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Mrs. Stanton Speaks

Elizabeth Cady Stanton, an ardent and articulate supporter of rights for women, campaigned
tirelessly for women's suffrage. In June of 1871 she addressed "an intelligent, though not
large audience" in Nebraska's young capital city. Her visit coincided with the State
Constitutional Convention, and she urged lawmakers to include women's right to vote in the
document they were creating.

One observer wrote, "Mrs. Stanton thought many of the leading men of the State, and all of
the leading women, are in favor of striking the word 'male' from the constitution. Our
population is sparse and virtuous, and therefore fit to try the great experiment.

"Just before Horace Greeley went to Texas some one asked him, 'What about woman's
suffrage?' He said, 'It is as sure to come as the earth is to revolve.'

"Men do not argue against it. They allude to some prejudice. The Omaha Tribune says that
home is a woman's sphere. Do people suppose that cradles would be annulled if women
walked up to the polls once a year? That is what was urged against the enlargement of the
suffrage so as to include the laboring man in England. But it was found that blacksmiths did
not desert their anvils nor shoemakers their shops, to dance all the year around the polls.

"Some people say that woman would degrade politics and politics degrade woman. Women's
influence has always been purifying. You in the Western States have admitted women to
your universities, and since then the standard of scholarship is raised and the whole
atmosphere is purified," Mrs. Stanton said.

Another argument was that voting would cause women to be mixed up with men. Mrs.
Stanton's response: "Mixed up with men! We find men everywhere; in the streets, in the
church, in our homes. It is a great wonder that the Good Father did not put all the boys in one
family and all the girls in another."

Although "it was almost too warm to speak or listen" Mrs. Stanton "delivered a lecture that
was worthy of her fame." "After the close of the lecture Miss Susan B. Anthony came
forward and offered several Women's Rights papers and books for sale."

Despite the urgings of the nationally-known activitists Stanton and Anthony, Nebraska's 1875
constitution did not enfranchise women. Nebraska women who wanted to vote had almost
fifty more years to wait.

 

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