June 1870.

Henry County, Iowa

The Woman’s Suffrage Convention has met and adjourned. Elsewhere we publish a Phonographic Report of the proceedings reported by Mr. S.W. Moorehead, expressly for the JOURNAL, and by referring to that our readers can see just what was done. The Convention was well attended and quite a number from different parts of the State were present. We were drafted to do duty as Secretary, and served only on the condition that the convention take us an anti-woman-suffragette, open to conviction. Thus, we went into the convention and thus we came out. We heard, from Mrs. Cutler, of Ohio, the soundest and most logical speech upon the question that we ever heard. Like all other advocates for woman’s rights, she pictured the isolated cases of injustice to woman, but failed to tell how the ballot would right one of these wrongs.

Our position upon this question is just this: Woman should have every legal right that man has and she should have the same wages for the same work that is paid man. If she thinks the ballot necessary to remove oppression, and so decides, we say let her have it. This we consider a good argument, the sneers of our good friend, the Attorney General, and the other female speakers, to the contrary, notwithstanding. If the women of Iowa want to vote, we are willing, but we think, upon a question of such momentous importance to the women—one which will work such radical change in their social and political condition, that they should be heard as to whether or not they wish this new right. “Oh,” but say these prominent women in this movement, who love the cause for the notoriety it brings them, “it won’t do to let these women vote on this matter, there is no law for it, and then they are not posted—they have not studied the question.” Well now, we don’t hardly think that these women who can talk in public should take a monopoly of the brains and rule out the thousands of quiet women who attend to home duties. These women, no doubt, are very capable of deciding this matter. If they are so ignorant as not to be able to decide upon this question, of such vital importance to them, surely, they will not have sense enough to intelligently upon questions of a public nature. Why not let the women be heard now? This question is one which interests them more than it does the male portion of humanity, and we feel certain that their voice would be respected. If the Iowa women want to vote, and so express their desires, we think the right will be granted them. If they don’t want to vote it should not be forced upon them.


[Phonographically Reported by S.W. Moorehead, for the Mt. Pleasant Journal.]

The State Woman’s Suffrage Convention met in Saunder’s Hall on the 16th inst. at 10 o’clock A.M.

The Convention was called to order by Rev. I.P. Teter, and opened with prayer by Rev. I.A. Bradrick.

On motion, Joseph A. Dugdale was made temporary chairman, and Mattie G. Davenport, J.M. Mansfield and E.A. Vancise, Secretaries.

On taking the chair, Mr. Dugdale made a few pointed and appropriate remarks, setting forth the object of the meeting, and expressing his hope for the ultimate success of the movement. A committee on permanent organization was then effected, as was also committees on Business, Finance, &c. During the retirement of the committee, it was suggested that the meeting be addressed by some one. Hon. Henry O’Conner being loudly called for, came forward and spoke as follows:


MR. PRESIDENT—LADIES AND GENTLEMEN: I ask that you will believe my embarrassment as entirely unaffected. — I had no intention of saying anything to the Convention at such an early stage in its proceedings. The justice of this great movement, and the success which it deserves to meet, must be apparent to every one, and the question which we are come to consider, fellow citizens, is the same in a new shape, the same presenting itself in a new aspect, in a true, broad, Catholic aspect, which is contradistinguished from that in which we have viewed it heretofore, being the true one. I know of no people or of no place more proper to take the initiatory steps, and to get the great reform more fully inaugurated, than Iowa. We look at everything from a utilitarian standpoint; we are no theorists, and enter upon this and kindred questions of reform with an untiring self-denying devotion. We have such advantages as are possessed by no other State in the Union, and we have or should have an eye to business rather than anything else.

The question calls for debate rather than harangue, if I may be permitted to distinguish. We want live, practical, sensible debate on this question. — I know the objections which we meet many of which are poor and unworthy of an answer, but there are honest prejudices which have grown upon them, and they are more prevalent among women, and must be dispelled. In everything except the great business of life which takes place in her younger years, men dictate to our women the most absurd theories, and they work months after months and years after years, by candle light and by day, in garret and in cellar, to gain a scanty livelihood. No one can fail to see in the sneers of women on this question, the teaching of men. “The proper sphere of woman,” men say. “She will be getting out of her sphere. It would be unwomanly.” This is the old cry. Let them say they, “occupy themselves taking care of our children.” Speaking of children reminds me of my favorite music. There is one kind of music that I prize above all others, for I know of no better, and that is the cry of a good healthy baby. — [Laughter.] This looks like nonsense, and it is nonsense, but we must take up this question and answer them reasonably. We are told that women do not want the ballot—that they are not in favor of the movement. How do we know this? Did the negroes demand suffrage or freedom? Yet I have no fears that when the time comes, we will have a larger majority for this movement, in favor of this great question, than upon that upon which we voted three years ago. [Applause.]

