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Page:Popular Science Monthly Volume 49.djvu/97

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POLITICAL RIGHTS AND DUTIES OF WOMEN.

the peace, negro judges of the courts, negro members of Congress, and in more than one State negro Legislatures, which proceeded in a summary way to confiscate the property of the late masters by taxation, ostensibly expended in public works and largely wasted by private plunder. If the effect of raising to the grade of voters the whole mass of illiterate slaves was to give them the whole political control of several States, why will not this complete enfranchisement of women give them the political control in all the older States, where they will be in the numerical majority?

If it be urged that the great body of women in this country have no taste for politics and do not desire office, and that their domestic duties exempt them from the responsibility of office, the same conditions might have been urged in behalf of the freedmen. They knew nothing about politics, did not care for office, and were under the necessity of earning their living and getting for themselves and their children homes, fortunes, and the rudiments of education. In that very condition a few bright colored men, native and immigrant, and many cunning white men, carpet-bag adventurers, intervened as the freedmen's special friends and took the offices the negroes could not hold. May not a like experience follow woman suffrage? A few restless women, mostly those whose domestic relations are out of gear or who have failed in a congenial social career, will find themselves at leisure to pose as nominees and candidates to represent their whole sex, and they will remember, in the distribution of such offices as they do not aspire for, those cunning men who, believing that the millennium of woman's rights was coming, had made themselves prominent in advocating them.

II. What wrongs are there affecting society which the women's vote and the political power it gives will set right? What disability or oppression does woman suffer at the hands of man, which she must rise in her physical might to redress? Every other agitation for social or political reform now rife, or that has been rife in my day, has been able to justify itself by a flagrant abuse repugnant to the universal sentiments of mankind. Slavery, intemperance, the poverty and privations that have been caused by unjust distribution of the products of industry—all these are palpable evils that denunciation can not exaggerate nor eloquence winged by strong emotion overstate. But the woman's grievance against man in these modern times, in any civilized country, what is it? The moment you begin to sum it up, the moment you undertake to tabulate and itemize it, you provoke the indignation of all generous and intelligent women. The moment you attempt to inflate its emptiness with the breath of invective you have to deal with hysteric fancies rather than hard facts, or consciously to enact a make-believe.