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all State Legislatures to act on this question, that when the old liberty bell rings in the dawn of the new century, we may all be free and equal citizens of a true republic.
Miss ANTHONY said that man neither supports woman nor protects her. The census reports show that two million women are entirely independent of men in regard to employments. Thousands of women do work outside the home from necessity. A million women are engaged in domestic service providing for their own necessities, and a million more are supporting their families and drunken husbands.
Letters were read from Dr. Mary Thomas, President of the Indiana Association, and from Clara Barton, then traveling in Italy, deploring the subject condition of women in foreign lands. The day after the Convention the ladies received their friends in the spacious parlors at Willard's Hotel Congressmen, lawyers, clergymen, and many bright girls from the departments were among the guests. Nothing indicates the progress of a reform more readily than the cordial social recognition of its leaders. While pausing now and then to note the adverse winds we are compelled to encounter in the jealousies, discords, and divisions of friends, and in the ridicule and misrepresentation of enemies, a broader vision shows us that the great tidal waves of thought are all flowing in one direction.
May 11, 1875, the twenty-seventh anniversary of the suffrage movement was held in the new Masonic Temple, Twenty-third street, New York. This magnificent Hall for the first time echoed to the demands of woman for an equal share in the great interests of the world.
The 'convention was opened with prayer by the Rev. Olympia Brown, who referred most impressively to the coming Centennial, expressing the hope that the Fourth of July, 1876, might indeed be a day of jubilee, in which liberty and justice would be secured to the whole people. The resolutions* were discussed with great spirit by
* Resolved, That as complete individual derelopment depends on the harmonious exercise of our three-fold nature, and undue power given to either deranges and undermines the whole being, so in the nation, a complete experiment of self-government can be made only by the equal recognition of the rights of all citizens, and in their homogeneous education into the laws of national life.
Resolved, That the decision of Chief Justice Waite, in the case of Virginia L. Minor of Missouri, that according to the Federal Constitution woman is a citizen, but not entitled to the right of suffrage, is more infamous and retrogressive in principle at this hour, than was Chief-Justice Taney's decision in the Dred Scott case, that a black man was not a United States citizen, and therefore not entitled to the rights of a citizen of every State.
Whereas, By the recent decisions of the Supreme Court in the case of Myra Bradwell of Illinois, and of Virginia L. Minor of Missouri, the Federal Constitution is declared powerless to protect the civil and political rights of woman.
Resolved, That it is the duty of Congress to take the necessary steps to secure an
May Convention of 1875.
585 the various speakers.* An interesting letter was read from Isabella Beecher Hooker, giving some of her experiences and observations in France.
The Hall was crowded in the evening to listen to Mr. Frothingham. His address was an able exposition of the injustice of the heavy taxes laid on women. He read several extracts from the reports of William I. Bowditch, of Boston, in regard to the large number of women in Massachusetts holding property, and in closing, depicted with great feeling the constant sacrifices women were compelled to endure because they had no representation in the Government. After a song by the Hutchinsons, the large audience slowly dispersed.
At a business meeting next day the officerst for the year were chosen, and arrangements made to canvass Iowa if, as was proposed, an amendment to the Constitution extending the right of suffrage to the women of that State, should be submitted to the people,
All thoughts were now turned to the Centennial year, as to what new forms of agitation could be suggested; what onward steps of progress accomplished, for after the untiring labors of thirty years, the leaders in this movement naturally felt that the great event of the century could not pass withont bringing some new liberty to
amendment to the Constitution that shall prohibit the several States from disfranchising citizens of the United States on account of sex.
Whereas, One of the strongest evidences of the degradation of disfranchised classes is the denial of their right to testify against their rulers in courts of justice (slaves could not testify against their masters ; Chinamen in California to-day can not testify against white men, nor wives in cases of criin, con. against their husbands); therefore
Resolved, That the denial of Elizabeth R. Tilton's right to testify in the pending Brooklyn trial, is but proof of woman's need of the ballot in her own right for self-defence and self-protection.
Resolved, That as the proposition for woman's enfranchisement is to be submitted in Iowa, in 1876, the National Woman Suffrage Association will hold there 100 county conventions, and by lectures and the circulation of tracts, help the women of Iowa to make a thorough canvass of the State.
