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Du Bois and Washington on Woman Suffrage

Document 7

Kelly Miller was an educator who had been born to a slave mother in 1863.

       I am wholly unable to see wherein the experiment of woman suffrage promises any genuine advantage to social well-being....

       Woman is physically weaker than man and is incapable of competing with him in the stern and strenuous activities of public and practical life. In the final analysis, politics is a game of force, in which no weakling may expect to be assigned a conspicuous role.

       As part of her equipment for motherhood, woman has been endowed with finer feelings and a more highly emotional nature than man. She shows tender devotion and self sacrifice for those close to her by ties of blood or bonds of endearment. But by the universal law of compensation, she loses in extension what is gained in intensity. She lacks the sharp sense of public justice and the common good, if they seem to run counter to her personal feeling and interest. She is far superior to man in purely personal and private virtue, but is his inferior in public qualities and character. Suffrage is not a natural right, like life and liberty....

       It is alleged that Negro suffrage and woman suffrage rest on the same basis. But on close analysis it is found that there is scarcely any common ground between them. The female sex does not form a class separate and distinct from the male sex in the sense that the Negro forms a class separate and distinct from the whites. Experience and reason both alike show that no race is good enough to govern another without that other's consent. On the other hand both experience and reason demonstrate that the male seeks the welfare and happiness of the female even above his own interest. The Negro can not get justice or fair treatment without the suffrage. Woman can make no such claim, for man accords her not only every privilege which he himself enjoys but the additional privilege of protection....

-- Excerpt from Kelly Miller, "The Risk of Woman Suffrage,"
The Crisis (November 1915)

12. Explain two reasons Miller did not support woman suffrage.

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13. How did Miller argue for giving Black men the right to vote but not women?

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