Second Day: Morning Session
The Session opened at 10 a. m.
MRS. MOTT. "The uproar and confusion which attended the close of our proceedings of last night, although, much to be regretted, as indicating an unreasonable and unreasoning disposition on the part of some, to close their ears against the truth, or rather, to drown its voice by vulgar clamor, yet, when viewed aright, and, in some phases, present to us matter of congratulation. I do suppose, that never, at any meeting, was public propriety more outraged, than at ours of last evening.
[p. 55]I suppose, no transactions of a body assembled to deliberate, were ever more outrageously invaded by an attempt to turn them into a mere tumult; yet, though voices were loud and angry, and the evil passions exhibited themselves with much of that quality to affright, which usually, if not always, attends their exhibition, — not a scream was heard from any woman, nor did any of the ‘weaker sex’ exhibit the slightest terror, or even alarm, at the violent manifestations which invaded the peace of our assemblage.
I felicitate the women on this exhibition of fortitude; of calm moral courage. Should not our opponents, if they have any reason among them, reflect, that these exhibitions are, in reality, some of the strongest arguments that can be offered to support the claims which we stand here to advocate? Do they not show, on the one hand, that men, by whom such an overpowering superiority is arrogated, can betimes demean themselves in such a way as to show that they are wholly unfit for the lofty functions which they demand as their exclusive right? And, on the other hand, do they not conclusively show, that women are possessed of, at least, some of those qualities which assist in calmness of deliberation, during times of excitement and even danger! I think it was really a beautiful sight to see how calm the women remained during last evening's excitement; their self-possession, I consider something truly admirable. I know that, in the tumult and noise, it would have been vain for any woman to raise her voice in an attempt to check it. Indeed, I am satisfied, the outrage was predetermined, and I regret that the aid of the police had to be called in to quell it. Had there been here a company of women who were taught to rely upon others, they would, doubtless, have felt bound to scream for ‘their protectors;’ but the self-reliance displayed, which must have its basis in a consciousness of the truth and justice of our cause, and which kept the members of the Convention unmoved, amid all the prevailing confusion, gives us matter of real congratulation. Let us rejoice in this, my friends; and let us remember, that, when we have a true cause — while our cause rests on the basis of right — we have nothing to fear, but may go on unmoved by all these petty circumstances, by which we may be surrounded.
A request was made last night by some person, I don't know who, or rather a challenge was offered, that three good reasons should be given why women should vote. Perhaps, had the person making this demand had this question put to him, namely, ‘What reasons are there why men should vote?’ he would have considered the reasons so self-evident
[p. 56]as to make any answer superfluous. Yet it would be found difficult, I apprehend, to assign any reason why man should vote, which would not be found to be an equally good reason for extending the elective franchise to women. He asked, however, why women should be allowed to take a part in the civil government of the country. This question will, I doubt not, be answered to-day by some one more able than myself; and if the person who asked it be present, and open to conviction, he will hear reasons sufficient to convince him that women have the right to vote. I only repeat the question now, as one of the subjects claiming consideration to-day.
As to woman's occupying a high position in the social state, the very scriptures, to which our antagonists point in ill-founded triumph, as determining the matter against us, supply instances in abundance of the high estimation in which women were held. Nor is there any need of citing instances (so well are they known) of the part which woman took in the propagation of the true faith, and the ministration, too. In that passage wherein mention is made of the wives of deacons, (as the vernacular version gives it,) a reference to the original text, and a true rendering of it will show that the real expression is, the female deacons. This single fact is a sufficient commentary on the fairness of some of the means employed to conceal the rights which really belong to women.
