Here are several articles from the Mukwonago Freeman Newspaper; first an editorial, then several responses to that editorial; from a person known at "T" and Mary Collins.
Female Suffrage (Editorial) February 18, 1869
Nothing is more true than that the great pendulum of popular opinion is constantly swinging to extremes. The history of the world will confirm this. Every age has its would-be hero of some mighty reform and the consequences are that society is scarcely ever at rest. When our social condition would be harmonious, and undisturbed by the violent waves of political prejudices and passions, men will still sow the seeds of discord and strife, and hence we are constantly in a state of excitement and agitation.
Female suffrage is now one of the grave social questions of the day. It is not enough that Lucretia Mott, Lucy Stone, Elizabeth Cady Stanton, and a few other misguided women with masculine boldness, should become champions of the great cause of the emancipation of woman from political thraldom, but our Legislatures are fleeing to their aid, and by their united effort, an attempt is being made to overthrow the purpose of the Almighty by constitutional enactment.
We are, in every sense off' the word, opposed to female suffrage. We consider it neither practically, socially, or morally right. It appears to us, that no one can consider the proper sphere of woman, with all her refinement and modesty, and then think it right or practical, to place her in the political arena, a competitor of demagogues and politicians. Woman herself, and society too, would suffer an almost irreparable loss, by the effect of this revolution. We must take woman as she is given us by hands ovine, look at her delicacy, modesty and refinement, her influence and position in the home circle, and then look at political life, with all its corruption, degraduation and strife, and what a comparison! To think of lifting her out of her sphere of usefulness at home, and the happiness of our domestic life, and making her an associate of political schemers and vulgar politicians, is to think of the total destruction of society's greatest boon, and the lost of woman's character, influence and loveliness. Make a politician of her, and you at once undermine the whole fabric of our social happiness and reduce her to a mere plaything. The nature of all our political contests are such that woman cannot be a politician and still retain her modesty, loveliness and influence. She cannot
leave the home circle, of which she is the life and queen and mingle - as she would have to do - with rough and vulgar crowds, and in the shameful and discreditable scenes that constantly disgrace our polls, without throwing off them the of true womanliness and modesty. We do not know of anything that would greater throw her into a whirlpool of destruction and cover her with shame, than giving her the free use of the elective franchise. We cannot overthrow the wise policy of Jehovah, without suffering the consequences. In His wisdom he has made her for a wiser and nobler end than to be a politician, and we must not rebel and effect her ruin.
During the many years that the female suffrage question has been staggering before the public, we never heard a christian mother speak one word in its favor. Not a word of encouragement for this socalled reform have we ever heard from a beautiful, intelligent and modest young lady. They don't talk of their political, oppression. Such complaints only come from those whose masculine boldness and coarseness better fit them for politicians than for queens of the home circles. Of such a character are the names we have mentioned, and some other who have just been holding their. Suffrage Conventions in Chicago. Legislature has been crazy enough to spend some time in debating this Woman's Rights question, and a bill in favor of female suffrage has passed the Assembly. We do not doubt that the Senate will pass the bill and then it will be submitted to the judgmant of the people. The result in that event is scarcely uncertain. More for curiosity's sake, than anything else, men will support it. We think if the women themselves were to vote on this bill, its fate would be fixed, and its condemnation sealed.
February 25, 1869
A Female Suffrage
EDITORS FREEMAN:BMany thanks to the writer of the article upon this subject in your last week=s issue. It is truthful, pertinent, logical, and savors of observation, common sense and gospel.
The great question of all true statesmen in the past or present, and will be in the future, is as to how much or how little government is desirable; how many or how few it should be composed of. Too many leading to anarchy, and too few to tyranny. The first and greatest evil to all governments and which is most pregnant with corruption, and contributes most and soonest to the disintegration and final decay of all nationality, is ambition. AIt knows no criterion but success.@ But while this is the enemy of any and all, it finds a peculiar incentive in all popular or republican forms of government. Parallel to the elective franchise runs elegibility to office as a necessary sequence. Consequently, where all vote all are subjected to the temptation of becoming office-seekers.
We venture the remark, and challenge intelligent observation, as an illustration of this statement, that not one in fifty of the electors of our own government but what expects, sooner or later, something B small or great B at the hands of the people. They do not admit this, in fact do not probably discover it; still, a little close observation will readily detect its existence. If this be true, what a tremendous strain is upon the morals of our nation! No wonder that all sorts of questionable means to secure votes become common. No wonder that all sorts of frauds are practiced upon government, and even become popular. No wonder al anything when hand joins in hand to do evil. Were it not far better that a portion B even of the present electors B were forever relieved from this temptation; that there should be a reserved corps who had never bowed the knee to this Baal, rather than that all should be subjected to its tremendous power.
