Pleading for More

Warren sufragette makes impassioned plea for women’s rights 25 years before 19th Amendment

Times Observer photo by Josh Cotton The centennial “Woman’s Edition of the Warren Evening Times on display at the Warren County Historical Society’s Wilder Museum.

This is one of those times when I’m going to write a brief intro and then get out of the way.

Laura Scofield was the daughter of the county’s first treasurer – Archibald Tanner – and the wife of a Congressman, Glenni Scofield.

She wrote the following article under the headline “Political Equality” for the “Woman’s Edition” of the (Warren) Evening News centennial edition on April 18, 1895.

It would be another 25 years before women were granted the vote by the 19th amendment and Scofield wouldn’t live to see it.

But that doesn’t mean she didn’t fight for it.

Times Observer photo by Josh Cotton Laura Scofield’s portrait hangs in the Warren County Historical Society’s main office on Fourth Ave.

Here is her article, which has been preserved by the Warren County Historical Society and now hangs on display at the Society’s Wilder Museum in Irvine.

“So God created man is his own image, in His own image created He him; male and female created He them.”

Only as we consider man as a composite body, consisting of two equal and independent parts, male and female, can we understand this account of creation. After addressing them in the plural, the Almighty makes them, not him, jointly to rule over the rest of his creatures. The masculine part of man is not given dominion over the feminine part of himself, but both are to be workers together in all possible ways for the good and harmony of humanity. If woman was given to man as an appendage, merely to minister to his pleasure, she is only responsible to her master, man, and should be freed from the pains and penalties following the transgressions of his laws.

She should no more be responsible to him than is his horse, his dog or his cow. He can make of her a doll, a plaything when the mood so moves him, or the recipient of cruel acts and insults when in less amiable temper. She should “have no rights that he is bound to respect;” no duty but perfect submission to his will.

Taxation without representation has, in this land, since 1776m been proclaimed an unendurable wrong. She should, therefore, be the possessor of no property. But, you say, she is represented by her male relatives. All women have not reliable male relatives; and of the many so blessed, how few are in any senss represented by them!

In two households containing eleven members, nine adults and two children, how could one man, if he would, with one ballot, represent his own and also the opposing opinions of each of these individual persons? Outside the spiritual domain, imputed innocence or guilt is not recognized. In every cause, each individual must stand or fall according to merit.

The question of the right of women in the making, as well as in obeying the laws of the land, is the only one now left, worthy of consideration. If not buried in the ast, dead, the old, tame arguments of woman’s sphere having been prescribed to her by her Maker; of neglected home duties; of preserving the love and respect of male friends; of not contaminating herself in the “dirty pool of politics;” of women who do not want the ballot, and if they did, of the hydra-headed many-tounged dragon awaiting her at the polls, come limping after the van of evolution and progress, repeating their threadbare stories. Even the argument of expediency is left behind. Right is right, and if but one woman knows she wants and needs the ballot, she should have it, though all the world beside say nay.

The Maker of the unalterable laws of justice will care for the consequences. We see by man’s love for his family, by his ready response to appeals of charity and mercy that he is not wholly contaminated by the moss-grown views of past ages. Many of the wisest and best men are ready now, with helping hands to speed the time when the ideal man, male and female, may, from the heights surrounding our village, look down upon a city clean and white, all its dirty pools purified by the shining of the Sun of Righteousness and Peace. Our school board is graced by two competent and in every way worthy women, Mrs. Cowan and Mrs. Richards. Now we come, strong, with our-stretched hands, like “little Oliver,” pleading for “more.”


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