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Ohio, page 75, where you will find that the property of the wife, can not be taken for the debts of her husband, &c.; and all articles of household furniture, and goods which a wife shall have brought with her in marriage, or which shall have come to her by bequest, gift, &c., after marriage, or purchased with her separate money or other property, shall be exempt from liability for the debts of her husband, during her life, and during the life of any heir of her body.”
Very true : we readily admit the law of which the gentleman has given an abstract; and so long as the wife holds the property in her hands, just as she received it, it cannot be taken for the husband's debts, but the moment she permits her husband to convert that property into another shape, it becomes his, and may be taken for his debts. The gentleman I presume will admit this at once.
The next paragraph of the letter, reads thus :
"Also in Vol. 51, General Laws of Ohio, page 499, the act regu-' lating descent, &c., provides, that real estate, which shall have come to the wife by descent, devise, or gift, from her ancestor, shall descend-first, to her children, or their legal representatives. if there be no children, or their legal representatives living, the estate shall pass to the brothers and sisters of the intestate, who may be of the blood of the ancestor from whom the estate came, or their legal representatives, &c."
True again :-So long as the wife holds real estate in her own name, in title, and in title only, it is hers; (for her husband even then controls its profits) and if she leave it so, it will descend to her heirs so long as she has an heir, and so long as she can trace the descent. But if she suffers her husband to sell that property and receive the money, it instantly becomes his : and instead of descending to her heirs, it descends to his heirs. This the gentleman will not deny. Now, we readily admit, that while the wife abides by the Statutes, of which our article has given us an abstract, her husband cannot take the property from her, he can only take the use of it. But the moment she departs from the Statute, she comes under the provisions of the common law ; which, when they do not conflict, is equally binding in Ohio, as the Statute Law. And in this case, the common and Statute Laws do not conflict. Departing from the
Statute, that is, suffering her property to be exchanged, the provision is thus: (Here follows the common Law, taken from the petition.) I have nothing further to add on this point, but will quote the last paragraphs in the letter.
"If you would know what our laws are, you must refer to the laws passed in Ohio since 1840."
This has already been answered.
"You said last night, that the property of the wife, passed to the husband, even to his sixteenth cousin! Will you correct your error? And oblige
I should be extremely happy to oblige the gentleman, but having committed no error, there is nothing to correct; and I do not, therefore, see that I can in conscience comply with his request. I am, however, exceedingly thankful for any expression of interest from that quarter. There are other laws which might be mentioned, which really give woman an apparent advantage over men; yet, having no relevancy to the subject in the petition, we did not see fit to introduce them. One of these is, that no woman shall be subject to arrest and imprisonment for debt: while no man, that is, no ordinary man, none unless he has a halo of military glory around his brow-is held sacred from civil process of this kind. But this exemption is of very little benefit to woman, since, if the laws were as severe to her as to man, she would seldom risk the penalty. For this there are two very good reasons. One is, that, conscious of her inability to discharge obligations of this kind, she has little disposition to run deeply into debt.: and the other is, that she has not the credit to do it, if she wished! If, however, she does involve herself in this way, the law exempts her from imprisonment. This, perhaps, is offered as a sort of palliation for the disabilities which she suffers in other respects.. The only object of the petition is, I believe, that the husband and wife be placed upon a legal and political equality. If the law gives woman an advantage over man, we deprecate it as much as he can. Partiality to either, to the injury of the other, is wrong in principle, and we must therefore oppose it. We do not wish to be placed in the position which the husband now occupies. We do not wish that
control over his interests, which he may now exercise over the interests of the wife. We would no sooner intrust this power to woman, than to man,
We would never place her in authority over her husband. For pity's sake, deliver me forever from the sight of a henpecked husband, a man who cowers and shrinks in the presence of his wife, as a mouse does in the presence of a cat. A lady near me, asks if there are any such. Yes, there are such, and my heart has ached sometimes, to see an authoritative woman exercising her skill over a little bit of a puny, insignificant man. I am not sure, that women, give them the power, might not at present prove the greatest tyrants of the two. Men's minds are more expanded, and more liberal, not only from education, but from a more extended field of observation. And the heart, as a general thing, grows big with the expansion of the intellect. So that if we must be under the rule of a tyrantwell, we won't be under the rule of any tyrant, so there's no use talking about that!
And, to change the subject, what is the reason that the petitions of women, are treated with less respect than those of men ? Simply because they've no vote to give. They cannot call their Legislators to an account ; and the race has not yet arrived at that pitch of perfection, when the whip of fear will not operate more powerfully, than the love of right.
