The History of Woman Suffrage Volume V Part 25

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Mondell (Wyo.). Mrs. Kelley called attention to the pet.i.tion of 404,823 names, saying: "Among those who have signed the pet.i.tion are sixteen Governors, a large number of Mayors and many State, county and city officials; many of the best-known instructors and writers on political economy and many presidents of colleges and universities. It includes the names of many Judges of Supreme Courts and among them the Chief Justice and a.s.sociate Justice of Hawaii. It contains a long list of the names of persons engaged in various trades and from those in the thirty-three States which are cla.s.sified are 7,515 professional people, lawyers, doctors, clergymen and others; also 52,603 listed as home keepers."

Mrs. Susan W. Fitzgerald (Ma.s.s.) said in part: "I come here to speak for those 52,000 home makers who signed the pet.i.tion to Congress asking for equal political rights in this democracy.... To ask woman under our modern industrial conditions to care adequately for her home and family without a right to share in the making of the laws and the electing of all those officers who are to enforce the laws is like asking people to make bricks without straw. It cannot be done. We must remember that in the early days of this country a family was practically self-supporting and independent of the rest of the community; a man and a woman working together could provide for their family all that was necessary for their sustenance; meats, vegetables, grains, milk, eggs, b.u.t.ter, cheese, all were home products. They provided their own lighting and controlled their own water supply. The women spun the thread, wove the cloth, dyed it and made the garments.

In every way, if it was necessary, the family could maintain its existence independent of the cooperation of society except in the one matter of defense from violence. None of this is true today." Mrs.

Fitzgerald took up the questions of food, drink and clothing as supplied at the present time and showed the great need that women should have a voice in the legislation that controls their production.

It had been announced that all of the arguments would be made along industrial lines. Arthur E. Holder, of the legislative committee of the American Federation of Labor, presented for the record a series of the very positive resolutions for woman suffrage which had been adopted by that body at its annual conventions beginning with 1904 and read the one pa.s.sed at Toronto in 1909: "The best interests of labor require the admission of women to full citizens.h.i.+p as a matter of justice to them and as a necessary step toward insuring and raising the scale of wages for all." He closed a strong speech by saying: "We want the right of representation for all the people, women as well as men. Women have been disfranchised in our country long enough and we now ask for that measure which will const.i.tutionally grant the right to vote to the women of our land. We believe that women ought to be free agents, free selectors, free voters. The law is no respecter of persons. Women cannot s.h.i.+rk their responsibility because they are women; neither should they be longer denied their normal citizens.h.i.+p rights and privileges because they are women."

In a most convincing address Mrs. Elizabeth Schauss, factory inspector of Ohio, said:

It seems almost superfluous that we should come here pleading for the vote when we know it is the only thing which will give the wage-earning woman the protection that she needs and should have, as to-day she has absolutely no chance beside her brother.

Although she gives the same quality and the same amount of work yet she can not command the same wage, and why? Simply because she is not a recognized citizen by virtue of the ballot. If you would go into the factories, the mills, the mercantile establishments and meet these women and learn from them the indignities to which they ofttimes are subjected in order that they may retain their places you would not wait for any one to come here and argue the question with you. You would see for yourselves that the only remedy is to grant to them that same protection that you give to every man over 21 years of age. The girl so employed submits in a way to these things because she is thinking of the time when her factory days will be over, when she will make a home for husband and children, and G.o.d forbid that the time shall ever come that our girls will lose sight of this, their greatest vocation! But before they are competent to take charge of the home in every sense of the word, before they can give to their children all that these should have, they must themselves be placed upon a basis of equality with their husbands....

Why should I, a tax-paying woman, be denied the right by casting my ballot to say how these taxes that I am paying shall be expended? In the light of progress and of American civilization, we know this cannot continue. We have great things at stake in our children. We are trying to take away that shadow which rests upon these United States, the shadow of child labor. It will not be done until the mothers have the right to speak for their children through the ballot. We are looking for the day when we shall be able to stand shoulder to shoulder with our men and share with them the burdens and responsibilities of this greatest nation and be able to hold up our heads and say: "We are on an equal footing because we have men in the United States who recognize equality of rights."

