Citation
Address in favor of universal suffrage, for the election of delegates to the Constitutional Convention

Material Information

Title:
Address in favor of universal suffrage, for the election of delegates to the Constitutional Convention Before the Judiciary Committees of the Legislature of New York, in the Assembly chamber, January 23, 1867, in behalf of the American Equal Rights Association
Creator:
Stanton, Elizabeth Cady, 1815-1902
American Equal Rights Association
Place of Publication:
Albany
Publisher:
Weed, Parsons and Co., printers
Publication Date:
Language:
English
Physical Description:
24 pages : ; 23 cm

Subjects

Subjects / Keywords:
Women -- Suffrage ( lcsh )
Women -- Suffrage ( fast )
Genre:
non-fiction ( marcgt )

Notes

Statement of Responsibility:
By Elizabeth Cady Stanton.

Record Information

Source Institution:
|Auraria Library
Holding Location:
|Auraria Library
Rights Management:
All applicable rights reserved by the source institution and holding location.
Resource Identifier:
11751646 ( OCLC )
ocm11751646
Classification:
HQ1114 .S8 ( lcc )
324.623 ( ddc )

Full Text
cUr*1**


ADDRESS
1ST FAVOR OF
UNIVERSAL SUFFRAGE,
FOR THE ELECTION OF DELEGATES TO THE
CONSTITUTIONAL CONTENTION.
BEFORE THE
JUDICIARY COMMITTEES OP THE LEGISLATURE OP NEW YORK, IN
THE ASSEMBLY CHAMBER, JANUARY 23, 1861,
IK BKIIALF OF TUB
AMERICAN EQUAL RIGHTS ASSOCIATION.
By ELIZABETH CADY STANTON.
ALBANY:
WEED, PARSONS AND COMPANY, PRINTERS.
1867.


CONSTITUTION
OF THE AMERICAN EQUAL RIGHTS ASSOCIATION.
PREAMBLE.
Whereas, By the war, society is once more resolved into its original elements,
and in the reconstruction of our government we again stand face to face with the
broad question of natural rights, all associations based on special claims for special
classes are too narrow and partial for the hour; therefore, from the baptism of this
second revolution purified and exalted through suffering seeing with a holier
vision that the peace, prosperity and perpetuity of the Republic rest on Equal
Rights to All, we, to-day, assemble in our Eleventh National Womans Rights
Convention, bury the woman in the citizen, and our organization in that of the
American Equal Rights Association.
ARTICLE i.
This organization shall be known as The American Equal Rights Association.
ARTICLE II.
The object of this Association shall be to secure Equal Rights to all American
citizens, especially the right of suffrage, irrespective of race, color or sex.
ARTICLE III.
Any person who consents to the principles of this Association and contributes to
its treasury, may be a member, and be entitled to speak and vote in its meetings.
ARTICLE IV.
The officers of this Association shall be a President, Yice-Presidents, Cor-
responding Secretaries, a Recording Secretary, a Treasurer, and an Executive
Committee of not less than seven, nor more than fifteen members.
ARTICLE v.
The Executive Committee shall have power to enact their by-laws, fill any
vacancy in their body, and in the offices of Secretary and Treasurer; employ
agents; determine what compensation shall be paid to agents, and to the Corres-
ponding Secretaries; direct the Treasurer in the application of all moneys, and call
special meetings of the Society. They shall make arrangements for all meetings
of the Society; make an annual written report of their doings, the expenditures
and funds of the Society; and shall hold stated meetings, and adopt the most
energetic measures in their power to advance the objects of the Society.
ARTICLE VI.
The Annual Meeting of the Association shall be held each year at such time
and place as the Executive Committee may direct, when the accounts of the
Treasurer shall be presented, the annual report read, appropriate addresses
delivered, the officers chosen, and such other business transacted as shall be
deemed expedient.
ARTICLE VII.
Any Equal Rights Association, founded on the same principles, may become
auxiliary to this Association. The officers of each auxiliary shall be ex officio
members of the Parent Association, and shall be entitled to deliberate and vote in
the transactions of its concerns.
ARTICLE VIII.
This Constitution may be amended, at any regular meeting of the Society, by a
vote of two-thirds of the members present, provided the amendments proposed
have been previously submitted in writing to the Executive Committee, at least one
month before the meeting at which they are to be proposed.
Done in the city of New York, on the tenth day of May, in the year 1866.


