
reason of sex it is a moral robbery.

But it is said that the duties of maternity disqualify for the
performance of the act of voting. It can not be, and I think is not
claimed by any one, that the mother who otherwise would be fit to
vote is rendered mentally or morally less fit to exercise this high
function in the state because of motherhood. On the contrary, if any
woman has a motive more than another person, man or woman, to secure
the enactment and enforcement of good laws, it is the mother, who,
beside her own life, person, and property, to the protection of which
the ballot is as essential as to the same rights possessed by man,
has her little contingent of immortal beings to conduct safely to
the portals of active life through all the snares and pitfalls woven
around them by bad men and bad laws which bad men have made, or good
laws which bad men, unhindered by the good, have defied or have
prostituted, and rightly to prepare, them for the discharge of all the
duties of their day and generation, including the exercise of the very
right denied to their mother.

Certainly, if but for motherhood she should vote, then ten thousand
times more necessary is it that the mother should be guarded and armed
with this great social and political power for the sake of all men and
women who are yet to be. But it is said that she has not the time. Let
us see. By the best deductions I can make from the census and from
other sources there are 15,000,000 women of voting age in this country
at the present time, of whom not more than 10,000,000 are married and
not more than 7,500,000 are still liable to the duties of maternity,
for it will be remembered that a large proportion of the mothers of
our country at any given time are below the voting age, while of those
who are above it another large proportion have passed beyond the point
of this objection. Not more than one-half the female population of
voting age are liable to this objection. Then why disfranchise the
7,500,000, the other half, as to whom your objection, even if valid
as to any, does not apply at all; and these, too, as a class the most
mature and therefore the best qualified to vote of any of their sex?
But how much is there of this objection of want of time or physical
strength to vote, in its application to women who are bearing and
training the coming millions? The families of the country average five
persons in number. If we assume that this gives an average of three
children to every pair, which is probably the full number, or if we
assume that every married mother, after she becomes of voting age,
bears three children, which is certainly the full allowance, and that
twenty-four years are consumed in doing it, there is one child born
every eight years whose coming is to interfere with the exercise of a
duty of privilege which, in most States, and in all the most important
elections, occurs only one day in two years.

That same mother will attend church at least forty times yearly on
the average from her cradle to her grave, beside an infinity of other
social, religious, and industrial obligations which she performs and
assumes to perform because she is a married woman and a mother rather
than for any other reason whatever. Yet it is proposed to deprive
women--yes, all women alike--of an inestimable privilege and the chief
power which can be exercised by any free individual in the state for
the reason that on any given day of election not more than one woman
in twenty of voting age will probably not be able to reach the polls.
It does seem probable that on these interesting occasions if the
husband and wife disagree in politics they could arrange a pair, and
the probability is, that arrangement failing, one could be consummated
with some other lady in like fortunate circumstances, of opposite
political opinions. More men are kept from the polls by drunkenness,
or, being at the polls, vote under the influence of strong drink, to
the reproach and destruction of our free institutions, and who, if
woman could and did vote, would cast the ballot of sobriety, good
order, and reform under her holy influences, than all those who would
be kept from any given election by the necessary engagements of
mothers at home.

When one thinks of the innumerable and trifling causes which keep many
of the best of men and strongest opponents of woman suffrage from the
polls upon important occasions it is difficult to be tolerant of the
objection that woman by reason of motherhood has no time to vote. Why,
sir, the greater exposure of man to the casualties of life actually
disables him in such way as to make it physically impossible for him
to exercise the franchise more frequently than is the case with
women, including mothers and all. And if this liability to lose the
opportunity to exercise the right once or possibly twice in a lifetime
is a reason that women should not he allowed to vote at all, why
should men not be disfranchised also by the same rule?

But it is urged that woman does not desire the privilege. If the right
exist at all it is an individual right, and not one which belongs to a
class or to the sex as such. Yet men tell us that they will vote the
suffrage to women whenever the majority of women desire it. Are, then,
our rights the property of the majority of a disfranchised class to
which we may chance to belong? What would we say if it were seriously
proposed to recall the suffrage from all colored or from all white men
because a majority of either class should decline or for any cause
fail to vote? I know that it is said that the suffrage is a privilege
to be extended by those who have it to those who have it not. But the
matter of right, of moral right, to the franchise does not depend
upon the indifference of those who possess it or of those who do not
possess it to the desire of those women who desire to enjoy their
right and to discharge their duty. If one or many choose not to claim
their right it is no argument for depriving me of mine or one woman of
hers. There are many reasons why some women declare themselves opposed
to the extension of suffrage to their sex. Some well-fed and pampered,
without serious experiences in life, are incapable of comprehending
the subject at all. Vast numbers, who secretly and earnestly desire it
from the long habit of deference to the wishes of the other sex, upon
whom they are so entirely dependent while disfranchised, and knowing
the hostility of their "protectors" to the agitation of the subject,
conceal their real sentiments, and the "lord" of the family referring
this question to his wife, who has heard him sneer or worse than sneer
at suffragists for half a lifetime, ought not to expect an answer
which she knows will subject her to his censure and ridicule or even
his unexpressed disapprobation.

It is like the old appeal of the master to his slave to know if
he would be free. Full well did the wise and wary slave know that
happiness depended upon declared contentment with his lot. But all
the same the world does move. Colored men are free. Colored men vote.
Women will vote. A little further on I shall revert to the evidence of
a general and growing desire on her part and on the part of just and
intelligent men that the suffrage be extended to women.

But we are told that husband and wife will disagree and thus the
suffrage will destroy the family and ruin society. If a married
couple will quarrel at all, they will find the occasion, and it were
fortunate indeed if their contention might concern important affairs.
There is no peace in the family save where love is, and the same
spirit which enables the husband and wife to enforce the toleration
act between themselves in religious matters will keep the peace
between them in political discussions. At all events, this argument
is unworthy of notice at all unless we are to push it to its logical
conclusion, and, for the sake of peace in the family, to prohibit
woman absolutely the exercise of freedom of thought and speech.
Men live with their countrymen and disagree with them in politics,
religion, and ten thousand of the affairs of life, as often the
trifling as the important. What harm, then, if woman be allowed her
thought and vote upon the tariff, education, temperance, peace and
war, and whatsoever else the suffrage decides?

But we are told that no government, of which we have authentic
history, ever gave to woman a share in the sovereignty.

This is not true, for the annals of monarchies and despotisms have
been rendered illustrious by queens of surpassing brilliance and
power. But even if it be true that no republic ever enfranchised woman
with the ballot--even so until within one hundred years universal or
even general suffrage was unknown among men.

Has the millennium yet dawned? Is all progress at an end? If that
which is should therefore remain, why abolish the slavery of men?

But we are informed that woman does not vote when she has the
opportunity. Wherever she has the unrestricted right she exercises it.
The records of Wyoming and Washington demonstrate the fact.

And in these Territories, too, as well as wherever else she has
exercised the suffrage, she has elevated man to her own level, and
has made the voting precinct as respectable and decorous as the
lecture-room or the assemblies of the devout. All the experience there
is refutes the apprehension of those who fear that woman will either
neglect the discharge of her great duty, when allowed its fair and
equal exercise, or that the rude and baser sort will overwhelm and
banish the noble and refined.

But to my mind it seems like trifling with a great subject to dwell
upon topics like this. It can only be justified by the continual
iteration of the objection by the opponents of woman suffrage, who in
the lack of substantial grounds whereupon to base their opposition to
the exercise of a great right by one-half the community declare that
there is no time in which woman can vote.

