Susan B. Anthony

Address in New Orleans - Jan. 22, 1895

Susan B. Anthony
January 22, 1895— New Orleans, Louisiana
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This speech was reported in the Jan. 23, 1895 issue of the Times-Picayune in New Orleans, Louisiana. Anthony and Carrie Chapman Catt both spoke to a large crowd.

Mrs. President and Friends: My friend, Mrs. Chapman-Catt, and myself, who are making this tour, wish to say a word in regard to the establishment in this nation of a genuine republican form of government. We wish to give you this remarkable message: Taxation without representation is unjust; taxation and representation are inseparable; the one is the outgrowth of the other.

I stand here to-night to tell you that in forty-two states of the union, claiming a practical government, equality is denied to one half of the people—one-half of the people are denied the right of representation, though taxation is the burden of all, in violation of the fundamental principle of our government. Our statutes reach only half-way. The true name of our constitution is an oligarchy, a white male oligarchy of wealth. The original thirteen states had the property qualifications. This great work has been put away. Thomas Jefferson had laid down this fundamental principle in New York. Martin Van Buren led the removal of the property qualification. And so all the way through the question of suffrage has been settled by men and for men—educated men and uneducated men, rich men and poor men, smart men and lazy men, drunken men and sober men, every kind of man outside of the state prison and the lunatic asylum has the right to vote and frame the laws by which the other half of the nation are to be governed.

And so we stand here to-night not asking anything new of the men: not demanding anything that has not been granted in the declaration of 1776. Women form one-half of the population of this free republic. Men are fond of calling us the "better half." It is not high time that you men give to us the rights that are not denied to the "worser half," and concede to us those principles that our constitution grants in the declaration, "Taxation without representation is tyranny."

My friends, I stand here to-night to acknowledge the vast progress made in the last half century. Fifty years ago there was but one college in the union to which women were admitted, and that was a college in Ohio. There alone could a girl secure a higher education; Harvard, Princeton and Columbia shot their doors in the face of the daughters of the commonwealth. There has been a gradual advance in the condition of women; 125 years ago, even in cultured Boston, girls were not allowed to attend the schools. The school was for the boys along, but when the summer came and boys had to go out into the fields and harvest the crops and there was no money to keep the schools running, they allowed little girls to go in, in order to draw the amount of money necessary to keep the school system from collapsing. To-day all of the best colleges have been thrown open to women. If you had lived as I did in the early days, when there was no vocation for a women but to be married, you would understand the complete revolution that has taken place in regard to the women of this country. So you see we have traveled a long distance since then. Wellesley and Vassar, and the Boston University, the University of Mississippi and colleges throughout the south, as well as the north, grant to women equal educational rights with men. All have opened their portals at a woman's word, and she has proved her right to the conquest. The colleges are graduating five girls to one boy everywhere. Fifty years ago the educated woman was a curiosity; now she is the rule. The change wrought has grown into a wonderful revolution in other lines. Traveling over the country a half century ago, and stopping, from house to house, few women could read and write and cipher to the rule of three. Education in higher planes has uplifted women, and refined the home, and away out in North Dakota there is scarcely a home where the college bred woman does not preside at the hearth of the college bred man.

In those days there were no women in the professions. When Elizabeth Blackwell desired to study medicine every university refused her admittance, except a little town in Switzerland, and when she graduated first of a class of twenty men, the president of the college, in his address, said that she had not only graduated head of the class, but the entire class had been the best behaved ever graduated from the college, on account of the refining influences of a woman.

And yet, at the very next session of the board, there was a resolution passed that no more women were to be admitted to that college. Now the medical colleges in New York, Cincinnati and Cleveland are to-day graduating women. If you women of New Orleans have not yet the advantage of admission to the medical college here, it is high time that you had. We have in the United States 3000 women practicing everywhere, killing or curing, as the case may be.

Fifty years ago there was not theological seminary open to women. When Antoinette Brown desired to take up a course in theology she was met with a grave counsel of theologians, who had to consider whether St. Paul would be willing. It is wonderful how persistent theologians are about St. Paul's attitude toward women, and what he has to say about them. It would be a good thing if ministers were a little particular as to what St. Paul has to say about them. Ministers are strange beings. Finally Miss Brown went to one assembly, which searched in vain for a clause in the bible that would not admit her. They found none. She went through the course and they presented her all the knottiest problems to keep her out, but she was equal to them. Then came the tug of war—to get ordained. There was only one Wesleyan church that took her part. Finally Rev. Sam J. May and Luther Lee met together, and the Rev. Antoinette Brown was ordained to preach the gospel. The Unitarian and Baptist churches ordain women, and some of the Methodist, only the old Methodist Episcopal closes its doors to women delegates. No revivals in the north are complete without a woman preacher, for the sensible ministers know what to get to lead the throngs. Ministers are only human. They like to have women do the work as the world ordains, and they get the pay. The Presbyterians still have their superstitious hold on woman's tongue. But the women know a thing or two, and where a minister sets down on a woman he generally has to move on to a new parish, except in the old church, where a woman wanted to pray; but out of respect to the old preacher, they are waiting for their day.

