The History of Woman Suffrage Volume V Part 19
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Mrs. Stewart treated with delicious wit and sarcasm the resolution of protest against "the objection of indelicacy and impropriety which is so often brought against women who address a public audience by those who encourage their appearance in the theatre and the circus." Miss Clay discussed with dignity and seriousness the resolution that "equality of human rights necessarily follows ident.i.ty in capabilities and responsibilities." Mrs. Villard spoke of the great privilege of being the daughter of a reformer and said: "The cause of woman is so intimately connected with that of man that I think the men will be the gainers by its triumph even more than women." Mrs. Douglas, a brilliant young speaker from New Orleans, new to the suffrage platform, took up the resolution, "Woman has too long rested satisfied in the circ.u.mscribed limits which corrupt customs and a perverted application of the Scriptures have marked out for her, and it is time she should move in the enlarged sphere which her great Creator has a.s.signed to her," and said in part:
Only one thing can make me see the justness of woman being cla.s.sed with the idiot, the insane and the criminal and that is, if she is willing, if she is satisfied to be so cla.s.sed, if she is contented to remain in the circ.u.mscribed limits which corrupt customs and perverted application of the Scriptures have marked out for her. It is idiotic not to want one's liberty; it is insane not to value one's inalienable rights and it is criminal to neglect one's G.o.d-given responsibilities. G.o.d placed woman originally in the same sphere with man, with the same inspirations and aspirations, the same emotions and intellect and accountability.... The Chinamen for centuries have taken peculiar means for restricting women's activities by binding the feet of girl babies and yet there remains the significant fact that, after centuries of constraint, G.o.d continues to send the female child into the world with feet well formed, with a foundation as substantial to stand upon as that of the male child. As in this instance, so in all cases of restriction put upon women--they do not come from G.o.d but from man, beginning at birth.... For thousands of centuries woman has heard what sphere G.o.d wanted her to move in from men, G.o.d's self-ordained proxies. The thing for woman to do is to blaze the way of her s.e.x so thoroughly that sixteen-year-old boys in the next generation will not dare ask a scholarly woman incredulously if she really thinks women have sense enough to vote. Woman can enter into the larger sphere her great Creator has a.s.signed her only when she has an equal voice with man in forming public opinion, which crystalizes customs; only when her voice is heard in the pulpit, applying Scripture to man and woman equally, and when it is heard in the Legislature.
Only then can be realized the full import of G.o.d's words when He said, "It is not well for man to be alone."
Mrs. Douglas a.n.a.lyzed without mercy the p.r.o.nouncements of Paul regarding women and said: "The pulpits may insist that Paul was infallible but I prefer to believe that he was human and liable to err." When she had finished Dr. Shaw remarked dryly: "I have often thought that Paul was never equalled in his advice to wife, mother and maiden aunt except by the present occupant of the Presidential chair"
To Mrs. Blatch was given the privilege of speaking to the resolution so strenuously insisted upon by her mother: "It is the duty of the women of this country to secure to themselves their sacred right to the elective franchise." In the course of an animated speech she said:
Mrs. Stanton was quick to see and, what is greater, quick to seize the psychological moment, and in that July of 1848 she had not only the inspiration but the determination to grasp the opportunity to set forth a resolution asking "votes for women."
How clear was her vision, how perfect her sense of balance!
Property rights might be gained, rights of person protected, guardians.h.i.+p of children achieved, but without the ballot she saw all would be insecure. What was given today might be taken away tomorrow unless women themselves possessed the power to make or remake laws. Women are getting the sense of solidarity by being crowded together in the workshop; they are learning the lesson of fellows.h.i.+p. Brought side by side in the college and in the business world, they are beginning to learn that they have a common interest. They know now that they form a cla.s.s. The anti-suffragist is the isolated woman, she is the belated product of the 18th century. She is not intentionally, viciously selfish, she has merely not developed into 20th century fellows.h.i.+p. She is unrelated to our democratic society of today.... How shallow, in the face of that idea of duty in fulfilling our obligations of citizens.h.i.+p, sound the words of Governor Hughes that "when women want the vote they will get it!" Want it? That is no measure of social need. It was death to the nation to have slavery within its bounds but no one advised waiting until the enslaved negroes wanted to be free before this dire disease should be cured. The State needs the attention of women, their thought, their service, and so it becomes the duty of all who have the best interests of the State at heart to seek to bind women to it in closest bonds of citizens.h.i.+p.
