Francis Parkman, "Some of the Reasons Against Women's Suffrage" (Albany, N.Y. Anti-Suffrage Association, 1905)
The man is the natural head of the family, and is responsible for its maintenance and order. Hence he ought to control the social and business agencies which are essential to the successful discharge of the trust imposed upon him . . .
Woman suffrage must have one
of two effects. If, as many of its advocates complain, women are subservient to
men, and do nothing but what they desire, then woman suffrage will have no
other result than to increase the power of the other sex; if, on the other
hand, women vote as they see fit, without regarding their husbands, then
unhappy marriages will be multiplied and divorces redoubled . . .
But most women, including those of the best capacity and worth, fully consent that their fathers, husbands, brothers, or friends, shall be their political representatives . . .
Nothing is more certain that that women will have the suffrage if they ever want it; for when they want it, men will give it to them regardless of consequences.
Many women of sense and intelligence are influenced by the fact that the woman suffrage movement boasts itself a movement of progress, and by a wish to be on the liberal or progressive side. But the boast is unfounded. Progress, to be genuine, must be in accord with natural law. If it is not, it ends in failure and in retrogression. . . . To plunge [women] into politics, where they are not needed and for which they are unfit, would be scarcely more a movement of progress than to force them to bear arms and fight . . .
Neither Congress, nor the States, nor the united voice of the whole people could permanently change the essential relations of the sexes. Universal female suffrage, even if decreed, would undo itself in time; but the attempt to establish it would work deplorable mischief. The question is, whether the persistency of a few agitators shall plunge us blindfold into the most reckless of all experiments; whether we shall adopt this supreme device for developing the defects of women, and demolish their real power to build an ugly mockery instead. For the sake of womanhood, let us hope not . . . Let us save women from the barren perturbations of American politics. Let us respect them; and, that we may do so, let us pray for deliverance from female suffrage.