Another objection to woman’s suffrage is the bringing of her to the polls. I should say in answer to my friend who urges this objection and which I treat with all delicacy, that our wives and daughters should not be brought in contact with some of the scenes which sometimes take place at the polls. But is it necessary that woman should go to the polls? Does this not suggest a reform in this department of our electing system, that women may go to the polls and enjoy this privilege? I answer, however, that it is not necessary that women should go to the polls with men. Men at this day can and do vote by proxy, they can deposit their vote in the Postoffice and thus send it and it will be counted.

The State of Rhode Island, although a conservative little corner, is ahead of us in this particular. There you enclose your ballot in a sealed envelope, and a register of names is kept; it is seen that it contains but one ballot, it is counted, and the thing is done. The only thing about this that would cause trouble would be that women could not trust their husbands to carry their ballot there. [Laughter.]

There are reasons, and strong reasons, why this movement should be pushed promptly and vigorously to a speedy success. I am a politician, and am proud of it, for I believe there are as good men in that profession as in any other. I have had a quarter of a century’s experience and I can see no reason why it is not as much a woman’s right to vote as a man’s. I trust you will have a just sense of your responsibility. You are not working for Henry County, nor for Iowa, nor for the United States, nor for America alone, your influence will extend over the world.

It is not so much for the women of the State of Iowa, or of any place like this, the Athens of the West, that we desire the ballot, but for the women in the States of the Old Country, for the thirty thousand women of our commercial metropolis who toil from early to late for bread for their children, and who seek protection for themselves, who are driven from roof to roof, from garret to garret, from cellar to cellar. This is not exaggerated. It is for the benefit of such women as these that the ballot is desired. For this then you are called upon women of the West! You are called upon for woman’s sake, for your own sake, and for shame’s sake as well as justices’ sake, never let your voice be heard saying that woman shall not be put on a level with her brothers. — With such arguments as these should it be said that there is something improper in a womans asking to go to the ballot box? This with them is their last argument—their last ditch.

There are persons who are now opposed to this movement who will come to us a few years hence and claim the credit of effecting all this great reformation. — They will tell you that they have no objection, that women should by all means participate in all the rights of citizens. — It was just so when a party of us abolitionists were endeavoring to overthrow slavery and establish freedom. When we had succeeded, men who had long opposed us came forward and exclaimed, “see what we have done!” Just so it will be when five years hence we have secured the achievement of this great movement. To do this, ladies, efforts must be put forth. I said ladies, for I address you especially, and not only this, but you must be united on this question. Be united! The motives of your action are unimpeachable, and you must win the men to your cause.

All reformations take place gradually. I have been green enough to insist that woman could be principals of schools with three or four departments. We have an example of the success of such an attempt in my own town. Our teacher, Miss Hatch, at first received but three hundred per year, but now she gets eight hundred, and sixteen hundred would not be too much. The only assistance which I employ is my little niece, who I pay out of my own salary, and but for whom I should have probably left my office in disgrace. — [Laughter.] In Southern France, on the Rhine, in Germany, the women who are there working like beasts of burden in the field, are to be lifted up by this movement. The women toiling in the fields of Europe while the husbands are generally loungers, these are the women we help along by this movement. But we do not wish to hear the one side of the argument only, and I hope before this convention adjourns, that an opportunity will be given for persons to urge their objections, that they may be answered instantly. I trust this movement will result in the formation of a State Association, self-sustaining, self-supporting, that Iowa’s voice may be heard. I trust that as she was the first to speak out in 1854, and when the nations life was assaulted, she will be foremost in organizing and carrying on this movement. I hope that such efforts will be made that Iowa can three years hence vote almost unanimously for equal rights to women as well as men. This question has the advantage of all political reforms. It belongs to no party; it cannot be made a party question. Another argument and one that ought to be enough in itself, is that by the aid of the ballot you can rescue your husbands from the gaming table and dram shop.

