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
It was proposed at
that time in Massachusetts to alter the suffrage. It was then
limited in that State. That limitation, it was suggested, should
be taken away in whole or in part, and the correspondent to whom
this letter was addressed seems to have been in favor of that
change. Mr. Adams, under date of the 26th of May, 1776, writes to
his correspondent, Mr. James Sullivan, a name famous in the
annals of Massachusetts, and well known to the United States, a
long letter, of which I shall read only a sentence or two. It is
to be found in the ninth volume of the works of John Adams,
beginning at page 375. In that letter Mr. Adams, among other
things, says: "But let us first suppose that the whole community,
of every age, rank, sex, and condition, has a right to vote. This
community is assembled. A motion is made and carried by a
majority of one voice. The minority will not agree to this.
Whence arises the right of the majority to govern and the
obligation of the minority to obey?

"From necessity, you will say, because there can be no other
rule. But why exclude women?

"You will say, because their delicacy renders them unfit for
practice and experience in the great businesses of life and the
hardy enterprises of war, as well as the arduous cares of state.
Besides, their attention is so much engaged with the necessary
nurture of their children, that nature has made them fittest for
domestic cares. And children have not judgment or will of their
own. True."

And he closes the letter by saying: "Society can be governed only
by general rules. Government can not accommodate itself to every
particular case as it happens, nor to the circumstances of
particular persons. It must establish general comprehensive
regulations for cases and persons. The only question is, which
general rule will accommodate most cases and most persons. Depend
upon it, sir, it is dangerous to open so fruitful a source of
controversy and altercation as would be opened by attempting to
alter the qualifications of voters; there will be no end of it.
New claims will arise; women will demand a vote; lads from twelve
to twenty-one will think their rights not enough attended to; and
every man who has not a farthing will demand an equal voice with
any other in all acts of state. It tends to confound and destroy
all distinctions, and prostrate all ranks to one common level."

The honorable member from Ohio seems to suppose that the right
should be given as a means, if I understood him, of protecting
themselves and as a means of elevating them intellectually. I had
supposed the theory was that the woman was protected by the man.
If she is insulted she is not expected to knock the man who
insults her down, or during the days of the duello to send him a
challenge. She goes to her male friend, her husband or brother or
acquaintance. Nature has not made her for the rough and tumble,
so to speak, of life. She is intended to be delicate. She is
intended to soften the asperities and roughness of the male sex.
She is intended to comfort him in the days of his trial, not to
participate herself actively in the contest either in the forum,
in the council chamber, or on the battle-field. As to her not
being protected, what lady has ever said that her rights were not
protected because she had not the right of suffrage? There are
women, respectable I have no doubt in point of character, moral
and virtuous women no doubt, but they are called, and properly
called, the "strong-minded"; they are in the public estimation
contradistinguished from the delicate; they are men in women's
garb, ready, I have no doubt, such people would be--and I deem it
no disparagement to them; I have no doubt they are
conscientious--to go upon the battle-field. Such things have
happened. They are willing to take an insult, and horse-whip and
chastise the man who has extended the rudeness to them; but they
are exceptions to the softness which is the charm of the female
character. I appeal to my friend from New York [Mr. Morgan]--I
can speak for Baltimore--and to the member from Pennsylvania
[Mr. Cowan] who I suppose can speak for Philadelphia, would they
have their wives and their daughters seeking to get up to the
poll on a hotly-contested election, driven with indignation at
times from it, insulted, violence used to them, as is often the
case, rudeness of speech sure to be indulged in----

Mr. WADE: I should like to know if that is the character of your
city?

Mr. JOHNSON: Yes.

Mr. WADE: Then it is very different from the community in which I
live.

Mr. JOHNSON: I rather think you might make Cincinnati an
exception from what I have heard. I am not speaking for the
country, though I have seen it pretty rough in the country; and
they have been rough occasionally in Ohio. If they were all of
the same temper with my honorable friend who interrupts me of
course it would be different, and all could have their rights
accorded them.

Mr. COWAN: I should like to ask whether the presence of ladies on
an occasion of that kind would not tend to suppress everything of
that sort? Would it not turn the blackguard into a gentleman, so
that we should have nothing but good conduct?

Mr. JOHNSON: No, sir; you can not turn a blackguard into a
gentleman.

Mr. COWAN: Except by a lady.

Mr. JOHNSON: No, sir; by no means known to human power. There may
be some revulsion that will cause him to cease to be a blackguard
for the moment, but as to a lady making a gentleman of a man who
insults her it has not happened that I know of anywhere. He may
be made somewhat of a gentleman by being cowhided. But the
question I put I put in all seriousness. I have seen the
elections in Baltimore, where they are just as orderly as they
are in other cities; but we all know that in times of high party
excitement it is impossible to preserve that order which would be
sufficient to protect a delicate female from insult, and no lady
would venture to run the hazard of being subjected to the insults
that she would be almost certain to receive.

They do not want this privilege. As to protecting themselves, as
to taking a part in the Government in order to protect
themselves, if they govern those who govern, is not that
protection enough? And who does not know that they govern us?
Thank God they do. But what more right has a woman, as a mere
matter of right independent of all delicacy, to the suffrage than
a boy who is just one day short of twenty-one? You put him in
your military service when he is eighteen; you may put him in it
at a younger age if you think proper; but you will not let him
vote. Why? Only upon moral grounds; that is all; not because that
boy may not be able to exercise the right, but because, in the
language of Mr. Adams, there must be some general rule, which
must be observed, because in the absence of such general rule, if
you permit excepted cases you might as well abolish all rules,
and then where are we, as he properly asks.

I like to learn wisdom from the men of 1776. I know we have had
the advantage of living in an age which they did not witness. I
have lived a good many years and watched the public men of the
day, and I do not think, and I have never been able with all my
disposition to think that we are any better than were the men of
1776 and our predecessors on this floor, the men who participated
in the deliberations of the Convention which led to the adoption
of the Constitution of the United States, the men who were the
authors of the State papers which were issued during that period,
and which filled the world with admiration and amazement.

From the days of colonization down to the present hour no such
proposition as this has received, so far as I am aware, any
support, unless it was for a short time in the State of New
Jersey. It has nothing to do with the right of negroes to vote.
That is perfectly independent. If I desired because I am opposed
to that to defeat the bill, I might perhaps, as a mere party
scheme, as a measure known to party tactics which govern
occasionally some--I do not say that they have not governed me
heretofore--vote for this amendment with a view to defeat the
bill: but I have lived to be too old and have become too well
satisfied of what I think is my duty to the country to give any
vote which I do not believe, if it should be supported by the
votes of a sufficient number to carry the measure into operation,
would redound to the interests and safety and honor of the
country.

Mr. WADE: The gentleman seems to suppose that the only reason
females should have the right to vote is that they might defend
themselves with a cowhide against those who insult them. I do not
suppose that giving them the right to vote will add anything to
their physical strength or courage. That is the argument of the
Senator, and the whole of his argument: but I did not propose
that they should vote on such hypothesis or with any view that it
should have any such effect. But I do know that as the law stood
until very recently in many of the States a husband was not the
best guardian for his wife in many cases, and frequently the
greatest hardships that I have ever known in the community have
arisen from the fact that a good-for-nothing, drunken, miserable
man had married a respectable lady with property, and your law
turned the whole of it right over to him and left her a pauper at
his will.



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.