. . . Though many of the leading minds of this country have advocated woman's enfranchisement for the last twenty years, it has been more as an intellectual theory than a fact of life, hence none of our many friends were ready to help in the practical work of the last few months, neither in Kansas or the Constitutional Convention of New York. So far from giving us a helping hand, Republicans and Abolitionists, by their false philosophy--that the safety of the nation demands ignorance rather than education at the polls--have paralyzed the women themselves.
To what a depth of degradation must the women of this nation have fallen to be willing to stand aside, silent and indifferent spectators in the reconstruction of the nation, while all the lower stratas of manhood are to legislate in their interests, political, religious, educational, social and sanitary, moulding to their untutored will the institutions of a mighty continent. . . .
While leading Democrats have been thus
favorably disposed, what have our best friends said when, for the first time
since the agitation of the question [the enfranchisement of women], they have
had an opportunity to frame their ideas into statutes to amend the
constitutions of two States in the
Charles Sumner, Horace Greeley, Gerrit Smith and Wendell Phillips, with
one consent, bid the women of the nation stand aside and behold the
salvation of the negro. Wendell Phillips says, "one idea for a
generation," to come up in the order of their importance. First negro
suffrage, then temperance, then the eight hour movement, then woman's
suffrage. In 1958, three generations hence, thirty years to a generation,
Horace Greeley has advocated this cause for the last twenty years, but to-day it is too new, revolutionary for practical consideration. The enfranchisement of woman, revolutionizing, as it will, our political, religious and social condition, is not a measure too radical and all-pervading to meet the moral necessities of this day and generation.
Why fear new things; all old things were once new. . . . We live to do new things! When Abraham Lincoln issued the proclamation of emancipation, it was a new thing. When the Republican party gave the ballot to the negro, it was a new thing, startling too, to the people of the South, very revolutionary to their institutions, but Mr. Greeley did not object to all this because it was new. . . .
And now, while men like these have used
all their influence for the last four years, to paralyze every effort we have
put forth to rouse the women of the nation, to demand their true position in
the reconstruction, they triumphantly turn to us, and say the greatest
barrier in the way of your demand is that "the women themselves do not
wish to vote." What a libel on the intelligence of the women of the
nineteenth century. What means the 12,000 petitions presented by John Stuart
Mill in the British Parliament from the first women in