Mr. Chairman and gentlemen: Mrs. Spencer said that I would make an argument. I do not propose to do so, because I take it for granted that the members of this committee understand that we have all the argument on our side, and such an argument would be simply a series of platitudes and maxims of government. The theory of this Government from the beginning has been perfect equality to all the people. That is shown by every one of the fundamental principles, which I need not stop to repeat. Such being the theory, the application would be, of course, that all persons not having forfeited their right to representation in the Government should be possessed of it at the age of twenty-one. But instead of adopting a practice in conformity with the theory of our Government, we began first by saying that all men of property were the people of the nation upon whom the Constitution conferred equality of rights. The next step was that all white men were the people to whom should be practically applied the fundamental theories. There we halt to-day and stand at a deadlock so far as the application of our theory may go. We women have been standing before the American Republic for thirty years asking the men to take yet one step further and extend the practical application of theory of equality of rights to all the people to the other half of the people, we women. That is all that I stand here to-day to attempt to demand.
Of course, I take it for granted that the committee are in sympathy at least with the reports of the Judiciary Committees presented both in the Senate and the House. I remember that after the adoption of the fourteenth and fifteenth amendments Senator Edmunds reported on the petition of the ten thousand foreign-born citizens of Rhode Island who were denied equality of rights in Rhode Island simply because of their foreign birth; and in that report held that the amendments were enacted and attached to the Constitution simply for men of color, and therefore that their provisions could not be so construed as to bring within their purview the men of foreign birth in Rhode Island. Then the House Committee on the Judiciary, with Judge Bingham, of Ohio, at its head, made a similar report upon our petitions, holding that because those amendments were made essentially with the black men in view, therefore their provisions could not be extended to the women citizens of this country or to any class except men citizens of color.
I voted in the State of New York in 1872 under the construction of those amendments, which we felt to be the true once, that all persons born in the United States, or any State thereof, and under the jurisdiction of the United States, were citizens, and entitled to equality of rights, and that no State could deprive them of their equality of rights. I found three young men, inspectors of election, who were simple enough to read the Constitution and understand it in accordance with what was the letter and what should have been its spirit. Then, as you will remember, I was prosecuted by the officers of the Federal court, and the cause was carried through the difference courts in the State of New York, in the northern district, and at last I was brought to trial at Canandaigua. When Mr. Justice Hunt was brought from the Supreme bench to sit upon that trial, he wrested my case from the hands of the jury altogether, after having listened three days to testimony, and brought in a verdict himself of guilty, denying to my counsel even the poor privilege of having the jury polled. Through all that trial when I, as a citizen of the United States, as a citizen of the State of New York and city of Rochester, as a person who had done something at least that might have entitled her to a voice in speaking for herself and for her class, in all that trial I not only was denied my right to testify as to whether I voted or not, but there was not one single woman's voice to be heard nor to be considered, except as witnesses, save when it came to the judge asking, "Has the prisoner anything to say why sentence shall not be pronounced?" Neither as judge, nor as attorney, nor as jury was I allowed any person who could be legitimately called my peer to speak for me.
Then, as you will remember, Mr. Justice Hunt not only pronounced the verdict of guilty, but a sentence of $100 fine and costs of prosecution. I said to him, "May it please your honor, I do not propose to pay it; and I never have paid it, and I never shall. I asked your honorable bodies of Congress the next year—in 1874—to pass a resolution to remit that fine. Both Houses refused it; the committees reported against it; though through Benjamin F. Butler, in the House, and a member of your committee, and Matthew H. Carpenter, in the Senate, there were plenty of precedents brought forward to show that in the cases of multitudes of men fines have been remitted. I state this merely to show the need of woman to speak for herself, to be as judge, to be as juror.
Mr. Justine Hunt in his opinion stated that suffrage was a fundamental right, and therefore a right that belonged to the State. It seemed to me that was just as much of a retroversion of the theory of what is right in our Government as there could possibly be. Then, after the decision in my case came that of Mrs. Minor, of Missouri, She prosecuted the officers there for denying her the right to vote. She carried her case up to your Supreme Court, and the Supreme Court answered her the same way; that the amendments were made for black men; that their provisions could not protect women; that the Constitution of the United States has no voters of its own.
MRS. SPENCER: And you remember judge Cartter's decision in my case.
MISS ANTHONY: Mr. Cartter said that women are citizens and may be qualified, &c., but that it requires some sort of legislation to give them the right to vote.
The Congress of the United States notwithstanding, and the Supreme Court of the United States notwithstanding, with all deference and respect, I differ with them all, and know that I am right and that they are wrong. The Constitution of the United States as it is protects me. If I could get a practical application of the Constitution it would protect me and all women in the enjoyment of perfect equality of rights everywhere under the shadow of the American flag.
I do not come to you to petition for special legislation, or for any more amendments to the Constitution, because I think they are unnecessary, but because you say there is not in the Constitution enough to protect me. Therefore I ask that you, true to your own theory and assertion, should go forward to make more constitution.
