The reasons why women should vote are the same as the reasons why
men should vote-the same as the reasons for having a republic rather
than a monarchy. It is fair and right that the people who must obey the
laws should have a voice in choosing the law-makers, and that those who
must pay the taxes should have a voice as to the amount of the tax, and
the way in which the money shall be spent.
Roughly stated, the fundamental principle of a republic is this:
In deciding what is to be done, we take everybody's opinion, and then go
according to the wish of the majority. As we cannot suit everybody, we
do what will suit the greatest number. That seems to be, on the whole,
the fairest way. A vote is simply a written expression of opinion.
In thus taking a vote to get at the wish of the majority, certain
classes of persons arc passed over, whose opinions for one reason or
another are thought not to be worth counting. In most of our states,
these classes are children, aliens, idiots, lunatics, criminals and
women. There are good and obvious reasons for making all these
exceptions but the last. Of course no account ought to be taken of the
opinions of children, insane persons, or criminals. Is there any equally
good reason why no account should be taken of the opinions of women? Let
us consider the reasons commonly given, and see if they are sound.
Women are represented already by their husbands, fathers and brothers.
This so-called representation bears no proportion to numbers. Here
is a man who has a wife, widowed mother, four or five unmarried sisters,
and half a dozen unmarried daughters. His vote represents himself and
all these women, and it counts one; while the vote of his bachelor
neighbor next door, without a female relative in the world, counts for
just as much. Since the object of taking a vote is to get at the wish of
the majority, it is clear that the only fair and accurate way is for
each grown person to have one vote, and cast it to represent himself or
American men are the best in the world, and if it were possible
for any men to represent women, through kindness and good will to them,
American men would do it. But a man is by nature too different from a
woman to be able to represent her. The two creatures are unlike.
Whatever his good will, he cannot fully put himself in a woman's place,
and look at things exactly from her point of view. To say this is no
more a reflection upon his mental or moral ability than it would be a
reflection upon his musical ability to say that he cannot sing both
soprano and bass. Unless men and women should ever become alike (which
would be regrettable and monotonous), women must either go on
represented or represent themselves.
Another proof that women's opinions are not now fully represented
is the lack in many states of humane and protective legislation and the
poor enforcement of such legislation where It exists; the inadequate
appropriations for schools; the permission of child labor in factories;
and in general the imperfect legal safe-guarding of the moral,
educational and humanitarian interests that women have most at heart. In
many of our states, the property laws are more or less unequal as
between men and women. A hundred-years ago, before the equal rights
movement began, they were almost incredibly unequal. Yet our
grandfathers loved their wives and daughters as much as men do to-day.
If the laws are unjust, they can be corrected by women's indirect
Yes, but the indirect method is needlessly long and hard. If women
were forbidden to use the direct route by rail across the continent and
complained of the injustice it would be no answer to tell them that it
is possible to get from New York to San Francisco by going around Cape
The slowness with which some of the worst inequalities in the laws
are corrected shows the unsatisfactoriness of the indirect way. In most
states, a married mother has literally no legal rights over her own
children, so long as she and her husband live together. Here is a case
which actually happened, and which might happen to-day, in most of the
states of the Union: A Chinaman had married a respectable Irish woman.
When their first baby was three days old, the husband gave it to his
brother to be taken to China and brought up there. The mother, through
the Society for the Prevention of Cruelty to Children, appealed to the
courts. But the judge promptly decided that the husband was within his
rights. He was the sole legal owner of the baby; be had the sole legal
right to say what should be done with it. For more than half a century,
the suffragists of the United States have been trying to secure
legislation making the father and mother joint guardians of their
children by law, as they are by nature; but thus far the equal
guardianship law has been obtained in only a minority of the states.
Massachusetts got it in 1902, after 55 years of effort by Massachusetts
women. In Colorado and in California, after women were given the right
to vote, the very next Legislature passed an equal guardianship law.
In Massachusetts, the State Federation of Women's Clubs the
Women's Relief Corps, the State W. C. T. U., the Children's Friend
Society and 65 other associations united in asking for the bill. The
only society of women that has ever ranged itself definitely on the
wrong side of this question is the "Massachusetts Association Opposed to
the Further Extension of Suffrage to Women." It circulated for years,
under its official imprint, a leaflet in defense of the old law which
gave the husband the sole control of the children.
In Massachusetts, in 1902, the laws of inheritance between husband
and wife were made equal; but it had taken more than half a century of
work to secure this self-evidently just measure. The experience in many
other states has been similar. The roundabout way is almost always long
It would double the ignorant vote.
Statistics published by the National Bureau of Education show that
the high schools of every state in the Union are graduating more girls
than boys - some of them twice and three times as many. Because of the
growing tendency to take boys out of school early in order to put them
into business, girls are getting more schooling than boys. Equal
suffrage would increase the proportion of voters who have received more
than a merely elementary education.
It would double the foreign vote.
