Florence Kitchelt publicized Hamilton's statement in this letter to the editor of the New York Herald Tribune, which the Connecticut Committee for the Equal Rights Amendment reprinted as a flyer. We publish the flyer text here. The second paragraph from the end did not appear in the published letter to the editor.
SUNDAY, MAY 25, 1952
DR. ALICE HAMILTON WITHDRAWS OPPOSITION
NOW SUPPORTS THE EQUAL RIGHTS AMENDMENT
To the New York Herald Tribune:
In a recent issue of the Herald Tribune there is a report of a debate in the United Nations Commission on Human Rights concerning equal economic, social and cultural rights for women. Equality was accepted. The debate was merely over the best way to make it effective. Our United States Constitution, written 158 years before the U. N. Charter, has not yet been modernized by an amendment proposing that "equality of rights under the law shall not be denied or abridged on account of sex." The proposal is now before the Senate as Senate Joint Resolution No. 3. The same bill in the House, H. J. R. 52, has been held incommunicado during the entire session in the House Judiciary Committee.
Every woman's organization or men's trade union ranged in opposition to the amendment has quoted an eminent authority, Dr. Alice Hamilton, the first woman appointed to the Harvard faculty and of international repute for her work on industrial diseases. Now she has followed Mrs. Roosevelt in accepting the amendment. These two distinguished women prove the turn of the tide.
Dr. Hamilton's concern with industrial poisons led her to seek protective legislation both for men and women. Trade-union men generally have dodged such legislation for it hampers their freedom of contract. In her own words, "when legislators were willing to protect only the women, then we took gladly what we could get." The opposition of herself and her followers to the Equal Rights Amendment was based on the assumption it would undermine this protective legislation.
As growth means change, Dr. Hamilton has changed. This change she describes as follows: "My long opposition to the Equal Rights Amendment has lost much of its force during the thirty years since the movement for it started. The health of women in industry is now a matter of concern to health authorities, both state and Federal, to employers' associations. insurance companies, trade unions. I do not believe that this situation would be changed by the passage of the amendment now. Moreover, it seems best for our country to join in the effort of the U. N. to adopt such a principle internationally."
And so one long argument is ended, and women may now unite in constructive work toward legal equality and full, responsible citizenship.
Dr. Hamilton added another clause, which must not be omitted: "I still believe that the legal disabilities of American women could have been lifted years ago had the effort been made state by state."
There are many comments in reply, too wordy to be printed here. By the state method, it took women in Connecticut seventeen years, in Massachusetts nearly thirty years to win jury service. Statutory law is ephemeral. Of this, the classic example happened in the New York State Legislature. Women were given equal guardianship over their children one year, and the next session it was taken away. In addition, old English common-law discriminating against women is so interwoven in the legal systems of practically all forty-eight states it cannot be separated. See the bulletins on the status of women issued by the Women's Bureau, the Department of Labor.
Finally, the State method does not apply, for we are discussing, not statutory, but constitutional law.
We commend to Congress the bronze tablet just placed by the Hall of Fame under the bust of Susan B. Anthony. It quotes from her: "The day will come when man will recognize woman as his peer, not only at the fireside but in the councils of the nation. Then--will there be the perfect comradeship--between the sexes that shall result in the highest development of the race."
FLORENCE L. C. KITCHELT.
Connecticut Committee for the
Equal Rights Amendment.
New Haven, Conn., May 22, 1952.