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Her Voice: Text

Here is a portion of Catharine’s letter to the Equity Club, reporting on her attendance at the International Council of Women convention in DC.  In 1888, Catharine is is 26.  During this year she received a BA and MA from Rockford Seminary, published her dissertation on “Women’s Wages” and was nominated for State’s Attorney by the Prohibition Party in Illinois.

May 2, 1888

Fellow Citizens (for I believe we are even if debarred from voting):

This year when I humbly besought Miss Pearce in the words of Scripture, “I pray thee have me excused,” she heartlessly informed me that letters were as much a criterion of membership as fees. She also said that in default of anything else, I could tell of my great treat at the International Council. As you have all, no doubt, read full reports, I will refer to some points not so often referred to.


If any of you have ever taken such a trip at a day’s notice, you can imagine the rush we two young women were in. “We,” includes my companion, Miss Carrie Ashton, of this city; also dark eyed and dark haired and equally enthusiastic in behalf of women, total abstinence and anti-tobacco, a not incongruous trio. ‘Tho two days late we read reports of the meeting all the way along, went directly from the train to the opera house, so as not to lose a moment of the addresses, leaving such immaterial things as baggage and boarding place till close at 10 P.M. Once there were attended every single solitary session and special called meetings during intermission, so that several days found us so absorbed in meetings that the hour for luncheon had come and gone unheeded, and we were only pulled down to earth again when the terrible gnawing of hunger suggested the need of material sustenance.


It was the most magnificent meeting we ever attended, or anyone else, for that matter, All the good women, the brilliant, the philanthropic, the noted that we had ever heard of seemed to be there, except those that were dead, and as for them, I do believe those dear old saints who worked so hard, long years ago, were present in spirit, looking down on us with great joy, that their daughters had so nearly approached their long hoped for goal.


It was a grand meeting throughout, and I shall be always glad I went even if I must go in calico, and barefoot for the coming summer. Yes, I had just started a bank account, but it has run down pretty low now. But if I have a little in the bank, I have more in my head than before.

    Best wishes to you all,

                               Catharine G. Waugh

Her Voice: Text


Remarks of the Hon. Liberties of Justitia, Chairman of the Elections Committee in the Oligarchy of Women Sate at some time past or future, after hearing arguments from the leading men of the state urging the enfranchisement of men

“Gentlemen, your arguments have been very entertaining. Never has your cause been more eloquently presented. We women will assure you that in due course of time and when the matter is reached on our calendars we will give the question of man suffrage our most respectful consideration.

“I suppose you men want a little further extension of your present limited school suffrage privileges. What! Not the whole suffrage? Not the suffrage for all men.  Why not take things more gradually?  This is so sudden! Be satisfied to take small steps at the beginning of your suffrage career.

“Really gentlemen, I have my doubts whether your sex as a whole has the intellectual strength necessary for voting. I once saw a man idiot. That, however, is not a universal condition.  But taking  your sex as a whole you never produced a Frances E. Willard, a Susan B. Anthony, a Jane Addams, an Ellen Terry, a Carrie Nation, a Madam Qui Vive or a Hefty Green. When you do this, it will be time for you to be begging the ballot.

“Do you object to being taxed without representation? Why, we women represent you. When I vote, I represent my brother, my father-in-law, my four brothers-in-law, my three sons and my one husband. Do you claim that men’s interests will be neglected if women alone vote?  Just trust us to legislate better for you than you could for yourselves. Think how we let you vote now, for trustee of the state university. That is nice.

Her Voice: Text


Excerpt from a speech, 1912

Before the women of the United States wanted the suffrage they had begun to feel the injustice and inadequacy of laws relating to women and children, and so in the very first Woman’s rights convention, held at Seneca Falls in 1848, they made demands for improvements in these laws. They asked that mothers might be joint guardians of their children, they asked that wives’ interests in husbands’ real and personal property should be equal to that of husbands’ interests in wives’ property, they asked that all educational institutions and professions be opened to women.

