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I conceive that the first thing to be done by the women of this country is to demand their political enfranchisement. Among the ‘self-evident truths’ announced in the Declaration of Independence is this-“All government derives its just power from the consent of the governed.” Judging by this rule, the existing government is a despotism. One-half of the population is disfranchised on account of sex--three millions are dehumanized on account of complexion! Why should not women vote at the ballot-box? I am not pleading here as one very fond of voting. I am a disfranchised man, not because I do not believe in voting, but because I cannot vote under the United States Constitution, believing it to be unholy, knowing it to be a compromise with slavery. (Hisses in the gallery.) . . . I am just as anxious that women shall be allowed to vote as if I voted every day. I hate the law that disfranchises women. It is not for me or any man dogmatically to judge as to what is or what is not a sinful act, or to say to others you shall not exercise the right to think for yourselves.

There is a law of the United States which says that no colored man shall be enrolled in the militia of this country. Now, I abhor the militia. I believe the whole military system is satanic. I do not want to see any black man enrolled in it. But I hate that law of Congress proscribing the colored man on account of his color just as I loathe a rattlesnake. It is a proscriptive spirit which has made that exception. I want the colored man to judge for himself whether he shall train or not. I want no opprobrium thrown upon him on account of his complexion.1 So with regard to women. I want the women to have the right to vote, and I call upon them to demand it perseveringly until they possess it. When they have obtained it, it will be for them to say whether they will exercise it or not . . .

I wish I could see one-half of the members of Congress women. I wish I could see one-half of the members of our Legislature women. They are entitled to this. I am quite sure —I think I hazard nothing in saying—that the legislation of our country would be far different from what it is. I think the outrageous scenes which are witnessed on the floor of Congress

1 See Clay's passion in the Senate over a petition pointing out the inequality of military obligation North and South, owing to negroes being exempt from service, and asking for a law enrolling all classes without distinction of color (Lib. 20: 62).

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