In response to Resolution Eleven that, being held morally responsible, woman had therefore a right to express herself in public on all questions of morals and religion, the Rev. Mrs. Crane began with fine sarcasm: "To women has always unquestionably been allowed the being good. They are called too good to enter the slimy pool of politics.
They are complimented often in the spirit of the man who said to his wife: 'Angelina, you get up and make the fire; it will seem so much warmer if laid by your fair hands!' To women is also conceded the right to be religious and unfortunately it often happens that all the religion a man has is in his wife's name. Ruskin said: 'If you don't want the kingdom of heaven to come, don't pray for it but if you do want it to come you must do more than pray for it.' Women must vote as well as pray. Whoever is able to make peace in this distracted world is the one who should be allowed to do it."
A full report of the work among the churches was made at a morning meeting by Mrs. Lucy Hobart Day (Me.), chairman of the committee, which showed that eighteen States had appointed branch committees.
These had organized suffrage circles in different churches, encouraged debates among the young people, arranged meetings, distributed literature, obtained hearings before many kinds of religious bodies, secured resolutions and tried to have official recognition of women in the churches. Ministers had been requested to preach sermons in favor and many had done so, twenty-five in San Francisco alone. Mrs. Pauline Steinem (Ohio), chairman of the Committee on Education, reported on its efforts in organizing Mothers' and Parents' Clubs and working through these for suffrage; putting pictures of the pioneers in schools and securing the cooperation of the teachers for brief talks about them; supplying books containing selections from suffrage speeches, poems, etc., to be used in the schools. It was also proposed to see that text books on history and civics are written with a proper appreciation of the work of women.
Part of an afternoon was devoted to a discussion led by Dr. Rosalie Slaughter Morton (N. Y.), delegated representative of Prince Morrow and the American Society for Sanitary and Moral Prophylaxis. In an eloquent address she described the terrible devastation, especially among women and children, from diseases which until lately had been concealed and never mentioned. She attributed these conditions partly to the fact that boys and girls were left in ignorance and this was often because the mothers were ignorant. The chief cause of the wide prevalence of these diseases was the double standard of morals, the belief that a chaste life for a man is incompatible with health and that the consequences of immorality end with themselves and will not be transmitted. She urged women to unite in the demand for a higher standard of morals among men. Mrs. Gilman spoke strongly on the necessity for more vigorous measures for a quarantine of the infected and health certificates for every marriage and she laid a large share of the cause of immorality at the door of the economic dependence of women. Mrs. Florence Kelley, executive secretary of the National Consumers' League, whose life was being spent in improving the economic position of women, said: "How are we dealing with this monstrous evil? Are we going to wait patiently and rear a whole generation of children and grandchildren and trust to their gradual increase in strength of character?" She told of the mothers who bring up children in the best and wisest manner but the environment outside the home, which they have no power to shape, nullifies all their teaching. "That is a very slow way of dealing with a cancer," she said. "Women have tried for forty years to get the power to have the laws enforced and that is our greatest need today." A princ.i.p.al feature of this important discussion was the strong, a.n.a.lytical address of the Rev. Anna Garlin Spencer, in the course of which she said:
The formation of the New York Society for Sanitary and Moral Prophylaxis marked an important era. For the first time the physicians as a whole a.s.sumed a social duty to promote purity.
