A B C D E F
G H I J K L M 

Total read books on site:
more than 10 000

You can read its for free!


Text on one page: Few Medium Many
Men trust women in the market, in the shop, on
the highway and railroad, and in all other public places and
assemblies, but when they propose to carry a slip of paper with a
name upon it to the polls, they fear them. Nevertheless, as
citizens, women have the right to vote; they are part and parcel
of that great element in which the sovereign power of the land
had birth; and it is by usurpation only that men debar them from
this right. The American nation, in its march onward and upward,
can not publicly choke the intellectual and political activity of
half its citizens by narrow statutes. The will of the entire
people is the true basis of republican government, and a free
expression of that will by the public vote of all citizens,
without distinctions of race, color, occupation, or sex, is the
only means by which that will can be ascertained. As the world
has advanced into civilization and culture; as mind has risen in
its dominion over matter; as the principle of justice and moral
right has gained sway, and merely physical organized power has
yielded thereto; as the might of right has supplanted the right
of might, so have the rights of women become more fully
recognized, and that recognition is the result of the development
of the minds of men, which through the ages she has polished, and
thereby heightened the lustre of civilization.

It was reserved for our great country to recognize by
constitutional enactment that political equality of all citizens
which religion, affection, and common sense should have long
since accorded; it was reserved for America to sweep away the
mist of prejudice and ignorance, and that chivalric condescension
of a darker age, for in the language of Holy Writ, "The night is
far spent, the day is at hand, let us therefore cast off the work
of darkness and let us put on the armor of light. Let us walk
honestly as in the day." It may be argued against the proposition
that there still remains upon the statute books of some States
the word "male" to an exclusion; but as the Constitution, in its
paramount character, can only be read by the light of the
established principle, _ita lex Scripta est_, and as the subject
of sex is not mentioned, and the Constitution is not limited
either in terms or by necessary implication in the general rights
of citizens to vote, this right can not be limited on account of
anything in the spirit of inferior or previous enactments upon a
subject which is not mentioned in the supreme law. A different
construction would destroy a vested right in a portion of the
citizens, and this no legislature has a right to do without
compensation, and nothing can compensate a citizen for the loss
of his or her suffrage--its value is equal to the value of life.
Neither can it be presumed that women are to be kept from the
polls as a mere police regulation: it is to be hoped, at least,
that police regulations in their case need not be very active.
The effect of the amendments to the Constitution must be to annul
the power over this subject in the States, whether past, present,
or future, which is contrary to the amendments. The amendments
would even arrest the action of the Supreme Court in cases
pending before it prior to their adoption, and operate as an
absolute prohibition to the exercise of any other jurisdiction
than merely to dismiss the suit. 3 Dall., 382; 6 Wheaton, 405; 9
ib., 868; 3d Circ. Pa., 1832.

And if the restrictions contained in the Constitution as to
color, race or servitude, were designed to limit the State
governments in reference to their own citizens, and were intended
to operate also as restrictions on the federal power, and to
prevent interference with the rights of the State and its
citizens, how, then, can the State restrict citizens of the
United States in the exercise of rights not mentioned in any
restrictive clause in reference to actions on the part of those
citizens having reference solely to the necessary functions of
the General Government, such as the election of representatives
and senators to Congress, whose election the Constitution
expressly gives Congress the power to regulate? S. C., 1847; Fox
vs. Ohio, 5 Howard, 410.

Your memorialist complains of the existence of State laws, and
prays Congress, by appropriate legislation, to declare them, as
they are, annulled, and to give vitality to the Constitution
under its power to make and alter the regulations of the States
contravening the same.

It may be urged in opposition that the courts have power, and
should declare upon this subject. The Supreme Court has the
power, and it would be its duty so to declare the law: but the
court will not do so unless a determination of such point as
shall arise make it necessary to the determination of a
controversy, and hence a case must be presented in which there
can be no rational doubt. All this would subject the aggrieved
parties to much dilatory, expensive and needless litigation,
which your memorialist prays your honorable body to dispense with
by appropriate legislation, as there can be no purpose in special
arguments "_ad inconvenienti_," enlarging or contracting the
import of the language of the Constitution.

