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Michigan Women's Suffrage Association.
Includes prominent women from Bay County.

Period 1883-1900 history. Added April, 2010

History of Woman Suffrage: 1883-1900, by Elizabeth Cady Stanton, Susan Brownell Anthony, & others.

Michigan Women's Suffrage Association.
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Reference: 31st National-American Convention of 1899, held in Grand Rapids, Mich., April 27-May 3.

Page 324.

Mrs Knaggs: I welcome you in behalf of the Michigan E. S. A., representing the woman of this State who are especially interested in woman's enfranchisement. We have look forward to the day when you would bring us the inspiration of one of these great meetings; we needed it. We are told that women are indifferent. Many are so; and nothing can better arouse us than to meet those engage in this work from so many different places.

An Alderman this spring boasted the he had been elected by the votes of eight nationalities. He enumerated seven of them but for some time was unable to think of the eighth At last he remembered; it was the American. Tho ballot in hands of our present voters might be improved by the intelligence that the great body of Michigan women would bring to it. We are beginning to appreciate the solidarity of women. When one State wins suffrage, all the others are gainers by it. The good of this meeting will go abroad over the country.

CHAPTER XLVL.

Michigan

Pages 755 - 761.

From the time of the defeat of the suffrage amendment to the State constitution in 1874 there was no central organization in Michigan for ten years, although a few local societies maintained an existence. Through a conjunction of these forces a convention was called at Flint, May 21, 1884, which resulted in the forming of a State Equal Suffrage Association, officered as follows: President Mary L. Doe; vice-president, Gov. Josiah W. Begole; corresponding secretary, Nellie Walker; recording secretary, Fanny Holden Fowler; treasurer, Cordelia F. Briggs.

The second State convention was held in Grand Rapids, Oct. 7-9, 1885, with Luce Stone and Henry B. Blackwell in attendance. Letters were received from Susan B. Anthony, president of the National Association, and Thomas W. Palmer, U.S. Senator from Michigan. The latter said: “I hope that you will put forward the economic aspect of the question – its effect upon taxation. Women are the natural economists.”

In lieu of the annual meeting in 1886 four political State conventions – Prohibition, Greenback, Republican and Democratic -- were memorialized for a plank indorsing a Municipal Suffrage Bill. Sarah E. V. Emery appeared before the Prohibition convention, which adopted the plank. She also attended the Democratic, where she was invited to the platform and made a vigorous speech, which was received with applause, but the suffrage resolution was not adopted. Emily B. Ketcham attended the Republican convention but was refused a hearing before the Committee on Resolutions. After its report had been accepted friends obtained an opportunity for her to address the meeting, but she

  • (Page foot note) The History is indebted for this chapter to Mrs. Mary L. Doe and Mrs. May Stockings Knaggs of Bay City and former presidents of the State Equal Suffrage Association.

    Page 756.

    was received with considerable discourtesy. Mrs. Fowler secured the adoption of the plank by the Greenback convention.

    The association met in the State House at Lansing, Jan. 13, 14, 1887. Miss Anthony, vice-president-at-large of the National Association, gave an address in Representative Hall. She was introduced by Gov. Cyrus G. Luce, and many senators and representatives were in the audience.

    The convention of 1888 took place in Bay City, June 6-8. The Rev. Anna Howard Shaw and Helen M. Gougar of Indiana addressed large audiences in the opera house on successive evenings. Immediately afterward a series of two days' meetings was held by Mrs. Gougar, assisted by May Stocking Knaggs, at Saginaw, Flint, Port Huron, Detroit, Battle Creek and Grand Rapids, societies being organized at several places.

    In November the Association for the Advancement of Women met in Detroit. Many suffragists were in attendance and the State president, Mrs. Doe, called a council in the parlors of the Church of Our Father. Fifty responded and it was unanimously decide to renew the effort for Municipal Suffrage.

    The annual meeting was held in the State House at Lansing, Jan. 19-21, 1889. A letter was received from Senator Palmer, enclosing a draft for $100 and saying: “Equal suffrage in municipal affairs means better statutes, better ordinances, better officers, better administration, lower taxation, happier homes and a better race.” This generous gift enabled the association to keep a committee – Helen Philleo Jenkins, Harriet A. Cook, Mrs. Ketcham and Mrs. Knaggs – at the capital for several weeks, where they worked systematically to convert members and to secure victory.

    The convention met at Detroit, Feb. 13, 14, 1890. Mrs. Doe, who had been the leader of the State forces since their organization, declined renomination and Mrs. Jenkins was chosen president.

    The association convened at Lansing again Feb. 10-12, 1891;

  • (Page foot note:) This year strong societies were formed in Detroit, Bay City and Battle Creek. Michigan sent three representatives, Melvin A. and Martha Snyder Root and Emily B. Ketcham, to the New England Woman Suffrage Bazaar held at Boston in December. Mr. and Mrs. Root had sent much time and money canvassing the State to arouse interest and secure confirmation for this, and at its close New England gave to Michigan the total proceeds of her sales.

    Page 757.

    and its speakers were given a joint hearing in Representative Hall on the Municipal Suffrage Bill, which was then before the Legislature. Addresses were made by Harriet J. Boutelle, Belle M. Perry, Sarah E. V. Emery and Martha Snyder Root.

