From Woman and the Republic by Helen Kendrick Johnson. This edition originally published in 1913.
The etext has been reformatted, redesigned and hyperlinked to add to its usefulness as a research document.
This version: Copyright © 2000 Jone Johnson Lewis. All Rights Reserved.
IS WOMAN SUFFRAGE DEMOCRATIC?
As the claim of woman to share the voting power is related to the fundamental principles of government, the progress of government must be studied in relation to that claim in order to learn its bearing upon them. It is possible to suggest in one brief chapter only the barest outline of such a far-reaching scrutiny, and wiser heads than mine must search to conclusion; but some beginnings looking forward an answer to the inquiry I have raised have occurred to me as not having entered into the newly-opened controversy on woman suffrage.
I say, the newly-opened controversy, for, through these fifty years, the Suffragists have done nearly all the talking. So persistently have they laid claim to being in the line of progress for woman, that many of their newly aroused opponents fancied that the anti-suffrage view might be the ultra conservative one, and that democratic principles, strictly and broadly applied, might at last lead to woman suffrage, though premature if pushed to a conclusion now.
The first step in finding out how far that position is true is, to ascertain what the Suffragists say about this noblest of democracies, our own Government. In referring to the "The History of Woman Suffrage" for the opinions of the leaders, I am not only using a book that on its publication was considered a strong and full presentment of their arguments, but one which they are to-day advertising and selling as "a perfect arsenal of the work done by and for women during the last half century." In it the editors say: "Woman's political equality with man is the legitimate outgrowth of the fundamental principles of our government." Dr. Mary Putnam Jacobi, writing in the New York Sun in April, 1894, says: "Never, until the establishment of universal [male] suffrage, did it happen that all the women in a community, no matter how well born, how intelligent, how well educated, how virtuous, how wealthy, were counted the political inferiors of all the men, no matter how base born, how stupid, how ignorant, how brutal, how poverty-stricken. This anomaly is the real innovation. Men have personally ruled the women of their families; the law has annihilated the separate existence of women; but women have never been subjected to the political sovereignty of all men simply in virtue of their sex. Never, that is, since the days of the ancient republics." Mrs. Ellen Battelle Dietrick, who, as Secretary of the New-England Suffrage Association, was put forward to meet all comers, writing in July, 1895, said: "Shall we, as a people, be true to our principles and enfranchise woman? or, shall we drift along in the meanest form of oligarchy known among men-an oligarchy which exalts every sort of a male into a ruler simply because he is a male, and debases every woman into a subject simply because she is a woman?" Mrs. Fanny B. Ames, speaking in Boston in 1896, said: "I believe woman suffrage to be the final result of the evolution of a true democracy." Not only has every woman speaker or writer in favor of suffrage presented this idea in some form, but the men also who have taken that side have done likewise. One among those who advocated the cause before the Committee in the Constitutional Convention of New York, said: "Woman Suffrage is the inevitable result of the logic of the situation of modern society. The despot who first yielded an inch of power gave up the field. We are standing in the light of the best interests of the State of New York when we stand in the way of this forward movement."
All these writers charge the American Republic with being false to democratic principles in excluding women from the franchise, while but one of them alludes to the fact that in the ancient republics the same "anomaly" was seen.
As I read political history, the facts go to show that the fundamental principles of our Government are more opposed to the exercise of suffrage by women than are those of monarchies. To me it seems that both despotism and anarchy are more friendly to woman's political aspirations than is any form of constitutional government, and that manhood suffrage, and not womanhood, suffrage, is the final result of the evolution of democracy.
The Suffragists repeatedly call attention to the fact that in the early ages in Egypt, in Greece, and in Rome, women were of much greater political consequence than later during the republics; but the moral they have drawn has been that of the superiority of the ancient times. Mrs. Dietrick say: "The idea woman of Greece was Athena, patroness of all household arts and industries, but equally patroness of all political interests. The greatest city of Greece was believed to have been founded by her, and Greek history recorded that, though the men citizens voted solidly to have the city named for Neptune, yet the women citizens voted solidly for Athena, beat them by one vote, and carried that political matter. If physical force had been a governing power in Greece, and men its manifestation, how could such a story have been published by Greek men down to the second century before our era?"
