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Title: A Short History of Women's Rights - From the Days of Augustus to the Present Time. with Special Reference - to England and the United States. Second Edition Revised, With - Additions.
Author: Hecker, Eugene A.
Language: English
As this book started as an ASCII text book there are no pictures available.

*** Start of this LibraryBlog Digital Book "A Short History of Women's Rights - From the Days of Augustus to the Present Time. with Special Reference - to England and the United States. Second Edition Revised, With - Additions." ***

A Short History of Women's Rights

From the Days of Augustus to the Present Time. With Special Reference to
England and the United States

By Eugene A. Hecker





In this edition a chapter has been added, bringing down to date the
record of the contest for equal suffrage. The summary on pages 175-235
is now largely obsolete; but it has been retained as instructive
evidence of the rapid progress made during the last four years.


CAMBRIDGE, MASS. _August, 1914_.


While making some researches in the evolution of women's rights, I was
impressed by the fact that no one had ever, as far as I could discover,
attempted to give a succinct account of the matter for English-speaking
nations. Indeed, I do not believe that any writer in any country has
essayed such a task except Laboulaye; and his _Recherches sur la
Condition Civile et Politique des Femmes_, published in 1843, leaves
much to be desired to one who is interested in the subject to-day.

I have, therefore, made an effort to fill a lack. This purpose has been
strengthened as I have reflected on the great amount of confused
information which is absorbed by those who have no time to make
investigations for themselves. Accordingly, in order to present an
accurate historical review, I have cited my authorities for all
statements regarding which any question could be raised. This is
particularly so in the chapters which deal with the condition of women
under Roman Law, under the early Christian Church, and under Canon Law.
In all these instances I have gone directly to primary sources, have
investigated them myself, and have admitted no secondhand evidence. In
connection with Women's rights in England and in the United States I
have either consulted the statutes or studied the commentaries of
jurists, like Messrs. Pollock and Maitland, whose authority cannot be
doubted. To such I have given the exact references whenever they have
been used. In preparing the chapter on the progress of women's lights in
the United States I derived great assistance from the very exhaustive
_History of Woman Suffrage_, edited by Miss Susan B. Anthony, Mrs. Ida
H. Harper, and others to whose unselfish labours we are for ever
indebted. From their volumes I have drawn freely; but I have not given
each specific reference.

The tabulation of the laws of the several States which I have given
naturally cannot be entirely adequate, because the laws are being
changed constantly. It is often difficult to procure the latest revised
statutes. However, these laws are recent enough to illustrate the
evolution of women's rights.

Finally, this volume was written in no hope that all readers would agree
with the author, who is zealous in his cause. His purpose will be gained
if he induces the reader to reflect for himself on the problem in the
light of its historical development.






Originally women were always under guardianship--But under the Empire
the entire equality of the sexes was recognised--Women in
marriage--Their power over their property--Divorce--Women engaged in all
business pursuits--Instances of women suing and pleading in
law--Partiality of the law towards women--Rights of inheritance--Rights
to higher education fully allowed--Provision made for poor children to
be educated--The Vestals--Female slaves--Remarkable growth of
humanitarianism towards slaves under the Empire--Sources



Christ laid down ethical principles but not minute regulations--The
Apostles affected by Jewish and Oriental or Greek conceptions of
women--Examples of these--St. Paul and St. Peter on the position of
women--The Church Fathers elaborated these teachings--Examples of their
contempt for women--Mingled with admiration for particular types of
women--Their views of marriage--Their strictures on unbecoming
dress--Summary of their views and how the status of women was affected
by them--Sources



Old Roman Law not abrogated suddenly--Divorce--Adultery--Second
marriages--Engagements--Donations between husband and wife--Sundry
enactments on marriage--Inheritance--Guardianship--Bills of Attainder of
Christian Emperors merciless, in contrast to acts of pagan



A second world force to modify the status of women--Accounts of Caesar
and Tacitus on position of women among Germanic peoples--The written
laws of the barbarians--Guardianship--Marriage--Power of the
husband--Divorce--Adultery--The Church indulgent to
kings--Remarriage--Property rights--Peculiarities of the criminal
law--Minutely-graded fines--Compurgation and ordeals--Innocence tested
by the woman walking over red-hot ploughshares--Women in
slavery--Comparison of position of women under Roman and under Germanic
laws--Influence of theology--Sources



Explanation of the various social and political forces which affected
the position of women in the Middle Ages



Canon law reaffirms the subjection of women--Women and
marriage--Protection to women--Divorce--Cardinal Gibbons on protection
of injured wives by Popes--Catholic Church has no divorce--But it allows
fourteen reasons for declaring marriage null and void and leaving a
husband or wife free to remarry--Some of these explained--Diriment
impediments and dispensations--Historical instances of the Roman
Church's inconsistency--Attitude towards women at present day--Opinions
of Cardinals Gibbon and Moran, and Rev. David Barry and Rev. William



Single women have always had private rights--But males preferred in
inheritance--Examples--Power of parents--Husband and wife--Wife
completely controlled by husband--He could beat her and own all her
property--Recent abrogation of the husband's power--Divorce--Jeremy
Taylor and others on duty of women to bear husband's sins with
meekness--Injustice of the present law of divorce--Rape and the age of
legal consent--Progress of the rights to an education--Women in the
professions--Woman suffrage--Sources



Examples of the early opposition to women's rights--Age of
consent--Single women--History of agitation for women's
rights--Convention of 1848--Progress after the Civil War--Beginnings of
higher education--First women in medicine--And in law, the ministry,
journalism, and industry--Status of women in all the States in



The five arguments commonly used against equal suffrage--The
theological--The physiological--The social or political--The
intellectual--The moral--Lecky on the nature of women--The old and the
new conception--Thomas on the power of custom--Taboo--All evolution
accompanied by some extravagance--Macaulay on liberty--The double
standard of morality--Co-operation--The proper sphere for a human
being--Discrepancies of wages--Legal evolution in the interpretation of
labour laws--The alarmist view of divorce



The rapid spread of suffrage throughout the world--Table of suffrage
gains from early times to present date--In national politics in the
United States--Attack on the suffrage parade and colloquy between Mr.
Hobson and Mr. Mann on the subject--Suffrage amendment defeated in the
Senate--Mr. Heflin's remarks in the House--Mr. Falconer
replies--President Wilson refuses to take a stand--Amendment lost--Mr.
Bryan on suffrage--Examples of legislation to protect women passed
recently--The tendency is to complete equality of the sexes--Suffrage in
England--A delayed reform in divorce--Women's rights on the
Continent--Especially in Germany--Schopenhauer's views of women--Further
remarks on the philosophy of suffrage--"Woman's sphere"--Ultimate
results of women entering all businesses and professions--Feminism--The
home is not necessarily every woman's sphere and neither is motherhood
nor is it her congenital duty to make herself attractive to
men--Unreasonableness of gratuitous advice to women and none to
men--What we don't know--Fallacy of the argument that the fall of the
Roman Empire was due to the liberty given to woman--Official organs of
various suffrage societies


A Short History of Women's Rights


527 A.D.

[Sidenote: Guardianship.]

The age of legal capability for the Roman woman was after the twelfth
year, at which period she was permitted to make a will.[1] However, she
was by no means allowed to do so entirely on her own account, but only
under supervision.[2] This superintendence was vested in the father or,
if he was dead, in a guardian[3]; if the woman was married, the power
belonged to the husband. The consent of such supervision, whether of
father, husband, or guardian, was essential, as Ulpian informs us,[4]
under these circumstances: if the woman entered into any legal action,
obligation, or civil contract; if she wished her freedwoman to cohabit
with another's slave; if she desired to free a slave; if she sold any
things _mancipi_, that is, such as estates on Italian soil, houses,
rights of road or aqueduct, slaves, and beasts of burden. Throughout her
life a woman was supposed to remain absolutely under the power[5] of
father, husband, or guardian, and to do nothing without their consent.
In ancient times, indeed, this authority was so great that the father
and husband could, after calling a family council, put the woman to
death without public trial.[6] The reason that women were so subjected
to guardianship was "on account of their unsteadiness of character,"[7]
"the weakness of the sex," and their "ignorance of legal matters."[8]
Under certain circumstances, however, women became _sui iuris_ or
entirely independent: I. By the birth of three children (a freedwoman by
four)[9]; II. By becoming a Vestal Virgin, of whom there were but
six[10]; III. By a formal emancipation, which took place rarely, and
then often only with a view of transferring the power from one guardian
to another.[11] Even when _sui iuris_ a woman could not acquire power
over any one, not even over her own children[12]; for these an agnate--a
male relative on the father's side--was appointed guardian, and the
mother was obliged to render him and her children an account of any
property which she had managed for them.[13] On the other hand, her
children were bound to support her.[14]

[Sidenote: Digression on the growth of respect for women]

So much for the laws on the subject. They seem rigorous enough, and in
early times were doubtless executed with strictness. A marked feature,
however, of the Roman character, a peculiarity which at once strikes the
student of their history as compared with that of the Greeks, was their
great respect for the home and the _materfamilias_. The stories of
Lucretia, Cloelia, Virginia, Cornelia, Arria, and the like, familiar to
every Roman schoolboy, must have raised greatly the esteem in which
women were held. As Rome became a world power, the Romans likewise grew
in breadth of view, in equity, and in tolerance. The political
influence wielded by women[15] was as great during the first three
centuries after Christ as it has ever been at any period of the world's
history; and the powers of a Livia, an Agrippina, a Plotina, did not
fail to show pointedly what a woman could do. In the early days of the
Republic women who touched wine were severely punished and male
relatives were accustomed solemnly to kiss them, if haply they might
discover the odour of drink on their breath.[16] Valerius Maximus tells
us that Egnatius Mecenas, a Roman knight, beat his wife to death for
drinking wine.[17] Cato the Censor (234-149 B.C.) dilated with joy on
the fact that a woman could be condemned to death by her husband for
adultery without a public trial, whereas men were allowed any number of
infidelities without censure.[18] The senator Metellus (131 B.C.)
lamented that Nature had made it necessary to have women.[19]

The boorish cynicism of a Cato and a Metellus--though it never expressed
the real feelings of the majority of Romans--gave way, however, under
the Empire to a generous expression of the equality of the sexes in the
realms of morality and of intellect. "I know what you may say," writes
Seneca to Marcia,[20] "'You have forgotten that you are consoling a
woman; you cite examples of fortitude on the part of men.' But who said
that Nature had acted scurvily with the characters of women and had
contracted their virtues into a narrow sphere? Equal force, believe me,
is possessed by them; equal capability for what is honorable, if they
so wish." The Emperor Marcus Aurelius gratefully recalls that from his
mother he learned piety and generosity, and to refrain not only from
doing ill, but even from thinking it, and simplicity of life, far
removed from the ostentatious display of wealth.[21] The passionate
attachment of men like Quintilian and Pliny to their wives exhibits an
equality based on love that would do honour to the most Christian
households.[22] All Roman historians speak with great admiration of the
many heroic deeds performed by women and are fond of citing conspicuous
examples of conjugal affection.[23] The masterly and sympathetic
delineation of Dido in the _Aeneid_ shows how deeply a Roman could
appreciate the character of a noble woman. In the numerous provisions
for the public education at the state's expense girls were given the
same opportunities and privileges as boys; there were five thousand boys
and girls educated by Trajan alone.[24]

[Sidenote: Decay of the power or the guardian.]

Such are a few examples of the growth of respect for women; and we
should naturally conclude that, as time progressed, the unjust laws of
guardianship would no longer be executed to the letter, even though the
hard statutes were not formally expunged. This was the case during the
first three centuries after Christ, as is patent from many sources. It
is to be borne in mind that because a law is on the books, does not mean
necessarily that it is enforced. A law is no stronger than public
opinion. Of this anomaly there are plenty of instances even to-day--the
Blue Laws of Massachusetts, for example. "That women of mature age
should be under guardianship," writes the great jurist Gaius[25] in the
second century, "seems to have no valid reason as foundation. For what
is commonly believed, to the effect that on account of unsteadiness of
character they are generally hoodwinked, and that, therefore, it is
right for them to be governed by the authority of a guardian, seems
rather specious than true. As a matter of fact, women of mature age do
manage their own affairs, and in certain cases the guardian interposes
his authority as a mere formality; frequently, indeed, he is forced by
the supreme judge to lend his authority against his will." Ulpian, too,
hints at the really slight power of the guardian in his day, that is,
the first three decades of the third century. "In the case of male and
female wards under age, the guardians both manage their affairs and
interpose their authority; but in the case of mature women they merely
interpose their authority."[26] The woman had, in practice, become free
to manage her property as she wished; the function of the legal guardian
was simply to see to it that no one should attempt a fraud against her.
Adequately to observe the decay of the vassalage of women, we must
investigate the story of their rights in all its forms; and the position
of women in marriage will next occupy our attention.

[Sidenote: Women and marriage.]

As in all Southern countries where women mature early, the Roman girl
usually married young; twelve years were required by custom for her to
reach the marriageable age.[27] In the earlier period a woman was
acquired as wife in three different ways: I. By _coemptio_--a mock sale
to her husband[28]; II. By _confarreatio_--a solemn marriage with
peculiar sacred rites to qualify men and women and their children for
certain priesthoods[29]; III. By _usus_, or acquisition by prescription.
A woman became a man's legal wife by _usus_ if he had lived with her one
full year and if, during that time, she had not been absent from him for
more than three successive nights.[30]

All these forms, however, had either been abolished by law or had fallen
into desuetude during the second century of our era, as is evident from
Gaius.[31] A man could marry even if not present personally; a woman
could not.[32] The woman's parents or guardians were accustomed to
arrange a match for her,[33] as they still do in many parts of Europe.
Yet the power of the father to coerce his daughter was limited. Her
consent was important. "A marriage cannot exist," remarks Paulus,
"unless all parties consent."[34] Julianus writes also that the daughter
must give her permission[35]; yet the statement of Ulpian which
immediately follows in the Digest shows that she had not complete free
will in the matter: "It is understood that she who does not oppose the
wishes of her father gives consent. But a daughter is allowed to object
only in case her father chooses for her a man of unworthy or disgraceful
character."[36] The son had an advantage here, because he could never be
forced into a marriage against his will.[37] The consent of the father
was always necessary for a valid marriage.[38] He could not by will
compel his daughter to marry a certain person.[39] After she was
married, he still retained power over her, unless she became independent
by the birth of three children; but this was largely to protect her and
represent her in court against her husband if necessity should
arise.[40] A father was not permitted to break up a harmonious[41]
marriage; he could not get back his daughter's dowry without her
consent,[42] nor force her to return to her husband after a divorce[43];
and he was punished with loss of citizenship if he made a match for a
widowed daughter before the legal time of mourning for her husband had
expired.[44] A daughter passed completely out of the power of her father
only if she became _sui iuris_ by the birth of three children or if she
became a Vestal, or again if she married a special priest of Jupiter
(_Flamen Dialis_), in which case, however, she passed completely into
the power of her husband. Under all circumstances a daughter must not
only show respect for her father, but also furnish him with the
necessaries of life if he needed them.[45]

[Sidenote: "Breach of Promise."]

Under the Empire no such thing as a "breach of promise" suit was
permitted, although in the days of the Republic the party who broke a
promise to marry had been liable to a suit for damages.[46] But this had
now disappeared, and either party could break off the betrothal at
pleasure without prejudice.[47] Whatever gifts had been given might be
demanded back.[48] The engagement had to be formally broken off before
either party could enter into marriage or betrothal with another;
otherwise he or she lost civil status.[49] While an engagement lasted,
the man could bring an action for damages against any one who insulted
or injured his fiancée.[50]

[Sidenote: Husband and Wife.]

The Roman marriage was a purely civil contract based on consent.[51] The
definition given by the law was a noble one. "Marriage is the union of a
man and a woman and a partnership of all life; a mutual sharing of laws
human and divine."[52] The power of the husband over the wife was called
_manus_; and the wife stood in the same position as a daughter.[53] No
husband was allowed to have a concubine.[54] He was bound to support his
wife adequately, look out for her interests,[55] and strictly to avenge
any insult or injury offered her[56]; any abusive treatment of the wife
by the husband was punished by an action for damages[57]. A wife was
compelled by law to go into solemn mourning for a space of ten months
upon the death of a husband[58]. During the period of mourning she was
to abstain from social banquets, jewels, and crimson and white
garments[59]. If she did not do so, she lost civil status. The emperor
Gordian, in the year 238, remitted these laws so far as solemn clothing
and other external signs of mourning above enumerated were
concerned.[60] But a husband was not compelled to do any legal mourning
for the death of his wife.[61]

The wife was, as I have said, in the power of her husband. Originally,
no doubt, this power was absolute; the husband could even put his wife
to death without a public trial. But the world was progressing, and that
during the first three centuries after Christ the power of the husband
was reduced in practice to absolute nullity I shall make clear in the
following pages. I shall, accordingly, first investigate the rights of
the wife over her dowry, that is, the right of managing her own

Even from earliest times it is clear that the wife had complete control
of her dowry. The henpecked husband who is afraid of offending his
wealthy wife is a not uncommon figure in the comedies of Plautus and
Terence; and Cato the Censor growled in his usual amiable manner at the
fact that wives even in his day controlled completely their own
property.[62] The attitude of the Roman law on the subject is clearly
expressed. "It is for the good of the state that women have their
dowries inviolate."[63] "The dowry is always and everywhere a chief
concern; for it is for the public good that dowries be retained for
women, since it is highly necessary that they be dowered in order to
bring forth offspring and replenish the state with children."[64] "It is
just that the income of the dowry belong to the husband; for inasmuch as
it is he who stands the burdens of the married state, it is fair that he
also acquire the interest."[65] "Nevertheless, the dowry belongs to the
woman, even though it is in the goods of the husband."[66] "A husband is
not permitted to alienate his wife's estate against her will."[67] A
wife could use her dowry during marriage to support herself, if
necessary, or her kindred, to buy a suitable estate, to help an exiled
parent, or to assist a needy husband, brother, or sister. The numerous
accounts in various authors of the first three centuries after Christ
confirm the statement that the woman's power over her dowry was
absolute.[68] Then as now, a man might put his property in his wife's
name to escape his creditors,[69]--a useless proceeding, if she had not
had complete control of her own property.

When the woman died, her dowry, if it had been given by the father (_dos
profecticia_) returned to the latter; but if any one else had given it
(_dos adventicia_), the dowry remained with the husband, unless the
donor had expressly stipulated that it was to be returned to himself at
the woman's death (_dos recepticia_),[70] In the case of a dowry of the
first kind, the husband might retain what he had expended for his
wife's funeral.[71] The dowry was confiscated to the state if the woman
was convicted of lèse majesté, violence against the state, or
murder.[72] If she suffered punishment involving loss of civil status
under any other law which did not assess the penalty of confiscation,
the husband acquired the dowry just as if she were dead. Banishment
operated as no impediment; if the woman wished to leave her husband
under these circumstances, her father could recover the dowry.[73]

A further confirmation of the power of the wife over her property is the
law that prohibited gifts between husband and wife; obviously, a woman
could not be said to have the power of making a gift if she had no right
of property of her own. The object of the law mentioned was to prevent
the husband and wife from receiving any lasting damage to his or her
property by giving of it under the impulse of conjugal affection.[74]
This statute acted powerfully to prevent a husband from wheedling a wife
out of her goods; and in case the latter happened to be of a grasping
disposition the law was a protection to the husband and hence to the
children, his heirs, for whose interests the Roman law constantly

Gifts between husband and wife were nevertheless valid under certain
conditions. It was permissible to make a present of clothing and to
bestow various tokens of affection, such as ornaments. The husband could
present his wife with enough money to rebuild a house of hers which had
burned.[75] The Emperor Marcus Aurelius permitted a wife to give her
husband the sum necessary to obtain public office or to become a senator
or knight or to give public games.[76] A gift was also legal if made by
the husband in apprehension that death might soon overtake him; if, for
instance, he was very sick or was setting out to war, or to exile, or on
a dangerous journey.[77] The point in all gifts was, that neither party
should become richer by the donation.[78]

Some further considerations of the relation of husband and wife will aid
in setting forth the high opinion which Roman law entertained of
marriage and its constant effort to protect the wife as much as
possible. A wife could not be held in a criminal action if she committed
theft against her husband. The various statements of the jurists make
the matter clear. Thus Paulus[79]: "A special action for the recovery of
property removed [_rerum amotarum iudicium_] has been introduced
against her who was a wife, because it has been decided that it is not
possible to bring a criminal action for theft against her [_quid non
placuit cum ea furti agere posse_]. Some--as Nerva Cassius--think she
cannot even commit theft, on the ground that the partnership in life
made her mistress, as it were. Others--like Sabinus and Proculus--hold
that the wife can commit theft, just as a daughter may against her
father, but that there can be no criminal action by established law."
"As a mark of respect to the married state, an action involving disgrace
for the wife is refused."[80] "Therefore she will be held for theft if
she touches the same things after being divorced. So, too, if her slave
commits theft, we can sue her on the charge. But it is possible to bring
an action for theft even against a wife, if she has stolen from him
whose heirs we are or before she married us; nevertheless, as a mark of
respect we say that in each case a formal claim for restitution alone is
admissible, but not an action for theft."[81] "If any one lends help or
advice to a wife who is filching the property of her husband, he shall
be held for theft. If he commits theft with her, he shall be held for
theft, although the woman herself is not held."[82]

A husband who did not avenge the murder of his wife lost all claims to
her dowry, which was then confiscated to the state; this by order of the
Emperor Severus.[83]

The laws on adultery are rather more lenient to the woman than to the
man. In the first place, the Roman law insisted that it was unfair for a
husband to demand chastity on the part of his wife if he himself was
guilty of infidelity or did not set her an example of good
conduct,[84]--a maxim which present day lawyers may reflect upon with
profit. A father was permitted to put to death his daughter and her
paramour if she was still in his power and if he caught her in the act
at his own house or that of his son-in-law; otherwise he could not.[85]
He must, however, put both man and woman to death at once, when caught
in the act; to reserve punishment to a later date was unlawful. The
husband was not permitted to kill his wife; he might kill her paramour
if the latter was a man of low estate, such as an actor, slave, or
freedman, or had been convicted on some criminal charge involving loss
of citizenship.[86] The reason that the father was given the power which
was denied the husband was that the latter's resentment would be more
likely to blind his power of judging dispassionately the merits of the
case.[87] If now the husband forgot himself and slew his wife, he was
banished for life if of noble birth, and condemned to perpetual hard
labour if of more humble rank.[88] He must at once divorce a wife guilty
of adultery; otherwise he was punished as a pander, and that meant loss
of citizenship.[89] Women convicted of adultery were, when not put to
death, punished by the loss of half their dowry, a third part of their
other goods, and relegation to an island; guilty men suffered the loss
of half of their possessions and similar relegation to an island; but
the guilty parties were never confined in the same place.[90] We have
mention also in several writers of some curious and vicious punishments
that might be inflicted on men guilty of adultery.[91]

Now, all this seems rigorous enough; but, as I have already remarked, we
must beware of imagining that a statute is enforced simply because it
stands in the code. As a matter of fact, public sentiment had grown so
humane in the first three centuries after Christ that it did not for a
moment tolerate that a father should kill his daughter, no matter how
guilty she was; and in all our records of that period no instance
occurs. As to husbands, we have repeated complaints in the literature of
the day that they had grown so complaisant towards erring wives that
they could not be induced to prosecute them.[92] A typical instance is
related by Pliny.[93] Pliny was summoned by the Emperor Trajan to attend
a council where, among other cases, that of a certain Gallitta was
discussed. She had married a military tribune and had committed adultery
with a common captain (_centurio_). Trajan sent the captain into exile.
The husband took no measures against his wife, but went on living with
her. Only by coercion was he finally induced to prosecute. Pliny informs
us that the guilty woman had to be condemned, even against the will of
her accuser.

A woman guilty of incest received no punishment, but the guilty man was
deported to an island.[94] If the incest involved adultery, the woman
was of course held on that charge.

[Sidenote: Divorce]

We come now to a matter where the growing freedom of women reached its
highest point--the matter of divorce. Here again we have to note the
progress of toleration and humanitarianism. In the early days of the
Republic the family tie was rarely severed. Valerius Maximus tells
us[95] of a quaint custom of the olden days, to the effect that
"whenever any quarrel arose between husband and wife, they would proceed
to the chapel of the goddess Viriplaca ["Reconciler of Husbands"], which
is on the Palatine, and there they would mutually express their
feelings; then, laying aside their anger, they returned home
reconciled." During these days a woman could never herself take the
initiative in divorce; the husband was all-powerful. The first divorce
of which we have any record took place in the year 231 B.C., when
Spurius Carvilius Ruga put away his wife for sterility. Public opinion
censured him severely for it "because people thought that not even the
desire for children ought to have been preferred to conjugal fidelity
and affection."[96] As the Empire extended and Rome became more worldly
and corrupt, the reasons for divorce became more trivial. Sempronius
Sophus divorced his wife because she had attended some public games
without his knowledge.[97] Cicero, who was a lofty moralist--on
paper,--put away his wife Terentia in order to marry a rich young ward
and get her money if he could. Maecenas, the great prime-minister of
Augustus, sent away and took back his wife repeatedly at
caprice--perhaps he believed that variety is the spice of life. But
during all this time the husband alone could annul marriage.[98]

Gradually, however, the status of women changed and they were given
greater and greater liberty. Inasmuch as Roman marriage was a civil
contract based on consent, strict justice had to allow that on this
basis either party to the contract might annul the marriage at his or
her pleasure. The result was that during the first three centuries after
Christ the wife had absolute freedom to take the initiative and send her
husband a divorce whenever and for whatever reason she wished. The
proof of this fact is positively established not only from the
statements of the jurists, but also from numberless accounts in the
other writers of the day.[99] Divorce became, at least among the higher
strata of society, extraordinarily frequent. That a lady of the Upper
Four Hundred should have been content with only one husband was deemed
worthy of special mention on her tomb; the word _univira_ (a woman of
one husband) may still be read on certain inscriptions. The satirists
are fond of dwelling on the license allowed to women in the case of
divorce. Martial, for instance,[100] says that one Theselina married ten
husbands in one month. Still, allowing for the natural exaggeration of
satirists, we are yet reasonably sure that divorce had reached great
heights in the upper classes. Whether it was as bad among the middle
classes is very improbable. There was one kind of marriage which,
originally at least, did not admit of dissolution.[101] This was the
solemn marriage by _confarreatio_, already described, which qualified
the husband and wife for the special priesthood of Jupiter. Women soon
grew to value their freedom too highly to enter it; as early as 23 A.D.
the Senate had to relax some of the rigour of the old laws on the matter
as a special inducement for women to consent to enter this union.[102]

We may now observe what became of the wife's property after divorce and
what her rights were under such circumstances. If it was the husband who
had taken the initiative and had sent his wife a divorce, and if the
divorce was not the fault of the woman, she at once had an action in law
for complete recovery of her dowry; on her own responsibility if she was
_sui iuris_, otherwise with the help of her father.[103] But even the
woman still under guardianship could act by herself if her father was
too sick or infirm or if she had no other agent to act for her.[104] For
the offence of adultery a husband had to pay back the dowry at once; for
lesser guilt he might return it in instalments at intervals of six
months.[105] If, now, the divorce was clearly the fault of the woman,
her husband could retain certain parts of the dowry in these
proportions: for adultery, a sixth part for each of the children up to
one half of the whole; for lighter offences, an eighth part; if the
husband had gone to expense or had incurred civil obligations for his
wife's benefit or if she had removed any of his property, he could
recover the amount.[106]

A year and six months must elapse after a divorce before the woman was
allowed to marry again.[107] If at the time of the divorce she was
pregnant, her husband was obliged to support her offspring, provided
that within thirty days after the separation she informed him of her
condition.[108] She could sue her former husband for damages if he
insulted her.[109] Whether the children should stay with the mother or
father was left to the discretion of the judge.[110]

[Sidenote: Property rights of widows and single women.]

The married woman had, as I have shown, complete disposal of her own
property. Let us see next what rights those women had over their
possessions who were widows or spinsters.

Roman Law constantly strove to protect the children and laid it down as
a maxim that the property of their parents belonged to them.[111] A
widow could not therefore, except by special permission from the
emperor,[112] be the legal guardian of her children, but must ask the
court to appoint one upon the death of her husband.[113] This was to
prevent possible mismanagement and because "to undertake the legal
defence of others is the office of men."[114] But she was permitted to
assume complete charge of her children's property during their minority
and enjoy the usufruct; only she must render an account of the goods
when the children arrived at maturity.[115] We have many instances of
women who managed their children's patrimony and did it exceedingly
well. "You managed our patrimony in such wise," writes Seneca to his
mother,[116] "that you exerted yourself as if it were yours and yet
abstained from it as if it belonged to others."[117] Agricola,
father-in-law of Tacitus, had such confidence in his wife's business
ability that he made her co-heir with his daughter and the Emperor
Domitian.[118] A mother could get an injunction to restrain extravagance
on the part of her children.[119] Women could not adopt.[120]

Married women, spinsters, and widows had as much freedom as men in
disposing of property by will. If there were children, the Roman law put
certain limitations on the testator's powers, whether man or woman. By
the Falcidian Law no one was allowed to divert more than three fourths
of his estate from his (or her) natural heirs.[121] But for any adequate
cause a woman could disinherit her children completely; and there are
many instances of this extant both in the Law Books and in the
literature of the day.[122]

Single women had grown absolutely unshackled and even their guardians
had become a mere formality, as the words of Gaius, already quoted (page
8) prove. That they had complete disposal of their property is proved
furthermore by the numerous complaints in Roman authors about the
sycophants who flattered and toadied the wealthy ladies with an eye to
being remembered in their wills.[123] For it is evident that if these
women had not had the power freely to dispose of their own property,
there would have been no point in paying them such assiduous court. The
legal age of maturity was now twenty-five for both male and female.

[Sidenote: Women engaged in business pursuits.]

Women engaged freely in all business pursuits. We find them in all kinds
of retail trade and commerce,[124] as members of guilds,[125] in
medicin[126] innkeeping,[127] in vaudevil[128]; there were even
female barbers[129] and charioteer[130]. Examples of women who toiled
for a living with their own hands are indeed very old, as the widow,
described by Homer, who worked for a scanty wage to support her
fatherless children, or the wreathmaker, mentioned by Aristophanes.[131]
But such was the case only with women of the lower classes; the lady of
high birth acted through her agents.[132]

[Sidenote: The right of women to sue.]

When so many women were engaged in business, occasions for lawsuits
would naturally arise; we shall see next what power the woman had to
sue. It was a standing maxim of the law that a woman by herself could
not conduct a case in court.[133] She had to act through her agent, if
she was independent, otherwise through her guardian. The supreme judge
at Rome and the governor in a province assigned an attorney to those who
had no agent or guardian.[134] But in this case again custom and the law
were at variance. Various considerations will make it clear that women
who sued had, in practice, complete disposal of the matter. I.--A woman
who was still under the power of her father must, according to law, sue
with him as her agent or appoint an agent to act with him. Nevertheless,
a father could do nothing without the consent of his daughter.[135]
Obviously, then, so far as the power of the father was concerned, a
woman had practically the management of her suit. II.--The husband had
no power. If he tried to browbeat her as to what to do, she could send
him a divorce, a privilege which she had at her beck and call, as we
have seen; and then she could force him to give her any guardian she
wanted.[136] III.--That the authority of other guardians was in practice
a mere formality, I have already proved (pp. 7 and 8).

From these considerations it is clear that the woman's wishes were
supreme in the conduct of any suit. Moreover, the law expressly states
that women may appoint whatever attorneys or agents they desire, without
asking the consent of their legal guardians[137]; and thus they were at
liberty to select a man who would manage things as they might direct.
There were cases where even the strict letter of the law permitted women
to lay an action on their own responsibility alone: if, when a suit for
recovery of dowry was brought, the father was absent or hindered by
infirmities[138]; if the woman sued or was sued to get or render an
account of property managed in trust[139]; to avenge the death of a
parent or children, or of patron or patroness and their children[140];
to lay bare any matter pertaining to the public grain supply[141]; and
to disclose cases of treason.[142]

[Sidenote: Instances of women pleading in public and suing.]

We read of many cases of women pleading publicly and bringing suit.
Indeed, according to Juvenal--who is, however, a pessimist by
profession--the ladies found legal proceedings so interesting that
bringing suit became a passion with them as strong as it had once been
among the Athenians. Thus Juvenal[143]: "There is almost no case in
which a woman wouldn't bring suit. Manilia prosecutes, when she isn't a
defendant. They draw up briefs quite by themselves, and are ready to
cite principles and authorities to Celsus [a celebrated lawyer of that
time]." Of pleading in public one of the celebrated instances was that
of Hortensia, daughter of the great orator Quintus Hortensius, Cicero's
rival. On an occasion when matrons had been burdened with heavy taxes
and none of their husbands would fight the measure, Hortensia pleaded
the case publicly with great success. All writers speak of her action
and the eloquence of her speech with great admiration.[144] We hear also
of a certain Gaia Afrania, wife of a Senator; she always conducted her
case herself before the supreme judge, "not because there was any lack
of lawyers," adds her respectable and scandalised historian,[145] "but
because she had more than enough of impudence."

Quintilian mentions several cases of women being sued[146]; Pliny tells
how he acted as attorney for some[147]; and the Law Books will supply
any one curious in the matter with abundant examples.[148] A quotation
from Pliny[149] will give an idea of the kind of suit a woman might
bring, and the great interest aroused thereby: "Attia Viriola, a woman
of illustrious birth and married to a former supreme judge, was
disinherited by her eighty-year-old father within eleven days after he
had brought Attia a stepmother. Attia was trying to regain her share of
her father's estate. One hundred and eighty jurors sat in judgment. The
tribunal was crowded, and from the higher part of the court both men and
women strained over the railings in their eagerness to hear (which was
difficult), and to see (which was easy)."

[Sidenote: Partiality of the law to women.]

There were many legal qualifications designed to help women evade the
strict letter of the law when this, if enforced absolutely, would work
injustice. Ignorance of the law, if there was no criminal offence
involving good morals, was particularly accepted in the case of women
"on account of the weakness of the sex."[150] A typical instance of the
growth of the desire to help women, protect them as much as possible,
and stretch the laws in their favour, may be taken from the senatorial
decree known as the Senatus Consultum Velleianum.[151] This was an order
forbidding females to become sureties or defendants for any one in a
contract. But at the end of the first century of our era the Senate
voted that the law be emended to help women and to give them special
privileges in every class of contract. "We must praise the
farsightedness of that illustrious order," comments the great jurist
Ulpian,[152] "because it brought aid to women on account of the weakness
of the sex, exposed, as it is, to many mishaps of this sort."

[Sidenote: Rights of women to inherit.]

The rights of women to inherit under Roman law deserve some mention.
Here again we may note a steady growth of justice. Some general examples
will make this clearer, before I treat of the specific powers of
inheritance. I.--In the year 169 B.C. the Tribune Quintus Voconius Saxa
had a law passed which restricted greatly the rights of women to
inherit.[153] According to Dio[154] no woman was, by this statute,
permitted to receive more than 25,000 sesterces--1250 dollars. In the
second century after Christ, this law had fallen into complete
desuetude.[155] II.--By the Falcidian Law, passed in the latter part of
the first century B.C., no citizen was allowed to divert more than three
fourths of his estate from his natural heirs.[156] The Romans felt
strongly against any man who disinherited his children without very good
reason; the will of such a parent was called _inofficiosum_, "made
without a proper feeling of duty," and the disinherited children had an
action at law to recover their proper share.[157] A daughter was
considered a natural heir no less than a son and had equal privileges in
succession[158]; and so women were bound to receive some inheritance at
least. III.--It is a sad commentary on Christian rulers that for many
ages they allowed the crimes of the father to be visited upon his
children and by their bills of attainder confiscated to the state the
goods of condemned offenders. Now, the Roman law stated positively that
"the crime or punishment of a father can inflict no stigma on his
child."[159] So far as the goods of the father were concerned, the
property of three kinds of criminals escheated to the crown: (1) those
who committed suicide while under indictment for some crime,[160] (2)
forgers,[161] (3) those guilty of high treason[162]. Yet it seems
reasonable to doubt whether these laws were very often carried out
strictly to the letter. For example, the law did indeed hold that the
estate of a party guilty of treason was confiscated to the state[163];
but even here it was expressly ordained that the goods of the condemned
man's freedmen be reserved for his children.[164] Moreover, in actual
practice we can find few instances where the law was executed in its
literal severity even under the worst tyrants. It was Julius Caesar who
first set the splendid example of allowing to the children of his dead
foes full enjoyment of their patrimonies.[165] Succeeding emperors
followed the precedent.[166] Tyrants like Tiberius and Nero, strangely
enough, in a majority of cases overruled the Senate when it proposed to
confiscate the goods of those condemned for treason, and allowed the
children a large part or all of the paternal estate.[167] Hadrian gave
the children of proscribed offenders the twelfth part of their father's
goods.[168] Antoninus Pius gave them all.[169] There was a strong public
feeling against bills of attainder and this sentiment is voiced by all
writers of the Empire. The law forbade wives to suffer any loss for any
fault of their husbands.[170]

Since we have now noticed that women could inherit any amount, that they
were bound to receive something under their fathers' wills, and that the
guilt of their kin could inflict no prejudice upon them in the way of
bills of attainder involving physical injury or civil status and, in
practice, little loss so far as inheriting property was concerned, we
may pass to a contemplation of the specific legal rights of inheritance
of women.

If women were to be disinherited, it was sufficient to mention them in
an aggregate; but males must be mentioned specifically.[171] If,
however, they were disinherited in an aggregate (_inter ceteros_), some
legacy had to be left them that they might not seem to have been passed
over through forgetfulness.[172] I shall not concern myself particularly
with testate succession, because here obviously the will of the testator
could dispose as he wished, except in so far as he was limited by the
Falcidian Law. The matter of intestate succession may well claim our
attention; for therein we shall see what powers of inheritance were
given the female sex. The general principles are explained by Gaius
(iii, 1-38); and these principles followed, in the main, the law as laid
down in the Twelve Tables (451 B.C.). According to these, the estates of
those who died intestate belonged first of all to the children who were
in the power of the deceased at the time of his death; there was no
distinction of sex; the daughters were entitled to precisely the same
amount as the sons.[173] If the children of the testator had died, the
grandson or granddaughter _through the son_ succeeded; or the
great-grandson or great-granddaughter through the _grandson_. If a son
a daughter were alive, as well as grandsons and granddaughters through
the _son_, they were all equally called to the estate. The estate was
not divided per capita, but among families as a whole; for example, if
of two sons one only was alive, but the other had left children, the
testator's surviving son received one half of the patrimony and his
grandchildren through his other son the other half, to be divided among
them severally. If, then, there were six grandchildren, each received
one twelfth of the estate.

Here the powers of women to inherit stopped. Beyond the tie of
_consanguinitas_, that is, that of daughter to father, or granddaughter
through a _son_, the female line must at once turn aside, and had no
powers; the estate descended to the _agnati_, that is, male relatives on
the father's side. Hence a mother was shut out by a brother of the
deceased or by that brother's children. If there were no _agnati_, the
goods were given to the _gentiles_, male relatives of the clan bearing
the same name. In fact, under this régime we may say that of the female
line the daughter alone was sure of inheriting something.

In the days of the Empire some attempts were made to be more just. It
was enacted[174] that all the children should be called to the estate,
whether they had been under the power of the testator at the time of his
death or not; and female relatives were now allowed to come in for
their share "in the third degree," that is, if there was neither a child
or an agnate surviving. This was not much of an improvement; and the
principle of agnate succession is the only point in which Roman law
failed to give to women those equal rights which it allowed them in
other cases.

[Sidenote: Protection of property of children.]

There is no point on which Roman law laid more stress than that the
children, both male and female, were to be constantly protected and must
receive their legal share of their father's or mother's goods. After a
husband's divorce or death his wife could, indeed, enjoy possession of
the property and the usufruct; but the principal had to be conserved
intact for the children until they arrived at maturity. In the same way
a father was obliged to keep untouched for the children whatever had
been left them by the mother on her decease[175]; and he must also leave
them that part, at least, of his own property prescribed by the
Falcidian Law. A case--and it was common enough in real life--such as
that described by Dickens in _David Copperfield_, where, by the English
law, a second husband acquired absolute right over his wife's property
and shut out her son, would have been impossible under Roman law.
Neither husband nor wife could succeed to one another's intestate estate
absolutely unless there were no children, parents, or other relatives

[Sidenote: Punishment of crimes against women.]

Rape of a woman was punished by death; accessories to the crime merited
the same penalty.[177] Indecent exposure before a virgin met with
punishment out of course.[178] Kidnapping was penalised by hard labour
in the mines or by crucifixion in the case of those of humble birth, and
by confiscation of half the goods and by perpetual exile in the case of
a noble.[179] Temporary exile was visited upon those guilty of abortion
themselves[180]; if it was caused through the agency of another, the
agent, even though he or she did so without evil intent, was punished by
hard labour in the mines, if of humble birth, and by relegation to an
island and confiscation of part of their goods, if of noble rank.[181]
If the victim died, the person who caused the abortion was put to

[Sidenote: Rights of women to an education.]

The rights of women to an education were not questioned. That Sulpicia
could publish amatory poems in honour of her husband and receive
eulogies from writers like Martial[183] shows that she and ladies like
her occupied somewhat the same position as Olympia Morata and Tarquinia
Molza later in Italy during the Renaissance, or like some of the
celebrated Frenchwomen, such as Madame de Staël. Seneca addresses a
_Dialogue on Consolation_ to one Marcia; such an idea would have made
the hair of any Athenian gentleman in the time of Socrates stand on end.
Aspasia was obliged to be a courtesan in order to become educated and to
frequent cultivated society[184]; Sulpicia was a noble matron in good
standing. The world had not stood still since Socrates had requested
some one to take Xanthippe home, lest he be burdened by her sympathy in
his last moments. Pains were taken that the Roman girl of wealth should
have special tutors.[185] "Pompeius Saturninus recently read me some
letters," writes Pliny[186] to one of his correspondents, "which he
insisted had been written by his wife. I believed that Plautus or
Terence was being read in prose. Whether they are really his wife's, as
he maintains; or his own, which he denies; he deserves equal honour,
either because he composes them, or because he has made his wife, whom
he married when a mere girl, so learned and polished." The enthusiasm of
the ladies for literature is attested by Persius.[187]

According to Juvenal, who, as an orthodox satirist, was not fond of the
weaker sex, women sometimes became over-educated. He growls as
follows[188]: "That woman is a worse nuisance than usual who, as soon as
she goes to bed, praises Vergil; makes excuses for doomed Dido; pits
bards against one another and compares them; and weighs Homer and Maro
in the balance. Teachers of literature give way, professors are
vanquished, the whole mob is hushed, and no lawyer or auctioneer will
speak, nor any other woman." The prospect of a learned wife filled the
orthodox Roman with peculiar horror.[189] No Roman woman ever became a
public professor as did Hypatia or, ages later, Bitisia Gozzadina, who,
in the thirteenth century, became doctor of canon and civil law at the
University of Bologna.

I have been speaking of women of the wealthier classes; but the poor
were not neglected. As far back as the time of the Twelve Tables--450
B.C.--parents of moderate means were accustomed to club together and
hire a schoolroom and a teacher who would instruct the children, girls
no less than boys, in at least the proverbial three R's. Virginia was on
her way to such a school when she encountered the passionate gaze of
Appius Claudius. Such grammar schools, which boys and girls attended
together, flourished under the Empire as they had under the
Republic.[190] They were not connected with the state, being supported
by the contributions of individual parents. To the end we cannot say
that there was a definite scheme of public education for girls at the
state's expense as there was for boys.[191] Still, the emperors did
something. Trajan, Hadrian, Antoninus Pius, Marcus Aurelius, and
Alexander Severus, for example, regularly supplied girls and boys with
education at public expense[192]; under Trajan there were 5000 children
so honoured. Public-spirited citizens were also accustomed to contribute
liberally to the same cause; Pliny on one occasion[193] gave the
equivalent of $25,000 for the support and instruction of indigent boys
and girls.

[Sidenote: The Vestals.]

It may not be out of place to speak briefly of the Vestal Virgins, the
six priestesses of Vesta, who are the only instances in pagan antiquity
of anything like the nuns of the Christians. The Vestals took a vow of
perpetual chastity.[194] They passed completely out of the power of
their parents and became entirely independent. They could not receive
the inheritance of any person who died intestate, and no one could
become heir to a Vestal who died intestate. They were allowed to be
witnesses in court in public trials, a privilege denied other women.
Peculiar honour was accorded them and they were regularly appointed the
custodians of the wills of the emperors.[195]

[Sidenote: Female slaves.]

The position of women in slavery merits some attention, in view of the
huge multitudes that were held in bondage. Roman law acknowledged no
legal rights on the part of slaves[196]. The master had absolute power
of life and death.[197] They were exposed to every whim of master or
mistress without redress.[198] If some one other than their owner harmed
them they might obtain satisfaction through their master and for his
benefit; but the penalty for the aggressor was only pecuniary.[199] A
slave's evidence was never admitted except under torture.[200] If a
master was killed, every slave of his household and even his freedmen
and freedwomen were put to torture, although the culprit may already
have been discovered, in order to ascertain the instigator of the plot
and his remotest accessories.[201]

The earlier history of Rome leaves no doubt that before the Republic
fell these laws were carried out with inhuman severity. With the
growth of Rome into a world power and the consequent rise of
humanitarianism[202] a strong public feeling against gratuitous cruelty
towards slaves sprang up. This may be illustrated by an event which
happened in the reign of Nero, in the year 58, when a riot ensued out of
sympathy for some slaves who had been condemned _en masse_ after their
master had been assassinated by one of them.[203] Measures were
gradually introduced for alleviating the hardships and cruelties of
slavery. Claudius (41-54 A.D.) ordained[204] that since sick and infirm
slaves were being exposed on an island in the Tiber sacred to
Aesculapius, because their masters did not wish to bother about
attending them, all those who were so exposed were to be set free if
they recovered and never to be returned into the power of their masters;
and if any owner preferred to put a slave to death rather than expose
him, he was to be held for murder. Gentlemen began to speak with
contempt of a master or mistress who maltreated slaves.[205] Hadrian
(117-138 A.D.) modified the old laws to a remarkable degree: he forbade
slaves to be put to death by their masters and commanded them to be
tried by regularly appointed judges; he brought it about that a slave,
whether male or female, was not to be sold to a slave-dealer or trainer
for public shows without due cause; he did away with _ergastula_ or
workhouses, in which slaves guilty of offences were forced to work off
their penalties in chains and were confined to filthy dungeons; and he
modified the law previously existing to the extent that if a master was
killed in his own house, the inquisition by torture could not be
extended to the whole household, but to those only who, by proximity to
the deed, could have noticed it.[206] Gaius observes[207] that for
slaves to be in complete subjection to masters who have power of life
and death is an institution common to all nations, "But at this time,"
he continues, "it is permitted neither to Roman citizens nor any other
men who are under the sway of the Roman people to vent their wrath
against slaves beyond measure and without reason. In fact, by a decree
of the sainted Antoninus (138-161 A.D.) a master who without cause kills
his slave is ordered to be held no less than he who kills another's
slave.[208] An excessive severity on the part of masters is also checked
by a constitution of the same prince. On being consulted by certain
governors about those slaves who rush for refuge to the shrines of the
gods or the statues of emperors, he ordered that if the cruelty of
masters seemed intolerable they should be compelled to sell their
slaves." Severus ordained that the city prefect should prevent slaves
from being prostituted[209]. Aurelian gave his slaves who had
transgressed to be heard according to the laws by public judges[210].
Tacitus procured a decree that slaves were not to be put to
inquisitorial torture in a case affecting a master's life, not even if
the charge was high treason[211]. So much for the laws that mitigated
slavery under the Empire. They were not ideal; but they would in more
respects than one compare favourably with the similar legislation that
was in force, prior to the Civil War, in the American Slave States.


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Gilbert. Lipsiae (Teubner), 1896.

