The governors of twenty-eight States and the mayors of virtually every large city in the country today are preparing to carry Washington’s fight for votes throughout the nation.
These State and city executives here in reconstruction conference, have heard Washington’s appeal, and have been enlisted in the national campaign to win the right of suffrage for the people of the National Capital.
No poll has been taken yet to ascertain officially the views of each and every governor or mayor, but a meeting last night indicated that Washington can expect unanimous support by these governors and mayors in the suffrage campaign.
“The friendship of the governors and mayors will do much influencing Congress to give suffrage to the District,” said Col. Robert N. Harper, president of the Chamber of Commerce, today. “With the support of these men, Washington may feel confident of a tendency on the part of the next Congress to grant suffrage to the District.”
The justice of the District’s appeal for suffrage was explained at a dinner in the New Washington Hotel last night in honor of the governors and mayors. The Washington Chamber of Commerce was host.
Every argument brought out by the speakers in favor of granting a franchise for the people of the National Capital was eagerly absorbed by the conferees.
Many of the governors and mayors made notes of the points scored by Colonel Harper, Henry B. F. Macfarland, Commissioner Brownlow, and other speakers for suffrage, and it was evident that they were storing up knowledge concerning Washington’s voteless condition for future use.
“We find sentiment in support of the District suffrage plea almost unanimous among the governors and mayors attending the conference,” said Colonel Harper today.
“Many of the men were at first almost unable to believe when they were told that Washington is the only capital in the world without representation in the National Government.
“But they have been told of the existing conditions, and District residents may feel sure that these governors and mayors will go to their States and their cities and spread the cry of Washington for ‘Suffrage.'”
Why British Laugh
Henry B. F. Macfarland struck a responsive note in the minds of his listeners last night when he said:
“No wonder the visiting Britisher laughs up his sleeve when we tell him we fought in the Revolution mainly because King George III tried to tax us without allowing us representation in Parliament– ‘taxation without representation is tyranny’ we cry; and then the Britisher smiles because he knows that Washington, the greatest capital of the greatest democracy in the world, the people are taxed without being represented.
“And the Englishman probably whispers to his countrymen, Is the United States living up to the principles of Americanism when 400,000 citizen– no, not citizens, inhabitants– of the National Capital of the United States, are deprived of the right to vote!”
“What is your answer going to be Mr. Governor and Mr. Mayor? — you Americans. Is it going to be taxation without representation for the people of your National Capital?”
There was silence for a moment: then a storm of applause swept through the room.
“No!” came the response.
Retain Present System
Mr. Macfarland also urged the audience to discourage any movement to remove the present half-and-half fiscal system from the District.
“The present system should be retained unless some plan better than that followed out since 1878 be evolved,” said Mr. Macfarland.
Colonel Harper told the governors and mayors during the meeting that it was not the intention of the people of Washington to appeal now for local self-government.
“Washington now wants only representation in the Electoral College and in Congress,” said Colonel Harper. “There has been some objection to the suffrage movement in Washington on the grounds that self-government in the District would result in misunderstandings between Federal and municipal governments; but we do not wish to urge, at the present time, more than District representation in Congress, the Senate and in the Electoral College.
“Representation in the affairs of the Government is the birthright of all American citizens. Why should the residents of the National Capital be deprived of a right which is given to Alaska, the Philippines, and the Hawaiian Islands? There is no just reason!”
“We obey the laws passed by Congress; we pay taxes; and we respond with nothing but love of country in our hearts when asked to give of the life of our home on the battlefields,” said Commissioner Louis F. Brownlow. “We do all this because we are proud of being Americans. And since we are Americans why should we not have our constitutional rights?”
“In righting this obvious wrong we need the help of the American people; in the fight for a franchise we cannot help, but have the sympathy of every Congressman, every Senator, every voter in the country- for they are Americans and they do not wish to begrudge to others the rights which they themselves possess.
“There has been some criticism throughout the nation of the congested conditions in Washington during the war 1/8 but the National Capital handled the situation as best it could. In the space of twelve months, 90,000 persons came to Washington from all sections of the country.
“It was difficult to care for all these people, but the District responded to the emergency in a way, which I know, ultimately caused universal satisfaction throughout the nation.
Fed Have Gone Home
“Conditions in Washington are not quite as congested as before the signing of the armistice, but the need of further building in the District is still apparent. Of the 90,000 war workers who came here in the space of twelve months, but 4,100 have gone home since the armistice was signed.
“I have hear that all the war workers want to stay in Washington; so it is evident that living conditions in the National Capital are not as bad as you may have sometimes heard.
“About 17,000 District men have served or are serving in the army, navy, or marine corps during the present emergency. Of these 3,500 have returned and all have them have received back their jobs.”
This newspaper article was transcribed from a scan of the original newspaper article on Chronicling America. It is being republished here in order to continue my advocacy for full representation for the American citizens of the District of Columbia.