In what way does the consent of the governed come?
By and through the ballot alone. The ballot answers questions. It says yes, or no. It declares what principles shall rule; it says what laws shall be made, it tells what taxes are to be raised; it places men in office or lays their heads low in the dust. It is the will of a man embodied in that little piece of paper; it is the consent of the governed.
Are women governed? Most certainly; they pay taxes,—they are held amenable to laws; they are tried for crimes; they are fined, imprisoned, hung. The government wields strong power over them. Have they consented to this power of the government? Have they a recognized right to the ballot? Has their consent bean asked through their votes? Have they had a voice in saying what taxes shall be levied on their property,—what penalties they shall pay for crimes? No. They are ruled without their consent. The first principles of government are founded on the natural rights of individuals; in order to secure the exercise of these natural, individual rights our government professed to be founded. Governments never created a single right; rights did not come new-born into the world with our revolutionary fathers. They were men of middle age when they severed their connexion with Great Britain, but that severance did not endow them with a single new right. It was at that time they first entered into the exercise of their natural, individual rights. Neither our Declaration, nor our Constitution created a single right; they merely recognized certain rights as in existence. They recognized those rights as human rights,—as inalienable rights,—as rights existing by virtue of common humanity. Natural rights never change, but the power to perceive these natural rights does change, and various nations have had their own standard.
Three names, said to be the sweetest the world ever knew, are mother, home, and heaven. There is one still sweeter—one for which men have given up mother and home, and for which they have almost sacrificed the hope of heaven; that word is LIBERTY.
When the fires of liberty began to creep through Europe in the middle ages, at a time when hereditary monarchs and the catholic church ruled the world, men placed its safeguards in municipal corporations. The idea of municipal corporations descended from Rome to the rest of Europe, and “free cities” became the germ of personal freedom. But a new world was needed for the great experiment of individual freedom. Macauley calls government an experimental science and therefore a progressive science; history shows this to be true. Liberty did not spring “full armed” like Minerva from the head of Jove. The liberty possessed by the world has been gradually secured, and it was left for our country first to incorporate in its foundation a recognition of individual rights. A hundred years before