I will now read an extract from the report of the majority of the
committee, showing to a certain extent the degree of consequence which
this movement has assumed, its extent throughout our country, and
something of its duration. I have not the latest data, for since this
report was compiled there has been action in several States, and a
great deal of popular discussion and a vast amount of demonstration
from the action of popular assemblies.

The committee say:

This movement for woman suffrage has developed during the last
half century into one of great strength. The first petition was
presented to the Legislature of New York in 1835. It was repeated
in 1846, and since that time the petition has been urged upon
nearly every Legislature in the Northern States. Five States
have voted upon the question of amending their constitutions by
striking out the word "male" from the suffrage clause--Kansas in
1867, Michigan in 1874, Colorado in 1877, Nebraska in 1882, and
Oregon in 1884.

The ratio of the popular vote in each case was about one-third for
the amendment and two-thirds against it. Three Territories have or
have had full suffrage for women. In two, Wyoming since 1869
and Washington since 1883, the experiment (!) is an unqualified
success. In Utah Miss Anthony keenly and justly observes that
suffrage is as much of a success for the Mormon women as for the

In eleven States school suffrage for women exists. In Kansas, from
her admission as a State. In Kentucky and Michigan fully as long
a time. School suffrage for women also exists in Colorado,
Minnesota, New Hampshire, Massachusetts, Vermont, New York,
Nebraska, and Oregon.

In all these States, except Minnesota, school suffrage was
extended to women by the respective Legislatures, and in Minnesota
by the popular vote, in November, 1876. Not only these eleven
States, but in nearly all the other Northern and Western States
women are elected to the offices of county and city superintendent
of public schools and as members of school boards. In Louisiana
the constitution of 1879 makes women eligible to school offices.

It may also be observed as indicating a rising and controlling
public sentiment in recognition of the right and capacity of woman
for public affairs that she is eligible to such offices as that of
county clerk, register of deeds, and the like in many and perhaps
in all the States. Kansas and Iowa elected several women to these
positions in the election of November, 1885, while President Grant
alone appointed more than five thousand women to the office of
postmaster; and although many women have been appointed in the
Departments and to pension agencies and like important employments
and trusts, so far as your committee are aware no charge of
incompetency or of malfeasance in office has ever yet been
sustained against a woman.

It may be further stated in this connection that nearly every
Northern State has had before it from time to time since 1870 a
bill for the submission of the question of woman suffrage to the
popular vote. In some instances such a resolution has been passed
at one session and failed to be ratified at another by from one
to three votes; thus Iowa passed it in 1870, killed it in 1872;
passed it in 1874, failed to do so in 1876; passed it in 1878, and
failed in 1880; passed it again in 1882, and defeated it in
1884; four times over and over, and this winter these heroic and
indomitable women are trying it in Iowa again.

If men were to make such a struggle for their rights it would be
considered a fine thing, and there would be books and even poetry
written about it.

In New York, since 1880, the women have urged this great measure
before the Legislature each year. There it takes the form of a
bill to prohibit the disfranchisement of women. This bill has
several times come within five votes of passing the assembly.

In many States well sustained efforts for municipal suffrage have
been made, and, as if in rebuke to the conservatism, or worse, of
this great Republic, this right of municipal suffrage is already
enjoyed in the province of Ontario, Canada, and throughout the
island of Great Britain by unmarried women to the same extent as
by men, there being the same property qualification required of

The movement for the amendment of the National Constitution began
by petitioning Congress December, 1865, and since 1869 there have
been consecutive applications to every Congress praying for the
submission to the States of a proposition similar to the joint
resolution herewith reported to the Senate.

The petitions have come from all parts of the country; more
especially from the Northern and Western States, although there is
an extensive and increasing desire for the suffrage existing among
the women in the Southern States, as we are informed by those
whose interest in the subject makes them familiar with the real
state of feeling in that part of our country. It is impossible
to know just what proportion of the people--men and women--have
expressed their desire by petition to the National Legislature
during the last twenty years, but we are informed by Miss Anthony
that in the year 1871 Senator Sumner collected the petitions from
the files of the Senate and House of Representatives, and that
there were then an immense number. A far greater number have been
presented since that time, and the same lady is our authority for
the estimate that in all more than two hundred thousand petitions,
by select and representative men and women, have been poured upon
Congress in behalf of this prayer of woman to be free. Who is so
interested in the framing of the law as woman, whose only defense
is the law? There never was a stronger exhibition of popular
demand by American citizens to be heard in the court of the people
for the vindication of a fundamental right.

Since the submission of the report the attempt has been made to secure
action in several of the State Legislatures. One which came very near
being successful was made in the State of Vermont. The suffrage was
extended, if I am not incorrectly informed, so far as the action of
the house of representatives of that State could give it, and an
effort being made to propose some restriction and condition upon the
suffrage it was defeated, when, as I am told by the friends of the
movement, if it could have reached a vote in the Vermont Legislature
on the naked proposition of suffrage to women as suffrage is extended
to men, they felt the very greatest confidence that they would have
been able to secure favorable action by the Legislature of that State.

Miss Anthony informs me since she came here at the present session
(and I am sorry I have not had the opportunity of extended conference
with her) that in the State of Kansas, where she spent several weeks
in the discussion of the subject before vast masses of people, the
largest halls, rinks, and places for the accommodation of popular
assemblages in the State were crowded to overflowing to listen to
her address. In every instance she has taken a vote of those vast
audiences as to whether they were in favor of woman suffrage or
against it, and in no single instance has there been a solitary vote
against the extension of the right, but affirmative and universal
action of those great assemblies demanding that it be extended to
women. And like demonstrations of popular approval are developing in
all parts of the country, perhaps not to so marked an extent as these
which I have just stated; but it is a growing feeling in this country
that women should have this right, and above all woman and man
demanding that she should have the opportunity to try her case before
the American people, that this right of petition should be heeded by
Congress and the joint resolution for the submission of the matter for
discussion by the States should be passed by the necessary two-thirds

It is sometimes, too, urged against this movement for the submission
of a resolution for a national constitutional amendment that women
should go to the States and fight it out there. But we did not send
the colored man to the States. No other amendment touching the general
national interest is left to be fought out by individual action in
the individual States. Under the terms of the Constitution itself the
people of the United States, having some universal common interest
affected by law or by the want of law, are invited to come to this
body and try here their question of right, or at all events through
the agency of Congress to submit that proposition to the people at
large in order that in the general national forum it may receive
discussion, and by the action of three-fourths of the States, if
favorable, their idea may be incorporated in the fundamental law.

I will not detain the Senate further in the discussion of this

It should be borne in mind that the proposition is to submit to men
the question whether woman shall vote. The jury will certainly not be
prejudiced in her favor as against the public good. There can be no
danger of a verdict in her favor contrary to the evidence in the case.

We ask only for her an opportunity to bring her suit in the great
court for the amendment of fundamental law. It is impossible for any
right mind to escape the impression of solemn responsibility which
attaches to our decision. Ridicule and wit of whatever quality are
here as much out of place as in the debates upon the Declaration of
Independence. We are affirming or denying the right of petition which
by all law belongs as much to women as to men. Millions of women and
thousands of men in our own country demand that she at least have the
opportunity to be heard. Hear, even if you strike.

