Carrie Chapman Catt

Presidential Address to NAWSA - March 19, 1903

Carrie Chapman Catt
March 19, 1903— New Orleans, Lousiana
Print friendly

This speech was given on March 19, 1903 by President Carrie Chapman Catt at the National American Woman Suffrage Association Convention in New Orleans, Louisiana. In it, Catt made the case for woman suffrage, gave an update on the Association's activities, and described the current political climate.

This first paragraph was crossed out in Catt’s draft of the speech.

Our delegates at least know that it has been one of my cardinal principles that a President should come before the Annual Meeting with a carefully prepared address, but I have no such address to-night. I regret this exceedingly. I had to make the choice between the time for preparation of that address and the closing of the New Hampshire campaign. I daresay our delegates would prefer the campaign to the address, and so I shall present to you in an extemporaneous manner some thoughts that I would have more carefully prepared had I had the time.

In the thirty-five years of our organized movement, there has never been an Annual Convention which, in my judgement, has met under more auspicious and congratulatory circumstances as those which attend us in this Convention of 1903. During the last year there have been such evidences of the growth of our Association, and the increasing strength of the Cause for which we stand, that every members and friends should be inspired with new encouragement. Within the last tear we gave gained a larger paid up membership than in any year of our existence. It is not very long since it was necessary in our Association, to consume each year all the money which could be obtained in contributions and also all which came to us through bequests. This was necessary in order to meet the running expenses of our Association, and many a time have we come to our Convention to consider ways and means of meeting the necessary deficits which had been caused by the year’s work. Since our last Convention, we have disbursed more money than in any other year of our existence, because the work of our Association has been greater than in any previous year, and not only do we come to this Convention with that record, but we come with all our debts paid and we with money in the Treasury.

More than this, within the last year the bequest from Mrs. Charlotte Cleveland of New York has been placed in the hands of our Treasurer and for twelve months has been drawing interest, and we hope it is the nest egg of a permanent fund. Some three or four years ago we announced at the Convention that a bequest would come in due time from the Harrietta M. Banker estate. Since that date the estate has been involved in litigation, but within three a few weeks three thousand dollars will be placed in the hands of the Treasurer, and we hope will also be placed at interest to build up a permanent fund. Within the year, an old, devoted friend of the Cause and of the Association, a treasured and valued friend of pioneers and a constant solace to all younger ones, Mrs. Cornelia H. Hussey, as passed on to her reward; but her generosity has lived after her. She had never failed in any year to contribute generously to our Cause, and has now left to the Association the largest bequest it has ever received. Her daughter, who is a delegate to this Convention, has assured us that within the near future it will be put into our Treasurer’s hands – ten thousand dollars. When this is added to the other bequests, we shall have fifteen thousand dollars at interest, which we hope we can keep as the foundation of a permanent fund, for use in the future. Is not that a sign of the growing strength of our Association and our movement?

Again, within the last year there have been evidences concerning the work itself and its achievements which ought to encourage us. The delegates will remember that in Washington last winter there met with us and International Conference of delegates from Foreign lands, to consider the advisability of forming some kind of an International Alliance. I have the pleasure of informing you to-night, that that Alliance has been formed, and there are now ten nine great Nations in the world in which there are Woman Suffrage Associations, which are linked together in an International bond, and we of the U.S. will work hereafter not for ourselves alone, but with the suffragists of all civilized nations for the womanhood of the world. The new Alliance includes England, Scotland and Ireland, under the banner of the English Woman Suffrage Society, countries where women enjoy every form of suffrage except the right to vote for members of the Parliament; Australia where they have just been given full suffrage by act of the Federal Parliament; Canada just across our borders, where women have the right to vote in municipal affairs; France, where political privileges are limited but where a strong Woman Suffrage Society exists, to which we are indebted for valuable suggestions; Norway and Sweden, where women may vote for all offices except members of Parliament; Holland and Denmark, where no form of woman suffrage exists and but where there are strong Woman Suffrage Associations. These, together with the United States are all united in this International Alliance.

