A B C D E F
G H I J K L M 

Total read books on site:
more than 10 000

You can read its for free!


Text on one page: Few Medium Many
Therefore, it does not do to say that the right to vote,
the privilege of voting, or the duty of voting--because I use
those phrases as not having the peculiar meaning that the Senator
from California imputes to them, is essential to the protection
of the female sex as such, because, as I have said, the
protection that the law gives them is now in all respects, where
their rights or privileges come in collision with the rest of
society, greater than is extended to men.

The Senator from Indiana insists--and he has a perfect right to
do so, of course--that the right to vote is a natural right, and,
therefore, if females are excluded from voting, as they are by
the constitutions and laws of the various States, it is an
infringement upon natural right, and that that infringement ought
to be abolished. Of course, his conclusion is correct if his
premises are true; but is the right to vote a natural right? Can
the Senator refer me to the work of any writer upon natural or
municipal law from the beginning of the world to the year 1860,
which maintains, or asserts, or insinuates, or suggests that the
right to vote in a political community is a natural right?

Mr. MORTON: I do not call to mind any author.

Mr. EDMUNDS: No; the Senator does not. With candor he says so,
because the Senator, learned in history as he is, knows, as the
rest of us know, that there is no such thing. He knows that in
all the discussions and all the turmoils of society where the
rights of men and women in political respects, the rights of
society at large, have been discussed and turned over and over
and all manner of experiments in government tried and suggested,
it never has been suggested that the right to participate in the
government of a political community is a natural right belonging
to every human being.

Mr. MORTON: I ask the Senator, if there are natural rights, do
not the natural and necessary means to protect those rights
become a part of them? What is the right worth if that be denied?

Mr. EDMUNDS: I answer no, in the broad sense in which the Senator
has put it. If he asks of me as to a state of nature, without
being organized into any social or political community whatever,
then I answer yes, and every man is what the civil writers called
in old times a barbarian; and he is invested, upon his own
judgment and in his own right, with the power of defending and
affirming whatever natural rights he has against all comers,
exactly as a nation stands in respect to another nation; no man
has a right to impose upon him any restraint; no man has a right
to demand from him any concession; he is absolutely independent;
and when his rights or claims come in conflict with those of
anybody else he "fights it out" or runs away. So far, there is
natural right, no doubt, but I hope the Senator has not gone back
quite so far from the present condition of the world as to wish
to discuss questions of that kind. That is not what he means.
What he means by natural rights no doubt is what organized
communities recognize as things of natural right, and those are
things which are inherent in the person but are regulated and
limited and restrained according to the rights and necessities of
all the other persons in the community. In an organized society
the right of self-defense is not a natural right in the broad
sense, so that under all circumstances A B or C D has a right to
defend himself against all aggression. An officer may come to
arrest me on a warrant issued by a court irregularly. I have not
the right to slay the officer because he takes me on the
warrant. My place to resist is not by my natural force, not by
raising a mob, but by going to the court that issued the warrant
and showing that it had been issued contrary to law. And yet on
the Senator's notion every time a man is brought under the law,
if he does not agree with the law, his business is to fight. The
community can not get along in that way. There is no such right
as that in society.

Mr. STEWART: I ask the Senator what right, whether it be a
natural right or an acquired right, has one man to govern
another, or has society to govern the individual?

Mr. EDMUNDS: What right?

Mr. STEWART: Is it a natural or acquired right?

Mr. EDMUNDS: No man has a natural right to govern another, or an
acquired right, or a political right, or a civil right that I
know of, unless he is appointed the guardian of somebody. Of
course, of that the Senator has not any experience; certainly not
on the side of being a ward.

Mr. STEWART: Then what right has society, the body of men, to
govern an individual? Is it a natural right or an acquired right?

Mr. EDMUNDS: Suppose I should answer the Senator and say I do not
know?

Mr. STEWART: What right have they to take from him his freedom in
his savage state to do as he pleases? And if they have a right to
take it from him, what right have they to say he shall not
participate with them equally in the regulations that shall be
made for his government? If they have a right to govern him, he
has a right, whether it be natural or not, to have a voice in it,
if the principle of equality and fair play is one of the
fundamental principles that should govern mankind.

