Scott Duniway was born and spent her childhood in Pleasant Grove, Illinois, in Tazewell County, before departing for the Oregon Territory in 1852, at the age of 17. Thus, this speech, delivered before the Illinois state legislature, represented a homecoming for her.

Scott Duniway stopped in Springfield following a trip east.1 She reported having been “thoroughly ill for most of the time for six weeks” prior to the address, which interrupted her work and travel to the extent that she complained of being unable “to do more than half duty.” But, having “laid by for repairs, like a damaged locomotive,” she “whipped up [her] lagging strength and went to Springfield, where, on the evening of the 19th, [she] had the honor of meeting one of the most intelligent audiences ever assembled to listen to the gospel of freedom.”

Not all of her audience were paid such compliments. Reflecting on the newly-built statehouse in Springfield, she later reported: “it is laughable to see the little aristocrats put on airs of superiority over the subjugated and misrepresented sex.” This, she hastened to add, did not include all or even a majority of its honorable members: “the feeling here for woman’s enfranchisement is so strong that the dear old Prairie State might be made the Banner State of the great reform; but we mean the little aristocrats–little in brain and tyrannical in purpose–who, being ‘clothed in a little brief authority,’ strut through the carpeted isles and under the glittering chandeliers and beautifully frescoed ceilings, willing to smile upon women if they’ll keep subordinate places, just as they’d smile on dainty Spitz dogs or Maltese kittens, but who grow as insolent and abusive when woman dares to assert her selfhood as did the little emissaries of King George when man dared to attempt the same thing a hundred years ago.”

This analogical reference to the American Revolution is fitting because this address is, first and foremost, Scott Duniway’s best defense of the natural rights principles of the Declaration of Independence. In fact, this address develops a variant of the Declaration of Sentiments (itself a paraphrase of the Declaration of Independence) first adopted at the inaugural woman’s rights convention at Seneca Falls, New York, in 1848. Woman suffrage, Scott Duniway argues, is a natural extension of these principles, as well as the related ideas of anti-slavery advocates like Lincoln, whom she ardently admired. In this address in the Land of Lincoln, she repeats the common suffragist claim that the 14th and 15th Amendments, properly construed, already grant women the vote.2 And her primary appeal is to fairness. Hence, this speech is an excellent illustration of the early suffragist reliance on arguments from principle or justice, which posit that, because they are essentially the same, men and women possess the same rights and privileges.3 Indeed, the central metaphor of an “aristocracy of sex”–not original with Scott Duniway, but a common phrase in suffragist rhetoric for many years–implicitly invokes and adapts the republican case against monarchy.4

This speech also is noteworthy for two other reasons. First, in typical fashion, Scott Duniway makes the suffrage movement seem inevitable by aligning it with human progress, declaring that “everything in its order is the law of the universe.” Second, although delivered before a legislative assembly, the speech more closely resembles courtroom rhetoric. In the classical world, forensic was the third great category of oratory. It referred to the discourse of the law courts, in which the justice, or injustice, of past actions was judged. Much of Abigail’s speech constitutes a formal reading of charges against the defendant Aristocracy (an “arraignment,” as she says), and thus is a forensic address given in a deliberative context.

Scott Duniway was introduced by Secretary of State George Henry Harlow5, and followed by Senator James W. Robinson6 of Tazewell. Robinson is said to have paid “a tender and touching tribute” to her grandfather7 and to the “old times when we had been schoolmates in the log cabin in Pleasant Grove.” Both were said emphatically to have endorsed “both missionary and mission.”

Scott Duniway spoke again the following night in the Hall of Representatives, this time to a public audience, but not without incident. Evidently, a hostile legislator, a “big man with dark butternut beard and canary-colored cane,” attempted to “bull-doze” the event by denying her use of the Hall. She describes both occasions, and other events during her visit to Springfield, in the New Northwest, February 16, 1877. The text is taken from a hand-edited manuscript in the Abigail Scott Duniway Papers.

Mr. President, Members of the Legislature, Ladies and Gentlemen. In standing before you at this time, after so long an absence from my dear native State that I find the young people of my time grown old, the children arrived at years of maturity and care, and the aged, who were wont, a quarter of a century ago, to greet us, gone from your gaze and mine, I realize fully the mutations of human life.

In the years long gone, while I was yet a little child, there arose within the borders of this Prairie State men of honor and renown, whose names have become interwoven with the Nation’s life; whose wondrous works and words took deep root in my heart, and inspired me, while yet I knew it not, with the broad, undying principles of Constitutional Liberty.

There are those before me who have listened, “many a time and oft” to the inspired utterances of a Ferguson8, a McDougall9, a Douglas10, a Baker11, a Lincoln12. And now, as I stand with my head reverently bowed in presence of the mystic and yet tangible memory of the mighty dead, I fully appreciate the responsibility of my position, and feel a trembling desire that I may be found able, as I am certainly anxious, to so temper my words with wisdom, and my tongue with the law of kindness that, if I may not honor, I shall at least bring no reproach upon the memory of the illustrious departed, who yielded up their lives while proudly bearing aloft the ensigns of Freedom.

The lessons that I learned from men like these in the years of my childhood have not been lost upon me in the experiences of more than half a life-time upon the frontier, where rolls the mighty Oregon. And, if the lessons they taught me have ripened under my experience, bringing to me a broader and deeper meaning than even they expressed, I should prove indeed an ignoble pupil, did I fail, in my generation, to give utterance to that which under their instruction, and while standing upon heights to which they led me, I saw and conceived to be the truth.

I come before you tonight in behalf of the unrepresented citizens of this Commonwealth, a people who are amenable to its laws, who pay taxes for its support in times of peace, who readily give their all to sustain it in times of war, and who have certainly proved themselves as equally ready to promote morality and justice as are the sons whom they have reared and the husbands whom they have served from the first hour of man’s acknowledged independence until now.

It is needless to here reiterate what every boy and girl has learned in school concerning the independence of these States. (I cannot call the government a Democracy, or even a Republic, for that would be a misnomer). Your government, gentlemen, is an Aristocracy–an Aristocracy of Sex. From the Justice of the Peace to the Supreme Judge, from the Mayor to the President the government is masculine; and it is against the injustice of this system, and the consequent wrongs it imposes, that I, as a mother of men, come before you most respectfully and earnestly to plead.

If it be asked why, if the political rights of women are to be considered now, they were not so considered when this Aristocracy of Sex was formed, I have only to answer that the time was not yet. There was a time when your government did not exist, gentlemen. There was a time for severing the ties between the colonies and the mother country; there came a time which had not existed hitherto, for the formation of your government. Everything in its order is the law of the Universe. And that the higher laws of progression come latest is an accepted, self evident truth. As it has ever been man’s province to go before; to fell the forests, hew the timbers, build the bridges, erect the habitations, tunnel the mountains and till the soil, while woman is destined in her sphere of help-meet to possess, embellish and purify the whole with her presence, power and intellect; so it has ever been man’s province to go before and erect the citadels of government, the joint possession of which belongs of right to both sexes to keep in order, for “it is not good for man to be alone.”