Mrs. Dietrick's remarkably realistic version of the old myth does not tell the tale as Greek men published it. Varro, who was educated at Athens, goes on to say: "Thereupon, Neptune became enraged, and immediately the sea flowed over all the land of Athens. To appease the god, the burgesses were compelled to impose a three-fold punishment upon their wives-they were to lose their votes; the children were to receive no more the mother's name; and they themselves were no longer to be called Athenians, after the goddess." It seems to me this fable teaches that physical force was indeed the governing power in Athens at that day, and that men were its manifestation.
The legend is generally taken to indicate the time when the Greek gens progressed to the family. In the ruder time, the legitimacy of the chieftain might be traced, because the mother, though not always the father, could be known with certainty. When the father became the acknowledged head of the household, a distinct advance was made toward that heroic age in which the vague but towering figures of men and women move across the stage. Goddesses, queens, princesses, are powerful in love and war. Sibyls unfold the meaning of the book of fate. Vestals feed the fires upon the highest and lowest altars. Later, throughout most of the states of Greece, something like the following order of political life is seen: from kings to oligarchs, from oligarchs to tyrants or despots, from them to some form of restricted constitutional liberty. In Sparta, all change of government was controlled by the machinery of war, and the soldiers were made forever free. Athens, separated from the rest of Greece, was less agitated by outward conflict. In government she passed from king to archon; from hereditary archon to archons chosen for ten years, but always from one family, then to those elected for one year, nine being chosen. At the time of the Areopagus there were four classes of citizens. The first three paid taxes, had a right to share in the government, and formed the defence of the state. If women were of political importance in earlier times, and if a republic is more favorable to the exercise by them of the elective franchise, we should expect to find women reaching their highest power under the Areopagus. Exactly the contrary appears to be true. Native and honorable Greek women retired to domestic life as the liberty of their people grew. Grote, in his "History of Greece," referring to the legendary period, says: "We find the wife occupying a station of great dignity and influence, though it was the practice of the husband to purchase her by valuable presents to her parents. She even seems to live less secluded, and to enjoy a wider sphere of action, than was allotted to her in historic Greece."
Lecky, in his "European Morals," says: "It is one of the most remarkable and, to some writers, one of the most perplexing facts in the moral history of Greece, that in the former and ruder period women had undoubtedly the highest place, and their type exhibited the highest perfection." What the "highest perfection" is, for her type, or for man's type, is not here under discussion; but it is not out of place to say in passing that if the final conquest of the spiritual over the material forces of humanity is really the aim of civilization, these "facts in the moral history of Greece" become has "perplexing."
The heroines of Homer's tales were all of noble birth-they were goddesses, princesses, hereditary gentlewomen. In early historic times, also, it was only royal or gentle blood that secured for woman political power. Athena was, in gentle Athens, patroness of household arts; but in Sparta, as Minerva, the same divinity was goddess, not of political interests, as Mrs. Dietrick puts it, but of war. She sprang full-armed from the head of Jove-rather a masculine origin, it must be owned. In Sparta women became soldier as the democratic idea advanced. Princess Archidamia, marching at the head of her female troop to rebuke the senators for the decree that the women and children be removed from the city before the anticipated attack could come, is an example. In Etolia, in Argos, and in other states, the same was true. Maria and Telesilla led the women in battle and disciplined them in peace. But the world does not turn to Sparta for its ideal of a pre-Christian republic, and the Suffragists of our day do not proposes to emulate the Spartan Amazon and hew their way to political power with the sword.
In Athens, which does present the model, matters were far otherwise. In the year 700
the Spartans called upon Athens for a commander to lead them to the second Messenian war,
and the Athenians sent them Tyrtus, their martial poet. The Spartans were displeased at
his youth and gentle bearing; but when the battle was joined, his chanting of his own
war-songs so animated the troops that they won against heavy odds. The following is a
fragment translated from one of his lyrics:
"But be it ours to guard the hallowed spot,
To shield the tender offspring and the wife
Here steadily await our destined lot,
and, for their sakes, resign the gift of life."