Mrs. Raymond Robins, thoroughly qualified to speak on this question, said in part: "I have the great honor and privilege of representing, as president of the National Women's Trade Union League, something like 75,000 organized working women, and I believe all through our country as well as through all the world there is a growing recognition of the cost of our modern industrial conditions to women.

These are such that in many thousands of instances the motherhood of our girls has to be forfeited. No one knows except those who have made a very intimate and careful study of the present cost of social and industrial conditions how great that cost is. When we demanded in Illinois the limiting of the working hours for women to ten a day, many of our women physicians brought forward facts of great value showing the tremendous physical danger to girls of overwork. At present a very interesting and valuable investigation is going on, led by some of our woman physicians, showing the evil result on the second generation of these industrial conditions.... These facts are of national importance and it is because right there is the crux of the entire situation that we women are working for the ballot, for the sake of protecting the womanhood and motherhood of our 6,000,000 working women, I think half of them under 21 years of age...."

Mrs. Robins gave a number of special instances and in answer to the question how the ballot would remedy these evils, she said: "The women, an unorganized group, get together and take collective action and they find themselves not fighting their industrial battles in the economic field but in the political field and the weapons that are constantly used against them with the greatest success are political weapons. The power of the police and of the courts is used against them in many instances and whenever they try to meet that expression of political power, they are handicapped because there is no force in their hands to help change it...."

In the course of a speech punctuated with lively questions and answers Mrs. Upton said: "I represent the industry of wifehood and housekeeping. I spent many of my childhood days in the room of this committee, my father having been a member of the Judiciary Committee for thirteen years and chairman for several years. He was the only one who ever reported a bill favorably for woman suffrage.... I want to ask you to report against us if you will not report for us. Just tell the world that we must not vote because we cannot fight, because it will destroy the home, anything you please, but break your long years of silence. Is it fair for you _not_ to tell us why you are opposed to us? Women are not fools; on the contrary, they are very intelligent people and sure to be enfranchised before long. If this committee does not help some other will; it is going to be done and it is for you to decide whether your daughters will be able to say years from now, 'My father was one of the men who helped get woman suffrage!' While men of this country have been running after dollars at a terrific rate in recent years women have been studying and preparing themselves in clubs and all sorts of organizations for this right, so that they will be the most intelligent cla.s.s--if you call them a cla.s.s--that was ever enfranchised in all history. Are you afraid of intelligence? All we ask is to let the mother heart, the home element, be expressed in the government.... I beg of you to let all the world know _why_ the women of the United States, who by hundreds of thousands have pet.i.tioned you to submit this amendment, ought not have at least this request considered and a report on it made."

Miss Laura J. Gradd.i.c.k, representing a labor union in the District of Columbia, said during an able and earnest address:

They say that politics is too corrupt for woman to enter the field as a voter but does she not live under a Government dominated by politics? Shame on the manhood of our country that our government housekeeping is so administered that woman can not come in contact with it and escape contamination.... If our Government is built on moral law it should be clean enough for a woman to have a voice in it. We a.s.sure you there are no better house-cleaners than women and the above statement certainly indicates the need of women in politics. There is no great cry on the part of men because of the contaminating influences which woman meets in the business and industrial world. They are not keeping her out of the various vocations of life because of the evil which she might encounter. Are not sweat-shop conditions and overwork and underpaid work evils far more destructive to the physical, mental and moral welfare of women than any condition in which suffrage might place them? Because of the great economic and political changes of the last century the working woman of to-day is ent.i.tled to the same rights accorded the working man in the political world. These changes have taken her from the home and brought her into business and industrial life, where she has become more and more man's equal and compet.i.tor, leaving behind those conditions which so long made her dependent upon him. This has not been of her choosing. Men, in their pursuit of wealth, have taken the work formerly done in the home, from the spinning and weaving even down to the baking and laundering, and ma.s.sed it in great factories and shops. Instead of woman taking man's work, it is the reverse and he has appropriated to himself what was long supposed to be hers. Woman finds that what was formerly with her a work of love is now done under new conditions and strange environments.

