Debate On Woman Suffrage In The Senate Of The United States,
Henry W. Blair, J.E. Brown, J.N. Dolph, G.G. Vest, Geo. F. Hoar.
Part 4 out of 4
how it was in his own State of Ohio. Everybody knows that if my
friends, Mrs. ex-Governor Wallace, Mrs. Allen, and all the women
of the great West could have gone to the ballot-box at those
municipal elections and voted for candidates, no such result would
have occurred; while you refused by the laws of the State to the
women the right to have their opinions counted, every rumseller,
every drunkard, every pauper even from the poor-house, and every
criminal outside of the State's prison came out on election day to
express his opinion and have it counted.
The next result of that political event was that the ring demanded
new legislation to protect the whisky traffic everywhere. In my
city the women did not crusade the streets, but they said they
would help the men to execute the law. They held meetings, sent
out committees, and had testimony secured against every man who
had violated the law, and when the board of excise held its
meeting those women assembled, three or four hundred, in the
church one morning, and marched in a solid body to the common
council chamber where the board of excise was sitting. As one
rum-seller after another brought in his petition for a renewal
of license who had violated the law, those women presented the
testimony against him. The law of the State of New York is that no
man shall have a renewal who has violated the law. But in not one
case did that board refuse to grant a renewal of license because
of the testimony which those women presented, and at the close of
the sitting it was found that twelve hundred more licenses had
been granted than ever before in the history of the State. Then
the defeated women said they would have those men punished
according to law.
Again they retained an attorney and appointed committees to
investigate all over the city. They got the proper officer to
prosecute every rum-seller. I was at their meeting. One woman
reported that the officer in every city refused to prosecute the
liquor dealer who had violated the law. Why? Because if he should
do so he would lose the votes of all the employes of certain shops
on that street, if another he would lose the votes of the railroad
employes, and if another he would lose the German vote, if another
the Irish vote, and so on. I said to those women what I say to
you, and what I know to be true to-day, that if the women of the
city of Rochester had held the power of the ballot in their hands
they would have been a great political balance of power.
The last report was from District Attorney Raines. The women
complained of a certain lager-beer-garden keeper. Said the
district attorney, "Ladies, you are right, this man is violating
the law, everybody knows it, but if I should prosecute him I would
lose the entire German vote." Said I, "Ladies, do you not see
that if the women of the city of Rochester had the right to vote
District Attorney Raines would have been compelled to have stopped
and counted, weighed and measured. He would have said, 'If I
prosecute that lager-beer German I shall lose the 5,000 German
votes of this city, but if I fail to prosecute him and execute the
laws I shall lose the votes of 20,000 women.'"
Do you not see, gentlemen, that so long as you put this power of
the ballot in the hands of every possible man, rich, poor, drunk,
sober, educated, ignorant, outside of the State's prison, to make
and unmake, not only every law and law-maker, but every office
holder who has to do with the executing of the law, and take the
power from the hands of the women of the nation, the mothers, you
put the long arm of the lever, as we call it in mechanics, in
the hands of the whisky power and make it utterly impossible for
regulation of sobriety to be maintained in our community? The
first step towards social regulation and good society in towns,
cities, and villages is the ballot in the hands of the mothers of
those places. I appeal to you especially in this matter, I do not
know what you think about the proper sphere of women.
It matters little what any of us think about it. We shall each and
every individual find our own proper sphere if we are left to
act in freedom; but my opinion is that when the whole arena of
politics and government is thrown open to women they will endeavor
to do very much as they do in their homes; that the men will look
after the greenback theory or the hard-money theory, that you will
look after free-trade or tariff, and the women will do the home
housekeeping of the government, which is to take care of the moral
government and the social regulation of our home department.
It seems to me that we have the power of government outside to
shape and control circumstances, but that the inside power, the
government housekeeping, is powerless, and is compelled to accept
whatever conditions or circumstances shall be granted.
Therefore I do not ask for liquor suffrage alone, nor for school
suffrage alone, because that would amount to nothing. We must be
able to have a voice in the election not only of every law-maker,
but of every one who has to do either with the making or the
executing of the laws.
Then you ask why we do not get suffrage by the popular-vote
method, State by State? I answer, because there is no reason why
I, for instance, should desire the women of one State of this
nation to vote any more than the women of another State. I have
no more interest as regards the women of New York than I
as regards the women of Indiana, Iowa, or any of the States
represented by the women who have come up here. The reason why I
do not wish to get this right by what you call the popular-vote
method, the State vote, is because I believe there is a United
States citizenship. I believe that this is a nation, and to be a
citizen of this nation should be a guaranty to every citizen of
the right to a voice in the Government, and should give to me
my right to express my opinion. You deny to me my liberty, my
freedom, if you say that I shall have no voice whatever in making,
shaping, or controlling the conditions of society in which I live.
I differ from Judge Hunt, and I hope I am respectful when I say
that I think he made a very funny mistake when he said that
fundamental rights belong to the States and only surface rights to
the National Government. I hope you will agree with me that the
fundamental right of citizenship, the right to voice in the
Government, is a national right.