They had done it as individuals, but this was the first instance of their banding themselves together on a moral as well as a sanitary plane to enlighten the public as to the causes of social disease.... Dr. Prince Morrow should be everlastingly honored by every woman.... I consider no woman guiltless, whether she lives in a suffrage State or not, if she does not hold herself responsible for guarding less fortunate women. Corrupt custom has rent the sacred, seamless robe of womanhood and cast out part of the women, abandoning them to degradation. We must learn to recognize the responsibility of pure women for the fallen women, of the woman whose circ.u.mstances have enabled her to stand, for the woman whom adverse conditions have borne down. We should oppose the sacrifice of womanhood, whether of an innocent girl sacrificed with pomp and ceremony in church, or of a poor waif in the street; and the great protection is the ability of young girls to earn their living by congenial labor. All the social purity societies do not equal the trade schools as a preventive....
We must not look at this matter from only one point of view or say that we can do nothing about it until we are armed with the ballot. I am a suffragist but not "high church," I am a suffragist and something else. We ought to have the ballot, we are at a disadvantage in our work while we are deprived of it, but even without it we have great power. We must stamp out the traffic in womanhood, it is a survival of barbarism. Womanhood is a unit; no one woman can be an outcast without dire evil to family life. What caused the doctors to come together in a Society for Sanitary and Moral Prophylaxis? It was because the evil done in dark places came back in injury to the family life.... We must make ourselves more terrible than an army with banners to despoilers of womanhood.... Men are no longer to be excused for writing in scarlet on their foreheads their incapacity for self-control. None of us is longer to be excused for cowardice and acquiescence in the sacrifice of womanhood. Not even that woman--vilest of all creatures on the face of the earth I do believe--the procuress, shall be beyond the pale of sympathy, for she is merely the product of the feeling on the part of men that they owe nothing to women or to themselves in the way of purity, and the feeling on the part of women that they have no right to demand of men what men demand of them. If women are going to amount to anything in government, they would better begin to practice here and now and band themselves together with n.o.ble men to bring about this reform.
Of equal interest with Pioneers' Evening and in striking contrast with it was the College Evening. One commemorated the first efforts to obtain a college education for women, the other the full fruition of these efforts in the announcement of a National College Women's Equal Suffrage League with branches in fifteen States. Dr. Shaw, possessing three college degrees, opened the session, and the founder of the League, Mrs. Maud Wood Park, a graduate of Radcliffe College, presided. "With the exception of Oberlin and Antioch," she said, "not one college was open to women before the organized movement for woman suffrage began." She gave statistics of the large number now open to them and said: "Such facts as these help us to understand the service which the leaders of the suffrage movement performed for college women and it is fitting that these should make public recognition of their debt. It was with this idea of responsibility for benefits received that the first branch of this League was formed in Ma.s.sachusetts in 1900. The League realizes that the best way to pay our debt to the n.o.ble women who toiled and suffered, who bore ridicule, insult and privation, is for us in our turn to sow the seed of future opportunities for women."
In introducing Dr. Sophonisba P. Breckinridge, dean of the Junior Women's College of the University of Chicago, Mrs. Park said that she had half the letters of the alphabet attached to her name representing degrees. Dr. Breckinridge also paid a tribute of grat.i.tude to the National Suffrage a.s.sociation and began her address: "My faith has three articles. I believe it is the right and the duty of the wage-earning woman to claim the ballot and to have her claim recognized to partic.i.p.ate in the political life of her community. Her status as a worker depends in part upon it and only thus can she protect the interests of her group. I believe it is the right and duty of the wife and mother to claim the ballot, for as a housekeeper and carer of her children she cannot do her work economically and satisfactorily without it. It is easy to see why the wage-earning women and the housekeepers need the ballot; but why should we, who do not belong to either of those groups, want it? Every woman should want it because tasks lie before the public so difficult that they can not be fulfilled without the cooperation of all the trained minds in the community, and these problems can be met only by collective action. We want to get hold of the little device that moves the machinery."
