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In my opinion the
most speedy and certain victory will be acquired through the
political departments of the government, which are moulded and
controlled by the people, and which will always in the end
reflect the will of the people. You applied to Congress; although
not successful, yet the support you did receive was greater than
the most sanguine expected. Continue your efforts, persevere in
your determination, and in the end you will win, for you are
right, and the right always triumphs.

The ladies then shook hands with each of these gentlemen, and added a
few words of personal thanks, after which the committee adjourned.

That the position in regard to the rights of women under the XIV. and
XV. Amendments was still maintained is shown in the call[144] and
resolutions[145] as well as the speeches in the three days' convention
held in Lincoln Hall, Washington, in January, 1872.

One of the interesting episodes of this convention was the invitation
extended by the Association to certain non-believers to appear in open
session, and meet the champions of the cause in argument. Mrs. Gage
wrote an invitation[146] to Mrs. Dahlgren, which she most courteously
declined.[147] The idea was suggested to Mrs. Gage by the memorial
which Mrs. General Sherman and Mrs. Admiral Dahlgren had presented to
the Senate of the United States. Their petition was as follows:

TO THE U. S. SENATE AGAINST WOMAN SUFFRAGE.

We, the undersigned, do hereby appeal to your honorable body, and
desire respectfully to enter our protest against an extension of
suffrage to women; and in the firm belief that our petition
represents the sober convictions of the majority of the women of
the country. Although we shrink from the notoriety of the public
eye, yet we are too deeply and painfully impressed by the grave
perils which threaten our peace and happiness in these proposed
changes in our civil and political rights, longer to remain
silent.

_Because_, Holy Scripture inculcates a different, and for us
higher, sphere apart from public life.

_Because_, as women, we find a full measure of duties, cares, and
responsibilities devolving upon us, and we are therefore
unwilling to bear other and heavier burdens, and those unsuited
to our physical organization.

_Because_, we hold that an extension of suffrage would be adverse
to the interests of the workingwomen of the country, with whom we
heartily sympathize.

_Because_, these changes must introduce a fruitful element of
discord in the existing marriage relation, which would tend to
the infinite detriment of children, and increase the already
alarming prevalence of divorce throughout the land.

_Because_, no general law, affecting the condition of all women,
should be framed to meet exceptional discontent.

For these, and many more reasons, do we beg of your wisdom that
no law extending suffrage to women may be passed, as the passage
of such a law would be fraught with danger so grave to the
general order of the country.

[Signed by Mrs. General Sherman, Mrs. Admiral Dahlgren, and other
ladies to the number of 1,000.]

Mrs. Dahlgren presented a form of XVI. Amendment as follows:

SHERMAN-DAHLGREN XVI. AMENDMENT.

Congress shall have power to, and shall pass laws which shall be
uniform throughout the United States.

To regulate the transfer and descent of all kinds of property.

To regulate marriages and the registration of the same, and the
registration of births.

To regulate the right of dower and all rights and obligations of
married persons.

To regulate divorces and to grant alimony, but no divorces _a
vinculo matrimonii_ shall be granted, except for the cause of
adultery, and in such case the offending party shall not have the
privilege of marrying during the lifetime of the offended party.

In her opening remarks Mrs Stanton said:

This is the fourth convention we have held in Washington, and the
effect can hardly be estimated in the education of the American
people toward woman suffrage. I feel more anxious about how women
will vote than in their speedy enfranchisement. So many important
political questions are seen in the horizon that woman's
influence is needed to guide safely through all storms the ship
of state. We propose to change our tactics. Instead of
petitioning Congress for our rights we propose to settle the
question before the courts, unless Congress gives us the
declaratory act this winter, which I think they will. We have
reasoned for twenty-five years, and we now propose to take our
rights under the Constitution as it is. The people are beginning
already to discuss the fitting celebration for our centennial
anniversary. No grander step could mark that great national event
than to extend the right of suffrage to one half the citizens of
our republic.

The following letter was read at the morning session:

BROOKLYN, January 1, 1872.

MY DEAR MADAM: Your letter of December 30th, in which you invite
me to take part in the Washington convention in behalf of woman's
suffrage, is duly received.

I am engaged during the whole week with lectures in Massachusetts
and Maine. I can not say that I am so sanguine of the immediate
or new admission of women to the right of suffrage. But of its
ultimate accomplishment I have not a doubt, since justice and
expediency combine in requiring it. That manhood is, on the
whole, made better and stronger by a direct participation in the
duties, and responsibilities of active citizenship,
notwithstanding incidental evils, is becoming the sentiment of
the civilized world; nor is there any reason to doubt that, in
spite of temporary and incidental evils, the same advantages
would accrue to womanhood. In every wise and Christian movement
for the education and enfranchisement of woman I hope always to
be in sympathy. I am, respectfully, yours,

HENRY WARD BEECHER.


MR. BURLINGAME, of R. I., remarked:--I sympathize with this
movement. It commands my respect and admiration. I have come here
unexpected and unsolicited, because I think my wife and other
women should have the same rights as the colored man and
Irishman. I believe in this movement, because I believe it to be
right; it is the most important question of the times. The
speaker then reviewed the objections against female suffrage, and
pronounced them all weak, and closed with allusions to the many
heroic deeds of illustrious women now a part of history.

MRS. ISABELLA BEECHER HOOKER then presented the following report, in
relation to the work of the Association for the past year:

REPORT.

The work to be done in the future is precisely what has been
recommended during the past year by every member of the committee
in public and in private.

1. Women should attempt to qualify and attempt to vote in every
State election or otherwise, according to opportunity. This
action not only serves the purpose of agitation of the whole
question of suffrage, but it puts upon men, our brothers, the
onus of refusing the votes of their fellow citizens, and compels
them to show just cause for such proceeding. If it could be well
understood that every woman who believes that she has a right to
vote, would actually test her right by an appearance at the polls
before and at the next Presidential election, the question as to
nominees for that office would contain a new element, and the
views and preferences of this large constituency would receive
serious consideration at the hands of president-makers in both
the great parties of the country.

2. Women should study the question of their present rights and
duties, and make their views known in public and in private to
the utmost extent of their ability. In a time like this, when the
interests of our whole beloved country are at stake; when
political corruption is appalling, and men are paralyzed with
fear because of the threatened failure of republican
institutions, ignorance and indifference on the part of women,
who are the natural protectors of purity and honor, whether in
the family or the State, are sins against God, their country, and
their own souls.

3. Men and women should pour out money like water for the
propagation of these views. A copy of the Declaration of
Independence and of the Constitution of the United States,
together with an argument on the fair interpretation of these
documents, should be put into every family in the United States
which has a reading member in it. Your committee are able and
willing to send these documents directly into these homes--one at
a time, carefully directed and franked by members of Congress,
who believe they are making a patriotic and legitimate use of the
franking privilege by thus educating their constituents in the
first principles of a constitutional government--a government
founded upon personal liberty and personal responsibility. Half a
million dollars appropriated by Congress itself for this simple
purpose would inaugurate a reign of patriotism and purity
scarcely dreamed of as yet by the most powerful lovers of their
country. But Congress has not yet even printed the able reports
from the Judiciary Committee of the House, and the few copies we
have been able to send out have been the gift of a private
individual. Women must educate themselves--men must help them.
The latter hold the purse-strings; and so surely as they desire
peace, plenty, and the perpetuity of republican institutions,
they must see to it that women are supplied with the sinews of
war.



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