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In the
Assembly Chamber on the afternoon of Jan. 23, 1867, an immense
audience of judges, lawyers, members of the Legislature, and ladies of
fashion greeted her. On being introduced by the Hon. Chas. J.
Folger,[92] Chairman of the Senate Judiciary Committee, MRS. STANTON
said:

_Gentlemen of the Judiciary Committee and Members of the
Legislature_:

I appear before you at this time, to urge on you the justice of
securing to all the people of the State the right to vote for
delegates to the coming Constitutional Convention. The discussion
of this right involves the consideration of the whole question of
suffrage; and especially those sections of your Constitution
which interpose insurmountable qualifications to its exercise. As
representatives of the people, your right to regulate all that
pertains to the coming Constitutional Convention is absolute. It
is for you to say when and where this convention shall be held;
how many delegates shall be chosen, and what classes shall be
represented. This is your right. It is the opinion of many of the
ablest men of the country that, in a revision of a constitution,
the State is, for the time being, resolved into its original
elements, and that all disfranchised classes should have a voice
in such revision and be represented in such convention. To secure
this to the people of the State, is clearly your duty.

Says Judge Beach Lawrence, in a letter to Hon. Charles Sumner: "A
State Constitution must originate with and be assented to by a
majority of the people, including as well those whom it
disfranchises as those whom it invests with the suffrage." And as
there is nothing in the present Constitution of the State of New
York to prevent women, or black men from voting for, or being
elected as delegates to a Constitutional Convention, there is no
reason why the Legislature should not enact that the people elect
their delegates to said Convention irrespective of sex or color.
The Legislatures of 1801 and 1821 furnish you a precedent for
extending to disfranchised classes the right to vote for
delegates to a Constitutional Convention. Though the Constitution
of the State restricted the right of suffrage to every male
inhabitant who possessed a freehold to the value of 20, or
rented a tenement at the yearly value of forty shillings, and had
been rated and actually paid taxes to the State, the Legislatures
of those years passed laws setting aside all property
limitations, and providing that all men--black and white, rich
and poor--should vote for delegates to said Conventions. The act
recommending a convention for the purpose of considering the
parts of the Constitution of this State, respecting the number of
Senators and Members of Assembly--and also for the consideration
of the 23d article of said Constitution, relative to the right of
nomination to office--"but with no other power or authority
whatsoever," passed April 6, 1801. Session Laws 1801, chap. 69,
page 190, sec. 2, says:

And be it further enacted, that the number of delegates
chosen shall be the same as the number of Members of
Assembly from the respective cities and counties of the
State, and that all free male citizens of this State, of the
age of twenty-one years and upward, shall be admitted to
vote for such delegates, and that any person of that
description shall be eligible.

The above law was passed by the Legislature of 1801, which
derived its authority from the first Constitution of the State.

The act recommending a convention of the people of this State,
passed March 13, 1821. Session Laws of 1821, act 90, page 83,
sec. 1. "Persons entitled to vote":

All free male citizens, of the age of twenty-one years or
upward, who shall possess a freehold in this State, or who
shall have been actually rated and paid taxes to this State,
or who shall have been actually enrolled in the militia of
this State, or in a legal, volunteer, or uniform corps, and
shall have served therein either as an officer or private,
or who shall have been or now are, by law, exempt from
taxation or militia duty, or who shall have been assessed to
work on the public roads and highways, and shall have worked
thereon, or shall have paid a commutation therefor according
to law, shall be allowed during the three days of such
election to vote by ballot as aforesaid in the town or ward
in which they shall actually reside.

Extract from Sec. 6th, Act 90:

And be it further enacted, that the number of delegates to
be chosen shall be the same as the number of Members of
Assembly from the respective cities and counties of this
State, and that the same qualification for voters shall be
required on the election for delegates, as is prescribed in
the first section of this act, and none other.... And that
all persons entitled to vote by this law for delegates,
shall be eligible to be elected.

Extracts from the first Constitution of the State of New York,
under and by virtue of which the Legislatures sat, which passed
the acts of 1801 and 1821, from which the extracts above are
taken. Sec. 7. Qualification of electors:

That every male inhabitant of full age, who shall have
personally resided for six months within one of the counties
of this State, immediately preceding the day of election,
shall at such election be entitled to vote for
representatives of the said county in Assembly, if during
the time aforesaid, he shall have been a freeholder
possessing a freehold of the value of 20, within the said
county, or have rented a tenement therein of a yearly value
of forty shillings, and been rated and actually paid taxes
to this State.

SEC. 10. And this Convention doth further, in the name and
by the authority of the good people of this State, ordain,
determine, and declare that the Senate of the State of New
York shall consist of twenty-four freeholders, to be chosen
out of the body of the freeholders, and they be chosen by
the freeholders of this State, possessed of freeholds of the
value of 100 over and above all debts charged thereon.

By section 17, the qualifications for voters for Governor
are made the same as those for Senators.

The laws above quoted show this striking fact: Those men, black
and white, prohibited from voting for members of the Assembly,
were permitted to vote for delegates to said Conventions; and
more than this, on each occasion they were eligible to seats in
the body called to frame the fundamental law--the fundamental law
from which Governors, Senators, and Members derive their
existence.

The Constitutional Convention of Rhode Island, in 1842, affords
another precedent of the power of the Legislature to extend the
suffrage to disfranchised classes.

The disfranchisement of any class of citizens is in express
violation of the spirit of our own Constitution. Art. 1, sec. 1:

No member of this State shall be disfranchised or deprived
of any of the rights or privileges secured to any citizen
thereof, unless by the law of the land and the judgment of
his peers.

Now, women, and negroes not worth two hundred and fifty dollars,
however weak and insignificant, are surely "members of the
State." The law of the land is equality. The question of
disfranchisement has never been submitted to the judgment of
their peers. A peer is an equal. The "white male citizen" who so
pompously parades himself in all our Codes and Constitutions,
does not recognize women and negroes as his equals; therefore,
his judgment in their case amounts to nothing. And women and
negroes constituting a majority of the people of the State, do
not recognize a "white male" minority as their rightful rulers.
On our republican theory that the majority governs, women and
negroes should have a voice in the government of the State; and
being taxed, should be represented.

In the recent debate in the Senate of the United States, on the
question of suffrage, Senator Anthony, of Rhode Island, said:

Nor is it a fair statement of the case to say, that the man
represents the woman, because it is an assumption on the
part of the man--it is an involuntary representation on the
part of the woman. 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 with that kind of
representation.



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