The National Government may concede to the States the right to
decide by a majority as to what banks they shall have, what
laws they shall enact with regard to insurance, with regard to
property, and any other question; but I insist upon it that the
National Government should not leave it a question with the States
that a majority in any State may disfranchise the minority under
any circumstances whatsoever. The franchise to you men is not
secure. You hold it to-day, to be sure, by the common consent of
white men, but if at any time, on your principle of government,
the majority of any of the States should choose to amend the State
constitution so as to disfranchise this or that portion of the
white men by making this or that condition, by all the decisions
of the Supreme Court and by the legislation thus far there is
nothing to hinder them.
Therefore the women demand a sixteenth amendment to bring to women
the right to vote, or if you please to confer upon women their
right to vote, to protect them in it, and to secure men in their
right, because you are not secure.
I would let the States act upon almost every other question by
majorities, except the power to say whether my opinion shall
be counted. I insist upon it that no State shall decide that
Then the popular-vote method is an impracticable thing. We tried
to get negro suffrage by the popular vote, as you will remember.
Senator Thurman will remember that in Ohio the Republicans
submitted the question in 1867, and with all the prestige of the
national Republican party and of the State party, when every
influence that could be brought by the power and the patronage of
the party in power was brought to bear, yet negro suffrage ran
behind the regular Republican ticket 40,000.
It was tried in Kansas, it was tried in New York, and everywhere
that it was submitted the question was voted down overwhelmingly.
Just so we tried to get women suffrage by the popular-vote method
in Kansas in 1867, in Michigan in 1874, in Colorado in 1877, and
in each case the result was precisely the same, the ratio of the
vote standing one-third for women suffrage and two-thirds against
women suffrage. If we were to canvass State after State we should
get no better vote than that. Why? Because the question of the
enfranchisement of women is a question of government, a question
of philosophy, of understanding, of great fundamental principle,
and the masses of the hard-working people of this nation, men and
women, do not think upon principles. They can only think on the
one eternal struggle wherewithal to be fed, to be clothed, and to
be sheltered. Therefore I ask you not to compel us to have this
question settled by what you term the popular-vote method.
Let me illustrate by Colorado, the most recent State, in the
election of 1877. I am happy to say to you that I have canvassed
three States for this question. If Senator Chandler were alive,
or if Senator Ferry were in this room, they would remember that I
followed in their train in Michigan, with larger audiences than
either of those Senators throughout the whole canvass. I want to
say, too, that although those Senators may have believed in woman
suffrage, they did not say much about it. They did not help us
much. The Greenback movement was quite popular in Michigan at that
time. The Republicans and Greenbackers made a most humble bow
to the grangers, but woman suffrage did not get much help. In
Colorado, at the close of the canvass, 6,666 men voted "Yes."
Now I am going to describe the men who voted "Yes." They were
native-born white men, temperance men, cultivated, broad,
generous, just men, men who think. On the other hand, 16,007 voted
Now I am going to describe that class of voters. In the southern
part of that State there are Mexicans, who speak the Spanish
language. They put their wheat in circles on the ground with
the heads out, and drive a mule around to thrash it. The vast
population of Colorado is made up of that class of people. I was
sent out to speak in a voting precinct having 200 voters; 150
of those voters were Mexican greasers, 40 of them foreign-born
citizens, and just 10 of them were born in this country; and I was
supposed to be competent to convert those men to let me have as
much right in this Government as they had, when, unfortunately,
the great majority of them could not understand a word that I
said. Fifty or sixty Mexican greasers stood against the wall with
their hats down over their faces. The Germans put seats in a
lager-beer saloon, and would not attend unless I made a speech
there; so I had a small audience.
MRS. ARCHIBALD. There is one circumstance that I should like to
relate. In the county of Las Animas, a county where there is a
large population of Mexicans, and where they always have a large
majority over the native population, they do not know our language
at all. Consequently a number of tickets must be printed for those
people in Spanish. The gentleman in our little town of Trinidad
who had the charge of the printing of those tickets, being adverse
to us, had every ticket printed against woman suffrage. The
samples that were sent to us from Denver were "for" or "against,"
but the tickets that were printed only had the word "against" on
them, so that our friends had to scratch their tickets, and all
those Mexican people who could not understand this trick and did
not know the facts of the case, voted against woman suffrage; so
that we lost a great many votes. This was man's generosity.
MISS ANTHONY. Special legislation for the benefit of woman! I will
admit you that on the floor of the constitutional convention was a
representative Mexican, intelligent, cultivated, chairman of the
committee on suffrage, who signed the petition, and was the first
to speak in favor of woman suffrage. Then they have in Denver
about four hundred negroes. Governor Routt said to me, "The
four hundred Denver negroes are going to vote solid for woman
suffrage." I said, "I do not know much about the Denver negroes,
but I know certainly what all negroes were educated in, and
slavery never educated master or negro into a comprehension, of
the great principles of human freedom of our nation; it is not
possible, and I do not believe they are going to vote for us."
Just ten of those Denver negroes voted for woman suffrage. Then,
in all the mines of Colorado the vast majority of the wage
laborers, as you know, are foreigners.
There may be intelligent foreigners in this country, and I know
there are, who are in favor of the enfranchisement of woman, but
that one does not happen to be Carl Schurz, I am ashamed to say.