Aeschylus, poet and soldier, writing a hundred and fifty years later, in his "Seven
Against Thebes," puts into the mouth of the chieftain Eteocles this address to the
"It is not to be borne, ye wayward race;
Is this your best, is this the aid you lend
The state, the fortitude with which you steel
The souls of the besieged, thus falling down
Before the images to wail, and shriek
With lamentations loud? Wisdom abhors you.
Nor in misfortune, nor in dear success,
Be woman my associate. If her power
Bears sway, her insolence exceeds all bounds;
But if she fears, woe to that house and city.
And now by holding counsel with weak fear,
You magnify the foe, and turn our men
To flight. Thus are we ruined by ourselves.
This ever will arise from suffering women
To intermix with men. But mark me well,
Whoe'er henceforth dares disobey my orders-
Be it man or woman, old or young-
Vengeance shall burst upon him, the decree
Stands irreversible, and he shall die.
War is no female province, but the scene
For men. Hence, home! nor spread your mischiefs here.
Hear you, or not? Or speak I to the deaf?"
Pericles, in his famous funeral oration over those who fell in the Peloponnesian war, thus addresses the Athenian women: "To the wives who will henceforth live in widowhood, I will speak, in one short sentence only, of womanly virtue. She is the best woman who is most truly a woman, and her reputation is the highest whose name is never in the mouths of men for good or for evil."
Seclusion was the best thing that the most intellectual pre-Christian republic could give to its honorable women. The freedom with which the hetair, who were foreigners or daughters of slaves, mingled with statesmen and philosophers, brought them open political influence, but not a hint of voting power or of office-holding.
For the sake of brevity, I will confine my reference to Roman custom to a single pregnant sentence from Gibbon's "Decline and Fall of the Empire." He says: "In every age and country the wiser, or at least the stronger of the two sexes, has usurped the powers of the state, and confined the other to the cares and pleasures of domestic life. In hereditary monarchies, however, and especially in those of modern Europe, the gallant spirit of chivalry, and the law of succession, have accustomed us to allow a singular exception, and a woman is often acknowledged the absolute sovereign of a great kingdom, in which she would be deemed incapable of exercising the smallest employment, civil or military. But, as the Roman Emperors were still considered as the generals and magistrates of the Republic, their wives and mothers, although dignified by the name of Augusta, were never associated to their personal honors; and a female reign would have appeared an inexplicable prodigy in the eyes of those primitive Romans, who married without love, or loved without delicacy or respect."
The warlike states named republics in the Middle Ages had no woman Doge, or Duke, although women rose to the semblance of political power with empires and kingdom, in Italy and Spain as well as in Germany and France, Austria and Russia.
Let us turn to modern Europe, in which thrones have been occupied now and again by queens. The progress of woman here, especially in Anglo-Saxon countries, has been steady, true and inspiring. In the earliest recorded councils of the race from which we sprang, we see freemen in full armor casting equal votes. During the ages of feudalism, women who were land-owners had the same rights as other nobles. They could raise soldiery, coin money, and administer justice in both civil and criminal proceedings. In proportion as the aristocratic power lost its hold, women were exempted from these services and gained in moral influence. The Germanic races were renowned for their respect for woman, and their love for home. As constitutional liberty grew, and each Englishman's house became his castle for defence against arbitrary power, the protection was not for himself but for his family. A heredity ruler in feminine attire sits on England's throne to-day-the England that still unites its church and state, and in which feudal customs still prevail to some extent. Widows and spinsters who are property-owners can vote for all offices except the one charged under the Constitution with the framing and execution of the laws of the land. Aristocracy decrees that in the House of Lords the Bishops shall have a voice; but in the House of Commons no clergyman can hold a seat, and for members of Parliament no woman votes. Would any Suffragist hold that a clergyman was the inferior of men who do sit in the House of Common? They are excluded for the same reason that woman has not the parliamentary vote-they are looked upon as non-combatants.