Less than one-third of the immigrants coming to this country are
women. According to the latest census, there are in the United States
nearly three times as many native-born women as all the foreign-born men
and foreign-born, women put together.
The foreign vote is objectionable only so far as it is an ignorant
vote. Intelligent foreigners, both men and women, are often very
valuable citizens: On the other hand, the ignorant foreign immigrants
who come here are fully imbued, both men and women, with all the Old
World ideas as to the inferiority and subjection of women. It is not
until they have become pretty thoroughly Americanized that they can
tolerate the idea of women's voting. The husbands are not willing that
their wives should vote, and the wives ridicule the suggestion.
Experience shows that until they have become Americanized, the foreign
women will not vote. And, after they have become Americanized, why
should they not vote, as well as anyone else?
To the vote of every criminal man, you would add the vote of a criminal
The vicious and criminal class is comparatively small among women.
In the prisons of the United States as a whole, including those
for all kinds of offences, women constitute only five and one-half per
cent of the prisoners, and the proportion is growing smaller.
Equal suffrage would increase the moral and law-abiding vote very
largely, while increasing the vicious and criminal vote very little.
This is a matter not of conjecture but of statistics.
The bad women would out vote the good ones.
In America the bad women are so few, compared with the good ones,
that their votes could have little influence. Mrs. Helen Gilbert Eco,
wife of a prominent clergyman who was for some years a pastor in Denver,
"The bad women represent, in any city of the United States, but an
infinitesimal proportion of its population, and the vote of that class
in Denver is confined practically to three precincts out of 120."
The late Mrs. Sarah Platt Decker, of Denver, at one time President
of the General Federation of Women's Clubs, and also of the Colorado
State Board of Charities and Correction, wrote:
"Does not the vote of the disreputable class of women overbalance
the better element? No; the women of the half-world are not willing to
vote. They are constantly changing their residences and their names.
They do not wish to give any data concerning themselves, their age, name
or number and street; they prefer to remain unidentified."
Ex-Gov. Warren, of Wyoming, sums it all up when he says, in a
letter to Horace G. Wadlin, of Massachusetts:
"Our women nearly all vote; and since, in Wyoming as elsewhere,
the majority of women are good and not bad, the result is good and not
Don't Understand Business
A municipality is a great business corporation. Men, by the nature of
their occupations, know more about business than women, and hence are
better fitted to run a city or a state.
Women have a vote in every other corporation in which they are
shareholders. George William Curtis said: "A woman may vote as a
stockholder upon a railroad f rom one end of the country to the other;
but, if she sells her stock and buys a house with the money, she has no
voice in the laying out of the road before her door, which her house is
taxed to keep and pay for."
Moreover, it is not true that a man's experience in his own
business teaches him how to carry on the business of a city. Some years
ago, a fashionable caterer was elected to the Massachusetts Legislature,
and was appointed a member of the committee on filling up the South
Boston flats. Another, member said to him scornfully, "What do you know
about filling up flats, anyway?" The caterer answered quietly, "That has
been my business for twenty years." The answer was good, as a joke; but
as a matter of fact, what had his experience of planning dinners taught
him about the way to turn tide-mud into solid ground? What does the
butcher learn from his business about the best way to pave a street, or
the baker about the best way to build a sewer, or the candle-stick maker
about the best way to lay out a park, or to choose school teachers or
policemen, or to run a city hospital? Does a minister learn from his
profession how to keep the streets clean, or a lawyer how to conduct a
public school, or a doctor how to put out a fire? A man's, business, at
best, gives him special knowledge only in regard to one or two
departments of city affairs. Women's business, as mothers and
housekeepers, also gives them special knowledge in regard to some
important departments of public work, those relating to children,
schools, playgrounds, the protection of the weak and young, morals, the
care of the poor, etc. For what lies outside the scope of their own
experience, men and women alike must rely upon experts. All they need,
as voters, is sense enough and conscience enough to elect honest and
capable persons to have charge of these things.
The growth of civilization is marked by an increasing specialization and
division of labor. Woman suffrage would therefore be a step backward.
The growth of civilization increases the division of labor as
between individuals, but lessens it as between the sexes. One woman no
longer spins and weaves and manufactures the clothing for the men of her
family, at the same time carrying on all the housework and in addition
making butter, cheese and candles, as our great-grandmothers did. This
work is now subdivided among a number of specialists. On. the other
hand, in the old times women were excluded from almost all the
occupations of men. Housework and sewing were practically the only ways
open to them to earn a living. To-day, out of more than, 300 trades and
professions followed by men, women are found in all but three or four.
But this objection about the sub-division of labor is really
irrelevant. Voting is not labor in the sense of a trade or a profession.
The tendency of civilization has been to a greater and greater
specialization of labor, but not to a closer and closer restriction of
the suffrage. On the contrary, that has been steadily extended. The best
results are found, not where public affairs are left in the hands of a
small class of "professional politicians," but where the largest
proportion of the people take a keen interest and an active part in
their own government.
Women would lose their influence.
