Monday Poli-Sci Seminar

by John Derbyshire

In a post last week I rashly said the following thing in reference to the scope of the franchise:

Mentally surveying the history of constitutional republics world-wide, I can’t think of a single … case where some right to representation, once gained, has been lost through orderly constitutional change.

Several readers took this as a challenge, as I should have foreseen.

The most popular counterexample was Massachusetts withdrawing the vote from incarcerated felons in 2000.

A reader native to the Garden State offered this:

If you will consult your bedside copy of Howard Zinn’s A People’s History of the United States … you will note that New Jersey … disenfranchised its women in 1807. As it turns out, this is correct (Even a stopped clock is correct twice a day).

Here is a bibliography for this bit of trivia, so that you know that I don’t depend on Zinn:

Proceedings of the New Jersey Historical Society
Drinker, Sophie H. “Votes for Women in 18th Century New Jersey,” January 1962, LXXX:1
Pole, J.R. “The Suffrage in New Jersey, 1790-1807,” January 1953, LXXI:1
Pole, J.R. “Suffrage Reform and the American Revolution in New Jersey,” July 1956, LXXIV:3

The less I say about that the better, having once scandalized Alan Colmes and his listeners, and the Trotskyite leprechauns who control my Wikipedia page, by telling them I didn’t give a fig about female suffrage.

A different reader wanted to know if this episode from the history of Newfoundland counts. Seems to me it does, but decide for yourself.