Votes for Women
Author Of 'Eugenics, the Science Of of Breeding Men,,' etc.
Illustrated with Portraits
THERE is a well known bit of folksong, running,
Mother dear, may I go swim?
Yes, my darling daughter,
Go hang your clothes on a hickory limb
But don't go near the water.
I do not know whether this was written by a primitive suffragette, but certainly the girl in the song and the modern woman have now reached precisely the same point in their development. They feel prepared for activity and eager to enter it, and they are encouraged to make every preparation for it, but when it comes to making the plunge there are reservations which run into several maxims of common sense and even of the common law.
For a number of years our common school system has been giving girls the same training as boys. Girls form about 56 per cent. of the pupils enrolled in all our secondary schools and more girls than boys graduate from our high schools. All but three of our state Universities now admit women on equal terms with men. In our Colleges and Universities the men still greatly outnumber the women, because more of them are looking ahead to that larger life which is still inhospitable to women, but at least two of our Universities have found it necessary to set a limit to the admission of women. Northwestern University limits the number of women students to the capacity of its dormitories, and Stanford University has arbitrarily limited the number to five hundred. There was formerly a prediction that the women in colleges would be rendered masculine by the men, but fear is now expressed that the men will be feminized by the women. The average class standing of women is also slightly better than that of men, perhaps because they are more conscientious and go in less for sport, and I believe that few teachers would now say that women with reasonable preparation show less facility than men in obtaining the doctorate.
Now if intelligence and civic fitness were proportionate to amount of schooling it would be a good plan to turn the government over to the women, for there have been more girls the boys in our schools for years, and the hordes of ignorant immigrants are for the most part men. But civic fitness is no of course, directly proportionate to schooling, because life is more than the schools. Still there are situations in which "despair itself is mild, and when intelligent and thoughtful women who have gone through all the formal steps in the preparation for life are treated like the girl in the folk-song, when they view our horribly bad social conditions, our dishonest and incompetent political arrangements, and the exploitation of the working woman, without the power of direct participation, it is not
(293) surprising that they feel outraged. Some of them indeed, feel their degradation so keenly that they can with difficulty speak of it, and it is fortunate that they do not imitate the course which is said to be adopted by the orang-utan in Borneo. These apes, the natives say, are really men who went to live in the forest, and abstain from speaking in order to avoid paying taxes and meeting other human responsibilities.
The Stock Objections
As to the stock objections to the suffrage of women I do not wish here to give them any extensive attention. They are mainly of a sentimental and trivial nature, and they have all been disposed of by the women themselves, and by the experience of the countries where women vote. Actually a better set of arguments could be put up to-day for the reenslavement of the blacks than for the continued disfranchisement of women. The black was positively advanced in his mental and social conditions under slavery, as the child is advanced by the oversight of its parents, and he fell back after his emancipation. We were perfectly right in our view that he would never reach his full manhood while a slave, though many of us also realize that we committed an error in conferring on him the full rights of manhood before he had passed his adolescence. But with the woman the case is different. She is advanced so far that no sort of further restraint is favorable to her development.
It is alleged by men that there is a large class of women who do not want to vote, and this is true, but it signifies nothing against the principle. Many animals show a tendency to remain quiet so long as they are well kept, and will not even leave the cage when the door is opened. Certainly the negroes of Virginia did not greatly desire freedom before the idea was developed by agitation from the outside, arid many of them resented this outside interference. " In general, in the whole western Sahara district, slaves are as much astonished to be told that their relation to their owners is wrong and that they ought to break it as boys amongst us would be to be told that their relation to their fathers was wrong and ought to be broken. " And it is reported from eastern Borneo that a white man could hire no natives for wages. "They thought it degrading to work for wages, but if he would buy them they would work for him." This is also the psychology of the woman who does not want to vote.
On the other hand the women who want to vote claim that they are not less interested than men in having good schools, children defended against a stupid pedagogy, a decent living wage to all before the luxuries are dipped into too freely by some, good sanitation, and pure food for children. They have shown that our schools, our charitable, reform and penal institutions, our cities and our general government are run on "political principles," and they say that politics is the only field in which "if an accountant is wanted, a dancer gets the place." They claim that the moral side of life is particularly congenial to women as it has proven particularly uncongenial to the men who have made politics a business, that the "ancient kindliness which sat beside the cradle of the race " has been put out of business by business, and that its restoration is even now being advocated more by women than by men.
