The History of Woman Suffrage Volume III Part 67

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The general agitation of the question: What are women best qualified for in the struggle for existence? naturally led liberal minds to the opening of new avenues for the employment of their talents, shared equally with men. Her right to practice in medicine had been conceded after a long and severe conflict. Even the domain of the theologian had been invaded, but law and dentistry were as yet closed, and in the case of the latter, unthought of as an appropriate avocation for women. The subject, however, seemed so important, presenting a field of labor peculiarly suited to her, that one gentleman, then professor in the Pennsylvania College of Dental Surgery, felt it his duty to call public attention to this promising work. In a valedictory delivered by him to the cla.s.s of 1866, at Musical Fund Hall of Philadelphia, he included in his theme the peculiar fitness of dentistry for women. The question was briefly stated, but it rather startled the large audience by its novelty, and the effect was no less surprising on the faculty, board of trustees and professional gentlemen on the platform.

In the fall of 1868 the dean of the Pennsylvania College of Dental Surgery was waited upon by a German gentleman, who desired to introduce a lady who had come to this country with the expectation that all colleges were open to women. Although informed that this was not the case, he still entertained the hope that she might be admitted as a student of dentistry. She gave her name as Henrietti Hirschfeld, of Berlin. The matter came up before the faculty, and after a free discussion of the whole subject, she was rejected by a majority vote, but two voting in her favor.

In a subsequent interview with Professor Truman, he learned that she had left her native land with the full a.s.surance that she would have no difficulty in "free America" in securing a dental education. She had also the positive sanction of her government, through the then minister of instruction, Dr. Falk, that on condition of receiving an American diploma she would be permitted to practice on her return. Her distress, therefore, at this initial failure was, naturally, very great. The excitement that this application made was intensified when it was rumored among the students that a woman desired to be matriculated. The opposition became very bitter, and manifested itself in many petty annoyances. In the course of a day or two one gentleman of the faculty, and he the dean, concluded to change his vote, and as this decided the question, she was admitted. The opposition of the professor of anatomy, who belonged to the old school of medical teachers, was so manifest that it was deemed advisable to have her take anatomy in the Woman's Medical College for that winter. The first year of this was in every way satisfactory.

Although the students received her and Mrs. Truman, who accompanied her on the first visit, with a storm of hisses, they gradually learned not only to treat her with respect, but she became a favorite with all, and while not convinced as to the propriety of women in dentistry, they all agreed that Mrs.

Hirschfeld might do as an exception. The last year she was permitted by the irate professor of anatomy, Dr. Forbes, to take that subject under him.

She graduated with honor, and returned to Berlin to practice her profession. This was regarded as an exceptional case, and by no means settled the status of the college in regard to women. The conservative element was exceedingly bitter, and it was very evident that a long time must elapse before another woman could be admitted. The great stir made by Mrs. Hirschfeld's graduation brought several other applications from ladies of Germany, but these were without hesitation denied. Failing to convince his colleagues of the injustice of their action, Dr. Truman tried to secure more favorable results from other colleges, and applied personally to Dr. Gorgas of the Baltimore College of Dental Surgery. The answer was favorable, and he accompanied the applicant and entered her in that inst.i.tution. This furnished accommodation for the few applicants. The loss in money began to tell on the pockets, if not the consciences, of the faculty of the Philadelphia school. They saw the stream had flown in another direction, swelling the coffers of another inst.i.tution, when, without an effort, they could have retained the whole. They concluded to try the experiment again, and accepted three ladies in 1872 and 1873--Miss Annie D. Ramborger of Philadelphia, Fraulein Veleske Wilcke and Dr. Jacoby of Germany. Their first year was very satisfactory, but at its close it was very evident that there was a determination on the part of the minority of the cla.s.s to spare no effort to effect their removal from the school.

A pet.i.tion was forwarded to the faculty to this effect, and although one was presented by the majority of the students in their favor, the faculty chose to accept the former as representing public sentiment, and it was decided not to allow them to take another year at this college. This outrage was not accomplished without forcible protest from the gentleman previously named, and he appealed from this decision to the governing power, the board of trustees.[262] To hear this appeal a special meeting was called for March 27, 1873, at which the communication of Professor Truman was read and ordered filed. A similar communication, in opposition, was received, signed by Professors T. L. Buckingham, E. Wildman, George T. Barker, James Tyson and J. Ewing Mears. The matter was referred to a committee consisting of Hon. Henry C. Carey, W. S. Pierce and G. R.

