proper sphere of woman is in the social circle exclusively and in the
sacred precincts of home.
"That the right to vote equally with man has never been conceded
to woman, and, therefore, ought not to be accorded them, appears to
us to rest the question wholly on the venerable sanction of time. That
because they have ever l)eÂ«n denied the rights of electors, and therefore
ought always to ])e denied them, it is submitted is not a sequence. It is
simply a begging of the question at best ; it is an assumption that what-
ever has been, ought always to be. This doctrine is not consistent with
the progressive spirit of the times, and therefore cannot stand, unless
supported by other considerations which moved our sex, primarily, to
exclude them from a voice in the affairs of government. It is doubtless
true that good, conscientious men, when exercising the right of electors
â– â€” in some sense, in representing their own interests â€” so far intend to
represent the interests of their mothei's, sisters, wives, and daughters;
but unfortunately the amount of good and conscience in the exercise
of the privilege of electors amongst the great mass of men, is much less
than we believe is to be found among an equal number of the softer
sex. Who is there that believes that the lovely wife of a habitually
intemperate husband would vote with him upon the question of extirpat-
ing the temptation set before her husband, which is gradually, but
surely, dragging him and her down to degradation and want? Who
is there that can believe that a good, pious mother, whose wayward son
HISTORY OF COLORADO 719
is plunging into paths of vice and profligacy, would vote otherwise than
to suppress and drive away from our midst the liaunts of vice in which
he is being led rapidly to disgrace and shame?
"Yet we see husbands, fathers, lirothers, and sons stand idly by,
and look upon the throng that crowds the roads of vice, without taking
any steps to check the wayward multitude. Put into the hands of
women the almighty power of the ballot and eveiy public den of iniquity,
where temptations beset the weak, and the young are corrupted and
fall, will vanish like mist before the blaze of a summer sun.
"Notwithstanding the boasted chivalry of our ancestry in the pro-
tection of woman, the law of the descent and the distribution of prop-
erty limited the wife to an inconsiderable share of the husband's estate,
acquired, though it might have been, by a life time of industry and
self-denial of the wife. In modem times we have not improved the
law of descent of property. In this Territory, however, we have made
ample provision for the widow out of the estate of the husband. We
have reasons to congratulate ourselves upon the liberality in this direc-
tion, to be found in our statutes. It is not denied that a great funda-
mental change in any department of our government should not be
made lightly, or without the fullest deliberation and discussion. Why,
in our form of government, women have been denied the right to vote,
is not to us, very clear. That they have equally with men the capacity
to comprehend all questions usually submitted for decision to the peo-
ple, and that their purpose to vote correctly, especially upon all ques-
tions involving any moral phases, cannot be gainsaid. But it may
be assumed that wives will vote with their husbands, mothers with
their sons, and sisters with their brothers. Whilst, as a rule, this may
be the case upon some questions of political economy, which but few of
the intelligent and educated male electors fully understand, yet it is
not, or will not, be found to be true on all questions of morals. Why,
therefore, it has been everywhere so persistently denied them, must be
upon the principle that the proper sphere of woman is in the social
circle exclusively. To that doctrine we cannot fully subscribe. If we
could be made to believe that conferring upon woman the right to vote,
would in any way or degree compromise her in the social circle, or
detract from the charm with which we behold her in that relation, we
would hesitate long to extend the privilege to her, although demanded
by other considerations which would make it almost imperative upon
us. It is claimed that politics is a dirty pool, and that whoever dabbles
in it must necessarily be fouled. To this we have to answer, that whilst
we do not believe it to be wholly true, yet even were it the fact, there is
the more reason that the purer,"higher, and ennobling inflence of woman
should be invoked to purify the waters which men have so long defiled.