Since the last Convention, the greatest victory which woman suffrage has ever enjoyed has come to our Cause. In the first Federal Parliament of Australia the suffrage was extended to the women of that country. It was estimated that 800,000 women would be enfranchised. I received but last week a letter from our Australian delegate that the registration was fast proceeding, and while the people of this country as well as others had predicted that most of these women would not vote, it seems that the population of Australia has so largely increased that instead of 800,000 women being enfranchised only, 825,000 have already been registered.

It will interest our delegates to know that our Australian delegate, Miss Vida Goldstein, who came to us last year, has been mentioned by a political party in Victoria as a candidate for the Federal Parliament. The Federal Parliament, you know, corresponds with our National Congress. If she shall succeed in this candidacy, it will be the highest elective office ever filled by a woman.

Within the last year, our Association has conducted in our own country several campaigns. In December we, as is our custom, joined the New Hampshire Woman Suffrage Association, in an appeal to the Constitutional Convention which was then called. It met for two weeks, and we appealed to it for the submission of a woman suffrage amendment. That appeal was granted and the amendment was submitted. We had expected that if it should be submitted there would be a year, or possibly two years in which to conduct a campaign, but instead, it was put to vote at the town meeting, and that election took place the tenth day of March. Only two months were therefore allowed for the campaign, but in that two months we held 200 meetings in the State and conducted the best campaign we could in the limited time. Perhaps there is no better way to show you demonstrate the efforts of the campaign in sentiment than to say that one of the best friends of woman suffrage in that State, a man who is Chairman of one of the State Central Committees and a man who probably knows as much of political conditions as any man in New Hampshire, said that we would do exceedingly well if we could secure 25 percent of the vote cast upon the proposition. When the votes were counted it was found that we had secured 40 percent. 43 New Hampshire towns were carried for woman suffrage in majority, two were carried by a two-thirds majority and two of them were a tie. 12,000 14,000 and upwards of men voted for the enfranchisement of women, and that after a campaign of only two months. Perhaps there is no better indication of increasing public sentiment also that in this fact – that in those two months there were 75 ministers of the Gospel in New Hampshire, men representing many different denominations and faith, who preached sermons in their pulpits, advocating the enfranchisement of women.

This year there have been campaigns in a number of our legislatures, but perhaps the most noteworthy of these was the campaign in the State of Maine, where 1700 taxpaying women, outside of the Woman Suffrage Association, appealed to the Legislature through personal letters, and where the Grange, a Society numbering more members in proportion to the population, it is claimed, than any other Association in the United States – 360,000 strong they are in that little State – unanimously resolved to ask the Legislature to pass a woman suffrage bill; in Kansas, where there has been an earnest, systematic campaign for Presidential Suffrage; Montana, where a campaign has been conducted under the auspices of the National Association for the submission of an amendment; and in Arizona, where the Legislature has been asked to grant full suffrage, as it can do in a Territory. These perhaps are the most noteworthy of the campaigns, although there have been others. In each one of these instances the testimony comes that our Cause has never had so dignified a position as in that occupied this year, it never had so many prominent friends, never so much strength. It is well for us to ask why it is, with all the promise which has been offered in popular sentiment and numbers of advocates, that we have secured such small results in actual suffrage gains? Is it because the people have not yet listened to our plea and have not considered whether it is just to tax women and not give them representation; whether it is just to demand of women obedience to the government without permitting to them the opportunity of giving their consent; or is there some other reason?

