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H. R. 9898


DECEMBER 17, 1914






WILLIAM W. RUCKER, Missouri, Chairman.

ROBERT F. BROUSSARD, Louisiana. MATTHEW M. NEELY, West Virginia.
W. D. B. AINEY, Pennsylvania.

CARL E. MAPES, Michigan.

SAMUEL E. WINSLOW, Massachusetts
DOW H. DRUKKER, New Jersey.
FRED E. LEWIS, Pennsylvania.

A. W. GREGG, Texas.






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Thursday, December 17, 1914.—10 o’clock a. m.

The committee met, pursuant to the call of the chairman.

Present: Representatives Rucker (chairman) presiding, Crisp,
Helvering, Brockson, Mapes, and Winslow.

The CHAIRMAN. Mrs. Colby, the entire committee is not present,
but others will be present in a few moments, and I think we may
as well proceed.

Mrs. CLARA BEWICK COLBY. Mr. Chairman, Rev. Olympia Brown,
president of the Federal Suffrage Association, will address you first.


Rev. BROWN. Mr. Chairman and gentlemen of the committee, we
appear before you in behalf of House bill 9393, a bill to enable women
to vote for Members of Congress. ,

Such a law does not require submission to legislative bodies or to
voters. It is something which Congress can enact by a simple
majority vote. It is also something which Congress can revoke by
law should it prove unsatisfactory. It is therefore a safe kind of
legislation. Aside from the effect of such a law upon women it
would be most valuable in emphasizing the neglected and, in many
minds, obscure distinction between the election of National and
that of State or local officers.

It is clear that different conditions existing in different States
might require differing qualifications for State suffrage, but in the
choice of our national legislators uniformity is absolutely necessary.
Diversity, as pointed out at the time of the adoption of the Constitu-
tion, would be most unfair and injurious, and this is What We have
to-Llay in the choice of National Representatives on entirely different
bases in the different States, thus placing at a disadvantage those
chosen from States Where Women do not vote.

Tnat all citizens are entitled to vote for Members of the House of
Representatives is made plain by the unqualified statement of the
Constitution, Article I, section 2: “Tee House of Representatives
Shall be composed of Members chosen every second year by the
people of the several States.” That this clause was intended to be
far-reaching and inclusive is shown by discussions-on its adoption in
the committee that framed the Constitution. Week after Week Went
by during that long session and still the members of that committee
Were discussing this question of the right of the “people” to vote for
those Who were to make the laws for the Nation. It is often claimed ,



that men vote by divine right, but this seems not to have been true
when the Constitution was formed. I have heard even educated
men assert that men have always voted, and tl. at nature plainly
intended it to be so, and yet at the time of the framirg of the Con-
stitution it was argued by some tlat the mass of men were not ft to
vote, that they were ignorant, and that to allow t! (m to vote would
endanger the safety of the State; but Jefferson, Wilson, and other
radical advocates of popular government, and even Alexane'erHam—
ilton, the most conservative aristocrat of them all, aevoeated the
right of the whole people to vote for Members of the House of Repre—
sentatives. '

Hamilton believed in a general government and a united nation,
and he sought :to protect it against possible assumption of superior
power on the part of the States, by securing for it the support of
the whole people. He sought to emphasir'e the difference between
the National and State Governments, and to draw a dividing line
between them, by providing in the National Constitution for the
right of all the people to vote for the Members of the most numer—
ous branch of the National Legislature. It was largely due to his-
influence that this clause was at last adopted, and our Government
thus became a democracy, recognizing the rights of all the people,
instead of an aristocratic government like those of the old world,
based upon class and caste. All honor to the noble and far-seeing
men who in that crucial moment stood firmly for a recognition of
the rights of the people and the dignity of the Nation.

You will observe that there are no exceptions here; the whole
people were to vote. Women were “people” when the Constitution
was framed. They were then voting in New Jersey on the same
terms as men and to some extent in other States, since few of the
original constitutions of the States discriminated against them or
had the word “male” in the qualifications for voting. Women’s
votes helped to elect the committee that framed the Constitution
and by their vote ratified and established it after it was framed.

