Speech of Rev. William B. Greene, of Brookfield.
Template:WilliamBGreene After leaving the West Brookfield church, and before moving to France, William Batchelder Greene served as the South Brookfield representative to the state Constitutional Convention. This speech was reprinted by the ‘’Liberator’’, August 19, 1853.
Speech to 1853 Massachusetts Constitutional Convention
Mr. GREENE, of Brookfield: I maintain, first, that the people have a certain natural right, which, under special conditions of society, manifests itself in the form of a right to vote. I maintain, secondly, that the women of Massachusetts are people existing under those special conditions of society. I maintain, finally, and by necessary consequence, that the women of Massachusetts have a natural right to vote. I am but a recent convert to the doctrine of women's rights, never having meditated upon the matter before the famous question was propounded by our good friend from Salem, (Mr. Lord,) "'Who are the people?" I have been unable, therefore, to prepare myself with statistics. I know nothing of women's wrongs, and, with the permission of the Committee, will argue the question solely upon abstract and general grounds. I had the honor, when I spoke before, to define the people of Massachusetts as being that collective body, which includes within itself all rational creatures existing within the limits of the Commonwealth. My definition was criticized at the time, on the ground that idiots, madmen, and immature children, are people. Certain gentlemen proposed to bring in petitions from the children of this Commonwealth, praying that children also might be permitted to vote. I adhere to my original statement. The word "people" has a specific and political sense, for not all that are governed are people. Oxen and horses are certainly governed, but they are not people, and that for the reason that dumb creatures are incapable of giving consent to government. No living creature can be recognized as one of the people, if that living creature has not rational faculties by which it can either consent or refuse to become the subject of government. The fundamental doctrine of our republic is this, that governments derive their just powers from the consent of the governed. Oxen and horses cannot give their consent to government, neither can madmen, idiots, or immature children, give their consent; and, therefore, it follows, on account of this natural incapacity, that none of these can be recognized as people. The people are they upon whom shines that intellectual light which enlighteneth every man that cometh into the world; and I maintain that women are capable of receiving that intellectual light, are rational creatures, human beings, enjoying all the faculties which belong to human beings. I would call the attention of the Committee, for a moment, before I endeavor to prove the propositions I enunciated at the beginning of my remarks, to certain principles which are generally acknowledged to be correct by the people of this Commonwealth; and in order that I may support no principles, except such as will meet the acceptance of the Committee, I will quote the express words of the Bill of Rights. In the preamble to the Constitution we read: "The end of the institution, maintenance and administration of government, is to secure the existence of the body politic; to protect it; and to furnish the individuals who compose it with the power of enjoying in safety and tranquility their natural rights and the blessings of life; and whenever these great objects are not obtained, the people have a right to alter the government, and to take measures necessary for their safety, prosperity and happiness." I would have the Committee mark that the preamble to the Constitution does not say, that the legal voters shall have the right to "alter the government, and take measures necessary for their safety, prosperity and happiness," but that "the people" have this right. Now, if women are people, (and the Convention have already affirmed, by a solemn vote, that women are people,) they have a right to "alter the government, and take measures necessary for their safety, prosperity and happiness." We read, in the same preamble, that "the body politic is formed by a voluntary association of individuals; is a social compact, by which the whole people covenants with each citizen, and each citizen with the whole people, that all shall be governed by certain laws for the common good." I do not believe that any body politic was ever formed in this way. I suppose that the social compact is the ideal of human government, and not the origin, and that human government becomes perfect in the proportion that it attains to conformity to this perfect pattern. Acknowledging, however, the statement of the preamble to be the true theory of government-true, at least, in idea-I would ask you what you will do with those two thousand women who have petitioned for the right of voting upon the amendments to the Constitution? You say that the body politic is a social compact, by which you mean that it is the result of a social compact, and you say that "it is a social compact by which the whole people covenants with each citizen, and each citizen with the whole people." But here are two thousand women who have demanded the right to vote upon the amendments to the Constitution--that is to say, have demanded to enter into this covenant—what do you propose to do with them. I suppose I shall be obliged to take the stump in favor of