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Extremely Unwoke Women’s Suffrage Views by a Chicago Italian-American Attorney
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it is clear that woman suffrage should be discarded for the following reasons: First. It disrupts the home.... Second. The woman is physically unfit for certain offices.... Third. Politics is the most corrupt game of the age.... Fourth. The right to vote does imply the right to become eligible to nomination or election to public offices.... Fifth. The influence of the woman should be of a persuasive nature, and should be exercised at home.... Sixth. Jealousy would destroy domestic happiness.... Seventh. Women voters are unnecessary.... Eighth. Women could never control men, on account of weaker physical conditions.... Ninth. The needs of the family would be increased while incomes would decrease.... Tenth. When the woman is with child, she is liable to suffer as a result of any emotion or abuse....” (p74-76)

Gigliotti, a naturalized Italian-American attorney in Chicago, declares limited women’s suffrage as a failure in reforming politics and even opposes separate ownership of property by women, because husbands use their wives to hide their assets.

[WOMEN’S SUFFRAGE]. CAIROLI GIGLIOTTI. Book. Woman Suffrage: Its Causes and Possible Consequences. Chicago: Press of Barnard & Miller, 1914. 92 pp.

Inventory #25602       Price: $600


The agitation and the propaganda which have held this country spellbound during the past five or ten years, in relation to woman suffrage, which has an equal number of female supporters and opponents, and the fact that the problem is, probably, the most interesting of all problems, have influenced me to prepare this book, which is a modest but comprehensive study of all reasons and arguments advanced for and against suffrage.” (p1)

The militant suffrage movement has been confined, up to the present time, to a lot of old maids, or soreheads, or ugly looking women, or hysterical females, who have tried to place themselves in the limelight, and to secure a husband, or a male sympathizer, who could be attracted by their noise, if not by their lack of beauty.” (p5-6)

only the abnormal woman is looking for equal suffrage. A great number of others will take advantage of it, for a short time, to enjoy the new experience, but will quit voting as soon as they get acquainted with the situation.” (p8)

The laws should be but are not, equal for all. They give women privileges and protection that is denied the men. The laws discriminate, but in favor of the woman.” (p12)

The run for the right to vote, therefore, is transforming itself into the run for offices, and incidentally, for the political patronage connected with same.” (p20)

The theory of equality might be a fine theory, but it is not supported by facts. The woman, in fact, is not equal to the man. She is considerably different.” (p25)

It is absurd to claim equality of rights when human nature has rendered impossible equality of duties.” (p28)

Who would exercise the additional influence which the votes for women bring about? The answer is easy: The foreign element of the American population, or, to be more explicit, those who will be shrewd enough to control it. The foreign element of the American population comes from the lowest scales of life. It is made up, in the whole, by peasants and laborers who come here in an effort to better their conditions.... This element is industrious, willing, hard working. But...they preserve the same habits, the same superstitions, the same mental slavery which centuries of ill government have built around them.” (p49)

The objection to woman suffrage is not based upon the idea that women should be deprived of an innocent distraction, but upon observation and consideration which point to the fact that the innocent distraction will act as a disrupter of home life, and of home quiet.” (p54)

Some people are inclined to favor woman suffrage in Illinois because the legislature of the state has enacted a law granting limited suffrage, the Governor has signed it, and the Supreme Court has declared it to be constitutional… The law was upheld by a vote of four to three in our Supreme Court. Interesting to know that the four eminent justices who voted in favor of the law, and who constituted the majority, are all Republican Judges and that the three judges, including the Chief Justice, who voted against it, are all Democrats.... If the suffrage advocates were wholly on the right, even from a constitutional standpoint, it is clear that the learned justices of our Supreme Court would have been unanimous in upholding the act.” (p65-67)

Historical Background

In 1913, Illinois became the first state east of the Mississippi River to grant women a limited right to vote in presidential elections and for some local offices. After three months of effort by suffragists, a bill introduced by Republican state senator Hugh Magill passed the senate by a vote of 29 to 15, on May 7, 1913. One month later, on June 11, the Illinois House of Representatives approved it by a vote of 83 to 58, just six votes more than the required majority. Governor Edward F. Dunne signed the bill into law on June 26.

Opponents of women suffrage soon brought suit against election commissioners in Chicago to test the constitutionality of the new law. Meanwhile, more than 200,000 Illinois women registered to vote, and in May 1914, Chicago hosted its first large suffrage parade with over 15,000 women marching down Michigan Boulevard. On June 13, 1914, the Illinois Supreme Court, by a four-three vote, declared the suffrage law constitutional.

In the state legislature early in 1915 a resolution was introduced to repeal the suffrage law, but supporters managed to kill the repeal resolution in committee. In June 1916, five thousand suffragists held a parade in pouring rain while the National Republican Convention was in session in Chicago. Despite the opposition of Platform Committee chairman Senator Henry Cabot Lodge of Massachusetts, the Republican Party incorporated an equal suffrage plank in its 1916 platform. Although Republican candidate Charles Evans Hughes carried Illinois and many other northern and midwestern states, Democrat Woodrow Wilson carried the entire South and most of the West to win the election by 23 electoral votes.

Carrie Chapman Catt, President of the National American Woman Suffrage Association, later remarked that Illinois’ decision in 1913 paved the way for New York to adopt women’s suffrage in 1917, which in turn was critical to the passage of the 19th Amendment in 1919.

On June 4, 1919, Congress passed a proposed Nineteenth Amendment to the U.S. Constitution and submitted it to the states for ratification. The proposed amendment prohibited the denial of the right to vote on the basis of sex. On June 10, Illinois became the first state to approve the amendment by a vote of 46-0 in the Senate and 135-3 in the House of Representatives. The necessary three quarters of the states had ratified the amendment by just over a year later, in August 1920, when it became part of the Constitution and culminated seventy-two years of effort on behalf of women’s suffrage.

Cairoli Gigliotti (1872-1946) was born in Italy. Between 1892 and 1901, he published five small volumes of poetry. He settled in Chicago in the early twentieth century. In 1909, he obtained his license to practice law from the Illinois Supreme Court. In 1913, Gigliotti wrote Problems of To-day: Social Studies and Suggestions on a variety of public policy issues from immigration to racial prejudice, from marriage and divorce to the Monroe Doctrine. A year later, he wrote Woman Suffrage: Its Causes and Possible Consequences. In 1916, Gigliotti published Toward the Danger Mark, arguing against the defects in the Chicago civil service system and the courts and proposing a nationalized system of qualifying lawyers and selecting judges. In February 1917, Gigliotti filed a $25,000 slander suit against federal judge Kenesaw Mountain Landis for laughing at him in the courtroom. From at least 1922 to 1924, he was the editor and publisher of the Nuevo Venuto / Newcomer newspaper, published in both English and Italian, and devoted to “Americanization, good government, education and problems of peace.” In 1929, he was president and general counsel of the Immigrants’ Legal Aid Society.

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