Tag Archives: Woman Suffrage
Women-CA-Law-1911

Women Under California Laws (1911)

This item appeared in the June 1911 issue of The Western Woman Voter newspaper.

A brief examination of the status of women under the laws of California will convince anyone of two things: First, that women had no part in making these laws, and second, that she should have had a part, for they determine the conditions under which she must live.

The most progressive legislature that ever met in California this winter changed these laws concerning women in only two particulars: It passed the eight-hour law and it increased the penalty for stealing girls. But in submitting to the voters an amendment granting suffrage to women, this legislature of 1911 has made possible an improvement in all the laws.

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), and the antisuffrage newspaper, The Remonstrance (1890-1913).

The following outline of the laws of California as related to women has been examined by several lawyers and found to be correct:

Fathers Sole Guardians

One of the most unjust and unreasonable laws that California imposes upon women, is the one making fathers sole guardians or custodians of minor children. The care, custody, control, education and services of minor children belong legally to the father alone if parents live together. Illegitimate children are under the control of the mother.

A man can no longer will away his unborn child in any state.

A child’s inheritance of money has been provided for, and the courts appoint a property guardian. This must not be confused with general guardianship. The father is sole custodian.

Court decisions are often reported where young children have been given by the court to the mother. This does not prove that the mother had any legal share in the custody of her children prior to the decision. It proves that when a family is torn to pieces, the judge awards the pieces.

Besides the direct results upon mother and child, of the sole guardianship law, there is an indirect result that is wholly wicked. It is the threat a bad husband may hold over his wife , that he will do so and so to the child, unless the wife submits to his will absolutely. He has the law on his side. She has no redress except an appeal to the courts . This usually implies action for divorce.

In the “Naramore tragedy” of Massachusetts in 1901, a mother became desperate when the father planned to separate the children from her and from each other. She killed all six of them with an axe and then tried to suicide. This tragedy aroused Massachusetts, and a joint guardianship law was passed.

Thirteen states and the District of Columbia have laws making fathers and mothers joint guardians with equal responsibility and authority.

(Joint guardianship bills failed of passage in the legislature of 1909 and 1911.)

Minority of Girls

A girl’s minority ends at eighteen, while a boy is a minor until he is twenty-one. This is unfair to the girl. The age of minority is a protection. It is no favor to remove this legal protection from girls three years earlier than it is ended for boys. The age of majority should be the same for both sexes.

(Bills to make the age of minority of girls the same as for boys failed of passage in the legislatures of 1909 and 1911.)

Contract Rights

A woman may make any legal contract a man may make. The courts have decided she is a person and a citizen, though not a voter.

Unmarried Women

A woman who is unmarried suffers no injustice as to property rights. She may hold property, engage in business, and will property as freely as a man.

An unmarried woman has the same right that a man has, married or unmarried, of relinquishing citizenship in the country of her birth; or of her father, and enrolling as a citizen in the country of her choice.

Citizenship of Married Woman

Marriage gives to a woman the citizenship of her husband. An American girl who marries a Frenchman, becomes a foreigner.

Marriage has no effect upon a man’s citizenship.

However, a wife may apply for naturalization, and may secure it even without the consent of her husband.

Separate Property

A wife may hold separate property. All that she had before marriage (provided care is taken to separate it in the beginning and to keep it separate) all that she may receive as gift or inheritance, is separate property. This may be kept in her name alone, and is wholly under her control. A husband may hold separate property under similar conditions.

Homestead.

A homestead may be declared by either husband or wife , its value being limited to $5,000. The furniture of the home, and the clothing of wife and children are community property, but may not be sold without the consent of the wife .

Community Property

All earnings of husband and wife are community property. If this were really held in common, it would belong to both partners. But community property is under control of the husband alone. Calling it community or common is small comfort, since the husband controls it just as long as he may live.

The only restrictions placed upon the husband are that he shall not give such property away, and cannot will it all away. He can will away half of it.