_Therefore_, Believing firmly in the right of citizens to freely
approach those in whose hands their destiny is placed under the
Providence of God, your memorialist has frankly, but humbly,
appealed to you, and prays that the wisdom of Congress may be
moved to action in this matter for the benefit and the increased
happiness of our beloved country.


SPEECH OF A. G. RIDDLE,

_In Support of the Woodhull Memorial, before the Judiciary
Committee of the House of Representatives, as Reproduced in the
Convention on the Evening of the same Day._

Mr. RIDDLE spoke as follows: Mr. _Chairman_--(Senator Nye)--I
have always thought that the questions involved in this movement
could be the more effectively presented by ladies; and I have
never appeared in their public discussions unless by special
request, and for some special purpose. I have been asked to bring
to your notice as well as I may this evening the argument: That
the women of these United States are full and complete citizens.
Citizens as fully, broadly, and deeply as it is possible for men
to be, though not permitted to exercise the elective franchise.

As I arise I find between myself and this proposition, two or
three questions, about which I am disposed to tax your patience
for a moment, though there is nothing new to be said. In the
outset, let me say that it is conceded by all, that the right of
self-government, in America at any rate, is a natural right. You
may select with care or at random, any one of the forty or fifty
American constitutions that have been prepared with more or less
pains, and promulgated with solemnity, and you will find there is
not one that has assumed to create and confer this right of
self-government. But they all declare, expressly or impliedly,
that the right to govern is inherent in the people. Now, if these
ladies are a portion of the people, this right resides in them.
There is no new right to be conferred upon them. They are simply
to go into the new exercise of an old franchise; for if the right
of self-government is a natural right, then does it pertain to
every human being alike. Such is the recognized theory of every
American constitution, and such is its practice.

Take a step further and you find that starting with a recognition
of this pre-existing right of government, Constitution makers
have simply provided the means and machinery by which this right
of government may work itself out. The only means placed in the
hands of the individual citizen by which he may accomplish his
portion of this great task is the ballot, or the _viva voce_
vote. If this right of self-government is a natural right, and if
it can be exercised alone by the ballot, then is the right to the
ballot a natural right, and he who stands up against this
everlasting right of nature, had better look to it, and take
himself out of the way. As this is a political question I may
venture a single word to politicians. We of the masculine gender,
are all of us, more or less politicians; and of all the timid
things in the world the professed politician (a member of
Congress excepted) is the most timid. [Laughter.] He is afraid of
his soul, as if he had one, or one large enough to occasion
apprehension. [Laughter.] I have this thing to say to them, that
when any great idea or great truth finds itself at large in this
lower world, and is obliged to get itself incorporated into the
working processes of a government, if it does not find a
political party ready, willing, and worthy to receive it, it
forthwith makes for itself a new party. [Applause.] And as it
does not create new human beings to form a party of, it must
necessarily gather them from the old parties. Just as the
distinguished Senator (Senator Nye) will recollect the present
Republican party was formed, and against which the two old fossil
parties united, as they always do. Now, this new great idea, if
rejected, will disintegrate these old parties; take that which is
fit, proper, and deserving for its own great mission, leaving the
residuum to unite, and crumble and pulverize together under the
feet of the new.

The right of self-government, as I have said, is a natural right
pertaining to all alike, and is to be exercised by the ballot.
And the right to that is therefore a natural right, as is the
right to wear clothes.



