Chicago Tribune

Bill for Statewide Votes for Women in Illinois Reported Out of Committee.
Mrs. Corbin Says Gentle Sex’s Duty Lies in Home and Not in Political Realm.

BY C. S. R.

Springfield, Ill., April 14 — [Special.] — While an agonized and distracted legislature stood on its head and whirled its legs wildly in the air in vain efforts to compress a week’s work into one day, the equal suffragists, with a yellow jonquil to each suffragist, made a successful, or seemingly successful, descent on the legislature.

A bill out of committee is not necessarily a law, as equal suffragists and others interested in legislation have learned in times past, but it is something, and so far as it represents progress the suffragists have progressed.

The one bill of the three suffrage measures which they want with the largest want was reported out of the senate committee on elections by five true senatorial friends of the movement after the work of the orators and the logicians had been completed.

Statewide Bill Out of Committee.

This much desired and much applauded measure is the one introduced by Senator Billings granting state wide suffrage to women. It came out of committee by the favorable action of Senators Schmitt, McKenzie, Tossey, Isley, and Brown, and now is submitted to the tender mercies of the senate.

It is particularly gratifying to the suffragists that the senate committee should have been so accommodating. The expedition came to Springfield to talk to the two charter committees and the meeting of the elections committee of the senate, which had possession of the "real" bill, was not on the suffrage program.

It was called because Senator Breidt, its chairman, wished to give Mrs. Caroline F. Corbin, Miss Mary Pomeroy Green and Miss Jessie Fairfield of the Illinois association, opposed the extension of suffrage to women, a chance to be heard.

Mr. Breidt’s Little Joke

Mr. Breidt is not what might be called a "cutup," but he has a sense of humor and must have his little joke. He is not lying awake nights figuring out how the ballot may be extended to women, and it struck him as being particularly "apropos" to have a little anti-suffrage movement staged in the senate chamber while the suffrage cause was being presented in the hall of the house.

It seemed the natural thing to do in the circumstances, giving the legislators a chance to take in both shows and pick a winner after inspection.

The versatile and always active suffragists immediately decided that they could put on two performances with quite as much ease as one, and while the joint session of the house and senate charter committees was lending an attentive ear to one division of the suffrage orators, the senate committee on elections was given the opportunity to hear another.

Committee Constructively Present.

Constructively the senate committee was present. Actually it was not. Mr. Breidt, the chairman, sat through the entire senate proceedings, and he had as company most of the time Senator Isley. The other members were running blindly around in the corridors endeavoring to attend fourteen other committee meetings, all of which were being held at one and the same time.

When it came to voting out the statewide suffrage bill the half frenzied senators had to be dragged into the senate chamber by the heels and made to desist from their wild chasing of committees long enough to record themselves in favor of the Billings bill.

Those in charge of the expedition which search out the votes were careful to get only favorable members, and when five had been collected in one spot — this being a quorum of the committee — no further pains were taken. The five acted as loyal men and true and out came the bill.

Legislature Has a Bad Day.

The fact that legislators in greater number did not give their attention to what the women had to say was easily forgiven by the suffragists. They could see without much difficulty that the esteemed legislature was having a bad day, one of the worst it ever has had.

The esteemed legislators have demonstrated to their own complete satisfaction that a week’s work cannot be done in one day. There was hardly a man in the assembly whose committee work did not required him to be in at least two places at one and the same time, and some of the more unfortunate found that they were expected to be in at least five. With difficulty they were restrained from jumping off the big dome.

For that reason it was not wonderful that when the suffrage movement started at 2 o’clock in the afternoon in the senate chamber only the devoted Mr. Breidt and the equally devoted Mr. Isley could be counted among all the senatorial talent which was to have been upli which was to have been uplifed and shown the reasonableness of the extension of suffrage.

The senate affair being started an our earlier than the meeting in the hall of the house, all the visiting suffragists were able to be present at the beginning, and they completely filled the chamber.

Opponents Placidly Wait Turn

The absence of those who were to be converted was observed with regret by the suffragists and with merriment by the low brows who cannot be reached by logic. The regret of the women was diminished perceptibly when they discovered that although they did not have men opponents at whom they could talk, they had in their midst the representatives of the association opposed to the extension of the suffrage to women.

Mrs. Corbin with Miss Green and Miss Fairfield, opponents of the "votes for women," sat placidly in the suffrage filled chamber waiting their turn when they might take the stand and protest against the consideration of any bill for equal suffrage.

"If we can’t talk to the men," said Mrs. Catharine Waugh McCulloch, confidentially, "we at least can hope to convert the women who are opposed to us."

Senator Breidt allowed Mrs. Gurney Stubbs, Miss Jane Addams, Mrs. Francis Everett and Miss Harriet Grimm to speak for the suffrage cause before he called on Miss Fairchild as secretary of the opposing association to open up in the negative. Miss Fairchild read a short resolution in protest as adopted by the anti-association and stepped down.

Many Places Where Cause Has Failed

A soft, sweet smile of indulgence had spread over the faces of the suffrage host as Miss Fairchild took the stand, but as she stepped down there came, to the horror of the low brows present, a his from one part of the room, a hiss suddenly stopped as if it had represented the expression for which the hisser sought, but was suppressed from policy or politeness. In several other quarters of the room the same demonstration was started only to be stopped.