XV. Cornelii Taciti Libri qui Supersunt: quartum recognovit Carolus
Halm. Lipsiae (Teubner), 1901.

XVI. C. Vellei Paterculi ex Historiae Romanae libris duobus quae
supersunt: edidit Carolus Halm. Lipsiae (Teubner), 1876.

XVII. L. Annaei Senecae Opera quae Supersunt: recognovit Fridericus
Haase. Lipsiae (Teubner), 1898.

XVIII. Athenaei Naucratitae Deipnosophistaro libri XV: recensuit
Georgius Kaibel. Lipsiae (Teubner), 1887.

XIX. Lucii Apulei Metamorphoseon libri XI. Apologia et Florida.
Recensuit J. van der Vliet. Lipsiae (Teubner), 1897.

XX. C. Plini Caecili Secundi Epistularum libri novem. Epistularum ad
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XXI. Scriptores Historiae Augustae: edidit Hermannus Peter. Lipsiae
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XXII. M. Fabii Quintiliani Institutionis Oratoriae libri XII: recensuit
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XXIV. C. Plinii Secundi Naturalis Historiae libri XXXVII: recognovit
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XXVI. Plutarchi Scripta Moralia, Graece et Latine: Parisiis, editore
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[1] Paulus, iii, 4_a_, 1.

[2] Ulpian, Tit., xx, 16. Gaius, ii, 112.

[ 3: Male relatives on the father's side--agnati--were guardians
in such cases; these failing, the judge of the supreme court (praetor)
assigned one. See Ulpian, Tit., xi, 3, 4, and 24. Gaius, i, 185, and
iii, 10. Libertae (freedwomen) took as guardians their former masters.]

[4] Ulpian, Tit., xi, 27.

[5] The power of the father was called _potestas_; that of the husband,

[6] Aulus Gellius, x, 23. Cf. Suetonius, _Tiberius_, 35.

[7] Gaius, i, 144.

[8] Ulpian, Tit., xi, I.

[9] Ulpian, Tit., xi, 28a. Gaius, i, 194. Paulus, iv, 9, 1-9.

[10] Gaius, i, 145. Ulpian, Tit., x, 5.

[11] Gaius, i, 137. For an example see Pliny, _Letters_, viii, 18. Cf.
Spartianus. _Didius Iulianus_, 8: filiam suam, potitus imperio, dato
patrimonio, emancipaverat. See also Dio, 73, 7 (Xiphilin).

If emancipated children insulted or injured their parents, they lost
their independence--Codex, 8, 49 (50), 1.

[12] Ulpian, Tit., viii, 7_a_.

[13] Paulus, i, 4, 4; Mater, quae filiorum suorum rebus intervenit,
actione negotiorum gestorum et ipsis et eorum tutoribus tenebitur.

[14] Ulpian in Dig., 25, 3, 5.

[15] For Livia's great influence over Augustus see Seneca, _de
Clementia_, i, 9, 6. Tacitus, _Annals_, i, 3, 4, and 5, and ii, 34. Dio,
55, 14-21, and 56, 47.

Agrippina dominated Claudius--Tacitus, _Annals_, xii, 37. Dio, 60, 33.
Caenis, the concubine of Vespasian, amassed great wealth and sold public
offices right and left--Dio, 65, 14. Plotina, wife of Trajan, engineered
Hadrian's succession--Eutropius, viii, 6. Dio, 69, I. A concubine formed
the conspiracy which overthrew Commodus--Herodian, i, 16-17. The
plotting of Maesa put Heliogabalus on the throne--Capitolinus,
_Macrinus_, 9-10. Alexander Severus was ruled by his mother
Mammaea--Lampridius, _Alex. Severus_, 14; Herodian, vi, i, i and 9.
Gallienus invited women to his cabinet meetings--Trebellius Pollio,
Gallienus, 16. The wives of governors took such a strenuous part in
politics and army matters that it caused the Senate grave concern--see
examples in Tacitus, Annals, in, 33 and 34, and iv, 20; also i, 69, and
ii, 55; id. _Hist_., iii, 69. Vellcius Paterculus, ii, 74 (Fulvia).

Of course, no woman ever had a right to vote; but neither did anybody
else, since the Roman government had become an absolute despotism. The
first woman on the throne was Pulcheria, who, in 450 A.D., was
proclaimed Empress of the East, succeeding her brother, Theodosius II.
But she soon took a husband and made him Emperor. She had been
practically sole ruler since 414.

[16] Plutarch, _Roman Questions_, 6. Aulus Gellius, x, 23. Athenaeus, x,

[17] Valerius Maximus, vi, 3, 9. For this he was not even blamed, but
rather received praise for the excellent example.

[18] Aulus Gellius, x, 23. A woman in the _Menaechmi_ of Plautus, iv, 6,
1, complains justly of this double standard of morality:

Nam si vir scortum duxit clam uxorem suam, Id si rescivit uxor, impune
est viro. Uxor viro si clam domo egressa est foras, Viro fit causa,
exigitur matrimonio. Utinam lex esset cadem quae uxori est viro!

[19] Aulus Gellius, i, 6.

[20] De Consolatione ad Marciam, xvi, 1.

[21] _Commentaries_, A, [Greek: gamma].

[22] Quintilian, _Instit. Orat_., vi, 1, 5. Pliny, _Letters_, vi, 4 and
7, and vii, 5.

[23] Great admiration expressed for Paulina, wife of Seneca, who opened
her veins to accompany her husband in death--Tacitus, _Annals_, xv, 63,
64. Story of Arria and Paetus--Pliny, _Letters_, iii, 16. Martial, i,
13. The famous instance of Epponina, under Vespasian, and her attachment
to her condemned husband--Tacitus, _Hist_., iv, 67. Tacitus mentions
that many ladies accompanied their husbands to exile and
death--_Annals_, xvi, 10, 11. Numerous instances are related by Pliny of
tender and happy marriages, terminated only by death--see, e.g.,
_Letters_, viii, 5. Pliny the elder tells how M. Lepidus died of regret
for his wife after being divorced from her--_N.H._, vii, 36. Valerius
Maximus devotes a whole chapter to Conjugal Love--iv, 6. But the best
examples of deep affection are seen in tomb inscriptions--e.g., CIL i,
1103, viii, 8123, ii, 3596, v, 1, 3496, v, 2, 7066, x, 8192, vi, 3,
15696, 15317, and 17690. Man and wife are often represented with arms
thrown about one another's shoulders to signify that they were united in
death as in life. The poet Statius remarks that "to love a wife when she
is living is pleasure; to love her when dead, a solemn duty" (Silvae, in
prooemio). Yet some theologians would have us believe that conjugal love
and fidelity is an invention of Christianity.

[24] Pliny, _Panegyricus_, 26. For other instances see Capitolinus,
_Anton. Pius_, 8; Lampridius, _Alex. Severus_, 57; Spartianus, Hadrian,
7, 8, 9; Capitolinus, _M. Anton. Phil_., 11.

[25] Gaius, i, 190.

[26] Ulpian, Tit. xi, 25. Cf. Frag, iur Rom. Vatic. (Huschke, 325): Divi
Diocletianus et Constantius Aureliae Pontiae: Actor rei forum sequi
debet et mulier quoque facere procuratorem _sine tutoris auctoritate non
prohibetur_. So Papinian, lib. xv, Responsorum (Huschke, 327). I shall
discuss these matters at greater length when I treat of women and the
management of their property.

[27] Dio, 54, 16. Pomponius in Dig., 23, 2, 4.

[28] Gaius, i, 113.

[29] Ulpian, Tit., ix, 1: Farreo convenit uxor in manum certis verbis et
testibus X praesentibus et sollemni sacrificio facto, in quo panis
quoque farreus adhibetur. Cf. Gaius, i, 112.

[30] Aulus Gellius, iii, 2, 12. Gaius, i, 111.

[31] Gaius, i, 110 and 111.

[32] Paulus, ii, xix, 8.

[33] Pliny, _Letters_, i, 14, will furnish an example; cf. id. vi, 26,
to Servianus: Gaudeo et gratulor, quod Fusco Salinatori filiam tuam
destinasti. Note the way in which Julius Caesar arranged a match for his
daughter--Suetonius, _Divus Julius_, 21.

[34] Paulus in Dig., 23, 2, 2: Nuptiae consistere non possunt, nisi
consentiunt omnes, id est, qui coeunt quorumque in potestate sunt.

[35] Julianus in Dig., 23, 1, 11.

[36] Ulpian in Dig., 23, 1, 12.

[37] Paulus in Dig., 23, 1, 13. Terentius Clemens in Dig., 23, 2, 21.

[38] Paulus, ii, 19, 2.

[39] Ulpian, 24, 17.

[40] Cf. Ulpian, Tit., vi, 6: Divortio facto, si quidem sui juris sit
muller, ipsa habet rei uxoriae actionem, id est, dotis repetitionem;
quodsi in potestate patris sit, pater adiuncta filiae persona habet

The technical recognition of the father's power was still strong. Cf.
Pliny, _Panegyricus_, 38: Tu quidem, Caesar ... intuitus, opinor, vim
legemque naturae, quae semper in dicione parentum esse liberos iussit.
The same writer, on requesting Trajan to give citizenship to the
children of a certain freedman, is careful to add the specification that
they are to remain in their father's power--see Pliny to Trajan, xi

[41] Paulus, vi, 15. Codex, v, 4, 11, and 17, 5.

[42] Paulus, in Dig., 23, 3, 28. Codex, v, 13, 1, and 18, 1.

[43] Codex, v, 17, 5.

[44] Salvius Julianus: Frag. Perp. Ed.: Pars Prima, vii--under "De is
qui notantur infamia."

[45] Codex, 8, 46 (47), 5.

[46] Aulus Gellius, iv, 4.

[47] Juvenal, vi, 200-203. Gaius in Dig., 24, 2, 2. Ulpian, ibid., 23,
I, 10. Codex, v, 17, 2, and v, I, I.

[48] Codex, v, 3, 2.

[49] Dig., 3, 2, 1.

[50] Ulpian in Dig., 47, 10, 24.

[51] Cf. Alexander Severus in Codex, viii, 38, 2: Libera matrimonia esse
antiquitus placuit, etc. Also Codex, v, 4, 8 and 14.

[52] Modestinus in Dig., xxiii, 2, 1.

[53] Gaius, ii, 159.

[54] Paulus, ii, xx, 1.

[55] Note the rescript of Alexander Severus to a certain Aquila (Codex,
ii, 18, 13): Quod in uxorem tuam aegram erogasti, non a socero repetere,
sed adfectioni tuae debes expendere.

[56] See, e.g., Dig., 47, 10, and Ulpian, ibid., 48, 14, 27.

[57] Cf. Gaius, i, 141: In summa admonendi sumus, adversus eos, quos in
mancipio habemus, nihil nobis contumeliose facere licere; alioquin
iniuriarum (actione) tenebimur.

[58] Paulus, i, 21, 13.

[59] Paulus, i, 21, 14.

[60] Codex, ii, 11, 15

[61] Paulus in Dig., iii, 2, 9.

[62] Aulus Gellius, xvii, 6, speech of Cato: Principio vobis mulier
magnam dotem adtulit; tum magnam pecuniam recipit, quam in viri
potestatem non committit, ean pecuniam viro mutuam dat; postea, ubi
irata facta est, servum recepticum sectari atque flagitare virum iubet.

[63] Paulus in Dig., 23, 3, 2.

[64] Pomponius in Dig., 24, 3, 1.

[65] Ulpian in Dig., 23, 3, 7.

[66] Tryfoninus in Dig., 23, 3, 75.

[67] Gaius, ii, 63. Paulus, ii, 21b.

[68] E.g. Juvenal, vi, 136-141. Martial, viii, 12.

[69] Apuleius _Apologia_, 523: Pleraque tamen rei familiaris in nomen
uxoris callidissima fraude confert, etc.; id., 545, 546 proves further
the power of the wife: ea condicione factam conjunctionem, si nullis a
me susceptis liberis vita demigrasset, ut dos omnis, etc.--evidently the
woman was dictating the disposal of her dowry.

[70] Ulpian, Tit., vi, 3, 4, and 5. Codex, v, 18, 4.

[71] Ulpian in Dig., xi, 7, 16; ibid., Papinian, 17; ibid, Julianus, 18.
Paulus, i, xxi, 11.

[72] Ulpian in Dig., 48, 20, 3.

[73] Ulpian in Dig., 48, 20, 5.

[74] Ulpian in Dig., 24, 1, 1: Moribus apud nos receptum est, ne inter
virum et uxorem donationes valerent, hoc autem receptum est, ne mutuo
amore invicem spoliarentur, donationibus non temperantes, sed profusa
erga se facilitate.

[75] Paulus in Dig., 24, 1, 14.

[76] Gaius in Dig., 24, 1, 42; ibid., Licinius Rufus, 41; Ulpian, Tit.
vii, 1. Martial, vii, 64--et post hoc dominae munere factus eques.

[77] Paulus, ii, xxiii, 1.

[78] Cf. Paulus, ii, xxiii, 2.

[79] Paulus in Dig., 25, 2, 1. Codex, v, 21, 2.

[80] Gaius in Dig., 25, 2, 2.

[81] Paulus in Dig., 25, 2, 3.

[82] Ulpian in Dig., 47, 2, 52. The respect shown for family relations
may be seen also from the fact that a son could _complain--de facto
matris queri_--if he believed that his mother had brought in
supposititious offspring to defraud him of some of his inheritance; but
he was strictly forbidden to bring her into court with a public and
criminal action--Macer in Dig., 48, 2, 11: _sed ream eam lege Cornelia
facere permissum ei non est_.

[83] Ulpian in Dig., 48, 14, 27.

[84] Ulpian in Dig., 48, 5, 14 (13): Iudex adulterii ante oculos habere
debet et inquirere, an maritus pudice vivens mulieri quoque bonos mores
colendi auctor fuerit periniquum enim videtur esse, ut pudicitiam vir ab
uxore exigat, quam ipse non exhibeat. Cf. Seneca, _Ep_., 94: Scis
improbum esse qui ab uxore pudicitiam exigit, ipse alienarum corruptor
uxorum. Scis ut illi nil cum adultero, sic nihil tibi esse debere cum
pellice. Antoninus Pius gave a husband a bill for adultery against his
wife "Provided it is established that by your life you give her an
example of fidelity. It would be unjust that a husband should demand a
fidelity which he does not himself keep"--quoted by St. Augustine, de
Conj. Adult., ii, ch. 8. In view of these explicit statements it is
difficult to see what the Church Father Lactantius meant by asserting
(_de Vero Cultu_, 23): Non enim, sicut iuris publici ratio est, sola
mulier adultera est, quae habet alium; maritus autem, etiamsi plures
habeat, a crimine adulterii solutus est. Perhaps this deliberate
distortion of the truth was another one of the libels against pagan Rome
of which the pious Fathers are so fond "for the good of the Church."

[85] Papinian in Dig., 48, 5, 21 (20); ibid., Ulpian, 24 (23). Paulus,
ii, xxvi.

[86] Macer in Dig., 48, 5, 25 (24).

[87] Papinian in Dig., 48, 5, 23 (22).

[88] Papinian in Dig., 48, 5, 39 (38); ibid., Marcianus, 48, 8, 1.

[89] Paulus, ii, xxvi. Macer in Dig., 48, 5, 25 (24), ibid., Ulpian, 48,
5, 30 (29).

[90] Paulus, ii, xxvi.

[91] Juvenal, x. 317; quosdam moechos et mugilis intrat. Cf. Catullus,
15, 19.

[92] See, e.g., Capitolinus, _Anton_. _Pius_, 3. Spartianus, _Sept.
Severus_, 18, Pliny, _Panegyricus_, 83: multis illustribus dedecori fuit
aut inconsultius uxor assumpta aut retenta patientius, etc.

[93] Pliny, _Letters_, vi, 31.

[94] Paulus, ii, xxvi, 15.

[95] Valerius Maximus, ii, 1, 6.

[96] Aulus Gellius, xvii, 21, 44. Valerius Maximus, ii, 1, 4. Plutarch,
_Roman Questions_, 14.

[97] Valerius Maximus, vi, 3, 12.

[98] "If you should catch your wife in adultery, you would put her to
death with impunity; she, on her part, would not dare to touch you with
her finger; and it is not right that she should"--Speech of Cato the
Censor, quoted by Aulus Gellius, x, 23.

[99] E.g., Marcellus in Dig., 24, 3, 38: Maevia Titio repudium misit,
etc.; ibid., Africanus, 24, 3, 34: Titia divortium a Seio fecit, etc.
Martial, x, 41: Mense novo lani veterem, Proculeia, maritum Deseris,
atque iubes res sibi habere suas. Apuleius, _Apologia_, 547: utramvis
habens culpam mulier, quae aut tam intolerabilis fuit ut repudiaretur
aut tam insolens ut repudiaret.

_Novellae_, 140, 1: Antiquitus quidem licebat sine periculo tales [i.e.,
those of incompatible temperament] ab invicem separari secundum communem
voluntatem et consensum.

[100] Martial, vi, 7.

[101] Aulus Gellius, x, 15: Matrimonium flaminis nisi morte dirimi ius
non est.

[102] Tacitus, _Annals_, iv, 16.

[103] Ulpian, vi, 6; id. in Dig., 24, 3, 2. Pauli fragmentam in Boethii
commentario ad Topica, 2, 4, 19.

[104] Paulus in Dig. ii,3, 41.

[105] Ulpian, vi, 13.

[106] Ulpian, vi, 9-17, and vii, 2-3. Pauli frag, in Boethii comm. ad
Top., ii, 4, 19.

[107] Ulpian, xiv: feminis lex Iulia a morte viri anni tribuit
vacationem, a divortio sex mensum; lex autem Papia a morte viri biennii,
a repudio anni et sex mensum.

[108] Ulpian in Dig., 25, 3, 1. Paulus, ii, xxiv, 5.

[109] Ulpian in Dig., 25, 4, 8.

[110] Codex, v, 24, 1.

[111] Codex, vi, 60, 1: Res, quae ex matris successione fuerint ad
filios devolutae, ita sint in parentum potestate, ut fruendi dumtaxat
habeant facultatem, dominio videlicet carum ad liberos pertinente.

[112] Neratius in Dig., 26, 1, 18.

[113] Codex, v, 35, 1.

[114] Codex, ii, 12, 18: alienam suscipere defensionem virile officium
est ... filio itaque tuo, si pupillus est, tutorem pete.

[115] Ulpian, Tit. viii, 7_a_. Paulus, i, 4, 4.

[116] _ad Helviam matrem de consol_., xiv, 3.

[117] Other instances of women trustees will be found in Apuleius,
_Apologia_ 516; Paulus in Dig; iii, 5,23 (24): avia nepotis sui negotia
gessit, etc.; ibid., Marcellus, 46, 3, 48: Titia cum propter dotem bona
mariti possideret, omnia pro domina egit, reditus exegit, etc.

[118] Tacitus, _Agricola_, 43.

[119] Frag. iur. Rom. Vat., 282.

[120] Ulpian, viii, 7a.

[121] Gaius, ii, 227. Digest, 35, 2.

[122] E.g. Pliny, _Letters_, v, 1. Codex, iii, 28, 19; id., iii, 28, 28.
Cf. Codex, iii, 29, I, and 29, 7; and Paulus in Dig., v, 2, 19. Note the
extreme anxiety of the son of Prudentilla about her money as given by
Apuleius, _Apologia_, 517. The estate of a mother who died intestate
went to her children, not to her husband; the latter could only enjoy
the interest until they arrived at maturity--Codex, vi, 60, 1;
Modestinus in Dig., 38, 17, 4.

[123] E.g., Juvenal, iv, 18-21. Pliny, _Letters_, ii, 20.

[124] Digest, xiv, 1 and 3 and 8--on the actio exercitoria and
institoria. Cf. Codex, iv, 25, 4: et si a muliere magister navis
praepositus fuerit, etc.

[125] CIL, xiv, 326.

[126] Martial, xi, 71. Apuleius, _Metam_., v, 10. Soranus, i, 1, ch. 1
and 2. Galen, vii, 414 (cf. xiii, 341).

[127] E.g. Suetonius, _Nero_, 27.

[128] Carmina Priapea, 18 and 27. Ulpian, xiii, 1. The Roman drama had
now degenerated into mere vaudeville, mostly lascivious dancing.
Senators and their children were forbidden to marry any woman who had
herself or whose father or mother had been on the stage.

[129] Martial, ii, 17, 1.

[130] Petronius, _Sat_., 45: Titus noster ... habet et mulierem
essedariam. This would not be strange, when we reflect that under
Domitian noble ladies even fought in the arena.

[131] _Thesmophoriazusae_, 443-459.

[132] See Cicero, _pro Caecina_, 5, for an account of these business
agents for women.

[133] Paulus, ii, xi; id. in Dig., 16, 1, 1; Aulus Gellius, v, 19;
Pomponius in Dig., 48, 2, 1: non est permissum mulieri publico iudicio
quemquam reum facere.

[134] Ulpian in Dig., 1, 16, 9. Salvius Julianus, Pars Prima, vi: si non
habebunt advocatum, ego dabo. Alexander Severus (222-235 A.D.) gave
pensions to those advocates in the provinces who pleaded free of
charge--Lampridius, _Alex. Severus_, 44.

[135] Cf. Paulus in Dig., 23, 3, 28. Codex, v, 13, 1, and 18, 1. Ulpian
in Dig., iii, 3, 8.

[136] Gaius, i, 137.

[137] Frag. iur. Rom. Vat., 325; id., 327 (from Papinian): mulieres
quoque et sine tutoris auctoritate procuratorem facere posse.

[138] Ulpian in Dig., iii, 3, 8; ibid., Paulus, iii, 3, 41.

[139] Ulpian in Dig., iii, 5, 3.

[140] Pomponius in Dig., 48, 2, 1; ibid., Papinian, 48, 2, 2--who adds
that she could also do so in a case regarding the will of a mother or
father's freedman.

[141] Marcianus in Dig., 48, 2, 13.

[142] Papinian in Dig., 48, 4, 8.

[143] Juvenal, vi, 242--245.

[144] Valerius Maximus, viii, 3, 3. Appian, _B.C._, iv, 32 ff.
Quintilian, i, 1, 6.

[145] Valerius Maximus, viii, 3, 2.

[146] Quintilian, ix, 2, 20 and 34.

[147] E.g., Pliny _Letters_, i, 5, and iv, 17.

[148] E.g., Huschke, pp. 796, 797, 803, 807, 809, 810, 856, 857, 858. Or
instances such as that mentioned in Digest, 48, 2, 18, where a sister
brings an action to prove her brother's will a forgery.

[149] Pliny, _Letters_, vi, 33.

[150] Paulus in Dig., 22, 6, 9.

[151] Fully treated in Dig., 16, 1, and Paulus, ii, xi.

[152] Ulpian in Dig., 16, 1, 2.

[153] Aulus Gellius, xvii, 6. St. Augustine, de Civit. Dei, iii, 21: nam
tunc, id est inter secundum et postremum bellum Carthaginiense, lata est
etiam illa lex Voconis, ne quis heredem feminam faceret, nec unicam

[154] Dio, 56, 10.

[155] Aulus Gellius, xx, 1, 23. According to Dio, 56, 10, it was
Augustus who in the year 9 A.D. gave women permission to inherit any

[156] Fully treated in Dig., 35, 2. Also in Gaius, ii, 227, and Paulus,
iii, viii, 1-3, and iv, 3, 3, and 5 and 6.

[157] Paulus, iv, Tit. v, 1. Cases in which "Complaints of Undutiful
Will" were the issue will be found, e.g., in Codex, iii, 28, 1 and 19
and 28; id., iii, 29, 1 and 7.

[158] Ulpian in Dig., 38, 16, 1: suos heredes accipere debemus filios
filias sive naturales sive adoptivos. Instances of daughters being left
heiresses of whole estates may be found, e.g., in Dig., 28, 2, 19: cum
quidam filiam ex asse heredem scripsisset filioque, quem in potestate
habebat, decem legasset, etc. Or the example mentioned by Scaevola in
Dig., 41, 9, 3: Duae filiae intestato patri heres exstiterunt, etc.

[159] Callistratus in Dig., 48, 19, 26: crimen vel poena paterna nullam
maculam filio infligere potest. namque unusquisque ex suo admisso sorti
subicitur nec alieni criminis successor constituitur; idque divi fratres
Hierapolitanis rescripserunt. "Nothing is more unjust," writes Seneca
(de Ira, ii, 34, 3), "than that any one should become the heir of the
odium excited by his father."

[160] Paulus, v, xii, 1.

[161] Paulus, v, xii, 12.

[162] Ulpian in Dig., 48, 4, 11.

[163] Ulpian in Dig., 48, 4, 11.

[164] Hermogenianus in Dig., 48, 4, 9.

[165] Sulla had not only deprived the children of the proscribed of all
their estates, but had also debarred them from aspiring to any political
office--see Velleius Paterculus, ii, 28.

[166] For examples of the clemency of Augustus see Suetonius, _div.
Aug._, 33 and 51 and 67; Seneca, _de Ira_, iii, 23, 4 ff., and 40, 2;
Velleius Paterculus, ii, 86, 87.

[167] For Tiberius see, e.g., Tacitus, _Annals_, iv--case of Silius;
id., _Annals_, iii, 17, 18--case of Piso. For Nero, note Tacitus,
_Annals_, xiii, 43--case of Publius Suilius. Clemency of Claudius
mentioned in Dio, 60, 15, 16; of Vitellius in Tacitus, _Hist_., ii, 62.

[168] Spartianus, _Had._, 18.

[169] Capitolinus, _Anton. Pius_, 7. See also the anecdote of Aurelian
in Vopiscus, _Aurelian_, 23.

[170] Codex, iv, 12, 2, rescript of Diocletian: ob maritorum culpam
uxores inquietari leges vetant. proinde rationalis noster, si res quae a
fisco occupatae sunt dominii tui esse probaveris, ius publicum sequetur.

[171] Gaius, ii, 129 and 132.

[172] Gaius, ii, 132.

[173] Codex, iii, 36, 11: Inter filios ac filias bona intestatorum
parentium pro virilibus portionibus aequo iure dividi oportere explorati
iuris est.

[174] Gaius, iii, 25-31.

[175] See, e.g., Codex, vi, 60, i: Res, quae ex matris successione
fuerint ad filios devolutae, ita sint in parentum potestate, ut fruendi
dumtaxat habeant facultatem, dominio videlicet eorum ad liberos

[176] For all this, see Codex, v, 9, 5, and vi, 18, q.

[177] Paulus, v, 4, 14, who adds that exile was the penalty if the crime
had not been completely carried out. It would seem also that ravished
women had the option of deciding whether their seducers should marry
them or be put to death--see the _vitiatarum electiones_ as mentioned by
Tacitus, _Dial. de Orat_., 35. According to Ruffus, 40, a soldier who
did violence to a girl had his nostrils cut off, besides being forced to
give the injured woman a third part of his goods: militi, qui puellae
vim adtulerit et stupraverit, nares abscinduntur, data puellae tertia
militis facultatum parte.

[178] Paulus, v, 4, 21.

[179] By the lex Fabia. Paulus, v, 30 B. Digest, 48, 15; 17, 2, 51.

[180] Ulpian in Dig., 48, 8, 8; ibid., Tryphoninus, 48, 19, 39.

[181] Paulus, v, 23, 14; id. in Dig., 48, 19, 38.

[182] Paulus, supra cit.

[183] Martial, x, 35, and x, 38.

[184] Sappho, Telesilla, and Corinna belong to an earlier period, when
the Oriental idea of seclusion for women had not yet become firmly fixed
in Greece. Women like Agallis of Corcyra, who wrote on grammar
(Athenaeus, i, 25) and lived in a much later age, doubtless belonged to
the _hetaerae_ class.

[185] See, e.g., Pliny, _Letters_, v, 16.

[186] Pliny, _Letters_, i, 16.

[187] Persius, i, 4-5: Ne mihi Polydamas et Troiades Labeonem
praetulerint? "Are you afraid that Polydamas and the Trojan Ladies will
prefer Labeo to me?" The _Trojan Ladies_, of course, stand for the
aristocratic classes, Colonial Dames, so to speak, who were fond of
tracing their descent back to Troy just as Americans like to discover
that their ancestors came over in the _Mayflower_.

[188] Juvenal, vi, 434-440.

[189] Cf. Martial, ii, 90: sit mihi verna satur, sit non doctissima

[190] The famous verses of Martial:

Quid tibi nobiscum, ludi scelerate magister? Invisum pueris
virginibusque caput!

[191] Vespasian (69-79 A.D.) started free public education by appointing
Quintilian Professor of Rhetoric subsidised by the state. Succeeding
emperors enlarged upon it; but especially Alexander Severus (222-235
A.D.), who instituted salaries for teachers of rhetoric, literature,
medicine, mechanics, and architecture in Rome and the provinces, and had
poor boys attend the lectures free of charge--see Lampridius, _Alex.
Severus_, 44.

[192] Pliny, _Paneg._, 26. Spartianus, _Hadrian_, 7, 8-9. Capitolinus,
_Anton. Pius 8_; id. _M. Anton. Phil._ II. Lampridius, _Alex_.
_Severus_, 57.

[193] Pliny, _Letters_, vii, 18. The sum was 500,000 sesterces.

[194] Any infringement of this vow was punished by burial alive--for
instances, see Suetonius, _Domitian_, 8; Herodian, iv, 6, 4: Pliny,
_Letters_ iv, 11; Dio, 77, 16 (Xiphilin). Their paramours were beaten to

[195] A full account of the Vestals will be found in Aulus Gellius, i,

[196] Quintilian, vii, 3, 27: ad servum nulla lex pertinet. On the rare
instances when a slave could inform against his master in a public
court, see Hermogenianus in Dig., v, 1, 53.

[197] Gaius, i, 52 ff.

[198] Gaius, iii, 222. Cf. Juvenal vi, 219-223, and 474-495.

[199] Gaius, iii, 222. Salvius Julianus, Pars Secunda, xv. Aulus
Gellius, xx, i.

[200] Paulus, v, 16.

[201] Paulus, iii, v, 5 ff. Pliny, _Letters_, viii, 14. Tacitus,
_Annals_ xiii, 32.

[202] Valerius Maximus, vi, 8, in a chapter entitled _de fide servorum_
speaks with great admiration of instances of fidelity on the part of
slaves. Seneca ate with his--_Epist_. 47, 13. Martial laments the death
of a favourite slave girl--v, 34 and 37. Dio (62, 27--Xiphilin) notes
the heroic conduct of Epicharis, a freedwoman, who was included in a
conspiracy against Nero; but she revealed none of its secrets, though
tortured in every way by Tigellinus. The pages of Pliny are full of the
spirit of kindliness to slaves.

[203] See Tacitus, _Annals_, xiv, 42 ff.

[204] Suetonius, _Claudius_, 25. Dio, 60, 29 (Xiphilin).

[205] Sec, e.g., Seneca, _de Clem_., i,18, 1 and 2--especially the
anecdote of Vedius Pollio (mentioned also by Dio, 54, 23).

The interesting letter of Pliny, viii, 16; and cf. iii, 14, and v, 19.
Juvenai, vi, 219-223.

[206] Spartianus, _Hadrian_, 18.

[207] Gaius, i, 52 ff. Cf. Ulpian in Dig., 1, 12, 1 and 8.

[208] The punishment for this was pecuniary damages equal to twice the
highest value of a slave during the year in which he was killed.

[209] Ulpian in Dig., i., 12, 8: hoc quoque officium praefecto urbi a
divo Severo datum est, ut mancipia tueatur ne prostituantur.

[210] Vopiscus, _Aurelian_, 49

[211] Vopiscus, _Tacitus_, 9.



Meanwhile a new world force, destined to overthrow the old order of
things, was growing slowly to maturity and spreading out its might until
eventually it fought its way to preeminence. I have traced the rights of
women under the regime of pagan Rome; I shall inquire next into the
position of women under Christianity. We must first note the attitude of
the early Christians towards women in general; for that attitude will
naturally be reflected in any laws made after the Church has become
supreme and is combined with and directs the State. That will demand a
special chapter on Canon Law; but in the present chapter I propose to
show how women were regarded by the Christians in the centuries which
were the formative period of the Church.

The direct words of Christ so far as they relate to women and as we have
them in the Gospels concern themselves wholly to bring about purity in
the relation of the sexes. "Ye have heard that it was said, Thou shalt
not commit adultery; but I say unto you, that every one that looketh on
a woman to lust after her hath committed adultery with her already in
his heart."[212] His commands on the subject of divorce are positive and
unequivocal: "It was said also, Whosoever shall put away his wife, let
him give her a writing of divorcement; but I say unto you, that every
one that putteth away his wife, saving for the cause of fornication,
maketh her an adultress; and whosoever shall marry her when she is put
away, committeth adultery."[213] Christ was content to lay down great
ethical principles, not minute regulations. Of any inferiority on the
part of women he says nothing, nor does be concern himself with giving
any directions about their social or legal rights. He blessed the
marriage at Cana; and to the woman taken in adultery he showed his usual
clemency. For the rest, his relations with women have an atmosphere of
rare sympathy, gentleness, and charm.

But as soon as we leave the Gospels and read the Apostles we are in a
different sphere. The Apostles were for the most part men of humble
position, and their whole lives were directed by inherited beliefs which
were distinctly Jewish and Oriental or Greek; not Western. In the Orient
woman has from the dawn of history to the present day occupied a
position exceedingly low. Indeed, in Mohammedan countries she is
regarded merely as a tool for the man's sensual passions and she is not
allowed to have even a soul. In Greece women were confined to their
houses, were uneducated, and had few public rights and less moral
latitude; their husbands had unlimited license.[214] The Jewish ideal is
by no means a lofty one and cannot for a moment compare with the honour
accorded the Roman matron under the Empire. According to _Genesis_ a
woman is the cause of all the woes of mankind. _Ecclesiasticus_ declares
that the badness of men is better than the goodness of women.[215] In
_Leviticus_[216] we read that the period of purification customary
after the birth of a child is to be twice as long in the case of a
female as in a male. The inferiority of women was strongly felt; and
this conception would be doubly operative on men of humble station who
never travelled, who had received little education, and whose ideas were
naturally bounded by the horizon of their native localities. We are to
remember also that the East is the home of asceticism, a conviction
alien to the Western mind. There is no parallel in Western Europe to St.
Simeon Stylites.

We would, therefore, expect to find in the teachings of the Apostles an
expression of Jewish, i.e., Eastern ideals on the subject of women; and
we do so find them. Following the express commands of Christ, they
exhorted to sexual purity and reiterated his injunctions on the matter
of divorce. They went much farther and began to legislate on more minute
details. Paul allows second marriages to women[217]; but thinks it
better for a widow to remain as she is.[218] It is better to marry than
to burn; yet would he prefer that men and women should remain in
celibacy.[219] The power of the father to arrange a marriage for his
daughter was, under Roman law, limited by her consent; but the words of
Paul make it clear that it was now to be a Christian precept that a
father could determine on his own responsibility whether his daughter
should remain a virgin.[220] Wives are to be in subjection to their
husbands, and "let the wife see that she fear her husband."[221] Woman
is the weaker vessel[222]; she is to be silent in church; if she desires
to learn anything, she should ask her husband at home.[223] Furthermore:
"I permit not a woman to teach, nor to have dominion over a man, but to
be in quietness. For Adam was first formed, then Eve; and Adam was not
beguiled, but the woman being beguiled hath fallen into transgression;
but she shall be saved through childbearing, if they continue in faith
and love and sanctification with sobriety."[224] The apparel of women
also evoked legislation from the Apostles. Women were to pray with their
heads veiled "for the man is not of the woman, but the woman for the
man."[225] Jewels, precious metal, and costly garments were unbecoming
the modest woman.[226]

In this early stage of Christianity we may already distinguish three
conceptions that were quite foreign to the Roman jurist: I. The
inferiority and weakness of women was evident from the time of Eve and
it was an act of God that punished all womankind for Eve's
transgression. Woman had been man's evil genius. II. She was to be
submissive to father or husband and not bring her will in opposition to
theirs. III. She must not be prominent in public, she must consider her
conduct and apparel minutely, and she was exhorted to remain a virgin,
as being thus in a more exalted position. At the same time insistence
was placed on the fact that a virgin, wife, and widow must be given due
honour and respect, must be provided for, and allowed her share in
taking part in those interests of the community which were considered
her sphere.

If, now, we examine the writings of the Church Fathers, we shall see
these ideas elaborated with all the vehemence of religious zeal.

The general opinions of the Fathers regarding women present a curious
mixture. They are fond of descanting on the fact that woman is
responsible for all the woes of mankind and that her very presence is
dangerous. At the same time they pay glowing tribute to women in
particular. St. Jerome held that women were naturally weaker, physically
and morally, than men.[227] The same saint proves that all evils spring
from women[228]; and in another passage he opines that marriage is
indeed a lottery and the vices of women are too great to make it worth
while.[229] "The sex is practiced in deceiving," observes St.
Maximus.[230] St. Augustine disputes subtly whether woman is the image
of God as well as man. He says no, and proves it thus[231]: The Apostle
commands that a man should not veil his head, because he is the image of
God; but the woman must veil hers, according to the same Apostle;
therefore the woman is not the image of God. "For this reason, again,"
continues the Saint, "the Apostle says 'A woman is not permitted to
teach, nor to have dominion over her husband.'" Bishop Marbodius calls
woman a "pleasant evil, at once a honeycomb and a poison" and indicts
the sex,[232] something on the order of Juvenal or Jonathan Swift, by
citing the cases of Eve, the daughters of Lot, Delilah, Herodias,
Clytemnestra, and Progne. The way in which women were regarded as at
once a blessing and a curse is well illustrated also in a distich of
Sedulius: "A woman alone has been responsible for opening the gates of
death; a woman alone has been the cause of a return to life."[233]

That women should be in subjection, in accordance with the dictum of
Paul, the Church Fathers assert emphatically. "How can it be said of a
woman that she is the image of God," exclaims St. Augustine,[234] "when
it is evident that she is subject to the rule of her husband and has no
authority! Why, she can not teach, nor be a witness, nor give security,
nor act in court; how much the more can she not govern!" Women are
commanded again and again not to perform any of the functions of men and
to yield a ready and unquestioning obedience to their husbands.[235]
The Fathers also insist that marriage without a paternal parent's
consent is fornication.[236]

Marriage was looked upon as a necessary evil, permitted, indeed, as a
concession to the weakness of mankind, but to be avoided if possible.
"Celibacy is to be preferred to marriage," says St. Augustine.[237]
"Celibacy is the life of the angels," remarks St. Ambrose.[238]
"Celibacy is a spiritual kind of marriage," according to St.
Optatus.[239] "Happy he," says Tertullia[240] "who lives like Paul!"
The same saint paints a lugubrious picture of marriage and the "bitter
pleasure of children" (_liberorum amarissima voluptate_) who are burdens
and just as likely as not will turn out criminals. "Why did the Lord cry
woe unto those that are pregnant and give suck, unless it was to call
attention to the fact that children will be a hindrance on the day of
judgment?"[241] When such views were entertained of marriage, it need
not seem remarkable that Tertullian and St. Paul of Nolan, like Tolstoy
to-day, discovered the blessings of a celibate life after they were
married and ran away from their wives.[242] Jerome finds marriage useful
chiefly because it produces virgins.[243]

As for second marriages, the Montanist and the Novatian sects condemned
them absolutely, on the ground that if God has removed a wife or husband
he has thereby signified his will to end the marrying of the parties;
Tertullian calls second marriage a species of prostitution.[244]Jerome
expresses the more tolerant and orthodox view: "What then? Do we condemn
second marriages? Not at all; but we praise single ones. Do we cast the
twice-married from the Church? Far from it; but we exhort the
once-married to continence. In Noah's ark there were not only clean, but
also unclean animals."[245]

As the Fathers were very well aware of the subtle influence of dress on
the sexual passions, we have a vast number of minute regulations
directing virgins, matrons, and widows to be clothed simply and without
ornament; virgins were to be veiled.[246] Tertullian, with that keen
logic of which the Church has always been proud in her sons, argues that
inasmuch as God has not made crimson or green sheep it does not behoove
women to wear colours that He has not produced in animals
naturally.[247] St. Augustine forbids nuns to bathe more than once a
month, unless under extreme necessity.[248]

As soon as the Church begins to exercise an influence upon law, we shall
expect to see the legal position of women changed in accordance with
certain general principles outlined above, viz: I. That inasmuch as Adam
was formed before Eve and as women are the weaker vessels, they should
confine themselves to those duties only which society has, from time
immemorial, assigned them as their peculiar sphere. II. They should be
meek, and not oppose father or husband; and to these they should go for
advice on all matters. III. All license, such as the Roman woman's right
of taking the initiative in a divorce, must never be tolerated. IV. They
should never transgress the bounds of strictest decorum in conduct and
dress, lest they seduce men; and they must never be conspicuous in
public or attempt to perform public functions. V. They are to be given
due honour and are to be cared for properly.

The legal rights of women would be affected, moreover, by a difference
in the spirit of the law. The Roman jurist derived his whole sanction
from reason and never allowed religious considerations, as such, to
influence him when legislating on women. He recognised that laws are not
immutable, but must be changed to fit the growth of equity and
tolerance. No previous authority was valid to him if reason suggested
that the authority's dictum had outlived its usefulness and must be
adapted to larger ideas. It never occurred to him to make the
inferiority of woman an act of God. On the other hand, the Church
referred everything to one unchanging authoritative source, the Gospels
and the writings of the Apostles; faith and authority took the place of
reason; and any attempt to question the injunctions of the Bible was
regarded as an act of impiety, to be punished accordingly. And as the
various regulations about women had now a divine sanction, the
permanence of these convictions was doubly assured.


I. The Bible.

II. Patrologia Latina: edidit J.P. Migne. Parisiis. 221 volumes
(finished 1864).


[212] _Matthew_ 5, 27 ff.

[213] _Matthew_ 5, 31 ff.; id. 19, 3 ff. _Mark_ 10, 2-12. _Luke_ 16, 18.

[214] Plutarch lived in the second century A.D.; but he has inherited
the Greek point of view and advises a wife to bear with meekness the
infidelities of the husband--see _Praecep. Coniug_., 16. His words are
often curiously similar to those of the Apostles, e.g., _Coniug.
Praecep_., 33: "The husband shall rule the wife not as if master of a
chattel, but as the soul does the body." Id. 37: "Wives who are sensible
will be silent when their husbands are angry and vent their passion;
when their husbands are silent, then let them speak to them and mollify
them." However, like the Apostles, he enjoins upon husbands to honour
their wives; his essay on the "Virtues of Women"--[Greek: gynaikôn
aretai]--is an affectionate tribute to their worth.

Some of the respectable Puritan gentlemen at Rome also held that a wife
be content to be a humble admirer of her husband (e.g., Pliny, _Paneg_.,
83, hoc efficiebat, quod mariti minores erant ... nam uxori sufficit
obsequii gloria, etc.). But Roman law insisted that what was morally
right for the man was equally so for the woman; just as it compelled a
husband himself to observe chastity, if he expected it from his wife.

[215] _Ecclesiasticus_ 42, 14.

[216] _Leviticus_ xii, 1-5.

[217] _Romans_ 7, 2-4.

[218] _Corinthians_ i, 7, 39.

[219] _Corinthians_ i, 7, 1 ff.

[220] _Corinthians_ i, 7, 37.

[221] _Ephesians_ 5, 22 and 33.

[222] _Peter_ i, 3, 7.

[223] _Corinthians_ i, 14, 34.

[224] _Timothy_ i, 2, 12-15.

[225] _Corinthians_ i, II, 8.

[226] _Timothy_ i, 2, 9. _Peter_ i, 3.

[227] Abelard, Ep., 9, in vol. 178, p. 325, of Migne: Beatus Hieronymus
... tanto magis necessarium amorem huius studii (i.e. the Scriptures)
censuit, quanto eas naturaliter infirmiriores et carne debiliores esse
conspexit. Cf. St. Paul of Nolan, _Letters_, 23, § 135--Migne 61, p.
273: Hi enim (i.e. evil spirits) petulantius infirmiora vasa pertentant,
sicut non Adam, sed Evam coluber aggressus est.

[228] Adversus Iovianum, i, 48--Migne, vol. 23, p. 278.

[229] Adversus Iovianum, i, 28--Migne, vol. 23, pp. 249-250: Qui enim
ducit uxorem, in ambiguo est, utrum odiosam an amabilem ducat. Si
odiosam duxerit, ferri non potest. Si amabilem, amor illius inferno et
arenti terrae et incendio comparatur. He quotes the Old Testament,
especially _Pr_. 30, 16, to support his views.

[230] S. Maximi Episcopi Taurinensis--Homilia 53, I--Migne, vol. 57, p.

[231] Augustinus: _Quaest. ex vet. Test_., 21: an mulier imago Dei sit
... unde et Apostolus, Vir quidem, inquit, non debet velare caput, cum
sit imago et gloria Dei; mulier autem, inquit, velet caput. Quare? Quia
non est imago Dei. Unde denuo dicit Apostolus: Mulieri autem docere non
permittitur, neque dominari in virum. Migne, vol. 35, p. 2228.

[232] Migne, vol. 171, pp. 1698-1699:

Femina dulce malum, pariter favus atque venenum, Melle linens gladium
cor confodit et sapientum. Quis suasit primo vetitum gustare parenti?
Femina. Quis patrem natas vitiare coegit? Femina. Quis fortem spoliatum
crine peremit? Femina. Quis iusti sacrum caput ense recidit?
Femina.--etc., ad lib.

However, in another poem he acknowledges that there is nothing more
beautiful than a good woman:

In cunctis quae dante Deo concessa videntur Usibus humanis, nil
pulchrius esse putamus, Nil melius muliere bona, etc.

[233] Migne, vol. 80, p. 307. The sentiment is more fully developed in
another poem--Migne, vol. 80, p. 307:

Femina causa fuit humanae perditionis; Qua reparatur homo, femina causa
fuit. Femina causa fuit cur homo ruit a paradiso; Qua redit ad vitam,
femina causa fuit. Femina prima parens exosa, maligna, superba; Femina
virgo parens casta, benigna, pia.

[234] _Quaest. ex vet. Test_., 45; Migne, vol. 35, p. 2244.

[235] E.g., Tertullian, _de virg. vel_., 9. St. Paul of Nolan, letter
23, § 135--Migne, 61, p. 273. Id., letter 26, vol. 61, p. 732 of Migne.
Cf. Augustine, letter 262, § 5--Migne, 33, p. 1079.

[236] Basilius, _ad Amphil_., c.42: Matrimonia sine iis, qui potestatem
habent, fornicationes sunt.

Ambrose says: Honorantur parentes Rebeccae muneribus, consulitur puella
non de sponsalibus, illa enim expectat iudicium parentum; non est enim
virginalis pudoris eligere maritum.

[237] Virginitas praeferenda coniugio--August., vol. 44, p. 142 of
Migne. The Council of Trent, eleven centuries later, in its
twenty-fourth session, re-echoed this sentiment and anathematised any
one who should deny it.

[238] Migne, vol. 16, p. 342.

[239] Id., II, p. 1074.

[240] Tertullian _ad uxorem_, i, 3.

[241] Id. _ad uxorem_, i, 5. See also Gregory of Nyassa, _de Virg_.,
iii, on the evils of matrimony.

[242] v. Tertullian, _ad uxorem_. For Paul of Nolan, see Migne, vol. 61,
p. 22.

[243] Laudo nuptias, laudo coniugium, sed quia mihi virgines generant.

[244] _Ad uxorem_, i, 7 and 9: non aliud dicendum erit secundum
matrimonium quam species stupri.

