Document 3: Joseph Projectus Machebeuf, “Woman’s Suffrage: A Lecture Delivered in the Catholic Church of Denver, Colorado,” 6 February 1877, selections reprinted in History of Woman Suffrage, Volume III, ed. Elizabeth Cady Stanton, Susan B. Anthony, and Matilda Joslyn Gage (Rochester: Charles Mann Printing Co., 1886; Source Book Press, 1970), pp. 720-21.
The Right Reverend Joseph P. Machebeuf (1812-1889) was a Roman Catholic priest in Denver during the 1877 woman suffrage campaign and a powerful opponent of votes for women. A French missionary in the American Southwest, Machebeuf helped to establish churches, schools, and hospitals in New Mexico, Arizona, Utah, and Colorado. He became Denver’s first Catholic bishop in 1887.
In this lecture, Machebeuf expressed his opposition to the enfranchisement of women, drawing upon religious teachings to argue for “natural” differences between men and women that suited women for home and not politics.
Though strong-minded women who are not satisfied with the disposition of Providence and who wish to go beyond the condition of their sex, profess no doubt to be Christians, do they consult the Bible?-do they follow the Bible? I fear not. Had God intended to create a companion for man, capable of following the same pursuits, able to undertake the same labors, he would have created another man; but he created a woman, and she fell. * * * The class of women wanting suffrage are battalions of old maids disappointed in love-women separated from their husbands or divorced by men from their sacred obligations-women who, though married, wish to hold the reins of the family government, for there never was a woman happy in her home who wished for female suffrage. * * * Who will take charge of those young children (if they consent to have any) while mothers as surgeons are operating indiscriminately upon the victims of a terrible railway disaster? * * * No kind husband will refuse to nurse the baby on Sunday (when every kind of business is stopped) in order to let his wife attend church; but even then, as it is not his natural duty, he will soon be tired of it and perhaps get impatient waiting for the mother, chiefly when the baby is crying.
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