A B C D E F
G H I J K L M 

Total read books on site:
more than 10 000

You can read its for free!


Text on one page: Few Medium Many
But a State
which, like New York, recognizes the equal individual rights of
all its members, declaring that none of them shall be
disfranchised unless by the law of the land or the judgment of
his peers, and which acknowledges women as property-holders and
taxable, responsible citizens, has wholly renounced the old
Feudal and Pagan theory, and has no right to continue the evil
condition which springs from it. The honorable and eloquent
gentleman from Onondaga said that he favored every enlargement of
the franchise consistent with the safety of the State. Sir, I
heartily agree with him, and it was the duty of the Committee in
proposing to continue the exclusion of women, to show that it is
necessary to the welfare and safety of the State that the whole
sex shall be disfranchised. It is in vain for the Committee to
say that I ask for an enlargement of the franchise and must,
therefore, show the reason. Sir, I show the reason upon which
this franchise itself rests, and which, in its very nature,
forbids arbitrary exclusion; and I urge the enfranchisement of
women on the ground that whatever political rights men have women
have equally.

I have no wish to refine curiously upon the origin of government.
If any one insists, with the honorable gentleman from Broome,
that there are no such things as natural political rights, and
that no man is born a voter, I will not now stop to argue with
him; but as I believe the honorable gentleman from Broome is by
profession a physician and surgeon, I will suggest to him that if
no man is born a voter, so no man is born a man, for every man is
born a baby. But he is born with the right of becoming a man
without hindrance; and I ask the honorable gentleman, as an
American citizen and political philosopher, whether, if every man
is not born a voter, he is not born with the right of becoming a
voter upon equal terms with other men? What else is the meaning
of the phrase which I find in the New York _Tribune_ of Monday,
and have so often found there, "The radical basis of government
is equal rights for all citizens." There are, as I think we shall
all admit, some kinds of natural rights. This summer air that
breathes benignant around our national anniversary, is vocal with
the traditional eloquence with which those rights were asserted
by our fathers. From all the burning words of the time, I quote
those of Alexander Hamilton, of New York, in reply, as my
honorable friend the Chairman of the Committee will remember, to
the Tory farmer of Westchester: "The sacred rights of mankind are
not to be rummaged for among old parchments or dusty records.
They are written as with a sunbeam in the whole volume of human
nature by the hand of the Divinity itself, and can never be
erased or obscured by mortal power." In the next year, Thomas
Jefferson, of Virginia, summed up the political faith of our
fathers in the Great Declaration. Its words vibrate through the
history of those days. As the lyre of Amphion raised the walls of
the city, so they are the music which sing course after course of
the ascending structure of American civilization into its place.
Our fathers stood indeed upon technical and legal grounds when
the contest with Great Britain began, but as tyranny encroached
they rose naturally into the sphere of fundamental truths as into
a purer air. Driven by storms beyond sight of land, the sailor
steers by the stars; and our fathers, compelled to explore the
whole subject of social rights and duties, derived their
government from what they called self-evident truths. Despite the
brilliant and vehement eloquence of Mr. Choate, they did not deal
in glittering generalities, and the Declaration of Independence
was not the passionate manifesto of a revolutionary war, but the
calm and simple statement of a new political philosophy and
practice.