But be this as it may, has not God in giving us woman in her gentler, weaker, and more winning nature B as well as in her natural relations as wife and mother B peculiarly adapted her to occupy this holy ground? But it is asserted that this is oppression. We simply answer this by asserting, in return, that this is incipiently and practically false. The LADIES of this nation have never asked to be mixed up with its politics. A few Viragos striding toward the temple of fame, with their hen-pecked husbands who find glory enough in carrying their trails, have mooted this question, and with more courage than discretion, have succeeded by their pertinacity in attracting the attention of demagogues and a few moral zealots. Among the latter are, we believe, a few well meaning persons, who, dazzled by the brilliancy of the hope of a few immediate reforms, do not see just beyond A The chasm to whither their waters are hieing, So deep that their sounds are eternally dying.@ ABe not deceived; God is not mocked.@ All reforms grow out of the prevalence of Christianity in the hearts of the people. B Woman=s elevation from the shameful degradation to which she has been subjected by him who should be, and who, when christianized, is her protector, is all attributable B either directly or habitually B to this and this alone. ***
Mukwonago, Feb. 22, 1869
Editors Freeman: I am glad to see you have agitated the question of Female Suffrage, notwithstanding you are on the wrong side of the question. It is one of those questions which cannot be discussed without creating thought, and that is what will lead to correct conclusions. If the slaveholders of the South, and their allies of the North, had never attempted to battle down free discussion, the slave, in all probability, would to-day have been groaning under the whip of his cruel master. I have no doubt that the opposition to this great humanitarian question will hasten senate consummation.
You say "the Legislature is making an attempt to overthrow the purposes of the Almighty". In what respect, pray you? Is it because the legislature is attempting to give wman the only effectual weapon (under our government of self-defense? For that is all the ballot is worth to any man in America, viz: to protect him in his inalienable rights. And when you and your associates - lords of the land - shall become morally developed enough to give us the same privileges aside from the elective franchise) which you now selfishly usurp for yourselves, then we will consider whether the elective franchise is really worth contending for. Let us suppose a case: Mr. A and his wife have lived together for thirty years and have accumulated, say $10,000. If the wife dies, the husband has all the property to all intents and purposes. If he dies, $500, more or less, will, settle the estate in the County Court. Two-thirds of the estate must go (if he has no children) to his brothers or sisters, or to their heirs, and at the wife's death the remaining one-third, notwithstanding her sister may have to toil early and late to keep a helpless family from starvation or the poor house. But I do not propose to discuss the question of woman's wrongs at present. Let us look a little farther at your reasoning. You say we must take woman as she is given us by hands Divine - in all her delicacy, modest and refinement. Well, what of that? Was not man created by the same hands Divine?
We will suppose, if you please, that woman is created with a greater degree of modesty, refinement and purity. What does it prove? Simply this and nothing more: that she should use that purity and refinement to show her sons by example their duty in all the walks of life. If she is too pure, as you assert to dabble in the turbid pool of politics, 'then the watchman on the wall of Zion is too pure; every truly conscientious christian is too pure; and certainly all teachers (including editors) should not meddle with politics. Try it, Mr. Editor. Follow your own preaching. Advocate the disfranchisment of all good men. Aha you think you wont, and I do not blame you. But to another point:
You say "During the many years that the female suffrage question has been staggering before the public, we never heard a christian mother utter one word in its favor. In this I believe you; but at the same time I do not think you could have been among a christian people, for in Christ there is nether male or female but all are as one. If you come to Mukwonago I can take you to several of them. One was heard to make the remark but a few weeks since that she with some eight or ten other women in that school district, could not say one word about school matters, while there were several drunken, worthless persons in the district who had not one dollar at stake, could legally put their hands in her pocket and take therefrom what money they chose. This woman was a christian mother; for I suppose you would try them by the old Puritanical mode of trying witches, viz: take them off into the water and if they sank they were no witches, but if they swam ashore they were witches, and consequently must be hung.