It may be asked why, if women had these rights in those early
days, they did not more largely assert their rights and make their
influence felt. The reason is plain when we consider that in that
new country there were fewer women than men and that the property
qualifications which generally prevailed made it impossible for
most women to meet that requirement for voters.

It was a convenience that the national officers should be elected at
the regular State elections, hence the regulation of time, place, and
other details was left with the States, with the reserved right of Con—
gress to control these. But this by no means changed the relation
of Members of Congress to the National Legislature, nor lessened the
obligation of Congress to rotect its Members in the security of their
election. State and local) offices are created by the State constitu—
tions and city charters, and their occupants derive their authority
from State and local governments. But national offices are created
by the Constitution itself, and those chosen to fill such positions de—.
rive their authority from the Constitution which created the office
and which has provided for the election of the officers. Mr. Wilson,
in his oft—repeated statement that the “ question of woman’s suffrage
is one for the States” overlooks this distinction, and places the Mem-


bers of Congress on a par with governors of States,,mayors of cities,

'or the aldermen of a ward.

The fact that the officers, State and national, are generally elected
at the same time has led to a confusion of thought among many peo—
ple, but President Wilson, with his knowledge of history and dis-
criminating mind, must'have noted this difference had he not been
misled by the party cry of States’ rights, a cry which has no bearing
on this discussion. But the framers of the Constitution were not so
confused; they recognized the difference, and provided for the elec—
tion of Members of Congress, and carefully guarded such election by
providing that each House should be the judge of the election of its
own Members; whatever the States might do, Congress should take
care of its own Members. maintaining fairness and equality in their
election. And this is no interference with the rights of the States.

The right of Congress to be the judge of the election of its Members
has been confirmed by the most eminent authorities and by many
decisions of the Supreme Court. To protect all citizens in the use
Of the ballot by national authority does not deprive the States of
self—government. f individuals, or if one-half of the people, call
upon the Nation for protection, they are doing no more than the
States do themselves. National aid is often asked to preserve peace
or to secure protection found impossible under the mere local or
State authority. In ratifying amendments to the Constitution of
the United States the States become factors in the Nation in making
the change the same as they do by the acts of their Senators and
Representatives in Congress. A law created by themselves can not
be interference with their rights of self—government. Self- government
is the corner stone upon which this Nation is founded, and it is there~
fore strictly a national right to be guarded by the Nation itself. It
does not matter by what instrumentality, whether by State consti—
tutions or statute law, anyone has been deprived of the national
right of self—government, it is the duty of (‘ongress to restore it. The
right of women citizens to share in the Government is surely more
important than the. protection of property, the quelling of riots, the
establishing of banks, or securing self—government for the Filipinos.
But in all these cases our Government is ready to interfere in order
to help these who need its protection.

Our wise forefathers did well in giving to Congress the power to
protect itself by making it the judge of its own selections. Not only-
so, but it is provided in Article IV, section 1, that Congress should
have rower “to make or alter the regulations made by'the States,”

and when the question was raised at the time of the adoption of the

Constitution Why such great power was given to Congress, the answer
made by those most active in framing the Constitution was that it

'Was given in order if any of the States should disfranchise any of its

citizens it was deemed proper that Congress should rectify the
wrong. This remark is particularly significant since it shows eon-
clusively that in giving the States power to regulate the election, it was
not intended to give them power to disfranchise any of the people
as to the election of Members of Congress. This statement'is par-
ticularly important just now when we are calling attention to the
disfranchisement of one part of the people in many of the States,
and when we are asking Congress to assert its authOrity by con-
firming the right of the people to vote for Members of Congress.




It is no excuse to urge that these people are Women; they are
human beings, they are people, they are taxpayers, and they are
citizens of the United States whose disfranchisement is generally
acknowledged to be undemocratic and unfair. .

