You Gave the Right of Suffrage to the Negro - Why Not Give It to Us?

by C. E. Tibbles
Chapter XXXV from Book of Letters: How to Make Best of Life vs. Woman Suffrage

This question has been asked by all the leading agitators for Woman Suffrage.

Those who are asking for suffrage are females, and the giving to them the right of suffrage would in many instances, cause them to associate with male negroes. In other words, while male negroes have been given the suffrage, white men object to lowering woman's standard to that of the negro by giving her suffrage. Although the negroes are not equals with white women who do not have suffrage, they will be made so when women enter politics.

Male negroes were given the right of suffrage after the war of '61-65 during the Reconstruction Period; and in fact the giving to negroes the right of suffrage was determined upon during the war and was considered a war measure.

When it became apparent that the Southern Confederacy could not hold out for any great length of time, it was believed that if the United States of America overpowered them, they would never become citizens of the United States.

President Lincoln grasped the situation at once, knowing that if the South laid down their arms and refused to become citizens that a large majority if not all of them could arrange to become citizens of England or of some other foreign nation and still retain their properly in the United States. And that the country to which they gave their allegiance and of which they had become citizens, would have control of the southern states, because the South would be wholly inhabited by their citizens.

The situation as it existed at that time forced Lincoln to favor one of two plans of procedure, first to hold all those who had served in the Confederate Army as criminals, which would prevent them from carrying out their designs of becoming citizens of some foreign country: second, to give suffrage to male negroes, which would make resident electors in the South and which would prevent the Confederates from carrying out their designs of turning the southern states over to some foreign country, by all of them becoming citizens of that foreign country.

I copy below from one of Lincoln's letters, which is published in the Complete Works of Abraham Lincoln, Volume XI, page 130, in which letter he takes up the question of the contemplated reconstruction of the Confederate States.

Referring to those who had been in rebellion against the United States Government, be said: "I cannot see if universal amnesty is granted, how under the circumstances I can avoid exacting in return universal suffrage, or at least suffrage ON THE BASIS OF INTELLIGENCE AND MILITARY SERVICE."

Referring to the colored man he said: "I am clear and decided as to what course I shall pursue in the premises, regarding it a religious duty as the Nation's guardian of these (colored) people WHO HAVE so heroically vindicated their manhood on the battle field, where in assisting to save the life of the Republic, THEY HAVE DEMONSTRATED IN BLOOD THEIR RIGHT TO THE BALLOT, which is but the humane protection of the flag they have so fearlessly defended."

By carefully reading Lincoln's letter, a part of which is quoted above, it will be seen that he said in substance that he could not grant suffrage without exacting military service in return, thus establishing the fact that all those who have the right of suffrage are subject to MILITARY SERVICE, which is the same principle carried out with aliens who pay taxes but cannot be drafted as soldiers, because they do not have the suffrage.

This makes it plain that those who do not have the suffrage are not under obligation to go to war or to enforce our laws, but those who do have the suffrage arc under obligation to go to war if necessary and to help enforce the laws of this country.

Lincoln strengthened this doctrine by only proposing in the above letter to give suffrage to those negroes who had served in the United States Army. He proposed to give it to those colored men "who have so heroically vindicated their manhood on the battle field." He also confirmed this doctrine during his first Presidential term by saying that United States soldiers, including thousands of foreigners in the field bearing arms and offering their lives in battle for the defense of this Republic, many of whom had not been naturalized, were entitled to the right of suffrage and should be allowed to vote on the battle fields, thus thoroughly establishing the doctrine that the right of suffrage can only be obtained by being willing and able to defend this government in time of war and by enforcing the laws in time of peace.

Lincoln did not favor giving female negroes the suffrage, because they could not earn that right by defending this government, as those who have the elective franchise are compelled to do in time of trouble.

Women as a part or as a whole, whether white or black, when independent of men, are physically incapable of securing a government for themselves, much less defending that government and the laws they may make, or even earning the money to pay the expenses of the government. Therefore, neither Lincoln nor any other great man considered that the female sex was entitled to suffrage, and for that reason the male negroes were given suffrage while it was refused to the female negroes and also to white women.

This is my answer to the question, "You gave the suffrage to the negroes. Why not give it to us?"

If the women of today saw the infantry marching through the streets with glittering bayonets, the officers with drawn swords, heard the jangling of the sabers of the cavalry, the rumbling of artillery and knew that we were on the verge of a great war, they would voluntarily say, "Let the male negroes keep the suffrage and send them to war in our stead. We'll be good now. We'll take care of the homes, the children, bring them up healthy and strong and have them ready to take the places of the dead and the wounded who have proven themselves to be worthy of the suffrage willed to them by their forefathers, by which they will have demonstrated their worth to the trust imposed upon them."

