At the opening of the nineteenth century in France, the country in which the influence of women had been longest and most generally acknowledged, was still experiencing the first effects of a revolution in which women had borne a conspicuous part. On this side of the water a new Republic was forming, into the foundations of which the self-sacrifice, the privation, the loyalty, and the aspiration of women who had shared the hardships of the revolutionary struggle were built.
Under all governments individual women have done illustrious service. The opportunity for the individual woman to be publicly effective has hitherto been greater under monarchic than under democratic governments. Of all the individual or organized efforts of women to achieve the reform of social conditions, none that have hitherto been enumerated can compare in importance and in ultimate influence with those whose objects have been civil and political equality. At the present time in every country where a representative government exists, women have organized to secure relief from the civil disabilities under which they everywhere rest, and to acquire political enfranchisement. The woman whose mind relates the home to the state, and sees that the obligations of the hearth can be fulfilled adequately under a state within which her individual independence and responsibility are recognized, by this perception spans that chasm, centuries deep and centuries wide, which stretches between the former ideal of women as the goddess of the hearth, and the highest contemporary ideal of her as the sharer in all human government.
The names of great individual women are found upon the muster roll of heroes in all countries; but in its very nature the reform here considered can be accompanied only as the great ideal conceived by an individual mind passes into the common mind. The expansion of the minds of both men and women to the proportions of this new ideal implies of all of the reforms before enumerated, and a complete transformation of what is popularly called society. This ideal, which has sometimes been misinterpreted as the enemy of the hearth, the antagonistic of man, has for its certain end the perfect union of woman with man. It means such that a marriage of the sexes as unites them, not merely at bed and board, but at the ballot box, as the seat of the government, and in all the intermediate centers of influence.
Reference: Woman: Her Position, Influence and Achievement Throughout the Civilized World. Designed and Arranged by William C. King. Published in 1900 by The King-Richardson Co. Copyright 1903 The King-Richardson Co.