Two Poems from Women’s Suffrage Ally, Experience Estabrook (1887)

This letter from Experience Estabrook was printed in the July 1887 issue of The Woman’s Tribune:

Your April number has a poetic selection entitled “Who’ll Rock the Cradle,” of which this is the last stanza:

That kindly hand will present be,
On proud election day,
That rocked the cradle, last while she
Her taxes went to pay.”

—Woman’s Standard.

The thought in this is very good and while I do not care how extensively nor in what form it is circulated, I am going to insist that it shall not be forgotten that it (the thought) belongs to me by right of discovery, and I hereby file with the TRIBUNE, a place altogether appropriate, my caveat as the lawyers call it, against any and all adverse claimants.

This item, and others like it, can be found in Accessible Archive’s Women’s Suffrage Collection. We can provide access to fully searchable newspapers by and for women including The Lily (1849-1856), National Citizen and Ballot Box (1878-1881), The Revolution (1868-1872), The New Citizen (1909-1912), The Western Woman Voter (1911-1913), The Woman’s Tribune (1883-1909) and the antisuffrage newspaper, The Remonstrance (1890-1913).

The following is one of several of my own contributions to the Song Leaves prepared for our use back in the campaign of 1881:


Said Joe to Sam in fierce debate
Upon the woman question,
You’ve answered well all other points.
Now here’s my last suggestion:
When woman goes to cast her vote
Some miles away, It may be,
Who then, I ask, will stay at home
To rock and tend the baby?

Quoth Sam I own you’ve made my case
Appear a little breezy,
I hoped you’d pass that question by
And give me something easy.
But as the matter seems to turn
On this point as its axis,
Just get the one who rocked it when
She went to pay her taxes.

Another song which I will ask you to record is one which I presume will need no caveat to prevent infringement. A portion of it was used by some committee on music, a chorus was added and was sung to the tune, I think, of “Red White and Blue,” my name being omitted as the author. I have gathered up the fragments and made some additions and now file it for record as my own. I have no pride in it as a literary production, but it can be sung effectively to the excellent tune “Old Rosin the Bow” and it presents prominently the great central thoughts around which all our arguments cluster. I will claim for it that it presents argument more than poetry.


Taxation without representation,
Is tyranny; such is the rule,
Who says this applies not to woman,
Is either a knave or a fool.
It was this very form of expression,
That the great Thomas Jefferson wrote.
And all are within the description,
Who are taxed but forbidden to vote.

Taxation without representation,
Is tyranny; tell If you can
Why woman should not have the ballot,
If taxed just the same as a man.
King George you remember denied us
The ballot but sent us the tea,
And we without asking a question,
Just tumbled it into the sea.

Taxation without representation,
Is tyranny; just this is meant,
That one man shall not rule another
Unless by that other’s consent.
It was this In the logic of Lincoln,
That served the proud Dougins to vex;
With them It related to color,
With us it’s a question of sex.

Taxation without representation,
Is tyranny; infamous blot!
While black men and aliens are voters,
And intelligent women are not.
Come witness the reign of a woman,
The best that proud Britain has known,
And tell us shall our queens be banished.
While England’s queen sits on the throne.

Taxation without representation.
Is tyranny; roll on the ball!
There is nothing of sex in the motto,
And the whole comes to naught after all.
The railroad comes round with its coupons.
The man had a vote and should pay,
The woman though never consulted,
Is forced the demand to obey.

-Truly yours, E. Estabrook.

About Experience Estabrook

Born in Lebanon, New Hampshire, he moved with his parents to Clarence, New York, in 1822 where he attended public schools. Estabrook then attended Dickinson College, in Carlisle, Pennsylvania. Estabrook graduated from the Chambersburg, Pennsylvania Law School, and then was admitted to the bar in Brooklyn, New York in 1839. He worked as a clerk at the Navy Yard in Brooklyn and later practiced law in Buffalo, New York. In 1840, he moved to Geneva, Wisconsin in 1840 and continued the practice of law. Estabrook was a delegate to the second Wisconsin State Constitutional Convention in 1848; in 1851, he became a member of the Wisconsin State Assembly. He was the Attorney General of Wisconsin in 1852 and 1853.

Estabrook was appointed by President Franklin Pierce the United States Attorney for the Nebraska Territory and served from 1855 to 1859. He presented credentials as a Delegate-elect to the Thirty-sixth United States Congress and served from March 4, 1859, to May 18, 1860, when he was succeeded by Samuel G. Daily, who contested his election. Experience Estabrook was appointed by the Governor to codify the Nebraska State laws in 1866.

He then became the prosecuting attorney for Douglas County, Nebraska in 1867, and 1868. He was a member of the Nebraska State Constitutional Convention in 1871.

Experience Estabrook died in Omaha, Nebraska on March 26, 1894, and was buried in Forest Lawn Cemetery in Omaha.

His daughter Caroline was a composer. His son Henry Dodge Estabrook was a lawyer in New York City.

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