The History of Woman Suffrage Volume III Part 90
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OFFICE OF WESTERN SANITARY COMMISSION, } SAINT LOUIS, MO., Oct. 8th, 1862. }
Mrs. Couzins has been detailed to service in the hospital steamer T.L. McGill, as volunteer nurse.
N.B.--If the place of service is changed, a new certificate will be issued.
JAMES E. YEATMAN, President of Sanitary Commission.
CORINTH, Oct. 13, 1862.
Pa.s.s Mrs. Couzins from Corinth to Columbus.
W. S. ROSECRANZ, _Maj.-Gen'l U. S. A._
HEADQUARTERS DEP'T OF THE TENNESSEE, } BEFORE VICKSBURG, Feb'y 21st, 1863. }
The quartermaster in charge of transportation at Memphis, Tenn., will furnish transportation on any chartered steamer plying between Memphis, Tenn., and St. Louis, to Mrs.
Couzins and five other ladies, members of the Western Sanitary Commission, and who have been with this fleet distributing sanitary goods for the benefit of sick soldiers.
U.S. GRANT, _Maj.-Gen. Com_.
Capt. J. B. LEWIS, _A. Q. M. and Master of Transportation_, Memphis, Tenn.
While Mrs. Couzins thus gave herself to mitigating the sufferings of the "boys in blue," in camp and hospital, Mrs. Minor was no less active and energetic in the equally important department of preserving supplies for the sanitary commission. Although Mrs.
Minor resided too far from the city to attend the evening meetings, and her name does not appear in the accounts of such gatherings, she was one of the first members of the Ladies' Union Aid Society of St. Louis, and took part in the meeting of loyal women called and presided over by Gen. Curtis. Having an orchard and dairy on her place, she furnished the hospital with milk and fruit, and for more than two years, sent a supply every day to the soldiers in camp at Benton barracks. When the news came that the army around Vicksburg was suffering with scurvy, she took her carriage and drove through the country soliciting fruit, and in one week she canned with her own hands, a wagon-load of cherries, the sanitary commission finding the cans and sugar, and from time to time she continued the work until the end of the war. When the great fair was held under the auspices of the Western Sanitary Commission, she was a member of the floral department, and worked with her accustomed energy. The sanitary commission, feeling that she had done so much, wrote her a letter of thanks, and enclosed her a check for a liberal amount; but she returned the check, saying that hers was a work of love, and not for money. Although the official letter of the commission thanking Mrs. Minor for her most valuable services, is lost, the following to Mr. Minor may fairly be considered as including her also:
ROOMS WESTERN SANITARY COMMISSION, St. Louis, Oct. 7, 1863.
FRANCIS MINOR, Esq.--_My Dear Sir_: I am directed by our board to return you their thanks in behalf of the soldiers in the hospitals, for your long-continued remembrance of them, and for the daily supply of fresh fruits, vegetables and milk, which you have furnished for the sick, now more than two years. Your garner and sympathy have been like the widow's cruse, and may they ever continue to be so. What you have done has been in the most quiet and un.o.btrusive way.
The sick soldier has had no more constant, uniform and untiring friend, and it is with pleasure that I convey the thanks of the board, both to yourself and wife, who have been as indefatigable at home in preparing canned fruits and other delicacies for the sick soldiers in the field, as you have been in providing for those in the hospitals. With grateful feelings and many thanks and best wishes, I remain,
Very respectfully yours,
JAMES E. YEATMAN, _President Western Sanitary Commission_.
The submission of a const.i.tutional amendment in Kansas, and the preparations for a thorough canva.s.s of that State, had its influence in heightening the enthusiasm and increasing the agitation in Missouri, as most of the speakers going to Kansas held meetings at various points. Mrs. Stanton and Miss Anthony stopped at St. Louis both going and returning, held large meetings in Library Hall, and had a pleasant reception in the parlors of the Southern Hotel, where many warm friends.h.i.+ps that have lasted ever since, were formed.
