Carrie Chapman Catt

Votes and Patriotism - Aug. 24, 1917

Carrie Chapman Catt
August 24, 1917— Indianapolis, Indiana
Print friendly

Speech is a very rough draft with a sizeable amount of handwritten notes. Although this transcript is undated, the Hammond (Indiana) Times reported on August 25, 1917, that Catt had given a speech by this name the night before at a conference of the Indiana Woman's Franchise League in Indianapolis.

What is Patriotism?

Love of Country

But that is not a definite concrete quality, so we look to demonstration to find out what it is. Men and women think it out for themselves and then call everyone else unpatriotic who do not live up to the standard they set for patriotic conduct.

It happens there are those who hold it to be unpatriotic now to talk about votes for women. To be sure these persons have never seen a time when it was patriotic to talk about this subject.

I want to tell you why it is the most patriotic sub[ject] to discuss just now.

Patriotism has always been a male quality. Search the whos who of history and there are pages and pages of patriots, but they are all men.

When that Egyptian queen of long ago outdid all her countrymen on the battlefield and conquered all her enemies they did not call her a patriot – they painted whiskers on her mummy case. From that date to this there have been many Queens and Empresses Duchesses and [illegible] Maids of Orleans and Saragossa, who led troops to victory on the battlefield but none of them were patriots – they were phenomena. Crimean banquet. Florence Nightingale – no patriot – philanthropist. Not even Mollie Pitcher and the revolutionary women who milled their pewter into balls were patriots. They were just plucky women doing their duty. Those Spanish women who [illegible] no weapons were clever enough to take off their stockings fill them with stones and put their astonished enemy to flight in close encounter or those women of Harlem who hoops of burning pitch over the heads of the besieging enemy were not patriots – they were just fighting women.

This war has developed the fact that women are inspired by feeling of patriotism and are patriots. They always have been, but men never noticed it before.

Gen Joffe said [illegible] behind [illegible] making it possible for those in the [illegible] [sentence cuts off]. Balfour said it takes ten persons at home to make it possible to keep one man at the [illegible]. In the beginning of the war two out of every ten were women, now seven out of every ten are women and both nations have discovered that this is patriotism.

Mr. Montagu [Edwin Montagu (1879-1924) of Great Britain] making a report on munitions to the House of Commons Aug 1916 said: Our armies have been saved and victory assured largely by the munition factories. There are 500 different munition processes, and upon every one women are now engaged, altho 2/3 of them were never performed by a woman previous to 12 months ago.

The Earl of Selbourne in July 1916 at the Annual Meeting of the National Agricultural Society. If it were not for the women agriculturists agriculture would be absolutely at a standstill in most sections of England and Wales. No man could consider them less patriotic than men.

Lord Faber in Public Meeting May 1917 Director of the London and N.W. Ry, said the railways of this country could not be run if the women had not come forward. Thousands of them were employed in every variety of post.

Sir Edward Carson March 17, 1917 Albert Hall Said the Royal Dockyards could not get on were it not for women where 7000 women are employed. In the private shipyards as many men are employed.

Hon. J. A. Pease MP in a report to the House of Commons on the telephone service The telephone service depends upon women 25000 women have come forward [illegible] out of patriotic motives than another to take the places of men. Not one has failed to come from her home when [illegible] for the air raid warnings, even though bombs are falling.

Viscount French, who is a British general and whose sister Mrs. Harley [Katherine Harley (1855-1917)] doing ambulance work in Salonica was killed said recently when the history of this war comes to be written the work of the women of England [sentence cuts off]


…to 1-385 to 55. The bill will go to the House of Lords about October and the press speak of it as a settled and established fact altho some further steps in the procedure before it is actually a law.

So it happens that while some call us unpatriotic for talking suf[frage] here Gt Britain with 3 years of war has not only discussed but granted votes to women as a patriotic acknowledging of patriotic service.

Canada our neighbor has granted it to

Aus. and N.Z.

Only English speaking country.

Grandfather Georges

Russia and France

One has promised, the other has got it.

We are fighting for democracy

Mr. Wilson said:

Leader of liberals said

What is democracy

Gov by consent.

Captain O’Neill

Freedom –

What shall we say then when all the world around women are [illegible] patriotic services which are astounding the world because of its impersonal self sacrifice, when great nations are rising above the small minded [illegible] and frankly admitting the justice of ws [woman suffrage] by granting it, when all the world around the ideals of democracy purified, glorified are rising from the smoke of battle what shall we say of the men who are trying to restrict democracy trying to take gov by consent from those who have it?

In N.D., Ohio, Ind, Neb, MO, Mich, Ark, and R.I. the Legislatures granted the pres suf [presidential suffrage]. In ND and Ark an attempt was made to get [illegible] signatures to submit the question but failed. In Ohio and Neb enough signatures have been secured.

Who are these people are they patriots or traitors; or only small visioned folk who have not comprehended what is going on in our world. Why even the Chippewas have sensed better what is going on. They put down the domination of their chiefs the other day and enfranchised their squaws.

Better Americans [sentence cuts off]

State of Ohio and Neb.

In Indiana a law suit…

Who are they [illegible] to Kaiserize America to deny representation to those who pay taxes and consent to those who are governed with what [illegible] have your relief of taxpayers. Who are the taxpayers. To relief some of them the ballot is to be taken away from the rest. As a newspaper man in Neb. said that would make the Kaiser giggle.

Why women have paid taxes for generations to buy ballot papers for men to vote. They have paid taxes for salaries of men elected, who have often. Their taxes have supported the legislature which has not always been a credit to the state or nation. Their taxes even make the court possible which will try the case to give relief to tax payers by making keep on paying taxes without votes.

Do not forget that when an Anti suf[frage] tax payer gets a relief by disfranchising women, the court puts a oppressive burden on women of taxing them without consent which is not possible in any of the chief allies.

Not only necessary to keep up with the procession of [illegible] but

Home – school – Church

Child labor.

[Assorted handwritten notes]

Do you know what I’d do were I judge of that Court? I’d read the Dec of Ind to those gentlemen. Perhaps like C Clark if they could get the hang of the D of I they would come to their senses.

[Pages 23-25 missing]

Lloyd George's plea

When we come to settle the conditions of labor with hundreds of thousands [illegible] with millions of women in work in which were they were never engaged before when we come to [illegible] the whole of our industrial system, are we going to [illegible] them out without giving them a voice in determining the conditions? All I can say is that it would be an outrage, ungrateful unjust inequitable. Compare that noble sentiment with the pinhead motives of those who would tie the hands of the women already freed in Indiana

Campaign against [illegible] incredible ignorance. Juvenile crime increase

[Illegible] motives

General unrest

PDF version