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There have been many shorter cuts to liberty than
this is likely to be, even with a declaratory act at this
session. Why multiply amendments when we have liberty and justice
enough in the spirit and letter of the Constitution as it now is
to protect every citizen under this Government?

The simple opinion of a Chief Justice, a century ago, without any
change in legislation, settled in one hour as great a question of
human rights as we now submit to your consideration. Lord
Mansfield, presiding in the Court of Queen's Bench, listening to
the arguments in the fatuous Somerset case, with higher light and
knowledge, suddenly awoke to the truth that by the laws of
England, a slave could not breathe on that soil, and he so
decided, and the negro was discharged. Slavery was abolished in
Massachusetts in the same way, without any amendment of her
constitution or new legislation, simply by the decision of her
Chief Justice. So you perceive, honorable gentlemen, we have two
precedents for the "short cut" we propose to liberty.

2d. Some object that it was not the "intention" of the framers of
the original Constitution, nor of the amendments, to enfranchise
woman. When ordinary men, in their ordinary condition, talk of
the "intentions" of great men specially inspired to utter great
political truths, they talk of what they can not know or
understand. When by some moral revolution men are cut loose from
all their old moorings and get beyond the public sentiment that
once bound them, with no immediate selfish interest to
subserve--as, for instance, our fathers in leaving England, or
the French Communes in the late war--in hardship and suffering
they dig down to the hard-pan of universal principles, and in
their highest inspirational moments proclaim justice, liberty,
equality for all.

Visiting Chicago not long since, I saw great pieces of rock of
the most wonderful mineral combination--gold, silver, glass,
iron, layer after layer, all welded beautifully together, and
that done in the conflagration of a single night which would have
taken ages of growth to accomplish in the ordinary rocky
formations. Just so revolutions in the moral world suddenly mould
ideas, clear, strong, grand, that centuries might have slumbered
over in silence; ideas that strike minds ready for them with the
quickness and vividness of the lightning's flash. It is in such
ways and under such conditions that constitutions and great
principles of jurisprudence are written; the letter and spirit
are ever on the side of liberty; and highly organized minds,
governed by principle, invariably give true interpretations;
while others, whose law is expediency, coarse and material in all
their conceptions, will interpret law, Bible, constitution,
everything, in harmony with the public sentiment of their class
and condition. And here is the reason why men differ in their
interpretations of law. They differ in their organizations; they
see everything from a different standpoint. Could ideas of
justice, and liberty, and equality be more grandly and
beautifully expressed than in the preamble to our Federal
Constitution?

It is an insult to those Revolutionary heroes to say that, after
seven years' struggle with the despotic ideas of the old world,
in the first hour of victory, with their souls all on fire with
new-found freedom, they sat down like so many pettifogging
lawyers, and drew up a little instrument for the express purpose
of robbing women and negroes of their inalienable rights. Does
the preamble look like it? Women did vote in America, at the time
the Constitution was adopted. If the framers of the Constitution
meant they should not, why did they not distinctly say so? The
women of the country, having at last roused up to their rights
and duties as citizens, have a word to say as to the "intentions"
of the fathers. It is not safe to leave the "intentions" of the
Pilgrim fathers, or the Heavenly Father, wholly to masculine
interpretation, for by Bible and Constitution alike, women have
thus far been declared the subjects, the slaves of men.

But able jurists tell us that the "intention" of the framers of a
document must be judged by the letter of the law. Following this
rule the Supreme Court of the District of Columbia has decided
that the XIV. Amendment does affect the status of women; that it
advances them to full citizenship, and clothes them with the
capacity to become voters. The exact language of Judge Cartter,
who spoke for the court, is as follows:

All that has been accomplished by this amendment to the
Constitution, or its previous provisions, is to distinguish
them (women) from aliens, and make them capable of becoming
voters. In giving expression to my judgment, this clause
does advance them to full citizenship, and clothes them with
the capacity to become voters.

If so much has been done, we have already gone beyond the
"intention" of the framers of the amendments, if, as some say,
they did not intend to touch the status of woman at all. But with
or without intent, a law stands as it is written--"_Lex ita
scripta est_." The true rule of interpretation, says Charles
Sumner, under the National Constitution, especially since its
additional amendments, is that anything for human rights is
constitutional. "No learning in the books, no skill in the
courts, no sharpness of forensic dialectics, no cunning in
splitting hairs, can impair the vigor of the constitutional
principle which I announce. Whatever you enact for human rights
is constitutional, and this is the supreme law of the land,
anything in the constitution or laws of any State to the contrary
notwithstanding."

SUSAN B. ANTHONY said--_Gentlemen of the Judiciary Committee_: It
is not argument nor Constitution that you need; you have already
had those. I shall therefore refer to existing facts. Prior to
the war the plan of extending suffrage was by State action, and
it was our boast that the National Constitution did not contain a
word that could be construed into a barrier against woman's right
to vote. But at the close of the war Congress lifted the question
of suffrage for men above State power, and by the amendments
prohibited the deprivation of suffrage to any citizen by any
State. When the XIV. Amendment was first proposed in Congress, we
rushed to you with petitions, praying you not to insert the word
"male" in the second clause. Our best woman-suffrage men, on the
floor of Congress, said to us the insertion of the word there
puts up no new barrier against woman; therefore do not embarrass
us, but wait until the negro question is settled. So the XIV.
Amendment, with the word "male," was adopted. Then, when the XV.
Amendment was presented without the word "sex," we again
petitioned and protested, and again our friends declared to us
that the absence of that word was no hindrance to us, and again
they begged us to wait until they had finished the work of the
war. "After we have freed the negro, and given him a vote, we
will take up your case." But have they done as they promised?
When we come before you, asking protection under the new
guarantees of the Constitution, the same men say to us our only
plan is to wait the action of Congress and State Legislatures in
the adoption of a XVI. Amendment that shall make null and void
the insertion of the word "male" in the XIV., and supply the want
of the word "sex" in the XV. Such tantalization endured by
yourselves, or by any class of men, would have wrought rebellion,
and in the end a bloody revolution. It is only the friendly
relations that exist between the sexes that has prevented any
such result from this injustice to women.

Gentlemen, I should be sure of your decision could you but
realize the fact that we, who have been battling for our rights,
now more than twenty years, have felt, and now feel, precisely as
you would under such circumstances. Men never do realize this.
One of the most ardent lovers of freedom (Senator Sumner), said
to me, two winters ago, after our hearing before the Committee of
the District, "Miss Anthony, I never realized before that you, or
any woman, could feel the disgrace, the degradation, of
disfranchisement precisely as I should if my fellow-citizens had
conspired to take from me my right to vote." We have petitioned
for our rights year after year. Although I am a Quaker and take
no oath, yet I have made a most solemn "affirmation" that I would
never again beg my rights, but that I would come up to Congress
each year, and demand the recognition of them under the
guarantees of the National Constitution.

What we ask of the Republican party, is simply to take down its
own bars. The facts in Wyoming show how a Republican party can
exist in that Territory. Before women voted, there was never a
Republican elected to office; after their enfranchisement, the
first election sent a Republican to Congress, and seven
Republicans to their Territorial Legislature. Thus the nucleus of
a Republican party there was formed by the enfranchisement of
women. The Democrats seeing this, are now determined to again
disfranchise the women. Can you Republicans so utterly stultify
yourselves, can you so entirely work against yourselves, as to
refuse us a Declaratory Law? Can you longer deny us the
protection we ask? We pray you to report immediately, as Mrs.
Hooker has said, "favorably, if you can, adversely, if you must."
We can wait no longer.

In the House, on January 24, 1872, the following discussion took
place:

Mr.



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