The Greek and Roman republics appear to have followed an instinct that was unerring in the condition of society when they removed women from the seats of power as the commonwealth gathered strength. Gibbon, in the sentences quoted, attributes the fact that queens as well as kings have occupied the thrones of modern Europe to the chivalry of men toward those who would yet be incapable of exercising actual power except for the backing of a standing army, or an hereditary nobility sworn to their support, both of which are composed solely of men. If this be true, it should be visible in the workings of the constitutional restrictions upon monarchies that have developed in the past fifty years, during which the principle of democratic government has advanced with enormous strides over a great portion of the globe.
In the Austro-Hungarian monarchy there is restricted woman suffrage. The kingdom of Italy has restricted municipal woman suffrage. The little republic that separates those countries, the land of Tell and the Vaudois, has direct manhood suffrage only.
Sweden and Norway are apparently parting company. Sweden chooses to keep its king and its aristocracy, and it has restricted woman suffrage; but Norway, which is working toward free institutions, and last year voted to remove the insignia of union the Norwegian flag, has no woman suffrage. [Note inserted: In the city of Berne, Switzerland, in 1852, a proxy vote was given to independent women who paid a commercial tax, but they made no effort to use it until 1885, when contending political factions compelled them to do so in a measure. Norway's women have a local school vote. Both these cases of exception serve prove the rule that I am trying to set forth.]
Autocratic Russia and its Asiatic colonies have more woman suffrage than England. Finland, a constitutional monarchy, was ceded to the Emperor of Russia in 1809. Women there have all except the parliamentary suffrage. The Governor-General of the Senate nominated by the Emperor, and is chief of the military force. The National Assembly is convoked by the Emperor whenever he sees fit. The duties of that Assembly are to consider laws proposed by the Emperor and elaborated by the Committee of Affairs and four members nominated by the Emperor, who sit in St. Petersburg. The Emperor has the veto power over any act of their. That National Assembly consists of representatives of the nobility, the clergy, the burghers, and the peasantry, the consent of all of whom must be obtained to any measure that makes a change in the constitution or imposes taxes. But the royal veto can set aside any decision.
Iceland, a dependency of Denmark, has municipal woman suffrage, and women are eligible to municipal office. It has its own legislature, which governs jointly with the King, the executive power being in the hands of the King alone.
In the great extensions of suffrage in England in 1848, and amendment for the extension of suffrage to women was introduced in Parliament by Mr. Disraeli. Lord Northcote, Lord John Manners, and other conservatives, upheld it; but the liberal leaders opposed it, Gladstone and John Bright among them. John Bright's family were strenuous for the movement, and he had fancied himself its friend until the issue came; then the old champion of freedom proved true to the instinct that guards it in the nation. In the constantly increasing liberty of the lower classes of England, an essential principle which excludes women from the parliamentary vote has been maintained. Lady Spencer Churchill and other Suffrage leaders look to Viscount Templeton and Lord Salisbury for support to-day.
A woman-suffrage bill of many years standing and absurd provisions, has just passed to a second reading in the House of Commons. Although it was treated as a joke by all parties, it served to emphasize the fact that Sir Vernon Harcourt and the Liberals are opposed to any advance in this direction.
In the late extension of suffrage in Canada, the movement for woman suffrage had conservative support, while every liberal leader opposed it. No South American Republic has woman suffrage. With the deposition of Liliuokalani, woman's direct political power in the Hawaiian Islands died. In France only the Anarchists "admit women" to public council, and that party in Germany has here and there inscribed woman suffrage upon its banners.
