Letter from Alexander Graham Bell to Mabel Hubbard Bell, March 28, 1901
I am quite sure that you are much better able to vote intelligently than a farm laborer who can neither read nor write, and yet you are denied the right to vote — if you so desire — and he is not. One half of the whole population — and that the more intelligent half — is utterly disfranchised.
In the interest of the Republican form of government and in the interest of the community at large it is surely unwise to draw lines of any sort limiting the exercise of that which is a RIGHT. Exclude women, and exclude men who have only an imperfect education, and what have you left? A MINORITY OF THE POPULATION, and where is your republican form of government if a minority rules. You have an olegarchy and not a republic.
If only the educated can vote, they not only rule the uneducated, but have the power to prevent the latter from being educated — a dangerous power to place in the hands of a class. If woman are excluded men not only rule the affairs of women, but have the power to PREVENT women from ever getting a franchise unless THEY (the men) choose — an equally dangerous power.
To have a right and to exercise it are two very different things. I may have a right to keep fire arms in my