the measures that we approve in this Convention. I suppose I shall have to endeavor to defend the course of action upon which we may have entered. And now, Sir, permit me to ask what I shall do when Miss Lucy Stone, who lives about three miles from me, interrupts me in the middle of my speech, by reading from the preamble to the Constitution, that "the body politic is a social compact by which the whole people covenants with each citizen, and each citizen with the whole people, that all shall be governed by certain laws for the common good?" She will say that she wants to enter into that covenant; and how can any man vote to refuse the privilege to women of entering into this compact, and at the same time affirm that the social compact is formed by a voluntary association or agreement of the whole people? If any person present can tell me how I can answer that woman upon this point, without confusion of face, he will relieve my mind very much indeed. We read that the people of this Commonwealth "have the exclusive right of governing themselves." Can it be denied that women constitute one-half of the population of the State; nay, that they are a majority of the population? If we wish to be consistent, and express our real views in the Constitution, and not insert in it a democratic falsehood by which we cannot stand-I will not say a democratic falsehood, but a democratic truth, which we are to treat as though it were a falsehood-then we ought to say, if we are to deny the women's rights, that the legal voters, or one-half of the men-one-quarter only of the whole people-have the sole exclusive right of governing themselves and the rest of the people. Our fathers spake otherwise; they said that the PEOPLE of the Commonwealth ought to have the sole exclusive right of governing themselves. What shall I say to Miss Lucy Stone upon this point? Again: No man, nor corporation, or association of men, have any other title to obtain advantages, or particular and exclusive privileges, distinct from those of the community, than what arises from the consideration of services rendered to the public." I should like any gentleman to state what peculiar and transcendent services have been rendered to the public by legal voters, and I should then like to state certain services which have been rendered by women., Government is instituted for the common good; for the protection, safety, prosperity and happiness of the people, and not for the profit, honor or private interest of any one man, family or class of men; therefore, the people alone have an incontestible, unalienable, and indefeasible right to institute government, and to reform, alter, or totally change the same, when their protection, safety, prosperity and happiness require it." The women of this Commonwealth are deprived of the right of voting, not only upon ordinary occasions, but of voting upon that occasion which is specially referred to in this article of the Bill of Rights. In the hands of women, as well as in the hands of men, rests the sacred right of revolution. For I maintain that a government that is totally changed, by an immediate, sovereign act of the people, is a government that is revolutionized; but if the people have a right to revolutionize government, then women, as a part of the people, partake in that right:—I am talking of rights, not of mights. If the people have a right to revolutionize government, then they have a right to do it peaceably; for a right that must be exercised by force is no right at all. Whatever act a human being has a perfect right to accomplish, that same act he has a right to accomplish peaceably. I claim that the right of women to concur in the peaceable revolution of government shall be guaranteed to them. For if the people have the right to totally change their government, women, who are people, and whom the Convention have confessed, by an authentic vote, to be people, have a right, to the extent that their numbers would give them power in the government, "to alter the government, and to take measures necessary for their safety, prosperity and happiness." If we do not give them the right to vote, they have no political power to guarantee their own welfare. Before I go further, I must notice one statement which has been made upon this question. It was said by the gentleman from Boston, (Mr. Choate,) whom I do not see in his seat, but it was endorsed by the gentleman from Freetown, (Mr. Hathaway,) whom I do see in his seat, that the men, the legal voters, are the trustees of women; that the legal people are the trustees of the natural people. I should like to inquire who it was that appointed them to be trustees, and to whom they are responsible for the proper fulfillment of their trust. I would like to say, also, that the autocrat of Russia considers himself as a trustee, having the right to act for his people; for the Emperor Nicholas would argue precisely as the gentleman from Boston argued, except that the gentleman from Boston argued in favor of the legal people of Massachusetts, while the Emperor Nicholas would argue in his own favor, affirming himself to be the incarnation of everything that is Russian. In the East, it is believed that this earth is an immense plain, and that the four corners are supported upon the backs of four elephants; that the four elephants stand upon the backs of four tortoises, and that these stand upon a great snake; but what the snake stands on, nobody knows. Now, Sir, on what ground of authority do the legal voters stand?