Women of Iowa and men too, be fully convinced on this question. Put the ballot in the hands of the women and I ask you how long will you tolerate the dram shops? To succeed in this, men and women should be united on this question which is a certain and sure cure for this greatest of evils. For this reason, I hope and pray that this movement may be carried along with devotion and success. I am so thoroughly convinced of the right of this movement and the necessity of success, that in the reform, regardless the consequences, regardless of everything except a good sense of justice, which I thing has not entirely left me, I am unconditionally committed to this movement, and hope that it will be crowned with success before my day and yours passes, throughout the world. [Applause.]

The Committee on Permanent Organization being in readiness to report were called upon and recommended the following persons who were duly elected:

President—Mrs. Belle A. Mansfield.

Vice Presidents—Hon. Henry O’Conner, Friend Ruth Dugdale, Rev. Elihu Gunn, Mrs. Amelia Bloomer, Rev. Thos. E. Corkhill, Mrs. Hayes, Prof. Alexander Burns, Mrs. Catherine Waite, Prof. Geo. F.W. Willey, Mrs. Caroline Shedd, Mrs. Adams, Luther B. Gordon, Dr. Homes, and Mrs. J.C. Savery.

Corresponding Secretary—Joseph A. Dugdale.

Recording Secretaries—Miss Rebecca Van Tress, Frank Hatton, and A.P. Lowry.

Treasurer—Rev. W.R. Cole.

Executive Committee—Hon. Chas. W. Beardsley, Chairman, Mrs. Prof. M.A. Darwin, Henry P. Ninde, R. Anna Canby, J.P. Thompson, Mrs. Sarah Holmes, Rev. I.P. Teter, Prof. J.M. Mansfield, Mrs. Adams, J.W. Woods, and Mrs. M. Beavers.

The greatest enthusiasm prevailed as the newly elected officers took their respective places. Mrs. Mansfield is the recognized leader of the Woman’s Suffrage Movement in this part of the State, if not, indeed, in the State itself, and we cannot but approve of the just tribute paid this noble woman in choosing her for their presiding officer. Mr. Hatton remarked, before entering upon the duties of his office, that he could not claim entire sympathy with the movement, not having been yet fully converted to the doctrine of Woman Suffrage, and that it would seem more proper for some other person to occupy his position. Dissent was made and he finally agreed to “accept the situation,” announcing himself as open to conviction.

Mr. Dugdale—I am glad Mr. Hatton has concluded to accept. The day is not far distant when he too will be in favor of this movement. When a man is open to conviction he is pretty nearly converted. [Applause.]

Mr. Vancise—This thing is too much cut and dry. Everything has been too minutely arranged before our assembling. I discovered this while performing my duties as a member of one of the committees. Let us begin again. Let us have a revision of the whole thing.

A motion to reconsider the appointment of the committee of permanent organization and the action of said committee was here made, but very properly voted down.

Mr. Hatton—In order that we may have a fair representation from all parts of the State, I move that the delegates from the different counties select one of their number a member of this committee in addition to those already appointed.

A Member—Mr. Hatton’s suggestion is good, but it is impracticable. This is not a delegate, but a mass convention, and besides, some of the counties are represented by but one person. Let us appoint to office those not in entire sympathy with the movement, and thus secure their co-operation.

Mr. Corkhill—I approve of this. In this way Mr. Hatton is to be secured since he is on the mourner’s bench. — [Tremendous Applause.]

Much debate on the practicability and wisdom of forming at this time a permanent State Association, and as to the proper mode of appointing committees ensued, resulting in instructing the proper committee to report at the afternoon session.


The Convention again convened at 2:30, and was opened with prayer by Rev. McDonald, of Burlington. Letters were then read from L. Maria Child and Geo. W. Julian, the author of the Sixteenth Amendment. The committee on permanent organization, consisting of Dr. Beardsley of Burlington, Mrs. Bloomer of Council Bluffs, Mrs. Adams of Dubuque, Mrs. Morgan of Muscatine, and J.W. Satterthwaite of Mt. Pleasant, submitted the following Constitution, which was adopted:


ART. I. This organization shall be called The Iowa Woman Suffrage Society.

ART. II. Its object shall be to secure the adoption of the amendment to our State Constitution on this subject, proposed by the Thirteenth General Assembly, and the elective franchise to woman throughout the country on equal terms with men.

ART. III. Any person favoring the object, and signing this Constitution, may become a member of this association; and all members shall be entitled to vote at all meetings of the association.

