The History of Woman Suffrage Volume IV Part 122

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LAWS: If either husband or wife die without a will and there are no descendants living, all the real estate and personal property go to the survivor. If there is issue living, the widow receives one-half of the husband's real estate and one-half of his personal property. The widower takes a life interest in all the wife's real estate, whether there are children or not, and all of her personal property absolutely if there are no living descendants, half of it if there are any.

All laws have been repealed that recognize civil disabilities of the wife which are not recognized as existing against the husband, except as to voting and holding office.

By registering as a sole trader a married woman can carry on business in her own name.

In 1880 the Legislature enacted that "henceforth the rights and responsibilities of the parents, in the absence of misconduct, shall be equal, and the mother shall be as fully ent.i.tled to the custody and control of the children and their earnings as the father, and in case of the father's death the mother shall come into as full and complete control of the children and their estate as the father does in case of the mother's death."

If the husband does not support the family, the wife may apply to the Circuit Court and the Judge may issue such decree as he thinks equitable, generally conforming to that in divorce cases, and may have power to enforce its orders as in other equity cases.

The "age of protection" for girls was raised from 10 to 14 in 1864 and from 14 to 16 years in 1895. The penalty is imprisonment not less than three nor more than twenty years. The fact that the victim was a common prost.i.tute or the defendant's mistress is no excuse.

SUFFRAGE: In 1878 an Act was pa.s.sed ent.i.tling women to vote for school trustees and for bonds and appropriations for school purposes, if they have property of their own in the school district upon which they or their husbands pay taxes.

OFFICE HOLDING: Women are not eligible to any elective office, except that of school trustee.

An old law permitted women to fill the offices of State and county superintendents of schools, but it was contested in 1896 by a defeated male candidate and declared unconst.i.tutional by the Supreme Court.

Women can not sit on any State boards.

They are employed as court stenographers, and in various subordinate appointive offices. They may serve as notaries.

OCCUPATIONS: No profession or occupation is legally forbidden to women.

EDUCATION: All the large educational inst.i.tutions are open to women.

In the public schools there are 1,250 men and 2,443 women teachers.

The average monthly salary of the men is $43; of the women, $34.81.

FOOTNOTES:

[408] The History is indebted for the material for this chapter to Mrs. Abigail Scott Duniway of Portland, honorary president of the State Equal Suffrage a.s.sociation and always at the head of the movement in Oregon.

[409] Dr. Frances A. Cady, Lydia Hunt King, Eugenie M. Shearer, Charlotte De Hillier Barmore, Mary Schaffer Ward, Gertrude J. Denny, Alice J. McArty, Ada Cornish Hertsche, Maria C. DeLashmutt, Cora Parsons Duniway, Frances Moreland Harvey and Abigail Scott Duniway.

[410] Department superintendents chosen: Evangelical work, Mrs.

Charlotte De Hillier Barmore; press, Mrs. Eugenie M. Shearer; round table, Mrs. Julia H. Bauer; music, Mrs. H. R. Duniway, Mrs. A. E.

Hackett; Cooper Medal contests, H. D. Harford and Mrs. S. M. Kern; health and heredity. Dr. Mary A. Leonard; legislation and pet.i.tions, Dr. Annice F. Jeffreys, Mrs. Duniway. Fifteen counties were represented by Dr. Annie C. Reed and Mesdames F. M. Alfred, R. A.

Bensell, F. O. McCown, A. A. Cleveland, F. M. Lockhart, J. H. Upton, J. L. Curry, A. R. Burbank, M. E. Thompson, J. W. Virtue, A. S.

Patterson, A. C. Hertsche and J. J. Murphy.

[411] The chairmen of the county committees were Miss Belle Trullinger, now the wife of Gov. T. T. Geer, and Mesdames R. A.

Bensell, J. A. Blackaby, Thomas Cornelius, S. T. Child, C. H. Dye, W.

R. Ellis, J. B. Eaton, P. L. Fountain, J. B. Huntington, Almira Hurley, T. B. Handley, Ellen Kuney, H. A. Laughary, Stephen A. Lowell, A. E. Lockhart, M. Moore, James Muckle, J. J. Murphy, Jennie McCully, Celia B. Olmstead, R. Pattison, A. S. Patterson, N. Rulison, Anna B.