Not only England, Scotland and Wales, but Canada, definitely excepts the vote for members of parliament in giving suffrage to woman, and only widows and spinsters are admitted to the minor forms of franchise. As to the other British colonies, what is the situation? Much stress has been laid on what has been termed the progress of the Suffrage movement in Australasia. There is but one Australian colony in which the legislative assembly is elected; in the others it is appointed for life, or for short terms. Where it is thus appointed, women vote on various matters. In Victoria, which contains the capital city, Melbourne, and which is the most progressive and democratic colony in Australia, the Legislative Assembly is elected, and that body is chosen by unrestricted male suffrage only, while, as with the House of Commons in the mother country, clergymen are not allowed to sit in it. In West Australia, the newest colony, the voting is done by men alone. In Cape women have restricted municipal suffrage; but the Assembly is elected by the vote of men who own a certain amount of property.
In the Orange Free State every adult white male is a full burgher, having a vote for the President, who is chosen for five years. The Transvaal Republic has no woman suffrage amid its hand-to-hand struggles.
To comprehend the condition of European governmental affairs, one must follow the condition of things produced by the struggle of socialistic and anarchistic elements. Between the King on the one hand, and these forces on the other, the true Liberal parties are slowly progressing toward free institutions; both aristocratic and anarchistic movements being more favorable than liberalism to woman-suffrage aspirations.
The countries where woman has full suffrage (save in the United States) are all dependencies of royalty. They are: The Isle of Man, Pitcairn's Island, New Zealand, and South Australia. The most important of these, New Zealand, was once a promising colony, but it has been declining for a quarter of a century. The men outnumber the women by forty thousand. The act conferring the parliamentary franchise on both European and Maori women received the royal sanction in 18923. At the session of Parliament that passed the act a tax was put upon incomes and one upon land, so that a desperate civilization seemed to be trying all the experiments at once. Certainly, woman suffrage in New Zealand was not adopted because the Government was so stable, so strong, so democratic, that these conditions must thus find fit expression. [Note inserted: The Australasian colonies are taken steps toward the formation of a Federal Union. While this book is in press news comes that the Federal Convention, by a vote of 23 to 12, has refused to allow women to vote for members of the House of Representatives.]
South Australia not only gives women full suffrage, but makes them eligible to a seat in Parliament. The colony is a vast, mountainous, largely unsettled region, with a high proportion of native and Chinese, and, in 1894, had but 73,000 voters, including the women. The Socialistic Labor movement, which has played a large part in Australasian politics, here succeeded in dominating the government. There was an attempt to establish communistic villages with public money, a proposal to divide the public money pro rata, and one to build up a system of state life-insurance; and taxes were to be levied on salaries, and on all incomes above a certain point. It was found that the sixty thousand women who were authorized to vote throughout Australia assisted the socialistic schemes that are hindering progress and that tend to anarchy and not to republicanism. There is a royal Governor, and suffrage is based on household and property qualifications. It is an aristocratic and social combination, not a triumph of democratic ideas or principles. Dr. Jacobi, in her "Common Sense applied to Woman Suffrage," says: "The refusal to extend parliamentary suffrage to women who are possessed of municipal suffrage, does not mean, as Americans are apt to suppose, that women are counted able to judge about the small concerns of a town, but not about imperial issues. It means that women are still not counted able to exercise independent judgment at all, and, therefore, are to remain counted out when this is called for; but that the property to which they happen to belong, and which requires representation, must not be deprived of this on account of an entangling female alliance. This is the very antipoles of the democratic doctrine, perhaps also somewhat excessive, that a man requires representation so much that he must not be deprived of it on account of the accident of not being able to read or write!"
With Dr. Jacobi's interpretation, I will deal later. What I wish now to do is, to call attention to her admission of the fact that woman suffrage in England and in her colonies is not democratic, and to connect it with the other fact that no republic, from that of Greece to our own, has introduced it, although manhood suffrage has been universal in Switzerland for many years, and in France since 1848.
So it would seem that under a monarchical system, with a standing army and a hereditary nobility to support the throne, the royal mandate could be issued by a woman. Any Queen, as well as the one that Alice met in Wonderland, could say, "Off with his head!" But when freedom grew, and the democratic idea began to prevail, and each individual man became a king, and each home a castle, the law given by God and not by man came into exercise, and upon each man was laid the duty of defending liberty and those who were physically unfitted to defend themselves.