Morehouse, M. D. At a special meeting convened for this purpose, March 31, 1873, this committee made their report. They say:

Three ladies entered as students of this college at the commencement of the session, 1872-73, paid their matriculation fees, attended the course of lectures, and were informed, by a resolution adopted by a majority of the faculty at the close of the session, that they would not be permitted to attend the second course of lectures. No other cause was a.s.signed for the action of the faculty than that they deemed it against the interest of the college to permit them to do so, on account of the dissatisfaction which it gave to certain male students, etc. * * * The goal to which all medical and dental students look, is graduation and the diploma, which is to be the evidence of their qualification to practice their art. To qualify themselves for this they bestow their time, their money and their labor. To deprive them of this without just cause is to disappoint their hopes, and to receive from them money and bestowal of time and labor without the full equivalent which they had a right to expect.

After discussing at length the legal aspects of the case, the summing up is as follows:

We, therefore, respectfully report that in our opinion it is the legal right of these ladies to attend, and it is the legal duty of this college to give them, as students, a second course of lectures on the terms of the announcement which forms the basis of the contract with them.

This report was signed by all the committee, and read by W. S.

Pierce, one of the number, and judge of the Court of Common Pleas of Philadelphia. It carried with it, therefore, all the force of a judicial decision, and was so accepted by the board, and adopted at once. This left the majority of the faculty no choice but to accept the decision as final as far as these ladies were concerned. This they did, and the three were invited to resume their studies. Two, Misses Ramborger and Wilcke, accepted, Miss Jacoby refused and went to Baltimore.

The most interesting feature of this matter, and that which clearly demonstrated a marked advance in public opinion, was the stir it made in the press. The daily and Sunday papers bristled with strong leaders, the faculty being denounced in no measured terms for their action. To such an extent was this carried, and so overwhelming was the indignation, that it practically settled the question for Philadelphia, although several years elapsed after these ladies were graduated before others were accepted.

When that time did arrive, under the present dean, Dr. C. N.

Pierce, they were accorded everything, without any reservation, and the school has continued ever since to accept them. At the meeting of the National a.s.sociation of Dentists, held at Saratoga, 1869, Dr. Truman introduced a resolution looking to the recognition of women in the profession. The resolution and the remarks were kindly received, but were, of course, laid on the table. This was expected, the object being to make the thought familiar in every section of the country.

These efforts have borne rich fruit, and now women are being educated at a majority of the prominent dental colleges, and no complaints are heard of coeducation in this department of work.

The college that first accepted and then rejected--the Pennsylvania of Philadelphia--has a yearly average of seven to eight women, nearly equally divided between America and Germany.

Of the three dental schools in Philadelphia, two accept women, and the third--the Dental Department of the University of Pennsylvania--would, if the faculty were not overruled by the governing powers.

The learned theories that were promulgated in regard to the injury the practice of dentistry would be to women, have all fallen to the ground. The advocates of women in dentistry were met at the outstart with the health question, and as it had never been tested, the most favorably inclined looked forward with some anxiety to the result. Fifteen years have elapsed since then, and almost every town in Germany is supplied with a woman in this profession. Many are also established in America. These have all the usual requisites of bodily strength, and the writer has yet to learn of a single failure from physical deterioration.

The first lady, Miss Lucy B. Hobbs, to graduate in dentistry, was sent out from the Cincinnati College, and she, I believe, is still in active practice in Kansas. She graduated in 1866. Mrs.

Hirschfeld, before spoken of, returned to Germany and became at once a subject for the fun of the comic papers, and for the more serious work of the _Bajan_ and _uberlana und Meer_, both of them containing elaborate and ill.u.s.trated notices of her. She had some friends in the higher walks of life; notable amongst these was President Lette of the _Trauen-Verein_, whose aid and powerful influence had a.s.sisted her materially in the early stages of her effort. The result of these combined forces soon placed her in possession of a large practice. She was patronized by ladies in the highest circles, including the crown princess. She subsequently married, had two boys to rear and educate, and a large household to supervise. She has a.s.sisted several of her relatives into professions, two in medicine and two in dentistry, besides aiding many worthy persons. She has established a clinic for women in Berlin, something very badly needed there. This is in charge of two physicians, one being her husband's sister, Dr.

f.a.n.n.y Tiburtius. She has also started a hospital for women.