Mr. HATHAWAY, of Freetown: If the gentleman will permit me, I would like, before he proceeds any further, to say that I have not presented any such doctrine as the gentleman has stated, in its sequence; by no means. I undertook to combat, whether successfully or not, the doctrine that the people gave up certain rights which they had the right to exercise, and which they could not resume. My ground was, that we were shadowing forth the great American doctrine; not that the people yielded and gave up rights to their rulers, by any means, but that it was a mere delegation from the people, for a certain time, to those that exercised the power, merely as our agents, and which the people had a right to resume at any time; and that the first delegation of power by the people was to electors.
Mr. GREENE: May I ask the gentleman if he believes in the dogma of the social compact?
Mr. HATHAWAY: I do, Sir.
Mr. GREENE: I congratulate the women upon the accession of so distinguished an advocate to their cause. I suppose the gentleman will go with us in endeavoring to secure to women the right of voting on the proposed amendments to the Constitution. He will perceive that we must now go back to the original fountain of political power. I grant, for the present, that the women gave up their power originally; for I desire not to meet the gentleman half-way, but go the whole way myself, since it is necessary that we should give him a generous welcome, now that he comes out on our side. I will grant that the women gave up their own political power, and put it into the hands of their husbands and fathers. But it is at this very moment of time that the people are going back to the origin of all things, politically -going back to that which underlies the snake on which the earth rests;-and I maintain that the women ought to be consulted in this crisis, to see if they will continue to delegate their political authority to their husbands, brothers and fathers. The Bill of Rights further says:" In order to prevent those who are vested with authority from becoming oppressors, the people have a right, at such periods and in such manner as they shall establish by their frame of government, to cause their public officers to return to private life; and to fill up vacant places by certain and regular elections and appointments." Now, I maintain that a legal voter is a "public officer." The gentleman from Freetown has shown us that the legal voter has been delegated by the women and non-voting men to exercise a power as a trustee for them; he shows us where the trust came from, from the non-voting people, the natural people. If this trust is committed to the legal voters, then they are public officers; and the people, that is, the women and the non-voting men, have a right, on certain occasions, to make these officers retire to private life, and exercise the trust no longer. Mark the word! "In order to prevent those who are vested with authority from becoming oppressors, the people have a right"; the "people," not the legal voters, mind you, but the "people." Again, Sir: "All elections ought to be free; and all the inhabitants of this Commonwealth"—now, Mr. Chairman, I would like to ask you, if, in your various travels through the Commonwealth, you were met ever by any of that obscure portion of "its inhabitants" called women. [Laughter.] "All the inhabitants"¬I believe inhabitants are those who have a residence. "All the inhabitants of this Commonwealth having such qualifications as they shall establish" -they establish? Who establish?-the legal voters? No, Sir. "Having such qualifications as they (the inhabitants) shall establish by their frame of government." Now, we are establishing a frame of government; and I ask you by what right you prevent the women from having a voice in the matter. I confess, that after a frame of government is established, and the men have been made the trustees of the women, it may be correct to have the men act for the women. But now we are establishing the foundation itself, upon which the whole superstructure must stand, and the question is, whether you will allow the women to exercise the right of choosing their trustees, or whether you will force trustees upon them in an arbitrary and tyrannical manner? Sir, I know very well what course the Convention will take in this matter, and I know very well what answers I shall receive, if I receive any. Sir, I call for arguments, not phrases. I profess, Sir, to stand upon democratic ground, and I would like to know how any Democrat can rise up here and say, that he believes the doctrines set forth in the Massachusetts Bill of Rights, and at the same time say that he will deny to women the exercise of their right to vote. The gentleman for Berlin, as I understand, proved, while I was absent, the other day, or attempted to prove, that the father of a family has the natural