What gives a woman influence? Beauty, goodness, tact, talent,
pleasant manners, money, social position, etc. A woman who has any of
these means of influence now would still have them if she had a vote and
she would have this other potent means of influence besides. There is a
story of a prisoner who had been shut up for many years in a dungeon,
getting sunlight only through a chink in the wall. He grew much attached
to that chink. At last his friends came and offered to tear down the
wall. His mind had become weakened and he begged them not to do it. If
they destroyed the wall, he said, they would also destroy the chink
through which he got his sunlight, and he would be left in total
darkness. If he had had his wits he would have seen that he would have
all the sunlight he had before, and a great deal more besides. A woman
after enfranchisement would have all the personal influence she has now,
and political influence in addition. One thing is certain. Every vicious
interest in this country, to which women are hostile, would rather
continue to contend with women's "indirect influence" than try to cope
with women's vote.
Women would cease to be respected.
Jane Addams and other prominent ago women testify to the marked
increase of respect that came to the women of Illinois with the granting
of the ballot.
Dr. Margaret Long of Denver, daughter of the former Secretary of
the Navy, writes: "It seems to me impossible that anyone can live in
Colorado long enough to get into touch with. the life here, and not
realize that women count for more in all the affairs of this State than
they do where they have not the power the suffrage gives. More attention
is paid to their wishes, and much greater weight given to their opinions
The late Mrs. Sarah Platt Decker, of Denver, wrote: "Under equal
suffrage there is a much more chivalrous devotion and respect on the
part of men, who look upon their sisters not as playthings or as
property, but as equals and fellow citizens."
Mrs. K. A. Shepard, president of the New Zealand Council of Women,
says: "Since women have become electors, their views have become
important and command respect. Men listen to and are influenced by the
opinions of women to a far greater degree than formerly. A young New
Zealander in his teens no longer regards his mother as belonging to a
sex that must be kept within a prescribed sphere, but as a human being,
clothed with the dignity of all those rights and powers which he hopes
to enjoy within a few years. That the lads and young men of a democracy
should have their whole conception of the rights of humanity broadened
and measured by truer standards is in itself an incalculable benefit."
Mrs. A. Watson Lister, secretary of the Woman's National Council
of Australia, says: "One striking result of equal suffrage is that
members of Parliament now consult us as to their bills, when these bear
upon the interests of women. The author of the new divorce bill asked
all the women's organizations to come together and hear him read it, and
to make criticisms and suggestions. I do not remember any such thing
happening before, in all my years in Australia. When a naturalization
bill was pending, one clause of which deprived Australian women of
citizenship if they married aliens, a few women went privately to the
Prime Minister and protested, and that clause was altered immediately.
After we had worked for years with members of Parliament for various
reforms, without avail, because we had no votes, you cannot imagine the
difference it makes."* [* Woman's Journal, Feb. 13, 1904.]
Women can do more good now than if they had a vote, because now they are
nonpartisan. If they became voters, their nonpartisan influence would be
Women continue to be non-partisan after they have the ballot, and
it gives them more power to secure the good things which the women of
all parties want.
Prof. Henry E. Kelly, formerly of the Iowa State University, now
practicing law in Denver, says in an open letter to State Senator A. H.
Gale, of Iowa, that he went to Colorado opposed to equal suffrage, but
has been converted by what he has seen of it. Prof. Kelly adds:
"Experience clearly shows that women's interest cannot be aroused
in mere partisan strife. Their interests center around questions
affecting education, public cleanliness, public morality, civic beauty,
charities and correction, public health, public libraries and such
subjects as more intimately affect home life, and conduce to the
prosperity of the family. Men lose sight of these important
considerations in the scramble of partisan warfare for office, but women
will not see them obscured by anything."
Ellis Meredith, of Denver, writes: "There has never been a party
measure espoused by women in the Colorado Legislature. The women of all
parties want the same things, and have worked for them together, in
perfect harmony. They wanted a pure-food law, and secured one from their
Legislature, in line with the national legislation. They wanted civil
service reform, and have obtained that, so far as the officers of the
state institutions are concerned. In a recent Legislature, an attempt
was made to take the control of the State Bureau of Child and Animal
Protection away from the Colorado Humane Society, and to create a
political board. Every federated woman's club in the state besieged its
senators and representatives to vote against the bill, and the
vice-chairmen of the state central committees of the two chief political
parties (both of them women) went together to different members of the
Legislature to enter their protest. Men understand that in legislative
matters when they oppose the women, they are opposing practically all
the women, and the great independent vote of the state."* [*Woman's
Journal, Aug. 21, 1907.]
Women in large numbers are organizing against suffrage. The majority are
opposed to it and the Majority ought to rule.
The organized opposition among women to suffrage is very small
compared with the organized movement of women in its favor. Out of
forty-eight states only 22 have anti-suffrage organizations of any kind.
There are suffrage associations in 47.