Reed, E. L. Smith, Thomas Stewart, C. U. Snyder, C. R. Templeton, M.

E. Thompson, J. H. Upton, J. W. Virtue, Clara Zimmerman.

CHAPTER LXI.

PENNSYLVANIA.[412]

The thought of woman suffrage in Pennsylvania always brings with it the recollection of Lucretia Mott of Philadelphia, one of the four women who called the first Woman's Rights Convention, at Seneca Falls, N. Y., July 19, 20, 1848, and among the ablest advocates of the measure.[413]

The Pennsylvania Woman Suffrage a.s.sociation was organized Dec. 22, 1869, with Mary Grew as president.[414] There have been annual meetings in or near Philadelphia regularly since that time, and large quant.i.ties of suffrage literature have been distributed.[415] In 1892 Miss Grew resigned, aged 80, and was succeeded in the presidency by Mrs. Lucretia L. Blankenburg, who still holds this office.

The convention of 1900 took place in Philadelphia, November 1, 2, and the other officers elected were vice-president, Mrs. Ellen H. E.

Price; corresponding secretary, Mrs. Mary B. Luckie; recording secretary, Mrs. Anna R. Boyd; treasurer, Mrs. Margaret B. Stone; auditors, Mrs. Mary F. Kenderdine and Mrs. Selina D. Holton. Miss Ida Porter Boyer, superintendent of press work, reported that 326 newspapers in the State, exclusive of those in Philadelphia which were supplied by a local chairman, were using regularly the suffrage matter sent out by her bureau, and that the past year this consisted of 17,150 different articles.

A number of able speakers have addressed the Legislature or canva.s.sed the State from time to time, including Miss Susan B. Anthony and the Rev. Anna Howard Shaw, president and vice-president of the National a.s.sociation; Mrs. Carrie Chapman Catt, chairman of the national organization committee; Henry B. Blackwell, editor of the _Woman's Journal_; Mrs. Charlotte Perkins Stetson of New York, Mrs. Mary C. C.

Bradford of Colorado, Miss Elizabeth Upham Yates of Maine, and Miss Laura A. Gregg of Kansas; Judge William N. Ashman, Miss Matilda Hindman, Miss Boyer, Mrs. Blankenburg and Miss Jane Campbell, president of the Philadelphia society.[416]

The latter is the largest and most influential suffrage society in the State. Previously to 1892 the Philadelphians who were identified with the movement belonged to the Pennsylvania a.s.sociation. In the fall of this year it was decided to make it a delegate body, and as that meant barring out individual members.h.i.+ps, the Philadelphia members formed a county organization. Miss Grew was invited to lead the new society, but feeling unable to perform the necessary duties she accepted only the honorary presidency. It was, however, largely owing to her counsel and influence that so successful a beginning was made. After her death in 1896 the office of honorary president was abolished.

The first president of this society was Miss Campbell, who has been annually re-elected. The club has quadrupled its members.h.i.+p in the eight years of its existence, counting only those who pay their yearly dues, and has now 400 members. It has worked in many directions; distributed large quant.i.ties of literature; has sent speakers to organizations of women; fostered debates among the young people of various churches and Young Men's Literary Societies by offering prizes to those successful on the side of woman suffrage; held public meetings in different parts of the city, which includes the whole county; a.s.sisted largely in the national press work, and always lent a generous hand to the enterprises of the National a.s.sociation.[417]

In 1895 this society prepared a list of all the real and personal property owned by women within the city limits, which amounted to $153,757,566 real and $35,734,133 personal. These figures comprise 20 per cent. of the total city tax, and all of it is without representation.

With the hope of arousing suffrage sentiment, cla.s.ses were formed under the auspices of the State a.s.sociation to study political science; Mrs. Susan S. Fessenden of Ma.s.sachusetts was employed to organize clubs in the State; requests were sent to all the clergymen of Philadelphia to preach a sermon or give an address on Woman Suffrage; and prizes of $5, $10 and $15 were offered for the three best essays on Political Equality for Women, fifty-six being received.