right to govern his wife and children. I think it likely I may misstate his words, as I did not hear them, but I believe the substance of his remarks was as I have said, that the father has a natural right to govern his family. Well, Sir, the autocrat of Russia uses the same argument, affirming that his domination is paternal in its character and principle. The gentleman for Berlin will think further upon this subject of women's rights, and will, I doubt not, reconsider his opinions. I maintain that the father has no right, as such, to exercise political dominion. When we regard the doctrines of government from the point of view of the family relation, we are thrown back upon the old mythus of Adam, and upon the subjugation of Eve to her husband. The sentence upon Eve, as recorded in the book of Genesis, is as follows: "In sorrow thou shalt bring forth children, and thy desire shall be to thy husband, and he shall rule over thee." Sir, I submit, that if any invention of science can succeed in preventing the pain which attends the coming of a new human being into the world, no sin would be committed by the woman who should adopt that invention, and employ it for the relief of her own suffering. I know that in Scotland, the use of chloroform has been objected to as interfering with the original sentence denounced by the Almighty upon woman. Such objections are, of course, absurd. But if the use of chloroform by women in child-birth be just, innocent, and right, although it obviates one-half the curse of the original sentence, who shall dare to affirm that it is not just, innocent, and right that women should be put in a position to emancipate themselves from the other half of the curse? But, granting the correctness of the argument, that the father has a right to control his family, what shall we do with the women who are over twenty-one years of age, who earn their own living, and are free from their fathers? I take it that such women are entitled to vote, and that they are people. Now, Sir, I will endeavor to prove, with the precision, though not with the conciseness, perhaps, of a mathematical demonstration, my position that the women of Massachusetts have a natural right to vote. I will trespass upon the patience of the Convention for a few moments, only, and hope I may secure its attention, as I shall be under the necessity of having recourse to an order of ideas not often brought before a body of this kind. I ask every gentleman to weigh, in his own mind, and answer me a few of the questions which I will suggest to him. Is there not always before us an ideal, a mental picture, if you will, an image, of what we ought to be, and are not? Does not every one who endeavors to follow this ideal revealed to his inward vision, every one who endeavors to attain to conformity with it, find it enlarge itself, and remove from him? Does not he that follows it improve his moral character, the ideal remaining ever above him, and before him, prompting him to new exertions? What is conscience but a comparison of ourselves as we are, mean, pitiful, weak, with ourselves as we ought to be, wise, powerful, holy? What is conscience but a comparison of our actual conduct with our ideal of human perfection? As we make new efforts in striving after the fullness of perfection revealed in our hearts, the ideal removes further and further from us, making higher and higher claims, until, at last, we lose ourselves in the contemplation of the Infinite Majesty; for, in this upward aspiration, there is revealed to us a knowledge of our spiritual existence, and a knowledge of the Most High God. Man is created in the image of God, and it is his duty to bring out into its full splendor that Divine Image which is latent at the bottom of his heart. When a man first recognizes this Divine Ideal, which is the shadow of God, it is to him like the dawning of a new day. As he looks steadfastly, the darkness of his understanding begins to disappear, and the day-star begins to rise in his heart. As he moves forward toward the mark of his desire, subordinating his will to the divine will, he enters into communion and fellowship with God the Father; and the Eternal Sun fills the whole firmament of his soul with its rays of threefold glory. But, if a man aspire toward God, he must aspire according to his threefold nature; he must aspire according to his body, his soul, and his spirit; he must obey the divine law in its threefold applications. Man must follow what he ought to be in the natural world, in the moral world, and in the world of thought. Liberty is the right which every human being possesses of aspiring toward God, by the development of that threefold human nature-physical, intellectual, and moral-on which the image of God is stamped. Liberty is the form of the relation which exists, and necessarily exists, between man and his Maker. Now this liberty is