Anna Howard Shaw

Statement before the U.S. House Judiciary Committee – Feb. 17, 1892

Anna Howard Shaw
February 17, 1892— Washington, D.C.
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Yesterday I noticed in a report of our hearing before the Judiciary Committee of the House the headline, "Appeals to Deaf Ears." And I said, "Has it come to this, that when earnest and sincere women of this great country make an appeal to the heads of the Government it is dubbed an 'Appeal to Deaf Ears'?" Time was when the British Government thought our ancestors had not sufficient merit in their cause to be heard, and when they made an "appeal to deaf ears." But the time came when those ears were unstopped and they heard, and what they heard was the cry of victory by a free people. We may be appealing to deaf ears to-day, but the time is coming when it will not be so. Men will hear and, hearing, they will answer, because ultimately men desire the right. If I were asked what I conscientiously believe the real condition of the hearts of most men to be, I should say they are positively ignorant in regard to the justice of this matter, and if it could be brought properly before them, they would stand on the side of justice and right for women.

Therefore I desire only to say that I know from my travels all over the country, conferring with the intelligent women to bring before them this great principle, that the good work is going on. It may be deafness yesterday and partial hearing to-day, but it will be full hearing to-morrow. To-day we may be blind to the truth; to­morrow we shall see the whole truth. We may not have another centennial before we shall see justice for all human kind.

You know, gentlemen, that this Government exists for only three things, and in those every woman is as much interested as every man. It exists for the administration of justice, for the protection of person and property, and for the development of society. Just as you and all men have persons and property to protect, so we women have. We are because of our nature and because it seems as if the Almighty had intended it should be so, more interested than men in the development of society. Wherever there is any movement for the uplifting of society you will find women in the forefront. There never has been any great movement in this nation when women have not stood side by side with the noblest and truest men.

We do to-day nine-tenths of the philanthropic work, nine-tenths of the church work, and form three-fourths of the church membership. We are the teachers of the young; we are the mothers of the race. If you want the noblest men you must have the noblest mothers. "Eye hath not seen, nor hath ear heard, nor hath it entered into the heart of man to conceive" the kind of men and women God had in view when He created man in His own likeness and gave to male and female dominion over the world, to subdue it and to bring out of it the best things.

You who talk of a great Government in which the voice of God is heard must remember that, if "the voice of the people is the voice of God," you never will know what that is until you get the voice of the people, and you will find it has a soprano as well as a bass. You must join the soprano voice of God to the bass voice in order to get the harmony of the Divine voice. Then you will have a law which will enable you to say, "We are a people justly ruled, because in this nation the voice of the people is the voice of God, and the voice of the people has been heard."