Let me remind you that in the case of all other classes of citizens under the shadow of our flag you have been true to the theory that taxation and representation are inseparable. Indians not taxed are not counted in the basis of representation, and are not allowed to vote; but the minute that your Indians are counted in the basis of representation and are allowed to vote they are taxed; never before. In my State of New York, and in nearly all the States, the members of the State militia, hundreds and thousands of men, are exempted from taxation on property; in my State to the value of $800, and in most of the States to a value in that neighborhood. While such a member of the militia lives, receives his salary, and is able to earn money, he is exempted; but when he dies the assessor puts his widow's name down upon the assessor's list, and the tax-collector never fails to call upon the widow and make her pay the full tax upon her property. In most of the States clergymen are exempted. In my State of New York they are exempted on property to the value of $1,500. As long as the clergyman lives and receives his fat salary, or his lean one, as the case may be, he is exempted on that amount of property; but when the breath leaves the body of the clergyman, and the widow is left without any income, or without any means of support, the State comes in and taxes the widow.
So it is with regard to all black men. In the State of New York up to the day of the passage of the fifteenth amendment, black men who were willing to remain without reporting themselves worth as much as $250, and thereby to remain without exercising the right to vote, never had their names put on the assessor's list; they were passed by, while, if the poorest colored woman owned 50 feet of real estate, a little cabin anywhere, that colored woman's name was always on the assessor's list, and she was compelled to pay her tax. While Frederick Douglass lived in my State he was never allowed to vote until he could show himself worth the requisite $250; and when he did vote in New York, he voted not because he was a man, not because he was a citizen of the United States, nor yet because he was a citizen of the State, but simply because he was worth the requisite amount of money. In Connecticut both black men and black women were exempted from taxation prior to the adoption of the fifteenth amendment.
The law was amended in 1848, by which black men were thus exempted, and black women followed the same rule in that State. That, I believe, is the only State where black women were exempted from taxation under the law. When the fourteenth and fifteenth amendments were attached to the Constitution they carried to the black man of Connecticut the boon of the ballot as well as the burden of taxation, whereas they carried to the black woman of Connecticut the burden of taxation, but no ballot by which to protect her property. I know a colored woman in New Haven, Conn., worth $50,000, and she never paid a penny of taxation until the ratification of the fifteenth amendment. From that day on she is compelled to pay a heavy tax on that amount of property.
MRS. SPENCER: Is it because she is a citizen? Please explain.
MISS ANTHONY: Because she is black.
MRS. SPENCER: Is it because the fourteenth and fifteenth amendments made women citizens?
MISS ANTHONY: Certainly; because it declared the black people citizens.
Gentlemen, you have before you various propositions of amendment to the Federal Constitution. One is for the election President by the vote of the people direct. Of course women are not people.
SENATOR EDMUNDS: Angels.
MISS ANTHONY: Yes; angels up in heaven else devils down there.
SENATOR EDMUNDS: I have never known any of that kind.
MISS ANTHONY: I wish you, gentlemen would look down there and see the myriad that are there. We want to help them and lift them up. That is exactly the trouble with you, gentlemen; you are forever looking at your own wives, your own mother your own sisters, and your own daughters, and they are well cared for and protected; but only look down to the struggling masses of women who have no one to protect them, neither husband, father, brother, son, with no mortal in all the land to protect them. If you would look down there the question would be solved; but the difficulty is that you think only of those who are doing well. We are not speaking for ourselves, but for those who can not speak for themselves. We are speaking for the doomed as much as you, Senator Edmunds, used to speak for the doomed on the plantations in the South.
Amendments have been proposed to put God in the Constitution and to keep God out of the Constitution. All sorts propositions to amend the Constitution have been made; but I ask that you allow no other amendment to be called the sixteenth but that which shall put into the hands of one-half of the entire people of the nation the right to express their opinions as to how the Constitution shall be amended henceforth. Women have the right to say whether we shall have God in the Constitution as well as men. Women have a right to say whether we shall have a national law or an amendment to the Constitution prohibiting the importation or manufacture of alcoholic liquors. We have a right to have our opinions counted on every possible question concerning the public welfare.
You ask us why we do not get this right to vote first in the school districts, and on school questions, or the questions of liquor license. It has been shown very clearly why we need something more than that. You have good enough laws to-day in every State in this Union for the suppression of what are termed the social vices; for the suppression of the grog-shops, the gambling houses, the brothels, the obscene shows. There is plenty of legislation in every State in this Union for their suppression if it could be executed. Why is the Government, why are the States and the cities, unable to execute these laws? Simply because there is a large balance of power in every city that does not want those laws executed. Consequently both parties must alike cater to that balance of political power. The party that puts a plank in its platform that the laws against the grogshops and all the other sinks of iniquity must be executed, is the party that will not get this balance of power to vote for it, and, consequently, the party that can not get into power.
What we ask of you is that you will make of the women of the cities a balance of political power, so that when a mayor, a member of the common council, a supervisor, a justice of the peace, a district attorney, a judge on the bench even, shall go before the people of that city as a candidate for the suffrages of the people he shall not only be compelled to took to the men who frequent the grog-shops, the brothels, and the gambling houses, who will vote for him if he is not in favor of executing the law, but that he shall have to look to the mothers, the sisters, the wives, the daughters of those deluded men to see what they will do if he does not execute the law.
We want to make of ourselves a balance of political power. What we need is the power to execute the laws. We have got laws enough. Let me give you one little fact in regard to my own city of Rochester. You all know how that wonderful whip called the temperance crusade roused the whisky ring. It caused the whisky force to concentrate itself more strongly at the ballot-box than ever before, so that when the report of the elections in the spring of 1874 went over the country the result was that the whisky ring was triumphant, and that the whisky ticket was elected more largely than ever before. Senator Thurman will remember how it was in his own State of Ohio. Everybody knows that if my friends, Mrs. ex-Governor Wallace, Mrs. Allen, and all the women of the great West could have gone to the ballot-box at those municipal elections and voted for candidates, no such result would have occurred; while you refused by the laws of the State to the women the right to have their opinions counted, every rum-seller, every drunkard, every pauper even from the poor-house, and every criminal outside of the State's prison came out on election day to express his opinion and have it counted.