And I want to say to you of Carl Schurz, that side by side with
that man on the battlefield of Germany was Madame Anneke, as noble
a woman as ever trod the American soil. She rode by the side of
her husband, who was an officer, on the battlefield; she slept in
battlefield tents, and she fled from Germany to this country, for
her life and property, side by side with Carl Schurz. Now, what is
it for Carl Schurz, stepping up to the very door of the Presidency
and looking back to Madame Anneke, who fought for liberty as
well as he, to say, "You be subject in this Republic; I will be
sovereign." If it is an insult for Carl Schurz to say that to
a foreign-born woman, what is it for him to say it to Mrs.
Ex-Governor Wallace, Elizabeth Cady Stanton, Lucretia Mott--to the
native-born, educated, tax-paying women of this Republic? I can
forgive an ignorant foreigner; I can forgive an ignorant negro;
but I can not forgive Carl Schurz.
Right in the file of the foreigners opposed to woman suffrage,
educated under monarchical governments that do not comprehend our
principles, whom I have seen traveling through the prairies of
Iowa or the prairies of Minnesota, are the Bohemians, Swedes,
Norwegians, Germans, Irishmen, Mennonites; I have seen them riding
on those magnificent loads of wheat with those magnificent Saxon
horses, shining like glass on a sunny morning, every one of them
going to vote "no" against woman suffrage. You can not convert
them; it is impossible. Now and then there is a whisky
manufacturer, drunkard, inebriate, libertine, and what we call
a fast man, and a colored man, broad and generous enough to be
willing to let women vote, to let his mother have her opinion
counted as to whether there shall be license or no license, but
the rank and file of all classes, who wish to enjoy full license
in what are termed the petty vices of men are pitted solid against
the enfranchisement of women.
Then, in addition to all these, there are, as you know, a few
religious bigots left in the world who really believe that somehow
or other if women are allowed to vote St. Paul would feel badly
about it. I do not know but that some of the gentlemen present
belong to that class. [Laughter.] So, when you put those best men
of the nation, having religion about everything except on this one
question, whose prejudices control them, with all this vast mass
of ignorant, uneducated, degraded population in this country,
you make an overwhelming and insurmountable majority against the
enfranchisement of women.
It is because of this fact that I ask you not to remand us back
to the States, but to submit to the States the proposition of a
sixteenth amendment. The popular-vote method is not only of itself
an impossibility, but it is too humiliating a process to compel
the women of this nation to submit to any longer.
I am going to give you an illustration, not because I have any
disrespect for the person, because on many other questions he was
really a good deal better than a good many other men who had not
so bad a name in this nation. When, under the old _regime_, John
Morrissey, of my State, the king of gamblers, was a Representative
on the floor of Congress, it was humiliating enough for Lucretia
Mott, for Elizabeth Cady Stanton, for all of us to come down here
to Washington and beg at the feet of John Morrissey that he would
let intelligent, native-born women vote, and let us have as much
right in this Government and in the government of the city of New
York as he had. When John Morrissey was a member of the New York
State Legislature it would have been humiliating enough for us to
go to the New York State Legislature and pray of John Morrissey to
vote to ratify the sixteenth amendment, giving to us a right to
vote; but if instead of a sixteenth amendment you tell us to go
back to the popular-vote method, the old-time method, and go down
into John Morrissey's seventh Congressional district in the city
of New York, and there, in the sloughs and slums of that great
Sodom, in the grog-shops, the gambling-houses, and the brothels,
beg at the feet of each individual fisticuff of his constituency
to give the noble, educated, native-born, tax-paying women of
the State of New York as much right as he has, that would be too
bitter a pill for a native-born woman to swallow any longer.
I beg you, gentlemen, to save us from the mortification and the
humiliation of appealing to the rabble. We already have on our
side the vast majority of the better educated--the best classes of
men. You will remember that Senator Christiancy, of Michigan, two
years ago, said on the floor of the Senate that of the 40,000 men
who voted for woman suffrage in Michigan it was said that there
was not a drunkard, not a libertine, not a gambler, not a
depraved, low man among them. Is not that something that tells
for us, and for our right? It is the fact, in every State of the
Union, that we have the intelligent lawyers and the most liberal
ministers of all the sects, not excepting the Roman Catholics. A
Roman Catholic priest preached a sermon the other day, in which he
said, "God grant that there were a thousand Susan B. Anthonys in
this city to vote and work for temperance." When a Catholic priest
says that there is a great moral necessity pressing down upon this
nation demanding the enfranchisement of women. I ask you that you
shall not drive us back to beg our rights at the feet of the
most ignorant and depraved men of the nation, but that you, the
representative men of the nation, will hold the question in the
hollow of your hands. We ask you to lift this question out of the
hands of the rabble.