The rights which they declared to be inalienable are indeed what
are usually called natural, as distinguished from political
rights, but they are not limited by sex. A woman has the same
right to her life, liberty and property that a man has, and she
has consequently the same right to an equality of protection that
he has; and this, as I understand it, is what is meant by the
phrase, the right of suffrage. If I have a natural right to that
hand, I have an equal natural right to everything that secures to
me its use, provided it does not harm the equal right of another;
and if I have a natural right to my life and liberty, I have the
same right to everything that protects that life and liberty
which any other man enjoys. I should like my honorable friend,
the Chairman of this Committee, to show me any right which God
gave him, which he also gave to me, for which God gave him a
claim to any defense which He has not given to me. And I ask the
same question for every woman in this State. Have they less
natural right to life, liberty, and property than my honorable
friend the Chairman of the Committee; and is it not, to quote the
words of his report, an extremely "defensible theory" that he can
not justly deprive the least of those women of any protection of
those rights which he claims for himself? No, sir, the natural,
or what we call civil right, and its political defense, go
together. This was the impregnable logic of the Revolution. Lord
Gower sneered in Parliament at the American Colonists a century
ago, as Mr. Robert Lowe sneers at the English Reformers to-day:
"Let the Americans talk about their natural and divine rights....
I am for enforcing these measures." Dr. Johnson bellowed across
the Atlantic, "Taxation, no Tyranny." James Otis spoke for
America, for common sense, and for eternal justice, in saying,
"No good reason, however, can be given in any country, why every
man of a sound mind should not have his vote in the election of a
representative. If a man has but little property to protect and
defend, yet his life and liberty are things of some importance."
And long before James Otis, Lord Somers said to a committee of
the House of Commons, that the possession of the vote is the only
true security which an Englishman has for the possession of his
life and property.

Every person, then, is born with an equal claim to every kind of
protection of his natural rights which any other person enjoys.
The practical question, therefore, is how shall this protection
be best attained? and this is the question of government which,
according to the Declaration, is established for the security of
these rights. The British theory was that they could be better
secured by an intelligent few than by the ignorant and passionate
multitude. Goldsmith expressed it in singing:

"For just experience shows in ever soil,
That those who think must govern those who toil."

But nobody denies that the government of the best is the best
government; the only question is how to find the best, and common
sense replies:

"The good, 'tis true, are heaven's peculiar care;
But who but heaven shall show us who they are?"

Our fathers answered the question of the best and surest
protection of natural right by their famous phrase, "the consent
of the governed." That is to say, since every man is born with
equal natural rights, he is entitled to an equal protection of
them with all other men; and since government is that protection,
right reason and experience alike demand that every person shall
have a voice in the government upon perfectly equal and
practicable terms; that is, upon terms which are not necessarily
and absolutely insurmountable by any part of the people.

Now these terms can not rightfully be arbitrary. But the argument
of the honorable gentleman from Schenectady, whose lucid and
dignified discourse needs no praise of mine, and the arguments of
others who have derived government from society, seemed to assume
that the political people may exclude and include at their
pleasure; that they may establish purely arbitrary tests, such as
height, or weight, or color, or sex. This was substantially the
squatter sovereignty of Mr. Douglas, who held that the male white
majority of the settlers in a territory might deprive a colored
minority of all their rights whatever; and he declared that they
had the right to do it. The same right that this Convention has
to hang me at this moment to that chandelier, but no other right.
Brute force, sir, may do anything; but we are speaking of rights,
and of rights under this Government, and I deny that the people
of the State of New York can rightfully, that is, according to
right reason and the principles of this Government derived from
it, permanently exclude any class of persons or any person
whatever from a voice in the Government, unless it can be clearly
established that their participation in political power would be
dangerous to the State; and, therefore, the honorable gentleman
from Kings was logically correct in opposing the enfranchisement
of the colored population, upon the ground that they were an
inferior race, of limited intelligence, a kind of Chimpanzee at
best. I think, however, sir, the honorable and scholarly
gentleman--even he--will admit, that at Pillow, at Milliken's
Bend, at Fort Wagner, the Chimpanzees did uncommonly well; yes,
sir, as gloriously and immortally as our own fathers at Bunker
Hill and Saratoga. "There ought to be no pariahs," says John
Stuart Mill, "in a full grown and civilized nation; no persons
disqualified except through their own default....



