In 1824 James Mill (utilitarian, colleague of Jeremy Bentham and father of John Stuart Mill) wrote an article On Government for the Encyclopedia Britannica. In it he argued that individuals whose interests were represented by another would not be inconvenienced by being denied a vote. In this category he included children (represented by their parents) and women
the interest of almost all of whom is involved either in that of their fathers or in that of their husbands
The following year William Thompson and Anna Doyle Wheeler jointly authored An Appeal Of One Half Of The Human Race, Women, Against the Pretensions of the Other Half, Men” (published under Thompson’s name). Anna Doyle Wheeler and William Thompson both knew Bentham and were interested in utilitarianism. An Appeal expresses dismay at the cavalier treatment Mill gives to women’s interests and systematically demolishes Mill’s argument in On Government by appealing to the same utilitarian principles that Mill uses.
Continue reading “A Regency Era argument for votes for women”
Women, in whatever country ye breathe – wherever ye breathe, degraded, awake! Awake to the contemplation of the happiness that awaits you when all your faculties of mind and body shall be fully cultivated and developed; when every path in which ye can exercise those improved faculties shall be laid open and rendered delightful to you, even as to them who now ignorantly enslave and degrade you.
William Thompson and Anna Doyle Wheeler, Appeal of One Half the Human Race, Women, Against the Pretensions of the Other Half, Men, to Retain Them in Political and Thence in Civil and Domestic Slavery, 1825 (extract available)