The men have said that women are not intelligent enough to vote, but the women have replied that more of honesty than of intelligence is needed in politics at present, and that women certainly do not represent the most ignorant portion of the population. They claim that voting is a relatively simple matter anyway, that political freedom "is nothing but the control of those who do make politics their business by those who do not," and that they have enough intelligence "to decide whether they are properly governed, and whom they will be governed by." They point out also that already, without the ballot, they are instructing men how to vote and teaching them how to run a city, that women have to journey to the legislature at every session to instruct members and committees at legislative hearings, and that it is absurd that women who are capable of instructing men how to vote should not be allowed to themselves.
To the suggestion that they would vote their husbands and that so there would be no change in the political situation, women ad. that they would sometimes vote like their husbands, because their husbands sometimes right, but ex-Chief Justice Fisher of Wyoming says: " When the Republicans nominate a bad man and the Democrats a good one, the Republican women do not hesitate a moment to "scratch" the bad and substitute the good. It is just so with the Democrats: Hence we almost always have a mixture of officeholders. I have seen the effects of female suffrage, and, instead of being a means of encouragement to fraud and corruption, it tends greatly to purify elections and to promote better government. Now "scratching" is the most difficult feature of the art of voting, and if women have mastered this they are doing very well. Furthermore the English suffragettes have completely outgenerated the professional politicians. They discovered that no cause can get recognition in politics unless it is brought the attention, and that John Bull in particular will not begin to pay attention "until you stand on your head to talk to him. " They regretted to do this, but in doing it they secured the attention and interest of all England. They then followed a relentless policy of opposing the election of any candidate of the party power. The Liberal men had been playing with the Liberal women, promising support a then laughing the matter off. But they are now reduced to an appeal to the maternal instinct of the women. They say it is unloving of them to oppose their own kind. Politic a poor game, but this is politics.
How Woman's Suffrage Has Worked
Again there are a few men who say that woman's suffrage has not worked well where it has been tried. But this argument is scan honest. Judge Lindsey of Colorado, where woman's suffrage has been in operation twelve
(295) years, says "No one would dare propose its repeal, and if left to the men of the state any proposition to revoke the right bestowed on women would be overwhelmingly defeated." Sir Joseph Ward, Premier of New Zealand, said: The women of New Zealand secured the franchise by a majority of only two votes. Now it is doubtful if in the whole House there would be two members to oppose it." There was a time when some men thought that universal man suffrage would result in an earthly paradise, and that without delay, but "freedom" itself has failed in this, and this is the only sense in which woman's suffrage has failed where it has been tried. Freedom is not a panacea, it is only a system under which a society can work to better advantage, and the universal testimony of responsible persons is that the participation of women in civic affairs has made for the moral welfare of the whole community. It is certain also that where women have the ballot every election address is recast and this means that where men alone Note all of the interests of society are not considered, that a part of the members of society are ignored.
But will not the mixing of women in public life breed discord at home and lead to race suicide ? To this the women have replied that they will be in a better position to look after the training of their own children if they have the vote, and also to make possible the "right to childhood " for children of less fortunate mothers. They say also that they consider an intelligent appreciation of all the social activities and a participation in them the best cure for race- suicide, and they add, with profound wisdom, that they do not regard "the desire that woman should take her share in the duties and labors of the national life as of in any sense a movement of the sexes against each other, but rather as a great integrative movement of the sexes toward each other." And the experience of the countries in which women are voting justifies this latter view.
Finally the men object to votes for women because they say women are not patriotic, and can not fight for their country. And to this the women have replied that patriotism is engendered by activity, that there is too much fighting as it is that motherhood is a service equivalent patriotism, that soldiers and sailors do not vote anyway, and that if blood counts for anything, more blood is spilt in child-bearing than in war.