Further argument on the right of women to vote would be an insult
to your intelligence. The claims of women to vote have been pre-
sented before congressional committees again and again. They are
reiterated in the daily press, in the newspapers, and in the magazines
of the day. It has been fully demonstrated that women are as
capable of voting wisely as men. Since they are the representatives
and guardians of the home upon which all government must ultimately
rest, and since they are largely responsible for the character and train-
ing of childrenr—thus laying the foundation for coming generations——
their stake in government is far larger than that of men can possibly
be. It has been shown again and again that women need the recog-
nition, education, and opportunity which the ballot alone can give,
and the actual experience of 10 States for years has demonstrated
beyond question that the voting of women contributes to the pro-
motion of good government, wholesome laws, humanitarian enter-
prises,‘ and a nobler type of men and women. Thus it has been
shown that expediency, as well as justice, demands the enfranchise-
ment of women.

In view of all these things we ask you to make a report on this bill
that the House of Representatives may have an opp ortunity to con-
sider and act upon this subject. I am aware that in this short session
there is much to be done. I have read the long list of bills, pork
barrel and all, which it is said must be put through at this session,
but I am mindful of the suggestion made by our honored President in
his Decoration Day address that human rights are preeminent above
all claims. And this is true. There is, there can be, no bill so impor-
tant as one which contemplates the pi otection of human rights. Laws
are made, government exists, for the protection and development of
the human race. Our Constitution was framed and adopted to estab-
lish justice and secure liberty, and you, gentlemen, are asked to do
what in you lies for the accomplishment of this object. Our Presi-
dent, in his recent message, while discussing War and trade, rural
.credits, and national defense, did not fail to reduest that even in this
short session time should be taken to pass the bill providing for partial
independence of the Philippines, even while many of the Filipinos do
not desire it and spme object to its being forced upon them. If there
is time to consider the far-away Philip} ines, there is surely time to
take action in behalf of the women of this country, who have, during
the whole period of our history, borne their part as pioneers in found-
ing the Republic, as loyal citizens in maintaining and defending it in
time of war, and in developing and improving it in time of peace.

Women pay large taxes in support of the Government; they are
active in every civic and educational reform; they guard the home
and watch over the interests of family and social life; they are
prominent in most of the great industries of the age. Why, then, are
they put on a par with imbeciles and convicts? No, not convicts,
these may be pardoned and their rights restored, but for the crime
_0f being a woman there is no pardon, and the restoration of her
rights is made to depend upon the vote of all the men, including the


" prejudiced, the ignorant, the vicious, the beggars, the pardoned con-
victs, and the most prejudiced men.

But we are not asking to—day that you give us universal suffrage
for women. We are not now opposing Mr. Wilson’s ultimatum that
the women of the country should submit the question of their liberty
to the uncertain result of the vote of all classes of men. We do not
here question the right of the men of the States to kee their wives
and daughters in a condition of political subjection whi e power over
their destinies is held by many of the most unworthy of men. To—day
we are asking, not for the right but onl for the opportunity, to vote
for Members of Congress. WVe are defending the Constitution and
upholding the dignity of the General Government, and especially
advocating the rights of Members of Congress and yourselves among
them, to be elected by an intelligent constituency representing the
Whole people. .

Therefore we urge you, for your own sakes, for the sake of the
House of Representatives, for the sake of the Government itself, to
make a report, favorable or unfavorable on this bill; favorable if
you can; adverse if .you must; but please do not strangle it in the

The CHAIRMAN. Mrs. Colby, I should advise you now that Mr.
Sherley, a Member of Congress, desires to be heard in opposition to
.the passage of this bill or a report on the bill, and there may be others,
but I am not advised as to that, and the committee has determined
to give Mr. Sherley a .art of the time this morning. We will arrange
that so that you wilr have the closing argument, if you desire. I
understand most of your argument has been reduced to writing, and
that will not deprive you of putting in the record any argument that
you may desire.

Mrs. COLBY. May we proceed now With our argument?



Mrs. COLBY. The plan was that our president should open the dis-
cussion, and I should follow with the status of women under the old
common law of England and a statement with reference to the Con-
stitution of the United States, and that the introducer of the bill
should follow with a statement as to the constitutionality of this
measure, showing that what ought to be done can be done by Congress.

