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Gratz Brown, of Missouri, in the three days' discussion in the
United States Senate in 1866, on Senator Cowan's motion to strike
"male" from the District of Columbia suffrage bill, said:

Mr. President, I say here on the floor of the American
Senate, I stand for universal suffrage; and as a matter of
fundamental principle, do not recognize the right of society
to limit it on any ground of race or sex. I will go farther,
and say that I recognize the right of franchise as being
intrinsically a natural right. I do not believe that society
is authorized to impose any limitations upon it that do not
spring out of the necessities of the social state itself.

Charles Sumner, in his brave protests against the XIV. and XV.
Amendments, insisted that, so soon as by the XIII. Amendment the
slaves became free men, the original powers of the United States
Constitution guaranteed to them equal rights--the right to vote
and to be voted for:

I do not hesitate to say that when the slaves of our country
became "citizens," they took their place in the body politic
as a component part of the "people," entitled to equal
rights, and under the protection of these two guardian
principles: First, that all just governments stand on the
consent of the governed; and second, that taxation without
representation is tyranny; and these rights it is the duty
of Congress to guarantee as essential to the idea of a
Republic.

The preamble of the Constitution of the State of New York
declares:

We, the people of the State of New York, grateful to
Almighty God for our freedom, in order to secure its
blessings, do establish this Constitution.

Here is not the slightest intimation, either of receiving freedom
from the United States Constitution, or of the State conferring
the blessings of liberty upon the people; and the same is true of
every one of the thirty-six State Constitutions. Each and all
alike declare rights God-given, and that to secure the people in
the enjoyment of their inalienable rights, is their one and only
object in ordaining and establishing government. And all of the
State constitutions are equally emphatic in their recognition of
the ballot as the means of securing the people in the enjoyment
of these rights. Article 1 of the New York State Constitution
says:

No member of this State shall be disfranchised or deprived
of the rights or privileges secured to any citizen thereof,
unless by the law of the land or the judgment of his peers.

And so carefully guarded is the citizen's right to vote, that the
Constitution makes special mention of all who may not vote:

Laws may be passed excluding from the right of suffrage all
persons who have been or may be convicted of bribery,
larceny, or any infamous crime.

In naming the various employments that shall not affect the
residence of voters, the 3d section of Article 2d says

That being kept at any almshouse or other asylum, at public
expense, nor being confined at any public prison, shall
deprive a person of his residence,

and hence his vote. Thus is the right of voting most sacredly
hedged about. The only seeming permission in our constitution for
the disfranchisement of women is in section 1st of Article 2d:

Every male citizen of the age of twenty-one years, etc.,
shall be entitled to vote.

But I insist that in view of the explicit assertions of the equal
right of the whole people, both in the preamble and previous
article of the constitution, this omission of the adjective
"female" in the second, should not be construed into a denial;
but, instead, counted as of no effect. Mark the direct
prohibition:

"No member of this State shall be disfranchised, unless by
the 'law of the land,' or the judgment of his peers."

"The law of the land," is the United States Constitution; and
there is no provision in that document that can be fairly
construed into a permission to the States to deprive any class of
their citizens of their right to vote. Hence New York can get no
power from that source to disfranchise one entire half of her
members. Nor has "the judgment of their peers" been pronounced
against women exercising their right to vote. No disfranchised
person is allowed to be judge or juror--and none but
disfranchised persons can be women's peers; nor has the
Legislature passed laws excluding them on account of idiocy or
lunacy; nor yet the courts convicted them of bribery, larceny, or
any infamous crime. Clearly, then, there is no constitutional
ground for the exclusion of women from the ballot-box in the
State of New York. No barriers whatever stand to-day between
women and the exercise of their right to vote save those of
precedent and prejudice.

The clauses of the United States Constitution, cited by our
opponents as giving power to the States to disfranchise any
classes of citizens they shall please, are contained in sections
2d and 4th of article 1st. The second says:

The House of Representatives shall be composed of members
chosen every second year by the people of the several
States; and the electors in each State shall have the
qualifications requisite for electors of the most numerous
branch of the State Legislature.

This can not be construed into a concession to the States of the
power to destroy the right to become an elector, but simply to
prescribe what shall be the qualifications, such as competency of
intellect, maturity of age, length of residence, that shall be
deemed necessary to enable them to make an intelligent choice of
candidates. If, as our opponents assert, the last clause of this
section makes it the duty of the United States to protect
citizens in the several States against higher or different
qualifications for electors for Representatives in Congress, than
for members of Assembly, then must the first clause make it
equally imperative for the national government to interfere with
the States, and forbid them from arbitrarily cutting off the
right of one half of the people to become electors altogether.
Section 4th says:

The times, places, and manner of holding elections for
Senators and Representatives shall be prescribed in each
State by the Legislature thereof; but Congress may at any
time, by law, make or alter such regulations, except as to
the places of choosing Senators.

Here is conceded the power only to prescribe times, places, and
manner of holding the elections; and even with these Congress may
interfere, with all excepting the mere place of choosing
Senators. Thus you see, there is not the slightest permission in
either section for the States to discriminate against the right
of any class of citizens to vote. Surely to regulate can not be
to annihilate! nor to qualify to wholly deprive! And to this
principle every true Democrat and Republican said amen, when
applied to black men by Senator Sumner in his great speeches for
EQUAL RIGHTS TO ALL from 1865 to 1869; and when, in 1871, I asked
that Senator to declare the power of the United States
Constitution to protect women in their right to vote--as he had
done for black men--he handed me a copy of all his speeches
during that reconstruction period, saying:

Miss Anthony, put "sex" where I have "race" or "color," and
you have here the best and strongest argument I can make for
woman. There is not a doubt but women have the
constitutional right to vote, and I will never vote for a
XVI. Amendment to guarantee it to them. I voted for both the
XIV. and XV. under protest; would never have done it but for
the pressing emergency of that hour; would have insisted
that the power of the original Constitution to protect all
citizens in the equal enjoyment of their rights should have
been vindicated through the courts. But the newly made
freedmen had neither the intelligence, wealth, nor time to
wait that slow process. Women possess all these in an
eminent degree; and I insist that they shall appeal to the
courts, and through them establish the powers of our
American _magna charta_, to protect every citizen of the
Republic.

But, friends, when in accordance with Senator Sumner's counsel, I
went to the ballot-box, last November, and exercised my citizen's
right to vote, the courts did not wait for me to appeal to
them--they appealed to me, and indicted me on the charge of
having voted illegally. Senator Sumner, putting sex where he did
color, would have said:

Qualifications can not be in their nature permanent or
insurmountable. Sex can not be a qualification any more than
size, race, color, or previous condition of servitude. A
permanent or insurmountable qualification is equivalent to a
deprivation of the suffrage. In other words, it is the
tyranny of taxation without representation, against which
our revolutionary mothers, as well as fathers, rebelled.

For any State to make sex a qualification that must ever result
in the disfranchisement of one entire half of the people, is to
pass a bill of attainder, or an _ex post facto_ law, and is
therefore a violation of the supreme law of the land.



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