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Not one of these singly, nor all
collectively, form the ground-plan of this Nation. This Nation
stands upon the ballot, the self-governing power; it stands upon
the right of every person governed by the Nation to share in the
election of its rulers.

How can statesmen believe the Nation secure unless personal
rights are held inviolable? The National government has control
over money, currency, and national banks. It will not trust its
question of finance to individual States; shall it trust the
personal political rights of its citizens where it can not its
money? Is it not an anomaly that the lesser rights shall be held
by the Nation, the greater by the States?

In the case of the 10,000 naturalized citizens of Rhode Island,
and that of Susan B. Anthony and other women of New York and
elsewhere, who try to vote, there is one great dissimilarity. The
suffrage of the 10,000 is only regulated. As soon as each one
secures real estate to the small value of one hundred and
thirty-four dollars, he votes; but there women can never vote,
simply because they are _women_. Property amounts to nothing;
education amounts to nothing; even native-born citizenship
amounts to nothing; the ballot for them is not regulated but
prohibited because they were born women instead of men. Congress
would quickly waken up to an appreciation of its power over the
ballot, if under pretense of "regulating" suffrage, all the male
citizens of a State were denied the ballot simply because they
were men. The Nation would lose no time in deciding that a
regulation of a character not possible to overcome was not a
regulation, but a prohibition destructive of every natural right.
The word "deny" would be elucidated by able lawyers and
lexicographers. We should then be told that to deny pre-supposes
an existing right; that only positive rights can be denied, and
force of arms would be invoked to maintain the existence of those
rights.

The battle for suffrage is narrowed down to the meaning of
"privileges and immunities." Those who believe the consent of the
governed to be the fundamental principle of the Nation, define
"privileges and immunities" as the right of voting, which is the
only "consent." Thaddeus Stevens went so far as to affirm that
"inalienable rights" in the Declaration meant the ballot. Persons
who thus define "inherent rights" belong to the true national,
patriotic class. But others, deeply tinctured with belief in the
supreme right of States, declare "privileges and immunities" to
comprehend anything and everything except the ballot. Even some
good Republicans, contrary to the principles indorsed and
sustained by them in the war amendments, led by their prejudices
against acknowledging woman's right to self-government; have
declared that "privileges and immunities" merely signify civil
and legal rights, but not political. Such was the groundwork of
the argument of the Hon. Matt. Carpenter in the Myra Bradwell
case. What a farce! It declared at an early day that the United
States possessed the greatest trust ever confided to a "political
society." "Political society" is the foundation of our nation,
and our political trust is the ballot.

It has been said by a member of the present Congress that no man
in that body doubts that the Constitution authorizes women to
vote, precisely as it authorizes trial by jury and many other
rights guaranteed to the citizens of the United States, but that
in order to give them practical force there must be legislation;
that these guaranteed rights are not self-executing. This is a
fine legal quibble, stated for a purpose; but since legal minds
disagree upon this point, a caviller might say no law is
self-executing; all laws require enforcement. It may be said that
the Ten Commandments are not self-executing; yet though given to
Moses, not only as the underlying constitution of the Jewish
nation and all nations, they contain self-executing provisions,
bearing the penalties of their infraction within themselves. By
their simple statement they carry within themselves the authority
for their enforcement. The provision that the sun shall each day
rise and run its accustomed rounds is a self-executing provision,
until some Joshua vetoes this divine right of the sun.

The Constitution is the supreme law of the land, and no
difficulty should be found in executing its provisions. But
while, as aimed against the exercise of arbitrary power, we have
no objection to the passage of a declaratory law which shall make
plain to every United States judge, and to the most obtuse
inspector of election, that women are voters, we still claim that
the recent "Act for enforcing the XIV. Amendment" should protect
woman in the exercise of her rights of self-government.