Miss Caroline Lexow, president of the New York branch of the league, a graduate of Barnard College, a part of Columbia University, "charmed the audience with her girlish simplicity and with the tribute she paid to the women who more than half a century ago sowed the seeds which have yielded so rich a harvest for the women of today," to quote from an enthusiastic reporter. Of another young speaker the Buffalo _Express_ said: "To the front of the platform stepped a sweet-faced, bright-eyed, rosy English girl, Miss Ray Costello, a graduate of Newnham College, Cambridge University, who spoke on Equal Suffrage among English University Women. She had captured her audience before she started to describe the energetic work of the college women." "In England as in the United States," Miss Costello said, "the pioneers in the demand for higher education were also pioneers in the demand for votes. When the action of the 'militant' suffragettes brought the question into such prominence that the opponents began to state their objections, the college women were aroused and became more and more active, but as a whole they were in favor of peaceful rather than militant tactics." She told also of the growth of favorable sentiment in the men's colleges.
This was the first appearance at a national suffrage convention of Mrs. Frances Squire Potter, professor of English in the University of Minnesota, and her address on Women and the Vote was one of the ablest ever given before this body which was accustomed to superior addresses. Limited s.p.a.ce forbids extended quotation:
Louis XIV said an infamous thing when he declared: "I am the State," but he announced his position frankly. He was an autocrat and he said so. It was a more honest and therefore less harmful position than that of a majority of voters in our country today.
Can it help but confuse and deteriorate one s.e.x, trained to believe and call itself living in a democracy, to say silently year by year at the polls, "I am the State"? Can it help but confuse and deteriorate the other s.e.x, similarly trained to acquiescence year after year in a national misrepresentation and a personal no-representation? This fundamental insincerity of our so-called democracy is as insidious an influence upon the minds and morals of our franchised men, our unfranchised women and our young Americans of both s.e.xes, as hypocrisy is to a church member or spurious currency to a bank. It is to be remembered that the evils which are pointed out in our commonwealth today are not the evils of a democracy but of an amorphous something which is afraid to be a democracy. Whether the opposition to women's voting be honestly professed or whether it is concealed under chivalrous idolatry, distrust and skepticism are behind it....
When pushed to the wall, objectors to woman suffrage now-a-days take refuge behind one of two plat.i.tudes: The first is used too often by women whose public activities ought logically to make them suffragists--the a.s.sertion that equal suffrage is bound to come in time but that at present there are more pressing needs.
"Let us get the poor better housed and fed," these women say.
"Let us get our schools improved and our cities cleaned up and then we shall have time to take up the cause of equal suffrage."
Is not this a survival of that old vice of womankind, indirection?... The suffrage issue should not be put off but should be placed first, as making the other issues easier and more permanent....
This brings me to the other plat.i.tude. How often we are told, "Women themselves do not want it; when they do it will be given to them." That is to say, when an overwhelming majority of women want what they ought to have, then they can have it. Extension of suffrage never has been granted on these terms. No great reform has gone through on these terms. In an enlightened State wanting is not considered a necessary condition to the granting of education or the extension of any privilege. Such a State confers it in order to create the desire; unenlightened States, like Turkey and Russia, hold off until revolution compels a reluctant, n.i.g.g.ardly abdication of tyranny.... We have the conviction that that which has come in Finland and Australia, which is coming in Great Britain, will come in America, and there is a majesty in the sight of a great world-tide which has been gathering force through generations, which is rising steadily and irresistibly, that should paralyze any American Xerxes who thinks to stop it with humanly created restraints.
Dr. M. Carey Thomas, president of Bryn Mawr College, received an ovation. "The formation of this National College League," she said, "indicates that college women will be ready to bear their part in the stupendous social change of which the demand for woman suffrage is only the outward symbol," and she continued:
Sixty years ago all university studies and all the charmed world of scholars.h.i.+p were a man's world, in which women had no share.
Now, although only one woman in one thousand goes to college even in the United States, where there are more college women than in any other country, the position of every individual woman in every part of the civilized world has been changed because this one thousandth per cent. have proved beyond the possibility of question that in intellect there is no s.e.x, that the acc.u.mulated learning of our great past and of our still greater future is the inheritance of women also. Men have admitted women into intellectual comrades.h.i.+p and the opinions of educated women can no longer be ignored by educated men.... Women are one-half of the world, but until a century ago the world of music and painting and sculpture and literature and scholars.h.i.+p and science was a man's world. The world of trades and professions and work of all kinds was a man's world. Women lived a twilight life, a half-life apart, and looked out and saw men as shadows walking.
