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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. Decency and comfort require that clothes
should be worn; but they are artificial wholly. Just so is the
right to vote a natural right, though the vote, or the mode of
voting at least, is an artificial means. This logic can not be
caviled with or gainsaid. The young man and the young woman
outside of political considerations, in every other point of
view, stand before the law on an equality, and what one may do,
so may the other, each may govern him or herself. But not so
politically; when the youth reaches the age of twenty-one the
ballot comes to his hands by due course of law, protecting his
natural right, he having grown to it. Why do you give him the
ballot, pray, or permit him to take it for himself? Simply
because it is the means by which he governs and protects himself.
Nobody would start I suppose the terribly heterodox idea that it
is not necessary for the young man to govern himself with the
ballot. It would be one of those unheard-of atrocities that
nobody would have the hardihood to promulgate in the presence of
masculine associates at all. He is entitled to the right for the
purpose of governing himself. Nobody was born to govern anybody
else--man or woman. It is only because in political associations
people become so united, that a man in order to govern himself is
obliged to govern others, that we get the right to govern others
at all. It grows out of our effort to govern ourselves. As an
essential necessity we are obliged to govern others and to be
governed by them. This is our only warrant for the government of
others.

Now, I pray to know why a young maiden, when she approaches the
same age, may not have accorded to her the same protection of her
natural right that is accorded to the youth, and for the same
purpose. In the name of all womanhood, and of all manhood, I beg
to know why this may not be so? In the name of my own daughters
whose whispered words haunt the chambers of my soul, asking to
know why, if it is necessary for their brother to exercise this
right, it is not necessary for them? Nobody need to argue to a
father that his daughters are not the equals of his sons. I will
never tolerate hearing it said, that my son is born to empire and
sovereignty, while his sisters are born to be hidden away and
yarded up in some solitary desert place, as their proper sphere.
[Applause.] I do not propose to raise and educate my daughters to
keep them cooped up with their feet tied until some masculine
purveyor comes along with his market basket.

Oh! ye opponents of the rights of woman, why not be consistent.
If, as you say, she has not the capacity to choose or exercise
the elective franchise, why not choose for her in everything, and
impose upon her the husband of your choice? Don't you represent
her? You concede that the young woman has abundance of capacity
to choose her lord and master to whom she shall be delivered, and
yet she is not fit to vote for a constable. (Laughter.)

Be consistent, you who oppose us in this movement, and say she
shall not have anything to do with the selection of her husband.
If she is competent at an early age, in the vortex and whirlpool
of life, to select him to whom first, last, and always she shall
belong, may she not once in four years have the privilege of
voting for President without any great hazard? Think of it. Oh!
this terrible old question! We have been mining and drilling in
the earth's crust, and we have got finally to the last question,
or, rather, it has made its way to the surface. This question of
woman's suffrage and woman's right at last comes up for final
argument, and it will work its way along until it is definitely
determined. Indeed, I believe it is already settled.

To return to these constitutions, from which I mean not to wander
again. I said to you that these constitutions of the various
American States have recognized as older than themselves the
right of government. They have furnished the means, which were
also older than themselves, the exercise of the elective
franchise. They have not attempted to create and confer any right
to govern. They simply regulate it; and they are framed upon this
idea, that all people are equally entitled to govern themselves,
women and men, and would all govern themselves if some were not
excluded by the terms and provisions of these, their
constitutions. Take up the whole thirty-five that can be found in
the edition of 1864, and every one of them says that the elective
franchise shall be exercised by the _male_ white citizens. We
have got rid of the "white." We have finally given color to the
Constitution. (Laughter.) And, in getting rid of that "white," we
got rid of more than was probably intended at the time. Good does
get itself done by accident sometimes. It has to when bad men do
it. (Laughter and applause.) Why is this term "male" used in the
constitutions, pray? It was not by accident. Forty or fifty of
them would not use it, except by design. It was because every
mortal man knew when tinkering up a constitution that if he did
not put male in, females would vote. They had the right, and
there had to be a constitutional barrier erected to prevent their
exercise of it. Now, the thing which we have to do is either to
strike out this term "male," which, I trust, ladies (turning to
the ladies on the platform), is not particularly odious anywhere
else, except in the constitution.

Mrs. DAVIS and others--Not at all.

Mr. RIDDLE.--I repeat, that what we have to do is either to get
rid of this word "male," or to convince Congress, the courts, and
the rest of the world, that it is already gotten rid of, which, I
think, is easier. If it remains it can be put out in a very
summary way. It makes no difference in how many constitutions it
is found, nor in how many carefully considered statutes it has
been incorporated, for a single provision in the Constitution of
the United States is of that potency that instantaneously all
constitutions and all statutes are clarified of the exclusive
"male" principle, and that without other change or repeal.

And this brings me to the immediate question to be discussed, the
XIV. Amendment of the Constitution, which stands as the XIV.
Article. And you will understand that when the people or the
legislature speak by constitution or law, and use ordinary
language, that they mean what they say, and nobody can get up and
say they do not mean that, or that they mean something else.
There is nobody that can be heard for a moment to argue against
the plain, obvious, declared, well-ascertained meaning of words.
And when such words are used, it is the end of argument and of
construction. The great object to be achieved, so far as women
are concerned, is to bring them into the possession of the rights
of citizenship. "A person" is one thing, and naturally, "a
citizen" is something a little more. He or she is the creature of
a political compact, having the rights, the privileges, the
franchises of that particular political association, whatever
they are. A very ingenious, and at the same time a very
meritorious writer, recently, in overhauling these English
words--and it is a pretty good thing my honorable friends from
the two Houses of Congress are not to be referred to--but it is a
good thing for the rest of us who use words sometimes carelessly,
to see how Mr. Grant White says some of them should be used, and
what they really do mean. On page 100 of his recent work on
"Words and their Uses," which, so far as I know, has received the
highest commendation of the critics--in speaking of this term
"citizen," and how it is used, or rather how it is misused, says:

Citizen is used by some newspaper writers with what seems
like an affectation of the French usage of _citoyen_ in the
First Republic. For instance, "Gen. A. is a well-known
citizen." "Several citizens carried the sufferer," etc. The
writer might as well have said that the sufferer was carried
off by several church members or several "Freemasons." Now
mark, he says, that "a citizen is a person who has certain
political rights, and the word is properly used only to
imply or suggest the possession of those rights."

That is what we should use the term "citizen" for--apply it to a
naturalized person in possession of certain political franchises,
rights, and privileges. Thanking Mr. Grant White for that, let
us, in its light, read the first clause of the XIV. Amendment,
and see what it does say and mean. "Sec. 1st. All persons;" not
all male persons, nor all white persons, but "all persons born or
naturalized in the United States, subject to the jurisdiction
thereof, _are citizens_ of the United States, and of the States
where they reside." That is what they are. They are citizens.
That is, "persons," are "citizens," which means naturalized
persons, clothed and permeated with, surrounded by, and put in
possession of, citizenship.



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