The lamented Anthony, so long the object of reverence, affection, and
pride in this body, among the last acts of his public life, in
signing the favorable report of this resolution, made the following

The Constitution is wisely conservative in the provision of its
own amendment. It is eminently proper that whenever a large
number of the people have indicated a desire for an amendment the
judgment of the amending power should be consulted. In view of the
extensive agitation of the question of woman suffrage, and the
numerous and respectable petitions that have been presented
to Congress in its support, I unite with the committee in
recommending that the proposed amendment be submitted to the


Profoundly convinced of the justice of woman's demand for the
suffrage, and that the proper method of securing the right is by an
amendment of the national Constitution, I urge the adoption of the
joint resolution upon the still broader ground so clearly and calmly
stated by the great Senator whose words I have just read. I appeal to
you, Senators, to grant this petition of woman that she may be heard
for her claim of right. How could you reject that petition, even were
there but one faint voice beseeching your ear? How can you deny the
demand of millions who believe in suffrage for women, and who can not
be forever silenced, for they give voice to the innate cry of the
human heart that justice be done not alone to man, but to that half of
this nation which now is free only by the grace of the other, and that
by our action to-day we indorse, if we do not initiate, a movement
which, in the development of our race, shall guarantee liberty to all
without distinction of sex, even as our glorious Constitution already
grants the suffrage to every citizen without distinction of color or

* * * * *

Further consideration of the resolution postponed until January 25,
1887, when it was resumed, as follows:

_Tuesday, January 25, 1887._


Mr. BLAIR. I now move that the Senate proceed to consider the joint
resolution (S.R. 5) proposing an amendment to the Constitution of the
United States extending the right of suffrage to women.

The motion was agreed to; and the Senate, as in Committee of the
Whole, proceeded to consider the joint resolution.

The PRESIDING OFFICER. The joint resolution will be read.

The Chief Clerk read the joint resolution, as follows:

_Resolved (two-thirds of each House concurring therein)_, That the
following article be proposed to the Legislatures of the several
States as an amendment to the Constitution of the United States:
which, when ratified by three-fourths of the said Legislatures,
shall be valid as part of said Constitution, namely:


Section 1. The right of citizens of the United States to vote
shall not be denied or abridged by the United States or by any
State on account of sex.

Sec. 2. The Congress shall have power, by appropriate legislation,
to enforce the provisions of this article.

Mr. BROWN. Mr. President, the joint resolution introduced by my
friend, the Senator from New Hampshire [Mr. BLAIR], proposing an
amendment to the Constitution of the United States, conferring the
right to vote upon the women of the United States, is one of paramount
importance, as it involves great questions far reaching in their
tendency, which seriously affect the very pillars of our social
fabric, which involve the peace and harmony of society, the unity of
the family, and much of the future success of our Government. The
question should therefore he met fairly and discussed with firmness,
but with moderation and forbearance.

No one contributes anything valuable to the debate by the use of harsh
terms, or by impugning motives, or by disparaging the arguments of the
opposition. Where the prosperity of the race and the peace of society
are involved, we should, on both sides, meet fairly the arguments of
our respective opponents.

This question has been discussed a great deal outside of Congress,
sometimes in bad temper and sometimes illogically and unprofitably,
but the advocates of the proposed amendment and the opponents of it
have each put forth, probably in their strongest form, the reasons and
arguments which are considered by each as conclusive in favor of the
cause they advocate. I do not expect to contribute much that is new
on a subject that has been so often and so ably discussed; but what I
have to say will be in the main a reproduction in substance of what
I and others have already said on the subject, and which I think
important enough to be placed upon the record in the argument of the

In connection with my friend, the honorable Senator from Missouri [Mr.
COCKRELL], I have in a report set forth substantially the reasons
and arguments which to my mind establish the fact that the proposed
legislation would be injudicious and unwise, and I shall not hesitate
to reiterate here such portions of what was then said as seem to me to
be important.

I believe that the Creator intended that the sphere of the males and
females of our race should be different, and that their duties and
obligations, while they differ materially, are equally important and
equally honorable, and that each sex is equally well qualified by
natural endowments for the discharge of the important duties which
pertain to each, and that each sex is equally competent to discharge
those duties.

We find an abundance of evidence, both in the works of nature and in
the Divine revelation, to establish the fact that the family properly
regulated is the foundation and pillar of society, and is the most
important of any other human institution.

In the Divine economy it is provided that the man shall be the head
of the family, and shall take upon himself the solemn obligation of
providing for and protecting the family.

Man, by reason of his physical strength, and his other endowments and
faculties, is qualified for the discharge of those duties that
require strength and ability to combat with the sterner realities and
difficulties of life. The different classes of outdoor labor which
require physical strength and endurance are by nature assigned to man,
the head of the family, as part of his task. He discharges such labors
as require greater physical endurance and strength than the female sex
are usually found to possess.

It is not only his duty to provide for and protect the family, but
as a member of the community it is also his duty to discharge the
laborious and responsible obligations which the family owe to the
State, and which obligations must be discharged by the head of the
family, until the male members of the family have grown up to manhood
and are able to aid in the discharge of those obligations, when it
becomes their duty each in his turn to take charge of and rear a
family, for which he is responsible.

Among other duties which the head of the family owes to the State, is
military duty in time of war, which he, when able-bodied, is able to
discharge, and which the female members of the family are unable to

He is also under obligation to discharge jury duty, and by himself
or his representatives to perform his part of the labor necessary to
construct and keep in order roads, bridges, streets, and all grades
of public highways. And in this progressive age upon the male sex is
devolved the duty of constructing and operating our railroads, and
the engines and other rolling-stock with which they are operated; of
building, equipping, and launching, shipping and other water craft of
every character necessary for the transportation of passengers and
freight upon our rivers, our lakes, and upon the high seas.

The labor in our fields, sowing, cultivating, and reaping crops must
be discharged mainly by the male sex, as the female sex, for want of
physical strength, are generally unable to discharge these duties.
As it is the duty of the male sex to perform the obligations to the
State, to society, and to the family, already mentioned, with numerous
others that might be enumerated, it is also their duty to aid in
the government of the State, which is simply a great aggregation
of families. Society can not be preserved nor can the people be
prosperous without good government. The government of our country is a
government of the people, and it becomes necessary that the class of
people upon whom the responsibility rests should assemble together and
consider and discuss the great questions of governmental policy which
from time to time are presented for their decision.

This often requires the assembling of caucuses in the night time, as
well as public assemblages in the daytime. It is a laborious task, for
which the male sex is infinitely better fitted than the female sex;
and after proper consideration and discussion of the measures that may
divide the country from time to time, the duty devolves upon those who
are responsible for the government, at times and places to be fixed by
law, to meet and by ballot to decide the great questions of government
upon which the prosperity of the country depends.

These are some of the active and sterner duties of life to which
the male sex is by nature better fitted than the female sex. If in
carrying out the policy of the State on great measures adjudged vital
such policy should lead to war, either foreign or domestic, it would
seem to follow very naturally that those who have been responsible for
the management of the State should be the parties to take the hazards
and hardships of the struggle.

Here, again, man is better fitted by nature for the discharge of the
duty--woman is unfit for it. So much for some of the duties imposed
upon the male sex, for the discharge of which the Creator has endowed
them with proper strength and faculties.

On the other hand, the Creator has assigned to woman very laborious
and responsible duties, by no means less important than those imposed
upon the male sex, though entirely different in their character. In
the family she is a queen. She alone is fitted for the discharge of
the sacred trust of wife and the endearing relation of mother.

While the man is contending with the sterner duties of life, the whole
time of the noble, affectionate, and true woman is required in the
discharge of the delicate and difficult duties assigned her in the
family circle, in her church relations, and in the society where her
lot is cast. When the husband returns home weary and worn in the
discharge of the difficult and laborious task assigned him, he finds
in the good wife solace and consolation, which is nowhere else
afforded. If he is despondent and distressed, she cheers his heart
with words of kindness; if he is sick or languishing, she soothes,
comforts, and ministers to him as no one but an affectionate wife
can do. If his burdens are onerous, she divides their weight by the
exercise of her love and her sympathy.

