Anti-Suffragist Poem by Alice Smith Winston of Covington - "When Will Women Vote!" 1870

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When Will Women Vote!
by Alice Smith Winston.

When, oh when, will women, gentle women vote?
When the birds cease sending sweet songs from their throat;
When the field-born lily learns to work and spin;
Then, hurrah for women! then, and not till then.
When the gold-bee homeward with but poison hies;
When the white-winged pigeon with the eagle flies;
When the lamb's soft bleating changes to a bark;
Then to woman's suffrage possibly we'll hark.

For when socks are mended, and the baby's drest,
And its lips, like rosebuds, to our own are prest;
When the flowers are watered, and the birds are fed;
When the fluted laces ripple o'er the bed;
When the room is dusted till no atoms pass
Through the bars of sunshine, like some gate of glass;
When the bird is sending from its little throat
Songs, till even baby listens to each note,
"Shoo fly!" who could leave them, leave such joys to vote?

When the roaring lion bleateth as the lamb;
When we call tornadoes but the day's soft calm;
Then shall men nurse babies, wear the petticoats,
While their wives are shaving - shaving men and notes!
When men take their knitting out with them to tea,
When they friz on hair-pins locks most killingly;
When they wear "switches," braids, chignons and rolls;
Women will wear switches out about the polls!
Woman's kingdom lieth in her home's sweet ties;
The ballot-box her cradle, where her darling lies;
And mothers should be happy if they're allowed by fate
To taste the sweets which cling to this sweetest candy(?)date.

I looked around in wonder, when maids and women sweet
Out off the long trails hiding from sight their little feet,
And thought we'd see the peacocks out off their long tails, too,
And thought that hens would cackle a cock-a-doodle-doo,
When maids, and even mothers, put on the jaunty hat;
But now I take for granted these things, but wonder that
The maids, who wear gold lockets and chains round snowy throat,
(Sweet, pretty, gentle ring-doves) should ever want to vote!

To such I say, keep busy at home, tend ivies green --
Go cut a snowy apron to stitch on the machine;
Rub windows till they glisten, all free from dust and mote;
But, darling girls, please listen, oh, never, never, vote!
When briars turn to roses, and brides wear cabbage stalks;
When little lambs wear wolf-skins, and new-born baby talks;
When man in moon wears night cap, with clouds for ruffles white,
And owls go off a courting through day as well as night;
When doves wear chains of serpents around their purple throat,
Then girls, get out your tickets, for then will women vote!

February, 1870

The author of the above anti-suffragist poem, Mrs. Alice Smith Winston, a native of Cincinnati, Ohio, had been living in Covington, Ky. since 1850. She began publishing poems after her marriage to Alex V. Winston of Cincinnati. Covington had a strong pro-suffrage element, especially by the 1880s when Eugenia Farmer moved there and helped assure that Covington was one of the three cities in 1894 that won the right for women to vote in municipal elections regarding school matters. Winston was widely known to be the author of pieces in the Cincinnati Enquirer under the pseudonym "Ecila."

Thanks to the tip from Sara Elliott, Senior Curator and Collection Development Manager at the Kentucky Historical Society!

Original source: Historical Sketches of Kentucky by Lewis Collins, Maysville, KY. and J.A. & U.P. James, Cincinnati, 1847. Volume 1. Reprinted 1968. Kenton County. "The Poets and Poety of Kentucky," page 610.