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You have felt that you had rights more
than you wanted now. O yes, it is as if a beauty in Fifth Avenue,
hearing one plead that bread might be sent to the hungry and
famishing, should say, "What is this talk about bread for? I have
as much bread as I want, and plenty of sweetmeats, and I do not
want your loaves." Shall one that is glutted with abundance
despise the wants of the starving, who are so far below them that
they do not hear their cries, not one of which escapes the ear of
Almighty God? Because you have wealth and knowledge and loving
parents, or a faithful husband, or kind brothers, and you feel no
pressure of need, do you feel no inward pressure of humanity for
others? Is there no part of God's great work in providence that
should lead you to be discontented with your ease and privileges
until you are enfranchised? You ought to vote; and when your
understanding and intellect are convinced that you ought to do
it, you will have the power to do it; and you never will till
then.

I. Woman has more interest than man in the promotion of virtue
and purity and humanity. Half, shall I say?--Half does not half
measure the proportion of those sorrows that come upon woman by
reason of her want of influence and power. All the young men
that, breaking down, break fathers' and mothers' hearts; all
those that struggle near to the grave, weeping piteous tears of
blood, it might almost be said, and that at last, under paroxysms
of despair, sin against nature, and are swept out of misery into
damnation; the spectacles that fill our cities, and afflict and
torment villages--what are these but reasons that summon woman to
have a part in that regenerating of thought and that regenerating
of legislation which shall make vice a crime, and vice-makers
criminals? Do you suppose that, if it were to turn on the votes
of women to-day whether rum should be sold in every shop in this
city, there would be one moment's delay in settling the
question? What to the oak lightning is that marks it and descends
swiftly upon it, that woman's vote would be to miscreant vices in
these great cities. [Applause]. Ah, I speak that which I do know.
As a physician speaks from that which he sees in the hospital
where he ministers, so I speak from that which I behold in my
professional position and place, where I see the undercurrent of
life. I hear groans that come from smiling faces. I witness tears
that when others look upon the face are all swept away, as the
rain is when one comes after a storm. Not most vocal are our
deepest sorrows. Oh, the sufferings of wives for husbands untrue!
Oh, the sufferings of mothers for sons led astray! Oh, the
sufferings of sisters for sisters gone! Oh, the sufferings of
companions for companion-women desecrated! And I hold it to be a
shame that they, who have the instinct of purity and of divine
remedial mercy more than any other, should withhold their hand
from that public legislation by which society may be scoured, and
its pests cleared away. And I declare that woman has more
interest in legislation than man, because she is the sufferer and
the home-staying, ruined victim.

II. The household, about which we hear so much said as being
woman's sphere, is safe only as the community around about it is
safe. Now and then there may be a Lot that can live in Sodom; but
when Lot was called to emigrate, he could not get all his
children to go with him. They had been intermarried and
corrupted. A Christian woman is said to have all that she needs
for her understanding and to task her powers if she will stay at
home and mend her husband's clothes, if she has a husband, and
take care of her children, if she has children. The welfare of
the family, it is said, ought to occupy her time and thoughts.
And some ministers, in descanting upon the sphere of woman, are
wont to magnify the glory and beauty of a mother teaching some
future chief-justice, or some president of the United States. Not
one whit of glory would I withdraw from such a canvas as that;
but I aver that the power to teach these children largely depends
upon the influences that surround the household. So that she that
would take the best care of the house must take care of that
atmosphere which is around the house as well. And every true and
wise Christian woman is bound to have a thought for the village,
for the county, for the State, and for the nation. [Applause].
That was not the kind of woman that brought me up--a woman that
never thought of anything outside of her own door-yard. My
mother's house was as wide as Christ's house; and she taught me
to understand the words of Him that said, "The field is the
world; and whoever needs is your brother." A woman that is
content to wash stockings, and make Johnny-cake, and to look
after and bring up her boys faultless to a button, and that never
thinks beyond the meal-tub, and whose morality is so small as to
be confined to a single house, is an under-grown woman, and will
spend the first thousand years after death in coming to that
state in which she ought to have been before she died.
[Laughter]. Tell me that a woman is fit to give an ideal life to
an American citizen, to enlarge his sympathies, to make him wise
in judgment, and to establish him in patriotic regard, who has no
thought above what to eat and drink, and wherewithal to be
clothed. The best housekeepers are they that are the most widely
beneficent. "Seek first the kingdom of God and his righteousness,
and all these things shall be added unto you." God will take care
of the stockings, if you take care of the heads! [Laughter and
applause]. Universal beneficence never hinders anybody's
usefulness in any particular field of duty. Therefore, woman's
sphere should not be limited to the household. The public welfare
requires that she should have a thought of affairs outside of the
household, and in the whole community.

III. Woman brings to public affairs peculiar qualities,
aspirations, and affections which society needs. I have had
persons say to me, "Would you, now, take your daughter and your
wife, and walk down to the polls with them?" If I were to take my
daughter and my wife, and walk down to the polls with them, and
there was a squirming crowd of bloated, loud-mouthed, blattering
men, wrangling like so many maggots on cheese, what would take
place, but that, at the moment I appeared with my wife and
daughter walking by my side with conscious dignity and veiled
modesty, the lane would open, and I should pass through the red
sea unharmed? [Great applause]. Where is there a mob such that
the announcement that a woman is present does not bring down the
loudest of them? Nothing but the sorcery of rum prevents a man
from paying unconscious, instant respect to the presence of a
woman....

IV. The history of woman's co-operative labors thus far justifies
the most sanguine anticipations, such as I have alluded to.
Allusion has been made to the purification of literature. The
influence of women has been a part of the cause of this,
unquestionably; but I would not ascribe such a result to any one
cause. God is a great workman, and has a chest full of tools, and
never uses one tool, but always many; and in the purification of
literature, the elevation of thought, the advancement of the
public sentiment of the world in humanity, God has employed more
than that which has been wrought in their departments. And that
which the family has long ago achieved--that, in more eminence
and more wondrous and surprising beauty, the world will achieve
for itself in public affairs, when man and woman co-operate
there, as now they are co-operating in all other spheres of
taste, intellection, and morality....

It is said, a "woman's place is at home." Well, now, since
compromises are coming into vogue again, will you compromise with
me, and agree that until a woman has a home she may vote?
[Laughter]. That is only fair. It is said, "She ought to stay at
home, and attend to home duty, and minister to the wants of
father, or husband, or brothers." Well, may all orphan women, and
unmarried women, and women that have no abiding place of
residence vote? If not, where is the argument? But, to look at it
seriously, what is the defect of this statement? It is the
impression that staying at home is incompatible with going
abroad. Never was there a more monstrous fallacy. I light my
candle, and it gives me all the light I want, and it gives all
the light you want to you, and to you, and to you, and to every
other one in the room; and there is not one single ray that you
get there which cheats me here; and a woman that is doing her
duty right in the family sheds a beneficent influence out upon
the village in which she dwells, without taking a moment's more
time. My cherry-trees are joyful in all their blossoms, and
thousands go by them and see them in their beauty day by day; but
I never mourn the happiness that they bestow on passers-by as
having been taken from me. I am not cheated by the perfume that
goes from my flowers into my neighbor's yard. And the character
of a true woman is such that it may shine everywhere without
making her any poorer. She is richer in proportion as she gives
away.... And it is just because woman is woman that she is
fitted, while she takes care of the household, to take care of
the village and the community around about her.

But it is said, "She ought to act through her father, or husband,
or brother, or son." Why ought she?



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