In New York, at the time of the last constitutional convention,
the suffragists secured more than 300,000 signatures to their petitions;
the anti-suffragists, only 15,000. In Chicago, 104 organizations, with
an aggregate membership of more than 10,000 women, petitioned for a
woman suffrage clause in the city charter, while only one small
organization of women petitioned against it. In Maine, in Iowa, in
short, in every state where petitions for suffrage and remonstrances
against it have been sent to the Legislature, the petitioners have
always outnumbered the remonstrants, and have generally outnumbered them
50 or 100) to one. On the only occasion when the government took an
official referendum among women on the subject (in Massachusetts, in
1895), the women's vote was in favor of suffrage more than 25 to one.
Less than one-sixth of one per cent. of the women in the State voted
Julia Ward Howe said: "Most women are as yet indifferent on the
suffrage question; but, of those who take any lively interest in it
either way, the great majority are in favor. This has been demonstrated
wherever the matter has been brought to a test."* [* Woman's Journal,
Aug. 1, 1908]
Every constitutional amendment that has ever been carried in New
York or Massachusetts Would have been set down as defeated if all the
men too indifferent to vote upon it either way had been counted as
opposed. In New York, a successful amendment seldom gets more than 25
per cent of the popular vote. The remaining 75 per cent are "either
indifferent or opposed," but, if less than 25 per cent are actually
opposed, the amendment is carried.
In Massachusetts the Anti-Suffrage Association has been collecting
signatures of women against suffrage since 1895, and in 19 years it has
not succeeded in getting the names Of 3 per cent of the women of the
State. In the country at large, despite urgent and widely published
appeals from the Antis, only about one per cent of the women have ever
expressed any objection to suffrage. Why should the one per cent who
protest claim to carry any more weight than the 99 per cent who either
want the ballot or do not object to it?
Women are already over-burdened. A woman would have time to perform her
political duties without neglecting higher duties.
Mrs. Alice Freeman Palmer wrote: "How much time must she spend on
her political duties? If she belongs to the well-to-do class and hires
others to do her work, she has time for whatever interests her most -
only let these interests be noble! If she does her own housework, she
can take ten minutes to stop on her way to market and vote once or twice
a year. She can find half an hour a day for the newspapers and other
means of information. She can talk with family and friends about what
she reads. She does this now; she will then do it more intelligently and
will give and receive more from what she says and hears. If she does
this reading and talking, she will be better informed than the majority
of voters are now. The duties of motherhood and the making of a home are
the most sacred work of women and the dearest to them, of every class.
If wasting an intelligent vote would interfere with what only women can
do - and what, failed in, undermines society and government - no one can
question which a woman must choose. But it cannot be shown that there
are any large number of women in this country who have not the necessary
time to vote intelligently, and it can be argued that study of the vital
questions of our government would make them better comrades to their
husbands and friends, better guides to their sons, and more interesting
and valuable members of society. Women of every class have more leisure
than men, are less tied Lo hours of routine; they have had more years of
school training than men. All this makes simple the combination of
public and higher duties."* [* Objections to Woman Suffrage Answered by
If women vote, they must hold office.
When we say that women would be eligible to hold office, what do
we mean? Simply that if a majority of the people in any place would
rather have a woman to hold a certain position than any one else, and if
she is willing to serve, they shall be allowed to elect her. Women are
serving as officials already; some of the women most prominent in
opposing equal suffrage have been holders of public office. The late
president of the "Massachusetts Association Opposed to the Further
Extension of Suffrage to Women" (Mrs. J. Elliot Cabot) was for years a
member of the school board of Brookline, and also Overseer of the Poor.
Yet that association, in its published documents, objects to equal
suffrage on the ground that "suffrage involves the holding of office,
and office-holding is incompatible with the duties of most women."
Suffrage does not involve office-holding by the majority of women, but
only by a few; and there are always some women of character and ability
who could give the necessary time. Women, as a class, have more leisure
In the enfranchised states there has been no rush of women into
office, and the offices that women do hold are mainly educational and
If women vote, they ought to fight and do police duty.
If no men were allowed to vote except those who were able and
willing to do military and police duty, women might consistently be
debarred for that reason. But so long as the old, the infirm, the halt,
the lame and the blind are freely admitted to the ballot box, some
better reason must be found for excluding women than the fact that they
do not fight. All men over forty-five are exempt from military service,
yet they vote. Col. T. W. Higginson says: "It appears by the record of
United States Military Statistics that out of the men examined for
military duty during the Civil War, of journalists 740 in every 1,000
were found unfit; of preachers, 974; of physicians, 680; of lawyers,
544.* [* Medical-statistics of the Provost General's Bureau quoted by
Col. T. W. Higginson in "Common Sense About Women," page 365.]
"Grave divines are horrified at the thought of admitting women to
vote when they cannot fight, although not one in twenty of their own
number is fit for military duty, if he volunteered. Of the editors who
denounce woman suffrage, only about one in four could himself carry a
musket; while, of the lawyers who fill Congress, the majority could not
be defenders of their country, but could only be defended."