The history of all stable governments that have existed hitherto, or that now survive, is a history of woman’s eligibility to the highest privileges that such governments have afforded. I might cite you to Elizabeth, of England13, Catherine, of Russia14, Isabella, of Spain15, and Victoria, queen of Great Britain and Empress of India16, in proof that the central ideas of the best known forms of monarchical or imperial government are not based upon an Aristocracy of Sex, but of circumstances.

But I will not linger among historic facts pertaining to European or Asiatic dynasties; rather, let me hasten to a consideration of the subject before us, as it relates directly to the condition of this government, which is even now trembling upon the very verge of a Revolution, the like of which it hath not entered the heart of man to conceive.

I hold in my hand the Declaration of Independence, and the Constitution of these States, the former the most sacred evidence of Divine and human inspiration since the days of the Sermon on the Mount; the latter an odd admixture of old-time usages and inspirations of Liberty, which, notwithstanding its vaunted perfection, men of later and wiser eras have had cause to improve with fifteen wise Amendments.

When this Constitution was formed, the inspiration that always springs from the presence of a mighty danger was past, and in its place had come the abrasion of conflicting interests, which always assert themselves in times of comparative security. Men were no longer fighting for their lives, and so the principles of Universal Liberty were partly sacrificed to the exigencies of expediency and selfishness. I do not say the work was not as well done as, under the circumstances, men could have done it; but, to suppose that it was finished for all time, with no room for, or need of improvement, no opportunity for its further adaptation to the growth of human intellect, and the consequent increase of human necessity, is manifestly absurd.

It may seem to you irreverent in me to undertake to so paraphrase the Declaration of Independence as to make you clearly understand its spirit, since, in and of itself, I claim that it is as perfect, in a political sense as the most devout evangelist has ever claimed the Sacred Writ to be in a religious sense; yet the practice that man has reared as a superstructure of Constitutional Liberty, upon the eternal theory of the Declaration, is so widely at variance with the theory itself that I accept for the time the charge of what you may deem irreverence, to consider the different clauses of this document that ought to apply in practice as well as in theory to one half of the citizens as well the other half. “We hold these truths to be self-evident; that all men are created equal; that they are endowed by their Creator with certain inalienable rights.”

I do not deem it necessary to insult this audience by informing you that the generic term men, includes women. You are all ready to admit this fact when a woman breaks one of the laws you deny her a voice in making!

“That among these are life, liberty and the pursuit of happiness. That to secure these rights”–mark you, to secure, not to confer them, “governments are instituted among men, deriving their just powers from the consent of the governed.

“Prudence, indeed, will dictate that governments long established, should not be changed for light and transient causes; and accordingly, all experience hath shown that mankind are more disposed to suffer, while evils are sufferable, than to right themselves by abolishing the forms to which they have been accustomed.

“Such has been the patient sufferance of [the women of] these States, and such is now the necessity which constrains them to [appeal to you] to alter the present system of government.

“The history of the present [Aristocracy of sex] is a history of repeated usurpations all having, in direct object the establishment of an absolute tyranny over [one half of the people] of these States.

“To prove this let facts be submitted to a candid world:

“[This Aristocracy of Sex] has refused its assent to laws the most wholesome, and necessary for the public good.”

Let us, for a moment, consider some of these:

It has denied individuality to wife-hood, proclaimed “The husband and wife one, and that one the husband”; has robbed woman of her earnings, during coveture, so called, and has denied to mothers the inalienable right to the custody and ownership of their own minor children, unless illegitimate, thereby placing a premium upon crime, and sapping marriage at its very foundation. It has succeeded in passing, as at St. Louis, and has attempted to pass, as in Boston and San Francisco, acts for the punishment of a nameless crime17; and inflicted the full share of penalty upon the dependent and weaker party to the crime, leaving the more powerful and guilty offender to go scot free.

It has passed laws, and continues, against our protest, to sustain them, that debar one half of the people, and the more moral and conservative half, from all opportunity to compete with itself for places of emolument and trust.

It robs the widow of two thirds of the estate at the time of the husband’s death, and allows the husband, if he be the survivor, the untrammeled control of the joint earnings of the marriage copartnership.

This Aristocracy “has refused to pass laws for the accommodation of large districts of people, unless they would relinquish the right of representation in the Legislature; a right inestimable to them and formidable to tyrants, only.”

Once, in a tenement, not far from my home in Portland, a man who had come into the house brutally intoxicated, kicked his weak and unresisting wife till he rendered her speechless and insensible.

This Aristocracy of sex, which I am here by your courtesy to arraign, has made and sanctioned the laws by which this man was protected in his right (!) to become drunken, and has also made a law to punish men by fine for committing deeds of violence while drunk.

As soon as the wife was sufficiently recovered to be able to speak coherently she besought the officers of this Aristocracy not to take her husband away for trial, as she was not able to pay his fine! They were “deaf to the voice of justice and consanguinity.” They took the man to prison, kept him over night and fined him fifty dollars, with costs, the next morning, after which, he was turned loose upon the streets, to be subjected again to the same temptations; and to pay his fine the poor washerwoman, his wife, and the mother of an infant babe, was robbed of her last earthly dollar!

The taxed and unrepresented class for whom I plead besought the Aristocracy of Sex to pass laws for the accommodation of such oppressed specimens of the subjugated sex, but were refused a hearing before the Legislature, in an official capacity, unless they relinquish all prospect of representation in such Legislature, “a right inestimable to them, and formidable to tyrants, only.”

This Aristocracy has “obstructed the administration of Justice by refusing to admit [the subjugated class] to judiciary privileges; and has further subverted the principles of a free government by holding this same class amenable to laws in which they are denied all representation.

In your own State resides a woman, Mrs. Myra Bradwell18, wife of Judge Bradwell19, who is editor and proprietor of the Chicago Legal News, a journal which many of the foremost lawyers of that metropolitan and cosmopolitan city have assured me, is as good authority in legal decision as is Kent20 or Blackstone21, and yet this lady is denied the opportunity to reap the reward for her labors that her attainments merit, only because, not being a member of the Aristocracy of sex, she is refused admission to practice what she so ably teaches, before the Supreme Court of this State and of the United States of masculine sovereigns.

Leavina [sic] Goodell22 of Wisconsin, Phoebe Cozzens [sic]23 of Missouri and Belva Lockwood24 of the District of Columbia are other well known examples of this grievance, and the list might be multiplied indefinitely.

This Aristocracy “has made us dependent on its will alone for the tenure of such offices as it has seen fit to grant us, and the amount and payment of our salaries.”

Need I cite you to the one or two lady clerks in your own Legislature for example, gentlemen?

This Aristocracy “has erected a multitude of new offices, and sent hither swarms of officers to harass our people and eat out our substance.”

Shortly after the termination of the war, and while the United States Internal Revenue Law was in its fullest force, I was engaged in a millinery and manufacturing business in Oregon for the support of my invalid husband and six small children. The “swarms of new officers that harassed me, and ate out my substance” in the guise of “income tax” which was principally used to support Aristocratic “collectors” in idleness, will not be soon forgotten. “For imposing taxes upon us without our consent.”