These demands were not immediately granted the women, - our great grandmothers, discovered that legislators and congressmen were not very much interested in the things for which women asked, because women had no power to elect or defeat these lawmakers. So the women decided to try to secure the suffrage. They wanted suffrage as a means to a great end, - that of protecting the rights of women and securing justice for children. They had no love for the ballot in or of itself, - no great anxiety to go to the polling places, and to be merely the political equals of men, 0 they wanted the suffrage as an implement with which to do certain needed work, - they had failed in the use of their old implements, - those of womanly intuition, gentleness, feminine influence and devotion to home and family. So the Suffrage Associations came into being, and for these many long years suffrage organization in Station and Nation have absorbed the energies of hundreds of thousands of women of the ablest, noblest and most self-sacrificing of the women of our land.


Now that the suffrage is coming to us, and will be ours within a few months or a year of two, if all goes well, the women are not only the ones who are conscious that there is to be a new influence upon lawmakers, and a new influence in the world of politics. The Democratic party wishes to continue in power, the Republican party desires to regain power. If either of them can secure the bulk of women’s vote, the success of that party would be assured. Overtures to the women voters are being made by the heads of the great political parties, and what they want of women voters is this, they want to save their own political lives, they want to reach the haven of success riding in on the wave of women’s votes.

Her Voice: Text


Excerpt from a pamphlet published in 1912.

There are many modern problems to which no Bible concordance can give us a clew. There are social questions today pressing for solution which Christ never named in words. He never said specifically that we should drag the little girl widows of India  from the funeral pyre; that we should unbind the tortured feet of Chinese women; that we should keep little children from work in underground mines; that we should make sanitary our prisons or do Red Cross work.  Nor did Jesus say in so many words, "Let women vote."


But Christianity will solve these newer problems if we study the spirit of Christ's words and then apply the treatment most in accord with His life and teachings.


No class needed Jesus more than did women. Their long continued slavery, their degradation, their ignorance, the age-long suppression of all their aspirations, made them the saddest class to whom Christ came.


He was a friend who differed from every human friend women had ever gained.  The kindness of men had been limited to the women they made their slaves or their toys, but Christ's kindness extended to every woman who came before Him.


With Christ's example before us, with Paul's words that there is neither male nor female in Christ Jesus, that we are all one, and Peter's words to husbands and wives that they are heirs together of the great of life and should be of one mind, what ought we to do to bring our present civilization up to the high standard set by the Gospel? We must admit that Christianity has been the inspiration which has already partly lifted women out of the degradation of heathenism and bondage of the dark ages. But it has not yet brought woman full freedom for self-development and helpfulness. It has not yet made her man's political equal throughout Christendom. There are more important matters before us today than whether a woman should speak veiled or unveiled, whether she should wear jewels of not, and whether her hair should be braided or not.


Women should be joint guardians with their husbands of their children. They should have an equal share in family property; they should be paid equal for equal work. Every school and profession should be open to them. Divorce and inheritance should be equal. Laws should protect them from man's greed by limiting the hours of woman's labor, and protect from man's lust by punishing severely, vile assaults on women. Women under official custody should be under the control of women. Troubled childhood should be safeguarded. All these desirable reforms can come through the vote of women, and such laws have been passed where women vote. To secure this vote for women in the United States, Christian women must unite.

Her Voice: Text


Date and origins unknown-handwritten notes on microfiche at Harvard

Wait till next year before correcting abuses. Moderate your zeal until everyone agrees. Trust evolution to bring progress while you continue gentle propaganda without any definite raising of any rallying banner for attracting votes. You can not make people good by law. Never mention politics in school, church or club. Stick to Moses, Aristotle, Dante and Egyptian Art. Conservative, cautious hesitation brings forward a noble cause faster than spasmodic jumps. The least of the possible evils is better than striving for the perhaps unattainable best. The voice of the people is the voice of God and so minorities must be wrong. But when a change of a few votes shifts the majority, has the voice of God changed or may a minority be wrong? It is better to be President than to be right. Whatever is, is right. You may fail if you try to change present conditions. Better succeed voting for what you do not want than to ignominiously fail voting for what you do want.

Her Voice: Text


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