The next result of that political event was that the ring demanded new legislation to protect the whisky traffic everywhere. In my city the women did not crusade the streets, but they said they would help the men to execute the law. They held meetings, sent out committees, and had testimony secured against every man who had violated the law, and when the board of excise held its meeting those women assembled, three or four hundred, in the church one morning, and marched in a solid body to the common council chamber where the board of excise was sitting. As one rum-seller after another brought in his petition for a renewal of license, who had violated the law, those women presented the testimony against him. The law of the State of New York is that no man shall have a renewal who has violated the law. But in not one case did that board refuse to grant a renewal license because of the testimony which those women presented, and at the close of the sitting it was found that twelve hundred more licenses had been granted than ever before in the history of the State. Then the defeated women said they would have those men punished according to law.
Again they retained an attorney and appointed committees to investigate all over the city. They got the proper officer to prosecute every rum- seller. I was at their meeting. One woman reported that the officer in every city refused to prosecute the liquor dealer who had violated the law. Why? Because if he should do so he would lose the votes of all the employees of certain shops on that street, if another he would lose the votes of the railroad employees, and if another he would lose the German vote, if another the Irish vote, and so on. I said to those women what I say to you, and what I know to be true to-day, that if the women of the city of Rochester had held the power of the ballot in their hands they would have been a great political balance of power.
The last report was from District Attorney Raines. The women complained of a lager-beer-garden keeper. Said the district attorney, "Ladies, you are right, this man is violating the law, everybody knows it, but if I should prosecute him, I would lose the entire German vote." Said I, "Ladies, do you not see that if the women of the city of Rochester had the right to vote District Attorney Raines would have been compelled to have stopped and counted, weighed and measured? He would have said, 'If I prosecute that lager-beer German I shall lose the 5,000 German votes in this city, but if I fall to prosecute him and execute the laws I shall lose the votes of 20,000 women.'"
Do you not see, gentlemen, that so long as you put this power of the ballot in the hands of every possible man, rich, poor, drunk, sober, educated, ignorant, outside of the State's prison, to make or unmake, not only every law and lawmaker, but every office-holder who has to do with the executing of the law, and take the power from the hands of the women of the nation, the mothers, you put the long arm of the lever, as we call it in mechanics, in the hands of the whisky power and make it utterly impossible for regulation of sobriety to be maintained in our community? The first step towards social regulation and good society in towns, cities, and villages is the ballot in the hands of the mothers of those places. I appeal to you especially in this matter.
I do not know what you think about the proper sphere of women. It matters little what any of us think about it. We shall each and every individual find our own proper sphere if we are left to act in freedom; but my opinion is that when the whole arena of politics and government is thrown open to women they will endeavor to do very much as they do in their homes; that the men will look after the greenback theory or the hard-money theory, that you will look after free-trade or tariff, and the women will do the home house-keeping of the government, which is to take care of the moral government and the social regulation of our home department.
It seems to me that we have the power of government outside to shape and control circumstances, but that the inside power, the government house- keeping, is powerless, and is compelled to accept whatever conditions or circumstances shall be granted.
Therefore I do not ask for liquor suffrage alone, nor for school suffrage alone, because that would amount to nothing. We must be able to have a voice in the election not only of every law-maker, but of every one who has to do either with the making or the executing of the laws.
Then you ask why we do not get suffrage by the popular-vote method, State by State? I answer, because there is no reason why I, for instance, should desire the women of one State of this nation to vote any more than the women of another State. I have no more interest as regards the women of New York than I have as regards the women of Indiana, Iowa, or any of the States represented by the women who have come up here. The reason why I do not wish to get this right by what you call the popular-vote method, the State vote, is because I believe there is a United States citizenship. I believe that this is a nation, and to be a citizen of this nation should be a guaranty to every citizen of the right to a voice in the Government, and should give to me my right to express my opinion. You deny to me my liberty, my freedom, if you say that I shall have no voice whatever in making, shaping, or controlling the conditions of society in which I live. I differ from Judge Hunt, and I hope I am respectful when I say that I think he made a very funny mistake when he said that fundamental rights belong to the States and only surface rights to the National Government. I hope you will agree with me that the fundamental right of citizenship, the right to voice in the Government, is a national right.
The National Government may concede to the States the right to decide by a majority as to what banks they shall have, what laws they shall enact with regard to insurance, with regard to property, and any other question; but I insist upon it that the National Government should not leave it a question with the States that a majority in any State may disfranchise the minority under any circumstances whatsoever. The franchise to you men is not secure. You hold it to-day, to be sure, by the common consent of white men, but if at any time, on your principle of government, the majority of any of the States should choose to amend the State constitution so as to disfranchise this or that portion of the white men by making this or that condition, by all the decisions of the Supreme Court and by the legislation thus far there is nothing to hinder them.
Therefore the women demand a sixteenth amendment to bring to women the right to vote, or if you please to confer upon women their right to vote, to protect them in it, and to secure men in their right, because you are not secure.
