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And our old nationality went down in the ruin. Now we
are divided, distracted, deranged in currency, commerce,
diplomacy, with State and Federal liabilities resting on the
people, amounting to not less than six thousand millions of
dollars, not to speak of current expenditures which are also
appalling; with a President whose weakness finds no parallel but
in his wickedness, with a Secretary of State who has become his
full counterpart in both, and a Senate too cowardly, or too
corrupt, to impeach the one or to seek the removal of the other!

For more than two years we have been attempting to restore the
fragments of our once boasted Union. With the history and
experience of forty centuries shining back upon us, so far we
have failed. And under any existing or proposed policy we shall
fail. By all the claims of justice and righteousness, we deserve
to fail; for we are still defying those claims. The son of Priam,
a priest of Apollo, was commissioned to offer a sacrifice to
propitiate the god of the sea. But the offering not being
acceptable, there came up two enormous serpents from the deep and
attacked the priest and his two sons who stood with him at the
altar. The father attempted to defend his sons; but the serpents
falling upon him, enfolded him and them in their complicated
coils, and strangled them to a terrible death. Let this
government beware. The very union proposed will only bind and
hold us together as in the deadly folds of a serpent more fearful
than all the fabled monsters of the past! And so, hitherto,
republics are no exception to the general law. Rickets in
infancy, convulsions in childhood, or premature rheumatisms, have
brought the nations of history to untimely deaths. Material
interests may flourish, and nations grow great and powerful, make
wars and conquests, and rule the world. The ancients did all
this, but where are those haughty omnipotences now? Charlemagne
did but little less, and in half a century his magnificence was
brought to nought. Spain survived a little longer in its glory
and grandeur; but now the scanty blood-splash on the map
describes it well. The United States, young among the nations,
the mother earth six thousand years old at their birth,
wet-nursed by forty centuries of history, and schooled by all the
experience of the ages, with almost half a globe for their
inheritance, with Christianity faith and Republicanism their
form of government, they survived a precocious childhood and then
fell a victim to their own vices and crimes. To-day they are in
the hands of many physicians, though of doubtful reputation, who
seem far less desirous to cure the patient than to divide and
share the estate.

My main point is this--we have had enough of the past in
government. It is time to change. Literally almost, more than
metaphorically, the "times are rotten ripe." We come to-day to
demand--first an extension of the right of suffrage to every
American citizen, of whatever race, complexion or sex. Manhood or
_male_-hood suffrage is not a remedy for evils such as we wish
removed. The Anti-Slavery Society demands that; and so, too, do
large numbers of both the political parties. Even Andrew Johnson
at first recommended it, in the reconstruction of the rebel
States, for three classes of colored men. The New York _Herald_,
in the exuberance of its religious zeal, demanded that "members
of Christian Churches" be added as a fourth estate to the three
designated by the President. The Woman's Rights Society
contemplated suffrage only for woman. But we, as an EQUAL RIGHTS
Association, recognize no distinctions based on sex, complexion
or race. The Ten Commandments know nothing of any such
distinctions. No more do we. The right of suffrage is as old, as
sacred and as universal as the right to life, liberty and the
pursuit of happiness. It is indeed the complement and safeguard
of these and all civil and political rights to every citizen. The
right to life would be nothing without the right to acquire and
possess the means of its support. So it were mockery to talk of
liberty and the pursuit of happiness, until the ballot in the
hand of every citizen seals and secures it. The right of the
black man to a voice in the government was not earned at Olustee
or Port Hudson. It was his when life began, not when life was
paid for it under the battle-axe of war. It was his with
Washington and Jefferson, James Buchanan and Abraham Lincoln. Not
one of them could ever produce a higher, holier claim. Nor can
any of us. We are prating about _giving_ the right of suffrage to
black _male_ citizens, as complacently as we once gave our
compassion and corn to famishing Ireland. But this famine of
freedom and justice exists because we have produced it. Had our
fleets and armies robbed Ireland of its last loaf, and left its
myriads of inhabitants lean, ghastly skeletons, our charity would
not have been more a mockery when we sent them bread to preserve
them alive, than it is now when we talk of _giving_ the ballot to
those whom God created free and equal with ourselves.

