Heaven On Earth/Women, the Vote and Mark Twain

I wouldn't steer you wrong, boys.
I wouldn’t steer you wrong, boys.

“I think it will suggest to more than one man that if women could vote they would vote on the side of morality, even if they did vote and speak rather frantically and furiously; and it will also suggest that when the women once made up their minds that it was not good to have the all-powerful ‘primaries’ in the hands of loafers, thieves, and pernicious little politicians, they would not sit indolently at home, as their husbands and brothers do now, but would hoist their praying banners, take the field in force, pray the assembled political scum back to the holes and slums where they belong, and set some candidates fit for human beings to vote for.

What happens when you flirt with the Irish housemaid!
What happens when you flirt with the Irish housemaid!

“I dearly want the women to be raised to the political altitude of the negro, the imported savage, and the pardoned thief, and allowed to vote. It is our last chance, I think. The women will be voting before long; and then if a B. F. Butler can still continue to lord it in Congress; if the highest offices in the land can still continue to be occupied by perjurers and robbers; if another Congress, like the forty-second, consisting of fifteen honest men and two hundred and ninety-six of the other kind, can once more be created, it will at least be time, I fear, to give over trying to save the country by human means, and appeal to Providence. Both the great parties have failed. I wish we might have a woman’s party now, and see how that would work. I feel persuaded that, in extending the suffrage to women, this country could lose nothing, and might gain a great deal. For thirty centuries history has been iterating and reiterating that, in a moral fight, woman is simply dauntless; and we all know, even with our eyes shut upon Congress and our voters, that, from the day that Adam ate of the apple and told on Eve, down to the present day, man, in a moral fight, has pretty uniformly shown himself to be an arrant coward.” Mark Twain

I wonder if Peyton Manning will get his second ring . . .
I wonder if Peyton Manning will get his second ring . . .

postcard images courtesy of all- that’s- interesting tumblr.com

9 responses to “Heaven On Earth/Women, the Vote and Mark Twain”

    • I wonder if he just meant that since blacks had been given the vote that women should too. What interests me as well is that many poor white men didn’t have the right to vote until 1856 and that literacy rules in some states made poor whites and blacks ineligible to vote.
      Only 6% of the population was eligible to vote George Washington into office because you had to own property.


      • I saw the test that was given to all in the south in the early part of the 20th century. I couldn’t get two correct on the list of twenty because they were so ambivalent. For example; the first question 1. Draw a line around the letter or number of this sentence. Did they mean the number 1. ? One said, In the five circles below, draw a line around number two so that it crosses number two at the bottom and crosses number five at the top. WTH?


      • I’m a useless voter. My candidates never win! But, yeah, I’d fail those tests. 🙂 Let’s face it, people will always find ways to keep other people under their thumb. Moral people, though flawed themselves, have to remain vigilant. Does anyone really believe that the presidential candidates are picked by “the people” anymore? People addicted to power will do whatever it takes to remain in power—as old as time. But every once in a while a remarkably courageous and good person succeeds and gives us hope.


  1. Mark Twain was no fool, he knew women would be second class even if they did have the vote, and white men would still be kings. And so it has proven to be. And he was wrong about women not allowing bad politicians. Still, we are as deserving of the vote as any other.


    • I think we have to be careful before crowning all white men as kings. Only a select few have any real power. The rest of them suffer the wrath of women and minorities for what a few evil men did/do to the rest of the populace. I would hate to be judged by the actions of women politicians.

      Historically women have been inclined to (or some people would say made to) stay home and raise kids. Many women still want to do this. Of course this doesn’t give one much time for pursuing careers such as CEO’s etc which demand many hours of work.

      Women should be paid the same amount as men and should be allowed to vote, get an education, etc but it is my feeling that women in America, if they really want to devote their lives to their personal ambition can go even further than men. Of course they will have to give up other things, but men have had to give up family time to pursue careers as well.

      To me Middlemarch is the greatest novel and it was written by a woman–I don’t think she had kids though. Life isn’t easy for men or women. There are always sacrifices and frustrations no matter how the roles are tweaked. I have no answers, but I do know that my father and brother and many other men never had slaves, never beat women or forced them to stay at home and raise kids, but did work long hours, worry about mechanical things and how they’d buy shoes on only one salary (until they got second and sometimes third jobs). And a lot of white men did and do great things for humanity.

      Women have also done things–usually quieter things that are sometimes devalued by men, but more shockingly by women. But things that added to the joy and beauty of life. I just wish we didn’t have to spend so much time making white men the scapegoats for all that’s wrong with the world when it seems obvious to me that everyone is responsible.

      Sorry for the rant, Brenda. I know you were just making a point, but I have this weird need to defend white manhood.

      Love and peace,


      • I was more talking about women historically rather than the present day. Mark Twain lived a long time ago. My family were not plantation owners or politicians or big business developers. Just people trying to get by, and some of the men worked very hard, and others did not. It is hard on men, of whatever color, that are trying to support a family, be a partner to a working wife, be involved with the kids, and meet all the demands of a modern lifestyle. It’s also hard on women, too, and we do it all for less money and less status. In my case, I chose that, I traded the money and status for home and kids. I would not change my decision for any material advantages, but I do think it’s sad that one has to chose one or the other. Jane Austen didn’t have kids. Neither did Emily Dickinson. Many great women did not have families. Perhaps, in the end, it’s better to be ordinary than to reach for the stars. I don’t hate men, I just suspect that Mark Twain knew that women would not be raised up to the level of white men in his lifetime. And they were not.


      • Some very true points. I didn’t think you hated men 🙂 These are all tough things to consider. Where the modern feminist agenda went wrong in my opinion is in promising we could have everything and that men were to blame if we didn’t have everything.

        I never had any interest in having kids, but once I had them I didn’t want anyone else to raise them–instinct kicking in (?) or just remembering my own childhood and how important it was that my mother was home.

        Some women don’t feel the same way. Staying at home has perks, but also the disadvantage of being devalued by many people and not getting the financial affirmation of being a worker outside the home–yet most people aren’t working high-powered, glamorous jobs anyway.

        If many women stay home during their childbearing years it only makes sense that their careers are going to suffer–but I don’t think it’s anyone’s fault. It’s just the choices we make.

        I think, in general humanity is devalued is the real shame. Sometimes I think of Adam and Eve in the old Biblical tale. When they went wrong in the garden men were told they would have to toil all the days of their lives and women would desire their husbands and their husbands would rule over them (as punishment they lost their complimentary equal natures). What a lot of conflict since then! 🙂 But for me endlessly interesting.

        Thanks for your thought provoking comments, Brenda!


      • Nice dialogue, thanks. 🙂 I imagine your children would have been very thankful you were home, if they didn’t take it for granted. 🙂 Warmly, Brenda


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