Have we, I mean the unrepresented taxpayers for whom I plead, have we not read of Boston Harbor; and can we forget Bunker Hill? Have we not learned, in the public schools, from Fourth of July orations, and from the sentiments of liberty that are everywhere sown broadcast by the press and people, that taxation without representation is tyranny? Can any sovereign who is present inform me of the fundamental difference between the British Government’s famous “tax on tea” and the municipal government of Glastonbury’s infamous tax on cows?25

If it be argued that women who are non-producers cannot pay taxes, I will answer that every woman who works to rear men is a heavy taxpayer, and is not a “nonproducer,” by any means. Every man who sits before me is within and of himself a living, breathing animate monument of the taxation of woman. As soon as her taxation has reared him to sufficient age to enable him to give his voice and vote to deny her representation, he straightway uses this self constituted authority “to extend an unwarrantable jurisdiction over her”, yet he can give no better reason for thus denying her representation than the King of Great Britain could give for his endeavor to govern our forefathers without their consent.

If it be urged here, as is often urged elsewhere, that woman does not herself desire the removal of her political disabilities, I have only to say that the assertion is not sustained by facts.

Women, everywhere are seeking opportunity to make their appeals upon this question heard. They made strenuous efforts to be officially heard upon the Centennial Fourth of July; and, failing to get the courtesy of an official hearing, the representative women, who live under this Aristocratic government, who far exceed in numbers the leaders who framed this Declaration of Independence; these Spartan women who have endured more opprobrium, contumely and persecution for Liberty’s sake than ever Washington dreamed of, placed a Centennial Protest against Taxation without Representation in the hands of Vice President Ferry26, who received it in embarrassed silence!

Because the masculine press is mainly silent or sarcastic in its treatment of woman-patriots, you are not to suppose such patriots are not numerous. They cannot all be leaders, but neither can all men be such. There never was a progressive movement set on foot in any age, which, while yet an unacknowledged, or unaccepted power, arrived at half the general popularity and interest that this has reached.

The argument of Tories during the Revolution was that the majority did not desire freedom. Time has proved the fallacy of that argument but has failed to prove that experience is always a successful teacher.

There is an organized, working force of Woman Suffragists in the United States numbering tens of thousands, which is represented through its officers in every State and Territory in the Union.

These women, who are lawyers, (as far as men will let them become such) physicians, (because men cannot longer hinder them) artisans, teachers, professors, farmers, ministers, wives, mothers, editors, authors, poets, painters, sculptors, bee-keepers, manufacturers, hotel keepers, and all of them tax payers, go up yearly to Washington to hold Convention; and to the different State Legislatures, at the behest of their constituents, who are unable (through their pecuniary and political subjugation) to contribute funds to defray their traveling expenses, and there they legislate, as best they can in unofficial because unrecognized ways, for the promotion of Constitutional Liberty. At these Conventions reports are presented from every State and Territory in the Union, urging our claims; and yet men, clothed, by accident of their sex, in a little brief authority, who have never given the subject a thought, or thinking, have denied themselves needed information, say to us “Woman does not want the ballot. When she asks for it she shall have it.”

Abigail Adams27, for whom I was named, wife of one President, and mother of another, made a demand upon Congress for the ballot for woman at the very beginning of the Nation’s history. For a time the demand was allowed to slumber and gather needed strength; then again it was revived, and now it is in such vigorous action that there is not a village or hamlet in all the Union where the plea for its acceptance is not heard.

What means the National Convention of Woman Suffragists assembled this week in Washington if women do not want the ballot? Your humble speaker was to have been there, but it was decided by her superior officers that she should skirmish along the lines with her light brigade, and let the Legislatures of Illinois and Nebraska know what the unrepresented half of the taxpayers in these States are demanding.28

The public press pays little heed to this movement since it has survived the age of ridicule, and is no longer a target for reporters, just out of pinafores, to try their unfledged journalistic squibs upon. But it moves, nevertheless, and will continue to move till its aim is accomplished.

After twenty years of my life had been spent in the service of a large family of sons and daughters, I found them so nearly grown to maturity that I could take the missionary field, and for five years I have been a great deal before the public.

After I, at the behest of tens of thousands of women, have industriously plodded my way through this vast country for a term of years, working my own way, (for the women have no money) and bearing in my hands the petitions of many thousands of aspirants to the ballot who have begged me not to let their husbands know their names were down, you may judge of the sublime contempt I feel when I hear gentlemen say, “If women wanted the ballot they might have it. My wife doesn’t want it”! As though your humble servant, and the thousands of other petitioners were not women, with quite as much right to our fullest conception of liberty as your wife may have to hers. The old slave would never say to his master “I want my liberty.” His subjugation had made him quite too wily a fox for that. But he took his liberty, and enfranchisement with it, as soon as you would let him have it; and your wife will do likewise yet, my friend.

True, there are women who do not ask for the ballot; who are not wise enough to know they want it, because they cannot see the personal advantages it will bring themselves. There are men–and a majority at that–who, if they had never had the ballot would not yet know they wanted it. The majority never leads in anything progressive, because advanced minds are in the minority, always. But, gentlemen, because there are men thus ignorant, in spite of their advantages, would you be willing to allow them to crush out the exercise of your inalienable prerogatives, which your broader intelligence has enabled you to grasp and comprehend?

No man has the ballot forced upon him. No woman should have it forced away from her. We are not asking you to compel any woman to vote. We only ask that you take the iron heel of their ignorance from the necks of us who desire to vote. We would not abridge their rights or immunities in any degree, and we protest against your allowing them to deprive us, through your connivance, of the fullest exercise of our conscientious appreciation of Constitutional Liberty.

Let such women as want the ballot have the same opportunity to possess it that men claim for themselves, laying no more restrictions upon one class than another, and you will establish a government that shall be of the people and by the people, which shall contain within itself the elements of perpetuity and purification which no one-sexed government is capable of possessing. Women wield a mighty influence in the government today; but it is an irresponsible influence; the influence of bad women and outlaws. They work behind masked batteries. Men cannot hold them in check because these women fascinate them. Every woman-lobbyist and schemer in Washington is opposed to Woman’s Enfranchisement. They know full well that if women were voters, they would be compelled to step from behind the masked batteries where men shield them from discovery or punishment through their present political irresponsibility.

“For depriving us of the benefits of trial by jury.”

To be deprived of the right of a trial by a jury of one’s peers is considered by men an absolute tyranny, second to no other usurpation, except it be “Taxation without Representation, and Government without Consent.” Yet, in all this land, the women are denied this right, “a right inestimable to them, and formidable to tyrants only.”

I know a lady who was called as a witness in one of those unfortunate cases wherein a mother was before a tribunal of men, accused of the crime of murdering an embryotic child. The husband and father, despite the Aristocracy of his Sex, was dissolute and improvident; the mother had already four little sons, whom she was taxed–yes, taxed beyond her strength to provide for, and with starvation staring her in the face, in her very desperation she committed a crime. Women ought to have been judge and jurors in a case like that, but the Aristocracy of Sex permits no such innovation upon its pecuniary and otherwise peculiar privileges; and twelve stolid men, who had not read the newspapers, and were therefore considered sufficiently ignorant to be competent to judge the case upon its merits, were placed in the jury box, and the trial began. My friend informed that the sickening details of that awful story were all made public in her presence, in a court room crowded with men and boys. She said “I never knew before the awful tyranny of a refusal to allow a trial by a jury of one’s peers.”