Resolved, That we congratulate the women of England for the large vote sccured on the Woman's Disabilities Bill in the House of Commons. With a Queen on her throne, 400,000 women already voting, and her Premier in favor of the measure, England bids fair to take the lead in the complete enfranchisement of women.
* Rev. O. B. Frothingham, Matilda Joslyn Gage, Rev. Olympia Brown, Lillie Devereux Blake, Carrie S. Burnham, Mrs. Stanton, and Miss Anthony.
Matilda Joslyn Gage, President; Lucretia Mott and Elizabeth Cady Stanton, VicePresidents; Henrietta P. Westbrook, Recording Secretary; Isabella Beecher Hooker, Corresponding Secretary ; Ellen Clark Sargent, Treasurer ; Susan B. Anthony and fifteen others, Executive Committee.
TRIALS AND DECISIONS.
Women voting under the XIV. Amendment-Appeals to the Courts-Marilla M. Ricker,
of New Hampshire, 1870- Nannette B. Gardner, Michigan-Sarah Andrews Spencer, District of Columbia-Ellen Rand Van Valkenburgh, California-Catharine V. Waite, Illinois-Carrie S. Burnham, Pennsylvania-Sarah M. T. Huntingdon, ConnecticutSusan B. Anthony, New York-Virginia L. Minor, Missouri - Judges McKee, Jameson, Sharswood, Cartter-Associate Justice Hunt-Chief Justice Waite, Myra Brad. well-Hon. Matt. H. Carpenter-Supreme Court Decisions-Mrs. Gage's Review.
We have already shown in previous chapters that by a fair interpretation of the XIV. Amendment women were logically secured in their right to vote. Encouraged by the opinions of able lawyers and judges, they promptly made a practical test of this question by registering and voting during the State and Presidential elections of 1871 and '72. This transferred the discussion, for a time, from the platform and halls of legislation to the courts for final adjudication.
The first woman to offer her vote was Marilla M. Ricker, of Dover, New IIampshire, a young widow of large property. In March,* 1870, the day previous to the election, she made application to the selectmen for registry. No objection being made, and one of the Board, promising to put her name on the check-list, she departed, leaving with them several copies of a speech she had prepared in case of a refusal. On election day she appeared at the polls and offered a straight Republican ticket. It was received by the moderator and her name called, but on examination of the list it was found that the selectman had been false to his promise, and her vote was refused. Extended comments were made by the press of the State, Democrats generally sustaining her, while Republicans were bitter in opposition. Mrs. Ricker in the meantime prepared to sue the selectmen, but being strongly opposed by her republican friends, she silently submitted to the injustice, and thus lost the opportunity of being the first woman to prosecute the authorities for refusing the vote of a citizen on the ground of sex. However, she still enjoys
* The elections in New Hampshire were held in the spring in sormer years.
Mr. Riddle's Argument.
the distinction of being the first woman to cast a vote under the XIV. Amendment, as the following spring she saw that her name was on the registry list, and her vote was received without opposition.
The next case was that of Nannette B. Gardner, in Detroit, Michigan. She registered her name in that city March 25, 1871, and voted,* unquestioned, April 3d. April 20th, of the same year, Sara Andrews Spencer and Sarah E. Webster, with seventy other women of the District of Columbia, marched in a body to the polls, but their votes were refused at the election as they had been previously refused registration. They immediately took steps to prosecute the Board of Inspectors, and suit was brought in the Supreme Court of the District at the general term, October, 1871. Albert G. Riddle and Francis Miller, able lawyers of the District, and well known advocates of woman suffrage, were retained by the plaintiff's, and in their defense made the following arguments :
Mr. RIDDLE said : May it please the Court; .... These plaintiffs, describing themselves as women, claim to be citizens of the United States and of this District, with the right of the elective franchise, which they attempted to exercise at the election of April 20th last past, and were prevented. They say that as registration was a prerequisite of the right to votė, they tendered themselves in due form, and demanded it, under the second section of the Act of May 31, 1870 (16th U.S. Stats., 140). That is the “Act to enforce the right of citizens of the United States to vote," etc., and authorizes a suit for refusing registration. They say, that being refused registration, they tendered their votes to the proper inspectors of said election, with proof of their attempt to register, citizenship, etc., as authorized by the third section of said Act, and their votes were refused ; and, thereupon, Spencer brings her suit under said second section, against the registering officers, and Webster hers under the third section, which authorizes it, for rejecting her vote. The questions in both cases are identical and presented together.