But a still more important duty devolves upon the mother. After
having brought into existence the offspring of the nuptial union, the
children are dependent upon the mother as they are not upon any other
human being. The trust is a most sacred, most responsible, and most
important one. To watch over them in their infancy, and as the mind
begins to expand to train, direct, and educate it in the paths of
virtue and usefulness is the high trust assigned to the mother. She
trains the twig as the tree should be inclined.

She molds the character. She educates the heart as well as the
intellect, and she prepares the future man, now the boy, for honor or
dishonor. Upon the manner in which she discharges her duty depends the
fact whether he shall in future be a useful citizen or a burden to
society. She inculcates lessons of patriotism, manliness, religion,
and virtue, fitting the man by reason of his training to be an
ornament to society, or dooming him by her neglect to a life of
dishonor and shame. Society acts unwisely when it imposes upon her
the duties that by common consent have always been assigned to the
stronger and sterner sex, and the discharge of which causes her to
neglect those sacred and all important duties to her children and to
the society of which they are members.

In the church, by her piety, her charity, and her Christian purity,
she not only aids society by a proper training of her own children,
but the children of others, whom she encourages to come to the sacred
altar, are taught to walk in the paths of rectitude, honor, and
religion. In the Sunday-school room the good woman is a princess, and
she exerts an influence which purifies and ennobles society, training
the young in the truths of religion, making the Sunday-school the
nursery of the church, and elevating society to the higher planes of
pure religion, virtue, and patriotism. In the sick room and among the
humble, the poor, and the suffering, the good woman, like an angel
of light, cheers the hearts and revives the hopes of the poor, the
suffering, and the despondent.

It would be a vain attempt to undertake to enumerate the refining,
endearing, and ennobling influences exercised by the true woman in her
relations to the family and to society when she occupies the sphere
assigned to her by the laws of nature and the Divine inspiration,
which are our surest guide for the present and the future life. But
how can woman be expected to meet these heavy responsibilities, and to
discharge these delicate and most important duties of wife, Christian,
teacher, minister of mercy, friend of the suffering, and consoler of
the despondent and needy, if we impose upon her the grosser, rougher,
and harsher duties which nature has assigned to the male sex?

If the wife and the mother is required to leave the sacred precincts
of home, and to attempt to do military duty when the state is in
peril; or if she is to be required to leave her home from day to day
in attendance upon the court as a juror, and to be shut up in the jury
room from night to night with men who are strangers while a question
of life or property is being discussed; if she is to attend political
meetings, take part in political discussions, and mingle with the male
sex at political gatherings; if she is to become an active politician;
if she is to attend political caucuses at late hours of the night;
if she is to take part in all the unsavory work that may be deemed
necessary for the triumph of her party; and if on election day she is
to leave her home and go upon the streets electioneering for votes for
the candidates who receive her support, and mingling among the crowds
of men who gather round the polls, she is to press her way through
them to the precinct and deposit her ballot; if she is to take part
in the corporate struggles of the city or town in which she resides,
attend to the duties of his honor, the mayor, the councilman, or of
policeman, to say nothing of the many other like obligations which are
disagreeable even to the male sex, how is she, with all these heavy
duties of citizen, politician, and officeholder resting upon her
shoulders, to attend to the more sacred, delicate, and refining trust
to which we have already referred, and for which she is peculiarly
fitted by nature? If she is to discharge the duties last mentioned,
how is she, in connection with them, to discharge the more refining,
elevating, and ennobling duties of wife, mother, Christian, and
friend, which are found in the sphere where nature has placed her?
Who is to care for and train the children while she is absent in the
discharge of these masculine duties?

If it were proper to reverse the order of nature and assign woman
to the sterner duties devolved upon the male sex, and to attempt to
assign man to the more refining, delicate, and ennobling duties of the
woman, man would be found entirely incompetent to the discharge of
the obligations which nature has devolved upon the gentler sex, and
society must be greatly injured by the attempted change. But if we are
told that the object of this movement is not to reverse this order of
nature, but only to devolve upon the gentler sex a portion of the more
rigorous duties imposed by nature upon the stronger sex, we reply that
society must be injured, as the woman would not be able to discharge
those duties so well, by reason of her want of physical strength, as
the male, upon whom they are devolved, and to the extent that the
duties are to be divided, the male would be infinitely less competent
to discharge the delicate and sacred trusts which nature has assigned
to the female.

But it has been said that the present law is unjust to woman; that she
is often required to pay tax on the property she holds without being
permitted to take part in framing or administering the laws by
which her property is governed, and that she is taxed without
representation. That is a great mistake.

It may be very doubtful whether the male or female sex in the present
state of things has more influence in the administration of the
affairs of the Government and the enactment of the laws by which we
are governed.

While the woman does not discharge military duty, nor does she attend
courts and serve on juries, nor does she labor on the public streets,
bridges, or highways, nor does she engage actively and publicly in
the discussion of political affairs, nor does she enter the crowded
precincts of the ballot-box to deposit her suffrage, still the
intelligent, cultivated, noble woman is a power behind the throne. All
her influence is in favor of morality, justice, and fair dealing, all
her efforts and her counsel are in favor of good government, wise and
wholesome regulations, and a faithful administration of the laws. Such
a woman, by her gentleness, kindness, and Christian bearing, impresses
her views and her counsels upon her father, her husband, her brothers,
her sons, and her other male friends who imperceptibly yield to her
influence many times without even being conscious of it. She rules not
with a rod of iron, but with the queenly scepter; she binds not with
hooks of steel but with silken cords; she governs not by physical
efforts, but by moral suasion and feminine purity and delicacy. Her
dominion is one of love, not of arbitrary power.

We are satisfied, therefore, that the pure, cultivated, and pious
ladies of this country now exercise a very powerful, but quiet,
imperceptible influence in popular affairs, much greater than they
can ever again exercise if female suffrage should be enacted and they
should be compelled actively to take part in the affairs of state and
the corruptions of party politics.

It would be a gratification, and we are always glad to see the ladies
gratified, to many who have espoused the cause of woman suffrage if
they could take active part in political affairs, and go to the polls
and cast their votes alongside the male sex; but while this would be
a gratification to a large number of very worthy and excellent
ladies who take a different view of the question from that which we
entertain, we feel that it would be a great cruelty to a much larger
number of the cultivated, refined, delicate, and lovely women of
this country who seek no such distinction, who would enjoy no such
privilege, who would with woman-like delicacy shrink from the
discharge of any such obligation, and who would sincerely regret that,
what they consider the folly of the state, had imposed upon them any
such unpleasant duties.

But should female suffrage be once established it would become an
imperative necessity that the very large class, indeed much the
largest class, of the women of this country of the character last
described should yield, contrary to their inclinations and wishes, to
the necessity which would compel them to engage in political strife.
We apprehend no one who has properly considered this question will
doubt if female suffrage should be established that the more ignorant
and less refined portions of the female population of this country,
to say nothing of the baser class of females, laying aside feminine
delicacy and disregarding the sacred duties devolving upon them, to
which we have already referred, would rush to the polls and take
pleasure in the crowded association which the situation would compel,
of the two sexes in political meetings, and at the ballot-box.

If all the baser and more ignorant portion of the female sex crowd to
the polls and deposit their suffrage this compels the very large class
of intelligent, virtuous, and refined females, including wives and
mothers, who have much more important duties to perform, to leave
their sacred labors at home, relinquishing for a time the God-given
important trust which has been placed in their hands, to go contrary
to their wishes to the polls and vote, to counteract the suffrage of
the less worthy class of our female population. If they fail to do
this the best interests of the country must suffer by a preponderance
of ignorance and vice at the polls.

