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Mary Doten

From a clipping found in M. S. Doten's scrapbook, and signed M.S.D. No date given, possibly 1889. And secondly, a letter to the editor printed December 7, 1894 in the Reno Evening Gazette.

MARY STODDARD DOTEN ON WOMEN SUFFRAGE

In every school where the average age is from 13 to 17, the girls can be trained to self-government; will, in fact, take great pride in governing themselves, and can be trusted to do so, while seven out of ten of the boys must be forced in some way to obey the same rules.

The pride, the ambition, the good judgment of the future legislator all may be appealed to, but too often in vain, while the women of the future, for whom he is to help make the laws, will not only obey every rule of the little republic -- the school-room -- but will assist the teacher in every way in their power to execute the same.

How is it, too, that these future legislators can be trusted to the training of the despised sex, who rank with the Indian and the Chinaman in not being allowed the right of suffrage? Surely if women are fitted to train them they should also be fit to vote with them.

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Editor Gazette: As you have kindly asked me to give an expression of my opinions on the great question of the day, "Woman Suffrage," I will endeavor to do so; though when expressed they may remind the reader of the criticism made on Ruskin, that while he would strenuously advocate one measure or line of conduct on one day, he would strenuously argue for its opposite on the next. For this he defended himself on the ground that it was a man's duty to view a subject from all sides, and a mark of honesty to own publicly when he saw reason for changing his mind.

With this introduction as a sort of explanation, I will state that I am emphatically in favor of the ballot for woman, and that I am as emphatically opposed to it.

From the standpoint of the injustice of the legal disability of woman; from the standpoint that all men--which term I take to include women-are created free and equal; from the standpoint that equal and exact justice is the inalienable right of all; that "taxation without representation is tyranny", from the standpoint that for man to degrade his sister, wife and mother to the level of the Indian, the pauper, the lunatic and the idiot, is far more degrading to himself than to her, I claim that the right to vote and to hold office should be given to woman on equal terms with man.

But to grant suffrage to woman as indiscriminately as it is allowed to man, with the idea that by thus doing reforms be brought about, crying wrongs be righted, the condition of woman as a class be bettered, is, to my mind, an Utopian idea--one that can be fulfilled only under certain and, I fear, almost impossible conditions.

That there is throughout our land a large and rapidly increasing class of earnest, honest, thoughtful, intelligent women, whose influence in political matters, as in anything else to which they may turn their attention, would be to refine, purify, and elevate, is a fact which all should be proud to acknowledge. If by giving suffrage to women, only the members of this class would be allowed to vote, I should say earnestly, let them vote, urge them to do so. But, unfortunately, if one woman be allowed to vote, all must be allowed to do so, under the same conditions as those by which the male voter is governed. That men manifestly unfit -- for anything -- are voters is only too true; that " to every Jack there is a Jill" is also too true; and while modest, sensitive women might naturally hesitate to avail themselves of their privileges as voters, those of the lower, depraved, wicked and ignorant classes would be only too eager to do so.

Could we hope that corruption in politics would cease, were the women of the land allowed to have a voice in those matters formerly thought to belong exclusively to men; could we believe that all womankind would be too scrupulous, too high-minded to sell her vote to the highest bidder; could we trust her to make a careful study of the merits of rival causes and candidates -- as, of course, all men do -- and then choose honestly those that she thought best for the welfare of the country; could we know that, pure and upright herself, she would refused to countenance the candidate who strove to obtain office by dishonorable means; could we believe that the girl just attaining the legal age would weigh impartially the man, and not throw her influence and her vote in favor of the young man who is a pretty fellow, wears a delightful mustache, and waltzes divinely, no matter how empty his head may be; could we trust woman to be true to herself in all things; then would I say let woman vote.

When the time comes that the "filthy pool" of politics shall be cleansed from its impurities, so that woman may enter in and be undefiled, then let her do so.

Here I shall be met with the argument that "that time will never come until her hand it put to the task." Truly will she find it a Herculean task, akin to the cleansing of the Angean stables.

A wholesale political purification is the crying need of the land. It is only necessary to study the history of political corruption and its effects on other nations to determine what the fate of our own may in time be, unless such purification shall take place. The whole system of voting, the regulations governing the qualifications of the voter, should undergo a sweeping and radical change. Instead of allowing every Tom, Dick and Harry, all the rag-tag and bobtail of the land to help make the laws which they are continually breaking; instead of giving suffrage to nearly all mankind, good, bad or indifferent, and then extending the privilege to the same classes of the other sex, let the laws governing the ballot be so amended that a standard of intelligence, upright conduct and morality shall be the requisite of a voter; then make the right of voting an equal right among men and women of the same high standard, and woman suffrage shall be a blessing to the land.

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