The History of Woman Suffrage Volume III Part 73

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From the list of resolutions considered and adopted, I send the following:

_Resolved_, That as the Democratic party has long since abolished the political aristocracy of wealth; and the Republican party has now abolished the aristocracy of race; so the true spirit of Republican Democracy of the present, demands the abolition of the political aristocracy of s.e.x.

_Resolved_, That as the government of the United States has, by the adoption of the fifteenth amendment, admitted the theory that one man cannot define the rights and duties of another man, so we demand the adoption of a sixteenth amendment on the same principle, that one s.e.x cannot define the rights and duties of another s.e.x.

_Resolved_, That we rejoice in the n.o.ble action of the men of Wyoming, by which the right of suffrage has been granted to the women of that territory.

_Resolved_, That we feel justly proud of the action of those representatives of the General a.s.sembly of Ohio, who have endeavored to secure an amendment to the State const.i.tution, striking out the word "male" from that instrument.

It is rather remarkable that in a State which so early established two colleges admitting women--Oberlin in 1834, and Antioch in 1853--any intelligent women should have been found at so late a date as April 15, 1870, to protest against the right of self-government for themselves, yet such is the case, as the following protest shows:

We acknowledge no inferiority to men. We claim to have no less ability to perform the duties which G.o.d has imposed upon us than they have to perform those imposed upon them. We believe that G.o.d has wisely and well adapted each s.e.x to the proper performance of the duties of each. We believe our trusts to be as important and as sacred as any that exist on earth. We feel that our present duties fill up the whole measure of our time and abilities; and that they are such as none but ourselves can perform. Their importance requires us to protest against all efforts to compel us to a.s.sume those obligations which cannot be separated from suffrage; but which cannot be performed by us without the sacrifice of the highest interests of our families and of society. It is our fathers, brothers, husbands and sons, who represent us at the ballot-box. Our fathers and brothers love us.

Our husbands are our choice, and one with us. Our sons are what _we_ make them. We are content that they represent us in the corn-field, the battle-field, at the ballot-box and the jury-box, and we them, in the church, the school-room, at the fireside and at the cradle; believing our representation, even at the ballot-box, to be thus more full and impartial than it could possibly be, were all women allowed to vote. We do, therefore respectively protest against legislation to establish woman suffrage in Ohio.

The above paper, signed by more than one hundred ladies of Lorain county, was presented, March 14, 1870, to the legislature a.s.sembled at Columbus. Mrs. Sarah Knowles Bolton, criticising the Oberlin protestants, said:

That so many signed is not strange, because the non-suffrage side is the popular one at present. Years hence, when it shall be customary for women to vote, it is questionable whether the lady who drew up that doc.u.ment would have many supporters.

If "we are not inferior to men," we must have as clear opinions and as good judgment as they. To say, then, that we are not capable of judging of political questions, is untrue. To say that we are not interested in such things is absurd, for who can be more anxious for good laws and good law-makers than women, who, for the most part, have sons and daughters in this whirlpool of temptation, called social and business life. If we are too ignorant to have an opinion, the fault lies at our own door.

These ladies reason upon the premises that the duties imposed upon us as we find them in this nineteenth century, are the duties, conditions, and relations established of G.o.d. Two things we do certainly find in the Bible with regard to this matter; that women are to bear children, and men to earn bread. The first duty we believe has been confined entirely to the female s.e.x, but the male s.e.x have not kept the other in all cases. If anybody has belonged for any considerable time to a benevolent inst.i.tution, he has ascertained that women sometimes are obliged to earn bread and bear children also. A century or two ago, when women seldom thought of writing books, or being physicians or lawyers, professors or teachers, or doing anything but housework, probably they thought, as the ladies of Lorain county do to-day, they were in the blessed noonday of woman's enlightenment and happiness.

Their husbands, very likely, needed something of the same companions.h.i.+p as the men of the present, but it was unpopular for girls to attend school. If these ladies, after careful study and thought, believe that woman suffrage will work evil in the land, they ought to say that, rather than base it upon lack of time.

The enfranchis.e.m.e.nt of 15,000,000 women will be a balance of power for good or evil that will need looking after. As for our representing men at the fireside, I think it a great deal pleasanter that they be there in person. Nothing is more blessed than the home circle, and here I think if husbands were not so often represented by their wives, while they are absent evening after evening on "important business," the condition of things would be improved. If the ladies aforesaid cannot vote without the highest interests of their families being sacrificed, they ought to be allowed to remain in peace. I am glad they made this protest, not only because this is a country where honest views ought to be expressed, but because agitation pushes forward reform. I am glad that nearly half of our representatives were in favor of submitting this question to the women of the State, and that our interests were so ably defended by a talented representative from our own district. I do not think, however, by submitting it to the women, they would get a correct expression upon the subject. A good many would vote for suffrage, a few against it, and thousands would be afraid to vote. If it is granted, I do not suppose all women will vote immediately. Many prejudices will first have to give way. If women vote what they wish to vote, and there is no disorderly conduct at the polls in consequence, and no general disorder in the body politic, I do not see any objection to the voting being continued from year to year.