On the whole women are beginning to realize that the world as it is to-day, and the disparity in ability between men and women are matters of man's arrangement , and they feel as did the lion in LaFontaine's fable, who seeing a painting in which a man was holding a lion prostrate, remarked, "If my people could paint they would show you a very different picture. "
The Crux of the Opposition
And since w omen have themselves annihilated all the reasonable objections to the equal participation of the two sexes in civic life, an argument for woman's suffrage at this point would be like a "killing of the dead." Still the hard fact remains that the opposition persists, and it will be of some interest to examine the cause of this, though the explanation is indeed difficult. In no society has life ever been completely controlled by the reason, but mainly by the instincts and the habits and customs growing out of these. Speaking in a general way, it may be said that all conduct both of men and animals tends to be right rather than wrong. They do not know why they behave in such and such ways, but their ancestors behaved in those ways and survival is the guarantee that the behavior was good. We must admit that within the scope of their life the animals behave with almost unerring propriety. Their behavior is simple and UN-
(296)-varying, but they make fewer mistakes than ourselves. The difficulty in their condition is that having little power of changing their behavior they have little chance of improvement. Now in human societies, and already among gregarious animals, one of the main conditions of survival was common sentiment and behavior. So long as defense of life and preying on outsiders were main concerns of society unanimity and conformity had the same value which still attaches to military discipline in warfare and to team work in our sports. Morality therefore became identified with uniformity. It was actually better to work upon some system, however bad, than to work on none at all, and early society had no place for the dissenter. Changes did take place, for man had the power of communicating his experiences through speech and the same power of imitation which we show in the adoption of fashions, but these change took place with almost imperceptible slowness or, if they did not, those who proposed them were considered sinners and punished with death or obloquy.
And it has never made any difference how bad the existing order of things might be. Those who attempted to reform it were always viewed with suspicion. Consequently our practices usually run some decades or centuries behind our theories, and history is even full of cases where the theory was thoroughly dead from the standpoint of reason before it began to do its work in society. A determined attitude of resistance to change may therefore be classed almost with the instincts' for it is not a response to the reason alone, but is very power fully bound up with the emotions which have their seat in the spinal cord.
The World Loath to Accept New Ideas
It is true that this adhesion to custom more absolute and astonishing in the low races and in the more uneducated classes, but it would be difficult to point out a single case history where a new doctrine has not been m with bitter resistance. We justly regard learning and freedom of thought and investigation as precious, and we popularly think Luther and the Reformation as standing at the beginning of the movement toward these, but Luther himself had no faith in "the light reason" and he hated the "new learning" Erasmus and Hutten as heartily as any papa dogmatist. To the end of his life he held that "reason was the devil's bride, rationalism beautiful prostitute . . . who
(297) must be put to death, who must have dirt thrown in her face to make her repulsive looking. These are his own words. Luther's revolt was merely against the mercenary practices of the Church and what he considered to be her perversions of the older doctrines. He did, indeed, believe in schools, to prepare the priests to read and interpret the Bible and the Fathers, but he hated the scientific spirit of the Universities. Among all the great moral teachers, Confucius was perhaps the most worldly-wise, for he consistently denied that his teachings were new, attributing them to "the ancients" even when he had no other ground than expediency to do so.
We are ourselves just at the close of a great movement in thought which has called out as much bitterness as almost any in history -- the teaching of an evolutionary view of the world. This view, conspicuously associated with the publication of Darwin's Origin of Species in 1859, has now revolutionized every department of science and almost every department of life from our literature down to our milk and our plumbing, and it is even slowly working down to the level of our legal procedure, but it has caused many a good churchman to reinvoke the inquisition.
We are even forced to realize that the law of habituation continues to do its perfect work in a strangely resentful or apathetic manner even when there is no moral issue at stake. Until about 1825 the word "balcony" was regularly pronounced with the accent on the second syllable. Swift used the word as it is now pronounced one time, "which," said Samuel Rogers, "makes me sick." And the reader will search in vain for a justification of the acute displeasure he feels in mispronounced names. Up to the year 1816 the best device for the application of electricity to telegraphy had involved a separate wire for each letter of the alphabet, but in that year Francis Ronalds constructed a successful line making use of a single wire. Realizing the importance of his invention he attempted to get the British government to take it up, but was informed that ''telegraphs of any kind are now wholly unnecessary and no other than the one in use will be adopted."