Now women have won the right to higher education and to economic independence. The right to become citizens of the State is the next and inevitable consequence of education and work outside the home. We have gone so far; we must go farther. Why are we afraid?
It is the next step forward on the path toward the sunrise--and the sun is rising over a new heaven and a new earth.
The National College Women's Equal Suffrage League was formally organized as auxiliary to the National American a.s.sociation, with Dr.
Thomas president, Miss Lexow secretary; Dr. Margaret Long, of Smith College, treasurer; Mrs. Park chairman of the organization committee; Dr. Breckinridge, Mrs. C. S. Woodward, adviser to women in the University of Wisconsin, and Miss Frances W. McLean of the University of California were among the vice-presidents. Three thousand dollars were appropriated for its work the first year from the Anthony Memorial Fund. The following day Mrs. George Howard Lewis gave a beautiful luncheon at the Twentieth Century Club in honor of Dr. Shaw, Dr. Thomas and the college women and it included the officials of the national and State suffrage a.s.sociations. The tables were decorated with orchids and yellow chrysanthemums and there were corsage bouquets of violets for the guests of honor.
The women ministers in attendance and some of the delegates spoke in various churches Sunday morning. A departure was made from the usual custom of holding religious services in the afternoon and they were replaced by an industrial meeting. One of the city papers thus introduced its account: "Any theatre after a packed house had better advertise a woman's meeting with the Rev. Anna Howard Shaw presiding.
At the Star Theatre, where an industrial ma.s.s meeting was held under the auspices of the National Suffrage a.s.sociation yesterday afternoon, when Dr. Shaw stepped to the front of the stage to call it to order, men, as well as women, filled all the seats on the ground floor and packed the galleries and boxes, while many stood during the entire program and many more were turned away. It was the largest meeting in the cause of equal suffrage that Buffalo has ever known. After prayer by the Rev. Robert Freeman and a musical selection by the choir of the First Unitarian Church, Dr. Shaw announced that the audience would rise while Julia Ward Howe's Battle Hymn of the Republic was sung. She stood with bowed head as she listened. "Some one asked me this morning if I am very happy," said Dr. Shaw, "and I said yes, for I have everything in the world that is necessary to happiness, good faith, good friends and all the work I can possibly do. I think G.o.d's greatest blessing to the human race was when He sent man forth into the world to earn his bread by the sweat of his face. I believe in toil, in the dignity of labor, but I also believe in adequate compensation for that toil."
The report of the committee on Industrial Problems Affecting Women and Children was given by its chairman, Mrs. Kelley, executive secretary of the National Consumers' League, in which she said: "In New York woman can not be deprived of the sacred right to work all night in factories on pain of dismissal. Such is the recent decision of the Court of Appeals. On the other hand the same Court has within a week held that the law is const.i.tutional which restricts to eight hours the work of men employed by the State, the county or the city. I wish the women who think that 'persuasion' is all-sufficient might have our experience in New York City; we worked for twelve years to get inspectors who should look after the women and children in stores and mercantile establishments. At last an act was pa.s.sed by which inspectors were to be appointed and for about a year and a half they really inspected and looked after the children and young girls in the stores. Then a great philanthropist, Nathan Straus, who was connected with an establishment employing many young people, got himself appointed, as he frankly said, in order to get the salaries of the inspectors stricken out of the budget and to get sterilized milk put into it. He got the salaries out and the sterilized milk in and then he resigned. The next year his successor got the sterilized milk out and there we were, back just where we had been at the beginning. We had to set to work again and labor for years longer, pet.i.tioning all the changing and kaleidoscopic officials who have to do with the finances of New York; and one mayor said frankly to us--to the Consumers' League: "Ladies, why do you keep on coming? You know you will never get anything--there isn't a voter among you!..." Mrs.