These are mainly supported by her individual exertions.

Notwithstanding all these multifarious and trying duties, she practices daily, and is as well physically and mentally as when she commenced. Fraulein Valeske Wilcke of Konigsberg has been over twelve years in a very large practice with no evil results; Miss Annie D. Ramborger, an equal time, with an equally large practice, and enjoys apparently far better health than most ladies of thirty.

Dentistry is, probably, one of the most trying professions, very few men being equal to the severe strain, and many are obliged to succ.u.mb. No woman has as yet failed, though it would not be at all remarkable if such were the case. The probabilities are that comparatively few will choose it as a profession, but that another door has been opened for employment is a cause for congratulation with all right-thinking minds.

For opening this profession to women a debt of grat.i.tude is due to Dr. Truman from all his countrywomen, as well as to those n.o.ble German students, who have so ably filled the positions he secured for them. Similar struggles, both in medicine and dentistry, were encountered in other States, but the result was as it must be in every case, the final triumph of justice for women. Already they are in most of the colleges and hospitals, and members of many of the State and National a.s.sociations.

In 1870, the Society of Friends founded Swarthmore College[263] for the education of both s.e.xes, erecting a fine building in a beautiful locality. At the dedication of this inst.i.tution, Lucretia Mott was elected to honorary members.h.i.+p and invited to the platform. With her own hands she planted the first tree, which now adorns those s.p.a.cious grounds.

The persecutions that women encountered in every onward step soon taught them the necessity of remodeling the laws and customs for themselves. They began to see the fallacy of the old ideas, that men looked after the interests of women, "that they were their natural protectors," that they could safely trust them to legislate on their personal and property rights; for they found in almost every case that whatever right and privilege man claimed for himself, he proposed exactly the opposite for women. Hence the necessity for them to have a voice as to the laws and the rulers under which they lived. Whatever reform they attempted they soon found their labors valueless, because they had no power to remedy any evils protected by law. After laboring in temperance, prison-reform, coeducation, and women's rights in the trades and professions, their hopes all alike centered at last in the suffrage movement.

In 1866, a suffrage a.s.sociation was formed in Philadelphia at a meeting of the American Equal Rights Society,[264] held in Franklin Inst.i.tute. This convention was marked by a heated debate on the duty of the abolitionists now that the black man was emanc.i.p.ated, to make the demand for the enfranchis.e.m.e.nt of women, as well as the freedmen.

We are indebted to John K. Wildman of Philadelphia for the following:

The Pennsylvania a.s.sociation was organized December 22, 1869, in Mercantile Library Hall, Philadelphia. The meeting was called to order by John K. Wildman, who said: "The time has arrived when it is necessary for us to take some action towards promoting the cause of woman suffrage. We desire to do our part as far as practicable, in the work of enlightening the people of our State upon this important subject. With this end in view we propose to organize, hoping that all friends of the movement will cordially give us their influence." Edward M. Davis then proposed the appointment of Judge William S. Pierce as chairman of the meeting. This was agreed to, and Judge Pierce announced that the meeting was ready for business, reserving for another stage of the proceedings any remarks he might wish to make. Annie Heac.o.c.k was chosen to act as secretary. In accordance with a motion that was adopted, the chairman appointed a committee of five persons[265] to prepare a const.i.tution, and present the same for the action of the meeting. Mary Grew spoke at length in her earnest and impressive manner, presenting forcibly those familiar yet solid arguments in favor of woman suffrage which form the basis of the discussion, and which should irrevocably settle the question. Dr. Henry T. Child followed with a brief address, showing his zealous interest in the object of the meeting, and trusting that at no distant period the ballot would be placed in the hands of the women of the land. Judge Pierce said:

I am in favor of giving woman a chance in the world. I feel very much in regard to woman as Diogenes did when Alexander the Great went to see him. When the monarch arrived at the city in which Diogenes lived, he sent a request for him to come to see him. Diogenes declined to go. The monarch then went to the place of his residence, and found him lying in his court-yard sunning himself. He did not even rise when Alexander approached. Standing over him, the warrior asked, "Diogenes, what can I do for you?" And the philosopher answered, "Nothing, except to stand out of my suns.h.i.+ne."

