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Women's Suffrage in the Progressive Era
The Importance of Women's Influence in All Religious and Benevolent Societies

The National Baptist Magazine was a publication of Black Baptist churches in the United States and throughout the world. In the excerpt from African American Perspectives, 1818-1907 below (for November and December 1899), Reverend J. Francis Robinson of Halifax, Nova Scotia, writes about women's roles in society and on behalf of women's suffrage. How does Robinson view the relationship between good women, good homes, and good citizens? What case does Reverend Robinson make in regard to women playing both traditional and changed roles in society?

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. . . I have been asked what I thought about women as good citizens, and I take this opportunity to give answer, which may refer to all women: We could have no good citizens without good women. The home is our first school, and the home life and home instruction are first and the most lasting. Every home has a woman in it, and some homes have good women in them. Women are like men--some are good and some are bad. We can have no good home without good women, and we can have no good citizens without good homes; therefore, good women are essential to good citizenship. I believe that the best interests of our country and its institutions demand that women have the largest liberty consistent with the demands of the home, to exercise their influence upon the social and moral, and educational and political interests of childhood and manhood. And once for all, let me say that I am in favor of human rights for every individual of every race, of every condition, regardless of sex, and would secure to each citizen the right of personal liberty of life and the pursuit of happiness. I am not only in favor of women being the queen of the home, but I am willing she shall exercise her regal power in the political world. I believe that the ballot will be safer in the hands of an intelligent and sober woman than in the hands of a drunken man. I believe that the home is a better place to raise good citizens than in the saloon. The mothers, the wives and the sisters of the land would be safer and better teachers of good citizenship than any saloon-keeper or ward politician; and, as one member of the Christian family, I believe in the home, the schoolhouse and the church. The mother, the schoolmaster and the preacher are legitimate teachers of good citizenship. The safety of the Republic lies in the maintenance of good homes and good schools and good churches. I believe that a Christian education is essential to good citizenship; therefore, I am in favor of allowing the women of the land to assist in moulding and shaping the character of our boys and girls. They can do that best when they are permitted to make the choice of the directors of our schools or become directors themselves, and are permitted to elect the men and women who are to train their own children. The slaves have been emancipated; now let us emancipate women! The unconditional and universal and immediate emancipation of womanhood is the demand of the age in which we live; it is the demand of the spirit of our institutions.
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View the document from which this excerpt was drawn, from African American Perspectives, 1818-1907. Use your browser's Back Button to return to this point.