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There is
nothing peculiar in the form of this proposition. All the
original steps which we took toward circumscribing slavery were
taken by engrafting provisos on the organic laws of Territories,
from Nebraska down, providing that the Territories, when
organized, should not do this or that affecting the liberty of
human beings. In the mode pursued by that legislation, and
according to those precedents, I now propose that the
Constitution shall be invoked; that women shall have the right in
this Territory which is guaranteed by the organic law.

Mr. STEWART.--If this region is to be created into a Territory, I
think it eminently proper that this amendment should be adopted.
The question of female suffrage is a question that is being
seriously considered by a large portion of the people of the
United States. We may think lightly of it here; we may think it
never will be accomplished; but there are a great many earnest
people who believe if females had the ballot they could better
protect themselves, be more independent, and occupy useful
positions in life which are now denied to them. Whether they be
correct or not, it is not necessary for us to determine in
passing upon this amendment. Here is a new Territory to be
created, and it is a good opportunity to try this experiment. If
it works badly, when the Territory becomes a State there is
nobody committed. It is not an amendment of the organic law of
the nation. This is a bill simply providing for the organization
of a Territory and for a preliminary government, and I should
like for one to see this experiment tried. It is suggested by my
friend on my right (Mr. Conkling) that it can not spread unless
it is catching. (Laughter.) If it works well, if it succeeds in
protecting females in their rights and enabling them to assert
their rights elsewhere and obtain such employment as is suitable
to them, I hope it will become catching and spread all over the
country, if that is the light in which it is to be treated. I am
in earnest about this matter. I think this new Territory is the
place to try the experiment. If it works badly, we can see it,
and no great harm will be done. If it works well, the example
will be a good one and will be imitated. We first tried the
experiment of negro suffrage in the District of Columbia, and it
became catching and spread all over the South. Now, when there is
a large portion of the people of the United States desirous of
having this principle illustrated, here is a fair field for the
illustration of it, that they may see and we may see, whether
there is anything in their arguments by the practical
illustration of them for a few years until this new Territory
shall become a State. I say let them have female suffrage there
and try it. If it works well, their arguments will be vindicated;
if it works badly, it need not be followed. I hope that the
Senator from Minnesota will consent that this shall become a part
of the law. Let us try it. It will do no harm.

Mr. BOREMAN.--I do not propose to enter into a discussion of the
question of the constitutionality or unconstitutionality of woman
suffrage, nor a discussion of the propriety or impropriety of the
adoption of a provision in favor of it upon this bill. I think
this is not a very good time to "try experiments," to use the
language of the Senator from Nevada, and I trust we may have a
vote upon this question.

The PRESIDING OFFICER (Mr. Ingalls in the Chair).--The question
is on the amendment proposed by the Senator from California.

Mr. SARGENT and Mr. SPRAGUE called for the yeas and nays, and
they were ordered.

Mr. MORTON.--I desire simply to state my views upon this
amendment; views long entertained. I am in favor of the amendment
on what I regard as the fundamental principles of our Government,
upon the theory upon which we have based our Government from the
beginning. The Declaration of Independence says:

We hold these truths to be self-evident, that all men are
created equal; that they are endowed by their Creator with
certain inalienable rights; that among these are life,
liberty, and the pursuit of happiness.

The word "men" in that connection does not mean males, but it
means the human family; that all human beings are created equal.
This will hardly be denied. I remember it was formerly contended
that the Declaration of Independence in this clause did not
include black people. It was argued learnedly and frequently, in
this Chamber and out of it, that the history surrounding the
adoption of that declaration showed that white men only were
intended. But that was not the general judgment of the people of
this country. It was held to embrace all colors and all races. It
embraces both sexes; not simply males, but females. All human
beings are created equal. That is the foundation principle of our
Government. It then goes on to say:

That, to secure these rights, governments are instituted
among men, deriving their just powers from the consent of
the governed; that, whenever any form of government becomes
destructive of these ends, it is the right of the people to
alter or abolish it, and to institute a new government,
laying its foundation on such principles, and organizing its
powers in such form, as to them shall seem most likely to
effect their safety and happiness.

If these rights are fundamental, if they belong to all human
beings as such, if they are God-given rights, then all persons
having these God-given rights have a right to use the means for
their preservation; the means is government: "To secure these
rights, governments are instituted among men, deriving their just
powers from the consent of the governed." I ask you whether the
women of this country have ever given their consent to this
Government? Have they the means of giving their consent to it?
The colored men had not given their consent to it. Why? Because
they had not the right to vote. There is but one way that the
consent to government can be given, and that is by a right to a
voice in that government, and that is the right to vote. I know
it was argued in times past in regard to the South that the
master gave the consent on the part of his slaves; that he
represented them; that he had their good at heart, and that he
gave their consent. We denied that. We know it was not true. Now,
sir, to come down to the main question, I ask if the women of
this country have given their consent to this Government? You say
they are consenting. I say they are assenting to it, the majority
of them; but they have no means of giving their consent to this
Government within the theory of the Declaration of Independence;
and they can not consent to it unless they have a voice, have a
right to vote "yes" or to vote "no."

What was the old theory of the common law? It was that the father
represented the interests of his daughter, the husband of his
wife, and the son of his mother. They were deprived of all legal
rights in a state of marriage, because it was said that they were
taken care of by those who stood to them in these relations; but
they never were taken care of. The husband never took care of the
rights of his wife at common law; the father never took care of
the rights of his daughter; the son never took care of the rights
of his mother. The husband at common law was a tyrant and a
despot. Why, sir, he absorbed the legal existence of his wife at
common law; she could not make a contract except as his agent.
Her legal existence was destroyed, and the very moment the
marriage was consummated he became the absolute owner of all her
personal property. What was the theory of it? The old theory of
the common law, as given in elementary writers, was that if the
wife was allowed to own property separate from her husband it
would make a distinct interest; it would break up and destroy the
harmony of the marriage relation; the marriage relation must be a
unit; there must be but one interest; and therefore the legal
existence of the wife must be merged into that of the husband. I
believe a writer as late as Blackstone laid it down that it would
not do to permit the wife to hold any property in severalty from
her husband, because it would give to her an interest apart from
his.

We have got over that. It took us one hundred and fifty years to
get past that, and from year to year in this country, especially
in the last twenty-five years, we have added to the rights of the
wife in regard to property and in many other respects. We now
give to her a legal status in this country that she has not in
England or in any European country. She has now a legal status
that she had not twenty-five years ago, and progress is still
going on in that direction. While it was argued by old
law-writers and old law-makers that to allow women to hold
property separate from their husbands was to break up the harmony
of the marriage relation, we know practically that it has not
worked that way. We know that as we have made woman independent,
recognized her legal existence as a wife, secured her rights, it
has elevated her. We know that instead of disturbing the marriage
relation, it has improved it constantly; and I believe that the
woman has the same natural right to a voice in this Government
that the man has. If we believe in the theory of our Government
that must be so.



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