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6 1881 "The Ballot an Educator" The first article on woman suffrage published in Texas was written by Jenny Bland Beauchamp of Denton. The wife of a Baptist minister, Beauchamp later became president of the Texas Woman's Christian Temperance Union. Beauchamp's article pointed out that black men had received the vote (in 1870, with ratification of the Fifteenth Amendment to the U.S. Constitution ) and that women should have it for the same reasons: "It widens our views and broadens our sympathies, and makes us nobler and better." DOCUMENT* THE BALLOT AN EDUCATOR BY JENNY BEAUCHAMP, DENTON, TEXAS . . . The ballot is an educator inasmuch as it constrains to independent thought. The one that votes must of necessity take into consideration men and measures. This will promote investigation and discussion, and bring into contemplation the problems of political economy. As important questions of administration are often submitted to the decision of the people, a people so appealed to must of necessity become versed in the sciences of government, when as voters they are the recipients of many important documents, which are not bestowed on the non-voter. In exercising the elective franchise, the intellect will be called upon to deal with the facts of currency, of inter-state and national commerce, relation of labor and capital, and many intricate and abstruse questions; and, too, the mind will be called upon to master the problems of our moral interest. We must consider public instruction, condition of the poor, food supply, sanitary law, and all the diseases that afflict the social organism, and also the remedy for these diseases. This will not only stimulate the intellect but it will tend to humanize the heart, for it is true that all the faculties and moral sentiment grow with their exercises. The non-voter misses this edu- *From: Jenny Beauchamp, 'The Ballot an Educator/' Texas Journal of Education (December 1881), 22-23. Texas Equal Rights Association Scrapbook, Jane Y. McCallum Family Papers, Austin History Center, Austin Public Library. 72 DOCUMENTS 73 cational influence largely. I could refer you to a young enthusiastic school girl; she became deeply interested in the exciting campaign of '44. Clay was her hero; she read with avidity everything on both sides, listened eagerly to the discussions, and was an ardent, intense Whig. But the election came, her hero was defeated and she found that the wishes of women were utterly ignored at the polls. Since then the events and questions of every succeeding campaign overcome her as a summer cloud, without exciting her special notice. The elective franchise recognizes the nobility of our nature, and thus will tend to make us nobler. Treat a child as if he had been bad, and he will be bad. Treat a man with respect, and you will increase his self-respect. Human nature is essentially noble. God has bestowed on it reason and conscience. By conscience we see the moral quality in acts; by reason we direct and govern ourselves and conscience tortures us for any infractions or remissness. So you see man can give law to himself. To subject him to the will of another, to make him obey that law, which he has no voice in creating, is to degrade him; it is to place him in the same category with minors and imbeciles. One part of the moral education of the ballot is seen in the enlarging of the sympathies. Men, and women too, are to some extent the slave of their wants. What shall we eat? What shall we drink? Wherewithal shall we be clothed? are the absorbing questions. We forget we were created to serve God by serving humanity. The little horizon that bounds our vision becomes our world. The calls of humanity cannot be heard for the clamor of customers and the din and clatter of domestic life. Contemplating little things, we grow little; confined to narrow limits, we become narrow. But the ballot comes and arouses us from this dream of selfishness, and compels us to the consideration of other things outside our own little circles. It widens our views and broadens our sympathies, and makes us nobler and better. And permit me to say, the mental benefit of the ballot will correspond with the moral state of the voter. If he is 'conscientious'— wants to do right—has an honorable solicitude to stand fair on his record, he will seek knowledge; he will reason and analyze, compare and balance theories. But if he...


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