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And
now you propose to try an "experiment" upon a community composed
of your own fellow-citizens, which is in defiance of all human
experience, all suggestions of philosophy, of your own laws, and
of every lesson you should have drawn from every civilized nation
that has preceded you.

Under the operation of this Amendment, what will become of the
family hearthstone around which cluster the very best influences
of human education? You will have a family with two heads--a
"house divided against itself." You will no longer have that
healthful and necessary subordination of wife to husband, and
that unity of relationship which is required by a true and a real
Christian marriage. You will have substituted a system of
contention and difference warring against the laws of nature
herself, and attempting by these new fangled, petty, puny, and
most contemptible contrivances, organized in defiance of the best
lessons of human experience, to confuse, impede, and disarrange
the palpable will of the Creator of the world. I can see in this
proposition for female suffrage the end of all that home life and
education which are the best nursery for a nation's virtue. I can
see in all these attempts to invade the relations between man and
wife, to establish differences, to declare those to be two whom
God hath declared to be one, elements of chaotic disorder,
elements of destruction to all those things which are, after all,
our best reliance for a good and a pure and an honest government.

As I said, Mr. President, I rose simply to express my
astonishment that a measure of this kind could have received the
assent which it apparently has received from the Senate of the
United States in the vote just recorded. The subject is too
broad, it is too deep, it is too serious to attempt to discuss it
unprepared and within the time which is allotted to me. I
sincerely hope that if this subject is to be acted upon, it will
be after long, serious, severe, close consideration. Let all
sides of the subject be viewed in all its vastness and
far-reaching consequences. Let Senators consider the results, and
let at least their aims in this matter be something higher than
mere political and partisan considerations, which I fear have
animated much of the discussion to which we have listened. Mr.
President, I trust sincerely that the vote just taken, indicating
the refusal of the Senate to lay this bill upon the table, may
not indicate the will of the Senate in respect of this Amendment.
We have no right to subject this or any other portion of our
fellow-citizens to so sad, so untoward, so unhappy an experiment
as is here proposed. I have sat in this Chamber, and seen laws
leveled with the most serious and cruel penalties against a class
of people practicing polygamy in our Territories. What will this
law do? Will it not in fact sever those relations to which I have
referred as being essential for the virtue and safety of a State?
What is your State unless it is founded upon virtuous and happy
homes? And where can there be a virtuous and happy home unless a
Christian marriage shall have consecrated it?

No, Mr. President, I trust that this Amendment will not be
adopted, that we shall not trifle in this way with the happiness
of a large portion of our fellow-citizens, that we shall not set
what I must consider this indecorous example of government; and I
trust that the vote of the Senate most emphatically will stop
here, and I trust stop permanently even the suggestion of
granting the political franchise of voting to the women of
America. They do not need it, sir. I can not, of course, speak
for all, but I know that I can speak the sentiment of many when I
say that to them the proposition is abhorrent to take them from
the retirement where their sway is so admitted, so beneficent, so
elevating, and to throw them into another sphere for which they
are totally unfitted and where all that at present adorns and
protects them must be taken away by the rough and vulgar contact
with those struggles which men are much better fitted to meet.
No, sir; the relations of the sexes as they exist to-day under
the laws of this country have produced happy and stable
government, or at least are not responsible for the evil features
which we witness. The best protection for the women of America is
in the respect and the love which the men of America bear to
them. Every man conversant with the practical affairs of life
knows that the fact, that the mere fact that it is a woman who
seeks her rights in a court of justice alone gives her an
advantage over her contestant which few men are able to resist, I
would put it to any who has practiced law in the courts of this
country; let him stand before a jury composed only of men, let
the case be tried only by men; let all the witnesses be men; and
the plaintiff or the defendant be a woman, and if you choose to
add to that, even more unprotected than women generally are, a
widow or an orphan, and does not every one recognize the
difficulty, not to find protection for her rights, but the
difficulty to induce the men who compose the juries of America to
hold the balance of justice steadily enough to insure that the
rights of others are not invaded by the force of sympathy for her
sex? These are common every-day illustrations. They could be
multiplied _ad infinitum_.

Mr. President, there never was a greater mistake, there never was
a falser fact stated than that the women of America need any
protection further than the love borne to them by their
fellow-countrymen. Every right, every privilege, many that men do
not attempt, many that men can not hope for, are theirs most
freely. Do not imperil the advantages which they have, do not
attempt in this hasty, ill-considered, shallow way to interfere
with the relations which are founded upon the laws of nature
herself. Depend upon it, Mr. President, man's wisdom is best
shown by humble attention, by humble obedience to the great laws
of nature; and those discoveries which have led men to their
chiefest enjoyment and greatest advantages have been from the
great minds of those who did lay their ears near the heart of
nature, listened to its beatings, and did not attempt to correct
God's handiwork by their own futile attempts at improvement.

Mr. STEWART.--Mr. President, I listened to the speech of the
Senator from Delaware with great attention; I appreciate his
feelings on the subject; and it has occasioned me to have some
reflection upon this subject during the time he was speaking. I
want to call the attention of the Senator from Delaware and of
the Senate and of the country to a few facts in regard to this
matter of woman's rights, and to see whether it has not been well
to change some of the ancient order of things. There was a time
among our Anglo-Saxon fathers when it was seriously discussed in
the law-books what size the whip should be with which a husband
could properly chastise his wife. If it was no larger than the
thumb, I believe no action would lie. Those were the good old
times, and those times you can see illustrated to-day all over
the world where savages----

Mr. SARGENT.--That was when we were near to nature.

Mr. STEWART.--Yes; that was when man held sway, and when God's
law of man's supremacy was omnipotent! Then harmony was
preserved. If you will go out into my State and see the Indian
women carrying the loads on their backs and the men riding on
horses, and the women doing the work, you will see the harmony of
the supremacy of man! Now, I undertake to say that there is no
surer criterion of the civilization of any nation than the
position which woman occupies; and the less dependent she is, the
more she has to do with the management of society, the more she
is regarded as an individual, the higher that society stands; but
where she depends exclusively on man and man's justice, there you
have absolute barbarism. Do you think that women have been less
loyal to their husbands, do you think that virtue has been less
protected in this country since the rights of women were
vindicated by the law, since they were entitled to hold property?
Have they not been as good wives as they were formerly? Has
society been injured thereby? Show me the nation that elevates
its women and acknowledges their rights and protects them by the
law and severs them in point of protection from the caprice or
the sympathy of men--show me that nation, and that nation shall
be first. It is one of the evidences of the advance of
civilization in America that woman does occupy the position she
does here; and it is idle to say that society will be destroyed
by recognizing her as having rights to protect.

It is very well for women who chance to have kind husbands and
luxurious homes, under the flattery of their husbands, to sneer
at their less fortunate sisters who are debarred every right. It
is very well for those who have luxury and power and wealth to
trample upon the unfortunate that cry for bread and for help. It
is very easy to philosophize about laws and say that women are
not fit for this place and not fit for that; that it is
indelicate, and all that kind of thing, to allow her to earn an
honest living or to have a place in a Department where she can do
work; it is very well for us to say, "Here, we will give her only
half pay for the same labor;" but they who serve and they who
suffer feel it differently.



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