the sum of human right; for, because mal has a threefold existence-physical, moral, and spiritual-he must glorify God by aspiring toward him in accordance with his threefold nature; that is to say, man has a natural right and duty to develop all the faculties of his threefold being. Shall repressive laws, shall priests and creeds, shall public opinion, separate between me and the Father of my spirit? Tyrants and priests know nothing of the revelation which God makes in the centre of my individual heart. I stand before God as an individual man; he communicates his will in the secret chambers of the centre of my individual heart. The revelation which God makes to me, is made to me, not to another. Individualism (which is the opposite to egotism) is, therefore, a holy doctrine. The individual man is a mysterious and holy force placed on the earth in accordance with the mysterious designs of a holy providence. Touch him not, therefore; seek not to guide him by indirect influence, for he is holy! Man is the temple of God, and his heart is the sanctuary from which the Almighty deigns to reveal his presence. He that contends against the rights of an individual man, contends against God; for it is the ever-attractive in-dwelling of God in the individual soul, that is the origin and foundation of all human rights. An organization of society which renders a man dependent upon his neighbors, upon public opinion-which, in a word, renders him subservient to his accidents, instead of being supreme over them-is destructive to individualism, and is, therefore, profoundly immoral. Now, I maintain-and let me see the man stand up that claims to deny it-I maintain that woman has an intellectual and spiritual nature; I maintain that woman aspires towards God, that she stands in secret and direct relations with God; that the will of God is revealed to her, secretly, and in the centre of her individual heart. I maintain, therefore, that woman has natural, divine rights, and that these rights come from that relation which she sustains to her Maker, which, because it imposes duties upon her, imposes the correlative duty upon us of taking from her nothing that is necessary to enable her to perform her duties. At the risk of being tedious, I will endeavor to show the identity of the fundamental dogma of Democracy (that of the supremacy of man over his accidents) with the fundamental principle of Christianity; for I recognize no Democracy that is contra-distinguished from Christianity, and no Christianity which teaches either the divine right of kings, or the divine right of any portion of the people to govern any other portion, without the consent of the governed. What is this upward aspiration of the soul toward God, if not that spiritual attraction or gravitation, of which St. Augustine speaks, and which he denominates charity or love? " Charity," he says, "is the weight of spiritual existences." What is Faith, if not the conviction which is awakened by the spiritual world, through the power of this supreme attraction in the soul, that is akin to itself. Is not Hope the confidence which is borne in this upward aspiration? From these fundamental principles of democracy, can we not thus deduce every one of the fundamental principles of Christian morality? Moreover, the universe exists eternally to the mind of God in idea. A Divine Ideal of the universe is, therefore, eternally with God; and because the Supreme is essentially intelligent that same Ideal, in a certain sense, is God. Besides, the whole visible universe was created with reference to man, that is to say, with reference to beings enjoying distinct consciousness and will; such beings are, therefore, more or less perfect embodiments of the Divine Ideal. One perfect man, that is, one perfect incarnation of the Divine Ideal, has existed, &c. &c. Are not these the fundamental postulates of Christianity as considered metaphysically? Was not our Lord the crown and completion of the creation? Was He not the incarnation of the ideal? What is that Word which is with God and is God,-that Word, in accordance with which all things are made that are made,-that Word which is the true intellectual light, enlightening every man that cometh into the world, that Word which was incarnated in the Savior of the world,-if it be not the Divine Ideal? If it is evident that the moral doctrine of Christianity and progressive Democracy coincide, it is equally evident that Christianity and Democracy are identical in their metaphysical basis. Christianity and Democracy, in their germ, in their fundamental principles, are identical; and because Christianity recognizes no distinction of sex in the soul, affirming that "there is neither Jew nor Greek, bond nor free, male nor female, in the body of Christ, which is the Church," Democracy ought, in like manner, to affirm that the State should take no cognizance of