MRS. Caroline G. Rogers of Lansingburgh, was one of the advocates of woman suffrage, who spoke before the Assembly Committee on Grievances yesterday. The following is a portion of her appeal, and we submit it to the judgment of any candid man if the argument has not a little weight when read through other than the haze of prejudice:
I believe the first great and general cry against woman suffrage is that “Women do not want to vote.” But I would ask, what is the meaning of all the petitions that have been pouring into the archives of our State houses for years and years past, signed by thousands and hundreds of thousands of women, asking for this right? Asking that they may have a voice in making the laws that control, tax and punish them. I know it is argued that only a few women have asked for this right, and they are called strong-minded. But does it not take strong minds, and willing, brave hearts to work in any new reform?
This is not a question of numbers, however, but of the fundamental principles of our American government, which says, “It derives its just powers from the consent of the governed,” and if but one single woman came with the cry (old as America) “No taxation without representation,” would not her cause be just as right as though every woman in the land raised it? In the town of Lansingburgh, where I live, women pay one-fourth of the entire tax, and yet they are powerless to say how a dollar or dime of it shall be expended. A short time ago a call was issued for all taxpaying inhabitants to come out and vote upon the question of introducing the water works into the village. Being very anxious for this measure to be carried I went with a lady friend to the polls, but our ballots were refused, and when I pointed out to the inspector that “all taxpaying inhabitants” were urged to come, he said: “Oh! that does not mean women.” As we turned away and met the crowds of men of all shades and stations in life coming with their ballots, I said to my friend, What are we women? Not citizens, and now not inhabitants. And Webster says, even “animals are inhabitants.” This question of having water in our homes, did it not more concern women than men?
This government is surely and artistocracy of sex, when the law-abiding, intelligent women, are made the inferiors of the veriest vagabonds that hang about the polls. Is it not humiliating? Is it just? Is it right? Is it right for men to come from foreign countries, the large majority of whom are coarse and illiterate, and be empowered almost immediately upon arrival to cast their ballots against the rights of women? Against women who are paying taxes for the support of the very institutions of which they are given full benefit while she remains disfranchised? These men can sit in judgment upon all our most sacred interests and affairs, upon our domestic relations and even decide a mother’s right to her own children, while the proudest woman in the land must submit.
Daily Saratogian. February 19, 1885: 2 col 3.