It will not, of course, be expected that in the turmoil of political agita-
tion, woman will always actively engage. Nor is it believed that, in the
squabble for place, sometimes so indecently made by seekers of ofSce,
with means often questionable, and sometimes highly disreputable,
woman will ever desire actively to participate, but on the days of elec-
tions those who appear to have thus acquired positions as candidates,
must pass the ordeal of excellence which women, we think, will set up
for representatives to rule over us. Attached to one or the other of the
great political parties, as thev probably will be. which now divides the
countrV and possiblv ever will divide it. it is not too much to expect
that through the influence of women directly acting at elections as
voters, each of the great parties doulitless will require of its rein-esenta-
tives a hio-her and purer standard of morality than has. unfortunately
oftentimes" been required in candidates for office by party managers
That this result will be attained we confidently believe, and that it
may be, by the influence of women, at all times required, is a 'consuir.-
mation devoutly to be wished.'
720 HISTORY OF COLORADO
"We do uot see how it can be made to appear that the pi-oper
sphere of woman is exclusively the social circle and the precincts of the
fireside. We think it a matter of much regi-et that the women of our
countr.y have been heretofore so little educated in the business concerns
of life. Scarcely any of them have made themselves at all familiar with
the laws which govern the transfer of property, or regulate its distribu-
tion to themselves or their children, in case of the demise of fathers and
husbands. Women left without the superintending care of fathers or
husbands necessarily, as a rule, from the want of acquaintance with
the business affairs of life, are compelled to triist the management of
their business to those whose habits of thought, inquiry, and familiarity
with such things fit them to take care of their interests. Oftentimes
they fall into the hands of sharpers through this neglect in their
"If, therefore, the discussion of political affairs and the condition
of the laws shall direct the female mind of the country to their material
interests, and in some degree, it is to be hoped, divert their minds from
the study of ever changing and expensive fashion (as we ardently trast
it may) by giving them a new field of inquiry, the sooner they shall
be invited "into this new field, the better it will be for all of us.
"We do not expect that women will cease to adorn the social circle,
where she has ever, and will ever pre-eminently shine, nor fail to
sanctify by her gracious presence the holy shrine of the fireside home,
merely' because she shall emerge from the disability of the governed to
the higher condition of the governing.
"Nor indeed can we anticipate that, by reason of being made an
elector, she will in any degree whatever lose any of those charms of
manner, or special qualities of grace, which have been and will ever
continue to be the admiration of the sterner and stronger sex.
"We are not insensible that the shafts of ridicule, and the coarser
jests of the vulgar, will for a time assail the advocates of her enfranchise-
ment, but elotiied with that power, when tlie novelty of the innovation
shall have passed away, the corrupt and vulgar, who have thought woman
only a toy, will find her fully equal and even superior in what has been
hitherto considered the manly qualities of character.
"That enfranchisement will degrade woman to the lower moral level
of the mass of men, we see no reason whatever to believe.
"But upon the contrary we are assured that the political atmosphere
will be speedily purified and stay purified, by the familiar presence and
the lofty moral christian influence and excellence of woman, uniting with
men in discussing questions heretofore specially claimed as the sole
property of man.
"Your committee, in the examination of this question, are not with-
out hope that in the adoption of this new policy, the avenue of profitable
employment to females will be widely extended in those lines of industry
which" are suitable to her sex, and which are now almost exclusively filled
by males. It is true that there is no law which interdicts the employment
of females in any lawful industrious pursuits.
"The want of their employment most prot)ably rests upon prejudice
amongst women as well as men. It appears to be fashionable amongst
women to be thought to live idly, fashionable amongst men to live by their
wits, as far as possible, and failing in that, to live by such light, indus-
trious labor as may be as well done by females. We have gi-eat hope that,
by making women electors, causing them to be more familiar with the
laws, the manner of transacting business, putting them fully on an
equalitv with men before the law, stimulating them to inquiring into the
every "day affairs of life, they will gi-adually but surely remove the
prejudice now existing against their employment as clerks, bookkeepei-s,
saleswomen, and in all the lighter but necessary labor now exclusively
performed by males.