My petition for equality for woman before the law received then and there another signature; and another man’s wife wants to vote.

While I would not excuse or palliate the terrible crime of infanticide, of which no mother who understands the philosophy of human life can be guilty, if sane, I appeal to the fathers and mothers present to say if it be not a mockery of justice to allow trials for such offenses to be conducted by men?

We hear a great deal about the modesty of women. What say you to the modesty of men who arrogate to themselves the monopoly of prerogatives like these?

Woman cannot justly represent man because she is unable to interpret his ideas of justice from his standpoint. Man cannot represent woman for a like reason.29

Do men gather grapes of thorns, or figs of thistles? Can women make bricks without straw? Can they endow their sons with the spirit of Liberty when they themselves possess it not?

The men of the Revolution were born of mothers whose mothers before them had imbued them with the spirit of Liberty, even when in embryo. These men inhaled the inspiration of freedom as they gathered life from their mothers’ heart beats, and they exhaled it in their manhood with a mighty utterance that yet speaketh, though their voices are stilled to us in death.

That they left as our heritage, instead of a Democratic Republic, an Aristocracy of sex, was not the fault of themselves or their mothers, but of the times. They began the structure of Liberty and left us to carry it to completion.

“Nor have we been wanting in attention to [this Aristocracy of sex.]30 We have [warned] it from time to time of the attempts made by its Legislatures to extend an unwarrantable jurisdiction over us. We have appealed to its native justice and magnanimity, and have conjured it by the ties of our common kindred to disavow these usurpations which would inevitably interrupt our connections and correspondence, and it has been deaf to the voice of justice and consanguinity.”

Men and brethren, can you expect your government to be perpetuated in the name of Liberty when a long train of such usurpations as I have enumerated can only tend to blunt the sense of justice in man, even in his life’s very inception?

Do you wonder that the evil effects of a heritage of maternal subjugation so stultify the nicest sense of honor in the sons of women that the wrong thus sown in seclusion culminates at last in high and public places in Crédit Mobilier swindles, and Fort Hill contracts31 and Pacific Mail subsidies32 and Back Salary Grabs33?

Again I ask, do men gather grapes of thorns, or figs of thistles? When the parents eat sour grapes need you marvel that the children’s teeth are set on edge?

Now, let us examine for a little while the Constitution of these States. Although, as I said in the beginning it is a document born of old usages, imbued here and there with inspirations of Liberty, it is remarkable, chiefly, for its adaptation to the needs of the hour of its birth.

Its Amendments, one by one, have kept pace with the exigencies of progress, until now, like the Declaration of Independence, its spirit and letter are all we ask. We only protest that you do not obey it.

Chief Justice Waite34 has rendered a very learned decision within a few years, in which he declares, in effect, that women were not thought of when these Amendments were framed and ratified, hence they have no political rights, under them, which men are bound to respect.35 How history is always repeating itself! The majority of you can remember the decision of Chief Justice Taney36 in a very similar case. I allude to the Dred Scott decision.37 You also remember how the opponents of freedom for the colored man went up and down in this country, proclaiming the vexed question settled: “The negro was not a citizen for the Chief Justice had so decreed”! As though the ipse dixit of any judge, or set of judges, were ever able to stop the car of Constitutional Liberty!

Today, in spite of Justice Taney’s fiat, which really amounted to as much as did the Pope’s bull against the comet38, the negro is free and enfranchised, and unrepresented women are taxed, by him, as well as the white man, to support him in a government where all emoluments are denied themselves!

In former days the negroes were rated with women, insane persons and idiots. Now, they are lifted beside the white man upon the pedestal of an Aristocracy of sex and women head the catalogue of the disenfranchised, in company of insane persons, criminals, idiots and “Indians not taxed.” On the Pacific Coast we yet have the Chinaman for company.

Gentlemen, allow me now to ask you a direct question:

Are you not ashamed when you reflect that every ignorant mortal, no matter what his race, habits, color or previous condition of servitude, can have a voice in making the laws and taxing the women to support those laws, the only qualification required to make them voters being that their gender be masculine?

Are you not ashamed to compel your wives and daughters, even with their own consent, to submit to be ruled by their former servants, whom you have placed in authority over them?

Women, are you pleased with your political status? Have you all the rights you want?

Now, gentlemen, I further declare that women are held in subjugation under your government in as direct violation of the Constitution as of the Declaration of Independence. Article Fourteen, Section One of the Constitution says, “No State shall make or enforce any law which shall abridge the immunities or privileges of citizens of the United States; nor shall any State deprive any person of life, liberty or property without due process of law; nor deny to any person within its jurisdiction the equal protection of the laws.”

Does the woman in Chicago, who was fined the other day because her husband whipped her, enjoy the equal protection of the laws?

Are not the privileges and immunities of Myra Bradwell, editor of the Legal News, abridged by the State of Illinois?

Article Fifteen of Amendments to the Constitution says, “The right of citizens of the United States to Vote shall not be denied or abridged by the United States, or by any State on account of race, color, or previous condition of servitude.” Clearly women belong to some race; evidently they are not without color, and the array of men before me, whom they have reared, is indisputable evidence of “previous condition of servitude.”39

Gentlemen, these be troublous times. This government may be likened unto a mighty ship, with one wheel chained and idle. We look out upon the troubled waters of Freedom, and see the old ship with one wheel revolving restlessly. We note with dread the gloomy clouds that threaten, and listen anxiously while the breakers roar. See: The ship is floundering! Round and round she goes in the [unintelligible] whirlpool of partisan politics! Behold! She is drifting upon the rocks- drifting upon the rocks! Men are plunging in the waters, trying in vain to control the drifting vessel! Strange-very strange that they do not see that shackled wheel! Strange, if they do not know that a ship thus manacled cannot sail straight on!

Men and brethren, I call upon you to put forth your power to sever the chains that fetter that shackled wheel! Give the old Ship of State the free, untrammeled play of all her powers, and you will soon see that she will obey her helm right royally. Then, with sails full-rigged and the old flag proudly floating, she will triumphantly breast the waves of Revolution as she bears her human freight away from the breakers of corruption, out into the broad Gulf Stream of Constitutional Liberty.

The other day, when I was in Philadelphia, I paused, in Independence Hall, before a tablet upon which were inscribed in letters of bronze these words the immortal utterance of William Penn40: “Any government is free to the people under it when the laws rule, and the people are a party to those laws, and more than this is tyranny, oligarchy and confusion.” I passed out from the sacred presence of the immortal sentiment, and wandering away, came soon to the old abode of its inspired author, a little building which is now an inn and groggery of the lowest order. As I stood upon the opposite side of the dirty alley, a woman, haggard, and hard featured, and as much a slave as ever was a Georgia Plantation negro, came out upon the flag stones, carrying a heavy tub of villainous slops which she emptied with a sickening splash into the slimy gutter, while a man sat smoking at her feet, whom I knew to be her husband because he threatened her with imprecations which no man would dare to offer any woman who was not his wife.

If it be urged that I speak of exceptional cases I grant it. Thank God such are exceptional cases, else there would be no masculine hearts to whom we might appeal.

Murders are exceptional cases; but would you, because of that, make no general law to protect the women of the commonwealth from murderers?