I would let the States act upon almost every other question by majorities, except the power to say whether my opinion shall be counted. I insist upon it that no State shall decide that question.
Then the popular-vote method is an impracticable thing. We tried to get negro suffrage by the popular vote, as you will remember. Senator Thurman will remember that in Ohio the Republicans submitted the question in 1867, and with all the prestige of the national Republican party and of the State party, when every influence that could be brought by the power and the patronage of the party in power was brought to bear, yet negro suffrage ran behind the regular Republican ticket 40,000.
It was tried in Kansas, it was tried in New York, and everywhere that it was submitted the question was voted down overwhelmingly. Just so we tried to get women suffrage by the popular-vote method in Kansas in 1867, in Michigan in 1874, in Colorado in 1877, and in each case the result was precisely the same, the ratio of the vote standing one-third for women suffrage and two-thirds against women suffrage. If we were to canvass State after State we should get no better vote than that. Why? Because the question of the enfranchisement of women is a question of government, a question of philosophy, of understanding, of great fundamental principle, and the masses of the hard-working people of this nation, men and women, do not think upon principles. They can only think on the one eternal struggle wherewithal to be fed, to be clothed, and to be sheltered. Therefore I ask you not to compel us to have this question settled by what you term the popular-vote method.
Let me illustrate by Colorado, the most recent State, in the election of 1877. I am happy to say to you that I have canvassed three States for this question. If Senator Chandler were alive, or if Senator Ferry were in this room, they would remember that I followed in their train in Michigan, with larger audiences than either of those Senators throughout the whole canvass. I want to say, too, that although those Senators may have believed in woman suffrage, they did not say much about it. They did not help us much. The Greenback movement was quite popular in Michigan at that time. The Republicans and Greenbackers made a most humble bow to the grangers, but women suffrage did not get much help. In Colorado, at the close of the canvass, 6,666 men voted "Yes." Now I am going to describe the men who voted "Yes." They were native-born white men, temperance men, cultivated, broad, generous, just men, men who think. On the other hand, 16,007 voted "No."
Now I am going to describe that class of voters. In the southern part of that State there are Mexicans, who speak the Spanish language. They put their wheat in circles on the ground with the heads out, and drive a mule around to thrash it. The vast population of Colorado is made up of that class of people. I was sent out to speak in a voting precinct having 200 voters; 150 of those voters were Mexican greasers, 40 of them foreign-born citizens, and just 10 of them were born in this country; and I was supposed to be competent to convert those men to let me have as much right in this Government as they had, when, unfortunately, the great majority of them could not understand a word that I said. Fifty or sixty Mexican greasers stood against the wall with their hats down over their faces. The Germans put seats in a lager-beer saloon, and would not attend unless I made a speech there; so I had a small audience. MRS. ARCHIBALD: There is one circumstance that I should like to relate. In the county of Las Animas, a county where there is a large population of Mexicans, and where they always have a large majority over the native population, they do not know our language at all. Consequently a number of tickets must be printed for those people in Spanish. The gentleman in our little town of Trinidad who had the charge of the printing of those tickets, being adverse to us, had every ticket printed against woman suffrage. The samples that were sent to us from Denver were "for" or "against," but the tickets that were printed only had the word "against" on them, so that our friends had to scratch their tickets, and all those Mexican people who could not understand this trick and did not know the facts of the case, voted against woman suffrage, so that we lost a great many votes. This was man's generosity. MISS ANTHONY: Special legislation for the benefit of woman! I will admit you that on the floor of the constitutional convention was a representative Mexican, intelligent, cultivated, chairman of the committee on suffrage, who signed the petition, and was the first to speak in favor of woman suffrage. Then they have in Denver about four hundred negroes. Governor Routt said to me, "The four hundred Denver negroes are going to vote solid for woman suffrage." I said, "I do not know much about the Denver negroes, but I know certainly what all negroes were educated in, and slavery never educated master or negro into a comprehension of the great principles of human freedom of our nation; it is not possible, and I do not believe they are going to vote for us." Just ten of those Denver negroes voted for woman suffrage. Then, in all the mines of Colorado the vast majority of wage laborers, as you know, are foreigners.
There may be intelligent foreigners in this country, and I know there are, who are in favor of the enfranchisement of woman, but that one does not happen to be Carl Schurz, I am ashamed to say. And I want to say to you of Carl Schurz, that side by side with that man on the battlefield of Germany was Madame Anneke, as noble a woman as ever trod the American soil. She rode by the side of her husband, who was an officer, on the battlefield; she slept in battlefield tents, and she fled from Germany to this country, for her life and property, side by side with Carl Schurz. Now, what is it for Carl Schurz, stepping up to the very door of the Presidency and looking back to Madame Anneke, who fought for liberty as well as he, to say, "You be subject in this Republic; I will be sovereign." If it is an insult for Carl Schurz to say that to a foreign-born woman, what is It for him to say it to Mrs. ex-Governor Wallace, Elizabeth Cady Stanton, Lucretia Mott—to the native-born, educated, tax-paying women in this Republic? I can forgive an ignorant foreigner; I can forgive an ignorant negro; but I can not forgive Carl Schurz.