Mr. EDMUNDS: I see the Senator's point. The substance of it is,
if I correctly understand him, that if society has a right to
govern him, he has a right to govern society, and that makes
equality; and if the majority has a right to control him, he has
a right to control the majority, and there is equality! Very
well. I leave the Senator, with his point, to enjoy it.

Now, let us return to the subject. It is perfectly plain that the
right to vote is one which society, as it is organized, is to
determine by its fundamental laws. Society does determine, in the
State of Vermont, if you please, that voting must only be
exercised by males above the age of twenty-one years, those who
are not in the penitentiary, those who are not in the lunatic
asylums, those who are not idiots, and so on. The laws of Indiana
may provide the same thing, or may declare that the age shall be
twenty, or may declare as the Roman law used to do, that it shall
be twenty-five, and so on; or it may declare as the Constitution
of the United States does as to the age of Senators and as to the
age of the President of the United States. On the argument of
Senators in favor of this amendment to this bill, there would
exist no right whatever in constituted society to make any
limitation upon the free exercise of political rights to vote and
hold office in respect to age. Why say a man can not be a member
of the Senate until he is thirty years of age? Who can say he is
not just as good at twenty-nine?

The Senator from Indiana says that common sense teaches that we
must put some limitation on this. So it does; and common sense
has taught that it is left to each political community to
determine what are the qualifications and limitations upon the
privilege of exercising political rights; and it has always been
so, and it always will be so, because when the Senator proposes
to say that the other sex may vote--which I admit he has a
perfect right to say, and society may so say--he does not
undertake to say that ladies of seventeen, instead of eighteen,
shall vote, because they come of age in my State at eighteen, and
do in many of the States--the Senator does not propose to say
that all ladies of seventeen shall vote; and yet it is impossible
to say that there is any distinction in respect to intelligence
as a matter of right, any philosophical distinction between one
year and another. True, as the Senator says, you may run it down
so far that at last you have reached a condition of infancy, and
there everybody says the child is not wise enough to vote, is not
wise enough to do anything without having guardianship and
tutelage. But if you put it upon the ground of natural right, the
child has just as good a right to say to you that he shall be the
judge of it, as you have to say to him that you must be; and this
shows that the notion of any natural right of anybody of any age
to participate in the government of society is an absolute
absurdity. It is one of those figments of the imagination that
have crawled into some people's brains within a very few years,
and will go out again as other delusions do.

Then when you come to the XIV. Amendment it is equally obvious
that that has nothing to do with the subject. If anybody had
thought it related to suffrage when the XV. Amendment was passed,
nobody would have voted for it, because on that theory the right
to vote did exist in all colored persons, females as well as
males; and yet nobody of any party or any creed pretended at that
time when we proposed the XV. Amendment that we had guaranteed
the right to vote by the XIV. Nobody suspected it; nobody
suggested it; and nobody believed in it, and very few people do
now, for the simple reason that the XIV. Amendment was directed,
as everybody knows, by its language, by its history, by its
relation to other laws, to what are called civil rights; but I am
not going to define what they are, because to do so takes time.
So, Mr. President, the XV. Amendment was passed in order to
secure a right to vote without regard to race, color, or previous
condition of servitude.

Then you come to the real question which is involved here; and
that is the propriety of providing that females, twenty-one years
of age, not idiots, not lunatics, not in the
penitentiary--standing upon the same limitations that men do in
these respects--are to vote.



