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In the opinion of the Committee, such
declaratory act is not authorized by the Constitution nor within
the legislative power of Congress. We therefore recommend the
adoption of the following resolution:

_Resolved_, That the prayer of the petitioner be not
granted, that the memorial be laid on the table, and that
the Committee on the Judiciary be discharged from the
further consideration of the subject.

Forty-first Congress, 3d Session, House of Representatives,
Report No. V., Part 2, Feb. 1, 1871, ordered to be printed.

Mr. LOUGHRIDGE, from the Committee on the Judiciary, submitted
the following as the view of the minority:

_In the matter of the Memorial of Victoria C. Woodhull, referred
by the House to the Committee on the Judiciary, the undersigned,
members of the Committee, being unable to agree to the report of
the Committee, present the following as their views upon the
subject of the Memorial:_

The memorialist sets forth that she is a native born citizen of
the United States, and a resident thereof; that she is of adult
age, and has resided in the State of New York for three years
past; that by the Constitution of the United States she is
guaranteed the right of suffrage; but that she is, by the laws of
the State of New York, denied the exercise of that right; and
that by the laws of different States and Territories the
privilege of voting is denied to all the female citizens of the
United States; and petitions for relief by the enactment of some
law to enforce the provisions of the Constitution, by which such
right is guaranteed.

The question presented is one of exceeding interest and
importance, involving as it does the constitutional rights not
only of the memorialist but of more than one-half of the citizens
of the United States--a question of constitutional law in which
the civil and natural rights of the citizen are involved.
Questions of property or of expediency have nothing to do with
it. The question is not "Would it be expedient to extend the
right of suffrage to women," but, "Have women citizens that right
by the Constitution as it is." A question of this kind should be
met fairly and investigated in that generous and liberal spirit
characteristic of the age, and decided upon principles of
justice, of right, and of law.

It is claimed by many that to concede to woman the right of
suffrage would be an innovation upon the laws of nature, and upon
the theory and practice of the world for ages in the past, and
especially an innovation upon the common law of England, which
was originally the law of this country, and which is the
foundation of our legal fabric. If we were to admit the truth of
this, it is yet no argument against the proposition, if the right
claimed exists, and is established by the Constitution of the
United States. The question is to be decided by the Constitution
and the fundamental principles of our Government, and not by the
usage and dogmas of the past. It is a gratifying fact that the
world is advancing in political science, and gradually adopting
more liberal and rational theories of government. The
establishment of this Government upon the principles of the
Declaration of Independence was in itself a great innovation upon
the theories and practice of the world, and opened a new chapter
in the history of the human race, and its progress toward perfect
civil and political liberty.

But it is not admitted that the universal usage of the past has
been in opposition to the exercise of political power by women.
The highest positions of civil power have from time to time been
filled by women in all ages of the world, and the question of the
right of woman to a voice in government is not a new one by any
means, but has been agitated, and the right acknowledged and
exercised, in governments far less free and liberal than ours. In
the Roman Republic, during its long and glorious career, women
occupied a higher position, as to political rights and
privileges, than in any other contemporaneous government. In
England unmarried women have, by the laws of that country, always
been competent to vote and to hold civil offices, if qualified in
other respects; at least such is the weight of authority. In
"Callis upon Sewers," an old English work, will be found a
discussion of the question as to the right of women to hold
office in England. The learned and distinguished author uses the
following language:

And for temporal governments I have observed women to have
from time to time been admitted to the highest places; for
in ancient Roman histories I find Eudocia and Theodora
admitted at several times into the sole government of the
empire; and here in England our late famous Queen Elizabeth,
whose government was most renowned; and Semiramis governed
Syria; and the Queen of the South, who came to visit
Solomon, for anything that appears to the contrary, was a
sole queen; and to fall a degree lower, we have precedents
that King Richard the First and King Henry the Fifth
appointed by commissions their mothers to be regents of this
realm in their absence in France.

But yet I will descend a step lower; and doth not our law,
temporal and spiritual, admit of women to be executrixes
and administratrixes? And thereby they have the rule or
ordering of great estates, and many times they are
guardianesses in chivalry, and have hereby also the
government of many great heirs in the kingdom and of their
own estates.

So by these cases it appeareth that the common law of this
kingdom submitted many things to their government; yet the
statute of justices of the peace is like to Jethro's counsel
to Moses, for there they speak of men to be justices, and
thereby seemeth to exclude women; but our statute of sewers
is, "Commission of sewers shall be granted by the King to
such person and persons as the lords should appoint." So the
word persons stands indifferently for either sex. I am of
the opinion, for the authorities, reasons and causes
aforesaid, that this honorable countess being put into the
commission of the sewers, the same is warrantable by the
law; and the ordinances and decrees made by her and the
other commissions of sewers are not to be impeached for that
cause of her sex.

And it is said by a recent writer:

Even at present in England the idea of women holding
official station is not so strange as in the United States.
The Countess of Pembroke had the office of sheriff of
Westmoreland and exercised it in person. At the assizes she
sat with the judges on the bench. In a reported case it is
stated by counsel and assented to by the court that a woman
is capable of serving in almost all the offices of the
kingdom.

As to the right of women to vote by the common law of England,
the authorities are clear. In the English Law Magazine for
1868-'69, vol. 26, page 120, will be found reported the case of
the application of JANE ALLEN, who claimed to be entered upon the
list of voters of the Parish of St. Giles, under the reform act
of 1867, which act provides as follows: Every man shall, in and
after the year 1868, be entitled to be registered as a voter, and
when registered to vote for a member or members to serve in
Parliament, who is qualified as follows: 1st. Is of full age and
not subject to any legal incapacity, etc., etc. It was decided by
the court that the claimant had the right to be registered and to
vote; that by the English law, the term man, as used in that
statute, included woman. In that case the common law of England
upon that question was fully and ably reviewed, and we may be
excused for quoting at some length:

And as to what has been said of there being no such adjudged
cases, I must say that it is perfectly clear that not
perhaps in either of three cases reported by Mr. Shaen, but
in those of Catharine _vs._ Surry, Coates _vs._ Lyle, and
Holt _vs._ Lyle, three cases of somewhat greater antiquity,
the right of women freeholders was allowed by the courts.
These three cases were decided by the judges in the reign of
James I. (A. D. 1612). Although no printed report of them
exists, I find that in the case of Olive _vs._ Ingraham,
they were repeatedly cited by the lord Chief Justice of the
King's Bench in the course of four great arguments in that
case, the case being reargued three times (7 Mod., 264), and
the greatest respect was manifested by the whole court for
those precedents. Their importance is all the greater when
we consider what the matter was upon which King James'
judges sitting in Westminster Hall had to decide. It was not
simply the case of a mere occupier, inhabitant, or scot or
lot voter. Therefore the question did not turn upon the
purport of a special custom, or a charter, or a local act of
Parliament, or even of the common right in this or that
borough. But it was that very matter and question which has
been mooted in the dictum of Lord Coke, the freeholder's
franchise in the shire, and upon that the decision in each
case expressly was, that a feme sole shall vote if she hath
a freehold, and that if she be not a feme sole, but a feme
covert having freehold, then her husband during her
coverture shall vote in her right.



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