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For we can wait no
longer. We feel that we have neglected our duty already, else
what means this appalling official corruption that is bringing
dismay to the stoutest hearts among men, and leading them to
doubt the wisdom of republican institutions, the strength of the
great doctrines of liberty and responsibility on which our
Government is founded? We do not doubt these great doctrines, we
know what they mean and whereto they tend. Our Ship of State
carries two engines, gentlemen, and was built for them, but
heretofore you have used only one, and now you have reached the
place where not only two seas meet, but all ocean currents are
struggling together for the mastery. The man power alone will not
save you, but put on the woman power, and our gallant ship will
steady itself for a moment, and then ride the waves triumphantly
forevermore.

Gentlemen, we come to you with petitions no longer. Here is our
declaration and pledge, issued a year ago this day, signed
already by thousands of women, and eager names are coming every
day. (Mrs. H. read the pledge and exhibited the great autograph
book.)

We did hope to present this to Congress itself in the Senate
Chamber to-day. We believe that women, being unrepresented in
that body, are entitled to appear there by their memorialists in
person, and we have so asked. But Congress has referred us to
you, and you have declined even to submit our proposition
officially to that body. You find no precedent for this, you
say--forgetting, gentlemen, that history makes its own
precedents. The men of America made theirs in 1776; the women of
America are making theirs to-day, and may God prosper the right.

Mrs. STANTON said: _Gentlemen of the Judiciary Committee_: We
appear before you at this time to call your attention to our
memorial asking for a "declaratory act" that shall protect women
in the exercise of the right of suffrage. Benjamin F. Butler,
early in the session, presented a bill in the House to this
effect that may soon, in the order of legislation, come before
you for consideration in the Senate of the United States. As you
well know, women are demanding their rights as citizens to-day
under the original Constitution, believing that its letter and
spirit, fairly interpreted, guarantee the blessings of liberty to
every citizen under our flag. But more especially do we claim
that our title deed to the elective franchise is clearly given in
the XIV. and XV. Amendments. Therein for the first time, the
Constitution defines the term citizen, and, in harmony with our
best lexicographers, declares a citizen to be a person possessed
of the right to vote. In the last year the question of woman's
political status has been raised from one of vague generalities
to one of constitutional law.

The Woodhull memorial, and the able arguments sustaining it made
by Mr. Riddle and Mrs. Woodhull herself, and the exhaustive
minority report of Messrs. Butler and Loughridge, have been
before the nation for one year, and yet remain unanswered; in
fact, the opinions of many of our most learned judges and lawyers
multiplying on all sides, sustain the positions taken in the
"Woodhull Memorial." As our demands are based on the same
principles of constitutional interpretation, I will not detain
you with the re-statement of arguments already furnished, but
will present a few facts and general principals showing the need
of some speedy action on this whole question.

Gentlemen hold seats in Congress to-day by the votes of women.
The legality of the election of Mr. Garfield, of Washington
Territory, and Mr. Jones, of Wyoming, involves the question
whether or not their constituents are legal voters. Ultimately,
this question, involving the fundamental rights of citizens, must
be considered in the Senate as well as the House. Women have
voted in the general elections in several of the States, and if
legislators chosen by women choose Senators, their right to their
seats can not be decided until it is first decided whether women
are legal voters. Some speedy action on this question is
inevitable, to preserve law and order.

In some States women have already voted; in others they are
contesting their rights in the courts, and the decisions of
judges differ as widely as the capacities of men to see first
principles.

Judge Howe, Judge Cartter, and Judge Underwood have given their
written opinions in favor of woman's citizenship under the XIV.
and XV. Amendments. Even the majority report of the Judiciary
Committee, presented by John A. Bingham, though adverse to the
prayer of Victoria Woodhull, admits the citizenship of woman. In
the late cases of Sarah Spencer against the Board of
Registration, and Sarah E. Webster against the superintendent of
election, the judge decided that under the XIV. Amendment women
are citizens.

