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National Expansion and Reform
Reformers and Crusaders
Consistent Democracy: Men Speak on Votes for Women

The effort to establish the right to vote for women was on the reform agendas of many women and men. The following excerpts were taken from a pamphlet published in 1858. In the pamphlet, 25 prominent American men provided brief statements in support of the political rights of women. How would you summarize the women's rights arguments made by these men?

View the entire document from which this excerpt came, from Votes for Women, 1848-1921. Use your browser's Back Button to return to this point.

Hon. H.B. Anthony, Ex-Gov. of R.I., (Editor of Providence Journal)

A collection of women arguing for political rights, and for the privileges usually conceded only to the other sex, is on of the easiest things in the world to make fun of. There is no end to the smart speeches and the witty remarks that may be made on the subject. But when we seriously attempt show that a woman who pays taxes ought not to have a voice in the manner in which the taxes are expended, that a woman whose property and liberty and person are controlled by the laws, should have no voice in framing those laws, it is not so easy. If women are fit to rule in monarchies, it is difficult to say why they are not qualified to vote in a republic; nor can there be greater delicacy in a woman going up to the ballot box, than there is in woman opening a legislature or issuing orders to an army. We do not say that women ought to vote; but we say that it is a great deal easier to laugh down the idea than to argue it down.

Rev. Henry Ward Beecher.

We need the participation of woman in the ballot box. It is idle to fear that she will meet with disrespect or insult at the polls. Let her walk up firmly and modestly to deposit her vote, and all men will make way for her, and if any one ventures to molest her, the crowd will swallow him up as the whale swallowed Jonah!

Rev Wm. H. Channing.

Our whole plan of government is a hypocritical farce, if one-half the people can be governed by the other half, without their consent being asked or granted. Conscience and common sense alike demand the equal rights of women.

Rev. Dr. Follen.

Woman, though possessed of that rational and moral nature which is the foundation of all rights, enjoys among us fewer legal and civil rights than under the law of continental Europe.

O. S. Fowler.

Politics and government require the participation of women, in some form, as much as of man; and till it has that, to all intents and purposes, will it be marred by all the imperfections of the old bachelor.

Wm. Lloyd Garrison.

Women have the whole ground conceded to them at the beginning. "All government arises from the consent of the governed." Our fathers hold that doctrine as self-evident, and the men of this country have conceded the whole ground.-Those who are ruled by law should have the power to say what shall be the laws, and who the law-makers. Women are as much interested in legislation as men, and entitled to representation.

Horace Greely.

As to woman's voting or holding office, I defer implicitly to herself. If the women of this or any other country believe that their rights would be better secured and their happiness protected by the assumption on their part, of the political franchises and responsibilities of men, I, a Republican in principle, shall certainly interpose no objection. * * I apprehend that whenever women shall generally and really desire an equality of political franchise with men, they will meet with little impediment from the latter.

Hon. Wm. Hay, Saratoga, N. Y.

I am convinced that until the individual and social right of our whole race, without distinction of caste or sex, shall have been universally recgnised, the tyrannies of earth will cease from it. The Woman's Rights reform may yet lead to the practical adoption, here, of Jefferson's elementary truth, (almost self-evident, yet treated as theory,) that government derives its just powers from suffrage-consent of all (not half) the governed. Partial consent can confer only unjust power.
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View the entire document from which this excerpt came, from Votes for Women, 1848-1921. Use your browser's Back Button to return to this point.