You who are here upon the floor of Congress in both Houses are the
picked men of the nation. You may say what you please about John
Morrissey, the gambler, &c.; he was head and shoulders above the
rank and file of his constituency. The world may gabble ever so
much about members of Congress being corrupt and being bought
and sold; they are as a rule head and shoulders among the great
majority who compose their State governments. There is no doubt
about it. Therefore I ask of you, as representative men, as men
who think, as men who study, as men who philosophize, as men who
know, that you will not drive us back to the States any more, but
that you will carry out this method of procedure which has been
practiced from the beginning of the Government; that is, that you
will put a prohibitory amendment in the Constitution and submit
the proposition to the several State legislatures. The amendment
which has been presented before you reads:
SECTION 1. The right of suffrage in the United States shall
be based on citizenship, and the right of citizens of the
United States to vote shall not be denied or abridged by the
United States, or by any State, on account of sex, or for any
reason not equally applicable to all citizens of the United
SEC. 2. Congress shall have power to enforce this article by
In this way we would get the right of suffrage just as much by
what you call the consent of the States, or the States' rights
method, as by any other method. The only point is that it is a
decision by the representative men of the States instead of by
the rank and file of the ignorant men of the States. If you would
submit this proposition for a sixteenth amendment, by a two-thirds
vote of the two Houses to the several legislatures, and the
several legislatures ratify it, that would be just as much by the
consent of the States as if Tom, Dick, and Harry voted "yes" or
"no." Is it not, Senator? I want to talk to Democrats as well as
Republicans, to show that it is a State's rights method.
SENATOR EDMUNDS. Does anybody propose any other, in case it is
done at all by the nation?
MISS ANTHONY. Not by the nation, but they are continually driving
us back to get it from, the States, State by State. That is the
point I want to make. We do not want you to drive us back to the
States. We want you men to take the question out of the hands of
the rabble of the State.
THE CHAIRMAN. May I interrupt you?
MISS ANTHONY. Yes, sir; I wish you would.
THE CHAIRMAN. You have reflected on this subject a great deal. You
think there is a majority, as I understand, even in the State of
New York, against women suffrage?
MISS ANTHONY. Yes, sir; overwhelmingly.
THE CHAIRMAN. How, then, would you get Legislatures elected to
ratify such a constitutional amendment?
MISS ANTHONY. That brings me exactly to the point.
THE CHAIRMAN. That is the point I wish to hear you upon.
MISS ANTHONY. Because the members of the State Legislatures are
intelligent men and can vote and enact laws embodying great
principles of the government without in any wise endangering their
positions with their constituencies. A constituency composed of
ignorant men would vote solid against us because they have never
thought on the question. Every man or woman who believes in the
enfranchisement of women is educated out of every idea that he or
she was born into. We were all born into the idea that the proper
sphere of women is subjection, and it takes education and thought
and culture to lift us out of it. Therefore when men go to the
ballot-box they till vote "no," unless they have actual argument
on it. I will illustrate. We have six Legislatures in the nation,
for instance, that have extended the right to vote on school
questions to the women, and not a single member of the State
Legislature has ever lost his office or forfeited the respect or
confidence of his constituents as a representative because he
voted to give women the right to vote on school questions. It is a
question that the unthinking masses never have thought upon. They
do not care about it one way or the other, only they have an
instinctive feeling that because women never did vote therefore it
is wrong that they ever should vote.
MRS. SPENCER. Do make the point that the Congress of the United
States leads the Legislatures of the States and educates them.
MISS ANTHONY. When you, representative men, carry this matter to
Legislatures, State by State, they will ratify it. My point is
that you can safely do this. Senator Thurman, of Ohio, would
not lose a single vote in Ohio in voting in favor of the
enfranchisement of women. Senator EDMUNDS would not lose a single
Republican vote in the State of Vermont if he puts himself on our
side, which, I think, he will do. It is not a political question.
We are no political power that can make or break either party
to-day. Consequently each man is left independent to express his
own moral and intellectual convictions on the matter without
endangering himself politically.
SENATOR EDMUNDS. I think, Miss Anthony, you ought to put it
on rather higher, I will not say stronger, ground. If you can
convince us that it is right we would not stop to see how it
affected us politically.
MISS ANTHONY. I was coming to that, I was going to say to all of
you men in office here to-day that if you can not go forward
and carry out either your Democratic or your Republican or your
Greenback theories, for instance, on the finance, there is no
great political power that is going to take you away from these
halls and prevent you from doing all those other things which you
want to do, and you can act out your own moral and intellectual
convictions on this without let or hindrance.
SENATOR EDMUNDS. Without any danger to the public interests, you
MISS ANTHONY. Without any danger to the public interests. I did
not mean to make a bad insinuation. Senator.
I want to give you another reason why we appeal to you. In these
three States where the question has been submitted and voted down
we can not get another Legislature to resubmit it, because they
say the people have expressed their opinion and decided no, and
therefore nobody with any political sense would resubmit the
question. It is therefore impossible in any one of those States.
We have tried hard in Kansas for ten years to get the question
resubmitted; the vote of that State seems to be taken as a
finality. We ask you to lift the sixteenth amendment out of the
arena of the public mass into the arena of thinking legislative
brains, the brains of the nation, under the law and the
Constitution. Not only do we ask it for that purpose, but when you
will have by a two-thirds vote submitted the proposition to the
several Legislatures, you have put the pin down and it never can
go back. No subsequent Congress can revoke that submission of the
proposition; there will be so much gained; it can not slide back.
