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The Woman Suffrage Campaign

The Woman Suffrage Campaign image
Parent Issue
Day
12
Month
June
Year
1874
Copyright
Public Domain
OCR Text

From Harper's Weekly The niovement in favor of the voting f women has acquired a gravity which an not be disregarded. In the Senate f Massachu9etts the proposition of subnitting theamendment to the people was ost the other day by a majority of live nly, and in Michigan the question has eeu laid before the State by the Legisiture, and excites very great interest. Ve observe among the supporters of the uffirage the names of well-known citiens, judges upon the bench, and otEer flicial persons, and the press enters warmy into the debate. Tne proposition is ery serioua. What niay be called the A.merican argumenta in its favor are obious and oonclusive, so much so that the meetings of its friends are al most monotonous from the familiar tone of the peeches. That women have an equal take in society - that they are propertywuers and tax-payers - that "virtual" epresentation is not representa tion - that hey are tharefore taxed without repreentation, are truths that an American an not deny. . Again, that many laws, made by uien alone, are, for that reason, unjust to women - that animproving se:iimcnt constantly demanda their modifiation on the ground of injustice - that n school boaids and in certain local uestions their official prosence and sufrage are of high public benefit, is not a ubject of dispute. But there are a serous and thoughtful doubt and opposition easonably and tomperately urged which Reserve the candid consideration of the riends of the movement. The first and the most powerful of .hese, because the vaguest, and susceptivo of highly imaginative treatment, is he argument of sex. IL is a difficult argument to state plainly, because it im)ües what is not a maUer of public cussion ; but it is substantially thia, that üe influeuco of the sex in its widest and most comprehensiva sense would be found )racticaüy the source of a corruption in )olitics quite beyond any of which we lave experience, and that the effect, both upon men and women, and upon the nalonal char&cter and prospecta, would be most demoraliz;ng and alarming. The jValion, in a ele ar and admirable presenjitiüii of this argumont, illustrates it xoin tho case of church government, in which tho f act of sex has bred such scandal aad trouble, and cites as an instance of what inight be expected to arise from ;he relations of men and women in politcal lite, the trouble in which a very dis;inguished and most honorable man, au advocate of woman sutfrage, bas Intely Deen involved. But in view of the fact that men and women are of necessity most intimately associated in every relation of life, and that, so lar as sex is concerned, its influeuce would be neither more nor lesa than it is now, we cannot see why admission to the suffrage should produce the extraordinary resulta feared. If it is true that this deranging element of sex surrounds the co-operation even of the best men and women with serious dangers, is it also true that where there is the least co-operation of the sexes in the coinmon iuteieste of life there ia also a purer morality and a higher individual character? Does the a6sociation of women with men in the management of education, , or the right of women to vote as stockholders, or their equal association in churches - conceding the scandals and troubles - produce a lower moral tone in the community F Or is it not rather true that it is as society becomes more truly civilized, more intelligent, more self-restrained, and in commuuitiea of the highest moral tone, that these advances are made, and Liiat mts uüiiiuiiu lor lue uauot is lua inost earnest 'i We do not admit that a í'emale politiciiin would hold her male opponent at her mercy in tho sense and inaimer alleged ; and we are very sure that any increase of the trouble supposed would by the necessity of the case tend to cure itself- that is to say, the damagiug power of such calumny would be weakened - while, on the other hand, there would be an influx of more generous motives and nobler feelings, arising equajly from the difference of sox, and which any man who has been associated with wonien in works of practical charity fully coinprehends, but of which those who urge the objection of sex seem to be wholly unmindful. Such consiuerations are in their nature speculative and abstract, but there is another more practical objection. It is that to multiply ballots ia not to increase tbe virtue and intelligence without which no nuuiber of ballots can secure good government. The argument which underlies this objection is that the suffrage should be educated ; that a certain and rather high intelligence, indicated by a proper degree of education, should be requirtd of every voter. This may be a good reason for regretting that ignoran t black men vote in Carolina, but is it a reason that intelligent and educated white women should not vote in Michigan '{ And is it a sound reason for oxcluding such citizens from the polls that, if admitted, the ignorant would vote also 't If the reason that women should not vote is not their sex, but the ignorance of some, then the fact of the exclusión of educated women, by which theadvantage ef their character and intelligence is lost, should be a reason not for opposing their admission, but for the most stremious advocacy of an educated suffrage only, in order that they might be admitted. We are very glad that the general debate upon this question of woman ' rrage is to take place in the State of Micbigan, because the judgment of so intelligent a community will be of great weight. And there is this satisfaction in theiscussion, that the decisión will represent much more nearly 1 han is usual at the polls the actual unbiased opinión of the people of Michigan. We have no doubt of the ultimate result ; and if the State decides adversely, the quèstion will have had a fair hearing, and the causp, retiring in good order from Bunker Hill, will proceed to Yorktown.