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An amendment is in order on this bill to try it here. We
have confessedly in this District, exceptionally in this District
the entire power upon this question; and if the Senator is in
earnest, knowing as he does that under the organic law, of which
as a member of the committee of investigation he has learned so
much, voting is to be done and is now committed exclusively to
men and denied to women, I beg him to state some broader and
better answer to the question why he does not try it here. And
let me remind him at the same time that under the rules of the
Senate an amendment is in order to this bill; he need not go
beyond this bill in order to insure the right in the District of
Columbia.

Mr. STEWART.--Inasmuch as the Senator from New York has
designated me as the leader whom he is to follow, and I take it
for granted he is in earnest in his question, I shall occupy the
time of the Senate briefly in answering it. When the question
arises for suffrage at all in this District, with my present
ideas, I shall vote for female suffrage in this District. I was
saying that I do not think there need be any popular voting at
all in this District by males or females, for the reason that the
great mass of people here are merely sojourners. I think we
should govern the District directly by the Congress of the United
States, that can pass all needful laws. When the question comes
up properly as to the District, it will be time enough to meet
it. Here is the question directly up as to a Territory, and there
is no doubt about this being a good opportunity.

Mr. CONKLING.--I beg to inquire when ever in time or eternity
that question will come up here, unless some champion who has the
courage and genius of my friend brings it up? Who shall bring it
up if he refuses to do it? And when a bill is pending to which
that amendment is appropriate, and his attention is called to it,
if he flinches, if he goes back, who shall we hope for to come
hereafter who will break a lance in such a cause? I say to him
that unless he wants to discourage me and other men of less
courage who are trying to follow him, he must not flinch by
saying that he can not do anything about it until it comes on a
motion to bring it up. He should bring it up himself.

Mr. STEWART.--The only fear I have as to the Senator from New
York is that he will not have sufficient courage to follow.
(Laughter.) The question is up now. The question is squarely up
on this amendment whether we will allow the females in this
distant Territory to vote. I propose to vote for it. He has said
that I was his leader. The only question now is whether he has
the courage to follow my lead, I following the lead of the
Senator from California. I want to put his courage to the fullest
test now. I only ask him to follow me in this one little step. If
he breaks down here, I hope he will not say any thing more about
it; and I am afraid he will. I will say to him, however, that the
time will come when he will look very much astonished if anybody
questions the right of a female to vote; and when that time
comes, I shall never mention his past record to him because I do
not mention unpleasant things to gentlemen. I say that for his
benefit in case he should not do the gallant thing he proposes to
do of following me, I following the lead of the Senator from
California. The question is squarely up, and is nothing more than
this: will you give women a chance to try this experiment where
it is admitted it can do no harm, and where a large portion if
not a majority of the people of the United States believe it will
do a great good? Try this experiment there; and if the struggle
which is inaugurated there shall spread over the country as the
struggle that was inaugurated in Kansas spread over the country
and finally terminated in the colored man having full rights, if
it should have full effect on the rest of the country, so be it.
I rather think it will.

Mr. MERRIMON.--In the discussion in which I engaged, I was more
anxious about the principle involved than I was about the
particular amendment, and therefore I hardly mentioned it in the
hasty argument which I submitted. In order to support my position
now, I desire to read a report from the Judiciary Committee which
embraces the very subject under discussion, the question of the
power of the State governments and the Federal Government to
abridge the right to vote and hold office. The subject came
before that committee in the way of a petition of certain
citizens of the State of Rhode Island who insisted that their
rights as citizens of the United States were abridged--

Mr. STEWART.--Will the Senator allow me to ask him a question?

Mr. MERRIMON.--Certainly.

Mr. STEWART.--Suppose the American people come to the conclusion
that it is right that females should vote, does not the Senator
think there will be plenty of ways to accomplish it
notwithstanding that report of the Judiciary Committee?

Mr. MERRIMON.--O yes, I think so; but I do not care to debate
that. My object was to throw light on this question. I do not
want a wrong construction put upon the powers of the Government
at this day. It is important that we should be upon the right
line and keep upon it; and with a view to strengthen my argument
I ask the Clerk to read the report which I send to the desk. It
is very brief; and I beg leave to say now that it is well known
to the Senate and must be known to the country that this
committee embraces the ablest lawyers in this country on
constitutional law.

The CHIEF CLERK read the following report submitted by Mr.
EDMUNDS on the 26th of May, 1870:

The Committee on the Judiciary, to whom was referred the
petition of citizens of Rhode Island setting forth, by
reference, the XIV. and XV. Articles of Amendment to the
Constitution of the United States, and stating that, "the
State of Rhode Island, notwithstanding the provisions of the
above-named amendments, persists, in and by the first
section of article 2 of the constitution of said State, in
denying and abridging the right of about 10,000 citizens of
the United States to vote at any and all elections holden in
said State," and praying that Congress will "pass such
appropriate legislation as may be found necessary to obtain
for, and secure to, the citizens of the United States
resident in Rhode Island all the rights, privileges, and
immunities guaranteed to them by the Constitution of the
United States," respectfully report:

That the constitution of Rhode Island, adopted in 1842,
prescribes two alternative classes of qualifications for
voting. The first gives to _all_ male citizens of the United
States of a certain age, etc., the right to vote, if they
own real estate of the value of $134, or which shall rent
for $7 per annum. The second gives to every male _native_
citizen of the United States of a certain age, etc., the
right to vote, if he pays a tax of $1 a year, etc., although
he may not own real estate. No man or party has ever
questioned the right of the people of Rhode Island and of
every other State to establish such a constitution of
government as maybe agreeable to their views of the public
welfare in that State, although its provision as to suffrage
may not conform to the opinions of other States. At the time
when this constitution of Rhode Island was adopted the right
to regulate the qualifications of voters belonged
exclusively to the respective States. The petition under
consideration fully recognizes this, but it raises the
question (although studiously framed in such a manner as not
to declare or insist upon such a conclusion) whether, by the
XIV. and XV. Amendments to the Constitution of the United
States, natives of foreign countries who have become
citizens of the United States are not entitled to vote in
Rhode Island, without regard to the qualifications imposed
by her Constitution?

The committee is unanimously of the opinion that this
question must be answered in the negative.

The "privileges and immunities of citizens of the United
States" mentioned in the petition as secured by the XIV.
Amendment do not include the right of suffrage. If they did,
the right must necessarily exist in _all_ citizens of the
United States from the mere fact of citizenship, without the
power in any State or in Congress to abridge the same in any
degree; and in such case, therefore, no qualification of any
kind could be imposed, and all persons (being citizens),
males and females, infants, lunatics, and criminals, without
respect to age, length of residence, or any other thing,
would be entitled to participate directly in all elections.
Every provision in every State which experience has proved
to be essential to security and good order in society would
thereby be overthrown. It is enough to say that the rights
secured by this amendment to the constitution are of an
altogether different character.

The XV. Amendment does apply to rights of suffrage, and to
those only. By it the State of Rhode Island, in common with
every other State, is forbidden to deny or abridge the right
of citizens of the United States "to vote on account of
race, color, or previous condition of servitude." But,
plainly, the constitution of Rhode Island does not preclude
any citizen from voting on either or any of the grounds thus
prohibited.



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