Two weeks ago to-night, I think it was, there met in New Hampshire, in the capital of that State, a significant gathering. The leading citizens of New Hampshire who were opposed to the enfranchisement of women, had sent out an earnest appeal to the Anti-Suffrage Associations of New York and Massachusetts, to come over into Macedonia and to give them help, and they sent to that State the greatest of their advocates, Dr. Lyman Abbott. Said he in his address: “At times upon the stage of a theatre, a little handful of me – fifteen or twenty – will march up and down, pass out and in again in order to give the appearance to the audience of a great army. There is something in the continual coming and going of the little band of suffragists, which remind me very much a stage army.” I think there is something of truth in Dr. Abbott’s figure. Ever since history began, every new idea has been advocated and championed by a little handful of people. They have gone up and down the earth proclaiming their cause, standing by the faith and gospel that was within them. Although the bigots of the world might offer the cup of hemlock to Socrates, although they might pile at the feet of Gallileo and burn a ; though every soldier in the little army might die, yet by and by others came to advocate the new idea and in good time all the world believed. So it has been with every movement since humanity came upon the face of the earth. Every Cause has been advocated by a little army, but as time passed on, that little army has safely marched through the period of ridicule and persecution, through the period of opposition; then as surely as the magnet will draw the nail through its invisible and indefinable power, so this little army, standing for a new idea draws from the masses of the people another little stage army, which has marched out in opposition and before the masses of the people these two little stage armies have fought the battle out. By and by that great silent indifferent mass has taken the side of the one who had the better of the argument. If, to-day, we are a little stage army, although we number our thousands, there is another little stage army in opposition and Dr. Lyman Abbott is the chief General. We meet that little army in nearly every Legislature where we appeal for the right of women to enfranchisement. We meet them in every Constitutional Convention. We try to meet them in debate. They used to debate with us, but they don’t do it anymore.

It is true that there are various old-fashioned and worn out ideas still prevelant in the minds of those who have given no attention to our Cause, but the real test of our status is the quality of the battle between those who might be called professional opponents of woman suffrage and the professional advocates of it.

Well do I remember, thirteen years ago, when I entered my first campaign in the State of South Dakota. I was a comparatively young woman then. I did not know very much about the movement nor its history, but I remember as I was going out with crowds of other people from a Convention Hall, that a man stood by the door and handed all of us as we passed out, a little paper. I took mine and was amazed to find that it was a sheet filled with arguments in opposition to the enfranchisement of women. I remember mentioning the fact in the presence of Miss Shaw and Mr. Blackwell, who at that time were both from Boston, and I remember since this paper apparently had no author, I had questioned the cause which had produced it. They said to me, with rather a cynical smile at my ignorance, that it was published and paid for by a band of rich women in the City of Boston. So thirteen years ago the anti-suffragists were organized, and Dr. Lyman Abbott was then a General in the cause. I read that paper from beginning to end, and there is impressed upon my mind every line I read: While these people were not willing to sign their names, the date or the place of publication, there were seven reasons given why the women of this country should not be enfranchised, and for each and everyone of them they stood collectively opposed.

The first of these, said they, is because it is apparent that if women should vote and should have political opinions, it would inevitably lead to disruption of the home and increase divorce. Second, if women are to vote that they will become masculine and they even said unsexed, whatever that may be. They declared that women would no longer be womanly or refined. Third, women would not vote if they had the opportunity. Fourth, said they, they would vote if they had the opportunity and everyone of them would desert their homes, and their children would go supperless to bed; the husbands would be driven to public places for solace, while these wives were off at Caucuses and Convention lobbies. Fifth, said they, it is very evident that for every ignorant man there is a woman more ignorant than he, and that women do not know enough to vote. Sixth, said they, the women of this country understand the behind every ballot there is force, and those who do the fighting must do the voting, and those who do the voting must do the fighting. Seventh, said they, the women do not want to vote, and therefore we have no right to thrust the burden upon them.

That was in 1890. That year our Government issued the Census. It did not get out into the hands of the public for two or three years you remember, and then no less person than Carroll D. Wright compared the statistics of the States of the Union concerning divorce and this is what he discovered: From 1870-1890, divorce increased in the United States three times as fast as the population. In those years, in the group of Western States, leaving out Wyoming, divorce had increased four times as fast as the population; but in Wyoming, where alone in the United States women had voted during those twenty years upon the same terms as men, divorce had increased only one-half as fast as the population. The only place in the Union where liberal divorce laws exist and where there was an actual decrease was in the only State where women vote on equal terms with men. When these facts were given out to the public, and the anti-suffragists and Lyman Abbott necessarily dropped the first argument from their list.