We do not ask you, gentlemen, to give us more than our own. We only ask that to every woman in the land who may desire the right, you forthwith grant “the equal protection of the laws,” under the Constitution.

I left the old home of William Penn, with its idle owner and struggling bondwoman, and went sorrowfully back to Washington square; and lo! and behold! a mob of eager thousands had gathered around the bulletin boards; and they were wondering who had been elected President! Everywhere there were mutterings and musings, and ominous forebodings of an approaching war!41

Again the immortal words of William Penn were whispered in my ear, and I saw as never before that the government of these States is not “free to the people under it,” for one half of them are not “a party to the laws that rule,” and the clouds of tyranny, oligarchy and confusion grow blacker and more portentous every hour.42 Passing the motley crowd of men and boys, I went again to Independence Hall, as though attracted by some strange, alluring spell. Pausing among a company of tourists from all parts of the world, who were gathered to view the glories of this so-called Republic in its hundredth year, I stood reverently before the old Independence Bell, and gazed in speechless awe and admiration upon the tell-tale wound at its side.

Need I here reiterate the history of that grand old Bell? Need I tell you that once, on a never-to-be-forgotten occasion, when the ringer had climbed to the antique belfry of the old State House to ring in the era of freedom for men, leaving woman bound, the old Bell, which yet felt Slavery’s manacles, broke its heart, rather than tell a lie?

Thrice hail! old Independence Bell! Some day, in the years yet to come, when Liberty to the People, rather than to an Aristocracy of Sex shall prevail, thou shalt be re-incarnated; and then, clad in a panoply of the purest metal, shall thy round old heart ring out a glad acclaim of rejoicing, and thy long-stilled tongue shall swell the grand Te Deum Laudamus43 that will only be excelled among the Nations in yet later centuries, when Liberty, clothed in whitest raiment, shall perch unchained upon the banners of Justice; while loud hosannahs shall re-echo through terrestrial air the grander Gloria in Excelsis44 which shall tell that not only the United of America, but all the World is free!

Columbia, pride of Nations, hail!
Backward throw thy shimmering veil,
Revealing Beauty’s magic darts,
And Intellect’s abounding arts,
From eyes all bright, and brow serene.
Let man behold the glittering sheen
Of Freedom’s light. O’er all the earth,
In lands where Liberty hath birth,
In climes where tyrants willed the rod,
Falsely proclaiming power from God;
O’er every struggling human soul
That spurns a monarch’s mean control,
O’er every lovely human home,
Where Thought can stray, or Fancy roam,
Plant thou the starry banner high,
Emblem of human Liberty
And Freedom’s glorious destiny.

Thy magic wand, resplendent, bright,
That floats o’er Bunker Hill tonight,
And flutters in the balmy breeze,
From Torrid Zone to Arctic Seas;
And shakes its white and scarlet folds,
And field of blue o’er wastes and wolds,
And plants its pure and milk-white stars
Above its wind-tossed, streaming bars,
Plant thou on every hoary peak
That looms ‘bove haunts where man may seek
A Habitation. Let thy name,
Writ high on monuments of Fame,
In diamond-light emblazoned be,
And every child of Liberty
Shall shout thy glorious destiny.45


  1. Apparently at the invitation of childhood schoolmate (in Stout’s Grove, Illinois, during the winter of 1850-1851) Shelby Moore Cullom (1829-1914), who, as a representative from Illinois, had introduced the first comprehensive anti-polygamy legislation in Congress in 1869, was about to join Lincoln’s law firm in Springfield, and in 1883 would enter the U.S. Senate, where he would serve for thirty years (Moynihan, Rebel 11; Grimes 33). []
  2. The N.W.S.A. had just abandoned this legal and rhetorical strategy in order to pursue passage of a 16th Amendment (About Scott Duniway n. 50; “Oregon State Woman Suffrage Association (1880)“). []
  3. Kraditor 38-63. []
  4. For example, Anthony had employed this phrase following her indictment for voting in 1872, in “Is it a Crime for a U. S. Citizen to Vote?”, which she delivered repeatedly in defense of her action throughout Monroe and Ontario Counties, New York (Campbell, Man Cannot 2: 279-316). []
  5. (1830-?): removed to Pekin in Tazewell County from New York, 1854; merchant; once a Whig, instrumental in building up fledgling Republican party, 1858, and in organizing Union League of America; county Circuit Clerk, 1860; private secretary to Governor Oglesby, 1865; assistant secretary of state, 1869; Secretary of State, 1872; reelected, 1876 (History of Tazewell County 707-09). []
  6. (1831-?): born in Scotland; came to Elm Grove township, 1837; farmer; fruit grower; State Senator; Republican (History of Tazewell County 466). []
  7. Probably James Scott (1779-1860), Abigail’s father’s father, who came to Groveland Township in central Illinois in 1824 from Kentucky, hauled the mail twice a week from Pekin, eight miles away on the Illinois River, was road and school commissioner, tax collector, and Tazewell County sheriff until 1835. “Pleasant Grove” was the name given their cabin homestead by James’ wife (Abigail’s grandmother) Frankie (Frances Tucker, 1786-1838). Less probably, her mother’s father, Lawrence Roelofson, Jr. (c. 1764-1855), a key first-generation figure in the spiritual Awakening of Presbyterians in the Cumberland region of Kentucky at the turn of the century. After he and his wife, Mary (Smith, 1779-1862), moved to Carmi, Illinois, in 1821, he became a co-founder of the Illinois Presbytery. In 1835 they moved north to live closer to two daughters, including Ann (1811-1852), who had married James’ and Frankie’s son (John Tucker Scott, 1809-1880) five years before, and in so doing became Abigail’s neighbors. Moynihan treats Scott Duniway’s early family history and provides a helpful genealogical chart (Rebel 1-25, 221). []
  8. William I. Ferguson (1825-1858): lawyer, politician and orator; born Monongahela, Pennsylvania; moved to Springfield, Illinois, 1835; in school, “a number-one talker” in debating society; favored grammar and rhetoric; store clerk, c. 1837; almost died of consumption; habitually read Greek, Roman, English and American orations aloud; 4th of July orator, 1840, chosen over Lincoln, S. T. Logan and others, delivering “finely, grandly eloquent” speech; studied law under Edward Dickinson Baker, Logan, and others, 1842; licensed 1843; Whig, became Democrat c. 1844; several terms as city attorney; presidential elector, 1848; defeated for legislature, 1850; moved to Dallas, Texas, 1852, then to California, 1853, finally residing in Sacramento; “an insatiable thirst for fame”; state senator (Know-Nothing), 1855; “master of satire and invective”; renounced Know-Nothings and reelected as Democrat, 1857; supported Stephen A. Douglas in rupture with James Buchanan, 1858; died during surgery to amputate right leg injured in duel with George Pen Johnston (Shuck 319-39). []
  9. James Alexander McDougall (1817-1867): born Bethlehem, New York; helped survey first railroad in New York; moved to Pike County, Illinois, 1837, where admitted to bar and commenced practice in Jonesboro; attorney general, 1843-46; explored Rio del Norte, 1849; moved to San Francisco; California attorney general, 1850-51; U.S. Representative, 1853-55; key promoter of transcontinental railroad; U.S. Senate, 1861-67; died Albany, New York; Democrat (Biographical Directory 1460; cf. Clayton 102; Shuck 689-702). []
  10. Stephen Arnold Douglas (1813-1861): Democratic leader; three term Representative, beginning 1843, and Senator, beginning 1847, from Illinois; coined phrase “popular sovereignty” in support of Kansas-Nebraska Act of 1854, providing for territorial self-determination on question of slavery; alienated dominant pro-slavery faction of his party, and administration of President James Buchanan, over Lecompton constitution guaranteeing right to property in slaves in Kansas, 1857-58, but also could not satisfy “free-soilers” among Republicans; engaged in famous debates with Abraham Lincoln prior to reelection to Senate, 1859; failed candidate of deeply divided Democratic Party for President, 1860; conspicuous supporter of Lincoln’s early efforts to preserve Union. []
  11. Edward Dickinson Baker (1811-1861): statesman, soldier, and orator; born London; emigrated to Philadelphia, 1816; entered law practice, Carrolton, Illinois, 1828; major during Black Hawk War, 1832; Lincoln’s closest friend, and law partner, 1837; Whig; Illinois legislature, 1837-45; U.S. Representative, 1845, 1849-51; distinguished himself in Mexican War, 1846; supervised construction of Panama railroad, 1851; moved to San Francisco, 1852, and gained high reputation as criminal lawyer and orator; by invitation, moved to Oregon, 1859, where, one year later, and despite Democratic opposition, the first state senate elected him Oregon’s first Republican Senator; “the foremost man in debate in that illustrious body”; colonel of a regiment of volunteers, killed in battle of Ball’s Bluff, Virginia, first northern officer to die in Civil War; “Excepting our own Webster, no man of modern times has been so successful as Baker in the forum, in the Senate, and before popular assemblies” (Corning 17; Shuck 63-83).