Pages: | Prev | | 1 | | 2 | | 3 | | 4 | | 5 | | 6 | | 7 | | 8 | | 9 | | 10 | | 11 | | 12 | | 13 | | 14 | | 15 | | 16 | | 17 | | 18 | | 19 | | 20 | | 21 | | 22 | | 23 | | 24 | | 25 | | 26 | | 27 | | 28 | | 29 | | 30 | | 31 | | 32 | | 33 | | 34 | | 35 | | 36 | | 37 | | 38 | | 39 | | 40 | | 41 | | 42 | | 43 | | 44 | | 45 | | 46 | | 47 | | 48 | | 49 | | 50 | | 51 | | 52 | | 53 | | 54 | | 55 | | 56 | | 57 | | 58 | | 59 | | 60 | | 61 | | 62 | | 63 | | 64 | | 65 | | 66 | | 67 | | 68 | | 69 | | 70 | | 71 | | 72 | | 73 | | 74 | | 75 | | 76 | | 77 | | 78 | | 79 | | 80 | | 81 | | 82 | | 83 | | 84 | | 85 | | 86 | | 87 | | 88 | | 89 | | 90 | | 91 | | 92 | | 93 | | 94 | | 95 | | 96 | | 97 | | 98 | | 99 | | 100 | | 101 | | 102 | | 103 | | 104 | | 105 | | 106 | | 107 | | 108 | | 109 | | 110 | | 111 | | 112 | | 113 | | 114 | | 115 | | 116 | | 117 | | 118 | | 119 | | 120 | | 121 | | 122 | | 123 | | 124 | | 125 | | 126 | | 127 | | 128 | | 129 | | 130 | | 131 | | 132 | | 133 | | 134 | | 135 | | 136 | | 137 | | 138 | | 139 | | 140 | | 141 | | 142 | | 143 | | 144 | | 145 | | 146 | | 147 | | 148 | | 149 | | 150 | | 151 | | 152 | | 153 | | 154 | | 155 | | 156 | | 157 | | 158 | | 159 | | 160 | | 161 | | 162 | | 163 | | 164 | | 165 | | 166 | | 167 | | 168 | | 169 | | 170 | | 171 | | 172 | | 173 | | 174 | | 175 | | 176 | | 177 | | 178 | | 179 | | 180 | | 181 | | 182 | | 183 | | 184 | | 185 | | 186 | | 187 | | 188 | | 189 | | 190 | | 191 | | 192 | | 193 | | 194 | | 195 | | 196 | | 197 | | 198 | | 199 | | 200 | | 201 | | 202 | | 203 | | 204 | | 205 | | 206 | | 207 | | 208 | | 209 | | 210 | | 211 | | 212 | | 213 | | 214 | | 215 | | 216 | | 217 | | 218 | | 219 | | 220 | | 221 | | 222 | | 223 | | 224 | | 225 | | 226 | | 227 | | 228 | | 229 | | 230 | | 231 | | 232 | | 233 | | 234 | | 235 | | 236 | | 237 | | 238 | | 239 | | 240 | | 241 | | 242 | | 243 | | 244 | | 245 | | 246 | | 247 | | 248 | | 249 | | 250 | | 251 | | 252 | | 253 | | 254 | | 255 | | 256 | | 257 | | 258 | | 259 | | 260 | | 261 | | 262 | | 263 | | 264 | | 265 | | 266 | | 267 | | 268 | | 269 | | 270 | | 271 | | 272 | | 273 | | 274 | | 275 | | 276 | | 277 | | 278 | | 279 | | 280 | | 281 | | 282 | | 283 | | 284 | | 285 | | 286 | | 287 | | 288 | | 289 | | 290 | | 291 | | 292 | | 293 | | 294 | | 295 | | 296 | | 297 | | 298 | | 299 | | 300 | | 301 | | 302 | | 303 | | 304 | | 305 | | 306 | | 307 | | 308 | | 309 | | 310 | | 311 | | 312 | | 313 | | 314 | | 315 | | 316 | | 317 | | 318 | | 319 | | 320 | | 321 | | 322 | | 323 | | 324 | | 325 | | 326 | | 327 | | 328 | | 329 | | 330 | | 331 | | 332 | | 333 | | 334 | | 335 | | 336 | | 337 | | 338 | | 339 | | 340 | | 341 | | 342 | | 343 | | 344 | | 345 | | 346 | | 347 | | 348 | | 349 | | 350 | | 351 | | 352 | | 353 | | 354 | | 355 | | 356 | | 357 | | 358 | | 359 | | 360 | | Next |

N O P Q R S T
U V W X Y Z 

Your last read book:

You dont read books at this site.