    Miss Anthony was present at the State convention, which took place in Battle Creek, May 4, 5, 1892. Articles of incorporation were adopted and Mrs. Ketcham was elected president.

    In June the State Republican Convention met at East Saginaw. Mrs. Ketcham, with Mrs. Doe, chairman of the legislative committee, pleaded before the Committee on Resolutons presented from Genesee County, viz.: That women professors be appointed at Michigan University until their number should bear a fair proportion to the number of women students; that women be appointed to boards of control of the State penal, reformatory and charitable institutions; that Municipal Suffrage for women be recommended, and that an amendment to the State constitution, striking out the word “male” as a qualification for voters, be submitted to the electors. The ladies indorsed all except the fourth proposition, but none of them was adopted.

    After the nominations for the Legislature had been made, letters were written to candidates of all parties to ascertain their attitude toward the Municipal Suffrage Bill. Many favorable and some evasive replies were received, while not a few letters were wholly ignored. A suffrage lecture course was arranged in eight cities, from November, 1892, to March 1893, inclusive with Miss Anthony and Miss Shaw, president-at-large of the National Association and Mrs. Carrie Chapman Catt, chairman of the organization committee, Mrs. Clara Bewick Colby of Washington, D. C., and Mrs. Lida A. Meriwether of Tennessee, as speakers.

    The next annual convention was held in the Capitol, Feb. 1-3, 1893. Mrs. Colby had preceded it in January with her address on Wyoming, given in Representative Hall, the facts and figures of which left a strong impression. The speakers addressed the Legislature in behalf of the Municipal Suffrage Bill.

  • (Page foot note) Melvin A. Root presented at this convention a compact digest of the Legal Condition.)

    Page 758.

    In January, 1894, Miss Anthony lectured at Ann Arbor before the University Association. By The efforts of Mrs. Olivia B. Hall, her hostess and friend of many years, preparations had been made for a mass meeting, in which the State E. S. A. participated, Miss Shaw also being present. It convened in Newberry Hall, January 15-17, with a large attendance and resulted in the organization of the Ann Arbor E. S. A., with one hundred members and Mrs. Hall as president. On the last evening she gave a large reception at her home in honor of the two ladies, which was attended by President and Mrs. George B. Angell and many of the university faculty.

    This year's convention assembled at Grand Rapids, May 7-10, with the Rev. Ida C. Hultin of Illinois as the principle speaker.

    The meeting of 1895 took place in Saginaw, May 7-9. In the evening Representative George H. Waldo gave a review of his efforts in behalf of the Equal Suffrage Bill, and an enthusiastic indorsement of the measure. This convention had the assistance of Mrs. Chapman Catt, who made the chief address. Mrs. Ketcham retired from the presidency and the association elected Mrs. Knaggs. A new standing committee of five was appointed to secure women physicians and attendants in public institutions for the care of women and girls. After adjournment the Saginaw Political Equality Club was formed.

    In 1896 the State convention met in Pontiac, May 19-22, Senator Palmer was the orator of the occasion.

    The following July Mrs. Knaggs and Carrie C. Faxon addressed the Democratic State Convention at Bay City, through the courtesy of the Hons. John Donovan and O'Brien J. Atkinson. They were accorded an attentive hearing with much applause, and given a rising vote of thanks, emphasized by an exhortation from the chairman, the Hon. Thomas Barkworth, that the party prepare to concede to the women of the State their political rights.

    The annual meeting of 1897 took place in Vermontville, May 11-13. On November 22, 23, a national conference was held in

  • (Page foot note) Of Girls and Women in Michigan, which was published the following year. It has been used widely, not only in this but in other States, and has proved of inestimable service. A liberal gift of money came from the Hon. Delos A. Blodgett of Grand Rapids, a constant friend.

    Page 759.

    Grand Rapids by Miss Anthony, Miss Shaw and Mrs. Chapman Catt, together with the officers of the State association and many other Michigan women.

    In 1898 the convention met in Bay City, May 3-5. On the last evening Mrs. May Wright Sewall of Indiana gave a brilliant address on The Duties of Women Considered as Patriots. Its strong peace sentiments aroused deep interest, as this was at the beginning of the Spanish-American War.

    The invitation of the Susan B. Anthony Club of Grand Rapids to the National W. S. A., to hold its annual convention in that city in 1899, having been accepted, the date was fixed for April 17 to May 3, inclusive, and it was decided that the State meeting should immediately follow. This national gathering was full of interests, affording as it did an opportunity of attendance to many women of the State who were unable to go to the convention at Washington.. Grand Rapids women were generous in their hospitality, all visitors being entertained free of expense. The executive ability of Mrs. Ketcham was evident from the first to last. The State association held a business session May 4, and was addressed by Mr. Blackwell and Mrs. Colby. Mrs. Lenore Starker Bliss was elected president.

    An immediate result of the national meeting was the organization of the Anna Shaw Junior Equal Suffrage Club of Grand Rapids, with seventeen youthful members.

