CLEVELAND, Grover. Typed draft of an article, "Woman's Mission and Woman's Clubs" WITH EXTENSIVE AUTOGRAPH CORRECTIONS AND INTERLINEAR INSERTIONS, totalling approximately 100 words in neat manuscript, n.p., [published May 1905]. 9½ pages, 4to (10½ x 8 in.), plain cream typewriter paper, on rectos only, some light wear to first and last leaves, upper corner of first leaf with old tape repair on verso, otherwise fine. In a cloth folding case.
CLEVELAND CONSIDERS THE WOMEN'S SUFFRAGE MOVEMENT, AND "ITS DANGEROUS UNDERMINING EFFECT ON THE CHARACTERS OF THE WIVES AND MOTHERS"
Cleveland's article, which appeared in Ladies Home Journal in May 1905 (Vol. 22, no. 1.6 pp.3-4), provides a lengthy and facinating look at his opinions towards women, the women's suffrage movement and the rise of women's clubs in the United States. "It cannot be denied that we have fallen upon days when florid and exagerrated optimism is exceedingly fashionable, among the American people...Nor should the least toleration be awarded to the assumption that moral traits or the relationship interwoven with all that enobles and dignifies civilized humanity, are within the range of change or reconstruction...Among these relationships none compare in importance and vital influence with those of wife and mother. This proposition should be so clearly recognized and so apparent in the light of our instinctive perception, as to need no other support and more than this its mere statement should suggest to every well regulated mind the sacred mission of womanhood. At first blush it would appear easy to deal with the topic we have in hand...It is a melancholy fact, however, that our subject is actually one of difficult approach; and it is a more melancholy fact that this approach is made difficult by a disclosure of ideas and by false prospectives on the part of women themselves..."
Cleveland then considers "the restlessness and discontent to which I have referred" which "is most strongly manifested in a movement which has for a long time been on foot, for securing to women the right to vote and otherwise participate in public affairs. Let it here be distinctly understood that no sensible man has fears of injury to the country on account of such participation. It is its dangerous undermining effect on the characters of the wives and mothers of our land that we fear." Cleveland is emphatic in his disapproval of women's clubs: "...We certainly ought not to be too swift in charging the tendency toward club affiliation on the part of our women to their deliberate willingness to forget or neglect their transcendant mission...I believe it has also been largely provoked and intensified by the increase of club life among husbands and fathers of our land and by their surrender to business preoccupation or the madness of inordinate accumulation resulting in the neglect of wives and those to whom under all rules of duty and decency they owe attention and companionship." The clubs, Cleveland writes, are injurious to "the domestic life of our land": "I am presuaded that without exageration of statement we may assume that there are women's clubs whose objects and intents are not harmful in a way that directly menaces the integrity of our homes and the benign disposition and character of our wifehood and motherhood...It is surely not soft-hearted sentimentalism which insists that, in a country where the people rule, a decisive share in securing the perpetuity of its institutions falls upon the mothers who devote themselves to teaching their children who are to become rulers...I am in favor of according to women the utmost social enjoyment...For the sake of our country, for the sake of our homes, and for the sake of our children, I would have our wives and mothers loving and devoted though all others may be sordid and heedless...I would have them happy and contented in following the divinely appointed path of true womanhood, though all others grope in the darkness of their own devices."
A very faint pencilled inscription at the top of the first page includes a three-line quotation and identifies "By Grover Cleveland Ex-President of the United States." Cleveland included a second article titled "Would Woman Suffrage be Unwise?" in the October issue of Ladies Home Journal.
Provenance: Charles Hamilton Galleries, 1977.