A good deal of stress is laid on the command given to women (as it is said) to be silent in the Church. The text is to be found in 1st Corinthians, ch. xiv., v. 34 and 35. But has this text the force and application which is demanded for it by our opponents? A calm and thorough investigation will show that it has not. It was one of those ordinances, or recommendations, the character of which was merely local, or confined to a certain place, and appropriate to a certain time. The same apostle who spoke thus, gave directions as to women prophecying, preaching or praying, and attiring themselves. But all these injunctions are as binding, and have as wide an application, as that relating to woman's being silent. Are these now observed? Manifestly not; and thus, is the admission made, that such commands referred to, and were meant to have cogency in, only a certain place and at a certain time. They are to be taken in a modified sense, and to be referred only to the customs of a time that has long passed away. What were the real circumstances under which the words, ‘it is not permitted to them to speak,’ were applied to women? Circumstances of disagreement and tumult in the Church, where many men spoke together, and loudly, so that scarcely any voice could be distinctly heard. In such circumstances
[p. 57]it was but a reasonable counsel to women to hold their peace for the time. It is added that ‘if they will learn anything, let them ask their husbands at home,’ which was also the reasonable proceeding as matters stood, and showed this, that women were enjoined to have an interest in the affairs of the Church, and also to take counsel on the same.
All such commands, (like that relating to attire, which so plainly contemplates an oriental and ancient mode of dress,) must, to be reasonably taken, be received only as local, and suited to a particular time; and when these conditions of locality and time are withdrawn, the command ceases to have any cogency."
PAULINA W. DAVIS. — "Alluding to some remarks made yesterday
by Mr. Channing, I feel bound to say that my paper, the Una, cannot
lay claim to be what he represented it, the organ of the Woman's Rights
movement. I have no literary pretensions, and all that I can
Mrs. C. J. H. NICHOLS, editress of the Windham County Democrat being introduced, spoke thus: — To establish women's right to vote, should not, it might naturally be supposed, be a matter of so much difficulty, when we consider the extent to which, in matters of weighty importance, that right has been already conceded to her. In our country we have many private corporations, bank, stock companies, railroad companies, manufacturing companies, in which women are shareholders, and thus have the right, which none dispute, to vote upon questions affecting the interests of those companies. The same is the case in the Bank of England, that great money institution, which could, with a breath, shake every European throne. There, women, as share holders, have an equal right to vote with men. In the East India company, which holds in its hands the destinies of the millions of Hindostan, woman's pecuniary interest gives her a like control with man over these countless human beings. Inasmuch, then, as woman, where her pecuniary interests are concerned, has found a way that is admitted to be womanly enough of expressing her feelings, I also take it for granted that she will find a right womanly way of expressing her feelings on those great questions which involve her moral, intellectual, and social, as well as her commercial interests.
Now I will state my reason for desiring to vote — my reason for maintaining that women should have the right to vote; and it is this,
[p. 58]that she may have a due control over her own moral, intellectual, and social interests. I want to have this power, because, in not having it, I am deprived of the power of protecting myself and my children, because I do not possess the power which ought to belong to me as a mother.
It is an undisputed fact that, if women were allowed to vote, the best measures for the good of the community would be carried. As it is, when a petition goes up to a legislature, the signatures are reckoned, and it is said, "so many are voters, and so many are women." No one denies that, if women had votes on temperance laws, and such moral reforms, the majority of women would be in favor of them. Friends, I want the right to vote, so that my name, when it appears on a petition, may be reckoned as that of a voter, whether or not I exercise the franchise.
Through the affections of the mother men have controlled the actions of woman. Woman stands before you, with all the wants of man, and also with all the capability of man to provide for these wants; but the present laws have disowned the capacity of woman from her necessities. From woman all the sphere for the development of her capacities has been taken away; by law and custom she is regarded as dead, she has been legally executed. It is said woman should not go to the polls — she would meet rowdies, the purity of her nature would be sullied by the base contact into which the exercise of political rights would bring her. I maintain, on the contrary, that her going there would have a good effect, and instead of her purity being soiled by the place, the place would receive a purification from her presence. How is it in all the walks where woman now meets man? Whether is she lowered, or he raised by the contact? In the railroad car, the steamboat, are not the rudenesses of man's nature laid aside when woman enters? Do not courtesy and refinement enter with her, and sanctify the place while she remains? No; the argument is a fallacy, and what it urges as an objection, would really be a strong recommendation. I think I have shown it is not good for men and women to be alone.