    In December the American Federation of Labor held its annual convention in Detroit. Miss Anthony addressed it by invitation and urged the members to adopt a resolution asking Congress for a Sixteenth Amendment forbidding the disfranchisement of United States citizens on account of sex. Her speech was most enthusiastically received and the resolution she offered was immediately adopted, and, in the form of a petition which represented nearly 1,000,000 members, duly forwarded to Congress.

    Prior to the State convention of 1900 Mrs. Chapman Catt, assisted by Miss Shaw, Miss Harriet May Mills of New York and Mrs. Root, held two days' conventions at Hillsdale, Battle Creek, Kalamazoo and Ann Arbor, organizing suffrage clubs at the first

    Page 760.

    three places. The annual meeting convened in Detroit, May 15-17, Miss Shaw and Mrs. Chapman Catt giving addresses on consecutive evenings. Mrs. Bliss declining renomination, Mrs. Ketcham was unanimously replaced at the head of the State association.

    In July, at the request of Miss Anthony, the Columbia Catholic Summer School held in Detroit extended an invitation for a speech on suffrage. Mrs. Chapman Catt was selected , all arrangements being made by Mrs. Jenkins and others. Father W. J. Dalton, who introduced her, said he hoped to see women voting and filling all offices, even that of police commissioner.

    The Greenback and People's parties have welcomed women as assistants. Prominent among these have been Marian Tood, Martha E Strickland and Elizabeth Eaglesfield. In 1896 Mrs. Emery and Mrs. Roots were placed upon the State Central Committee of the Peoples Party. The Prohibitionists also have received women as party workers.

    Besides those already named, others who have been foremost in every plan to forward equality for women are Giles B. and Catharine A. F. Stebbins, Sara Philleo Skinner, Lila E. Bliss, H. Margaret Downs, Delisle P. Holmes, Wesley Knaggs; among the younger women, Florence Jenkins Spalding and Edith Frances Hall.

    LEGISLATIVE ACTION: Prior to 1885 the charters of twelve cities made inoperative the early State law which gave School Suffrage to women. By appealing to the Legislative of that year the charters of Grand Rapids and Bay City were so amended that the right to vote at school meetings was conferred upon women.

    The new State association organized in 1884 adopted as its principal plan of work a bill which had been drawn by the Hon. Samuel Fowler and introduced in the Legislature of 1883, to grant Municipal Suffrage to women.

    In 1885 this bill was presented in the Senate by John W. Belknap, a strong supporter. Independent of the State association, Theodore G. Houk introduced in the House a joint resolution to

  • (Page foot note) Other officers elected: Vice-president, Clara B. Arthur; corresponding secretary, Alde L. T. Blake; recording secretary, Edith Frances Hall; treasurer, Martha Snyder Root; auditors, Margaret M. Huckins, Frances Ostrander; member national executive committee, Lenore Starker Bliss.

    Page 761.

    strike the word “male” from the constitution. The Joint Judiciary Committees granted a hearing to the friends of woman suffrage in February. The Municipal Bill came to a vote in the Senate on May 21, which resulted in 14 ayes, 15 noes, but was not acted upon in the House. The Houk joint resolution passed the House by 81 ayes, 10 noes, but was not brought up in the Senate.

    In 1887 the Municipal Suffrage Bill was again taken up, being introduced simultaneously in both Houses, in the lower by Henry Watson, in the upper by Charles J. Monroe, both staunch friends. A hearing was had before the Senate Judiciary and the House Committee on Elections in March. Miss Frances E. Willard aided the suffragists by a brief address. On April 12 the House committee reported in favor of striking out all after the enacting clause, thus completely obliterating the bill, which report was accepted by a vote of 50 ayes, 33 noes. The Senate Bill was not considered.

    In 1889 the Municipal Suffrage Bill was introduced in the Senate by Arthur D. Gilmore and in the House by Dr. James B. F. Curtiss. It was referred to the Judiciary Committees, and at their request the hearing was had before the entire Legislature during the annual convention of the State E. S. A. No outside lecturers were invited, because the friends of the measure were met by a strongly-expressed wish that the women of Michigan should speak for themselves. Short speeches were made by May Stocking Knaggs, Catharine A. F. Stebbins, Emily B. Ketcham, Lucy F. Andrews, Elizabeth Eaglesfield, Frances Riddle Stafford, Harriet A. Cook, Mrs. R. M. Kellogg, Phebe B. Whitfield and Mary B. Clay of Kentucky who was then residing in the State. Mrs. Clara Bewick Colby being present, she was invited to make the closing remarks.

    Just before this hearing the bevy of officers and speakers passing through the corridor on their way to the House were warned by Joseph Greusel, a friendly journalist, that a circular of protest had been placed upon the desk of each member. This was headed: “Massachusetts Remonstrants against Woman Suffrage, to the Members of Michigan Legislature;” and contained

    Page 762.

    the familiar array of misrepresentations. With the cooperation of Lucy Stone, a reply was printed immediately after the convention and likewise distributed in the Legislature.

