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Floyd, Anna B.

Archive - "Resolved - That the Establishment of Womans Suffrage would be for the Good of the Country." Arguments in favor of Women's Suffrage.


A 19th-century Teen Debates Woman Suffrage
Floyd, Anna B. Manuscript material: "Resolved - That the Establishment of Womans Suffrage would be for the Good of the Country." Arguments in favor of Women's Suffrage, Presented by Anna Floyd, Age 18, at a Debate held in Liberty Hill, South Carolina, in 1889, and late recorded in her Manuscript Notes.
4to.; nine pages of pencil notes, reconstructed some seven years later, in 1896 and written in script on the blank versos of letterhead from the South Carolina House of Representatives. On an unused envelope accompanying the group, from the law offices of a Frederick, Maryland attorney, Floyd jotted the results of the debate. Accompanied by a cabinet photo of Floyd at the age of 14, and a carte-de-visite of her father, Confederate General Joseph Walker Floyd. Both photos are from the Maryland studio of J. Davis Byerly, of Frederick, Maryland.
As a young woman, Anna Floyd took the affirmative argument in a debate on women's suffrage in her home town of Liberty Hill, South Carolina, with a Dr. Richards arguing the negative. She gleefully records "Result a tie the Judges could not agree." She notes that "[m]ost of both arguments were without written notes..." This manuscript record of her arguments is signed and dated by her in Liberty Hill on March 7th, 1896. Floyd was well versed in the history of women's suffrage, and included in her debate that "n about 28 states of our own country, and in most of the countries of Europe women exercise in some form the right of suffrage..." She advances several theories to support her opinions, citing the Declaration of Independence to state that women are among the "governed" from whom the government derives its power, and they should therefore have the right to say how they are governed. She sites John Stuart Mill and Henry Ward Beecher on the purifying influence of women. She states that "voting gives power and men always respect power." One argument she advances, and one on which members of the suffragist movement disagreed, was that the enfranchisement of women "is especially expedient in the South, for no one pretends to deny that womans suffrage...would settle the question of white supremacy, and that without a shadow of be found in any other possible plan." Her closing arguments assert that a woman's point of view was vital to balancing and tempering masculine passion "for the highest altitudes of greatness will never be achieved, nor the ideal perfection of government reached, until she takes her place side by side with man in every walk of life..."
Anna B. Floyd (1870-1956) lived with her family in Liberty Hill, South Carolina. Her father, Joseph Walker Floyd (1840-1915) served in the Confederate Army as a member of the Norfolk Light Artillery Blues. He lost an arm at Chancellorsville. Following the war, he was elected a member of the state legislature in South Carolina (hence Anna's use of the letterhead). In his obituary in the Camden Chronicle, he is spoken of as an eloquent debater and public speaker. His daughter Anna continued the family tradition and courageously defended her strong beliefs in women's rights. By 1940, according to census records, she was living in Frederick, Maryland. A remarkable survival, especially so, being from an area of the country that was particularly inhospitable to women's rights.

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