Item #352313 Convention .... No. 97. Commonwealth of Massachusetts. In Convention, July 1, 1853. The Committee on Qualifications of Voters, to whom was referred the petitions of Francis Jackson and others, that the word "male" may be stricken from the Constitution, and also of Abby B. Alcott and other women of Massachusetts, that they may be allowed to vote on amendments that may be made to the Constitution. Women's Suffrage.

Among the Earliest Petitions for Women's Suffrage Before a Legislative Body

Convention .... No. 97. Commonwealth of Massachusetts. In Convention, July 1, 1853. The Committee on Qualifications of Voters, to whom was referred the petitions of Francis Jackson and others, that the word "male" may be stricken from the Constitution, and also of Abby B. Alcott and other women of Massachusetts, that they may be allowed to vote on amendments that may be made to the Constitution.

[Boston]: July 1, 1853.

Price: $17,500.00


About the item

3, [1, blank]pp. 8vo. Among the Earliest Petitions for Women's Suffrage Before a Legislative Body. Unbound, two holes punched in the left margin. Not in Krichmar.

Item #352313

Just five years after the Seneca Falls Convention, Lucy Stone and a group of Massachusetts women, petitioned the Massachusetts Constitutional Convention to remove the word "male" from the state's constitution and petitioned for women to be allowed to vote on the final amendments. The convention, the second revision of the state's constitution since the passage of the 1779-80 original authored by John Adams, had been called largely to resolve issues of political representation in the state, with the system providing over-representation to Democratic-Free Soil rural agrarian interests over the urban mercantile Whigs. However, Stone saw an opportunity to accomplish one of the goals of Seneca Falls: "immediate admission to all the rights and privileges which belong to them as citizens of these United States."

In presenting their petition, the women demanded to "be allowed the right of suffrage, in matters pertaining to political affairs" and offered the following six propositions, included within the present report:
1. That women are human beings, and therefore have human rights, one of which, is, that of having a voice in the government under which they live, and in the enactment of laws they are bound to obey.
2. That women have interests and rights, which are not, in fact, and never will be, sufficiently guarded by governments in which they are not allowed any political influence.
3. That they are taxed, and therefore, since taxation and the right of representation are admitted to be inseparable, they have a right to be represented.
4. That so far as education and general intelligence are concerned, they are as well qualified to exercise the elective franchise, as many who now enjoy that right.
5. That in mental capacity and moral endowments, they are not inferior to many who now participate in the affairs of government.
6. That there is nothing in their peculiar position, or appropriate duties, which prevents them from taking a part in political affairs.

However, the present report issued from the Chairman of the Committee on Qualifications of Voters Amasa Walker, recommended against their petition, speciously arguing that as the Declaration of Independence asserts that government derives its power from the consent of the governed and only 2000 of the state's 200,000 women had requested suffrage that therefore the majority of Massachusetts women consent to voting being exclusively by men.

Although unsuccessful, this 1853 petition for women's suffrage is among the earliest examples presented before a governing body in the United States. OCLC records only two examples (Harvard and Boston Public Library).