The subject of woman's enfranchis.e.m.e.nt had doubtless often occurred to the thoughtful men and women of Missouri, long before the movement in its behalf a.s.sumed anything like a practical shape. The manifest absurdity and injustice of declaring, as the const.i.tution of the State did, "that all political power is vested in, and derived from the people; that all government of right originates from the people, is founded upon their will only, and is inst.i.tuted solely for the good of the whole," and at the same time, denying to one-half of the people any voice whatever in framing their government or making their laws, could not fail to strike the attention of any one who gave the subject the slightest consideration. But no attempt was made towards an organization in behalf of woman suffrage until the winter of 1866-7; and the movement then had its origin from the following circ.u.mstance: During the debate in the Senate of the United States, on the district suffrage bill, December 12, 1866, Senator Brown, of Missouri, in the course of his remarks said:
I have to say then, sir, 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, color, or s.e.x. I will go further, and say that I recognize the right of franchise as being intrinsically a natural right; and I do not believe that society is authorized to impose any limitation upon it that does not spring out of the necessities of the social state itself.
When Mrs. Francis Minor, of St. Louis, who had given the subject much thought, read the report of Senator Brown's speech, she considered that it was due to him from the women of the State that he should receive a letter of thanks for his bold and out-spoken utterances in their behalf. She accordingly wrote him such a letter, obtaining to it all the signatures she could, and it was presented to Senator Brown on his return home. But although first an advocate of the measure, he soon recanted, and gave his influence against it.
It was next determined to pet.i.tion the legislature of the State then in session, January, 1867, to propose an amendment to the const.i.tution, striking out the word "male," in the article on suffrage. Such a pet.i.tion was presented, and attracted much attention, as it was the first instance of the kind in the history of the State. This move was followed by a formal organization of the friends of the cause, and on May 8, 1867, the "Missouri Woman Suffrage a.s.sociation" was organized, and officers elected.
We find the following letter from Mr. Minor in _The Revolution_ of January 22, 1868:
_Editors of The Revolution_: In order to show the steady progress that the grand idea of equal rights is slowly but surely making among the people of these United States, I think it would be well, in the beginning, at least, to make a record in _The Revolution_ of the fact of each successive State organization; and for that purpose I send you the list of officers for the a.s.sociation in Missouri not yet a year old; as also their pet.i.tion to the legislature for a change in the organic law, and a brief address to the voters of the State, in support of the movement:
_To the Voters of Missouri:_
The women of this State, having organized for the purpose of agitating their claims to the ballot, it becomes every intelligent and reflecting mind to consider the question fairly and dispa.s.sionately. If it has merits, it will eventually succeed; if not, it will fail. I am of the number of those who believe that claim to be just and right, for the following, among other reasons:
Taxation and Representation should go hand in hand. This is the very corner-stone of our government. Its founders declared, and the declaration cannot be too often repeated, "We hold these truths to be self-evident, 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. That to secure those rights, governments are inst.i.tuted among men, deriving their just powers from the consent of the governed." The man who believes in that declaration, cannot justly deny to women the right of suffrage. They are citizens, they are tax-payers; they bear the burdens of government--why should they be denied the rights of citizens? We boast about liberty and equality before the law, when the truth is, our government is controlled by one-half only of the population.
The others have no more voice in the making of their laws, or the selection of their rulers, than the criminals who are in our penitentiaries; nay, in one respect, their condition is not as good as that of the felon, for he may be pardoned and restored to a right which woman can never obtain. And this, not because she has committed any crime, or violated any law, but simply because she is, what G.o.d made her--a woman! Possessed of the same intelligence--formed in the same mold--having the same attributes, parts and pa.s.sions--held by her Maker to the same measure of responsibility here and hereafter, her actual position in society to-day is that of an inferior. No matter what her qualifications may be, every avenue of success is virtually closed against her. Even when she succeeds in obtaining employment, she gets only half the pay that a man does for the same work. But, it is said, woman's sphere is at home.