This experience in the outside world is educating her, for she is studying conditions. She sees that she is forced to compete with those who have full political rights while she herself is a political nonent.i.ty. She finds that she must contend with and protect herself against conditions which are more often political than economic, thus forcing upon her the conviction that she too is ent.i.tled to be a voter. She sees that politics, business and industrial life generally are so united that one affects the other and that since she is a factor in two she should be granted the rights and privileges of the third. Think of the number of women wage-earners in this country who are without political representation, there being no men in the family, and at present laws all made without a woman's point of view!... The working woman does not ask for the ballot as a panacea for all her ills.

She knows that it carries with it responsibilities but all that it is to man it will be and even more to woman. Let her remain man's inferior politically and unjust discriminations against her as a wage-earner will continue, but let her become his equal politically and she will then be in a position to demand equal pay for equal work.

In a speech of deep feeling Miss Laura Clay, president of the Kentucky Suffrage a.s.sociation, said in part: "Gentlemen, when I hear our women making the pleas that they have made, brought up, as I have been, to believe that the manhood of the United States is the grandest in the world, I ask, 'Shall we not find any members of Congress except those who say, 'Can you not get some one else to protect you? Go to your States, go anywhere but do not come to us?' It has been said to me when I have spoken for childhood, 'You have no child?' And I have answered: 'No, I have no child, but just as surely as men in the order of nature are the protectors of womanhood, so surely in the order of nature women are the protectors of childhood. I would dishonor my womanhood to say that I will not do what I can for a child because I have none and I hope the time will never come when women must be ashamed of men because they are not willing to sacrifice something to take this action for women.' Think of it! Must we crawl on our knees to ask you for that which we feel we have a right to demand? You should see that every protection which every lifting hand that it is possible for manhood to offer to womanhood should be extended and your position gives you a great opportunity. I urge that, as far as your official power extends, you will show that the manhood of the United States responds to the pleas of the womanhood of the United States."

The closing address of Mrs. Kelley and the many questions it called for from the committee with her answers filled nearly twelve pages of the printed report of the hearing. A small part only can find s.p.a.ce here.

Mr. Chairman and gentlemen, it is sixty years last month since my father, Judge William D. Kelley, became a member of the House of Representatives and in those days it took a great deal of courage for a man to do what he did year after year--introduce this resolution which you are considering to-day. He did it partly, I think, out of chivalrous regard for Miss Anthony, Mrs. Stanton and the few brave women who fifty years ago patiently came before your predecessors; but very much more he introduced that resolution because he believed it was essentially just. He saw in those days the beginnings of the industrial change in the midst of which we now live and they appalled him. He saw how difficult it had been for his widowed mother to get an education for himself and his sisters, and how infinitely difficult life was for the whole great cla.s.s of women, not only widows but those who by the circ.u.mstances of our changing industries had been forced out into the industrial market. He believed they ought to have the same power to protect their own interests as had been given to the American workingman and which he helped give to the negro....

Women now do not count in our communities at all in proportion to the responsibilities which they carry. One of the gentlemen has asked: "What is the relation of all this labor talk to the ballot?" I will give you some examples: I was for four years the head of the factory inspectors of Illinois. During that time we had an eight-hour law enacted for the protection of women and children employed in manufacturing industries. The Supreme Court held that it was contrary to the const.i.tutions of the State and of the United States for women to be deprived of the right to work twenty-four hours whenever it suited the convenience of the employers. The court said--and it took 9,000 words to say it--that women could not be deprived of working unlimited hours, because they were citizens, although it said the term "citizens.h.i.+p" was limited; the Court said they could not be allowed to work underground in mines; they could not be allowed to work out their taxes on the roads, as farmers do; they could not be called to the militia; they could not vote except for school committees and once in four years for the trustees of the State University, but, with those minor deductions, they were citizens and could not be deprived of the freedom of contract.