It is now a problem which perplexes the brain of the ablest statesmen
to determine how we will best preserve our republican system as
against the demoralizing influence of the large class of our present
citizens and voters who by reason of their illiteracy are unable to
read or write the ballot they cast.

Certainly no statesman who has carefully observed the situation would
desire to add very largely to this burden of ignorance. But who
does not apprehend the fact if universal female suffrage should be
established that we will, especially in the Southern States, add a
very large number to the voting population whose ignorance utterly
disqualifies them for discharging the trust. If our colored population
who were so recently slaves that even the males who are voters have
had but little opportunity to educate themselves or to be educated,
whose ignorance is now exciting the liveliest interest of our
statesmen, are causes of serious apprehension, what is to be said in
favor of adding to the voting population all the females of that race,
who, on account of the situation in which they have been placed, have
had much less opportunity to be educated than even the males of their
own race.

We do not say it is their fault that they are not educated, but the
fact is undeniable that they are grossly ignorant, with very few
exceptions, and probably not one in a hundred of them could read and
write the ballot that they would be authorized to cast. What says the
statesman to the propriety of adding this immense mass of ignorance to
the voting population of the Union in its present condition?

It may be said that their votes could be offset by the ballots of the
educated and refined ladies of the white race in the same section;
but who does not know that the ignorant female voters would be at
the polls _en masse_, while the refined and educated, shrinking from
public contact on such occasions, would remain at home and attend to
their domestic and other important duties, leaving the country too
often to the control of those who could afford under the circumstances
to take part in the strifes of politics, and to come in contact with
the unpleasant surroundings before they could reach the polls. Are
we ready to expose the country to the demoralization, and our
institutions to the strain, which would be placed upon them for the
gratification of a minority of the virtuous and good of our female
population at the expense of the mortification of a very large
majority of the same sex?

It has been frequently urged with great earnestness by those who
advocate woman suffrage that the ballot is necessary to the women to
enable them to protect themselves in securing occupations, and to
enable them to realize the same compensation for the like labor which
is received by men. This argument is plausible, but upon a closer
examination it will be found to possess but little real force. The
price of labor is and must continue to be governed by the law of
supply and demand, and the person who has the most physical strength
to labor, and the most pursuits requiring such strength open for
employment, will always command the higher prices.

Ladies make excellent teachers in public schools; many of them are
every way the equals of their male competitors, and still they secure
less wages than males. The reason is obvious. The number of ladies who
offer themselves as teachers is much larger than the number of males
who are willing to teach. The larger number of females offer to teach
because other occupations are not open to them. The smaller number of
males offer to teach because other more profitable occupations are
open to most males who are competent to teach. The result is that the
competition for positions of teachers to be filled by ladies is so
great as to reduce the price: but as males can not be employed at
that price, and are necessary in certain places in the schools, those
seeking their services have to pay a higher rate for them.

Persons having a larger number of places open to them with fewer
competitors command higher wages than those who have a smaller number
of places open to them with more competitors. This is the law of
society. It is the law of supply and demand, which can not be changed
by legislation. Then it follows that the ballot can not enable those
who have to compete with the larger number to command the same prices
as those who compete with the smaller number in the labor market. As
the Legislature has no power to regulate in practice that of which
the advocates of woman suffrage complain, the ballot in the hands of
females could not aid its regulation.

The ballot can not impart to the female physical strength which she
does not possess, nor can it open to her pursuits which she does not
have physical ability to engage in; and as long as she lacks the
physical strength to compete with men in the different departments of
labor, there will be more competition in her department, and she must
necessarily receive less wages.

But it is claimed again, that females should have the ballot as a
protection against the tyranny of bad husbands. This is also delusive.
If the husband is brutal, arbitrary, or tyrannical, and tyrannizes
over her at home, the ballot in her hands would be no protection
against such injustice, but the husband who compelled her to conform
to his wishes in other respects would also compel her to use the
ballot, if she possessed it, as he might please to dictate. The ballot
would therefore be of no assistance to the wife in such case, nor
could it heal family strifes or dissensions. On the contrary, one
of the gravest objections to placing the ballot in the hands of the
female sex is that it would promote unhappiness and dissensions in the
family circle. There should be unity and harmony in the family.

At present the man represents the family in meeting the demands of the
law and of society upon the family. So far as the rougher, coarser
duties are concerned, the man represents the family, and the
individuality of the woman is not brought into prominence; but when
the ballot is placed in the hands of woman her individuality is
enlarged, and she is expected to answer for herself the demands of the
law and of society on her individual account, and not as the weaker
member of the family to answer by her husband. This naturally draws
her out from the dignified and cultivated refinement of her womanly
position, and brings her into a closer contact with the rougher
elements of society, which tends to destroy that higher reverence and
respect which her refinement and dignity in the relation of wife
and mother have always inspired in those who approached her in her
honorable and useful retirement.

When she becomes a voter she will be more or less of a politician, and
will form political alliances or unite with political parties which
will frequently be antagonistic to those to which her husband
belongs. This will introduce into the family circle new elements
of disagreement and discord which will frequently end in unhappy
divisions, if not in separation or divorce. This must frequently occur
when she becomes an active politician, identified with a party which
is distasteful to her husband. On the other hand, if she unites with
her husband in party associations and votes with him on all occasions
so as not to disturb the harmony and happiness of the family, then the
ballot is of no service as it simply duplicates the vote of the male
on each side of the question and leaves the result the same.

Again, if the family is the unit of society, and the state is composed
of an aggregation of families, then it is important to society that
there be as many happy families as possible, and it becomes the duty
of man and woman alike to unite in the holy relations of matrimony.

As this is the only legal and proper mode of rendering obedience to
the early command to multiply and replenish the earth, whatever tends
to discourage the holy relation of matrimony is in disobedience of
this command, and any change which encourages such disobedience is
violative of the Divine law, and can not result in advantage to the
state. Before forming this relation it is the duty of young men who
have to take upon themselves the responsibilities of providing for and
protecting the family to select some profession or pursuit that is
most congenial to their tastes, and in which they will be most likely
to be successful; but this can not be permitted to the young ladies,
or if permitted it can not be practically carried out after matrimony.

As it might frequently happen that the young man had selected one
profession or pursuit, and the young lady another, the result would
be that after marriage she must drop the profession or pursuit of her
choice, and employ herself in the sacred duties of wife and mother at
home, and in rearing, educating, and elevating the family, while the
husband pursues the profession of his choice.

It may be said, however, that there is a class of young ladies who
do not choose to marry, and who select professions or avocations and
follow them for a livelihood. This is true, but this class, compared
with the number who unite in matrimony with the husbands of their
choice, is comparatively very small, and it is the duty of society to
encourage the increase of marriages rather than of celibacy. If the
larger number of females select pursuits or professions which require
them to decline marriage, society to that extent is deprived of the
advantage resulting from the increase of population by marriage.

It is said by those who have examined the question closely that the
largest number of divorces is now found in the communities where
the advocates of female suffrage are most numerous, and where the
individuality of woman as related to her husband, which such a
doctrine inculcates, is increased to the greatest extent.

If this be true, it is a strong plea in the interests of the family
and of society against granting the petition of the advocates of woman

After all, this is a local question, which properly belongs to the
different States of the Union, each acting for itself, and to the
Territories of the Union, when not acting in conflict with the laws of
the United States.

The fact that a State adopts the rule of female suffrage neither
increases nor diminishes its power in the Union, as the number of
Representatives in Congress to which each State is entitled and the
number of members in the electoral college appointed by each is
determined by its aggregate population and not by the proportion of
its voting population, so long as no race or class as defined by the
Constitution is excluded from the exercise of the right of suffrage.