Kelley said the Consumers' League had been investigating the condition of girls working in stores, away from home, and she gave a heartbreaking account of their dest.i.tution and semi-starvation. "Only nineteen States protect grown women at all," she said. "I am very tired of 'persuasion' and from this time on I mean to try other methods."
Intense interest was manifested in the address ent.i.tled n.o.blesse Oblige by Miss Jean Gordon, factory inspector for New Orleans, in which she said in part:
One of the strongest and truest criticisms brought against our American leisure cla.s.s is that they are absolutely devoid of a proper appreciation of what is conveyed in the expression, "n.o.blesse Oblige." In no country in the world are there so many young women of education, wealth and leisure, free as the winds of heaven to do as they wish. In no country are there more interesting problems to be solved and one would think such work would appeal to this very cla.s.s, especially as most of them are the daughters of men who by their large constructive minds have created conditions and opportunities and developed them into the great industries for which America is justly famous; and it would seem by the law of cross inheritance that these daughters would inherit some of the great creative ability of their fathers and fairly burn to apply their leisure and education to working out the social problems which are besetting more and more this great country. But unfortunately, with a few exceptions, they rest contented with playing the Lady Bountiful and their only appreciation of the spirit of n.o.blesse Oblige has been the old, aristocratic idea of charity....
Think what it would mean to bring their trained minds and great wealth and leisure to the study of the economic conditions which are represented in the underpaid services and long hours of their less fortunate sisters in the mills and factories throughout this broad land! Think what it would mean if from the protection with which their wealth and position surround them they took their stand on the great question of the dual code of morality! Think what it would mean to the little children being stunted mentally and physically in our mills and factories, if these thousands of young women, many of them enjoying the wealth made out of these little human souls, refused to wear or buy anything made under any but decent living conditions! Think what it would mean if they decided that every child should have a seat in school, that every neighborhood should have a play-ground and a public bath!
Too long the men and women of leisure and education in America have left the administration of our public affairs to fall into the hands of a cla.s.s whose conception of the duties involved in public service is of the lowest order.... Instead of being regarded as only fitted for women of ordinary position and intellect, all offices such as superintendents of reformatories, matrons and women factory inspectors, should be filled by women of standing, education, refinement and independent means. Such women would be above the temptation of graft or the fear of losing their positions. They are on a social footing with the manufacturers and no mill or factory owner likes to meet the factory inspector at a reception or dining in the home of a mutual friend if he is trying to evade the law. American women of leisure must awaken to an appreciation of the democratic idea of n.o.blesse Oblige.
Mrs. Blatch was introduced as "president of the Self-Supporting Women's Suffrage League and the only one in it who was not self-supporting in the accepted sense of the term." "When I hear that there are 5,000,000 working women in this country," said Dr. Shaw, "I always take occasion to say that there are 18,000,000 but only 5,000,000 receive their wages." Mrs. Blatch traced the changes of the years which have made it necessary for women to go out of the home to earn their bread in factory, shop and mercantile establishments.
"Cooperation is the only way out of the present condition of the working women," she a.s.serted. "President Thomas said last night that the gates of knowledge had swung wide open for women. They have not done so for the working girls." She pointed out the many opportunities for the boys to learn the trades which are denied to the girls. "There is only one way to redress their wrongs and that is by the ballot,"
she declared, and in closing she said: "Of all the people who block the progress of woman suffrage the worst are the women of wealth and leisure who never knew a day's work and never felt a day's want, but who selfishly stand in the way of those women who know what it means to earn the bread they eat by the sternest toil and who, with a voice in the Government, could better themselves in every way."
The last address was made by Dr. Shaw and even the cold, prosaic official report of the convention said: "It was one of the greatest speeches of the entire week." She began by telling of the immense demonstration in London during the past summer when 10,000 women marched through the streets to prove to the Government that women did want to vote, and then she proceeded to tell why American women wanted it and how they were determined to compel some action by the Government. In the evening the officers held a reception for the delegates, speakers and friends in the Lenox Hotel, convention headquarters.
