WOMAN AND THE REPUBLIC ***
Produced by Olaf Voss, Tiffany Vergon, Charles Aldarondo, Charles Franks and the Online Distributed Proofreading Team
WOMAN AND THE REPUBLIC
A SURVEY OF THE WOMAN-SUFFRAGE MOVEMENT IN THE UNITED STATES AND A DISCUSSION OF THE CLAIMS AND ARGUMENTS OF ITS FOREMOST ADVOCATES BY
HELEN KENDRICK JOHNSON
CHAPTER I. INTRODUCTORY CHAPTER II. IS WOMAN SUFFRAGE DEMOCRATIC? CHAPTER III. WOMAN SUFFRAGE AND THE AMERICAN REPUBLIC CHAPTER IV. WOMAN SUFFRAGE AND PHILANTHROPY CHAPTER V. WOMAN SUFFRAGE AND THE LAWS CHAPTER VI. WOMAN SUFFRAGE AND THE TRADES CHAPTER VII. WOMAN SUFFRAGE AND THE PROFESSIONS CHAPTER VIII. WOMAN SUFFRAGE AND EDUCATION CHAPTER IX. WOMAN SUFFRAGE AND THE CHURCH CHAPTER X. WOMAN SUFFRAGE AND SEX CHAPTER XI. WOMAN SUFFRAGE AND THE HOME CHAPTER XII. CONCLUSION
The introduction to the "History of Woman Suffrage," published in 1881-85, edited by Elizabeth Cady Stanton, Susan B. Anthony and Matilda Joslyn Gage, contains the following statement: "It is often asserted that, as woman has always been man's slave, subject, inferior, dependent, under all forms of government and religion, slavery must be her normal condition; but that her condition is abnormal is proved by the marvellous change in her character, from a toy in the Turkish harem, or a drudge in the German fields, to a leader of thought in the literary circles of France, England, and America."
I have made this quotation partly on account of its direct application to the subject to be discussed, and partly to illustrate the contradictions that seem to inhere in the arguments on which the claim to Woman Suffrage is founded. If woman has become a leader of thought in the literary circles of the most cultivated lands, she has not always been man's slave, subject, inferior, dependent, under all forms of government and religion; and, furthermore, it is not true that there has been such a marvellous change in her character as is implied in this statement. Where man is a bigot and a barbarian, there, alas! woman is still a harem toy; where man is little more than a human clod, woman is to-day a drudge in the field; where man has hewn the way to governmental and religious freedom, there woman has become a leader of thought. The unity of race progress is strikingly suggested by this fact. The method through which that unity is maintained should unfold itself as we study the story of the sex advancement of our time.
Progress is a magic word, and the Suffrage party has been fortunate in its attempt to invoke the sorcery of the thought that it enfolds, and to blend it with the claim of woman to share in the public duty of voting. Possession of the elective franchise is a symbol of power in man's hand; why should it not bear the same relation to woman's upward impulse and action? Modern adherents ask, "Is not the next new force at hand in our social evolution to come from the entrance of woman upon the political arena?" The roots of these questions, and consequently of their answers, lie as deep as the roots of being, and they cannot be laid bare by superficial digging. But the laying bare of roots is not the only way, or even the best way, to judge of the strength and beauty of a growth. We look at the leaves, the flowers, and the fruit. "Movement" and "Progress" are not synonymous terms. In evolution there is degeneration as well as regeneration. Only the work that has been in accord with the highest ideals of woman's nature is fitted to the environment of its advance, and thus to survival and development. In order to learn whether Woman Suffrage is in the line of advance, we must know whether the movement to obtain it has thus far blended itself with those that have proved to be for woman's progress and for the progress of government.
I am sure I need not emphasize the fact that, in studying some of the principles that underlie the Suffrage movement, I am not impugning the motives of the leaders. Nor need I dwell upon the fact that it is from the good comradeship of men and women that has come to prevail under our free conditions, that some women have hastily espoused a cause with which they never have affiliated, because they supposed it to be fighting against odds for the freedom of their sex.
The past fifty years have wrought more change in the conditions of life than could many a Cathayan cycle. The growth of religious liberty, enlargement of foreign and home missions, the Temperance movement, the giant war waged for principle, are among the causes of this change. The settlement of the great West, the opening of professions and trades to woman consequent upon the loss of more than a half million of the nation's most stalwart men, the mechanical inventions that have changed home and trade conditions, the sudden advance of science, the expansion of mind and of work that are fostered by the play of a free government,--all these have tended to place man and woman, but especially woman, where something like a new heaven and a new earth are in the distant vision.