HISTORY OP COLORADO 721
"Its effect will be, if such results shall be attained, largely to con-
tribute to remove from communities that class of unfortunates who live
their brief existence upon the wages of sin. For it is undeniable that the
want of proper employment, by means of which they may be enabled to
live respectably, aided somewhat by a desire to imitate the more for-
tunate in the tawdry changes of fashion, is the real cause of filling the
haunts of infamy everywhere, and soon, happily perhaps for them, early,
though disrei^utable graves.
"Give to woman employment, put into her hand the ballot as a
means by and through which she may demand and enforce her claims to
such employment, for which she is as well lifted as her brother, and you
remove the incentive which causes the fall.
"But it is claimed that enfranchising woman will disorganize fam-
ilies, breed discord, and disrupt the happy relations that now subsist be-
tw.een man and wife. If such consequences should unfortunately follow
the introduction of this reform into our political system, it would be the
sul).iect of the gravest mistake in our legislation. "VYe are not at all satis-
fied that such results would ensue.
"Husbands and wives now differ in political f|uestions, as widely as
the.y could differ if they were both voters.
"We are not informed of any cases where this difference of opinion
has bred discord in families, and we believe that in cases where both hus-
bands and wives would vote, and vote on oppo.site sides, there would be
no more grave difficulties than now exist, or would exist in any ease where
they unfortunately fail to agree.
"It is not at all improliable that the husband, brother and son would
be moved to scrutinize more closely the moral qualifications of men who
would be presented for public places, through the agency of the mothei",
wife and sister, than is now done by male electors.
"The attachment to party candidates for office, under any and all
circumstances and surroundings, of which we see a great deal too much,
would gradually relax its grasp upon the party man under the free and
friendly discussion of the household.
"The integrity of the opinion of women, the desire to lie right and
to do .iustice, whatever tlie results, we believe, as a rule, to be stronger in
women than in men. Familiai'ize her with political questions, with all
the details which men habitually examine as political partisans, and
woman in that respect becomes fully equal to the man. AVhy should
man and wife quarrel any more when both vote, than when the husband
votes alone ? What is there in the relation of mother, sister, or daughter,
that is incompatible with the relation of elector ? Is there anything of
the lovely and beautiful in woman in her social sphere, that would be
destroyeci by the right to vote? AVhat man has ever made the political
views "of a sweetheart the cause for declining a conjugal alliance, when
beauty, grace, and loveliness had wooed her to his heart ? And what is
there after the consummation of their union, in an honest difference of
views on political measures of men, that covhl excite discord between 'two
hearts that beat as one ' ? We repudiate the imputation as grossly unjust.
"It is further objected that the duties of maternity, and care of chil-
dren, inifit women for the active labor of life. If this be true it proves
too much. If women are excluded from voting because they are moth-
ers, they certainlv cannot be excluded before they become mothers; and
after that time, when their children shall have passed beyond the necess-
ity of maternal care.
"The proposition also fails to exclude those who never l>eeome
mothers at all. Besides, we fail to see in this statement any reason why
mothers should be excluded from voting, to remove every disability
under which they suffer, or be excluded from a voice in the enactment
of such laws as shall present any legislation against or respecting them,
which they mav deem to be unjust..
722 HISTORY OF COLORADO
"Some women are so situated as not to have the care either of chil-
dren or the household. They of course do not come withiu the reason
of the rule of exclusion from the active labors of life, nor from the
privilege of the ballot.
"That there is any peculiarity in the female mind or heart so dif-
ferent from that of the other sex. as to unfit them for such active duties
of life as they may choose to pursue, we fannot for the life of us see.
"Instances are not wanting of great superiority in women, in almost
every department of active industrial pur.suits : and like instances of
great intellectual superiority in women are found along the line of his-
tory, from the earliest times to the present period.
"In monarchical governments, even the highest regal authority is
conferred by the law of descent upon women : and instances have been
found amongst them of the highest tj^pe of rulers.
"It is believed that all that is wanting to produce amongst wonjen
the number of distinguished characters equal with men, is opportunity.
