Employment of Females

January 23, 1866


A bill giving women the right to work as clerks fails again after receiving its third reading.


Bill to provide for the employment of female clerks for the purpose of copying certain grants and other papers in the Land Register's office was put upon its third reading, and an animated discussion was kept up as to the propriety and economy of complying females. Many expressions of gallantry were elicited. Mr.Hansborough said that he had never yet refused a request from a lady, and that he was now willing to do anything in his power for the ladies. Mr.Jones argued against the measure. While he felt always the highest respect for the ladies, and was always especially gratified by and expression of their esteem for him, he did not think the sphere of clerkship was her's, nd would therefore vote against it. Mr.Wood thought that the employment of females would be a saving. The copying would have to be done by the males if the bill was not passed, and he certainly through that the males were more expensive than females. Mr.Gibboney wanted the bill to be passed. Mr.White said that he had had charge of female clerks during the war, and could testify to their fitness. He would vote for the bill. Mr.Garnett made an earnest appeal in behalf of the impoverished daughters of Virginia, addressing himself, in coclusion, to the bachelors around him, beseeching them, for once, to receive the smiles of gratitude from the fair ones. Mr.Turner presumed, from the remarks of Mr.Garnett, that he and his friend on his left, from Washington (Mr.Bekem) were the confirmed and incorrigible offenders appealed to. He accused Mr.Garnett of bribery. (Laughter.) It was a matter which deserved serious attention: a bribe offered to members in the earnest discharge of their duties (Laughter.) Mr.Garnett replied in a few spicy remarks, winding up the quotation, "Is there a heart that never loved, etc." Mr.Grattan then argued in favor of the bill. Female clerks in the departments in Richmond during the war had proven efficient. In answer to the argument of Mr.Joynes, as to the impropriety of females serving as clerks, he said that the record of the ladies who had served as clerks during the war would compare with the record of any women in Virginia. Mr.Pendleton called the previous question. Agreed to. The vote resulted: ayes, 47; noes, 33. The Chair having decided that the bill needed a constitutional vote one half the whole House- the bill was lost. Mr. Pendleton moved a reconsideration of the vote, which was agreed to. On motion of Mr.Pendleton's, the bill was then passed by and placed on the calendar. On motion of Mr.Bently, the House adjourned.
About this article

Contributed By

Justin Barlow




“Employment of Females,” Reconstructing Virginia, accessed May 28, 2023, https://reconstructingvirginia.richmond.edu/items/show/40.