Now, Mr. President, I shall make no apology for adding to what I have
said some extracts from an able and well-written volume, entitled
"Letters from the Chimney Corner," written by a highly cultivated lady
of Chicago. This gifted lady has discussed the question with so much
clearness and force that I can make no mistake by substituting some
of the thoughts taken from her book for anything I might add on this
question. While discussing the relations of the sexes, and showing
that neither sex is of itself a whole, a unit, and that each requires
to be supplemented by the other before its true structural integrity
can be achieved, she adds:

Now, everywhere throughout nature, to the male and female ideal,
certain distinct powers and properties belong. The lines of
demarkation are not always clear, not always straight lines: they are
frequently wavering, shadowy, and difficult to follow, yet on the
whole whatever physical strength, personal aggressiveness, the
intellectual scope and vigor which manage vast material enterprises
are emphasized, there the masculine ideal is present. On the other
hand, wherever refinement, tenderness, delicacy, sprightliness,
spiritual acumen, and force, are to the fore, there the feminine ideal
is represented, and these terms will be found nearly enough for all
practical purposes to represent the differing endowments of actual men
and women. Different powers suggest different activities, and under
the division of labor here indicated the control of the state,
legislation, the power of the ballot, would seem to fall to the share
of man. Nor does this decision carry with it any injustice, any
robbery of just or natural right to woman.

In her hands is placed a moral and spiritual power far greater than
the power of the ballot. In her married or reproductive state the
forming and shaping of human souls in their most plastic period is her
destiny. Nor do her labors or her responsibilities end with infancy or
childhood. Throughout his entire course, from the cradle to the grave,
man is ever under the moral and spiritual influence and control of
woman. With this power goes a tremendous responsibility for its true
management and use. If woman shall ever rise to the full height of her
power and privileges in this direction, she will have enough of the
world's work upon her hands without attempting legislation.

It may be argued that the possession of civil power confers dignity,
and is of itself a re-enforcement of whatever natural power an
individual may possess; but the dignity of womanhood, when it is fully
understood and appreciated, needs no such re-enforcement, nor are the
peculiar needs of woman such as the law can reach.

Whenever laws are needed for the protection of her legal status and
rights, there has been found to be little difficulty in obtaining them
by means of the votes of men; but the deeper and more vital needs of
woman and of society are those which are outside altogether of the
pale of the law, and which can only be reached by the moral forces
lodged in the hands of woman herself, acting in an enlarged and
general capacity.

For instance, whenever a man or woman has been wronged in marriage the
law may indeed step in with a divorce, but does that divorce give back
to either party the dream of love, the happy home, the prattle of
children, and the sweet outlook for future years which were destroyed
by that wrong? It is not a legal power which is needed in this case;
it is a moral power which shall prevent the wrong, or, if committed,
shall induce penitence, forgiveness, a purer life, and the healing of
the wound.

This power has been lodged by the Creator in the hands of woman
herself, and if she has not been rightly trained to use it there is
no redress for her at the hands of the law. The law alone can never
compel men to respect the chastity of woman. They must first recognize
its value in themselves by living up to the high level of their duties
as maidens, wives, and mothers; they must impress men with the beauty
and sacredness of purity, and then whatever laws are necessary
and available for its protection will be easily obtained, with
a certainty, also, that they can be enforced, because the moral
sentiments of men will be enlisted in their support.

Privileges bring responsibilities, and before women clamor for more
work to do, it were better that they should attend more thoughtfully
to the duties which lie all about them, in the home and social circle.
Until society is cleansed of the moral foulness which infests it,
which, as we have seen, lies beyond the reach of civil law, women have
no call to go forth into wider fields, claiming to be therein the
rightful and natural purifiers. Let them first make the home sweet and
pure, and the streams which flow therefrom will sweeten and purify all
the rest.

As between the power of the ballot and this moral force exerted by
women there can not be an instant's doubt as to the choice. In natural
refinement and elevation of character, the ideal woman stands a step
above the ideal man. If she descends from this fortunate position to
take part in the coarse scramble for material power, what chance will
she have as against man's aggressive forces; and what can she possibly
gain that she can not win more directly, more effectually, and with
far more dignity and glory to herself by the exercise of her own
womanly prerogatives? She has, under God, the formation and rearing of
men in her own hands.

If they do not turn out in the end to be men who respect woman, who
will protect and defend her in the exercise of every one of her
God-given rights, it is because she has failed in her duty toward
them; has not been taught to comprehend her own power and to use it
to its best ends. For women to seek to control men by the power of
suffrage is like David essaying the armor of Saul. What woman needs is
her own sheepskin sling and her few smooth pebbles from the bed of the
brook, and then let her go forth in the name of the Lord God of Hosts,
and a victory as sure and decisive as that of the shepherd of Israel
awaits her.

Again, in chapter 4, entitled "The Power of the Home," the author
says, in substance: It is, perhaps, of minor consequence that women
should have felt themselves emancipated from buttons and bread
making; but that they should have learned to look in the least degree
slightingly upon the great duties of women as lovers of husbands, as
lovers of children, as the fountain and source of what is highest and
purest and holiest, and not less of what is homely and comfortable and
satisfying in the home, is a serious misfortune. Women can hardly
be said to have lost, perhaps what they have so rarely in any age
generally attained, that dignity which knows how to command, united
with a sweetness which seems all the while to be complying, the power,
supple and strong, which rescues the character of the ideal woman from
the charge of weakness, and at the same time exhibits its utmost of
grace and fascination.

But that of late years the gift has not been cultivated, has not, in
fact, thrown out such natural off-shoots as gave grace and glory to
some earlier social epochs, must be evident, it would seem, to any
thoughtful observer.

If, instead of trying to grasp more material power, women would pursue
those studies and investigations which tend to make them familiar with
what science teaches concerning the influence of the mother and the
home upon the child; of how completely the Creator in giving the
genesis of the human race into the hands of woman has made her not
only capable of, but responsible for, the regeneration of the world;
if they would reflect that nature by making man the bond slave of his
passions has put the lever into the hands of woman by which she can
control him, and if they would learn to use these powers, not as bad
women do for vile and selfish ends, but as the mothers of the race
ought, for pure, holy, and redemptive purposes, then would the sphere
of women be enlarged to some purpose; the atmosphere of the home would
be purified and vitalized, and the work of redeeming man from his
vices would be hopefully begun.

The following thoughts are also from the same source: Is this
emancipation of woman, if that is the proper phrase for it, a final
end, or only the means to an end? Are women to be as the outcome of it
emancipated from their world-old sphere of marriage and motherhood,
and control of the moral and spiritual destinies of the race, or are
they to be emancipated, in order to the proper fulfillment of these
functions? It would seem that most of the advanced women of the day
would answer the first of these questions affirmatively. Women, I
think it has been authoritatively stated, are to be emancipated in
order that they may become fully developed human beings, something
broader and stronger, something higher and finer, more delicate,
more aesthetic, more generally rarefied and sublimated than the
old-fashioned type of womanhood, the wife and the mother.

And the result of the woman movement seems more or less in a line thus
far with this theoretic aim. Of advanced women a less proportion are
inclined to marry than of the old-fashioned type; of those who do
marry a great proportion are restless in marriage bonds or seek
release from them, while of those who do remain in married life many
bear no children, and few, indeed, become mothers of large families.
The woman's vitality is concentrated in the brain and fructifies more
in intellectual than in physical forms.

Now, women who do not marry are one of two things; either they belong
to a class which we shrink from naming or they become old maids.