ADDRESS.
Gentlemen of the Judiciary Committees, and Members of the
Legislature :
I appear before you at this time, to urge on you the
justice of securing to all the people of the State the
right to vote for delegates to the coming Constitutional
Convention. The discussion of this right involves the
consideration of the whole question of suffrage; and
especially those sections of your Constitution which
interpose insurmountable qualifications to its exercise.
As representatives of the people, your right to regulate
all that pertains to the coming Constitutional Convention
is absolute. It is for you to say when and where this
convention shall be held; how many delegates shall be
chosen, and what classes shall be represented. This is
your right. It is the opinion of many of the ablest men
of the country that, in a revision of a constitution, the
State is, for the time being, resolved into its original
elements, aud that all disfranchised classes should have a
voice in such revision and be represented in such conven-
tion. To secure this to the people of the State, is clearly
your duty.
Says Judge Beach Lawrence, in a letter to Hon.
Charles Sumner, A State constitution must originate
with and be assented to by a majority of the people,
including as well those whom it disfranchises as those
whom it invests with the suffrage. And as there is noth-
ing in the present Constitution of the State of New York,
to prevent women, or black men from voting for, or being
elected as delegates to a Constitutional Convention, there
is no reason why the Legislature should not enact that the


4
people elect their delegates to said Convention, irrespect-
ive of sex or color.
The Legislatures of 1801 and 1821, furnish you a preced-
ent for extending to disfranchised classes the right to vote
for delegates to a Constitutional Convention. Though,
the Constitution of the State restricted the right of suf-
frage to every male inhabitant who possessed a freehold
to the value of £20, or rented a tenement at the yearly
value of forty shillings, and had been rated and actually
paid taxes to the State, the Legislatures of those years
passed laws setting aside all property limitations, and pro-
viding that all menblack and white, rich and poor
should vote for delegates to said Conventions.
The act recommending a convention for the purpose of
considering the parts of the Constitution of this State,
respecting the number of senators and members of Assem-
blyand also for the consideration of the 23d article of
said Constitution, relative to the right of nomination to
officebut with no other power or authority whatso-
ever, passed April 6th, 1801. Session Laws 1801, chap.
69, page 190, sec 2, says :
44 And be it further enacted, that the number of delegates chosen
44 shall be the same as the number of members of Assembly from
44 the respective cities and counties of the State, and that all free
44 male citizens of this State, of the age of twenty-one years and
44 upward, shall be admitted to vote for such delegates, and that
44 any person of that description shall be eligible.
The above law was passed by the Legislature of 1801,
which derived its authority from the first Constitution of
the State.
The act recommending a convention of the people of.
this State, passed March 13, 1821. Session Laws of 1821,
act 90, page 83, sec. 1.
44Persons entitled to vote:
44 All free male citizens, of the age of twenty-one years or
44 upward, who shall possess a freehold in this State, or who shall


5
44 have been actually rated and paid taxes to this State, or who
44 shall have been actually enrolled in the militia of this State, or
44 in a legal, volunteer, or uniform corps, and shall have served
44 therein either as an officer or private, or who shall have been or
c now are, by law, exempt from taxation or militia duty, or who
44 shall have been assessed to work on the public roads and high-
44 ways, and shall have worked thereon, or shall have paid a com-
44 mutation therefor, according to law, shall be allowed during the
44 three days of such election to vote by ballot as aforesaid in the
44 town or ward in which they shall actually reside.
Extract from Sec. 6th, Act 90:
44 And be it further enacted, that the number of delegates to be
44 chosen shall be the same as the number of members of Assembly
44 from the respective cities and counties of this State, and that the
44 same qualification for voters shall be required on the election for
44 delegates, as is prescribed in the first section of this act, and
44 none other. * * * * And that all persons entitled to vote
44 by this law for delegates, shall be eligible to be elected.
Extracts from the first Constitution of the State of Jfew
York, under and by virtue of which the Legislatures sat,
which passed the acts of 1801 and 1821, from which the
extracts above are taken.
Sec. 7. Qualification of electors:
44 That every male inhabitant of full age, who shall have person-
44 ally resided for six months within one of the counties of this
44 State, immediately preceding the day of election, shall at such
44 election be entitled to vote for representatives of the said county
44 in Assembly, if during the time aforesaid, he shall have been a
44 freeholder possessing a freehold of the value of £20, within the
44 said county, or have rented a tenement therein of a yearly value
44 of forty shillings, and been rated and actually paid taxes to this
44 State.
Sec. 10. 44 And this Convention doth further, in the name and
44 by the authority of the good people of this State, ordain, deter-
44 mine and declare that the Senate of the State of New York
44 shall consist of twenty-four freeholders, to be chosen out of the
44 body of the freeholders, and they be chosen by the freeholders