ART IV. The officers of this association shall be a President, Vice Presidents, a Corresponding Secretary, a Recording Secretary, a Treasurer, and an Executive Committee of nine, of whom five shall constitute a quorum.

ART. V. The annual meeting of the association shall be held at such time and place as the Executive committee shall designate, when reports shall be presented by the Treasurer, Secretaries, and the Executive Committee; officers shall be elected for the ensuing year; and such other business shall be transacted as the interests of the cause may require.

ART. VI. Any county or other local society, formed to promote Woman’s Suffrage, shall, on declaring itself auxiliary to this association, be recognized as such.

ART. VII. The Executive Committee may fill vacancies in its own body, or in any office, (the Presidency excepted), occurring prior to the next ensuing annual meeting of the association.

ART. VIII. No money shall be paid by the Treasurer except under such restrictions as the executive committee may provide.

ART. IX. No distinction shall ever be made by this association on account of color, race or sex.

ART. X. This Constitution may be amended at any meeting of the association by a vote of three-fifths of the members present.

ART. XI. The President and Secretaries of the association shall be ex-officio members of the Executive Committee.

The following resolutions were then reported by the Business Committee through their chairman, Mrs. Bloomer, and unanimously adopted:

WHEREAS, The question of the enfranchisement of woman is before the people of Iowa, and

WHEREAS, Women exert a greater moral influence than man, and the effects of that influence cannot be fully obtained, except by arming her with the ballot, and

WHEREAS, All just powers are derived from the consent of the governed; therefore

Resolved, by this convention that we fully appreciate the step taken by our Legislature in their joint resolution giving Suffrage to the women of this State, and we now feel it incumbent upon us since they have so prepared the way, to work earnestly in this cause, and so enlighten the electors of the State by a serious, candid action in selling truth and right before them, that they may be prepared, when the time for action comes, to so cast their Suffrages as to render full justice to woman.

Resolved, that this work shall be carried on by the organization of State and county associations, by lectures, tracts, and in every other laudable manner that will promote the good of the cause.

Resolved, as the sense of this convention, that a period has arrived when it is eminently proper and expedient to organize a State Association, with auxiliary societies in each county—therefore,

Resolved, that a State Association be organized by this convention.

Resolved, that any law that has not the approval of a majority of its subjects is tyrannical, and its enforcement is a violation of the principles of the American government.

Resolved, that as it is conceded we exert the greatest moral influence we believe it to be our duty, and demand the right to use our power with our influence at the ballot box.

Mrs. Bloomer—I thought that the committee of which I am a member was to decide on the expediency of forming a State Association but it seems it has been taken off our hands and decided upon during the absence of the Committee.

A defence was immediately made by Col. Corkhill and quite a sharp debate ensued. The interest in the affair increased as others began to participate in the discussion and things for a short time assumed a lively turn until an explanation by Dr. Beardsley chairman of the Committee on permanent organization set matters right. Officers of the State Society were then reported as follows:

President Hon. Henry O’Conner, Vice President Mrs. A. Bloomer Miss Nettie Sanford, Mrs. J.L. McCreery, J.L. Loomis, John P. Irish, Mrs. Frank Palmer A. Dawley and Joseph A. Dugdale.

Recording Secretary, Mrs. Belle A. Mansfield, Corresponding Secretary Mrs. J.C. Savery, Treasurer L.W. Vale, Executive Committee Mrs. M.A. Darwin, Mrs. Mattie Griffith Davenport, Mrs. Albert West, Miss Agusta Chapin and C. Beardsley.

The miscellaneous business of the session being disposed of addresses were called for, and the call responded to by Mrs. H.M. Tracy Cutler, in an eloquent speech, in support of the cause, for which she has long been battling so earnestly. The address was quite lengthy, but was listened to with the closest attention, and received with a degree of enthusiasm which plainly evinced that the clear, logical arguments were not unappreciated by the vast concourse of people present. The old worn-out arguments were either entirely discarded, or bought out in a new light, and the address, throughout, was characterized by so much originality as to render it withal, decidedly interesting and refreshing. Any attempt at condensation would destroy so much of its force and connection that we have concluded to omit it entirely, and give in its place an address in full made at a subsequent session, which, besides containing some of the matter of the first, has the advantage in point of brevity. We give below, however, the opening paragraph that those who did not hear the address may judge for themselves from the extract, given of the character and style of this able address.