Lucy Stone said, "Some woman risks her life whenever a soldier is
born into the world. Later she does picket duty over his cradle, and for
years she is his quartermaster, and gathers his rations. And when that
boy grows to a man, shall he say to his mother, 'If you want to vote,
you must first go and kill somebody?' It is a coward's argument!"
Mrs. Z. G. Wallace, of Indiana, from whom Gen. Lew Wallace drew
the portrait of the mother in "Ben Hur," said: "If women do not fight,
they give to the State all its soldiers." This ought in all fairness be
taken as an offset for the military service that women do not render. As
Lady Henry Somerset says, "She who bears soldiers does not need to bear
Laws could not be enforced unless the majority of legal voters
represented the majority of possible fighters.
But thousands of male non-combatants are already admitted to the
ballot box, and there is no certainty at any election that the majority
of voters represents majority of possible fighters. No trouble of this
kind has resulted from equal suffrage in practice. The laws are as well
enforced in the enfranchised states as in adjoining states where women
have no vote.
Where women have school suffrage their votes occasionally turn the
scale, but there is never any attempt to install the defeated candidates
by force, Where women have the full ballot they have often defeated bad
candidates for higher offices, but no riotous uprising has ever
followed. This particular objection is a libel on our American manhood.
It will lead to family quarrels and increase divorce.
Full suffrage was granted to the women of Wyoming in 1869. During
the twenty years from 1870 to 1890, divorce in the United States at
large increased about three times as fast as the population. In the
group of western states, omitting Wyoming, it has increased nearly four
times as fast as the population. In Wyoming it increased only about half
as fast as the population. "An ounce of experiment is worth a ton of
Rev. Francis Miner Moody, Secretary of the California Commission
working to secure a uniform divorce law throughout the United States,
published in the Woman Voter of February, 1913, an article showing by
actual statistics that every state which has had equal suffrage for a
considerable number of years has declined markedly in its divorce rate
as compared with the rest of the country. He points out that in Colorado
the drop was so great as to be "astonishing."
Just before Colorado granted equal suffrage, in 1891 and 1892, its
average number of divorces per year was 937. For three years immediately
following the bestowal of equal suffrage - 1894, 1895 and 1896 - the
average number of divorces per year was only 517.
A father sometimes turns his son out of doors for voting the
wrong ticket, but among American men this is rare. Where such a case
does arise, it is to be met by educating the domestic despot, not by
disfranchising all the members of the family but one. A couple who are
sensible and good-tempered will not quarrel if they are once in a while
unable to think alike about politics. A couple who are not sensible and
good-tempered are sure to quarrel anyway - if not about politics, then
about something else.
It will destroy chivalry.
Justice would be worth more to women than chivalry, if they could
not have both. A working girl put the case in a nutshell when she said:
"I would gladly stand for twenty minutes in the street car going home if
by doing so I could get the same pay that a man would have had for doing
my day's work." But women do not have to stand in the streetcars half as
often in Denver as in Boston or in New York. Justice and chivalry are
not in the least incompatible. Women have more freedom and equality in
America than in Europe, yet American men are the most chivalrous in the
It would increase the corruption of politics.
Those who thrive upon the corruption of politics do not think so.
The ignorant, vicious and criminal vote is always cast solidly against
equal rights for women.
Women are too emotional and sentimental to be trusted with the ballot.
Mrs. E. T. Brown, at a meeting of the Georgia State Federation of
Women's Clubs, read a paper, in which she said:
"You tell us that women are not fitted for dealing with the
problems of government, being too visionary and too much controlled by
"Now it is very true of women that they are largely controlled by
sentiment, and, as a matter of fact, men are largely controlled by
sentiment also, in spite of their protesting blushes. Was it logic that
swept like a wave over this country and sent our army to protect the
Cubans when their suffering grew too intense to be endured even in the
hearing? Is it shrewd business calculation that sends thousands of
dollars out of this country to feed a starving people during the
ever-recurring famines in unhappy India. Was it hard common sense that
sent thousands of American soldiers into what looked like the death-trap
of China in the almost baseless hope of rescuing a few hundred American
citizens? Do not men like Washington, Lincoln, Jefferson and Lee live in
the hearts of American men, not alone for what they did, but still more
for what they dreamed of? The man who is not controlled by sentiment
betrays his friend, sells his vote, is a traitor to his country, or
wrecks himself, body and soul, with immoralities; for nothing but
sentiment prevents any of these things. The sense of honor is pure
sentiment. The sentiment of loyalty is the only thing that makes truth
and honesty desirable, or a vote a non-salable commodity.
"Government would be a poor affair without sentiment, and is not
likely to be damaged by a slightly increased supply."
The political unit is the family.
The childless widower, the unmarried boy of 21, and the confirmed
old bachelor of go have votes; the widow with minor children has none.
Under our laws the political unit is not the family, but the male.
individual. The unequal number of grown persons in different families
would make it impossible to treat the family as the political unit.