And in the plenitude of our generosity, we even propose to extend
the _gift_ to woman also. It is proposed to make educated,
cultivated, refined, loyal, tax-paying, government-obeying woman
equal to the servants who groom her horses, and scour the pots
and pans of her kitchen. Our Maria Mitchells, our Harriet
Hosmers, Harriet Beecher Stowes, Lydia Maria Childs, and Lucretia
Motts, with millions of the mothers and matrons of quiet homes,
where they preside with queenly dignity and grace, are begging of
besotted, debauched white male citizens, legal voters, soaked in
whisky, simmered in tobacco, and parboiled in every shameless
vice and sin, to recognize them also as human, and graciously
accord to them the rights of intelligent beings!

And, singularly enough, in some of the States, it is proposed to
grant the prayer. But the wisest and best men have no idea that
they are only restoring what they have so long held by force,
based on fraud and falsehood. They only propose to _give_ woman
the boon which they claim was theirs by heavenly inheritance. But
they are too late with their sublime generosity. For God gave
that when he gave life and breath, passions, emotions,
conscience, and will. Give gold, give lands, give honors, give
office, give title of nobility, if you must: but talk not of
giving natural, inalienable and heaven-derived endowments. God
alone bestows these. He alone has them to give. Our trade in the
right of suffrage is contraband. It is bold buccaneering on the
commerce of the moral universe. If we have our neighbor's right
of suffrage and citizenship in our keeping, no matter of what
color, or race, or sex, then we have stolen goods in our
possession--and God's search-warrant will pursue us forever, if
those goods be not restored. And then we impudently assert that
"all just governments derive their powers, from the consent of
the governed." But when was the consent of woman ever asked to
one single act on all the statute books? We talk of "trial by
jury of our peers!" In this country of ours, women have been
fined, imprisoned, scourged, branded with red hot irons and hung;
but when, or where, or for what crime or offense, was ever woman
tried by a jury of her peers?

Suffrage was never in the hands of tyrants or of governments, but
by usurpation. It was never given by them to any of us. We
brought it; not bought it; nor conquered it; nor begged it; nor
earned it; nor inherited it. It was man's inalienable,
irrepealable, inextinguishable right from the beginning. It is so
still; the same yesterday, to-day, and while earthly governments
last. It came with the right to see and hear; to breathe and
speak; to think and feel; to love and hate; to choose and refuse;
or it did not come at all. The right to see came with the eye and
the light: did it not? and the right to breathe, with the lungs
and the air; and all these from the same infinite source. And has
not also the moral and spiritual nature its inalienable rights?
Have the mere bodily organs, which are but the larder of worms,
born of the dust, and dust their destiny--have they power and
prerogative that are denied to the reason, the understanding, the
conscience, the will, those attributes which constitute
responsibility, accountability, and immortality? Or shall God
give the power to choose, or refuse obedience to his law and
reign, leaving the human will free as his own; and must mortal
man, the mushroom of yesterday and perished to-morrow, usurp a
higher and more dreadful prerogative, and compel support of and
submission to laws in which the subject has no voice in making,
executing, or even consenting, on pain of perpetual imprisonment,
banishment, or death?

Must a brave soldier fight and bleed for the government, and,
pruned of limbs, plucked of eyes, and scarred all over with the
lead and iron hail of war--must he now hobble on his crutches up
to a Republican, Democratic, yea, and a Christian throne, and beg
the boon of a ballot in that government, in defense of which he
periled all, and lost all but bare life and breath, only because
an African instead of a more indulgent sun looked upon him or his
ancestors in their allotment of life? And then, when the claim of
immortal manhood is superadded, the inalienable rights of the
soul, in and of themselves, the rights of the reason, the
understanding, the conscience, the will--what desperation is that
which treads down all these claims, and rushes into seats of
higher authority than were ever claimed by the eternal God, and
denies him that right altogether!



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