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Page:Popular Science Monthly Volume 49.djvu/103

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POLITICAL RIGHTS AND DUTIES OF WOMEN.

thousand, and yours are the best armed." Instead of a battle, there is a count of the combatants and a settlement in favor of the numerically stronger. So a count of the fighting forces took the place of a trial at arms, and the appeal to the majority of men capable of becoming soldiers, and so able to enforce their will against the weaker minority, took the place of insurrection as a method of political agitation. This view may not justify, but it does account for, the exclusion from enumeration in the class that decide political issues of the whole class of non-combatants.

IV. The next great immunity which, in recognition of the offices they exercise in the social system, and having its origin in the same sentiment, women enjoy, is exemption from all kinds of labor dangerous to life or exposing to hardship and privation. Thousands of men among all civilized and some barbarous people pass their lives from childhood to old age on the ocean as seamen. Their terra firma is the sloping deck of ships staggering through the restless billows, the sport of fickle winds. They fare hard; their sleep is liable to rude interruption; their toil, though not constant, is liable to crises of exertion and danger. At the word of command, enforced by brutal blows, they climb the slippery ropes or icy spars at the risk of being shaken into the boiling waves or, with fractured skulls, upon the reeling deck. This employment, from which women are excused, is only slightly less fatal to life than that of the soldier, and the ingenuity of man has devised no means considerably to lessen its annual roll of premature and appalling deaths.

In the same category belong those occupations that take thousands of workingmen into our northern forests, where they pass three months of each year contending with frosts and snows, sleeping upon hemlock boughs in smoky camps, and maintaining an exceptional vigor expended in continuous labor by the abundance of their rude fare. A shorter interval of more dangerous labor succeeds this long exile in the forest, when the timber the winter's industry has gathered is driven to the place of manufacture and sale through wide lakes and over dangerous rapids.

All the hard, repulsive, life-wearing work under ground in coal, mineral, and metallic mines is generally assigned to men, and they alone are exposed to those perils which beset engineers, train-men, the handlers of explosives, and the tenders of machinery.

It is certainly apparent that man, as the stronger sex, has not made an ungenerous use of his strength in his assignments. Having, in the right of his strength, the opportunity to determine the customs of society, he has taken upon himself, and exempted his mate from, all those vocations that expose to prema-