[Cheers, apparently ironical, and meant to create a disturbance, here interrupted the speaker.]
As I have only twenty minutes to speak, may I beg that you will be good enough to spare your plaudits. I will better occupy my time in explaining my views, than in receiving your demonstrations of applause.
Woman's property is given by the laws to her husband; her children belong to, and can be claimed by, their father, however brutal and degraded
[p. 59]that father may have become. Man takes from her her right in property — her right over her own earnings, and offspring and services, and then, to compensate her for the robbery, enacts that she shall be held under no obligation to support her children. Women are not permitted to be, are not, by the law, regarded as fit to be, the guardians of their children, after the death of their husbands; if there be any person to offer opposition to their being so, the guardianship is taken from them. But when a wife dies, the husband becomes, as a matter of course, the legal guardian of the children. If a women marries a second time, she has no power to support her children by a former marriage. Let her bring to her second husband a dower ever so princely, and she cannot claim support for her offspring by her former marriage; nay, the second husband can, if he choose, demand a compensation for supporting them.
As widows, too, the law bears heavily on women. If her children have property, she is adjudged unworthy of their guardianship; and although the decree of God has made her the true and natural guardian of her children, she is obliged to pay from her scanty means to be constituted so by the law.
I have conversed with judges and legislators, and tried to learn a reason for these things, but failed to find it. A noblemen once gave me what he probably thought was a good one. ‘Women,’ he said to me ‘cannot earn as much as men!’ We say they should be allowed to earn as much. They have the ability, and the means should not be shut out from them. I have heard of another man who held woman's industrial ability at a low rate. ‘His wife, he said, ‘had never been able to do anything but attend to her children.’ ‘How many have you?’ he was asked; and the answer was — ‘Nine.’ Nine children to attend to! — nine children cared for! — and she could do nothing more, the wife of this most reasonable man. Now, which is of more importance to the community, the property which that reasonable husband made, or the nine children whom that mother brought, with affectionate and tender toil, through the perils of infancy and youth, until they were men and women? Which was of more importance to this land — the property which the father of George Washington amassed, or the George Washington whom a noble mother gave to his country? The name of Washington, his glorious deeds, and the enduring benefits he secured for us, still remain, and will, long after the estates of Washington have passed from his name for ever!
In the Stat Vermont, a wife sought a divorce from her husband
[p. 60]on the ground of his intemperance. They were persons moving among our highest circles — wealthy people; and the wife knew that she could, through the aid of her friends and relations, with the influence and sympathy of the community, obtain a divorce, and a support for her children. That father carried away into Canada one child, a little girl, and paid three hundred dollars to a low, vile Frenchman, that he might keep her from her mother and friends. Three times her almost heart-broken mother went in search of her; twice in vain, but, the third time, she was found. So badly had the poor child been treated in the vile hands in which her father had placed her, that, when recovered, she was almost insensible; and when, by her mother's nursing care, her intelligence was at length restored, her joy at seeing her mother was so violent, that it was feared its excess might prove fatal. The cause came into Court, and the judge decided that the two daughters should be given to their mother, but that the custody of the son should be given to the father. She was acquitted of the least impropriety or indiscretion: yet, though the obscenity and profanity of her husband in his own family was shocking; and it was in the last degree painful to that high-minded woman to see her son brought up under the charge of such a man, the law decided that the unworthy father was the more proper guardian for the boy!
In the Green Mountain State a great many sermons have lately been preached on the text, ‘Wives submit yourselves to your husbands.’ The remaining words, ‘in the Lord,’ are generally omitted; so that the text is made to appear like an injunction that the wives should submit to their husbands, whether they were in the Lord or in the devil. And the best of all is, that we are told that, although we should be submissive, we could change our husbands from devils into angels.