Now, I am disposed to stand out of woman's suns.h.i.+ne. If she wants the light of the sun upon her, and the breath of heaven upon her, and freedom of action necessary to develop herself, heaven forbid that I should stand in her way. I believe that everything goes to its own place in G.o.d's world, and woman will go to her place if you do not impede her. We should not be afraid to trust her, or to apply the same principles to her in regard to suffrage that we apply to ourselves. There should be no distinction. Her claims to the ballot rest upon a just and logical foundation.

The venerable Sojourner Truth spoke a few words of encouragement, showing in her humble and fervid way a reverent faith in the final triumph of justice. After the adoption of the const.i.tution, the organization was completed by the election of officers[266]

to serve for the ensuing year.

The first thing that claimed the attention of the officers of the new society was the representation of the different counties on the executive committee; and for this purpose the chairman wrote to nearly all of the sixty-three counties, chiefly to the postmasters of the towns. The replies that were received presented a curious medley of sentiment and opinion touching the object in view, disclosing every shade of tone and temper between the two extremes of cold indifference and warm enthusiasm. It was evident that, in a large number of cases, the inquiries promptly found their resting-place in the waste-basket.

Before the close of the year twenty-two counties were represented. Thus reinforced, the committee took immediate steps towards distributing doc.u.ments and circulating pet.i.tions throughout the State. Many of the county members cooperated earnestly in this work. Some of them, not satisfied to limit their action to this particular form of service, aided the movement by collecting funds and holding public meetings in their respective localities. Matilda Hindman, representing Alleghany county, evinced both energy and enterprise in forwarding the movement through the agency of public meetings. She did good service from the beginning, relying almost solely upon her own determined purpose. Her deep interest in the work and its object, and the courage that animated her at the first impulse of duty, have continued without abatement to the present time. Her usefulness and activity have not confined themselves within the limits of Pennsylvania, but have extended to other States, both in the East and West.

Miss Matilda Hindman, of Philadelphia, pays the following tribute to her parents:

In 1837, my father being a member of the school committee of the Union towns.h.i.+p, Was.h.i.+ngton county, secured equal salaries for women; and in spite of steady opposition, there was no difference made for four years. The women who taught the schools in the summer were paid the same as the men who taught in the winter. At the death of my father the board returned to the old system of half pay for women; the result was "incompetent teachers," furnis.h.i.+ng the opposition with just the plea they desired--that women were not fit for school teachers. My mother remonstrated, but in vain. They replied, "women never received as much as men for any work"; "it did not cost as much to keep a woman as a man," and moreover, these school matters belonged to men, and women had no right to interfere. In 1842, my mother offered to board the teacher in her district, gratis, if the board would raise her salary proportionally. They received her proposition with scorn. She then refused to pay her taxes.

Such was the respect for her in the community, and the sense of justice in regard to the teachers, that the authorities suffered the tax to go unpaid, and at the end of the year accepted the proposition, and for many years after, she boarded the teacher in her district, making the woman's net salary equal to that of the man.

My mother lived to see her daughters employed in her towns.h.i.+p on equal salaries with men. But in process of time, another board, for the express purpose of humiliating mother and daughters alike, pa.s.sed a resolution to take two dollars a month from each of their salaries, when all three resigned. They all honored her, by carrying into their life-work the n.o.ble principles for which she suffered so much.

She was the grand-daughter of a Scotch-Irish Presbyterian minister, who, with his young family, was among the earliest settlers in the wilderness of what is now known as the prosperous and beautiful county of Was.h.i.+ngton, Pennsylvania.

Her name was Sarah Campbell. She was born in 1798. From her earliest girlhood she rebelled against the injustice done women by the law. She felt acutely the wrong done her and her sisters by being denied an education equal to their brothers, and denied also an equal share of their inheritance. While the father possessed a large estate, and provided liberally for his sons, he left his daughters a mere pittance.

In view of such facts, it is folly to say that women were ever satisfied with the humiliating discriminations of s.e.x they have endured in all periods, and in all ranks in society.

The first annual report of the a.s.sociation was prepared by Eliza Sproat Turner. She said:

We do not complain that man is slow to realize the injustice of his present att.i.tude towards woman--an att.i.tude once, from necessity, endurable; now, from too long continuance, grown intolerable. It would not be natural for him to feel it with equal keenness. It takes a great-minded fox to find out, what every goose knows, that foxes' teeth are cruel.

