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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. I believe that as you make woman the equal of
man in regard to civil rights, rights of property, rights of
person, political rights, you elevate her, you make her happier;
and as you do that you elevate the male sex also.

This idea that women will be degraded by allowing them to go to
the polls comes down to us from other countries and from remote
periods of civilization. Why, sir, in countries now that claim to
be civilized it is said that to allow the wife or the mother to
go to the dinner-table with the husband and meet his guests face
to face degrades her and degrades them. In some countries a woman
must not appear on the streets unless she is so closely veiled
that she can not be recognized; for it is said to allow her to go
upon the streets barefaced or so thinly veiled that she can be
recognized, subjects her to insult and degrades her; and in some
countries to-day it destroys her character as effectually as
other things would destroy her character in our country. We know
that is a prejudice; and the idea that woman will be degraded by
giving her the right of suffrage is a remnant of that same idea.
It is born of the same parentage. It has no sounder reason for it
than these other nations have. I believe that to give women the
right of suffrage would elevate the character of suffrage in this
country. It would make the polls more decent, more respectable
than they are now. Why, sir, fifty years ago the idea of women
attending political meetings was intolerable to a great many
people. The idea of her going to lectures of a scientific
character was thought to be out of all reason. But now women go
to political meetings. In almost every canvass in my State there
are nearly as many women who attend the meetings as men. What is
the effect of it? Are they degraded? On the contrary, their
presence elevates the character of those meetings. It is an
assurance of peace, it is a security against rowdyism and
violence, because in this country men have to be very low if they
are guilty of rowdyism or blackguardism in the presence of women.
We have a habitual respect for them; and I can testify from my
own experience in politics that the attendance of women upon
political meetings, so far from degrading them or affecting men
injuriously, has elevated the character of political assemblages,
has made them more respectable, has secured to them immunity from
violence, and from degrading scenes and blackguardism, and so it
will be at the polls. When a woman is allowed to go to the polls
and vote her sentiments and convictions, it will have the same
effect there that her presence has in society. There is not a bit
of doubt about it. And there will be no more discord in the
family circle than there was when, in violation and against the
old principles of the common law, you gave a woman the right to
retain her legal existence after marriage and to own property
separate and apart from her husband. These old notions have been
giving away one after another little by little, and we shall
finally come down to the true theory of our Government in all
respects, and that is to allow every person, man or woman, who is
to be affected and controlled by the Government, whose interest
or whose happiness is to be controlled by or depends on the
administration of that Government, to have an equal voice in that
Government. Therefore I give my vote heartily and cheerfully for
this amendment.

Mr. FLANAGAN.--I confess, sir, that I was delighted when my
distinguished friend from California presented this amendment.
Unlike my distinguished friend from Indiana, however, I am a new
convert to this doctrine. He has been of this opinion long since,
I am gratified to learn. I have reflected much on this subject,
and within the last few months I have settled down in my
determination, and that is to advocate this great measure. Why
have I so recently arrived at that conclusion? In the last few
months the women's war upon the whisky trade and intemperance at
large has prompted me thus to declare unequivocally for them and
their glorious efforts. It is from them and with them that I
hope, judging from their success up to this time, to save this
great Nation from the worst curse known to the human family, that
of intemperance; and I believe it is they and only they through
Almighty God who can do it. Man has been found incompetent and
unable to perform that great and desired object. And gratified am
I to receive the idea from my distinguished friend, that if women
had the right to vote they would not be expelled from many
pursuits as they now are, or be compelled to go upon the streets
as they now are, seeking in self-defense the preservation of man.
The effect of this measure on politics has been so well described
by the distinguished Senator from Indiana that I need not comment
upon that branch of the subject. They would tend to purify the
atmosphere morally, either at the ballot-box or anywhere else, I
care not where it may be. They are more directly interested in
good morals, in the temperance of the world and everything
bearing on that line, than the husbands are. I think it is a
right they are entitled to in every sense of the word, and from
this time henceforth I am a woman's rights man.

Mr. MERRIMON.--Mr. President, I will not yield to any Senator in
the measure of my respect for and admiration of woman; I do not
propose by any act or word of mine to detract from her dignity or
to diminish the pleasures she may enjoy in this life; but I claim
the right to be the judge, in conjunction with herself, of what
is best calculated to elevate and protect her dignity and promote
her happiness. I do not believe that woman herself believes that
her dignity would be elevated or her happiness promoted by
putting her upon an exact equality, civilly or politically, in
both points of view, with man; and very strong and controlling
evidence of that fact is, that neither in this country nor in any
country has woman--I mean the great mass of them--ever demanded
such a state of things. Our Government has existed for about a
hundred years, and the number of females who have demanded to be
invested with equal political and civil rights and to be placed
upon an exact equality with the male portion of our population,
compared with those who have remained in retirement, who have
staid at their homes and lived and ruled within that sphere in
which it seems God intended that they should rule, is as a drop
in the sea. So it appears in this conclusive way that the women
of America do not demand this state of things. They do not
protect themselves by votes, nor do they need to do so. They
shape the man when he is a child, rule him with the power of
love, and thus they shape, affect, and often control the
destinies of men, nations, and empires. I do not propose,
however, to go into a discussion in detail of what the women
desire or what we ought to grant. My main purpose is to reply
very briefly to some remarks that fell from the honorable Senator
from Indiana [Mr. Morton] in reference to the Declaration of
Independence. I differ, with all respect, from the revolutionary
construction which he puts upon that instrument. It is true, as
he says, that the Declaration of Independence provides in these
words:

[Illustration: Ellen Clark Sargent.]

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.

Now, I maintain in the first place that we must put a reasonable
construction on those words. Plainly, to my mind, all men are
created equal in point of natural rights, certainly not equal in
point of civil rights, not equal in point of political rights. By
nature man has no civil or political rights. Natural rights are
one sort of rights; civil rights are another sort of rights; and
political rights are a third sort of rights. Every human being
has a natural right to life and liberty; but every human being
has not a natural right to government. He has not a natural right
to the civil rights conferred and defined by a system of
government. When he becomes subject to civil government he
surrenders a part of his natural rights--agrees that civil
government may regulate these and then enjoys the benefit of
civil rights conferred by civil government; but then he does not
thereby necessarily become entitled to political rights. He can
not become entitled to political rights until they shall be
conferred upon him by government.

Mr. MORTON.--Will the Senator cite what follows?

Mr. MERRIMON.--When our fathers adopted the Declaration of
Independence, and declared these general truths, they had
reference to the natural rights of man, and only to those rights.
They well knew the distinctions to which I have adverted, had
them in view and acted upon them, as I shall now proceed to show.

Mr. MORTON.--It says that "to secure these rights" referred to,
the right of life, liberty, and the pursuit of happiness,
"governments were instituted which derive their just powers from
the consent of the governed." Now, I ask if women are a part of
"the governed?"

Mr.



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