Dr. HARRIET K. HUNT spoke as follows: — Taxation without representation is tyranny! Taxation without representation is tyranny!! Taxation without representation is tyranny!!! My friends, do you wish to know why I desire to vote? I desire to vote that I may sit on school committees. You do not know, nor can you judge, my brothers, the feelings with which a woman perceives that influence on education, as well as political weight, is refused her. Women should sit on school committees, and see that women are as well educated as men. They should sit on school committees, to know the why and the wherefore of the education of girls; they should sit on school committees to order the education of their daughters. I wish to sit on committees where I can see to a better regulation of the healthfulness of our streets, and the introduction of a higher tone into the topics of our parlors. I wish to
[p. 61]vote that women may speak boldly, and on an equal footing, to men, instead of expecting from them the paltry incense of a little flattery, and a little wheedling. I wish to vote that women may have, by law, an equal right with men in property. In October, 1851, I went to pay my taxes in Boston. Going into the Assessor's office, I saw a tall, thin, weak, stupid-looking Irish boy. It was near election time, and I looked at him scrutinizingly. He held in his hand a document, which, I found on inquiry, was one of naturalization; and this hopeful son of Erin was made a citizen of the United States, and he could have a voice in determining the destinies of this mighty nation, while thousands of intellectual women, daughters of the soil, no matter how intelligent, how respectable, or what amount of taxes they paid, were forced to be dumb!
Now, I am glad to pay my taxes, am glad that my profession enables me to pay them — but I would like very much to have a voice in directing what is to be done with the taxes I pay. I meditated on what I had seen; and, in 1852, when paying my taxes I took to the Treasurer's office the following protest, which is addressed you will perceive, not only to the Treasurer and other officials, but also to the citizens generally.
To FREDERICK U. TRACY, Treasurer, and the Assessors and other Authorities of the City of Boston, and the citizens generally: —
Harriet K. Hunt, physician, a native and permanent resident of the city of Boston, and for many years a tax-payer therein, in making payment of her city taxes for the coming year, begs leave to protest against the injustice and inequality of levying taxes upon women, and at the same time refusing them any voice or vote in the imposition and expenditure of the same. The only classes of male persons required to pay taxes and not at the same time allowed the privilege of voting are aliens and minors.
The object in the case of aliens is their supposed want of interest in our institutions and knowledge of them. The objection in the case of minors is, the want of sufficient understanding. These objections certainly cannot apply to women, natives of the city, all whose property and interest are here, and who have accumulated, by their own
segacityand industry, the very property on which they are taxed. But this is not all, the alien by going through the forms of naturalization, the minor, on coming of age, obtain the right of voting, and so long as they continue to pay a mere poll tax of a dollar and a half, they may continue to exercise it, though so ignorant as not to be able to sign their names, or read the very votes they put into the ballot-boxes. Even drunkards, felons, idiots, or lunatics, if men, may still enjoy that right of voting, to which no woman however large the amount of taxes she pays, however respectable her character, or useful her life can ever attain. Wherein your remonstrant would inquire, is the justice, equality, or wisdom of this!
That the rights and interests of the female part of the community are sometimes forgotten or disregarded in consequence of their deprivation of political rights, is strikingly evinced, as appears to your remonstrant, in the organization and administration of the city public shools. Though there are open in this State and neighborhood, a great multitude of colleges and professional schools, for the education of boys and young men, yet the city has very properly provided two high schools of its own, one Latin, the other English, at which the male graduates of the grammar schools may pursue their education still farther at the public expense. And why is not a like provision made for the girls? Why is the public provision for their education stopped short, just as they have attained the age best fitted for progress, and the preliminary knowledge necessary to facilitate it, thus giving the advantage of superiority or culture to sex, not to mind?
The fact that our colleges and professional schools are closed against females of which your remonstrant has had personal and painful experience — having been in the year 1847, after twelve years of medical practice in Boston, refused permission to attend the lectures of Harvard Medical College, that fact would seem to furnish an additional reason why the city should provide, at its own expense, those means of superior education which, by supplying our girls with occupation and objects of interest, would not only save them from lives of frivolity and emptiness, but which might open the way to many useful and lucrative pursuits, and so raise them above that degrading dependence, so fruitful a source of female misery.