To the declarations the defendants demur, and thereby raise the only questions we desire to have adjudicated. The defendants, by their demurrer, admit all the allegations of the plaintiffs, severally, but say, that as they are women, they are not entitled to vote in the District of Columbia. That the seventh section of the organic Act, the Constitution of the Dictrict, provides, “ That all male citizens,” etc., “shall be entitled to vote," etc., and that this word male excludes women, of course.
To this the plaintiffs reply that the language of the statute does exclude women, but they say that in the presence of the first section of the XIV. Amendment, which confers the elective franchise upon “all persons,” this word
male" is as if unwritten, and that the statute, constitutionally, reads, “That all citizens shall be entitled to vote.” For we contend, your honors, that although the Congress “ has exclusive legislation in all cases over this Dis
* An account of Mrs. Gardner's voting will be found in the Michigan chapter.
trict,” it can legislate only, as could the States, from which it was taken. It must legislate in accordance with American ideas, and can exercise no power not granted by the Constitution ; and that instrument certainly confers no power to limit the right of suffrage. And so we are at issue. .
As the FIRST proposition of my brief, I contend, that under our system the right to vote is a natural right.
Obviously, government is of right or it is an usurpation. If of right, it sprang from some right older than itself; and this older right must have existed in persons (people), in each and all alike, male and female. And having this right, they used it to form for themselves a government. Of course, this supposes that all joined in and consented to the government having the power to dissent; for, to just the extent that a government got itself agoing without the free consent of its people, it is without right. The right of self-government, and from that springs our right to govern others, is a natural right. This is the primary idea of American politics, and the foundation of our Government. This was formulated in the second clause of our great Declaration, and no man has dared to deny it. ....
It follows, then, if the right of government is a natural right, and to be exercised alone by the ballot, that the right to vote is a natural right. This never has been and never can be successfully controverted. ....
I will read from the highest American authority upon our politico-constitutional questions, partly in support of my proposition that the right to vote is a natural right, and also to show that the assumed claim of one part of the people to exclude another from all share in the Government has the most doubtful and shadowy foundation in right, and to an American it needs no evidence to show that a portion of the people thus excluded are in a state of vassalage. I read from Story on the Constitution, volume 1st, commencing at
Sec. 578. The most strenuous advocate for universal suffrage has never yet contended that the right should be absolutely universal. No one has ever been sufficiently visionary to hold that all persons of every age, degree, and character, shonld be entitled to vote in all elections of all public officers. Idiots, infants, minors, and persons insane or utterly imbecile, have been, without scruple, denied the right as not having the sound judginent and discretion fit for its exercise. In many countries, persons guilty of crimes have also been denied the right as a personal punishment, or as a security to society. In most countries, females, whether married or single, have been purposely excluded from voting, as interfering with sound policy and the harmony of social life. ... And yet it would be extremely difficult, upon any mere theoretical reasoning, to establish any satisfactory principle upon which the one half of every society has thus been systematically excluded by the other half from all right of participating in government, which would not at the same time apply to and justify many other exclusions. If it be said that all men have a natural, equal, and inalienable right to vote, because they are all born free and equal ; that they all have common rights and interests entitled to protection; and, therefore, have an equal right to decide, either personally or hy their chosen representatives, upon the laws and regulations which shall control, measure, and sustain those rights and interests; that they can not be compelled to surrender, except by their free consent, what by the bounty and order of Providence belongs to them in common with all their race. What is there in these considerations which is not equally applicable to females as free, intelligent, moral, responsible beings, entitled to equal rights and interests and protection, and having a vital stake in all the regulations and laws of society? And, if au ex. ception, froin the nature of the case, could be felt in regard to persons who are idiots, infants, and iusane, how can this apply to persuns' who are of more mature growth, and are yet deemed minors by the municipal law ?