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1904, the Convention of the
National American Woman Suffrage Association
adopted this Declaration of Principles, sixty years after
the initial Declaration of Sentiment adopted at Seneca Falls:
Declaration of Principles
"When our forefathers gained the victory in a seven years' war to establish the principle that representation should go hand in hand with taxation, they marked a new epoch in the history of man; but though our foremothers bore an equal part in that long conflict its triumph brought to them no added rights and through all the following century and a quarter, taxation without representation has been continuously imposed on women by as great a tyranny as King George exercised over the American colonists.
"So long as no married woman was permitted to own property and all women were barred from the money-making occupations this discrimination did not seem so invidious; but to-day the situation is without a parallel. The women of the United States now pay taxes on real and personal estate valued at billions of dollars. In a number of individual States their holdings amount to many millions. Everywhere they are accumulating property. In hundreds of places they form one- third of the taxpayers, with the number constantly increasing, and yet they are absolutely without representation in the affairs of the nation, of the State, even of the community in which they live and pay taxes. We enter our protest against this injustice and we demand that the immortal principles established by the War of the Revolution shall be applied equally to women and men citizens."
"As our new republic passed into higher stage of development the gross inequality became apparent of giving representation to capital and denying it to labor; therefore the right of suffrage was extended the workingman. Now we demand for the 4,000,000 wage-earning women of our country the same protection of the ballot as is possessed by the wage-earning men.
"The founders took an even broader view of human rights when they declared that government could justly derive its powers only from the consent of the governed, and for 125 years this grand assertion was regarded as a corner-stone of the republic, with scarcely a recognition of the fact that one-half of the citizens were as completely governed WITHOUT their consent as were the people of any absolute monarchy in existence. It was only when our government was extended over alien races in foreign countries that our people awoke to the meaning of the principles of the Declaration of Independence. In response to its provisions, the Congress of the US hastened to invest with the power of consent to the men of this new territory, but committed the flagrant injustice of withholding it from the women. We demand that the ballot shall be extended to the women of our foreign possessions on the same terms as to the men. Furthermore, we demand that the women of the US shall no longer suffer the degradation of being held not so competent to exercise the suffrage as a Filipino, a Hawaiian or a Puerto Rican man.
"When our government was founded the rudiments of education were thought sufficient for women, since their entire time was absorbed in the multitude of household duties. Now the number of girls graduated by high schools greatly exceeds the number of boys in every State and percentage of women students in colleges is vastly larger than that of men. Meantime most of the domestic industries have been taken from the home to the factory and HUNDRED OF THOUSANDS OF WOMEN have followed them there, while the more highly trained have entered the professions and other avenues of skilled labor. We demand that under the new regime, and in view of these changed conditions in which she is so important a factor women shall have a voice and a vote in the solution of their innumerable problems.
"The LAWS of practically every State provide that the husband shall select the place of residence for the family, and if the wife refuse to abide by his choice, she forfeits her right to support and her refusal; shall be regarded as desertion. We protest again the recent decision of the courts which has added to this injustice by requiring the wife also to accept for herself the CITIZENSHIP PREFERRED BY HER HUSBAND, THUS COMPELLING A WOMAN BORN IN THE U.S. TO LOSE HER NATIONALITY if her husband choose to declare his allegiance to a foreign country.
"As women form two-thirds of the church membership of the entire nation; as they constitute but one-eleventh of the convicted criminals; as they are rapidly becoming the educated class and as the salvation of our government depends upon a moral, law-abiding, educated electorate, we demand for the sake of its integrity and permanence that women be made a part of its voting body.
"In brief, we demand that all constitutional and LEGAL barriers shall be removed which deny to women ANY INDIVIDUAL RIGHT OR PERSONAL FREEDOM which is granted to man. This we ask in the name of a democratic and a republican government, which, its constitution declares, was formed to 'establish justice and secure the blessings of liberty.' "
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