In the Monday afternoon symposium the stock objections to woman suffrage were considered by Miss Lexow, Miss Laura Gregg (Kans.), Mrs.
William C. Gannett (N. Y.), Mrs. Kelley and Miss Maude E. Miner, a probation officer in New York. Miss Miner said in answering the objection to "the immoral vote": "Is the fact that immoral women would have the vote a real objection? I do not believe that it is. In the first place such women are a very small proportion of the whole. Fifty to one hundred a night are brought into the night court but we see the same faces over and over again. There are perhaps 5,000 such women in New York City in a population of four million but there is less reason against enfranchising the woman than for disfranchising some of the men, as there are at least 4,000 men who are living wholly or in part on these women's earnings.... I do not believe that all women who have fallen would use their votes for evil. I have dealt with 250 of them and I am often surprised to see how much sense of honor some of them have and how intelligent they are. At present they are the slaves of the saloon-keepers, and the Raines law hotels and the saloons are at the root of the evil. We ought to do more to protect them from such a life.... It seems to be women's work to deal with such problems and to secure legislation along these lines and we can only do this by having the ballot. With it we can do much more in the way of breaking up the power of the saloon in politics, which is at the bottom of all."
Dr. Shaw was quickly on her feet to say that Miss Miner had touched upon the vital spot in the whole suffrage movement; that the liquor interests were at the bottom of the opposition to it and that in the States where it had been defeated they were responsible. Mrs. Kelley spoke for The Woman at the Bottom of the Heap, who had even greater need of the ballot than her more fortunate sisters. Mrs. Gannett, wife of the Unitarian minister, William C. Gannett of Rochester, N. Y., both loving friends of Miss Anthony, considered the a.s.sertion that "women do not want to vote," saying in part:
They tell us that women can bring better things to pa.s.s by indirect influence. Try to persuade any man that he will have more weight, more influence, if he gives up his vote, allies himself with no party and relies on influence to achieve his ends! By all means let us use to its utmost whatever influence we have, but in all justice do not ask us to be content with this.
Facts show that a large body of earnest, responsible women do want the ballot, a body large enough to deserve very respectful hearing from our law-makers, but there certainly are many women who do not yet want to vote. We think they ought to want it; that women have no more right than men to accept and enjoy the protection and privileges of civilized government and s.h.i.+rk its duties and responsibilities. They say they do not thus s.h.i.+rk, that woman's sphere lies in a different place, and we answer: "This is true but only part of the truth." ... Munic.i.p.al government belongs far more to woman's sphere than to man's, if we must choose between the two; it is home-making and housekeeping writ large, but just as the best home is that where father and mother together rule, so shall we have the better city, the better State, when men and women together counsel, together rule. No mother fulfills her whole mother duty in the sight of G.o.d who is not willing to do her service, to take her share of direct responsibility for the good of the whole. She can not fully care for her own without some care for all the children of the community. Her own, however guarded, are menaced so long as the least of these is exposed to pestilence or is robbed of his birthright of fresh air and suns.h.i.+ne.
The hard struggle and toil of our honored pioneers was for Woman's Rights. We of the coming day must take up the cry of Woman's Duty. We live in the new age; new obligations are laid upon us. We must labor until no woman in the land shall be content to say, "I am not willing to pay the price I owe for the comfort and safety of my life"; until every woman shall be ashamed not to demand equal duties and equal responsibilities for the common weal; until none can be found of whom it can with truth be said, "They do not want to vote."
Miss Gregg discussed The Real Enemy, and, while endorsing all that had been said, a.s.serted that "this enemy is among our own s.e.x." "It is not the anti-suffragist," she said, "she is our unwilling ally, for when there is danger that we might fall asleep she arouses us by buzzing about our ears with her misrepresentations. It is not the indifferent suffragist, she can be galvanized into life. Our real enemy is the dead or dormant suffragist," and then she preached a stirring sermon on the necessity for hard, incessant, faithful work by all who were enlisted heart and soul in this cause.
