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As a nation, we have declared that government receives its just powers from the consent of the governed; and in accordance with this, the United States Constitution makes all people the basis of representation, without any reference to sex, (except that a slave is only three-fifths of a human being.) We believe that consistency would have required no other test for political rights or privileges, than these qualifications, to wit, mature age and judgment; but all the States of the confederacy, by their local laws, have deprived women of the right of suffrage. Minors, idiots, insane persons, murderers, robbers, horse-thieves, and a great catalogue of culprits, coloured people, and white women, are all placed in the same category, with respect to the right of suffrage. Coloured men have a right to vote in some of the States.
The government of the United States, with respect to women, is but a great hereditary aristocracy, which governs them by arbitrary law without their own consent, thus giving the lie to the principle that government receives its legitimate powers from the consent of the governed. It is not hard for man to find excuses for his oppressions, and even clothe them with a garb of love or anxiety for the good of the governed. Woman cannot “ take care of herself;" hence man's sapient head is only qualified to make laws to govern human actions.
One pretext for depriving woman of the elective franchise is, that it would corrupt her morals, because misrule and uproar characterize a great portion of our political assemblies. These sapient worthies belch out uproarious yells, like beasts in a menagerie, and utter vociferous threats which are sometimes executed in gouged eyes and bleeding noses, when they assemble in “their sovereignty," to choose persons to make laws to govern themselves, and their wards, (the women;) and this is made a pretext why women should not appear in such assemblies. We think such conduct proves that such people have need of guardians themselves, instead of being guardians for others; and they wofully lack what is essential to government, to wit, to know how to govern themselves. Is such savage conduct in men the effect of the right of suffrage? Does it promote good morals in countries where people are debarred the right of suffrage? No person will say that it does, but the very reverse. The tendency is to
degrade and brutify, where any portion of the community is deprived of their natural rights. Why could not women go in an orderly and decent manner, and deposite their ballots, as a great many of our male citizens do, without acting the savage or the barbarian? The very idea of women being excluded from the right of suffrage, lest it might contaminate their morals, is a tacit acknowledgment that women are more moral in the aggregate than are men, and these are the very people that are needed to renovate the political system. Has not God declared that “it is not good for man to be alone?” Would not the presence of women in these assemblies be a corrective of such disorderly conduct? Is not the government of this world, as far as human agency is concerned, too heavy to be sustained by man alone? Is not woman a “ help-meet to man?” But man is still willing to totter on alone under the burden; this is an additional evidence of the kind supervision he takes over woman. He not only loves her as himself, but he loves her better than himself. He is so much afraid that woman's morals might become corrupted by political action, the kind creature takes the whole matter into his own hands, and injures his own morals! We are led to believe that all this kindness flows from another source than love to woman.
Man regards himself as a superior being, and as having more rights than woman, and one important item in his bill of rights is, that he is privileged to work iniquity. It would be a shame for women to act in this savage manner, but it can be looked over in men; they get excited about election times, and diffusible stimulants add to the excitement with some. Is not woman brought out into the political arena, although she is disfranchised ? As it respects the laws which govern her, it makes very little difference to her which demagogue may have the ascendency, as the laws have stood in statu quo, respecting her rights, since the days of heathenism, with some modifications. Notwithstanding, some women are very strong politicians, and both political parties are very obsequious candidates for their suffrage, and have them out in the political field, particularly at presidential canvassings. They know very well, although they deny them a vote, that God has given them influence. They seem to award to their presence a magical power. We have seen them hailed in their processions, seated beside log-cabins in miniature, or adorned with hickory bushes; and if, in their political zeal and beneficence, they see proper to present their co-patriots with standards and appropriate banners, the gift is graciously received. If women in the presentment condescend to make speeches, they are extolled to the skies for their eloquence of diction and sublimity of sentiment, and are told that “ they far outstrip our congressional orators.” Man would not be the least afraid of woman's morals becoming contaminated, if it would advance his interest, or humour his caprice or love of dominion.
Women have just as good a right to appear in political processions as men; they have as good a right to make speeches in public as men; patriotism is as much a virtue in them as in men; “ the whole world” ought to be regarded " as their country, and its inhabitants their countrymen,” and they ought to take a deep and thrilling interest in whatever advances the good of mankind, whether politically or in any other way, and exert their influence to the utmost to promote those objects. If, however, they have no moral right to vote, they have no right to appear in either public or private canvassings. If they have no political rights, they have no political duties. They are only there as the tools and dupes of men to promote their ambitious designs, and riveting the chains which are bound upon themselves.