In conclusion you say "if the women themselves were to vote on this bill, its fate would be fixed and its condemnation sealed". It was but a few years ago that ninety-nine out of every hundred slaves at the South, if asked if they wanted freedom, would have answered No, Did that make slavery right? You say 'the complaints of political oppression come only from those whose masculine boldness and coarseness better fit them for politicians than for queens of the home circle. I may see fit to reply to that accusation at some future time. At present I would say that it is unmanly, because, to my personal knowledge, it is wholly untrue in relation to two of the women named.
Respectfully yours &c.
Keep The Ball Rolling - Editorial Response
Editors Freeman - I noticed in your issue of week before last, an article on the vexed question of "Female Suffrage" signed by Mary Collins. Now, I desire to have a little printed talk with your correspondant on this all-important subject, as it is called. I wish to inquire of her what she wants to vote for? What benefit does she expect to derive from the ballot which she does not already enjoy? I am not one of those who contend that women do not know enough to vote, I have no doubt that women, as a class, could and would vote just as intelligently as the men do. Again, I am not one of those who contend that the ballot would destroy the family arrangement. I do not think, either, it would destroy or change the natural relations of the sexes. It would not make women of men, nor men of women; but on the contrary, women would continue to have babies, and men would continue to be fathers just the same as before. You see, therefore, that I am ready and willing in the discussion of this question, to concede nearly all that most women contend for. Nay, I desire to go still farther. I am willing to concede that women have all the rights as citizens that men can claim for themselves. I can even quote Jefferson and the fathers. Men are entitled to life, liberty and the pursuit of happiness - and women also. That is certainly more than opponents of female suffrage are willing to concede; but I am ready and willing to concede it, but T am not only willing to concede it, but also ready to maintain it. This be the true doctrine. Women, as children, are entitled to the same rights as men. Men are entitled to life, liberty and the pursuit of happiness - so says the Declaration of Independence. To state it in other words, men are entitled to personal liberty. Personal liberty and the right of private property - and women likewise. Men are not only entitled to these, but they are also entitled to the means necessary to secure them - and women also. The means which we generally regard as necessary to secure them on the part of men is the ballot, and on this ground we defend the claim of men to it, and women can defend their claim to it upon the same ground, provided they can show that they need it.
Now, if your correspondent can show that the women of the State of Wisconsin need the ballot as a means of protection, then she will have gained that part of the argument, and I shall be ready and willing to submit. Again: if women need the ballot in order to secure their rights as citizens, they are certainly entitled to it. Your correspondent, in order to work out her case, must show some real, substantial benefit which women would derive from the ballot before she can ask to have it extended to them. The ballot is but a means to an end. It is only valuable and necessary as it tends to secure some positive benefit to those who exercise it. It is not simply an idea, nor is it liberty. Men are not free because they vote, and it never has been regarded by any one as a right in itself.. A man maybe just as free without a vote as with one. Liberty consists in being subject to just laws, and not in being absolutely free to do as one pleases. If the right of each individual to life, liberty and the pursuit of happiness be duly regarded by the laws of the State, the people are free whether they all vote or not. If women are to vote, therefore they should vote because they will derive some benefit from the ballot, and because they will secure to themselves some rights and privileges which they do not and cannot enjoy without it. Here, then, is the true ground of controversy. To object to suffrage for women on the ground that they are not qualified, and that it will change the natural relations of the sexes, only weakens the cause of those who oppose it. But the women do not make out their case when they prove that they know enough to vote intelligently. The next questions is, what benefit is woman to derive from it? Lastly, what benefit will the community derive from it? If neither the women as a class, nor the community at large are to be benefitted by it, then women ought not to vote. If the ballot be with your correspondent as it is with very many, simply an idea - if she merely wants to vote because men vote, it will be a long time before she will be able to convince the thinking portion of the community of the propriety of extending the franchise to her. There are strong reasons why it should not be extended to her for that reason, nor even for an hundred others of a like nature. Let your correspondent, therefore, point out the specific wrongs and injustice which she and the class whom she represents suffer under the present system and also the manner in which the ballot is to furnish a remedy. We will then be in a condition to judge of her claims to it.
Your correspondent throughout a long article, only once touched upon a point which the ballot can effect, either in one way or the other, and indoing so she has shown herself so grossly ignorant of the laws of the State which she tries to condemn, that she ought to be contented to keep quiet upon the subject until she has studied it a little more thoroughly -- I refer now to the case which she put in regard to A and his wife. According to the law of the State of Wisconsin, if a man dies and leaves real estate, his children take two thirds and his wife, or widow has the use of one-third of the whole while she lives. This has been generally considered just and humane, for men have generally supposed that a mans children should be taken care of as well as his widow. But if a man dies and leaves a widow and no children, the widow takes the whole, and not only the use of it but the title also and can sell it if she chooses. The law which makes that provision was passed by men - "tyrants and oppressors of women". I presume your correspondent would call them. If your correspondent will but look into the laws of Wisconsin candidly and fairly, and not with a fault-finding spirit, she will find, very much to her surprise, probably, that the rights of women are even better secured than those of men. T.
