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I hail this
more public movement for its advocacy, and have been glad that I
had strength enough to co-operate to some extent. I have attended
most of the regular meetings, and I now feel almost ashamed, old
as I am, to be so ignorant of what has happened during the last
year. We need a paper--an organ that shall keep those who can not
mingle actively in our public labors better informed. _The
Standard_ has done much; and I find in many other papers a
disposition to do justice, to a great extent, to our cause. It is
not ridiculed as it was in the beginning. We do not have the
difficulties, the opposition, and the contumely to confront that
we had at an early day. I am very glad to find such an audience
here to-day; and far be it from me to occupy the time so as to
prevent Mr. May, Mr. Burleigh, and others, from having their
proper place.

Mr. PURVIS resumed the chair, and introduced Mrs. Stanton, who
spoke to the following resolutions:

_Resolved_, That government, of all sciences, is the most
exalted and comprehensive, including, as it does, all the
political, commercial, religious, educational, and social
interests of the race.

_Resolved_, That to speak of the ballot as an "article of
merchandise," and of the science of government as the "muddy
pool of politics," is most demoralizing to a nation based on
universal suffrage.

In considering the question of suffrage, there are two starting
points: one, that this right is a gift of society, in which
certain men, having inherited this privilege from some abstract
body and abstract place, have now the right to secure it for
themselves and their privileged order to the end of time. This
principle leads logically to governing races, classes, families;
and, in direct antagonism to our idea of self-government, takes
us back to monarchies and despotisms, to an experiment that has
been tried over and over again, 6,000 years, and uniformly
failed.

Ignoring this point of view as untenable and anti-republican, and
taking the opposite, that suffrage is a natural right--as
necessary to man under government, for the protection of person
and property, as are air and motion to life--we hold the talisman
by which to show the right of all classes to the ballot, to
remove every obstacle, to answer every objection, to point out
the tyranny of every qualification to the free exercise of this
sacred right. To discuss this question of suffrage for women and
negroes, as women and negroes, and not as citizens of a republic,
implies that there are some reasons for demanding this right for
these classes that do not apply to "white males."

The obstinate persistence with which fallacious and absurd
objections are pressed against their enfranchisement--as if they
were anomalous beings, outside all human laws and necessities--is
most humiliating and insulting to every black man and woman who
has one particle of healthy, high-toned self-respect. There are
no special claims to propose for women and negroes, no new
arguments to make in their behalf. The same already made to
extend suffrage to all white men in this country, the same John
Bright makes for the working men of England, the same made for
the emancipation of 22,000,000 Russian serfs, are all we have to
make for black men and women. As the greater includes the less,
an argument for universal suffrage covers the whole question, the
rights of all citizens. In thus relaying the foundations of
government, we settle all these side issues of race, color, and
sex, end class legislation, and remove forever the fruitful cause
of the jealousies, dissensions, and revolutions of the past.
This is the platform of the American Equal Rights Association.
"We are masters of the situation." Here black men and women are
buried in the citizen. As in the war, freedom was the key-note of
victory, so now is universal suffrage the key-note of
reconstruction.

"Negro suffrage" may answer as a party cry for an effete
political organization through another Presidential campaign; but
the people of this country have a broader work on hand to-day
than to save the Republican party, or, with some abolitionists,
to settle the rights of races. The battles of the ages have been
fought for races, classes, parties, over and over again, and
force always carried the day, and will until we settle the
higher, the holier question of individual rights. This is our
American idea, and on a wise settlement of this question rests
the problem whether our nation shall live or perish.

The principle of inequality in government has been thoroughly
tried, and every nation based on that idea that has not already
perished, clearly shows the seeds of death in its dissensions and
decline. Though it has never been tried, we know an experiment on
the basis of equality would be safe; for the laws in the world of
morals are as immutable as in the world of matter. As the
Astronomer Leverrier discovered the planet that bears his name by
a process of reason and calculation through the variations of
other planets from known laws, so can the true statesman, through
the telescope of justice, see the genuine republic of the future
amid the ruins of the mighty nations that have passed away. The
opportunity now given us to make the experiment of
self-government should be regarded by every American citizen as a
solemn and a sacred trust. When we remember that a nation's life
and growth and immortality depend on its legislation, can we
exalt too highly the dignity and responsibility of the ballot,
the science of political economy, the sphere of government?
Statesmanship is, of all sciences, the most exalted and
comprehensive, for it includes all others. Among men we find
those who study the laws of national life more liberal and
enlightened on all subjects than those who confine their
researches in special directions. When we base nations on justice
and equality, we lift government out of the mists of speculation
into the dignity of a fixed science. Everything short of this is
trick, legerdemain, sleight of hand. Magicians may make nations
seem to live, but they do not. The Newtons of our day who should
try to make apples stand in the air or men walk on the wall,
would be no more puerile in their experiments than are they who
build nations outside of law, on the basis of inequality.

What thinking man can talk of _coming down_ into the arena of
politics? If we need purity, honor, self-sacrifice and devotion
anywhere, we need them in those who have in their keeping the
life and prosperity of a nation. In the enfranchisement of woman,
in lifting her up into this broader sphere, we see for her new
honor and dignity, more liberal, exalted and enlightened views of
life, its objects, ends and aims, and an entire revolution in the
new world of interest and action where she is soon to play her
part. And in saying this, I do not claim that woman is better
than man, but that the sexes have a civilizing power on each
other. The distinguished historian, Henry Thomas Buckle, says:
"The turn of thought of women, their habits of mind, their
conversation, invariably extending over the whole surface of
society, and frequently penetrating its intimate structure, have,
more than all other things put together, tended to raise us into
an ideal world, and lift us from the dust into which we are too
prone to grovel." And this will be her influence in exalting and
purifying the world of politics. When woman understands the
momentous interests that depend on the ballot, she will make it
her first duty to educate every American boy and girl into the
idea that to vote is the most sacred act of citizenship--a
religious duty not to be discharged thoughtlessly, selfishly or
corruptly; but conscientiously, remembering that, in a republican
government, to every citizen is entrusted the interests of the
nation. Would you fully estimate the responsibility of the
ballot, think of it as the great regulating power of a continent,
of all our interests, political, commercial, religious,
educational, social and sanitary!

To many minds, this claim for the ballot suggests nothing more
than a rough polling-booth where coarse, drunken men, elbowing
each other, wade knee-deep in mud to drop a little piece of paper
two inches long into a box--simply this and nothing more. The
poet Wordsworth, showing the blank materialism of those who see
only with their outward eyes, says of his Peter Bell:

"A primrose on the river's brim
A yellow primrose was to him,
And it was nothing more."

So our political Peter Bells see the rough polling-booth in this
great right of citizenship, and nothing more. In this act, so
lightly esteemed by the mere materialist, behold the realization
of that great idea struggled for in the ages and proclaimed by
the Fathers, the right of self-government. That little piece of
paper dropped into a box is the symbol of equality, of
citizenship, of wealth, of virtue, education, self-protection,
dignity, independence and power--the mightiest engine yet placed
in the hand of man for the uprooting of ignorance, tyranny,
superstition, the overturning of thrones, altars, kings, popes,
despotisms, monarchies and empires. What phantom can the sons of
the Pilgrims be chasing, when they make merchandise of a power
like this?



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