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UNDER THE RECENT STATUTES.--In Conway _vs._ Smith and Wife,
13 Wis., 125, the court held that "the statute gives to married
women, as necessarily incidental to the power of holding property
to their own use, the power of making all contracts necessary or
convenient to its beneficial enjoyment, and such contracts are to
be regarded as valid in law, and may be enforced by legal
remedies." Cole, J., dissenting.

In Barton _vs._ Beer, 35 Barbour, 81, the court, in treating of
the liability of a married woman, says:

If she acts as a _feme sole_, she ought, in justice to the
public, to be subjected to all the duties and liabilities of
a _feme sole_.

In Emerson _vs._ Clayton, 32 Ill., 493, this honorable court
held, that a married woman might bring replevin in her own name,
for her separate property, against a third party, or even against
her own husband, and that the act designed to make and did make a
radical and thorough change in the condition of a _feme covert_;
that she is to be regarded as unmarried, so far as her separate
property is concerned.

In Pomeroy _vs._ Manhattan Life Insurance Co., 40 Ill., 398,
Walker, C. J., in delivering the opinion of the court, says:

Under the statute she is entitled to the benefits it
confers, and must be held liable for her acts performed in
pursuance of the authority it confers. If it gives the
rights of a sole ownership, it must impose the liabilities
incident to such an act.

In Brownell _vs._ Dixon, 39 Ill., 207. this court not only held,
under the act of 1861, that a married woman possessed of separate
property might employ "an agent to transact her business", but
that she might employ her own husband as such agent.

Relying upon the doctrine laid down in this case, we insist that
the power "to employ an agent" carries with it the liability to
pay such an agent a reasonable compensation for his services; and
that if a married woman employs a man to work on her farm for one
day, and agrees to give him two dollars therefor, and fails so to
do, that a fair construction of the act of 1861 would allow him
to sue her before a justice of the peace, and not drive him to
the expense of filing a bill in chancery that would amount to
more than a denial of justice.

Now, if under the Act of 1861 she can employ an agent to transact
her business, we insist under the Act of 1869, giving the wife
her own earnings, and the rights to sue for the same in her own
name, free from her husband, that she has the right to be
employed as an agent, or attorney, or physician, if she is
capable, and to agree to do the duties of her profession. It
would almost seem that this question is answered by the following
extract from the opinion of this honorable court, as delivered by
Mr. Justice Lawrence, in Carpenter _vs._ Mitchell, 2 _Legal
News_, 44:

It may be said that a married woman can not adequately enjoy
her separate property unless she can make contracts in
regard to it. This is true, and hence her power to make
contracts, so far as may be necessary for the use and
enjoyment of her property, must be regarded as resulting by
implication from the statute. If she owns houses she must be
permitted to contract for their repair or rental. If she
owns a farm she must be permitted to bargain for its
cultivation, and to dispose of its products. We give these
as illustrations of the power of contracting which is fairly
implied in the law.

It is true, in this opinion the learned Judge confines his
remarks strictly to the contracts of the wife made in relation to
her separate property, and not in relation to general trade. This
case arose before the passage of the Act of 1869. The right of a
married woman to bring a suit in her own name is a necessary
incident to the law. (Cole _vs._ Van Riper, 1 _Legal News_, 41.)

V. THE TRADES AND PROFESSIONS OPEN TO WOMEN.--The doors of many
of our universities and law schools are now open to women upon an
equality with men. The Government of the United States has
employed women in many of its departments, and appointed many,
both single and married, to office. Almost every large city in
the Union has its regularly-admitted female physicians. The law
schools of the nation have now many women in regular attendance,
fitting themselves to perform the duties of the profession. The
bar itself is not without its women lawyers, both single and
married.

Mrs. Arabella A. Mansfield, wife of Prof. J. M. Mansfield, of
Mount Pleasant, Iowa, was admitted to the bar of Iowa, upon the
unanimous petition of the attorneys of that place, after a very
careful examination, not only of the applicant, but of the
statutes regulating the admission of attorneys.

The statute of Iowa provides that "any white male person,
twenty-one years of age, who is an inhabitant of this State," and
who satisfies the court, "that he possesses the requisite
learning, and that he is of good moral character, may, by such
court, be licensed to practice in all the courts of the State,
upon taking the usual oath of office."

