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But, so far from its having been extinguished in her,
it has, under the influence of this enlightened century, become a
gigantic flame which shines most brightly under the protection of
the star-spangled banner. There does not exist a man-made
doctrine, fabricated expressly for us, and which we must learn by
heart, that shall henceforth be our law. Nor shall the authority
of old traditions be a standard for us--be this authority called
Veda, Talmud, Koran, or Bible. No. Reason, which we recognize as
our highest and only law-giver, commands us to be free. We have
recognized our duty--we have heard the rustling of the golden
wings of our guardian angel--we are inspired for the work!

We are no longer in the beginning of history--that age which was
a constant struggle with nature, misery, ignorance, helplessness,
and every kind of bondage. The moral idea of the State struggles
for that fulfillment in which all individuals shall be brought
into a union which shall augment a million-fold both its
individual and collective force. Therefore, don't exclude
us--don't exclude woman--don't exclude the whole half of the
human family. Receive us--begin the work in which a new era shall
dawn. In all great events we find that woman has a guiding
hand--let us stay near you now, when humanity is concerned. Man
has the spirit of truth, but woman alone has passion for it. All
creations need love--let us, therefore, celebrate a union from
which shall spring the morning of freedom for humanity. Give us
our rights in the State. Honor us as your equals, and allow us to
use the rights which belong to us, and which reason commands us
to use. Whether it be prudent to enfranchise woman, is not the
question--only whether it be right. What is positively right,
must be prudent, must be wise, and must, finally, be useful. Give
the lie to the monarchically disposed statesman, who says the
republic of the United States is only an experiment, which
earlier or later will prove a failure. Give the lie to such
hopes, I say, by carrying out the whole elevated idea of the
republic--by calling the entire, excluded half of mankind and
every being endowed with reason, to the ballot-box, which is the
people's holy palladium.

MADAME DE HERICOURT said: I wish to ask if rights have their
source in ability, in functions, in qualities? No, certainly; for
we see that all men, however they may differ in endowments, have
equal rights. What, then, is the basis of rights? Humanity.
Consequently, even if it be true that woman is inferior to man in
intelligence and social ability, it is not desirable that she
shut herself within what is called woman's sphere. In a
philosophical light, the objections brought against her have no
bearing on this question. Woman must have equal rights with man,
because she is, like him, a human being; and only in
establishing, through anatomical or biological proof, that she
does not belong to the human race, can her rights be withheld.
When such demonstration is made, my claims shall cease. In the
meantime, let me say that woman--whether useful or
useless--belonging to humanity, must have the rights of humanity.

But is it true that the equality of man and woman would not be
useful to society? We might answer this question in the
affirmative were the sexes alike, but for the very reason that
they differ in many respects, is the presence of woman by the
side of man, if we desire order and justice, everywhere
necessary. Is it graceful, I ask, to walk on one leg? Men, since
the beginning of history, have had the bad taste to prefer a lame
society to one that is healthy and beautiful. We women have
really too much taste to yield longer to such deformity. In law,
in institutions, in every social and political matter, there are
two sides. Up to the present day, man has usurped what belongs to
woman. That is the reason why we have injustice, corruption,
international hatred, cruelty, war, shameful laws--man assuming,
in regard to woman, the sinful relation of slaveholder. Such
relation must and will change, because we women have decided that
it shall not exist. With you, gentlemen, we will vote, legislate,
govern--not only because it is our right, but because it is time
to substitute order, peace, equity, and virtue, for the disorder,
war, cruelty, injustice, and corruption which you, acting alone,
have established. You doubt our fitness to take part in
government because we are fickle, extravagant, etc., etc., as you
say. I answer, there is an inconsiderable minority which deserve
such epithets; but even if all women deserved them, who is in
fault? You not only prefer the weak-minded, extravagant women to
the strong-minded and reasonable ones, but as soon as a woman
attempts to leave her sphere, you, coward-like, throw yourselves
before her, and secure to your own profit all remunerative
occupations. I could, perhaps, forgive your selfishness and
injustice, but I can not forgive your want of logic nor your
hypocrisy. You condemn woman to starvation, to ignorance, to
extravagance, in order to please yourselves, and then reproach
her for this ignorance and extravagance, while you heap blame and
ridicule on those who are educated, wise, and frugal. You are,
indeed, very absurd or very silly. Your judgment is so weak that
you reproach woman with the faults of a slave, when it is you who
have made and who keep her a slave, and who know, moreover, that
no true and virtuous soul can accept slavery. You reproach woman
with being an active agent in corruption and ruin, without
perceiving that it is you who have condemned her to this awful
work, in which only your bad passions sustain her. Whatever you
may do, you can not escape her influence. If she is free,
virtuous, and worthy, she will give you free, virtuous, and
worthy sons, and maintain in you republican virtues. If she
remain a slave, she will debase you and your sons; and your
country will come under the rule of tyranny. Insane men can not
understand that where there is one slave there are always two--he
who wears the chain and he who rivets it. Unreasonable,
short-sighted men can not understand that to enfranchise woman is
to elevate man; to give him a companion who shall encourage his
good and noble aspirations, instead of one who would debase and
draw him down into an abyss of selfishness and dishonesty.
Gentlemen, will you be just, will you preserve the republic, will
you stop the moral ruin of your country; will you be worthy,
virtuous, and courageous for the welfare of your nation, and, in
spite of all obstacles, enfranchise your mothers, wives,
daughters, and sisters? Take care that you be not too late! Such
injustice and folly would be at the cost of your liberty, in
which event you could claim no mercy, for tyrants deserve to be
the victims of tyrants.

After her brief address, Madame de Hericourt submitted to the
Convention a series of resolutions for the organization of
Women's Leagues.[121]

ERNESTINE L. ROSE said--_Mrs. Chairman, Ladies and Gentlemen_:
What we need is to arouse both men and women to the great
necessity of justice and of right. The world moves. We need not
seek further than this Convention assembled here to-night to show
that it moves. We have assembled here delegates from the East and
the West, from the North and the South, from all over the United
States, from England, from France, and from Germany--all have
come to give us greeting and well-wishes, both in writing and in
speech. I only wish that this whole audience might have been able
to understand and appreciate the eloquent speeches which have
been delivered here to-night. They have been uttered in support
of the claim--the just demand--of woman for the right to vote.
Why is it, my friends, that Congress has enacted laws to give the
negro of the South the right to vote? Why do they not at the same
time protect the negro woman? If Congress really means to protect
the negro race, they should have acknowledged woman just as much
as man; not only in the South, but here in the North, the only
way to protect her is by the ballot. We have often heard from
this platform, and I myself have often said, that with individual
man we do not find fault. We do not war with man; we war with bad
principles. And let me ask whether we have not the right to war
with these principles which stamp the degradation of inferiority
upon women.

This Society calls itself the Equal Rights Association. That I
understand to be an association which has no distinction of sex,
class, or color. Congress does not seem to understand the meaning
of the term universal. I understand the word universal to include
ALL. Congress understood that Universal Suffrage meant the white
man only. Since the war we have changed the name for Impartial
Suffrage. When some of our editors, such as Mr. Greeley and
others, were asked what they meant by impartial suffrage, they
said, "Why, man, of course; the man and the brother." Congress
has enacted resolutions for the suffrage of men and brothers.
They don't speak of the women and sisters. [Applause.] They have
begun to change their tactics, and call it manhood suffrage. I
propose to call it Woman Suffrage; then we shall know what we
mean. We might commence by calling the Chinaman a man and a
brother, or the Hottentot, or the Calmuck, or the Indian, the
idiot or the criminal, but where shall we stop?



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