And while we do not complain of this incapacity on his part, the advocates of this cause feel the necessity for woman to take upon herself whatever share in the management of their mutual affairs shall be needed to right the balance; concluding that the defects in legislation which she is, by reason of her position, more competent to understand, she should be more competent to remedy. Not these innovations alone, but others involving matters beyond individual interests, she expects to achieve by the power she shall gain through the exercise of her right of suffrage. We discern, in the consideration of nearly all questions of national welfare, a disposition to press unduly the interests of trade and commerce rather than the interests of the fireside.

Mary Grew presided, and has been elected president of the a.s.sociation every year from the beginning, performing the duties of the position with ability, earnestness and satisfaction. In the winter of 1870-71 the executive committee recommended the pa.s.sage of a law that should give married women the control of their own earnings. The appeal to the legislature in behalf of such a law was renewed the following winter, and its pa.s.sage finally secured. Among the resolutions adopted at the annual meeting was the following:

_Resolved_, That the vote of the legislature of this State for a convention to amend the const.i.tution, makes it our duty to work for the exclusion of the word "male" from the provision defining the qualifications for the elective franchise, and that we call upon all friends of justice to give their best energies to the sustaining of this object.

Subsequently the executive committee prepared a pet.i.tion with reference to the formation of the const.i.tutional convention, asking the legislature, in making the needful regulations, to frame them in such a way as to secure the representation of the women of the State. This pet.i.tion was unavailing. At the next annual meeting, which was held at the time the const.i.tutional convention was in session, a resolution was adopted containing an appeal to that body, earnestly requesting it to present to the people of the State a const.i.tution that should secure the right of suffrage to its citizens without distinction of s.e.x, accompanied by a request for a hearing at such time and place as the convention should decide. The request was willingly granted, and an evening a.s.signed for that purpose. An evening was also given to the Citizens' Suffrage Society of Philadelphia for a like object. These meetings were held in the hall of the convention, and were largely attended by the members and by the people generally. Addresses were delivered by various friends of woman suffrage, as representatives of the two societies.[267]

Still another evening was granted the Pennsylvania a.s.sociation for a meeting to be addressed by Bishop Matthew Simpson of the Methodist Episcopal Church. The earnest and forcible words of the eloquent speaker, and his solid array of arguments, made a deep impression on the attentive audience.

In the convention the question was discussed during five successive days. Hon. John M. Broomall introduced a provision in favor of making the ballot free to men and women alike, proposing that it be incorporated in the new const.i.tution. This provision was ably advocated by Mr. Broomall and many other members of the convention. Their firm convictions in behalf of equal and exact justice, however well sustained by sound reasoning and earnest appeal, was an unequal match for the rooted conservatism which recoiled from such a new departure. Although the measure was defeated, its discussion had an influence. It was animated, intelligent and exhaustive, and drew public attention more directly to the subject than anything that had occurred since the beginning of its agitation in the State.

The only act of the convention that gave hope to the friends of impartial suffrage was the adoption of the third section of Article X.: "Women twenty-one years of age and upwards shall be eligible to any office of control or management under the school laws of this State." It was a very faint gleam of comfort, too small to stir more than a breath of praise. It had the merit of being a step in the right direction, though timid and feeble, and as it has never disturbed the equilibrium of society, it may ultimately be followed by others of more importance.