    The House Bill remained under the judicious guardianship of Dr. Curtiss. The chairman of the legislative committee, Mrs. Knaggs, was in constant attendance and secured valuable information on the practical working of Municipal Suffrage from Gov. Lyman U. Humphrey, Attorney-General Simeon B. Bradford, ex-Attorney-General L. B. Kellogg and Laura M. Johns, all of Kansas. The Hon. Charles B. Waite of Chicago prepared by request an exhaustive legal opinion on The Power of the Legislature of Michigan in Reference to Municipal Suffrage. The Judiciary Committee – John V. B. Goodrich, Russell R. Pealer, Byron S. Waite, Norris J. Brown, Oliver S. Smith, Thomas C. Taylor, James A. Randall – gave a unanimous report in favor of the bill, which included this opinion and the Kansas reports. Senator Thomas W. Palmer, who had been appointed Minister to Spain, went to Lansing on the very eve of leaving this country and, in an address to the joint Houses of the Legislature, made a strong plea for the measure.

    As the day fixed for the consideration of the bill approached, the suffrage committee found itself confronted by an arrangement, quietly made by the opponents, to have an address delivered in Representative Hall by a Mrs. Mary Livermore, who had been holding parlor meetings in Detroit for pay and speakings against woman suffrage; and the false report was industriously circulated that this was the great suffragist of like name, who had discarded her lifelong convictions and gone over to the enemy.

    The bill was considered May 15, 1889. By the courtesy of J. B. Mulliken, general manager of the D. L. and N. R. R., a special train which carried large delegation of women was sent from Detroit. Some came from other parts of the State and the societies of Lansing were well represented. The galleries were filled and the floor of the House was line with interested women. After a largely favorable discussion the vote was taken, resulting in 58 ayes, 34 noes. The bill was immediately dispatched to the Senate. That body lost no time, but at once brought the measure

    Page 763.

    under consideration and after a brief discussion it was defeated by one vote – 11 ayes, 12 noes.

    That evening Mrs. Livermore gave her belated dissertation and, upon motion, was followed by Adele Hazlitt, who with great courtesy slew her weak arguments.

    At this session the charters of East Saginaw and Detroit were amended to give women of those cities the school ballot; the former through the efforts of Representative Rowland Conner.

    In 1891 the Municipal Suffrage Bill was again presented to the Legislature, in the House by Samuel Miller and in the Senate by Alfred Milnes, both champions of the measure. The State suffrage convention was in session at the capital February 1012, and the Legislature gave a joint hearing in Representative Hall to its speakers, all Michigan women. The Senate Bill was taken up March 25, discussed and lost by 14 ayes, 12 noes. It was then tabled and taken up again May 13, receiving 14 ayes, 15 noes. Just prior to this consideration of the bill ninety-five petitions in its favor, representing eighty-eight towns and bearing several thousand signatures, were presented.

    This discussion was the most trying of all during the ten years of effort to secure Municipal Suffrage, owing to the character of the chief opponent, Senator Frank Smith, who represented the basest elements of Detroit. Knowing his illiteracy, the reporters had expected much sport by sending his speech to the papers in full, but in the interests of decency they refrained from publishing it. Women came down from the galleries white with anger and disgust, and avowed that if they never had wanted the ballot before they wanted it now. The suffrage committee received many friendly courtesies from Lieut.-Gov. John Strong, besides a substantial gift of money. When asked for the use of the Senate Chamber for one evening of the convention he said: "Certainly ; your money helped to build the State House. You have as much right to it as any of us."

  • (Page foot note) Many petitions in favor of the bill had been sent unsolicited, this not being a part of the plan of work. After the quick defeat in the Senate it was found that the chairman of the committee to which these had been referred had on file the names of 5,502 petitioners (4,469 men, 3,033 women) out of twenty-one senatorial districts. These were in addition to many thousands sent in previous sessions, when petitioning had been a method of work.

  • (Page remark) Although the Detroit women obtained the change in their law just before the spring election, they made a house to house canvass to secure registration and polled a vote of 2,700 women, electing Sophronia O. C. Parsons to the school board.

    Page 764.

    In March, 1893, the bill was introduced by Henry Wirt Newkirk in the House and Samuel W. Hopkins in the Senate. Both were lawyers of distinguished ability, and among the most earnest advocates the measure ever had. The State suffrage convention was in session while it was being considered. The Rev. Anna Howard Shaw and the Rev. Caroline Bartlett made addresses before the Legislature, the latter speaking on Woman's Legitimate and Illegitimate Work in Politics. These speeches took the place of the customary committee hearing. The evening before the bill was voted on Miss Anthony addressed the Legislature with her customary acumen and force. The measure had been made the special order for 2130 P. M. the next day. The House assembled at 2 o'clock. Following the roll-call the usual order was the presentation of petitions. At this time a member in the rear, at a sufficient distance from the Speaker's desk to give impressiveness to what would follow, rose and presented "A petition from the people of Chippewa County in favor of the Municipal Woman Suffrage Bill." A page sprang forward and taking the document, which was prepared upon paper of an extra size and ornamented with long streamers of red and green ribbons, ran with it to the clerk's desk, and that officer proceeded to read it at length, including a long list of signatures which comprised Patrick O'Shea, Annie Rooney, Spotted Tail, etc. This petition was followed by two others of similar character, bearing Indian names of such significance as the wit of the opposition could invent. After this dignified prelude the House discussed the measure at length, and defeated it by a vote of 38 ayes, 39 noes. A reconsideration was moved and the bill tabled.