The smallness of school vote shows that they would not use the full
The size of men's vote is just in proportion to the size of the
election. At presidential elections it is very large, at state elections
much smaller, at a municipal election smaller still, and at school
elections, wherever these are held separately, only a fraction of the
men turn out to vote. The smallness of the woman's school vote is
regrettable, but it is only a new proof of the truth of Mrs. Poyser's
immortal saying: "I am not denying that women are foolish; God Almighty
made them to match the men!"
In Kansas women were given school suffrage in 1861. Their vote was
small. In 1887 they were given municipal suffrage. Their vote at once
became much larger, and has increased at successive elections. In 1912
they were given the full ballot, and their vote increased much more. In
Colorado women were given school suffrage in 1876. Their vote was small.
In 1893 they were given the full ballot, and on January 31, 1899, the
Colorado Legislature declared, by a practically unanimous vote of both
Houses, that "during this time (the preceding five years) women have
exercised the privilege as generally as men."
In the states of Oregon and Washington, women had the school
ballot for many years and their vote was small. Now that they have
gained full suffrage it has become large.
The women's school vote has completely disproved the fear that the
bad women would be the first to rush to the polls. In answer to the
prediction that the best women will not vote, Col. Higginson says:* "In
Massachusetts, under school suffrage, the complaint has been that only
the best women vote." [*The Nonsense of if It, by T. W. Higginson.]
Women will not vote, or will cease to vote after the novelty has worn
Women to-day have the right to vote in many different parts of the
civilized world. They not only have it, but use it.
In the presidential election of 1912 there were 24,773,583 men
over 21 years of age in the non-suffrage states of the Union. Of these,
13,521,899 voted, or 54.5 per cent. In the six suffrage states, Wyoming,
Colorado, Idaho, Utah, Washington and California - the only states where
women could vote for President in 1912 - there were 3,253,443 men and
women over 21 years of age. Of these 1,514,643 voted, or 46.6 per cent.
Between the proportion of men voting in the male suffrage states and the
proportion of all adults voting in the equal suffrage states there was a
difference of less than 8 per cent. Either the women voted almost as
generally as the men, or the men in the suffrage states voted much more
generally than the men in the non-suffrage states. There is no escape
from this conclusion. The figures are taken from wholly impartial
sources - the United States census and the New York World Almanac.
A committee of Southern California women had the statistics of the
men's and women's vote compiled in the offices of the city and county
clerks from the official records in many cities and towns. As the vote
of men and women is not tabulated separately, it was necessary to make a
count of the entire vote from the roster. In case of any doubt about
signatures, the benefit was given to the men. Thus if a voter was
entered as J. Smith, it was assumed that J. stood for John and not for
Jane. The result of the investigation is published in the Woman's
Bulletin of Monrovia, California, for December, 1913. Men outnumber
women in California, and the publishers of the report state that where
the women voters equal 80 per cent of the men it indicates about the
same degree of interest.
In Los Angeles, the vote stood, men, 52,731; women, 37,100; in
San Diego, men, 9,961; women, 6,017; in Santa Ana, men, 2,144; women,
1,394; Redondo Beach, men, 590; women, 376; Berkeley, men, 4,874; women,
3,702; San Buena Ventura, men, 801; women, 587; Sierra Madre, men, 219;
women 175; Pasadena, men, 5,872; women, 5,202; South Pasadena, men, 994;
women, 922; Santa Monica, men, 1,511; women, 1,134; San Gabriel, men,
238; women, 151; Santa Barbara, men, 2,404; women, 1,999. It is clear
that women cast a substantial vote.
The committee of women who sent out this report include the
President of the College Equal Suffrage League, the President of the
California Woman's Democratic League, a special agent of the State
Bureau of Labor, a member of the State Immigration Committee, and others
whose official position gives weight to their words.
In Wyoming women have had full suffrage since 1869. The Wyoming
Secretary of State, in a letter to Miss Alice Stone Blackwell, of
Boston, says that go per cent of them vote.* [* Woman's Journal, May 6,
The Colorado Secretary of State, in a letter to Mrs. Charles Park,
of Boston, says that 80 per cent of Colorado women register, and about
72 per cent vote.* [*Woman's Journal, Aug. 20, 1908.]
The Chief justice of Idaho and all the Justices of the State
Supreme Court have signed a published statement that "the large vote
cast by the women establishes the fact that they take a lively
In Australia, in the first elections after the women were
enfranchised, which took place in 1903, 359,315 women voted; in 1906,
431,033; and in 19010, 601,946.
When woman suffrage was granted in New Zealand in 1893, the
estimated number of women in the country was 139,915. Of these, 109,461
registered to vote; and the number of women voting has increased at each
triennial Parliamentary election since. In 1893, 90,290 women voted; in
1896, 108,783; in 1899, 119,550; in 1902, 138,565; in 1905, 175,046; in
1908, 190,114. (New Zealand Year Book.) Mrs. K. A. Shepard, president of
the New Zealand Council of Women, writes that in the elections of 1911,
221,858 women voted.
