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The Women Understood the Situation.
Speeches were then made by George Thompson, Lucretia Mott, and Ernestine L. Rose ; after which, in adjourning the Convention, the President said :
This is the only organization of women that will have a legitimate cause for existence beyond the present hour. The Sanitary, Soldiers' Aid, Hospital, and Freedmen's Societies all end with the war; but the soldier and negro in peace have yet to be educated into the duties of citizens in a republic, and our legislators to be stimulated by a higher law than temporary policy. This is the only organization formed during the war based specifically on universal emancipation and enfranchisement. Knowing that in this great national upheaval women would exert an influence for good or evil, we felt the importance of concentrating all their power on the side of liberty. To this end we have urged them to use with zeal and earnestness their only political right under the Constitution: the right of petition. During the past year the petitions for freedom have been quietly circulating in the most remote school districts of all the free States and Territories, in the Army, the Navy, and some have found their way to the far South. And now they are coming back by the thousands, with the signatures of men and women, black and white, soldiers and civilians, from every point of the compass, to be presented in mammoth rolls again in the coming Congress. I urge every one present to help spread the glad tidings of liberty to all, by signing and circulating these petitions, remembering that while man may use the bullet and the ballot to enforce his will, this is woman's only weapon of defence to-day in this Republic. The Convention is now adjourned.
The debates throughout these Conventions show how well the leadcrs of the Loyal League understood the principles of republican government, and the fatal policy of some of those in power. They understood the situation, and clearly made known their sentiments. The character of the discussions and resolutions in their Conventions was entirely changed during the war; broader ideas of constitutional law; the limits of national power and State rights formed the basis of the new arguments. They viewed the questions involved in the great conflict from the point of view of statesmen, rather than that of an ostracised class. Reviewing the varied efforts of the representative women* referred to in this chapter in the political, military, philanthropic, and sanitary departments of the Government, and the army of faithful assistants, behind them, all alike self-sacrificing and patriotic; with a keen insight into the policy of the Government and the legitimate results of the war; the question naturally suggests itself, how was it possible that when peace was restored they received
* Behind Clara Barton stood Frances D. Gage and others aiding and encouraging her in the consummation of her plans; with Dorothea Dix in the Hospitals, the untiring labors of Abby Hopper Gib' ons and Jane G. Swisshelm must not be forgotten. Three no. ble daughters, with band and heart devoted to the work, made it possible for Josephind no individual rewards nor general recognition for their services, which, though acknowledged in private, have been concealed from the people and ignored by the Government.*
Gen. Grant has the credit for the success of plans which were the outgrowth of the military genius of a woman; Gen. Howard received a liberal salary as the head of the Freedman's Bureau, while the woman who inspired and organized that departinent and carried its burdens on her shoulders to the day of her death, raised most of the funds by personal appeal for that herculean work.
Dr. Bellows enjoyed the distinction as President of the Sanitary Bureau, which originated in the mind of a woman, who, when the machinery was perfected and in good working order, was forced to resign her position as official head through the bigotry of the medical profession.
Though to Anna Dickinson was due the triumph of the Republican party in several of the doubtful States at a most critical period of the war, yet that party, twenty years in power, has refused to secure her in the same civil and political rights enjoyed by the most ignorant foreigner or slave from the plantations of the South,
The lessons of the war were not lost on the women of this nation; through varied forms of suffering and humiliation, they learned that they had an equal interest with man in the administration of the Government, enjoying or suffering alike its blessings or its miseries. When in the enfranchisement of the black man they saw another ignorant class of voters placed above their heads, and with anointed eyes beheld the danger of a distinctively “male” government, forever involving the nations of the earth in war and violence; a lesson taught on every page of history, alike in every century of human experience; and demanded for the protection of themselves and children, that woman's voice should be heard, and her opinions in public affairs be expressed by the ballot, they were coolly told that the black man had earned the right to vote, that he had fought and bled and died for his country!
S. Griffing to accomplish what she did in the Freedman's Bureau. With Anna Dickinson stood hosts of women identified with the Anti-Slavery and the liberal republican movement; and behind the leaders of the National Woman's Loyal League stood 300,000 petitioners for freedom and equality to the black man, and the select body demanding the right of suffrage for woman, who thoroughly understood the genius of republican institutions.
The facts that Miss Carroll planned the campaign on the Tennessee; that Dr. Elizabeth Blackwell originated the Sanitary movement; and that those Senators most active in carrying the measure for a Freedman's Bureau through Congress, intended that Mrs. Griffing should be its official head, are known only to the few behind the scenes, facts published now on the page of history for the first time.
Woman Earned her Right to Vote.
Did the negro's rough services in camp and battle outweigh the humanitarian labors of woman in all departments of government? Did his loyalty in the army count for more than her educational work in teaching the people sound principles of government? Can it be that statesmen in the nineteenth century believe that they who sacrifice human lives in bloody wars do more for the sum of human happiness and development than they who try to save the multitude and teach them how to live? But if on the battle-field woman must prove her right to justice and equality, history abundantly sets forth her claims; the records of her brave deeds mark every page of fact and fiction, of poetry and prose.
