The Ballot for the Home.
Published Bi-Monthly at the Office of The Woman's Journal, Boston, Mass.
Vol. VII. Entered at the Boston Post-Office as second-class matter. No. 2
Subscription, 25 cents per annum. MARCH, 1898. Extra copies, 15 cts. per 100, postpaid.
Doubtless the strongest points in favor of woman suffrage are:
1. That it is founded on the unchanging principles of justice. Every reasonable man knows that it is not right to tax a class without representing that class, to inflict penalties upon a class that had no hand in determining what those penalties should be, to govern one-half of the human race by the other half. All injustice to one class works harm to every other.
2. The best government known to the race is found in a home where father and mother have equal power, as is the case in an enlightened modern Christian family. No other place is so free from temptation, and no other conserves so completely the best interest of all who dwell therein. Reasoning from analogy, the larger home of society, and that largest home of all called government, might be more like this typical home, and in proportion as they are made like unto it, society and government will more thoroughly conserve the interest of all, and shut out the pests of civilization.
3. The two most strongly marked instincts of woman are those of protection for herself and little ones, and of love and loyalty to her husband and her son. On the other hand, the two strongest instincts that to-day defend the liquor traffic and drink habit are avarice in the dealer and appetite in the drinker. It has been said that civilization has nothing with which it can offset these two tremendous forces. But may it not be found that in the home, through the reserve power never yet called into government on a large scale, woman's instincts of self-protection and of love are a sufficient offset to appetite and avarice, and will out-vote both at the polls? For it must be remembered that, in a republic, all questions of morality sooner or later find their way to the ballot-box, and are voted up or down.
4. Women constitute more than two-thirds of our church-members, and less than one-fifth of our criminals. As a class women hold the balance of power morally in the republic.
5. There is no enemy dreaded so much by liquor-dealers and saloon-keepers as a woman with the ballot in her hand. Secret circulars sent out by them, and intercepted by our temperance leaders, state this explicitly. One of these is addressed to a legislator, and reads to this effect: "Set your heel upon the woman suffrage movement every time, for the ballot in the hand of woman means the downfall of our trade." When the bill by which the women of Washington Territory had the ballot and secured local option, was declared unconstitutional by the Supreme Court of the Territory, there were bonfires, bell-ringings, and beer on tap in the public square of many a town and village, where the saloon-keepers celebrated their jubilee because the women had lost their right to vote.
6. Wherever women have had the ballot, they have used it in the interest of the home and against the saloons, the gambling-houses, and the haunts of infamy.
In Wyoming, women obtained full suffrage in 1869. Rev. Dr. B. F. Crary, presiding elder of the M. E. churches in that State, wrote years ago of the equal suffrage law, "Liquor-sellers and gamblers are unanimous in cursing it." Chief Justice Groesbeck, of Wyoming, wrote in 1897: "The influence of the women voters has always been on the side of temperance, morality and good government, and opposed to drunkenness, gambling and immorality." Wyoming was the first State in the Union to raise the age of protection for girls to eighteen.
Colorado granted full suffrage to women in 1893. Equal suffrage has raised the age of protection to eighteen; has equalized the property laws between husband and wife; has secured a law making fathers and mothers equal guardians of their children; has greatly increased the number of women serving on educational boards; and has more than quadrupled the number of no-license towns in Colorado.
Kansas gave municipal suffrage to women in 1887. Several years ago the Chief Justice of Kansas and all the judges of the Supreme Court united in paying tribute to the good results. All concurred
2in substance with Judge W. A. Johnston, who wrote: "In consequence, our elections are more orderly and fair, a higher class of officers are chosen, and we have cleaner and stronger city governments."
After seven years' experience of municipal suffrage, Kansas submitted to the voters, for the second time, an amendment to extend full suffrage to women. The liquor interest organized from one end of the State to the other, to fight it — a sure proof that the women had used their municipal vote well. The amendment was defeated, but received an affirmative vote more than ten times as large as when a similar amendment was first submitted, some years before.
In 1880, Arkansas passed a law that the opening of a saloon within three miles of a church or schoolhouse might be prevented by a petition from a majority of the adult inhabitants, men and women. The liquor dealers contested the constitutionality of the law. Their attorney, in his argument before the Supreme Court, said:
None but male persons of sound mind can vote; but their rights are destroyed, and the idiot, alien and females step in and usurp their rights in popular government. Since females, idiots, and aliens cannot vote, they should not be permitted to accomplish the same purpose by signing a petition; for the signature of an adult to a petition is the substance of a ballot in taking the popular sense of the community. It merely changes the form, and is identical in effect.
The Supreme Court, however, upheld the constitutionality of the law. Under it, the saloons have been cleared out of three-fourths of the counties in Arkansas.
In Idaho, full suffrage was granted to women in 1896. William Balderston, of Boise, editor of one of Idaho's principal dailies, writes:
An interesting result of the new law was observed during the session of the Legislature last winter. In Idaho there had been a law legalizing gambling. Up to the time of the adoption of equal suffrage, it would have been impracticable to repeal it; but when a bill was introduced last winter for that purpose, it went through with a large majority. The majority for it was universally credited to the addition of the woman element to the electorate.
In Canada, five provinces give a restricted municipal suffrage to women, and the concurrent testimony of all parties is that the result is altogether in the interest of temperance and morality.
Even at the antipodes, women stand for the home. Equal suffrage has been given to the women of New Zealand, and now comes the news of a movement in New Zealand to put down gambling. "Sweepstakes" have been declared illegal, and a bill to legalize them has been defeated on the avowed ground that the large associations of women, whose votes would be needed at the next election, were against the bill.
The Woman's Christian Temperance Union, while fully convinced that the ballot is the right of every woman in the nation, just as much as it is the right of every man, does not base its line of argument upon this fact, but upon the practical value that woman's vote will have in helping the nation to put away the liquor traffic and its accompanying abominations. We do not ask it for ourselves alone; we are impartial friends of the whole human race in both its fractions, man and woman, and hence we are not more in earnest for this great advance because of the good it brings to the gentler, than because of the blessing that it promises to the stronger sex. It is for these practical reasons that we claim that woman's ballot should be one of the planks in the platform of every righteous party in America.