By Ta Nehisi Coates
During the days of Frederick Douglass's activism, the cause of abolition was deeply entangled with the cause of "women's rights." The two movements would later split over the 15th Amendment.
There's a lot to say on that count.
Douglass strongly supported suffrage for women, but believed that white women, already, enjoyed some amount of electoral privilege through the family, something which all black people--women and men--were totally cut off from. Elizabeth Cady Stanton argued that one should not go without the other. White women suffragists had been avowed and crucial supporters of emancipation. Stanton, among others believed, that support had earned a united front toward suffrage.The dispute cleaved the women's suffrage movement for nearly three decades...
From A Douglass Speech:
Observing woman's agency, devotion, and efficiency in pleading the cause of the slave, gratitude for this high service early moved me to give favorable attention to the subject of what is called "woman's rights" and caused me to be denominated a woman's-rights man. I am glad to say that I have never been ashamed to be thus designated. Recognizing not sex nor physical strength, but moral intelligence and the ability to discern right from wrong, good from evil, and the power to choose between them, as the true basis of republican government, to which all are alike subject and all bound alike to obey, I was not long in reaching the conclusion that there was no foundation in reason or justice for woman's exclusion from the right of choice in the selection of the persons who should frame the laws, and thus shape the destiny of all the people, irrespective of sex...
If intelligence is the only true and rational basis of government, it follows that that is the best government which draws its life and power from the largest sources of wisdom, energy, and goodness at its command. The force of this reasoning would be easily comprehended and readily assented to in any case involving the employment of physical strength. We should all see the folly and madness of attempting to accomplish with a part what could only be done with the united strength of the whole.Though his folly may be less apparent, it is just as real when one-half of the moral and intellectual power of the world is excluded from any voice or vote in civil government.