Mrs. Upton, the treasurer, called attention to the mistaken idea conveyed through the newspapers that the a.s.sociation had unlimited funds. The report that it intended to raise $100,000 had been made to read that it had raised it, and the Garrett-Thomas fund of $12,000 a year had caused many to cease their subscriptions. The new opportunities for effective work caused larger demands for money than ever before and the year 1907 had been the most anxious the board had known. The expenditures had been larger than the receipts and most of the balance that was in the treasury had been used. Even this strong statement, backed by an appeal from Dr. Shaw, brought pledges only to the amount of $3,600, a less amount than for years, the delegates, many of small means, still feeling that their former subscriptions were not necessary. Dr. Shaw then read to the convention a letter to herself from Mrs. George Howard Lewis of Buffalo, who expressed the pleasure of the New York State suffrage clubs that the 60th anniversary of the first Woman's Rights Convention had been held in this city, at Miss Anthony's expressed wish, and ended: "In memory of Susan B. Anthony will you accept the enclosed check for $10,000 to be used as the national officers deem best in the work, so dear to her and to all true lovers of justice, for the enfranchis.e.m.e.nt of women?"
As she showed the enclosure Dr. Shaw said: "This is the largest check I ever held in my hand." The convention rose in appreciation of Mrs.
Lewis's generous gift.
The report of Mrs. Ida Porter Boyer, chairman of the Libraries Committee, the result of a month's research in the Library of Congress in Was.h.i.+ngton and another month in the Public Library of Boston, was most interesting, as it dealt with old ma.n.u.scripts and books on the Rights of Women written in the 16th and 17th centuries. The valuable report of Mrs. Lucretia L. Blankenburg, chairman of the Committee on Legislation and Civil Rights, embodied those of presidents of twenty-three State Suffrage a.s.sociations, covering school, labor, factory and temperance laws, mercantile inspection, juvenile courts, educational matters, protection of wives and many others relating to the welfare of women and children, most of them showing advance.
The speakers at the Monday evening session were Miss Harriet Grim, winner of the Springer prize for the best essay written by an Illinois college student, who described "The Womanly Woman in Politics"; Mrs.
Katharine Reed Balentine (Me.), daughter of Thomas B. Reed, the famous Speaker of the lower house of Congress and a staunch suffragist, and the brilliant orator, Mrs. Philip Snowden of England. Mrs. Balentine said in beginning her address that now women were voting in Russia she had the courage to hope that they would sometime obtain the suffrage in New York, Ma.s.sachusetts and Maine, and continued in part:
In England the last final argument, that women do not themselves want the franchise, has in the light of recent events become ridiculous. On June 13, 15,000 suffragists paraded through the streets of London and it is said that the woman suffrage meeting of June 21 was the largest public meeting ever held for any cause. Fifty thousand women have just stormed Parliament.... No one now doubts that the women of England want and intend to have votes. It is said that history repeats itself but this particular phenomenon--the world-wide claim of women to political equality with men--has never appeared before; it has no historic precedent....
Does disfranchised influence, unsteadied by the responsibility of the ballot and the broadening experience of public service, make for the greatest good to the greatest number, which is the aim of true democracy? Can women, and do the average, every-day women in their present condition as subjects take a very lively interest in the real welfare of the State? Hardly, and are not men and children affected by this indifference? It could scarcely be otherwise. It may be said that average men, notwithstanding their possession of the ballot, are indifferent to the public weal, but are they not rendered doubly so by continually a.s.sociating with a cla.s.s that feels no allegiance to the State?... In the political subjection and consequent political ignorance and indifference of women, men are unconsciously forging their own fetters. They can not retain their rights unless they share them with women. This is the true significance of the woman suffrage movement throughout the world. It is a vast attempt at the establis.h.i.+ng of real government by the people of republics which, being real, shall endure; and as such it is as much a movement for men's rights as for women's.
The History of Woman Suffrage Volume V Part 19
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