Then we will go to New York or to Pennsylvania and urge upon the
Legislatures the ratification of that amendment. They may refuse;
they may vote it down the first time. Then we will go to the next
Legislature, and the next Legislature, and plead and plead, from
year to year, if it takes ten years. It is an open question to
every Legislature until we can get one that will ratify it, and
when that Legislature has once voted and ratified it no subsequent
legislation can revoke their ratification.
Thus, you perceive, Senators, that every step we would gain by
this sixteenth amendment process is fast and not to be done over
again. That is why I appeal to you especially. As I have shown you
in the respective States, if we fail to educate the people of
a whole State--and in Michigan it was only six months, and in
Colorado less than six months--the State Legislatures say that is
the end of it. I appeal to you, therefore, to adopt the course
that we suggest.
Gentlemen of the committee, if there is a question that you want
to ask me before I make my final appeal, I should like to have you
put it now; any question as to constitutional law or your right to
go forward. Of course you do not deny to us that this amendment
will be right in the line of all the amendments heretofore. The
eleventh, twelfth, thirteenth, fourteenth, fifteenth amendments
are all in line prohibiting the States from doing something which
they heretofore thought they had a right to do. Now we ask you to
prohibit the States from denying to women their rights.
I want to show you in closing that of the great acts of justice
done during the war and since the war the first one was a great
military necessity. We never got one inch of headway in putting
down the rebellion until the purpose of this great nation was
declared that slavery should he abolished. Then, as if by magic,
we went forward and put down the rebellion. At the close of the
rebellion the nation stood again at a perfect deadlock. The
Republican party was trembling in the balance, because it feared
that it could not hold its position, until it should have secured
by legislation to the Government what it had gained at the
point of the sword, and when the nation declared its purpose to
enfranchise the negro it was a political necessity. I do not want
to take too much vainglory out of the heads of Republicans, but
nevertheless it is a great national fact that neither of those
great acts of beneficence to the negro race was done because
of any high, overshadowing moral conviction on the part of any
considerable minority even of the people of this nation, but
simply because of a military necessity slavery was abolished,
and simply because of a political necessity black men were
The blackest Republican State you had voted down negro suffrage,
and that was Kansas in 1867; Michigan voted it down in 1867; Ohio
voted it down in 1867. Iowa was the only State that ever voted
negro suffrage by a majority of the citizens to which the question
was submitted, and they had not more than seventy-five negroes
in the whole State; so it was not a very practical question.
Therefore, it may be fairly said, I think, that it was a military
necessity that compelled one of those acts of justice, and a
political necessity that compelled the other.
It seems to me that from the first word uttered by our dear
friend, Mrs. ex-Governor Wallace, of Indiana, all the way down, we
have been presenting to you the fact that there is a great moral
necessity pressing upon this nation to-day, that you shall
go forward and attach a sixteenth amendment to the Federal
Constitution which shall put in the hands of the women of this
nation the power to help make, shape, and control the social
conditions of society everywhere. I appeal to you from that
standpoint that you shall submit this proposition.
There is one other point to which I want to call your attention.
The Senate Judiciary Committee, Senator EDMUNDS chairman, reported
that the United States could do nothing to protect women in the
right to vote under the amendments. Now I want to give you a few
points where the United States interferes to take away the right
to vote from women where the State has given it to them. In
Wyoming, for instance, by a Democratic legislature, the women were
enfranchised. They were not only allowed to vote but to sit upon
juries, the same as men. Those of you who read the reports giving;
the results of that action have not forgotten that the first
result of women sitting upon juries was that wherever there was a
violation of the whisky law they brought in verdicts accordingly
for the execution of the law; and you will remember, too, that the
first man who ever had a verdict of guilty for murder in the first
degree in that Territory was tried by a jury made up largely of
women. Always up to that day every jury had brought in a verdict
of shot in self-defense, although the person shot down may have
been entirely unarmed. Then, in cities like Cheyenne and Laramie,
persons entered complaints against keepers of houses of ill-fame.
Women were on the jury, and the result was in every case that
before the juries could bring in a bill of indictment the women
had taken the train and left the town. Why do you hear no more
of women sitting on juries in that Territory? Simply because the
United States marshal, who is appointed by the President to go to
Wyoming, refuses to put the names of women into the box from which
the jury is drawn. There the United States Government interferes
to take the right away.
A DELEGATE. I should like to state that Governor Hoyt, of Wyoming,
who was the governor who signed the act giving to women this
right, informed me that the right had been restored, and that his
sister, who resides there, recently served on a jury.
MISS ANTHONY. I am glad to hear it. It is two years since I was
there, but I was told that that was the case. In Utah the women
were given the right to vote, but a year and a half ago their
Legislative Assembly found that although they had the right to
vote the Territorial law provided that only male voters should
hold office. The Legislative Assembly of Utah passed a bill
providing that women should be eligible to all the offices of the
Territory. The school offices, superintendents of schools, were
the offices in particular to which the women wanted to be elected.