Let us turn now to our own country. Technically, at least, women possessed the suffrage in our first settlements. In New England, in the early days, when church-membership as the basis of the franchise excluded three-fourths of the male inhabitants from its exercise, women could vote. Under the old Provincial charters, from 1691 to 1780, they could vote for all elective offices. From 1780 to 1785, under the Articles of Confederation, they could vote for all elective offices except the Governor, the Council, and the Legislature. The comment made upon this by the Suffrage writers is, that "the fact that woman exercised the right of suffrage amid so many restrictions, is very significant of the belief in her right to the ballot-box." My comment is, that the same lesson we have learned in Europe is repeated here with wonderful emphasis. Under the transported aristocracy of churchly power in the state, they shared the undemocratic rule. When freedom broadened a little, and, under a system that still acknowledged allegiance to the British Crown, all property-holders or other "duly qualified" colonists could vote, they still had the voice that England grants to-day, the voice of an estate. When liberty took another step and a league was formed of "firm friendship" in which each Colony was to be independent and yet banded for offensive and defensive aid, the women were retired from the special vote on the result of which lay the actual execution of the law. But this country was not yet a republic, or even a nation. Washington himself said that the state of things under the Articles of Confederation was hardly removed from anarchy. In 1789 a constitution was adopted, which made the American people a nation. Its preamble read: "We, the people of the United States, in order to form a more perfect union, establish justice, insure domestic tranquillity, provide for the common defence, promote the general welfare, and secure the blessings of liberty to ourselves and our posterity, do ordain and establish this Constitution for the United States of America." Under this Constitution the last vestiges of churchly political rule, and of property-qualification for voting, have gradually disappeared. New Jersey was the last State to repeal her property-qualification laws. In 1709 she made "male freeholders" who held a certain amount of property the only voters. In 1790 her Constitution, through an error in wording, admitted "all inhabitants" with certain property to vote. This was in force until 1807, when an act was passed conferring the suffrage upon "free white male citizens twenty-one years of age worth fifty pounds proclamation money, clear estate," etc. From 1790 to 1807 a good many women, generally from the Society of Friends, took part in elections. After 1807 they attempted to do so, as owners of property. Finally, that qualification for the male voter was done away with, and with it the woman-suffrage agitation disappeared.
But there are now four States of the Union where women have full suffrage, a few where they have a measure of municipal suffrage, and many where they have the school suffrage. What bearing do these facts have upon my claim that woman suffrage is undemocratic?
The States where they have full suffrage are Utah, Wyoming, Colorado, and Idaho. How far was its introduction into these States the result of advanced legislation in accord with true republicanism? Utah Territory was the first spot in the country in which the measure gained a foothold, and that was not believed by its introducers to be a part of the United States. The Mormons who founded Salt Lake City supposed themselves to be settling on Mexican territory, outside the jurisdiction of American law. Woman suffrage was almost coincident with its beginnings, and it came as a legitimate part of the union of state and church, of communism, of polygamy. The dangers that especially threaten a republican form of government are anarchy, communism, and religious bigotry; and two of these found their fullest expression, in this country, in the Mormon creed and practice. Fealty to Mormonism was disloyalty to the United States Government. Thus, the introduction of woman suffrage within our borders was not only undemocratic, it was anti-democratic.
Woman suffrage was secured in Wyoming by means that bring dishonor upon democracy. Wyoming was organized as a Territory in 1868. Many of its native settlers were from Utah. For its vast, mountainous extent of nearly 98,000 square miles, the census gave a population of only 9,118 persons. Of these the native-born numbered 5,605, foreign-born, 3,513. The males numbered 7,219; the females, 1,899. The "History of Woman Suffrage" records the fact that the measure was secured in the first Territorial legislature through the political trickery of an illiterate and discredited man, who was in the chair. Mr. Bryce, in "The American Commonwealth," alludes in a note to the same fact. Women voted in 1870. In 1871 a bill was passed repealing the suffrage act, but was vetoed by the Governor, on the ground that, having been admitted, it must be given a fair trial. An attempt to pass the repeal over his veto was lost by a single vote. Certainly, the entrance of woman suffrage into Wyoming was not a triumph of democratic progress and principle.