Mental Perversions of the Past
But it is when the ordinary custom is rein by authority from above, purporting to teach
by inspiration from God, that doctrines and practices take on their most absolute and
distressing form. There was a time in the history of the church
when baptism seemed to ecclesiastics so essential to salvation that anyone who failed to receive this rite, no matter why, was condemned to eternal punishment in hell fire. St. Fulgentius condemned to "everlasting punishment in eternal fire" even children who died in their mother's womb, and I have seen an old sermon in which the divine declared that there were "infants crawling on the floor of hell, not a span long. " It would seem that the human mind would be revolted by such a picture, but it was not. St. Thomas Aquinas even urged that a perfect sight of the tortures of the damned is granted to the saints in heaven that they may " enjoy their beatitude and the grace of God more richly, " and so late as our Puritan fathers we were told that " the sight of hell torments will exalt the happiness of the saints forever." In the seventeenth century Scotch clergymen taught their congregations not only that it was sinful to walk about for pleasure on Sunday, but that it was sinful to save a vessel in shipwreck on that day, and a proof of sound religion to allow the ship and crew to perish.
But I do not wish to push this painful fine of thought further. These views afford an extreme instance of the force of " use and wont. " When a curse is once laid on a question it is lifted with difficulty and it requires time. Reason may " cry aloud in the streets, " but the practice dies hard. It is a safe general proposition that any conduct widely at variance with established custom will at first be regarded as immoral, immodest or at least unbecoming. Even our fashions of dress which in their rapid rotation seem to be a striking exception, are not so. They are dictated by a powerful though obscure authority, they vary within narrow limits in any country, they are followed by masses of people simultaneously, and not to conform to them has its penalties. I have been much reproached for writing a paper on the "Adventitious Character of Woman," but if the women who have expressed their dislike of this paper are inclined to take the matter up they can write a more offensive one and one quite as just, on the "Habitudinal Character of Man."
In early society one of the results of the laying of the heavy hand of the "tyrant custom" on the minds of men was a system of arbitrary taboos. Certain foods could not be touched, certain objects could not be looked upon, certain names could not be called. And the penalty for violation of the taboo was death. In historical times the church was the most favorable location for the development of taboos. The Sabbath, to which I have just alluded, was a day on which all activities except worship and "works of necessity and
(298) mercy" were taboo. The established church was itself a taboo object. To breathe a word against it was blasphemy. In England in the reign of Henry VIII. a boy was burned because he had spoken "much after the fashion of a parrot some idle words affecting the sacrament of the altar, which he had chanced to hear, but of which he could not have understood the meaning," and all the heretic-hunting of the inquisitional period was in consequence of violation of church taboo. Fortunately science has lifted this taboo, but sex and marriage have also for a long time been taboo questions, and from them the taboo is not completely lifted.
The whole fact of sex is indeed outlawed, except from a very limited and periphrastic standpoint. The superficial aspects of it may be treated comically and are so treated freely, but when you go deeper you strike the taboo layer. And yet sex is the greatest fact in the economy of nature, with the sole exception of food. Not many years ago a British scientist published the best and the only considerable work in the English language on certain abnormal sexual conditions. It was a good work, seriously and, I think, even solemnly undertaken. And it was work of inestimable importance to society and to parents. It might prevent the total ruin of anybody's boy or girl. It was not a work which should be freely circulated, and it was not designed for free circulation. But it contained materials with which every physician should be acquainted, and the knowledge of which is rapidly modifying criminal legal procedure - materials indeed, which the Juvenile Court Committee of Chicago, composed in part of women, has found it necessary to employ a psychiatrist to interpret. And yet the publishers were fined and the sale of the book was prohibited. I have myself heard an American scientist whose daily life consisted in the attempt to produce artificially a drop of living protoplasm, commenting on the effort of another scientist to get an appropriation of money from the national government for the study of sexual abnormality and hygiene, call the latter "insane." I do not say that the proposer of this scheme was a wise or discreet man. I do not know. But if he was insane, he was so only in that large sense in which we may call any man insane whose consciousness does not at all points overlap that of the public. "It is a mad world, my masters," a world where the insanity of one period of history becomes the sound common sense and rational policy of another generation. Christ was executed because his mind did not completely coincide, and Socrates was given the hemlock for inquiring " too deeply. "
I have alluded thus to the morbid aspect of sex, not because I consider this its most important side, for it is not, but -- as an indication of one of the deepest reasons for the inhospitable attitude of society to the question of woman's suffrage. It would perhaps have been sufficient to allude to the fact that most parents can with difficulty or not at all bring them selves to the point of speaking even once in their lives to their children on some of the most important laws of physical life. When a whole situation is thus under taboo any movement within that situation is to some extent an outlawed movement.