Right in the file of the foreigners opposed to woman suffrage, educated under monarchical governments that do not comprehend our principles, whom I have seen traveling through the prairies of Iowa or the prairies of Minnesota, are the Bohemians, Swedes, Norwegians, Germans, Irishmen, Mennonites; I have seen them riding on those magnificent loads of wheat with those magnificent Saxon horses, shining like glass on a sunny morning, every one of them going to vote "no" against woman suffrage. You can not convert them; it is impossible. Now and then there is a whisky manufacturer, drunkard, inebriate, libertine, and what we call a fast man, and a colored man, broad and generous enough to be willing to let women vote, to let his mother have her opinion counted as to whether there shall be license or no license, but the rank and file of all classes who wish to enjoy full license in what are termed the petty vices of men are pitted solid against the enfranchisement of women.
Then, in addition to all these, there are, as you know, a few religious bigots left in the world who really believe that somehow or other if women are allowed to vote St. Paul would feel badly about it. I do not know but that some of the gentlemen present belong to that class. So, when you put those best men of the nation, having religion about everything except on this one question, whose prejudices control them, with all this vast mass of ignorant, uneducated, degraded population in this country, you make an overwhelming and insurmountable majority against the enfranchisement of women.
It is because of this fact that I ask you not to remand us back to the States, but submit to the States the proposition of a sixteenth amendment. The popular-vote method is not only of itself an impossibility, but it is too humiliating a process to compel the women of this nation to submit to any longer.
I am going to give you an illustration, not because I have any disrespect for the person, because on many other questions he was really a good deal better than a good many other men who had not so bad a name in this nation. When, under the old regime, John Morrissey, of my State, the king of gamblers, was a Representative on the floor of Congress, it was humiliating enough for Lucretia Mott, for Elizabeth Cady Stanton, for all of us to come down here to Washington to beg at the feet of John Morrissey that he would let intelligent, native-born women vote, and let us have as much right in this Government and in the government of the city of New York as he had. When John Morrissey was a member of the New York State Legislature it would have been humiliating enough for us to go to the New York State Legislature and pray of John Morrissey to vote to ratify the sixteenth amendment, giving us the right to vote; but if instead of a sixteenth amendment you tell us to go back to the popular-vote method, the old-time method, and go down into John Morrissey's seventh Congressional district in the city of New York, and there, in the sloughs and slums of that great Sodom, in the grog-shops, the gambling-houses, and the brothels, beg at the feet of each individual fisticuffs of his constituency to give the noble, educated, native-born, tax-paying women of the State of New York as much right as he has, that would be too bitter a pill for a native-born woman to swallow any longer.
I beg you, gentlemen, to save us from the mortification and the humiliation of appealing to the rabble. We already have on our side the vast majority of the better educated—the best classes of men. You will remember that Senator Christiancy, of Michigan, two years ago, said on the floor of the Senate that of the 40,000 men who voted for woman suffrage in Michigan it was said that there was not a drunkard, not a libertine, not a gambler, not a depraved, low man among them. Is not that something that tells for us, and for our right? It is the fact, in every State of the Union, that we have the intelligent lawyers and the most liberal ministers of all the sects, not excepting the Roman Catholics. A Roman Catholic priest preached a sermon the other day, in which he said, "God grant that there were a thousand Susan B. Anthonys in this city to vote and work for temperance." When a Catholic priest says that there is a great moral necessity pressing down upon this nation demanding the enfranchisement of women, I ask you that you shall not drive us back to beg our rights at the feet of the most ignorant and depraved men of the nation, but that you, the representative men of the nation, will hold the question in the hollow of your hands. We ask you to lift this question out of the hands of the rabble.
You who are here upon the floor of Congress in both Houses are the picked men of the nation. You may say what you please about John Morrissey, the gambler, &c.: he was head and shoulders above the rank and file of his constituency. The world may gabble ever so much about members of Congress being corrupt and being bought and sold; they are as a rule head and shoulders above the great majority who compose their State governments. There is no doubt about it. Therefore I ask of you, as representative men, as men who think, as men who study, as men who philosophize, as men who know, that you will not drive us back to the States any more, but that you will carry out this method of procedure which has been practiced from the beginning of the Government; that is, that you will put a prohibitory amendment in the Constitution and submit the proposition to the several State legislatures. The amendment which has been presented before you reads:
SECTION 1. The right of suffrage in the United States shall be based on citizenship, and the right of citizens in the United States to vote shall not be denied or abridged by the United States, or by any State, on account of sex, or for any reason not equally applicable to all citizens of the United States.
SECTION 2. Congress shall have power to enforce this article by appropriate legislation.
In this way we would get the right of suffrage just as much by what you call the consent of the States, or the States' rights method, as by any other method. The only point is that it is a decision by the representative men of the States instead of by the rank and file of the ignorant men of the States. If you would submit this proposition for a sixteenth amendment, by a two- thirds vote of the two Houses to the several legislatures, and the several legislatures ratify it, that would be just as much by the consent of the States as if Tom, Dick, and Harry voted "Yes" or "no." Is it not, Senator? I want to talk to Democrats as well as Republicans, to show that it is a States' rights method.
SENATOR EDMUNDS: Does anybody propose any other, in case it is done at all by the nation?
MISS ANTHONY: Not by the nation, but they are continually driving us back to get it from the States, State by State. That is the point I want to make. We do not want you to drive us back to the States. We want you men to take the question out of the hands of the rabble of the State.
THE CHAIRMAN: May I interrupt you?
MISS ANTHONY: Yes, Sir, I wish you would.
THE CHAIRMAN: You have reflected on this subject a great deal. You think there is a majority, as I understand, even in the State of New York, against women suffrage?