Mukwonago, June 8th, 1869
Editor Plaindealer ----- I send an article which was written for the Freeman in answer to one in that paper of the issue of larch 18, headed "Keep the ball rolling."
The article being personal, I entertained no doubt but that I might have a hearing. Common honesty would accord me that much to say nothing of the boasted chivalry of most men who oppose women suffrage. The editors made their fling at the subject and all at once discovered that they must shut down on it, saying they had been so overwhelmed with articles on this matter they could not print them. Nothing of the kind was hinted at when my manuscript was handed in; said they would make room for it in three weeks. Under the circumstances, I ask for a place for it in your paper.
Mukwonago, March 23, 1869
Editors Freeman: In your issue of the 18th, your correspondent calling himself T, writing on the vexed question of woman suffrage, has made some startling discoveries, that in the good time coming, when exact and equal justice shall bear away, none of nature's laws are to be overturned, The family relations are not to be destroyed; the natural relations of the sexes are not to be disturbed; that the new order of things will not make women of men nor men of women "that women will still have babies, and men will be fathers". In his magnimity upon making the above discoveries, he expresses himself the discussion of this question, to concede nearly all that most women contend for.
This is surely generous. In the excess of his generosity, he goes on to tell us what concessions he is willing to make and even maintain with this provision: that woman shall need the ballot. He says "before women ask for the ballot they shall show real and substantial benefits to be derived therefrom." Let me say here, it is time she ceased to ask as a favor, what be longs to her as a right, T says "a man is just as free without a vote as with one." This is no new doctrine. George, the third of England, held the sane views. But his subjects the early colonists could not see through his glasses. They threw his tea into Boston harbor rather than submit to taxation without representation. Although the concession had been made of taxing them lighter than his home subjects, but rather than submit, they turned out their teams, left their plows in the half turned furrow, scoured their rusty muskets, buckled on the backpack, fought through that terrible seven years war, endured penury and suffering of which the bare recital is appalling and all to gain what T says he would be just as free without.
And again, at a. much later period, as late as 1842, R. I, was living under the charter granted by the mother country; said charter granted the elective franchise to all white male citizens "who possessed $134 real estate, end the eldest son of said citizen; the remaining sons must acquire the requisite amount of property in order to be qualified to vote". Their legal rights in every other respect were just the same as -the older brother -but they claimed the right to vote and did not give the "reason or show real and substantial benefits to be derived." The little state was shaken. and convulsed throughout her borders: excitement and terror reigned for a time, excitement not to be realized by those not on the arena. The state was under martial law for a time, business was suspended, the churches in many cases were used as arsenals, and all this Mr. T that men might secure the vote.
Now i ask, wherefore and why did they need a vote? Do not evade this question. Your correspondent tells us "men are not free because they vote" and in all my ignorance of legal matters, I had never so viewed the subject, I supposed they voted because they were free. Why don't women vote? Simply because they are not free.
In relation to your correspondents assertion that I have "shown gross ignorance of the laws of the state I try to condemn". I will say here I have never boasted of my knowledge; on the other hand, plead ignorance of legal matters.
But to the point in question: I have not said one word about the laws of Wisconsin. It was a supposable case on the broad scale, and with T's culture and knowledge he ought to know there are exceptions to all general rules. He tells us how the wife is placed if she has children, and adds: This has generally been considered just and humane, for men have generally supposed that a man's children should be taken care of as well as his widow; ergo, women suppose that a woman's children should be taken care of as well as her widower. But here stands the case with her: when death comes - as come he does to all - she can make no provision for her little ones; she must fold her hands meekly and trust "0 magnamity, thy name is man!".
But I will not, at this time, ask for more space in your valuable paper. There is much more that might be said, but Mr. T will be grumbling at the length of my article - as he did the former one - although his own occupied a much larger space.
In no fault-finding spirit I remain Respectfully, &c. Mary Collins
Go back to Collins page.
© Copyright 2006.
All rights reserved.
Information may be linked to but not copied.
Permission to SELL or copy for sale any email addresses or links is hereby denied.
This website was created by Bobbie