New York Times 


The defeat of woman suffrage in three great Eastern States yesterday, following its defeat in New Jersey in October, is unmistakable and ample notice to the suffragists that the old, highly developed, populous, complex Commonwealths of the East will have none of a political experiment that some simpler, meagrely settled communities of the West have ventured to make. Whatever its merits or its faults in theory and practice, its rejection in Massachusetts, New York, Pennsylvania and New Jersey was inevitable. It could not be accepted there with the easy carelessness of sparse Western populations eager for innovations. The men of the mighty industrial States voted it down for the good of the State and the good of the women. The essential American conservatism. the old-fashioned notion of the position and duties of women, prevailed.

The majorities are impressive. There is no room for doubt. The popular sentiment of the East, even of Massachusetts, where Votes for Women may be said to have been cradled, and which has not been inhospitable to liberal ideas, is hostile to woman suffrage. Its intrepid advocates will not cease their efforts, but they have small reason to hope for success. In Michigan and Ohio their second attempt was much more disastrous than their first.

And what new art of persuasion, what argument unused, what means of appeal or conviction have they neglected? The have been admirable campaigners. Their variety of resource, their communicative ardor, their zeal, industry, persistence, their general good temper and their pluck, will be admitted without reserve by the men who voted against their cause. It may almost be said that they had even an unfair advantage. They are engaging champions. They are heard with a deference which the ironical and not too respectful American is far from showing even to his favorite orators and statesmen. The suffragists have made a canvass to be proud of. They are beaten, thoroughly and hopelessly beaten, not for any neglect or mistake of theirs, but because the majority of conservative men are convinced that woman suffrage would be a weakness or a danger in the State, an injury, and not an advantage to women, socially and politically an irretrievable error.

A memorable day's work, yesterday's. It transcends any making or rejection of the fundamental law. Constitutions are perpetually tinkered, revised, recast. Every generation sets its hand on them. If folly or evil is in them, it can usually be plucked out in time. It is not forever. But open the gates of the franchise, and you open them forever. A class once included stays in. Woman suffrage once in the Constitution, it will remain there. No matter how badly it might work, no matter how sick of it the male and the female electorate might be, it could not be ended. Therefore the victory of conservatism yesterday is momentous, and far beyond mere political triumphs.


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