reprinted from old photography books, magazines, and newspapers.
Men will find it far pleasanter and more elevating to
live with an equal than with an inferior in the home.
There is no one so hard to manage as a fool.
Woman's Journal was a women's rights periodical published from 1870-1931. It was founded in 1870 in Boston, Massachusetts by Lucy Stone and her husband Henry Browne Blackwell as a weekly newspaper. This new paper incorporated Mary A. Livermore's The Agitator, as well as a lesser known periodical called the Woman's Advocate. It specialized in suffrage news.
What are the chief objections now urged against Woman Suffrage, and what are the best answers to them:
1. Suffrage is not a right of anybody.
To say so is to deny the principles of the Declaration of Independence and the Bill of Rights. "Governments derive their just powers from the consent of the governed"—women are governed. "Taxation without representation is tyranny"—women are taxed. "Political power inheres in the people "—women are people. To deny these principles is to justify despotism. "The men who refuse the ballot to women can show no title to their own."
2. Nobody asks for Woman Suffrage.
Over 21,000 citizens of Massachusetts have petitioned for it within six months. More than 50,000 others have petitioned for it in previous years. Not a dollar has ever been spent in circulating these petitions. Repeated efforts have been made and money spent to circulate petitions against Woman Suffrage, and they have few signers.
3. What eminent men have favored Woman Suffrage
Among others, Abraham Lincoln, Chief Justice Chase, William Lloyd Garrison, Wendell Phillips, Samuel G. Howe, John G Whittier, Ralph Waldo Emerson, Charles Sumner, Henry Wilson, President Hayes, Governors Banks, Boutwell, Claflin, Washburn, Talbot, Ames and Long. Senators Geo. F. Hoar and Henry L. Dawes, John M Forbes, Robert Collyer, Bishops Haven, Bowman and Simpson, Rev. Joseph Cook, Bishop Phillips Brooks, Neal Dow, George William Curtis, the republicans of Massachusetts in successive platforms since 1870. The national republican platforms of 1872 and 1876. The Democrats of Massachusetts in their platform of 1882.
4. What eminent women have favored Woman Suffrage
Among others, Margaret Fuller, Lydia Maria Child, Frances D. Gage, Lucretia Mott, Florence Nightingale, Elizabeth Barrett Browning, Harriet Beecher Stowe, Julia Ward Howe, Mary A. Livermore, Louisa M. Alcott, Elizabeth Stuart Phelps, Clara Barton, Frances E. Willard, Abby W. May, Lucy Stone, Mary F. Eastman, Frances Power Cobbe, Harriet Prescott Spofford, Mary Clemmer.
5. Most women do not want to vote.
Except in years of presidential election, a majority of men in Massachusetts do not vote. This is shown by statistics. The right to vote for governor, state legislature, municipal, town and county officers, usually calls out less than half the male voters, in spite of public opinion, party machinery, torchlight processions, newspaper articles, expenditure of money, and personal efforts of candidates.
Over seven thousand women in Massachusetts registered last year to vote merely for school committee. Yet this is only a small and disjointed part of the system of Municipal Suffrage. It does not include a vote on the management of schools, or a share in the nomination of candidates. Small as it is, the right is restricted in the case of women by limitations which make it troublesome and costly to exercise. A woman must apply to be taxed and registered. She must give a statement under oath of all her property, and thus incur taxation to an extent which most men escape. Under parallel conditions not five hundred men would have voted for school committee. That even seven thousand women have done so, under such restrictions, is a proof of eminent and unselfish public spirit.
6. The number of women voting has diminished each year since School Suffrage for women was granted.
Only when the interest of men voting has also diminished each year since School Suffrage for women was granted. When a real issue was to be settled four years ago, 21,000 Boston women paid a voluntary tax and registered and voted and settled the question right. In every case the falling off has been due to a general lack of political interest, which temporarily affected both sexes. In the case of women it is due also to the limitation of the right, and the vexatious restrictions imposed upon the registration of women by the present law.
7. It is a step that once taken can never be recalled.
Municipal and presidential suffrage for women is an experiment which can be repealed at any time by a Legislature of men alone, elected by men alone. If the presence of women at town-meetings and municipal elections proves distasteful to the men, the Legislature will soon repeal the law. Every fair-minded opponent of Woman Suffrage should vote for Municipal and Presidential Woman Suffrage, as the shortest way to put an end to the agitation for Woman Suffrage by exposing its supposed evils.