[245] Jerome, _Epist_., 123. See also id., _Epistola de viduitate
servanda_, Migne 22, p. 550, and the _Epist. de monogamia_, Migne, 22,
p. 1046. Ambrose, _de viduis liber unus_, Migne, 16, p. 234. Cf. Alanus
de Insulis in Migne, vol. 210, p. 194: Vidua ad secundas nuptias non

[246] See, e.g., St. Cyprian, _de habitu virginum_. Tertullian, _de
virginibus velandis_ and _de cultu feminarum_. Treatises on the way
widows should dress were written, among others, by St. Paul of Nolan,
_Epist_. 23, §§ 133-135--Migne 61; Augustine, St. Fulgentius Rusp., St.
Paulinus Aquil., and St. Petrus Damianus.

[247] _De cultu feminarum_, i, 8.

[248] Lavacrum etiam corporum ususque balneorum non sit assiduus, sed eo
quo solet intervallo temporis tribuatur, hoc est, semel in mense. Nisi
infirmitatis necessitas cogat, corpus saepius non lavandum--Augustine,
_de monialibus_, Migne, vol. 33, page 963.



Christianity became the state religion under Constantine, who issued the
Edict of Milan, giving toleration to the Christians, in the year 313.
The emperors from Constantine through Justinian (527-565) modified the
various laws pertaining to the rights of women in various ways. To the
enactments of Justinian, who caused the whole body of the Roman law to
be collected, I intend to give special attention. We must not, as yet,
expect to find the strict views of the Church Fathers carried out in any
severe degree. On the contrary the old Roman law was still so powerful
that it was for the most part beyond the control of ecclesiasts.
Justinian was an ardent admirer of it and could not escape from its
prevailing spirit. Canon law had not yet developed. When the old Roman
civilisation in Italy has succumbed completely to its barbarian
conquerors; when the East has been definitely sundered from the West;
when the Church has risen supreme, has won temporal power, and has
developed canon law into a force equal to the civil law,--then finally
we shall expect to see the legal rights of women changed in accordance
with two new world forces--the Roman Catholic Church and the Germanic
nations. I shall now discuss legislation having to do with my subject
under the Christian emperors from Constantine (306-337) through the
reign of Justinian (527-565).

[Sidenote: Divorce: rescript of Theodosius and Valentian.]

The power of husband and wife to divorce at will and for any cause,
which we have seen obtained under the old Roman law, was confined to
certain causes only by Theodosius and Valentinian (449 A.D.). These
emperors asserted vigorously that[249] the dissolution of the marriage
tie should be made more difficult, especially out of regard to the
children. Pursuant to this idea the power of divorce was given for the
following reasons alone: adultery, murder, treason, sacrilege, robbery;
unchaste conduct of a husband with a woman not his wife and vice-versa;
if a wife attended public games without her husband's permission; and
extreme physical violence of either party. A woman who sent her husband
a bill of divorce for any other reason forfeited her dowry and all
ante-nuptial gifts and could not marry again for five years, under
penalty of losing all civil rights. Her property accrued to her husband
to be kept in trust for the children.

[Sidenote: Justinian on divorce]

Justinian made more minute regulations on the subject of divorce. To the
valid causes for divorce as laid down by Theodosius and Valentinian he
added impotence; if a separation was obtained on this ground, the
husband might retain ante-nuptial gifts.[250] Abortion committed by the
wife or bathing with other men than her husband or inveigling other men
to be her paramours--these offences on the part of the wife gave her
husband the right of divorce.[251] Captivity of either party for a
prolonged period of time was always a valid reason. Justinian added
also[252] that a man who dismissed his wife without any of the legal
causes mentioned above existing or who was himself guilty of any of
these offences must give to his wife one fourth of his property up to a
sum not to exceed one hundred _librae_ of gold, if he owned property
worth four hundred _librae_ or more; if he had less, one fourth of all
he possessed was forfeit. The same penalties held for the wife who
presumed to dismiss her husband without the offences legally recognised
existing. The forfeited money was at the free disposal of the blameless
party if there were no children; these being extant, the property must
be preserved intact for their inheritance and merely the usufruct could
be enjoyed by the trustees. A woman who secured a divorce through a
fault of her husband had always to wait at least a year before marrying
again _propter seminis confusionem_.[253]

[Sidenote: Justin revokes decrees of Justinian.]

Justin, the nephew and successor of Justinian, reaffirmed the right to
divorce by mutual consent, thus abrogating the laws of his
predecessors.[254] Justinian had ordained that if husband and wife
separated by mutual consent, they were to be forced to spend the rest of
their lives in a convent and forfeit to it one third of their
goods.[255] Justin, then, made the pious efforts of his uncle naught.
Nothing can more clearly illustrate than his decree how small a power
the Church still possessed to mould the tenor of the law; for such a
thing as divorce by mutual consent, without any necessary reason, was a
serious misdemeanour in the eyes of the Church Fathers, who passed upon
it their severest censures.

[Sidenote: Adultery.]

On the subject of adultery Justinian enacted that if the husband was the
guilty party, the dowry and marriage donations must be given his wife;
but the rest of his property accrued to his relatives, both in ascending
and descending lines, to the third degree; these failing, his goods
were confiscated to the royal purse.[256] A woman guilty of adultery was
at once sent to a monastery. After a space of two years her husband
could take her back again, if he so wished, without prejudice. If he did
not so desire, or if he died, the woman was shorn and forced to spend
the rest of her life in a nunnery; two thirds of her property were given
to her relatives in descending line, the other third to the monastery;
if there were no descendants, ascendants got one third and the monastery
two thirds; relatives failing, the monastery took all; and in all cases
goods inserted in the dowry contract were to be kept for the

[Sidenote: Second marriages.]
[Sidenote: Strict laws of Gratian, Valentinian, and Theodosius.]

The legislation of the earlier Christian emperors on second marriages
reflects the various feelings of the Church Fathers on the subject.
Under the old law, people could marry as often as they wished without
any penalties.[258] But we have seen that among some of the Churchmen
second marriages were held in peculiar abhorrence, and third nuptials
were regarded as a hideous sin; while the orthodox clergy, like St.
Augustine and St. Jerome, permitted second and third marriages, but
damned them with faint praise and urged Christians to be content with
one venture. Public opinion, custom, and the influence of the old Roman
law were too powerful to allow Christian monarchs to become fanatical on
the subject[259]; but certain stricter regulations were introduced by
the pious Gratian, Valentinian, and Theodosius, in the years 380, 381,
and 382.[260] As under the old laws any widow who married again before
the legal time of mourning--a year--had expired, became infamous and
lost both cast and all claims to the goods of her deceased husband. She
was furthermore not permitted to give a second husband more than one
third of her property nor leave him more than one third by will; and she
could receive no intestate succession beyond the third degree. A woman
who proceeded to a second marriage after the legal period of mourning,
must make over at once to the children of the first marriage all the
property which her former husband had given or left to her. As to her
own personal property, she was allowed to possess it and enjoy the
income while she lived, but not to alienate it or leave it by will to
any one except the children of the first marriage. As I have before
remarked, Roman law constantly had the interest of the children at
heart.[261] If there was no issue of the first marriage, then the woman
had free control. A mother acquired full right--as the old Senatus
consultum Tertullianum had decreed--to the property of a son or daughter
who died childless[262]; but if she married a second time, and her son
or daughter died without leaving children or grandchildren, she was
expelled from all succession and distant relatives acquired the

[Sidenote: Justinian moderates these laws to a great degree.]

Justinian changed these enactments to a pronounced degree. "We are not
making laws that are too bitter against women who marry a second time,"
he remarks,[264] "and we do not want to lead them, in consequence of
such action, to the harsh necessity, unworthy of our age, of abstaining
from a chaste second marriage and descending to illegitimate
connections." He ordained, therefore, that the law mentioned above be
annulled and that mothers should have absolutely unrestricted rights of
inheritance to a deceased child's property along with the latter's
brothers and sisters; and second marriage was never to create any
prejudice.[265] In the earlier part of his reign Justinian also forbade
husband or wife to leave one another property under the stipulation that
the surviving partner must not marry again[266]; but later, when his
zeal for reform had become more pronounced and fanatical, he revoked
this and gave the conditioned party the option either of enjoying the
property by remaining unmarried or of forfeiting it by a second

[Sidenote: Breaking of engagements.]

Constantine ordained,[268] in the year 336, that if an engagement was
broken by the death of one of the contracting parties and if the
_osculum_[269] had taken place, half of whatever donations had been
given was to be handed over to the surviving party and half to the heirs
of the deceased; but if the solemn _osculum_ had not yet taken place,
all gifts went to the heirs of the deceased. There was also a law that
if either party broke the engagement to enter monastic life, the man who
did so lost all that he had given by way of earnest money for the
marriage contract (_arrarum nomine_); if it was the woman who took the
initiative, she was compelled to return twice the amount of any sums she
had received. This was changed by Justinian, who enacted that those who
broke an engagement to enter monastic life should merely return or
receive whatever donations had been made.[270] Constantine and his
successors abrogated the old time Julian laws, which had inflicted
certain penalties--such as limited rights of inheritance--on men and
women who did not marry.[271]

[Sidenote: Changes in the law of gifts.]

I have already pointed out that gifts between husband and wife were
illegal and I have explained the reasons. Justinian allowed the husband
to make donations to his wife, in such wise, however, that all chance of
intent to defraud might be absent.[272] He ordained also that if husband
or wife left the married state to embrace a celibate life, each party
was to keep his or her own property as per marriage contract or as each
would legitimately in the case of the other's death.[273] If any one,
after vowing the monastic life, returned to the world, his or her goods
were forfeit to the monastery which he or she had left.[274]

[Sidenote: Various enactments on marriage.]

The consent of the father or, if he was dead, of near relatives was
emphatically declared necessary by the Christian emperors for a marriage
and the woman had practically no will of her own although, if several
suitors were proposed to her, she might be requested to name which one
she preferred.[275] Marriage with a Jew was treated as adultery.[276]
Women who belonged to heretical sects were to have no privileges.[277]
Justinus and Justinian abrogated the old law which forbade senators to
marry freedwomen or any woman who had herself or whose parents had
followed the stage. Actresses were now permitted, on giving up their
profession, to claim all the rights of other free women; and a senator
could marry such or even a freedwoman without prejudice.[278]

[Sidenote: Changes in the laws of inheritance.]

Under the old law, as we have seen, a son and a daughter had equal
rights to intestate succession; but beyond the relationship of daughter
to father or sister to brother women had no rights to intestate
succession unless there were no agnates, that is, male relatives on the
father's side. Thus, an aunt would not be called to the estate of a
nephew who died childless, but the uncle was regularly admitted. So,
too, a nephew was admitted to the intestate succession of an uncle, who
died without issue, but the niece was shut out. All this was changed by
Justinian, who gave women the same rights of inheritance as men under
such conditions.[279] If the children were unorthodox, they were to have
absolutely no share of either parent's goods.[280]

[Sidenote: Women as guardians.]

[Sidenote: In suits.]

The Christian emperors permitted widows to be guardians over their
children if they promised on oath not to marry again and gave security
against fraud.[281] Justinian forbade women to act by themselves in any
legal matters.[282]

[Sidenote: Bills of attainder.]

Arcadius and Honorius (397 A.D.) enacted some particularly savage bills
of attainder, which were in painful contrast to the clemency of their
pagan predecessors. Those guilty of high treason were decapitated and
their goods escheated to the crown. "To the sons of such a man [i.e.,
one condemned for high treason]," write these amiable Christians,[283]
"we allow their lives out of special royal mercy--for they ought really
to be put to death along with their fathers--but they are to receive no
inheritances. Let them be paupers forever; let the infamy of their
father ever follow them; they may never aspire to office; in their
lasting poverty let death be a relief and life a punishment. Finally,
any one who tries to intercede for these with us is also to be
infamous."[284] However, to the daughters of the condemned these
emperors graciously granted one fourth of their mother's but not any of
their father's goods. In the case of crimes other than high treason the
children or grandchildren were allowed one half of the estate.[285]
Constantine decreed that a wife's property was not to be affected by the
condemnation of her husband.[286]

[Sidenote: Rape.]

Ravishers of women, even of slaves and freedwomen, were punished by
Justinian with death; but in the case of freeborn women only did the
property of the guilty man and his abettors become forfeit to the
outraged victim. A woman no longer had the privilege of demanding her
assailant in marriage.[287]


Roman Law as cited in Chapter I, especially the _Novellae_ of Justinian.


[249] Codex, v, 17, 8 contains this rescript in full.

[250] Codex, v, 17, 10.

[251] Codex, v, 17, 11.

[252] Id.

[253] Novellae, 22, 18.

[254] Novellae, 140, 1: Antiquitus quidem licebat sine periculo tales
(i.e., those of incompatible temperament) ab invicem separari secundum
communem voluntatem et consensum hoc agentes, sicut et plurimae tunc
leges extarent hoc dicentes et _bona gratia_ sic procedentem solutionem
nuptiarum patria vocitantes voce. Postea vero divae memoriae nostro
patri.... legem sancivit prohibens cum consensu coniugia solvi.... Haec
igitur aliena nostris iudicantes temporibus in praesenti sacram
constituimus legem, per quam sancimus licere ut antiquitus consensu
coniugum solutiones nuptiarum fieri.

[255] Novellae, 134, 11.

[256] Novellae, 134, 10.

[257] Novellae, 134, 10.

[258] Novellae, 22 (praefatio): Antiquitas equidem non satis aliquid de
prioribus aut secundis perserutabatur nuptiis, sed licebat et patribus
et matribus et ad plures venire nuptias et lucro nullo privari, et causa
erat in simplicitate confusa.

[259] The language of some of them is pretty strong, however--matre iam
secundis nuptiis _funestata_--Codex, v, 9, 3 (Gratian, Valentinian,

[260] For these see Codex, v, 9, 1 and 2 and 3.

[261] Cf. Codex, v, 9, 4. Nos enim hac lege id praecipue custodiendum
esse decrevimus, ut ex quocumque coniugio suscepti filii patrum suorum
sponsalicias retineant facilitates.

[262] Codex, vi, 56, 5.

[263] Novellae, ii, 3: ex absurditate legis, licet praemoriantur filii
omnes, non relinquentes filios aut nepotes, nihilominus supplicium
manet, et non succedit eis mater, sed expellitur ab eorum inhumane
successione ... sed succedunt quidem illis aliqui ex longa cognatione.

[264] Novellae, ii, 3.

[265] Novellae ii, 3.

[266] Codex, vi, 40, 2 and 3.

[267] Novellae, 22, 44: unde sancimus, si quis prohibuerit ad aliud
venire matrimonium, etc.

[268] Codex, v, 3, 16.

[269] The _osculum_ was a sort of "donation on account of marriage" made
on the day of the formal engagement.

[270] Codex, i, 3, 54 (56).

[271] Codex, viii, 57 (58), I and 2. Cf. Codex, viii, 58 (59), 1 and 2.

[272] Codex, v, 3, 10.

[273] Codex, i, 3, 54 (56). Gregory of Tours informs us that according
to the Council of Nicaea--325 A.D.--a wife who left her husband, to whom
she was happily married, to enter a nunnery incurred excommunication. He
means probably: if she went without her husband's consent. Greg. 9, 33:
Tunc ego accedens ad monasterium canonum Nicaenorum decreta relegi, in
quibus continetur: quia si quae reliquerit virum et thorum, in quo bene
vexit, spreverit, dicens quia non sit ei portio in illa caelestis regni
gloria qui fuerit coniugio copulatus, anathema sit. (Note of editor:
Videtur esse canon 14 concilii Grangensis, quod concilium veteres
Nicaeno subiungere solebant; idque indicat titulus in veteribus

[274] Codex, i, 3, 54 (56).

[275] Codex, v, 4, 20, and 5, 18.

[276] Codex, i, 9, 6.

[277] Novellae, cix, 1.

[278] Codex, v, 4, 23 and 28.

[279] Codex, vi, 58, 14.

[280] Codex, i, 5, 19.

[281] Codex, v, 35, 2 and 3.

[282] Codex, ii, 55, 6.

[283] Codex, ix, 8, 5.

[284] This law was evidently lasting, for it is quoted with approval by
Pope Innocent III, in the year 1199--see Friedberg, _Corpus Iuris
Canonici_, vol. ii, p. 782.

[285] Codex, ix, 49, 10.

[286] Codex, v, 16, 24.

[287] For all these enactments see Codex, i, 3, 53 (54), and ix, 13.



A second world force had now come into its own. The new power was the
Germanic peoples, those wandering tribes who, after shattering the Roman
Empire, were destined to form the modern nations of Europe and to find
in Christianity the religion most admirably adapted to fill their
spiritual needs and shape their ideals. In the year 476 the barbarian
Odoacer ascended the throne of the Caesars. He still pretended to govern
by virtue of the authority delegated to him by Zeno, emperor at
Constantinople; but the rupture between East and West was becoming final
and after the reign of Justinian (527-565) it was practically complete.
Henceforth the eastern empire had little or nothing to do with western
Europe and subsisted as an independent monarchy until Constantinople was
taken by the Turks in 1453. I shall not concern myself with it any

In western Europe, then, new races with new ideals were forming the
nations that to-day are England, Germany, France, Spain, Italy, and
Austria. It is interesting to note what some of these barbarians
thought about women and what place they assigned them.

[Sidenote: Julius Caesar's account.]

Our earliest authorities on the subject are Julius Caesar and Tacitus.
Caesar informs us[288] that among the Gauls marriage was a well
recognized institution. The husband contributed of his own goods the
same amount that his wife brought by way of dowry; the combined property
and its income were enjoyed on equal terms by husband and wife. If
husband or wife died, all the property became the possession of the
surviving partner. Yet the husband had full power of life and death over
his wife as over his children; and if, upon the decease of a noble,
there were suspicions regarding the manner of his death, his wife was
put to inquisitorial torture and was burnt at the stake when adjudged
guilty of murder. Among the Germans women seem to have been held in
somewhat greater respect. German matrons were esteemed as prophetesses
and no battle was entered upon unless they had first consulted the lots
and given assurance that the fight would be successful.[289] As for the
British, who were not a Germanic people, Caesar says that they practiced
polygamy and near relatives were accustomed to have wives in

[Sidenote: The account of Tacitus.]

Tacitus wrote a century and a half after Julius Caesar when the tribes
had become better known the Romans; hence we get from him more detailed
information. From him we learn that both the Sitones--a people of
northern Germany--and the British often bestowed the royal power on
women, a circumstance which aroused the strong contempt of Tacitus, who
was in this respect of a conservative mind.[291] The Romans had, indeed,
good reason to remember with sorrow the valiant Boadicea, queen of the
Britons.[292] Regarding the Germans Tacitus wrote a whole book in which
he idealises that nation as a contrast to the lax morality of civilised
Rome, much as Rousseau in the eighteenth century extolled the virtues of
savages in a state of nature. What Tacitus says in regard to lofty
morals we shall do well to take with a pinch of salt; but we may with
more safety trust his accuracy when he depicts national customs. From
Tacitus we learn that the Germans believed something divine resided in
women[293]; hence their respect for them as prophetesses.[294] One
Velaeda by her soothsaying ruled the tribe of Bructeri completely[295]
and was regarded as a goddess,[296] as were many others.[297] The German
warrior fought his best that he might protect and please his wife.[298]
The standard of conjugal fidelity was strict[299]; men were content with
one wife, although high nobles were sometimes allowed several wives as
an increase to the family prestige.[300] The dowry was brought not by
the wife to the husband, but to the wife by the husband--evidently a
survival of the custom of wife purchase; but the wife was accustomed to
present her husband with arms and the accoutrements of war.[301] She was
reminded that she took her husband for better and worse, to be a
faithful partner in joy and sorrow until death.[302] A woman guilty of
adultery was shorn and her husband drove her naked through the village
with blows.[303]

[Sidenote: The written laws of the barbarians.]

We see, then, that by no means all of these barbarian nations had the
same standards in regard to women. Of written laws there were none as
yet. But contact with the civilisation of Rome had its effect; and when
Goths, Burgundians, Franks, and Lombards had founded new states on the
ruins of the western Roman Empire, the national laws of the Germanic
tribes began to be collected and put into writing at the close of the
fifth century. Between the fifth and the ninth centuries we get the
Visigothic, Burgundian, Salic, Ripuarian, Alemannic, Lombardian,
Bavarian, Frisian, Saxon, and Thuringian law books. They are written in
medieval Latin and are not elaborated on a scientific basis. Three
distinct influences are to be seen in them: (1) native race customs,
ideals, and traditions; (2) Christianity; (3) the Roman civil law, which
was felt more or less in all, but especially in the case of the
Visigoths; as was natural, since this people had been brought into
closest touch with Rome. Inasmuch as the barbarians allowed all peoples
conquered by them to be tried under their own laws, the old Roman civil
law was still potent in all its strength in cases affecting a Roman. Let
us endeavour to glean what we can from the barbarian codes on the matter
of women's rights.

[Sidenote: Guardianship.]

The woman was always to be under guardianship among the Germanic peoples
and could never be independent under any conditions. Perhaps we should
rather call the power (_mundium_) wielded by father, brother, husband,
or other male relative a protectorate; for in those early days among
rude peoples any legal action might involve fighting to prove the merits
of one's case, and the woman would therefore constantly need a champion
to assert her rights in the lists. Thus the woman was under the
perpetual guardianship of a male relative and must do nothing without
his consent, under penalty of losing her property.[304] Her guardian
arranged her marriage for her as he wished, provided only that he chose
a free man for her husband[305]; if the woman, whether virgin or widow,
married without his consent, she lost all power to inherit the goods of
her relatives[306]; and her husband was forced to pay to her kin a
recompense amounting to 600 _solidi_ among the Saxons, 186 among the

[Sidenote: Marriage.]

The feeling of caste was very strong; a woman must not marry below her
station.[308] By a law of the Visigoths she who tried to marry her own
slave was to be burned alive[309]; if she attempted it with another's
bondman, she merited one hundred lashes.[310] The dowry was a fixed
institution as among the Romans; but the bridegroom regularly paid a
large sum to the father or guardian of the woman. This _wittemon_ was
regarded as the price paid for the parental authority (_mundium_) and
amounted among the Saxons to 300 _solidi_.[311] As a matter of fact this
custom practically amounted to the intended husband giving the dowry to
his future wife. The husband was also allowed to present his wife with a
donation (_morgengabe_) on the morning after the wedding; the amount
was limited by King Liutprand to not more than one fourth of all his
goods.[312] Breaking an engagement after the solemn betrothal had been
entered into was a serious business. The Visigoths refused to allow one
party to break an engagement without the consent of the other; and if a
woman, being already engaged, went over to another man without her
parent's or fiancé's leave, both she and the man who took her were
handed over as slaves to the original fiancé.[313] The other barbarians
were content to inflict a money fine for breach of promise.[314]

[Sidenote: Power of the husband.]

The woman on marrying passed into the power of her husband "according to
the Sacred Scriptures," and the husband thereupon acquired the lordship
of all her property.[315] The law still protected the wife in some ways.
The Visigoths gave the father the right of demanding and preserving for
his daughter her dowry.[316] The Ripuarians ordained that whatever the
husband had given his wife by written agreement must remain
inviolate.[317] King Liutprand made the presence of two or three of the
woman's male relatives necessary at any sale involving her goods, to see
to it that her consent to the sale had not been forced.[318]

[Sidenote: Divorce.]

On the subject of divorce the regulations of the several peoples are
various; but the commands of the New Testament are alike strongly felt
in all; and we may expect to find divorce limited by severe
restrictions.[319] The Burgundians allowed it only for adultery or grave
crimes, such as violating tombs. If a wife presumed to dismiss her
husband for any other cause, she was put to death (_necetur in luto_);
to a husband who sent his wife a divorce without these specific reasons
existing the law was more indulgent, allowing him to preserve his life
by paying to his injured wife twice the amount that he had originally
given her parents for her, and twelve _solidi_ in addition; and in case
he attempted to prove her guilty of one of the charges mentioned above
and she was adjudged innocent, he forfeited all his goods to her and was
forced to leave his home.[320] The Visigoths were equally strict; the
husband who dismissed his wife on insufficient legal grounds lost all
power over her and must return all her goods; his own must be preserved
for the children; if there were none, the wife acquired his property. A
woman who married a divorced man while his first wife was living, was
condemned for adultery and accordingly handed over to the first wife to
be disposed of as the latter wished; exile, stripes, and slavery were
the lot of a man who took another wife while his first partner was still
alive.[321] The Alemanni and the Bavarians, who were more remote from
Italy and hence from the Church, were influenced more by their own
customs and allowed a pecuniary recompense to take the place of the
harsher enactments.[322]

[Sidenote: Adultery.]

Adultery was not only a legal cause for divorce, but also a grave crime.
All the barbarian peoples are agreed in so regarding it, but their
penalties vary according as they were more or less affected by proximity
to Italy, where the power of the Church was naturally strongest. The
Ripuarians, the Bavarians, and the Alemanni preferred a money fine
ranging from fifty to two hundred _solidi_.[323] Among the Visigoths
the guilty party was usually bound over in servitude to the injured
person to be disposed of as the latter wished.[324] Sometimes the law
was harsher to women than to men; thus, according to a decree of
Liutprand,[325] a husband who told his wife to commit adultery or who
did so himself paid a mulct of fifty _solidi_ to the wife's male
relatives; but if the wife consented to or hid the deed, she was put to
death. The laws all agree that the killing of adulterers taken in the
act could not be regarded as murder.

[Sidenote: The Church indulgent toward kings.]

It is always to be remembered that although the statutes were severe
enough, yet during this period, as indeed throughout all history, they
were defied with impunity. Charlemagne, for example, the most Christian
monarch, had a large number of concubines and divorced a wife who did
not please him; yet his biographer Einhard, pious monk as he was, has no
word of censure for his monarch's irregularities[326]; and policy
prevented the Church from thundering at a king who so valiantly crushed
the heretics, her enemies. Bishop Gregory of Tours tells us without a
hint of being shocked that Clothacharius, King of the Franks, had many
concubines.[327] Concubinage was, in fact, the regular thing.[328] But
neither in that age, nor later in the case of Louis XIV, nor in our own
day in the case of Leopold of Belgium has the Church had a word of
reproach for monarchs who broke with impunity moral laws on which she
claims always to have insisted without compromise.

[Sidenote: Remarriage.]

In accordance with the commands of Scripture neither the divorced man
nor the divorced woman could marry again during the lifetime of the
other party. To do so was to commit adultery, for which the usual
penalties went into effect.

[Sidenote: Property rights and powers.]

A woman's property would consist of any or all of these:

I. Her share of the property of parents or brothers and sisters.

II. Her dowry and whatever nuptial donations (_morgengabe_) her husband
had given her, and whatever she had earned together with her husband.

There could be no account of single women's property or disposal of what
they earned, because in the half-civilised state of things which then
obtained there was no such thing as women engaging in business; indeed,
not even men of any pretension did so; war was their work. The unmarried
woman was content to sit by the fire and spin under the guardianship
and support of a male relative. Often she would enter a convent.

I shall first discuss the laws of inheritance as affecting women, in
order to note what property she was allowed to acquire. In this
connection it is well to bear in mind a difference between Roman and
Germanic law. The former viewed an inheritance as consisting always of a
totality of all goods, whether of money, land, movables, cattle, dress,
or what not. But among the Germanic peoples land, money, ornaments, and
the like were regarded as so many distinct articles of inheritance, to
some of which women might have legal claims of succession, but not
necessarily to all. This is most emphatically shown in the case of land.
Of all the barbarian peoples, the Ripuarians alone allowed women the
right to succeed to land.[329] Among other nations a daughter or sister
or mother, whoever happened to be the nearest heir, would get the money,
slaves, etc., but the nearest _male_ kin would get the land.[330] Only
if male kin were lacking to the fifth degree--an improbable
contingency--did alodial inheritance "pass from the lance to the
spindle."[331] In respect to all other things a daughter was co-heir
with a son to the estate of a father or mother. According to the Salic
and Ripuarian law this would be one order of succession[332]:

   I. Children of the deceased.
  II. These failing, surviving mother or father
of deceased.
 III. These failing, brother or sister of deceased.
  IV. These failing, sister of mother of deceased.
   V. These failing, sister of father of deceased.
  VI. These failing, male relatives on father's side.

It will be observed that in such a succession these laws are more
partial to women relatives than the Roman law; an aunt, for example, is
called before an uncle. An uncle would certainly exclude an aunt under
the Roman law; but most of the Germanic codes allowed them an equal
succession.[333] Nevertheless, when women did inherit under the former,
they acquired the land also. Moreover, the woman among the Germanic
nations must always be under guardianship; and whereas under the Empire
the power of the guardian was in practice reduced to nullity, as I have
shown, among the barbarians it was extremely powerful, because to assert
one's rights often involved fighting in the lists to determine the
judgment of God. It was a settled conviction among the Germanic peoples
that God would give the victory to the rightful claimant. As women could
not fight, a champion or guardian was a necessity. This was not true in
Roman courts, which preferred to settle litigation by juristic reasoning
and believed, like Napoleon, that God, when appealed to in a fight, was
generally on the side of the party who had the better artillery.

Children inherited not only the estate but also the friendships and
enmities of their fathers, which it was their duty to take up.
Hereditary feuds were a usual thing.[334] King Liutprand ordaine[335]
however, that if a daughter alone survived, the feud was to be brought
to an end and an agreement effected.

Some of the nations seem to have provided that children must not be
disinherited except for very strong reasons; for example, the law of the
Visigoths[336] forbids more than one third of their estate being
alienated by mother or father, grandmother or grandfather. The Alemanni
permitted a free man to leave all his property to the Church and his
heirs had no redress[337]; but the Bavarians compelled him before
entering monastic life to distribute among his children their
proportionate parts.[338]

[Sidenote: Property of the married woman.]

We may pass now to the property rights of the married woman. The
relation of her husband to the dowry I have already explained. The dowry
was conceived as being ultimately for the children; only when there were
no children, grandchildren, or great-grandchildren did the woman have
licence to dispose of the dowry as she wished: this was the law among
the Visigoths.[339] The dowry, then, was to revert to the children or
grandchildren at the death of the wife; if there were none such, to the
parents or relatives who had given her in marriage; these failing, it
escheated to the Crown--so according to Rotharis.[340] By the laws of
the Visigoths[341] when the wife died, her husband continued in charge
of the property; but, as under the Roman law, he had to preserve it
entire for the children, though he might enjoy the usufruct. When a son
or daughter married, their father must at once give them their share of
their mother's goods, although he could still receive the income of one
third of the portion. If son or daughter did not marry, they received
one half their share on becoming twenty years of age; their father might
claim the interest of the other half while he lived; but at his death he
must leave it to them. When a woman left no children, her father or
nearest male kin usually demanded the dowry back.[342]

When the husband died, his estate did not go to wife, but to his
children or other relatives.[343] If however, any property had been
earned by the joint labour of husband and wife, the latter had a right
to one half among the Westfalians; to one third among the Ripuarians; to
nothing among the Ostfalians.[344] Children remained in the power of
their mother if she so desired and provided she remained a widow. A
mother usually had the enjoyment of her dowry until her death, when she
must leave it to her children or to the donor or nearest relative.[345]
If the husband died without issue, some nations allowed the wife a
certain succession to her husband's goods, provided that she did not
marry again. Thus, the Burgundians gave her under such conditions one
third of her husband's estate to be left to his heirs, however, at her
death.[346] The Bavarians, too, under the same conditions allowed her
one half of her husband's goods[347] and even if there was issue,
granted her the right to the interest of as much as one child

A widow who married again lost the privilege of guardianship over her
children, who thereupon passed to a male relative of the first husband.
As to the dowry of the prior union the woman must make it over at once
to her children according to some laws or, according to others, might
receive the usufruct during life and leave it to the children of the
first marriage at her death. Any right to the property of her first
husband she of course lost.[349] When there was no issue of the first
marriage then the dowry and nuptial donations could usually follow her
to a second union.

[Sidenote: Criminal law pertaining to women.]

Criminal law among these half civilised nations could not but be a crude
affair. Their civilisation was in a state of flux, and immediate
practical convenience was the only guide. They were content to fix the
penalties for such outrages as murder, rape, insult, assault, and the
like in money; the Visigoths alone were more stringent in a case of
rape, adding 200 lashes and slavery to the ravisher of a free woman who
had accomplished his purpose.[350] Some enactments which may well strike
us as peculiar deserve notice. For example, among the Saxons the theft
of a horse or an ox or anything worth three _solidi_ merited death; but
murder was atoned for by pecuniary damages.[351] Among the Burgundians,
if a man stole horses or cattle and his wife did not at once disclose
the deed, she and her children who were over fourteen were bound over in
slavery to the outraged party "because it hath often been ascertained,
that these women are the confederates of their husbands in crime."[352]

The most minute regulations prevailed on the subject of injury to women.
Under the Salic law[353] for instance, if a free man struck a free women
on the fingers or hand, he had to pay fifteen _solidi_; if he struck her
arm, thirty _solidi_; if above her elbow, thirty-five _solidi_; if he
hit her breast, forty-five _solidi_. The penalties for murdering a free
woman were also elaborated on the basis of her value to the state as a
bearer of children. By the same Salic law[354] injury to a pregnant
woman resulting in her death merited a fine of seven hundred _solidi_;
but two hundred was deemed sufficient for murder of one after her time
for bearing children had passed. Similarly, for killing a free woman
after she had begun to have children the transgressor paid six hundred
_solidi_; but for murdering an unmarried freeborn girl only two hundred.
The murder of a free woman was punished usually by a fine (_wergeld_)
equal to twice the amount demanded for a free man "because," as the law
of the Bavarians has it,[355] "a woman can not defend herself with arms.
But if, in the boldness of her heart (per audaciam cordis sui), she
shall have resisted and fought like a man, there shall not be a double
penalty, but only the recompense usual for a man [160 _solidi_]." Fines
were not paid to the state, but to the injuried parties or, if these did
not survive, to the nearest kin. If the fine could not be paid, then
might death be meted to the guilty.[356]

Another peculiar feature of the Germanic law was the appeal to God to
decide a moot point by various ordeals. For example, by the laws of the
Angles and Werini, if a woman was accused of murdering her husband, she
would ask a male relative to assert her innocence by a solemn oath[357]
or, if necessary, by fighting for her as her champion in the lists. God
was supposed to give the victory to the champion who defended an
innocent party. If she could find no champion, she was permitted to
walk barefoot over nine red-hot ploughshares[358]; and if she was
innocent, God would not, of course, allow her to suffer any injury in
the act.

[Sidenote: Women in slavery.]

Perhaps a word on the status of women in slavery among the Germanic
nations will not be out of place. The new nations looked upon a slave as
a chattel, much as the Romans did. If a wrong was done a slave woman,
her master received a recompense from the aggressor, but she did not,
for to hold property was denied her. But we may well believe that the
great value which the Church put on chastity and conjugal fidelity
rendered the slave woman less exposed to the brutal passions of her lord
than had been the case under the Empire. Thus, by a law of King
Liutprand, a master who committed adultery with the wife of a slave was
compelled to free both[359]; and the Visigot[360] inflicted fifty
lashes and a fine of twenty _solidi_ upon the man who used violence to
another man's slave woman.

On comparing the position of women under Roman law and under the
Germanic nations, as we have observed them thus far, we should note
first of all that under the latter women benefited chiefly by the
insistence of the Church on the value of chastity in both sexes. That
in those days the passions of men were difficult to restrain in practice
does not invalidate the real service done the world by the ideal that
was insisted upon,[361] an ideal which was certainly not held in pagan
antiquity except by a few great minds. Although the social position of
woman was thus improved, the character of the age and the sentiments of
the Bible which I have already quoted made her status far inferior to
her condition under Roman law so far as her legal rights were concerned.
In a period[362] when the assertion of one's rights constantly demanded
fighting, the woman was forced to rely on the male to champion her; the
Church, in accordance with the dicta of the Apostles, encouraged and
indeed commanded her to confine herself to the duties of the household,
to leave legal matters to men, and to be guided by their advice; and
thus she was prevented from asserting herself out of regard for the
strong public opinion on the subject, which was quite alien to the
sentiments of the old Roman law. Henceforward also we are to have law
based on old customs and _theology_,[363] not on practical convenience
or scientific reasoning.


I. Corpus Iuris Germanici Antiqui: edidit Ferd. Walter.
Berolini--impensis G. Reimeri, 1824. 3 vols.

II. C. Iulii Caesaris Commentarii de Bello Gallico: recognovit Geo.
Long. Novi Eboraci apud Harperos Fratres. 1883

III. Cornelii Taciti libri qui supersunt: quartum recognovit Carolus
Halm. Lipsiae (Teubner), 1901.

IV. Sancti Georgii Florentii Gregorii, Episcopi Turonensis, Historiae
Ecclesiasticae Francorum libri decem: edidit J. Guadet et N.R. Taranne.
Parisiis, apud Julium Renouard et Socios, 1838.

V. Iordanis de Origine Actibusque Getorum: edidit Alfred Holder.
Freiburg und Tubingen; Verlagsbuchhandlung von J. C.B. Mohr.

VI. Widukindi Rerum Gestarum Saxonicarum libri tres. Accedit libellus de
Origine Gentis Suevorum. Editio quarta: post Georgium Waitz recognovit
Karolus A. Kehr. Hannoverae et Lipsiae Impensis Bibliopolii Hahniani,

VII. Procopii Caesariensis opera omnia: recognovit Jacobus Haury.
Lipsiae. (Teubner). 1905.

VIII. Einhardi Vita Karoli Magni. Editio quinta. Post G.H. Perte
recensuit G. Waitz. Hannoverae et Lipsiae, 1905.

IX. Pauli Historia Langobardorum: edidit Georg Waitz. Hannoverae,
impensis Bibliopolii Hahniani, 1878.


[288] _de Bell. Gall_., vi, 19.

[289] Id., i, 50.

[290] Id., v, 14.

[291] _Agricola_, 16. _Germania_, 45: Suionibus Sitonum gentes
continuantur. Cetera similes, uno differunt, quod femina dominatur; in
tantum non modo a libertate, sed etiam a servitute degenerant. No woman
ever reigned alone as queen of the Roman Empire until 450 A.D., when
Pulcheria, sister of Theodosius II, ascended the throne of the East; but
she soon took the senator Marcian in marriage and made him king.

[292] _Agricola_, 16.

[293] _Germania_, 8.

[294] Procopius, _de bello Vandalico_, ii, 8, observes the same thing
among the Maurousians, or Moors, in northern Africa: [Greek: andra gar
manteuesthai en tô ethnei toutô ou themis, alla gunaikes sphisi katochoi
hek dê tinos lerourgias ginomenai prolegousi ta esomena, tôn palai
chrêstêriôn oudenos êsson.]

[295] Tacitus, _Hist_., iv, 61, and v, 24.

[296] Id., _Germania_, 8.

[297] Ibid., 8.

[298] Ibid., 7.

[299] Ibid., 17.

[300] Ibid.

[301] Ibid., 18.

[302] Ibid., 18 and 19.

[303] Ibid., 19.

[304] Liutprand, i, 5: Si filiae aut sorores contra voluntatem patris
aut fratris egerint, potestatem habet pater aut frater iudicandi res
suas quomodo aut qualiter voluerit.

[305] Leges Liutprandi, vi, 119: si quis filiam suam aut sororem alii
sponsare voluerit, habeat potestatem dandi cui voluerit, libero tamen
homini. Lex Wisigothorum, iii, 1, 7 and 8.

[306] Leges Liutprandi, vi, 119. Lex Angliorum et Werinorum, x, 2: si
libera femina sine voluntate patris aut tutoris cuilibet nupserit,
perdat omnem substantiam quam habuit vel habere debuit. Reply of a
bishop quoted by Gregory of Tours, 9, 33: quia sine consilio parentum
eam coniugio copulasti, non erit uxor tua. But the law of the Visigoths
(iii, i, 8, and 2,8) merely deprived her of succession to the estate of
her parents.

[307] Lex Saxonum, vi, 2: Si autem sine voluntate parentum, puella tamen
consentiente, ducta fuerit (uxorem ducturus) bis ccc solidos parentibus
eius componat. Lex Burgundionum: _Add_., 14. cf. Edictum Rotharis, 188:
si puella libera aut vidua sine voluntate parentum ad maritum
ambulaverit, liberum tamen, tunc maritus, qui eam acceperit uxorem,
componat pro anagrip solidos XX et propter faidam alios XX.

[308] By a law of the Alemanni (_Tit_., 57), if two sisters were
heiresses to a father's estate and one married a vassal (_colonus_) of
the King or Church and the other became the wife of a free man equal to
her in rank, the latter only was allowed to hold her father's land,
although the rest of the goods were divided equally.

[309] Lex Wisigothorum, iii, 2, 2.

[310] Ibid., iii, 2, 3.

[311] Lex Saxonum, vi, I: uxorem ducturus CCC solidos det parentibus
eius. See also the lex Burgundionum, 66, I and 2 and 3. In the case of a
widow who married again the gift of the husband was called _reiphe_ or
_reippus_ and very solemn ceremonies belonged to the giving of it
according to the Salic law, _Tit_., 47: si, ut fieri adsolet, homo
moriens viduam dimiserit et cam quis in coniugium voluerit accipere,
antequam eam accipiat Tunginus aut Centenarius Mallum indicent, et in
ipso Mallo scutum habere debet, et tres homines vel caussas mandare. Et
tunc ille, qui viduam accipere vult, cum tribus testibus qui adprobare
debent, tres solidos aeque pensantes, et denarium habere debet, etc.

[312] Leges Liutprandi, ii, 1.

[313] Lex Wisigothorum, iii, 1, 2 and 3, and iii, 6, 3.

[314] E.g., 62 _solidi_ by the Salic law, _Tit_., 70. See also Lex
Baiuvariorum, _Tit_., vii, 15 and 16 and 17. Lex Alemannorum, 52, i; 53;

[315] Lex Burgundionum, _Add. primum_, xiii: quaecumque mulier Burgundia
vel Romana voluntate sua ad maritum ambulaverit, iubemus ut maritus ipse
de facultate ipsius mulieris, sicut in eam habet potestatem, ita et de
rebus suis habeat.

Lex Wisigothorum, iv, 2, 15: Vir qui uxorem suam secundum sacram
scripturam habet in potestate, similiter et in servis suis potestatem
habebit, et omnia quae cum servis uxoris suae vel suis in expeditione
acquisivit, in sua potestate permaneant.

[316] Lex Wisigothorum, iii, Tit. i, 6.

[317] Lex Ripuariorum, 37, 1.

[318] Leges Liutprandi, iv, 4.

[319] That is, for the common people. Kings have always had a little way
of doing as they pleased. See the anecdote of King Cusupald in Paulus'
_Hist. Langobard_, i, 21: secunda autem (sc. filia Wacchonis) dicta est
Walderada, quae sociata est Cusupald, alio regi Francorum, quam ipse
odio habens uni ex suis, qui dicebatur Garipald, in coniugium tradidit.

[320] For all this see Lex Burgundionum, 34, 1-4.

[321] For all these, see Lex Wisigothorum, iii, 6, 1 and 2.

[322] Capitula Addita ad Legem Alemannorum, 30. Lex Baiuvariorum, vii,

[323] Lex Ripuariorum, _Tit_., 35. Lex Baiuvariorum, vii. Lex
Alemannorum, 51, 1.

[324] Lex Wisigothorum, iii, 6, 1 and 2, and iii, 4, 1.

[325] Leges Liutprandi, vi, 130.

[326] Einhard, _Vita Kar. Mag_., 17: Deinde cum matris hortatu filiam
Desiderii regis Langobardorum duxisset uxorem, incertum qua de causa,
post annum eam repudiavit et Hildigardam de gente Suaborum praecipuae
nobilitatis feminam in matrimonium duxit ... Habuit et alias tres filias
... duas de Fastrada uxore ... tertiam de concubina quadam ... defuncta
Fastrada ... tres habuit concubinas.

[327] Gregory of Tours, 4, 3.

[328] The concubines of Theodoric--Jordanes, _de orig. acti busque
Get._, 58. Huga, king of the Franks, had a filium quem ex concubina
genuit--Widukind, _Res Gest. Sax._, i, 9.

[329] Lex Ripuariorum, _Til_., 48. Lex Angliorum et Werinorum, vi--_de
alodibus_, 1: hereditatem defuncti filius, non filia suscipiat. Salic
Law, _Tit_., 62: _de alodis_, 6: de terra vero Salica in mulierem nulla
portio hereditatis transit, sed hoc virilis sexus adquirat, hoc est,
filii in ipsa hereditate succedunt. Lex Saxonum, vii, 1: Pater aut mater
defuncti filio, non filiae hereditatem relinquit.

[330] Cf. Lex Angliorum et Werinorum, vi: _de alodibus_.

[331] Ibid., vi, 8: post quintam autem (sc. generationem) filia ex toto,
sive de patris sive de matris parte, in hereditatem succedat, et tunc
demum hereditas ad fusum a lancea transeat.

[332] Lex Salica, _Tit._, 62. Lex Ripuariorum, _Tit._, 56.

[333] Cf. Lex Wisigothorum, iv, 2, 7 and 9.

[334] Tacitus, _Germania_, 21.

[335] Legis Liutprandi, ii, 7.

[336] Lex Wisigothorum, iv, 5, I.

[337] Lex Alemannorum, _Tit._, i.

[338] Lex Baiuvariorum, _Tit._, i.

[339] Lex Wisigothorum, iv, 2, 20.

[340] Edictum Rotharis, i, 121.

[341] Lex Wisigothorum, iv, 2, 13.

[342] Cf. Capitula addita ad legem Alemannorum, 29. Lex Saxonum, viii,

[343] Cf. lex Wisigothorum, iv, 2, 11: maritus et uxor tunc sibi
hereditario iure succedant, quando mulla affinitas usque ad septimum
gradum de propinquis eorum vel parentibus inveniri poterit. See also Lex
Burgundionum, 14, 1.

[344] Lex Saxonum, ix. Lex Ripuariorum, 37, 2.

[345] Lex Saxonum, viii. Lex Wisigothorum, iv, 3, 3. Lex Burgundionum
85, 1, and 62, 1.

[346] Lex Burgundionum, 42, 1; 62, 1; 74, 1.

[347] Lex Baiuvariorum, xiv, 9, 1.

[348] Ibid., xiv, 6.

[349] For all this, see Lex Burgundionum, 24 and 62 and 74. Lex
Wisigothorum, iv, Tit. 3. Lex Baiuvariorum, 14. Lex Alemannorum, 55 and

[350] Lex Wisigothorum, iii, 3, 1.

[351] Lex Saxonum, iv. In the early days when the Great West of the
United States was just being opened up and when society there was in a
very crude state, a horse thief was regularly hanged; but murder was
hardly a fault.

[352] Lex Burgundionum, 47, 1 and 2. The guilty man was put to death.

[353] Lex Salica, _Tit._, 23.

[354] Id, _Tit._, 28.

[355] Lex Baiuvariorum, _Tit._, xiii, 2.

[356] Cf. lex Salica, _Tit._, 61--a very curious account of formalities
to be observed in such a case.

[357] It was deemed sufficient for a male relative, say, the father, to
assert the innocence of the woman under solemn oath: for it was thought
that he would be unwilling to do this if he knew the woman was guilty
and so incur eternal Hell-fire as a punishment for perjury. An example
of this solemn ceremony is told interestingly by Gregory of Tours, 5,
33. A woman at Paris was charged by her husband's relatives with
adultery and was demanded to be put to death. Her father took a solemn
oath that she was innocent. Far from being content with this, the
husband's kin began a fight and the matter ended in a wholesale butchery
at the church of St. Dionysius.

[358] Lex Angliorum et Werinorum, xiv: aut si campionem non habuerit,
ipsa ad novem vomeres ignitos examinanda mittatur.

[359] Leges Liutprandi, vi, 140.

[360] Lex Wisigothorum, iii, 4, 16.

[361] See the interesting story of the girl who slew Duke Amalo, as
narrated by Gregory of Tours, 9, 27.

[362] The bloody nature of the times is depicted naïvely by Gregory,
Bishop of Tours, who wrote the history of the Franks. See, e.g., the
stories of Ingeltrudis, Rigunthis, Waddo, Amalo, etc., in Book 9.
Gregory was born in 539.

[363] _Corpus Iuris Canonici_ (Friedberg), vol. i, p. 1, _Distinctio
Prima_: ius naturae est quod in lege et _evangelio_ continetur.



