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[311] at Washington1 would for ever be banished; for it is a fact, cognizable by the whole earth, that men always behave in the presence of women better than when women are absent, as I presume the women behave a great deal better in the presence of men than when the men are absent. (Much merriment.) But there is a philosophical reason for this, particularly as it respects legislation. We cannot have too much intellect, nor have too much humanity, mingled in our national councils; and I say we are robbing ourselves of all this by disfranchising one-half of the population. No man can show any good reason why woman should not have her political rights in this country. She will have them sooner or later here, in France, in England, and in all civilized countries. It is only a question of time.

I know that there are a great many women who are sensitive on this subject; who are satisfied with their present condition; who declare that they are happy and lack nothing. With plenty to eat and drink, and plenty to wear, they deem themselves well off, and they do not see a necessity for any stir on this subject. Then there are others who are alarmed when they see any of their number going forward to address a public assembly. They shiver not a little. They are afraid that she will make a fool of herself—as if men never made fools of themselves!

I remember, when I first entered the anti-slavery cause, what extreme diffidence our colored brethren manifested in respect to their own advancement. It was with the greatest difficulty we could induce a man of them to stand up and address a public assembly. In the first place, he was aware of the prejudice he had to encounter. Then he feared that he might fail, and so injuriously affect the cause he wished to promote. But observe the change that has taken place within the last ten years! Who are among our ablest speakers? Who are the best qualified to address the public mind on the subject of slavery? Your fugitive slaves—your Douglasses, Browns, and2 Bibbs—who are astonishing all with the cogency of their words and the power of their reasoning. So it will be with woman.3 She may fail at first, but her efforts will be crowned with equal success.

I have only to say, I bid you God-speed, women of Massachusetts and New England, in this good work! Whenever your

1 For instance, ‘Hangman’ Foote of Mississippi drawing a pistol on Benton in the Senate, April 15, 1850 (Lib. 20: 66, 69, 70).

2 F. Douglass. W. W. Brown.

3 Henry Bibb.

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