6
of this State, possessed of freeholds of the value of £100 over
and above all debts charged thereon.
By section 17, 44 the qualifications for voters for Governor are
made the same as those for Senators.
The laws above quoted show this striking fact: Those
men, black and white, prohibited from voting for mem-
bers of the Assembly, were permitted to vote for delegates
to said Conventions ; and more than this, on each occasion,
they were eligible to seats in the body called to frame the
fundamental lawthe fundamental law from which Gover-
nors, Senators and members derive their existence.
The Constitutional Convention of Ehode Island, in
1842, affords another precedent of the power of the
Legislature to extend the suffrage to disfranchised classes.
The disfranchisement of any class of citizens is in
express violation of the spirit of our own Constitution.
Art. 1, sec. 1:
No member of this State shall be disfranchised or deprived
of any of the rights or privileges secured to any citizen thereof,
unless by the law of the land and the judgment of his peers.
How, women, and negroes not worth two hundred and
fifty dollars, however weak and insignificant, are surely
members of the State. The law of the land is
equality. The question of disfranchisement has never
been submitted to the judgment of their peers. A peer
is an equal. The white male citizen who so pomp-
ously parades himself in all our Codes and Constitutions,
does not recognize women and negroes as his equals;
therefore, his judgment in their case amounts to nothing.
And women and negroes constituting a majority of the
people of the State, do not recognize a 44 white male
minority as their rightful rulers. On our republican
theory that the majority governs, women and negroes
should have a voice in the government of the State; and
being taxed, should be represented.
In the recent debate in the Senate of the United States,


7
on the question of suffrage, Senator Anthony, of Khode
Island, said :
Nor is it a fair statement of the case to say, that the man
represents the woman, because it is an assumption on the part of
the man it is an involuntary representation on the part of the
woman. Representation implies a certain delegated power, and a
certain responsibility on the part of the representative toward the
party represented. A representation to which the represented
party does not assent, is no representation at all; but is adding
insult to injury. When the American Colonies complained that
they ought not to be taxed unless they were represented in the
British Parliament, it would have been rather a singular answer
to tell them that they were represented by Lord 1STorth, or even
by the Earl of Chatham. The gentlemen on the other side of
the Chamber, who say that the States lately in rebellion are
entitled to immediate representation in this Chamber, would
hardly be satisfied if we should tell them that my friend from
Massachusetts represented South Carolina, and my friend from
Michigan represented Alabama. They would hardly be satisfied
with that kind of representation. Nor have we any more right
to assume that the women are satisfied with the representation of
the men. Where has been the assembly at which this right
of representation was conferred ? Where was the compact
made ? It is wholly an assumption.
White males are the nobility of this country; they
are the privileged order, who have legislated as unjustly
for women and negroes, as have the nobles of England for
their disfranchised classes.
The existence of the English House of Commons, is a
strong fact to prove that one class cannot legislate for
another. Perhaps it may be necessary, in this transition
period of our civilization, to create a Lower House for
women and negroes, lest the dreadful example of Massa-
chusetts, nay, worse, should be repeated here, and women,
as well as black men, take their places beside our Dutch
nobility in the councils of the State. If the history of
England has proved that white men of different grades
cannot legislate with justice for one another, how can