An old maid may be in herself a very useful and commendable person and
a valuable member of society; many are all this. But she has still
this sad drawback, she can not perpetuate herself; and since all
history and observation go to prove that the great final end of
creation, whatever it may be, can only be achieved through the
perpetuity and increasing progress of the race, it follows that
unmarried woman is not the most necessary, the indispensable type of
woman. If there were no other class of females left upon the earth but
the women who do not bear children, then the world would be a failure,
creation would be nonplussed.

If, then, the movement for the emancipation of woman has for its final
end the making of never so fine a quality, never so sublimated a sort
of non-child-bearing women, it is an absurdity upon the face of it.

From the standpoint of the Chimney Corner it appears that too many
even of the most gifted and liberal-minded of the leaders in the
woman's rights movement have not yet discovered this flaw in their
logic. They seek to individualize women, not seeing, apparently,
that individualized women, old maids, and individualized men, old
bachelors, though they may be useful in certain minor ways, are, after
all, to speak with the relentlessness of science, fragmentary and
abortive, so far as the great scheme of the universe is concerned, and
often become, in addition, seriously detrimental to the right progress
of society. The man and woman united in marriage form the unit of the
race; they alone rightly wield the self-perpetuating power upon which
all human progress depends; without which the race itself must perish,
the universe become null.

Reaching this point of the argument, it becomes evident that while the
development of the individual man or individual woman is no doubt of
great importance, since, as Margaret Fuller has justly said, "there
must be units before there can be union," it is chiefly so because of
their relation to each other. Their character should be developed
with a view to their future union with each other, and not to be
independent of it. When the leaders of the woman's movement fully
realize this, and shape their course accordingly, they will have made
a great advance both in the value of their work and its claim upon
public sympathy. Moreover, they will have reached a point from which
it will be possible for them to investigate reform and idealize the
relations existing between men and women.

Mr. President, it is no part of my purpose in any manner whatever
to speak disrespectfully of the large number of intelligent ladies,
sometimes called strong-minded, who are constantly going before the
public, agitating this question of female suffrage. While some of them
may, as is frequently charged, be courting notoriety, I have no
doubt they are generally earnestly engaged in a work which, in their
opinion, would better their condition and would do no injury to

In all this, however, I believe they are mistaken.

I think the mental and physical structure of the sexes, of itself,
sufficiently demonstrates the fact that the sterner, more laborious,
and more difficult duties of society are to be performed by the male
sex; while the more delicate duties of life, which require less
physical strength, and the proper training of youth, with the proper
discharge of domestic duties, belong to the female sex. Nature has so
arranged it that the male sex can not attend properly to the duties
assigned by the law of nature to the female sex, and that the female
sex can not discharge the more rigorous duties required of the male

This movement is an attempt to reverse the very laws of our being,
and to drag woman into an arena for which she is not suited, and to
devolve upon her onerous duties which the Creator never intended that
she should perform.

While the husband discharges the laborious and fatiguing duties of
important official positions, and conducts political campaigns, and
discharges the duties connected with the ballot-box, or while he bears
arms in time of war, or discharges executive or judicial duties, or
the duties of juryman, requiring close confinement and many times
great mental fatigue; or while the husband in a different sphere of
life discharges the laborious duties of the plantation, the workshop,
or the machine shop, it devolves upon the wife to attend to the duties
connected with home life, to care for infant children, and to train
carefully and properly those who in the youthful period are further
advanced towards maturity.

The woman with the infant at the breast is in no condition to plow
on the farm, labor hard in the workshop, discharge the duties of a
juryman, conduct causes as an advocate in court, preside in important
cases as a judge, command armies as a general, or bear arms as a
private. These duties, and others of like character, belong to the
male sex; while the more important duties of home, to which I have
already referred, devolve upon the female sex. We can neither reverse
the physical nor the moral laws of our nature, and as this movement is
an attempt to reverse these laws, and to devolve upon the female
sex important and laborious duties for which they are not by nature
physically competent, I am not prepared to support this bill.

My opinion is that a very large majority of the American people, yes,
a large majority of the female sex, oppose it, and that they act
wisely in doing so. I therefore protest against its passage.

Mr. DOLPH. Mr. President, I shall not detain the Senate long. I do
not feel satisfied when a measure so important to the people of this
country and to humanity is about to be submitted to a vote of the
Senate to remain wholly silent.

The pending question is upon the adoption of a joint resolution in the
usual form submitting to the legislatures of the several States of the
Union for their ratification an additional article as an amendment to
the Federal Constitution, which is as follows:


SECTION I. The right of citizens of the United States to vote
shall not be denied or abridged by the United States or by any
State on account of sex.

SEC. 2. The Congress shall have power, by appropriate legislation,
to enforce the provisions of this article.

Fortunately for the perpetuity of our institutions and the prosperity
of the people, the Federal Constitution contains a provision for its
own amendment. The framers of that instrument foresaw that time and
experience, the growth of the country and the consequent expansion of
the Government, would develop the necessity for changes in it, and
they therefore wisely provided in Article V as follows:

The Congress, whenever two-thirds of both Houses shall deem it
necessary, shall propose amendments to this Constitution, or, on
the application of the Legislatures of two-thirds of the several
States, shall call a convention for proposing amendments, which in
either case shall be valid to all intents and purposes, as part
of this Constitution, when ratified by the Legislatures of
three-fourths of the several States, or by conventions in
three-fourths thereof, as the one or the other mode of
ratification may be proposed by the Congress.

Under this provision, at the first session of the First Congress, ten
amendments were submitted to the Legislatures of the several States,
in due time ratified by the constitutional number of States, and
became a part of the Constitution. Since then there have been added to
the Constitution by the same process five different articles.

To secure an amendment to the Constitution under this article requires
the concurrent action of two-thirds of both branches of Congress and
the affirmative action of three-fourths of the States. Of course
Congress can refuse to submit a proposed amendment to the Legislatures
of the several States, no matter how general the demand for such
submission may be, but I am inclined to believe with the senior
Senator from New Hampshire [Mr. BLAIR], in the proposition submitted
by him in a speech he made early in the present session upon the
pending resolution, that the question as to whether this resolution
shall be submitted to the Legislatures of the several States for
ratification does not involve the right or policy of the proposed
amendment. I am also inclined to believe with him that should
the demand by the people for the submission by Congress to the
Legislatures of the several States of a proposed amendment become
general it would he the duty of the Congress to submit such amendment
irrespective of the individual views of the members of Congress, and
thus give the people through their Legislative Assemblies power to
pass upon the question as to whether or not the Constitution should be
amended. At all events, for myself, I should not hesitate to vote to
submit for ratification by the Legislatures of the several States an
amendment to the Constitution although opposed to it if I thought the
demand for it justified such a course.

But I shall vote for the pending joint resolution because I am in
favor of the proposed amendment. I have been for many years convinced
that the demand made by women for the right of suffrage is just, and
that of all the distinctions which have been made between citizens in
the laws which confer or regulate suffrage the distinction of sex is
the least defensible.

I am not going to discuss the question at length at this time. The
arguments for and against woman suffrage have been often stated in
this Chamber, and are pretty fully set forth in the majority and
minority reports of the Senate committee upon the pending joint
resolution. The arguments in its favor were fully stated by the senior
Senator from New Hampshire in his able speech upon the question before
alluded to, and now the objections to it have been forcibly and
elaborately presented by the senior Senator from Georgia [Mr. BROWN].
I could not expect by anything I could say to change a single vote in
this body, and the public is already fully informed upon the question,
as the arguments in favor of woman suffrage have been voiced in every
hamlet in the land with great ability. No question in this country has
been more ably discussed than this has been by the women themselves.