The majority of the women had never asked for suffrage in any of
Opposition to woman suffrage is growing.
In Colorado, when woman suffrage was submitted the first time, it
was defeated; the second time, it was carried by a majority of 6,387. In
1901, after the women had been voting for eight years, the matter was
virtually resubmitted to the people and passed by a majority of 17,000.
In Kansas, the first time it was submitted it got only 9,100
votes; the second time it got, 95,302; the third time it got 175,376,
In the State of Washington, the first time, the majority against
it was 19,386; the second time it was only 9,882, and it was finally
carried in 1910 by a majority of 22,623.
In California, in 1895, the vote stood 110,355 for and 137,099
against an adverse majority Of 26,744. In 1911, the amendment carried by
a majority Of 3,587.
In 1912, three states of the Union, Kansas, Arizona and Oregon,
gave suffrage to women, a larger number than ever did so in one year
before. In 1913, Illinois and Alaska followed suit, and in 1914 Nevada
and Montana did likewise.
It works badly in practice.
Women in this country now have the full ballot in Wyoming,
Colorado, Idaho, Utah, Washington, California, Kansas, Oregon,, Arizona,
Nevada and Montana and in the territory of Alaska, while in Illinois
they can vote for all municipal officers, some county and some state
officers and Presidential electors. Abroad, they have full Parliamentary
suffrage in New Zealand, Australia, Finland, Iceland, and Norway; while
in the Isle of Man and in Bosnia, women property owners can vote for
members of the local Parliament. They have municipal suffrage throughout
England, Scotland, Ireland, Wales, nine of the provinces of Canada,
Sweden and Denmark, and even in Burma and some parts of India. In some
of these countries they have had it for generations.
In all these places put together, the opponents thus far have not
found a dozen respectable men who assert over their own names and
addresses that it has had any bad results.
This is the more remarkable in view of the fact that active
anti-suffrage associations in New York and Massachusetts have been for
years diligently gathering all the adverse testimony they could find.
Miss Annie Bock of California Worked for Suffrage, but Now Says She
Would Be Glad to See It Repealed.
Miss Bock is the only suffragist in California who has announced
this change of mind, and she has adopted reactionary views all along the
line. In her address at the Congressional hearing in December, 1913, she
denounced not only woman suffrage, but the peace movement, workmen's
compensation, teachers' pensions and the use of school houses for civic
centres, declaring that all these things merely played into the hands of
Socialism; and she asserted that settlement work and welfare work were
"either a fad or graft." Miss Bock, therefore, is not a person whose
judgment should carry much weight.
A vast number of people in California who were formerly opposed to
suffrage now favor it. The suffrage amendment in 1911 carried only by a
small majority. An initiative petition was started to repeal it at the
election of November, 1912. There were more than 1,500,000 men and
women, of voting age in California, yet it was found impossible to
secure the 32,000 signatures needed to resubmit the question.
Mrs. Anna Kelley, of Colorado, in a Recent Interview Says That Woman
Suffrage Has Worked Badly.
In the Denver Post of November 23, 1913, Mrs. Kelley disclaimed
the alleged interview, and said her remarks "had been greatly
On the other hand, scores of the most highly esteemed men and
women in the equal suffrage states testify that the results are good.
In Wyoming women have had the full ballot for nearly half a
century. For the last 95 years, the advocates of equal suffrage have had
a standing challenge, inviting its opponents to find, in all Wyoming,
two respectable men who will assert over their own names and addresses
that it has had any bad results whatever. The opponents have thus far
failed to respond.
It would only double the vote without changing the result.
If letting women sing in church merely doubled the volume of
sound, it would still be a good thing, because it would double the
number of persons who had the lung exercise and the inspiration of
joining in a good hymn and it would make the chorus stronger. If equal
suffrage merely doubled the number of votes it would still do good,
because to take an interest in public affairs would give women mental
stimulus and greater breadth of view; and it would also bring to bear on
public problems the minds of an increased number of intelligent and
patriotic citizens. But the great advantage of women in music is that
they add the soprano and alto to the tenor and bass. If women were
exactly like men, equal suffrage would merely double the vote. But women
are different from men; and women's voices in the State, like women's
voices in the choir, would be the introduction of a new element. This is
recognized even by opponents, when they express the fear that equal
suffrage would lead to "sentimental legislation."
Men are superior to women along certain lines, and women superior
to men along certain others. The points of weakness ill American
politics at present are precisely the points where women are strong.
There is no lack in our politics of business ability, executive talent,
or "smartness" of any kind. There is a dangerous lack of conscience and
humanity. The business interests, which appeal more especially to men,
are well and shrewdly looked after; the moral and humanitarian
interests, which appeal more especially to women, are apt to be
Suffrage is not a natural right.