8
yon, Honorable Gentlemen, legislate for women and
negroes, who, by your customs, creeds and codes, and
common consent, are placed under the ban of inferiority ?
If you dislike this view of the case, and claim that woman
is your superior, and, therefore, you place her above all
troublesome legislation, to shield her by your protecting
care from the rough winds of life, I ha sic )ly to say,
your statute books are a sad'commentai on t t position.
Your laws degrade, rather than exa! vom your cus-
toms cripple, rather than free; your system o taxation is
alike ungenerous and unjust.
In demanding suffrage for the black man of the South,
the dominant party recognizes the fact that as a freedman
he is no longer a part of the family, therefore, his master
is no longer his representative, and as he will now be liable
to taxation, he must also have representation. Woman,
on the contrary, has never been such a part of the family
as to escape taxation. Although there has been no formal
proclamation giving her an individual existence, un-
married women have always had the right to property and
wages; to make contracts and do business in their own
name. And, even married women, by recent legislation
in this State have been secured in some civil rights, at
least as well secured as those classes can be who do not
hold the ballot in their own hands. Woman now holds a
vast amount of property in the country, and pays her full
proportion of taxes, revenue included ; on what principle,
then, do you deny her representation ? If you say women
are virtually represented by the men of their house-
hold, I give you Senator Sumners denial, in his great
speech on Equal Eights, in the First Session of the 39th
( ingress. Quoting from James Otis, he says, Ho such
phrase as virtual representation was known in hiv or
constitution. It is altogether a subtlety an'1 sion,
wholly unfounded and absurd. We must not be cheated
by any such phap+om or any other fiction of law or
politics, or any monkish tr */k of deceit or hypocrisy.


9
la regard to taxation without representation, Lord Coke
says, The supreme power cannot take from any man any
part of his property without his consent in person or by
representation. Taxes are not to be laid on the people
(are not women and negroes people ?) without their con-
sent in person or by representation. The very act of
taxing tl pse who are not represented appears to me to
deprive m. q;one of their most essential rights as
freemer ad, ( continued, seems to be in effect an
entire <* ,ranchisement of every civil right; for what
one civil right is worth a rush, after a mans property is
subject to be taken from him without his consent?
In view of such opinions, is it too much to ask the men
of New York, either to enfranchise women of wealth and
education, or else release them from taxation ? If we
cannot be represented as individuals, we should not be
taxed as individuals. If the white male will do all the
voting, let him pay all the taxes. There is no logic so
powerful in opening the eyes of men to their real interests
as a direct appeal to their pockets. Such a release from
taxation can be supported too, by your own Constitution.
In art. 2, sec. 1, you say, And no person of color shall
be subject to direct taxation, unless he shall be seized and
possessed of such real estate as aforesaid, referring to
the $250 qualification.
Now, a poor widow who owns a lot worth a hundred
dollars or less, is taxed. Why this partiality to the black
man? He may live in the quiet possession of $249
worth of property, and not be taxed a cent. Is it on the
ground of color or sex, that the black man finds great w
favor in the eyes of the law than the daughters of t ie
State? In order fully to understand this partiality I
have inquired into your practice with regard to women
ot I find that in Seneca Palls, there lives a highly
estimaqi^ colored woman, by the name of Abby Goiiiore,
who owns property to the amount of a thousand dollars,
in village lots. She now pa s, and always has paid, from
2


10
the time she invested her first hundred dollars, the same
taxes as any other citizenjust in proportion to the value
of her property, or as it is assessed.
After excluding women and men of color/ not worth
$250, fromrepresentation, your Constitution tells us what
< her persons are excluded from the right of suffrage.
;^rt. 2, sec. 2. .
Laws ma^ be passed excluding from the right of suffrage all
persons who have been or may be convicted of bribery, or larceny,
$r of any infamous crime, and for depriving every person who
shall make, or become directly or indirectly interested in any bet
or wager depending upon the result of any election, from the
right to vote at such election.
How humiliating! For respectable and law-abiding
women and men o color, to be thrust outside the pale
of political consideration with those convicted of bribery,
larceny, and infamous crime; and worse than all, with
those who bet on electionsfor how lost to all sense of
honor*must th£t white male citizen be who publicly
violrtes a wise %w to which he has himself given an intel-
ligent consent. We are ashamed, Honored Sirs, of our
company. Th or;a woman to lall the hour for prayers. If it were not
for the Invidious classification, we might hope it was ten-
derness rather than coptempt that moved the Mohammedan
to excuse woman from so severe a duty. But for the bal-
lot, which falls like a flake of snow upon the sod, we can
find no such excuse fot^STew York Legislators.
Art. 2d, Sec. 3d, sb >uld be read and considered by
the women of he State, as it gives them a glimpse of the
modes of life v id surroundings of some of the privileged
classes^of wl 'te male citizens, who may go to the polls:
For tlie purpose of voting, no person shall be deemed to have
gained or lost a residence by reason of his presence or absence
while employed in the service of the United States; nor while
engaged in navigating "the waters of the State, or of the United