    This Municipal Suffrage Bill was taken up again in May and passed the House on the 19th with an educational amendment: "Women who are able to read the constitution of Michigan in the English language." The vote was 57 ayes, 25 noes. On May 25 it was considered in the Senate and, after a vigorous battle, was carried by a vote of 18 ayes, 11 noes. Gov. John T. Rich affixed his signature May 27, and apparent victory was won after ten years of effort. Representative Newkirk and Senator Hopkins received the heartfelt gratitude of those for whom they had

    Page 765.

    given their ardent labors, and local societies held jubilee meetings. The newspapers of the State were unanimous in expressing welcome to the new class of voters.

    Mary L. Doe started at once upon a tour for the purpose of organizing municipal franchise leagues for the study of city government, and everywhere was met with eager interest. She left a league in every place she visited, men also joining in the plans for study. Thus in conscientious preparation for their new duties, women in the various municipalities passed the summer and early autumn of 1893.

    Mayor Pingree of Detroit recognizing the new law, ordered a sufficient additional number of registration books, but Edward H. Kennedy and Henry S. Potter, who were opposed to it, filed an injunction against Hazen S. Pingree and the Common Council to restrain them from this extra purchase. Mary Stuart Coffin and Mary E. Burnett "countered" by filing a mandamus September 30, to compel the election commissioners to provide means for carrying out the law. As these were cases for testing the constitutionality of the law they were taken directly to the Supreme Court. They were set for argument October 10, at 2 p. M., but a case of local interest was allowed to usurp the time till 4 o'clock, one hour only being left for the arguments with three advocates on each side. Two of the women's lawyers, John B. Corliss and Henry A. Haigh, therefore filed briefs and gave their time to the first attorney, Col. John Atkinson.

    A decision was rendered October 24, the mandamus denied and the injunction granted, all the judges concurring, on the ground that the Legislature had no authority to create a new class of voters. Those who gave this decision were Chief Justice John W. McGrath and Justices Frank A. Hooker, John D. Long, Claudius B. Grant and Robert M. Montgomery.

    In spite of this Waterloo, the names of those men who, through the ten years' struggle, in the various sessions of the Legislature, stood as champions of the political rights of women, are cherished in memory. Besides those already given are Lieut-Gov. Archibald

  • (Page foot note) It is interesting to note that in Wayne County women registered and attended primary meetings prior to this decision, but their votes were held not to invalidate the nominations, although at least one of the Judges of the Recorder's Court owed his election to being nominated through the votes of women.

    Page 766.
    Butters, Senators Edwin G. Fox, James D. Turnbull, Charles H. McGinleyand C. J. Brundage, and Representative Fremont G. Chamberlain. In both Houses, session after session, there were many eloquent advocates of woman's equality.

    No further efforts have been made by women to secure the suffrage; but in 1895 George H. Waldo, without solicitation, introduced into the House a joint resolution to amend the constitution by striking out the word "male." This was done in fulfilment of a promise to his mother and his wife, when nominated, to do all that he could to secure the enfranchisement of women if elected. Although the officers of the State association did not believe the time to be ripe for the submission of such an amendment, they could not withhold a friendly hand from so ardent and sincere a champion. The resolution was lost by one vote.

    This Legislature passed what was known as "the blanket charter act," in which the substitution of "and" for "or" seemed so to affect the right of women to the school ballot in cities of the fourth class as to create a general disturbance. It resulted in an appeal to Attorney-General Fred A. Maynard, who rendered an opinion sustaining the suffrage of women in those cities.

    In 1897 the main efforts of the association were directed toward securing a bill to place women on boards of control of the State Asylums for the Insane, and one to make mandatory the appointment of women physicians to take charge of women patients in these asylums and in the Home for the Feeble-Minded. These measures were both lost; but on April 15 Governor Pingree appointed Jane M. Kinney to the Board of Control of the Eastern Michigan Asylum for the Insane at Pontiac for a term of six years, and after twenty days' delay the Senate confirmed the appointment.

    Interest was taken also in a bill requiring a police matron in towns of 10,000 inhabitants or more, which this year became law. In 1899 a bill was again introduced into the Legislature to make mandatory the appointment of women physicians in asylums for the insane, the Industrial Home for Girls, the Home for the Feeble-Minded, the School for Deaf Mutes and the School for the Blind. This measure had now enlisted the interest of the State Federation of Women's Clubs and many other organizations

    Page 767.

    of women, and thousands of petitions were presented. Emma J. Rose led the work of the women's clubs in its behalf. It passed the Legislature and became a law.

    Laws: In 1885 a law was enacted that manufacturers who employ women must furnish seats for them; in 1889 that no girl under fifteen years of age should be employed in factories or stores for a longer period than fifty-four hours in a single week; in 1893 that no woman under twenty-one should be employed in any manufacturing establishment longer than sixty hours in any one week; in 1895 that no woman under twenty-one should be allowed to clean machinery while in motion.