With Charlemagne, who was crowned Emperor by the Pope in the year 800,
began the definite union of Church and State and the Church's temporal
power. Henceforth for seven centuries, until the Reformation, we shall
have to reckon with canon law as a supreme force in determining the
question of the position of women. A brief survey of the later history
of the old Roman Law will not be out of place in order to note what
influence, if any, it continued to exert down the ages.

The body of the Roman law, compiled by order of Justinian (527-565
A.D.), was intended primarily for the eastern empire; but when, in the
year 535, the Emperor conquered the western Goths, who then ruled Italy,
he ordered his laws taught in the school of jurisprudence at Rome and
practiced in the courts. I have already remarked that the barbarians who
overran Italy allowed the vanquished the right to be judged in most
cases by their own code. But the splendid fabric of the Roman law was
too elaborate a system to win the attentive study of a rude people; the
Church had its own canons, the people their own ancestral customs; and
until the twelfth century no development of the Roman Civil Code took
place. Finally, during the twelfth century, the great school at Bologna
renewed the study with vigour, and Italy at the present day derives the
basic principles of its civil law from the Corpus of Justinian.
Practically the same story holds true of France,[364] of Spain, and of
the Netherlands, all of whom have been influenced particularly by the
great jurists of the sixteenth century who were simply carrying further
the torch that had been lit so enthusiastically at Bologna in the
twelfth century.

As to Germany,[365] when that unhappy country had been separated from
France and Italy after the Treaty of Verdun in 843, Carlovingian law and
the ancient German law books fell into disuse. The law again rested on
unwritten customs, on the decisions of the judges and their assessors,
and on agreements of the interested parties (feudal services and
tenures). Not till the twelfth and thirteenth centuries was any record
made of the rules of law which had arisen; many laws of cities on
various matters and in various provinces were recorded by public
authority; and thus originated the so-called law books of the Middle
Ages, the private labours of experienced men, who set forth the legal
principles which were recognised in all Germany, or at least in certain
parts of it. There were no law schools as yet, and scientific
compilation of German law was not even thought of. After the University
of Bologna had revived the study of Roman law in Italy, the Italian
universities attracted the German youth, who on their return would
labour to introduce what they had learned. Their efforts were seconded
by the clergy, through the close connection with canon law which was in
force in Germany. German emperors and territorial lords also favoured
Roman law because they saw how well suited it was to absolutism; they
liked to engage jurists trained in Italy, especially if they were
doctors of both canon and Roman law. Nor did the German people object.
From the fourteenth century many schools of jurisprudence were
established on Italian models.

At present, the law of Justinian has only such force as is received by
usage or as it has acquired by recognition. I. The Roman law forms in
Germany the principal law in some branches, that is, it is in so far its
basis that the German law is only an addition or modification of it. In
other branches it is only supplementary, that is, it is merely
subsidiary to the German law. II. Only the glossed parts and passages of
Justinian's law collection have binding force in Germany.

III. Only those glossed passages are binding which contain the latest
rule of law. Consequently the historical materials contained in them,
though always of great importance for discovering the latest law, have
not binding force. IV. Those precepts of the Roman law which relate to
Roman manners and institutions unknown in Germany are inapplicable here,
though glossed. V. The Roman law has but slight application to such
objects and transactions as were unknown to the Romans and are of purely
Germanic origin. VI. With the limitations above enumerated the Roman law
has been adopted as a whole and not in detached parts.

In England Roman law has had practically no effect. In the year 1149 a
Lombard jurist, Vacarius, lectured on it at Oxford; but there were no
results. Canon law is, of course, a force to be reckoned with in Britain
as on the Continent.

Before we enter the question of women's rights during the Middle Ages,
we must take a general survey of the character of that period; for
obviously we cannot understand its legislation without some idea of the
background of social, political, and intellectual life. In the first
place, then, the Church was everywhere triumphant and its ideals
governed legislation completely on such matters as marriage. The civil
law of Rome, as drawn up first by the epitomisers and later studied more
carefully at Bologna, served to indicate general principles in cases to
which canon law did not apply; but there was little jurisdiction in
which the powers ecclesiastical could not contrive to take a hand. At
the same time Germanic ideals and customs continued a powerful force.
For a long time after the partition of the vast empire of Charlemagne
government was in a state of chaos and transition from which eventually
the various distinct states arose. A struggle between kings and nobles
for supremacy dragged along for many generations; and as during that
contest each feudal lord was master in his own domain, there was no
consistent code of laws for all countries or, indeed, for the same
country. Yet the character of the age determined in a general way the
spirit that dictated all laws. Society rested on a military and
aristocratic basis, and when the ability to wield arms is essential to
maintain one's rights, the position of women will be affected by that
fact. Beginning with the twelfth century city life began to exert a
political influence; and this, again, did not fail to have an effect on
the status of women. Of any participation of women in intellectual life
there could be no question until the Renaissance, although we do meet
here and there with isolated exceptions, a few ladies of high degree
like Roswitha of Gandersheim and Hadwig, Duchess of Swabia, niece of
Otto the Great, and Heloise. The learning was exclusively scholastic,
and from any share in that women were barred. When people are kept in
ignorance, there is less inducement for them to believe that they have
any rights or to assert them if they do think so.

We shall do well to bear in mind, in noting the laws relative to women,
that theory is one thing and practice quite another. Hence, although the
doctrines of the Church on various matters touching the female sex were
characterised by the greatest purity, we shall see that in practice they
were not strictly executed. Religion does in fact play a less
considerable part in regulating the daily acts of men than theologians
are inclined to believe. If anything proves this, it is the history of
that foulest stain on Christian nations--prostitution. We might expect
that since the Roman Catholic Church insists so on chastity the level of
this virtue would certainly be higher in countries which are almost
exclusively Catholic, like Spain and Italy, than in Protestant lands;
but no one who has ever travelled in Spain or Italy fails to recognise
that the conduct of men is as lamentably low in these as in England,
Germany, or the United States.

With this brief introduction I shall proceed next to explain the
position of women under the canon law, a code which affected all
countries of Europe equally until the Reformation; and in connection
with this I shall give some idea of the attitude of the Roman Catholic
Church towards women and women's rights at the present day.


[364] French customary law began to be written in the thirteenth century
and was greatly affected by the Roman law.

[365] The succeeding paragraphs are a summary of the account by the
learned Professor Mackeldey, who has investigated Roman law with the
most minute diligence.



[Sidenote: The canon law reaffirms the subjection of women.]

The canon law reaffirms woman's subjection to man in no uncertain terms.
The wife must be submissive and obedient to her husband.[366] She must
never, under penalty of excommunication, cut off her hair, because "God
has given it to her as a veil and as a sign of her subjection."[367] A
woman who assumed men's garments was accursed[368]; it will be
remembered that the breaking of this law was one of the charges which
brought Joan of Arc to the stake. However learned and holy, woman must
never presume to teach men publicly.[369] She was not allowed to bring a
criminal action except in cases of high treason or to avenge the death
of near relatives.[370] Parents could dedicate a daughter to God while
she was yet an infant; and this parental vow bound her to the nunnery
when she was mature, whether she was willing or not.[371] Virgins or
widows who had once consecrated themselves to God might not marry under
pain of excommunication.[372] Parents could not prevent a daughter from
taking vows, if she so wished, after she had attained the age of

[Sidenote: Woman and marriage under canon law.]

The most important effect of the canon law was on marriage, which was
now a sacrament and had its sanction not in the laws of men, but in the
express decrees of God. Hence even engagements acquired a sacred
character unknown to the Roman law; and when a betrothal had once been
entered into, it could be broken only in case one or both of the
contracting parties desired to enter a monastery.[374] Free consent of
both man and woman was necessary for matrimony.[375] There must also be
a dowry and a public ceremony.[376] The legitimate wife is thus
defined[377]: "A chaste virgin, betrothed in chastity, dowered according
to law, given to her betrothed by her parents, and received from the
hands of the bridesmaids (_a paranimphis accipienda_); she is to be
taken according to the laws and the Gospel and the marriage ceremony
must be public; all the days of her life--unless by consent for brief
periods to devote to worship--she is never to be separated from her
husband; for the cause of adultery she is to be dismissed, but while she
lives her husband may marry no other." The blessing of the priest was
necessary. About every form connected with the marriage service the
Church threw its halo of mystery and symbol to emphasise the sacred
character of the union. Thus[378]: "Women are veiled during the marriage
ceremony for this reason, that they may know they are lowly and in
subjection to their husbands.... A ring is given by the bridegroom to
his betrothed either as a sign of mutual love or rather that their
hearts may be bound together by this pledge. For this reason, too, the
ring is worn on the fourth finger, because there is a certain vein in
that finger which they say reaches to the heart."

[Sidenote: Clandestine marriages.]

Clandestine marriages were forbidden,[379] but the Church always
presumed everything it could in favour of marriage and its
indissolubility. Thus, Gratian remarks[380]: "Clandestine marriages are,
to be sure, contrary to law; nevertheless, they can not be dissolved."
The reason for forbidding them was perfectly reasonable: one party might
change his or her mind and there would be no positive proof that a
marriage had taken place, so that a grave injury might be inflicted on
an innocent partner by an unscrupulous one who desired to dissolve the
union.[381] Yet the marriage by consent alone without any of the
ceremonies or the blessing of the priest was perfectly valid, though not
"according to law" (_legitimum_), and could not be dissolved.[382] Not
until the great Council of Trent in 1563 was this changed. At that time
all marriages were declared invalid unless they had been contracted in
the presence of a priest and two or three witnesses.[383]

[Sidenote: Protection to women.]

The Church is seen in its fairest light in its provisions to protect the
wife from sexual brutality on the part of her husband, and it deserves
high praise for its stand on such matters.[384] Various other laws show
the same regard for the interests of women. A man who was entering
priestly office could not cast off his wife and leave her destitute, but
must provide living and raiment for her.[385] Neither husband nor wife
could embrace the celibate life nor devote themselves to continence
without the consent of the other.[386] A man who cohabited with a woman
as his concubine, even though she was of servile condition or
questionable character, could not dismiss her and marry another saving
for adultery.[387] Slaves were now allowed to contract marriages and
masters were not permitted to dissolve them.[388]

[Sidenote: Divorce.]

It has always been and still is the boast of the Roman Catholic Church
that it has been the supreme protector of women on account of its stand
on divorce. Says Cardinal Gibbons[389]: "Christian wives and mothers,
what gratitude you owe to the Catholic Church for the honorable position
you now hold in society! If you are no longer regarded as the slave, but
the equal, of your husbands; if you are no longer the toy of his
caprice, and liable to be discarded at any moment; but if you are
recognised as the mistress and queen of your household, you owe your
emancipation to the Church. You are especially indebted for your liberty
to the Popes who rose up in all the majesty of their spiritual power to
vindicate the rights of injured wives against the lustful tyranny of
their husbands." In view of such a claim I may be justified in entering
a somewhat more detailed account of this subject.

On the subject of divorce the Roman Catholic Church took the decided
position which it continues to maintain at the present day. Marriage
when entered upon under all the conditions demanded by the Church for a
valid union is indissoluble.[390] A separation "from bed and board"
(_quoad thorum seu quoad cohabitationem_) is allowed for various causes,
such as excessive cruelty, for a determinate or an indeterminate period;
but there is no absolute divorce even for adultery. For this cause a
separation may, indeed, take place, but the bond of matrimony is not
dissolved thereby and neither the innocent nor the guilty party may
marry again during the lifetime of the other partner.

All this seems very rigorous. It is true that the Roman Catholic Church
does not permit "divorce." But it allows fourteen cases where a marriage
can be declared absolutely null and void, as if it had never existed;
and in these cases the man or woman may marry again. To say that the
Roman Church does not allow divorce is, therefore, playing upon words.
The instruments used to render its strict theory ineffective are
"diriment impediments" and "dispensations."

By the doctrine of "diriment impediments" the Pope or a duly constituted
representative can declare that a marriage has been null and void from
the very beginning because of some impediment defined in the canon law.
Canon IV of the twenty-fourth session of the Council of Trent
anathematises anyone who shall say that the Church cannot constitute
impediments dissolving marriage, or that she has erred in constituting
them. The impediments which can annul marriage are described in the
official Catholic Encyclopedia, vol. vii, pages 697-698. Among them are
impuberty and impotency. Then there is "disparity of worship," which
renders void the marriage of a Christian--that is, a Roman Catholic,
with an infidel,--that is, one who is unbaptised. Marriage of a Roman
Catholic with a baptised non-Catholic constitutes a "relative"
impediment and needs a special dispensation and provisoes, such as a
guarantee to bring up the children in the Roman faith to give it
validity. Another impediment is based on the presumption of want of
consent, "the nullity being caused by a defect of consent." "This
defect," says the Catholic Encyclopedia, "may arise from the intellect
or the will; hence we have two classes. Arising from the intellect we
have: insanity; and total ignorance, even if in confuso of what marriage
is (this ignorance, however, is not presumed to exist after the age of
puberty has been reached); and lastly error, where the consent is not
given to what was not intended. Arising from the will, a defect of
consent may be caused through deceit or dissimulation, when one
expresses exteriorly a consent that does not really exist; or from
constraint imposed by an unjust external force, which causes the consent
not to be free." Consanguinity and affinity are diriment impediments.
Consanguinity "prohibits all marriages in the direct ascending or
descending line in infinitum, and in the collateral line to the fourth
degree or fourth generation." Affinity "establishes a bond of
relationship between each of the married parties and the blood relations
of the other, and forbids marriage between them to the fourth degree.
Such is the case when the marriage springs from conjugal relations; but
as canon law considers affinity to spring also from illicit intercourse,
there is an illicit affinity which annuls marriage to the second degree
only." Then there is "spiritual relationship"; for example, the marriage
of one who stood as sponsor in confirmation with a parent of the child
is null and void.

Under the canon law, even more resources are open for the man who is
tired of his wife; by the doctrine, namely, of "spiritual fornication."
Adultery is, of course, recognised as the cause that admits a
separation. But the canon law remarks that idolatry and all harmful
superstition--by which is meant any doctrine that does not agree with
that of the Church--is fornication; that avarice is also idolatry and
hence fornication; that in fact no vice can be separated from idolatry
and hence all vices can be classed as fornication; so that if a husband
only tried a little bit, he could without much trouble find some "vice"
in his wife that would entitle him to a separation.[391]

When all these fail, recourse can be had to a dispensation. The Church
reserves the right to give dispensations for all impediments. Canon III
of the twenty-fourth session of Trent says: "If anyone shall say, that
only those degrees of consanguinity and affinity which are set down in
_Leviticus_ [xviii, 6 ff.] can hinder matrimony from being contracted,
and dissolve it when contracted; and that the Church can not dispense in
some of those degrees, or ordain that others may hinder and dissolve it;
let him be anathema."

[Sidenote: Inheritance]

The minute and far-fetched subtleties which the Roman Church has
employed in the interpretation of these relationships make escape from
the marital tie feasible for the man who is eager to disencumber himself
of his life's partner. The man of limited means will have a hard time of
it. The great and wealthy have been able at all periods, by working one
or more of these doctrines, to reduce the theory of the Roman Church to
nullity in practice. Napoleon had his marriage to Josephine annulled on
the ground that he had never intended to enter into a religious marriage
with her, although the day before the ceremony he had had the union
secretly blessed by Cardinal Fesch. On the basis of this avowed lack of
intent, his marriage with Josephine was declared null and void, and he
was free to marry Louisa. A plea along the same lines is being worked by
the Count de Castellane now. Louis XII, having fallen in love with Anne
of Brittany, suddenly discovered that his wife was his fourth cousin,
that she was deformed, and that her father had been his godfather; and
for this the Pope gave him a dispensation and his legitimate wife was
sent away. The Pope did not thunder against Louis XIV for committing
adultery with women like Louise de la Vallière and Madame de Montespan.
It is certainly true that in the case of Philip Augustus of France and
Henry VIII of England the Pope did protect injured wives; but both these
monarchs were questioning the Vatican's autocracy. The matrimonial
relations of John of England, Philip's contemporary, were more corrupt
than those of the French king; but, while the Pope chastised John for
his defiance of his political autonomy, he did not excommunicate him on
any ground of morality. The statement of Cardinal Gibbons is not
entirely in accordance with history; he does not take all facts into
consideration, as is also true of his complacent assumption that outside
of the Roman Church no economic forces and no individuals have had any
effect in elevating the moral and economic status of women.

Questions such as those of inheritance belong properly to civil law;
but the canon law claimed to be heard in any case into which any
spiritual interest could be foisted. Thus in the year 1199 Innocent III
enacted that children of heretics be deprived of all their offending
parents' goods "since in many cases even according to divine decree
children are punished in this world on account of their parents."[392]

[Sidenote: General attitude towards women at the present day]

The attitude of the Roman Catholic Church towards women's rights at the
present day is practically the same as it has been for eighteen
centuries. It still insists on the subjection of the woman to the man,
and it is bitterly hostile to woman suffrage. This position is so well
illustrated by an article of the Rev. David Barry in the Roman Catholic
paper, the Dublin _Irish Ecclesiastical Review_, that I cannot do better
than quote some of it. "It seems plain enough," he says, "that allowing
women the right of suffrage is incompatible with the high Catholic ideal
of the unity of domestic life. Even those who do not hold the high and
rigid ideal of the unity of the family that the Catholic Church clings
to must recognise some authority in the family, as in every other
society. Is this authority the conjoint privilege of husband and wife?
If so, which of them is to yield, if a difference of opinion arises?
Surely the most uncompromising suffragette must admit that the wife
ought to give way in such a case. That is to say, every one will admit
that the wife's domestic authority is subordinate to that of her
husband. But is she to be accorded an autonomy in outside affairs that
is denied her in the home? Her authority is subject to her husband's in
domestic matters--her special sphere; is it to be considered co-ordinate
with his in regulating the affairs of the State? Furthermore, there is
an argument that applies universally, even in the case of those women
who are not subject to the care and protection of a husband, and even, I
do not hesitate to say, where the matters to be decided on would come
specially within their cognisance, and where their judgment would,
therefore, be more reliable than that of men. It is this, that in the
noise and turmoil of party politics, or in the narrow, but rancorous
arena of local factions, it must needs fare ill with what may be called
the passive virtues of humility, patience, meekness, forbearance, and
self-repression. These are looked on by the Church as the special
prerogative and endowment of the female soul ... But these virtues would
soon become sullied and tarnished in the dust and turmoil of a contested
election; and their absence would soon be disagreeably in evidence in
the character of women, who are, at the same time, almost
constitutionally debarred from preeminence in the more robust virtues
for which the soul of man is specially adapted."

Cardinal Gibbons, in a letter to the National League for the Civic
Education of Women--an anti-suffrage organisation--said that "woman
suffrage, if realised, would be the death-blow of domestic life and
happiness" (Nov. 2, 1909).

Rev. William Humphrey, S.J., in his _Christian Marriage_, chap. 16,
remarks that woman is "the subordinate equal of man"--whatever that

A few Roman Catholic prelates, like Cardinal Moran, have advocated equal
suffrage, but they are in the minority. The Pope has not yet definitely
stated the position of the Church; individual Catholics are free to take
any side they wish, as it is not a matter of faith; but the tendency of
Roman Catholicism is against votes for women.


I. Corpus Iuris Canonici: recognovit Aemilius Friedberg. Lipsiae
(Tauchnitz) Pars Prior, 1879. Pars Secunda, 1881.

II. Sacrosanctum Concilium Tridentinum, additis Declarationibus
Cardinalium, Concilii Interpretum, ex ultima recognitione Joannis
Gallemart, etc. Coloniae Agrippinae, apud Franciscum Metternich,
Bibliopolam. MDCCXXVII.

III. The Catholic Encyclopedia. New York, Robert Appleton Company.
(Published with the _Imprimatur_ of Archbishop Parley.)

IV. Various articles by Catholic prelates, due references to which are
given as they occur.


[366] Augustine quoted by Gratian, _Causa_, 33, _Quaest_. 5, chapters
12-16--Friedberg, i, pp. 1254, 1255. Ambrose and Jerome on the same
matter, ibid., _c_. 15 and 17, Friedberg, i, p. 1255. Gratian, _Causa_
30, _Quaest_. 5, _c_. 7--Friedberg, i, p. 1106: Feminae dum maritantur,
ideo velantur, ut noverint se semper viris suis subditas esse et

[367] Gratian, _Distinctio_, 30, _c_. 2--Friedberg, i, p. 107: Quecumque
mulier, religioni iudicans convenire, comam sibi amputaverit quam Deus
ad velamen eius et ad memoriam subiectionis illi dedit, tanquam
resolvens ius subiectionis, anathema sit. Cf. Gratian, _Causa_, 15,
_Quaest_. 3--Friedberg, i, p. 750.

[368] Gratian, _Dist_., 30, _c_. 6, Friedberg, i, p. 108. See also
_Deuteronomy_ xxii, 5.

[369] Gratian, _Dist_., 23, _c_. 29--Friedberg, i, p. 86: Mulier,
quamvis docta et sancta, viros in conventu docere non praesumat.

[370] Id., _Causa_, 15, _Quaest_. 3--Friedberg, i, p. 750.

[371] Id., _Causa_, 20, _Quaest_. 1, _c_. 2--Friedberg, i, pp. 843-844,
quoting Gregory to Augustine, the Bishop of the Angles: Addidistis
adhuc, quod si pater vel mater filium filiamve intra septa monasterii in
infantiae annis sub regulari tradiderunt disciplina, utrum liceat eis,
postquam ad pubertatis inoleverint annos, egredi, et matrimonio
copulari. Hoe omnino devitamus, quia nefas est ut oblatis a parentibus
Deo filiis voluptatis frena relaxentur. Id., _c_. 4--Fried., i, p. 844:
quoting Isidore--quicumque a parentibus propriis in monasterio fuerit
delegatus, noverit se ibi perpetuo mansurum. Nam Anna Samuel puerum suum
natum et ablactatum Deo pietate obtulit. Id., _c_. 7--Fried., i, pp.

[372] Gratian, _Dist_., 27, _c_. 4 et 9, and _Dist_., 28, _c_.
12--Friedberg, i, pp. 99 and 104. Id., _Causa_, 27, _Quaest_. 1, _c_. 1
and 7--Friedberg, i, pp. 1047 and 1O50.

[373] Gratian, _Causa_, 20, _Quaest_. 2, _c_. 2--Friedberg, i, pp.

[374] Cf. Council of Trent, Session 24, "On the Sacrament of Matrimony,"
_Canon_ 6: "If anyone shall say that matrimony contracted but not
consummated is not dissolved by the solemn profession of religion by one
of the parties married: let him be anathema."

Gratian, _Causa_, 27, _Quaest_. ii, _c_. 28--Fried., i, p. 1071. Id.,
_c_. 46, 47, 50, 51--Fried., i, pp. 1076, 1077, 1078.

[375] Gratian, _Causa_, 30, _Quaest_. 2--Fried., i, p. 1100: Ubi non est
consensus utriusque, non est coniugium. Ergo qui pueris dant puellas in
cunabulis et e converso, nihil faciunt, nisi uterque puerorum postquam
venerit ad tempus discretionis consentiat, etiamsi pater et mater hoc
fecerint et voluerint. Id. _Causa_, 31, _Quaest_. 2--Fried., i,
1112-1114: sine libera voluntate nulla est copulanda alicui.

[376] Gratian, _Causa_, 30, _Quaest_. 5, _c_. 6--Friedberg, i, p. 1106:
Nullum sine dote fiat coniugium; iuxta possibilitatem fiat dos, nee sine
publicis nuptiis quisquam nubere vel uxorem ducere praesumat.

[377] Gratian, _Causa_, 30, _Quaest_. 5, _c_. 4--Friedberg, i, p. 1105.

[378] Gratian, _Causa_, 30, _Quaest_. 5, _c_. 7--Friedberg, i, p. 1106.

[379] Id., _c_. 1--Friedberg, i, p. 1104.

[380] Id., _c_. 8--Friedberg, i, p. 1107.

[381] Gratian, _Causa_, 30, _Quaest_. 5, _c_. 9--Friedberg, i, p. 1107.

[382] Gratian, _Causa, 28, _Quaest_. i, _c_. 17--Friedberg, i, p. 1089:
illorum vero coniugia, qui contemptis omnibus illis solempnitatibus solo
affectu aliquam sibi in coniugem copulant, huiuscemodi coniugium non
legitimum, sed ratum tantummodo esse creditur.

[383] Sessio xxiv, cap. i--De Reformatione Matrimonii.

[384] See Gratian, _Dist_., v, _c_. 4--Friedberg, i, p. 8, e.g., ... ita
ut morte lex sacra feriat, si quis vir ad menstruam mulierem accedat.

[385] Gratian, _Dist_., 31, _c_. 11--Friedberg, i, p. 114.

[386] Gratian, _Causa_, 27, _Quaest_. 2, _c_. 18-22, and
24-26--Friedberg i, pp. 1067-1070.

[387] Gratian, _Dist_., 34, c. 4--Friedberg, i, p. 126. Id., _Causa_,
29, _Quaest_. 1--Friedberg, i, p. 1092. Id., _Causa_, 29, _Quaest_. 2,
c. 2.

[388] Id., _Causa_, 29, _Quaest_. 2, c. 1 and 8.

[389] "Divorce," by James Cardinal Gibbons, in the _Century_, May, 1909.

[390] For this and what immediately follows see _Session_ 24 of the
Council of Trent "On the Sacrament of Matrimony" and also the Catholic
Encyclopedia under "Divorce."

[391] Gratian, _Causa_ 28, _Quaest_. i, c. 5--Friedberg, i, pp.
1080-1081. Licite dimittitur uxor que virum suum cogere querit ad malum.
Idolatria, quam secuntur infideles, et quelibet noxia superstitio
fornicatio est. Dominus autem permisit causa fornicationis uxorem
dimitti. Sed quia dimisit et non iussit, dedit Apostolo locum monendi,
ut qui voluerit non dimittat uxorem infidelem, quo sic fortassis possit
fidelis fieri. Si infidelitas fornicatio est, et idolatria infidelitas,
et avaritia idolatria, non est dubitandum et avaritiam fornicationem
esse. Quis ergo iam quamlibet illicitam concupiscentiam potest recte a
fornicationis genere separate, si avaritia fornicatio est?

[392] Friedberg, ii, pp. 782 and 783: Quum enim secundum legitimas
sanctiones, etc.

Lea, in his _History of Confession and Indulgences_, ii, p. 87, quotes
Zanchini, _Tract. de Haeret., cap. 33_, to the effect that goods of a
heretic were confiscated and disabilities inflicted on two generations
of descendants.



Since I have now given a brief summary of the canon law, which until the
Reformation marked the general principles that guided the laws of all
Europe on the subject of women, I propose next to consider more
particularly the history of women's rights in England; for the
institutions of England, being the basis of our own, will necessarily be
more pertinent to us than those of Continental countries, to which I
shall not devote more than a passing comment here and there. My inquiry
will naturally fall into certain well-defined parts. The status of the
unmarried woman is different from that of her married sister and will,
accordingly, demand separate consideration. The rights of women, again,
are to be viewed both from the legal and the social standpoint. Their
legal rights include those of a private nature, such as the disposal of
property, and public rights, such as suffrage, sitting on a jury, or
holding office. Under social rights are included the right to an
education, to earn a living, and the like. Let us glance first at the
history of the legal rights of single women.

[Sidenote: Single women: Pollock and Maitland i, pp. 482-485.]

From very early times the law has continued to put the single woman of
mature age on practically a par with men so far as private single rights
are concerned. She could hold land, make a will or contract, could sue
and be sued, all of her own initiative; she needed no guardian. She
could herself, if a widow, be guardian of her own children.

[Sidenote: Pollock and Maitland, ii, 260-313. Blackstone, ii, ch. 13.]

In the case of inheritance, however, women have to within extremely
recent times been treated less generously than men. The male sex has
been preferred in an inheritance; males excluded females of equal
degree; or, in the words of Blackstone: "In collateral inheritances the
male stock shall be preferred to the female; that is, kindred derived
from the blood of the male ancestors, however remote, shall be admitted
before those from the blood of the female, however near; unless where
the lands have, in fact, descended from a female. Thus the relations on
the father's side are admitted _in infinitum_ before those on the
mother's side are admitted at all." Blackstone justly remarks that this
harsh enactment of the laws of England was quite unknown to the Roman
law "wherein brethren and sisters were allowed to succeed to equal
portions of the inheritance." As an example, suppose we look for the
heir of John Stiles, deceased. The order of succession would be:

I. The eldest son, Matthew Stiles, or his issue.

II. If his line is extinct, then Gilbert Stiles and the other sons,
respectively, in order of birth, or their issue.

III. In default of these, all the daughters together, Margarite and
Charlotte Stiles, or their issue.

IV. On the failure of the descendants of John Stiles himself, the issue
of Geoffrey and Lucy Stiles, his parents, is called in, viz.: first,
Francis Stiles, the eldest brother of the whole blood, or his issue.

V. Then Oliver Stiles, and the other whole brothers, respectively, in
order of birth, or their issue.

VI. Then the sisters of the whole blood all together, Bridget and Alice
Stiles, or their issue.

And so on. It will be noted that females of equal degree inherited
together; and that a daughter excluded a brother of the dead man. Men
themselves, if younger sons, have suffered what seems to us a grave
injustice in the prevalence of the right of primogeniture, whereby, if
there are two or more males in equal degree, the eldest only can
inherit. This law might work for the benefit of certain females; thus,
the daughter, granddaughter, or great-granddaughter of an eldest son
will succeed before the younger son.

To public rights, such as sitting on a jury[393] or holding offices of
state, women never were admitted; that is a question that has become
prominent only in the twentieth century and will demand consideration in
its proper place.

[Sidenote: Power of Parents.]

Unlike the Roman law, English law allows parents to disinherit children
completely, if they so desire, without being under any compulsion to
leave them a part of their goods. As to legal power over children, the
mother, as such, is entitled to none, says Blackstone,[394] but only to
reverence and respect. Now, however, by the statute 2 and 3 Vict., c.
54, commonly called _Talfourd's Act_, an order may be made on petition
to the court of chancery giving mothers access to their children and, if
such children are within the age of seven years, for delivery of them to
their mother until they attain that age. But no woman who has been
convicted of adultery is entitled to the benefit of the act. The father
has legal power up to the time when his children come of age; then it
ceases. Until that time, his consent is necessary to a valid marriage;
he may receive the profit of a child's estate, but only as guardian or
trustee, and must render an account when the child attains his majority;
and he may have the benefit of his children's labour while they live
with him.

[Sidenote: Husband and wife. Pollock and Maitland, ii, 399-436.
Blackstone, i, ch 15. Bryce, pp. 818-830.]

We are ready now to observe the status of women in marriage. The
question of their legal rights in this relation offers the most
illuminating insight into their conditions in the various epochs of
history. Matrimony is a state over which the Church has always asserted
special jurisdiction. By the middle of the twelfth century it was law in
England that to it belonged this prerogative. The ecclesiastical court,
for example, pronounced in a given case whether there had been a valid
marriage or not; the temporal court took this decision as one of the
bases for determining a matter of inheritance, whether a woman was
entitled to dower, and the like. The general precepts laid down by canon
law in the case of a wife have already been noted. These rules need now
to be supplemented by an account of the position of women in marriage
under the common law.

Under the older common law the husband was very much lord of all he
surveyed and even more. An old enactment thus describes a husband's
duty[395]: "He shall treat and _govern_ the aforesaid A well and
decently, and shall not inflict nor cause to be inflicted any injury
upon the aforesaid A except in so far as he may lawfully and reasonably
do so in accordance with _the right of a husband to correct and chastise
his wife_." Blackstone, who wrote in 1763, has this to say on the
husband's power to chastise his wife: "The husband also, by the old law,
might give his wife moderate correction. For, as he is to answer for her
misbehaviour, the law thought it reasonable to intrust him with this
power of restraining her, by domestic chastisement, in the same
moderation that a man is allowed to correct his apprentices or children,
for whom the master or parent is also liable in some cases to answer.
But this power of correction was confined within reasonable bounds, and
the husband was prohibited from using any violence to his wife _aliter
quam ad, virum, ex causa regiminis et castigationis uxoris suae, licite
et rationabiliter pertinet_.[396] The civil law gave the husband the
same, or a larger, authority over his wife; allowing him for some
misdemeanours _flagellis et fustibus acriter verberare uxorem_ [to give
his wife a severe beating with whips and clubs]; for others, only
_modicam castigationem adhibere_ [to apply moderate correction]. But
with us in the politer reign of Charles the Second, this power of
correction began to be doubted; and a wife may now have security of the
peace against her husband, or, in return, a husband against his wife.
Yet the lower rank of people, who were always fond of the old common
law, still claim and exert their ancient privilege; and the courts of
law will still permit a husband to restrain a wife of her liberty, in
case of any gross misbehaviour." Doubtless what Mr. Weller, Sr.,
describes as the "amiable weakness" of wife-beating was not necessarily
confined to the "lower rank." For instance, some of the courtly
gentlemen of the reign of Queen Anne were probably not averse to
exercising their old-time prerogative. Says Sir Richard Steele
(_Spectator_, 479): "I can not deny but there are Perverse Jades that
fall to Men's Lots, with whom it requires more than common Proficiency
in Philosophy to be able to live. When these are joined to men of warm
Spirits, without Temper or Learning, they are frequently corrected with
Stripes; but one of our famous Lawyers is of opinion, That this ought to
be used sparingly." The law was, indeed, even worse than might appear
from the words of Blackstone. The wife who feared unreasonable violence
could, to be sure, bind her husband to keep the peace; but she had no
action against him. A husband who killed his wife was guilty of murder,
but the wife who slew her husband was adjudged guilty of petty treason;
and whereas the man would be merely drawn and hanged, the woman, until
the reign of George III, was drawn and burnt alive.[397]

The right of a husband to restrain a wife's liberty may not be said to
have become completely obsolete until the case of _Reg. v. Jackson in
1891_.[398] Wife-beating is still a flagrantly common offence in

[Sidenote: Wife's property in marriage.]

Turning now to the question of the wife's property in marriage, we shall
be forced to believe that Blackstone was an optimist of unusual
magnitude when he wrote that the female sex was "so great a favourite of
the laws of England." Not to weary the reader by minute details, I
cannot do better than give Messrs. Pollock and Maitland's excellent
summary of the final shape taken by the common law--a glaring piece of
injustice, worthy of careful reading, and in complete accord with
Apostolic injunctions: "I. In the lands of which the wife is tenant in
fee, whether they belonged to her at the date of the marriage or came to
her during the marriage, the husband has an estate which will endure
during the marriage, and this he can alienate without her concurrence.
If a child is born of the marriage, thenceforth the husband as 'tenant
by courtesy' has an estate which will endure for the whole of his life,
and this he can alienate without the wife's concurrence. The husband by
himself has no greater power of alienation than is here stated; he
cannot confer an estate which will endure after the end of the marriage
or (as the case may be) after his own death. The wife has during the
marriage no power to alienate her land without her husband's
concurrence. The only process by which the fee can be alienated is a
_fine_ to which both husband and wife are parties and to which she gives
her assent after a separate examination.

"II. A widow is entitled to enjoy for her life under the name of dower
one third of any land of which the husband was seised in fee at any time
during the marriage. The result of this is that during the marriage the
husband cannot alienate his own land so as to bar his wife's right of
dower, unless this is done with her concurrence, and her concurrence is
ineffectual unless the conveyance is made by _fine_." [This
inconvenience for an unscrupulous husband was evaded in modern
conveyancy by a device of extreme ingenuity finally perfected only in
the eighteenth century. Professor James Bryce remarks (p. 820): "As this
right (i.e., the right of dower) interfered with the husband's power of
freely disposing of his own land, the lawyers at once set about to find
means of evading it, and found these partly in legal processes by which
the wife, her consent being ascertained by the courts, parted with her
right, partly by an ingenious device whereby lands could be conveyed to
a husband without the right of dower attaching to them, partly by giving
the wife a so-called jointure which barred her claim."]

"III. Our law institutes no community, even of movables, between husband
and wife. Whatever movables the wife has at the date of the marriage
become the husband's, and the husband is entitled to take possession of
and thereby to make his own whatever movables she becomes entitled to
during the marriage, and without her concurrence he can sue for all
debts that are due her. On his death, however, she becomes entitled to
all movables and debts that are outstanding, or (as the phrase goes)
have not been 'reduced into possession.' What the husband gets
possession of is simply his; he can freely dispose of it _inter vivos_
or by will. In the main, for this purpose as for other purposes, a 'term
of years' is treated as a chattel, but under an exceptional rule the
husband, though he can alienate his wife's 'chattel real' _inter vivos_,
cannot dispose of it by his will. If he has not alienated it _inter
vivos_, it will be hers if she survives him. If he survives her, he is
entitled to her 'chattels real' and is also entitled to be made the
administrator of her estate. In that capacity he has a right to whatever
movables or debts have not yet been 'reduced into possession' and, when
the debts have been paid, he keeps these goods as his own. If she dies
in his lifetime, she can have no other intestate successor. Without his
consent she can make no will, and any consent that he may have given is
revocable at any time before the will is proved.

"IV. Our common law--but we have seen that this rule is not very
old--assured no share of the husband's personality to the widow. He can,
even by his will, give all of it away from her except her necessary
clothes, and with that exception his creditors can take all of it. A
further exception, of which there is not much to be read, is made of
jewels, trinkets, and ornaments of the person, under the name of
paraphernalia. The husband may sell or give these away in his lifetime,
and even after his death they may be taken for his debts; but he cannot
give them away by will. If the husband dies during the wife's life and
dies intestate she is entitled to a third, or, if there be no living
descendant of the husband, to one half of his personality [but see the
note of Bryce, above]. But this is a case of pure intestate succession;
she only has a share of what is left after payment of her husband's

"V. During the marriage the husband is in effect liable to the whole
extent of his property for debts incurred or wrongs committed by his
wife before the marriage, also for wrongs committed during the marriage.
The action is against him and her as co-defendants. If the marriage is
dissolved by his death, she is liable, his estate is not. If the
marriage is dissolved by her death, he is liable as her administrator,
but only to the extent of the property which he takes in that
character." [Mr. Ashton, in his very interesting book, p. 31, quotes a
peculiar note from a Parish Register in the reign of Queen Anne to this
effect: "John Bridmore and Anne Sellwood, both of Chiltern all Saints,
were married October 17, 1714. The aforesaid Anne Sellwood was married
in her Smock, without any clothes or headgier on." "This is not
uncommon," remarks Mr. Ashton, "the object being, according to a vulgar
error, to exempt the husband from the payment of any debts his wife may
have contracted in her ante-nuptial condition. This error seems to have
been founded on a misconception of the law, as it is laid down 'the
husband is liable for the wife's debts, because he acquires an absolute
interest in the personal estate of his wife.' An unlearned person from
this might conclude, and not unreasonably, that if his wife had no
estate whatever he could not incur any liability."]

"VI. During the marriage the wife cannot contract on her own behalf. She
can contract as her husband's agent and has a certain power of pledging
his credit in the purchase of necessaries. At the end of the Middle Ages
it is very doubtful how far this power is to be explained by an 'implied
agency.' The tendency of more recent times has been to allow her no
power that cannot be thus explained, except in the exceptional case of

A perusal of these laws shows that they are immensely inferior to the
Roman law, which not only gave the wife full control of her property,
but protected her from coercion and bullying on the part of the husband.
The amendment of these injustices has been very recent indeed.
Successive statutes in 1870, 1874, and 1882[399] finally abrogated the
law which gave the husband full ownership of his wife's property by the
mere act of marriage. Beginning with the year 1857, too, enlightenment
in England had progressed to such a remarkable degree that certain acts
were passed forbidding a husband to seize his wife's earnings and
neglect her[400]; and she was actually allowed to keep her own wages
after the desertion of her lord. Before that time he might desert his
wife repeatedly, and return from time to time to take away her earnings
and sell everything she had acquired. An act in 1886 (_49 and 50 Vict.,
c. 52_) gave magistrates the power to order a husband to pay his wife a
weekly sum, not exceeding two pounds, for her support and that of the
children if it appeared to the magistrates that the deserting husband
had the means of maintaining her, but was unwilling to do so. Still,
the husband can at any time terminate his desertion and force his wife
to take him back on penalty of losing all rights to such maintenance.
There was frantic opposition to all of these revolutionary enactments
and many prophets arose crying woe; but the acts finally passed and
England still lives.

[Sidenote: Divorce. Authorities as above; and Howard, ii, 3-117.]

Until the Reformation divorce was regulated by the canon law in
accordance with the principles which I have explained. After the
Reformation the matter at once assumed a different aspect because all
Protestants agreed in denying that marriage is a sacrament. Scotland in
this as in other respects has been more liberal than England; as early
as 1573 desertion as well as adultery had become grounds for divorce.
But in England the force of the canon law continued. In Blackstone's day
there were still, as under the canon law, only two kinds of separation.
Complete dissolution of the marriage tie (_a vinculo matrimonii_) took
place only on a declaration of the Ecclesiastical Court that on account
of some canonical impediment, like consanguinity, the marriage was null
and void from the beginning. Separation "from bed and board" (_a mensa
et thoro_) simply gave the parties permission no longer to live together
and was allowed for adultery or some other grave offences, like
intolerable cruelty or a chronic disease. However, some time before
Blackstone's day it had become the habit to get a dissolution of
marriage _a vinculo matrimonii_ for adultery by Act of Parliament; but
the legal process was so tedious, minute, and expensive that only the
very rich could afford the luxury.[401] In the case of a separation _a
mensa et thoro_ alimony was allowed the wife for her support out of her
husband's estate at the discretion of the ecclesiastical judges.

The initiative in divorce by Act of Parliament was usually taken by the
husband; not until 1801 did a woman have the temerity so to assert her
rights. The fact is, ever since the dawn of history society has, with
its usual double standard of morality for men and women, insisted that
while the husband must never tolerate infidelity on the part of the
wife, the wife should bear with meekness the adulteries of her husband.
Plutarch in his _Conjugal Precepts_ so advises a wife; and this pious
frame of mind has continued down the centuries to the present day.
Devout old Jeremy Taylor in his _Holy Living_--a book which is read by
few, but praised by many--thus counsels the suffering wife[402]: "But
if, after all the fair deportments and innocent chaste compliances, the
husband be morose and ungentle, let the wife discourse thus: 'If, while
I do my duty, my husband neglects me, what will he do if I neglect him?'
And if she thinks to be separated by reason of her husband's unchaste
life, let her consider that the man will be incurably ruined, and her
rivals could wish nothing more than that they might possess him alone."
Dr. Samuel Johnson ably seconded the holy Jeremy's advice by declaring
that there is a boundless difference between the infidelity of the man
and that of the woman. In the husband's case "the man imposes no
bastards upon his wife." Therefore, "wise married women don't trouble
themselves about infidelity in their husbands."[403] Until very recent
times not only men but also women have been unanimous in counselling
abject submission to and humble adoration of the husband. A single
example out of hundreds will serve excellently as a pattern. In 1821 a
"Lady of Distinction" writes to a "Relation Shortly after Her Marriage"
as follows[404]: "The most perfect and implicit faith in the superiority
of a husband's judgment, and the most absolute obedience to his desires,
is not only the conduct that will insure the greatest success, but will
give the most entire satisfaction. It will take from you a thousand
cares, which would have answered to no purpose; it will relieve you from
a weight of thought that would be very painful, and in no way
profitable.... It has its origin in reason, in justice, in nature, and
in the law of God.... I have told you how you may, and how people who
are married do, get a likeness of countenance; and in that I have done
it. You will understand me, that by often looking at your husband's
face, by smiling on the occasions on which he does, by frowning on those
things which make him frown, and by viewing all things in the light in
which you perceive he does, you will acquire that likeness of
countenance which it is an honour to possess, because it is a testimony
of love.... When your temper and your thoughts are formed upon those of
your husband, according to the plan which I have laid down, you will
perceive that you have no will, no pleasure, but what is also his. This
is the character the wife of prudence would be apt to assume; she would
make herself the mirror, to show, unaltered, and without aggravation,
diminution, or distortion, the thoughts, the sentiments, and the
resolutions of her husband. She would have no particular design, no
opinion, no thought, no passion, no approbation, no dislike, but what
should be conformable to his own judgment ... I would have her judgment
seem the reflecting mirror to his determination; and her form the shadow
of his body, conforming itself to his several positions, and following
it in all its movements ... I would not have you silent; nay, when
trifles are the subject, talk as much as any of them; but distinguish
when the discourse turns upon things of importance."

It is not strange, therefore, that no woman protested publicly against
a husband's infidelity until 1801. Up to 1840 there were but three cases
of a woman's taking the initiative in divorce, namely, in 1801, 1831,
and 1840; and in each case the man's adultery was aggravated by other
offences. In two other suits the Lords rejected the petition of the
wife, although the misconduct of the husband was clearly proved. But
redress was still by the elaborate machinery of Act of Parliament and
hence a luxury only for the wealthy until 1857, when a special Court for
Divorce and Matrimonial Causes was established.[405] Nevertheless, the
law as it stands to-day is not of a character to excite admiration or to
prove the existence of the proverbial "British Fair Play." A husband can
obtain a divorce upon proof of his wife's infidelity; but the wife can
get it only by proving, in addition to the husband's adultery, either
that it was aggravated by bigamy or incest or that it was accompanied by
cruelty or by two years' desertion. Misconduct by the husband bars him
from obtaining a divorce. The court is empowered to regulate at its
discretion the property rights of divorced people and the custody of the
children.[406] All attempts have failed to make the law recognise that
the misconduct of the husband shall be regarded equally as culpable as
the wife's.

[Sidenote: Rape and the age of legal consent.]

We may pause a moment to glance at the provisions made by the criminal
law for protecting women. The offence that most closely touches women is
rape. The punishment of this in Blackstone's day was death[407]; but in
the next century the death penalty was repealed and transportation for
life substituted.[408] The saddest blot on a presumably Christian
civilisation connected with this matter is the so-called "age of legal
consent." Under the older Common Law this was _ten_ or _twelve;_ in 1885
it was _thirteen_, at which period a girl was supposed to be at an age
to know what she was doing. But in the year 1885 Mr. Stead told the
London public very plainly those hideous truths about crimes against
young girls which everybody knew very well had been going on for
centuries, but which no one ever before had dared to assert. The result
was that Parliament raised the "age of legal consent" to sixteen, where
it now stands.[409] The idea that any girl of this age is sufficiently
mature to know what she is doing by consenting to the lust of scoundrels
is a fine commentary on the acuteness of the legal intellect and the
high moral convictions of legislators.

[Sidenote: Women's rights to an education.]

The rights of women to a higher education is distinctly a movement of
the last half of the nineteenth century. It is true that throughout
history there are many examples of remarkably well-educated women--Lady
Jane Grey, for example, or Queen Elizabeth, or Olympia Morata, in Italy,
she who in the golden period of the Renaissance became a professor at
sixteen and wrote dialogues in Greek after the manner of Plato. But on
looking closely into these instances we shall find first that these
ladies were of noble rank and only thanks to their lofty position had
access to knowledge; and secondly that they stand out as isolated
cases--the great masses of women never dreamed beyond the traditional
Kleider, Küche, Kinder, and Kirche. That an elementary education,
consisting of reading, writing, and simple arithmetic, was offered them
freely by hospital, monastery, and the like schools even as early as
Chaucer--this we know; nevertheless, beyond that they were not supposed
to aspire. So very recently, indeed, have women secured the rights to a
higher education that many thousands to-day can easily recall the
intensely bitter attacks which were directed against colleges like
Wellesley and Bryn Mawr in their inception. Until the middle of the
nineteenth century the whole education--what there was of it--of a girl
was arranged primarily with a view to capture a husband and, once having
him secure, to be his loving slave, to dwell with adoring rapture on his
superior learning, and to be humbly grateful if her liege deigned from
time to time to throw his spouse some scraps of knowledge which might be
safely administered without danger of making her think for herself.
These facts no one can well deny; but a few instances of prevalent
opinion, in addition to those which I have already quoted, will afford
the amusement of concrete examples.