15
some provinces of France and Germany, women holding
this inherited right confer their right of franchise on their
husbands. In 1858, in the old town of Upsal,'tbO authori-
ties granted the right of suffrage to fifty women holding
real estate, and to thirty-one doing business in their own
name. The representative their vt)tes elected, was to '
in the House of Burgesses. In Ireland, the Court t
Queens Bench, Dublin, restored to women, in 1864, tlo
old right of voting for town commissioners. In 1864, tco,
the government of Moravia decided that all women wl o
are tax payers had the right to vote. In Canada, in 18oD,
an electoral privilege was conferred on women, in t*he
hope that the Protestant might balance the Roman
Catholic power in the school system. I livocl, says a
friend of mine, where I saw this ight exercised for four
years by female property holders, i l neVer, heard the
most cultivated man, even Lord Elgik, object to its
results. Women vote in Austria, Australia, Holland
and Sweden, on property qualifications. There is i. bill
now before the British Parliament, presented by Joh^
Stuart Mill, asking for househo" 1 suffrage, accompanied
by a petition from eleven thousand of the best educated
women in England.
The same men, says Henry Ward Beecher, who a 11 cheer
the name of Queen Victoria in a public meeting will go home,
put on their spectacles, and argue that women ought not to hold
office. Was there ever a nobler woman than the Duchess of
Argyle, who, Mr. Adams says, knows more of public affairs than
he does. Yet there are state occasions when she must stand in
Parliament with, her Queen and perform appropriate public duties;
and whoever thought that in so doing there was any derogation
of sex ? Whoever thought that a Duchess in France, a Queen in
Russia, or an Empress in Austria, or any aristocratic woman
was unsexed, or bemeaned by occupyii p a high position under
government ? The controversy, to-day, is between women aristo-
cratic and women democratic, and I claim that what is right for
a Queen, an Empress or a Duchess, is right for the humblest of
my country-women.


16
V
Would you be willing to admit, gentlemen, that women
knowjess, have less virtue, less pride and dignity of char-
acter pnder Republican institutions than in the despotisms
and monarchies of the old world? Your Codes and Con-
stitutions savor of such an opinion. Fortunately, history
furnishes a few saving, facts, even under our Republican
institutions. jFrom a recent examination, by Lucy Stone,
of the archives of the State of ]STew Jersey, we learn that,
owing to a liberal Quaker influence, women and negroes
exercised the right of suffrage in that State thirty-one
yearsfrom 1776 to 1807when white males ignored
the constitution, and arbitrarily assumed the reigns of
government. This act of injustice is sufficient to account
for the moral darkness that seems to have settled down
upon that unhappy State. During the dynasty of women
and negroes,4loes history record any social revolution pecu-
liar to that period? Because women voted there, was the
institution of marriage annulled, the sancity of home
invaded, cradles annihilated, and the stockings, like Gov-
ernor Makcys pantaloons, mended by the State? Did the
men of that period become mere satellites of the dinner-pot,
the wash-tub or the spinning wheel ? Were they dwarfed
and crippled in body and soul, while their enfranchised
wives and mothers became giants in stature,and intellect?
Did the children, fully armed and equipped for the battle
of life, spring, Minerva-like; from the brains of their
fathers ? Were the laws of nature suspended ? Did the
sexes change places*? Was everything turned upside
down ? No, life went on as smoothly in New Jersey as in
any other State in the Union. And the rji-et that women did
vote there, created so slight a ripple oh the popular wave,
and made so ordinary a page in history, that probably
nine-tenths of the people of this country never heard of
its existence, until recent discussions in the United States
Senate brought out the facts of the case. In Kansas,
women vote for school officers and are themselves eligible
to the office of trustee. There is a resolution now before


17
the Legislature of Ohio to strike the words white males"
from the Constitution of that State. The Hon.Mr. Noel,
of Missouri, has presented a bill in the House of Represen-
tatives to extend suffrage to the women of the District of
Columbia.
I think, Honorable Gentlemen, I have given you facts
enough to show that you need not hesitate to give the
ballot to the women of New York, on the ground that it
is a new thing; for, as you see, the right has long ago
been exercised by certain classes of women in many
countries. And if it were a new thing, and had never
been heard of before, that would be no argument against
the experiment. Had the world never done a new thing,
Columbus would not have discovered this country, nor
the Ocean Telegraph brought our old enemy Great
Britianwithin friendly speaking distance. When it was
proposed to end slavery in this country, croakers and
conservatives protested, because it was a new thing, and
must of necessity produce a social convulsion. When it
was proposed to give woman her rights of property in
this State, the same classes opposed that on the same
ground; but the spirit of the age carried both measures
over their lieacts and nobody was hurt.
You Republicans, cannot oppose our demand on that
ground, for your present party-cry negro suffrage is a
new thing, and startling too, in the ears of the Southern
States, and a very inconsistent thing, so long as the
$250 qualification remains in your Constitution. If
you would know vour faults, says Cicero, ask your
enemies. Heat His Excellency Andrew Johnson, in
his veto on the District of Columbia Bill, he says: It
hardly seems consistent with the principles of right and
justice, that representatives of States where suffrage is
either denied the colored man or granted to him on quali-
fications requiring intelligence or property, should compel
the people of the District of Columbia to try an experi-
ment which their own constituents have thus far shown
3