differences of sex and color. Are not the differences of sex and color "accidental," merely, in human existence? I rejoice that I have had this opportunity to affirm the identity of the fundamental principles of Christianity and Democracy. I have demonstrated that woman is capable of the exercise of a religious sentiment, and that she, therefore, possesses natural rights; and, in demonstrating this, I have demonstrated that she has a right to vote. What is the right to vote? It is a right which the citizen has to protect himself against the encroachments of society. The right to vote is the right to protect other rights; and, if the rights to be protected are natural, then the right to protect those rights is also natural. It has been said by the gentleman from Boston, (Mr. Hillard,) that the right to vote is, or ought to be, consequent upon the possession of property. But if a man has not a dollar's worth of property in the world, has he not a right to acquire property? And if he has a right to acquire property, has he not a right to protect that right to acquire? Can he protect that right to acquire property, if he have no vote by which he can put a veto on the encroachments of property castes? And so it is with all other rights. If a woman has rights, she has also a right to protect those rights. I repeat, that if man has a natural right to protect himself, he has a natural right-in Massachusetts, at least to vote, because a right to vote is necessary, under existing conditions of society, to enable him to protect his other rights. If women are human beings and people, then they, in like manner, have a natural right to vote, at least in those societies where the right of self-protection organizes itself spontaneously in the form of a right to vote. The women of Massachusetts have, therefore, a natural right to vote. In order to enforce his remarks, the gentleman, (Mr. Hillard,) quoted Aristotle. Sir, it is lawful to quote Aristotle. The first phrase in Aristotle's book upon politics, and the one that in reality sums up his whole theory, affirms that the State, as such, is founded, not on right, but on interest -egotism. But self-interest, egotism, is, as Swedenborg, Boehme, and other spiritual writers affirm, the centre and essence of hell. The gentleman maintains that no progress has been made in the science of government from the days of Aristotle until now. He has altogether forgotten that the Savior of the world was born upon the earth since the time of Aristotle, and died on the cross, expressly for the purpose of destroying the spirit of egotism which Aristotle advocates, and of substituting the principle of fraternity in its stead. Modern democracy dates its origin from Judea, not from Greece and Rome. Modern democracy is based upon a divine principle, not upon egotism, which is an infernal principle. Who, then, can acknowledge the principles of democracy, as set forth in the Bill of Rights, and at the same time deny the right of women to vote? I would like to see some man rise up in his place, and give me an argument--I care not what it is-any argument that is worthy to be listened to by a man of sense and reflection, against the right of women to vote. No one rises: I should like to have it put into the record that no man rises. I have now said almost all that is necessary to be said, at the present time, taking the circumstances into consideration. If any arguments had been adduced on the other side, the case might have been different. Before I sit down, however, I want to make a single remark. Certain very wealthy gentlemen of Boston, recently deceased, have been alluded to several times upon this floor, and they have been defended against certain alleged calumnies. My friend for Northborough, (Mr. Burlingame,) made some statements in relation to wealthy men, to which I listened carefully, but I was not aware that he said anything against those three gentlemen of Boston. I did not hear anything uttered which could be tortured into an attack upon them. He drew a sharp line of distinction between men of mere property and men of genius. What he said about men of mere property was undoubtedly true; no man can deny it; and I think that what he said about men of genius is also true. But he made no particular allusion to those three Boston men. One of those gentlemen I did not know, but the other two were unquestionably men of genius, and the loss experienced by the community on account of their death was because they were men of genius. The vacancies left by those distinguished gentlemen cannot easily be filled. The gentleman for Northborough said nothing derogatory to either of them. Had anything been said in this hall injurious to their character or detracting from their merit, I am the man who would have risen suddenly to repel the unjust accusation; but 1 deem it right to say that no accusation has been made.