When women like Miss Jones of our city, now in California, take a few more professors.h.i.+ps in a university over half-a-hundred compet.i.tors, write a few more libraries, show themselves capable of solving great questions, become ornaments to their professions, it will seem more absurd for them not to be enfranchised than it does now for them to be so.

Hon. J. M. Ashley, of Toledo, in a speech on the floor of congress, June 1, 1868, said:

I want citizens.h.i.+p and suffrage to be synonymous. To put the question beyond the power of States to withhold it, I propose the amendment to article fourteen, now submitted. A large number of Republicans who concede that the qualifications of an elector ought to be the same in every State, and that it is more properly a national than a State question, do not believe congress has the power under our present const.i.tution to enact a law conferring suffrage in the States, nevertheless they are ready and willing to vote for such an amendment to the const.i.tution as shall make citizens.h.i.+p and suffrage uniform throughout the nation. For this purpose I have added to the proposed amendment for the election of president a section on suffrage, to which I invite special attention.

This is the third or fourth time I have brought forward a proposition on suffrage substantially like the one just presented to the House. I do so again because I believe the question of citizens.h.i.+p suffrage one which ought to be met and settled now.

Important and all-absorbing as many questions are which now press themselves upon our consideration, to me no one is so vitally important as this. Tariffs, taxation, and finance ought not to be permitted to supersede a question affecting the peace and personal security of every citizen, and, I may add, the peace and security of the nation. No party can be justified in withholding the ballot from any citizen of mature years, native or foreign born, except such as are _non compos_ or are guilty of infamous crimes; nor can they justly confer this great privilege upon one cla.s.s of citizens to the exclusion of another cla.s.s.

The _Revolution_ of March 19, 1868, said:

Notwithstanding the most determined hostility to the demands of the age for female physicians, inst.i.tutions for their educational preparation for professional responsibilities are rapidly increasing. The ball first began to move in the United States,[290] and now a female medical college is in successful operation in London, where the favored monopolizers of physic and surgery were resolved to keep out all new ideas in their line by acts of parliament. But the ice-walls of opposition have melted away, and even in Russia a woman has graduated with high medical honors.

The following statistics from Thomas Wentworth Higginson settle many popular objections to a collegiate education for women:

GRADUATES OF ANTIOCH COLLEGE.--In a paper read before the Social Science a.s.sociation in the spring of 1874 I pointed out the presumption to be, that if a desire for knowledge was implanted in the minds of women, they had also as a cla.s.s the physical capacity to gratify it; and that therefore the burden of proof lay on those who opposed such education, on physiological grounds, to collect facts in support of their position. In criticising Dr. Clarke's book, "s.e.x in Education," I called attention to the fact that he has made no attempt to do this, but has merely given a few detached cases, whose scientific value is impaired by the absence of all proof whether they stand for few or many. We need many facts and a cautious induction; not merely a few facts and a sweeping induction. I am now glad to put on record a tabular view[291] of the graduates of Antioch, with special reference to their physical health and condition; the facts being collected and mainly arranged by Professor J. B.

Weston of Antioch--who has been connected with that inst.i.tution from its foundation--with the aid of Mrs. Weston and Rev. Olympia Brown, both graduates of the college. For the present form of the table, however, I alone am responsible.

It appears that of the 41 graduates, ranging from the year 1857 to 1873, no fewer than 36 are now living. Of these the health of 11 is reported as "very good"; 19 "good"; making 30 in all; 1 is reported as "fair"; 1 "uncertain"; 1 "not good," and 3 "unknown."

Of the 41 graduates, 30 are reported as married and 11 are single, five of these last having graduated within three years.

Of the 30 married, 24 have children, numbering 48 or 49 in all.

Of the 6 childless, 3 are reported as very recently married; one died a few months after marriage, and the facts in the other cases are not given. Thirty-four of the forty-one have taught since graduated, and I agree with Professor Weston that teaching is as severe a draft on the const.i.tution as study. Taking these facts as a whole, I do not see how the most earnest advocate of higher education could ask for a more encouraging exhibit; and I submit the case without argument, so far as this pioneer experiment at coeducation is concerned. If any man seriously believes that his non-collegiate relatives are in better physical condition than this table shows, I advise him to question forty-one of them and tabulate the statistics obtained.