    A law enacted in 1897 prohibits the use of indecent, immoral, obscene or insulting language in the presence of any woman or child, with a penalty for its violation.

    Dower but not curtesy obtains. The widow is entitled to the life use of one-third of the real estate, and to one-third of the rents, issues and profits of property not conveniently divisible, owned by her husband. She may stay in the dwelling of her husband and receive reasonable support for one year. She is entitled to her apparel and ornaments and those of her husband, $250 worth of his household furniture and $200 worth of his other personal property, which she may select. If he die without a will and there are no children she inherits one-half, and if there are no other heirs the whole of her husband's real estate, and personal property, if the latter, after all debts are paid, does not exceed $1,000. If there is excess of this it is distributed like real estate. This reservation is not made for the widower, but "no individual, under any circumstances, takes any larger interest than the husband in the personal property of his deceased wife." Where the wife has separate real estate she may sell, mortgage or bequeath it as if she were "sole." The husband can not give full title to his real estate unless the wife joins so as to cut off her "dower.

    The wife's time, services, earnings and society belong to her husband, but he may give to his wife her services rendered for another, whether in his own household or elsewhere, so that she may recover for them in her own name. Damages for the loss of such services and society, resulting from injuries inflicted upon the wife, belong to the husband and are to be recovered in his own name. Her obligation to render family services for him is coextensive with his obligation to support her. She can sue in her own name for personal injuries.

  • (Page foot note) In April, 1896, a large number of the philanthropic women of Detroit, including many suffragists, organized the Protective Agency for Women and Children, opening an office in the Chamber of Commerce Building and employing an agent on salary. Since then it has done admirable work and has obtained some good legislation.

    Page. 768.

    Husband and wife can not be partners in business; but of personal property owned by them jointly she is entitled to her share the same as if unmarried; and real estate held by them in fee or in joint tenancy goes entirely to the survivor without probate or other proceedings. A wife may become a sole trader with the husband's consent, or may form a business partnership with another. She can not become security.

    All persons, except infants and married women and persons of unsound mind, may submit differences to arbitration.

    The father is legally entitled to the custody of the persons and education of minor children, and may appoint a guardian by will for the minority even of one unborn, but the mother may present objections to the Probate Judge and appeal from his decision.

    The husband must provide the necessities of life according to his station and means while the wife remains in his domicile. If she is deserted or non-supported, the Circuit Court of the county shall assign such part of his real or personal estate as it deems necessary for her support, and may enforce the decree by sale of such real estate, which provision holds during their joint lives.

    In 1887 the "age of protection" for girls was raised from 10 to 14 years. In 1895 a bill to raise the age from 14 to 18 was introduced in the Senate by Joseph R. McLaughlin. More than 10,000 persons petitioned for its passage, two similar bills having been introduced in the House. A hearing was granted by the Judiciary Committees, at which speeches were made by Senator and Mrs. McLaughlin, Clara A. Avery, Mrs. Andrew Howell, Dr. E. L. Shirley, the aged Lucinda Hinsdale Stone, Melvin A. and Martha Snyder Root. Mrs. Root also addressed the Legislature in Representative Hall. The bill was amended to 17 years and passed in the Senate. The next day, after its

    Page 769.

    friends had dispersed, the vote was reconsidered and the bill amended to 16 years, passing both Houses in this form. The penalty is imprisonment for life, or for any such period as the court shall direct, no minimum penalty being named.

    Suffrage: When at the close of the Civil War the States eliminated the word "white" from their constitutions, Michigan in 1867 amended her School Law to conform and also struck out the word "male" as a qualification for the suffrage, and gave taxpaying women a vote for school trustees. In 1881 this law was further amended to include parents or guardians of children of school age. No woman can vote for county or State Superintendents, as these officers are provided for under the constitution. Tax-paying women may also vote on bonds and appropriations for school purposes.

    The year of 1888 was marked by a test of the constitutionality of this School Law, which involved the right of the Legislature to confer any form of suffrage whatever upon women. The test was made through the prosecution of the inspectors of election of the city of Flint by Mrs. Eva R. Belles, whose vote was refused at a school election, she being a qualified voter under the State law. Mrs. Belles won her case which was then appealed to the Supreme Court. This affirmed the decision of the lower court and sustained the law.

    In May, 1893, the Legislature conferred Municipal Suffrage on women, but in October the Supreme Court decided it unconstitutional on the ground that "the Legislature had no authority to create a new class of voters." (See Legislative Action.) The Court held that it could, however, confer School Suffrage as "the whole primary school system is confided to the Legislature and its officers are not mentioned in the constitution." By this decision women can have no other form of the franchise except by constitutional amendment.

    Office Holding: Hundreds of women are serving as officers and members of school boards throughout the State, as township school inspectors and as county school commissioners and examiners. A number are acting as deputy county clerks, and one as

    Page 770.

    deputy clerk of the United States District Court. The latter frequently opens the court. Women serve as notaries public. For thirty years women have filled the office of State Librarian, the present incumbent being Mary C. Spencer.

    Dr. Harriet M. C. Stone has been for several years assistant physician in the Michigan Asylum for the Insane at Kalamazoo.