    Baker was a Scott family benefactor. In 1846 he extended credit to Tucker Scott, Abigail’s father, to buy the first circular sawmill west of Ohio, and three years later made the latter his exclusive agent for selling Page’s Portable Saw Mills throughout Illinois and Indiana, thereby substantially improving the family’s fortunes (Moynihan, Rebel 24). One measure of Abigail’s life-long admiration of the man is that “The Life and Times of Col. E. D. Baker” became a stock offering in her repertoire of speeches. []

  12. Abraham Lincoln (1809-1865): 16th President of the United States, 1861-65, during Civil War; Illinois state legislator, 1834-41; Congressman, 1847-49; a Whig who joined the new Republican Party by 1856; lawyer; not an abolitionist, but determined to preserve Union. []
  13. Elizabeth I (1533-1603): daughter of Henry VIII and Anne Boleyn; last of the Tudors; ascended to throne, 1558, and reigned for 44 years. []
  14. Catherine II (1729-1796): “the Great”; born Sophie Fredericke Auguste von Anhalt-Zerbst, in Prussia; daughter of minor German prince; married Grand Duke Peter of Holstein, grandson of Peter the Great and heir to Russian throne, 1745; overthrew Peter III in palace coup, 1762, becoming empress; reigned for 34 years; expanded Russia’s borders south to the Black Sea and west into central Europe; continued westernization begun by Peter the Great. []
  15. Isabella I (1451-1504): queen of Castile (1474-1504) and of Aragon (1479-1504), ruling the two kingdoms jointly from 1479 with her husband, Ferdinand II of Aragon (Ferdinand V of Castile), and effecting the permanent union of Spain. []
  16. Alexandrina Victoria (1819-1901): Queen of the United Kingdom of Great Britain and Ireland, 1837-1901; also became Empress of India, 1876. []
  17. Probably abortion, to which she refers below. []
  18. Myra Colby Bradwell (1831-1894): nation’s preeminent woman lawyer; abolitionist; first woman member of Illinois Bar Association and Illinois Press Association; born Manchester, Vermont; educated Kenosha, Wisconsin, and Elgin, Illinois; taught school, Memphis, Tennessee; married James B. Bradwell, 1852; in Northwestern Sanitary Commission during Civil War; president, Soldier’s Aid Society; founding editor, weekly Chicago Legal News, 1868, which became most important legal publication west of Alleghenies, her editorials influential in molding legal opinion and passing legislation; lobbied Illinois state constitutional convention on behalf of woman suffrage, 1869; helped organize American Woman Suffrage Association, 1869; agitated particularly for removal of women’s legal disabilities; applied for admission to Illinois bar, 1869, but not admitted until 1890; admitted to practice before U.S. Supreme Court, 1892 (Thomas, “Bradwell”; Willard and Livermore 1: 115; “Myra Bradwell: Practicing Law is No Place for a Lady“). []
  19. James Bolesworth Bradford (1828-1907): eminent Chicago attorney, particularly expert in probate; temporary chair, first American Woman Suffrage Association convention, 1869; Illinois state legislator responsible for legislation making women eligible for school offices, office of notary public, and equal guardianship of children. []
  20. James Kent (1763-1847): New York legislator (Federalist); first professor of law at Columbia College, 1793; New York state supreme court, 1798-1823; author of Commentaries on American Law (in 4 vols., 1826-30), systematically treating international law, American constitutional law, the sources of state law, and the law of personal rights and of property. []
  21. Sir William Blackstone (1723-1780): British jurist; author of Commentaries on the Laws of England (in 4 vols., 1765-69), clarifying and systematizing chaotic common law. []
  22. Rhoda Lavinia Goodell (1839-1880): abolitionist, temperance worker, and Wisconsin’s first female lawyer; born Utica, New York; graduated Brooklyn Heights Ladies’ Seminary; assisted her father, William, in editing and publishing antislavery newspaper The Principia, for five years, c. 1853; taught school for three years; assistant editor, Harper’s, for four years c. 1864; moved to Janesville, Wisconsin, 1871; admitted to bar, Rockland County Circuit Court, 1874; when one of her cases was appealed to State Supreme Court, 1876, she petitioned to argue it there, but was refused and had to recruit a male colleague to argue the case; fought successfully for legislation prohibiting discrimination in state bar on account of sex, 1877; admitted to bar, State Supreme Court, 1879; died shortly after winning first case before State Supreme Court (History of Woman Suffrage 3: 648; Sher and Kazickas 248; “Lavinia Goodell“; Teresa M. Derichsweiler, “The Life of Lavinia Goodell, Wisconsin’s First Female Lawyer”). []
  23. Phoebe Wilson Couzins (1839-1913): born Cazenovia, New York; member, Equal Rights Association, 1866; special contributor to Revolution, 1869; left E.R.A., 1869, after opposing 15 th amendment on grounds that black and immigrant men were being granted the right to vote without the “enfranchisement of women,” helping to form National Woman Suffrage Association; elegant and popular lecturer affiliated with Woman Suffrage Association of Missouri and N.W.S.A.; first woman law graduate in Missouri and third in U.S., 1871; interim U.S. Marshal after her father, John Edward Decker, vacated position, 1887; renounced temperance and lobbied for Brewers Association, 1890s; renounced suffrage, 1897 (Thomas, “Couzins”; Matthew J. Sanders, “An Introduction to Phoebe Wilson Couzins”). []
  24. Belva Ann Bennett McNall Lockwood (1830-1917): attorney, teacher, reformer; born Royalton, New York; married Uriah H. McNall, 1848; graduated Genesee College, 1857; moved to Washington, D.C., 1866; married Ezekiel Lockwood, 1868; graduated National University Law School and admitted to D.C. bar, 1873; first woman admitted to practice before U.S. Supreme Court, 1879; instrumental in securing equal wages for female federal employees and equal property rights for women in District of Columbia, 1896; Presidential candidate of Equal Rights Party, 1884, 1888; delegate, International Congress of Charities, Correction and Philanthropy, Geneva, 1896; played prominent role in campaign that ensured equal property rights and child guardianship rights for married women of Washington D.C., 1896; prepared amendments for woman’s suffrage in Oklahoma, Arizona and New Mexico, 1903 (Filler, “Lockwood”; Lashley; “Belva Ann Lockwood“). []