8. We have too many voters now.
Where will you draw the line? No one proposes to disfranchise any class of men who now vote. Every extension of suffrage has proved on the whole a benefit to all concerned; first to poor white men; then to ignorant colored men; why not now to intelligent women? Are democrats who have given suffrage to poor men of foreign birth or republicans who have forced negro suffrage on the reluctant South, afraid to share political power with their own intelligent mothers, sisters, wives and daughters?
9. Women are represented already.
Men cannot represent women, because they are unlike women. Women as a class have tastes, interests and occupations which they alone can adequately represent. Men specially represent material interests; women will specially represent the interest of the home.
10. Only bad and ignorant women would vote.
Our ten years' experience of School Suffrage for women proves the contrary. The twenty-two thousand women who have voted are admitted to have been good and intelligent. The demand for suffrage comes from the respected leaders and educated representatives of their sex. No woman can vote in Massachusetts unless she can read and write.
11. It is contrary to experience.
Not so. In England women have voted for twenty years in municipal elections. Hon. Jacob Bright has written to the Massachusetts Legislature that in England Woman Suffrage has proved "good for women, good for Parliament, and good for the country." It has worked so well there that it has just been extended to the women of Scotland. Are American women alone unfit to be trusted with political responsibilities?
12. There is no precedent in this country.
In Wyoming, women have voted for twenty-two years on all questions, on the same terms as men. Every successive governor—the judges of the Supreme Court, the Senators in Congress, the presiding elder of the M. E. Church, the newspapers of both parties, all agree that Woman Suffrage works well and gives satisfaction in Wyoming. The State constitution guaranteeing equal suffrage to women has been ratified by Congress, and the women of Wyoming will vote in the next Presidential election.
13. It would put the control of state and nation into the hands of the foreign element.
In every State there are more women who can read and write than all the illiterate men and women combined. In every State there are more American women than all the foreign men and women combined. In every State the votes of women will double the intelligent majority, thus diminishing the influence of the ignorant minority one-half. In the Southern States taken together, there are more white women than all the colored men and women combined. So that the white majority, when women vote, will be larger than the total number of white male voters, if all women and colored men were excluded. There are in Massachusetts 454,852 women over twenty years old who can read and write; 326,731 of these are Americans; 128,121 of foreign birth. (See Carroll D. Wright's statistics for 1875.) Vol. ix.—No. 50. 10
14. It would put our cities under Roman Catholic control.
There are, in all our large cities, even in New York, more Protestant women than Roman Catholic women ; more American women than foreign women. There are in Boston 91,367 women over twenty years old who can read and write; 52,608 of these are Americans, 38,759 are of foreign birth. (See Carroll D. Wright as above.)
15. It would diminish respect for women.
Voting is power. Power always commands respect. To be weak is to be miserable. How many men are tolerated in society only because they are rich and powerful! Woman armed with the ballot will be stronger and more respected than ever before.
16. It is contrary to the Bible.
Not so. In the beginning, we are told, God made man in his own image, male and female, and gave them dominion ; not man dominion over woman. Among the Jews, God's chosen people, Deborah, the wife of Lapidoth, a married woman, was judge, and led their armies to victory. In Christ there is neither Jew nor Greek, bond nor free, male nor female, but all are one. Women as well as men are commanded to "call no man master." Nowhere is it said in the Bible to women, "Thou shalt not vote."
17. Women have not physical strength to enforce laws; therefore they should not help make them.
One-half our male voters have not physical strength to enforce laws, yet they help make them. Most lawyers, judges, physicians, ministers, merchants, editors, authors, legislators and congressmen, and all men over forty-five years old are exempt from military service on the ground of physical incapacity. (See statistics of the late war.) Voting is the authoritative expression of an opinion. It requires intelligence, conscience and patriotism, not mere muscle. All the physical force of society is subject to call to enforce law, but cannot create law. Moral force, such as women possess, is as necessary as physical force to national well-being.
18. If women vote they must fight.
Women are the mothers of men. Lucy Stone says: "Some woman perils her life for her country every time a soldier is born. Day and night she does picket duty by his cradle. For years she is his quartermaster, and gathers his rations. And then, when he becomes a man and a voter, shall he say to his mother, 'If you want to vote you must first kill somebody? It is a coward's argument."
