Woman suffrage by federal constitutional amendment, comp. by Carrie Chapman Catt : Stories, History

2. Equal Rights Demands It.

Men of this country have been enfranchised by various extensions of the voting privilege but IN NO SINGLE INSTANCE were they compelled to appeal to an electorate containing groups of recently naturalized and even unnaturalized foreigners, Indians, Negroes, large numbers of illiterates, ne'er-do-wells, and drunken loafers. The Jews, denied the vote in all our colonies, and the Catholics, denied the vote in most of them, received their franchise through the revolutionary constitutions which removed all religious qualifications for the vote in a manner consistent with the self-respect of all. The property qualifications for the vote which were established in every colony and continued in the early state constitutions were usually removed by a referendum but the question obviously went to an electorate limited to property-holders only. The largest number of voters to which such an amendment was referred was that New York. Had every man voted who was qualified to do so, the electorate would not have exceeded 200,000 and probably not more than 150,000. [1]*

The next extensions of the vote to men were made to certain tribes of Indians by act of Congress; and to the Negro by amendment to the Federal Constitution.

At least three-fourths of the present electors secured their votes through direct naturalization or that of their forefathers. Congress determines conditions of citizenship and state constitutions fix qualifications of voters. In no instance has the foreign immigrant been forced to plead with a vast electorate for his vote. The suffrage has been “thrust upon him“ without effort or even request on his part. National and State constitutions not only close to women the comparatively easy processes by which the vote was extended to men and women of other countries but also those processes by which the vote was secured to men of our own land. The simplest method now possible is by amendment of the Federal Constitution. To deny the privilege of that method to women is a discrimination against them so unjust and insufferable that no fair-minded man North or South, East or West, can logically share in the denial.


* Suffrage in the Colonies. New York Chapter. McKinley.