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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. No fact of race, or color, or previous servitude
prevents any citizen from voting in Rhode Island. Neither of
these qualities depends in any degree upon the place of his
nativity. This seems too obvious to need discussion. It is
also a fact, appearing in the public records of Congress and
doubtless known to the petitioners, that when the XV.
Amendment was under consideration by Congress it was
proposed to embrace in it a prohibition of any denial of
suffrage, on account of "nativity," and that this
proposition was not agreed to, for the reason that Congress
did not think it expedient to restrict the ancient powers of
the States in these respects any further than appeared to be
absolutely needful to secure to the whole people the great
results of the overthrow of the rebellion.

The committee is therefore of opinion that there is nothing
in the provisions of the constitution of Rhode Island
referred to in conflict with the Constitution of the United
States.

Whether these provisions are wise or right in themselves is
a matter over which neither the committee nor Congress has
any control. That subject belongs to the people of Rhode
Island, who it must be presumed will correct any and all
errors that may from time to time be found to exist in her
internal affairs.

Mr. MERRIMON.--I think the Senator from Nevada will be unable to
answer that position.

Mr. CARPENTER (Mr. INGALLS in the chair.)--Mr. President-----

Mr. EDMUNDS.--Before the Senator from Wisconsin proceeds with his
remarks, I should like to ask the chairman of the committee
whether he means to include Indians and Canadians? The language
is "every inhabitant of the United States."

Mr. SARGENT.--No, it is qualified further, as the Senator will
see if the whole section is read.

Mr. EDMUNDS.--Not as to the first election.

Mr. SARGENT.--I think myself the section is very inartificially
drawn.

Mr. EDMUNDS.--I do not know but that it is very artificially
drawn, if it is intended to include the Indian and the Canadian.

Mr. SARGENT.--To answer the Senator from Vermont I ask that the
final proviso of the section be read, which qualifies the part he
referred to.

The CHIEF CLERK read as follows:

_Provided, further_, That the right of suffrage and of
holding office shall be exercised only by citizens of the
United States, and those who shall have declared on oath,
before a competent court of record, their intention to
become such, and shall have taken an oath to support the
Constitution and Government of the United States.

Mr. EDMUNDS.--That does not relate to the first election.

Mr. SARGENT.--That objection applies to the details of the bill;
it does not apply to my amendment.

Mr. EDMUNDS.--That is true.

The PRESIDING OFFICER.--The Senator from Wisconsin is entitled to
the floor.

Mr. CARPENTER.--Mr. President, as the yeas and nays have been
ordered on this question and I shall vote for this amendment,
without going into any argument of the general question, I desire
to say one word as to the reason why I shall so vote.

I believe it is not one of woman's rights, but it is one of man's
that the franchise should be extended to women. I believe there
is no situation in which man can be placed where the aid of woman
is not beneficial; that in all the relations of life, in all the
occupations and all the duties of life it was the intention of
God in creating the race that woman should be the helpmate of
man, everywhere and in all circumstances and occupations. Look
through your country, look in your railroad cars, look in your
post-offices, look in your dry-goods stores, and there you see
everything decent and orderly and quiet. Why? Because women go
there. The only place in this country from which they are
excluded by law is the voting place, and in many of our large
cities those places are the most disgraceful that can be found
under our institutions. Now, I believe if the elections were open
to ladies as well as gentlemen, to women as well as men, there
would be as much order, quiet, and decency at the voting places
as there is in a railroad car, and for precisely the same reason.
If our wives and mothers and daughters were going to these
election places there would be order and decency there, or there
would be a row once for all that would make them decent. I have
more confidence in the influence of women at the elections in New
York City to reform the condition of things that exists there and
bring about decency and order at the elections and the prevention
of violence and fraud, than I have in all the Army and Navy that
the President can send there under the election bill which was
put through here by my honorable friend from New York (Mr.
Conkling).

Without enlarging on the subject, I shall vote for this
amendment, not because this Territory is located, as some Senator
has said, near Minnesota. I would vote for female suffrage in the
District of Columbia to-morrow; I would vote for it in the State
of Wisconsin; I would vote for it anywhere and everywhere if I
had an opportunity to do so.

Mr. MORRILL, of Maine.--Mr. President, I shall vote against this
amendment, and for the reason that I do not consider the right
of suffrage a woman's right or a man's right. I do not understand
it to be a natural right at all. It is a political right; and I
do not understand, as applied to women, that it is a privilege at
all. It is akin to a service; and it is a very rough service. It
is in its nature akin to militia service. The man who exercises
the ballot must be prepared to defend it with the bayonet; and
therefore the propriety of its being confined in all ages to men.
That it is not a natural right is apparent to anybody who
reflects upon it; and it never was so considered in any country
in the world.

We talk about it here now as a natural right, and my honorable
friend who sits next me (Mr. Morton) has invoked the principles
of the Declaration of Independence and said that it stands with
those rights which are called inherent, such as life, liberty,
and the pursuit of happiness. It is not so in any sense whatever,
and never was so regarded. If it were, do you not perceive that
it applies as well to infants as to adults? If it is natural to
all citizens, then it applies, as I have said, to infants as well
as to adults. I regard it as strictly a political right. It does
not inhere in man naturally, or in woman; and I do not propose,
myself, to impose it on women. It is a severe, rugged service,
which in my judgment ought not to be imposed on women.

My honorable friend from Wisconsin says there is no position in
life in which the society of woman would not be an improvement.
How is it on the deck of a battle-ship? How is it in military
affairs? Should she be placed in the militia to enforce the
results of a ballot? Is there any one of us who believes that? Is
there anybody here who would be glad to see a woman in the
train-band, on the muster-field, at the cannon's mouth, or on the
decks of your war-ships? That is what your argument means, if it
means anything logically.

But sir, I am not going to argue the proposition at all. I am
going to vote against it because the right of suffrage is that
rugged and severe service which man has no right to devolve upon
woman. It is enough to say that when the American women want the
ballot, when they come to hanker for it, and fall in love with
the exercise of the ballot at the polls, I am in favor of their
voting, but not until then; and I am not in favor of that
sentimental sort of stuff which is gotten up somewhere or other
by portions of the people who would force it upon the American
women as a general proposition. Whenever they come to desire it,
whenever the American women come to ask it, and particularly when
they come to demand it, or even to solicit it, there will be no
question as to what the American Congress will do; but until that
time comes I shall vote steadily against it.

Nobody will be surprised at these sentiments from me who has had
occasion to know the sentiments that I have expressed on this
same subject on former occasions. I will send to the desk and ask
to have read a paragraph or two from a speech made by me some
years ago on the subject of suffrage.

The CHIEF CLERK read as follows:

Universal suffrage is affirmed by its advocates as among the
absolute or natural rights of man, in the sense of mankind,
extending to females as well as males, and susceptible of no
limitation unless as opposed to child or infant. It is
supposed to originate in rights independent of citizenship;
like the absolute rights of liberty, personal security, and
possession of property, it is natural to man.



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