The Supreme Court of the United States has proclaimed that the Judges of Illinois guessed wrong on that occasion, that it is not contrary to the Const.i.tution of the United States to limit the working hours of women but that it is the obvious duty of every Legislature to do this in the interest of public health and morals. A year ago, largely through the efforts of Mrs. Robins, the Legislature tried it again and pa.s.sed this time a ten-hour law for women. A Judge was found who held that it was a legitimate object for an injunction and he enjoined my successor, the present factory inspector, and the prosecuting attorney from enforcing this law. To-day under that injunction the women are again free to work twenty-four hours, as they do one day in the week quite regularly in the laundries in Chicago, and to work sixteen hours a day as they do in the stores during the Christmas rush, and as they do in the box factories and candy factories.

Yet the women of Illinois have not had one word to say as to the personnel of these courts which decide what is a matter of life and death for every woman who is rushed into her grave by work in the laundries and other sweat shops of that State.

Mrs. Kelley gave some tragic instances of occurrences during her eight years in Hull House with Miss Jane Addams, where the working of women overtime caused death and permanent invalidism, and continued:

During the fifteen years since that Illinois court so decided, the miners who work underground in sixteen States, from Missouri to Nevada and from Montana to Texas and Arizona, have been able to change the const.i.tutions of their States so that they work but eight hours a day. They are voters, they have power, they have intelligence and organization; they obtained from the Supreme Court of the United States the famous decision of Holden vs.

Hardy, in which it held that it is not only the right but the duty of the State to restrict the hours of those who work underground. In Illinois the women must have unlimited hours because they are not voting citizens....

For twelve years a body of influential women of New York City appeared before the board of estimate and apportionment to ask for the pitiable sum of $18,000 to be appropriated to pay the salaries of eighteen inspectors to look after the welfare of 60,000 women and girls in retail stores but we never got it. One candid friend, Mayor Van Wyck, in listening to our plea, told us the whole trouble. Said he: "Ladies, why do you waste your time year after year in coming before us and asking for this appropriation? You have not a voter in your const.i.tuency and you know it and we know it and you know we know it," and they never did give it to us....

A spirited discussion ensued here between Representative Robert L.

Henry (Tex.) and Mrs. Kelley as to whether Congress has the power to coerce a State through a Federal Amendment into giving women the right to vote. Representative Edwin Y. Webb (N. C.) asked if the majority of women wanted to vote and she answered that there was not the slightest doubt of it, that as reasoning beings women could not help desiring a full share in the Government under which they live. Representative Goebel (O.) said that at any time man might be called on to uphold the laws and the Const.i.tution and asked: "Do you think that woman is physically and temperamentally fitted to give any return to the Government for any privilege she might have in the exercise of her right as a citizen?" Mrs. Kelley answered: "Yes, I think we have always done it. We pay taxes, we teach the children to obey the laws, we fill their hearts with patriotism, but the princ.i.p.al thing is that we furnish the army at the risk of our own lives. Every time an army has been called for in the United States it has been the sons of American women on the whole who have carried the weapons and every son has been born at the risk of his mother's life. Her service is a very much greater contribution than the two or three years of the son's carrying a gun or perhaps dying of typhoid fever while in the service."