The Southern Confederacy during the war of '61-65 positively refused the male negroes of the South the right to take up arms in defense of the Southern Confederacy, this because if they allowed them to go into battle in defense of their country, that act on the part of the colored men would give them the right of suffrage.

The Southern people could, no doubt, have held out for several years longer with a chance of success had they accepted negro soldiers in their army, but they were so positive in their views that if the negroes went to war in defense of the Southern Confederacy it would entitle them to the suffrage, they determined rather than to become an independent nation with negroes who had a right to suffrage, they would submit to an inevitable failure.

There can be no doubt about the qualifications required to entitle either sex to the right of suffrage, the paramount qualifications being strength and willingness to defend and enforce the laws of our country. This doctrine is clearly set out in Lincoln's letter. And there can be no doubt about finding among fifty million men who stand ready and willing to defend their government by going to war, enough of them intellectually and mentally capable of managing this government.

Those men who claim that the male sex is unable to administrate this government without giving the female sex suffrage, cannot dispute the fact that in making that statement they say that the male sex is weak-minded and the female sex is strong-minded and better capable mentally than the male, and I reply that those men who favor Woman Suffrage have told the truth on themselves, they are weak-minded.

After the war the United States government demanded that every male resident of the Southern States should take the oath of allegiance to this government before it would give him the right of suffrage and the oath to which he was asked to subscribe obligated him to remain loyal and to go to war in defense of this Republic when necessary. Following is a copy of one clause in the oath of allegiance to which they were asked to subscribe:

"I will support and defend the Constitution of the United States against ALL ENEMIES, FOREIGN AND DOMESTIC."

If the female sex will take this oath of allegiance and can demonstrate that they can and will comply with its terms, with which Lincoln said the male negroes had complied, then suffrage should be granted them.

The proposition of giving suffrage to any class sufficient in number to increase the volume of electors to double the present number, all of which class are unable to go to battle and all of whom declare when asking for the right of suffrage that they will not go to war, is silly in the extreme.

Woman Suffrage agitators claim if given the suffrage they will prevent armed warfare and that Socialists will assist them to accomplish the prevention of war by refusing to serve as soldiers in any war.

This is disloyalty. Any socialist or any other man who subscribes to such a doctrine should be disfranchised. No one has a right to take part in making laws and-then refuse to support and defend them. Those who have the suffrage and will not defend their country are disloyal to it.

Should all those who have the elective franchise refuse to serve as soldiers, any foreign nation could and would trump up some reason why they should send their army into the United States to take possession of the most desirable territory, which they could do without meeting with armed resistance.

Any state could secede from the Union and organize an independent government of its own. All the states in the United States, no doubt, would become independent governments and the government of the United States would have no power to coerce or subjugate them, by which the reader will understand that it would be useless for those who are unable to enforce the laws to have the right to make them.

Suffragettes' promises to prevent war if given the franchise cannot be fulfilled. War will never cease on this earth until after all the inhabitants believe in and will obey the part of the first commandment, "love thy neighbor as thyself," and from the condition which prevails in politics at the present time, one can hardly expect that the people of this country or any other country will, within one century, advance to that standard of morality.

If giving the female sex the suffrage would enable the women, without disgrace or injury to them, to overcome all or even a part of the evils which men are not able to overcome, all men should be in favor of Woman Suffrage. But when their claims are tried out and investigated as they have been in Woman Suffrage States, it is found that the foundation for all their claims for reform is quite as weak as their claim that they will prevent war. Practically nothing in the way of reform has been accomplished in the states where the women have suffrage, many of those states where women do not have the suffrage having quite as good or better laws than the suffrage states.

The remedy for existing evils and the power for reform lie in the strict enforcement of the laws we already have, and the law for the punishment of crime, does not seem to have been enforced as well in the capital city of Colorado, a Woman Suffrage state, as it has been in other large cities located in states where they do not have Woman Suffrage.

The most insistent complaints of the citizens of Woman Suffrage States are that they cannot enforce the laws against women for any crime whatever. They cannot convict self-confessed murdresses much less the women who openly sell their votes. Yet suffragettes are continually haranguing about the passage of new laws while admitting they are unable to enforce the old.

At one election a policeman threatened to arrest an obstreperous woman who was breaking the law and who had even defied the alderman of the ward. The man who had employed her as a challenger to do that kind of work in order to obstruct the voting, said to the policeman, "You'll not arrest her. If you do, I'll have the polls closed and a notice posted, 'CLOSED. Women INTIMIDATED BY THE POLICE.' Then the election will swing my way. You'll not dare make a martyr of that woman."

To arrest or punish a woman or crime in a suffrage state would be to make her a martyr and the officer who made the arrest a criminal, and under such conditions, justice cannot be obtained and the laws cannot be enforced.

In the inability to enforce laws lies the secret of coming trouble, and the giving of suffrage to the male negro was more honorable, expedient, equitable and economical than the giving of it to the female sex has proven to be. |