Contributed by barbara-dave
Description: Suffrage & Anti-Suffrage Agree Page 10Date: March 26 1915
Newspaper published in: Washington, D. C.
Washington Times March 26, 1915 Suffrage & Anti-Suffrage Agree Page 10
Suffragist and Anti Agree in Fight For Right of Women to Her Wages
Decision of New York Judge Brings Sudden and Startling Amalgamation of Thought In Warring Camps.
By Florence E. YODER.
Let there be a fanfare of trumpets. Permit the haulboys to enter with torches, and let other demonstrations be made.
For the suffragists and anti-suffragists have actually agreed on the same point. Of course, one must add parenthetically, not without instantly disagreeing on the finer points, and absolutely differing in their manners of procedure.
The great fact is that they agree, and the subject upon which this startling condition hinges has to do with the woman and her right to almighty dollar which she has earned.
Earth has no sorrow that money cannot heal.
The New York judge who ruled to the effect that a woman had no right to her own savings, unconsciously laid a plank in the platform of the Utopian organization known by some dreamers as the Federated Women of the World.
Bringing the question right down to Washington and to prove from the statements of women in this city the truth of the foregoing remarks. I quote them.
Here Are Their Views.
Of the judge who made the decision in the New York court, one Judge MORSCHAUSER, and of the ruling itself, Mrs. C. H. DAVIS, president of the Anti-Suffrage Association of the District, says: "Anti-suffragists of New York should rally for the repeal of the measure allowing the husband the use of his wife's savings."
Mrs. Antoinette FUNK, of the pro-suffrage camp, says that Justice MORSCHAUSER appears "less of a judge than a cave man," and that "he presents a reversion to past judicial standards long since discarded by the more distinguished courts."
Mrs. Joseph STODDARD, second vice president of the Anti-Suffrage Association, can't understand the attitude which would permit such a decision, and calls it an "uncivilized law."
But perhaps the more detailed statements of the women will be more enlightening, and at the same time give an enlivening view as to how suffragist and anti would handle the question.
Mrs. C. H. DAVIS, president of the District Anti-Suffrage Association, believes that the anti-suffragists of New York should rally for the repeal of the measure that allows a husband the use of all his wife's earnings.
"I think it is the duty of the anti-suffragists of New York to see that this measure is brought up in the legislature for action as soon as possible, and I believe that they will be influential enough to secure its repeal without having to be given the vote. We don't know whether the vote would be able to secure them the passage of laws protecting women, anyway. Every vote cast by a woman who knows the situation will be outvoted by the ignorant vote of women who do not, a condition of affairs that is duplicated by the ignorant man's vote at the present time.
The fact that such a ruling could be made under the New York laws is the fault of the laws, not of women or of men. Remember, though, that the laws might be just as bad if the women were voting, for statistics show that suffrage has not always been able to secure legislation of this sort.
"I wonder if the judge gave his decision with any idea of the coming vote on suffrage in the State legislature. He may believe his ruling will be influential. For my part, I thought the laws of New York were more liberal. However, I think that the anti-suffragists will be able to secure the passage of better legislation without granting equal suffrage first. That would be too dangerous."
"There are not two parties to a marriage contract, but three," said Mrs. Antoinette FUNK, who was thoroughly prepared to answer the question. "The third is the state. It intervenes, armed with the law, as a sort of guarantor that the interests of the people will be protected and that the marriage contract shall be a worthy and uplifting thing in the community.
"The law of the great State of New York has read into the marriage contract this provision: If a married woman works for a wage, no matter how pressing her necessity, no matter how vitally important her earnings may be to herself, her children or others dependent on her, no matter how severe the labor or how slight the pittance she receives, after she has earned it she cannot legally spend it, because it is not hers. It belongs to her husband. He is entitled to it under the law, and although he had nothing to do with earning it, he may use it as he likes without her consent. In other words, the man and wife are one and he is the one.
"The mind of the modern woman turns with interest to survey the judge who so recently rendered his decision upon this point. Viewed in the light of his enforcement of this statute, he appears less a judge than a cane man. He presents to the mind the idea of a reversion to past judicial standards, long since discarded by the more distinguished courts.
"If the New York anti-suffragists are consistent in their attitude toward women, it will be interesting to note their defense of the New York State law as written and this particular decision as rendered. It will be recalled that at the time a bill was pending in the New York legislature giving women the right to vote for school directors the anti-suffragists opposed this strenuously on the ground that women would be a corrupt and pernicious influence in politics. Yet later, when the governor appointed Dr. Catherine B. DAVIS commissioner of corrections, they pointed to the splendid influence of women along political lines. Hence, if they devote their attention to the present situation they may say that if married women insist upon working they must expect their husbands to take their wages away from them."
"An Uncivilized Law."
Mrs. Joseph STODDARD, second vice president of the District Anti-Suffrage Association, had not heard the full particulars of the ruling that has caused so much discussion among the women of New York.
"I can't understand an attitude that would permit such a decision," she said. "I didn't realize that a State like New York would retain such an uncivilized law."
"I can't see the justice of such a ruling in these days of civilization," said Mrs. Ellis LOGAN, president of the District Federation of Women's Clubs. "It sounds rather like the 'blue laws,' doesn't it? I really had no idea that such a law existed in a State as large as New York. I'm sure that the judge who handed down this decision can't be one of our up-to-date, twentieth century men. It makes one wonder just how he manages his household, if he has a wife.
"This example only goes to show that women must familiarize themselves with the laws of the State in which they reside. There's nothing that can present this to women better than the law study classes in the clubs. Undoubtedly the club movement is doing a great deal to wake women up to civil betterment.
Why Champion New Laws?
"Then, too, it makes us hesitate before we favor new legislation. I wonder if the mother-teachers of New York would be so anxious to retain their positions if they realized that their husbands can claim all their earnings. Women ought to be sure that they can't be imposed upon before they champion new laws.
"In the case of New York, however, no wonder the women of the State are such ardent suffragists. It should make a good point in their favor when the question comes up in the State legislature in the near future. I am sure I shall study the laws of the State before we have our biennial convention of the Federation of Women's Clubs in New York city.
Miss Mary O'TOOLE, attorney-at-law and secretary of the College Woman's Equal Suffrage League said:
"The decision of Supreme Court Justice MORCHAUSER that a wife's earning belong to her husband is very timely for the suffragists. They will be quite sure to use it extensively during the campaign. While they have been quite familiar with this aspect of the law, suffragists have found it hard to convince the rank and file of the citizens that medievalism had any place in the law of the Empire State. Even if such is the law, it is never enforced, has been the disheartening reply. Let us hope that the gentleman who wrote the editorial in a recent issue of the New York Times on the the [sp.] laws of the State 'discriminating in favor of women' will see the decision and profit by it."