Miss Fairchild took her chair in profound silence and Senator Breidt called on Mrs. Corbin, who, snow white hair and dress in black, moved up to the platform. It may have been by shrewd design to illustrate a difference, fancied or real, but Mrs Corbin bowed with an old fashioned bow to the chairman and to her friends the enemy as she arranged her glasses and lifter up the pages of the manuscript she proposed to read in answer to the suffrage arguments.

She began with a recounting of the defeats of the suffrage cause in other states, naming them with evident pleasure — "rubbing it in" — that the suffrage movement had come to disaster in California, Nebraska, Oklahoma, Kansas, Iowa, Minnesota, Maine, Massachusetts, New Hampshire, Rhode Island and New York. The suffragists sat without moving as they listened to this record of unavailing effort and then Mrs. Corbin presented the assemblage with her reasons for opposing the extension of suffrage.

Men and Women on Unequal Terms

"Two women cannot form a home, in the civic meaning of the word," she said, "nor two men, because the function of the home, that which gives it its civic importance, is the production of that new generation of men and women upon which the existence of the state of the future must depend. But in this vital and most necessary work Almighty God has made of maternity and infinitely greater and more exhaustive function than paternity is or ever can be.

"A man may be, often is, a father, without a moment’s thought or car for his offspring., possibly without knowing that it exists — although here, as elsewhere, the state takes such pains as may be to exact justice for the mother by compelling him to contribute to her support; but no woman can be a mother except on terms of hardship and sacrifice such as only women know.

"Thus at the outset of their mature experience men and women stand upon terms of an inequality which neither nature herself, nor legislation, nor statecraft can remove.

The best that civilization ever has been able to do is to compensate women for this excess of sacrifice and burden bearing in maternity by absolving them from such forms of labor and responsibility as are inconsistent with their peculiar physique; such as military and jury duty and those political duties which lie so distinctly outside of her natural and seemly labors in the home and society; and giving her, besides, certain legal rights of protection which men neither claim nor enjoy.

Rights of a Woman Defined

"Thus legal marriage secures to her a certain proportion of her husband’s earnings or income. This is a claim which no other woman but a legal wife can enforce against him and which cannot be destroyed without legal process.

"So far as the law can it secures to her also his moral support and affection and makes it a penal offense for any other woman willfully to deprive her of them. Over and above these rights there have accrued to women many courtesies and privileges, much reverent affection and homage, all springing from her peculiar position as a mother, which a true woman esteems among her highest and finest possessions.

"A little reflection shows that the first results of giving industrial and political independence to women would be to deprive them of their representative right in the government; to make them responsible for their own means of living, and to deprive them of that protection and suffort so necessary to their welfare and to that of the children they are rearing.

"It follows as a necessary consequence that the state should be obliged to take care of the children, to rear and educate them, thus breaking up entirely the home relations between parents and children. Men and women are therefore exempted from all those moral obligations which parentage entails upon them, and become free with even a greater freedom than that of the beasts of the field, which have not the ingenuity to evolve a state to take care of their offspring for them."

Won't Compel Women to Vote

Mrs. McCulloch, taking the stand for the suffragists, admitted that the failures heralded by Mrs. Corbin had been encountered.

"We’ll fail and fail again — until we win," she said.

She asked the anti-suffragists not to be so worried by the movement even if they were opposed to it.

"It is not our purpose to compel women to vote," she said. "The law does not do that to men. Women who fear the ballot need not use it. We have no thought of requiring that they shall. What we ask is that we who believe that we should be able to do directly that which we have to endeavor now to do indirectly should have the privilege."

While Mrs. Corbin was speaking the house meeting was set in motion with its regular program of speeches. The floor of the hall and the galleries were completely filled with women. In the south corner of the east gallery a huge petition was unrolled, and its end was carried about the hall, circling the place from pillar to pillar and stretching across the speaker’s stand.

Good Attendance in House

Representative James M. Kittleman, chairman of the house charter committee, introduced Miss Jane Addams as chairman of the meeting and Miss Addams started the program.

The legislative attendance, as compared with that in the senate meeting, was remarkably good. Little spots in the crowd of feathers, flowers, and plumes, spots on which the afternoon sun glanced, indicated the presence of masculinity inclined to baldness.

Miss Addams endeavored to hold her orators within the three minute limit set by the program makers for the afternoon, and succeed with more or less ease. At times an energetic suffragist found three minutes all too short for complete argument, but Miss Addams’ hand jogging the speaker’s shoulder soon brought her to a finish. Mrs. W. I. Thomas, a southern woman, declared that the state of Illinois owed her something.

Wants $30,000 Worth of Votes

"In the early sixties," she said, "the men of Illinois were active in the cause of emancipation and they helped take $30,000 worth of property away from me. I am willing to take that back in votes, and you know how many votes $30,000 will buy.

Mrs. Henry M. Dunlap, wife of Senator Dunlap, said that the ballot was needed by women to improve the conditions of town and country life.

Miss Harriet Grimm spoke on "College Associations for Equal Suffrage," Mrs. Eugenia Bacon on "Church Interest and Suffrage for Women," and the Rev. Kate Hughes presented the "Justice of Equal Suffrage."

Mrs. Stubbs thanked the legislators for the courtesy with which they had received the suffragists and their arguments. Other speakers at the house meeting were Mrs. Elia W. Peattie, Miss Anna Nichols, Prof. H. L. Willett, Miss Agnes Nester, Miss Lillian Anderson, Representative Charles Adkins, Mrs. O. W. Stewart, Mrs. Frances D. Everitt, Miss Marion Talbot, Mrs Charles Henrotin, and J. J. Sonsteby.


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