In all the great battles of the past woman as warrior in disguise has verified her right to fight and die for her country by the side of man. In camp and hospital as surgeon, physician, nurse, ministering to the sick and dying, she has shown equal skill and capacity with him. There is no position woman has not filled, no danger she has not encountered, no emergency in all life's tangled trials and temptations she has not shared with man, and with him conquered. If moral power has any value in the balance with physical force, surely the women of this republic, by their self-sacrifice and patriotisin, their courage 'mid danger, their endurance 'mid suffering, have rightly earned a voice in the laws they are compelled to obey, in the Government they are taxed to support; some personal consideration as citizens as well as the black man in the “ Union blue."
First petitions to Congress December, 1865, against the word “male" in the 14th Amend.
ment-Joint resolutions before Congress-Messrs. Jenckes, Schenck, Broomall, and Stevens-Republicans protest in presenting petitions – The women seek aid of Democrats-James Brooks in the House of Representatives-Horace Greeley on the petitions-Carolive Healy Dall on Messrs. Jenckes and Schenck-The District of Columbia Suffrage bill-Senator Cowan, of Pennsylvania, moved to strike out the word “male"-A three days' debate in the Senate-The final vote nino in favor of Mr. Cowan's amendment, and thirty-seven against.
LIBERTY victorious over slavery on the battle-field had now more powerful enemies to encounter at Washington. The slave set free; the master conquered; the South desolate; the two races standing face to face, sharing alike the sad results of war, turned with appealing looks to the General Government, as if to say, “How stand we now?" “ What next?” Questions, our statesmen, beset with dangers, fears for the nation's life, of party divisions, of personal defeat, were wholly unprepared to answer. The reconstruction of the South involved the reconsideration of the fundamental principles of our Government, and the natural rights of man. The nation's heart was thrilled with prolonged debates in Congress and State Legislatures, in the pulpits and public journals, and at every fireside on these vital questions, which took final shape in three historic amendments.
The first point, his emancipation, settled, the political status of the negro was next in order; and to this end various propositions were, subrnitted to Congress. But to demand his enfranchisement on the broad principle of natural rights, was hedged about with difficulties, as the logical result of such action must be the enfranchisement of all ostracised classes ; not only the white women of the entire country, but the slave women of the South. Though our Senators and Representatives had an honest aversion to any pro
"Male" in the Constitution.
scriptive legislation against loyal women, in view of their varied and self-sacrificing work during the war, yet the only way they could open the constitutional door just wide enough to let the black man pass in, was to introduce the word “male” into the national Constitution. After the generous devotion of such women as Anna Carroll and Anna Dickinson in sustaining the policy of the Republicans, both in peace and war, they felt it would come with an illgrace from that party, to place new barriers in woman's path to freedom. But how could the amendment be written without the word "male" ? was the question.
Robert Dale Owen, being at Washington and behind the scenes at the time, sent copies of the various bills to the officers of the Loyal League in New York, and related to them some of the amusing discussions. One of the Committee proposed “persons” instead of " males." “ That will never do,” said another, "it would enfranchise all the Southern wenches." “Suffrage for black men will be all the strain the Republican party can stand,” said another. Charles Sumner said, years afterward, that he wrote over nineteen pages of foolscap to get rid of the word “male” and yet keep “negro suffrage” as a party measure intact; but it could not be done.
Miss Anthony and Mrs. Stanton, ever on the watch-tower for legislation affecting women, were the first to see the full signiticance of the word "male" in the 14th Amendment, and at once sounded the alarm, and sent out petitions* for a constitutional amendment
* FORM OF Petition. – To the Senate and House of Representatives :—The undersigned women of the United States, respectfully ask an amendment of the Constitution that shall prohibit the several States from distranchising any of their citizens on the ground of sex.
In making our demanå for Suffrage, we would call your attention to the fact that we represent fifteen million people-one-half the entire population of the country-intelligent, virtuous, native-born American citizers; and yet stand outside the pale of political recognition. The Constitution classes us as “ free people," and counts us whole persons in the basis of representation ; and yet are we governed without our consent, compelled to pay taxes without appeal, and punished for violations of law without choice of judge or juror. The experience of all ages, the Declarations of the Fathers, the Statute Laws of our own day, and the fearful revolution through which we have just passed, all prove the uncertain tenure of life, liberty, and property so long as the ballot-the only weapon of self-protection-is not in the hand of every citizen.
Therefore, as you are now amending the Constitution, and, in harmony with advancing civilization, placing new safeguards round the ipdividual rights of four millions of emancipated slaves, we ask that you extend the right of Suffrage to Woman-the only remaining class of disfranchised citizens—and thus fulfill your constitutional obligation “ to guarantee to every State in the Union a Republican form of Government." As all par: tial application of Republican principles must ever breed a complicated legislation as well as a discontented people, we would pray your Honorable Body, in order to simplify the machinery of Government and ensure domestic tranquillity, that you legislate bereafter for persons, citizens, tax-payers, and not for class or caste. For justice and equality your petitioners will ever pray.