Although the States ratified the XIII., XIV. and XV. Amendments
by the requisite two-thirds vote, they still find it difficult to
realize the fact that these amendments have actually strengthened
the National power. The Enforcement Act, and the previous law in
regard to frauds in voting, may be called definitions of these
last centralizing steps, but as yet neither amendments nor
definitions are fully comprehended. A Rhode Island lawyer
astutely said: "The people of the United States have not yet
awakened to a sense of the vast centralizing power hidden in the
XIV. Amendment." Opposition and struggles have already come, and
will continue to arise, but legislators may beat their brains as
they will, the fact of new National centralization still remains.
Though State power dies never so hard, die it must, as only
through reorganized National power can the political rights of
citizens of the United States be protected.

"Citizen suffrage" is to-day the battle-ground of "State Rights,"
and the denial of woman's constitutional right to vote, and of
National protection in voting, is the weapon it uses against the
Nation. This question of citizen suffrage is not a woman question
alone, but it is a question of the rights of citizenship
affecting every man in this wide land. Let us, then, have the
centralization which shall recognize the United States as the
supreme political power of the land, which shall no longer allow
the political rights of citizens of the United States to be the
plaything of thirty-seven petty legislatures, of thirty thousand
ambitious demagogues. Without this, our National experiment is a
failure; without this, we are not freemen, but slaves; without
this, we are neither protected nor self-protecting; without this,
centralized State power, under the specious name of "State
rights," will continue to be a many-headed monster, impossible to
overcome. Elect the President direct by the people, and for a
single term, if you will; take from him his immense official
patronage; base senatorship upon population, not upon State
sovereignty through legislative gift; limit the power of the
judiciary: these steps must come; make of the people in reality
what they now are in theory--sovereigns, not first of States, or
the Nation, but of themselves, possessing in themselves all
rights, all powers, whose exercise is only delegated to the
Nation as their servant.

The call[152] for the annual May Convention in New York announced the
interesting fact that it was the Twenty-fifth Anniversary of the Woman
Suffrage movement. The speakers[153] represented many of the far
Western States. Among the letters of interest was one from Madam
Mathilde Francisca Anneke, of Milwaukee, Wisconsin, who accompanied
her letter with a beautiful laurel wreath to be presented to the
founder of the Woman's Rights movement, the venerable Lucretia
Mott.[154] The resolutions embody the substance of the various
speeches made at that Convention. The following letters were read:

MY DEAR MISS ANTHONY:--Being detained from attending this very
important Convention, which celebrates twenty-five years of as
honest and glorious work as ever was done by man or woman upon
the face of the earth, permit me through yourself, as president
of the National Society, to address a few words to my
fellow-workers in the cause of political equality.

At first, let me beg you, my friends, one and all, to read the
report of the first Convention held at Seneca Falls, twenty-five
years ago, as I have just been doing for the third time, that you
may join me in heartfelt admiration of the distinguished women
who there enunciated a "declaration of sentiments" equal to the
old Declaration of Independence, and founded on a similar list of
grievances as those which provoked and justified the
Revolutionary war. Especially will you note the speech of a woman
there, hardly thirty years of age, which for philosophic
comprehension of the great truths of liberty and responsibility,
for patriotism and eloquence, has not been surpassed in the
history of our country. This alone should be sufficient to send
the name of Elizabeth Cady Stanton, side by side with the
grandest of our revolutionary statesmen, down to the latest
posterity.

The moving spirit of the occasion, however, we are told, was
Lucretia Mott, who spoke with her usual eloquence to a large and
intelligent audience on the subject of "Reform in General," and,
from time to time, during the numerous sessions of the
Convention, swayed the assembly by her beautiful and spiritual
appeals, and was the first to affix her name to this prophetic
and inspired "Declaration of sentiments"--an act which she will
tell you to-day, I trust, has brought to her more joy than,
perhaps, any other act of her life.

Had I the means, the printed report of this Convention should be
placed in the hands of every woman in the United States capable
of reading it and understanding its high import.



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