It is custom, therefore, not reason, that women have had to face first of all in their fight for the ballot. But another powerful and more reasonable cause for the opposition to woman in this connection lies in the fact that she was as a class reduced at one time to a position of ornamental inactivity, where her chief charm consisted in complete and ductile submission to the will of man, and that she herself accepted this condition as an ideal one. I will not here rehearse the movement by which this condition was brought about. But I wish to notice the actual opinion in which woman was held, and in which she held herself, about 100 or 150 years ago. This will give us a ground for judging what the woman's movement has had to contend with, and whether it has made any real progress.
Old Time Advice to Women
In this connection there is a considerable mass of literature, dating from the end of the eighteenth and beginning of the nineteenth centuries, addressed by women, ministers and even bachelors to the "female sex," advising them how to deport themselves in order to be and seem proper ladies. And anyone turning over these pages will find both instruction and astonishment. I have before me one of these books, A Guide to Matrimonial Happiness, a Series of Letters Written by a Lady of Distinction to her Relation Shortly after her Marriage, (London, 1821), and I quote some of the advice of this "distinguished lady" to her. young relative:
The most perfect and implicit faith in the superiority of a husband's judgment, and the most absolute obedience to his desires, is not only the conduct the will insure the greatest success, but will give the most entire satisfaction. It will take from you a thousand cares, which would have answered no purpose;
(299) it will relieve you from a weight of thought that would be very painful, and in no way profitable. ... It has its origin in reason, in justice, in nature, and in the law of God.
But the writer does not stop with generalities. In a chapter which might be headed, "On a Method and Technique for the Abandonment of Personality," she says:
I have told you how you may? and how people who are married do, get a likeness of countenance, and in hat I have done it. You will understand me, that by often looking at your husband's face, by smiling on the occasions on which he does, by frowning on those things which make him frown,. and by viewing all things in the light in which you perceive he does, you will acquire that likeness of countenance which it is an honor to possess, because it is a testimony of love. . . . When your temper and your thoughts are formed upon those of your husband, according to the plan which I have laid down, you will perceive that you have no will, no pleasure, but what is also his. This is the character the wife of prudence would be apt to assume; she would make herself the mirror, to show, unaltered, and without aggravation, diminution or distortion, the thoughts, the sentiments, and the resolutions of her husband. She would have no particular design, no opinion, no thought, no passion, no approbation, no dislike, but what should be conformable to his own judgment. . . . I would have her judgment seem the reflecting mirror to his determination; and her form the shadow of his body, conforming itself to his several positions, and following it in all its movements.
On the topic of conversation she says:
I would not have you silent, nay, when trifles are the subject, talk as much as any of them, but distinguish when the discourse turns upon things of importance.
Along with the teaching that women should have gentle spirits, went, of course, the teaching that they should have gentle bodies. "Women," says a female writer early in the last century, "are something like children -- the more they show the need of support the more engaging they are. In everything that women attempt they should show their consciousness of dependence." Dr. Gregory, in a book published before 1800, entitled " A Legacy to my Daughters," advises girls that if nature has given them a robust physique they should take care to dissemble it.