In the following editorial in the _Woman's Journal_ Mr. Higginson pursues the opposition still more closely, and answers their frivolous objections:

I am surprised to find that Professor W.S. Tyler of Amherst College, in his paper on "The Higher Education of Woman," in _Scribner's Monthly_ for February, repeats the unfair statements of President Eliot of Harvard, in regard to Oberlin College. The fallacy and incorrectness of those statements were pointed out on the spot by several, and were afterwards thoroughly shown by President Fairchild of Oberlin; yet Professor Tyler repeats them all. He a.s.serts that there has been a great falling off in the number of students in that college; he entirely ignores the important fact of the great multiplication of colleges which admit women; and he implies, if he does not a.s.sert, that the separate ladies' course at Oberlin has risen as a subst.i.tute for the regular college course. His words are these, the italics being my own:

In Oberlin, where the experiment has been tried under the most favorable circ.u.mstances, it has proved a failure so far as the regular college course is concerned. The number of young women in that course, instead of increasing with the prosperity of the inst.i.tution, _has diminished, so that it now averages only two or three to a cla.s.s_. The rest pursue a different curriculum, live in a separate dormitory, and study by themselves in a course of their own, reciting, indeed, with the young men, and by way of reciprocity and in true womanly compa.s.sion, allowing some of them to sit at their table in the dining-hall, but yet const.i.tuting substantially a female seminary, or, if you please, a woman's college in the university.--_Scribner, February, page 457._

Now, it was distinctly stated by President Fairchild last summer, that this "different curriculum" was the course originally marked out for women, and that the regular college course was an after-thought. This disposes of the latter part of Professor Tyler's statement. I revert, therefore, to his main statement, that "the number of young women in the collegiate course has diminished, so that it now averages only two or three to a cla.s.s." Any reader would suppose his meaning to be that taking one year with another, and comparing later years with the early years of Oberlin, there has been a diminution of women. What is the fact? The Oberlin College triennial catalogue of 1872 lies before me, and I have taken the pains to count and tabulate the women graduated in different years, during the thirty-two years after 1841, when they began to be graduated there. Dividing them into decennial periods, I find the numbers to be as follows: 1841-1850, thirty-two women were graduated; 1851-1860, seventeen women were graduated; 1861-1870, forty women were graduated. From this it appears that during the third decennial period there was not only no diminution, but actually a higher average than before. During the first period the cla.s.ses averaged 3.2 women; during the second period 1.7 women, and during the third period 4 women. Or if, to complete the exhibit, we take in the two odd cla.s.ses at the end, and make the third period consist of twelve cla.s.ses, the average will still be 3.8, and will be larger than either of the previous periods. Or if, disregarding the even distribution of periods, we take simply the last ten years, the average will be 3.1. Moreover, during the first period there was one cla.s.s (1842) which contained no women at all; and during the second period there were three such cla.s.ses (1852-3, 7); while during the third period every cla.s.s has had at least one woman.

It certainly would not have been at all strange if there had been a great falling off in the number of graduates of Oberlin. At the outset it had the field to itself. Now the census gives fifty-five "colleges" for women, besides seventy-seven which admit both s.e.xes. Many of these are inferior to Oberlin, no doubt, but some rose rapidly to a prestige far beyond this pioneer inst.i.tution. With Cornell University on the one side, and the University of Michigan on the other--to say nothing of minor inst.i.tutions--the wonder is that Oberlin could have held its own at all. Yet the largest cla.s.s of women it ever graduated (thirteen) was so late as 1865, and if the cla.s.ses since then "average but two or three," so did the cla.s.ses for several years before that date. Professor Tyler knows very well that cla.s.ses fluctuate in every college, and that a decennial period is the least by which the working of any system can be tested. Tried by this test, the alleged diminution a.s.sumes a very different aspect. If, however, there were a great decline at Oberlin, it would simply show a transfer of students to other colleges, since neither Professor Tyler nor President Eliot will deny that the total statistics of colleges show a rapid increase in the number of women.

Moreover, I confess that my confidence in Professor Tyler's sense of accuracy is greatly impaired by these a.s.sertions about Oberlin, and also by his statement, which I must call reckless, at least, in regard to the inferiority in truth, purity and virtue of those women who seek the suffrage. He a.s.serts (page 456) that "women--women generally--the truest, purest and best of the s.e.x--do not wish for the right of suffrage." Now, if the women who oppose suffrage are truest, purest and best, the women who advocate it must plainly be inferior at all these points; and that is an a.s.sertion which not only these women themselves, but their brothers, husbands and sons are certainly ent.i.tled to resent. Mr. Tyler has a perfect right to argue for his own views, for or against suffrage, but he has no right to copy the Oriental imprecation, and say to his opponents, "May the grave of your mother be defiled!." He claims that he holds official relations to one "woman's college," one "female seminary" and one "young ladies' inst.i.tute." Will it conduce to the moral training of those who enter those inst.i.tutions that their officers set them the example of impugning the purity and virtue of those who differ in opinion from themselves?