    The State Industrial School for Girls has two women on the Board of Guardians, one of whom, Allaseba M. Bliss, is the president and is serving her second term of four years, having been reappointed by Gov. Hazen S. Pingree. Since 1899 the law requires , women physicians in asylums for the insane and other State institutions where women and children are cared for. In the autumn of 1898 Mrs. Merrie Hoover Abbott, law-partner in the firm of Abbott & Abbott of West Branch, was nominated on the Democratic ticket as prosecuting attorney of Ogemaw County. She was elected and entered upon her duties Jan. I, 1899. Quo warranto proceedings were instituted by Attorney-General Horace M. Oren to test her right to the office, and October 17 the Supreme Court filed its opinion and entered judgment of ouster. In the meantime Mrs. Abbott had discharged successfully the duties of the position. The opinion was as follows: "Where the constitution in creating a public office is silent in regard to qualification to office, electors only are qualified to fill the same, and since under the constitution women are not electors, they are not eligible to hold such offices. The office of prosecuting attorney is a constitutional office which can only be held by one possessing the qualification of an elector."

    From this opinion Justice Joseph B. Moore dissented, making an able argument. In closing he said:
    The statutes of this State confer upon woman the right to practice law. She may represent her client in the most important litigation in all the courts, and no one can dispute her right. She may defend a person charged with murder. Can she not prosecute one charged with the larceny of a whip?

    To say she can not seems illogical Individuals may employ her and the courts must recognize her employment. If the people see fit, by electing her to an office the duties of which pertain almost wholly to the practice of the law, to employ her to represent them in their litigation

  • (Page foot note) Mrs. May Stocking Knaggs has been appointed (1901) a member of the Board of Control of the State Industrial School for Girls, by Gov. Aaron T. Bliss. [Eds. )

    Page 771.

    why should not the courts recognize the employment ? . . . . Where the constitution and the statutes are silent as to the qualification for a given office, the people may elect whom they will, if the person so elected is competent to discharge the duties of the office. . . . . None of the duties of prosecuting attorney are of such a character as to preclude one from their performance simply because of sex.

    Charles S. Abbott, Allen S. Morse and T. A. E. Weadock were the advocates for Mrs. Abbott, and she also made a strong oral argument in her own behalf. Unfortunately the case was not one which permitted an appeal to the U. S. Supreme Court.

    Occupations: No profession or occupation is forbidden by law to women. Education : All universities and colleges admit women. The University of Michigan (Ann Arbor), one of the largest in the country, was among the first to open its doors to them. (1869.) Mrs. Lucinda Hinsdale Stone was a strong factor in securing their admission. In having women on its faculty, it is still in advance of most of those where co-education prevails.

    In the public schools there are 3,471 men and 12,093 women teachers. The average monthly salary of the men is $44.48; of the women, $35.35.

    Michigan may truly be called the founder of Woman's Clubs, as the first one for purely literary culture of which we have any record was formed in Kalamazoo, in 1852, by Mrs. Stone, to whom the women of the State are deeply indebted in many ways. At present (1902) there are 133 in the General Federation with a membership of about 10,000, and a number are not federated. This State also leads all others in the number of women's club houses, ten of the leading clubs possessing their own. There are two of these in Grand Rapids—the St. Cecilia (musical) costing $53,000, and the Ladies' Literary costing $30,000, both containing fine libraries, large audience rooms and every convenience.

  • Related Notes & Pages

    Women's Suffrage Leaders
    Elizabeth Cady Stanton and Susan Brunell Anthony, leaders in National Women's Equal Suffrage Association.
    Bay City Women
    Click to view biography.
    Dr. Sarah B. Armstrong


    Mrs. Mary L. (Thompson) Doe


    Mrs. Emily (Burton) Ketcham

    Click to view biography.
    Mrs. May Stocking Knaggs

    Click to view biography.
    Mrs. Elizabeth Snyder Root

    Michigan Senate 1887.
    The following individuals from Bay City signed a peitition submitted to the Mich. Senate in favor of Municiple Women's Suffrage:

    Denison, E.B. Mrs.
    Dunham, N. Mrs.
    Elliot, Frank
    Fray, Carrie E.
    Granville Marie
    Gregory Chauncey
    Holmes, S.T. Mr. & Mrs.
    McLane, Seth
    Perry, Lizzie Miss.
    Root, M.A. Mr. & Mrs.
    Van Lue, L. Mr.
    Watkins, N.E. Mrs.

