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[110]

Suffrage for woman (1861)

Addresses made at the Tenth Woman's Rights Convention at Cooper Institute, New York, May 10 and 11, 1861.

Mr. President, Ladies, and Gentlemen: I wish I could carry on the same strain of remark which has just been addressed to you, for that touches the very heart of the question which brings us together this morning. We are seeking to change certain laws,--laws based on sex. Now, as he has suggested, there is another realm beside that of law, there is another arena beside the civil, and that is the social state. We arrange certain matters of the statute-book; we let other matters arrange themselves, according to what we call fashion and unfettered public opinion,--that is, society. We may gather a very distinct idea of what would be the natural result in civil affairs, if we look for a moment at what has been the result of the conflict of powers in the social state,--for there power works out untrammelled its natural result. Majorities do not rule there, but real power,--the agreeable, the fit, the useful,--that which commends itself to the best sense.

Social life began centuries ago, just where legal life stands to-day. It began with the recognition of man only. Woman was nothing; she was a drudge; she was a toy; she was a chattel; she was a connecting link between man and the brute. That is Oriental civilization. We drift westward, into the sunlight of Christianity

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