Pages: | Prev | | 1 | | 2 | | 3 | | 4 | | 5 | | 6 | | 7 | | 8 | | 9 | | 10 | | 11 | | 12 | | 13 | | 14 | | 15 | | 16 | | 17 | | 18 | | 19 | | 20 | | 21 | | 22 | | 23 | | 24 | | 25 | | 26 | | 27 | | 28 | | 29 | | 30 | | 31 | | 32 | | 33 | | 34 | | 35 | | 36 | | 37 | | 38 | | 39 | | 40 | | 41 | | 42 | | 43 | | 44 | | 45 | | 46 | | 47 | | 48 | | 49 | | 50 | | 51 | | 52 | | 53 | | 54 | | 55 | | 56 | | 57 | | 58 | | 59 | | 60 | | 61 | | 62 | | 63 | | 64 | | 65 | | 66 | | 67 | | 68 | | 69 | | 70 | | 71 | | 72 | | 73 | | 74 | | 75 | | 76 | | 77 | | 78 | | 79 | | 80 | | 81 | | 82 | | 83 | | 84 | | 85 | | 86 | | 87 | | 88 | | 89 | | 90 | | 91 | | 92 | | 93 | | 94 | | 95 | | 96 | | 97 | | 98 | | 99 | | 100 | | 101 | | 102 | | 103 | | 104 | | 105 | | 106 | | 107 | | 108 | | 109 | | 110 | | 111 | | 112 | | 113 | | 114 | | 115 | | 116 | | 117 | | 118 | | 119 | | 120 | | 121 | | 122 | | 123 | | 124 | | 125 | | 126 | | 127 | | 128 | | 129 | | 130 | | 131 | | 132 | | 133 | | 134 | | 135 | | 136 | | 137 | | 138 | | 139 | | 140 | | 141 | | 142 | | 143 | | 144 | | 145 | | 146 | | 147 | | 148 | | 149 | | 150 | | 151 | | 152 | | 153 | | 154 | | 155 | | 156 | | 157 | | 158 | | 159 | | 160 | | 161 | | 162 | | 163 | | 164 | | 165 | | 166 | | 167 | | 168 | | 169 | | 170 | | 171 | | 172 | | 173 | | 174 | | 175 | | 176 | | 177 | | 178 | | 179 | | 180 | | 181 | | 182 | | 183 | | 184 | | 185 | | 186 | | 187 | | 188 | | 189 | | 190 | | 191 | | 192 | | 193 | | 194 | | 195 | | 196 | | 197 | | 198 | | 199 | | 200 | | 201 | | 202 | | 203 | | 204 | | 205 | | 206 | | 207 | | 208 | | 209 | | 210 | | 211 | | 212 | | 213 | | 214 | | 215 | | 216 | | 217 | | 218 | | 219 | | 220 | | 221 | | 222 | | 223 | | 224 | | 225 | | 226 | | 227 | | 228 | | 229 | | 230 | | 231 | | 232 | | 233 | | 234 | | 235 | | 236 | | 237 | | 238 | | 239 | | 240 | | 241 | | 242 | | 243 | | 244 | | 245 | | 246 | | 247 | | 248 | | 249 | | 250 | | 251 | | 252 | | 253 | | 254 | | 255 | | 256 | | 257 | | 258 | | 259 | | 260 | | 261 | | 262 | | 263 | | 264 | | 265 | | 266 | | 267 | | 268 | | 269 | | 270 | | 271 | | 272 | | 273 | | 274 | | 275 | | 276 | | 277 | | 278 | | 279 | | 280 | | 281 | | 282 | | 283 | | 284 | | 285 | | 286 | | 287 | | 288 | | 289 | | 290 | | 291 | | 292 | | 293 | | 294 | | 295 | | 296 | | 297 | | 298 | | 299 | | 300 | | 301 | | 302 | | 303 | | 304 | | 305 | | 306 | | 307 | | 308 | | 309 | | 310 | | 311 | | 312 | | 313 | | 314 | | 315 | | 316 | | 317 | | 318 | | 319 | | 320 | | 321 | | 322 | | 323 | | 324 | | 325 | | 326 | | 327 | | 328 | | 329 | | 330 | | 331 | | 332 | | 333 | | 334 | | 335 | | 336 | | 337 | | 338 | | 339 | | 340 | | 341 | | 342 | | 343 | | 344 | | 345 | | 346 | | 347 | | 348 | | 349 | | 350 | | 351 | | 352 | | 353 | | 354 | | 355 | | 356 | | 357 | | 358 | | 359 | | 360 | | Next |

N O P Q R S T
U V W X Y Z 

Your last read book:

You dont read books at this site.