MADAM CHAIRMAN—LADIES AND GENTLEMEN: I am happy to speak before an Iowa audience, because the thoughts that have been agitated throughout the world have been crystallized here; because, as was said by one of your number this morning, you have a practical work to do. The most of us, in other States, feel that our work, mostly, is to talk, that we must now create and foster sentiment, but by and by, by and by we shall not talk, talk, talk, hour by hour and day by day, we are going to act! Act! ACT!

The address being ended, the report of the committee on permanent organization was received.

On motion of Mr. Dugdale a vote of thanks was tendered Mrs. Cutler, for her persuasive and excellent address.

On motion Mr. Sanders received a vote of thanks for his liberality in permitting the free use of the hall.

On motion the Convention adjourned until 8 P.M.


Convention met and called to order by President of Convention, as temporarily organized, the president of State Association being absent.

Prayer by Rev. Cole of this place.

On motion a collection was taken up to defray incidental expenses.

Mrs. Bloomer of Council Bluffs being called for came forward and said:

MRS. PRESIDENT—LADIES AND GENTLEMEN: Although from my appearance on this platform several times this evening it might be inferred that I am prepared to take a leading part in the proceedings. —I am not in circumstances to speak. I am out of practice, not having been in the lecture field for some time. It is three years since I have been on the stage until to-day. I have never been able to deliver extempore on the stage, for like the schoolboy, who knows his speech before going on the stage, but when there forgets it all. However, I have here an address written, and if you feel like listening to the reading from manuscript, I shall read it. —Mr. O’Conner, in his able speech this morning, said it was necessary that we should meet and fairly answer the objections urged. What I shall say will be in regard to the objections to this question.

Mrs. Bloomer here produced a huge roll of manuscript and read an article, which we omit for want of space. The arguments embodied in the article were those most generally advanced by the advocates of womans suffrage.

At the close of Mrs. Bloomer’s article repeated calls were made for Mrs. Adams of Dubuque who at length came forward and made a few remarks detailing a conversation that took place two years ago in Galena Ill. in which she had answered objections to women going into public life. Her remarks were quite to the point and received a hearty endorsement from a majority of those present.

Mr. Myers Editor of the Wapello Republican, was then called for but declined making any formal address and excused himself in a few remarks expressing his entire sympathy with the movement and a hope that it would succeed,

In answer to a similar call Mr. A.P. Lowry of Marshall Co. said;

As far as making public speeches and addressing audiences is concerned, it is something I know nothing about. I am in entire sympathy with the movement, and look forward to the time when our end shall be accomplished. It has been said to me by those who oppose the movement that women do not want to vote. How do they know! Has the ballot been offered to them? They have never had a chance to express themselves. I would like to have the thing voted on, and propose to test the matter here in this assembly to-night. I want those that are in favor of the movement to rise, [Here a majority of the audience stood up] Those opposed will rise to their feet, [A small number rose] Now this is just what I wanted to see, to have an expression and have the expression here. We have ladies and gentlemen present that are opposed to this movement and it would be well to listen to their objections. I hope an opportunity will be given them to speak.

In accordance with these invitations Dr. Cooper was loudly called for. He rose in compliance with the numerous calls but entered into no lengthy argument why the right of suffrage should not be made universal. His remarks were of a general nature, made more in a spirit of inquiry and doubt than opposition. Mrs. Cutler was then invited to address the assembly and spoke as follows:


MRS. PRESIDENT—LADIES AND GENTLEMEN I do not propose to detain you a long time but it seems well to me that we should say something upon the educational questions of the day.