Colorado was admitted into the Union in 1876, and great efforts were made by Suffragists to secure the "Centennial" State. This resulted in a submission of the question to the people, who rejected it by a majority of 7,443 in a total vote of 20,665. From the first of the agitation for the free coinage of silver, Colorado has been enthusiastically in favor of that measure. In 1892 her devotion to it caused all parties to unite on that issue and gave the vote of the State to General Weaver, Populist candidate for President, and to David H. Waite, Populist candidate for Governor. The question of woman suffrage was re-submitted to the people at this election, and the constitutional amendment concerning it was carried by a majority of only 5,000 in a total vote of 200,000. Neither that movement nor its results present triumphant democracy.
In 1894 the Populist party of Idaho put a plank in its platform favoring the submission of a woman-suffrage amendment to the people. In 1896 the Free Silver Populist movement swept the State. A majority of the votes cast on the Suffrage question were cast in its favor, but not a majority of all the votes cast at the election. The supreme courts have generally held that, in so important a matter, a complete majority vote was required, but the Supreme Court of Idaho did not so hold, and woman suffrage is now established in that State. This, also, is hardly a success of sound democracy.
The subject of woman suffrage has lately been dealt with by two States that represent republican progress at its best. They are New York and Massachusetts. In the former State a Constitutional Convention in 1894 gave an impartial hearing to the subject, and decided not to submit to the people amendment striking the word "male" from the State Constitution. Massachusetts at its State election in 1895 asked the people to vote upon the question of extending municipal suffrage to women, and the answer was given in a heavy adverse majority. Fewer than four in one hundred women qualified to vote on the subject voted in its favor, and half a million women declined to vote at all. A majority of over 100,000 votes was cast against it by men. Utah and New York, Wyoming and Massachusetts, which States do Americans hold up as nearest their model? In which have women made most progress, and showed themselves most likely to understand their rights, privileges and duties?
During the late Presidential election the issues passed the boundary that separates party politics from patriotic faith. For months preceding that struggle the Suffrage body had conducted the most efficient campaign in its history. When the test came, California voted for sound money against repudiation, for authority against anarchy, by a small majority, and threw its ballots heavily against woman suffrage. With the enthusiastic help of its woman votes, Colorado gave its electoral voice 16 to 1 against sound money and sound Americanism. Which State can claim that its action rings truest to the stroke of honest metal in finance and in defence of national honor?
A few States have extended municipal suffrage to woman. It is generally local and
restricted Only in Kansas is there full municipal suffrage. Dr. Jacobi, in her
"Common Sense," says:
"Municipal suffrage in Kansas demands no property qualification, and its exercise therefore does not differ in the least from that required in a Presidential election." This is a mistake, for the difference is essential and illustrates the undemocratic character of woman suffrage. Municipal suffrage in Kansas, like the Territorial suffrage in Wyoming, was given by legislative act, and could be done away with by another legislative act without appeal to the people, or any change of the Constitution. It did not touch the vital question whether women, in a democracy, could form a component part of the government. Mrs. Stanton well understand that difference. Kansas had long possessed local municipal suffrage when, in 1894, the question of granting full suffrage, by constitutional amendment, was submitted to the people. Mrs. Stanton then wrote: "My hope now rests with Kansas. If that fails too, was must trust no longer to the Republican and Democratic parties, but henceforth give our money, our eloquence, our enthusiasm to a People's party that will recognize woman as an equal factor in a new civilization." There was enough leaven of republicanism working then to cause the old fighting-ground, the free-soil State, to reject the amendment by a popular majority of 35,000. To the "People's Party" in Kansas woman suffrage may look for the most striking illustration of its results. Where municipal suffrage could be secured only by constitutional enactment, and was so secured, it would differ merely in degree from presidential suffrage; but it never has been so secured in any State except those that give full constitutional suffrage. It is on a par with school suffrage, except that legislative enactment extends the vote to town and city matters.
