The History of Woman Suffrage Volume IV Part 126

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Neblett, Miss Clay and Mrs. Young spoke at Allendale, Barnwell, Hampton and Beaufort.

Miss Clay, auditor of the National a.s.sociation, worked four months in South Carolina this year at her own expense. Half of the time was spent in Columbia, a.s.sisting Mrs. Young and others in the effort to have an amendment giving suffrage to taxpaying women incorporated in the new const.i.tution then being framed. They had hearings before two committees in September, and presented their arguments to the entire Const.i.tutional Convention in the State House, with a large number of citizens present. The amendment failed by a vote of 26 yeas, 121 nays.

President D. B. Johnston, of the Girls' Industrial and Normal College, and John J. McMahan, State superintendent of instruction, have done much to advance the educational status of women, and both believe in perfect equality of rights. Among other advocates may be mentioned the Hon. Walter Hazard, Dr. William J. Young, McDonald Furman, B. Odell Duncan, George Sirrene, Col. John J. Dargan, Col. Ellison Keith, the Rev. Sidi H. Brown, Col. V. P. Clayton, the Rev. John T. Morrison, Samuel G. Lawton, J. Gordon Coogler and William D. Evans, president of the State Agricultural Society.

Miss Martha Schofield, superintendent of the Colored Industrial School at Aiken, regularly enters a protest against paying taxes without representation. Other women who have been devoted workers in the cause of suffrage are Miss Mary I. Hemphill, editor with her father of the Abbeville _Medium_; Mesdames Marion Morgan Buckner, Daisy P. Bailey, Florence Durant Evans, Lillian D. Clayton, Gertrude D. Lido, Cora S.

Lott, Abbie Christensen, Martha Corley and Mary P. Screven; Dr. Sarah Allen; Misses Claudia G. Tharin, Iva Youmans, Annie Durant, Kate Lily Blue and Floride Cunningham.

LEGISLATIVE ACTION AND LAWS: In 1892 Mrs. Virginia Durant Young pet.i.tioned the Legislature for her personal enfranchis.e.m.e.nt, adopting this method of presenting the arguments in a nutsh.e.l.l, and as "news"

they were widely published and commented on. At this session Gen.

Robert R. Hemphill, a stanch advocate, presented a bill in the Senate to give women the franchise and the right of holding office, and brought it to a vote on December 17; yeas, 14, nays, 21.

In 1895 numerously signed pet.i.tions for suffrage were sent to the Legislature by the women of Fairfax, Lexington and Marion. The right of pet.i.tion was also frequently used by the members of the State W. C.

T. U.

In 1896 Mrs. Young addressed the Legislature in behalf of Presidential Suffrage for women.

In 1892, '93, '95 and '98 the laws were improved in regard to married women's property rights, allowing them to hold real estate independently of their husbands, restraining husbands from collecting debts or wages owing to their wives, and making the wife's signature necessary to the legality of mortgage.

In 1895 was enacted by the Const.i.tutional Convention that, "The real and personal property of a woman, held at the time of her marriage, or that which she may thereafter acquire, either by gift, grant, inheritance, devise or otherwise, shall be her separate property, and she shall have all the rights incident to the same, to which an unmarried woman or a man is ent.i.tled. She shall have the power to contract and be contracted with, in the same manner as if she were unmarried."

Dower prevails but not curtesy. If either husband or wife die without a will the other has an equal claim on the property. Should there be one or more children, the survivor receives one-third of the real and the personal estate. If there are no lineal descendants, but collateral heirs, the survivor takes one-half of the entire estate. If there are no lineal descendants, father, mother, brother, sister, child of such brother or sister, brother of the half-blood or lineal ancestor, the survivor receives two-thirds of the estate and the other third goes to the next of kin. If there is no kin, the survivor takes the whole estate.

A homestead to the value of $1,000 is exempted to "the head of the family."

South Carolina is the only State which does not allow divorce.

The father is the legal guardian of the children, and may appoint a guardian of their persons and property by will.

The law requires the husband to support the family, but there is no effective way for its enforcement. Any one may sell the wife necessaries and subject the husband's property to the payment of the bills, if he does not furnish a suitable support, but he can claim his homestead against such a debt and in many ways render this remedy unavailing.

In 1895 the "age of protection for girls" was raised from 10 to 14 years. The penalty is "death, with privilege of the jury to recommend to mercy, whereupon the penalty may be reduced to imprisonment in the penitentiary at hard labor during the whole lifetime of the prisoner."

Seduction under promise of marriage is punished by a fine of not less than $500 nor more than $5,000, or imprisonment for not less than six months nor more than five years.

SUFFRAGE: Women possess no form of suffrage.

OFFICE HOLDING: In the early '90's Gov. Benjamin R. Tillman secured the election of the first woman State librarian. Ever since this office has been filled by a woman, elected annually by the Legislature. No other elective office is open to women.

A number of the engrossing clerks in the Senate are women.

Through the efforts of the W. C. T. U. there is a police matron at Charleston.

Dr. Sarah Allen was appointed physician in the State hospital for the insane in 1896, and still holds the position.

There are women directors on the board of the Columbia Library a.s.sociation.