But supposing Professor Tyler not to be bound by the usual bonds of courtesy or of justice, he is at least bound by the consistency of his own position. Thus, he goes out of his way to compliment Mrs. Somerville and Miss Mitch.e.l.l. Both these ladies are identified with the claim for suffrage. He lauds "Uncle Tom's Cabin," but Mrs. Stowe has written almost as ably for the enfranchis.e.m.e.nt of woman as for the freedom of the blacks. He praises the "sacramental host of auth.o.r.esses," who, he says, "will move on with ever-growing power, overthrowing oppression, restraining vice and crime, reforming morals and manners, purifying public sentiment, revolutionizing business, society and government, till every yoke is broken and all nations are won to the truth." But it has been again and again shown that the auth.o.r.esses of America are, with but two or three exceptions, in favor of woman suffrage, and, therefore, instead of being "sacramental," do not even belong to Professor Tyler's cla.s.s of "wisest, truest and best." He thus selects for compliment on one page the very women whom he has traduced on another. His own witnesses testify against him. It is a pity that such phrases of discourtesy and unfairness should disfigure an essay which in many respects says good words for women, recommends that they should study Greek, and says, in closing, that their elevation "is at once the measure and the means of the elevation of mankind."

In the autumn of 1884 an effort was made to exclude women from Adelbert College. We give an account thereof from the pen of Mrs.

Sarah Knowles Bolton, published in the _English Woman's Review_ of January, 1885:

DEAR EDITOR: The city of Cleveland has been stirred for weeks on this question of woman's higher education. Western Reserve College, founded in 1826, at Hudson, was moved to Cleveland in 1874, because of a gift of $100,000 from Mr. Amasa Stone, with the change of name to Adelbert College, in memory of an only son.

A few young women had been students since 1873. In Cleveland, about twenty young ladies availed themselves of such admirable home privileges. Their scholars.h.i.+p was excellent--higher than that of the young men. They were absent from exercises only half as much as the men. Their conduct was above reproach. A short time since the faculty, except the president, Dr. Carroll Cutler, pet.i.tioned the board of trustees to discontinue coeducation at the college, for the a.s.sumed reasons that girls require different training from boys, never "identical" education; that it is trying to their health to recite before young men; "the strain upon the nervous system from mortifying mistakes and serious corrections is to many young ladies a cruel additional burden laid upon them in the course of study"; "that the provision we offer to girls is not the best, and is even dangerous"; that "where women are admitted, the college becomes second or third-rate, and that, worst of all, young men will be deterred from coming to this college by the presence of ladies." An "annex" was recommended, not with college degrees, but a subordinate arrangement with "diploma examinations, so far and so fast as the resources of the college shall allow."

As soon as the subject became known, the newspapers of the city took up the question. As the public furnishes the means and the students for every college, the public were vitally interested.

Ministers preached about it, and they, with doctors and lawyers, wrote strong articles, showing that no "annex" was desired; that parents wished thorough, high, self-reliant education for their daughters as for their sons; that health was not injured by the embarra.s.sment (?) of reciting before young men; that young men had not been deterred from going to Ann Arbor, Oberlin, Cornell, and other inst.i.tutions where there are young women; that it was unjust to make girls go hundreds of miles away to Va.s.sar or Smith or Wellesley, when boys were provided with the best education at their very doors; that, with over half the colleges of this country admitting women, with the colleges of Italy, Switzerland, Sweden, Holland and France throwing open their doors to women, for Adelbert College to shut them out, would be a step backward in civilization.

The women of the city took up the matter, and several thousands of our best names were obtained to a pet.i.tion, asking that girls be retained members of the college; judges and leading persons gladly signed. The trustees met November 7, 1884. The whole city eagerly waited the result. The chairman of the committee, Hon. I.

W. Chamberlain of Columbus, who had been opposed to coeducation at first, from the favorable reports received by him from colleges all over the country, had become a thorough convert, and the report was able and convincing.

President Angell of Michigan University, where there are 1,500 students, wrote: "Women were admitted here under the pressure of public sentiment against the wishes of most of the professors.