MISS ANTHONY: Yes, Sir; overwhelmingly.
THE CHAIRMAN: How, then, would you get Legislatures elected to ratify such a constitutional amendment?
MISS ANTHONY: That brings me exactly to the point.
THE CHAIRMAN: That is the point I wish to hear you upon.
MISS ANTHONY: Because the members of the State Legislatures are intelligent men and can vote and enact laws embodying great principles of the government without in anywise endangering their positions with their constituencies. A constituency composed of ignorant men would vote solid against us because they have never thought on the question. Every man or woman who believes in the enfranchisement of women is educated out of every idea that he or she was born into. We were all born into the idea that the proper sphere of women is subjection, and it takes education and thought and culture to lift us out of it. Therefore when men go to the ballot-box they all vote "no," unless they have actual argument on it. I will illustrate. We have six Legislatures in the nation, for instance, that have extended the right to vote on school questions to the women, and not a single member of the State Legislature has ever lost his office or forfeited the respect or confidence of his constituents as a representative because he voted to give women the right to vote on school questions. It is a question that the unthinking masses never have thought upon. They do not care about it one way or the other, only they have an instinctive feeling that because women never did vote therefore it is wrong that they ever should vote.
MRS. SPENCER: Do make the point that the Congress of the United States leads the Legislatures of the States and educates them.
MISS ANTHONY: When you, representative men, carry this matter to Legislatures, State by State, they will ratify it. My point is that you can safely do this. Senator Thurman, of Ohio, would not lose a single vote in Ohio in voting in favor of the enfranchisement of women. Senator Edmunds would not lose a single Republican vote in the State of Vermont if he puts himself on our side, which, I think, he will do. It is not a political question. We are no political power that can make or break either party to-day. Consequently each man is left independent to express his own moral and intellectual convictions on the matter without endangering himself politically.
SENATOR EDMUNDS: I think, Miss Anthony, you ought to put it on rather higher, I will not say stronger, ground. If you can convince us that it is right we would not stop to see how it affected us politically.
MISS ANTHONY: I was coming to that. I was going to say to all of you men in office here to-day that if you can not go forward and carry out either your Democratic or your Republican or your Greenback theories, for instance, on the finance, there is no great political power that is going to take you away from these halls and prevent you from doing all those other things which you want to do, and you can act out your own moral and intellectual convictions on this without let or hindrance.
SENATOR EDMUNDS: Without any danger to the public interests, you mean.
MISS ANTHONY: Without any danger to the public interests. I did not mean to make a bad insinuation, Senator.
I want to give you another reason why we appeal to you. In these three States where the question has been submitted and voted down we can not get another Legislature to resubmit it, because they say the people have expressed their opinion and decided no, and therefore nobody with any political sense would resubmit the question. It is therefore impossible in any one of those States. We have tried hard in Kansas for ten years to get the question resubmitted; the vote of that State seems to be taken as a finality. We ask you to lift the sixteenth Amendment out of the arena of the public mass into the arena of thinking legislative brains, the brains of the nation, under the law and the Constitution. Not only do we ask it for that purpose, but when you will have by a two-thirds vote submitted the proposition to the several Legislatures, you have put the pin down and it never can go back. No subsequent Congress can revoke that submission of the proposition; there will be so much gained; it can not slide back. Then we will go to New York or to Pennsylvania, and urge upon the Legislatures the ratification of that amendment. They may refuse; they may vote it down the first time. Then we will go to the next Legislature, and the next Legislature, and plead and plead, from year to year, if it takes ten years. It is an open question to every Legislature until we can get one that will ratify it, and when that Legislature has once voted and ratified it no subsequent legislation can revoke their ratification.
Thus, you perceive, Senators, that every step we would gain by this sixteenth amendment process is fast and not to be done over again. That is why I appeal to you especially. As I have shown you in the respective States, if we fail to educate the people of a whole State—and in Michigan it was only six months, and in Colorado less than six months—the State Legislatures say that is the end of it. I appeal to you, therefore, to adopt the course that we suggest.
Gentlemen of the committee. if there is a question that you want to ask me before I make my final appeal, I should like to have you put it now; any question as to constitutional law or your right to go forward. Of course you do not deny to us that this amendment will be right in the line of all the amendments heretofore. The eleventh, twelfth, thirteenth, fourteenth, fifteenth are all in line prohibiting the States from doing something which they heretofore thought they had a right to do. Now we ask you to prohibit the States from denying to women their rights.
I want to show you in closing that of the great acts of justice done during the war and since the war the first one was a great military necessity. We never got one inch of headway in putting down the rebellion until the purpose of this great nation was declared that slavery should be abolished. Then, as if by magic, we went forward and put down the rebellion. At the close of the rebellion the nation stood again at a perfect deadlock. The Republican party was trembling in the balance because it feared that it could not hold its position, until it should have secured by legislation to the Government what it had gained at the point of the sword, and when the nation declared its purpose to enfranchise the negro it was a political necessity. I do not want to take too much vainglory out of the heads of Republicans, but nevertheless it is a great national fact that neither of those great acts of beneficence to the negro race was done because of any high, overshadowing moral conviction on the part of any considerable minority even of the people of this nation, but simply because of a military necessity slavery was abolished, and simply because of a political necessity black men were enfranchised.
