C.M. McClung Historical Collection, Knox County Public Library
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Some Evils (?) of Equal Suffrage
By MRS. JULIA A. LUCKY.
Why is it that every great movement in the world's history is met with looks askance and the condemning voice because of the evils that may follow, as evils that inevitably will follow according to these gloomy prophets? These ravens have given us suffragists various terrible forecasts: "Woman suffrage will unsex women;" "It will increase divorce;" "it will break up the home;" "men will cease to love us;" "it will cause race suicide;" "it will increase corruption;" "it will create sex antagonism;" "it will place an intolerable burden on women;" "it will destroy chivalry;" "undesirable women will constitute the larger portion of the voters," and so on ad nauseum. Now these objections put forth by the antis and by them styled reasons have been answered time and again and most effectually. I will deal with only one and that the last: "Undesirable women chiefly will vote." Who are these undesirable women? Hitherto we have thought of them as the women of the streets whose steps lead down to hell: women in the houses of prostitution whose trade enslaves our girls and debauches our men. Why should, by the way, why should (sic.) the women of the underworld care to vote? In Denver they did not when the _____ police attempted to compel them to register and vote, they appealed for protection to a woman's political club. So if they do use the ballot who takes them to the polls? Is it men or women that are guilty? But of late to the list of undesirables has been added another class, that of the negro women. At the ballot box we may have to rub elbows with cook and maid, yet we suffragists might prefer even that to being classed with idiots, criminals and insane. Every politcal and sociological problem has some hard and unpleasant side lights and extension of the franchise to negroes has been one of these. Many people thinking of this sincerely believe that the privilege of suffrage has been already too widely and indiscriminately conferred. But why, in a sudden spasm of virtue, draw the line at women? Why make us responsible for, or at least the innocent sufferers from masculine bad judgment? Of course, the negro problem in the south greatly complicates the questions of votes for women, and as one of our brilliant woman writers of Tennessee says: "Eastern and western people cannot realize how grave and serious the problem." This same sparkling editress, for she is an editess, and thus has a far-reaching outlook, says further: "It is not for these eastern and western women to come into the southland and cry, 'rights, give us rights.' How is it that no leader of the suffrage movement (she says "suffragette" but we hate the word) has hailed from the south? Now, it is deadful(sic.) to catch an editress napping, but has this one forgotten the Misses Gordon of New Orleans, Mary Johnson, Ellen Galsgow, Miss Clay of Kentucky, Mrs. Desha Breckenridge, a niece we believe of Henry Clay, and our own lovely Miss Elliott? Besides these eastern and western, are right smart folks, and if they have helped waken us out of the lethargy of a fatal trust in mere southern chivalry, or indifference, or that conservatism, the seeping sickness of the soul, then we give them thanks. We need guides through the wilderness of our wrongs and the clearing thereof, they have blazed the way let us gladly follow. When it comes to a question of locality we would have our editress remember that the birthplace of freedom for man in this country was in the east, though the Middle and Southern states gallantly fell in line. No, there must be no sectionalism in equal sufffrage. A women, heart to heart, mind to mind, shoulder to shoulder, we must make the fight and unselfish union will be our strongest weapon. Now, "revenous nous moutons:" Which in this is the African women in America. It is important not only for their social racial integrity but for their physical well being that the white and the black races should be kept separate, and over that line none should ever step. But since the law has given the franchise to negro men, equal suffrage must confer it to negro women. The problems will then be similar and the wisdom that strives to handle the one may be brought to bear on the other. Men have so often told us that good women outnumber the bad that we ourselves believe it and will hope it to prove equally true in the negro women. Could we by some skill in politcal alchemy reach and make use of only the pure gold, rejecting the baser metals, could we sift out the ignorant, the vicious, the corrupt voters, leaving only the honest and high minded, then indeed we would reach the perfection of government. Since we cannot, then it is right and wise for men and women to solve these questions together, using each his or her own peculiar strength, power, and intelligence. Our own Miss Elliott, and we love to call her so, says "this question of the negro is irrelevant, extraneous, and has nothing to do with the issue." We women are planning and striving for just one thing, the right to do our duty as citizens. After that privilege is ours then it will be time to consider the lions in the path.