Governor Emory, appointed by the President of the United States,
vetoed that bill. Thus the full operations of enfranchisement
conferred by two of the Territories has been stopped by Federal
You ask why I come here instead of going to the State
Legislatures. You say that whenever the Legislatures extend the
right of suffrage to us by the constitutions of their States we
can get it. Massachusetts, New Hampshire, Minnesota, Colorado,
Kansas, Oregon, all these States, have had the school suffrage
extended by legislative enactment. If the question had been
submitted to the rank and file of the people of Boston, with
66,000 men paying nothing but the poll-tax, they would have
undoubtedly voted against letting women have the right to vote for
members of the school board; but their intelligent representatives
on the floor of the Legislature voted in favor of the extension of
the school suffrage to the women. The first result in Boston has
been the election of quite a number of women to the school board.
In Minnesota, in the little town of Rochester, the school board
declared its purpose to cut the women teachers' wages down. It
did not propose to touch the principal, who was a man, but they
proposed to cut all the women down from $50 to $35. One woman put
her bonnet on and went over the entire town and said, "We have got
a right to vote for this school board, and let us do so." They all
turned out and voted, and not a single $35 man was re-elected, but
all those who were in favor of paying $50.
It seems to be a sort of charity to let a woman teach school. You
say here that if a woman has a father, mother, or brother,
or anybody to support her, she can not have a place in the
Departments. In the city of Rochester they cannot let a married
woman teach school because she has got a husband, and it is
supposed he ought to support her. The women are working in the
Departments, as everywhere else, for half price, and the only
pretext, you tell us, for keeping women there is because the
Government can economize by employing women for less money. The
other day when I saw a newspaper item stating that the Government
proposed to compensate Miss Josephine Meeker for all her bravery,
heroism, and terrible sufferings by giving her a place in the
Interior Department, it made my blood boil to the ends of my
fingers and toes. To give that girl a chance to work in the
Department; to do just as much work as a man, and pay her half as
much, was a charity. That was a beneficence on the part of this
grand Government to her. We want the ballot for bread. When we do
equal work we want equal wages.
MRS. SAXON. California, in her recent convention, prohibits the
Legislature hereafter from enacting any law for woman's suffrage,
does it not?
MISS ANTHONY. I do not know. I have not seen the new constitution.
MRS. SAXON. It does. The convention inserted a provision in the
constitution that the Legislature could not act upon the subject
MISS ANTHONY. Everywhere that we have gone, Senators, to ask our
right at the hands of any legislative or political body, we have
been the subjects of ridicule. For instance, I went before the
great national Democratic convention in New York, in 1868, as a
delegate from the New York Woman Suffrage Association, to ask that
great party, now that it wanted to come to the front again, to put
a genuine Jeffersonian plank in its platform, pledging the ballot
to all citizens, women as well as men, should it come into power.
You may remember how Mr. Seymour ordered my petition to be read,
after looking at it in the most scrutinizing manner, when it was
referred to the committee on resolutions, where it has slept the
sleep of death from that day to this. But before the close of
the convention a body of ignorant workingmen sent in a petition
clamoring for greenbacks, and you remember that the Democratic
party bought those men by putting a solid greenback plank in the
Everybody supposed they would nominate Pendleton, or some other
man of pronounced views, but instead of doing that they nominated
Horatio Seymour, who stood on the fence, politically speaking. My
friends, Mrs. Stanton, Lucretia Mott, and women who have brains
and education, women who are tax-payers, went there and petitioned
for the practical application of the fundamental principles of
our Government to one-half of the people. Those most ignorant
workingmen, the vast mass of them foreigners, went there,
and petitioned that that great political party should favor
greenbacks. Why did they treat those workingmen with respect, and
put a greenback plank in their platform, and only table us, and
ignore us? Simply because the workingmen represented the power of
the ballot. They could make or unmake the great Democratic party
at that election. The women were powerless. We could be ridiculed
and ignored with impunity, and so we were laughed at, and put on
Then the Republicans went to Chicago, and they did just the same
thing. They said the Government bonds must be paid in precisely
the currency specified by the Congressional enactment, and
Talleyrand himself could not have devised how not to say anything
better than the Republicans did at Chicago on that question. Then
they nominated a man who had not any financial opinions whatever,
and who was not known, except for his military record, and they
went into the campaign. Both those parties had this petition from
I met a woman in Grand Rapids, Mich., a short time ago. She came
to me one morning and told me about the obscene shows licensed
in that city, and said that she thought of memorializing the
Legislature. I said, "Do; you can not do anything else; you are
helpless, but you can petition. Of course they will laugh at you."
Notwithstanding, I drew up a petition and she circulated it.
Twelve hundred of the best citizens signed that petition, and the
lady carried it to the Legislature, just as Mrs. Wallace took her
petition in the Indiana Legislature. They read it, laughed at it,
and laid it on the table; and at the close of the session, by
a unanimous vote, they retired in a solid body to witness the
obscene show themselves. After witnessing it, they not only
allowed the license to continue for that year, but they have
licensed it every year from that day to this, against all the
protests of the petitioners. [Laughter.]
SENATOR EDMUNDS. Do not think we are wanting in respect to you and
the ladies here because you say something that makes us laugh.