It is hard to define just what a "natural right" is. Dr. James
Freeman Clarke said: "If all women were forbidden to use the sidewalk,
and they complained of the injustice, it would be no answer to tell them
that it was not a natural or inherent right, but one given by society,
and which society might therefore control as it saw fit. A great many
rights are given by society, of which, however, it would be manifestly
unjust to deprive either sex."
We have too many voters already.
This only means that we have too many voters of the wrong kind. If
to increase the number of voters were an evil in itself, every women who
becomes the mother of half a dozen sons would have done harm to her
country. But if all six grow up to be good voters she has conferred a
benefit on her country. So she has, if five of them become good voters,
and only one a bad voter. Woman suffrage would bring in at least five
good voters to one bad one.
It is often said that we have too many immigrants. We mean too
many immigrants of an undesirable kind. We all rejoice when we hear of a
large influx from Finland or some other country whose people are
considered especially desirable immigrants. We want them to offset those
of less virtuous and law-abiding races. The governor of one of the
enfranchised states writes of woman suffrage: "The effect of this
increase in the vote is the same as if a large and eminently respectable
class of citizens had immigrated here."
It will turn women into men.
The differences between men and women are natural; they are not
the result of disfranchisement. The fact that all men have equal rights
before the law does not wipe out natural differences of character and
temperament between man and woman. Why should it wipe out the natural
differences between men and women? The women of England, Scotland,
Ireland, Australia, New Zealand, the Scandinavian countries and our own
equal suffrage states are not perceptibly different in looks or manners
from women elsewhere, although they have been voting for years.
All Socialists are believers in international peace and arbitration, but
it does not follow that all non-Socialists ought to fight the peace
If it is meant that equal suffrage will hasten the coming of
Socialism, the Socialists themselves do not think so, and the results in
the enfranchised States do not bear out the belief.
Between the presidential elections of 1908 and 1912, the Socialist
vote increased in every State of the Union. In Wyoming, Colorado, Utah
and Idaho - the only States that have had equal suffrage long enough to
compare presidential election with presidential election - the rate of
increase was below the average. In the country at large, the growth of
the Socialist vote was 112 per cent. In Wyoming, it was 61 per cent, in
Utah 84, in Idaho 87 and in Colorado 106 per cent. In many non-suffrage
States the growth was much more rapid. Thus in Delaware it was 132 per
cent, in Illinois (where women had not then gained the right to vote for
President) 134 per cent, in Pennsylvania 147, in Ohio 166, in Indiana
174, in Kentucky 178, in North Dakota 188, in Nebraska 190, in North
Carolina 197, in Tennessee 216, in Virginia 222 and in West Virginia 317
per cent. The Socialist party admits women to membership on equal terms
with men, but not nearly so many women as men have joined it. In
Massachusetts the proportion is said to be about one woman to ten men.
All Socialists have a woman suffrage plank in their theoretical
platform, but many say that they do not want woman suffrage to come
until Socialism arrives, for fear that the greater conservatism of women
will delay the advent of Socialism.
Whenever the majority of women ask for suffrage, they will get it.
Every improvement in the condition of women thus far has been
secured not by a general demand from the majority of women, but by the
arguments, entreaties and "continual coming" of a persistent few. In
each case the advocates of progress have had to contend not merely with
the conservatism of men, but with the indifference of women, and often
with active opposition from some of them.
When a man in Saco, Me., first employed a saleswoman, the men
boycotted his store, and the women remonstrated with him on the sin of
placing a young woman in a position of such "publicity." When Lucy.
Stone began to try to secure for married women the right to their own
property, women asked with scorn, "Do you think I would give myself
where I would not give my property?" When Elizabeth Blackwell began to
study medicine, women at her boarding house refused to speak to her, and
women passing her on the street held their skirts aside. It is a matter
of history with what ridicule and opposition Mary Lyon's first efforts
for the higher education of women were received, not only by the mass of
men, but by the mass of women as well.
In eastern countries, where women are shut up in zenanas and
forbidden to walk the streets unveiled, the women themselves are often
the strongest upholders of these traditional restrictions, which they
have been taught to think add to their dignity. The Chinese lady is as
proud of her small feet as any American anti-suffragist is of her
political disabilities. Pundita Ramabai tells us that the idea of
education for girls is so unpopular with the majority of Hindoo women
that when a progressive Hindoo proposes to educate his little daughter,
it is not uncommon for the women of his family to threaten to drown
All this merely shows that human nature is conservative, and that
it is fully as conservative in women as in men. The persons who take a
strong interest in any reform are generally few, whether among men or
women, and they are habitually regarded with disfavor, even by those
whom the proposed reform is to benefit.
Many changes for the better have been made during the last half
century in the laws, written and unwritten, relating to women. Everybody
approves of these changes now, because they have become accomplished
facts. But not one of them would have been made to this day, if it had
been necessary to wait till the majority of women asked for it. The
change now under discussion is to be judged on its merits. In the light
of history, the indifference of most women and the opposition of a few
must be taken as a matter of course. It has no more rational
significance now than it has had in regard to each previous step of
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