Hostile to Women in the Past
The Christian church also has constantly insisted on the submission of woman to the will of man, and we came almost to accept the " honor and obey " of the ceremony of marriage as a part of natural law, but we are confounded when James Fordyce in his sermons addressed to women, advances the view that "holiness" is a sort of "beautifier" which will render their charms more lively to men. "Never," he says, " perhaps does a fine woman strike more deeply than when composed into pious recollection . . . she assumes without knowing it superior dignity and new graces; so that the beauties of holiness seem to radiate about her."
Of course the law has no remedy to offer, for the law is nothing if not behind-hand. It merely provided the formal measures by which women could be repressed and exploited. In England before 1870 "a man who had abandonned his wife and left her unaided to support his family might at any time return to appropriate her earnings and to sell everything she had acquired, and he might again and again desert her and again and again repeat the process of spoliation." In 1790 an English writer explained that people unfit for the county franchise were those who "lie under natural incapacities and therefore cannot exercise a sound discretion, or [who are] so much under the influence of others that they cannot have a will of their own in the choice of candidates. Of the former description are women, infants, idiots, lunatics; of the latter, persons receiving alms and revenue officers."
Even medicine had its fling at women. In a medical treatise of this period we read: "In this book, I propose, with God's help, to consider diseases peculiar to women, and since women are, for the most part, poisonous creatures, I shall then proceed to treat of the bite of venomous beasts." And art could not have worked so industriously and cleverly to keep the woman question in the region of the senses if it had been subsidized to do it. Much of Tennyson's poetry would seem to be the sentiments of the " distinguished lady " I have quoted, turned into verse.
The perfect work of all this teaching was the traditional old maid. The woman who was married had at least the will of another instead of her own. But the w omen who reached and passed maturity without marriage and the will of a man to depend on had no natural or recognized place in society. Aristotle has said that the individual who is not a member of society is either a god or a brute. But this is not correct, for the gods and brutes are members of societies. Such a person is really a monster, and such a person was the old maid. And since the populace is naturally inclined to be cruel to monstrosities she was the object of all the hilarity provoked by the hunchback, the insane, and idiotic, and other abnormalities of those ruder times.
To most of us the sentiments and practices
(300) I have just outlined seem incredible or pathetic, and I believe that even Punch could use them for comic purposes. But I would undertake to find for you to-day women who seriously cherish similar sentiments. As Michelet said of the church ascetics, "they are of those who have learned to conserve life in a system of death." Is it not a blessing that "acquired characters" are not inherited, and that the daughters of these unfortunate women have a chance to lead their lives with as much health and freedom and mind as if they had never had mothers!
The Early Education of Women
Woman had thus at one time sunk very low in the scale of rationality, and when she raised her voice for suffrage it was indeed a voice from the depths. But for all this, and in fact because of it, her progress in the past century has been so rapid that I know of nothing with which to compare it except the progress of science itself. To substantiate this impression it is only necessary to recall the earlier part of this paper where I alluded to the remarkable position woman occupies in the educational world at present, and compare this with her treatment in the schools of early New England.
Our Puritan ancestors were very sincere and very energetic in their determination to have everything right in their new society, and their efforts to establish schools and to secure suitable teachers under discouraging conditions form a remarkable chapter. But they did not admit girls. They thought, of course, as many still think, that the home was the only proper place and sphere for women, and they thought also that the mind of woman was neither worth cultivating nor capable of learning. Still the question of the schooling of girls must have been raised, for in 1684 we find a ruling on the admission of girls to the Hopkins School of New Haven, reading, ". . . and all the girls be excluded as improper and inconsistent with such a grammar school as the law injoins and as in the Designs of this settlement." But, certain small girls whose manners seem to have been neglected and who had the natural curiosity of their sex, sat on the school-house steps and heard the boys recite, or learned to read and construe sentences from their brothers at home, and were occasionally admitted to school.
