Speech at Wisconsin State Assembly, January 25, 1912 (excerpts)


Jane Addams, of Chicago, gave an address in favor of woman suffrage in the assembly chamber of Wisconsin's capitol at Madison last week. Every inch of room was taken and hundreds were turned away. Speaking in a university city, Miss Addams laid particular emphasis upon woman suffrage from the viewpoint of the college women.

"I should like," she began, "to point out the four classes of women whom I think ought particularly to concern themselves to trying to get the ballot.

"First, there are the women who are interested in science. We are apt to think of scientists as the last people to be drawn into anything savoring of emotionalism. But if they would 'put over' their impersonal, scientific findings, they will have to have definite, political power. We have in the city hall of Chicago a laboratory to see whether milk is fit for little children. Examinations are made every day of our city water, and a report is issued on the day following, of whether the water [Page 2] we consumed the day before was in wholesome condition. These are matters of science, as are the whole subjects of waste and prevention.

"The second group of women who need the ballot are those interested in economics. The girl who has studied the emigrant problem sees in every shipload possibilities for beauty and for great things. She knows that they can only be cared for and benefited collectively. When you come to collective action you come to governmental action. The first people who tried to help the emigrants were a group of women who saw the atrocities practiced on the emigrant girls.

"The third group of women who need the ballot are those interested in industrial work. The whole sweatshop system is a situation to regulate politically. 

"The fourth group is the one made up of domestic women. It used to be that the women could take care of her children by individual effort. When she made her bread at home and milked her own cows, she did not need the ballot. Now these are governmental matters. 

"Whether or not the women should have the ballot is not a question of argument, it is a situation -- a question of these things which need to be done."

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