We have heard discussed, since the session of this convention, the character of some of the opposition to this movement. But there is another kind which ought to be called into notice, and which really originates in cowardice. I wish to speak as little of personal experience as possible ; but, during the summer, happening to be where a Temperance Alliance was forming, I noticed that ladies were, without the slightest opposition, placed upon the Finance committee. Finally it was proposed to place the name of one of the first ladies in the town, on the list of Vice-Presidents. This was objected to, as taking her out of her sphere. Can any one tell me the difference, in principle, between a woman occupying the position of Vice-President, and that of Finance committee woman? It strikes me as drawing very close lines, a little like hair-splitting. However, it was objected to, not only for the reason above mentioned, but also because it might
diminish the influence of the Alliance. A lady then proposed that the names of the women be withdrawn from the Alliance, and that they act by themselves, rather than be the occasion of bringing loss of influence and character to the Association. Whereupon, a clergyman, and a very good man too, but one who was nursing and cherishing his prejudices, arose, and in a most pitiful tone declared, that, before he came to the meeting he heard that he would be abused if he came. The lady wondered how this could possibly be; but nevertheless, withdrew the motion for the withdrawal of the women from the Association, although she could not very well see how the addition of one woman's name to the Alliance, or the withdrawal of a dozen, could possibly be abusing the clergyman. And thus the women continued to act on the Finance committee. Noble women, whom the cowardice of men dared not elevate to any higher office, readily performed the duties of drudges and beggars, for those who had so gracefully complimented them.
In one of the cities of New York, soon after the Syracuse Convention, an editor of a political paper, I do not know whether "Soft" or "Hard," (new parties sometimes take new names you know, and not always inappropriate ones,) in speaking of a woman who had been elected in that convention to the office of Treasurer, declared that he felt almost afraid to write the name of woman, Treasurer; so great was his reverence for the sex, and so much was it taking her out of her proper sphere! Poor man! Poor man!! How I pitied him, and wondered that some benevolent Association did not get up a Cinderella carriage, with horses of mice, and Tom Thumb outriders and postillions, to draw him about, lest he be afraid of the dark !! How dreadfully his sensibilities must have been shocked!
Well, no wonder, after all; there's philosophy in all this cant. If you go to writing woman, Treasurer, she'll soon fancy herself such. And just you let woman once get her hand into the Treasury-box, and won't there be a scattering among the dollars? Money will be spent for other purposes then, than mere political scrambles. But how is it now? I once heard the Mayor of a city say, that his salary amounted to $3000, but to obtain and support the office, would take every dollar of the salary. And how was this money spent? first, in
wine suppers, and other libations to Bacchus ; feeing grog-shops, &c., &c. I think, should woman get control of the Treasury, the money would go some other way.
The question of woman's voting, of the propriety of woman's appearing at the polls, is already settled. See what has been done in Detroit : On the day of the late election, the women went to the offices and stores of gentlemen, asking them if they had voted. If the reply happened to be in the negative, as was often the case, the next question was, will you be kind enough to take this vote sir, and deposite it in the ballot-box for me? Which was seldom, if ever, refused. And so, many a man voted for the “Maine Law,” who would not, otherwise, have voted at all. But this was not all : many women kept themselves in the vicinity of the polls, and when they found a man undecided, they ceased not their entreaties until they had gained him to the Temperance cause. More than this, two women, finding an intemperate man in the street, talked to him four hours, before they could get him to promise to vote as they wished. Upon his doing so, they escorted him, one on each side, to the ballot box, saw him deposite the vote they had given him, and then treated him to a good supper.
Now, this is more than any Woman's Rights advocate ever thought of proposing. Yet no one thinks of saying a word against it, because it was done for Temperance. But how much worse would it have been for those women to have gone to the polls with a brother, or husband, instead of with this man? Or to have deposited two votes in perhaps five minutes time, than to have spent four hours in soliciting some other person to give one? Why is it worse to go to the hallot-box with our male friends, than to the church, parties, or pic-nics, &c. ?
If a man should control the political principles of his wife, he should also control her religious principles. I heard it stated by one of the speakers this afternoon, I know not with what truth, though I suppose the gentleman must have known what he was uttering, that there was a law in Ohio to prevent negroes voting, and yet that negroes did vote here in the city of Cleveland.
If this be the case, it might be well for women to take the matter into their own hands,