But I think no professor now regrets it, or would favor the exclusion of women. We made no solitary modification of our rules or requirements. The women did not become hoydenish; they did not fail in their studies; they did not break down in health; they have been graduated in all departments; they have not been inferior in scholars.h.i.+p to the men. We count the experiment here successful."

Galusha Anderson, president of Chicago University, wrote: "Our only law here is that the students shall act as gentlemen and ladies. They mingle freely together, just as they do in society, as I think G.o.d intended that they should, and the effect in all respects is good. I have never had the slightest trouble from the a.s.sociation of the s.e.xes."

Chancellor Manatt of Nebraska University, for four years engaged in university work at Yale, in answer to the questions as to whether boys would be driven away from the inst.i.tution, replied: "This question sounds like a joke in this longitude. As well say a girl's being born into a family turns the boys out of doors. It rather strengthens the home attraction. So in the university. I believe there is not a professor or student here who would not, for good and solid reasons, fight for the system."

President Warren of Boston University, lately the recipient of, 200,000, wrote: "The only opponents of coeducation I have ever known are persons who know nothing about it practically, and whose difficulties are all speculative and imaginary. Men are more manly and women more womanly when concerted in a wholly human society than when educated in a half-human one."

President White of Cornell wrote: "I regard the 'annex' for women in our colleges as a mere make-s.h.i.+ft and step in the progress toward the full admission of women to all college cla.s.ses, and I think that this is a very general view among men who have given unprejudiced thought to the subject. Having now gone through one more year, making twelve in all since women were admitted, I do not hesitate to say that I believe their presence here is good for us in every respect."

Professor Moses Coit Tyler of Cornell said: "My observation has been that under the joint system the tone of college life has grown more earnest, more courteous and refined, less flippant and cynical. The women are usually among the very best scholars, and lead instead of drag, and their lapses from good health are rather, yes, decidedly, less numerous than those alleged by the men. There is a sort of young man who thinks it not quite the thing, you know, to be in a college where women are; and he goes away, if he can, and I am glad to have him do so. The vacuum he causes is not a large one, and his departure is more than made up by the arrival in his stead of a more robust and manlier sort."

The only objectors to coeducation were from those colleges which had never tried it; President Porter of Yale thought it a suitable method for post-graduate cla.s.ses, and President Seeley for a course of "lower grade" than Amherst.

President Cutler of Adelbert College made an able report, showing that the progress of the age is towards coeducation. Only fifty-three Protestant colleges, founded since 1830, exclude women; while 156 coeducational inst.i.tutions have been established since that date.

Some of the trustees thought it desirable to imitate Yale,[292]

and others felt that _they_ knew what studies are desirable for woman better than she knew herself! When the vote was taken, to their honor be it said, it was twelve to six, or two to one, in favor of coeducation. The girls celebrated this just and manly decision by a banquet.

The inauguration of the women's crusade at this time (1874) in Ohio created immense excitement, not only throughout that State, but it was the topic for the pulpit and the press all over the nation.

Those identified with the woman suffrage movement, while deeply interested in the question of temperance, had no sympathy with what they felt to be a desecration of womanhood and of the religious element in woman. They felt that the fitting place for pet.i.tions and appeals was in the halls of legislation, to senators and congressmen, rather than rumsellers and drunkards in the dens of vice and the public thoroughfares. It was pitiful to see the faith of women in G.o.d's power to effect impossibilities. Like produces like in the universe of matter and mind, and so long as women consent to make licentious, drunken men the fathers of their children, no power in earth or heaven can save the race from these twin vices. The following letter from Miriam M. Cole makes some good points on this question:

If the "woman's war against whisky" had been inaugurated by the woman suffrage party, its aspect, in the eyes of newspapers, would be different from what it now is. If Lucy Stone had set the movement on foot, it would have been so characteristic of her!

What more could one expect from such a disturber of public peace?

She, who has no instinctive scruples against miscellaneous crowds at the polls, might be expected to visit saloons and piously serenade their owners, until patience ceases to be a virtue. But for women who are so pressed with domestic cares that they have no time to vote; for women who shun notoriety so much that they are unwilling to ask permission to vote; for women who believe that men are quite capable of managing State and munic.i.p.al affairs without their interference; for them to have set on foot the present crusade, how queer! Their singing, though charged with a moral purpose, and their prayers, though directed to a specific end, do not make their warfare a whit more feminine, nor their situation more attractive. A woman knocking out the head of a whisky barrel with an ax, to the tune of Old Hundred, is not the ideal woman sitting on a sofa, dining on strawberries and cream, and sweetly warbling, "The Rose that All are Praising."

The History of Woman Suffrage Volume III Part 73

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