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We Want a Committee on Woman Suffrage


1913 – US House of Representatives, Washington DC


Those of us who live here and have known Congress from our childhood know that an outside matter has less chance to get any real consideration by such a committee under such conditions than the proverbial rich man has of entering the kingdom of heaven. . . .

You will remember that there is a committee on Indian Affairs. Are the Indians more important than the women of America? They did not always have a special committee, they used to be a mere incident, as we now are. They used to be under the War Department and so long as this was the case nobody ever doubted for an instant that the “only good Indian was a dead Indian”—just as under the incidental administration of the Judiciary Committee it is not doubted by some that the only good woman is a voteless woman. When the Indians secured a committee of their own they began to get schools, lands in severalty and the general status of human beings. . . . It became the duty of that committee to investigate the real conditions, the needs, the grievances and the best methods of promoting the interests of the Indians. That was the beginning of the end of Indian wars; the first hope of a possibility—previously sneered at—of making real and useful citizens of this race of men who now have Representatives in Congress. It was precisely the same with our island possessions, only in this case we had profited by our experience with Indian and labor problems, and it did not take so long to realize that a committee whose duty it should be to utilize, develop and conserve the best interests of these new charges of our Government and to develop them toward citizenship as rapidly as possible was the safe and sane method of procedure. . . .

We want such a committee on woman suffrage in the House. We do not ask you to appoint a partisan committee but only one open-minded and honest, which will really investigate and understand the question, its workings where it is in effect—a committee which will not accept wild statements as facts, which will hear and weigh that which comes from the side of progress and change as well as that which is static or reactionary. . . .

The recommendation that we have such a committee does not in any way commit you to the adoption of a belief in the principle of self-government for women. This is not much to ask and it is not much to give, nor will it be needed for very many more years.