We do not ask to vote outside of law, or in open violation of it,
nor to avail ourselves of any strained interpretations of
constitutional provisions, but in harmony with the Federal
Constitution, the Declaration of Independence, and our American
theory of just government. The women of this country and a
handful of foreign citizens in Rhode Island, the only
disfranchised classes, ask you to-day to secure to them a
republican form of government to protect them against the
oppression of State authorities, who, in violation of your
amendments, assume the right not merely to regulate the suffrage,
but to abridge and deny it to these two classes of citizens. The
Federal Constitution, in its Amendment, clearly defines, for the
first time, who are citizens: "All persons born or naturalized in
the United States, and subject to the jurisdiction thereof, are
citizens of the United States, and of the States wherein they
reside."

No one denies that "all persons," in the XIV. Amendment, is used
without limitation of sex, or in other words, that not men only,
but women also are citizens. Whether in theory the citizenship of
women is generally admitted or not, it certainly is in practice.
Women pre-empt land; women register ships; women obtain
passports; women pay the penalty of their own crimes; women pay
taxes, sometimes work out the road tax. In some States, even
married women can make contracts, sue and be sued, and do
business in their own names; in fact, the old Blackstone idea
that husband and wife are one, and that one the husband, received
its death blow twenty years ago, when the States of New York and
Massachusetts passed their first laws securing to married women
the property they inherited in their own right.

You may consider me presumptuous, gentlemen, but I claim to be a
citizen of the United States, with all the qualifications of a
voter. I can read the Constitution, I am possessed of two hundred
and fifty dollars, and the last time I looked in the old family
Bible I found I was over twenty-one years of age.

"Individual rights," "Individual conscience and judgment," are
great American ideas, underlying our whole political and
religious life. We are here to-day to ask a Congress of
Republicans for that crowning act that shall secure to 15,000,000
women the right to protect their persons, property, and opinions
by law. The XIV. Amendment, having told us who are citizens of
the republic, further declares that "no State shall make or
enforce any law which shall abridge the 'privileges or
immunities' of 'citizens' of the United States." Some say that
"privileges and immunities" do not include the right of suffrage.
We answer that any person under Government who has no voice in
the laws or the rulers has his privileges and immunities abridged
at every turn, and when a State denies the right of suffrage, it
robs the citizen of his citizenship and of all power to protect
his person or property by law.

Disfranchised classes are ever helpless and degraded classes. One
can readily judge of the political status of a citizen by the
tone of the press. Go back a few years, and you find the Irishman
the target for all the gibes and jeers of the nation. You could
scarce take up a paper without finding some joke about "Pat" and
his last bull. But in process of time "Pat" became a political
power in the land, and editors and politicians could not afford
to make fun of him. Then "Sambo" took his turn. They ridiculed
his thick skull, woolly head, shin-bone, long heel, etc., but he,
too, has become a political power; he sits in the Congress of the
United States and in the Legislature of Massachusetts, and now
politicians and editors can not afford to make fun of him.

Now, who is their target? Woman. They ridicule all alike--the
strong-minded for their principles, the weak minded for their
panniers. How long think you the New York _Tribune_ would
maintain its present scurrilous tone if the votes of women could
make Horace Greeley Governor of New York? The editor of the
_Tribune_ knows the value of votes, and if, honorable gentlemen,
you will give us a "Declaratory law," forbidding the States to
deny or abridge our rights, there will be no need of arguments to
change the tone of his journal; its columns will speedily glow
with demands for the protection of woman as well as broadcloth
and pig-iron. Then we might find out what he knows and cares for
our real and relative value in the Government.

Without some act of Congress regulating suffrage for women as
well as black men, women citizens of the United States who, in
Washington, Utah, and Wyoming Territories, are voters and jurors,
and who, in the State of Kansas, vote on school and license
questions, would be denied the exercise of their right to vote in
all the States of the Union, and no naturalization papers,
education, property, residence, or age could help them.



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