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
If suffrage was one of these
privileges or immunities, why amend the Constitution to prevent
its being denied on account of race, etc.? Nothing is more
evident than that the greater must include the less; and if all
were already protected, why go through with the form of amending
the Constitution to protect a part?

It is true that the United States guarantees to every State a
republican form of government (art. 4, sec. 4). It is also true
that no State can pass a bill of attainder (art. 1, section 10),
and that no person can be deprived of life, liberty, or property,
without due process of law (Amendment V). All these several
provisions of the Constitution must be construed in connection
with the other parts of the instrument, and in the light of the
surrounding circumstances.

The guaranty is of a republican form of government. No
particular government is designated as republican, neither is
the exact form to be guaranteed, in any manner especially
designated. Here, as in other parts of the instrument, we are
compelled to resort elsewhere to ascertain what was intended. The
guaranty necessarily implies a duty on the part of the States
themselves to provide such a government. All the States had
governments when the Constitution was adopted. In all, the people
participated to some extent through their representatives elected
in the manner specially provided. These governments the
Constitution did not change. They were accepted precisely as they
were, and it is therefore to be presumed that they were such as
it was the duty of the States to provide. Thus, we have
unmistakable evidence of what was republican in form, within the
meaning of that term as employed in the Constitution. As has been
seen, all the citizens of the States were not invested with the
right of suffrage. In all, save perhaps New Jersey, this right
was only bestowed upon men, and not upon all of them. Under these
circumstances, it is certainly now too late to contend that a
Government is not republican within the meaning of this guaranty
in the Constitution because women are not made voters.

The same maybe said of the other provisions just quoted. Women
were excluded from suffrage in nearly all the States by the
express provision of their constitutions and laws. If that had
been equivalent to a bill of attainder, certainly its abrogation
would not have been left to implication. Nothing less than
express language would have been employed to effect so radical a
change. So also of the Amendment which declares that no person
shall be deprived of life, liberty, or property, without due
process of law; adopted as it was as early as 1791. If suffrage
was intended to be included within its obligations, language
better adapted to express that intent would most certainly have
been employed. The right of suffrage, when granted, will be
protected. He who has it can only be deprived of it by due
process of law; but, in order to claim protection, he must first
show that he has the right. But we have already sufficiently
considered the proof found upon the inside of the Constitution.
That upon the outside is equally effective.

The Constitution was submitted to the States for adoption in
1787, and was ratified by nine States in 1788, and, finally, by
the thirteen original States in 1790. "Vermont was the first new
State admitted to the Union, and it came in under a Constitution
which conferred the right of suffrage only upon men of the full
age of twenty-one years, having resided in the State for the
space of one whole year next before the election, and who were of
quiet and peaceable behavior. This was in 1791. The next year
(1792) Kentucky followed, with a Constitution confining the right
of suffrage to free male citizens of the age of twenty-one years,
who had resided in the State two years, or, in the county in
which they offered to vote, one year next before the election.
Then followed Tennessee in 1796, with voters of freemen of the
age of twenty-one years and upward, possessing a freehold in the
county wherein they may vote, and being inhabitants of the State
or freemen being inhabitants of any one county in the State six
months immediately preceding the day of election. But we need not
particularize further. No new State has ever been admitted to
the Union which has conferred the right of suffrage upon women,
and this has never been considered a valid objection to her
admission. On the contrary, as is claimed in the argument, the
right of suffrage was withdrawn from women as early as 1807 in
the State of New Jersey, without any attempt to obtain the
interference of the United States to prevent it. Since then the
governments of the insurgent States have been reorganized under a
requirement that, before their Representatives could be admitted
to seats in Congress, they must have adopted new Constitutions,
republican in form. In no one of these Constitutions was suffrage
conferred upon women, and yet the States have all been restored
to their original position as States in the Union.

Besides this, citizenship has not in all cases been made a
condition precedent to the enjoyment of the right of suffrage.
Thus, in Missouri, persons of foreign birth, who have declared
their intention to become citizens of the United States, may
under certain circumstances vote. The same provision is to be
found in the Constitutions of Alabama, Arkansas, Florida,
Georgia, Indiana, Kansas, Minnesota, and Texas.

Certainly if the courts can consider any question settled, this
is one. For near ninety years the people have acted upon the idea
that the Constitution, when it conferred citizenship, did not
necessarily confer the right of suffrage. If uniform practice
long continued can settle the construction of so important an
instrument as the Constitution of the United States confessedly
is, most certainly it has been done here. Our province is to
decide what the law is, not to declare what it should be.

We have given this case the careful consideration its importance
demands. If the law is wrong it ought to be changed, but the
power for that is not with us. The arguments addressed to us
bearing upon such a view of the subject may perhaps be sufficient
to induce those having the power to make the alteration, but they
ought not to be permitted to influence our judgment in
determining the present rights of the parties now litigating
before us. No argument as to woman's need of suffrage can be
considered. We can only act upon her rights as they exist. It is
not for us to look at the hardship of withholding. Our duty is at
an end, if we find it is within the power of a State to withhold.

Being unanimously of the opinion that the Constitution of the
United States does not confer the right of suffrage upon any one,
and that the Constitutions and laws of the several States which
commit that important trust to men alone are not necessarily
void, we affirm the judgment of the court below.

Soon after the decision on Mrs. Minor's case, Mrs. Gage, in a
convention at Washington, ably reviewed Judge Waite's opinion, showing
that the United States has eight classes of voters. She said:

Chief justice Waite, in rendering the opinion of the Supreme
Court of the United States, in the Minor _vs._ Happersett case,
which was an appeal from the Supreme Court of Missouri, on the
question of woman's right to vote under the provisions of the
XIV. Amendment, decided against this right. The court maintained
that the United States Constitution does not confer the right of
suffrage on any person, and that the matter is regulated by
State Constitutions, and that when provision is made in them
extending the right of suffrage to men only, such provisions are
binding. It also declared that the United States had no voters in
the States of its own creation. But this assertion was false upon
the very face of it.

1st. Every enfranchised male slave had the ballot secured him
under United States law--a law which annulled all State
provisions against color. At the time of ratification of the last
amendments, the State of New York possessed a property
qualification of $250. The moment these amendments were ratified,
that law became dead on the statute book. The New York
Legislature did not repeal it. The United States repealed this
property prohibition, by creating a class of United States voters
out of colored men. So here is one class of United States voters,
and a clear mistake on the part of Chief-Justice Waite and the
Supreme Court. But the United States has often exercised its
power over the ballot more directly than through constitutional
amendments; for,

2d. Every Southern man disfranchised because of having taken part
in the war, and who has since been granted amnesty, has again
been made a voter through United States law; all such men then
became United States voters. Here is a second class of United
States voters, and a second mistake of Chief Justice Waite and
the Supreme Court. It may be answered that the revolted States
were in the condition of Territories at the time of this
disfranchisement, and therefore under direct control of the
National Government. Admitting this, we still know that general
amnesty was granted after reconstruction; after State forms of
government had again been organized, the nation exercised its
power over the ballot by restoring thousands of men to their
political rights--to citizenship.



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.