Wife Cannot Will Community Property

But the wife cannot will away the other half. The half he cannot will away she can have if she outlives him. If he dies first, she loses the shadow of title she had alive. While he lives, she cannot control a dollar of community property, even though it is a dollar she earned. If she dies first, she cannot will any part of so-called community property to anybody. Her death removes all restrictions, and gives it all to him absolutely.

Wife’ s Signature Not Necessary

It is a matter of common knowledge that the wife is required to sign deeds when the husband sells property. Many people wrongly believe that this signature is necessary, and that it implies a degree of control by the wife , even a half interest in the property. These conclusions are false.

If she did not sign the deed, there would be a possibility of a suit over the title, in order to prove that the property was sold for a valuable consideration, since the husband cannot give it away. To prevent a possible suit with cost and delay, the lawyer and buyer require the wife’ s signature. But the action is only a precaution. Wives have tried in vain to recover a share in so-called community property sold without their knowledge.

Support

A husband is bound to support his wife. A wife is bound to support her husband when he cannot support himself. Her separate property is liable for certain community debts.

“Sole Trader”

A married woman may become a sole trader by certain legal steps, at some expense, and with humiliation. As such she may control her earnings and business as an independent individual.

Divorce

Divorce may be granted for any of the following causes: Adultery, extreme cruelty, wilful desertion, wilful neglect, habitual intemperance, or conviction of felony.

Women Students

Women are admitted on the same terms as men to all departments of the State University.

Women Office Holders

Women are eligible to school office throughout the state. Half the county superintendents of schools are women. Women serve as school trustees. Women are lawyers, doctors and ministers in churches of all denominations except three. No law prevents their serving as jurors. In 1900 the first woman physician was appointed to care for women in one of the state hospitals for the insane, though thousands of the patients have always been women.

Eight-hour Law for Women and Girls

The new law limiting to eight hours a day the time women and girls may work at nearly all kinds of labor became effective May 21, 1911. It has been carefully drawn to prevent its being declared unconstitutional by the courts .

“Age of Consent”

“The age of consent” is sixteen years. A girl cannot legally sell any property at sixteen, but she can consent to the loss of her virtue. Girls are often stolen or seduced, but convictions are extremely rare. The codes protect clams and lobsters and fish and birds, but they fail to protect girls sufficiently, and the courts have failed to punish those who trade in girls as sex slaves. The maximum penalty for stealing a pig is five years. Until 1911 it was the same penalty for stealing a girl. Now girl stealing may be punished by ten years, the same as stealing a mule or a calf.

California Women Have no Votes

Women have not even school suffrage in California. They are not allowed to vote for school trustee. Women have votes in 29 states. Three of these are tax-paying suffrage; three are school and tax-paying suffrage; 18 have some form of school suffrage. One state has municipal suffrage. Five states have votes for men and women on equal terms.

What is the Earliest Date at Which Women May Vote?

A woman’s suffrage amendment has passed the legislature with a heavy majority in each house. October 10, 1911, is the date of the special election on all amendments. A majority of votes cast for the suffrage amendment will carry it. Every vote counts toward the total. Amendments take effect immediately.


Kitchen Women

The Risk of Office Holding by Women (1913)

The Remonstrance was the official publication of the Massachusetts Association Opposed to the Further Extension of Suffrage to Women. First published annually and later quarterly in Boston from February, 1890 until April 1919, it provided a forum for women who opposed the expansion of voting rights to women.

To the Editor of The Remonstrance:

May not we, who protest against the further extension of the franchise to women, reasonably lay stress upon a danger to the sex which will probably be one of its results, namely the increased holding of public office by women? If those who desire it, obtain Woman Suffrage, will this not come as a natural consequence?

Will those women who are not satisfied that men should choose their representatives and law-makers, be content to be exclusively represented and governed by them? Shall we not see many women strive for entrance and enter into public and political life and all that it involves for brain and body? Will they not squander and dissipate in combat with man and the usurpation of many of his functions, the strength and force which should be used for what we believe to be the real object of their existence?