The blackest Republican State you had voted down negro suffrage, and that was Kansas in 1867; Michigan voted it down in 1867; Ohio voted it down in 1867. Iowa was the only State that ever voted negro suffrage by a majority of the citizens to which the question was submitted, and they had not more than seventy-five negroes in the whole State; so it was not a very practical question. Therefore, it may be fairly said, I think, that it was a military necessity that compelled one of those acts of justice, and a political necessity that compelled the other.
It seems to me that from the first word uttered by our dear friend, Mrs. ex-Governor Wallace, of Indiana, all the way down, we have been presenting to you the fact that there is a great moral necessity pressing upon this nation to-day, that you shall go forward and attach a sixteenth amendment to the Federal Constitution which shall put in the hands of the women of this nation the power to help make, shape, and control the social conditions of society everywhere. I appeal to you from that standpoint that you shall submit this proposition.
There is one other point to which l want to call your attention. The Senate Judiciary Committee, Senator Edmunds chairman, reported that the United States could do nothing to protect women in the right to vote under the amendments. Now I want to give you a few points where the United States interferes to take away the right to vote from women where the State has given it to them. In Wyoming, for instance, by a Democratic legislature, the women were enfranchised. They were not only allowed to vote but to sit upon juries, the same as men. Those of you who read the reports giving; the results of that action have not forgotten that the first result of women sitting upon juries was that wherever there was a violation of the whisky law they brought in verdicts accordingly for the execution of the law; and you will remember, too, that the first man who ever had a verdict of guilty for murder in the first degree in that Territory was tried by a jury made up largely of women. Always up to that day every jury had brought in a verdict of shot in self-defense, although the person shot down may have been entirely unarmed. Then, in cities like Cheyenne and Laramie, persons entered complaints against keepers of houses of ill-fame.
Women were on the jury, and the result was in every case that before the juries could bring in a bill of indictment the women had taken the train and left the town. Why do you hear no more of women sitting on juries in that Territory? Simply because the United States marshal, who is appointed by the President to go to Wyoming, refuses to put the names of women into the box from which the jury is drawn. There the United States Government interferes to take the right away.
A DELEGATE: I should like to State that Governor Hoyt, of Wyoming, who was the governor who signed the act giving to women this right, informed me that the right had been restored, and that his sister, who resides there, recently served on a jury.
MIS ANTHONY: I am glad to hear it. It is two years since I was there, but I was told that that was the case. In Utah the women were given the right to vote, but a year and a half ago their Legislative Assembly found that although they had the right to vote the Territorial law provided that only male voters should hold office. The Legislative Assembly of Utah passed a bill providing that women should be eligible to all the offices of the Territory. The school offices, superintendents of schools, were the offices in particular to which the women wanted to be elected. Governor Emory, appointed by the President of the United States. vetoed that bill. Thus the full operations of enfranchisement conferred by two of the Territories has been stopped by Federal interference.
You ask why I come here instead of going to the State Legislatures. You say that whenever the Legislatures extend the right of suffrage to us by the constitutions of their States we can get it. Massachusetts, New Hampshire, Minnesota, Colorado, Kansas, Oregon, all these States, have had the school suffrage extended by legislative enactment. If the question had been submitted to the rank and file of the people of Boston, with 66,000 men paying nothing but the poll-tax, they would have undoubtedly voted against letting women have the right to vote for members of the school board; but their intelligent representatives on the floor of the Legislature voted in favor of the extension of the school suffrage to the women. The first result in Boston has been the election of quite a number of women to the school board. In Minnesota, in the little town of Rochester, the school board declared its purpose to cut the women teachers' wages down. It did not propose to touch the principal, who was a man, but they proposed to cut all the women down from $50 to $35. One woman put her bonnet on and went over the entire town and said, "We have got a right to vote for this school board, and let us do so." They all turned out and voted, and not a single #35 man was re-elected, but all those who were in favor of paying $50.
It seems to be a sort of charity to let a woman teach school. You say here that if a woman has a father, mother, or brother, or anybody to support her, she can not have a place in the Departments. ln the city of Rochester they cannot let a married woman teach school because she has got a husband, and it is supposed he ought to support her. The women are working in the Departments, as everywhere else, for half price, and the only pretext, you tell us, for keeping women there is because the Government can economize by employing women for less money. The other day when I saw a newspaper item stating that the Government proposed to compensate Miss Josephine Meeker for all her bravery, heroism, and terrible sufferings by giving her a place in the Interior Department. it made my blood boil to the ends of my fingers and toes. To give that girl a chance to work in the Department; to do just as much work as a man, and pay her half as much, was a charity. That was a beneficence on the part of this grand Government to her. We want the ballot for bread. When we do equal work we want equal wages.
MRS. SAXON: California, in her recent convention, prohibits the Legislature hereafter from enacting any law for woman's suffrage, does it not?
MISS ANTHONY: I do not know. I have not seen the new constitution.
MRS. SAXON: It does. The convention inserted a provision in the constitution that the Legislature could not act upon the subject at all.
MISS ANTHONY: Everywhere that we have gone, Senators, to ask our right at the hands of any legislative or political body, we have been the subjects of ridicule. For instance, I went before the great national Democratic convention in New York, in 1868, as a delegate from the New York Woman Suffrage Association, to ask that great party, now that it wanted to come to the front again, to put a genuine Jeffersonian plank in its platform, pledging the ballot to all citizens, women as well as men, should it come into power. You may remember how Mr. Seymour ordered my petition to be read, after looking at it in the most scrutinizing manner, when it was referred to the committee on resolutions, where it has slept the sleep of death from that day to this. But before the close of the convention a body of ignorant workingmen sent in a petition clamoring for greenbacks, and you remember that the Democratic party bought those men by putting a solid greenback plank in the platform.