We when establishing this government, while allowing the greatest possible freedom have found it necessary to throw some guards around that freedom. The first question that was thrust upon us when we came from England has never been lost sight of. Religion and intelligence we must recollect go hand in hand. If the establishment of common schools be that end and our sons and daughters attend here why not extend the principle and open our high schools to our daughters. Gradually the iron bands are being loosed, gradually woman’s sphere is enlarging. First, the grammar schools are thrown open, and step by step the doors are thrown open until the colleges were thrown open about thirty years ago. The opening of the colleges was a grand era. How few realize what its connection was with the liberation and education of the negroes. The matter commenced in a college difficulty. A class had been suspended in Lane Seminary, Cincinnati, for too free speech. Oberlin College, Ohio, at this time, was just opening, with Horace Mann as President. Application was made for the admittance of the whole class, on the condition of free speech. They said to themselves: “We are just starting, thus far it is a mere venture, and we cannot afford to lose such a splendid class; we can allow a certain amount of freedom.” They were admitted and the trouble was thought to be over, when they said again: “Why should you not allow all men, irrespective of race or color, to come and enjoy equal privileges with ourselves?” The trustees thought about it and said: “It is not probable that we shall ever be called upon to admit negroes, even should the privilege be granted. It is not likely more than one negro, in a whole college course, will present himself for education.” It was granted, but those troublesome fellows came again! “Now if you admit all men to equal privileges, will you admit all women?” Said Mr. Mann: “We thought the previous question some, but the last was much harder.” A vote was taken; it was nearly a tie. Old Father Keefe gave the deciding vote. He was indeed a Father! What a stroke of policy it was to get this “fine class!” So, Oberlin opened its doors for her, and not for her only, but for colored men, and also colored women. I think the spirit that was raised up by opening that college to colored men showed the possibilities of the colored race. The negro that first entered that college went from there to Chambersburg as an attorney, and thence to South Carolina to look after the interests of the freedmen there. He is now a Supreme Judge in South Carolina. That shows the possibilities of the race. It indicates what they might be with culture.

Hitherto, owing to woman’s limited sphere, she has had no encouragement to strive for a liberal education, but glorious future is opening up before her. If men would see the great benefits we give to them, to help discharge great and solemn duties of life, they would come forward and give their hearts and hands to this movement. We urge this upon men as a solemn and religious duty.

[Owing to the crowded condition of our columns this week, we must deprive our readers of the remainder of this interesting address. —Ed.]


Agreeable to adjournment, the Convention met again at 10 A.M. Friday, President in the chair. Prayer by Friend Jos. A. Dugdale. Executive Committee reported $12.00 as a result of collection taken up on the previous evening. Report accepted. Calls were then made for Mrs. M.A. Darwin, who responded by reading an article setting forth a number of reasons why men should favor this movement, and why the right of suffrage should be granted to woman as well as man, not leaving her to be classed legally with idiots, traitors and felons. Although read, it was delivered with a good degree of freedom and was quite favorably received. Like Mrs. Bloomer’s production, however, it was too voluminous to admit of publication, and too consecutive to make extracts from with any degree of satisfaction.

The following resolutions were offered by J.A. Dugdale and adopted by a unanimous vote:

Resolved, That the absorbing interest and large attendance during the sessions of this Convention, are among the evidences that it has been a triumph, also

Resolved, That the eminent services rendered the cause so dear to us, by the persuasive and convincing eloquence of Mrs. Hannah M. Tracy Cutler, receives our cordial and grateful acknowledgement.

On motion of Rev. Cole, the following resolution was adopted:

Resolved, That this Convention heartily welcomes the introduction into our State “The Woman’s Journal” and the “Woman’s Advocate,” and welcome also the canvassers for said papers in our midst.

On motion of Col. Corkhill, it was

Resolved, That this Convention indorse the step taken by Mrs. Prof. Darwin a general agent of the “Revolution” in this State, and trust she will be as fortunate in other localities in finding earnest working friends as have been secured for this city in the persons of Mrs. Belle A. Mansfield and Mrs. R. Anna Canby.

The President having announced the Convention open for general discussion and expressed a desire to hear from the opposition, loud and continued calls were made for Judge Palmer. At length, hat in hand, he ascended the stage, and in his characteristic manner began one of the most able and logical and at the same time the most interesting speeches to which we have ever listened in all our career as a newspaper reporter. Warming in his theme, his hat was laid aside and argument followed argument with telling effect. Frequent interruptions were made by persons in the audience but were quickly answered and the thread argument resumed. To give anything like a verbatim report of Judge Palmer’s address is simply impossible. Questions interrupted his remarks only to be used as arguments in turn. The speech, the answers, and replies, and the frequent laughter and applause, combined to make the scene interesting, not to say exciting. The first argument advanced by Mr. Palmer was that we have already too much legislation. That we are governed too much, and such an increase of the number of voters, as is proposed by the advocates of Woman’s Suffrage, will only make the machinery of government more complex as well as more unwieldy. Mr. Palmer evidently has the knack of saying the right thing at the right time. Not a little laughter and applause followed the remark that as women now had their own way in political, social, and domestic affairs, he didn’t see what more they would gain by obtaining the ballot! He reminded them that woman, by her very nature, was not able to engage in fierce political strife, and that her kingdom was home. — Again, it is claimed by the friends of this movement, and has been said here to-day by one of your speakers [Mrs. Cutler] that when woman is invested with the ballot that the saloons and dram-shops will be closed. We must remember, however, that all women do not think alike on this question. All would not support this measure and in this way, those who did not wish to vote would be compelled to do so. Look how many hundreds upon hundreds of fallen women the city of Chicago alone contains, and votes would be required to counteract such an influence. (A voice, we don’t want to vote in Chicago we want to vote here in Iowa.) I know you do, but the principle is the same. You say, also, that women will have an increase of wages when she is allowed to vote. How do you know this? What reason have we to believe that such a result will inevitably follow?