The clause construing statutes is as follows:

Words importing the singular number only, may be extended to
several persons or things; and words importing the plural
number only may be applied to one person, or thing; and
words importing the masculine gender only may be extended to
females.

In Mrs. Mansfield's case, the court not only held that she could
be admitted, notwithstanding the fact that she was a married
woman, under the clause of the statute giving a construction to
the masculine noun "male," and pronoun "he"; but that the
affirmative declaration, that male persons may be admitted, is
not an implied denial of the right to females. We know of no
instance in the United States, where a woman, whether married or
single, who has complied with the statutes of the State in which
she lived and applied for admission, that the proper court has
refused to grant her license.

VI. HOW THE LEGISLATURE HAVE REGARDED YOUR PETITIONER.--It has
been held, in England, that a wife who does business in her own
name, with either the express or implied consent of her husband,
should be treated as a _feme sole_, and be sued as such; and,
with such consent, could be an administrator, executor, or
guardian, in England or America.

The Legislature has, in repeated instances, acknowledged the
capability and capacity of your petitioner to transact business,
by providing that the _Chicago Legal News_, edited by her, and
containing the decisions rendered by your honors, should be
received in evidence in all the courts of this State, and in the
following extract from the charter of the Chicago Legal News
Company:

And all the real and personal estate of said Myra Bradwell
shall be liable for the debts of said company, contracted
while she is a stockholder therein, and all stock of said
company owned by her, and the earnings thereof, shall be her
sole and separate property, the same as if she were an
unmarried woman; and she shall have the same right to hold
any office or offices in said company, or transact any of
its business that a _feme sole_ would have.--_Legal News_,
Edition Laws of 1869, p. 93. Sec. 4, p. 93.

Your petitioner claims that a married woman is not to be classed
with an infant since the passage of the Act of 1869. A married
woman may sue in her own name for her earnings, an infant can
not. A married woman, if an attorney, could be committed for
contempt of court the same as any other attorney. If she should
collect money and refuse to pay it over, she could be sued for it
the same as if she were single. A married woman is liable at law
for all torts committed by her, unless done under the real or
implied coercion of her husband. Having received a license to
practice law as an attorney, and having acted as such, she would
be estopped from saying she was not liable as an attorney upon
any contract made by her in that capacity.

The fees that a married woman receives for her services as an
attorney are just as much her earnings as the dollar that a
sewing-woman receives for her day's work, and are just as much
protected by the Act of 1869. Is it for the court to say, in
advance, that it will not admit a married woman? Should she be
admitted, and fail to perform her duty, or to comply with all her
contracts as an attorney, could not the court, upon application,
strike her name from the roll, or inflict more summary
punishment?

Your petitioner has complied with all the provisions of the
statutes of the State regulating the admission of attorneys, and
asks, as a matter of right and justice, standing as she does upon
the law of the land, that she be admitted.

Not a line of written law, or a single decision in our State, can
be found disqualifying a married woman from acting as an
attorney. This honorable court can send me from its bar, and
prevent me from practicing as an attorney, and it is of small
consequence; but if, in so doing, your honors say to me: "You can
not receive a license to practice as an attorney-at-law in the
courts of this State upon the ground that you would not be bound
by the obligations necessary to be assumed, where the relation of
attorney and client shall exist, by reason of the disability
imposed by your married condition"; you, in my judgment, in
striking me down, strike a blow at the rights of every married
woman in the great State of Illinois who is dependent on her
labor for support, and say to her, you can not enter into the
smallest contract in relation to your earnings or separate
property, that can be enforced against you in a court of law.

This result can, in my opinion, only be reached by disregarding
the liberal statutes of our State, passed for the sole purpose of
extending the rights of married women, and forever removing from
our law, relating to their power to contract in regard to their
earnings and property, the fossil foot-prints of the feudal
system, and following the strictest rules of the common law.

Lord Mansfield, notwithstanding the fact that slaves had been
held, bought and sold for years in the streets of London,
declared that the moment a slave touched British soil his
shackles fell.



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