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Fairmont Times
October 27, 1905

[Address of Mrs. M. Anna Hall to West Virginia Equal Suffrage Convention]

Our association nearly 15 months ago met in the United Presbyterian church in Moundsville. Today, we are assembled in this fine M. P. Temple and in this ideal city of Fairmont, beautiful for situation nestling among the West Virginia hills and pulsating with life and enterprise. Why are we here? Why gather together? It means progress. It means that we are nearer victory than we think. It means that four of our United States are already crowned with full citizenship and Oregon will be next in line. Why not West Virginia? Then our meeting means that we are banded together in an unfaltering purpose to be free. Then again, it means that much has been accomplished for the betterment of the condition of women, for their physical, economic, intellectual and religious emancipation, and it does mean that the most patriotic, the most law abiding, the most intelligent and the most industrious people recognize that our cause is holy and righteous, and acknowledge the justice of our claim—that in the representative government the people (women are people) who bear the burdens and responsibilities should share its privileges. The official year now closing has been a season of unusual activity. We have done petition work, during and before our campaign I secured 1,000 women’s names, 500 men’s names on petitions, and we had a real battle in Wheeling doing legislative work, which I consider the best work of the year. This work is the work that counts best. The literature was distributed by thousands and ten thousand pages and as we recount our achievements of the year and our victories and our gains, we today have cause to rejoice with exceeding great joy over our splendid progress. During the year there was formed a Department of Political Equality and the rights of women by the International Council of Women at their quinquennial council of women in Germany; also a Department of Political Equality and the Rights of Women in the national council of women which was held in Washington, and of which body I was a representative, and our own national president, Rev. Anna Shaw, and our matchless and peerless Susan B. Anthony were honored representatives and indeed, our own Susan B. Anthony was the founder of the Council of Women. Marriage is frequent among our suffragists, for has not our own Nora Dolbears, recording secretary, taken unto herself an equal half. Divorce is becoming rare among our suffragists and if clergymen were more careful and showed less haste in performing the marriage ceremony for those who are physically and morally unfit and if greater attention were given to the training of young men and women in the duties and responsibilities of home making and child rearing, and if they were taught the importance and obligation of fatherhood and motherhood, there would be less, if any divorce. The real evil is the lack of true respect for the rights of each other. When in Denver, Col., this summer, a woman said to me: “My husband treats me as though I was his sister and we go together and vote and I am his equal. I am free, and as motherhood is a direct service to the State, and without motherhood, no State can exist, mothers should have the ballot to protect themselves, and their children.

No class of citizens engaged in any industry can be trusted to protect the interests of any other class engaged in any other line of industry. That is why men cannot represent mothers in government. The ballot is the weapon of civilization. Women need it in every walk in life. Our cause is not alone ours but that of all humanity. Wherever a human being strives to escape bondage they are our comrades. Organization is one of the greatest needs. We ought to have organized forces and an enrolled membership of every man and woman in the State that we can secure, and I would recommend organizers be placed in the field, the future success of our work is in organization and legislation adequate to its need, active, persevering, aggressive, determined. In the words organization and legislation lies hidden the secret of all success. Organize in every direction. Let us not take for granted that the people of any community, or race, or nationality, or creed, are wedded unalterably to past prejudices, and refrain from seeking their aid. Organize not a month before campaign but now, and keep at it continually. We must bring to our work sincerity, and enthusiasm. Our hearts must glow with love of it. Too many really sincere believers approach the subject as if they were half ashamed. The manner in which they do their work is that of an apology. They give the impression that there is something to fear. We have apologized long enough for being loyal to the highest ideals of freedom the ages have known. Let us be courageous. It will make our organization more prosperous and irresistable [sic]. Our association must not accept compromise, but stand unfaltering for the principle of perfect equality of rights and opportunities for all. Let us persistently insist that in the purpose of the Infinite, self-government is the ultimate destiny of mankind. This is our ideal. Let us remember it always. We must keep it burning upon the altar of our hearts, a passion for freedom, a determined purpose not only to be just, to do unto others what we would have them do unto us, but to demand justice, is the golden rule.

I desire to express my gratitude to one and all for your valuable services throughout the year. We have had three national officers in our State during the year. I made a tour of our State during the early part of the year and secured a large number of State members where I could not organize clubs. I attended the Legislature for two weeks in the interest of suffrage and won a victory, according to the time. I attended the national convention held at Portland, Oregon. We have made great advances in the past year, and I wish to commend every member in our association for your work, and may this Fairmont convention of ours be as a high altar consecrated in justice and freedom and may we live more for ourselves in living less for ourselves and more for our fellow women and our country, and may we go forth inspired with zeal and courage to victory in another year.

"Fighting the Long Fight" Chapter 2