Mr. GREENE, of Brookfield: I did not expect again to say a single word to the Convention on this subject; but if the Convention will indulge me, I will not occupy more than ten or fifteen minutes, at most. I think that if we adopt the motion of the gentleman from Winchendon, (Mr. Marvin,) to strike out the whole of this Report, except the words indicated, we shall neither be treating the petitioners themselves, nor the Committee that made the Report, with the courtesy which, to my mind, appears to be due to both. There are two things which I desire to say. In the first place, I have heard it denied that the Convention has the right to submit the proposed amendments of the Constitution to the whole people, including women. I will only undertake, upon this head, to read a short extract from the act of the people themselves, decreeing that this Convention should be called. In the third section of the Act, I read as follows:" They (the Convention) may take into consideration the propriety and expediency of revising the present constitution of government of this Commonwealth, or the propriety and expediency of making any, and, if any, what alterations or amendments in the present constitution of government of this Commonwealth. And such alterations and amendments, when made and adopted by the said Convention, shall be submitted to the people for their ratification and adoption, in such manner as the said Convention may direct; and if ratified by the people in the manner directed by the said Convention, the Constitution shall be deemed and taken to be altered or amended accordingly." The alterations and amendments are to be submitted to whom? To the legal voters? No, but to the "people." And how are they to be submitted?," In such manner as the Convention may direct." Evidently, the Convention has this whole matter under its own control; and it must be borne in mind, that the Convention has once for all determined, by a solemn vote, that women are "people." Mark you! I repeat that the Act does not say, "shall be submitted to the legal voters," but " shall be submitted to the people." If it be said that the word "people" is used in the sense implied by the present state of things, I have to remark that such an idea is altogether erroneous, for the reason that in other parts of the Act there is an essential distinction made between the people and those who are qualified to vote. I adduce the following words in confirmation of my statement:" The inhabitants of the several cities, towns, districts and places, within this Commonwealth, qualified to vote for senators or representatives in the general court, shall, on the second Monday of November next, at the meetings to be then held in the several cities and towns in the Commonwealth, for the choice of governor, lieutenant-governor, senators, and representatives in the general court," &c. The Act calling this Convention was enacted by whom? By the whole people? No, but by the legal voters-by that portion only of the people who are qualified to vote for senators and representatives. The Act does not pretend to bear the direct sanction of the whole people; and because a strong qualification exists in this passage, the distinction exists which I am endeavoring to point out. For there is a wide difference between the act of the people and the act of their representatives, the legal voters. Secondly, I would have the Convention bear in mind that we are now acting on first principles; and I take it that the question which is here raised as to the right of the Convention to submit this matter to the people, is the same which was so thoroughly discussed when the Berlin question was under consideration; and I take it also that, on that memorable occasion, the backbone of Absolutism in this Commonwealth was snapped asunder, right in the hollow, never again to be knit together, so long as the world stands. The gentleman from Winchendon tells us that the government of the Commonwealth is founded, not on the individual, but on the family. He says that if the doctrine contained in the Bill of Rights be true, and worthy of the consideration of this Convention, then no argument can be maintained in opposition to the arguments of those who advocate the rights of women. I grant that he is correct in that; but he says that it is the family which is the foundation of the government, and that the doctrine in the Bill of Rights is all false; and the gentleman for Berlin, if I correctly understand him, maintains the same ground. Now, if the doctrine of the Bill of Rights is a humbug and an imposition upon the people; if that is so-and gentlemen would seem Very strongly to imply it-then change your Bill of Rights, and come out like men. Face the music, gentlemen! and say: " We have all been wrong; it is all nonsense to stand upon the democratic doctrine of the Bill of Rights." I do not understand this new dogma, that there is a divine right in the family; but I know that it is not the old, authentic tradition of democracy. Let it be explained, therefore, so that we may take up our work from the beginning, and make a Constitution that is based on some principle. Let us be consistent. Excuse me, Mr. Chairman, for the remark, but I must say, that there is nothing I like so much as to see things done clean. Let democracy have her perfect work, and if the Bill of Rights is a humbug and an imposition, let us say so, that we may know where we all stand. If, on the other hand, it shall appear that the declared principles of democracy are no humbug, but the contrary, then say that, and stand by your affirmation. Sir, the declarations contained in the Bill of Rights smite on the ear of the people like the blast of an awakening trumpet. Let the man say it that dares, that the natural, inalienable and indefeasible rights do not inhere in the individual, which the Bill of Rights attributes to the individual; let the man who will say that, face the people! For my part, I will never confess that man has no natural, inalienable and indefeasible political rights, if he be not at the head of a family. I stand by the old democratic dogma, and by all the consequences that flow from it.