To the Honorable the Senate and House of Representatives of the State of Illinois, Greeting:
The undersigned, viewing with apprehension the persistency with which certain measures, inimical to those institutions in which our dearest interests are involved, are urged upon your honorable body, avail ourselves of the immemorial and inalienable right of a free people to lay our grievances before the government under which we live, and to petition for a respectful consideration of the same.
We are women of Illinois, mothers, sisters, daughters, wives of citizens of this our beloved State, to whom are committed by government, usage, and our own consent, the right to represent us in the councils of the State, and to propose and frame such political measures as are necessary, not only for our own, but for the general safety and prosperity.
Making due allowances for the conditions which have come down to us from the past, and for the imperfection which necessarily pertains to all human action, we have found no reason to complain of the manner in which these representative rights have been used. If a wrong existed, we have seen again and again that if our just claims were urged upon these, our natural representatives and agents, they have not failed generously to respond to such petitions; so that in our own State of Illinois the rights of women, in regard to such interests as those of property and the guardianship of children, are already equal to those of men. And if any other wrongs remain upon the statute books, we feel assured that they can easily be redressed by measures similar to those already employed. So far, therefore, as these our natural representatives are concerned, we have no real or just cause of public grievance.
But of late years, certain women have arisen and have formed themselves into a sect, and have zealously propagated their ideas, which we believe to be false and unnatural; and have urged them upon men, from the public platform, through the public press, invading legislative halls and the councils of the church, and not refraining from sending their aggressive literature into our very homes.
Their leaders waylay the men of other households than their own upon the streets and in public places. They have even the effrontery to
2claim that they are speaking in our behalf, and uttering the counsels of our secret hearts, which we, the said mothers, sisters, daughters, wives, have neither the intelligence nor the courage to urge for ourselves.
They have called us slaves, and compared us to the ignorant and degraded negroes on Southern plantations.
They belittle our home interests, which are dearer to us than our very lives; for which many a time and oft we cheerfully put our lives in peril. They treat with scorn and contempt our prerogatives as wives and mothers and home-loving women. They urge our young women to turn their backs upon the home and its pursuits, and to become wage-earners in public fields of labor, in order that they may become independent of marriage, and lead lives which seem to us full of peril, both physical and moral.
And because the Christian religion throws about women the protection of the home, and discourages this very obtrusion of their persons and privileges upon public fields of labor, which these women uphold and defend, they scoff at our faith, and call in question the wisdom of its earliest and greatest apostles and founders.
In all these and various other ways they behave in such a manner as to bring reproach upon the ancient good repute of womanhood.
All this we have borne for many years in silence, not deeming it the part of modest and dignified matrons to engage in unseemly strife; but so persistent are these women in their misrepresentations of us and of our sentiments that our patience is exhausted, and we feel it a sacred duty to lay before our law-makers and the world our just complaint, and the arguments and exhortations by which we are able to enforce it upon the public hearing.
We believe that Almighty God formed men and women of one flesh, that they might dwell together in peace and unity; and that neither man nor woman attains the highest estate of humanity except through such union as he has ordained.
We believe that the offices and functions of the two are different in kind, but equal in power and honor.
We believe that while men find their appropriate sphere of activity in the out-door world of wage-labor, commerce, enterprise, and the administration of civil, judicial, and ecclesiastical law, women have a no less exhaustive and honorable field of usefulness in the administration of domestic and social affairs. Nor are these latter duties, when properly understood and performed, of less, but, if possible, of greater moment to the welfare of the race. They are the fountain and source out of which all other conditions of life proceed, and when the fountain is not kept
3pure and sweet, all the streams which flow therefrom will be turbid and impure.
We believe, therefore, that neither men nor women have any reason or right to complain of, or desire to change, these great assignments of duty which nature has wrought into the very fibre of the physical and intellectual being of the sexes; but that the proper course for each is to accept the fiat of nature, with a reverent spirit, and seek to exercise their best powers so as to achieve the greatest possible amount of good to the race, each in their own appropriate manner.