For we, even as the suffragists, have our ideal for woman. We believe that she has her great work to do for the human race, but, along the lines laid down for her from the Creation. We believe that it is her part to influence and educate both man and woman towards an ever more unselfish, nobler and more spiritual conception of life.

We believe that, unaided by the franchise, she can do this for her unenlightened brother and her over-burdened sister. We believe that her spheres, in these days of wider opportunities, are not only in the home, but in the office, the department-store, and the factory also. We believe that if each true woman, standing where nature or the necessities of living have placed her, will use her powers and opportunities thoughtfully and without prejudice, man can be trusted more and more surely by her, faithfully to perform his great part in the guidance of civilization and the uplifting of society.

Since we believe this and that the right to vote and the duty of voting will add too heavily to the life-work of the conscientious woman, the world over, how much more overpowering must we consider the burden to be laid upon her inadequate body and brain, if she is to be called upon to take a place in the strenuous battle of public and political life.

—Jane Dexter

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), and the antisuffrage newspaper, The Remonstrance (1890-1913).

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Men for Women’s Suffrage (1911)

(The Western Woman Voter/October 1911) An incident full of meaning at the Sixth Congress of the International Suffrage Alliance which convened this summer at Stockholm was the formation of an International Men’s League for Woman Suffrage.

Fraternal Delegates from Men’s Leagues of five nations sat in the Congress waiting to make their addresses. They attracted the attention of the International President, and deploring the loss of so much power, she remarked early in the congress that they might put in time to good advantage by starting a Men’s League in Sweden. It was a spark to powder. The League was formed forthwith, with literary, university, parliamentary and other lights combining in one blaze of suffrage enthusiasm, and from this national league the men went on to an international one.

Another noteworthy event was the unanimous vote of the Alliance that it should not ally itself with any political party but should keep the suffrage issue single. This decision was reached after a debate covering two days, and in spite of the fact that some of the delegates were, personally, strong partisans, so that the unanimous vote was the more significant. The Americans, from the first, supported this policy.

At this Congress for the first time in the history of woman suffrage the General Federation of Women’s Clubs (American) sent a fraternal delegate to a “women ‘s rights” meeting. Mary Garrett Hay of New York bore the greetings.

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), and the antisuffrage newspaper, The Remonstrance (1890-1913).

 


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Voting Machines in the United States (1911)

(The Western Woman Voter, April 1911) Voting machines are in use in nearly one thousand cities and towns in the United States. These machines count the ballots as they are cast, so that twenty minutes after the close of the election the result is known. There is, moreover, a much smaller percentage of lost votes than by the ballot method. In San Francisco, where the machines were in use before the fire, the percentage of the votes cast that was recorded and counted was 99⅞. No large city ever showed such high percentage of the ballots cast actually counted.

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), and the antisuffrage newspaper, The Remonstrance (1890-1913).

The laws of New York, California, Indiana, Wisconsin, Colorado, Minnesota, New Jersey, Iowa, Connecticut, Utah, Ohio, Nebraska, Michigan and Montana permit the use of voting machines and in all of these states they are gradually taking the place of the paper ballot. (more…)


Post 2019-01-26

Ballots for Women: Giving or Forcing?

Members of the Massachusetts legislature, or of the legislatures of other states, who are urged to vote this winter for suffrage bills or amendments, should remember that what they are really asked to do is not to give the ballot to women, but to force it upon them.

That is what it really amounts to. The suffragists are admittedly a minority among women. As a matter of fact,—though this they do not admit—they are a small minority. Tested in any way one pleases,—by the membership of their organizations, by the signers to their petitions, or by the votes cast at school elections,—they are a small minority.

Actions speak louder than words. If the suffragists do not know that they are a small minority, why do they always bitterly oppose every proposal to submit the question to a referendum of women’s votes?

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), and the antisuffrage newspaper, The Remonstrance (1890-1913).

(more…)


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