Reserving a more full exposition of the subject to future occasions, your remonstrant in paying her tax for the current year, begs leave to protest against the injustice and inequalities above pointed out. This is respectfully submitted.
HARRIET K. HUNT.
Here, you perceive, I complained also of the educational advantages afforded to boys and girls. Such is the case in Boston. I ask, is it so in this city?
(Voices from the platform:) It is.
DR. HUNT. Then you, too, sexualize education. I have now to say to all my sisters, as a friend, consider this question deeply; and, when you find it a good one, as you must, give it all the sanction in your power. Women are debarred from voting and holding offices, while bad and licentious men are put into offices where their unfitness and misconduct result in the greatest injuries to women. This is a great question — a great moral question — the great moral question of the day.
We have, at this Convention, Lucy Stowe and Wendell Phillips, who were at our Constitutional Convention last year, in Boston. I was not present, but I sent to the convention a petition which I shall now read for you, that you may know who Harriet K. Hunt is, the woman who wants to vote: —
TO THE CONSTITUTIONAL CONVENTION NOW SITTING IN BOSTON. — Your petitioner
[p. 63]respectfully prays your honorable body to insert into the constitution a clause securing to females, paying town, county, and States taxes upon property held in their own right, and who have no husbands or other guardians to represent and act for them, the same right of voting possessed by male tax paying citizens; or should your honorable body not deem such females capable of exercising the right of suffrage with due discretion, at least to excuse them from the paying of taxes, in the appropriation of which they have no voice, thus carrying out the great principle on which the American Revolution was based, that taxation and representation ought to go together. All of which, &c.
My brethren, I leave this matter before you, and ask you to consider it as a most important question, not alone in a political view, but as a great moral subject, demanding deep, earnest, and religious investigation.
MRS. MOTT. I now introduce to the Convention Mrs. Frances D. Gage, of St. Louis, Mo., better known as "Aunt Fanny, the poet."
MRS. FRANCES D. GAGE. This morning, when I was leaving my boarding house, some one said to me, "So you are ready armed and equipped to go and fight the men." I was sorry, truly sorry, to hear the words — they fell heavily on my heart. I have no fight with men. I am a daughter, a sister, a wife, and a mother, and in all these relations, I live in harmony with man. Neither I, nor any of the sisters with whom I am united in this movement, has any quarrel with men. What is it that we oppose? What do we seek to overturn? The bad laws and customs of society. These are our only enemies, and against these alone is any hostility which we feel directed. Although they be "hallowed by time," we seek to eradicate them; because the time for which they were suited if such ever existed, is long since gone by. The men, we may suppose, are above and beyond the laws, and we assail the laws only.
There is one law which I do not remember having heard any of my sisters touch upon, that is the Law of Wills, as far as it relates to married women, and as far as it allows a husband (which it fully does) along with his power to determine the lot of his wife while he is alive, also to control her when he is dead. Would any gentleman like to have that law con-versed? I will read a will after the old fashion, and, surely, it will fall with as loud a tone of injustice on all ears, as it does on mine.
[Here Mrs. Gage caused a great deal of amusement among the audience by reading a will, made by a husband as if it were made by his wife, interchanging the names. Thus the testatrix left to her son her horses, carriages, &c.; to her daughter, some valuable claims and
[p. 64]property; and to her husband, $100, 40 acres of wild land in Illinois, and their bed, as long as he remained her widower, &c., &c.]
Would any of you like such power as that to be placed in our hands? Yet, is it not as fair that married women should dispose of their property, as that married men should dispose of theirs?
It is true, the power thus given to husbands is not often used to the detriment of women, and this is frequently urged in support of the law. But I reply, that law is made for extreme cases; and while any such statutes remain on the books, no good man will cease to exert himself for their removal. I ask the right to vote, not because it would create antagonism, but because it would create harmony. I want to do away with antagonism by removing oppression, for where oppression exists, there antagonism must exist also. I feel unwell this morning; so much so, that I almost declined speaking at all. I will therefore extend my remarks no further.