Mrs. Chapone, in the eighteenth century, advised her niece to avoid the
study of classics and science lest she "excite envy in one sex and
jealousy in the other." Lady Mary Wortley Montagu laments thus: "There
is hardly a creature in the world more despicable and more liable to
universal ridicule than a learned woman," and "folly is reckoned so much
our proper sphere, we are sooner pardoned any excesses of that than the
least pretensions to reading and good sense." Pursuant to the prevailing
sentiment on the education of women, the subjects which they studied and
the books which they were allowed to read were carefully regulated. As
to their reading, it was confined to romantic tales whereof the
exceeding insipidity could not awaken any symptom of intelligence. Lyly
dedicated his _Euphues_ to the "Ladies and Gentlewomen of England" and
Sidney's _Arcadia_ owed its vast success to its female readers.

The subjects studied followed the orthodox views. Beginning with the
reign of Queen Anne boarding-schools for girls became very numerous. At
these schools "young Gentlewomen" were "soberly educated" and "taught
all sorts of learning fit for young Gentlewomen." The "learning fit for
young Gentlewomen" comprised "the Needle, Dancing, and the French
tongue; a little Music on the Harpsichord or Spinet, to read, write, and
cast accounts in a small way." Dancing was the all-important study,
since this was the surest route to their Promised Land, matrimony. The
study of French consisted in learning parrot-like a modicum of that
language pronounced according to the fancy of the speaker. As, however,
the young beau probably did not know any more himself, the end justified
the means. Studies like history, when pursued, were taken in
homoeopathic doses from small compendiums; and it was adequate to know
that Charlemagne lived somewhere in Europe about a thousand or so years
ago. Yet even this was rather advanced work and exposed the woman to be
damned by the report that she was educated. Ability to cook was not
despised and pastry schools were not uncommon. Thus in the time of
Queen Anne appears this: "To all Young Ladies: at Edw. Kidder's Pastry
School in little Lincoln's Inn Fields are taught all Sorts of Pastry and
Cookery, Dutch hollow works, and Butter Works," etc.

At last in the first decades of the nineteenth century the civilised
world began slowly to take some thought of women's higher education and
to wake up to the fact that because a certain system has been in vogue
since created man does not necessarily mean that it is the right one; a
very heretical and revolutionary idea, which has always been and still
is ably opposed by that great host of people who have steadily
maintained that when men and women once begin to think for themselves
society must inevitably run to ruin. In 1843 there was established a
certain Governesses' Benevolent Institution. This was in its inception a
society to afford relief to governesses, i.e., women engaged in
tutoring, who might be temporarily in straits, and to raise annuities
for those who were past doing work. Obviously this would suggest the
question of what a competent governess was; and this in turn led to the
demand for a diploma as a warrant of efficiency. That called attention
to the extreme ignorance of the members of the profession; and it was
soon felt that classes of instruction were needed. A sum of money was
accordingly collected in 1846 and given the Institution for that
purpose. Some eminent professors of King's College volunteered to
lecture; and so, on a small scale to be sure, began what is now Queen's
College, the first college for women in England, incorporated by Royal
Charter in 1853. In 1849 Bedford College for women had been founded in
London through the unselfish labours of Mrs. Reid; but it did not
receive its charter until 1869. Within a decade Cheltenham, Girton,
Newnham, and other colleges for women had arisen. Eight of the ten men's
universities of Great Britain now allow examinations and degrees to
women also; Oxford and Cambridge do not.

[Sidenote: Women in the professions.]

Since then women's right to any higher education which they may wish to
embrace has been permanently assured. As early as 1868 Edinburgh opened
its courses in pharmacy to women. In 1895 there were already 264 duly
qualified female physicians in Great Britain. In many schools they are
allowed to study with men, as at the College of Physicians and Surgeons
at Edinburgh; there are four medical schools for women only. We find
women now actively engaged in agriculture, apiculture, poultry-keeping,
horticulture; in library work and indexing; in stenography; in all
trades and professions. The year 1893 witnessed the first appointment of
women as factory inspectors, two being chosen that year in London and in
Glasgow. Nottingham had chosen women as sanitary inspectors in 1892.
Thus in about two decades woman has advanced farther than in the
combined ages which preceded. Before these very modern movements we may
say that the stage was the only profession which had offered them any
opportunity of earning their living in a dignified way. It seems that a
Mrs. Coleman, in 1656, was the first female to act on the stage in
England; before that, all female parts had been taken by boys or young
men. A Mrs. Sanderson played Desdemona in 1660 at the Clare Market
Theatre. In 1661, as we may see from Pepys' _Diary_ (Feb. 12, 1661), an
actress was still a novelty; but within a few decades there were already
many famous ones.

[Sidenote: Woman suffrage in England]

We have seen that now woman has obtained practically all rights on a par
with men. There are still grave injustices, as in divorce; but the
battle is substantially won. One right still remains for her to win, the
right, namely, to vote, not merely on issues such as education--this
privilege she has had for some time--but on all political questions; and
connected with this is the right to hold political office. We may
fittingly close this chapter by a review of the history of the agitation
for woman suffrage.

In the year 1797 Charles Fox remarked: "It has never been suggested in
all the theories and projects of the most absurd speculation, that it
would be advisable to extend the elective suffrage to the female sex."
Yet five years before Mary Wollstonecraft had published her _Vindication
of the Rights of Women_. Presently the writings of Harriet Martineau
upon political economy proved that women could really think on politics.

We may say that the general public first began to think seriously on the
matter after the epoch-making Reform Act of 1832. This celebrated
measure admitted £10 householders to the right to vote and carefully
excluded females; yet it marked a new era in the awakening of civic
consciousness: women had taken active part in the attendant campaigns;
and the very fact that "male persons" needed now to be so specifically
designated in the bill, whereas hitherto "persons" and "freeholders" had
been deemed sufficient, attests the recognition of a new factor in
political life.

In 1865 John Stuart Mill was elected to Parliament. That able thinker
had written on _The Subjection of Women_ and was ready to champion their
rights. A petition was prepared under the direction of women like Mrs.
Bodichon and Miss Davies; and in 1867 Mill proposed in Parliament that
the word _man_ be omitted from the People's Bill and _person_
substituted. The amendment was rejected, 196 to 83.

Nevertheless, the agitation was continued. The next year constitutional
lawyers like Mr. Chisholm Anstey decided that women might be legally
entitled to vote; and 5000 of them applied to be registered. In a test
case brought before the Court of Common Pleas the verdict was adverse,
on the ground that it was contrary to usage for women to vote. The
fight went on. Mr. Jacob Bright in 1870 introduced a "Bill to Remove the
Electoral Disabilities of Women" and lost. In 1884 Mr. William Woodall
tried again; he lost also, largely through the efforts of Gladstone; and
the same statesman was instrumental in killing another bill in 1892,
when Mr. A.J. Balfour urged its passage.

At the present day women in England cannot vote on great questions of
universal state policy nor can they hold great offices of state. Yet
their gains have been enormous, as I shall next demonstrate; and in this
connection I shall also glance briefly at their vast strides in the

In 1850 Ontario gave all women school suffrage. In 1867 New South Wales
gave them municipal suffrage. In 1869 England granted municipal suffrage
to single women and widows; Victoria gave it to all women, married or
single. In England in 1870 the Education Act, by which school boards
were created, gave women the same rights as men, both as regards
electing and being elected. In 1871 West Australia gave them municipal
suffrage; in 1878 New Zealand gave school suffrage. In 1880 South
Australia gave municipal suffrage. In 1881 widows and single women
obtained municipal suffrage in Scotland and Parliamentary suffrage on
the Isle of Man. Municipal suffrage was given by Ontario and Tasmania in
1884 and by New Zealand and New Brunswick in 1886; by Nova Scotia and
Manitoba in 1887. In 1888 England gave women county suffrage and British
Columbia and the North-West Territory gave them municipal suffrage. In
1889 county suffrage was given the women of Scotland and municipal
suffrage to single women and widows in the Province of Quebec. In 1893
New Zealand gave full suffrage. In 1894 parish and district suffrage was
given in England to women married and single, with power to elect and to
be elected to parish and district councils. In 1895 South Australia gave
full state suffrage to all women. In 1898 the women of Ireland were
given the right to vote for all officers except members of Parliament.
In 1900 West Australia granted full state suffrage to all. In 1902 full
national suffrage was given all the women in federated Australia and
full state suffrage to those of New South Wales. In 1903 Tasmania gave
full state suffrage; in 1905 Queensland did the same; in 1908 Victoria
followed. In 1907 England made women eligible as mayors, aldermen, and
county and town councillors. In London, for example, at the present time
women can vote for the 28 borough councils and 31 boards of guardians of
the London City Council; they can also be themselves elected to these;
be members of the central unemployed body or of the 23 district
committees, and can be co-opted to all other bodies, like the local
pension committees. Women can be aldermen of the Council; and there is
nothing to prevent one from holding even the office of chairman.

At the present moment the cause of woman suffrage in England is being
furthered chiefly by two organizations which differ in methods. The
National Union of Women's Suffrage Societies has adopted the
"constitutional" or peaceful policy; but the National Women's Social and
Political Union is "militant" and coercive.


I. The English Statutes. Published by Authority during the Various

II. Studies in History and Jurisprudence: by James Bryce. Oxford
University Press, 1901. Pages 782-859 on "Marriage and Divorce."

III. History of English Law: by Frederick Pollock and Frederic Maitland.
2 vols. Cambridge University Press, 1898--second edition.

IV. Commentaries on the Laws of England: by Sir William Blackstone. With
notes selected from the editions of Archbold, Christian, Coleridge,
etc., and additional notes by George Sharswood, of the University of
Pennsylvania. 2 vols. Philadelphia, 1860--Childs and Peterson, 602 Arch

V. A History of Matrimonial Institutions, chiefly in England and the
United States: by George Elliott Howard. 4 vols. The University of
Chicago Press, 1904.

VI. Social England: edited by H.D. Traill. 6 vols. G.P. Putnam's Sons,

VII. Social Life in the Reign of Queen Anne, taken from original
sources: by John Ashton. London, Chatto and Windus, 1897.

VIII. The Renaissance of Girls' Education in England: by Alice Zimmern.
London, A.D. Innes and Co., 1898.

IX. Progress in Women's Education in the British Empire: edited by the
Countess of Warwick. Being the Report of the Education Section,
Victorian Era Exhibition, 1897. Longmans, Green, & Co., 1898.

X. Current Literature from the Earliest Times to the Present Day,
references to which are noted as they occur.


[393] If a woman sentenced to execution declared she was pregnant, a
jury of twelve matrons could be appointed on a writ _de venire
inspiciendo_ to determine the truth of the matter; for she could not be
executed if the infant was alive in the womb. The same jury determined
the case of a widow who feigned herself with child in order to exclude
the next heir and when she was suspected of trying to palm off a
supposititious birth. But from all other jury duties women have always
been excluded "on account of the weakness of the sex"--_propter defectum

[394] Blackstone, i, ch. 16.

[395] Reg. Brev. Orig., f. 89: quod ipse praefatam A bene et honeste
tractabit et gubernabit, ac damnum vel malum aliquod eidem A de corpore
suo, aliter quam ad virum suum ex causa regiminis et castigationis
uxoris suae licite et rationabiliter pertinet, non faciet nec fieri

[396] "Except in so far as he may lawfully and reasonably do so in order
to correct and chastise his wife."

[397] The learned commentator Christian adds a few more cases where
formerly the criminal law was harshly prejudiced against women. Thus:
"By the Common Law, all women were denied the benefit of clergy; and
till the 3 and 4 _W. and M_., c. 9 [William and Mary] they received
sentence of death and might have been executed for the first offence in
simple larceny, bigamy, manslaughter, etc., however learned they were,
merely because their sex precluded the possibility of their taking holy
orders; though a man who could read was for the same crime subject only
to burning in the hand and a few months' imprisonment."

[398] I Q.B. p. 671--in the Court of Appeal.

[399] _Married Women's Property Act_, 45 and 46 V., c. 75--Aug. 18,

[400] Note this incident, from the _Westminister Review_, October, 1856:
"A lady whose husband had been unsuccessful in business established
herself as a milliner in Manchester. After some years of toil she
realised sufficient for the family to live upon comfortably, the husband
having done nothing meanwhile. They lived for a time in easy
circumstances after she gave up business and then the husband died,
_bequeathing all his wife's earnings to his own illegitimate children_.
At the age of 62 she was compelled, in order to gain her bread, to
return to business."

[401] For a full account of the elaborate machinery see Chitty's note to
Blackstone, vol. i, p. 441, of Sharswood's edition.

[402] _Holy Living, ch. 3, section I: Rules for Married Persons._

[403] Boswell, vii, 288. Perhaps if the venerable Samuel had had the
statistics of venereal disease given by adulterous husbands to wives and
children he might not have been so sure of his contention.

[404] Quoted by Professor Thomas in the _American Magazine_, July, 1909.

[405] See 20 and 21 V., c. 85--Aug. 28. 1857.

[406] See 7 Edw., c. 12--Aug. 9, 1907--Matrimonial Causes Act, which
also gives the court discretion in alimony.

[407] Blackstone, iv, ch. 15.

[408] 4 _and_ 5 _V., c._ 56, _s._ 3.

[409] The Criminal Law Amendment Act, 1885, 48 _and_ 49 _V. c._ 69,
section 5: "Any person who (1) unlawfully and carnally knows or attempts
to have unlawful carnal knowledge of any girl being of or above the age
of thirteen years and under the age of sixteen, or (2) unlawfully and
carnally knows or attempts to have carnal knowledge of any female idiot
or imbecile woman or girl under circumstances which do not amount to
rape, but which prove that the offender knew at the time of the
commission of the offence that the woman or girl was an idiot or
imbecile, shall be guilty of a misdemeanour, and being convicted thereof
shall be liable at the discretion of the Court to be imprisoned for any
term not exceeding two years, with or without hard labour." Section 4:
"Any one who unlawfully and carnally knows any girl under the age of
thirteen shall be guilty of felony, and being convicted thereof shall be
liable to be kept in penal servitude for life." Any one who merely
attempts it can be imprisoned for any term not exceeding two years, with
or without hard labour.



It has been my aim, in this short history of the growth of women's
rights, to depict for the most part the strictly legal aspect of the
matter; but from time to time I have interposed some typical
illustration of public opinion, in order to bring into greater
prominence the ferment that was going on or the misery which existed
behind the scenes. A history of legal processes might otherwise, from
the coldness of the laws, give few hints of the conflicts of human
passion which combined to set those processes in motion. Before I
present the history of the progress of women's rights in the United
States, I shall place before the reader some extracts which are typical
and truly representative of the opposition which from the beginning of
the agitation to the present day has voiced itself in all ranks of life.
Let the reader bear carefully in mind that from 1837 to the beginning of
the twentieth century such abuse as that which I shall quote as typical
was hurled from ten thousand throats of men and women unceasingly; that
Mrs. Stanton, Miss Anthony, and Mrs. Gage were hissed, insulted, and
offered physical violence by mobs in New York[410] and Boston to an
extent inconceivable in this age; and that the marvellously unselfish
labour of such women as these whom I have mentioned and of men like
Wendell Phillips is alone responsible for the improvement in the legal
status of women, which I propose to trace in detail. Some expressions of
the popular attitude follow:

[Sidenote: Examples of opposition to women's rights.]

From a speech of the Rev. Knox-Little at the Church of St. Clements in
Philadelphia in 1880: "God made himself to be born of a woman to
sanctify the virtue of endurance; loving submission is an attribute of a
woman; men are logical, but women, lacking this quality, have an
intricacy of thought. There are those who think women can be taught
logic; this is a mistake. They can never by any power of education
arrive at the same mental status as that enjoyed by men, but they have a
quickness of apprehension, which is usually called leaping at
conclusions, that is astonishing. There, then, we have distinctive
traits of a woman, namely, endurance, loving submission, and quickness
of apprehension. Wifehood is the crowning glory of a woman. In it she is
bound for all time. To her husband she owes the duty of unqualified
obedience. There is no crime which a man can commit which justifies his
wife in leaving him or applying for that monstrous thing, divorce. It
is her duty to subject herself to him always, and no crime that he can
commit can justify her lack of obedience. If he be a bad or wicked man,
she may gently remonstrate with him, but refuse him never. Let divorce
be anathema; curse it; curse this accursed thing, divorce; curse it,
curse it! Think of the blessedness of having children. I am the father
of many children and there have been those who have ventured to pity me.
'Keep your pity for yourself,' I have replied, 'they never cost me a
single pang.' In this matter let woman exercise that endurance and
loving submission which, with intricacy of thought, are their only

From the Philadelphia _Public Ledger and Daily Transcript_, July 20,
1848: "Our Philadelphia ladies not only possess beauty, but they are
celebrated for discretion, modesty, and unfeigned diffidence, as well as
wit, vivacity, and good nature. Who ever heard of a Philadelphia lady
setting up for a reformer or standing out for woman's rights, or
assisting to _man_ the election grounds [_sic_], raise a regiment,
command a legion, or address a jury? Our ladies glow with a higher
ambition. They soar to rule the hearts of their worshippers, and secure
obedience by the sceptre of affection.... But all women are not as
reasonable as ours of Philadelphia. The Boston ladies contend for the
rights of women. The New York girls aspire to mount the rostrum, to do
all the voting, and, we suppose, all the fighting, too.... Our
Philadelphia girls object to fighting and holding office. They prefer
the baby-jumper to the study of Coke and Lyttleton, and the ball-room to
the Palo Alto battle. They object to having a George Sand for President
of the United States; a Corinna for Governor; a Fanny Wright for Mayor;
or a Mrs. Partington for Postmaster.... Women have enough influence over
human affairs without being politicians.... A woman is nobody. A wife is
everything. A pretty girl is equal to ten thousand men, and a mother is,
next to God, all powerful.... The ladies of Philadelphia, therefore,
under the influence of the most 'sober second thoughts' are resolved to
maintain their rights as Wives, Belles, Virgins, and Mothers, and not as

From the "Editor's Table" of _Harper's New Monthly Magazine_, November,
1853: "Woman's Rights, or the movement that goes under that name, may
seem to some too trifling in itself and too much connected with
ludicrous associations to be made the subject of serious arguments. If
nothing else, however, should give it consequence, it would demand our
earnest attention from its intimate connection with all the radical and
infidel movements of the day. A strange affinity seems to bind them all
together.... But not to dwell on this remarkable connection--the claim
of 'woman's rights' presents not only the common radical notion which
underlies the whole class, but also a peculiar enormity of its own; in
some respects more boldly infidel, or defiant both of nature and
revelation, than that which characterises any kindred measure. It is
avowedly opposed to the most time-honoured proprieties of social life;
it is opposed to nature; it is opposed to revelation.... This unblushing
female Socialism defies alike apostles and prophets. In this respect no
kindred movement is so decidedly infidel, so rancorously and avowedly

"It is equally opposed to nature and the established order of society
founded upon it. We do not intend to go into any physiological argument.
There is one broad striking fact in the constitution of the human
species which ought to set the question at rest for ever. This is the
fact of maternity.... From this there arise, in the first place,
physical impediments which, during the best part of the female life, are
absolutely insurmountable, except at a sacrifice of almost everything
that distinguishes the civilized human from the animal, or beastly, and
savage state. As a secondary, yet inevitably resulting consequence,
there come domestic and social hindrances which still more completely
draw the line between the male and female duties.... Every attempt to
break through them, therefore, must be pronounced as unnatural as it is
irreligious and profane.... The most serious importance of this modern
'woman's rights' doctrine is derived from its direct bearing upon the
marriage institution. The blindest must see that such a change as is
proposed in the relations and life of the sexes cannot leave either
marriage or the family in their present state. It must vitally affect,
and in time wholly sever, that oneness which has ever been at the
foundation of the marriage idea, from the primitive declaration in
Genesis to the latest decision of the common law. This idea gone--and it
is totally at war with the modern theory of 'woman's rights'--marriage
is reduced to the nature of a contract simply.... That which has no
higher sanction than the will of the contracting parties, must, of
course, be at any time revocable by the same authority that first
created it. That which makes no change in the personal relations, the
personal rights, the personal duties, is not the holy marriage _union_,
but the unholy _alliance_ of concubinage."

In a speech of Senator George G. Vest, of Missouri, in the United States
Senate, January 25, 1887, these: "I now propose to read from a pamphlet
sent to me by a lady.... She says to her own sex: 'After all, men work
for women; or, if they think they do not, it would leave them but sorry
satisfaction to abandon them to such existence as they could arrange
without us.'

"Oh, how true that is, how true!"

In 1890 a bill was introduced in the New York Senate to lower the "age
of consent"--the age at which a girl may legally consent to sexual
intercourse--from 16 to 14. It failed. In 1892 the brothel keepers tried
again in the Assembly. The bill was about to be carried by universal
consent when the chairman of the Judiciary Committee, feeling the
importance of the measure, called for the individual yeas and nays, in
order that the constituents of the representatives might know how their
legislators voted. The bill thereupon collapsed. In 1889 a motion was
made in the Kansas Senate to lower the age of consent from 18 to _12_.
But the public heard of it; protests flowed in; and under the pressure
of these the law was allowed to remain as it was.

Such are some typical examples of the warfare of the opposition to all
that pertains to advancing the status of women. As I review the progress
of their rights, let the reader recollect that this opposition was
always present, violent, loud, and often scurrilous.

In tracing the history of women's rights in the United States my plan
will be this: I shall first give a general review of the various
movements connected with the subject; and I shall then lay before the
reader a series of tables, wherein may be seen at a glance the status of
women to-day in the various States.

[Sidenote: Single women.]

[Sidenote: History of agitation for women's rights.]

In our country, as in England, single women have at all times had
practically the same legal rights as men; but by no means the same
political, social, educational, or professional privileges; as will
appear more conclusively later on.

We may say that the history of the agitation for women's rights began
with the visit of Frances Wright to the United States in 1820. Frances
Wright was a Scotchwoman, born at Dundee in 1797, and early exhibited a
keen intellect on all the subjects which concern political and social
reform. For several years after 1820 she resided here and strove to make
men and women think anew on old traditional beliefs--more particularly
on theology, slavery, and the social degradation of women. The venomous
denunciations of press and pulpit attested the success of her efforts.
In 1832 Lydia Maria Child published her _History of Woman_, a résumé of
the status of women; and this was followed by numerous works and
articles, such as Margaret Fuller's, _The Great Lawsuit, or Man vs.
Woman: Woman vs. Man_, and Eliza Farnham's _Woman and her Era_. Various
women lectured; such as Ernestine L. Rose--a Polish woman, banished for
asserting her liberty. The question of women's rights received a
powerful impetus at this period from the vast number of women who were
engaged in the anti-slavery agitation. Any research into the validity of
slavery perforce led the investigators to inquire into the justice of
the enforced status of women; and the two causes were early united.
Women like Angelina and Sarah Grimké and Lucretia Mott were pioneers in
numerous anti-slavery conventions. But as soon as they dared to address
meetings in which men were present, a tempest was precipitated; and in
1840, at the annual meeting of the Anti-Slavery Association, the men
refused to serve on any committee in which any woman had a part;
although it had been largely the contributions of women which were
sustaining the cause. Affairs reached a climax in London, in 1840, at
the World's Anti-Slavery Convention. Delegates from all anti-slavery
organisations were invited to take part; and several American societies
sent women to represent them. These ladies were promptly denied any
share in the proceedings by the English members, thanks mainly to the
opposition of the clergy, who recollected with pious satisfaction that
St. Paul permitted not a woman to teach. Thereupon Lucretia Mott and
Elizabeth Cady Stanton determined to hold a women's rights convention as
soon as they returned to America; and thus a World's Anti-Slavery
Convention begat an issue equally large.

Accordingly, the first Women's Rights Convention was held at Seneca
Falls, New York, July 19-20, 1848. It was organised by _divorced wives,
childless women, and sour old maids_, the gallant newspapers declared;
that is, by Mrs. Elizabeth Cady Stanton, Mrs. Lucretia Mott, Mrs.
McClintock, and other fearless women, who not only lived the purest and
most unselfish of domestic lives, but brought up many children besides.
Great crowds attended. A _Declaration of Sentiments_ was moved and
adopted; and as this exhibits the temper of the convention and
illustrates the then prevailing status of women very clearly, I shall
quote it:


"When, in the course of human events, it becomes necessary for one
portion of the family of man to assume among the people of the earth a
position different from that which they have hitherto occupied, but one
to which the laws of nature and of nature's God entitle them, a decent
respect to the opinions of mankind requires that they should declare the
causes which impel them to such a course.

"We hold these truths to be self-evident: that all men and women are
created equal; that they are endowed by their Creator with certain
inalienable rights; that among these are life, liberty, and the pursuit
of happiness; that to secure these rights governments are instituted,
deriving their just powers from the consent of the governed. Whenever
any form of government becomes destructive of those ends, it is the
right of those who suffer from it to refuse allegiance to it, and to
insist upon the institution of a new government, laying its foundation
on such principles, and organising its powers in such form, as to them
shall seem most likely to effect their safety and happiness. Prudence,
indeed, will dictate that governments long established should not be
changed for light or transient causes; and accordingly all experience
hath shown that mankind are more disposed to suffer, while evils are
sufferable, than to right themselves by abolishing the forms to which
they were accustomed. But when a long train of abuses and usurpations,
pursuing invariably the same object, evinces a design to reduce them
under absolute despotism, it is their duty to throw off such government,
and to provide new guards for their future security. Such has been the
patient sufferance of the women under this government, and such is now
the necessity which constrains them to demand the equal station to which
they are entitled.

"The history of mankind is a history of repeated injuries and
usurpations on the part of man toward woman, having in direct object the
establishment of an absolute tyranny over her. To prove this, let facts
be submitted to a candid world.

"He has never permitted her to exercise her inalienable right to the
elective franchise.

"He has compelled her to submit to laws, in the formation of which she
had no voice.

"He has withheld from her rights which are given to the most ignorant
and degraded men--both natives and foreigners.

"Having deprived her of this first right of a citizen, the elective
franchise, thereby leaving her without representation in the halls of
legislation, he has oppressed her on all sides.

"He has made her, if married, in the eye of the law, civilly dead.

"He has taken from her all right in property, even to the wages she

"He has made her, morally, an irresponsible being, as she can commit
many crimes with impunity, provided they be done in the presence of her
husband. In the covenant of marriage, she is compelled to promise
obedience to her husband, he becoming, to all intents and purposes, her
master--the law giving him power to deprive her of her liberty, and to
administer chastisement.

"He has so framed the laws of divorce, as to what shall be the proper
causes, and, in case of separation, to whom the guardianship of the
children shall be given, as to be wholly regardless of the happiness of
women--the law in all cases going upon a false supposition of the
supremacy of man, and giving all power into his hands.

"After depriving her of all rights as a married woman, if single, and
the owner of property, he has taxed her to support a government which
recognises her only when her property can be made profitable to it.

"He has monopolised nearly all the profitable employments, and from
those she is permitted to follow she receives but a scanty remuneration.
He closes against her all the avenues of wealth and distinction which he
considers most honourable to himself. As a teacher of theology,
medicine, or law, she is not known.

"He has denied her the facilities for obtaining a thorough education,
all colleges being closed against her.

"He allows her in church, as well as state, but a subordinate position,
claiming Apostolic authority for her exclusion from the ministry, and,
with some exceptions, from any public participation in the affairs of
the church.

"He has created a false public sentiment by giving to the world a
different code of morals for men and women, by which moral delinquencies
which exclude women from society are not only tolerated, but deemed of
little account in man.

"He has usurped the prerogative of Jehovah himself, claiming it as his
right to assign for her a sphere of action, when that belongs to her
conscience and to her God.

"He has endeavoured, in every way that he could, to destroy her
confidence in her own powers, to lessen her self-respect, and to make
her willing to lead a dependent and abject life.

"Now, in view of this entire disfranchisement of one half the people of
this country, their social and religious degradation; in view of the
unjust laws above mentioned, and because women do feel themselves
aggrieved, oppressed, and fraudulently deprived of their most sacred
rights, we insist that they have immediate admission to all the rights
and privileges which belong to them as citizens of the United States.

"In entering upon the great work before us, we anticipate no small
amount of misconception, misrepresentation, and ridicule; but we shall
use every instrumentality within our power to effect our object. We
shall employ agents, circulate tracts, petition the State and National
legislatures, and endeavour to enlist the pulpit and press in our
behalf. We hope this Convention will be followed by a series of
Conventions embracing every part of the country."

Such was the defiance of the Women's Rights Convention in 1848; other
conventions were held, as at Rochester, in 1853, and at Albany in 1854;
the movement extended quickly to other States and touched the quick of
public opinion. It bore its first good fruits in New York in 1848, when
the Property Bill was passed. This law, amended in 1860, and entitled
"An Act Concerning the Rights and Liabilities of Husband and Wife"
(March 20, 1860), emancipated completely the wife, gave her full control
of her own property, allowed her to engage in all civil contracts or
business on her own responsibility, rendered her joint guardian of her
children with her husband, and granted both husband and wife a one-third
share of one another's property in case of the decease of either

Thus New York became the pioneer. The movement spread, as I have
mentioned, with amazing rapidity; but it was not so uniformly
successful. Conventions were held, for example, in Ohio, at Salem,
April 19-20, 1850; at Akron, May 28-29, 1851; at Massillon on May 27,
1852. Nevertheless, in 1857, the Legislature of Ohio passed a bill
enacting that no married man should dispose of any personal property
without having first obtained the consent of his wife; the wife was
empowered, in case of a violation of this law, to commence a civil suit
in her own name for the recovery of the property; and any married woman
whose husband deserted her or neglected to provide for his family was to
be entitled to his wages and to those of her minor children. A bill to
extend suffrage to women was defeated, by a vote of 44 to 44; the
petition praying for its enactment had received 10,000 signatures.

The course of events as it has been described in New York and Ohio, is
practically the same in the case of the other States. The Civil War
relegated these issues to a secondary place; but during that momentous
conflict the heroism of Clara Barton on the battlefield and of thousands
of women like her paved the way for a reassertion of the rights of woman
in the light of her unquestioned exertions and unselfish labours for her
country in its crisis. After the war, attention began to be concentrated
more on the right to _vote_. By the Fourteenth Amendment the franchise
was at once given to negroes; but the insertion of the word _male_
effectually barred any national recognition of woman's right to vote. A
vigorous effort was made by the suffrage leaders to have _male_
stricken from the amendment; but the effort was futile. Legislators
thought that the black man's vote ought to be secured first; as the _New
York Tribune_ (Dec. 12, 1866) puts it snugly: "We want to see the ballot
put in the hands of the black without one day's delay added to the long
postponement of his just claim. When that is done, we shall be ready to
take up the next question" (i.e., woman's rights).

The first Women's Rights Convention after the Civil War had been held in
New York City, May 10, 1866, and had presented an address to Congress.
Such was the dauntless courage of the leaders, that Mrs. Stanton offered
herself as a candidate for Congress at the November elections, in order
to test the constitutional rights of a woman to run for office. She
received twenty-four votes.

Six years later, on November I, 1872, Miss Susan B. Anthony did a far
more Audacious thing. She went to the polls and asked to be registered.
The two Republican members of the board were won over by her exposition
of the Fourteenth Amendment and agreed to receive her name, against the
advice of their Democratic colleague and a United States supervisor.
Following Miss Anthony's example, some fifty other women of Rochester
registered. Fourteen voted and were at once arrested under the
enforcement act of Congress of May 31, 1870 (_section_ 19). The case of
Miss Anthony was argued, ably by her attorney; but she was adjudged
guilty. A _nolle prosequi_ was entered for the women who voted with her.

Immediately after the decision in her case, the inspectors who had
registered the women were put on trial because they "did knowingly and
willfully register as a voter of said District one Susan B. Anthony,
she, said Susan B. Anthony, then and there not being entitled to be
registered as a voter of said District in that she, said Susan B.
Anthony, was then and there a person of the female sex, contrary to the
form of the statute of the United States of America in such case made
and provided, and against the peace of the United States of America and
their dignity." The defendants were ordered to pay each a fine of
twenty-five dollars and the costs of the prosecution; but the sentence
was revoked and an unconditional pardon given them by President Grant,
in an order dated March 3, 1874. Miss Anthony was forced to pay her
fine, in spite of an appeal to Congress.

Such were the stirring times when the agitation for women's rights was
first brought to the fore as a national issue. Within a few years,
various States, like New York and Kansas, put the question of equal
suffrage for women before its voters; they in general rejected the
measure. At present there are four States which give women complete
suffrage and right to vote on all questions with the same privileges as
men, viz., Wyoming (1869), Colorado (1893), Utah (1896), and Idaho
(1896). In 1838 Kentucky gave school suffrage to widows with children
of school age; in 1861 Kansas gave it to all women. School suffrage was
granted all women in 1875 by Michigan and Minnesota, in 1876 by
Colorado, in 1878 by New Hampshire and Oregon, in 1879 by Massachusetts,
in 1880 by New York and Vermont, in 1883 by Nebraska, in 1887 by North
and South Dakota, Montana, Arizona, and New Jersey. Kansas gave
municipal suffrage in 1887; and Montana gave tax-paying women the right
to vote upon all questions submitted to the tax-payers. In 1891 Illinois
granted school suffrage, as did Connecticut in 1893. Iowa gave bond
suffrage in 1894. In 1898 Minnesota gave women the right to vote for
library trustees, Delaware gave school suffrage to tax-paying women, and
Louisiana gave tax-paying women the right to vote upon all questions
submitted to the tax-payers. Wisconsin gave school suffrage in 1900. In
1901 New York gave tax-paying women in all towns and villages of the
State the right to vote on questions of local taxation; and the Kansas
Legislature voted down almost unanimously a proposal to repeal municipal
suffrage. In 1903 Kansas gave bond suffrage; and in 1907 the new State
of Oklahoma continued school suffrage. In 1908 Michigan gave all women
who pay taxes the right to vote upon questions of local taxation and the
granting of franchises.

The history of the "age of legal consent" has an importance which
through prudery and a wilful ignorance of facts the public has never
fully realised. I shall have considerable to say of it later. It will
suffice for the moment to remark that until the decade preceding 1898
the old Common Law period of ten, sometimes twelve, years was the basis
of "age of consent" legislation in most States and in the Territories
under the jurisdiction of the national government. In 1885 the age in
Delaware was _seven_.

[Sidenote: Age of Legal consent.]

[Sidenote: The beginnings of higher education for women.]

The Puritans, burning with an unquenchable zeal for liberty, fled to
America in order to build a land of freedom and strike off the
shackles of despotism. After they were comfortably settled, they
forthwith proceeded, with fine humour, to expel mistress Anne Hutchinson
for venturing to speak in public, to hang superfluous old women for
being witches, and to refuse women the right to an education. In 1684,
when a question arose about admitting girls to the Hopkins School of New
Haven, it was decided that "all girls be excluded as improper and
inconsistent with such a grammar school as ye law enjoins and as in the
Designs of this settlement." "But," remarks Professor Thomas, "certain
small girls whose manners seem to have been neglected and who had the
natural curiosity of their sex, sat on the schoolhouse steps and heard
the boys recite, or learned to read and construe sentences from their
brothers at home, and were occasionally admitted to school."

In the course of the next century the world moved a little; and in
1789, when the public school system was established in Boston, girls
were admitted from April to October; but until 1825 they were allowed to
attend primary schools only. In 1790 Gloucester voted that "two hours,
or a proportional part of that time, be devoted to the instruction of
females." In 1793 Plymouth accorded girls one hour of instruction daily.

The first female seminary in the United States was opened by the
Moravians in Bethlehem, Pennsylvania, in 1749. It was unique. In 1803,
of 48 academies or higher schools fitting for college in Massachusetts,
only three were for girls, although a few others admitted both boys and

The first instance of government aid for the systematic education of
women occurred in New York, in 1819. This was due to the influence of a
remarkable woman. Mrs. Emma Willard had begun teaching in Connecticut
and by extraordinary diligence mastered not only the usual subjects of
the curriculum, but in addition botany, chemistry, mineralogy,
astronomy, and the higher mathematics. She had, moreover, striven always
to introduce new subjects and new methods into her school, and with such
success that Governor Clinton, of New York, invited her to that State
and procured her a government subsidy. Her school was established first
at Watervliet, but soon moved to Troy. This seminary was the first
girls' school in which the higher mathematics formed a part of the
course; and the first public examination of a girl in geometry, in 1829,
raised a storm of ridicule and indignation--the clergy, as usual,
prophesying the speedy dissolution of all family bonds and therefore, as
they continued with remorseless logic, of the state itself. But Mrs.
Willard continued her ways in spite of clerical disapproval and
by-and-by projected a system of normal schools for the higher education
of teachers, and even suggested women as superintendents of public
schools. New York survived and does not even remember the names of the
patriots who fought a lonely woman so valiantly.

The first female seminary to approach college rank was Mt. Holyoke,
which was opened by Mary Lyon at South Hadley, Mass., in 1836. Vassar,
the next, dates from 1865; and Radcliffe, the much-abused "Harvard
Annex," was instituted in 1879. These were the first colleges
exclusively for women. Oberlin College had from its foundation, in 1833,
admitted men and women on equal terms; although it took pains to express
its hearty disapproval of those women who, after graduation, had the
temerity to advocate political rights for women--rights which that same
Oberlin insisted should be given the negro at once. In 1858, when Sarah
Burger and other women applied for admission to the University of
Michigan, their request was refused.

[Sidenote: First women in medicine.]

It was hard enough for women to assert their rights to a higher
education; to enter a profession was almost impossible. Nevertheless,
it was done. The pioneer in medicine was Harriet K. Hunt who practised
in Boston from 1822 to 1872 without a diploma; but in 1853 the Woman's
Medical College of Pennsylvania conferred upon her the degree of Doctor
of Medicine. The first woman to receive a diploma from a college after
completing the regular course was Elizabeth Blackwell, who attained that
distinction at Geneva, New York, in 1848. The first adequate woman's
medical institution was Miss Blackwell's New York Infirmary, chartered
in 1854. In 1863, Dr. Zakrzewska, in co-operation with Lucy Goddard and
Ednah D. Cheney, established the New England Hospital for Women and
Children, which aimed to provide women the medical aid of competent
physicians of their own sex, to assist educated women in the practical
study of medicine, and to train nurses for the care of the sick.[411]

[Sidenote: In law.]

In law, it would seem that Mistress Brut practised in Baltimore as early
as 1647; but after her the first woman lawyer in the United States was
Arabella A. Mansfield, of Mt. Pleasant, Iowa. She was admitted to the
bar in 1864. By 1879 women were allowed to plead before the Supreme
Court of the United States.[412]

[Sidenote: In the ministry.]

Coming now to the consideration of the ministry, the first woman to
attempt to assert a right to that profession was Anne Hutchinson, of
Boston, in 1634. She was promptly banished. Among the Friends and the
Shakers women like Lucretia Mott and Anne Lee preached; and among the
primitive Methodists and similar bodies women were always permitted to
exhort; but the first regularly ordained woman in the United States
appears to have been Rev. Antoinette Brown Blackwell, of the
Congregational Church who was ordained in 1852. In 1864 Rev. Olympia
Brown settled as pastor of the parish at Weymouth Landing, in
Massachusetts; and the Legislature acknowledged marriages solemnised by
women as legal. Phebe Hanaford, Mary H. Graves, and Lorenza Haynes were
the first Massachusetts women to be ordained preachers of the Gospel;
the latter was at one time chaplain of the Maine House of
Representatives. The best known woman in the ministry at the present day
is Rev. Anna Howard Shaw, a Methodist minister, president of the
National American Woman's Suffrage Association.[413]

[Sidenote: As newspaper editors.]

Women have from very early times been exceedingly active in newspaper
work. Anna Franklin printed the first newspaper in Rhode Island, in
1732; she was made official printer to the colony. When the founder of
the _Mercury_, of Philadelphia, died in 1742, his widow, Mrs. Cornelia
Bradford, carried it on for many years with great success, just as Mrs.
Zenger continued the _New York Weekly Journal_--the second newspaper
started in New York--for years after the death of her husband. Anna K.
Greene established the _Maryland Gazette_, the first paper in that
colony, in 1767. Penelope Russell printed _The Censor_ in Boston, in
1771. In fact, there was hardly a colony in which women were not
actively engaged in printing. After the Revolution they were still more
active. Mrs. Anne Royal edited _The Huntress_ for a quarter of a
century. Margaret Fuller ran _The Dial_, in Boston, in 1840 and numbered
Emerson and William Channing among her contributors. From 1840 to 1849
the mill girls of Lowell edited the _Lowell Offering_. These are but a
few examples of what women have done in newspaper work. How very
influential they are to-day every one knows who is familiar with the
articles and editorial work appearing in newspapers and magazines; and
that women are very zealous reporters many people can attest with
considerable vigour.[414]

[Sidenote: Women in industry.]

The enormous part which women now play in industry and in all economic
production is a concomitant of the factory system, specialised industry,
and all that makes a highly elaborated and complex society. Before the
introduction of machine industry, and in the simple society of the
colonial days, women were no less a highly important factor in economic
production; but not as wage earners. Their importance lay in the fact
that spinning, weaving, brewing, cheese and butter making, and the like
were matters attended to by each household to supply its own wants; and
this was considered the peculiar sphere of the housewife. In 1840
Harriet Martineau found only seven employments open to women in the
United States, viz., teaching, needlework, keeping boarders, working in
cotton mills and in book binderies, type-setting, and household service.

I shall now present a series of fifty tables, by means of which the
reader may see at a glance the status of women in all the States to-day.
For convenience, I shall arrange the views alphabetically.


The right of "dower," as used in these tables, refers to the widow's
right, under the Common Law, to the possession, for her life-time, of
one third of the real estate of which her husband was possessed in
fee-simple during the marriage.

"Curtesy" is the right of the husband after his wife's death to the life
use of his wife's real estate, sometimes dependent on the birth of
children, sometimes not; and usually the absolute right to her whole
personal estate.

It must be remembered that the enforcement Of certain laws,
particularly in regard to child labour, is extremely lax in many States.
It will be noted also that an unscrupulous employer could find loopholes
in some of the statutes. The reader can observe these things for himself
in his particular State.



POPULATION: Male 916,764; female 911,933.

HUSBAND AND WIFE: Wife controls own earnings and has full control of own
property; but she cannot mortgage her real and personal property or
alienate it without husband's consent. Married women may execute will
without concurrence of husband and may bar latter's right of curtesy.
Husband may appoint guardian for children by will; but wife has custody
of them until they are fourteen. If a wife commits a crime in
partnership with her husband she cannot be punished (except for murder
and treason). Husband is not required by law to support the family.

DIVORCE: Absolute divorce is granted for incurable impotence, adultery,
desertion for two years, imprisonment for two years or more, crimes
against nature, habitual drunkenness after marriage; in favour of
husband if wife was pregnant at time of marriage without his knowledge
or agency, in favour of wife for physical violence on part of husband
endangering life or health, or when there is reasonable apprehension of
such violence.

Limited divorce is granted for cruelty in either of the parties or any
other cause which would justify absolute divorce, if the party desires
only a divorce from bed and board.

LABOUR LAWS: Women not allowed to work in mines. Children under 12 not
permitted to work in any factory. All employers of women must provide
seats and must allow women to rest when not actively engaged.

is no suffrage. Women not eligible for any elective office; they may be
notaries public. There are 18 women in the ministry, 12 journalists, 1
dentist, 3 lawyers, 16 doctors, 3 professors, 2 bankers, 5 saloon
keepers, 4 commercial travellers, 11 carpenters, etc.



POPULATION: Male 71,795; female 51,136.

HUSBAND AND WIFE: Husband controls wife's earnings. Wife has control of
property which she had before marriage. Wife may contract debts for
necessaries for herself and children upon credit of husband. She may sue
and be sued and make contracts in her own name as regards her separate
property, but must sue jointly with husband for personal injuries, and
damages recovered are community property and in his control. Father is
legal guardian of minor children; at his death mother becomes guardian
as long as she remains unmarried.

DIVORCE: Absolute divorce for excesses, cruelty, or outrage, adultery,
impotence, conviction for a felony, desertion for one year, neglect of
husband to provide for one year, habitual intemperance; in favour of
husband if wife was pregnant at time of marriage without his knowledge
or agency.

There is no limited divorce; but when the husband wilfully abandons his
wife, she can maintain an action against him for permanent maintenance
and support.

LABOUR LAWS: No woman or minor may work or give any exhibition in a

21 years old or more who are mothers or guardians of a child of school
age are eligible to the office of school trustee and may vote for such
officers. There are 12 women in the ministry, 1 dentist, 2 journalists,
4 lawyers, 4 doctors, 628 saloon keepers, 2 bankers, etc.



POPULATION: Male 675,312; female 636,252.

HUSBAND AND WIFE: Wife controls own earnings. Dower exists, but not
curtesy. Wife may sell or transfer her separate real estate without
husband's consent. Father is legal guardian of children, but cannot
apprentice them or create testamentary guardianship for them without
wife's consent. At husband's death wife may be guardian of persons of
children, but not of their property, unless derived from her.

DIVORCE: Absolute or limited divorce for impotence, wilful desertion for
a year, when husband or wife had a former wife or husband living at the
time of the marriage sought to be set aside, conviction for felony or
other infamous crime, habitual drunkenness for one year, intolerable
indignities, and adultery subsequent to marriage.

LABOUR LAWS: Labour contracts of married women, approved by their
husbands, are legal and binding. No woman may work in a mine.

suffrage. 13 women are ministers, 6 journalists, 9 lawyers, 39 doctors,
3 professors, 3 saloon keepers, 9 commercial travellers, etc.



POPULATION: Male 820,531; female 664,522.

HUSBAND AND WIFE: Wife controls own earnings. Wife may dispose of
separate property without husband's consent. In torts of a personal
nature she must sue jointly with her husband. Husband is guardian of
minor children; wife becomes so at his death. Husband must provide for
family. If husband has no property or is disabled, wife must support him
and the family out of her property or earnings.

DIVORCE: Absolute divorce for adultery, extreme cruelty, wilful
desertion for one year, wilful neglect for one year, habitual
intemperance for one year, conviction for felony.

There are no statutory provisions for limited divorce. But when the wife
has any cause for action as provided in the code, she may, without
applying for a divorce, maintain an action against her husband for
permanent support and maintenance of herself or of herself and children.

LABOUR LAWS: Sex shall be no disqualification for entering any business,
vocation, or profession. Children under 16 may not be let out for
acrobatic performances or any exhibition endangering life or morals. Any
one who sends a minor under the age of 18 to a saloon, gambling house,
or brothel, is guilty of a misdemeanour. One day of rest each week must
be given all employees.

suffrage. May be elected school trustees. May be notaries public. There
are 201 women in the ministry, 52 dentists, 116 journalists, 60 lawyers,
522 doctors, 8 professors, 129 saloon keepers, 9 bankers, 23 commercial
travellers, etc.



POPULATION: Male 295,332; female 244,368.

HUSBAND AND WIFE: Wife controls own earnings. No assignment of wages by
a married man is valid without the consent of his wife. Neither dower
nor curtesy obtains. Husband and wife have same rights in making wills.
Wife can sue and be sued as if unmarried. She is joint guardian of
children with husband and has equal powers. Husband must support family.

DIVORCE: Absolute divorce for impotence, when husband or wife had a wife
or husband living at time of marriage, adultery subsequent to marriage,
wilful desertion for one year, cruelty (including the infliction of
mental suffering as well as physical violence), neglect to provide for
one year, habitual drunkenness for one year, conviction for felony.

There is no limited divorce.

LABOUR LAWS: Eight hours the usual day's work. Children under 12 may not
work in mines; none under 14 may exhibit in saloons, variety theatres,
or any place endangering morals. No female help may be sent to any place
of bad repute. Children under 14 may not be employed in mills or
factories. No woman may work underground in a mine. All employers of
women must provide seats.

suffrage. Women are eligible to all offices; 10 have served in the
Legislature. There are 39 women in the ministry, 23 dentists, 28
journalists, 17 lawyers, 172 doctors, 4 professors, 17 saloon keepers,
12 bankers, 8 commercial travellers, etc.



