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Justice Joanes
affirmed that he had often heard from his mother of the Lady
Bartlett, mother to the Lord Bartlett, that she was a Justice of
the Peace, and did set usually upon the bench with the other
Justices in Gloucestershire; that she was made so by Queen Mary,
upon her complaint to her of the injuries she sustained by some
of that county, and desiring for redress thereof; that as she
herself, was Chief-Justice of all England, so this lady might be
in her own county, which accordingly the Queen granted. Another
example was alleged of one ---- Rowse, in Suffolk, who usually at
the assizes and sessions there held, set upon the bench among the
Justices _gladio cincta_." The Countess of Pembroke was
hereditary sheriff of Westmoreland, and exercised her office.
Henry the VIIIth granted a commission of inquiry, under the great
seal, to Lady Ann Berkeley, who opened it at Gloucester, and
passed sentence under it. Henry VIII's daughter, Elizabeth Tudor,
was Queen of England, in name and in fact, during the most
illustrious epoch of English history. Was Elizabeth incompetent?
Did Elizabeth unsex herself? Or do you say that she was an
exceptional woman? So she was, but no more an exceptional woman
than Alfred, Marcus Aurelius, or Napoleon were exceptional men.
It was held by some of the old English writers that a woman might
serve in almost any of the great offices of the kingdom. And,
indeed, if Victoria may deliberate in council with her ministers,
why may not any intelligent English woman deliberate in
Parliament, or any such American woman in Congress? I mention
Elizabeth, Maria Theresa, Catherine, and all the famous Empresses
and Queens, not to prove the capacity of women for the most
arduous and responsible office, for that is undeniable, but to
show the hollowness of the assertion that there is an instinctive
objection to the fulfillment of such offices by women. Men who
say so do not really think so. The whole history of the voting
and office-holding of women shows that whenever men's theories of
the relation of property to the political franchise, or of the
lineal succession of the government, require that women shall
vote or hold office, the objection of impropriety and incapacity
wholly disappears. If it be unwomanly for a woman to vote, or to
hold office, it is unwomanly for Victoria to be Queen of England.
Surely if our neighbors had thought they would be better
represented in this convention by certain women, there is no good
reason why they should have been compelled to send us. Why should
I or any person be forbidden to select the agent whom we think
the most competent and truly representative of our will? There is
no talent or training required in the making of laws which is
peculiar to the male sex. What is needed is intelligence and
experience. The rest is routine.

The capacity for making laws is necessarily assumed when women
are permitted to hold and manage property and to submit to
taxation. How often the woman, widowed, or married, or single, is
the guiding genius of the family--educating the children,
directing the estate, originating, counseling, deciding. Is there
anything essentially different in such duties and the powers
necessary to perform them from the functions of legislation? In
New Jersey the Constitution of 1776 admitted to vote all
inhabitants of a certain age, residence, and property. In 1797,
in an act to regulate elections, the ninth section provides:
"Every voter shall openly and in full view deliver his or her
ballot, which shall be a single written ticket, containing the
names of the persons for whom he or she votes." An old citizen of
New Jersey says that "the right was recognized, and very little
said or thought about it in any way." But in 1807 the suffrage
was restricted to white male adult citizens of a certain age,
residence, and property, and in 1844 the property qualification
was abolished. At the hearing before the committee, the other
evening, a gentleman asked whether the change of the
qualification excluding women did not show that their voting was
found to be inconvenient or undesirable. Not at all. It merely
showed that the male property-holders out-voted the female. It
certainly showed nothing as to the right or expediency of the
voting of women. Mr. Douglas, as I said, had a theory that the
white male adult squatters in a territory might decide whether
the colored people in the territory should be enslaved. They
might, indeed, so decide, and with adequate power they might
enforce their decision. But it proved very little as to the
right, the expediency, or the constitutionality of slavery in a
territory. The truth is that men deal with the practical question
of female suffrage to suit their own purposes. About twenty-five
years ago the Canadian government by statute rigorously and in
terms forbade women to vote. But in 1850, to subserve a sectarian
purpose, they were permitted to vote for school trustees. I am
ashamed to argue a point so plain. What public affairs need in
this State is "conscience," and woman is the conscience of the
race. If we in this convention shall make a wise Constitution, if
the Legislatures that follow us in this chamber shall purify the
laws and see that they are honorably executed, it will be just in
the degree that we shall have accustomed ourselves to the
refined, moral, and mental atmosphere in which women habitually
converse.

But would you, seriously, I am asked, would you drag women down
into the mire of politics? No, sir, I would have them lift us out
of it. The duty of this Convention is to devise means for the
improvement of the government of this State. Now, the science of
government is not an ignoble science, and the practice of
politics is not necessarily mean and degrading. If the making and
administering of law has become so corrupt as to justify calling
politics filthy, and a thing in which no clean hands can meddle
without danger, may we not wisely remember, as we begin our work
of purification, that politics have been wholly managed by men?
How can we purify them? Is there no radical method, no force yet
untried, a power not only of skillful checks, which I do not
undervalue, but of controlling character? Mr. Chairman, if we sat
in this chamber with closed windows until the air became thick
and fetid, should we not be fools if we brought in
deodorizers--if we sprinkled chloride of lime and burned
assafoetida, while we disdained the great purifier? If we would
cleanse the foul chamber, let us throw the windows wide open, and
the sweet summer air would sweep all impurity away and fill our
lungs with fresher life. If we would purge politics let us turn
upon them the great stream of the purest human influence we know.

But I hear some one say, if they vote they must do military duty.
Undoubtedly when a nation goes to war it may rightfully claim the
service of all its citizens, men and women. But the question of
fighting is not the blow merely, but its quality and persistence.
The important point is, to make the blow effective. Did any brave
Englishman who rode into the jaws of death at Balaklava serve
England on the field more truly than Florence Nightingale? That
which sustains and serves and repairs the physical force is just
as essential as the force itself. Thus the law, in view of the
moral service they are supposed to render, excuses clergymen from
the field, and in the field it details ten per cent of the army
to serve the rest, and they do not carry muskets nor fight.
Women, as citizens, have always done, and always will do that
work in the public defense for which their sex peculiarly fits
them, and men do no more. The care of the young warriors, the
nameless and innumerable duties of the hospital and home, are
just as essential to the national safety as fighting in the
field. A nation of men alone could not carry on a contest any
longer than a nation of women. Each would be obliged to divide
its forces and delegate half to the duties of the other sex.

But while the physical services of war are equally divided
between the sexes, the moral forces are stronger with women. It
was the women of the South, we are constantly and doubtless very
truly told, who sustained the rebellion, and certainly without
the women of the North the Government had not been saved. From
the first moment to the last, in all the roaring cities, in the
remote valleys, in the deep woods, on the country hill-sides, on
the open prairie, wherever there were wives, mothers, sisters,
lovers, there were the busy fingers which, by day and by night,
for four long years, like the great forces of spring-time and
harvest, never failed. The mother paused only to bless her sons,
eager for the battle; the wife to kiss her children's father, as
he went; the sister smiled upon her brother, and prayed for the
lover who marched away. Out of how many hundreds of thousands of
homes and hearts they went who never returned. But those homes
were both the inspiration and the consolation of the field. They
nerved the arm that struck for them. When the son and husband
fell in the wild storm of battle, the brave woman-heart broke in
silence, but the busy fingers did not falter. When the comely
brother and lover were tortured into idiocy and despair, that
woman-heart of love kept the man's faith steady, and her
unceasing toil repaired his wasted frame.



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