  25. In 1873, Abigail and Julia Smith protested their disenfranchisement by refusing to pay taxes in Glastonbury, Connecticut. The town initiated legal action and, while the sisters conducted vocal protests in their pasture, confiscated seven of their cows as payment (Weatherford 116). []
  26. Thomas White Ferry (1827-1896): mercantilist; Michigan House of Representatives, 1850-52; state Senate, 1856; U.S. House, 1865-71; U.S. Senate, 1871-83; President Pro Tempore of Senate for 44th and 45th Congresses; during Grant’s second term (1873-77), became Vice-President upon death of Henry Wilson of Massachusetts, November, 1875; presided over impeachment trial of Secretary of War William Belknap, and over sixteen joint meetings of House and Senate over 1877 Hayes-Tilden presidential contest (Biographical Directory 19, 992). []
  27. Abigail Smith Adams (1744-1818): prolific letter-writer and First Lady; wife of John Adams, second president of the U.S., 1797-1801; mother of John Quincy Adams, sixth president of the U.S., 1825-29; the “Abigail” for whom Scott Duniway was named (Butterfield; Willard and Livermore 1: 5). []
  28. Despite this intriguing allusion, it is doubtful that a speech to the Nebraska legislature was given. We know that the Illinois speech was given on her return trip to Oregon because she says here that she had been in Philadelphia “the other day.” Traveling west, a speech in Nebraska would have occurred after this one. However, her “editorial correspondence” in the New Northwest that describes the relevant portion of her return trip (February 17, 1877, from Council Bluffs, Iowa, and February 28 from Laramie, Wyoming, published in the March 9 and 16, 1877, issues, respectively) does not mention Nebraska at all. Nor could she have given the Nebraska speech on the way east instead. Her correspondence of August 11, 1876, from Council Bluffs (published September 1) describes her trip from Laramie through Nebraska, remarking on one hundred miles of grasshoppers, and records arrivals in Omaha at midnight and Council Bluffs at 5:30 a.m. Further, the Nebraska legislature was not in session at the time Scott Duniway traveled through the region in either direction. According to the House and Senate Journals, the 1875 session ended in February, 1876, and the legislature did not reconvene until a brief special session on December 5, while the next regular session, which convened on January 2, 1877, adjourned on February 15. Finally, neither the Lincoln Daily State Journal nor the Omaha Herald (nor a number of secondary sources on the history of woman suffrage in the state) mention any such event. Five years earlier, while returning from the N.W.S.A. convention in New York, Abigail had canceled a planned speaking engagement in Omaha on account of heat (Pioneer 11 July 1872). Perhaps the ill health of which she complains here had the same result. []
  29. At this point, the manuscript has been altered significantly. Page 21 concludes: “and I am only surprised that any man should be”. The following page, 25, begins: “of the ballot and forge the political chains of all mothers if they will, and such sons of such mothers are always ready to be petty tyrants.” In subsequent editing, Scott Duniway struck these fragments, wrote “3 pages missing here,” and renumbered subsequent pages beginning at 22. []
  30. Here the manuscript is seemingly corrupt: Scott Duniway has struck sentence fragments and noted “2 pages lost.” However, only one page, 26, is missing, and it reappears–out of order–later in the manuscript. Thus, I have reconstructed the original here. []
  31. At one time, Fort Hill was a fashionable residential section of Boston. But, in the 1840s, after two decades of decline, it was overrun by Irish immigrants. Overcrowding produced squalid living conditions and, in 1849, a cholera epidemic. Thus began, in the 1850s, planning to remove the hill (and, with it, the slum), with actual work commencing in 1866. The project stalled for want of a place to dispose of the earth until, in December, 1868, the city approved plans to construct new railroad tracks that would traverse docks and wharves in Boston Harbor; such a project, naturally, required fill. Four contracts for filling the docks with earth from Fort Hill were let in 1870. The following July, it was discovered that, all during the previous winter when docks supposedly were being filled, large quantities of the dirt actually had been sold as ship ballast. The contractors, thus, were paid twice for the same dirt: once by the city and once by the ship owners. Other frauds had been perpetrated that May, when dirt was diverted to fill a different wharf. The scandal was complicated by the fact that one of those accused was a member of the Common Council and of the committee appointed to investigate the city engineer’s office, which also had been implicated. Although extensive hearings were held in the fall of 1871, it was impossible to determine how much dirt had been diverted, and where; an assistant city engineer lost his job but the major players were exonerated. In fact, the city subsequently contracted with one of them, who appeared to have bribed said city engineer, to finish the project (Seasholes 59-70). []
  32. Robert C. Kennedy explains:

    “In December 1874, the House Ways and Means Committee initiated an investigation of the possible bribery of government officials by the Pacific Mail Steamship Company during the firm’s quest to secure a federal subsidy. The House bookkeeper testified that 60 congressmen had each deposited a thousand-dollar bill in their accounts concurrent with the passage of the Pacific Mail subsidy. House investigators were not anxious to indict their fellow members (or perhaps themselves in some cases), so the bookkeeper was not asked to divulge the names of the depositors.

    The hearings, in fact, produced a pattern of witnesses admitting that large amounts of money had changed hands, while disavowing that such acts constituted bribery, and the committee continuing its disinterest in identifying the congressional beneficiaries of the payoffs. One witness, for example, confessed to accepting $56,000 (more than the president’s salary) from Pacific Mail to persuade a senatorial friend to vote for the subsidy, but the witness denied that the payment was a bride [sic]. The investigation also revealed that Pacific Mail had paid a reporter and an editor of the Washington Chronicle to print favorable news stories and editorials about the company. With overwhelming evidence against Pacific Mail, the House voted on January 25, 1875, to repeal the company’s subsidy, and the Senate followed suit on February 23. No congressmen were indicted.” []