POPULATION: Male 454,294; female 454,126.

HUSBAND AND WIFE: Wife controls own earnings. No dower or curtesy.
Survivor gets one third of property. Wife controls own property. Wife
and husband joint guardians of children with equal powers. Husband must
support family.

DIVORCE: Absolute divorce for adultery, fraudulent contract, wilful
desertion for three years with total neglect of duty, seven years'
absence when absent party is not heard from during that period, habitual
intemperance, intolerable cruelty, sentence to imprisonment for life,
any infamous crime involving a violation of conjugal duty and punishable
by imprisonment.

There is no limited divorce.

LABOUR LAWS: No child under 12 may give exhibition endangering limbs or
morals. Employers of females may not send them to any place of bad
repute. Eight hours is a day's work. Women employees must have seats to
rest. No woman shall be forced to labour more than ten hours a day.

Women have school suffrage and may be elected school trustees. There are
45 women in the ministry, 6 dentists, 122 doctors, 1 professor, 28
saloon keepers, 4 bankers, 13 commercial travellers, 14 carpenters, etc.



POPULATION: Male 94,158; female 90,577.

HUSBAND AND WIFE: Wife controls own earnings. If there is a child or
lawful issue of a child living, widow has a life interest in one third
of the real estate and one third absolutely of the personal property. If
there is no child nor the descendant of a child living, widow has a life
interest in one half of the real estate and one half absolutely of the
personal estate. If there are neither descendants nor kin of husband,
she gets the entire real estate for her life, and all the personal
estate absolutely. Father is legal guardian of children and he alone may
appoint a guardian at his death. Husband must support family.

DIVORCE: Absolute divorce for adultery, desertion for three years,
habitual drunkenness, impotence, extreme cruelty, conviction for felony,
procurement of marriage by fraud for want of age, wilful neglect to
provide for three years.

Limited divorce may be decreed, in the discretion of the court, for the
last two causes mentioned.

LABOUR LAWS: All female employees must be provided with seats. Sunday
labour forbidden. No minor under 15 may be let out for any gymnastic or
other exhibition endangering body or morals. Separate lunch, wash-rooms,
etc., for all women employees; the rooms must be kept reasonably heated.
Using indecent or profane language towards a female employee is a
misdemeanour. The governor must appoint a _female_ factory inspector who
shall see that these laws are enforced. Children under 14 may not work
in mills and factories; and no child under 16 shall be forced to labour
more than nine hours daily.

in Milford, Townsend, Wyoming, and Newark who pay a property tax may
vote for Town Commissioners. All such women in the State may vote for
school trustees. There are 4 women in the ministry, 3 dentists, 1
journalist, 1 lawyer, 7 doctors, 8 saloon keepers, 1 commercial
traveller, 2 carpenters, etc.

_District of Columbia_


POPULATION: Male 132,004; female 146,714.

HUSBAND AND WIFE: Wife controls own earnings and property, may be sued
and sue, carry on business, etc., as if unmarried. Husband and wife are
equal guardians of children. Husband must furnish reasonable support if
he have property. Both dower and curtesy obtain.

DIVORCE: Absolute divorce for bigamy, insanity at time of marriage,
impotence, adultery habitual drunkenness for three years, cruel
treatment endangering life or health.

Limited divorce for drunkenness, cruelty, and desertion.

In case of absolute divorce, only the innocent party may remarry; but
the divorced parties may marry each other again.

LABOUR LAWS: No child under 14 may be let out for any public exhibition
endangering body or morals. Seats must be provided for women employees.
Employment agencies must not send applicants to places of bad repute.
Children under 14 may not be employed in any factory, hotel, etc.; but
judge of juvenile court may give dispensation to child between 12 and
14. No girl under 16 may be bootblack or sell papers or any other wares

suffrage. Women may be notaries public and members of Board of
Education. 17 women in the ministry, 7 dentists, 38 journalists, 23
lawyers, 56 doctors, 18 saloon keepers, 1 banker, 7 commercial
travellers, 2 carpenters, etc.


AGE OF LEGAL CONSENT: 16 (but 10 practically, as penalty above 10 is

POPULATION: Male 275,246; female 253,296.

HUSBAND AND WIFE: Wife controls own earnings and owns separate estate;
but cannot transfer her real or personal property without husband's
consent. Dower prevails, but not curtesy. Wife may make a will as if
unmarried. Husband is legal guardian of children. Husband must support

DIVORCE: Absolute divorce for impotence, where the parties are within
the degrees prohibited by the law, adultery, bigamy, extreme cruelty,
habitual indulgence in violent and ungovernable temper, habitual
intemperance, desertion for one year, if husband or wife has obtained a
divorce elsewhere and if the applicant has been a citizen of Florida for
two years.

There is no limited divorce. But the wife may claim alimony, without
applying for a divorce, for any of these causes except bigamy.

LABOUR LAWS: Ten hours legal day's work. Employers of women must provide
seats. No child under 14 may be let out for any public exhibition
endangering body or morals. Sunday labour forbidden. No child under 12
may be employed in any factory, or any place where intoxicating liquor
is sold; and no child under 12 may labour more than nine hours a day.

suffrage. Women may be notaries public. 19 women in the ministry, 1
dentist, 9 journalists, 4 lawyers, 21 doctors, 1 banker, 3 commercial
travellers, 6 carpenters, etc.



POPULATION: Male 1,103,201; female 1,113,130.

HUSBAND AND WIFE: Wife controls own earnings and own property. Dower
prevails, but not curtesy. Husband is legal guardian of children and at
his death may appoint a guardian to the exclusion of his wife. Husband
must support family.

DIVORCE: Absolute divorce for intermarriage within the prohibited
degrees of consanguinity and affinity, mental incapacity at time of
marriage, impotence at time of marriage, force, menace, duress, or fraud
in obtaining marriage, pregnancy of wife at time of marriage unknown to
husband, adultery, wilful desertion for three years, conviction for an
offence involving imprisonment for two years or longer.

Absolute or limited divorce for cruelty or habitual intoxication.
Limited divorce for any ground held sufficient in English courts prior
to May 4, 1784.

LABOUR LAWS: No boss or other superior in any factory shall inflict
corporal punishment on minor labourers. Seats must be provided for
female employees. Sunday labour forbidden. No minors may be employed in
barrooms. To let out children for gymnastic exhibition or any indecent
exhibition is a misdemeanour. Children under 12 may not work in
factories. No child under 14 may work between 7 P.M. and 6 A.M.

suffrage. 33 women in the ministry, 2 dentists, 37 journalists, 6
lawyers, 43 doctors, 4 professors, 2 saloon keepers, 4 bankers, 9
commercial travellers, 10 carpenters, etc.



POPULATION: Male 93,367; female 68,405.

HUSBAND AND WIFE: Husband controls wife's earnings. Wife can secure
control of own property only by going into court and showing that her
husband is mismanaging it. Husband is legal guardian of the children.

DIVORCE: Absolute divorce for adultery, extreme cruelty, wilful
desertion for one year, wilful neglect for one year, habitual
intemperance for one year, conviction of felony, permanent insanity.

There is no limited divorce.

LABOUR LAWS: No Sunday labour. Children under 14 may not work in mine,
factory, hotel, or be messenger; no child under 16 shall work more than
nine hours per day; nor be let out for any exhibition or vocation which
endangers health or morals; nor ever be sent to any immoral resort or
serve or handle intoxicating liquors.

suffrage. Women are eligible to all offices. 7 women are in the
ministry, 4 journalists, 2 lawyers, 15 doctors, 1 saloon keeper, 1
commercial traveller, 1 carpenter, etc.



POPULATION: Male 2,472,782; female 2,348,768.

HUSBAND AND WIFE: Wife controls own earnings. Dower prevails. Wife has
full disposal of property, can sue, etc., as if unmarried. Wife and
husband are equal guardians of children. Wife is entitled to support
suited to her condition in life; husband is entitled to same support out
of her individual property. They are jointly liable for family expenses.

DIVORCE: Absolute divorce for impotence, bigamy, adultery, wilful
desertion for two years, habitual drunkenness for two years, attempt to
murder, extreme and repeated cruelty, conviction for felony or other
infamous crime.

No limited divorce; but married women living separate through no fault
of their own have an action in equity for reasonable maintenance, if
they so desire.

LABOUR LAWS: No Sunday labour. No minor shall be allowed to sell
indecent literature, etc., nor be let out as acrobat or mendicant or for
any immoral occupation. Eight hours a legal day's work. No person shall
be debarred from any occupation or profession on account of sex; but
females shall not be required to work on streets or roads or serve on
juries. No child under 14 to be employed in any place where intoxicating
liquors are sold or in factory or bowling alley; and shall not labour
more than eight hours. No child under 16 shall engage in occupations
dangerous to life or morals; and no female under 16 shall engage in any
employment which requires her to stand constantly. Seats must be
provided for all female employees. No woman shall work more than ten
hours a day in stores and factories.

have school suffrage and are eligible to all school offices and can be
notaries public. There are 292 women in the ministry, 117 dentists, 240
journalists, 113 lawyers, 820 doctors, 31 professors, 196 saloon
keepers, 8 bankers, 101 commercial travellers, 24 carpenters, etc.



POPULATION: Males 1,285,404; females 1,231,058.

HUSBAND AND WIFE: Wife controls own earnings. No dower or curtesy. Wife
may sue in her own name for injuries, etc. Neither husband nor wife can
alienate their separate real estate without each other's consent. A wife
can act as executor or administrator of an estate only with her
husband's consent. No married woman can become a surety for any person.
Husband is guardian of children.

DIVORCE: Absolute for adultery, impotency, desertion for two years,
cruel and inhuman treatment, habitual drunkenness, neglect of husband to
provide for two years, conviction of an infamous crime.

Limited divorce for adultery, desertion or neglect for six months,
habitual cruelty or constant strife, gross and wanton neglect of
conjugal duty for six months.

LABOUR LAWS: No child under 12 may work in a mine. Children under 15 may
not be let out for acrobatic or any immoral exhibition or to work in any
place where liquor is sold. Seats must be provided for female employees.
Eight hours a legal day's work. No female under 18 may work more than
ten hours a day in any factory, laundry, renovating works, bakery, or
printing office; no woman shall be employed in any factory between 10
P.M. and 6 A.M. Suitable dressing rooms must be provided and not less
than sixty minutes given for the noonday meal. Sweatshops under strict
supervision of a State inspector. No woman may work in a mine. No Sunday

suffrage. Women may be notaries public. 130 women in the ministry, 34
dentists, 79 journalists, 40 lawyers, 195 doctors, 6 professors, 27
saloon keepers, 2 bankers, 44 commercial travellers, 7 carpenters, etc.

_Indian Territory_


POPULATION: Male 208,952; female 183,108.

HUSBAND AND WIFE: Husband controls wife's earnings. Dower is in force
and curtesy. Woman controls separate estate absolutely in practice; for
though at common law any money or property given her husband for
investment becomes his, by statute it does not. Husband and wife are
equal guardians of children.

DIVORCE: Absolute or limited for impotence, wilful desertion for one
year, bigamy, conviction for felony or other infamous crime, habitual
drunkenness for one year, cruel treatment endangering life, intolerable
indignities, adultery, incurable insanity subsequent to marriage.

LABOUR LAWS: No Sunday labour.

suffrage. 6 women in ministry, 1 dentist, 4 journalists, 13 doctors, 4
professors, 1 banker, etc.



POPULATION: Male 1,156,849; female 1,075,004.

HUSBAND AND WIFE: Wife controls own earnings. Any assignment of wages
must have written consent of both husband and wife. No dower or curtesy;
surviving husband or wife is entitled to one third in fee simple of both
real and personal estate of other at his or her death. Wife controls own
property, can sue, etc., as if single. Husband and wife are equal
guardians of children. Support and education of family is chargeable
equally on husband's and wife's property.

DIVORCE: Absolute for adultery, wilful desertion for two years,
conviction of felony after marriage, habitual drunkenness, inhuman
treatment endangering life, pregnancy of wife at time of marriage by
another man, unless the husband have an illegitimate child living
unknown to wife.

No limited divorce.

Annulment for prohibited degrees, impotence, bigamy, insanity or idiocy
at time of marriage.

LABOUR LAWS: No female may be employed in any place where intoxicating
liquors are sold; Seats must be provided for female employees. Children
under 16 not to assist in operating dangerous machinery. No Sunday
labour. No person under 14 may work in a factory, mine, laundry,
slaughter-house, store where more than eight persons are employed; no
child under 16 shall be employed in any vocation endangering life or
morals, nor shall work more than ten hours a day.

have bond suffrage and can vote on increase of taxes. They may serve as
school trustees and superintendents. 117 women in ministry, 52 dentists,
74 journalists, 53 lawyers, 260 doctors, 27 professors, 8 saloon
keepers, 11 bankers, 34 commercial travellers, 7 carpenters, etc.



POPULATION: Male 768,716; female 701,779.

HUSBAND AND WIFE: Wife controls own earnings. Husband and wife are equal
guardians of children. Wife controls her separate property, can sue,
etc., as if unmarried. Neither husband nor wife can convey or encumber
real estate without consent of other; nor dispose by will of more than
one half of the separate property without other's consent. If there are
no children, the surviving husband or wife takes all the property, real
and personal; if there are children, one half. Husband must support

DIVORCE: Absolute for bigamy, desertion for one year, adultery,
impotency, when wife at time of marriage was pregnant by another than
her husband, extreme cruelty, fraudulent contract, habitual
drunkenness, gross neglect of duty, conviction and imprisonment for
felony subsequent to marriage.

No limited divorce; but wife may obtain alimony without divorce for any
causes above mentioned.

LABOUR LAWS: People employing children under 14 in acrobatic or
mendicant occupations are guilty of a misdemeanour. No Sunday labour.
Seats must be provided for female employees. No child under 14 may work
in coal mine, nor in any factory or packing house. No child under 16 may
work at any occupation endangering body or morals.

have municipal, school, and bond suffrage. 63 women in ministry, 21
dentists, 39 journalists, 43 lawyers, 190 doctors, 21 professors, 9
saloon keepers, 7 bankers, 20 commercial travellers, 19 carpenters, etc.



POPULATION: Male 1,090,227; female 1,056,947.

HUSBAND AND WIFE: Husband controls wife's earnings. Curtesy and dower
are equalised. After the death of either husband or wife, the survivor
is given a life interest in one third of the realty of the deceased and
an absolute estate in one half of the personalty. Wife controls her
personal property, but cannot dispose of real estate without husband's
consent; the husband can convey real estate without his wife's
signature, but it is subject to her dower. Husband is legal guardian of
children. He must furnish support according to his condition, but if he
has only his wages there is no law to punish him for non-support.

DIVORCE: Absolute to both husband and wife for impotence or inability to
copulate and for living apart for five consecutive years without any
cohabitation. Also to the party not in fault for desertion for one year,
adultery, condemnation for felony, concealment of any loathsome disease
at time of marriage or contracting it afterwards, force, duress, or
fraud in obtaining marriage, uniting with any creed or religious society
requiring a renunciation of the marriage covenant or forbidding husband
and wife to cohabit. To the wife, when not in like fault, for confirmed
drunkenness of husband leading to neglect to provide, habitual behaviour
by husband for six months indicating aversion to wife and causing her
unhappiness, physical injury or attempt at it. To the husband for wife's
pregnancy at time of marriage unknown to him, adultery of wife, or such
conduct as proves her to be unchaste without proof of adultery, and
habitual drunkenness of wife.

Limited divorce for any of these causes or any other cause as the court
may deem sufficient.

LABOUR LAWS: Forbidden to let or employ any children under 16 in any
acrobatic or mendicant or immoral occupations. No Sunday labour. No
child under 14 shall work in factory, mill, or mine unless said child
shall have no other means of support. No child under 16 shall work more
than ten hours per day. Seats and suitable dressing-rooms must be
provided for female employees.

the country districts any widow having a child of school age and any
widow or spinster having a ward of school age may vote for school
trustees and school taxes. In Louisville, five third-class, and twenty
or more fourth-class cities no woman has any vote. Women may be notaries
public. 39 women in ministry, 4 dentists, 21 journalists, 16 lawyers, 98
doctors, 5 professors, 35 saloon keepers, 3 bankers, 20 commercial
travellers, 9 carpenters, etc.



POPULATION: Male 694,733; female 686,892.

HUSBAND AND WIFE: Husband controls wife's earnings. Wife cannot appear
in court without her husband's consent, and needs this consent in all
matters connected with her separate estate. She may make her will
without the authority of her husband. No woman can be a witness to a
testament. No married woman can be executor without husband's consent.
The dowry is given to the husband, for him to enjoy as long as the
marriage shall last. Husband is legal guardian of children.

DIVORCE: Absolute or limited for adultery, condemnation to an infamous
punishment, habitual and intolerable intemperance, insupportable excess
or outrages, public defamation on the part of one of the married persons
toward the other, desertion, attempted murder, proof of guilt of husband
or wife who has fled from justice when charged with an infamous offence.

LABOUR LAWS: No female to be employed in any place where liquor is sold.
No Sunday labour. No child under 15 to engage in any acrobatic or
theatrical public exhibition. Seats must be provided for female
employees, who are also to have at least thirty minutes for lunch. No
girl under 14 may be employed in any mill or factory; and no woman shall
be worked more than ten hours a day. Seats, suitable dressing-rooms, and
stairs must be provided. An inspector, male or female, is appointed.

Tax-paying women can vote on all questions of taxation. 14 women in
ministry, 4 dentists, 21 journalists, 8 lawyers, 25 doctors, 16
professors, 31 saloon keepers, 2 bankers, 18 commercial travellers, 9
carpenters, etc.



POPULATION: Male 350,995; female 343,471.

HUSBAND AND WIFE: Wife controls own earnings and has full control of
separate property. Wife and husband are equal guardians of children. If
there is no will, the interest of the husband or wife in the real estate
of the other is the same--one third absolutely, if there is issue
living, one half if there is no issue, the whole if there is neither
issue nor kindred.

DIVORCE: Absolute for adultery, impotence, extreme cruelty, desertion
for three years, gross and confirmed habits of Intoxication whether from
liquors or drugs, cruel and abusive treatment, wilful neglect to

No limited divorce.

LABOUR LAWS: Ten hours a day the legal limit for female employees. No
child under 14 may work in a factory. No Sunday labour. No child under
16 may be employed in any acrobatic, mendicant, immoral, or dangerous

suffrage. Women can be justices of the peace, town clerks, and registers
of probate. They cannot be notaries public. 39 women in ministry, 4
dentists, 33 journalists, 4 lawyers, 67 doctors, 1 professor, 3 bankers,
5 carpenters, etc.



POPULATION: Male 589,275; female 598,769.

HUSBAND AND WIFE: Wife controls own earnings. No assignment of wages to
be made without consent of both husband and wife. Wife controls separate
property absolutely. Inheritance of property is the same for widow and
widower. Husband is legal guardian of children and must support family.

DIVORCE: Absolute for impotence, any cause which by the laws of the
State renders a marriage null and void _ab initio_, adultery, desertion
for three years, illicit sexual intercourse _of the woman before_
marriage unknown to husband (_but the wife cannot obtain a divorce from
her husband if he has been guilty of such an offence_). Limited divorce
for cruelty, excessively vicious conduct, or desertion. In all cases
where an absolute divorce is granted for adultery or abandonment, the
court may decree that the guilty party shall not contract marriage with
any other person during the lifetime of the other party. Annulment is
given for bigamy or marriage within the prohibited degrees of
consanguinity and affinity.

LABOUR LAWS: Seats must be provided for female employees. No Sunday
labour. No child under 14 may be employed in any mendicant or acrobatic
occupation. No child under 8 may be employed in peddling. Women may not
be waitresses in any place where liquor is sold. Children under 12 may
not be employed in any business except in the counties, from June 1 to
Oct. 15, Ten hours a legal day's work.

suffrage. Women serve as notaries public. 35 women in ministry, 6
dentists, 23 journalists, 6 lawyers, 87 doctors, 4 professors, 2
bankers, 13 commercial travellers, 10 carpenters, etc.



POPULATION: Male 1,367,474; female 1,437,872.

HUSBAND AND WIFE: Wife controls own earnings and has control of her
separate property subject only to the husband's interests. She can be
executor, make contracts, etc., as if unmarried. The husband is legal
guardian of minor children; he may dispose of them and may appoint a
guardian at his death. Husband must support family. In distributing the
estate, no distinction is made between real and personal property. The
surviving husband or wife takes one third, if deceased leaves children
or their descendants; 5000 dollars and one half of the remaining estate
if the deceased leaves no issue; and the whole, if deceased leaves no
kin. This is taken absolutely and not for life. Curtesy and dower exist;
but the old-time curtesy is cut down to a life-interest in one third,
the same as dower; and in order to be entitled to dower or curtesy, the
surviving husband or wife must elect to take it in preference to the
above provisions.

DIVORCE: Absolute for adultery, impotency, utter desertion for three
years, gross and confirmed habits of intoxication, cruel and abusive
treatment, wilful neglect to provide, sentence to imprisonment for five

No limited divorce.

LABOUR LAWS: No Sunday labour. Ten hours a legal day's work. No woman to
labour between 10 P.M. and 6 A.M. in any manufacturing establishment,
nor between 6 P.M. and 6 A.M. in any textile works. No child under 14
and no illiterate under 16 and over 14 may be employed in any factory or
mercantile establishment. No child under 14 may be employed between 7
P.M. and 6 A.M., or during the time when the public schools are in
session. Seats must be provided for females. No woman or young person
shall be required to work more than six hours without thirty minutes for
lunch. No child under 15 may engage in any gymnastic or theatrical

have school suffrage. They may be justices of the peace. 188 women in
ministry, 38 dentists, 180 journalists, 47 lawyers, 729 doctors, 38
professors, 8 saloon keepers, 3 bankers, 73 commercial travellers, 31
carpenters, etc.



POPULATION: Male 1,248,905; female 1,172,077.

HUSBAND AND WIFE: Husband controls wife's earnings. Dower prevails, but
not curtesy. When the wife has separate real estate, she controls it as
if single. The husband cannot give full title to his real estate unless
the wife joins so as to cut off her dower. Father is guardian of the
children. Husband must support.

DIVORCE: Absolute for adultery, impotence, imprisonment for three years,
desertion for two years, habitual drunkenness, if husband or wife has
obtained a divorce in another State.

Limited or absolute divorce at the discretion of the court for extreme
cruelty, desertion for two years, neglect to provide.

LABOUR LAWS: No female may be employed in any place where liquor is
sold. Seats must be provided for female employees. Ten hours a legal
day's work. No Sunday labour. No child under 16 may take part in any
acrobatic or mendicant or dangerous or immoral occupation, nor shall any
minor be given obscene literature to sell. No female under 21 may be
employed in any occupation endangering life, health, or morals. At least
forty-five minutes must be allowed for lunch.

women who pay taxes may vote upon questions of local taxation and the
granting of franchises. Parents and guardians have also school suffrage.
Women serve as notaries public. 105 women in ministry, 17 dentists, 81
journalists, 27 lawyers, 270 doctors, 26 professors, 23 saloon keepers,
13 bankers, 53 commercial travellers, 32 carpenters, etc.



POPULATION: Male 932,490; female 818,904.

HUSBAND AND WIFE: Wife controls own earnings, but cannot convey or
encumber her separate real estate without husband's consent. No dower or
curtesy. If either husband or wife die intestate, the survivor, if there
is issue living, is entitled to the homestead for life and one third of
the rest of the estate in fee simple. If there are no descendants, the
entire estate goes absolutely to the survivor. Husband is guardian of
children and must support family.

DIVORCE: Absolute for adultery, impotency, cruel and inhuman treatment,
sentence to imprisonment after marriage, wilful desertion for one year,
habitual drunkenness for one year.

Limited divorce--to wife only--for cruel and inhuman treatment, on part
of husband, or such conduct as may make it unsafe and improper for her
to cohabit with him, desertion and neglect to provide.

LABOUR LAWS: Children between 8 and 18 must be sent to school during
whole period schools are in session, except in cases of unusual poverty.
Ten hours a legal day's work. Seats must be provided for female
employees. No Sunday labour. No child under 18 may engage in any
occupation between 6 P.M. and 7 A.M.; nor in any mendicant, acrobatic,
immoral, or dangerous business. No child under 14 may work in factory or
mine. A _female_ factory inspector must be appointed.

have school suffrage and may vote for library trustees. 80 women in
ministry, 18 dentists, 75 journalists, 21 lawyers, 199 doctors, 16
professors, 17 saloon keepers, 10 bankers, 46 commercial travellers, 8
carpenters, etc.



POPULATION: Male 781,451; female 769,819.

HUSBAND AND WIFE: Husband controls wife's earnings. He manages her
separate property, but must give an account of it annually. No dower or
curtesy. If husband or wife dies intestate, the entire estate goes to
the survivor; if there is issue, surviving husband or wife has a child's
share of the estate. Each has equal rights in making a will. Father is
legal guardian of children, but cannot deprive mother of custody of
their persons. Husband must support.

DIVORCE: Absolute for marriage within prohibited degrees, natural
impotence, adultery, sentence to the penitentiary, wilful desertion for
two years, habitual drunkenness or excessive use of drugs, habitually
cruel treatment, pregnancy of wife at time of marriage unknown to
husband, bigamy, insanity, or idiocy when party applying did not know of

No limited divorce. The court may decree that the guilty party must not
marry again.

LABOUR LAWS: No Sunday labour. There are no other laws.

woman as a free-holder or lease-holder may vote at a county election to
decide as to the adoption or non-adoption of a law permitting stock to
run at large. If a widow and the head of a family, she may vote on
leasing certain portions of land in the township which are set apart for
school purposes. Widows in country districts may also vote for school
trustees. Women cannot be notaries public. 13 women in ministry, 2
dentists, 19 journalists, 4 lawyers, 16 doctors, 3 professors, 1 saloon
keeper, 3 bankers, 9 commercial travellers, 13 carpenters, etc.



POPULATION: Male 1,595,710; female 1,510,955.

HUSBAND AND WIFE: Wife controls own earnings. Her separate property is
liable for debts contracted by the husband for necessaries for the
family. Wife can sue and be sued, make contracts, etc., in her own name.
She may hold real property under three different tenures: an equitable
separate estate created by certain technical words in the conveyance,
and this she can dispose of without husband's consent; a legal separate
estate, which she cannot convey without his joinder; and a common law
estate in fee, of which the husband is entitled to the rents and
profits. Dower and curtesy prevail. Husband is guardian of children and
must support.

DIVORCE: Absolute for impotence, bigamy, adultery, desertion for one
year, conviction for felony or infamous crime, habitual drunkenness for
one year, cruel treatment endangering life or intolerable indignities,
vagrancy of husband, pregnancy of wife at time of marriage unknown to

No limited divorce.

LABOUR LAWS: Seats must be provided for female employees. No woman may
be employed in any place where liquor is served except wife, daughter,
mother, or sister of owner. No child under 14 to engage in any
acrobatic, mendicant, dangerous, or immoral occupation. No Sunday
labour. No female may work underground in a mine. Children between 8 and
14 must go to school. No child under 14 may work in any theatre, concert
hall, factory; but this applies only to cities with 10,000 or more
inhabitants, No female may labour more than 54 hours a week.

suffrage. Women may be notaries public. 138 women in ministry, 32
dentists, 87 journalists, 61 lawyers, 303 doctors, 17 professors, 44
saloon keepers, 30 bankers, 37 commercial travellers, 15 carpenters,



POPULATION: Male 149,842; female 93,487.

HUSBAND AND WIFE: Wife controls own earnings. There is dower, but not
curtesy. Wife controls separate property. Husband is guardian of
children and must furnish support; but wife must help, if necessary. Her
personal property is subject to debts incurred for family expenses.

DIVORCE: Absolute for adultery, extreme cruelty, wilful desertion,
wilful neglect, habitual intemperance, conviction of felony.

No limited divorce; but wife may have an action for permanent
maintenance, at discretion of court, even though absolute divorce is

LABOUR LAWS: Children under 16 may not be employed in mines. Children
between 8 and 14 must go to school. No child under 16 may take part in
any acrobatic, mendicant, or wandering occupation. No Sunday labour. No
child under 16 may work in mill, factory, railroad, in any place where
machinery is operated, or in any messenger company.

may vote for school trustees. Those owning property may vote on all
questions submitted to tax-payers. They cannot be notaries public. 22
women in ministry, 3 dentists, 6 journalists, 3 lawyers, 16 doctors, 7
saloon keepers, 2 commercial travellers, 2 carpenters, etc.



POPULATION: Male 564,592; female 501,708.

HUSBAND AND WIFE: Wife controls own earnings and separate property. Both
dower and curtesy prevail; but wife can mortgage or sell her real estate
without husband's consent and without regard for his right of curtesy.
He can do the same with his separate property, but subject to her dower.
Husband and wife are equal guardians of the children. Husband must
provide; but wife's separate property can be levied on for necessaries
furnished the family, if husband has no property. Wife is not "next of
kin" and cannot sue, for example, for damages to a minor child, even
though she is divorced and has custody of children.

DIVORCE: Absolute for adultery, impotence, imprisonment for three
years, desertion for two years, habitual drunkenness, imprisonment for
life, extreme cruelty, neglect to provide.

Limited divorce also for last three causes. Annulment for bigamy, when
one party is white and other has one fourth or more negro blood,
insanity or idiocy at time of marriage, consanguinity, obtaining
marriage by fraud or force, when there has been no subsequent

LABOUR LAWS: Children must go to school between 7 and 15. Ten hours a
legal day's labour. Sunday labour forbidden. Females to be employed
between 6 A.M. and 10 P.M. Seats must be provided. No child under 14 may
be employed in any place where liquor is sold, factory, hotel, laundry,
messenger work. No child under 14 may be employed at all during school

who are mothers of children of school age or who are assessed on real or
personal property have school suffrage; but they cannot vote for State
or county superintendents or county supervisors. Women act as notaries
public. 95 women in ministry, 16 dentists, 35 journalists, 23 lawyers,
134 doctors, 11 professors, 10 saloon keepers, 15 commercial travellers,
12 carpenters, etc.



POPULATION: Male 25,603; female 16,732.

HUSBAND AND WIFE: Wife controls own earnings. She may control her
separate property, if a list of it is filed with the county recorder,
but unless it is kept constantly inventoried and recorded, it becomes
community property. The community property, both real and personal, is
under absolute control of husband and at wife's death it all belongs to
him. On death of the husband, wife is entitled to half of it. A wife's
earnings are hers if her husband has allowed her to appropriate them to
her own use, when they are regarded as a gift from him to her. Husband
is legal guardian of children. Husband must provide; but there is no
penalty if he does not.

DIVORCE: Absolute for impotence, adultery since marriage remaining
unforgiven, wilful desertion for one year, conviction for felony or
infamous crime, habitual drunkenness which incapacitates party from
contributing his or her share to support of family, extreme cruelty,
wilful neglect to provide for one year.

No limited divorce.

LABOUR LAWS: There are none dealing with women and children.

suffrage. Women cannot serve as notaries public. 2 women in ministry, 4
dentists, 1 journalist, 1 lawyer, 6 doctors, 5 saloon keepers.

_New Hampshire_


POPULATION: Male 205,379; female 206,209.

HUSBAND AND WIFE: Wife controls own earnings. Dower and curtesy prevail.
Wife can sue and be sued and make contracts without husband's consent.
Husband is legal guardian of children, and must provide.

DIVORCE: Absolute for impotence, adultery, extreme cruelty, imprisonment
for one year, treatment seriously injuring health or endangering reason,
absence for three years without being heard from, habitual drunkenness
for three years, joining any religious sect which believes relation of
husband and wife unlawful, desertion for three years with neglect to

No limited divorce.

LABOUR LAWS: No child under 12 may be employed in any factory, nor any
child under 14 while schools are in session. Nine hours and forty
minutes the legal limit for female labour per day. No child under 14
shall engage in any acrobatic exhibition or in the selling of obscene
literature. No Sunday labour. Seats must be provided for female
employees. No female may sell or serve liquor.

have school suffrage. They may be notaries public. 25 women in ministry,
3 dentists, 12 journalists, 2 lawyers, 61 doctors, 3 professors, 9
saloon keepers 6 commercial travellers, 5 carpenters, etc.

_New Jersey_


POPULATION: Male 941,760; female 941,909.

HUSBAND AND WIFE: Wife controls own earnings. Dower and curtesy prevail.
She has full disposal of her personal property by will; but must get
husband's consent to convey or encumber her separate estate. Husband is
guardian of children. Husband must furnish support; but wife must
contribute, if he is unable.

DIVORCE: Absolute for bigamy, marriage within prohibited degrees,
adultery, wilful desertion for two years, impotence.

Limited divorce for extreme cruelty.

In case of desertion and neglect to provide, wife has an action for

LABOUR LAWS: Seats must be provided for female employees. Hours for
labour must be from 7 A.M. to 12 M. and from 1 P.M. to 6 P.M., except in
fruit canning and glass factories. Sunday labour forbidden. No child
under 18 may engage in any acrobatic, immoral, or mendicant occupation.
No child under 15 may engage in any vocation unless he or she shall have
attended school within twelve months immediately preceding. No child
under 14 may work in a factory. No female employee shall be sent to any
place of bad repute.

Women in villages and country districts have school suffrage. They may
be notaries public. 87 women in ministry, 19 dentists, 45 journalists,
23 lawyers, 176 doctors, 4 professors, 208 saloon keepers, 4 bankers, 11
commercial travellers, 12 carpenters, etc.

_New Mexico_


POPULATION: Male 104,228; female 91,082.

HUSBAND AND WIFE: Wife controls own earnings. Curtesy prevails. Neither
husband nor wife can convey real property without consent of other.
Husband is legal guardian of children, but is not required by law to
support the family.

DIVORCE: Absolute for adultery, cruel treatment, desertion, impotency,
neglect to provide, habitual drunkenness, conviction for felony and
imprisonment subsequent to marriage, pregnancy of wife at time of
marriage unknown to husband.

No limited divorce. But when husband and wife have permanently
separated, wife has an action for support.

LABOUR LAWS: No Sunday labour. There are no other laws relating to women
and children.

suffrage. Women may be notaries public. 10 women in ministry, 2
dentists, 5 doctors, 3 professors, 2 saloon keepers, 1 commercial
traveller, 3 carpenters, etc.

_New York_

AGE OF LEGAL CONSENT: 18. (Trials may be held privately, and it is
almost impossible to secure a conviction.)

POPULATION: Male 3,614,780; female 3,654,114.

HUSBAND AND WIFE: Wife controls own earnings. Dower and curtesy prevail.
Wife holds separate property free from control of husband. Both husband
and wife can make wills without knowledge or consent of other. Wife can
mortgage or convey her whole estate without husband's consent; he can do
this with his personal property; but not with his real estate. Husband
and wife are equal guardians of the children. Husband must provide.

DIVORCE: Absolute for adultery only.

Limited for cruelty, conduct rendering cohabitation unsafe or improper,
desertion, neglect to provide.

Court refuses to allow party guilty of adultery to marry again, but may
modify this after five years if conduct of defendant has been uniformly
good. Adultery is now a crime in New York.

LABOUR LAWS: No child under 16 may take part in any acrobatic,
mendicant, theatrical, wandering, dangerous, or immoral occupation.
Children must attend school between 8 and 16. No child under 14 may be
employed in any occupation during school term. Eight hours a day's work.
Seats must be provided for female employees. No child under 14 may work
in a factory. Female labour is confined between 6 A.M. and 9 P.M., and
must not exceed 10 hours. No girl under 16 shall sell papers or
periodicals in any public place. Female employment agencies may not send
applicant to any place of bad repute.

Tax-paying women in towns and villages may vote on questions of local
taxation. Parents and widows with children have school suffrage in towns
and villages. Women may be notaries public. 511 women in ministry, 108
dentists, 365 journalists, 124 lawyers, 103 commercial travellers, 925
doctors, 49 professors, 348 saloon keepers, 81 bankers, 84 carpenters,

_North Carolina_


POPULATION: Male 938,677; female 955,133.

HUSBAND AND WIFE: Wife controls own earnings. Dower and curtesy prevail.
Wife controls separate property. Wife is not bound by a contract unless
husband joins in writing. In actions against her he must be served with
the suit. Wife cannot be sole trader without husband's written consent.
Husband is legal guardian of children, and must provide.

DIVORCE: Absolute for adultery, impotence, pregnancy of wife at time of
marriage unknown to husband.

Limited for desertion, turning partner maliciously out of doors, cruel
treatment endangering life, intolerable indignities, habitual

Wife has an action for separate maintenance if husband neglects to
provide or is a drunkard or spendthrift.

LABOUR LAWS: No Sunday labour. No child under 12 may be employed in
factory, except oyster canning concerns which pay for opening oysters by
the bushel. No person under 18 shall be required to labour more than 66
hours per week. No child under 12 shall work in a mine. No boy or girl
under 14 shall work in a factory between 8 P.M. and 5 A.M.

suffrage. Women cannot be notaries public. 25 women in ministry, 6
journalists, 22 doctors, 2 professors, 2 saloon keepers, 3 bankers, 4
commercial travellers, 6 carpenters, etc.

_North Dakota_


POPULATION: Male 177,493; female 141,653.

HUSBAND AND WIFE: Wife controls own earnings and separate property
absolutely. Dower and curtesy do not prevail; if husband or wife dies
intestate, survivor takes one half of the estate, if there is only one
child living or the lawful issue of one child; if there are more,
survivor gets one third. If husband is unable to support family, wife
must maintain him and the children. Husband is guardian of children.

DIVORCE: Absolute for adultery, extreme cruelty, wilful desertion for
one year, wilful neglect for one year, habitual intemperance for one
year, conviction of felony.

No limited divorce.

LABOUR LAWS: Children under 12 may not work in mines, factories, or
workshops. Children must go to school between 8 and 14, unless they have
already been taught adequately and poverty compels them to work. No
Sunday labour. No woman under 18 shall labour more then ten hours per

have school suffrage and are eligible to all school offices. They may be
notaries public. 15 women in ministry, 5 dentists, 2 journalists, 6
lawyers, 15 doctors, 1 professor, 1 commercial traveller, 4 carpenters,



POPULATION: Male 2,102,655; female 2,054,890.

HUSBAND AND WIFE: Husband controls wife's earnings, but wife controls
separate property. Either husband or wife on the death of the other is
entitled to one third of the real estate for life. Husband is legal
guardian of children, and must provide; but if he is unable, wife must

DIVORCE: Absolute for bigamy, desertion for three years, adultery,
impotence, extreme cruelty, fraudulent contract, any gross neglect of
duty, habitual drunkenness for three years, imprisonment in
penitentiary, procurement of divorce in another State. No limited
divorce; but wife has an action for alimony without divorce for
adultery, any gross neglect of duty, desertion, separation on account of
ill treatment by husband, habitual drunkenness, sentence and
imprisonment in penitentiary.

LABOUR LAWS: No child under 14 may work in a mine. Children must go to
school between 8 and 14. Seats and suitable toilet rooms must be
provided for female employees. No child under 14 may be employed in any
establishment or take part in any acrobatic, mendicant, dangerous, or
immoral vocation. Hours for girls under 18 confined between 6 A.M. and 7
P.M., nor may they work more than ten hours per day. No Sunday labour.
No labour agency shall send any female to an immoral resort.

may vote for members of boards of education, but not for State
commissioner nor on bonds and appropriations. They cannot be notaries.
206 women in ministry, 40 dentists, 151 journalists, 66 lawyers, 451
doctors, 26 professors, 337 saloon keepers, 15 bankers, 62 commercial
travellers, 31 carpenters, etc.



POPULATION: Male 214,359; female 182,972.

HUSBAND AND WIFE: Wife controls own earnings and separate property
absolutely. If husband or wife dies intestate, leaving one child or
lawful issue of child, survivor receives one third of the estate;
otherwise one half. If there are no kin, survivor takes all. Husband is
guardian of children, and is expected to provide; but law assigns no
penalty if he does not.

DIVORCE: Absolute for bigamy, desertion for one year, impotence,
pregnancy of wife at time of marriage by other than husband, extreme
cruelty, fraudulent contract, habitual drunkenness, gross neglect of
duty, conviction and imprisonment for felony after marriage.

Wife may have an action for separate maintenance for any of these causes
without applying for divorce.

LABOUR LAWS: No children under 15 may be employed in any occupation
injurious to body or morals. No Sunday labour. Ten hours per day legal
labour for children under 14.

Women may vote for school trustees. They may be notaries public. 29
women in ministry, 1 dentist, 5 journalists, 5 lawyers, 26 doctors, 1
professor, 4 commercial travellers, 3 carpenters, etc.



POPULATION: Male 232,985; female 183,972.

HUSBAND AND WIFE: Wife controls own earnings. By registering as a sole
trader, she can carry on business in her own name. Civil disabilities
are same for husband and wife except as to voting and holding office. If
husband or wife dies intestate, and there are no descendants living,
survivor takes whole estate. If there is issue living, the widow
receives one half of husband's real estate and one half of his personal
property. The widower takes a life interest in all the wife's real
estate, whether there are children or not and all her personal property
absolutely if there are no descendants living; otherwise one half.
Husband and wife are equal guardians of children. Husband must provide.

DIVORCE: Absolute for impotency, adultery, conviction for felony,
habitual drunkenness for one year, wilful desertion for one year, cruel
treatment or indignities making life burdensome.

No limited divorce. Annulment if either party is one fourth negro or
Mongolian blood.

LABOUR LAWS: No Sunday labour. No child under 14 shall work in factory,
mill, mine, telegraph, telephone, or public messenger service; and no
child under 14 shall be employed at all during school session.
Attendance at school compulsory between 8 and 14. Hours of work for
children under 16 to be confined between 7 A.M. and 6 P.M. Seats must be
provided for female employees. Ten hours a day the legal limit for
female labour.

having property in school districts have school suffrage and may be
elected school trustees. They may be notaries. 40 women in ministry, 15
dentists, 17 journalists, 8 lawyers, 82 doctors, 7 professors, 5 saloon
keepers, 10 bankers, 18 commercial travellers, 7 carpenters, etc.



POPULATION: Male 3,204,541; female 3,097,574.

HUSBAND AND WIFE: Wife controls own earnings. Dower and curtesy prevail.
Wife cannot mortgage separate estate without husband's consent; cannot
sue or be sued or contract without his consent; and in order to carry on
business in her own name must secure special permission from the court.
Husband is legal guardian of children, and must provide.

DIVORCE: Absolute for impotence, bigamy, adultery, desertion for two
years, cruelty or intolerable indignities, marriage within prohibited
degrees of consanguinity or affinity, fraud, conviction for felony for
more than two years, lunacy for ten years.

Limited divorce for desertion, turning wife out of doors, cruelty,

LABOUR LAWS: Seats must be provided for female employees. Employment of
females in mines forbidden. Children under 18 may not engage in any
mendicant occupations; those under 15 may not exhibit in any place where
liquor is sold nor take part in any acrobatic or immoral vocation.
Sunday labour forbidden. No female may work in bakery or macaroni or
other establishment more than twelve hours per day. Children must go to
school between 8 and 16. No child under 16 may work in any anthracite
coal mine. No child under 14 shall be employed in any establishment. One
hour must be allowed for lunch. No employment bureau shall send any
female to an immoral resort.

suffrage. 290 women in ministry, 73 dentists, 125 journalists, 73
lawyers, 601 doctors, 38 professors, 183 saloon keepers, 17 bankers, 44
commercial travellers, 40 carpenters, etc.

_Rhode Island_


POPULATION: Male 210,516; female 218,040.

HUSBAND AND WIFE: Wife controls own earnings and separate estate,
subject to husband's right to curtesy. Curtesy and dower both prevail.
Husband is legal guardian of children and must provide.

DIVORCE: Absolute or limited for marriages originally void by law,
conviction for crime involving loss of civil status, when either party
may be presumed to be naturally dead from absence, etc., impotence,
adultery, desertion for any time at discretion of court, continued
drunkenness, neglect to provide, any gross misbehaviour.

LABOUR LAWS: No child under 13 may be employed except during vacation.
No child under 15 may be employed unless he or she has school
certificate. No child under 14 to work in factory. Hours of labour for
children under 16 confined between 6 A.M. and 8 P.M. Seats must be
provided for all female employees. No child under 16 shall be employed
in any acrobatic, mendicant, dangerous, or immoral occupation. Hours for
female labour confined to ten. Sunday labour forbidden.

suffrage. 24 women in ministry, 5 dentists, 7 journalists, 3 lawyers, 56
doctors, 2 saloon keepers, 5 commercial travellers, 6 carpenters, etc.

_South Carolina_


POPULATION: Male 664,895; female 675,421.

HUSBAND AND WIFE: Wife controls own earnings and separate estate
absolutely. Dower prevails, but not curtesy. Husband is legal guardian
of children, and is required to provide, but law as it stands offers
many loopholes.

DIVORCE: There are no divorce laws in South Carolina.

LABOUR LAWS: Seats must be provided for female employees. Sunday labour
forbidden. No child under 12 to work in factory, mill, or textile
establishment, except in cases of extreme poverty duly attested; all
such labour to be confined between 6 A.M. and 8 P.M.

suffrage. Women cannot be notaries. 17 women in ministry, 1 dentist, 6
journalists, 3 lawyers, 17 doctors, 13 professors, 3 saloon keepers, 2
commercial travellers, 13 carpenters, etc.

_South Dakota_


POPULATION: Male 216,164; female 185,406.

HUSBAND AND WIFE: Wife controls own earnings and controls separate
estate. Joint real estate can be conveyed only by signature of both
husband and wife, but husband can dispose of joint personal property
without wife's consent. In order to control her separate property, wife
must keep it recorded in the office of the county register. No dower
and no curtesy. Survivor gets one half of estate, if there is one child
or issue of child; otherwise one third; unless there are neither
children nor kin, when survivor takes all. On the death of an unmarried
child, father inherits all its property. If he is dead and there are no
other children, mother succeeds; but if there are brothers and sisters,
she inherits a child's share. Husband is guardian and must support; but
if he is infirm, wife must do so.

DIVORCE: Absolute for adultery, extreme cruelty, wilful desertion or
neglect or habitual intemperance for one year, conviction of felony.

No limited divorce.

Party guilty of adultery cannot marry any other, except the innocent
party, until death of latter.

LABOUR LAWS: Sunday labour forbidden. No woman under 18 may labour more
than ten hours a day. No child under 15 may work in mine, hotel,
laundry, factory, elevator, bowling alley, or any place where liquor is
sold. No child under 15 shall be employed at all while schools are in

can vote for school trustees. They may be notaries. 29 women in
ministry, 3 dentists, 4 journalists, 12 lawyers, 24 doctors, 7
professors, 3 saloon keepers, 3 commercial travellers, etc.



POPULATION: Male 1,021,224; female 999,392.

HUSBAND AND WIFE: Husband controls wife's earnings, and wife can do
nothing with her separate estate without his consent. Dower and curtesy
prevail. Husband has right to all rents and profits of wife's estate. No
law requires husband to provide. Husband is guardian of children.

DIVORCE: Absolute for impotence, bigamy, adultery, desertion for two
years, conviction for felony, attempted murder, pregnancy of woman at
time of marriage without knowledge of husband, habitual drunkenness.

Limited for wife only for cruel treatment by husband or intolerable
indignities, and desertion or refusal to provide.

Party guilty of adultery cannot marry person with whom adultery has been
committed during life of former partner.

LABOUR LAWS: No Sunday labour. No child under 14 may be employed in
factory, workshop, or mine. Seats must be provided for female employees.
Hours for labour of women confined to 60 per week.

suffrage. 30 women in ministry, 1 dentist, 19 journalists, 14 lawyers,
48 doctors, 9 professors, 6 saloon keepers, 4 bankers, 16 commercial
travellers, 6 carpenters, etc.



POPULATION: Male 1,578,900; female 1,469,810.

