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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.... Every one is
degraded, whether aware of it or not, when other people, without
consulting him, take upon themselves unlimited power to regulate
his destiny." "No arrangement of the suffrage, therefore, can be
permanently satisfactory in which any person or class is
peremptorily excluded; in which the electoral privilege is not
open to all persons of full age who desire it." (Rep. G., p.
167.) And Thomas Hare, one of the acutest of living political
thinkers, says that in all cases where a woman fulfills the
qualification which is imposed upon a man, "there is no sound
reason for excluding her from the parliamentary franchise. The
exclusion is probably a remnant of the feudal law, and is not in
harmony with the other civil institutions of the country. There
would be great propriety in celebrating a reign which has been
productive of so much moral benefit by the abolition of an
anomaly which is so entirely without any justifiable foundation."
(Hare, p. 280.)

The Chairman of the Committee asked Miss Anthony, the other
evening, whether, if suffrage was a natural right, it could be
denied to children. Her answer seemed to me perfectly
satisfactory. She said simply, "All that we ask is an equal and
not an arbitrary regulation. If _you_ have the right, _we_ have
it." The honorable Chairman would hardly deny that to regulate
the exercise of a right according to obvious reason and
experience is one thing, to deny it absolutely and forever is
another. And this is the safe practical rule of our government,
as James Madison expressed it, that "it be derived from the great
body of the people, not from an inconsiderable portion or favored
class of it." When Mr. Gladstone, in his famous speech that
startled England, said in effect, that no one could be justly
excluded from the franchise, except upon grounds of personal
unfitness or public danger, he merely echoed the sentiment of
Joseph Warren, which is gradually seen to be the wisest and most
practical political philosophy: "I would have such a government
as should give every man the greatest liberty to do what he
chooses, consistent with restraining him from doing any injury to
another." Is not that the kind of government, sir, which we wish
to propose for this State? And if every person in New York has a
natural right to life, liberty, and property, and a co-existent
claim to a share in the government which defends them, regulated
only by perfectly equitable conditions, what are the practical
grounds upon which it is proposed to continue the absolute and
hopeless disfranchisement of half the adult population?

It is alleged that women are already represented by men? Where
are they so represented? and when was the choice made? If I am
told that they are virtually represented, I reply, with James
Otis, that "no such phrase as virtual representation is known in
law or Constitution. It is altogether a subtlety and illusion,
wholly unfounded and absurd." I repeat, if they are represented,
when was the choice made? Nobody pretends that they have ever
been consulted. It is a mere assumption to the effect that the
interest and affection of men will lead them to just and wise
legislation for women as well as for themselves. But this is
merely the old appeal for the political power of a class. It is
just what the British parliament said to the colonies a hundred
years ago. "We are all under the same government," they said:
"Our interests are identical; we are all Britons; Britannia rules
the wave; God save the King! and down with sedition and the Sons
of Liberty!" The colonies chafed and indignantly protested,
because the assumption that therefore fair laws were made was not
true; because they were discovering for themselves what every
nation has discovered--the truth that shakes England to-day, and
brings Disraeli and the Tory party to their knees, and has
already brought this country to blood--that there is no class of
citizens, and no single citizen, who can safely be intrusted with
the permanent and exclusive possession of political power. "There
is no instance on record," says Buckle, in his history of
civilization in England, "of any class possessing power without
abusing it." It is as true of men as a class as it is of an
hereditary nobility, or of a class of property-holders. Men are
not wise enough, nor generous enough, nor pure enough, to
legislate fairly for women. The laws of the most civilized
nations depress and degrade women. The legislation is in favor of
the legislating class. In the celebrated debate upon the Marriage
Amendment Act in England, Mr. Gladstone said that "when the
gospel came into the world woman was elevated to an equality with
her stronger companion." Yet, at the very time he was speaking,
the English law of divorce, made by men to regulate their
domestic relations with women, was denounced by the law lords
themselves as "disgusting and demoralizing" in its operation,
"barbarous," "indecent," "a disgrace to the country," and
"shocking to the sense of right." Now, if the equality of which
Mr. Gladstone spoke had been political as well as sentimental,
does he or any statesman suppose that the law of divorce would
have been what it then was, or that the law of England to-day
would give all the earnings of a married woman to her husband, or
that of France forbid a woman to receive any gift without her
husband's permission?

We ask women to confide in us, as having the same interests with
them. Did any despot ever say anything else? And, if it be safe
or proper for any intelligent part of the people to relinquish
exclusive political power to any class, I ask the Committee, who
proposed that women should be compelled to do this? To what
class, however rich, or intelligent, or honest, they would
themselves surrender _their_ power? and what they would do if any
class attempted to usurp that power? They know, as we all know,
as our own experience has taught us, that the only security of
natural right is the ballot. They know, and the instinct of the
whole loyal land knows, that, when we had abolished slavery, the
emancipation could be completed and secured only by the ballot in
the hands of the emancipated class. Civil rights were a mere
mocking name until political power gave them substance. A year
ago, Gov. Orr of South Carolina told us that the rights of the
freedmen were safest in the hands of their old masters. "Will you
walk into my parlor, said the spider to the fly?" New Orleans,
Memphis, and countless and constant crimes, showed what that
safety was. Then, hesitating no longer, the nation handed the
ballot to the freedmen, and said, "Protect yourselves!" And now
Gov. Orr says that the part of wisdom for South Carolina is to
cut loose from all parties, and make a cordial alliance with the
colored citizens. Gov. Orr knows that a man with civil rights
merely is a blank cartridge. Give him the ballot, and you add a
bullet, and make him effective. In that section of the country,
seething with old hatreds and wounded pride, and a social system
upheaved from the foundation, no other measure could have done
for real pacification in a century what the mere promise of the
ballot has done in a year. The one formidable peril in the whole
subject of reconstruction has been the chance that Congress would
continue in the Southern States the political power in the hands
of a class, as the report of the Committee proposes that we shall
do in New York.

If I am asked what do women want the ballot for, I answer the
question with another, what do men want it for? Why do the
British workmen at this moment so urgently demand it? Look into
the British laws regulating labor, and you will see why. They
want the ballot because the laws affecting labor and capital are
made by the capitalist class alone and are therefore unjust. I do
not forget the progressive legislation of New York in regard to
the rights of women. The Property Bill of 1860, and its
supplement, according to the _New York Tribune_, redeemed five
thousand women from pauperism. In the next year, Illinois put
women in the same position with men, as far as property rights
and remedies are concerned. I mention these facts with pleasure,
as I read that Louis Napoleon will, under certain conditions,
permit the French people to say what they think. But, if such
reforms are desirable, they would certainly have been sooner and
more wisely effected could women have been a positive political
power. Upon this point one honorable gentleman asked Mrs.
Stanton whether the laws both for men and women were not
constantly improving, and whether, therefore, it was not unfair
to attribute the character of the laws about women to the fact
that men made them. The reply is very evident. If women alone
made the laws, legislation for both men and women would
undoubtedly be progressive. Does the honorable gentleman think,
therefore, that women only should make the laws?

It is true, Mr.



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