A Yellow Ribbon Bazar was held in Philadelphia in 1895, the net proceeds amounting to over $1,000. Miss Mary G. Hay, Miss Yates and Miss Gregg were then employed as organizers, and were very successful in forming clubs. There are now sixteen active county societies.[418]

LEGISLATIVE ACTIONS AND LAWS: In 1885 Miss Matilda Hindman was sent to Harrisburg to urge the Legislature to submit an amendment to the voters striking out the word "male" from the suffrage clause of the State const.i.tution. As a preliminary, 249 letters were sent to members asking their views on the subject; 89 replies were received, 53 non-committal, 20 favorable, 16 unfavorable. Miss Hindman and eleven other women appeared before a Joint Committee of Senate and House to present arguments in favor of submitting the amendment. A bill for this purpose pa.s.sed the House, but was lost in the Senate by a vote of 13 ayes, 19 noes. This was the first concerted action of the Pennsylvania suffragists to influence legislation for women. A legacy of $1,390 from Mrs. Mary H. Newbold aided their efforts to secure the bill.

Political conditions have been such that it has been considered useless to try to obtain any legislative action on woman suffrage, and no further attempts have been made. To influence public sentiment, however, ma.s.s meetings addressed by the best speakers were held in the Hall of the House of Representatives during the sessions of 1893, '95, '97 and '99.

In 1897 and 1899 the suffragists made strenuous attempts to secure a bill to amend the Intestate Law, which greatly discriminates against married women, but it was killed in committee.

Owing to a gradual advance in public sentiment laws have been enacted from time to time protecting wage-earning women; also enlarging the property rights of wives, enabling them to act as incorporators for business of profit, and giving them freedom to testify in court against their husbands under some circ.u.mstances.

In 1891 a number of influential women decided to form a corporation, with a stock company, for the purpose of building a club house and equipping the same to rent as a business of profit. The charter was refused, because several of the women making application were married.

After some delay enough single women were found to take out the letters patent. When incorporated the original number organized the company and built the New Century Club House in Philadelphia, which paid five per cent. to stockholders the first year. One of the members of this board of directors, to save time and trouble, made application to be appointed notary public, but she was refused because the law did not permit a woman to serve. Public attention was thus called to the injustice of these statutes and, after much legislative tinkering, laws were pa.s.sed in 1893 giving wives the same right as unmarried women to "acquire property, own, possess, control, use, lease, etc."

The same year women were made eligible to act as notaries public.

Dower and curtesy both obtain. If there is issue living, the widow is ent.i.tled to one-third of the real estate for her life and one-third of the personal property absolutely. If no issue is living, but collateral heirs, the widow is ent.i.tled to one-half of the real estate, including the mansion house, for her life, and one-half of the personal estate absolutely. If a wife die intestate, the widower, whether there has been issue born alive or not, has a life interest in all her real estate and all of her personal property absolutely. If there is neither issue nor kindred and no will the surviving husband or wife takes the whole estate.

A husband may mortgage real estate, including the homestead, without the wife's consent, but she can not mortgage even her own separate estate without his consent. Each can dispose of personal property as if single.

As a rule a married woman can not make a contract, but there are some exceptions. For instance, she can contract for the purchase of a sewing-machine for her own use. The wife must sue and be sued jointly with the husband.

A married woman must secure the privilege from the court of carrying on business in her own name.

The law provides that the party found guilty of adultery can not marry the co-respondent during the lifetime of the other party. If any divorced woman, who shall have been found guilty of adultery, shall afterward openly cohabit with the person proved to have been the partaker of her crime, she is rendered incapable of alienating either directly or indirectly any of her lands, tenements or hereditaments, and all wills, deeds, and other instruments of conveyance therefor are absolutely void, and after her death her property descends and is subject to distribution according to law in like manner as if she had died intestate. This latter clause does not apply to a divorced man.

In June, 1895, through the legislative committee of the State W. S.

A., Mrs. Lucretia L. Blankenburg, chairman, and with the co-operation of other women's organizations, the following law, championed by Representative Frank Riter, was secured:

The History of Woman Suffrage Volume IV Part 122

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