HUSBAND AND WIFE: Husband controls wife's earnings and wife can do
nothing with her separate property without his consent. No dower or
curtesy. Husband and wife succeed equally to each other's estate.
Husband is guardian of children and may be required to provide out of
his wife's estate.

DIVORCE: Absolute for excesses or outrages; in favour of husband when
wife is taken in adultery or has deserted him for three years; in favour
of wife, if husband has deserted her for three years or has abandoned
her and lives in adultery with another woman. In favour of either
husband or wife on conviction for felony.

No limited divorce.

LABOUR LAWS: No Sunday labour. No child under 12 may be employed in any
establishment using machinery. No females shall be employed in any place
where liquor is sold except immediate members of owner's family.

suffrage. Women can be notaries. 50 women in ministry, 12 dentists, 51
journalists, 17 lawyers, 100 doctors, 3 professors, 26 saloon keepers,
18 bankers, 29 commercial travellers, 12 carpenters, etc.



POPULATION: Male 141,687; female 135,062.

HUSBAND AND WIFE: Wife controls own earnings. No dower or curtesy.
Husband and wife succeed equally to each other's estate at death. Woman
controls separate estate absolutely. Husband is legal guardian of
children. There is no penalty for non-support.

DIVORCE: Absolute for impotence, adultery, desertion for one year,
neglect to provide, habitual drunkenness, conviction of felony, cruel
treatment causing bodily injury or mental distress, permanent insanity.

No limited divorce; but wife has an action for separate maintenance in
case of desertion or neglect to provide on part of husband.

LABOUR LAWS: No females may work in mines. No Sunday labour.

suffrage; therefore all offices are open to women. 20 women in ministry,
5 dentists, 7 journalists, 1 lawyer, 34 doctors, 2 saloon keepers, 1
banker, 3 commercial travellers, 1 carpenter, etc.



POPULATION: Males 175,138; females 168,503.

HUSBAND AND WIFE: Wife controls own earnings and controls separate
property. No dower or curtesy. Husband and wife have same powers of
mutual inheritance, except that widower does not take his wife's
personal property. Husband is guardian of children and must support.

DIVORCE: Absolute or limited for adultery, sentence to hard labour,
intolerable severity, desertion for three years, neglect to provide,
absence for seven years without being heard from.

LABOUR LAWS: No child under 16 to be employed after 8 P.M. No child
under 12 may work in mill, factory, railroad, quarry, or messenger
service. No female shall be employed in barrooms. No Sunday labour.

have school suffrage. They may be notaries. 17 women in ministry, 3
dentists, 15 journalists, 21 doctors, 1 professor, 2 saloon keepers, 11
commercial travellers, 3 carpenters, etc.



POPULATION: Male 925,897; female 928,287.

HUSBAND AND WIFE: Wife controls own earnings and separate property
absolutely. Dower and curtesy prevail. Husband is guardian of children
and must support.

DIVORCE: Absolute for adultery, impotence, sentence to penitentiary,
conviction of an infamous offence prior to marriage without knowledge of
other party, desertion for three years, pregnancy of wife at time of
marriage or previous prostitution without knowledge of husband.

Limited for cruelty, reasonable apprehension of bodily hurt, desertion.

LABOUR LAWS: Seats must be provided for female employees. Hours of
female labour confined to ten. No child under 12 may work in factory or
mine; no child under 14 shall work between 6 P.M. and 7 A.M. No child
under 14 shall be hired for any mendicant, acrobatic, dangerous, or
immoral occupation. No Sunday labour.

suffrage. 37 women in ministry, 1 dentist, 12 journalists, 7 lawyers, 32
doctors, 20 professors, 19 saloon keepers, 13 commercial travellers, 9
carpenters, etc.



POPULATION: Male 304,178; female 213,925.

HUSBAND AND WIFE: Wife controls own earnings and controls separate
estate; but control of community property is vested absolutely in the
husband; this includes everything acquired after marriage by the joint
or separate efforts of either. Husband and wife have equal rights of
inheritance to one another's estate; but are not equal guardians of the
children, as husband can exclude wife by will. Support of the family is
chargeable upon the property of both husband or wife, or either of them.
No dower or curtesy.

DIVORCE: Absolute for any cause deemed by court sufficient, when court
is satisfied that parties can no longer live together, fraudulent
contract, adultery, impotence, desertion for one year, cruel treatment,
habitual drunkenness, neglect to provide, imprisonment.

No limited divorce.

LABOUR LAWS: No female may be employed in a mine. Every profession and
occupation open to women, but they may not hold public office. No Sunday
labour. Females shall not be employed in any place where liquor is sold.
Seats must be provided for female employees. Hours limited to ten. No
child under 14 shall labour in factory, mill, or workshop except at
discretion of juvenile judge. Children must go to school between 8 and

have school and bond suffrage, but cannot vote for State or county
superintendents. 38 women in ministry, 7 dentists, 13 journalists, 13
lawyers, 62 doctors, 3 professors, 8 saloon keepers, 1 banker, 8
commercial travellers, etc.

_West Virginia_


POPULATION: Male 499,242; female 459,558.

HUSBAND AND WIFE: Wife controls own earnings, but cannot sell or
encumber her separate property without husband's consent. Husband is
legal guardian and must provide. Dower and curtesy prevail.

DIVORCE: Absolute for adultery, impotence, imprisonment in penitentiary,
conviction of an infamous offence before marriage, desertion for three
years, pregnancy of wife at time of marriage or prostitution before
without knowledge of husband, in favour of wife when husband was
notoriously a licentious person before marriage without her knowledge.

Limited for cruelty, reasonable apprehension of bodily hurt, desertion,
habitual drunkenness.

LABOUR LAWS: No Sunday labour. No child under 12 may work in factory or
mill and no child under 14 shall be employed during school session. No
child under 15 may be employed in any mendicant, acrobatic, immoral, or
dangerous occupation, nor in any place where liquor is sold. Seats must
be provided for female employees. No female may work in mine.

suffrage. Women cannot be notaries. 26 women in ministry, 4 dentists, 4
journalists, 4 lawyers, 18 doctors, 4 professors, 9 saloon keepers, 2
bankers, 3 commercial travellers, 2 carpenters, etc.



POPULATION: Male 1,067,562; female 1,001,480.

HUSBAND AND WIFE: Wife controls own earnings. Assignment of wages of
husband must have wife's written consent. Wife controls separate
property absolutely. Dower and curtesy prevail. Husband is guardian of
children and must provide.

DIVORCE: Absolute for impotence, adultery, sentence to imprisonment for
three years prior to marriage. Limited or absolute for desertion for one
year, cruelty, habitual drunkenness, neglect to provide, conduct of
husband rendering it improper or unsafe for wife to live with him.

LABOUR LAWS: Female labour confined to eight hours per day. No child
under 14 may work in factory, workshop, bowling alley, or mine. Children
between 14 and 16 must get permission from juvenile judge. No child
under 16 shall be employed on dangerous machinery. None under 14 shall
take part in theatrical or circus exhibition as musician unless
accompanied on tours by parent or guardian. Authorities shall in all
cases determine whether occupation is dangerous or immoral for children
under 14. No Sunday labour.

have school suffrage. They may be notaries. 65 women in ministry, 24
dentists, 32 journalists, 23 lawyers, 154 doctors, 12 professors, 143
saloon keepers, 2 bankers, 27 commercial travellers, 9 carpenters, etc.



POPULATION: Male 58,184; female 34,347.

HUSBAND AND WIFE: Wife controls own earnings and separate property
absolutely. Neither dower nor curtesy prevail. Husband and wife have
same rights of mutual inheritance. Husband is legal guardian of
children, but there is no penalty if he does not provide.

DIVORCE: Absolute for adultery, impotence, conviction for felony,
desertion for one year, habitual drunkenness, extreme cruelty, neglect
to provide for one year, intolerable indignities, vagrancy of husband,
conviction of felony prior to marriage unknown to other party, pregnancy
of wife at time of marriage unknown to husband.

No limited divorce.

LABOUR LAWS: No female shall work in mine. Acrobatic, mendicant,
dangerous, or immoral occupations forbidden to children under 14. No
Sunday labour. Seats must be provided for female employees.

suffrage. Women are eligible for all offices. 2 women in ministry, 2
journalists, 12 doctors, 1 professor, no saloon keepers, lawyers, or
dentists, 2 carpenters, etc.

In studying these tables, it should be remembered that new laws are
being made constantly; and that the census of 1910 will give figures
which as soon as they appear must supersede those of 1900.


I. The Statutes of the Several States, from earliest times to the
present day. Published by Authority.

II. All newspapers and periodicals.

III. The Census Reports, especially the various separate reports such as
that on "Marriage and Divorce"; and the Reports of the Commissioner of

IV. The History of Woman Suffrage: edited by Elizabeth Cady Stanton,
Susan B. Anthony, Matilda Joslyn Gage, and Ida Husted Harper, 4 vols.
[First two published by Fowler and Wells, New York, 1881 and 1882; last
two by Susan B. Anthony, Rochester, 1887 and 1902.]

V. The Encyclopedia of Social Reforms: edited by William D.P. Bliss,
with the Co-operation of many Specialists. Funk and Wagnalls, New York
and London, 1898.


[410] See, for example, the account in the _New York Tribune_, Sept. 8,
9, and 12, 1853, of what happened at the Women's Rights Convention at
that time.

[411] In 1900 there were 7399 female physicians and surgeons in the
United States, and 808 female dentists.

[412] In 1900 there were 1049 women lawyers in the United States. The
above statements are from Bliss, _Encyc_., p. 1291.

[413] In 1900 there were 3405 women clergy in the United States.

[414] In 1900 there were 2193 women journalists in the United States.
This does not, of course, include women reporters and the like.



It is twenty-three centuries since Plato gave to the world his
magnificent treatise on the State. The dream of the Greek philosopher of
equal rights for all intelligent citizens, among whom he includes women,
has in large part been realised; but much is yet wanting to bring
society to the standard of the Ideal Republic. In not a few States of
the world the conditions affecting property rights are inequitable; in
all but very few States woman is still barred from the field of politics
and from the legitimate rights of citizenship; and the day seems far
distant when the States possessing a representative government will be
prepared to accept the woman citizen as eligible for administrative

It will, therefore, be my purpose in this chapter first to consider five
of the most serious objections to the granting of equal suffrage, that
is to say, to the concession to women of full citizens' rights under the
law. It will be found that these objections are based on a presumed
inferiority of women to men in various respects. I shall give
consideration next in order to the question of the inferiority or
superiority of one sex over the other. In view, furthermore, of the new
ferment in thought in modern society, it will be useful to analyse
certain habits of mind and to indicate the necessity for a readjustment
of old beliefs in the light of recent evolution. I shall conclude my
history with a suggestion for definite reforms which, I believe, must be
brought about, whether equal suffrage is granted or not, before women
can attain their maximum of efficiency.

The opposition to the granting of equal suffrage is, as I have said,
based mainly upon five classes of contentions:

  I. The theological.
 II. The physiological.
III. The social or political.
 IV. The intellectual.
  V. The moral.

A consideration and an analysis of these five classes of objections will
constitute a summary of the relations of woman to the community, and may
also serve as a guide or suggestion to the possibility of a legitimate
development, in the near future, of her rights as a citizen.

I. The theological argument is based upon the distinctly evil conception
of woman, presented in _Genesis_, as the cause of misery in this world
and upon the subordinate position assigned to her by Paul and Peter.
Christ himself has left us no teachings on the subject. The Hebrew and
Oriental creed of woman's sphere permeated the West as Christianity
expanded and forced to extinction the Roman principle of equality. Only
within fifty years, has the female sex regained the rights enjoyed by
women under the law of the Empire seventeen centuries ago. The Apostolic
theory of complete subordination gained strength with each succeeding
age. I have already cited instances of ecclesiastical vehemence. As a
final example I may recall that when, early in the nineteenth century,
chloroform was first used to help women in childbirth, a number of
Protestant divines denounced the practice as a sin against the Creator,
who had expressly commanded that woman should bring forth in sorrow and
tribulation. Yet times have so far changed within two decades that the
theological argument is practically obsolete among Protestants, although
it is still influential in the Roman Catholic Church, which holds fast
to the doctrine laid down by the Apostles. We may say, however, that of
all the objections, the theological has, in practice, the least weight
among the bulk of the population. The word _obey_ in the clerical
formula _love, honour, and obey_ provokes a smile.

II. The physiological argument is more powerful. Its supporters assert
that the constitution of woman is too delicate, too finely wrought to
compete with man in his chosen fields. The physiological argument makes
its appearance most persistently in the statement that woman should have
no vote because she could not defend her property or her country in
time of war. In reply to this some partisans of equal suffrage have
thought it necessary to prove that women are physically equal in all
respects to men. But the issues between nations which in the centuries
past it had been believed could be adjusted only by war, by being fought
out (not, of course, to any logical conclusion, but to a result which
showed simply that one party was stronger than the other), are now, in
the great majority of cases, determined by the more reasonable, the more
civilised, method of arbitration.

As a matter of fact, the cause of woman's rights will suffer no harm by
a frank admission that women are not, in general, the peers of men in
brute force. The very nature of the female sex, subjected, as it is, to
functional strains from which the male is free, is sufficient to
invalidate such a claim. A refutation of the physiological objection to
equal suffrage is, however, not hard to find. Even in war, as it is
practised to-day, physical force is of little significance compared with
strategy which is a product of the intellect. In a naval battle for
instance, ships no longer engage at close range, where it is possible
for the crew of one to board the opposing ship and engage in hand to
hand conflict with the enemy; machinery turns the guns and even loads
them; the whole fight is simply a contest between trained gunners, who
must depend for success on cool mathematical computation.

Nevertheless, it is true that under stress or the need of making a
livelihood women in many instances do show physical endurance equal to
that of men. Women who are expert ballet dancers and those who are
skilled acrobats can hardly be termed physiological weaklings. In
Berlin, you may see women staggering along with huge loads on their
backs; in Munich, women are street-cleaners and hod-carriers; on the
island of Capri, the trunk of the tourist is lifted by two men onto the
shoulder of a woman, who carries it up the steep road to the village. In
this country many women are forced to do hard bodily labour ten hours a
day in sweat-shops. In all countries and in all ages there have been
examples of women who, disguised as men, have fought side by side with
the male and with equal efficiency. The case of Joan of Arc will at once
occur to the reader; and those who are curious about this subject may,
by consulting the records of our Civil War, find exciting material in
the story of "Belle Boyd," "Frank Miller," and "Major Cushman."[415]

Doubtless women are stronger physically than they were a half-century
ago, when it was considered unladylike to exercise. If you will read the
novels of that time, you will find that the heroine faints on the
slightest provocation or weeps copiously, like Amelia in _Vanity Fair_,
whenever the situation demands a grain of will-power or of
common-sense. But to-day women seldom faint or weep in literature; they
play tennis or row. When, in 1844, Pauline Wright Davis lectured on
physiology before women in America and displayed the manikin, some of
her auditors dropped their veils, some ran from the room, and some
actually became unconscious, because their sense of delicacy was put to
so sharp a test.

It should be borne in mind, in connection with the contention that the
privileges of a citizen ought to be accorded only to those persons who
are physically capable of helping to defend the community by force, that
no such principle is applied in fixing the existing qualifications for
male citizenship. A large number of the voters of every community are,
on the ground either of advanced years or of invalidism, physically
disqualified for service as soldiers, sailors, or policemen. This group
of citizens includes a very large proportion of the thinking power of
the community. No intelligently directed state would, however, be
prepared to deprive itself of the counsels, of the active political
co-operation, and of the service from time to time in the responsibility
of office, of men of the type of Gladstone (at the age of seventy-five),
of John Stuart Mill (always a physical weakling), of Washington (serving
as President after he was sixty), on the ground that these citizens were
no longer capable of carrying muskets in the ranks.

Any classification of citizens, any privileges extended to voters,
ought, of course, to be arrived at on a consistent and impartial

Further, under the conditions obtaining in this twentieth century,
governments, whether of nations, of states, or of cities, are carried on
not by force but by opinion. In the earlier history of mankind, each
family was called upon to maintain its existence by physical force. The
families the members of which (female as well as male) were not strong
enough to fight for their existence were crushed out. Par into the later
centuries, issues between individuals were adjusted by the decision of
arms. Up to within a very recent date, it may be admitted that issues
between nations could be settled only by war. It is, however, at this
time the accepted principle of representative government in all
communities that matters of policy are determined by the expression of
opinion, that is by means of the votes given by the majority of its
citizens. It is by intelligence and not by brute force that the world is
now being ruled, and with the growth of intelligence and a better
understanding of the principles of government, it is in order not only
on the grounds of justice but for the best interests of the state to
widen the foundations of representative government, so as to make
available for voting and for official responsibilities all the
intelligence that is comprised within the community. This is in my
judgment the most conclusive reply to the objection that the physical
weakness of woman unfits her for citizenship.

III. According to the social or political argument, if woman is given
equal rights with man, the basis of family life, and hence the
foundation of the state itself, is undermined, as a house divided
against itself cannot stand. It is said that (1) there must be some one
authority in a household and that this should be the man; (2) woman will
neglect the home if she is left free to enter politics or a profession;
(3) politics will degrade her; (4) when independent and self-asserting
she will lose her influence over man; and (5) most women do not want to
vote or to enter politics.

It is astonishing with what vehemence men will base arguments on pure
theory and speculation, while they wilfully close their eyes to any
facts which may contradict their assumptions. It is inconceivable to a
certain type of mind that a husband and wife can differ on political
questions and may yet maintain an even harmony, while their love abates
not one whit. In the four States where women vote--Wyoming, Colorado,
Utah, and Idaho--there is no more divorce than in other States; and any
one who has travelled in these communities can attest that no domestic
unhappiness results from the suffrage. Nor does it in New Zealand.

It is said that there must be some one supreme authority; but this
depends on the view taken of marriage. Under the old Common Law, the
personality of the wife was merged completely in that of her husband;
marriage was an absolute despotism. Under the Canon Law, woman is man's
obedient and unquestioning subject; marriage is a benevolent despotism.
To-day people are more inclined to look upon matrimony as a partnership
of equal duties, rights, and privileges.

Sophocles argued in one of his tragedies that children belong entirely
to the father, that the mother can assert no valid claim for anything.
Lawyers have found this logic excellent; and the records are full of
instances of children being taken from a hard-working mother in order to
be handed over to a drunken father who wants their wages for his
support. It is no longer so in most states. Civilisation has advanced so
far, that the pains of bringing forth and raising children are
acknowledged to give the mother a right almost equal to that of the
father to determine all that concerns the child. There is some reason,
therefore, for believing that she should have a voice also in passing
upon laws which may make or undo for ever the welfare of the boys and
girls for whom she struggles during the years that they are growing to
manhood and womanhood. Men are for the greater part so engrossed in
business that on certain questions they are far less competent to be
"authorities" than women. Against stupid pedagogy, against red-tape,
against the policy that morality must never interfere with business
principles, against civic dirtiness, against brothel and saloon, women
are more active than men, because they see more clearly how vitally the
interests of their children are affected by these evil conditions.
Wherever women vote, these questions are to the fore.

Closely connected with the "one authority" argument is the old
contention, so often resorted to and relied upon, that women, if they
are permitted to vote, will neglect the home, and that, if the
professions are opened to them, they will find these too absorbingly
attractive. Much weight should, however, be given to the great power of
the domestic instinct implanted in the nature of woman. In the States
where women vote and are eligible for political offices, there are fewer
unmarried women in proportion to the population than in States where
they have no such rights. The great leaders of the woman suffrage
movement from Mrs. Stanton to Mrs. Snowden have in their home circle led
lives as beautiful and have raised families as large and as well
equipped morally and intellectually as those who are content to sit by
the fire and spin.

Thus far I have argued from the orthodox view, that matrimony ought to
be the goal of every woman's ambition. But if a woman wishes to remain
single and devote herself exclusively to the realisation of some ideal,
it is hard to see why she should not. Men who take this course are
eulogised for their noble self-sacrifice in immolating themselves for
the advancement of the cause of civilisation; women who do precisely the
same thing are sometimes unthinkingly spoken of in terms of contempt or
with that complacent pity which is far worse. It is difficult for us to
realise adequately what talented women like Rosa Bonheur had to undergo
because of this curious attitude of humanity.

"The home is woman's sphere." This shibboleth is the logical result of
the attitude mentioned. Doubtless, the home is woman's sphere; but the
home includes all that pertains to it--city, politics and taxes, laws
relating to the protection of minors, municipal rottenness which may
corrupt children, schools and playgrounds and museums which may educate
them. Few doctrines have been productive of more pain than the "woman's
sphere" argument. It is this which has, for a thousand years, made the
unmarried woman, the _Old Maid_, the butt of the contemptible jibes of
Christian society, whereof you will find no parallel in pagan antiquity.
Dramatic writers have held her up to ridicule on the stage on account of
the peculiarities of character which are naturally acquired when a
person is isolated from participation in the activities of life. It is
the doctrine which has made women glad to marry drunkards and rakes, to
bring forth children tainted with the sins of their fathers, and to
suffer hell on earth rather than incur the ridicule of the Christian
gentleman who may, without incurring the protest of society, remain
unmarried and sow an unlimited quantity of wild oats. It is this
doctrine which was indirectly responsible for the hanging and burning of
eccentric old women on the charge that they were witches. As men found a
divine sanction for keeping women in subjection, so in those days of
superstition did they blaspheme their Creator by digging out of the Old
Testament, as a justification for their brutality, the text, "Thou shalt
not suffer a witch to live."

"Politics will degrade women"--this naïve confession that politics are
rotten is a fairly strong argument that some good influence is needed to
make them cleaner. Generally speaking, it is difficult to imagine how
politics could be made any worse. If a woman cannot go to the polls or
hold office without being insulted by rowdies, her vote will be potent
to elect officials who should be able to secure for the community a
standard of reasonable civilisation. There is no case in which more
sentimentality is wasted. Lovely woman is urged not to allow her beauty,
her gentleness, her tender submissiveness to become the butt of the
lounger at the street corner; and in most instances lovely woman, like
the celebrated Maître Corbeau, is cajoled effectively. Meanwhile the
brothel and the sweat-shop continue on their prosperous way. By a
curious inconsistency, man will permit woman to help him out of a
political dilemma and will then suavely remark that suffrage will
degrade her.

During the Civil War, Anna Dickinson by her remarkable lecture
entitled, "The National Crisis" saved New Hampshire and Connecticut for
the Republicans; Anna Carroll not only gave such a crushing rejoinder to
Breckinridge's secession speech that the government printed and
distributed it, but she also, as is now generally believed, planned the
campaign which led to the fall of Forts Henry and Donelson and opened
the Mississippi to Vicksburg. How many men realise these facts?

The theory that politics degrade women will not find much support in
such States as Colorado and Wyoming. Here, where equal suffrage obtains,
women have been treated with uniform courtesy at the polls; they have
even been elected to legislatures with no diminution of their
womanliness; and the House of Wyoming long ago made a special resolution
of its approval of equal rights and attested the beneficial results that
have followed the extension of the suffrage to women.[416] Judge Lindsey
of Colorado has said that his election, and consequent power to work out
his great reforms in juvenile delinquency, was due to the backing of
women at a time when men, for "business reasons," were averse to extend
their aid. "No one would dare to propose its repeal [i.e., the repeal of
equal suffrage], and if left to the men of the State any proposition to
revoke the rights bestowed on women would be overwhelmingly defeated."
Experience in Colorado and elsewhere has shown that any important moral
issue will bring out the women voters in great force; but after election
they are content to resume their domestic duties; and they have shown no
great desire for political office.[417]

Before I leave the discussion as to whether politics degrade women, it
will not be out of place to consider the question whether certain women
may not, if they have a vote, degrade politics. Of such women there are
two classes--the immoral and the merely ignorant. As to the former, much
fear has been expressed that they would be the very agents for
unscrupulous politicians to use at the polls. Exact data on this matter
are not available. I shall content myself with quoting a statement by
Mrs. Ida Husted Harper[418]:

"That 'immoral' class," said Mrs. Harper, "is a bogey that has never
materialised in States where women have the suffrage. Those women don't
vote. Indeed, Denver's experience has been interesting in that respect.
When equal suffrage was first granted, women of that class were
compelled by the police to register. It was a question of doing as the
police said, of course, or being arrested. The women did not want to
vote. They don't go under their real names; they have no fixed
residence, and so on. Anyway, the last thing they wanted was to be
registered voters.

"But the corrupt political element needed their vote, and were after it,
through the police. These women actually appealed to a large woman's
political club to use its influence to keep the police from forcing them
to register. A committee was appointed; it was found that the story was
true; coercion was stopped, and the women's vote turned out the chief of
police who attempted it. There is now no coercion, and this class simply
pays no attention to politics at all."

The doubling of the number of ignorant voters by giving all women alike
the ballot would be a more serious affair. A remedy for that, however,
lies in making an educational test a necessary qualification for all
voters. In this connection the remarks of Mr. G.H. Putnam are
suggestive[419]: "If I were a citizen of Massachusetts or of any State
which, like Massachusetts, possesses such educational qualification, I
should be an active worker for the cause of equal suffrage. As a citizen
of New York who has during the last fifty years done his share of work
in the attempt to improve municipal conditions, I am forced to the
conclusion that it will be wiser to endure for a further period the
inconsistency, the stupidity, and the injustice of the disfranchisement
of thousands of intelligent women voters rather than to accept the
burden of an increase in the mass of unintelligent voters. The first
step toward 'equal suffrage' will, in my judgment, be a fight for an
educational qualification for all voters."

Those who maintain that when women are independent and self-asserting,
they will lose their influence over men, assume that we view things
to-day as they did a century ago and that the thoughts of men are not
widened with the progress of the suns. The woman who can share the
aspirations, the thoughts, the complete life of a man, who can
understand his work thoroughly and support him with the sympathy born of
perfect comprehension, will exert a far vaster influence over him than
the milk-and-water ideal who was advised "to smile when her husband
smiled, to frown when he frowned, and to be discreetly silent when the
conversation turned on subjects of importance." It is a good thing for
women to be self-asserting and independent. There is and always has been
a class of men who, like Mr. Murdstone, are amenable to justice and
reason only when they know that their proposed victim can at any time
break the chains with which they would bind her.

This brings us to the last of the social or political arguments, viz.,
"Most women do not want to vote."[420] Precisely the same argument has
been used by slave owners from time immemorial--the slaves do not wish
to be free. As Professor Thomas writes[421]: "Certainly the negroes of
Virginia did not greatly desire freedom before the idea was developed by
agitation from the outside, and many of them resented this outside
interference. 'In general, in the whole western Sahara desert, slaves
are as much astonished to be told that their relation to their owners is
wrong and that they ought to break it, as boys amongst us would be to be
told that their relation to their fathers was wrong and ought to be
broken.' And it is reported from eastern Borneo that a white man could
hire no natives for wages. 'They thought it degrading to work for wages,
but if he would buy them, they would work for him.'" It is akin to the
old contention of despots that when their subjects are fit for freedom,
they will make them free; but nobody has ever seen such a time.

Reform of evil conditions does not come from below; leaders with visions
of the future must point the way. I once heard of a very respectable
lady of Boston who exclaimed indignantly against certain proposed
changes in child labour laws in North Carolina, where she owned shares
in a cotton mill. She maintained that the children who worked at the
looms ten hours a day expressed no discontent; it kept them off the
streets; and the operators, in the kindness of their hearts, had
actually had the looms made especially to accommodate conveniently the
diminutive size of the little workers. Some people might, with great
profit to themselves, read Plato's superb allegory of the men in the

The fact that various women's associations have been instituted in
opposition to the extension of woman suffrage--as in Boston and New
York--is no argument for depriving all women of the franchise. If the
women who compose these societies do not care to vote, they do not need
to; but they have no right to deprive of their rights those who do so
desire. It is said that good women will not go to the polls; yet there
are in every large city hundreds of respectable males who disdain to
vote. A woman is more likely to have a sense of duty to vote than a man.
It is the old cry, "Don't disturb the old order of things. If you make
us think for ourselves, we shall be so unhappy." So Galileo was brought
to trial, so Anne Hutchinson was banished; and so persecuted they the
prophets before them.

IV. Another argument that is made much of is the intellectual
inferiority of woman. For ages women were allowed nor higher education
than reading, writing, and simple arithmetic, often not even these; yet
Elizabeth Barrett Browning, George Sand, George Eliot, Harriet
Martineau, Jane Austen, and some scores of others did work which showed
them to be the peers of any minds of their day. And if no woman can
justly claim to have attained an eminence such as that of Shakespeare in
letters or of Darwin in science, we may question whether Shakespeare
would have been Shakespeare or Darwin Darwin if the society which
surrounded them had insisted that it was a sin for them to use their
minds and that they should not presume to meddle with knowledge. When a
girl for the first time in America took a public examination in
geometry, in 1829, men wagged their heads gravely and prophesied the
speedy dissolution of family and state.

To the list of women whose service for their fellows would have been
lost if the old-time barriers had been maintained, may be added the name
of the late Dr. Mary Putnam Jacobi. Mary Putnam secured her preliminary
medical education in the early '60's, and found herself keenly troubled
and dissatisfied at the inadequacy of the facilities extended to women
for the study of medicine. She insisted that if women practitioners were
to be, as she expressed it, "turned loose" upon the community with
license to practise, they should, not only as a matter of justice to
themselves but of protection for the women and children whose lives they
would have in their hands, be properly qualified.

At the time in question, the medical profession took the ground that
women might enjoy the benefit of a little medical education but they
were denied the facilities for any thorough training or for any research
work. Mary Putnam secured her graduate degree from the great medical
school of the University of Paris, being the first woman who had been
admitted to the school since the fourteenth century. Returning after six
years of thorough training, she did much during the remaining years of
her life to secure and to maintain for women physicians the highest
possible standard of training and of practice. It was natural that with
this experience of the requirement of equal facilities for women in her
own work, she should always have been a believer in the extension of
equal facilities for any citizen's work for which, after experience,
women might be found qualified. She was, therefore, an ardent advocate
of equal suffrage.

One needs but recall the admirable intellectual work of women to-day to
wonder at the imbecility of those who assert that women are
intellectually the inferiors of men. Madame Curie in science, Miss
Tarbell in political and economic history, Miss Jane Addams in
sociological writings and practice, the Rev. Anna Howard Shaw in the
ministry, Mrs. Hetty Green in business, are a few examples of women
whose mental ability ought to bring a blush to the Old Guard. Mrs.
Harriman and Mrs. Sage, who manage properties of many millions, are
denied the privilege of voting in regard to the expenditure of their
taxes; but every ignorant immigrant can cast a vote, thanks to the
doctrine that the political acumen of a man, however degraded, is
superior to that of a woman, however great her genius--an admirable
obedience to the saw in Ecclesiasticus that the badness of men is better
than the goodness of women. Let me quote again from Professor Thomas:
"The men have said that women are not intelligent enough to vote, but
the women have replied that more of honesty than of intelligence is
needed in politics at present, and that women certainly do not represent
the most ignorant portion of the population. They claim that voting is a
relatively simple matter anyway, that political freedom 'is nothing but
the control of those who do make politics their business by those who do
not,' and that they have enough intelligence 'to decide whether they are
properly governed, and whom they will be governed by.' They point out
also that already, without the ballot, they are instructing men how to
vote and teaching them how to run a city; that women have to journey to
the legislature at every session to instruct members and committees at
legislative hearings, and that it is absurd that women who are capable
of instructing men how to vote should not be allowed to vote themselves.
To the suggestion that they would vote like their husbands and that so
there would be no change in the political situation, women admit that
they would sometimes vote like their husbands, because their husbands
sometimes vote right; but ex-Chief-Justice Fisher of Wyoming says: 'When
the Republicans nominate a bad man and the Democrats a good one, the
Republican women do not hesitate a moment to "scratch" the bad and
substitute the good. It is just so with the Democrats; hence we almost
always have a mixture of office-holders. I have seen the effects of
female suffrage, and, instead of being a means of encouragement to fraud
and corruption, it tends greatly to purify elections and to promote
better government.' Now, 'scratching' is the most difficult feature of
the art of voting, and if women have mastered this, they are doing very
well. Furthermore, the English suffragettes have completely
outgeneralled the professional politicians. They discovered that no
cause can get recognition in politics unless it is brought to the
attention, and that John Bull in particular will not begin to pay
attention 'until, you stand on your head to talk to him.' They regretted
to do this, but in doing it they secured the attention and interest of
all England. They then followed a relentless policy of opposing the
election of any candidate of the party in power. The Liberal men had
been playing with the Liberal women, promising support and then laughing
the matter off. But they are now reduced to an appeal to the maternal
instinct of the women. They say it is unloving of them to oppose their
own kind. Politics is a poor game, but this is politics."

V. The last objection I would call the _moral_. It embraces such
arguments as, that woman is too impulsive, too easily swayed by her
emotions to hold responsible positions, that the world is very evil and
slippery, and that she must therefore constantly have man to protect
her--a pious duty, which he avows solemnly it has ever been his special
delight to perform. The preceding pages are a commentary on the manner
in which man has discharged this duty. In Delaware, for instance, the
age of legal consent was until 1889 seven years. The institution of
Chivalry, to take another example, is usually praised for the high
estimation and protection it secured for women; yet any one who has read
its literature knows that, in practice, it did nothing of the sort. The
noble lord who was so gallant to his lady love--who, by the way, was
frequently the wife of another man--had very little scruple about
seducing a maid of low degree. The same gallantry is conspicuous in the
Letters of Lord Chesterfield, beneath whose unctuous courtesy the beast
of sensuality is always leering.

In the past the main function of woman outside of the rearing of
children has been to satisfy the carnal appetite of man, to prepare his
food, to minister to his physical comfort; she was barred from
participation in the intellectual. In order to hold her to these bonds a
Divine Sanction was sought. The Mohammedan found it in the Koran; the
Christian, in the Bible--just as slavery was justified repeatedly from
the story of Ham, just as the Stuarts and the Bourbons believed firmly
that they were the special favourites of God.

Strangely enough, men who are so sensitive about the moral welfare of
women will visit a dance hall where women are degraded nightly, and will
allow their daughters to marry "reformed" rakes. Men will not permit any
mention of sexual matters in their homes, and will let their children
get their information on the street; and all for the very simple reason
that they are afraid the truth will hurt, will make people think. Men
have been remarkably sensitive about having women speak in public for
their rights; but they watch with zest a woman screaming nonsense on the

It is quite possible that many women are swayed too easily by their
emotions. We must recollect, however, that for some thousands of years
woman has been carefully drilled to believe that she is an emotional
creature. If a dozen people conspire to tell a man that he is looking
badly, it is not unlikely that he will feel ill. Certainly Florence
Nightingale and Clara Barton exhibited no lack of firmness on the
shambles of battlefields; and there are few men living who cannot recall
instances of women who have, in the face of disaster and evil fortune,
shown a steady perseverance and will-power in earning a living for
themselves and their children that men have not surpassed.

Having in the preceding pages considered the five capital objections to
the concession of equal suffrage, I shall now, in accordance with my
plan, say something of the much-mooted question of the superiority or
inferiority of one sex to the other. It might be concluded from the
foregoing account that I see little difference in the aptitudes and
powers of the sexes physically, morally, or intellectually. That does
not necessarily follow. It is possible to conceive of each sex as the
complement of the other; and between complements there can be no
question either of superiority or of inferiority. The great historian of
European Morals has analysed the constitutional differences of the sexes
as he conceived them; and I may quote his remarks as pertinent to my
theme. Lecky writes as follows[422]:

"Physically, men have the indisputable superiority in strength, and
women in beauty. Intellectually, a certain inferiority of the female sex
can hardly be denied when we remember how almost exclusively the
foremost places in every department of science, literature, and art have
been occupied by men, how infinitesimally small is the number of women
who have shown in any form the very highest order of genius, how many of
the greatest men have achieved their greatness in defiance of the most
adverse circumstances, and how completely women have failed in obtaining
the first position, even in music or painting, for the cultivation of
which their circumstances would appear most propitious. It is as
impossible to find a female Raphael, or a female Handel, as a female
Shakespeare or Newton. Women are intellectually more desultory and
volatile than men; they are more occupied with particular instances than
with general principles; they judge rather by intuitive perceptions than
by deliberate reasoning or past experience. They are, however, usually
superior to men in nimbleness and rapidity of thought, and in the gift
of tact or the power of seizing speedily and faithfully the finer
inflections of feeling, and they have therefore often attained very
great eminence as conversationalists, as letter-writers, as actresses,
and as novelists.

"Morally, the general superiority of women over men is, I think,
unquestionable. If we take the somewhat coarse and inadequate criterion
of police statistics, we find that, while the male and female
populations are nearly the same in number, the crimes committed by men
are usually rather more than five times as numerous as those committed
by women; and although it may be justly observed that men, as the
stronger sex, and the sex upon whom the burden of supporting the family
is thrown, have more temptations than women, it must be remembered, on
the other hand, that extreme poverty which verges upon starvation is
most common among women, whose means of livelihood are most restricted,
and whose earnings are smallest and most precarious. Self-sacrifice is
the most conspicuous element of a virtuous and religious character, and
it is certainly far less common among men than among women, whose whole
lives are usually spent in yielding to the will and consulting the
pleasures of another. There are two great departments of virtue: the
impulsive, or that which springs spontaneously from the emotions, and
the deliberative, or that which is performed in obedience to the sense
of duty; and in both of these I imagine women are superior to men. Their
sensibility is greater, they are more chaste both in thought and act,
more tender to the erring, more compassionate to the suffering, more
affectionate to all about them.... In active courage women are inferior
to men. In the courage of endurance they are commonly their
superiors.... In the ethic of intellect they are decidedly inferior. To
repeat an expression I have already employed, women very rarely love
truth, though they love passionately what they call 'the truth' or
opinions they have received from others, and hate vehemently those who
differ from them. They are little capable of impartiality or doubt;
their thinking is chiefly a mode of feeling; though very generous in
their acts, they are rarely generous in their opinions.... They are less
capable than men of perceiving qualifying circumstances, of admitting
the existence of elements of good in systems to which they are opposed,
of distinguishing the personal character of an opponent from the
opinions he maintains. Men lean most to justice, and women to mercy. Men
are most addicted to intemperance and brutality, women to frivolity and
jealousy. Men excel in energy, self-reliance, perseverance, and
magnanimity, women in humility, gentleness, modesty, and endurance....
Their religious or devotional realisations are incontestably more
vivid.... But though more intense, the sympathies of women are commonly
less wide than those of men. Their imaginations individualise more,
their affections are, in consequence, concentrated rather on leaders
than on causes.... In politics, their enthusiasm is more naturally
loyalty than patriotism. In history, they are even more inclined than
men to dwell exclusively upon biographical incidents or characteristics
as distinguished from the march of general causes."

Experience, by which alone mankind has ever learned or can learn, will
show how far the characteristics enumerated by Lecky are innate and how
far they have been acquired in the course of ages by certain habits of
belief and education.

The securing of citizens' rights for woman will of necessity depend on
the attitude of society. There may be numerous laws for her relief on
the statute books; but if society frowns on her appearance in court, it
will be only in exceptional cases that she will appeal to the courts. To
one who is familiar with the records of daily life a hundred years ago
there is little doubt that conjugal infidelity on the part of the
husband was more flagrant then than it is to-day; but there were
infinitely fewer divorces. The reason for this is simply that public
sentiment on the subject has changed. A century ago, a divorced woman
could do nothing; the wife was exhorted to bear her husband's faults
with meekness; and the expansion of industry had not yet opened to her
that opportunity of making her own living which she now possesses in a
hundred ways. Women were entirely dependent on men; and the men knew it.
To-day they are not so sure.

The old conception of woman's position was subjection, based on mental
and physical inferiority and supported by Biblical arguments. The newer
conception is that of a complement, in which neither inferiority nor
superiority finds place. The old conception was based, like every
institution of the times, on fear. Men were warned against heresy by
being reminded of the tortures of hell fire; against crime by appealing
to their dread of the gallows. Between the death of Anne and the reign
of George III one hundred and eighty-eight capital offences were added
to the penal code; and crime at once increased to an amazing degree. In
a system that is founded on fear, when once that fear is removed--as it
inevitably will be with the growth of enlightenment--there remains no
basis of action, no incentive to good. It has been tried for centuries
and has yielded only Star Chambers and Spanish Inquisitions. It is time
that we try a new method. An appeal to the sense of _fair play_, an
appeal to the sense of duty and of natural affection may yield
immeasurably superior results. It has been my experience and personal
observation that the standard of honour in our non-sectarian schools,
where the _fair play_ spirit is most insisted on, is vastly greater than
it was in the old sectarian institutions where boys were told morning,
noon, and night that they would go to hell if they did not behave.

The new spirit is not going to be accepted at once by society. There
must first be some wailing and much gnashing of teeth; and the monster,
custom, which all sense doth eat, will still for a time be antagonistic
as it has been in the past. "In no society has life ever been completely
controlled by the reason," remarks Professor Thomas, "but mainly by the
instincts and the habits and the customs growing out of these. Speaking
in a general way, it may be said that all conduct both of men and
animals tends to be right rather than wrong. They do not know why they
behave in such and such ways, but their ancestors behaved in those ways
and survival is the guaranty that the behaviour was good. We must admit
that within the scope of their lives the animals behave with almost
unerring propriety. Their behaviour is simple and unvarying, but they
make fewer mistakes than ourselves. The difficulty in their condition
is, that having little power of changing their behaviour they have
little chance of improvement. Now, in human societies, and already among
gregarious animals, one of the main conditions of survival was common
sentiment and behaviour. So long as defence of life and preying on
outsiders were main concerns of society, unanimity and conformity had
the same value which still attaches to military discipline in warfare
and to team work in our sports. Morality therefore became identified
with uniformity. It was actually better to work upon some system,
however bad, than to work on none at all, and early society had no place
for the dissenter. Changes did take place, for man had the power of
communicating his experiences through speech and the same power of
imitation which we show in the adoption of fashions, but these changes
took place with almost imperceptible slowness, or if they did not,
those who proposed them were considered sinners and punished with death
or obloquy.

"And it has never made any difference how bad the existing order of
things might be. Those who attempted to reform it were always viewed
with suspicion. Consequently our practices usually run some decades or
centuries behind our theories and history is even full of cases where
the theory was thoroughly dead from the standpoint of reason before it
began to do its work in society. A determined attitude of resistance to
change may therefore be classed almost with the instincts, for it is not
a response to the reason alone, but is very powerfully bound up with the
emotions which have their seat in the spinal cord.

"It is true that this adhesion to custom is more absolute and
astonishing in the lower races and in the less educated classes, but it
would be difficult to point out a single case in history where a new
doctrine has not been met with bitter resistance. We justly regard
learning and freedom of thought and investigation as precious, and we
popularly think of Luther and the Reformation as standing at the
beginning of the movement toward these, but Luther himself had no faith
in 'the light of reason' and he hated as heartily as any papal dogmatist
the 'new learning' of Erasmus and Hutten.... We are even forced to
realise that the law of habit continues to do its perfect work in a
strangely resentful or apathetic manner even when there is no moral
issue at stake.... Up to the year 1816, the best device for the
application of electricity to telegraphy had involved a separate wire
for each letter of the alphabet, but in that year Francis Ronalds
constructed a successful line making use of a single wire. Realising the
importance of his invention, he attempted to get the British government
to take it up, but was informed that 'telegraphs of any kind are now
wholly unnecessary, and no other than the one in use will be adopted.'"

The reader will doubtless be able to add from his own experience and
observation examples which will support Professor Thomas's admirable
account of the power of custom. Among many barbarous tribes certain
foods, like eggs, are _taboo_; no one knows why they should not be
eaten; but tradition says their use produces bad results, and one who
presumes to taste them is put to death. To-day, we believe ourselves
rather highly civilised; but the least observation of society must
compel us to acknowledge that _taboo_ is still a vital power in a
multitude of matters.

There is a still more forcible opposition to a recasting of the status
of women by those men who have beheld no complete regeneration of
society through the extension of the franchise in four of our States.
Curiously oblivious of the fact that partial regeneration through the
instrumentality of women is something attained, they take this as a
working argument for the uselessness of extending the suffrage. They
point to other evils that have followed and tell you that if this is the
result of the emancipation of women, they will have none of it. For
example, there can be no doubt that one may see from time to time the
pseudo-intellectual woman. She affects an interest in literature,
attends lectures on Browning and Emerson, shows an academic interest in
slum work, and presents, on the whole, a selfishness or an egotism which
repels. There never has been a revolution in society, however beneficial
eventually, which did not bring at least some evil in its train. I
cannot do better in this connection than to quote Lord Macaulay's
splendid words (from the essay on Milton): "If it were possible that a
people, brought up under an intolerant and arbitrary system, could
subvert that system without acts of cruelty and folly, half the
objections to despotic power would be removed. We should, in that case,
be compelled to acknowledge that it at least produces no pernicious
effects on the intellectual and moral character of a people. We deplore
the outrages which accompany revolutions. But the more violent the
outrages, the more assured we feel that a revolution was necessary. The
violence of these outrages will always be proportioned to the ferocity
and ignorance of the people; and the ferocity and ignorance of the
people will be proportioned to the oppression and degradation under
which they have been accustomed to live. Thus it was in our civil war.
The rulers in the church and state reaped only what they had sown. They
had prohibited free discussion--they had done their best to keep the
people unacquainted with their duties and their rights. The retribution
was just and natural. If they suffered from popular ignorance, it was
because they had themselves taken away the key to knowledge. If they
were assailed with blind fury, it was because they had exacted an
equally blind submission.

"It is the character of such revolutions that we always see the worst of
them at first. Till men have been for some time free, they know not how
to use their freedom. The natives of wine-countries are always sober. In
climates where wine is a rarity, intemperance abounds. A newly-liberated
people may be compared to a northern army encamped on the Rhine or the
Xeres. It is said that when soldiers in such a situation first find
themselves able to indulge without restraint in such a rare and
expensive luxury, nothing is to be seen but intoxication. Soon, however,
plenty teaches discretion; and after wine has been for a few months
their daily fare, they become more temperate than they had ever been in
their own country. In the same manner, the final and permanent fruits of
liberty are wisdom, moderation, and mercy. Its immediate effects are
often atrocious crimes, conflicting errors, skepticism on points the
most clear, dogmatism on points the most mysterious. It is just at this
crisis that its enemies love to exhibit it. They pull down the
scaffolding from the half-finished edifice; they point to the flying
dust, the falling bricks, the comfortless rooms, the frightful
irregularity of the whole appearance; and then ask in scorn where the
promised splendour and comfort are to be found? If such miserable
sophisms were to prevail, there never would be a good house or a good
government in the world.... There is only one cure for the evils which
newly acquired freedom produces--and that cure is freedom. When a
prisoner leaves his cell, he cannot bear the light of day--he is unable
to discriminate colours or to recognise faces. But the remedy is not to
remand him into his dungeon, but to accustom him to the rays of the sun.
The blaze of truth and liberty may at first dazzle and bewilder nations
which have become half-blind in the house of bondage. But let them gaze
on, and they will soon be able to bear it. In a few years men learn to
reason. The extreme violence of opinion subsides. Hostile theories
correct each other. The scattered elements of truth cease to conflict,
and begin to coalesce. And at length a system of justice and order is
educed out of the chaos.

"Many politicians of our time are in the habit of laying it down as a
self-evident proposition, that no people ought to be free till they are
fit to use their freedom. The maxim is worthy of the fool in the old
story, who resolved not to go into the water till he had learnt to swim.
If men are to wait for liberty till they become wise and good in
slavery, they may indeed wait for ever."

The speedy dissolution of family and state was prophesied by men when
first a girl took a public examination in geometry; whenever women have
been given complete control of their own property; when they have been
received into the professions and industries; and now in like manner
people dread the condition of things that they imagine might follow if
women are given the right to vote and to hold office. We may well
believe, with Lecky, that there are "certain eternal moral landmarks
which never can be removed." But no matter what our views may be of the
destinies, characteristics, functions, or limitations of the sex,
certain reforms are indispensable before woman and, through her, family
life can reach their highest development. Of these reforms I shall speak
briefly and with them close my history.