    The petition was signed by an additional 141 unidentified individuals from Bay City.
    People Referenced
    Abbott, Charles S.
    Abbott, Merrie Hoover
    Andrews, Lucy F.
    Angell, George B. Mrs.
    Anthony, Susan B.
    Arthur, Clara B.
    Atkinson, John
    Atkinson, O'Brien J.
    Avery, Clara A.
    Barksworth, Thomas
    Bartlett, Caroline Rev.
    Begole, Josiah W. Gov.
    Belknap, John W.
    Blackwell, Henry B.
    Blake, Alde L.T.
    Bliss, Allaseba M.
    Bliss, Aaron T. Gov.
    Bliss (Starker), Lenore Mrs.
    Bliss, Lila E.
    Blodgett, Delos A.
    Boutelle, Harriet J.
    Bradford, Simeon B.
    Briggs, Cordelia F.
    Brown, Norris J.
    Brundage, C.J.
    Burnett, Mary E.
    Butters, Archibald Lt.Gov.
    Catt (Chapman), Carrie Mrs.
    Chamberlain, Fremont G.
    Clay, Mary B.
    Coby (Bewick) Clara Mrs.
    Coffin, Mary Stuart
    Cook, Harriet A.
    Connor, Rowland
    Corliss, John B.
    Curtiss, James B.F.
    Dalton, W. J. Rev.
    Doe (Thompson), Mary L.
    Donovan, John
    Downs, Margaret H.
    Emery, Sarah E.V.
    Eaglesfield, Elizabeth
    Faxon, Carrie C.
    Fowler, Fanny Holden
    Fowler, Samuel
    Fox, Edwin G.
    Gilmore, Arthur D.
    Goodrich, John V.B.
    Gougar, Mrs.
    Grant, Claudius B.
    Greusel, Joseph
    Haigh, Henry A.
    Hall, Edith Frances
    Hall, Olivia B. Mrs.
    Hazlitt, Adele
    Holmes, Delisle P.
    Hooker, Frank A.
    Hopkins, Samuel W.
    Houk, Theodore G.
    Howell, Andrew Mrs.
    Huckins, Margaret M.
    Hultin, Ida C. Rev.
    Humphrey, Lyman U. Gov.
    Jenkins, Helen Philleo
    Johns, Laura M.
    Kellogg, L.B.
    Kellogg, R.M. Mrs.
    Kennedy, Edward H.
    Ketcham (Burton), Emily
    Kinny, Jane M.
    Knaggs (Stocking), May
    Knaggs, Wesley
    Livermore, Mary Mrs.
    Long, John D.
    Luce, Cyrus G. Gov.
    McGrath, John W.
    McGinley, Charles H.
    McLaughlin, Joseph R.
    Maynard, Fred A.
    Meriwether, Lidia A. Mrs.
    Miller, Samuel
    Mills, Harriet May
    Milnes, Alfred
    Monroe, Charles J.
    Montgomery, Robert M.
    Moore, Joseph B.
    Morse, Allen S.
    Mulliken, J.B.
    Newkirk, Henry Wirt
    oren, Horace M.
    O'Shea, Patrick
    ostrander, Frances
    Palmer, Thomas W.
    Parsons, Sophronia O.C.
    Pealer, Russell R.
    Perry, Belle M.
    Pingree, Hazon S. Gov.
    Potter, Henry S.
    Randall, James A.
    Rich, John T. Gov.
    Rooney, Annie
    Root (Snyder), Martha
    Root, Mevlin A.
    Rose, Emma J.
    Sewall (Wright), May Mrs.
    Shaw, Anna Howard Rev.
    Shirley, E.L. Dr.
    Skinner, Sara Philleo
    Smith, Frank
    Smith, Oliver S.
    Spalding (Jenkins), Florence
    Spencer, Mary C.
    Spotted Tail
    Staford Frances Riddle
    Stanton, Elizabeth Cady
    Stebbins, Catharine A.F. Mrs.
    Stebbins, Giles B.
    Stone, Harriet M. Dr.
    Stone, Lucinda Hinsdale
    Strickland, Martha E.
    Strong, John Lt.Gov.
    Taylor, Thomas C.
    Todd, Marian
    Turnbull, James D.
    Waite, Bryon S.
    Waite, Charles B.
    Waldo, George H.
    Walker, Nellie
    Watson, Henry
    Weadock, T.A.E.
    Whitfield, Phebe B.
    Willard, Frances E.
    Subjects Referenced
    American Federal of Labor
    Ann Arbor, MI
    Ann Arbor E.S.A.
    Anna Shaw E.S.A.
    Assoc. Advancement of Women
    Battle Creek, MI
    Bay City, MI
    Chicago, IL
    Boston, MA
    Chippewa Co., MI
    Church of Our FAther
    Columbia Cath. Summer Sch.
    Civil War
    Democratic party
    Detroit, MI
    East Saginaw, MI
    Eastern Mich. Asylum
    Flint, MI
    Grand Rapids, MI
    Hillsdale, MI
    Indiana
    Kalamazoo, MI
    Kansas
    Kentucky
    Michigan...
    -Aslum for Insane
    -Federation of Women Clubs
    -Home for Feeble Minded
    -Industrial Home Girls
    -Protective Agency Women, Children
    -School for Blind
    -School for Deaf Mutes
    -Supreme Court
    -Women's E.S.A.
    Michigan University
    Municiple Suffrage Bill
    Lansing, MI
    Natl. Women's E.S.A
    New England Woman Suf. Bazaar
    Ogemaw Co., MI
    People's party
    Pontiac, MI
    Port Huron, MI
    Prohibitionist party
    Republican party
    Saginaw, MI
    Saginaw Pol. Equalty Club
    Tennessee
    Vermontville, MI
    Washinton, DC
    West Branch, MI
    E.S.A.= Equal Suffrage Assoc.
    WRITINGS: History As It Was Written Then.