18
an unwillingness to try for themselves. Senator Sum-
ner, a leading radical, expresses the same opinion. In the
debate on the admission of Nebraska, he says: When
we demand equal rights of the Southern States, we must
not be so inconsistent as to admit any new State with a
constitution disfranchising citizens on account of color.
Congress must be itself just, if it would recommend it to
others. Reconstruction must begin at home. Consis-
tency is a jewel. Every thoughtful person must see that
Northern representatives are in no condition to reconstruct
the South, until their own State Constitutions are purged
of all invidious distinctions among their citizens. As the
fountain rises no higher than its source, how can New
York press on South Carolina a civilization she has never
tried herself. But say you, we can coerce the South to do
what we have no right to force on a loyal State. Has not
each State a right to amend her own Constitution and
establish a genuine republic within her own boundaries?
Let each man mend one, says the old proverb, and the
world is mended. Let each State bring its own Constitu-
tion into harmony with the Federal Constitution, and the
Union will be a republic.
We are soon to hold a convention to revise the Consti-
tution of the State of New York; and it is the duty of
the people to insist that it be so amended as to make all
its citizens equal before the law. Could the Empire State
now take the lead in making herself a genuine republic,
all the States would, in time, follow her example, and the
problem of reconstruction be thus settled to the satisfac-
tion of all. Example is more powerful than precept in
all cases. Were our Constitutions free from all class dis-
tinctions, with what power our representatives could now
press their example on the Southern States. Is there any-
thing more rasping to a proud spirit than to be rebuked
for shortcomings by those who are themselves guilty of
the grossest violations of law and justice? Does the
North think it absurd for its women to vote and hold


19
office, the South thinks the same of its negroes. Does
the North consider its women a part of the family to be
represented by the white male citizen, so views the
South her negroes. And thus viewing them, the South
has never taxed her slaves; but our chivalry never fail to
send their tax-gatherers to the poorest widow that owns a
homestead. Would you press impartial suffrage on the
South, recognize it first at home. Would you have Con-
gress do its duty in the coming session, let the action of
every State Legislature teach them what that duty is.
The work of this hour is a broader one than the recon-
struction of the Rebel States. It is the lifting of the entire
nation into higher ideas of justice and equality. It is the
realization of what the world has never yet seen, a GEN-
UINE REPUBLIC.
As the ballot is the key to reconstruction, a right knowl-
edge of its use and power is the first step in the work
before us. Hence, the consideration of the question of
suffrage is the duty of every American citizen.
The legal disabilities to the exercise of suffrage (for per-
sons of sound mind and body) in the several States, are
fiveage, color, sex, property and education.
As age depends on a fixed law, beyond the control of
fallible man, viz., the revolution of the earth around the
sun, it must be impartial, for, nolens volens, all men must
revolve with their native planet; and as no Republican or
Democratic majority can make the earth stand still, even
for a Presidential campaign, they must in time perform
that journey often enough to become legal voters. As
the right to the ballot is not based on intelligence, it mat-
ters not that some boys of eighteen do know more than
some men of thirty. Inasmuch as boys are not bound by
any contractexcept marriagecannot sell a horse, or
piece of land, or be sued for debt until they are twenty-
one, this qualification of age seems to be in harmony
with the laws of the land, and based on common sense.
As to color and sex, neither time, money or education