I. The double standard of morality for the sexes must gradually be
abolished.[423] Of all the sad commentaries on Christian nations none
is so pathetic or so tragical as the fact that for nineteen centuries
men have been tacitly and openly allowed, at least before marriage,
unrestrained liberty to indulge in sexual vice and intemperance, while
one false step on the part of the woman has condemned her to social
obloquy and, frequently, to a life on the street. This strange system, a
blasphemy against the Christ who suffered death in order to purify the
earth, has had its defenders not merely among the uneducated who do not
think, but even among the most acute intellects. The philosopher Hume
justifies it by commenting on the vastly greater consequences attendant
on vice in women than in men; divines like Jeremy Taylor have encouraged
it by urging women meekly to bear the sins of their husbands. This
subject is one of the great _taboos_ in modern society. Let me exhort
the reader to go to any physician and get from him the statistics of
gonorrhea and syphilis which he has met in his practice; let him learn
of the children born blind and of wives rendered invalid for life
because their husbands once sowed a crop of wild oats with the sanction
of society; let him read the Report of the Committee of Fifteen in New
York (G.P. Putnam's Sons, 1902) on _The Social Evil_, the records of the
Watch and Ward Society in Boston, or the recent report of the special
jury in New York which investigated the "White Slave Traffic."[424]

The plain facts are not pleasant. A system which has been in vogue from
the beginning of history cannot be changed in a decade; but the desired
state of things will be more speedily achieved and immediate good will
be accomplished by three reforms which may be begun at once--have begun,
in fact. In the first place, the "age of legal consent" should be
uniformly twenty-one. In most States to-day it is fourteen or
sixteen.[425] To the ordinary mind it is a self-evident proposition that
a girl of those ages, the slippery period of puberty, can but seldom
realise what she is doing when she submits herself to the lust of
scoundrels. But the minds of legislators pass understanding; and when, a
few years ago, a woman in the Legislature of Colorado proposed to have
the age of consent raised from sixteen to twenty-one, such a storm of
protest came from her male colleagues that the measure had to be
abandoned. In the second place the public should be made better
acquainted with the facts of prostitution. When people once realise
thoroughly what sickness and social ulcers result from the presence in
the city of New York of 100,000 debauched women (and the estimate is
conservative)--when they begin to reflect that their children must grow
up in such surroundings, then perhaps they will question the expediency
of the double standard of morality and will insist that what is wrong
for a woman is wrong for a man. It is a fact, to be borne carefully in
mind, that the vast majority of prostitutes begin their career below the
age of _eighteen_ and usually at the instigation of adult _men_, who
take advantage of their ignorance or of their poverty. If the miserable
Thaw trial did nothing else, it at least once more called public
attention to conditions which every intelligent man knows have existed
for years. Something can also be done by statute. New York has made
adultery a crime; and the State of Washington requires a physical
examination of the parties before marriage. In the third place,
physicians should take more pains to educate men to the knowledge that a
continent life is not a detriment to health--the contrary belief being
more widely spread than is usually suspected.

II. In the training of women, care should be taken to impress upon them
that they are not toys or spoiled children, but fellow-citizens, devoted
to the common task of advancing the ideals of the nation to their goal.

    The woman's cause is man's; they rise or sink
    Together, dwarf'd or godlike, bond or free:
    If she be small, slight-natured, miserable,
    How shall men grow?

TENNYSON, _The Princess_.

    A Being breathing thoughtful breath,
    A Traveller between life and death;
    The reason firm, the temperate will,
    Endurance, foresight, strength, and skill;
    A perfect Woman, nobly planned,
    To warn, to comfort, and command;
    And yet a Spirit still, and bright
    With something of an angel light.


Towards a higher conception of their duties, women are steadily
advancing. It often happens that the history of words will give a hint
of the progress of civilisation. Such a story is told by the use of
_lady_ and _woman_. Not many decades ago the use of the word _woman_ in
referring to respectable members of the sex was interpreted as a lack of
courtesy. To-day, women prefer to be called _women_.

III. Women should be given the full right to enter any profession or
business which they may desire. As John Stuart Mill says:

"The proper sphere for any human being is the highest sphere that being
is capable of attaining; and this cannot be ascertained without complete
liberty of choice."

"We are, as always, in a period of transition," remarks Mr.
Björkman,[426] "the old forms are falling away from us on every side.
Concerning the new ones we are still uncertain and divided. Whether
woman shall vote or not, is not the main issue. She will do so sooner or
later if it suits her. No, the imperative question confronting us is
this: What are we to do that her life once more may be full and useful
as it used to be? That question cannot be answered by anybody but
herself. Furthermore, it can only be answered on the basis of actual
experience. And urged onward by her never-failing power of intuition,
woman has for once taken to experimenting. She has, if you please,
become temporarily catabolic. But it means merely that she is seeking
for new means to fulfil her nature, not for ways of violating it. And
the best thing--nay, the only thing--man can do to help her is to stand
aside and keep his faith, both in her and in life. Whether it be the
franchise, or the running of railroads, or public offices, that her
eager hands and still more eager soul should happen to reach out for, he
must give her free way. All she wants is to find herself, and for this
purpose she must try everything that once was foreign to her being: the
trial over, she will instinctively and unfailingly pick out the right
new things to do, and will do them."

The opening up of professions and industries to woman has been of
incalculable benefit to her. Of old the unmarried woman could do little
except sit by the fire and spin or make clothing for the South Sea
Islanders. Her limited activities caused a corresponding influence on
her character. People who have nothing to do will naturally find an
outlet for their superfluous energy in gossip and all the petty things
of life; if isolated from a share in what the world is doing, they will
no less naturally develop eccentricities of character and will grow old
prematurely. To-day, by being allowed a part in civic and national
movements, women can "get out of themselves"--a powerful therapeutic
agent. Mrs. Ella Young, a woman of sixty, was last year made
Superintendent of the great Public School System of Chicago. Fräulein
Anna Heinrichsdorff is the first woman in Germany to get an engineer's
diploma, very recently bestowed upon her; an "excellent" mark was given
Fräulein Heinrichsdorff in every part of her examination by the Berlin
Polytechnic Institute. Miss Jean Gordon, the only factory inspector in
Louisiana, is at present waging a strong fight against the attempt to
exempt "first-class" theatres from the child-labour law. Mrs. Nellie
Upham, of Colorado, is President and General Manager of the Gold Divide
Mining, Milling, and Tunnel Company of Colorado and directs 300 workmen.
These are a few examples out of some thousands of what woman is
doing.[427] And yet there are men who do not believe she should do
anything but wash dishes and scrub.

Much more serious is the glaring discrepancy in the wages paid to men
and to women. For doing precisely the same work as a man and often doing
it better, woman receives a much lower wage. The reasons are several
and specious. We are told that men have families to support, that women
do not have such expensive tastes as men, that they are incapable of
doing as much as men, that by granting them equal wages one of the
inducements to marry is removed. These arguments are generally used with
the greatest gravity by bachelors. If men have families to support,
women by the hundreds support brothers and sisters and weak parents.
That they are incapable of doing as much sounds unconvincing to one who
has seen the work of sweat-shops. The argument that men have more
expensive tastes to satisfy is too feeble to deserve attention. Finally,
when men argue that women should be forced to marry by giving them
smaller wages, they are simply reverting to the time-honoured idea that
the goal of every women's ambition should be fixed as matrimony. If the
low wages of women produced no further consequence, one might dismiss
the matter as not of essential importance; but inadequate pay has been
found too frequently to be a direct cause of prostitution. No girl can
well keep body and soul together on four dollars a week and some
business managers have been known to inform their women employees with
frankness that a "gentleman friend" is a necessary adjunct to a limited

The women who suffer most from low wages are probably the teachers in
our primary schools. They start usually on a salary of about three
hundred and fifty dollars a year. For this each teacher performs all the
minute labour and bears all the nervous strain of instructing sixty
pupils six and a half hours a day and of correcting dozens of papers far
into the night. And when crime increases or the pupils are not
universally successful in business, the school teacher has the added
pleasure of getting blamed for it, being told that she ought to have
trained them better. These facts lend some colour to Mark Twain's sage
reflection that God at first made idiots--that was for practice; then
he made school boards.

One of the most interesting examples of recent evolution in the
industrial status of women is the decision of the Supreme Court of
Illinois in the so-called Ritchie Case. The last Legislature of Illinois
passed a law limiting to ten hours the working day of women in factories
and stores. Now, as far back as 1893, the Legislature had passed a
similar law limiting woman's labour to _eight_ hours; but the Supreme
Court in 1895 declared it unconstitutional on the ground that it was an
arbitrary and unreasonable interference with the right of women to
contract for the sale of their labour. When, therefore, this year a
ten-hour bill was tried, W.C. Ritchie, who had secured the nullification
of the act of 1893, again protested. The decision of the Court, rendered
April 21, 1910, is an excellent proof of the great advance made within
two decades in the position of women. Reversing completely its judgment
of 1895, the Court left far behind it mere technicalities of law and
found a sanction for its change of front in the experience of humanity
and of common sense. These are its conclusions:

"It is known to all men, and of what we know as men we cannot profess to
be ignorant as judges:

"That woman's physical structure and the performance of maternal
functions place her at a great disadvantage in the battle of life.

"That while a man can work for more than ten hours a day without injury
to himself, a woman, especially when the burdens of motherhood are upon
her, cannot.

"That while a man can work standing upon his feet for more than ten
hours a day, day after day, without injury to himself, a woman cannot.

"That to require a woman to stand upon her feet for more than ten hours
in any one day and to perform severe manual labour while thus standing
has the effect of impairing her health.

"And as weakly and sickly women cannot be the mothers of vigorous
children, it is of the greatest importance to the public that the State
take such measures as may be necessary to protect its women from the
consequences produced by long-continued manual labour in those
occupations which tend to break them down physically.

"It would seem obvious, therefore, that legislation which limits the
number of hours which women shall be permitted to work to ten hours in a
single day in such employments as are carried on in mechanical
establishments, factories, and laundries would tend to preserve the
health of women and assure the production of vigorous offspring by them
and would conduce directly to the health, morals, and general welfare of
the public, and that such legislation would fall clearly within the
police powers of the State."

IV. All phenomena that concern family life should be carefully studied
and their bearing on the state ascertained as exactly as possible.
There is no subject, for example, from which such wild conclusions are
drawn as the matter of divorce. The average moralist, but more
particularly the clergy, seeing the fairly astonishing increase in
divorce during the last decade, jump to the conclusion that family life
is decadent and immorality flagrantly on the increase. They point to the
indubitable fact that a century ago divorces were insignificant in
number; and they infer that morality was then on a much higher level
than it is now. Such alarmists neglect certain elementary facts. The
flippant manner in which marriage is treated by the Restoration
dramatists and by novelists of the 18th century, the callous sexual
morality revealed in diaries and in the conversations of men like
Johnson alone are sufficient to suggest the need of a readjustment of
one's view regarding the standard of morality in the past. A century ago
it was the duty of a gentleman to drink to excess; and it was presumed
that a guest had not enjoyed his dinner unless he was at least
comfortably the worse for liquor. This view of drunkenness is admirably
depicted in Dickens's _Pickwick Papers_, where intoxication is treated
throughout as something merely humorous.

There were just as many unhappy marriages formerly in proportion to the
population as there are to-day; but the wife was held effectually from
application for a divorce not only by rigid laws but by the sentiment of
society, which ostracised a divorced woman, and furthermore by her lack
of means and of opportunity for earning an independent livelihood.
To-day women are not inclined to tolerate a husband who is brutal or
debauched. Alarmists make a mistake when they place too much emphasis on
the seeming triviality of the reasons, justifying their course, which
wives advance when applying for a separation. For example, the phrase
"incompatibility of temperament" is in a great number of cases merely a
euphemism for something much worse. The clergy will counsel a woman to
bear with what they call Christian resignation a husband addicted to
drink or scarred by the diseases that are a consequence of sin.
Abstractly considered, this may conceivably be good advice. But viewed
in a common-sense way it is the duty of a woman to reflect on the
consequences of conceiving children from such a man; and the researches
of physicians will furnish her with incontrovertible facts regarding the
impaired health of the offspring of such a union. A law which would
permit of no divorce under such conditions, instead of benefiting the
state, would injure it in its most vital asset--healthy children, the
coming citizens. Doubtless the divorce laws in many States are too lax.
But sweeping generalities based on theory will not remedy matters.
Divorce may simply be a symptom, not a disease; a revolt against unjust
conditions; and the way to do away with divorce or reduce the frequency
of it is to remedy the evil social conditions which, in a great many
instances, are responsible.

The fact is, the institution of marriage is going through a crisis. The
old view that marriage is a complete merging of the wife in the husband
and that the latter is absolute monarch of his home is being questioned.
When a man with this idea and a woman with a far different one marry,
there is likely to be a clash. Marriage as a real partnership based on
equality of goods and of interests finds an increasing number of
advocates. There is great reason to believe that the issue will be only
for the good and that from doubt and revolt a more enduring ideal will
arise, based on a sure foundation of perfect understanding.


[415] See an excellent article on "The American Woman" by Miss Ida M.
Tarbell, in the _American Magazine_ for April, 1910.

[416] In 1893. "Be it resolved by the Second Legislature of the State of

"That the possession and exercise of suffrage by the women of Wyoming
for the past quarter of a century has wrought no harm and has done great
good in many ways; that it has largely aided in banishing crime,
pauperism, and vice from this State, and that without any violent and
oppressive legislation," etc.

[417] Women in Colorado have been of greatest service in establishing
the following laws:

1--Establishing a State Home for dependent children, three of the five
members of the board to be women.

2--Requiring that at least three of the six members of the county
visitors shall be women.

3--Making mothers joint guardians of their children with the fathers.

4--Raising the age of protection for girls to 18 years.

5--Establishing a State Industrial School for girls. There had long been
one for boys, but the women could not get one for girls until they had
the vote.

6--Removing the emblems from the Australian ballots. This is a little,
indirect step toward educational qualifications for voting.

7--Establishing the indeterminate sentence for prisoners.

8--Requiring one physician on the board of the Insane Asylum to be a

9--Establishing truant schools.

10--Making better provision for the care of the feeble-minded.

11--For tree preservation.

12--For the inspection of private eleemosynary institutions by the State
Board of Charities.

13--Various steps toward prevention of cruelty to animals.

14--Providing that foreign life and accident insurance companies, when
sued, must pay the costs.

15--Establishing a juvenile court.

16--Making education compulsory for all children between the ages of 8
and 16, except those who are ill or those who are 14 and have completed
the eighth grade, or those whose parents need their help and support.

17--Making the mother and father joint heirs of a deceased child.

18--Providing for union high schools.

19--Establishing a State travelling library commission.

20--Providing that any person employing a child under 14 in any mine,
mill, or factory be punished by imprisonment in addition to a fine.

21--Requiring the joint signature of the husband and wife to a mortgage
of a homestead.

22--Forbidding the insuring of the lives of children under 10.

23--Forbidding children of 16 or under to work more than six hours a day
in any mill, factory, or other occupation that may be unhealthful.

24--Making it a criminal offence to contribute to the delinquency of
children--the parental responsibility act.

25--Making it a misdemeanour to fail to support aged or infirm parents.

26--Providing that no woman shall work more than eight hours a day at
work requiring her to be on her feet.

27--Restricting the time for shooting doves.

28--Abolishing the binding out of girls committed to the Industrial
School until the age of 21.

29--A pure food law in harmony with the national law.

[418] In the _Boston Herald_ for June 4, 1910.

[419] Quoted in the _New York Times_ of Jan. 9, 1910.

[420] See, for example, Lyman Abbott in the _Outlook_ for Feb. 19, 1910.

[421] _American Magazine_, July, 1909.

[422] _History of European Morals_, vol. ii, pp. 379 and following. New
York, D. Appleton & Co., 1869.

[423] Note, for example, that in Maryland a man can get a divorce if his
wife has had sexual intercourse before marriage; _but a wife cannot get
a divorce from her husband if he has been guilty of the same thing_. In
Texas, adultery on the part of the wife entitles the husband to a
divorce; but the wife can obtain divorce from her husband only if he has
_abandoned_ her and _lived_ in adultery with another woman.

[424] On Jan. 12, 1910, a bill was introduced in the House of
Representatives to check the "White Slave Traffic" by providing a
penalty of ten years' imprisonment and a fine of five thousand dollars
for any one who engages in it.

[425] In some it is even lower; _ten_ in Georgia and Mississippi for

[426] In _Collier's Weekly_, Feb. 5, 1910.

[427] Note what the officers of the Chicago Juvenile Protective
Association, many of whom are women, accomplished in 1909-1910. These
women are fighting the agencies which make for juvenile crime mostly and
each officer has a specified "beat" to patrol. Last year their work
amounted to the following:

Complaints of selling liquors to minors investigated      295
Complaints of selling tobacco to minors investigated       52
Complaints of selling obscene postcards investigated       49
Complaints of poolrooms investigated                      203
Complaints of dance halls investigated                     92
Five and ten cent theatres visited                      1,013
Penny arcades visited                                      67
Saloons visited                                           735
Relief visits                                             174
Cases referred to relief organisations                    374
Legal aid cases referred                                  105
Referred to Visiting Nurses' Association                    7
Housing cases referred                                     51
Applications for work referred                            264
Placed in hospitals                                       103
Sent to dispensaries                                      192
Children placed in homes                                  240
Slot machines removed                                     223
Work found for men                                         57
Work found for women                                       81
Work found for boys                                        84
Work found for girls                                       90
Visits to ice-cream parlors                               356
Visits to candy stores                                    805


Juvenile                                                  451
Municipal                                               1,809
Criminal                                                  211
County                                                     86
Grand Jury                                                 26
Conferences with state or city officials                1,244


Cases of abandonment                                     99
Assault and battery                                       8
Contributing to delinquency and dependency of children  232
Crimes against children                                  12
Disorderly conduct                                      141
Immoral dancing                                           4
Intoxicating liquors                                     33
Juvenile Court cases                                     78
Larceny                                                   4
Tobacco                                                  10
Sale of cocaine                                           4
Other cases                                             110
Total prosecutions                                      738

Convictions                                             311
Settled out of court                                    100
Nolle pros, or nonsuit                                   52
Dismissed                                                93
Acquittals                                               50
Pending                                                  92
Total complaints received                             5,047



In the four years intervening since this book was first written, the
progress of equal rights for women has been so rapid that the summary on
pages 175-235 is now largely obsolete; but it is useful for comparison.
In the United States at present (August, 1914), Wyoming, Colorado, Utah,
Idaho, Washington, California, Oregon, Kansas, Arizona, and Alaska have
granted full suffrage to women. In the following States the voters will
pass upon the question in the autumn of 1914: Montana, Nevada, North
Dakota, South Dakota, Missouri, Nebraska, and Ohio, the last three by
initiative petition. In New Jersey, Pennsylvania, Iowa, New York, and
Massachusetts a constitutional amendment for equal suffrage has passed
one legislature and must pass another before being submitted to the
people. The advance has been world-wide. Thus, in 1910 the Gaekwar of
Baroda in India allowed the women of his dominions a vote in municipal
elections, and Bosnia bestowed the parliamentary suffrage on women who
owned a certain amount of real estate; Norway in 1913 and Iceland in
1914 were won to full suffrage. The following table presents a
convenient historical summary of the progress in political rights:

On July 2, 1776, two days before the Declaration of Independence was
signed, New Jersey, in her first State constitution, en-franchised the
women by changing the words of her provincial charter from "Male
freeholders worth £50" to "_all inhabitants_ worth £50," and for 31
years the women of that State voted.


Eighty years ago women could not vote anywhere, except to a very limited
extent in Sweden and in a few other places in the Old World.


1838    Kentucky        School suffrage to widows with children
                           of school age.
1850    Ontario         School suffrage, women married and
1861    Kansas          School suffrage.
1867    New South Wales Municipal suffrage.
1869    England         Municipal suffrage, single women and
        Victoria        Municipal suffrage, married and single
        Wyoming         Full suffrage.
1871    West Australia  Municipal suffrage.
1875    Michigan        School suffrage.
        Minnesota       Do.
1876    Colorado        Do.
1877    New Zealand     Do.
1878    New Hampshire   Do.
        Oregon          Do.
1879    Massachusetts   Do.
1880    New York        Do.
        Vermont         Do.
        South Australia Municipal suffrage.
1881    Scotland        Municipal suffrage to the single women
                           and widows.
        Isle of Man     Parliamentary suffrage.
1883    Nebraska        School suffrage.
1884    Ontario         Municipal suffrage.
        Tasmania        Do.
1886    New Zealand     Do.
        New Brunswick   Do.
1887    Kansas          Do.
        Nova Scotia     Do.
        Manitoba        Do.
        North Dakota    School suffrage.
        South Dakota    Do.


1887  Montana . . . . . . . School suffrage
      Arizona . . . . . . .   Do.
      New Jersey  . . . . .   Do.
      Montana . . . . . . . Tax-paying suffrage.
1888  England . . . . . . . County suffrage.
      British Columbia. . . Municipal Suffrage.
      Northwest Territory .   Do.
1889  Scotland. . . . . . . County suffrage.
      Province of Quebec. . Municipal suffrage, single women and
1891  Illinois. . . . . . . School suffrage.
1893  Connecticut . . . . .   Do.
      Colorado. . . . . . . Full suffrage.
      New Zealand . . . . .   Do.
1894  Ohio. . . . . . . . . School suffrage.
      Iowa. . . . . . . . . Bond suffrage.
      England . . . . . . . Parish and district suffrage, married and
                              single women.
1895  South Australia . . .  Full State suffrage.
1896  Utah. . . . . . . . .  Full suffrage.
      Idaho . . . . . . . .    Do.
1898  Ireland . . . . . . .  All offices except members of Parliament.
      Minnesota . . . . . .  Library trustees.
      Delaware. . . . . . .  School suffrage to tax-paying women.
      France. . . . . . . .  Women engaged in commerce can vote
                               for judges of the tribunal of commerce.
      Louisiana . . . . . .  Tax-paying suffrage.
1900  Wisconsin . . . . . .  School suffrage.
      West Australia. . . .  Full State suffrage.
1901  New York. . . . . . .  Tax-paying suffrage; local taxation in
                               all towns and villages of the State.
      Norway. . . . . . . .  Municipal suffrage.
1902  Australia . . . . . .  Full suffrage.
      New South Wales . . .  Full State suffrage.
1903  Kansas. . . . . . . .  Bond suffrage.
      Tasmania. . . . . . .  Full State suffrage.
1905  Queensland. . . . . .    Do.
1906  Finland . . . . . . .  Full suffrage; eligible for all offices.
1907  Norway. . . . . . . .  Full parliamentary suffrage to the 300,000
                               women who already had municipal
      Sweden. . . . . . . .  Eligible to municipal offices.
      Denmark . . . . . . .  Can vote for members of boards of public
                               charities and serve on such boards.
      England . . . . . . .  Eligible as mayors, aldermen, and county
                               and town councilors.
      Oklahoma. . . . . . .  New State continued school suffrage for
1908  Michigan. . . . . . .  Taxpayers to vote on question of local
                               taxation and granting of franchises.
      Denmark . . . . . . .  Women who are taxpayers or wives of
                               taxpayers vote for all offices except
                               members of Parliament.
      Victoria. . . . . . .  Full State suffrage.
1909  Belgium . . . . . . .  Can vote for members of the conseils
                               des prudhommes, and also eligible.
      Province of Voralberg  Single women and widows paying taxes
        (Austrian Tyrol)       were given a vote.
      Ginter Park, VA . . .  Tax-paying women, a vote on all
                               municipal questions.
1910  Washington. . . . . .  Full suffrage.
      New Mexico. . . . . .  School suffrage.


1910  Norway. . . . . . . . Municipal suffrage made universal.
                              Three-fifths of the women had it
      Bosnia. . . . . . . . Parliamentary vote to women owning a
                              certain amount of real estate.
      Diet of the Crown . . Suffrage to the women of its capital city
        Prince of Krain       Laibach.
      India (Gaekwar of . . Women in his dominions vote in municipal
        Baroda)               elections.
      Wurttemberg . . . . . Women engaged in agriculture vote for
        Kingdom of            members of the chamber of agriculture;
                              also eligible.
      New York. . . . . . . Women in all towns, villages and
                              third-class cities vote on bonding
1911  California. . . . . . Full suffrage.
      Honduras. . . . . . . Municipal suffrage in capital city, Belize.
      Iceland . . . . . . . Parliamentary suffrage for women over
                              25 years.
1912  Oregon. . . . . . . . Full suffrage.
      Arizona . . . . . . .  Do.
      Kansas. . . . . . . .  Do.
1913  Alaska. . . . . . . .  Do.
      Norway. . . . . . . .  Do.
      Illinois. . . . . . . Suffrage for statutory officials
                              (including presidential electors and
                              municipal officers).
1914  Iceland . . . . . . . Full suffrage.

In the United States the struggle for the franchise has entered national
politics, a sure sign of its widening scope. The demand for equal
suffrage was embodied in the platform of the Progressive Party in
August, 1912. This marks an advance over Col. Roosevelt's earlier view,
expressed in the _Outlook_ of February 3, 1912, when he said: "I believe
in woman's suffrage wherever the women want it. Where they do not want
it, the suffrage should not be forced upon them." When the new
administration assumed office in March, 1913, the friends of suffrage
worked to secure a constitutional amendment which should make votes for
women universal in the United States. The inauguration ceremonies were
marred by an attack of hoodlums on the suffrage contingent of the
parade. Mr. Hobson in the House denounced the outrage and mentioned the
case of a young lady, the daughter of one of his friends, who was
insulted by a ruffian who climbed upon the float where she was. Mr.
Mann, the Republican minority leader, remarked in reply that her
daughter ought to have been at home. Commenting on this dialogue,
_Collier's Weekly_ of April 5, 1913, recalled the boast inscribed by
Rameses III of Egypt on his monuments, twelve hundred years before
Christ: "To unprotected women there is freedom to wander through the
whole country wheresoever they list without apprehending danger." If one
works this out chronologically, said the editor, Mr. Mann belongs
somewhere back in the Stone Age. In the Senate an active committee on
woman suffrage was formed under the chairmanship of Mr. Thomas, of
Colorado. The vote on the proposed new amendment was taken in the Senate
on March 19, 1914, and it was rejected,[428] 35 to 34, two-thirds being
necessary before the measure could be submitted to the States for
ratification. In the House Mr. Underwood, Democratic minority leader,
took the stand that suffrage was purely a State issue. Mr. Heflin of
Alabama was particularly vigorous in denunciation of votes for women. He

"I do not believe that there is a red-blooded man in the world who in
his heart really believes in woman suffrage. I think that every man who
favours it ought to be made to wear a dress. Talk about taxation without
representation! Do you say that the young man who is of age does not
represent his mother? Do you say that the young man who pledges at the
altar to love, cherish, and protect his wife, does not represent her and
his children when he votes? When the Christ of God came into this world
to die for the sins of humanity, did he not die for all, males and
females? What sort of foolish stuff are you trying to inject into this
tariff debate?... There are trusts and monopolies of every kind, and
these little feminine fellows are crawling around here talking about
woman suffrage. I have seen them here in this Capitol. The suffragette
and a little henpecked fellow crawling along beside her; that is her
husband. She is a suffragette, and he is a mortal suffering yet."

Mr. Falconer of Washington rose in reply. He remarked:[430]

"I want to observe that the mental operation of the average woman in the
State of Washington, as compared to the ossified brain operation of the
gentleman from Alabama, would make him look like a mangy kitten in a
tiger fight. The average woman in the State of Washington knows more
about social economics and political economy in one minute than the
gentleman from Alabama has demonstrated to the members of this House
that he knows in five minutes."

On February 2, 1914, a delegation of women called upon President Wilson
to ascertain his views. The President refused to commit himself. He was
not at liberty, he said, to urge upon Congress policies which had not
the endorsement of his party's platform; and as the representative of
his party he was under obligations not to promulgate or intimate his
individual convictions. On February 3, 1914, the Democrats of the House
in caucus, pursuant to a resolution of Mr. Heflin, refused to create a
woman suffrage committee. So the constitutional amendment was quite
lost. In the following July Mr. Bryan suddenly issued a strong appeal
for equal suffrage in the _Commoner_. Among his arguments were these:

"As man and woman are co-tenants of the earth and must work out their
destiny together, the presumption is on the side of equality of
treatment in all that pertains to their joint life and its
opportunities. The burden of proof is on those who claim for one an
advantage over the other in determining the conditions under which both
shall live. This claim has not been established in the matter of
suffrage. On the contrary, the objections raised to woman suffrage
appear to me to be invalid, while the arguments advanced in support of
the proposition are, in my judgment, convincing."

"Without minimising other arguments advanced in support of the extending
of suffrage to woman, I place the emphasis upon the mother's right to a
voice in molding the environment which shall surround her children--an
environment which operates powerfully in determining whether her
offspring will crown her latter years with joy or 'bring down her gray
hairs in sorrow to the grave.'

"For a time I was imprest by the suggestion that the question should be
left to the women to decide--a majority to determine whether the
franchise should be extended to woman; but I find myself less and less
disposed to indorse this test.... Why should any mother be denied the
use of the franchise to safeguard the welfare of her child merely
because another mother may not view her duty in the same light?"

The change in the status of women has been significant not only in the
political field, but also in every other direction. A brief survey of
the legislation of various States in the past year, 1913, reveals the
manifold measures already adopted for the further protection of women
and indicates the trend of laws in the near future. Acts were passed in
Arkansas, Kansas, Missouri, New Mexico, and Ohio to punish the seduction
of girls and women for commercialised vice, the laws being known as
"White Slave Acts"; laws for the abatement of disorderly houses were
passed in California, Minnesota, Oregon, Pennsylvania, and Washington;
Oregon decreed that male applicants for a marriage license must produce
a physician's certificate showing freedom from certain diseases; and it
authorised the sterilisation of habitual criminals and degenerates. The
necessity of inculcating chastity in the newer generation, whether
through the teaching of sex hygiene in the schools or in some other
form, was widely discussed throughout the country. Mothers' pensions
were granted by fourteen States; minimum wage boards were established by
three; and three passed laws for the punishment of family desertion, in
such wise that the family of the offender should receive a certain daily
sum from the State while he worked off his sentence. Tennessee removed
the disability of married women arising from coverture. Ten States
further limited the hours of labour for women in certain industries, the
tendency being to fix the limit at fifty-four or fifty-eight hours a
week with a maximum of nine or ten in any one day. The hours of labour
of children and the age at which they are allowed to work were largely
restricted. A National Children's Bureau, under the charge of Miss Julia
Lathrope, has been created at Washington; and Mrs. J. Borden Harriman
was appointed to the Industrial Relations Commission. The minuteness and
thoroughness of modern legislation for the protection of women may be
realised by noting that in 1913 alone New York passed laws that no girl
under sixteen shall in any city of the first, second, or third class
sell newspapers or magazines or shine shoes in any street or public
place; that separate wash rooms and dressing rooms must be provided in
factories where more than ten women are employed; that whenever an
employer requires a physical examination, the employee, if a female, can
demand a physician of her own sex; that the manufacture or repair for a
factory of any article of food, dolls' clothing, and children's apparel
in a tenement house be prohibited except by special permit of the Labor
Commission; that the State Industrial Board be authorised to make
special rules and regulations for dangerous employments; and that the
employment of women in canning establishments be strictly limited
according to prescribed hours.

The unmistakable trend of legislation in the United States is towards
complete equality of the sexes in all moral, social, industrial,
professional, and political activities.

In England the House of Commons rejected parliamentary suffrage for
women. Incensed at the repeated chicanery of politicians who
alternately made and evaded their promises, a group of suffragettes
known as the "militants" resorted to open violence. When arrested for
damaging property, they went on a "hunger strike," refusing all
nourishment. This greatly embarrassed the government, which in 1913
devised the so-called "Cat and Mouse Act," whereby those who are in
desperate straits through their refusal to eat are released temporarily
and conditionally, but can be rearrested summarily for failure to comply
with the terms of their parole. The weakness in the attitude of the
militant suffragettes is their senseless destruction of all kinds of
property and the constant danger to which they subject innocent people
by their outrages. If they would confine themselves to making life
unpleasant for those who have so often broken their pledges, they could
stand on surer ground. The English are commonly regarded as an orderly
people, especially by themselves. Nevertheless, it is true that hardly
any great reform has been achieved in England without violence. The men
of England did not secure the abolition of the "rotten-borough" system
and extensive manhood suffrage until, in 1831, they smashed the windows
of the Duke of Wellington's house, burned the castle of the Duke of
Newcastle, and destroyed the Bishop's palace at Bristol. In 1839 at
Newport twenty chartists were shot in an attempt to seize the town; they
were attempting to secure reforms like the abolition of property
qualifications for members of Parliament. The English obtained the
permanent tenure of their "immemorial rights" only by beheading one king
and banishing another. In our own country, the Boston Tea Party was a
typical "militant outrage," generally regarded as a fine piece of
patriotism. If the tradition of England is such that violence must be a
preliminary to all final persuasion, perhaps censure of the militants
can find some mitigation in that fact. Some things move very slowly in
England. In 1909 a commission was appointed to consider reform in
divorce. Under the English law a husband can secure a divorce for
infidelity, but a woman must, in addition to adultery, prove aggravated
cruelty. This is humorously called "British fair play." In November,
1912, the majority of the commission recommended that this inequality be
removed and that the sexes be placed on an equal footing; and that in
addition to infidelity, now the only cause for divorce allowed, complete
separation be also granted for desertion for three years, incurable
insanity, and incurable habitual drunkenness. The majority, nine
commissioners, found that the present stringent restrictions and
costliness of divorce are productive of immorality and illicit
relations, particularly among the poorer classes. The majority report
was opposed by the three minority members, the Archbishop of York, Sir
William Anson, and Sir Lewis Dibdin, representing the Established
Church of England and the Roman Catholic Church. Thus far, Parliament
has not yet acted and the old law is still in force.

On the Continent, with the exception of a few places like Finland, the
movement for equal suffrage, while earnestly pressed by a few, is not
yet concentrated. Women have won their rights to higher education and
are admitted to the universities. They can usually enter business and
most of the professions. Inequities of civil rights are gradually being
swept away. For example, in Germany a married woman has complete control
of her property, but only if she specifically provided for it in the
marriage contract; many German women are ignorant that they possess such
a right. The Germans may be divided into two classes: the caste which
rules, largely Prussian, militaristic, and bureaucratic; and that which,
although desirous of more republican institutions and potentially
capable of liberal views, is constrained to obey the first or ruling
class. This upper class is not friendly to the modern women's-rights
movement. Perhaps it has read too much Schopenhauer. This amiable
philosopher, whose own mother could not endure living with him, has this
to say of women[431]:

"A woman who is perfectly truthful and does not dissemble, is perhaps an
impossibility. In a court of justice women are more often found guilty
of perjury than men.... Women are directly adapted to act as the nurses
and educators of our early childhood, for the simple reason that they
themselves are childish, foolish, and shortsighted.... Women are and
remain, taken altogether, the most thorough and incurable Philistines;
and because of the extremely absurd arrangement which allows them to
share the position and title of their husbands they are a constant
stimulus to his ignoble ambitions.... Where are there any real
monogamists? We all live, at any rate for a time, and the majority of us
always, in polygamy.... It is men who make the money, and not women;
therefore women are neither justified in having unconditional possession
of it nor capable of administering it.... That woman is by nature
intended to obey, is shown by the fact that every woman who is placed in
the unnatural position of absolute independence at once attaches herself
to some kind of man, by whom she is controlled and governed; that is
because she requires a master. If she is young, the man is a lover; if
she is old, a priest."

Essentially the opinion of Schopenhauer is that of the Prussian ruling
class to-day. It is indisputable that in Germany, as elsewhere on the
Continent, chastity in men outside of marriage is not expected, nor is
the wife allowed to inquire into her husband's past. The bureaucratic
German expects his wife to attend to his domestic comforts; he does not
consult her in politics. The natural result when the masculine element
has not counterchecks is bullying and coarseness. To find the
coarseness, the reader can consult the stories in papers like the
_Berliner Tageblatt_ and much of the current drama; to observe the
bullying, he will have to see it for himself, if he doubts it. This is
not an indictment of the whole German people; it is an indictment of the
militaristic-bureaucratic ruling class, which, persuaded of its divine
inspiration and intolerant of criticism,[432] has plunged the country
into a devastating war. It is not unlikely that the end of the conflict
will mark also the overthrow of the Hohenzollern dynasty. The spirit of
the Germans of 1848, who labored unsuccessfully to make their country a
republic, may awake again and realise its dreams. In concluding this
chapter, I wish to enlarge somewhat upon the philosophy of suffrage as
exhibited in the preceding chapter. The "woman's sphere" argument is
still being worked overtime by anti-suffrage societies, whose members
rather inconsistently leave their "sphere," the home, to harangue in
public and buttonhole legislators to vote against the franchise for
women. "A woman's place," says the sage Hennessy, "is in th' home,
darning her husband's childher. I mean----" "I know what ye mean," says
Mr. Dooley. "'Tis a favrite argument iv mine whin I can't think iv
annything to say." A century ago, the home was the woman's sphere.
To-day the man has deliberately dragged her out of it to work for him in
factory and store because he can secure her labor more cheaply than that
of men and is, besides, safer in abusing her when she has no direct
voice in legislation. Are the manufacturers willing to send their
1,300,000 female employees back to their "sphere"? If they are not, but
desire their labor, they ought in fairness to allow them the privileges
of workmen--that is, of citizens, participating actively in the
political, social, and economic development of the country.

As women enter more largely into every profession and business, certain
results will inevitably follow. We shall see first of all what pursuits
are particularly adapted to them and which ones are not. It has already
become apparent that as telephone and typewriter operators women, as a
class, are better fitted than men. They have, in general, greater
patience for details and quickness of perception in these fields.
Similarly, in architecture some have already achieved conspicuous
success. One who has observed the insufficient closet space in modern
apartments and kitchenettes with the icebox in front of the stove, is
inclined to wish that male architects would consult their mothers or
wives more freely. In law and medicine results are not yet clear. We
shall presently possess more extensive data in all fields for surer

A second result may be, that many women, instead of leaving the home,
will be forced back into it. This movement will be accelerated if the
granting of equal pay for equal work and a universal application of the
minimum wage take place. There are a great number of positions,
especially those where personality is not a vital factor, where
employers will prefer women when they can pay them less; but if they
must give equal pay, they will choose men. Hence the tendency of the
movements mentioned is to throw certain classes of women back into the
home. The home of the future, however, will have lost much of the
drudgery and monotony once associated with it. The ingenious
labor-saving devices, like the breadmixer, the fireless cooker, the
vacuum cleaner, and the electric iron, the propagation of scientific
knowledge in the rearing of children, and wider outlets for outside
interests, will tend to make domestic life an exact science, a
profession as important and attractive as any other.

The home is not necessarily every woman's sphere and neither is
motherhood. Neither is it every woman's congenital duty to make herself
attractive to men. The "woman's pages" of newspapers, filled with
gratuitous advice on these subjects, never tell men that their duty is
fatherhood or that they should make themselves attractive or that their
sphere is also the home. Until these one-sided points of view are
adjusted to a more reasonable basis, we shall not reach an
understanding. They are as unjust as the farmer who ploughs with a steam
plow and lets his wife cart water from a distant well instead of
providing convenient plumbing.

Women who are fitted for motherhood and have a talent for it can enter
it with advantage. There is a talent for motherhood exactly as there is
for other things. Other women have genius which can be of greatest
service to the community in other ways. They should have opportunity to
find their sphere. If this is "Feminism," it is also simple justice. One
reason that we are at sea in some of the problems of the women's-rights
movement, is that the history of women has been mainly written by men.
The question of motherhood, the sexual life of women, and the position
of women as it has been or is likely to be affected by their sexual
characteristics, must be more exactly ascertained before definite
conclusions can be reached. At present there is too much that we don't
know. We need more scientific investigations of the type of Mr. Havelock
Ellis's admirable _Studies in the Psychology of Sex_[433] and less of
pseudo-scientific lucubrations like Otto Weininger's _Sex and
Character_. When human society has rid itself of the bogies and
nightmares, superstitions and prejudices, which have borne upon it with
crushing force, it will be in a better position to construct an ideal
system of government. Meanwhile experiments are and must be made. Woman
suffrage is not necessarily a reform; it is a necessary step in

One venerable bogey I wish to dispose of before I close. It is that the
Roman Empire was ruined and collapsed because the increasing liberty
given to women and the equality granted the sexes under the Empire
produced immorality that destroyed the State. The trouble with Rome was
that it failed to grasp the fundamentals of economic law. Slavery, the
concentration of land in a few hands, and the theory that all taxation
has for its end the enriching of a select few, were the fallacies which,
in the last analysis, caused the collapse of the Roman Empire. The
luxury, immorality, and race-suicide which are popularly conceived to
have been the immediate causes of Rome's decline and fall, were in
reality the logical results, the inevitable attendant phenomena of a
political system based on a false hypothesis. For when wealth was
concentrated in a few hands, when there was no all-embracing popular
education, all incentives to thrift, to private initiative, and hence to
the development of the sturdy moral qualities which thrift and
initiative cause and are the product of, were stifled. A nation can
reach its maximum power only when, through the harmonious cooperation
of all its parts, the initiative and talents of every individual have
free scope, untrammeled by special privilege, to reach that sphere for
which nature has designed him or her.

NOTE: The official organ of the National American Woman Suffrage
Association is _The Woman's Journal_, published weekly. The headquarters
are at 505 Fifth Avenue, New York City.

England has two organisations which differ in methods. The National
Union of Women's Suffrage Societies has adopted the constitutional or
peaceful policy; it publishes _The Common Cause_, a weekly, at 2 Robert
Street, Adelphi, W.C., London. The "militant" branch of suffragettes
forms the National Women's Social and Political Union, and its weekly
paper is _Votes for Women_, Lincoln's Inn House, Kingsway, W.C.

The International Woman Suffrage Alliance issues the _Jus Suffragii_
monthly at 62 Kruiskade, Rotterdam.

A good source from which to obtain the present status of women in Europe
is the _Englishwoman's Year Book and Directory for 1914_, published by
Adam and Charles Black.


[428] Twenty-six senators did not vote. The question of negro suffrage
complicated the matter with Southern senators. Mr. Williams of
Mississippi wished to limit the franchise to "white citizens"; but his
amendment was voted down. The list of senators voting for and against
the woman suffrage amendment appears on page 5472 of the Congressional
Record, March 19, 1914. The debate is contained in pages 5454-5472.
Senator Tillman of South Carolina inserted a vicious attack on northern
women by the late Albert Bledsoe, who advised them to "cut their hair
short, and their petticoats, too, and enter a la bloomer the ring of
political prizefighters." Bledsoe's article will be found in the Record,
July 28, 1913, 3115-3119.

[429] Record, May 6, 1913, 1221-1222.

[430] Record, May 6, 1913, 1222.

[431] Essays of Schopenhauer. Translated by Mrs. Rudolf Dircks Pages

[432] Any criticism of the Kaiser leads to arrest. The most vigorous
checks to Bourbon rule come from the Socialists, who in 1912 polled
4,250,300 votes. But as the Kaiser, as King of Prussia, controls a
majority of votes in the Bundesrath, or Federal Council, can dissolve
the Reichstag, or House of Representatives, at any time with the consent
of the Bundesrath, has sole power to appoint the chancellor, and is lord
supreme of the army and navy, anything like real popular government is
far off.

[433] Philadelphia, 1906. The F.A. Davis Company.



Adultery, under Roman Law,
  laws modified by Justinian,
  among Germanic peoples,
  see also under various States.

Age of Consent, under English Law,
  in the United States,
  see also under various States.


Apostles, teachings about women,



Attainder, bills of, in Roman Empire,
  laws of Arcadius, Honorius, and Constantine,
  of Pope Innocent III.


Breach of Promise, under Roman Law,
  modification by Constantine,
  by Justinian,

Business, woman in, under Roman Empire,
  in England,
  in the United States
  see also under each State



Chastisement, right of husband to chastise wife under English Law,

Christ, teachings about women,



Consent of women to marriage, under Roman Law,
  opinions of Church Fathers,
  enactments of Christian Emperors,

Crimes against women, under Roman Law,
  among Germanic peoples,
  under English Law,

Curtesy, defined,
  under English Law,
  see also under various States.

Custom, power of,



Discrepancy in wages paid to women,

District of Columbia,

Divorce, under Roman Law;
  modified by Theodosius and Valentinian;
  by Justinian;
  by Justin;
  among Germanic peoples;
  under Canon Law;
  under English Law;
  general considerations;
  see also under various States.
Double standard of morality
Dower, defined;
  right of, in English Law;
  see also under different States.
Dowry, under Roman Law;
  among ancient Gauls;
  among Germanic peoples


Education, rights of women to an,
  under Roman Empire;
  in England;
  in the United States


Fathers of the Church, their commands concerning women


Gifts between husband and wife, under Roman Law;
  changes by Justinian
Guardian, decay of power of, under Roman Law
Guardians, women as, under Roman Law;
  laws modified by Justinian;
  see also under various States.
Guardianship under Roman Law;
  among Germanic peoples,


Husband and wife, under Roman Law;
  among Germanic peoples;
  under Canon Law;
  under English Law;
  see also under various States


  Ritchie case,
Indian Territory
Inheritance rights of women, under Roman Law;
  modified by Justinian;
  among Germanic peoples;
  under English Law
Intellectual inferiority of women, argument discussed


Jewish ideas about women




Lecky, analysis of character of women


Macaulay on the effects of freedom
Marriage, women in, under Roman Law;
  opinions of Church Fathers;
  among ancient Gauls and Germans;
  among Germanic peoples;
  under Canon Law;
  under English Law;
  modern changes in views of;
  see also under various States.
Moral argument against suffrage


New Hampshire
New Jersey
New Mexico
New York
North Carolina
North Dakota


Old Maid, treatment of, by Christians


Partiality of Roman Law to women
Physiological argument against suffrage
Political or social argument against suffrage
Power of father, under Roman Law;
  under early Christians;
  among Germanic peoples;
  under English Law
Professions, women in, in England;
  in United States, and see under
  various States;
  need of opening all, to women
Property rights of married women, under Roman Law;
  among Germanic peoples;
  under English Law;
  of widows and single women, under Roman Law;
    among Germanic peoples;
    under English
  in the United States,
Protection of property of children under Roman Law,


Respect for women, among Romans,
  among ancient Germans,
Rhode Island,
Ritchie case in Illinois,
Roman Catholic Church, attitude to women,


Second marriages, opinions of Church Fathers concerning,
  Legislation of Christian Emperors,
Slaves, women, under Roman Law,
  among Germanic peoples,
  under Canon Law,
South Carolina,
South Dakota,
Suffrage, woman, in England,
  in the United States,
  see also under various States.
Suits, women engaging in, under Roman Law,


Theological argument against women's rights,
Training of women for higher ideals,




Vestal Virgins,


West Virginia,
Women: see under _Divorce, Dowry, Marriage, Husband and Wife_, etc.



Advance of equal suffrage, chronological tables,
Amendment, constitutional, for suffrage;
  rejected by Senate;
  and by House


Bryan, favours suffrage


Cat and Mouse Act


Divorce, proposals for reform defeated in England


Europe, general status of women's rights in


Falconer, Congressman, reply to Heflin


Germany, position of women in


Heflin, Congressman, speech on suffrage


Journals, official, of various women's organisations


Legislation, most recent examples of, for protection of


Mann, Congressman, remarks on suffrage parade
Militant suffragettes


Roman Empire, assumption that its fall was due to liberty allowed women
Roosevelt, opinion on suffrage


Schopenhauer, remarks on nature of women
Sphere, woman's sphere argument


Tendencies and results of women's rights movement


Wilson, President, position on suffrage

*** End of this LibraryBlog Digital Book "A Short History of Women's Rights - From the Days of Augustus to the Present Time. with Special Reference - to England and the United States. Second Edition Revised, With - Additions." ***

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