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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. Victoria C.
Woodhull, of the City of New York, memorialized Congress for the
exercise of the elective franchise, which memorial was read in
the House of Representatives by Hon. George W. Julian, early
friend of the cause, referred to the Judiciary Committee and
ordered to be printed.

This action on the part of Mrs. Woodhull was taken without
consultation with, or even knowledge of the movers of the
Convention, and by unprecedented energy and great intelligence,
pressed upon the attention of both branches of Congress, upon the
plea that she was "born upon the soil and was subject to the
jurisdiction of the United States," and that as a citizen, she
desired a voice in legislation, through the only means in a free
government, that of a vote; and on this pivot she based her
demand. With some difficulty she obtained permission for a
hearing before the Judiciary Committee. Learning this important
step taken by Mrs. Woodhull, a stranger to the Convention, a
conference was held between the parties, resulting in a friendly
agreement, that with consent of the chairman of the Committee,
Mrs. I. B. Hooker, on the part of the Convention, should at the
same time, through a constitutional lawyer, Hon. A. G. Riddle,
ex-member of Congress, defend the memorialists (30,000 women)
whose names were already before Congress, asking to exercise the
right of the ballot.

Mrs. Woodhull spoke with power and marvelous effect, as though
conscious of a right unjustly withheld, and feeling a duty, she
was forbidden to do. Under the supreme law of the land, the
Constitution, and the XIV. and XV. Amendments thereto, she asked
equal protection to person, property, and full citizenship; in
response to this, the key-note, Mr. Riddle followed with an
unanswerable legal argument, sweeping away all laws of the United
States, and of any State, restricting woman in the right to vote,
as directly opposed to the supreme law of the land, as pointed
out in the XIV. and XV. Amendments to the Federal Constitution,
which he showed to be consonant with both the letter and spirit
of that instrument. He also suggested that the immediate action
of woman, as a citizen, might be found the most speedy method of
triumph. The result of this hearing, in the printed reports of
Judge Bingham and the majority, and of Judge Loughridge and Hon.
B. F. Butler, the minority of the Judiciary Committee, is already
before the country, and marks well the beginning of the end.

It was now clearly seen by the leaders of the movement that the
agitation of woman's wrongs and oppressions was no longer a
necessary part of the discussion. That in the statute books, and
above all, in the heart of God, a record of this was made, and
that henceforth woman's citizenship and full enfranchisement must
be declared. That under the supreme law of the land her right to
person, property, children, and full and equal citizenship must
be pronounced and admitted; and, finally, her duty to vote, and
through her highest capabilities, to assume a share of the
responsibility of the State, as she has already of the home, are
hereafter to be the legitimate theme of discussion till woman is
emancipated. These events and this decision indicated an
immediate want of a National Woman Suffrage and Educational
Committee, to carry forward measures for the speedy execution of
the work, and upon consultation with the experienced and wise men
and women of the Convention, and with the approval of all
well-wishers who were present, a committee, consisting of Mrs. I.
B. Hooker (Chairwoman), J. S. Griffing (Secretary), Mrs. M. B.
Bowen (Treasurer), Susan B. Anthony, Paulina Wright Davis, and
Ruth Carr Dennison, was organized in the City of Washington, D.
C., and the machinery set in operation to accomplish what is now
known as the work of that committee. For the temporary use of
this committee a part of the House of Education and Labor
Committee-room, through the marked kindness of Hon. Mr. Arnell,
Chairman of the Committee, was granted; afterward, the beautiful,
artistic House Agriculture Committee-room, also used for the
Committee on Manufactures, was generously proffered by the
chairmen of both, Hon. Mr. Morrell and Gen. Smith, and is still
retained.

Books are now opened for signatures to the new Declaration and
Pledge,[143] and the autographs of all women ready to exercise
the elective franchise. Thousands of tracts, constitutional
arguments of Mr. Riddle and Mrs. Woodhull, report of the minority
Judiciary Committee, and an address to the women of the United
States, are being sent to the whole country, carrying conviction
to the weak, force to the active, and hastening the consummation
of a triumph worthy of the struggle and undying faith of all who
have nobly borne their part in this history. The names of the
earnest women who took part in this Convention, and who
participated in the inauguration of the new issue, are recorded
in the books of the Committee; and now, only the funds--generous
and prompt contributions--are needed to respond to the call from
all the States and Territories for knowledge--either by voice or
pen--to complete a reconstruction of the government "of the
people, for the people and by the people," without arms,
court-martial, or bloodshed.

In this connection Mrs. Belva A. Lockwood's very able memorial to
Congress asking suffrage for the women of the District should be
mentioned. It was a well-sustained argument, showing the writer
to be mistress of her subject. Mrs. Lockwood is an efficient,
earnest, honest worker. She presented to Congress a large
petition, fully equal in numbers to the one presented by Mrs.
Dahlgren and Sherman, whose anti-suffrage petition and memorial
against it formed one of the peculiar features of the work of
last winter. Mrs. H. C. Spencer, of Washington, answered Mrs.
Dahlgren's pamphlet with a most admirable one entitled
"Problems," which has already had an extensive circulation, and
is more earnestly called for than any other, with the exception
of Mrs. Woodhull's constitutional argument, and Mr. Riddle's on
the same question. The meetings were held daily in the
committee-room during the entire session, and the interchange of
thought was often very interesting and encouraging.

[Illustration: Isabella Beecher Hooker.]

On the day of the adjournment of Congress Mrs. Hooker presented
thanks, in the name of the Committee, to such members of the
House as had been most active in serving our cause. She said:

GENTLEMEN: The National Woman Suffrage and Educational Committee
desire me to express to you their heartfelt thanks for the good
service you have rendered the whole woman movement by your
willingness to entertain, examine, and, in some instances,
advocate our new claim that we are already enfranchised under the
original Constitution and the XIV. and XV. Amendments.

To you, Mr. Julian, we are especially indebted, in that while you
were the first member of the House who introduced our claim to
the suffrage under the form of a XVI. Amendment, you were in the
front once more when a new issue was presented in the shape of
the "Woodhull Memorial." Your resolution asking the House "to
participate in the proceedings," by which two women citizens of
the United States "might present the moral and constitutional
argument in favor of the enfranchisement of the women citizens of
the United States, and in support of a memorial lately reported
upon by a majority and minority of the Judiciary Committee," was
in keeping with every other act of your public life, a protest
against injustice, a proposition looking toward perfect equality;
and we thank you for it in the name of the disfranchised millions
who will one day realize, as they now do not, the significance of
that act.

To you, Mr. Arnell, we owe not only the passage of "A bill to do
justice to the female employes of the Government," but the first
admission of women to this Capitol as citizens having common
rights with the ruling class in the use of buildings devoted to
the public service. In your committee-room we found not only a
home, but such courtesy, such opportunity for friendly
consultation with members of Congress upon subjects of deepest
political importance, as must forever silence the absurd charge
that men and women will cease to regard the decorums of life, to
interchange its happy civilities when they become equally
responsible for the welfare of the State.

To other gentlemen of the House we owe thanks also for their
co-operation with you in this manly service, especially to
General Wilson, of Ohio, to Mr. Morrill, of Pennsylvania, and
General Butler, of Massachusetts, who have, as chairmen of their
respective committees, offered us the use of their several rooms,
in case the threats of a certain gentleman in the House should so
terrify you, sir, that you should feel compelled to withdraw your
most friendly offer.



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