The Right of Women to Exercise the Elective Franchise Under the Fourteenth Article of the Constitution...

Washington DC: Judd & Detweiler, 1871.

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A model of allyship, Congressman Riddle deploys the logical and legal arguments formed by the National Woman Suffrage Association to argue a preexisting right to vote

(Item #6052) The Right of Women to Exercise the Elective Franchise Under the Fourteenth Article of the Constitution. Women's Suffrage, J. O. Clephane.

The Right of Women to Exercise the Elective Franchise Under the Fourteenth Article of the Constitution...

Washington DC: Judd & Detweiler, 1871. First edition. Disbound and complete in 16 pages. Measuring 215 x 140mm. A pleasing example, with a touch of staining to the title page and light foxing and soiling to the verso of the terminal leaf, else internally clean. Currently the only copy on the market, it has appeared only once at auction, in 1973.

On January 11, 1871 two historic speeches occurred: one, through which Victoria Woodhull became the first woman to testify before a Congressional committee, and the present, through which Congressman A. G. Riddle of Ohio supported that work in an act of allyship to Victoria Woodhull herself and to the constituents represented by Elizabeth Cady Stanton and Susan B. Anthony. From his opening, Riddle asserts that he is only present because the law prohibits women's free public exercise of speech in front of the Judiciary Committee: "I have always thought that the questions involved in this movement could be more effectively presented by ladies; and I have never appeared in their public discussion except by special request...I have been asked to bring to your notice as well as I may this evening the argument...that the women of these United States are full and complete citizens. Citizens as fully, broadly, and deeply as it is possible for men to be, though not permitted to exercise the elective franchise." For the remainder of the speech, Riddle draws on the language and logical scaffolding so carefully constructed for decades by the suffragists surrounding him. The Constitution guarantees women's citizenship but disenfranchises them through the use of the word "men." The creation of the Fourteenth Amendment and its use of "citizens" and "people" properly adjusts this to include them. No new amendment is necessary; what men simply need to do is acknowledge that "the right to self government is a natural right, [and] it does pertain to every human being alike," meaning that women already have the right to vote, its exercise is simply being denied. "There is no new right to confer upon them. They are simply to go into the new exercise of an old franchise." Ultimately, "We do not need any 16th Amendment. We need only intelligent, firm, decisive and deciding." And he promotes the National Woman Suffrage Association's action plan of civil disobedience: "I propose to offer Mrs. Griffing and two or three other ladies for registration, two or three months hence when the time comes, here. If they are not registered, I propose to try the strength of the Supreme Court of the District of Columbia...If they won't, I will take the case to the Supreme Court of the United States."

Notably, what Riddle encouraged was what Susan B. Anthony and the NWSA enacted: a campaign of women registering to vote or voting, which led to their arrests and trials, and then to a decision by the Supreme Court that went against their favor. The next steps, over the following six years, was to pursue a 16th Amendment -- and to deploy far more racist dog-whistles than the egalitarian speech here that relies on both Black Americans and women being covered by the 14th Amendment. As the NWSA became more aggressive in aligning itself with white supremacist men and arguing for the necessity of white women's enfranchisement to counteract the "muddying" of elections, it left behind some of the most empowering ideas featured in this speech, that "we have given color to the Constitution" by having "got rid of the 'white'," and that this was a strength.
(Item #6052)

Price: $2,250 save 20% $1,800

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The Right of Women to Exercise the Elective Franchise Under the Fourteenth Article of the Constitution...
The Right of Women to Exercise the Elective Franchise Under the Fourteenth Article of the Constitution...
The Right of Women to Exercise the Elective Franchise Under the Fourteenth Article of the Constitution...
The Right of Women to Exercise the Elective Franchise Under the Fourteenth Article of the Constitution...
The Right of Women to Exercise the Elective Franchise Under the Fourteenth Article of the Constitution...

"Nobody was born to govern anyone else. Man or woman."