« PreviousContinue »
ELIZABETH CADY STANTON
gale, for we know that the storm cannot rend from it a shred, that the electric flash will but more clearly show to us the glorious words inscribed upon it, “Equality of Rights."
AN APPEAL TO THE LAWMAKERS [From Mrs. Stanton's address to the Legislature of New York, under the sanction of the State Woman's Rights Convention, February 14, 1854, we quote as follows.]
The tyrant, Custom, has been summoned before the bar of Common Sense. His majesty no longer awes the multitude; his sceptre is broken; his crown is trampled in the dust; the sentence of death is pronounced upon him. All nations, ranks and classes have, in turn, questioned and repudiated his authority; and now, that the monster is chained and caged, timid woman, on tiptoe, comes to look him in the face, and to demand of her brave sires and sons, who have struck stout blows for liberty, if, in this change of dynasty, she too shall find relief.
Yes, gentlemen, in republican America, in the nineteenth century, we, the daughters of the revolutionary heroes of '76, demand at your hands the redress of our grievances-a revision of your State Constitution
a new code of laws. . . . . We demand the full recognition of all our rights as citizens of the Empire State. We are persons; native, free-born citizens; property-holders, tax-payers, yet we are denied the exercise of our right to the elective franchise. We support ourselves, and, in part, your schools, colleges, churches, your poor-houses, jails, prisons, the army, the navy, the whole machinery of government, and yet we have no voice in your councils. We have every qualification required by the Constitution, necessary to the legal voter, but the one of sex. We are moral, virtuous and intelligent, and in all respects quite equal to the proud white man himself, and yet by your laws we are classed with idiots, lunatics and negroes. In fact, our legal position is lower than that of either; for the
negro can be raised to the dignity of a voter if he possess himself of $250; the lunatic can vote in his moments of sanity, and the idiot, too, if he be a male one, and not more than nine-tents a fool; but we, who have guided great movements of charity, established missions, edited journals, published works on history, economy and statistics; who have governed nations, led armies, filled the professor's chair, taught philosophy and mathematics to the savants of our age, discovered planets, piloted ships across the sea, are denied the most sacred rights of citizens, because, forsooth, we came not into this republic crowned with the dignity of manhood!
EW women in the nineteenth century were so widely known
as Susan B. Anthony. Long derided for her opinions, in time
she won the respect and admiration of all who were capable of appreciating earnest effort, and the devotion of all who were concerned in the woman suffrage movement. She continued a worker all her life, first laboring for higher wages and equal rights for women teachers, and in the cause of temperance, and subsequently in that of woman suffrage. She was also an active abolitionist. In 1892 she was elected president of the National Woman's Suffrage Association, a post which Mrs. Stanton had held for many years.
WOMAN'S RIGHT TO THE SUFFRAGE [A dramatic event in Miss Anthony's life was her arrest and trial for voting at the Presidential election of 1872. She was fined $100 and costs, but she vowed she would never pay this fine, and she never did. The charge against her of illegal action called forth the following forensic argument.]
FRIENDS AND FELLOW-CITIZENS : I stand before you to-night, under indictnient for the alleged crime of having voted at the last Presidential election, without having a lawful right to vote. It shall be my work this evening to prove to you that in thus voting, I not only committed no crime, but, instead, simply exercised my citizen's rights, guaranteed to me and all United States citizens by the National Constitution, beyond the power of any State to deny..
The preamble of the Federal Constitution says :
“We, the people of the United States, in order to form a more perfect union, establish justice, insure domestic tranquillity, provide for the common defence, promote the general welfare, and secure the blessings of liberty to ourselves and our posterity, do ordain and establish this Constitution for the United States of America."
It was we, the people ; not we, the white male citizens ; nor yet we, the male citizens ; but we, the whole people, who formed the Union. And we formed it, not to give the blessings of liberty, but to secure them ; not to the half of ourselves and the half of our posterity, but to the whole people—women as well as men. And it is a downright mockery to talk to women of their enjoyment of the blessings of liberty while they are denied the use of the only means of securing them provided by this democratic-republican government—the ballot.
The early journals of Congress show that when the committee reported to that body the original articles of confederation, the very first article which became the subject of discussion was that respecting equality of suffrage. Article IV. said : “The better to secure and perpetuate mutual friendship and intercourse between the people of the different States of the Union, the free inhabitants of each of the States (paupers, vagabonds and fugitives from justice excepted), shall be entitled to all the privileges and immunities of the free citizens of the several States."
Thus, at the very beginning, did the fathers see the necessity of the universal application of the great principle of equal rights to all ; in order to produce the desired result-a harmonious union and a homogeneous people. . .