In 1893, Colorado enfranchised her women; in 1895 Utah, and in 1896 Idaho enfranchised her women, and the anti-suffragists attempted in all of our four woman suffrage States to find proof positive, which they could present to the public of our country, that women did become masculine, that they did lose refinement and womanhood, that they did desert their homes and neglect their children and any other evil which could be usefully handled in argument. Some years ago a man in Wyoming, wrote a letter condemning woman suffrage in that State. He declared it a delusion and a snare; that the women were masculine and that they deserted their homes and their children, but upon inquiry it was discovered that that man was a horse thief and had been convicted by a jury, half of which were women. In Cheyenne, a challenge was issued at that time for any two respectable citizens of Wyoming, who over their own signatures would testify that woman suffrage had not been an entire success, and since that time those two citizens have not yet been found.

In the State of Idaho, not one single testimonial has been discovered by the anti-suffragists and used by them in their arguments upon the platform or press. Upon the other hand, hundreds of letters been secured by the suffragists, from members of the Legislature, the Supreme Court, from Governors, Educators, University Professors and all classes and kinds of citizens that woman suffrage is a perfect success and that none of the threated dangers followed its establishment.

From the State of Colorado a few years ago – six or seven – a gentleman appeared in Boston and was interviewed by the Boston Herald, a newspaper which never loses an opportunity to advertise the fact that it is opposed to the enfranchisement of women. The interview of this gentleman appeared in glaring headlines and read “A distinguished citizen of Colorado declares that woman suffrage is a failure; that the good women do not vote; that women are neglecting their homes and families” and the interview with the distinguished citizen Wm Masterson of Denver made good reading, but while Boston was delighted, while all the West were rolling in laughter, for everybody knew this distinguished gentleman was the gambler and prize fighter, who had just been driven out of the City by the enforcement of the gambling laws under the votes of women. A challenge was again issued, this time for ten respectable citizens of Colorado, who over their own signatures, would declare woman suffrage was not a success, and although the people of that State are not agreed as to the benefits of woman suffrage, those ten persons have not been found. After years of endeavor to prove that the women of Colorado would lose their womanliness, the anti-suffragists have abandoned this argument.

In 1898, Commissioner of Education, Harris, brought out the starling report, more women than men, in proportion to their numbers, of this country, were able to read and write; that five out of every seven of the graduates of our Grammar and High Schools were girls; that if the number of women graduates from Colleges and Universities in the next ten years should increase as rapidly as they had increased in the past ten years, the number of graduates among women would equal the number of graduates among men, and when these statements came out, no anti-suffragist could claim again that women do not know enough to vote, and even they were driven to see that there are a great many women who know a great more than a great many men.

In 1900, when our United States Government sent out the call for troops in the Cuban War, there was scarcely a State in the Union which did not send back the complaint that they were unable to secure the necessary quota because of the high physical qualifications demanded for soldiers. In Boston, alone, out of 15,000 men who applied for enlistment, only 1500 possessed the necessary physical qualifications, and our anti0suffragists began to see that those who vote do not always do the fighting, and those who do the fighting might not do the best voting. Even they were driven to see that civilization, as a College President has said is, a “substitution of statues for brute force, and of ballots for bullets.” They were driven to see that if they were to depend upon those physically strong for the maintenance of a just government, they must depend upon the Sullivans and Corbetts, and the first person to be disfranchised would be Dr. Lyman Abbott himself.

Two weeks ago to-night, there were three speakers. The first was a lady, with whom we have had many tilts. Said she: “There are three reasons why women ought not to vote – (1) It will do women no good. (2) It will do the State no good. (3) Women do not want to vote. The first two are debatable, the third is not.”