MISS ANTHONY. You are not laughing at me; you are treating me
respectfully, because you are hearing my argument; you are not
asleep, not one of you, and I am delighted.
Now, I am going to tell you one other fact. Seven thousand of the
best citizens of Illinois petitioned the Legislature of 1877 to
give them the poor privilege of voting on the license question. A
gentleman presented their petition; the ladies were in the lobbies
around the room. A gentleman made a motion that the president of
the State association of the Christian Temperance Union be
allowed to address the Legislature regarding the petition of the
memorialists, when a gentleman sprang to his feet, and said it was
well enough for the honorable gentleman to present the petition,
and have it received and laid on the table, but "for a gentleman
to rise in his seat and propose that the valuable time of the
honorable gentlemen of the Illinois Legislature should be consumed
in discussing the nonsense of those women is going a little too
far. I move that the sergeant-at-arms be ordered to clear the hall
of the house of representatives of the mob;" referring to those
Christian women. Now, they had had the lobbyists of the whisky
ring in that Legislature for years and years, not only around it
at respectful distances, but inside the bar, and nobody ever made
a motion to clear the halls of the whisky mob there. It only takes
Christian women to make a mob.
MRS. SAXON. We were treated extremely respectfully in Louisiana.
It showed plainly the temper of the convention when the present
governor admitted that woman suffrage was a fact bound to come.
They gave us the privilege of having women on the school boards,
but then the officers are appointed by men who are politicians.
MISS ANTHONY. I want to read a few words that come from good
authority, for black men at least. I find here a little extract
that I copied years ago from the Anti-Slavery Standard of 1870. As
you know, Wendell Phillips was the editor of that paper at that
"A man with the ballot in his hand is the master of the situation.
He defines all his other rights; what is not already given him he
That is exactly what we want, Senators. The rights you have not
already given us; we want to get in such a position that we can
"The ballot makes every class sovereign over its own fate.
Corruption may steal from a man his independence; capital may
starve, and intrigue fetter him, at times; but against all these,
his vote, intelligently and honestly cast, is, in the long run,
his full protection. If, in the struggle, his fort surrenders,
it is only because it is betrayed from within. No power ever
permanently wronged a voting class without its own consent."
Senators, I want to ask of you that you will, by the law and
parliamentary rules of your committee, allow us to agitate this
question by publishing this report and the report which you shall
make upon our petitions, as I hope you will make a report. If your
committee is so pressed with business that it can not possibly
consider and report upon this question, I wish some of you would
make a motion on the floor of the Senate that a special committee
be appointed to take the whole question of the enfranchisement
of women into consideration, and that that committee shall have
nothing else to do. This off-year of politics, when there is
nothing to do but to try how not to do it (politically, I mean,
I am not speaking personally), is the best time you can have to
consider the question of woman suffrage, and I ask you to use your
influence with the Senate to have it specially attended to this
year. Do not make us come here thirty years longer. It is twelve
years since the first time I came before a Senate committee. I
said then to Charles Sumner, if I could make the honorable Senator
from Massachusetts believe that I feel the degradation and the
humiliation of disfranchisement precisely as he would if his
fellows had adjudged him incompetent from any cause whatever from
having his opinion counted at the ballot-box we should have our
right to vote in the twinkling of an eye.
REMARKS BY MRS. SARA A. SPENCER, OF WASHINGTON.
Mrs. SPENCER. Congress printed 10,000 copies of its proceedings
concerning the memorial services of a dead man, Professor Henry.
It cost me three months of hard work to have 3,000 copies of
our arguments last year before the Committee on Privileges and
Elections printed for 10,000,000 living women. I ask that the
committee will have printed 10,000 copies of this report.
The CHAIRMAN. The committee have no power to order the printing.
That can only be done by the order of the Senate. A resolution
can be offered to that effect in the Senate. I have only to say,
ladies, that you will admit that we have listened to you with
great attention, and I can certainly say with very great interest.
What you have said will be duly and earnestly considered by the
Mrs. WALLACE. I wish to make just one remark in reference to what
Senator Thurman said as to the popular vote being against woman
suffrage. The popular vote is against it, but not the popular
voice. Owing to the temperance agitation in the last six years the
growth of the suffrage sentiment among the wives and mothers of
this nation has largely increased.
Mrs. SPENCER. In behalf of the women of the United States, permit
me to thank the Senate Judiciary Committee for their respectful,
courteous, and close attention.
Mr. HOAR. Mr. President, I do not propose to make a speech at this
late hour of the day; it would be cruel to the Senate; and I had not
expected that this measure would be here this afternoon. I was absent
on a public duty and came in just at the close of the speech of my
honorable friend from Missouri [Mr. VEST]. I wish, however, to say one
word in regard to what seemed to be the burden of his speech.