At previous hearings we have touched upon the merits of the ques-
tion itself, and I am very much afraid our arguments will seem very
”tame to you when presented in the lace of the ordinary eloquence
With which this subject is discussed; ut we thought we would spare
the committee’s time by limiting ourselves to argument upon the
historical and constitutional phases of this bill.

In January, 1913, your predecessors ave us a hearing, and at the ‘
hearing we heard from Members from t e States where women vote,
presenting the general argument in favor of woman sufl’rage, and at
the close of that hearing there appears an official statement from
States where women vote for governors, legislators, and other official
persons. This would seem to cover the ground, but if there is any-



‘Carolina, and all their presidents
suffrage committee. '


thing else needed on the general merits of the question let it be
remembered that it is always the States contiguous to those where
Women vote which certainly must know the most about it, who are
readiest to adopt it for themselves.

The subject of Federal suffrage for women was first brought to the
attention of the American public by the publication in the Forum of
December, 1886, of an argument by Francis Minor, a distinguished

”lawyer of St. Louis, entitled “Woman’s legal right to the ballot.”

I may say here that Mr. Minor was the husband of Virginia L.
Minor, who brought suit before the Supreme Court asking her right
to vote under the fourteenth and fifteenth amendments. This case
went against Mrs. Minor, because, as the Supreme Court said, she had

'not been made a citizen by the fourteenth amendment, since women

were always citizens. Arguments were produced at that time as
they have been on various occasions. to the effect that the fourteenth
and fifteenth amendments should apply to women and would estab-
lish their enfranchisement. Mr. Minor, finding that this was not
conceded, proceeded to investigate the subject from another stand-
point, namely, from the standpoint of the Constitution itself, and
this article in the Forum of December, 1886, is the result.

In the Arena of December, 1891, he went more fully into the sub-
ject and this enlisted the interest of the leaders of the National

oman Suffrage Association, and at the next convention, February,

1892, the idea was adopted, and I was made chairman of this work
with instructions to form a committee to cooperate with me. At
about this time the United States Federal Suffrage Association was
formed with the same end in view. As chairman for the national
association I had bills introduced, had a hearing before the House
committee, and secured as members of my committee the presidents
of 39 State suffrage associations, with promise of their active coopera-
tion in presenting the subject to organizations within their States.
Every SOuthern State had an or anization except Florida and North

had consented to serve on the Federal

I have here my report dated January, 1893, which contains the
names of the committee which include some of the strongest and
ablest women who have ever taken part in the movement for woman
suffrage. Although there was a very short time in which to inau-

gurate this line of work memorials came in from many places in 20

tates, also enumerated in this report. Georgia, South Carolina,
and Virginia were among the States that sent up memorials, and I

~name these because some have thought this idea interferes with
'State rights, and would not be acceptable to the South. Whenever

the idea of Federal suffrage for women is properly explained and
understood it is seen that it does not touch State rights at all, or
interfere with the qualifications or regulations by which the State
governs the State franchise. But the South, equally with the North,
recognizes a national as well as a State citizenship, and acts upon
this principle every day on all kinds of personal and political ques-
tions. Members of Congress are not primarily expected to legislate
for any particular State or section, but for the whole country.
Removal from one State to another destroys the former State citi-
zenship, and the new one has to be acquired, but the person is still

‘9. citizen of the United States. If an American goes to a foreign


country he is recognized as a citizen of America, and not of any
particular State, and if he gets into trouble it is to the United States
and not to any particular State that he appeals for aid and protec-
tion, if necessary.

In 1902 the Federal Suffrage Association was formed to resume the
effort along this distinct line, and since that time bills have been
introduced in every Congress asking for Federal suffrage for women
citizens of the United States. ‘

Our claim is based on two propositions. First, that women have
the right to vote inherent in their citizenship. Second, that Congress
has the power under the Constitution of the United States to bring
this right into activity as far as it relates to the election of its own

Our claim is not based at all on the fourteenth and fifteenth amend-
ments, save as decisions on these have recognized, in one case that
women are citizens, and always have been, and in other cases that
citizenship and the right of suffrage are inseparable. It may be
agreeable to men to have women beg them for the right or privilege
of voting; and it is doubtless educative to both beseecher and be-
sought. But it is far more in accord with the dignity of a citizen of
the United States to claim the rights of a citizen under the original
Constitution. Charles Sumner could feel what an indignity was laid
upon woman in making her beg for what was her own, and he wrote
once to Miss Anthony: “There is not a doubt but women have the
constitutional right to vote; and I will never vote for an amendment
to give it to them.”