ERNESTINE L. ROSE. In allusion to the law respecting wills, I wish to say that, according to the Revised Statutes of our State, a married woman has not a right to make a will. The law says, that wills may be made by all persons, except idiots, persons of unsound mind, married women, and infants. Mark well, all but idiots, lunatics, married women, and infants. Male infants ought to consider it quite an insult to be placed in the same category with married women. No, a married woman has no right to bequeath a dollar of the property, no matter how much she may have brought into the marriage, or accumulated in it. Not a dollar to a friend, a relative, or even to her own child, to keep him from starving. And this is the law in the nineteenth century, in the enlightened United States, under a republic that declares all men to be free and equal.
LUCY STONE. Just one word. I think Mrs. Rose is a little mistaken; I wish to correct her by saying that of some States in ——
MRS. ROSE. I did not say this was the universal law; I said it was the law in the State of New York.
LUCY STONE. — "I was not paying close attention, and must have been mistaken. In Massachusetts the law makes a married woman's will valid in two cases: the first is, where the consent of her husband is written on the will; the second, where she wills all she has to her husband — in which case his written consent is not deemed requisite."
C. C. BURLEIGH rose, amid a tempest of hisses, and said: — "There are some here whose conduct seems aimed at establishing (as it is well calculated to establish) a doctrine which goes further than the principles
[p. 65]which we assert would carry us. We demand for woman an equal right with man to appear in public assemblies; we claim that she be co-ordinate with him in social and political influence; we ask no more. But there are those here whose conduct goes far to prove that women alone should exercise those functions, by showing how utterly unworthy, at least, some men are to be entrusted with their use.
Last night, some one in the audience asked for those reasons why women should vote. Had he heard the addresses delivered in this Convention — had he, or any man, taken them into the laboratory of a rational mind, and there candidly, honestly, and in the spirit of truth, analyzed them, he would have found, not those, but ten times those reasons, for all the propositions which we of this Convention advance. The proof, both theoretical and practical, both on principle and in details, taken from the occurrences of every day life, and supplied by the records of well authenticated facts: the proof has been so full and abundant that there is no room left for doubting, not a corner or crevice remains in which the possibility of misapprehension (to a reasonable and fair mind), can secrete itself. This has been done; and will, I have no doubt, be done again before the sessions of this Convention shall have come to a close. Yet, as the demand was distinctly made, and, let us hope, in good faith, and proceeded from a mind anxious to obtain the truth, for the truth's sake, it may not be out of place for me to give those distinct reasons why woman should vote. I cannot produce any new argument; the ground has been well trodden, and the marks of powerful feet are there already.
But perhaps my words, simply arranged, may give the truth to be seen by some one who has not yet had it presented to him by others.
Why should woman vote? Why should man vote? I suppose our opponents will all be ready to answer the latter question; yet, I fancy, they would find it hard to assign any one reason for man's voting which will not be discovered to be an equally good reason for woman's voting. There is no single ground that can be taken on which to rest the right of the one, that is not equally well adapted to support all the claims of the other. And the cause of this will be easily detected by going back to first principles; in announcing these, in using the simple terms in which the sublimity of abstract truth must be clothed (for it will bear no other investiture), no fallacy can be introduced, no quirk or quibble grounded on the intricacy of details can find a place; and the simple truth stands forth, plainly applicable to all the human race, and not to be arbitrarily monopolized for the use of only half of it.
Why should woman vote? She should vote, first, because she has to bear her portion of the burdens imposed by the government which the voting makes. Is not this one reason amply sufficient for any honest minded man? Taxation and representation go hand in hand, says a principle of our body politic. Is woman represented? No. Is woman taxed? Yes. How is that? Is it consistent with the profession; and, if there were no profession, is it right, is it just? The burden falls equally on woman and her brother; but he has all the power of applying it; she must bear it to the end of the journey, and then know nothing, say nothing, as to how it is to be disposed of. What kind of justice is that? Were woman exempted from those burdens, why, then, the exemption would, so far, be an argument on the other side; although even that would fail, on investigation, because other equally immutable principles show that neither exemption nor representation is the condition in which any portion of the political body should be allowed to remain. But where there is no exemption, but a full apportionment of the burden, and, at the same time, no one representation, no representation, the absurdity of injustice has reached its climax.