He says that the women who ask this change in our political
organization are not simply seeking to be put upon school boards and
upon boards of health and charity and upon all the large number of
duties of a political nature for which he must confess they are fit,
but he says they will want to be President of the United States, and
want to be Senators, and want to be marshals and sheriffs, and that
seems to him supremely ridiculous. Now I do not understand that that
is the proposition. What they want to do and to be is to be eligible
to such public duty as a majority of their fellow-citizens may think
they are fitted for. The majority of public duties in this country do
not require robust, physical health, or exposure to what is base or
unhealthy; and when those duties are imposed upon anybody they will be
imposed only upon such persons as are fit for them. But they want
that if the majority of the American people think a woman like Queen
Victoria, or Queen Elizabeth, or Queen Isabella of Spain, or Maria
Theresa of Hungary (the four most brilliant sovereigns of any sex in
modern history with only two or three exceptions), the fittest person
to be President of the United States, they may be permitted to
exercise their choice accordingly.
Old men are eligible to office, old men are allowed to vote, but we do
not send old men to war, or make constables or watchmen or overseers
of State prisons of old men; and it is utterly idle to suppose that
the fitness to vote or the fitness to hold office has anything to do
with the physical strength or with the particular mental qualities in
regard to which the sexes differ from each other.
Mr. President, my honorable friend spoke of the French revolution and
the horrors in which the women of Paris took part, and from that he
would argue that American wives and mothers and sisters are not fit
for the calm and temperate management of our American republican
life. His argument would require him by the same logic to agree that
republicanism itself is not fit for human society. The argument is the
argument against popular government whether by man or woman, and the
Senator only applies to this new phase of the claim of equal rights
what his predecessors would argue against the rights we now have
applied to us.
But the Senator thought it was unspeakably absurd that a woman with
her sentiment and emotional nature and liability to be moved by
passion and feeling should hold the office of Senator. Why, Mr.
President, the Senator's own speech is a refutation of its own
argument. Everybody knows that my honorable friend from Missouri is
one of the most brilliant men in this country. He is a logician, he is
an orator, he is a man of large experience, he is a lawyer entrusted
with large interests; yet when he was called upon to put forth this
great effort of his this afternoon and to argue this question which he
thinks so clear, what did he do? He furnished the gush and the emotion
and the eloquence, but when he came to any argument he had to call
upon two women, Mrs. Leonard and Mrs. Whitney to supply all that.
[Laughter.] If Mrs. Leonard and Mrs. Whitney have to make the argument
in the Senate of the United States for the brilliant and distinguished
Senator from Missouri it does not seem to me so absolutely ridiculous
that they should have or that women like them should have seats here
to make arguments of their own. [Manifestations of applause in the
The joint resolution was reported to the Senate without amendment.
The PRESIDING OFFICER. If no amendment be proposed the question is,
shall the joint resolution be engrossed for a third reading?
Mr. COCKRELL. Let us have the yeas and nays.
Mr. BLAIR. Why not take the yeas and nays on the passage?
Mr. COCKRELL. Very well.
The PRESIDING OFFICER. The call is withdrawn.
The joint resolution was ordered to be engrossed for a third reading,
and was read the third time.
The PRESIDING OFFICER. Shall the joint resolution pass?
Mr. COCKRELL. I call for the yeas and nays.
The PRESIDING OFFICER. Upon this question the yeas and nays will
necessarily be taken.
The Secretary proceeded to call the roll.
Mr. CHACE (when his name was called). I am paired with the Senator
from North Carolina [Mr. RANSOM]. If he were present I should vote
Mr. DAWES (when his name was called). I am paired with the Senator
from Texas [Mr. MAXEY]. I regret that I am not able to vote on this
question. I should vote "yea" if he were here.
Mr. COKE. My colleague [Mr. MAXEY], if present, would vote "nay."
Mr. GRAY (when Mr. GORMAN'S name was called). I am requested by the
Senator from Maryland [Mr. GORMAN] to say that he is paired with the
Senator from Maine [Mr. FRYE].
Mr. STANFORD (when his name was called). I am paired with the Senator
from West Virginia [Mr. CAMDEN]. If he were present I should vote
The roll-call was concluded.
Mr. HARRIS. I have a general pair with the Senator from Vermont [Mr.
EDMUNDS], who is necessarily absent from the Chamber, but I see his
colleague voted "nay," and as I am opposed to the resolution I will
record my vote "nay."
Mr. KENNA. I am paired on all questions with the Senator from New York
Mr. JONES, of Arkansas. I have a general pair with the Senator from
Indiana [Mr. HARRISON]. If he were present I should vote "nay" on this
Mr. BROWN. I was requested by the Senator from South Carolina [Mr.
BUTLER] to announce his pair with the Senator from Pennsylvania [Mr.
CAMERON], and to say that if the Senator from South Carolina were
present he would vote "nay." I do not know how the Senator from
Pennsylvania would vote.
Mr. CULLOM. I was requested by the Senator from Maine [Mr. FRYE] to
announce his pair with the Senator from Maryland [Mr. GORMAN].
The result was announced--yeas 16, nays 34; as follows:
Mitchell of Oreg.,
Mitchell of Pa.,
Wilson of Iowa.
Jones of Nevada,
Wilson of Md.
Jones of Arkansas,
Jones of Florida,
The PRESIDING OFFICER. Two-thirds have not voted for the resolution.
It is not passed.
Mr. PLUMB subsequently said: I wish to state that I was unexpectedly
called out of the Senate just before the vote was taken on the
constitutional amendment, and to also state that if I had been here I
should have voted for it.
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