19. It will make domestic discord when women vote contrary to their husbands.
In cases where husbands and wives vote together it will be an additional source of sympathy and bond of union. In cases where they vote differently they will agree to differ, as they now do in religious matters. A man will not respect his wife the less because she has an opinion of her own and is free to express it.
20. It is unwomanly to vote.
This can only be true if voting is a purely masculine function. If so, it is right that men should monopolize it, but not otherwise. Or if it were a purely feminine function then women should monopolize it. But it is a human function and demands for its exercise qualities common to both sexes. What is suffrage? A choice between principles, measures and men. Are women capable of forming an opinion? Have they the capacity of rational choice? Are they interested in good government? If so they ought to vote as citizens, just as they now vote as stockholders in banking and manufacturing corporations.
21. The polls are not fit places for women.
Then they are not fit places for men. But if this were ever true, it is true no longer. The Australian ballot system has put an end to all disorder and removed every such ground of objection. Wherever women meet with men they are treated with respect. If the polls were as bad as represented they would not degrade women, but women would reform the polls.
22. Women have no grievances.
Women have many serious grievances growing directly or indirectly out of their disfranchisement. As workers they are not fairly paid. From many profitable occupations they are altogether excluded. In the older states they are not freely admitted to colleges and professional schools. They find it difficult to get instruction in skilled labor. Suffrage would give them larger independence and wider industrial opportunities. It would enable them to control legislation. As wives, mothers and widows they have special rights to protect and special wrongs to remedy. But the laws regulating these relations are often unjust and unequal. In only three states of the Union has a married mother, while living with her husband, any legal right to her children; everywhere else the father is the sole legal guardian. Widows and widowers do not have equal rights of inheritance in each other's property. During the husband's lifetime he is the sole legal head of the family and the sole owner of the accumulations of the married partnership. In most of the States marriage is a relation of superiority on the part of the husband, of inferiority and dependence on that of the wife, whereas it ought to be recognized as a noble and permanent partnership of equals with reciprocal rights and duties. Where additional rights have been secured for wives, mothers and widows, it has been almost always by the efforts of friends of woman suffrage. But the greatest of all grievances is the fact of disfranchisement. It is a stigma upon any class of citizens that their opinion is not thought worth counting.
23. What good will it do women to vote?
Just what it does for men. It will give women power to protect themselves in their persons, property, children, occupations, opportunities and social relations. It will enable them to get done what ought to be done, and to get undone what ought not to be done. As it has made certain classes of men, formerly treated as inferiors because disfranchised, more nearly equal with other men, so it will make all classes of women more nearly equal with men and with each other.
24. What good will it do men for women to vote?
Whatever enlarges the minds and hearts of women makes them more agreeable companions and better wives and mothers. The brains and conscience of an educated mother are the best inheritance of her children. Men will find it far pleasanter and more elevating to live with an equal than with an inferior in the home. There is no one so hard to manage as a fool.
25. What good will it do society for women to vote?
It will make government more fully representative. It will put an end to bribery in elections by doubling the number of voters and making it difficult to use money corruptly. Formerly when only a small class of men were allowed to vote, "every man had his price " and bribery was the rule. The wider the constituency the purer will be the political atmosphere. Candidates of better moral character will have to be nominated in order to secure the support of a majority of the women voters. Vice will be discouraged, poor and defenseless women will be better protected, and there will be a higher standard of public morals. Crimes against women will be more adequately punished, and children will be better cared for. Primary meetings will be made orderly, when women are expected to attend them. The manners and atmosphere of the smoking-car will be replaced by those of the lecture-room and the church-meeting. The caucus will be lifted to the level of the parlor. The presence of women will purify politics as it has already purified literature and refined society.
26. It will only double the vote—women will vote as their husbands do.
Then the family will cast two votes instead of one. But the quality of the voters changes the quality of politics. A political party of men and women will not be the same as a party of men alone. Women are more peaceable, refined, temperate, chaste, economical, humane and law-abiding than men. These qualities will influence the character of the government. The united votes of men and women will give the fullest, fairest, and most accurate expression of public opinion.
Blackwell, Henry B. "Expert Opinion." Our Day, A Record and Review of Current Reform. February, 1892.
Courtesy of the Library of Congress.