Right of Suffrage for Women

January 5, 1866


The Dispatch sarcastically offers support for the Women's Suffrage Movement on the grounds that women must then share a "fair" role in society.


The united ages of the two or three original pioneers of the Woman's Rights movements, so called, must be about that of Methuselah. We take it for granted, therefore, if they are the same ladies who lately addressed a petition to Congress for the extension to women of the right of suffrage, that they have risen from the dead. We feel it more courteous and respectful to adopt this theory than to attribute to females such extraordinary longevity. The important of the object would justify their-reappearance in this sublunary sphere, and, as soon as it is accomplished, they may be expected to subside again, and rest in peace. We have no thought of opposing this Woman's Rights movement. We have not the most remote design of standing any longer in the way of Human Progress. We intend to take off out hat to the Spirit of the Age and say, go it! We want all the reforms to come at once, and come together, and demonstrate the perfectibility of the race. let us have them all and be done with them. This continent presents as good a field as can be found, to make experiments, and there could not be a better century. If the end is a grand social explosion, that is preferable to dying by inches, and posterity will be benefited by our experience and have a quiet time. We interpose, therefore, no objection to the extension of the right of suffrage to women, and are even willing to give it up to them entirely, provided they assume tits accompanying responsibilities, and surrender to the males the peculiar immunities and disabilities of the female sex. If the women will work on the highways, pay taxes, bear arms, and support the family, we are content to let them vote, to elect them to Congress, to make them Governors, Ambassadors, and Presidents. The men will, no doubt, consent to do the cooking, feed the babies with a bottle, and spend the money. It would be an agreeable change, for old gentlemen particularly, upon entering a railroad car or a saloon, to have a one young ladies jump up and offer their seats, and it would be a pleasant thing to young gentleman to stay at home and receive visits of female admirers, and refer them to "mamma." Let us try the experiment by all means. If the women could make much worse use of the right of suffrage than the men, or the men prove themselves s incompetent for a famine sphere, as the female politicians, we can give the thing up as a failure. We are getting to be of opinion that the right of suffrage is not as indispensable to human happiness as is commonly supposed. There can be no sort of doubt, we concede, of the capability of every son and daughter of Adam of self-government, and no one can question that wisdom of a system by which the most ignorant and debased person in the community has as much power in the election oaf rulers as the wisest and most virtuous. But, as a matter of convo hence and economy, we would be entirely willing too part with the right of suffrage, and pay some experienced old man or old man to do the governing. In the mean time, we raise no obstacle to any experiments upon the frame-work of society ; to taking it to pieces and putting it together again; to repealing all the laws of nature, reason and experience ; to permitting idiocy and insanity to seize the reins and drive the Age to its Manifest Destiny. Only let us have a prospect that out of the chaos will come forth in the end some kind of stability and order, and we are well content.
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Justin Barlow


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“Right of Suffrage for Women,” Reconstructing Virginia, accessed May 28, 2023, https://reconstructingvirginia.richmond.edu/items/show/10.