A Deputation from the National Woman’s Suffrage Association consisting of Mrs. M. E. Joslyn Gage, Charlotte B. Wilbour, Elizabeth Cady Stanton, Paulina Wright Davis, Madam Anneke, Martha C. Wright, Rev. Olympia Brown, Isabella Beecher Hooker, Phoebe Couzens, Josephine S. Griffiing, and Susan B. Anthony, was appointed from the Convention to wait on the District Committees and ask a hearing, which was granted for Saturday, Jan. 22, 1870.
The Deputation attended by a large number of distinguished friends of the cause appeared at the Capitol, crowding one of the large committee rooms. The Joint Committees from the Senate and the House consisting of Honorables Hamlin, Sumner, Patterson, Rice, Vickers, Pratt, Harris, Cook, Welcker, Williams, Cowles, Bowles, Gilfillen, were punctual to the minute, and gave the ladies a respectful hearing of two hours.
Senator Hamlin, Chairman of the Senate Committee on the District of Columbia, called the meeting to order and spoke as follows:
We have met this morning for the purpose of considering two petitions which have been presented, I believe, only to the Senate Committee of the District of Columbia. The first one is a petition, very numerously signed, I think, by both ladies and gentlemen of this city; and, in a few brief words, it adds that: “The undersigned, residents of the District of Columbia, earnestly, but respectfully request that you extend the Right of Suffrage to the women of the District of Columbia.” The other memorial, very nearly as brief, is in these words: “The undersigned citizens of the United States pray your honorable body that in the proposed amendments to the Constitution which may come before you in regard to Suffrage, and in any law affecting Suffrage, in the District of Columbia or in any Territory, the right of voting may be given to the women on the same terms as to the men.
Some of the testimony was reported in The Revolution on January 27, 1870.
Mrs. HOOKER: The fifth commandment, “Honor thy father and thy mother,” could not be obeyed while boys are taught by our laws and constitutions to hold all women in contempt. She felt it was not only woman’s right but duty to assume responsibility in the government. She thought the importance of the subject demanded its hearing.
Madam ANNEKE: You have lifted up the slave on this continent; listen now to women’s cry for freedom.
Mrs. GAGE: Liberty is an instinct of the human heart, and men desirous of creating change in governments or religion have led other men by promising them greater liberty, more freedom, and better laws. Nothing is too good or too great for humanity—nothing is too sacred for humanity—and, as part of humanity, woman as well as man demands the best that governments have to offer. Woman demands the ballot equally with man. Honorable gentlemen have spoken of petitions. For twenty years we have petitioned, and I now hold in my hand over three thousand names of citizens from but a small portion of the state of New York asking that justice shall be done women by granting them suffrage. But people have become tired of begging for rights, and many persons favoring this cause will not again petition. We but ask justice, and we say to you that the stability of any government depends upon its doing justice to the most humble individual in it.
Mrs. DAVIS: We are tired of petitioning. It is time our legislators knew what was right and gave us justice.