The second lady said: “The only reason why we ask that women should not be enfranchised, is because women no not want to vote, and we ask of you, gentlemen, not to thrust the burden of it upon us.”

Said Lyman Abbott: “There are three reasons why we ask that women should not be enfranchised. (1) The ballot represents force – politics means a struggle of wills, but, said he, ‘If the women want to vote, we would have to overlook this objection and permit them to do so.’ (2) Women ought not to vote; that because the difference between men and women is not physical alone by psychical. (But just what the difference in the psychics of men and women was, I did not comprehend) But, said he, ‘if women were eager to vote, we would have to let them do it.’ (3) The reason why women ought not to vote is that they do not want it.” The first two are debatable, the last is not.

These are the people who have studied the opposite side of the question. These are they who have investigated woman suffrage in the States where women vote; they have left no stone unturned to secure damaging evidence, and they come now and have given up six of the seven arguments they presented thirteen years ago. So upon this one claim, of this it seems our Cause is to stand or fall – women do not want the vote.

And now we turn to the states where women are enfranchised, and we find in everyone of them, although the women represent a smaller number, in proportion to the total population than do men, that the women from the very first have cast their votes, the percent, varying from 41 to 51. Of course women do not want the vote. If all women wanted to vote, it would be a case totally unlike any in the history of the world. New ideas do not grow by sexes. They grow by individual brains adopting them, and to-day the great reason why women do not want the vote is found in that little verse of Ian McLaren: “We scheme and plod and go to church on Sunday, Many a one of God but more of Mrs. Grundy.”

To-day it is not fashionable; to-day it is not good form; to-day it is not conventional for women to vote. To-morrow it will be, and there will be no woman of intelligence who will not want to vote.

Good friends, in the progress of the last thirty-five years, in the estimate of any honest public, we have won upon our side in the debate, and any one who has studied our movement will acknowledge it, and yet within the last year we have had these mighty struggles in our Legislatures and we have not come out with suffrage upon our banners, and it is our duty, as an association, to ask the reason why. There is no doubt but that there are many people in this country who are yet unconverted; many of them have never paused to think of our question, but they are not the ones who to-day are responsible for our disfranchisement. No woman who has worked in the Legislatures and in campaigns, who does not give her testimony that there is something more than popular sentiment which today refuses the ballot to women, and it becomes our duty to ask what it is. What is that mysterious power and what will be its effect upon our movement? I answer – it is the political machine.

Within the last ten years, there has been no suffrage movement in any State in the Union, big or little, which, although it might have been defeated because of lack of popular sentiment, has not in truth been downed because, from the power above there was an order sent to every wall and spoke and hub in the prevailing political machine of that State to defeat it.

We may well ask why? What is the machine? To-day, we must have our caucuses and our Conventions to secure our tickets for which men are to vote, and in years gone by the men themselves helped to choose these tickets, but within the last fifty years, mighty changes have come to us. To-day the commercial life has totally changed from that of a half century ago. I remember the time when if a man possessed ten thousand dollars he could easily secure an annual income of a thousand dollars, but to-day, he could scarcely secure an income of three hundred. While interests have been going down, the prices of living have been going up, and our tastes for luxuries have been constantly increased and in consequences, more and more pressure has been put upon men to remain longer in business and to earn more money, and to-day, therefore, we find our men are absorbed in their businesses. Business, to-day, is not the simple transaction which it was fifty years ago, but it has been made complicated by the introduction of the three T’s – the telephone – the telegraph and the typewriter. To-day, the man in business conducts a hundred or a thousand times the which a man conducted a half a century ago. So absorbed is he, that when a leisure moment comes, he seeks light recreation and he has no time for public service. While he has been growing – this middle class of men – men of intelligence and character – men of nobility and purpose – while he has been growing more and more absorbed and finds less and less time for public duty, there have been gradually coming into public life two conditions of things: One is the change in our immigration, which has unloaded upon our shores ship load after ship load of Europe’s ignorant and the idea is prevalent among people that we do stand in danger from this class.