20
can make black white, or woman man; therefore, such
insurmountable qualifications, not to be tolerated in a
Republican government, are unworthy our serious con-
sideration. Qualifications, says Senator Sumner,
cannot be in their nature permanent or insurmountable.
Color cannot be a qualification any more than size, or
quality of the hair. A permanent or insurmountable
qualification is equivalent to a deprivation of the suf-
frage. In other words, it is the tyranny of taxation
without representation; and this tyranny, I insist, is not
intrusted to any State in the Union.
As to property and education, there are some plausible
arguments in favor of such qualifications, but they are all
alike unsatisfactory, illogical and unjust. A limited suf-
frage creates a privileged class, and is based on the false
idea that government is the natural arbiter of its citizens,
while in fact it is the creature of their will. In the old
days of the Colonies when the property qualification was
£5that being just the price of a jackassBenjamin
Franklin facetiously asked, If a man must own a donkey
in order to vote, who does the voting, the man or the don-
key ? If reading and money-making were a sure guage
of character, if intelligence and virtue were twin sisters,
these qualifications might do: but such is not the case.
In our late war black men were loyal, generous and
heroic without the alphabet or multiplication table, while
men of wealth, educated by the nation, graduates of West
Point, were false to their country and traitors to their flag.
There was a time in Englands history, when the House
of Lords even, could neither read or write. Before the
art of printing, were all men fools ? Were the Apostles
and martyrs worth $250 ? The early Christians, the
children of art, science and literature have in all ages
struggled with poverty, while they blessed the world with
their inspirations. The Hero of Judea had not where to
lay His Head !! As capital has ever ground labor to the
dust, is it just and generous to disfranchise the poor and


21
ignorant because they are so ? If a man cannot read, give
him the ballot, it is schoolmaster. If he does not own a
dollar give him the ballot, it is the key to wealth and
power. Says Lamartine, universal suffrage is the first
truth and only basis of every national Bepublic. The
ballot, says Senator Sumner, is the columbiad of our
political life, and every citizen who has it is a full-armed
monitor. i
But while such grand truths are uttered in the ears of
the world, by an infamous amendment of the Federal
Constitution, the people have sanctioned the disfranchise-
ment of a majority of the loyal citizens of the nation.
With sorrow we learn that the Legislature of New York
has ratified this change of the Constitution.
Happily, for the cause of freedom, the organization we
represent here to-day, The American Equal Bights
Association, has registered its protest in the archives
of the State against this desecration of the last will and
testament of the Fathers. It was a mistake for you to
confirm to-day what Congress proposed a year ago.
Becent debates in the Senate show a hearty repentance
for their past action, and an entire revolution in their
opinions on this whole question. It was gratifying to
find in the discussion of the District Franchise Bill, how
unanimously the Senate favored the extension of suffrage.
The thanks of the women of the Nation are especially due
to Senator Cowan for his motion to strike out th& word
male, and to the nine distinguished Senators who voted
for his amendment. It was pleasant to see into what fra-
ternal relations this question at once brought all opposing
elements. The very able and exhaustive manner in which
both Bepublicans and Democrats pressed their claims to
the ballot, through two entire sessions of the Senate, is
most encouraging to the advocates of the political rights
of women.
In view of this liberal discussion in the Senate, and the
recent action of Congress on the Territories, it is rather


22
singular that our Republican Governor, in referring to the
Constitutional Convention, in his late message, while rec-
ommending consideration of many minor matters, should
have failed to call attention to Article 2d, Section 1st of
the Constitution, which denies the fundamental rights
of citizenship. As the executive head of the party, in this
State, whose political capital is negro suffrage, it would
have been highly proper for our worthy Governor to have
given his opinion on that odious $250 clause in the Con-
stitution. No doubt our judiciary, our criminal legisla-
tion, our city governments need reforming ; our railroads,
prisons and schools need attention ; but all these are of
minor consideration to the personal and property rights
of the man himself. Said Lalor Shiels, in the House of
Commons strike the Constitution to the center and the
lawyer sleeps in his closet. But touch the qpbwebs in
Westminster Hall and the spiders start from their hiding
places.
I have called your attention, Gentlemen, to some of the
flaws in your Constitution that you may see that there is
more important work to be done in the coming Constitu-
tional Convention, than any to which Governor Fenton has
referred in his message. I would also call your attention
to the fact, that while His Excellency suggests the num-
ber of delegates at large to be chosen by the two political
parties, he makes no provision for the representatives of
women and men of color not worth $250. I would,
therefore, suggest to your honorable body that you pro-
vide for the election of an equal number of delegates at
large from the disfranchised classes. But a response to
our present demand does not legitimately thrust on you
the final consideration of the whole, broad question of
suffrage, on which many of you may be unprepared to
give an opinion. The simple point we now press is this:
that in a revision of our Constitution, when the State is,
as it were, resolvdd into its original elements, ale the
people should be represented in the Convention which is