In the second place, woman should vote, because she ought to be a sharer in those benefits which government is formed to confer upon the governed. She has property which the government must protect, a person which it must defend, and rights which it is bound to secure. Were the millenium arrived, were there no such thing as selfishness on earth; were simple truth and justice the prominent elements in all men's minds, and the informing spirit of all men's actions, then, indeed, might woman confide herself to man; then might she rely on man to secure to her those governmental benefits which are her due, as a portion of the general community. But, is this the state of things? Alas! not yet; and, until it is, the horrible injustice of the laws which exclude woman from a share in making them, while they are her only security for the advantages she ought to enjoy, will never cease crying aloud to all men for purification. One of the great aims of all government, one of the strong considerations which alone make its restrictions endurable, is the assurances which it gives the governed, that the sum of their happiness, and even of their liberty, shall, by individual restraints, become greater on the whole. It holds out a bonus to society, or rather, to its individual members, — ‘Give me this little, and I will give you in exchange this much.’ Thus, each individual puts a stake into the common fund, has an interest in the common weal, which demands careful watching. Can woman watch the large, the all-absorbing
[p. 67]interest she has at stake? She, above all, the most tender, the most sensitive of beings, the most keenly alive to wrong, to insult, to oppression, to aught that bruises her womanly and feeling heart, — can she give a careful eye to the disposal of those important questions which touch the very core of her heart? Why, when reduced to these, its naked dimensions, the injustice seems so horrible, as not to be credible, and did we not know the facts, we would find it hard to believe that man, made in the image of his Maker, could violate justice so barbarously. Surely woman lies under no moral obligation to any laws which, wanting her assent, yet assume to control her every action, word, and even thought. Her property, her person, all her rights, her most sacred affections, come within the province of those enactments; yet she can have no voice, no weight in determining what those enactments shall be.
In the third place, woman is entitled to vote, because she is liable to all the penalties imposed by government. Not only is it that she confides, or rather, that government compels her to confide to it, the custody of person, property, rights, and all dearest interests, but it goes a step further, and thus adds another link, (though quite a superfluous one,) to the adamantine chain of argument which it supplies to bind down its own injustice. It stands not merely in a passive or receiving relation to woman, it becomes the active arbiter of her doom; it declares itself competent to lay hands on her, to shut her up in prison, to take away her life, the life of one who has made with it no compact, — giving such awful power, — the life of one who never consented to the laws which assert over her so terrible a supremacy! All the principles already applied, come in here with, perhaps, renewed force, as being the arbiters of a question which may be regarded by some, as of a still more absorbing interest, although, to woman it may not be so, for when did she value life more highly than tenderness, domestic confidence, and affection?
Those are reasons based on principle alone. I could stand here, and consume all the time devoted to the sessions of this body, in multiplying practical examples, piling up arguments drawn from the little experience of daily life, which would speak, trumpet-tongued, to the most obdurate hearts, the story of woman's deep, and unendurable wrongs. But as the demand was made, so have I met it, and will now content myself with having given three reasons why woman should vote, which I pray all reasonable and honest men to receive as reasons, until they stand confuted."
DR. H. K. ROOT, of Broadway, New York, rose in his place, among the audience, and declared his intention of arguing against the principles and demands of the Convention. Being requested to take the rostrum, he did so, and spoke thus; —
"Mrs. President and Ladies; I do not come here with the slightest intention of offering to the ladies any opposition for mere opposition's sake. If they are proved to have more knowledge and intelligence than men, let them govern! My purpose, ladies, is to try and attain truth, which, I think, will not be found favorable to the views you express. I come, rather, as a matter of intelligence than opposition. I do not come here for the purpose of opposing the ladies too much; but as the question was not only open yesterday, but still is for discussion, I maintain that, if the ladies have more intelligence, and more energy, and science than the male sex, they should rule. I think I can give three reasons why men should vote, and one why woman should note vote.