  33. On March 3, 1873 (a year in which a financial panic would cripple much of the nation), members of Congress voted themselves a fifty-percent pay increase, retroactive to the first day of the Congress. Many members were lame ducks, meaning that they would exit the Congress with a handsome parting gift of $5,000. The press dubbed the raise the “Salary Grab,” and many papers connected it to the Crédit Mobilier scandal as further evidence that the Republican majority was fostering a culture of corruption. These scandals took their toll, as the Republicans suffered significant losses in the state elections that year. Public reaction was so intense and lasting that the pay raise was rescinded by the next Congress (Lee J. Alston, Jeffery A. Jenkins, and Tomas Nonnenmacher, “Who Should Govern Congress?: Access to Power and The Salary Grab of 1873”). []
  34. Morrison Remick Waite (1816-1888): practicing attorney in Ohio, specializing in real estate and title law; surprise nominee of President Ulysses S. Grant to be Chief Justice of the U.S. Supreme Court, 1874. []
  35. In Minor v. Happersett (88 U.S. 162, 1875), Virginia Louisa Minor, a citizen of Missouri and wife of a St. Louis attorney (Pinkney), attempted to register to vote in 1866 and was denied. She sued, arguing that the right of suffrage was a privilege of U.S. citizenship. Waite authored the opinion of the Court, ruling that suffrage was not a privilege of U.S. citizenship, that the 14th Amendment did not increase the privileges and immunities of citizens but only reaffirmed those already in existence, and that, if its purpose had been to enfranchise all citizens, then the 15th Amendment (extending the franchise to blacks) would have been unnecessary. Thus, Minor reaffirmed the doctrine of the Slaughter House Cases of 1873 in interpreting the due process clause of the 14th Amendment narrowly and in such a way as to resist Federalization of civil rights protections. []
  36. Roger Brooke Taney (1777-1864): Maryland Federalist; state legislature, 1799-1800; state Senate, 1816-21; became a Jacksonian, 1824; appointed attorney general of Maryland, 1827; U.S. Attorney General, 1831; particularly interested in currency reform and in opposing national Bank of the United States; Secretary of the Treasury, 1833; chief justice, Supreme Court, 1836. []
  37. Dred Scott v. Sandford (60 U.S. 393, 1857). The judgment in this case was fairly narrow, i.e., that Dred Scott, a slave under the laws of Missouri, had no standing to sue in Federal court for his freedom. The case is justly (in)famous, however, for its unnecessarily sweeping opinions that engaged the hot political issues surrounding the status of slavery in the territories. Taney’s opinion held, in part, that blacks were held to be inferior and not intended to be included as “citizens” when the Constitution was adopted. It also held that Scott, who originally had been a slave, had not become free by residing in territory covered by the Missouri Compromise (which had prohibited slavery in the northern part of the Louisiana Purchase) because Congress had no constitutional authority to enact the Compromise or prohibit slavery in the territories. Taney thus sided with Southern supporters of the Kansas-Nebraska Act of 1854, which repealed these portions of the Compromise, and outraged anti-slavery forces in the North. []
  38. Legend had it that, when Halley’s comet appeared in the sky at the time that the Turks laid siege to Belgrade in mid-summer, 1456, Callistus III excommunicated the comet and called for prayer in order that any calamity would be visited upon the Turks instead. The source of this legend was Bartolomeo Platina’s influential “Vitœ Pontificum,” or “Lives of the Popes” (1479), which erred in linking the Papal Bull decreeing prayer and supplication for deliverance from the Turks with the coincidental celestial event (“Bartolomeo Platina”). []
  39. Remarkably, Scott Duniway and Victoria Claflin Woodhull were the only two speakers of their day to argue that women belong to some race, have some color, and suffer under laws like those constraining slaves. For comparison, see the latter’s memorial to the House Judiciary Committee on January 11, 1871 (History of Woman Suffrage 2: 444-48, esp. 445-46). The rarity of this argument among suffragists underscores the implicit racism of much suffrage rhetoric, and her willingness to use it is an important qualification of Scott Duniway’s own racism. []
  40. (1644-1718): founder of Pennsylvania; an avowed Quaker and advocate of political liberalism; for a time imprisoned in Tower of London, where he wrote tracts pleading for religious tolerance, security of person and property, and other rights; largely responsible for famous charter of liberties known as Concessions and Agreements, brought by Friends colonists to Jerseys in 1677; secured province of Pennsylvania from Charles II in 1681, authored its democratic Frame of Government and was its Proprietor. []
  41. The 1876 contest between Republican Rutherford B. Hayes and Democrat Samuel J. Tilden was the most controversial Presidential election in U.S. history, at least prior to 2000. Tilden, the reform-minded governor of New York who played a major role in exposing the fraud perpetrated by the infamous Tweed and Canal Rings, polled a majority of the popular vote, something no Democrat had accomplished since before the Civil War. The electoral vote, however, was hotly disputed, and both parties claimed Florida, Louisiana, and South Carolina; in addition, the status of one of Oregon’s electors, already awarded to Tilden, was in doubt. Congress (more evenly divided than it had been in decades, and with uncertain Constitutional authority) appointed a special Electoral Commission to resolve the dispute; ultimately, this commission, on strict party line votes, 8 to 7, awarded all twenty contested electors to Hayes, thus giving him the Electoral College victory, 185-184. While Hayes’ claim to the Oregon elector was clearly legitimate, and while both parties had engaged in fraud and intimidation in Louisiana and South Carolina, Florida almost certainly belonged rightfully to Tilden. There is evidence that Republican officials negotiated a secret deal to buy the acquiescence of Southern Democrats in this outcome; within two months of taking office, Hayes withdrew Federal troops from the Southern states, thus ending the period of Radical Reconstruction (“Electoral Commission”; “Samuel J. Tilden“).

    Scott Duniway was an ardent Hayes supporter. Undoubtedly, his unblemished public record and high moral tone was a comforting and reassuring contrast to the previous Republican President, U. S. Grant, whom she had supported only reluctantly four years earlier, after her hero, Horace Greeley (the Liberal Republican nominee, also endorsed by the Democrats), declared his opposition to woman suffrage (Bandow 62-64). The New Northwest (November 10, 1876) trumpeted that, in going for Hayes, Oregon had “saved the nation from Democratic Rule. Honor forever to Oregon!” (“Rutherford B. Hayes”). The election would not finally be decided until March 8, 1877; in January, as Scott Duniway was recounting these events of “the other day,” a second canvass of Florida had just been rejected as insufficient by the Supreme Court, and a third ordered. The so-called “Bargain of 1877″ that bought off southern Democrats had not yet been struck, and the outcome was still very much in doubt. The “ominous forebodings” reflect threats and fears of renewed civil war (“Election 1876”). []

  42. These phrases are taken, in substance although not verbatim, from Penn’s preface to the Frames of Government. []
  43. Title of both an original Latin text and a hymn in rhythmical prose, of which the opening words, Te Deum Laudamus, formed its earliest known title (namely in the Rule of St. Caesarius for monks, written probably when he was Abbot of Léérins, before A.D. 502); also known as the “Ambrosian Hymn”; tradition (now generally rejected by scholars) holds that it was spontaneously composed and sung alternately by St. Caesarius and St. Aurelian on night of St. Augustine’s baptism in 387 (“The Te Deum”). []
  44. Gloria in Excelsis Deo, the great doxology (hymnus angelicus) in Mass; a version of a very old Greek form, and dating at least to the third century, if not the first, it begins with the words sung by the angels at Christ’s birth (Luke 2.14; “Gloria in Excelsis Deo”). []
  45. This is a slightly modified rendering of the first two stanzas of “The Destiny of Our Republic,” which Abigail composed in October, 1874, and delivered in the speech of the same name, among other places. []

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