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Excerpts from the Staats-Lexikon: "Relations between the Sexes" (1845-1848)

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XIV. Recently a powerful speaker in the American Congress defended women’s right of petition and especially its appropriateness in specific instances. The debate took place on the occasion of a petition of women in favor of the abolition of slavery, the most abominable of all institutions in human societies. With what legal and Christian principle would one exclude Christian women – who after all played such a dignified and important role also in the first Christian congregations, and are the most natural representatives of religious sentiment and humane kindness – from the right of petitioning for the abolition of such an un-Christian and pernicious corrupting stain on their Fatherland?

XV. In Baden, the admission of women to the spectators’ galleries of both house of parliament has now proved to be entirely harmless and salutary for more than twenty years. Never have I heard mention of even the smallest drawback. And the participation of women has most definitely had a visibly beneficial effect on a dignified, proper tone, and an excellent effect on a lively and dignified public opinion – the soul of all free constitutions. Women – precisely because they do not participate directly in the passionate battles, do not compete for distinctions and offices, and because the free expression of their opinion is thus not tainted by passion and the lower motives of fear and interests, like that of so many men – women, with their subtle and direct sense and tact for what is dignified, with their quick eye especially for male worthiness and unworthiness, have at all times given their approval to what is honorable and right, to the extent that they participated in public opinion. And from participation in public life they have surely also brought back to their domestic and social circles and entertainment, and above all to their maternal tasks of child-rearing, uplifting knowledge and sentiments and higher levels of understanding.

XVI. Unmarried and widowed women who are independent may also exercise public rights that are tied to specific real property or ownership of wealth and do not consist of direct participation in votes and discussions in public assemblies of men and in the holding of public offices, but do include voting rights exercised by proxies, just as they may head up commercial and business establishments. English and French laws have examples of both these things.

[ . . . ]

Source: Carl von Rotteck and Carl Welcker, eds., Das Staats-Lexikon: Encyklopädie der sämmtlichen Staatswissenschaften für alle Stände [The National-Lexicon: Encyclopedia of the Political Sciences for People of all Stations], 2nd ed., rev. and enl. Altona: Verlag von Johann Friedrich Hammerich, 1845-48, vol. 5, pp. 654-56, 660-62, 665, 670, 672-73.

Translation: Thomas Dunlap

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