It would be 52 years until the 19th amendment was passed and women were afforded equal rights to vote in the United States. Still, as election season came to a close in 1868, the Whig ran several articles discussing the subject of suffrage and tasked congress to level the playing field.
From the November 21st, 1868 edition of the Cecil, Whig: “We see by a notice published by Lucy Stone, President of the Woman Suffrage Association of New Jersey, that the “strong minded women” have again taken the field, and are preparing for active service. Petitions are to be circulated for signatures, and Congress is to be besieged to move in the matter of giving the sex an equal chance with men in the political field.
“The suffrage ladies are not disposed to be laughed down, and joked out of their demand for the ballot by the “lords of creation.” No reason that is worthy of the name has ever yet been given by the opponents of woman suffrage, and it is fair to infer that none can be given. Wherever woman’s influence has been felt it has always exercised a purifying and ennobling power. And if anything stands more in need of purification than our politics, we have not heard of it. The appalling frauds, the immorality, debauchery, bribery and every species of corruption which have crept into our elections, call loudly for reforms and purification, and let the remedy come from what quarter it may, it should not be rejected by those who seek to reform those gross abuses and immoral practices which at the present time make politics a reproach. Any just measures that will tend to add heavily too the popular vote will be a powerful protection against fraud.”
“But the simple fact that woman has in variably ennobled and purified wherever she has been allowed to exert her moral power, is a strong argument in favor of admitting her to the ballot. Aside from this view of the question, however, her demand is founded in justice. Her average intelligence is equal to that of her masculine companions. She is equally amenable to the laws; she holds property of her own right, and is allowed the sole disposal of it, the same as the other sex—this was not always so—and who would now think of depriving her of that right, even though sire be married ? Yet ’tis but a little while since she enjoyed it. She is liable to sue and be sued and taxed by the State on the same footing with man. If all these high prerogatives are already accorded her, why seek to withhold the very foundation on which they rest? The simple truth is, there is no reason for it, only custom, and the sooner the senseless custom is abolished and woman allowed to enjoy what is clearly the right of every citizen of a republic, the elective franchise, the better it will be for our whole system of government. As her refining and ennobling influence has expelled the coarsest and most revolting abuses from the social sphere, so will her presence serve to purify the murky political atmosphere, and give a more healthy tone to political morals, purity and justice to our laws.”
It is worth clarifying that Maryland rejected the 19th amendment and refused to ratify it until 1941. Further, a prominent Baltimorean Oscar Leser, purposefully or not, tested the amendment by suing (unsuccessfully) to have the names of two Maryland women voters removed from the voter rolls in the fall of 1920. However in Leser V. Garnett, 258 U.S. 130 the Supreme Court upheld the amendment which further solidified it into our present day constitution.
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