Woman suffrage by federal constitutional amendment
comp. by Carrie Chapman Catt
For Lesson Two
NOTE: This is an excerpt from Woman suffrage by federal constitutional amendment, Carrie Chapman Catt found in Votes for Women, 1848-1921.
No effort is made in the following pages to present an argument for woman suffrage. No careful observer of the modern trend of human affairs, doubts that "governments of the people" are destined to replace the monarchies of the world. No listener will fail to hear the rumble of the rising tide of democracy. No watcher of events will deny that the women of all civilized lands will be enfranchised eventually as part of the people entitled to give consent and no American possessed of political foresight doubts woman suffrage in our land as a coming fact.
The discussion herein is strictly confined to the reasons why an amendment to the Federal Constitution is the most appropriate method of dealing with the question. This proposed amendment was introduced into Congress in 1878 at the request of the National Woman Suffrage Association. Since 1882 the Senate Committee has reported it with a favorable majority every year except in 1890 and 1896. Twice only has it gone to vote in the Senate. The first time was on January 25, 1887; the second, March 19, 1914. In the House it has been reported from Committee seven times, twice by a favorable majority, three times by an adverse majority and twice without recommendation. The House has allowed the measure to come to vote but once, in 1915. Yet while women of the nation in large and increasing numbers have stood at doors of Congress waiting and hoping, praying and appealing for the democratic right to have their opinions counted in affairs of their government, millions of men have entered through our gates and automatically have passed into voting citizenship without cost of money, time or service, eye, without knowing what it meant or asking for the privilege. Among the enfranchised there are vast groups of totally illiterates, and others of gross ignorance, groups of men of all nations of Europe, uneducated Indians and Negroes. Among the unenfranchised are the owners of millions of dollars worth of property, college presidents and college graduates, thousands of teachers in universities, colleges and public schools, physicians, lawyers, dentists, journalists, heads of businesses, representatives of every trade and occupation and thousands of the nation's homekeepers. The former group secured its vote without the asking; the latter appeals in vain to Congress for the removal of the stigma this inexplicable contrast puts upon their sex. It is hoped this little book may gain attention where other means have failed.
C. C. C.
TABLE OF CONTENTS
Why the Federal Amendment?
By Carrie Chapman Catt
There are seven reasons for Federal enfranchisement of women. Other countries have so enfranchised women. Conditions of men's enfranchisement in U. S. were easy. Many State constitution today practically impossible to amend. Election laws do not protect State amendment election from fraud. Men's right to vote protected by Federal Constitution; state by state enfranchisement would not give this protection to women. Woman Suffrage a national question. Decision on technical and abstract question of Suffrage demands different class of intelligence from election of candidates. .......... 1
State Constitutional Obstructions
By Mary Summer Boyd
State Suffrage amendments defeated in recent years by technical difficulties. Ratification by Legislature and People theory of State Constitutional Amendment. So adopted in South Dakota and Missouri. In most states technicalities make amending impossible. Classes of technicalities. Limit to number of amendments. "Constitutional majority." Passage of two Legislature. More than majority of the people required for ratification. Indiana. Time requirements. New Mexico. Revision by Convention. Some states have no or infrequent Constitutional Conventions. New Hampshire. Delaware Constitution alone amended by Legislature or Convention without popular vote. Thirty states gave foundations male suffrage by this easy means .......... 12
Election Laws and Referenda
By Carrie Chapman Catt.
State Election Laws defective. Many state suffrage amendments undoubtedly lost by frauds in elections. In twenty-four states election law or precedents offer no correction of returns in fraudulent amendment elections. In twenty-three states Contest on election returns probably possible. In eight states recount of votes made. A court procedure and expensive. Punishment for bribery. Relation to Contest Ohio cases. Vagueness of election laws protects corruption. Ignorant vote used by corrupt. Form of ballot often helps corruption. Only 13 states have headless ballots. Form of Suffrage amendment ballots in recent years aided in defeat of measure. Examples. Non-partisan referendum not protected from fraud like party questions. In most states women cannot be watches at polls. Aliens can vote in eight states. Illiterate can vote in most states. Rsum .......... 21
The Story of the 1916 Referenda
By Carrie Chapman Catt
Three states voted on Woman Suffrage amendments. Some causes of failure. Story of Iowa election. Woman's Christian Temperance Union provers forty-seven varieties of corruption. South Dakota. Foreign vote defeated Woman Suffrage there. Figures of some countries. Relation between Prohibition and Woman Suffrage votes. West Virginia. Illiteracy and conservatism defeated Women Suffrage there. Liquor influence felt. Corruption in Berkely County, West Virginia. Special Legislative session called but investigation of frauds abandoned. Analysis of vote of certain counties. Rsum .......... 36
Federal Action and States Rights
By Henry Wade Rogers
Judge of U. S. Circuit Court of Appeals, N. Y. C.
Would Federal Amendment violate local self-government or conflict with State Rights? States rights a sound doctrine, but has been perverted, misapplied and carried to extremes. Henry St. George Tucker maintains this way of gaining woman suffrage is contrary to rightful demarcation of powers of federal and state governments. Constitutional Convention 1787 provided that amendments be ratified by three-fourths State Legislatures, State Constitutions may not violate United States Constitution for this is supreme Law. Amendment to U. S. Constitution valid regardless of provisions in State Constitutions. Ratification by State Legislatures does not violate States rights for by it states act as sovereigns. Same argument for removal of sex lime in Suffrage as that on which 13th, 14th and 15th amendments were based. 15th amendment gives the sound basis for woman suffrage amendment .......... 55
Objections to the Federal Amendment
by Carrie Chapman Catt
States Rights objection discussed. U. S. Constitution twice amended recently under Democratic administration. Federal Prohibition Amendment introduced by Southern Democrat. Even if all state constitutions gave woman suffrage U. S. Constitution would contain discrimination against women in work "male" Objection that woman suffrage will increase Negro vote. If true, would be objection also to State suffrage amendment. White supremacy will be strengthened by woman suffrage. Discussion of figures of Negro and white population in 15 southern states.Testimony of Chief Justice Walter E. Clark. Objection that women do not want the vote. Men of 21 and naturalized citizens become voters without being asked. Only those who wish to need use the vote. That many women do want the vote is shown by western figures in election of November, 1916. Objection that unfavorable referenda in various states show that constituency has instructed its representatives in Congress against woman suffrage. Unfavorable majority against a suffrage amendment is in reality a minority of constituency. Objection on ground of political expediency. Meaning of this argument as used by different interests. If government "by the people" is expedient, then government by all the people is expedient. If Government by certain classes is better, then basis of franchise should be morality and education, not sex. Objection that Woman Suffrage will increase corrupt vote. Woman Suffrage will increase intelligent electorate. Statistics. It will increase the moral vote. Only one in twenty criminals is a woman. Election conditions in equal suffrage states. Objection that Prohibition sentiment is stronger than Suffrage sentiment since former has spread faster. Prohibition can be established by statute and by local option and suffrage cannot .......... 69