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The foreign
naturalized citizen claims his right to vote from and under the
paramount authority of the Federal Government, and the State has
no right to prevent him from voting, and thus place him in a
lower degree or grade of citizenship than that of free citizens.
This being the case, is it presumable that a foreign citizen is
intended to be placed higher than one born on our soil? Under our
Constitution and laws, woman is a naturalized citizen with her
husband. There are men in this town to-day, to my certain
knowledge, who have had this boon of citizenship thrust upon
them, who scorned the name, and who freely claimed allegiance to
a foreign power. Our Government has existed for eighty years, yet
this question of citizenship has never been settled. In 1856 the
question came before the then Attorney-General, Mr. Cushing, as
to whether Indians were citizens of the United States, and as
such, were entitled to the privilege of preempting our public
lands. He gave it as his opinion that they were not citizens, but
domestic subjects, and therefore not entitled to the benefits of
the act.

In 1821 the question came before Attorney-General William Wirt,
as to whether free persons of color in the State of Virginia were
citizens of the United States, and as such, entitled to command
vessels engaged in foreign trade. He gave it as his opinion that
they were not, that the Constitution by the term citizen, and by
its description of citizen, meant only those who were entitled to
all the privileges of free white persons, and negroes were not
citizens. In 1843 the question came before Attorney-General
Legree, of South Carolina, as to whether free negroes of that
State were citizens, and he gave it as his opinion that as the
law of Congress intended only to exclude aliens, therefore that
they as denizens could take advantage of the act. Mr. Marcy, in
1856, decided that negroes were not citizens, but entitled to the
protection of the Government.

In justice to our sex, I must ask you to bear in mind the fact
that all these wise Secretaries of State and Attorney-Generals,
were men that made these singular decisions, not illogical,
unreasoning women, totally incapable of understanding politics.
And lastly, in 1862, our late honored and lamented
fellow-citizen, Attorney-General Bates, decided that free negroes
were citizens. Thus, you see, it took forty-one years to make
this simple discovery. I have cited all these examples to show
you that all rights and privileges depend merely on the
acknowledgment of our right as citizens, and wherever this
question has arisen the Government has universally conceded that
we are citizens; and as such, I claim that if we are entitled to
two or three privileges, we are entitled to all. This question of
woman's right to the ballot has never yet been raised in any
quarter. It has yet to be tested whether a free, moral,
intelligent woman, highly cultivated, every dollar of whose
income and property are taxed equally with that of all men, shall
be placed by our laws on a level with the savage. I am often
jeeringly asked, "If the Constitution gives you this right, why
don't you take it?" My reply is both a statement and a question.
The State of Massachusetts allows negroes to vote. The
Constitution of the United States says the citizens of each State
shall be allowed all the privileges of the citizens in the
several States. Now, I ask you, can a woman or negro vote in
Missouri? You have placed us on the same level. Yet, by such
question you hold us responsible for the unstatesmanlike piece of
patchwork which you call the Constitution of Missouri! Women of
the State, let us no longer submit to occupy so degraded a
position! Disguise it as you may, the disfranchised class is ever
a degraded class. Let us lend all our energies to have the stigma
removed from us. Failing before the Legislatures, we must then
turn to the Supreme Court of our land and ask it to decide what
are our rights as citizens, or, at least, not doing that, give us
the privilege of the Indian, and exempt us from the burden of
taxation to support so unjust a Government. [Applause].

Ten thousand extra copies of _The Revolution_ containing these
resolutions and this speech were published and sent to friends
throughout the country, laid on every member's desk in Congress, and
circulated at the Washington Convention of 1870. From this hour up to
the time of the Supreme Court decision in the case of Virginia L.
Minor in 1875, the National Woman Suffrage Association took this view
in regard to the XIV. Amendment. Mrs. Stanton, fully accepting the new
position, made her speech on that basis before the Congressional
Committee[127] on the District of Columbia. In calling this Committee
to order Senator Hamlin said:

We have met this morning for the purpose of considering two
petitions which have been presented, I believe, only to the
Senate Committee of the District of Columbia. The first one is a
petition, very numerously signed, I think, by both ladies and
gentlemen of this city, and in a few brief words it says that:
"The undersigned, residents of the District of Columbia,
earnestly but respectfully request that you extend the right of
suffrage to the women of the District." The other memorial, very
nearly as brief, is in these words: "The undersigned citizens of
the United States pray your honorable body that in the proposed
amendments to the Constitution which may come before you in
regard to suffrage, and in any law affecting suffrage, in the
District of Columbia or in any Territory, the right of voting may
be given to the women on the same terms as to the men." Upon this
subject we have some lady friends who desire to address us, and I
have the pleasure of introducing to you Mrs. Stanton.

Mrs. STANTON said: Accustomed to appeal to the sentiments and
combat the prejudices of popular assemblies, it is a
comparatively easy task to plead the cause of woman before clear,
logical, dispassionate minds--committees of statesmen--trained to
view all subjects in the light of pure reason; for unprejudiced
minds admit to-day that if the democratic theory of government is
true, the argument lies wholly on our side of this question. As
history shows that each step in civilization has been a steady
approximation to our democratic theory, securing larger liberties
to the people, it is fair to infer that its full realization--the
equal rights of all--will be the best possible government.
Whatever is true in theory is safe in practice, and those holding
the destinies of nations in their hands should legislate with a
sublime faith in eternal principles. As bills are soon to be
introduced in both the Senate and the House, asking further
special legislation, we appear before you at this time to urge
that the women of the District shall share equally in all the
rights, privileges, and immunities you propose to confer on male
citizens.

In the adjustment of the question of suffrage, now before the
people of this country for settlement, it is of the highest
importance that the organic law of the land should be so framed
and construed as to secure political equality to all citizens.

While the Constitution of the United States leaves the
qualifications of electors to the several States, it nowhere
gives them the right to deprive any citizen of the elective
franchise; they may regulate, but not prohibit the franchise. The
Constitution of the United States expressly declares that no
State shall make or enforce any law that shall abridge the
privileges or immunities of citizens of the United States; hence
those provisions of the several State constitutions that exclude
women from the franchise are in direct violation of the Federal
Constitution. Even the preamble recognizes, in the phrase "We,
the people," the true origin of all just government.

We, the people of the United States, in order to form a more
perfect Union, establish justice, insure domestic
tranquillity, provide for the common defense, promote the
general welfare, and secure the blessings of liberty to
ourselves and our posterity, do ordain and establish this
Constitution for the United States of America.

Are not women people?

SEC. 4. The United States shall guarantee to every State in
this Union a republican form of government.

How can that form of government be republican, when one-half the
people are forever deprived of all participation in its affairs?

ARTICLE VI. The Constitution and the laws of the United
States which shall be made in pursuance thereof, shall be
the supreme law of the land; and the judges in every State
shall be bound thereby, anything in the constitution or laws
of any State to the contrary notwithstanding.

The Constitution tells us, too, who are citizens. The XIV.
Amendment says:

All persons born or naturalized in the United States, and
subject to the jurisdiction thereof, are citizens of the
United States and of the State wherein they reside.

No State shall make or enforce any law which shall abridge
the privileges or immunities of citizens of the United
States.

It has just been decided by the Supreme Court that a foreign born
woman is naturalized by marriage to a native. Therefore, as birth
and marriage secure the right of citizenship to large numbers,
the remaining classes of foreign unmarried women should secure
naturalization papers, that we may all test our right to vote in
the courts.



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