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A Short History of Women's Rights by Hecker

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A Short History of Women's Rights

From the Days of Augustus to the Present Time. With Special Reference to England and the United States

By Eugene A. Hecker





In this edition a chapter has been added, bringing down to date the record of the contest for equal suffrage. The summary on pages 175-235 is now largely obsolete; but it has been retained as instructive evidence of the rapid progress made during the last four years.


CAMBRIDGE, MASS. _August, 1914_.


While making some researches in the evolution of women's rights, I was impressed by the fact that no one had ever, as far as I could discover, attempted to give a succinct account of the matter for English-speaking nations. Indeed, I do not believe that any writer in any country has essayed such a task except Laboulaye; and his _Recherches sur la Condition Civile et Politique des Femmes_, published in 1843, leaves much to be desired to one who is interested in the subject to-day.

I have, therefore, made an effort to fill a lack. This purpose has been strengthened as I have reflected on the great amount of confused information which is absorbed by those who have no time to make investigations for themselves. Accordingly, in order to present an accurate historical review, I have cited my authorities for all statements regarding which any question could be raised. This is particularly so in the chapters which deal with the condition of women under Roman Law, under the early Christian Church, and under Canon Law. In all these instances I have gone directly to primary sources, have investigated them myself, and have admitted no secondhand evidence. In connection with Women's rights in England and in the United States I have either consulted the statutes or studied the commentaries of jurists, like Messrs. Pollock and Maitland, whose authority cannot be doubted. To such I have given the exact references whenever they have been used. In preparing the chapter on the progress of women's lights in the United States I derived great assistance from the very exhaustive _History of Woman Suffrage_, edited by Miss Susan B. Anthony, Mrs. Ida H. Harper, and others to whose unselfish labours we are for ever indebted. From their volumes I have drawn freely; but I have not given each specific reference.

The tabulation of the laws of the several States which I have given naturally cannot be entirely adequate, because the laws are being changed constantly. It is often difficult to procure the latest revised statutes. However, these laws are recent enough to illustrate the evolution of women's rights.

Finally, this volume was written in no hope that all readers would agree with the author, who is zealous in his cause. His purpose will be gained if he induces the reader to reflect for himself on the problem in the light of its historical development.


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