Pages: | Prev | | 1 | | 2 | | 3 | | 4 | | 5 | | 6 | | 7 | | 8 | | 9 | | 10 | | 11 | | 12 | | 13 | | 14 | | 15 | | 16 | | 17 | | 18 | | 19 | | 20 | | 21 | | 22 | | 23 | | 24 | | 25 | | 26 | | 27 | | 28 | | 29 | | 30 | | 31 | | 32 | | 33 | | 34 | | 35 | | 36 | | 37 | | 38 | | 39 | | 40 | | 41 | | 42 | | 43 | | 44 | | 45 | | 46 | | 47 | | 48 | | 49 | | 50 | | 51 | | 52 | | 53 | | 54 | | 55 | | 56 | | 57 | | 58 | | 59 | | 60 | | 61 | | 62 | | 63 | | 64 | | 65 | | 66 | | 67 | | 68 | | 69 | | 70 | | 71 | | 72 | | 73 | | 74 | | 75 | | 76 | | 77 | | 78 | | 79 | | 80 | | 81 | | 82 | | 83 | | 84 | | 85 | | 86 | | 87 | | 88 | | 89 | | 90 | | 91 | | 92 | | 93 | | 94 | | 95 | | 96 | | 97 | | 98 | | 99 | | 100 | | 101 | | 102 | | 103 | | 104 | | 105 | | 106 | | 107 | | 108 | | 109 | | 110 | | 111 | | 112 | | 113 | | 114 | | 115 | | 116 | | 117 | | 118 | | 119 | | 120 | | 121 | | 122 | | 123 | | 124 | | 125 | | 126 | | 127 | | 128 | | 129 | | 130 | | 131 | | 132 | | 133 | | 134 | | 135 | | 136 | | 137 | | 138 | | 139 | | 140 | | 141 | | 142 | | 143 | | 144 | | 145 | | 146 | | 147 | | 148 | | 149 | | 150 | | 151 | | 152 | | 153 | | 154 | | 155 | | 156 | | 157 | | 158 | | 159 | | 160 | | 161 | | 162 | | 163 | | 164 | | 165 | | 166 | | 167 | | 168 | | 169 | | 170 | | 171 | | 172 | | 173 | | 174 | | 175 | | 176 | | 177 | | 178 | | 179 | | 180 | | 181 | | 182 | | 183 | | 184 | | 185 | | 186 | | 187 | | 188 | | 189 | | 190 | | 191 | | 192 | | 193 | | 194 | | 195 | | 196 | | 197 | | 198 | | 199 | | 200 | | 201 | | 202 | | 203 | | 204 | | 205 | | 206 | | 207 | | 208 | | 209 | | 210 | | 211 | | 212 | | 213 | | 214 | | 215 | | 216 | | 217 | | 218 | | 219 | | 220 | | 221 | | 222 | | 223 | | 224 | | 225 | | 226 | | 227 | | 228 | | 229 | | 230 | | 231 | | 232 | | 233 | | 234 | | 235 | | 236 | | 237 | | 238 | | 239 | | 240 | | 241 | | 242 | | 243 | | 244 | | 245 | | 246 | | 247 | | 248 | | 249 | | 250 | | 251 | | 252 | | 253 | | 254 | | 255 | | 256 | | 257 | | 258 | | 259 | | 260 | | 261 | | 262 | | 263 | | 264 | | 265 | | 266 | | 267 | | 268 | | 269 | | 270 | | 271 | | 272 | | 273 | | 274 | | 275 | | 276 | | 277 | | 278 | | 279 | | 280 | | 281 | | 282 | | 283 | | 284 | | 285 | | 286 | | 287 | | 288 | | 289 | | 290 | | 291 | | 292 | | 293 | | 294 | | 295 | | 296 | | 297 | | 298 | | 299 | | 300 | | 301 | | 302 | | 303 | | 304 | | 305 | | 306 | | 307 | | 308 | | 309 | | 310 | | 311 | | 312 | | 313 | | 314 | | 315 | | 316 | | 317 | | 318 | | 319 | | 320 | | 321 | | 322 | | 323 | | 324 | | 325 | | 326 | | 327 | | 328 | | 329 | | 330 | | 331 | | 332 | | 333 | | 334 | | 335 | | 336 | | 337 | | 338 | | 339 | | 340 | | 341 | | 342 | | 343 | | 344 | | 345 | | 346 | | 347 | | 348 | | 349 | | 350 | | 351 | | 352 | | 353 | | 354 | | 355 | | 356 | | 357 | | 358 | | 359 | | 360 | | Next |

N O P Q R S T
U V W X Y Z 

Your last read book:

You dont read books at this site.