Albert G. Riddle, a well-known lawyer of the District of Columbia,
said in an argument before the Supreme Court of the District, October,
1871, “By the old common law of our English ancestors, the old
storehouse of our rights and liberties, as well as the arsenal where
we find weapons for their defense, women always possessed the right
of suffrage.” Let us peep into this storehouse and see what it has
to say about the status of women with regard to the suffrage. What-
ever liberties men of the Colonies had obtained in England they
brought to this new world. Surely women did not leave theirs
behind them. ‘

While rights are inherent, the recognition of them and making
them a factor in government is an evolution. The right of men to
vote was not recognized, save for the favored class, but the germ of
full liberty, of consent to government as its only just basis, was
there, destined to be applied to all, even to women, in time.

Women have been in the struggle for human freedom all the way.
They helped to achieve and establish all the rights that men have
secured anywhere or at any time. If Alfred the Great liid the foun-
da tions of common law, he is said to have got his ideas and inspira-
tion from Marcia. It was due to “Bloody Mary,” who had no such
claim to that adjective as her father had, thataccused persons had
the right of having witnesses testify in their behalf.

“Sir,” said she to her chief justice, “I charge you to minister the
law and justice indifferently, without respect of erson, "and, not-
withstanding the old error among you, which w' not permit any
witness to speak or other matter to be heard in favor of the adversary,
the Crown being a party, it is my pleasure that whatever can be
brought in favor of the subject may be admitted and heard. You





are to sit there, not as advocates for me, but as indifferent judges
between me and my people.”~—Ling.n rd.

As long as the right to vote and sit. in Parliament depended on rank
or property, women possessed both. You will find in the argument
of Judge Loughridge before the Judiciary Committee in 1871 the
statement that authorities are clear that women have the right to
vote by the common law of England. It can not be questioned, he
says, “That from time the memory of man runneth not to the con-
trary, unmarried women have been by the laws of England compe-
tent voters subject to the freehold qualification which applied alike
to men and women.” The reason married women were disqualified
was because when a woman married her freehold became the property
of her husband. But we have advanced in this particular.

In the English Law Review for 1868, page 121, in the case of Jane
Allen, the ancient records are thus referred to:

The rolls of Parliament. which end with Queen Mary, certainly contain no notice
of the right of women to vote at common law, because they contain no entries relating

to the right of suffrage at all. But I make this observation upon them that they do
contain not unfrequent notices of the presence of women in Parliament itself.

Perhtps the earliest recorded decisions on the right of women to
vote were given in 1612 where in each of the three cases brou ht before
the judges it was ruled that “a femme sole shall vote if s e hath a
freehold, but if a woman be a femme covert having freehold, during
her coverture her husband shall vote in her right.” In the case of
Olive '0. Ingraham, these cases were repeatedly cited by the Lord
Chief Justice of the King’s Bench. In this case Justice Probyn said:

The case of Holt 7). Lyle (A. D. 1612), lately mentioned by our Lord Chief Justice,
is a very strong case: “They who pay ought to choose whom they shall pay. And the
Lord thief Justice seemed to have assented to that general proposition as authority for
the correlative proposition, that women when sole had aright tovote. At all events
there is here the strongest possible evidence that in the reign of James I the femme sole
being a freeholder of a county, city, town, or borough had the right to vote; and not
only had, but exercised, the parliamentary franchise. I am bound to consider that
the question as to What weight is due to the dictum of my Lord Coke [who had said
women were not entitled to vote] is entirely disposed of by those three cases from
the reign of James I, and others from the reign of George II, and that the authority of
the latter is unimpeached by any later authority, as the cases of Rex 1). Stubles and
Regina 1). Alberavon abundantly show.”