We believe that as men have by no means reached an ideal development of the State, although they are sincerely struggling toward that achievement, so in social and domestic life there are still many reforms to be accomplished, which demand the utmost devotion and energy of women and afford ample scope for their highest ambition. We rejoice that through that great movement for the higher education of women, which began at the outset of our career as a nation and which has been forwarded mainly by those who have desired to make women more happy and useful in their own sphere, all branches of learning, language, mathematics, science, are now open on practically equal terms to the youth of both sexes. But as there is still special training for boys in such branches as manual labor, technology, engineering, and political economy, so we hope to see the day when there shall be special schools or classes for girls, wherein such subjects as the chemistry of foods, scientific methods of cookery, the laws of drainage and ventilation, the appliances for heating and lighting our homes, the laws of physical health and beauty, kindergartening, trained nursing, and in short all the vast and varied knowledge which bears upon the home and tends to make it more and more the fitting birthplace and nursery of the race, shall be freely imparted to the future wives and mothers of our land.
Nor is society so free from evils, inherited from an earlier stage of civilization, and others incidental to the rapid influx of emigration from foreign shores, that women can afford to hold their charitable and philanthropic responsibilities lightly, or to crave other and more arduous duties.
We believe that it is a mistaken idea that for women to advance they must become more like men. No doubt there are individual women to whom, from peculiarities of their nature or circumstances, public duties may be fitting and appropriate; but these are exceptional. In the order of Christian civilization, the great mass of women must always be home-keepers. It is this unnumbered multitude of tireless, loving workers for human advancement and happiness who must always form the highest exponent of womanhood, the truest criterion of its requirements and
4destiny; and these, from the nature of the case, must always be womanly women.
Such is our faith. We believe that you share it with us, and that you deprecate, as we do, the addition to our already sufficiently heavy burdens, of the duties and cares of the State. We beg you, therefore, as the highest representative body of men in the Commonwealth, that you will continue to the end the good work which you have so well begun, and record yourselves on every and all occasions as unalterably opposed to any change in the status of women before the law, which shall impose upon them those public and civic duties which belong to men.
We ask this for our protection, for the protection of the social and domestic interests of the commonwealth, and in the name of those tender and holy memories of home which are our common heritage and joy.
Women Remonstrants of the State of Illinois.
Chicago, June 1st, 1891.
Under the laws of Massachusetts women have certain privileges which are denied to men. These privileges women desire to retain. With equality of suffrage special privileges to women should cease. Therefore, women and the friends of women should vote "No" at the State election on the question, "Is it expedient that Municipal Suffrage be extended to Women?"
Privileges of Women in Massachusetts.
Sts. 1893, c. 417, § 16. Women are not obliged to pay a poll tax.
Pub. Sts. c. 170, § I. Women are not obliged to do jury duty.
Pub. Sts. c. 14, § I. Women are not obliged to do military duty.
Pub. Sts. c. 162, § 3. Women are exempt from arrest in civil action until judgment has been obtained against them.
97 Mass. 225. Women committing a misdemeanor in their husbands' presence, are presumed to have been coerced and are prima facie excused.
115 Mass. 146. Women selling liquors illegally, though on their own account, are not punishable therefor, but their husbands are held accountable.
Sts. 1894, c. 508. Women employees are exceptionally provided for and protected by the statutes regulating labor.
U. S. Sts. § 1994. Alien women, by marrying a citizen, or by their husbands' naturalization, become citizens.
Pub. Sts. c. 83, § I. Women, by living five years in any city or town, or by their husbands' "settlement" secure a "settlement right" without paying any taxes, which entitles them to be taken care of by such city or town in case of need.
Pub. Sts. c. 147, § 29. Women coming into this Commonwealth, without their husbands, control their property situated here as though unmarried.
Pub. Sts. c. II. § 5, cl. IO. The property of widows or unmarried women above the age of twenty-one years, to the value of $500, is exempt from taxation if the whole estate does not exceed $1,000, exclusive of property otherwise exempt from taxation.
Pub. Sts. c. 147, § 3. Women may receive from their husbands gifts of wearing apparel and articles for personal ornament or necessary for personal use to the value of $2,000, which, if not given in fraud, shall be exempt from claims of their husbands' creditors.
Pub. Sts. c. 183, § 29. Sts. 1893, c. 262. Women, though able, through past accumulations, or present earnings, are not obliged to support their husbands nor children nor themselves, if their husbands are living.
ISSUED BY MASSACHUSETTS MAN SUFFRAGE ASSOCIATION 7A PARK STREET, BOSTON.