In law women make wonderful progress in study, but, like men, they like it well enough at school, but give it up in the world. The women find an easier profession waiting for them—marriage. This is the great panacea, and yet he have already forty women lawyers making good livings.

Fifty years ago the old idea under the old regime was for women to stay at home. They did the carding, the weaving, the sewing, all that pertained to the household management. Now the hum of the factories is heard on all sides, and we have women stenographers, typewriters, reporters, and I see here in New Orleans you have women on the staff of the newspapers. I don't know how it is down here, but in the north editors say that the work of the women in the newspapers equals that of the men.

All this illustrates that wherever man may go woman has the right to go also. There is but one injustice in this system of equal labor. Women are paid for their services one-half or one-third less than men.

My sisters, there is no remedy for all this but the ballot. Disenfranchisement will always perpetuate this evil condition. If men have been elevated it is because they have the right to vote. We cannot point to a community where disfranchised men are not degraded. Disenfranchisement is degradation, for the enfranchised will always be the party that weilds the right to control. The disfranchised class is the degraded class. Women, we are that class. If you want equal pay for equal work, the right to compete with men in every field and profession, the right to say who shall control your children and yourselves, you must join in this battle for enfranchisement. If you say you don't want to vote, then I say to you, do equal work with men and take one-half their pay. Individual men cannot make rules for others to follow. No capitalists can establish the system of equal pay for men and women without going bankrupt. Women must take what they can get. Beggars have no choice. We are political beggars.

[The reporter writes: "Miss Anthony rapidly reviewed the condition of affairs in her own city of Rochester, where half the taxes are paid by women; when recently the men went on a strike for higher wages they got them, but when the women teachers wanted an increase of 25 per cent, they were told they had enough and some said if they did not like the state of things to go out and get married."]

Marriage, that is the great remedy that has been held out too long for woman. She cannot get higher wages, but she must bind herself for life to a man for food and clothes and lodgings. The wife owes service to her husband, and in New York does not own a dollar. I hope is it better in Louisiana. Ignorant, selfish workingmen have the narrow idea that if women get equal pay with them they will get less. Human rights should be free as the air we breathe. But in New York the condition of women is no better than the condition of the negro slaves before the war. When the superior class comes in contact with the disfranchised class, the latter is bound to lose.

["Miss Anthony rapidly reviewed her own career, the help given by Elizabeth Cady Stanton, interspersing her remarks with many witticisms, as for instance, when she first read a paper before the educational convention a staid old preacher came up to her and said: 'Neither of matter or fact could I add a word, but if a daughter or wife of mine had got up in public and read such a paper, I would rather have followed them to Greenwood cemetery.'"]

Well, the women have gotten there, but whatever has come to them has done so in a bloody fight. After the victory men praise us. Men are splendid. We thank them for letting us battle alone, and then praise us when we win. Fifty years ago Blackstone's interpretation, "A husband and wife are one, and the husband is that one," was accepted. A woman has no right to control her children; no rights as to the custody of her own person. In New York I told the abolitionists: "You clamor for the abolition of slavery and in our own state, your wives are as much slaves, for they are ruled by the same code." Oh, it made them angry.

["Miss Anthony rapidly sketched the progress made in relation to giving the widowed or divorced mother the custody of her minor children, and then made a powerful plea for the granting of civil rights to women. She rapidly sketched the women movement in New York, and advocated that where women were taxed they should vote. She pleaded for the elimination of the word 'male' from the constitution."]

As long as that hateful little adjective "male" remains there, my sisters, we are in the same class as idiots and inmates of insane asylums. We are irresponsible citizens. I plead for the correlative right of the ballot. Women are tax paying citizens, and yet they have no voice, but every ignorant, drunken man who does not pay a tax has a right to have a voice in the making of the laws which shall control her property. This political inequality must cease. As long as the word "male" is in the constitution it means that men are superior—women inferior. Men are sovereigns—women are subjects. And believe me, men will not respect us until the constitution reads that every citizen, not "male citizen," shall be allowed to vote.

["Miss Anthony was applauded to the echo. A beautiful basket of flowers was presented her and a bouquet, the latter from Mrs. J. M. Ferguson, president of the Arenas. Miss Anthony, in accepting it, said, 'This is far different from the sharp aspersions that used to come.'"]

Women Raise Their Own Fair Standard. (1895, January 23). The Times-Picayune (New Orleans), 7. Retrieved from