From this point forward the address was rather a series of answers to questions proposed, than a formal speech. The debate continued for some time, and as the interest increased each side was, in turn, warmly applauded. The hour for adjournment having passed, it was proposed to adjourn until 2 p.m., and permit Mr. Palmer to resume his remarks at that time. This was readily agreed to, and on motion the convention adjourned.


The appointed hour found the spacious Hall densely crowded.

Order having been called by the President, Mr. Palmer was invited to continue his remarks. He commenced by saying that for four thousand years we have been pursuing the present order of things. The proposed innovation may not prove an advancement, and we should not upset the order of things until we are sure of a better.

The following remarks were much of the same character as those given above. While admitting that woman had wrongs, and wrongs which must be righted, he expressed himself unable to see how this can be done by giving her the ballot. Mr. Palmer having concluded his remarks, Mrs. Cutler took up the defense. She spoke of woman’s wrongs and how powerless she is under our present laws to help herself. The laws relating to the division of property after a man’s death were cited and their origin traced. Still further in the course of her remarks it was shown how our civil code is founded upon English Statutes that are utterly incompatible with the progress of our country. Instances were cited of women having been wronged by being unable to collect money due for work, and examples given to show how absolute is their helplessness.

Without dwelling longer upon the arguments advanced at this time by Mrs. Cutler it is sufficient to say that her piquant, forcible remarks in reply to Judge Palmer detracted nothing from the reputation she earned while here, as a vigorous thinker and a pungent, sparkling, eloquent speaker.

Leave being granted, Friend Dugdale introduced the following resolutions which were carried unanimously:

Resolved, That our thanks are tendered to the newspapers of the State who published the call for this convention, preeminent among which, are the Mt. Pleasant Journal, Henry County Press and Burlington Hawkeye, who, from week to week, kept the telling types at work, and thus aided the friends of Woman’s Suffrage in securing a successful and triumphant meeting; also

Resolved, That this convention has confirmed our convictions in the capabilities of woman for an equal participation in the government.

Mr. Dugdale—I think we should give Mrs. Cutler some recognition for her valuable services. She has come several hundred miles to attend our meeting, and, although she has asked for nothing, I think it but proper that a collection should be taken up for her benefit. I would move you, therefore, that a collection be taken to pay her fare home, or, if not that, as much, at least, as will take her out of the State. [Laughter and applause.]

Mrs. Bloomer—Instead of raising money to get Mrs. Cutler out of the State, I think we had better raise money to keep her in it. [applause.]

Order was finally restored, several announcements were made and the convention adjourned sine die.

Such was the result of the first State Woman’s Convention, held in Iowa. That it was a success, no one will attempt to deny, and although we are rather conservative on this question, we cannot but congratulate the friends of the movement upon the encouragement they received from this meeting. At every session the large Hall was filled to overflowing, and with rare exceptions, the best of order and harmony prevailed. The only objection that could be urged against any part of the proceedings, even by the most critical, is that, for a woman’s convention, it was too much controlled and manipulated by men. Perhaps, as was said by the gallant O’Connor, “we are so accustomed to do such things we can’t help it.” — Altogether, however, it was a grand success, and gave the Woman’s Suffrage cause, in this State, an impulse that we doubt not will be felt at no distant day.

(“Mount Pleasant Journal”, Mount Pleasant, Iowa, Friday, June 24, 1870, page 4)

Resource provided by Henry County Heritage Trust, Mount Pleasant, Iowa; transcription done by Rebekah Stone, University of Northern Iowa Public History Field Experience Class, Spring 2024, and proofreading done by Mary Anne Bainbridge.

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