Our peril is coming from the top to-day, and the time is now to cry out the warning. With the commercial growth of the last fifty years, there has crept up little by little great corporate powers in our country, and they are not altogether blamable for corrupting and suffrage although there have been others who have been so unscrupulous and so dishonest as to actually introduce bills into the Legislature for the purpose of getting a man against whose interest they depend introduced and so they would remove compensation, and within the last twenty-five years, there has been no great corporate power which has not been forced to organize itself more and more close legislative lobbies in order to defend its own interests, and those great corporate powers have discovered that they must be watchful every year. They have discovered that the majority of Legislators are honest and honorable men; that they are incorruptible, but these honorable men naturally divide upon every problem which comes up and their safety lies with the corruptible minority, and so they have learned to pick out their men and secure their nomination and their election and to own the minority, until to-day I doubt if there is a Legislature in the land where political parties are in the slightest degree rivals, where there is not a corruptible minority, and that minority may control the gravest questions in that Legislature. And more, those great and mighty corporate powers are to-day gaining control of our Cities. We need but to read the recent developments of M of St. Louis and of Bos., and of the failure of reformers in Pennsylvania that tell columns of those awful corrupters of suffrage there. We need only to read of that brave struggle of the women school teachers of Chicago to compel these corporations to pay honest taxes to learn whither we are driving (?)

It is not a partisan question. We need only to turn to recent developments in Minneapolis and St. Louis to learn, for there was that brave Democratic District Attorney tried for his very life, and the leading of St. Louis, a Democrat before a Democratic Jury and a Democratic Judge, and in Minneapolis of the trial of a Republican Mayor before a Republican Jury. There is no partisanship in the indecency of American politics to-day. It is the condition, and the saddest of all the results is this: That so much corruption is there in American political life, which all the world knows of, that the man who is honorable and the man who is self-respecting and the man who has a future, will think twice before he will permit his name to stand upon a political ticket and run the risk of the degradation which it may mean.

To-day we cannot tell what is honorable legislation and what is not, and the mightiness of this power we do not realize. A few weeks ago in the Legislature of New Hampshire, an innocent bill was introduced by an honest reformer to give to the factory workers of that State two hours off on Saturday afternoon. They work sixty hours now and the bill was for fifty-eight and one in which everyone might agree. But who defeated it, the honest men of that Legislature? Nay, every corporate power, every factory owner, every Railroad man, united together to vote against that bill and against the men who might have stood for it, and then in turn the factory voted for the bill desired by the Railroad interests in the State and who secured the passage of one and the failure of the other. Was it the interests of New Hampshire alone? Nay, not so. It was the capital of the factories of New Hampshire, which is to-day owned in Massachusetts, and that was in Republican New Hampshire, and the very identical power which had defeated the fifty-eight hour law in New Hampshire was busy with the Democratic Legislators in Georgia and Alabama to defeat the child labor laws there. It is the same mighty power I say to you, and it is time for our American people to arise and know the power that is gradually gaining a sure control over our people. That is what I mean – our intelligent men are naturally divided upon every question which may come before them. These powers have no politics – they are Republicans in a Republican State and Democrats in a Democratic State. They are all things to all men provided their interests are served and their profits belong to them, and therefore, to-day, in order to secure the advance of their own interests and prevent any encroachment and any loss of their profits, these men are looking carefully after the political machine in every State.

I do not know the forms of corruption in every State, but evidently every State has its individual form, but in New Hampshire where they have worked out this condition for many years, they know in every town of the State exactly how many men are to be bought and sold. They know the prices of them and to show how insolent men who sell their votes become, would say that in one town a few years ago they banded themselves together and actually organized a Committee of men whose votes were for sale, and then the Democratic and Republican Committee would see which one would bid the higher for their votes. In one town, the Democrats and Republicans said they would buy no votes that year, but they put up a ticket of their own and actually elected it.