The most prominent pretext for woman's exclusion from the right of suffrage is, that the husband is the wife's representative. As we have often said, woman always stands in the character of wife, in the human family, yoked, gaggedl, and fettered, married or unmarried.
We cannot understand how the husband is the wife's representative. An unmarried man's vote counts one, just the same as a married man's. The wife is considered as merged in the husband, the twain are one; but the husband is not a whit larger, as to the right of suffrage, than before marriage. He is like “ Pharaoh's lean and ill-favoured kine,” when he has eaten up the wife, it cannot be known that he has eaten her; he still continues the individual man, with the one vote—so woman has no representation at all. Those who have the framing of the laws that govern her, look upon themselves as her superiors. Their superiority depends on her inferiority; they are great because she is little-so they are partial legislators. Avarice and the unhallowed love of dominion induce them to legislate for their own interest or aggrandizement. The very idea of considering themselves superior beings, destroys the rule which God has given to direct us in our treatment of our fellowcreatures— love thy neighbour as thyself." We cannot love an inferior being as ourselves ; it would not be our duty.
The Declaration of Independence asserts that “all men are created equal, (mankind,) and have certain inalienable rights, among which are life, liberty, and the pursuit of happiness." Now, has any person liberty when he is governed by laws which he has no voice in making, and when his property is taxed without representation? It is a direct step towards enslavement; it would be an anomaly that such a class would be governed by just and equitable laws. The very opinion that would lead to their disfranchisement and inequality of rights, would lead to further deprivations—hence the unequal and oppressive laws which govern women. For although husband and wife may be said jointly to own the property, and as the husband is the representative, the property may be said not to be taxed without representation; but if two men owned that property, they would both have a vote. The property of unmarried women is taxed without any pretence to representation, and yet the taxing of property is a trivial matter in comparison with the laws that bind us in our life and liberty. All women are bound in their lives and liberties by laws they have no voice in making.
It is said that the right of suffrage is a conventional right, and not a natural right, and people may be lawfully divested of conventional rights. The principle that government receives its legitimate powers from the consent of the governed, overturns this opinion. We deny that the right of suffrage is a conventional right, it is a natural and inalienable right, and under that view did our revolutionary fathers bleed and die to obtain the right of suffrage. This was the ground of the bloody conflict, and they appealed to high Heaven for the jusiness of their cause. If war is justifiable at all under the Christian dispensation, they had just cause for war. People are not to be trusted in making laws who deny to the governed a voice in the making of them, for this is a direct step towards enslavement. Those who rob us of one right are not to be trusted with the rest. If the right of suffrage is a conventional right, Great Britain had just as good a right to constitute itself a convention to deprive the inhabitants of its colonies of the right of suffrage, as have the male sex to constitute themselves into a convention to deprive the female sex of the right of suffrage. People have a natural right to form conventions and make their own terms of membership, provided, in all cases, they do not invade the rights of others. Forming conventions gives no right to exercise authority over those who are not members of the association. If people could create rights by forming themselves into conventions, they might create rights ad infinitum. Conventions can give no rights, it is God that gives us our rights, and He prescribes our duties. The province of civil government is to protect us in our Godgiven rights-it can give none; and women have inherent and inalienable rights the same as men, and should have a direct voice in all matters which affect their interest.* God
* - Human rights originate in the mental constitution; all men have the same mental attributes, and, therefore, we must concede to them the same rights. * * * * What, then, is the function of government? It is simply the protection of human rights. For whose benefit is it established ? For the benefit of all who have rights to protect. We hold that government is the mere offspring of rights, which institute it as their means of defence and vindication. Hence it will be perceived that woman's rights are as sacred to the law as man's, and that her concern with government is as great and important as his own. If so, why is she excluded from acting in reference to that which so immediately concerns her? She is a rational, moral being, endowed with rights. I's she not the very being to guard them? Throughout the sensitive creation does not each being act for himself in assertion and defence? But of all others, is not a rational, moral being, especially ordained for selfcontrol and self-vindication ?
“We have already seen that government emanates from the moral nature of mankind--that the laws have a moral origin and aim. Now the moral force which is aggregated in the social state, proceeds as much from woman's sentiments as from man's; her moral endowments being, perhaps, proportionally greater than his own. If they are inferior in some respects, it would not aid the other side, provided she is morally sane- and that she is so regarded, is proved by the fact that she is held morally and legally responsible to the fullest extent, while she remains