It took the Puritan mind about a century to awaken to any interest in the education of girls. Gloucester manifested some feeling on the subject when it resolved in 1790, "That two hours, or a proportional part of that time: be devoted to the instruction of females -- as they are a tender and interesting branch of the community, but have been much neglected in the public schools of this town." Other towns had taken similar action. Nathan Hale, writing from New London, Connecticut, says in 1774: "I have kept during the summer, a: morning school between the hours of 5 and 7, of about twenty young ladies," and Medford voted in 1766 that? "the committee have power to agree with the school master to instruct girls two hours in a day after the boys are dismissed." Up to the beginning of the 19th century boys and girls were rarely in school together. A memorandum of Benjamin Mudge reads: "In all my school days which ended in 1801 I never saw but three females in: public schools in my life, and they were only in the afternoon to learn to write." And the American woman of the 18th century who could write was the exception, as is shown by the fact that not more than one fourth of the women who had occasion to sign legal documents could do so except by "making their mark."
Woman at the Zero Point
When we consider then that woman started at the zero point in this country a hundred years ago, with custom and her own sentiments squarely against her and that her admission to the colleges designed for. men was contested more stubbornly than her original admission to the primary school had been, we must admit that her rise in the educational world is a brilliant feat. It certainly has forever disposed of the argument that she is unable.
But while the education of woman since the 18th century has done more than anything else to restore to her her personality and to render absurd the position of those who deny her right to become a member of the state, it would be a mistake to suppose that the schools have ever had any policy of promoting woman's rights. Even Oberlin College which took so advanced a stand on both the woman question and the negro question, never conceded to women the political rights which it advocated so warmly for the negro. One of its presidents even took pains to disclaim that Oberlin had any responsibility for the behavior of certain women who had left its halls and were advocating woman's rights and to " avow a radical dissent from their views" while expressing an admiration for their " earnest but mistaken philanthropy. "
I have thus singled out Oberlin for special mention because it has the distinction of being the first fully coeducational institution of collegiate rank in the world. From its foundation in 1833 it has admitted men and women on equal terms, and in its first circular it announced as one of its "prominent objects" "elevation of female character by bringing within the reach of the misjudged and neglected sex all the instructive privileges which have hitherto unreasonably distinguished the leading sex from theirs." This formal repudiation of woman's political aspirations is therefore curiously interesting. It seems on the whole that the negro and the "child widow of India" have been quite the best stimulants to our reform sentiments. They have the picturesqueness of remoteness and they do not interfere with our local and personal and settled habits of life.
No, while every force in Christendom, organized and unorganized, has operated to deprive woman of her personality, I cannot discover that any set of forces outside herself has consciously assisted her in her struggle to become a citizen. She has fought it out mainly alone assisted by John Stuart Mill and the lapse of time. In 1791 Olympe de Georges, the first of the féministes, said in a pamphlet: "Woman has the right to mount the scaffold. She ought equally to have access to the ballot-box." She was guillotined in 1793. Mary Wollstonecraft's powerful Vindication of the Rights of Woman was even more untimely and shocking than Darwin's theory of the descent of man. In 1840 women from the United States! accredited as delegates to the Antislavery Convention in London, were refused recognition. For many years " Susan B. Anthony" was a mild form of "swear-word" among the boys of New England, and in 1853 Miss Anthony stood for half an hour in a Teachers' Convention in Rochester, New York two-thirds or the members being women, while the men debated the question whether she should be heard. It was decided by a small majority that a woman had the right to address an educational meeting on an educational subject. And it was not until 1893 that Miss Anthony could announce that " the general government had discovered woman."
Woman Suffrage Virtually Accepted
I think the case for woman's suffrage may be regarded as virtually decided. We respond to reason slowly, but we are finally amenable to it. The movement has developed many brilliant leader who have taught women to organize and agitate, and the question is now in the condition where ways and means are beginning to be discussed rather than the general principle. But there still remains one weak point in the case. I think that the rank and file of women are still afraid of life in general. Traces of the strong infusion of the 18th century doctrine of subjection remain in the systems of most of them, and they still view education as an "accomplishment." At one time we cherished the belief that education and the ballot were ends in themselves, or we came near doing so, but we now recognize that they are only tools. The real affair is life, particularly as it has arranged itself, and is destined to arrange itself, in various sets of occupational activities. If woman should obtain the ballot without at the same time pushing, out into this world she would still not be in a normal position in society, nor a proper person.
[Professor Thomas will contribute "Women and their Occupations" to an early number of this magazine ]