And under these conditions, I say, where is there hope for honest votes to control all honest questions? Gentlemen, I say to you, it is the gravest problem America has ever had to solve. Solve it we must, or we give up the name of a Republic. It stands before us now and yet what movement is there for the correction of these evils? Permit me to compare for a moment the conditions of New Hampshire, where men alone have voted, and in Colorado, where men and women together have voted.

Ten years ago when the women were enfranchised there, there was the Australian ballot which had already been enacted. Denver had the reputation of being one of the most corrupt cities in the Nation. Colorado had emblems at the top of the ticket, a sure and iniquitous temptation to bribery. In New Hampshire, ten years ago the Australian ballot was enacted there; emblems existed upon the ticket and bribery was common at the polls and common everywhere in the State, as it was also in Colorado. Ten years ago the prohibition law existed in New Hampshire, and for something like thirty years in Colorado a local option law and was in operation in three or four towns in the State. And now ten years have passed by and in New Hampshire, we find in that American State, with a comparatively small foreign population and a comparatively high intelligence, the Legislature has amended the Australian Ballot Law. We find in New Hampshire at the end of ten years that the prohibition law has been so flagrantly violated that even the prohibitionists declare it a failure and are crying out to the Legislature to give them better Laws. The emblems still remain on the ticket, and no movement has arisen in the State to assist the political party or do anything to correct the errors of political corruption.

In Colorado we find the Australia ballot no posters shall be put up to intimidate or to instruct the voters; that those who go to vote may file down a hundred feet to the polling place in a quiet room; no tobacco smoke or spittle upon the floor; the place is clean and decent as any woman may need to enter. We find in the polling place in the town meeting, tobacco on the floor and smoke so thick that it is unseemly for women to enter. We find in Colorado that the polling places are not saloons now but have been replaced by respectable houses. In Colorado the emblems have been removed from the ticket, and the only evil? Possible is that of repeating. In Colorado within the last ten years they have corrected every evil of the Australian ballot law, and the number of local option counties has increased seven times. We find they have corrected the law now and refuse State licenses to wagons, so that when a County wishes to give local option it can enforce its own law. In the City of Denver, I understand that while it has not been entirely accomplished -----

When one is running for office he is sometimes more honest than after he gets in, but nevertheless, the correction is going on in Colorado quietly toward better and purer politics, and last year, they amended by Constitutional vote, the law of the State which permitted men and women who had not been properly naturalized to vote, and extended the period of residence from six months to a year. No one person who has seen and studied the problem of political corruption, ever so carelessly, would claim that this great problem can be solved in a few years, but to-day we point you to the record of Colorado, a State corrupt ten years ago and which has been quietly but steadily going upward toward cleaner conditions, and to New Hampshire, purer ten years ago than was Colorado but which has stood still during this problem, and we ask the reason why? I answer it is because of the uncertainty of the woman’s vote; because it cannot be counted absolutely for any one party. Women cannot be secured by the methods which are used for men. You cannot catch the women’s vote with whiskey and cigars. You cannot get the women’s vote by putting men of certain types upon the ticket. You have to adopt some other methods, and what are they? Put upon the ticket decent, self-respecting men whom they can afford to vote for. That is what Colorado has done, and so, gentlemen, I say to you that to-day the enfranchisement of women is offered as a panacea for this great problem of ours, and yet we cannot give the benefit of the votes of woman because of the power that is to-day prevailing in American politics which keeps women disfranchised. My sisters, we might as well face the problem fairly and squarely. We are not to fight in the future against the prejudices of society. We are not disfranchised because women do not want to vote; because of the dreadful things threatened in the past, but we are disfranchised because the political machines of this country are afraid of a woman’s vote. Mr. Folke, a District Attorney of St. Louis, made his famous plea to the jury in the control of the bribery of that State. He said in closing: “Missouri, Missouri, I plead for thee,” and the time has now come for us to lay aside our claim of right and justice and to say, “My country tis of thee, sweet land of liberty” and that we ask the opportunity to make the men of this country free and independent.

PDF version