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NATIONAL CONVENTIONS 1873, 74, 75.
Fifth Washington Convention-Mrs. Gage on Centralization-May Anniversary in New
York-Washington Convention, 1874-Frances Ellen Burr's Report-Rev. O. B. Frothingham in New York Convention-Territory of Pembina-Discussion in the SenateConventions in Washington and New York, 1875—Hearings before Congressional Committees.
The fifth Washington Convention was held in Lincoln Hall, January 16th and 17th, 1873. The President, Miss Anthony, in opening, said:
There are three methods of extending suffrage to new classes. The first is for the Legislatures of the several States to submit the question to the vote of the people; that is to those already voters. Before the war this was the only way thought of, and during all those years we petitioned to strike the word male” from the State Constitutions. The second method is for Congress to submit to the several legislatures a proposition for a XVI. Amendment that shall prohibit the States from depriving women citizens of their right to vote. The third plan is to take our rights under the XIV. Amendment of the Constitution which declares “that all persons are citizens,” and “ no State shall deny or abridge the privileges or immunities of citizens."
Again, there are two ways of securing the right of suffrage under the Constitution as it is; one by a declaratory act of Congress instructing the officers of election to receive the votes of women, the other in appeals to the courts by instituting suits as women have already done, in order to secure a judicial decision on the broad interpretation of the Constitution "that all persons are citizens, and all citizens voters.” The vaults in yonder Capitol hold the petitions of many thousands of women for a Declaratory Act, and the calendars of our courts show that many are already testing their right to vote under the XIV. Amendment. I stand here under indictment for having exercised my right as a citizen to vote at the last election ; and by a fiction of the law, I am now in custody, and not free on this platform.
A series of resolutions* were reported, and discussed at great length.
* 2. Resolved, That the present attempts in our courts, by a false construction of the National Constitution, to exalt all men as sovereigns, and degrade all women as slaves, is to establish the most odious form of aristocracy known in the civilized world—that of sex. 3. Resolved, That womon are “persons” and “citizens,” possessed of all the legal
After the appointment of committees, * Matilda Joslyn Gage made the annual report. She said :
Though the casual observer might think but little progress had been made during the year, this is not the fact. There has been in many ways a narked advance, and although I do not claim to have a complete and exact record, I would mention points which have come under my notice.
Soon after the opening of the last session of Congress several important bills were introduced. The Hon. Mr. Hoar introduced a bill against Territorial disfranchisement, which, as women vote in two Territories, was a bill having an important bearing upon this question of suffrage. About the same time, the Hon. Mr. Butler introduced a bill for a Declaratory Law to protect women citizens in their right to vote. During the progress of our annual Convention in January last, a memorial was presented, and a hearing obtained before the Senate Judiciary Committee. The speeches made by women at that time have been printed in pamphlet form, and extensively circulated throughout the nation. Within a few days after this hearing, a petition, containing 35,000 names, was presented to the House by the Hon. Benjamin F. Butler. During his remarks, upon this occasion his coadjutors left their seats and pressed around him, so anxious were they to hear, until, in order to give all an equal chance, the Speaker was forced to call to order.
The Hon. Matt. Carpenter made an elaborate argument before the Supreme Court, in the Myra Bradwell case. Mrs. Bradwell, as is well known, is the editor of a paper, entitled the Legal News, which is ably conducted, and accepted as authority by the profession. Mrs. Bradwell, upon applying for admission to the bar in Illinois, found her husband a “legal disability,” and carried her case up to the Supreme Court. This argument was also published and circulated in pamphlet form.
qualifications of voters in the several States-age, property, and education—and by the XIV. Amendment of the National Constitution have been secured the right of suffrage.
4. Resolved, That it is the duty of Congress, by appropriate legislation, to protect women in their exercise of this right.
5. Resolved, That women are citizens, first of the United States, and second of the States and Territories wherein they reside ; hence we claim National protection of our inalienable rights, against all State authority.
6. Resolved, That States may regulate all local questions of property, taxation, etc., but the inalienable personal rights of citizenship must be declared by the Constitution, interpreted by the Supreme Court, protected by Congress, and enforced by the arm of the Executive.
7. Resolved, That the criminal prosecution of Susan B. Anthony by the United States, for the alleged crime of exercising the citizen's right of suffrage, is an act of arbitrary authority, unconstitutional, and a blow at the liberties of every citizen of this nation.
Business Committee :-Matilda Joslyn Gage, New York ; Belva A. Lockwood, District of Columbia ; Lillie Devereux Blake, New York ; Mrs. Mary Henderson, Missouri; Mrs. Lavinia Dundore, Maryland ; Edward M. Davis, Pennsylvania ; Mrs. Mary A. Dobyvs, Kentucky; Mrs. Anna C. Savery, Iowa ; Miss Phebe Couzins, St. Louis ; Mrs. Jane Graham Jones, Illinois; Mrs. Helen M. Barnard, District of Columbia ; Rev. Olympia Brown, Connecticut; Robert Purvis, District of Columbia.
Finance Committee :-Mrs. Ellen C. Sargent, Belva A. Lockwood, Edward M. Davis, Ruth Carr Dennison, Helen M. Barnard.
Committee on Resolutions :-Elizabeth Cady Stanton, Belva A. Lockwood, Lillie Devereux Blake, Matilda Joslyn Gage.