23
to enact the fundamental laws by which they are to be
governed the next twenty years.
Women and negroes, being seven-twelfths of the people,
are a majority; and, according to our Republican
theory, are the rightful rulers of the nation. In this view of
the case, honorable gentlemen, is it not a very unpretend-
ing demand we make, that we shall vote once in twenty
years in revising and amending our State Constitution ?
But, say you, the majority of women do not make the
demand. Grant it. What then ? When you established
free schools, did you first ask the urchins of the State
whether they were in favor of being transplanted from
the street to the school house? When you legislated
on the temperance question did you go to rum-sellers
and drunkards, and ask if a majority of them were
in favor of the Excise Law? When you proclaimed
emancipation, did you go to slaveholders and ask if a
majority of them were in favor of freeing their slaves ?
When you ring the changes on negro suffrage from
Maine to California, have you proof positive that a
majority of the freedmen demand the ballot? On the
contrary, knowing that the very existence of Republican
institution depends on the virtue, education and equality
of the people, did you not, as wise statesmen, legislate
in all these cases for the highest good of the individual
and the nation ? We ask that the same far-seeing wisdom
may guide your decision on the question now before you.
Remember, the gay and fashionable throng who whisper
in the ears of statesmen, judges, lawyers, merchants,
We have all the rights we want, are but the mummies
of civilization, to be galvanized into life only by earth-
quakes and revolutions. Would you know what is in the
soul of woman, ask not the wives and daughters of mer-
chant princes; but the creators of wealth those who
earn their bread by honest toil those who, by a turn in
the wheel of fortune, stand face to face with the stern
realities of life.


24
If you would enslave a people, says Ciceeo, first,
through ease and luxury, make them effeminate. When
you subsidize labor to your selfish interests, there is ever
a healthy resistance. But, when you exalt weakness and
imbecility above your heads, give it an imaginary realm
of power, illimitable, unmeasured, unrecognized, you have
founded a throne for woman on pride, selfishness and com-
placency, before which you may well stand appalled. In
banishing Madame De Stael from Paris, the Emperor
Napoleon, even, bowed to the power of that scepter which
rules the world of fashion.
The most insidious enemy to our Republican institu-
tions, at this hour, is found in the aristocracy of our
women. The ballot-box, that great leveler among men,
is beneath their dignity. They have all the rights they
want.'" So, in his spiritual supremacy, has the Pope of
Rome! But what of the multitude outside the Vati-
can !!
PETITION TOR EQUAL SUFFRAGE.
To the Constitutional Convention of the State of New York:
We, citizens of the town of county of and
State of New York, pray your honorab oody, that in
revising the Constitution, yon mil so frame the section
prescribing the qualifications of Electors, as to secure
the Right of Suffrage on equal terms, to both men and
women. " .
Let the friends, throughout the State circulate the above
Petition, and return it, on or before the 1st of June, 1867,
to Susan B. Anthony, Rochester, N. Y.
*


O F F I O E R S
OF THE
AMERICAN EQUAL RIGHTS ASSOCIATION.
President.
LUCRETIA MOTT.
V ice-Presidents.
%
ELIZABETH CADY STANTON,
FREDERICK DOUGLASS,
THEODORE TILTON,
ROBERT PURVIS,
MARTHA C. WRIGHT,
FRANCES D. GAGE,
JOSEPHINE S. GRIFFING.
CORRESPON j)ING SECRETARIES.
SUSAN B. ANTHONY,
MATTIE GRIFFITH,
CAROLINE M. SEVERANCE.
Treasurer and Recording Secretary.
HENRY B. BLACKWELL.
Executive Committee.
ELIZABETH CADY STANTON,
PARKER PILLSBURY,
LUCY STONE,
EDWIN A. STUD WELL,
MARGARET E. WINCHESTER,
SUSAN B. ANTHONY,
ELIZABETH GAY,
MARY F. GILBERT,
STEPHEN S. FOSTER,
ANTOINETTE BROWN BLACKWELL,
WENDELL PHILLIPS GARRISON,
AARON M. POWELL.
Contributions and communications should be addressed to Susan B.
Anthony, Rochester, N. Y.