We cannot and do not anticipate that women will distinguish themselves
in the barbarous art of war. which has made so many names immortal, nor
in the rougher or coarser labors of life, where the bra\\-ny, muscular
strength of man is only equal to their accomplishment.
"What we insist upon is opportunity for women to clioose for them-
selves what they are best fitted to perform. And to that end we insist
that women shall be clothed with the ballot, to enforce their claims to
enter upon any of the labors of life for which they may deem themselves
qualified equally well with men.
"Wlien the incompatibility of any labor or pui-suit is a real and not
an imaginary' incompatibility, it may safely be left wholly to the care of
itself. We see no cause to shut out women from any of the civil offices
necessary to be filled, however high and important they may be.
"We think that in places where integi-ity and high moral purpose is
requisite, we may with great safety commit such trusts to women. The
object in view in the creation of oiSces is the good of the state, not that
of the incumbents. Although compensation is allowed for official services,
it is not given as an avenue to money making, but as a means to enable
the public service to be properly executed. We reiterate that women
can execute the duties of all official positions, when properly educated,
as well as men.
"We are aware that the ignorant and vicious, the idle and vile, those
whose lives have been devoted to the degi-adation of women, and their
own degradation also, with the conservative, some of the intelligent but
unfortunately fossilized gentlemen of our time, will be found in .solid,
compact array in opposition to woman 's enfranchisement. With respect-
ful deference to the opinions of that respectable class, who may differ
with us. we may be permitted to say that the moral, intelligent, progres-
sive, .just and conscientious portion of the community, who see in woman
more than a subordinate, who see in her their equal, nay, their superior,
in many things, are hopefully anxious for her redemption from the thrall-
dom into which ages of uniform legislation have unjustly condemned
"The opponents of her enfranchisement would have us believe that
this concession of justice to our wives and daughters will be the apple of
discord, cast among our household gods to distract and disrupt our
happy homes. We cannot believe it. We concede that the proposition
involves an experiment. It can never be other than an experiment until
it shall be fairly tried. If it fail, as we confidently believe it will not,
we have abundant confidence in the intelligence and good .sense of women
to yield up the privilege of electors, as cheerfully and gracefully as we
hope this Legislative Assembly will confer it ixpon them.
"Your committee, therefore, recommend the repeal of so much of sec-
tion one of chapter twenty-eight of the Revised Statutes as inhibits
HISTORY OF COLORADO 723
females from voting, and the enactment of such laws as will permit
them to stand equal in all respects with men before the law.
"Amos Steck, Chairman.
"J. W. Nesmith."
"On motion of Mr. Stearns, the report was received and ordered
"On motion of Mr. Sherwood, the Enrolling Clerk was instructed
to make a copy of Mr. Steek's report from the special committee on
Female Suffrage, for the use of the Secretary. ' '
In the meantime some action on the Governor's recommendation
had been taken in the House of Representatives. On January 7th, that
part of the Governor's message relating to "Female Suffrage" was re-
ferred to a special committee consisting of Representatives Mann, Taylor
and Bevan, who do not appear ever to have made any report thereon.
Three days later. Representative DeFrance introduced a bill so "to
amend the election law ' ' as to grant full suffrage to women ; and on Jan-
uary 13th Representative Lea introduced another for the same purpose.
These measures were referred to a special connnittee consisting of Rep-
resentatives DeFrance, Shepperd, Mann, Lea and Bierce ; and on Jan-
uary 19th this commmittee submitted to the House the following report :
"Mr. Speaker: Your special committee, to whom was referred H. B.
No. 5, beg leave to submit the following report :
"Your committee are of the opinion, upon an examination of the
bill and its purposes, that the end sought can be more readily attained
by a separation of the subjects, the matter therein contained beinsr hetero-
geneous. ************ This brings
your committee to the consideration of the third and vital question
contained in the original bill â€” the extension to women of the right of
suffrage. To attain this purpose, .your committee have drafted a sepa-
rate bill which we report back to the House as a substitute for H. B. No.