B. Gratz Brown, of Missouri, in the three days' discussion in the United States Senate in 1866, on Senator Cowan's motion to strike the word male from the District of Columbia suffrage bill, said:
“Mr. President, I say here on the floor of the American Senate, I stand for universal suffrage ; and, as a matter of fundamental principle, do not recognize the right of society to limit it on any ground of race or sex.”
Charles Sumner, in his brave protests against the fourteenth and fifteenth amendments, insisted that, so soon as by the thirteenth amendment the slaves became free men, the original powers of the United States Constitution guaranteed to them equal rights—the right to vote and to be voted for..
Article I of the New York State Constitution says :
“No member of this State shall be disfranchised or deprived of the rights or privileges secured to any citizen thereof, unless by the law of the land or the judgment of his peers.”
And so carefully guarded is the citizen's right to vote that the Constitution makes special mention of all who may be excluded. It says :
“ Laws may be passed excluding from the right of suffrage all persons who have been or may be convicted of bribery, larceny or any infamous crime.".
“The law of the land ” is the United States Constitution, and there is no provision in that document that can be fairly construed into a permission to the States to deprive any class of their citizens of their right to vote. Hence, New York can get no power from that source to disfranchise one entire half of her members. Nor has “the judgment of their peers ” been pronounced against women exercising their right to vote; no disfranchised person is allowed to be judge or juror, and none but disfranchised persons can be women's peers ; nor has the Legislature passed laws excluding them on account of idiocy or lunacy ; nor yet the courts convicted them of bribery, larceny or any infamous crime. Clearly, then, there is no constitutional ground for the exclusion of women from the ballot-box in the State of New York. No barriers whatever stand to-day between women and the exercise of their right to vote save those of precedent and prejudice. . .
For any State to make sex a qualification that must ever result in the disfranchisement of one entire half of the people is to pass a bill of attainder, or an ex post facto law, and is therefore a violation of the supreme law of the land. By it the blessings of liberty are forever withheld from women and their female posterity. To them this government has no just powers derived from the consent of the governed. To them this government is not a democracy. It is not a republic. It is an odious aristocracy; a hateful oligarchy of sex; the most hateful aristocracy ever established on the face of the globe ; an oligarchy of wealth, where the rich govern the poor. An oligarchy of learning, where the educated govern the ignorant, or even an oligarchy of race, where the Saxon rules the African, might be endured ; but this oligarchy of sex, which makes father, brothers, husband, sons the oligarchs over the mother and sisters, the wife and daughters of every household; which ordains all men sovereigns, all women subjects; carries dissension, discord and rebellion into every home of the nation. . .
Webster, Worcester and Bouvier all define a citizen to be a person in the United States, entitled to vote and hold office.
The only question left to be settled now is : Are women persons ? And I hardly believe any of our opponents will have the hardihood to say they are not. Being persons, then, women are citizens, and no State has a right to make any law, or to enforce any old law, that shall abridge their privileges or immunities. Hence, every discrimination against women in the constitutions and laws of the several States is to-day null and void, precisely as in every one against negroes.
MARY A. LIVERMORE (1821
A DISTINGUISHED PUBLIC SPEAKER
IKE most of the noted woman orators, Mary A. Livermore
early in life became deeply interested in the various reform
movements of the time. Born, the daughter of Timothy Rice, at Boston, Massachusetts, she spent three years of her early womanhood on a Southern plantation, where there were some five hundred slaves. The scenes she beheld there made her one of the most radical of abolitionists, and she actively aided every movement for the freeing of the slaves. Marrying a Universalist minister, she became active in church work, writing many hymns and organizing a flourishing temperance society of boys and girls. During the Civil War she was a valuable worker in the Sanitary Commission service, and after the war became an ardent supporter of the Woman's Suffrage movement. The first Woman's Suffrage Convention in Chicago was organized by her, and she became an editor, author and lecturer on this subject. As a lecture orator she was highly esteemed.
THE BATTLE OF LIFE [Mrs. Livermore's lecture entitled “The Battle of Life," was first delivered in her hrsband's pulpit, on an occasion when he was too ill to officiate, and has since been given some two hundred and fifty times before audiences from Maine to California. The following selection is from this very popular lecture.]
When it is declared that life is a battle, a statement is made that appeals to every one who has reached adult life; aye, and to a great multitude who are only a little way across the threshold. As our experience deepens we realize that the whole world is one vast encampment, and that every man and woman is a soldier. We have not voluntarily enlisted into this service with an understanding of the hardness of the warfare, and an acceptance of its terms and conditions, but have been drafted into the