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Any force this
argument may have it can only apply to the original text, and not
to the XIV. Amendment, which is of but recent date. But, as a
general principle, this theory is fallacious. It would stop all
political progress; it would put an end to all original thought,
and put the people under that tyranny with which the friends of
liberty have always had to contend--the tyranny of precedent.

From the beginning, our Government has been right in theory, but
wrong in practice. The Constitution, had it been carried out in
its true spirit, and its principles enforced, would have stricken
the chains from every slave in the republic long since. Yet, for
all this, it was but a few years since declared, by the highest
judicial tribunal of the republic, that, according to the
"general understanding," the black man in this country had no
rights the white man was bound to respect. General understanding
and acquiescence is a very unsafe rule by which to try questions
of constitutional law, and precedents are not infallible guides
toward liberty and the rights of man.

Without any law to authorize it, slavery existed in England, and
was sustained and perpetuated by popular opinion, universal
custom, and the acquiescence of all departments of the government
as well as by the subjects of its oppression. A few fearless
champions of liberty struggled against the universal sentiment,
and contended that, by the laws of England, slavery could not
exist in the kingdom; and though for years unable to obtain a
hearing in any British court, the Somerset case was finally tried
in the Court of King's Bench in 1771, Lord Mansfield presiding,
wherein that great and good man, after a long and patient
hearing, declared that no law of England allowed or approved of
slavery, and discharged the negro. And it was then judicially
declared that no slave could breathe upon the soil of England,
although slavery had up to that time existed for centuries, under
the then existing laws. The laws were right, but the practice and
public opinion were wrong.

It is said by the majority of the committee that "if the right of
female citizens to suffrage is vested by the Constitution, that
right can be established in the courts." We respectfully submit
that, with regard to the competency and qualification of electors
for members of this House, the courts have no jurisdiction. This
House is the sole judge of the election return and qualification
of its own members (article 1, section 5, of Constitution); and
it is for the House alone to decide upon a contest, who are, and
who are not, competent and qualified to vote. The judicial
department can not thus invade the prerogatives of the political
department. And it is therefore perfectly proper, in our opinion,
for the House to pass a declaratory resolution, which would be an
index to the action of the House, should the question be brought
before it by a contest for a seat. We, therefore, recommend to
the House the adoption of the following resolution:

_Resolved, by the House of Representatives_, That the right
of suffrage is one of the inalienable rights of citizens of
the United States, subject to regulation by the States,
through equal and just laws.

That this right is included in the "privileges of citizens of the
United States," which are guaranteed by section 1 of article XIV.
of Amendments to the Constitution of the United States; and that
women citizens, who are otherwise qualified by the laws of the
State where they reside, are competent voters for Representatives
in Congress.

WM. LOUGHRIDGE.
BENJ. F. BUTLER.
H. Rep. 22, pt. 2----2.

On January 20, 1871, in the House of Representatives, a bill for the
better government of the District of Columbia came up. The Hon. George
W. Julian, of Indiana, moved to strike out the word "male" in the
section providing who shall vote, and supported his amendment as
follows:

The establishment of universal male suffrage throughout the
United States was preceded by its establishment in the District
of Columbia and in the Territories. Following the same order, I
desire that the District of Columbia shall first enjoy the
further and full extension of the Democratic principle, by giving
the ballot to all the people here, irrespective of sex. I know of
no reason why this should not be done. I believe the question of
woman's rights necessarily involves the question of human rights.
The famous maxim of our fathers that "taxation without
representation is tyranny" applies not to one-half only, but to
the whole people. I am a Democrat in full of all demands, and I
can not, therefore, accept as a real democracy, or even a
republic, a government "half slave and half free."

Mr. Cook, of Illinois, who had charge of the bill, objected to
"cumbering it with such an amendment," and called the previous
question, which being sustained, cut off all debate. Mr. Julian then
called for the ayes and noes, thus making every man put himself square
on the record. The vote stood 55 ayes[141], 117 noes, 65 not voting.
The next day the House met for general debate, and Hon. Aaron A.
Sargent, of California, had an opportunity to express his views of the
Amendment, which he had not been able to do the previous day.

Mr. SARGENT: Mr. Speaker, if no other gentleman desires to
address the House, I will briefly remark that I was glad on
yesterday to have an opportunity to cast my vote in favor of the
proposition admitting the women of this District to the right of
suffrage. I believe the time is rapidly coming when all men will
conclude that it is no longer wise or judicious to exclude
one-half of the intelligence, and more than one-half of the
virtue of the people from the ballot-box. It is a matter of
congratulation that one-third of the members who were present
yesterday and voting, recorded their votes for that proposition.
It was a glorious commencement. I will not take up the time of
the House with any elaborate discussion of that proposition, but
content myself with the remark that I was very glad of the
opportunity to cast my vote for it. I trust the work thus
commenced will go on until fully successful. But I would like to
say further that I do not agree with those gentlemen who allege
that the women who advocate this movement are universally, or to
any considerable extent, desirous to unsettle family relations,
or that they would change the present honored form of union of
the sexes. I believe they embrace among their number, and largely
embrace, the best and purest women of the land, who will have an
influence growing year by year in favor of the recognition of the
rights of their sex. So may it be.

During Mr. Sargent's candidacy for the Senate the following autumn, a
California newspaper objected that he was in favor of woman's
suffrage, and called for a denial of the truth of the damning charge.
Mr. Sargent took no notice of it until a week or two later, when a
suffrage convention met in San Francisco; he then went before that
body and delivered a radical speech in favor of woman's rights, taking
the most advanced grounds. When he was through he remarked to a
friend, "They have my views now, and can make the most of them. I
would not conceal them to be Senator." This bold stand ended the
objection to him on the ground of his favor to woman's rights. He
opened the political campaign in 1874 before an immense audience in
Platt's Hall, San Francisco, by saying, as reported in the papers of
the day:

LADIES AND GENTLEMEN, FELLOW-CITIZENS: I trust the time is near
at hand when the phrase "fellow-citizens" will not need the
explanatory remark, "Ladies and gentlemen." I trust we are
nearing the day when our wives and daughters will share with us
in the duties and privileges of citizenship, and give expression
to their principles and views, not only indirectly by personal
influence, but at the ballot-box. I am in favor of this great
reform, and hail the day when it shall purify politics by the
influence of women exerted directly and legitimately at
elections.

The National Woman's Suffrage Association met in Apollo Hall, New
York, Anniversary Week, May 11, 1871. The audiences were large and the
speakers earnest.[142] Mrs. Griffing, the Corresponding Secretary of
the Association, thus summed up the closing events of the past year:

It now appears that under the Federal Constitution and its
Amendments, woman is entitled to equal rights of citizenship with
man; and as voting is a fundamental right of the citizen in a
free government, woman not only may, but should vote. The last
Woman Suffrage Convention, held in Washington, January, 1871,
called by Paulina W. Davis, J. S. Griffing, and I. B. Hooker, in
behalf of the women of the country, contemplated no new issue,
proposed only to discuss the XVI. Amendment, and a more thorough
system of education for the women of the country, through the
issue of a monthly series of tracts. With slight exception, this
programme would have been the order of the Convention, as it was
the indication of the call, had not the time arrived for the
bugle-note, calling all "to the front." Events of the hour at
once changed the direction of thought, and inaugurated a line of
movement for the practical enfranchisement of, and restoration to
woman, of her equal rights as an American citizen. A few days
previous to the time of holding this Convention, Mrs.



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