To this change the Suffragists call attention, and say, "This is, in great part, our work." In this little book I shall recount a few of the facts that, in my opinion, go to prove that the Suffrage movement has had but little part or lot in this matter. And because of these facts I believe the principles on which the claim to suffrage is founded are those that turn individuals and nations backward and not forward.
The first proof I shall mention is the latest one in time--it is the fact of an Anti-Suffrage movement. In the political field alone are we being formed into separate camps whose watchwords become more unlike as they become more clearly understood. The fact that for the first time in our history representatives of two great organizations of women are appealing to courts and legislatures, each begging them to refuse the prayer of the other, shows, as conclusively as a long argument could do, that this matter of suffrage is something essentially distinct from the great series of movements in which women thus far have advanced side by side. It is an instinctive announcement of a belief that the demand for suffrage is not progress; that it does array sex against sex; that woman, like man, can advance only as the race advances; and that here lies the dividing line.
How absolute is that dividing line between woman's progress and woman suffrage, we may realize when we consider what the result would be if we could know to-morrow, beyond a peradventure, that woman never would vote in the United States. Not one of her charities, great or small, would be crippled. Not a woman's college would close its doors. Not a profession would withhold its diploma from her; not a trade its recompense. Not a single just law would be repealed, or a bad one framed, as a consequence. Not a good book would be forfeited. Not a family would be less secure of domestic happiness. Not a single hope would die which points to a time when our cities will all be like those of the prophet's vision, "first pure and then peaceable."
Among the forces that are universally considered progressive are: the democratic idea in government, extinction of slavery, increase of educational and industrial opportunities for woman, improvement in the statute laws, and spread of religious freedom. The Woman-Suffrage movement professed to champion these causes. That movement is now nearly fifty years old, and has made a record by which its relation to them can be judged. What is the verdict?
IS WOMAN SUFFRAGE DEMOCRATIC?
As the claim of woman to share the voting power is related to the fundamental principles of government, the progress of government must be studied in relation to that claim in order to learn its bearing upon them. It is possible to suggest in one brief chapter only the barest outline of such a far-reaching scrutiny, and wiser heads than mine must search to conclusion; but some beginnings looking toward an answer to the inquiry I have raised have occurred to me as not having entered into the newly- opened controversy on woman suffrage.
I say, the newly-opened controversy, for, through these fifty years, the Suffragists have done nearly all the talking. So persistently have they laid claim to being in the line of progress for woman, that many of their newly aroused opponents fancied that the anti-suffrage view might be the ultra conservative one, and that democratic principles, strictly and broadly applied, might at last lead to woman suffrage, though premature if pushed to a conclusion now.
The first step in finding out how far that position is true is, to ascertain what the Suffragists say about this noblest of democracies, our own Government. In referring to the "The History of Woman Suffrage" for the opinions of the leaders, I am not only using a book that on its publication was considered a strong and full presentment of their arguments, but one which they are today advertising and selling as "a perfect arsenal of the work done by and for women during the last half century." In it the editors say: "Woman's political equality with man is the legitimate outgrowth of the fundamental principles of our government." Dr. Mary Putnam Jacobi, writing in the New York Sun in April, 1894, says: "Never, until the establishment of universal [male] suffrage, did it happen that all the women in a community, no matter how well born, how intelligent, how well educated, how virtuous, how wealthy, were counted the political inferiors of all the men, no matter how base born, how stupid, how ignorant, how brutal, how poverty-stricken. This anomaly is the real innovation. Men have personally ruled the women of their families; the law has annihilated the separate existence of women; but women have never been subjected to the political sovereignty of all men simply in virtue of their sex. Never, that is, since the days of the ancient republics." Mrs. Ellen Battelle Dietrick, who, as Secretary of the New-England Suffrage Association, was put forward to meet all comers, writing in July, 1895, said: "Shall we, as a people, be true to our principles and enfranchise woman? or, shall we drift along in the meanest form of oligarchy known among men--an oligarchy which exalts every sort of a male into a ruler simply because he is a male, and debases every woman into a subject simply because she is a woman?" Mrs. Fanny B. Ames, speaking in Boston in 1896, said: "I believe woman suffrage to be the final result of the evolution of a true democracy." Not only has every woman speaker or writer in favor of suffrage presented this idea in some form, but the men also who have taken that side have done likewise. One among those who advocated the cause before the Committee in the Constitutional Convention of New York, said: "Woman Suffrage is the inevitable result of the logic of the situation of modern society. The despot who first yielded an inch of power gave up the field. We are standing in the light of the best interests of the State of New York when we stand in the way of this forward movement."