Miss Clay could not keep silent but asked if they realized how much the order of society depended on the teaching and the restraining influence of women, on their power to maintain decency of life, not alone by their presence but also by their high ideals of law and society. "When they are recognized as voting citizens," she said, "their idea of civic duty will reach a still higher point and they will have power to see that it is enforced." Members of the committee began to bring forward the stock misrepresentations about the voting of women in Colorado, which called Mr. Rucker to his feet with statistics to show that women voted in quite as large a proportion as men; that, instead of men's controlling the women's votes, women often controlled the men's; that in the hundreds of cases of election frauds only one or two women had been implicated; that less than 15 per cent.

of the so-called "ostracized" women go to the polls.

In closing Chairman Parker said: "I wish to render the thanks of the committee for this large and representative audience, which is almost an American Congress. I am all the more pleased and interested to find such strong presentations by those whom I might call, possibly without offense, 'Daughters of the American Congress,' two of whom claim an acquaintance with this committee that goes back at least as far as any of us. I wish to offer all of you our thanks for the earnest consideration that you seem to have given to the great problems, industrial and social, as well as those of the family, which confront us all, and in comparison with which the political powers and actions of this country are but as nothing. Those who think and work for the good of the family, the home, the workshop, the farm and the school are those to whom the American Congress always owes its thanks."

Although the speakers who addressed these committees represented the very highest of American womanhood; although it was conceded that their arguments had never been exceeded in logic, directness and force; although there was no doubt that they represented a large proportion of the women of the country in the homes, colleges, professions and trades, yet this committee, like that of the Senate, ignored the pet.i.tions and the hearing completely and made no report whatever, either favorable or unfavorable.

FOOTNOTES:

[65] Part of Call: During the past year women have voted for the first time in Norway at a Parliamentary election, for the first time in Denmark at the Munic.i.p.al elections, for the first time in Victoria at an election for the State Parliament. This year a woman has been nominated as a member of the Munic.i.p.al Council in Paris, a woman is filling the office of Mayor in one English city and a number are serving as aldermen in others. In our own country women are voting for the first time in Michigan on questions of local taxation, while in Was.h.i.+ngton, Oregon, South Dakota and Oklahoma, suffrage amendments to the State const.i.tutions are pending. From Chicago, radiating north, east, south and west, there is going out an influence which is making the social settlements centers of political influence. In Spokane, New York and Baltimore, political settlements are under way. From one of the great press centers of the world, New York City, suffrage propaganda is travelling through all civilized countries, and in its New York headquarters the National American Woman Suffrage a.s.sociation is receiving news of an unprecedented rising suffrage sentiment from men and women belonging to all the great nations of the earth.

Our cause is universal, its majesty is intrinsic, its logic is unanswerable, its success is sure. Let the women of America come together in this year 1910 consecrated anew to the superb hope for humanity which lies in a full democracy.

ANNA HOWARD SHAW, President.

RACHEL FOSTER AVERY, First Vice-President.

FLORENCE KELLEY, Second Vice-President.

FRANCES SQUIRE POTTER, Corresponding Secretary.

ELLA S. STEWART, Recording Secretary.

HARRIET TAYLOR UPTON, Treasurer.

LAURA CLAY, } ALICE STONE BLACKWELL, } Auditors.

[66] Mrs. Catt's original plan required each State to tabulate the signers according to their lines of work but this was not fully carried out. Miss Minnie J. Reynolds, in charge of the Writer's Section, published a long and interesting report in the _Woman's Journal_. Simply the names of distinguished writers, men and women, who had signed, filled a solid column and yet she said: "The work on this section was absurdly fragmentary. In the city of Was.h.i.+ngton Miss Nettie Lovisa White had obtained the names of sixty, including the most prominent newspaper correspondents."

[67] See History of Woman Suffrage, Volume II, page 91.

[68] Was.h.i.+ngton ministers who opened various sessions with prayer were the Reverends U. G. B. Pierce, Samuel H. Woodrow, John Van Schaick and William I. McKenney.

[69] Names of committee: Present--Representatives Sterling, Moon, Diekema, Goebel, Denby, Howland, Nye, Clayton, Henry, Brantley, Webb and Carlin; absent--Terrell, Reid, Malby, Higgins.