Everybody supposed they would nominate Pendleton, or some other man of pronounced views, but instead of doing that they nominated Horatio Seymour, who stood on the fence, politically speaking. My friends, Mrs. Stanton, Lucretia Mott, and women who have brains and education, women who are tax-payers, went there and petitioned for the practical application of the fundamental principles of our Government to one-half of the people. Those most ignorant workingmen, the vast mass of them foreigners, went there, and petitioned that that great political party should favor greenbacks.
Why did they treat those workingmen with respect, and put a greenback plank in their platform, and only table us, and ignore us? Simply because the workingmen represented the power of the ballot. They could make or unmake the great Democratic party at that election. The women were powerless. We could be ridiculed and ignored with impunity, and so we were laughed at, and put on the table.
Then the Republicans went to Chicago, and they did just the same thing. They said the Government bonds must be paid in precisely the currency specified by the Congressional enactment, and Talleyrand himself could not have devised how not to say anything better than the Republicans did at Chicago on that question. Then they nominated a man who had not any financial opinions whatever, and who was not known, except for his military record, and they went into the campaign. Both those parties had this petition from us.
I met a woman in Grand Rapids, Mich., a short time ago. She came to me one morning and told me about the obscene shows licensed in that city, and said that she thought of memorializing the Legislature. I said, "Do; you can not do anything else: you are helpless, but you can petition. Of course they will laugh at you." Notwithstanding, I drew up a petition and she circulated it. Twelve hundred of the best citizens signed that petition, and the lady carried it to the Legislature, just as Mrs. Wallace took her petition in the Indiana Legislature. They read it, laughed at it, and laid it on the table; and at the close of the session, by a unanimous vote, they retired in a solid body to witness the obscene show themselves. After witnessing it, they not only allowed the license to continue for that year, but they have licensed it every year from that day to this, against all the protests of the petitioners.
SENATOR EDMUNDS: Do not think we are wanting in respect to you and the ladies here because you say something that makes us laugh.
Miss ANTHONY: You are not laughing at me; you are treating me respectfully, because you are hearing my argument; you are not asleep, not one of you, and I am delighted.
Now, I am going to tell you one other fact. Seven thousand of the best citizens of Illinois petitioned the Legislature of 1877 to give them the poor privilege of voting on the license question. A gentleman presented their petition; the ladies were in the lobbies around the room. A gentleman made a motion that the president of the State association of the Christian Temperance Union be allowed to address the Legislature regarding the petition of the memorialists, when a gentleman sprang to his feet, and said it was well enough for the honorable gentleman to present the petition, and have it received and laid on the table, but "for a gentleman to rise in his seat and propose that the valuable time of the honorable gentlemen of the Illinois Legislature should be consumed in discussing the nonsense of those women is going a little too far. I move that the sergeant-at-arms be ordered to clear the hall of the house of representatives of the mob;" referring to those Christian women. Now, they had had the lobbyists of the whisky ring in that Legislature for years and years, not only around it at respectful distances, but inside the bar, and nobody ever made a motion to clear the halls of the whisky mob there. It only takes Christian women to make a mob.
MRS. SAXON: We were treated extremely respectfully in Louisiana. It showed plainly the temper of the convention when the present governor admitted that woman suffrage was a fact bound to come. They gave us the privilege of having women on the school boards, but then the officers are appointed by men who are politicians.
MISS ANTHONY: I want to read a few words that come from good authority, for black men at least. I find here a little extract that I copied years ago from the Anti-Slavery Standard of 1870. As you know, Wendell Phillips was the editor of that paper at that time:
"A man with the ballot in his hand is the master of the situation. He defines all his other rights: what is not already given him he takes."
That is exactly what we want, Senators. The rights you have not already given us; we want to get in such a position that we can take them.
"The ballot makes every class sovereign over its own fate. Corruption may steal from a man his independence; capital may starve, and intrigue fetter him, at times; but against all these, his vote, intelligently and honestly cast, is, in the long run, his full protection. If, in the struggle, his fort surrenders. it is only because it is betrayed from within. No power ever permanently wronged a voting class without its own consent."
Senators, I want to ask of you that you will, by the law and parliamentary rules of your committee, allow us to agitate this question by publishing this report and the report which you hall make upon our petitions, as I hope you will make a report. If your committee is so pressed with business that it can not possibly consider and report upon this question , I wish some of you would make a motion on the floor of the Senate that a special committee be appointed to take the whole question of the enfranchisement of women into consideration, and that that committee shall have nothing else to do. This off-year of politics, when there is nothing to do but to try how not to do it (politically, I mean, l am not speaking personally), is the best time you can have to consider the question of woman suffrage, and I ask you to use your influence with the Senate to have it specially attended to this year. Do not make us come here thirty years longer. It is twelve years since the first time I came before a Senate committee. I said then to Charles Sumner, if I could make the honorable Senator from Massachusetts believe that I feel the degradation and the humiliation of disfranchisement precisely as he would if his fellows had adjudged him incompetent from any cause whatever from having his opinion counted at the ballot-box we should have our right to vote in the twinkling of an eye.