Would giving her the right to vote interfere with her home duties any more than it does with a man's business? Again it is said, that for her to vote would be unfeminine. Is it at all more indelicate for a woman to go to the polls, than it is for her to go to the court-house and pay her taxes? The truth is, woman occupies just the position that man has placed her in, and it ill becomes him to urge such objections. Give her a chance--give her the opportunity of proving whether these objections are well founded or not.
Her influence for good is great, notwithstanding all the disadvantages under which she at present labors; and my firm belief is, that that influence would be greatly enhanced and extended by the exercise of this new right. It would be felt at the ballot-box and in the halls of legislation. Better men, as a general rule, would be elected to office, and society in all its ramifications, would feel and rejoice at the change.
_To the General a.s.sembly of the State of Missouri: _
GENTLEMEN: The undersigned women of Missouri, believing that all citizens who are taxed for the support of the government and subject to its laws, should have a voice in the making of those laws, and the selection of their rulers; that, as the possession of the ballot enn.o.bles and elevates the character of man, so, in like manner, it would enn.o.ble and elevate that of woman by giving her a direct and personal interest in the affairs of government; and further, believing that the spirit of the age, as well as every consideration of justice and equity, requires that the ballot should be extended to our s.e.x, do unite in praying that an amendment to the const.i.tution may be proposed, striking out the word "male" and extending to women the right of suffrage.
And, as in duty bound, your pet.i.tioners will ever pray.
On behalf of the Missouri Woman Suffrage a.s.sociation.
[Signed:] _President_, Mrs. Francis Minor; _Vice-President_, Mrs. Beverly Allen; _Corresponding Secretary_, Mrs. Wm. T.
Hazard; _Recording Secretary_, Mrs. Geo. D. Hall; _Treasurer_, Mrs. N. Stevens, St. Louis, Missouri.
Copies of the pet.i.tion, and information furnished upon addressing either of above named officers. Formation of auxiliary a.s.sociations in every county requested. Pet.i.tions when completely signed, to be returned to the head office.
These papers will serve to show that the idea has taken root in other States beyond the Mississippi besides Kansas; and may also be somewhat of a guide to others, who may desire to accomplish the same purpose elsewhere. A work of such magnitude requires, of course, time for development; but the leaven is working. The fountains of the great deep of public thought have been broken up. The errors and prejudices of six thousand years are yielding to the sunlight of truth. In spite of pulpits and politicians, the great idea is making its way to the hearts of the people; and woman may rejoice in believing that the dawn of her deliverance, so long hoped for and prayed for, is at last approaching.
_St. Louis_, January, 1868.
The following from _The Revolution_ shows that the women of St.
Louis were awake on the question of taxation:
The women here have endeavored to find out to what extent taxation without representation, because of s.e.x, obtains in this city, and as the result of their inquiries they are enabled to place on their records the following very suggestive doc.u.ment.
a.s.sESSOR'S OFFICE, ST. LOUIS, January 30, 1869.
_To Mrs. Couzins and Emma Finkelnburg, Committee of the Ladies' Suffrage a.s.sociation:_
In reply to your request to report to your a.s.sociation the amount of property listed in the city of St. Louis in the name of ladies, permit me to state that the property in question is represented by over 2,000 tax-paying ladies, and a.s.sessed at the value of $14,490,199.
Yours very respectfully,
ROBT. J. ROMBAUER, _a.s.sessor_.
This exhibit has opened the eyes of a good many people. "Two thousand on 'em," exclaimed a male friend of mine, "and over fourteen millions of property! Whew! What business have these women with so much money?" Well, they have it, and now they ask us, "Shall 2,000 men, not worth a dollar, just because they wear pantaloons go to the polls and vote taxes on us, while we are excluded from the ballot-box for no other reason than s.e.x?" What _shall_ we say to them? They ask us if the American Revolution did not turn on this hinge, _No taxation without representation_.
Who can answer?
The History of Woman Suffrage Volume III Part 90
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