The history of the school suffrage affords another proof of the incompatibility of republicanism and constitutional suffrage for woman. Dr. Jocobi recognizes the difference between constitutional and school suffrage when she says: "Women continually sign petitions for this privilege, till startled by the discovery that it also means something else. It means, however, in the State of New York, according to the decision of the Supreme Court, that woman can only enjoy this privilege thoroughly if empowered by constitutional amendment to vote for all officers as well as for school commissioners." The States that have refused to comply with the Suffragists demand for the elective franchise, the most progressive States, have been first to grant school suffrage, under constitutional limits. The twenty-seven odd States that grant school suffrage have had different methods of dealing with the question, because their laws differ, but both the positive proof of its being granted, and the negative proof of its being withheld, tell the same story in regard to the fundamental principle involved. This is shown strikingly in the situation in Kansas. Women have full municipal suffrage, and the Supreme Court of that State decided that they could vote for school treasurer, which was a charter office, but could not vote for Country Superintendent of School, because that office was provided for in the Constitution. The school suffrage may or may not have a property qualification attached. That makes no difference. The difference is the essential one between delegated power and sovereign power. The States differ so widely in their methods of dealing with municipal as well as school legislation, that only a study of the laws of each State will reveal the situation. In Ohio, in 1895, for instance, the Legislature passed a bill enabling women to vote on a municipal tax-levy, which the courts held was unconstitutional, while they granted votes on license and other local questions.
In answer to the question whether, in Massachusetts, a woman could be a member of a school committee, the Supreme Court returned the following decision in 1874: "The Constitution contains nothing relating to school committees; the office is created and regulated by statute; and the Constitution confers upon the General Court full power and authority to name and settle annually, or provide by fixed laws for naming and settling, all civil officers within the Commonwealth the election and constitution of whom are not in the Constitution otherwise provided for. The question is therefore answered in the affirmative."
The Supreme Court of New York, in 1892, held that "School Commissioners are constitutional officers within Article II, part 1 of the Constitution, and consequently the law of 1892 giving women the right to vote for them is void." The case was that of Matilda Joslyn Gage. The office of School Commissioner was created after the adoption of the Constitution, and it was therefore urged that the Constitution did not bear upon it; but the Supreme Court further decided that the law gave the Legislature the right to appoint or to elect the Commissioner; and as they had decided that the office should be elective, the women could not vote for that office. They vote for district-school officers under various local permissions or limitations. In a case brought to decide the right of women to vote for Country Superintendent of Schools the Supreme Court of Illinois, in 1893, held that, as the office was designated in the Constitution as elective, women could not vote for it. The decision further said. "The votes for State Superintendent of Instruction, and County Superintendent, are provided for by law, and the Legislature cannot change the law. It may be that it is competent for the Legislature to provide that women who are citizens of the United States and over twenty-one may vote at elections held for school directors and other school officers no mentioned in the Constitution." Later, the Supreme Court held that women were entitled to vote for school trustees, as "no officer of the school district is mentioned in the State Constitution."
The Supreme Court of Ohio, in 1894, held that the provision of the act of April 24, 1894, conferring upon women the right to vote at elections of certain school officers, is valid, such right being within the legislative power to provide for the establishment and maintenance of public schools, and not within Article V. part 1, of the Constitutions, which limits the right to male citizens. Judge Shanck says: "The whole subject of the public schools is delegated to the Assembly. As the common-school organization is wholly a creation of the Legislature, it is in the power of the Legislature to determine the qualifications of an elector and office-holder in it." In upholding his ruling, he cited similar decisions from the Supreme Courts of Illinois, Kansas, Nebraska, Massachusetts, Michigan, and Iowa.
This rapid survey suggests, it seems to me that, instead of being "a legitimate outgrowth of the fundamental principles of our government," woman suffrage is really incompatible with true republican forms. Pre-civilized conditions, aristocratic tendencies, the forces that would destroy government-these appear to be its natural allies. We must study more closely its connection with representative government the better to comprehend this portentous truth.
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