The annual meetings of the a.s.sociation have been held in Philadelphia, Westchester, Bristol, Kennett Square and Media, respectively. An interesting feature of the Westchester meeting was the reading of an essay, ent.i.tled "Four quite New Reasons why you should wish your Wife to Vote." It was written for the occasion by Eliza Sproat Turner, and was subsequently printed and re-printed in tract form by order of the executive committee, and freely circulated among the people. It was likewise published in the _Woman's Journal_. Other doc.u.ments relative to the question have been printed from time to time by authority of the committee, and large numbers of suffrage tracts have been purchased for distribution year after year, embodying the best thoughts, the soundest arguments, and the most forcible reasoning that the question has elicited. Frequent pet.i.tions have been sent to the legislature and to congress, all having in view the one paramount object, and showing by their repeated and persistent appearance the indefatigable nature of a living, breathing reform. The executive committee at one time employed Matilda Hindman as State agent. Meetings were held by her chiefly in the western part of the State. In 1874 her services extended to the State of Michigan, where the question of woman suffrage was specially before the people. Lelia E. Patridge also represented the a.s.sociation in Michigan at that time, where she performed excellent service in addressing numerous meetings in different parts of the State. In 1877 Miss Patridge was appointed to represent the society in Colorado. There she labored with others to secure the adoption of a const.i.tutional amendment providing for suffrage without regard to s.e.x. On several occasions the executive committee has contributed to woman suffrage purposes in other States. Ma.s.sachusetts, Michigan, Colorado and Oregon have been recipients of the limited resources of the a.s.sociation. The executive committee has felt the cramping influence of an unfriended treasury. Its provision has been the fruit of unwearied soliciting, and should the especial object of the a.s.sociation ever be accomplished, the honors of success may be fitly contested by the fine art of begging.

The following report was sent us by Mrs. Mary Byrnes:

March 22, 1872, the Citizens' Suffrage a.s.sociation of Philadelphia was formed, William Morris Davis, president, with fifty members. The name of the society was chosen to denote the view of its members as to the basis of the elective franchise.

The amendments to the United States const.i.tution had clearly defined who were citizens, and shown citizens.h.i.+p to be without s.e.x. Woman was as indisputably a citizen as man. Whatever rights he possessed as a citizen she possessed also. The supreme law of the land placed her on the same plane of political rights with him. If man held the right of suffrage as a citizen of the United States, either by birthright within the respective States, or by naturalization under the United States, then the right of the female citizen to vote was as absolute as that of the male citizen; and woman's disfranchis.e.m.e.nt became a wrong inflicted upon her by usurped power. Men became voters by reason of their citizens.h.i.+p, having first complied with certain police regulations imposed within and by the respective States. The Citizens' Suffrage a.s.sociation demanded the same political rights for all citizens, nothing more, nothing less. It repudiated the idea that one cla.s.s of citizens should ask of another cla.s.s rights which that other cla.s.s never possessed, and which those who were denied them never had lost. This society held that the right to give implied the right to take away; and further, that the right to give implied a right lodged somewhere in society, which society had never acquired by any direct concession from the people.

This society held also, that the theory of the right to the franchise, as a gift, bore with it the power somewhere to restrict the male citizen's suffrage, and to strike at the principle of self-government. They had seen this doctrine earnestly advanced. They knew that there was a growing cla.s.s in the country who were inimical to universal suffrage. In view of this they chose the name of citizen suffrage, as the highest and broadest term by which to designate their devotion to the political rights of all citizens. They held that the political condition of the white women of the United States was totally unlike that of the slave population in this: that while the slaves were not considered citizens until the adoption of the fourteenth and fifteenth amendments, white women had always been citizens, and always ent.i.tled to all the political rights of citizens.h.i.+p. The colored male citizen became a voter--subject to the police regulations of the different States--upon acquiring citizens.h.i.+p. No const.i.tutional enactment denied equal political rights to women as citizens. No const.i.tutional enactment was therefore required to enable them to exercise the right to vote, which became the right of male slaves upon their securing citizens.h.i.+p under the law. The first legal argument on the subject of woman's right to the ballot as a citizen of the United States, was made by Jacob F. Byrnes before the Pennsylvania Society. Had it been published as soon as written, instead of being circulated privately, surprising person after person with the position taken, it would have antedated the report of General Benjamin F. Butler in the House of Representatives in the winter of 1871.

Edward M. Davis, president for many years, was one of the most active and untiring officers of this a.s.sociation, giving generously of his time and money not only to its support but to the general agitation of the suffrage question in every part of the country.

The meetings were held regularly at his office, 333 Walnut street, as were also those of the Radical Club. This was composed largely of the same members as the suffrage society, but in this organization they had a greater lat.i.tude in discussion, covering all questions of political, religious and social interest. As the division in the National Society produced division everywhere, some of the friends in Philadelphia made themselves auxiliary to the American a.s.sociation, and the sympathy of others was with the National, thus forming two rival societies, which together kept the suffrage question before the people and roused their attention, particularly to the fact of a pending const.i.tutional convention.

The History of Woman Suffrage Volume III Part 67

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