My first reason is, because there was an original command fron God that man should rule. It may be supposed that we are in the garden of Eden now, as in the days of Adam and Eve; we may say this is the garden of Eden, and then we can go on; there are enough here to stand for Adam and Eve. Now, it will be remembered, in the original fall of man, when Adam and Eve fell, Adam, because Eve tempted him, now was placed in the garden as its keeper, and it was necessary in those days, as it is now, that woman should be a help meet for him; but you recollect that by the eating of the forbidden fruit, original sin came upon the world. Now, what was the expression of God to Adam? He says in the third chapter of Genesis, 17th verse: — "Because thou hast hearkened unto the voice of thy wife, and hast eaten of the tree of which I commanded thee, saying, thou shalt not eat of it: cursed is the ground for thy sake; in sorrow shalt thou eat of it all the days of thy life." Now, permit us to be in the relation that Adam and Eve were originally. It behoves the male sex to answer the objections of the female sex — not that we wish to combat them in public: but it behoves us, as a matter of justice, to put the question on a right foundation. It may be necessary, in ninety-nine cases out of a hundred, that the ladies should be here, but in the hundreth it may be necessary that man should say, ‘Thus far shalt thou go, and no farther.’ You see the original cause of sin was because sin was committed — because man, being placed in the garden, gave way to woman, and the curse fell upon man; the original cause of sin was because man gave up his judgment to woman; and it
[p. 69]may be, if we now give up our rights to woman, some great calamity may fall upon us. Had woman only sinned, perhaps we might still have been in Eden.
My second reason why man should vote is the law of physical force over the woman — because man's strength is greater than woman's.
The third reason is, because, if women enter the field of competition with men, it may lead not only to domestic unhappiness, but a great many other ill feelings. And I will give another reason why men should be dictators: If woman says she shall vote, and man says she shan't, he is in duty bound to maintain what he says. If he says she shan't, that is reason enough why she should not."
ALEXANDER PARKER, of Philadelphia, rose in his place, but, being invited to the platform, went on it, and spoke thus: —
"Adam was the first gardener in the world; he belonged to my business, for I am a gardener — a business I took up myself, so I should have something to say about the garden of Eden. Well, I have often thought about the fall, and I have often pictured it in this manner: — — the very moment the charge was given not to do such a thing, that was just the time they wanted to do it.
It is often said that woman has a great deal of curiosity, and no doubt it was whispered into her ear, that the moment she ate of the forbidden fruit she should become a god. Now, I have seen more reason this morning why women should vote than I have ever seen before. In Pennsylvania a man has got but one vote, while a woman has three — her husband's and her two sons'. I always thought the wrong cause was in the minority, and, if woman got authority, she would make as had a use of it as man. But Eve tried to get over the temptation, but she could not; and so, after many efforts, she clutched the apple she looked at, so, and so, and she reached out to it; afraid, at first, but at last she laid hold of it, and, seeing that her fear was over, she kissed its lovely cheek. Then she ran to Adam, and said it was good, and he ate of it. Then his eyes were opened, and he saw he was naked, and ran and hid himself. He tried to hide himself among the bushes, but he could not deny the eating of it, because the core was sticking in his throat, and it is sticking there still; but woman has not got the core sticking in her throat. Well, Adam pretended to be innocent, like all the rest of mankind, and said it was not he, but the woman, that did it. No, no; it was not his fault — it was the woman gave it to him. Oh, yes! he was not to blame, no more than any lord of creation or tyrant. Well, then, there was a curse upon him; but there was a promise to
[p. 70]woman that her seed should bruise the head of the serpent with his heel."
The Session closed at 12 ½, P.M.