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graphic reporter there, was there state, in regard to my own tesnot? A reporter was there tak- timony, Miss Anthony informs ing notes. Was not this question me that I was mistaken in the put to her "Did you have any fact that my advice was before doubt yourself of your right to her registry. It was my recolvote?” and did she not answer lection that it was on her way to "Not a particle"?
the registry, but she states to me The COURT. Well, he says so, now that she was registered and that she had no doubt of her came immediately to my office. right to vote.
In that respect I was under a Mr. Selden. I beg leave to mistake.
Mr. Selden. The defendant is indicted under the Nineteenth section of the Act of Congress of May 31, 1870,8 for "voting without having a lawful right to vote."
The words of the Statute, so far as they are material in this case, are as follows: "If at any election for representative or delegate in the Congress of the United States, any person shall knowingly
vote without having a lawful right to vote
every such person shall be deemed guilty of a crime,
and on conviction thereof shall be punished by a fine not exceeding $500, or by imprisonment for a term not exceeding three years, or by both, in the discretion of the Court, and shall pay the costs of prosecution.'
The only alleged ground of illegality of the defendant's vote is that she is a woman. If the same act had been done by her brother under the same circumstances, the act would have been not only innocent but honorable and laudable; but having been done by a woman it is said to be a crime. The crime therefore consists not in the act done, but in the simple fact that the person doing it was a woman and not a man. I believe this is the first instance in which a woman has been arraigned in a criminal court, merely on account of her sex.
If the advocates of female suffrage had been allowed to choose the point of attack to be made upon their position, they could not have chosen it more favorably for themselves; and I am disposed to thank those who have been in
8 16 St. at L.,
strumental in this proceeding, for presenting it in the form of a criminal prosecution.
Women have the same interest that men have in the establishment and maintenance of good government; they are to the same extent as men bound to obey the laws; they suffer to the same extent by bad laws, and profit to the same extent by good laws; and upon principles of equal justice, as it would seem, should be allowed equally with men, to express their preference in the choice of law-makers and rulers. But however that may be, no greater absurdity, to use no harsher term, could be presented, than that of rewarding men and punishing women, for the same act, without giving to women any voice in the question which should be rewarded, and which punished.
I am aware, however, that we are here to be governed by the Constitution and laws as they are, and that if the defendant has been guilty of violating the law, she must submit to the penalty, however unjust or absurd the law may be. But courts are not required to so interpret laws or constitutions as to produce either absurdity or injustice, so long as they are open to a more reasonable interpretation. This must be my excuse for what I design to say in regard to the propriety of female suffrage, because with that propriety established there is very little difficulty in finding sufficient warrant in the Constitution for its exercise.
This case, in its legal aspects, presents three questions, which I purpose to discuss.
1. Was the defendant legally entitled to vote at the election in question ?
2. If she was not entitled to vote, but believed that she was, and voted in good faith in that belief, did such voting constitute a crime under the statute before referred to?
3. Did the defendant vote in good faith in that belief!
If the first question be decided in accordance with my views, the other questions become immaterial; if the second be decided adversely to my views, the first and third become immaterial. The two first are questions of law to be decided by the Court, the other is a question for the jury.
The Court. I suggest that the argument be confined to the legal questions, and the argument on the other question suspended, until my opinion on those questions shall be made known.
Mr. Selden. My first position is that the defendant had the same right to vote as any other citizen who voted at that election.
Before proceeding to the discussion of the purely legal question, I desire, as already intimated, to pay some attention to the propriety and justice of the rule which I claim to have been established by the Constitution.
Miss Anthony, and those united with her in demanding the right of suffrage, claim, and with a strong appearance of justice, that upon the principles upon which our government is founded, and which lie at the basis of all just government, every citizen has a right to take part, upon equal terms with every other citizen, in the formation and administration of government. This claim on the part of the female sex presents a question the magnitude of which is not well appreciated by the writers and speakers who treat it with ridicule. Those engaged in the movement are able, sincere and earnest women, and they will not be silenced by such ridicule, nor even by the villainous
atures of Nast.8a On the contrary, they justly place all those things to the account of the wrongs which they think their sex has suffered. They believe, with an intensity of feeling which men who have not associated with them have not yet learned, that their sex has not had, and has not now, its just and true position in the organization of government and society. They may be wrong in their position,
8a NAST, Thomas. Born 1840, in Bavaria, but began his career as a caricaturist very early in his life in New York, and his cartoons in Harper's Weekly made him famous for many years all over the land.
but they will not be content until their arguments are fairly, truthfully and candidly answered.
In the most celebrated document which has been put forth on this side of the Atlantic, our ancestors declared that “governments derive their just powers from the consent of the governed.”
Blackstone says, “The lawfulness of punishing such criminals (i. e., persons offending merely against the laws of society) is founded upon this principle: that the law by which they suffer was made by their own consent; it is a part of the original contract into which they entered when first they engaged in society; it was calculated for and has long contributed to their own security."
Quotations, to an unlimited extent, containing similar doctrines from eminent writers, both English and American, on government, from the time of John Locke to the present day, might be made. Without adopting this doctrine which bases the rightfulness of government upon the consent of the governed, I claim that there is implied in it the narrower and unassailable principle that all citizens of a state, who are bound by its laws, are entitled to an equal voice in the making and execution of such laws. The doctrine is well stated by Godwin in his treatise on Political Justice. He says: “The first and most important principle that can be imagined relative to the form and structure of government, seems to be this: that as government is a transaction in the name and for the benefit of the whole, every member of the community ought to have some share in its administration."
Again, "Government is a contrivance instituted for the security of individuals; and it seems both reasonable that each man should have a share in providing for his own security, and probably, that partiality and cabal should by this means be most effectually excluded.”
And again, “To give each man a voice in the public concerns comes nearest to that admirable idea of which we should never lose sight, the uncontrolled exercise of private judgment. Each man would thus be inspired with a consciousness of his own importance, and the slavish feelings that shrink up the soul in the presence of an imagined superior would be unknown.”
The mastery which this doctrine, whether right or wrong, has acquired over the public mind, has produced, as its natural fruit, the extension of the right of suffrage to all the adult male population in nearly all the states of the Union; a result which was well epitomized by President Lincoln, in the expression, "government by the people for the people.”
This extension of the suffrage is regarded my many as a source of danger to the stability of free government. I believe it furnishes the greatest security for free government, as it deprives the mass of the people of all motive for revolution; and that government so based is most safe, not because the whole people are less liable to make mistakes in government than a select few, but because they have no interest which can lead them to such mistakes, or to prevent their correction when made. On the contrary, the world has never seen an aristocracy, whether composed of few or many, powerful enough to control a government, who did not honestly believe that their interest was identical with the public interest, and who did not act persistently in accordance with such belief; and, unfortunately, an aristocracy of sex has not proved an exception to the rule. The only method yet discovered of overcoming this tendeney to the selfish use of power, whether consciously or unconsciously, by those possessing it, is the distribution of the power among all who are its subjects. Short of this the name free government is a misnomer.
This principle, after long strife, not yet entirely ended, has been, practically at least, very generally recognized on this side of the Atlantic, as far as relates to men; but when the attempt is made to extend it to women, political philosophers and practical politicians, those "inside of politics,” two classes not often found acting in concert, join