CHAPTER XI.

NATIONAL AMERICAN CONVENTION OF 1911.

The national convention which met in Louisville, Ky., Oct. 19-25, 1911, might well be called a "jubilee" meeting, for it celebrated two of the most important victories yet won for woman suffrage in the United States--the adoption of State amendments by a majority of the voters in Was.h.i.+ngton in November, 1910, and in California in October, 1911, giving the same franchise rights to women as possessed by men.[70] The sessions were held in the large De Molay Commandery Hall but it was far too small for the evening audiences. This was a new experience for Louisville but it rose finely to the occasion. A message to the _Woman's Journal_ said: "Enthusiasm for equal suffrage runs high in Louisville this week as women from all parts of the country throng its s.p.a.cious streets morning, afternoon and evening for the annual convention.... Altogether it is a most inspiring and encouraging convention and we are daily excited with news of the good prospects of more campaign States and more victories in the very near future.... We all have votes-for-women tags on our baggage, yellow badges and pins, California poppies and six-star b.u.t.tons on our dresses and coats and dainty votes for women b.u.t.terflies on our shoulders, and as we go about in dozens or scores or hundreds the onlookers receive the fitting psychological impression and we find them thinking of us as victors and conquerors."

The opening of this convention, with Dr. Anna Howard Shaw, the national president, in the chair, was a proud moment for Miss Laura Clay, who was one of the organizers of the Kentucky Equal Rights a.s.sociation in 1888 and had been continually its president. In her address of greeting she said:

We welcome you with hearts tender with the remembrance of the past, when two of the great historic figures which have made this convention possible gave their labors to Kentucky. In the early fifties, Lucy Stone, in the vigor and freshness of her lovely youth and enthusiasm for high ideals, spoke in the cities and towns on both sides of the Ohio River; and in 1881 she held in Louisville a convention of the American Woman Suffrage a.s.sociation. She established the _Woman's Journal_, which is now edited, with all the n.o.ble moral principles and polished literary ability which have characterized it throughout, by her daughter, Alice Stone Blackwell, who is with us today. In 1879 that other heroic woman, Susan B. Anthony, made a tour through central Kentucky and left an enduring monument of her visit in the Equal Rights a.s.sociation of Richmond, Madison County, which has had the longest continuous existence of any woman suffrage society in the State....

We welcome you with hearts strong with hope for the future. The glorious victories that we have had inspire us and in all the harbingers of hope we see none greater than the Men's Leagues for Woman Suffrage. These prove to us that the men of our country are preparing to extend equal political rights to women, who, since the time when this vast continent was a wilderness, have stood side by side with them in the heroic labors which have made it blossom like the rose with the fairest civilization the world has ever known. In the great International Alliance Congress at Stockholm men of many nations formed themselves into a Suffrage League, and the Men's League of California did grand service in the glorious victory in their State. This n.o.ble land extends from California across the continent to Virginia where the latest league of men has just been formed. We see in this generous cooperation of the men of our nation a better exposition of the legend on Kentucky's s.h.i.+eld, "United we stand, divided we fall,"

when man and woman shall clasp hands and become a truer realization of the vision of the poet and the patriot.

Mrs. Patty Blackburn Semple, president of the Louisville Woman's Club, in offering its welcome, said: "When the Woman's Club was organized three subjects were tabooed--religion, politics and woman suffrage. We kept to the resolution for awhile but gradually we found that our efforts in behalf of civic improvements and the correcting of outrageous abuses were handicapped at every turn by politics. Last year an appeal came to the Woman's Club--to the women of Louisville--to take our schools out of politics. It was a gigantic fight but we won. As the climax of our struggle we spent the greater part of election day at the polls and I think at the close of that day every one of us had exhausted all the joys of 'indirect influence,'

The History of Woman Suffrage Volume V Part 25

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