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I hold that the suffrage is
a delegated trust--a trust delegated to certain designated
classes of society--and that the whole body-politic has the same
right to withdraw any part of that trust, that we have to
withdraw any part of the powers or the trusts that we have
imposed upon any executive officer, and that it is no more a
punishment to restrict the suffrage, and thereby deprive certain
persons of the exercise of that right who have heretofore
exercised it, than it is a punishment on the Secretary of the
Treasury if we should take from him the appointment of certain
persons whose appointment is now vested in him. The power that
confers in each case has the right to withdraw.

The true basis of suffrage, of course, is intelligence and
virtue; but as we can not define those, as we can not draw the
line that shall mark the amount of intelligence and virtue that
any individual possesses, we come as near as we can to it by
imperfect conditions. It certainly will not be contended that the
feminine part of mankind are so much below the masculine in point
of intelligence as to disqualify them from exercising the right
of suffrage on that account. If it be asserted and conceded that
the feminine intellect is less vigorous, it must also be allowed
that it is more acute; if it is not so strong to strike, it is
quicker to perceive. But at all events, it will not be contended
that there is such a difference in the intellectual capacity of
the sexes as that that alone should be a disqualification from
the exercise of the right of suffrage. Still less will it be
contended that the female part of creation is less virtuous than
the masculine. On the contrary, it will be conceded by every one
that morality and good order, religion, charity, and all good
works appertain rather more to the feminine than to the masculine
race.

The argument that women do not want to vote is no argument at
all, because if the right to vote is conferred upon them they can
exercise it or not, as they choose. It is not a compulsory
exercise of power on their part. But I think that argument is
partly disproved by the Convention to which the Senator from
Pennsylvania referred yesterday, whose arguments he said were
worthy of consideration even in this Chamber. I think they are,
and I think it would be very difficult for any one in this
Chamber to disprove them. Nor is it a fair statement of the case
to say that the man represents the woman in the exercise of
suffrage, because it is an assumption on the part of the man; it
is an involuntary representation so far as the woman is
concerned. Representation implies a certain delegated power, and
a certain responsibility on the part of the representative toward
the party represented. A representation to which the represented
party does not assent is no representation at all, but is adding
insult to injury. When the American Colonies complained that they
ought not to be taxed unless they were represented in the British
Parliament, it would have been rather a singular answer to tell
them that they were represented by Lord North, or even by the
Earl of Chatham. The gentlemen on the other side of the Chamber
who say that the States lately in rebellion are entitled to
immediate representation in this Chamber would hardly be
satisfied if we should tell them that my friend from
Massachusetts represented South Carolina, and my friend from
Michigan represented Alabama. They would hardly be satisfied, I
think, with that kind of representation.

Nor have we any more right to assume that the women are satisfied
with the representation of the men. Where has been the assembly
at which this right of representation was conferred? Where was
the compact made? What were the conditions? It is wholly an
assumption. A woman is a member of a manufacturing corporation;
she is a stockholder in a bank; she is a shareholder in a
railroad company; she attends all those meetings in person or by
proxy, and she votes, and her vote is received. Suppose a woman
offering to vote at a meeting of a railroad corporation should be
told by one of the men "we represent you, you can not vote," it
would be precisely the argument that is now used--that men
represent the women in the exercise of the elective franchise. A
woman pays a large tax, and the man who drives her coach, the man
who waits upon her table, goes to the polls and decides how much
of her property shall go to support the public expenses, and what
shall be done with it. She has no voice in the matter whatever;
she is taxed without representation.

The exercise of political power by women is by no means an
experiment. There is hardly a country in Europe--I do not think
there is any one--that has not at some time of its history been
governed by a woman, and many of them very well governed too.
There have been at least three empresses of Russia since Peter
the Great, and two of them were very wise rulers. Elizabeth
raised England to the very height of greatness, and the reign of
Anne was illustrious in arms and not less illustrious in letters.
A female sovereign supplied to Columbus the means of discovering
this country. He wandered foot-sore and weary from court to
court, from convent to convent, from one potentate to another,
but no man on a throne listened to him, until a female sovereign
pledged her jewels to fit out the expedition which "gave a new
world to the kingdoms of Castile and Leon." Nor need we cite Anne
of Austria, who governed France for ten years, or Marie Theresa,
whose reign was so great and glorious. We have two modern
instances. A woman is now on the throne of Spain, and a woman
sits upon the throne of the mightiest empire in the world. A
woman is the high admiral of the most powerful fleet that rests
upon the seas. Princes and nobles bow to her, not in the mere
homage of gallantry, but as the representative of a sovereignty
which has descended to her from a long line of sovereigns, some
of the most illustrious of them of her own sex. And shall we say
that a woman may properly command an army, and yet can not vote
for a Common Councilman in the city of Washington? I know very
well this discussion is idle and of no effect, and I am not going
to pursue it. I should not have introduced this question, but as
it has been introduced, and I intend to vote for the amendment, I
desire to declare here that I shall vote for it in all
seriousness, because I think it is right. The discussion of this
subject is not confined to visionary enthusiasts. It is now
attracting the attention of some of the best thinkers in the
world, both in this country and in Europe, and one of the very
best of them all, John Stuart Mill, in a most elaborate and able
paper, has declared his conviction of the right and justice of
female suffrage. The time has not come for it, but the time is
coming. It is coming with the progress of civilization and the
general amelioration of the race, and the triumph of truth and
justice and equal rights.

Mr. WILLIAMS: Mr. President, to extend the right of suffrage to
the negroes in this country I think is necessary for their
protection; but to extend the right of suffrage to women, in my
judgment, is not necessary for their protection. For that reason,
as well as for others, I shall vote against the amendment
proposed by the Senator from Pennsylvania, and for the amendment
as it was originally introduced by the Senator from Ohio [Mr.
Wade]. Negroes in the United States have been enslaved since the
formation of the Government. Degradation and ignorance have been
their portion; intelligence has been denied to them; they have
been proscribed on account of their color; there is a bitter and
cruel prejudice against them everywhere, and a large minority of
the people of this country to-day, if they had the power, would
deprive them of all political and civil rights and reduce them to
a state of abject servitude. Women have not been enslaved.
Intelligence has not been denied to them; they have not been
degraded; there is no prejudice against them on account of their
sex; but, on the contrary, if they deserve to be, they are
respected, honored, and loved. Wide as the poles apart are the
conditions of these two classes of persons. Exceptions I know
there are to all rules; but, as a general proposition, it is true
that the sons defend and protect the reputation and rights of
their mothers; husbands defend and protect the reputation and
rights of their wives; brothers defend and protect the reputation
and rights of their sisters; and to honor, cherish, and love the
women of this country is the pride and the glory of its sons.

When women ask Congress to extend to them the right of suffrage
it will be proper to consider their claims. Not one in a thousand
of them at this time wants any such thing, and would not exercise
the power if it were granted to them. Some few who are seeking
notoriety make a feeble clamor for the right of suffrage, but
they do not represent the sex to which they belong, or I am
mistaken as to the modesty and delicacy which constitute the
chief attraction of the sex. Do our intelligent and refined women
desire to plunge into the vortex of political excitement and
agitation? Would that policy in any way conduce to their peace,
their purity, and their happiness? Sir, it has been said that
"the hand that rocks the cradle rules the world"; and there is
truth as well as beauty in that expression.



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