In Anstey’s notes on the new reform act of 1867, the authorities
and precedents upon the right of women in England to vote are thus
summed up:

It is submitted that the weight of authority is very greatly in favor of the female
right of suffrage. Indeed, the authority against it is contained in the short and hasty
dictum of Lord Coke [referred to above]. It was set down by him in his last and least

authoritative institute, and it is certain that he has been followed neither by the great
lawyers of his time nor by the judicature.

Chief Justice Pratt, of England, said:

My position is this: Taxation and representation are inseparable. The position is
founded in the law of nature. It is more. It is itself an eternal law of nature.

Blackstone said that the lawfulness of punishing persons offending
against the laws of society is founded upon the principle that the law
by which they suffer was made by their own consent. The common
law of England is still authority in this countr where it has not been
abrogated by statute and it is quoted in all ligal cases. There has
never been a statute or amendment of organic law which has annulled


this principle laid down by the great exponent of common law. Is it
not rather the glory of our peeple that this theory of consent lies at
the very root of our institutions?

Then since women brought over to the Colonies these common-

law rights have they lost them by failure to do their share in estab-
lishing this Nation and achieving its liberties?
_ The first person to set foot upon Plymouth Rock was a woman.
.Women bore equally the hardships incident to building this Nation.
.They, too, fought Wild beasts and defended their homes against the
savage. When the time came for rebellion against taxation Without
representation they organized and made the protest effective by
refusing to use importations from the mother country. Mercy Otis
Warren urged upon her brother, James Otis, that the struggle must
‘ be based on “inherent rights,” which she asserted had been con-
ferred on every individual by the God of nations, and which no
organization of men could grant or in justice withhold. Her home
was the headquarters of the Revolution. Abigail Adams supported
her in her arguments and went a step further, for she wanted these
principles applied directly to women. She wrote to her husband
when he was helping to frame the Constitution that the women
would foment a rebellion and would not hold themselves bound to
obey laws in which they had no voice nor representation. Did her
husband think these protests were out of lace or unwomanly? On
the contrary, he wrote to James Warren OW inevitable it was that
politics should be influenced by women but, he said, “If I were of the
opinion that it was best for a general rule that women should be
excused from the arduous cares of war and state, I should cer-
tainly think that Marcia and Portia (the rebellious Abigail and
Mercy) ought to be excepted because I have ever ascribed to these
ladies a share and no small share either, in the conduct of our Amer-
ican affairs.” John Adams wrote to his wife: “I believe the two
Howes have not very great women for wives. If they had we should
suffer more from their exertions than we do. This is our good for-
tune. A smart wife would have put Howe in possession of Phila-
delphia long ago.”

I have here quite a number of quotations from those colonial letters
which are very interesting, and I just say that to show you that I
have authority for what I am saying.

Tne framers of the Constitution may not have thought the time
ripe for specifically enacting that Women should have the franchise,
any more than for the majority of men at that time; but they never
denied it, and no word can be found in their letters and records
a ainst it. After the Government was formed, Hannah Lee Corbin,
0 North Carolina, complained to her brother, Gen. Lee, that women
.Were taxed without having the right to vote. 'He replied, “They
have that right.”

In the articles of confederation adopted November 15, 1777, there
was one which secured to all the free inhabitants of each of the
‘States all privileges and immunities of free citizens in the several
States. This pledged the suffrage to all women, for the women of
New Jersey were voting at that time, and therefore the Articles of
Confederation virtually gaVe it to all women. A decision by Mr.
Justice Washington expressed the opinion that the right to vote and
hold office was included in the phrase “privileges and immunities.”



From the Legislature of South Carolina the articles were returned to
Congress witn the recommendation that intercitizenshi should be
confined to the white man; but although slavery then ex1sted in each
of the 13 States, Cor-grcss refused to put a limitation in the Constitu-
tion itself. Hence there Was no sex barrier placed at the threshold of
our Governm