I do not think a single objection which is made to woman suffrage is
tenable. No one will contend but that women have sufficient capacity
to vote intelligently.

Sir, sacred and profane history is full of the records of great deeds
by women. They have ruled kingdoms, and, my friend from Georgia to
the contrary notwithstanding, they have commanded armies. They have
excelled in statecraft, they have shone in literature, and, rising
superior to their environments and breaking the shackles with which
custom and tyranny have bound them, they have stood side by side with
men in the fields of the arts and the sciences.

If it were a fact that woman is intellectually inferior to man, which
I do not admit, still that would be no reason why she should not
be permitted to participate in the formation and control of the
Government to which she owes allegiance. If we are to have as a test
for the exercise of the right of suffrage a qualification based upon
intelligence, let it be applied to women and to men alike. If it be
admitted that suffrage is a right, that is the end of controversy;
there can no longer be any argument made against woman suffrage,
because, if it is her right, then, if there were but one poor woman
in all the United States demanding the right of suffrage, it would be
tyranny to refuse the demand.

But our friends say that suffrage is not a right; that it is a matter
of grace only; that it is a privilege which is conferred upon or
withheld from individual members of society by society at pleasure.
Society as here used means man's government, and the proposition
assumes the fact that men have a right to institute and control
governments for themselves and for women. I admit that in the
governments of the world, past and present, men as a rule have assumed
to be the ruling classes; that they have instituted governments from
participation in which they have excluded women; that they have made
laws for themselves and for women, and as a rule have themselves
administered them; but that the provisions conferring or regulating
suffrage in the constitutions and laws of governments so constituted
determined the question of the right of suffrage can not be

Let us suppose, if we can, a community separated from all other
communities, having no organized government, owing no allegiance to
any existing governments, without any knowledge of the character
of present or past governments, so that when they come to form a
government for themselves they can do so free from the bias or
prejudice of custom or education, composed of an equal number of
men and women, having equal property rights to be defined and to
be protected by law. When such community came to institute a
government--and it would have an undoubted right to institute a
government for itself, and the instinct of self-preservation would
soon lead them to do so--will my friend from Georgia tell me by what
right, human or divine, the male portion of that community could
exclude the female portion, although equal in number and having equal
property rights with the men, from participation in the formation of
such government and in the enactment of laws for the government of the
community? I understand the Senator, if he should answer, would
say that he believes the Author of our existence, the Ruler of the
universe, has given different spheres to man and woman. Admit that;
and still neither in nature nor in the revealed will of God do I find
anything to lead me to believe that the Creator did not intend that a
woman should exercise the right of suffrage.

During the consideration by this body at the last session of the bill
to admit Washington Territory into the Union, referring to the
fact that in that Territory woman had been enfranchised, I briefly
submitted my views on this subject, which I ask the Secretary to read,
so that it may be incorporated in my remarks.

The Secretary read as follows:

Mr. President, there is another matter which I consider pertinent
to this discussion, and of too much importance to be left entirely
unnoticed on this occasion. It is something new in our political
history. It is full of hope for the women of this country and
of the world, and full of promise for the future of republican
institutions. I refer to the fact that in Washington Territory the
right of suffrage has been extended to women of proper age, and
that the delegates to the constitutional convention to be held
under the provisions of this bill, should it become a law, will,
under existing laws of the Territory, be elected by its citizens
without distinction as to sex, and the constitution to be
submitted to the people will be passed upon in like manner.

I do not intend to discuss the question of woman suffrage upon
this occasion, and I refer to it mainly for the purpose of
directing attention to the advanced position which the people of
this Territory have taken upon this question. I do not believe
the proposition so often asserted that suffrage is a political
privilege only, and not a natural right. It is regulated by
the constitution and laws of a State I grant, but it needs no
argument, it appears to me, to show that a constitution and laws
adopted and enacted by a fragment of the whole body of the people,
but binding alike on all, is a usurpation of the powers of

Government is but organized society. Whatever its form, it has its
origin in the necessities of mankind and is indispensable for
the maintenance of civilized society. It is essential to every
government that it should represent the supreme power of the
State, and be capable of subjecting the will of its individual
citizens to its authority. Such a government can only derive
its just powers from the consent of the governed, and can be
established only under a fundamental law which is self-imposed.
Every citizen of suitable age and discretion who is to be subject
to such a government has, in my judgment, a natural right to
participate in its formation. It is a significant fact that should
Congress pass this bill and authorize the people of Washington
Territory to frame a State constitution and organize a State
government, the fundamental law of the State will be made by all
the citizens of the State to be subject to it, and not by one-half
of them. And we shall witness the spectacle of a State government
founded in accordance with the principles of equality, and have a
State at last with a truly republican form of government.

The fathers of the Republic enunciated the doctrine "that all men
are created equal; that they are endowed by their Creator with
certain inalienable rights; that among these are life, liberty,
and the pursuit of happiness." It is strange that any one in this
enlightened age should be found to contend that this declaration
is true only of men, and that a man is endowed by his Creator with
inalienable rights not possessed by a woman. The lamented Lincoln
immortalized the expression that ours is a Government "of the
people, by the people, and for the people," and yet it is far from
that. There can be no government by the people where one-half
of them are allowed no voice in its organization and control. I
regard the struggle going on in this country and elsewhere for
the enfranchisement of women as but a continuation of the great
struggle for human liberty which has, from the earliest dawn of
authentic history, convulsed nations, rent kingdoms, and drenched
battlefields with human blood. I look upon the victories which
have been achieved in the cause of woman's enfranchisement in
Washington Territory and elsewhere as the crowning victories of
all which have been won in the long-continued, still-continuing
contest between liberty and oppression, and as destined to exert a
greater influence upon the human race than any achieved upon the
battlefield in ancient or modern times.

Mr. DOLPH. Mr. President, the movement for woman suffrage has passed
the stage of ridicule. The pending joint resolution may not pass
during this Congress, but the time is not far distant when in every
State of the Union and in every Territory women will be admitted to
an equal voice in the government, and that will be done whether the
Federal Constitution is amended or not. The first convention demanding
suffrage for women was held at Seneca Falls, in the State of New York,
in 1848. To-day in three of the Territories of the Union women enjoy
full suffrage, in a large number of States and Territories they
are entitled to vote at school meetings, and in all the States and
Territories there is a growing sentiment in favor of this measure
which will soon compel respectful consideration by the law-making

No measure in this country involving such radical changes in our
institutions and fraught with so great consequences to this country
and to humanity has made such progress as the movement for woman
suffrage. Denunciation will not much longer answer for arguments by
the opponents of this measure. The portrayal of the evils to flow from
woman suffrage such as we have heard pictured to-day by the Senator
from Georgia, the loss of harmony between husband and wife, and the
consequent instability of the marriage relation, the neglect of
husband and children by wives and mothers for the performance of their
political duties, in short the incapacitating of women for wives and
mothers and companions, will not much longer serve to frighten the
timid. Proof is better than theory. The experiment has been tried
and the predicted evils to flow from it have not followed. On the
contrary, if we can believe the almost universal testimony, everywhere
where it has been tried it has been followed by the most beneficial

In Washington Territory, since woman was enfranchised, there have been
two elections. At the first there were 8,368 votes cast by women out
of a total vote of 34,000 and over. At the second election, which was
held in November last, out of 48,000 votes cast in the Territory,
12,000 votes were cast by women. The opponents of female suffrage
are silenced there. The Territorial conventions of both parties have
resolved in favor of woman suffrage, and there is not a proposition,
so far as I know in all that Territory, to repeal the law conferring
suffrage upon woman.

I desire also to inform my friend from Georgia that since women were

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