Chicago Tribune

Prof. Thomas Makes Argument for Enfranchised Womanhood.
Midway Educator Says Political Bondage is Due to Seclusion.

New York, Feb. 11 – [Special] – Prof. W. I. Thomas of the University of Chicago began a series of lectures at Berkeley lyceum today under the auspices of the Collegiate Equal Suffrage league. His theme was the overwritten, overtalked topic of the hour — the question of votes for women, and he produced a brand new phrase, a novel argument, and promptly gave his wife credit for originating it.

"‘Maternal suffrage, not militant suffrage,’ is what Mrs. Thomas calls it." he said in telling of what the influence of enfranchised womanhood will accomplish.

"In Chicago," he explained, "women have demonstrated, even without the ballot, their capacity for dealing with municipal and state problems. They have shown the entrance of women into civic affairs would introduce a new element, that of humaneness into public life. Men are occupied with modern competitive business, which merely is modified warfare. They are not human in the sense that women are.

"Until a short time ago in Chicago the public schools were run in such a manner that before the most expensive desks handling the most expensive text books there sat listless, stupid, starving children. Not until women followed these children after school, and not until they saw them stop and beg decayed fruit and dead chickens from dealers, was it know that every day pupils went form the public schools to homes where there was nothing to eat.

Pride in Chicago Record

"Not until then did it occur to any one that the board of education might spend less money for new desks and more for caring for the physical welfare of children in and out of school hours. It is entirely due to the influence of a group of good women of Chicago that we no longer have starving children in our schools.

"It is through them we have the juvenile court. For years the children had languished and been corrupted in jails tenanted by adult malefactors and no man had done anything to change conditions. These women obtained the establishment of a separate court for the trial of juvenile offenders and for seven years trained and paid probation officers out of their own pockets.

"But I will give still other instances of the efficiency of women in the public affairs of Illinois. At Evanston the state maintained a school for dependent girls where it was found upon investigation undertaken by public spirited women that such hygienic conditions prevailed that only seven out of 150 inmates should have been out of quarantine. The school was $6,000 in debt and the state had ordered it closed when the women asked to have it, turned it over to them and reestablished it on the cottage system, and today it is a thriving model farm community.

Blames Seclusion of Woman

"The whole idea, of course, has grown out of the seclusion to which women have been subjected in three stages: (1) confinement, (2) the Turkish idea, and (3) chaperonage. The perfect anti-suffragist is to be found in the Turkish harem — the woman who cares only to be clothed, fed and protected at the price of mental and physical freedom.

"The modified seclusion of modern life and the limitations of woman’s interest to the social world have stunted her development of mind and character. What she has done heretofore is but the slightest indication of what she will be able to do when she is given a voice in the regulation of the larger interests of society."


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