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Woodhull, Victoria) Claflin, Tennie.

Franchise for Women, The.

Printed matter

(Woodhull, Victoria). Claflin, Tennie C. "The Franchise for Women." By Lady Cook, Nee Tennessee Claflin. Reprinted from The Watford Herald and West Herts Press, January 28, 1910.
Broadside (8 1/2 x 11"); three columns; horizontal crease; single 1" closed tear. In a specially built cloth slipcase.
A rare offprint of Claflin's "scathing exposure of the erroneous ideas as to women's 'natural inferiority'" (from the subtitle). This plea for woman suffrage, published under Claflin's married name (Claflin married Francis Cook, a wealthy English dry goods merchant, in 1885; he later was made a baronet after endowing a home for artists in London), was probably not issued or circulated in the States.
Claflin develops her thesis that woman suffrage is "no longer a matter of sentiment, but of justice" in five parts: "'Legal Logic,'" "Erroneous Ideas," "A Grave Injustice," "Exploded Objections" and "A Plea for Justice." She examines the historical perception of women and cites examples when her sex acted against that perception. She looks at her contemporary society, and stakes a legitimate legal claim for woman suffrage decades after "no taxation without representation" rang throughout the States. Though the cogency of Claflin's arguments is strong evidence in refuting the historical notion that women are "perpetual infants" and that ideas are "unexpected" from them, she brings in John Stuart Mill and John Quincy Adams to support her claims:
John Stuart Mill once said: "It is my belief that, in all those parts of the business of life which depend upon the vigilant superintendence and accurate estimation of details, women, when they have the necessary special knowledge, are better administrators than men. And I am now speaking, not of women as they might be-not as some improved mode of education would make them-but of women as they now are, and of the capacities which they have already displayed.
Mill goes on, in the passage Claflin cites, to point out that the Sanitary Commission in "the great American War" was "planned, organised, and worked by women┬╝Not only had such work never been so well done, but nobody had ever supposed it possible that it could be so well done." Claflin rails, intelligently, against the intellectual and moral oppression women suffer at the hands of men, demanding that women be set free to fulfill their potential equally with, if not beyond, their male counterparts:
How many noble women have been mentally and morally asphyxiated by the narrowness of their daily lives and the cruel denial of an outlet for their abilities! We cordially agree with John Quincey Adams when he said that "Women are not only justified, but exhibit the most exalted virtue, when they do depart from the domestic circle and enter on the concerns of their country, of humanity, and of their God."

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