Governments try themselves. No government has been stable in the past; all have fallen because all have been one-sided; all have permitted the degradation of woman. Babylon fell; her religion defiled woman; the hand-writing appeared upon the wall, and in a single night she was overthrown. Neither was Rome immortal; her laws were class laws; the rights of humanity were not respected; she underwent many changes, and that vast empire which once ruled the world lives now only in name. Egypt held the wisdom of the world, and as to a certain extent she recognized the equality of woman, her empire endured for ages; at last, she too fell, for her civilization was still an unequal one.
Special laws, or laws specially defined for one particular body of people, on account of race, color, sex, or occupation, is class legislation, and bears the seeds of death within itself. It was the boast of our forefathers, that the rights for which they contended were the rights of human nature. Shall the women of this country forever have cause to say that the declaration and the constitution are specially defined,—are organs of special law?
Where the legislative and executive function of the law are in the hands of a single class, special law, or special renderings of law are the unvarying results. If the constitution of the United States is defined and ruled by United States officials to discriminate between classes of citizens, then the constitution is by them made to be nothing less than an organ of special law, and is held not to sustain the rights of the people. While the class which has usurped the legislative, the executive and the judicial functions of the government, defines political rights to belong to male citizens alone, the women of the United States are under special law; and while thus debarred from exercising their natural right of self-government, they are subjects, not citizens. It matters not if women never voted since the framing of the government, until now, this right has merely been retained by them; it has been held in abeyance, to be exercised by them whenever they chose. The principles advocated by the women to-day are the principles which brought on the revolutionary war, and Miss Anthony and other women associated with her are exponents of the very principles which caused the colonies to rebel against the mother country.
The eyes of all nations are upon us; their hopes of liberty are directed towards us; the United States is now on trial by the light of its own underlying principle. Its assertion of human right to self-government lies a hundred years back of it. The chartered confirmation and renewal of this assertion has come up to our very day, and though all the world looked on and wondered to see us crush the rebellion of ’61, it is at this hour,—at this soon coming trial of Miss Anthony at Canandaigua, before the Supreme Court of the Northern District of New York,—it is at this trial that republican institutions will have their grand test, and as the decision is rendered for, or against the political rights of citizenship, so will the people of the United States find themselves free or slaves, and so will the United States have tried itself, and paved its way for a speedy fall, or for a long and glorious continuance.