Women do not serve on the board of any State inst.i.tution.

They can not be notaries public.

OCCUPATIONS: Women are not permitted to practice law. No other profession or occupation is legally forbidden to them.

EDUCATION: In 1894 the State University at Columbia opened its doors to women. In the same year the Medical College of Charleston admitted them, and still later Furman University (Baptist) at Greenville. These were direct results of the agitation for equal rights. Charleston College and Clemson Agricultural College are closed to women, but they may enter the other educational inst.i.tutions. Gov. Benjamin R. Tillman was largely instrumental in securing the Girls' Industrial and Normal College at Rock Hill, in 1894.

In the public schools there are 2,245 men and 2,728 women teachers.

The average monthly salary of the men is $25.18; of the women, $24.29.

FOOTNOTES:

[434] The History is indebted for this chapter to Mrs. Virginia D.

Young of Fairfax, owner and editor of the _Enterprise_ and president of the State Woman Suffrage a.s.sociation.

CHAPTER LXIV.

TENNESSEE.[435]

No organized work for woman suffrage had been done in Tennessee up to 1885, when Mrs. Elizabeth Lyle Saxon was appointed president of the State by the National a.s.sociation. In 1886 she removed to Was.h.i.+ngton Territory and Mrs. Lida A. Meriwether was made her successor. As the best means of obtaining a hearing from people who would not attend a suffrage meeting, Mrs. Meriwether decided to begin her work in the ranks of the Woman's Christian Temperance Union. After three years of quiet effort in this organization (of which she was State president) she succeeded in adding the "franchise" to its departments and having a solid suffrage plank nailed into its platform by unanimous vote. In May, 1889, she formed in Memphis the first local suffrage club, with a members.h.i.+p of fifty.

In January, 1895, Miss Susan B. Anthony, president of the National a.s.sociation, and Mrs. Carrie Chapman Catt, chairman of its organization committee, came to Memphis and were welcomed not only by the suffrage society, but also by the Local Council of Women, the Woman's Club and the Nineteenth Century Club. They addressed a fine audience in the Young Men's Hebrew a.s.sociation Hall.

The following June Mrs. Meriwether was employed by the National a.s.sociation to lecture and organize for two weeks, and visited the most important towns in the State.

In May, 1897, Miss Frances A. Griffin of Alabama made a six weeks'

lecture and organizing tour under the auspices of the a.s.sociation, during which she spoke in every available town of any size, Mrs.

Nellie E. Bergen acting as advance agent. No other organizing work ever has been done in Tennessee.

The first State suffrage convention was held at Nashville in May, 1897, an a.s.sociation formed and Mrs. Meriwether unanimously elected president. This was in fact an interstate convention, being held during the Tennessee Centennial Exposition at the invitation of the managing committee, who offered the suffragists the use of the Woman's Building for three days to give reasons for the faith that was in them. Delegates were present from Tennessee, Kentucky, Alabama, Mississippi and Illinois. Addresses were given by Miss Laura Clay and Mrs. Lida Calvert Obenchain of Kentucky, Mrs. Virginia Clay Clopton and Miss Griffin of Alabama, Miss Josephine E. Locke of Illinois, Mrs.

Flora C. Huntington and Mrs. Meriwether.

The second convention took place at Memphis, April 22, 1900, Mrs.

Chapman Catt and Miss Mary G. Hay, national organizer, in attendance.

Mrs. Meriwether was elected honorary president for life; Mrs. Elise M.

Selden was made president and Miss Margaret E. Henry, corresponding secretary. On Sunday evening Mrs. Chapman Catt addressed a ma.s.s meeting in the Grand Opera House, and the next evening spoke in the audience hall of the Nineteenth Century Club, both given free of charge.

One incident will further show the growth of public sentiment in this direction. In 1895 a prominent Memphis woman sent to the _Arena_ an article ent.i.tled The Att.i.tude of Southern Women on the Suffrage Question, which she claimed to be that of uncompromising opposition.

In conclusion she said: "The views presented have been strengthened by opinions from women all over the South, from the Atlantic Coast to Texas, from the Ohio to the Gulf. More than one hundred of the home-makers, the teachers and the writers have been consulted, all of them recognized in their own communities for earnestness and ability.

Of these, only thirteen declared themselves outright for woman suffrage; four believed that women should vote upon property and school questions; while nine declined to express themselves. All the others were opposed to woman suffrage in any form." She then gave short extracts from the letters of eighteen women, four in favor and fourteen opposed.

The editor wrote to Mrs. Josephine K. Henry of Kentucky asking for an article from the other side. She sent one ent.i.tled The New Woman of the New South, and the two were published in the _Arena_ of February, 1895. Mrs. Henry gave extracts from the letters of seventy-two prominent women in various parts of the South--all uncompromising suffragists. She had written to Mrs. Meriwether that, as her opponent was from Tennessee, she wanted a distinct voice from that State, and requested her to give a few reasons for desiring the suffrage and obtain the signatures of women to the same. Mrs. Meriwether supplied the following:

We, the undersigned women of Tennessee, do and should want the ballot because--

1. Being 21 years old, we object to being cla.s.sed with minors.

The History of Woman Suffrage Volume IV Part 126

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