Two Poems

Women Are Persons

(from Brown v. Phillips)

The language in this part
Of our state constitution
Does not say "that the legislature
may at any time extend, by law,
the right of suffrage to" other
"male" persons, but
"to persons."

The power to extend
the right of suffrage, that is,
the right to vote,
is certainly not in terms
confined to males.

Had it been so intended
it could have been
very easily so expressed.

Thus the legislature's power
to extend the vote to other "persons"
is not prohibited
from being exercised
as to females,
unless by implication of a
remote and argumentative character.

We must hold the act in question,
giving women the right to vote,
to be a valid law.

Inalienable Rights

(from Johnson v. M’Intosh)

All the nations of Europe
have asserted in themselves,
and have recognized in others,
the exclusive right of the
to appropriate the lands
by the Indians.
By treaty, the powers of government
and the right to soil,
which had previously been in Great Britain,
passed definitively to these States.

The ceded territory was
by numerous and
tribes of Indians;
but the exclusive right of the United States to
extinguish their title,
and to grant the soil,
has never, we believe,
been doubted.

The United States, then, hold,
and assert in themselves,
the title by which this land was
acquired, and maintain that
gave an exclusive right to
extinguish the Indian title of

The existence of this power
must negative
the existence of any right
which may conflict with it.
The absolute title of the crown
to extinguish the Indian right of
is incompatible with
an absolute and complete title in the Indians.

We will not enter into the controversy,
whether agriculturists,
merchants, and manufacturers,
have a right, on abstract principles,
to expel hunters
from the territory they possess,
or to contract their limits.

Conquest gives a title which
the Courts of the conqueror cannot deny,
whatever the private and speculative
opinions of individuals may be,
respecting the original justice of the claim.

—Jessica Slavin, Waukesha, WI