25, which also was referred to this, your committee. But to the question
of Woman Suffrage, however much men may ridicule the question, how-
ever much they may seek in that way to avoid its decision and ignore its
importance in the future political economy of the country, the fact can
no longer be disguised ihat the question of the right of the women of
America to a voice in the political affairs of the government under
which we live, is the one great vital question of the day. Negro Suft'rage
ha.s gone into the past, and no longer supplies food for political discu.ssion.
In its wake and as one of its necessary corollaries, follows the question
of Female Suffrage.
"The decade which has just closed has wrought one immense revo-
lution, if it failed in another. Some eight hundred thousand names have
been added to the voting list of the country in the persons of liberated
slaves and free negroes. However bitterly the adoption of this measure
may have been opposed, and however nauseous the draught may now be
to many of us, the question of Freedman Suffrage may be denominated
a dead issue. The declaration that the ballot should follow the bayonet
was too plausible for successful opposition, and we now witness a
whole country bow to the solution.
"As a remedy for this supposed evil, as some say, but on much
higher gi'ounds, as is said by others, your mothers, wives and sisters
now step into the arena and demand of you the right to participate
equally with you in the power and privilege of political affairs. They
demand it as their right. They do not beg it as a concession. They say.
and in much truth, that one of the main cornerstones in your temple of
freedom, cemented and fixed there by the no])lest blood of your most
noble ancestry, is the declaration that representation should go with
taxation. They pay their taxes â€” you levy them, direct their amount,
724 HISTORY OF COLORADO
and the purpose for which they shall be expended. Your wife owns the
house in which you live, and its contents, and the horse and carnage
which you in common use for your pleasures. Your colored servant who
lights Vour tires and cares for those horses, but who does not own an
article "of property beyond his scanty wardrobe, votes at all your elections
and directs the taxesto be paid by your wife on this property, and how
the money thus paid shall be expended, and that, too, without intelli-
gence enough to know the difference between a democracy and despot-
ism, or to give you the least possible idea of what is meant by the word
"Is this right .' Is this justice .' But to this it is replied that there
can be no general rule without its exceptions, and that no municipal
regulation can be made that will not work injustice to some: that women
generally do not wish to vote ; that their delicacy revolts at the idea of
contact "with rough manhood in their struggles to reach the window ;
and last, but not least, that their gentler sensibilities will be blunted
in these contests, and they degraded, rather than society elevated by
their enfranchisement. This logic, we think, will not bear the touch-
stone of criticism. Are women degraded by their constant contact with
the sterner sex in our churches, .our schools, our vehicles of public travel,
or our ball rooms, if you please ?
"Certainly not, but on the contrary their presence invariably tends
to the suppression of follies, indecencies and even lu'utalities, which
males, alas! are but too prone to indulge in. Can any Colorado man
dare for one moment to doubt the blissful influence of women? Look,
for instance, at Denver ten years since, and compare it with Denver
of today. Then the citizens were all males, and riot and bloodshed, drunk-
enness "anid debauchei-y, were the characteristics of society. Now, after
the influx of its thousands of refined and educated women, no New
England village is more noted for the elegance of its society, and the
peace and (piietness of its places of public resort and thoroughfares. Did
not woman with her moral influence work this change .' Can any one
in his senses doubt? Woman was not degraded by her contact with
rough, uncouth manhood here, but by her benig-n influences, elevated the
standard of morals, and brought these same men to her own high
level. Put into her hands the ballot and learn the fact early which
must eventuallv come to your knowledge, that whatever is touched by
woman is dignified and ennobled by the contact.-' The disgraceful scenes
which too frcfiuently occur at your places of voting will cease, and soon
the hustings will be as peaceful and quiet as your other places of public
resort. Let women vote and three of the cancers upon the body politic
will speedilv disappear. We mean the drinking saloon, the gambling
house and the brothel. The standard of political morals will be elevated.
The successful politician will no longer be the bar room brawler or the
worthless debauchee. Politics will attain a high level. Your laws will