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It would be an innovation revolutionary and sweeping.

3d. It is at war with a distribution of duties and functions
between the sexes.

4th. The enfranchisement of women would disturb relations as
venerable as government itself, and radically change our domestic
life.

Shades of Jeremy Bentham and Sidney Smith forgive! After
publishing to the world that immortal oration of Noodledom, and
refuting for all time such fallacies as the above, how amazing
that Radical Republicans in the capital of the Empire State
should repeat in the ears of the nineteenth century stale
platitudes from the effete civilizations of the Old World--that
to their starving wives and mothers, knocking at the door of the
political citadel, instead of bread and the ballot, they should
give stones and twenty years more of degradation in
disfranchisement. But if it be true that public sentiment is not
prepared for this just and beneficent measure, then it is the
duty of our leaders, instead of stereotyping the ignorant
prejudices of the people into statutes and constitutions, to
educate this public sentiment, by the utterance of sound ideas,
by the example of honest action. When God gives new truths to the
few, it is that they may win the response of the many. There is
no blunder more constantly made by politicians than the
assumption that the people are never ready for an onward step.

The people were ready for emancipation so long before the
Government declared it that, when it did come, the measure called
forth but little enthusiasm. It is not so much the will of the
people that troubles the politician as the safety of the party in
power. This committee denies the ballot to woman, and gives it to
the black man, for the same reason--party success; not because
they think public sentiment is ready for either, for in their
uncertainty they dare not submit the question of the black man
separately to a vote of the people. "But the measure is so
revolutionary and sweeping." When we abjured King George, and
declared all men equal, we inaugurated a very revolutionary
measure, undermined kingdoms and empires, deranged the political,
commercial, and social interests of two continents, and upset
innumerable family relations, by crowding husbands and fathers
into untimely graves. Had the Honorable Suffrage Committee been
in Boston Harbor, they would have objected to throwing the tea
overboard as too revolutionary a measure; they would have scouted
Jefferson's radical declaration as absurd, in view of the royal
facts on every throne in Europe, and the divine command, "Honor
the king." After revolutionizing, as we have just done, the
entire system of labor at the South, the social and political
status of a race, and in pressing a measure for which public
sentiment seemed unprepared, deluging the land in blood, how
futile is such reasoning as the above in the mouths of those who
inaugurated this second revolution.

Again, "The enfranchisement of woman is at war with the
distribution of duties and functions between the sexes." The plea
of tyrants in all ages. Says the English peer, "I'll make laws
and govern; let the peasant till the earth and provide the sinews
of war." Says the proud slaveholder, "I'll read and write and
think; let the negro hoe the sugar, rice, and corn." Says the New
York Suffrage Committee, "We will do the voting; let women pay
the taxes. We will be judges, jurors, sheriffs; and give woman
the right to be hung on the gallows." Napoleon once said to
Madame de Stael, "Why will you women meddle with politics?"
"Sire," she replied, "if you will hang us, we must ask the reason
why."

The functions of the sexes! What particular function does it
require to vote? In the discussion on this point, we hear of
property, education, morality, sanity; yet "white males" vote
without these, and women possessing all are denied the right.
While different men have different duties, different functions,
different spheres, ranging from the heights of Parnassus to the
bowels of the earth, why legislate all women into a nutshell?
Because a man is a father, must he needs be nothing else? Are
lawyers, merchants, tailors, cobblers, bootblacks less skilled in
their specialties because they vote? Because some women are
mothers, shall all women concentrate every thought in that
direction? and can those who are mothers be nothing else? Have
not those who are training up sons and daughters an interest
beyond the home, in the great outer world, where they are soon to
act their part? If women should vote one day in the year, must
every duty and function of their being be subordinated to that
one act during the whole 365?

Many men, possessing the right of suffrage, never exercise it:
many more use it indifferently once a year, or sell it to the
highest bidder; and on what principle does the theory rest, that
if woman had this right, she would desert husband, child, and
home, and reserve all her love and care, her smiles and
enthusiasm, for the ballot-box? No; woman's love for man is not
based on the statutes of the State, nor the maternal instinct on
the second article of the Constitution. Whatever distribution of
duties and functions are fixed by nature we need no legislation
to enforce. So long as the fact of motherhood does not release
woman from taxation, and the necessity of earning her own bread,
it should not deprive her of that right most needed for her
protection. If the 40,000 drunkards' wives in this State have the
necessary functions to provide food, clothes, and shelter for
worthless husbands and helpless children, they have the necessary
functions to go to the polls and vote for such social and
sanitary laws as shall end the vice of intemperance.

"But," says the Committee, "this measure would disturb relations
as venerable as government itself."

So said objectors twenty years ago in this State when woman was
first secured in her rights of property. Some of our must
distinguished lawyers prophesied a social convulsion on the
adoption of that measure. But it came without earthquake or
tornado. In a single hour, by a stroke of the pen, the women of
the Empire State were crowned property-holders. But only those
who had felt the iron teeth of the law took note of the onward
legislation. It was a mighty wave on the shores of progress, that
made scarce a ripple on the surface, washing the feet of the
lonely traveler on the sand, though unheeded by the multitude on
the bosom of its waters.

The ballot in the hand of woman will bring neither the millennium
nor pandemonium the next day; but it will surely right many
wrongs. It will open to her the colleges, the professions, the
profitable and honorable walks of life, and give her better wages
for her work. In securing to woman self-respect, independence and
power, we shall purify and exalt our social relations. Helpless
and dependent, woman must ever be the victim of society. "Give a
man a right over my subsistence," says Alexander Hamilton, "and
he has a right over my whole moral being."

February 13, 1868, Mr. Graves offered a resolution: "That the article
on suffrage be recommitted to be revised, by striking out the word
'male' after the word 'every' in the first line of Section 1, Article
II."

Mr. GRAVES said: In offering this resolution I am not unmindful
of the opinion that has been expressed in this Convention on the
question. Yet, sir, I see a willingness expressed on all sides,
to extend the suffrage to the black man at the South and the
equally ignorant foreigner, alike without education, without
knowledge of our laws and Constitution, incapable of appreciating
the genius of republican institutions, and who, neither by
manner, by effort, by example, by influence, can do aught to
promote the best interests of this Government.

If this constitution as it now is shall be approved by the
people, you allow the black men of the South, fresh from the
chains of slavery, to go to the ballot-box and vote on all the
great questions involving the interests of this nation, while you
deny the same right to educated, patriotic women--our own wives
and mothers, who are educating our children, who give tone and
character to society, and who are first and foremost in all moral
movements.

You deny them the right to select officers who are to discharge
the duties of government, and, worse still, a voice in the laws
they are compelled to obey. Yes, sir, you say to the drunken
husband who spends his time in whisky saloons, who goes reeling
home at night to abuse his wife and children, that he is fit to
vote on the interests of the family and the town, while you deny
that right to the clear-headed, industrious wife, who feeds,
clothes and shelters the worthless husband and educates the
half-orphaned children.

What a travesty on common sense and justice is such legislation!
I know there are men in this Convention shaking in their boots
for fear their mothers, wives, and daughters shall have equal
power with themselves; cowardly men without gallantry, who fear
that woman's voice in legislation might end some of the pet vices
of society--might be more potent than their own.

Mr. SEAVER rose to a point of order, and asked, "Who are the men
shaking in their boots?"

Mr. GRAVES retorted, "Wounded birds will flutter."

Mr. VEDDER wanted the gentleman's words recorded.

Mr.



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