Copyright, 1916. by the New York State Woman Suffrage Party SUFFRAGE CORRESPONDENCE SCHOOL Lesson I WHAT IS SUFFRAGE? WHY DO MEN VOTE? HOW DID THEY GET THE RIGHT? WHY SHOULD WOMEN VOTE?
Women are making a a great struggle for the right to vote. Every year they gain new ground and every year their efforts and determination grow stronger. It is a mistake to think of woman suffrage as a new movement.
WHAT IS SUFFRAGE? Suffrage is only part of the continuous struggle of the masscs of the people upward from slavery to political freedom, which has been going on since the beginning of civilization. The road along which human beings have traveled to our present so called democracy is a long one, and goes back to the very beginnings of government. Everywhere is Europe, government began in the rule of one man. At first this man was only a tribal chieftain, a war leader; later he developed into a king. For centuries, the king had control of all the land and property, and had absolute power of lfe and death over his people.
It was in England that the king's power was first effectively limited by the powerful nobles who thought he misused it. In 1215 the barons forced King John to sign Magna Charta, the first real limitation of kingly rule and the first great charter of human liberty. After this, the nobles shared the powers of government with the king, and he could no longer tax them without their consent, but only the rich and powerful had these rights. Since then the history of civilized countries is the ever growing demand of one class of people after another for a share in government.