Property Rights of Women
The following constitutional provisions were proposed by individual delegates or committees and after consideration by the Convention were rejected.
1. Property Rights of Married Women. - Section 1. The privilege of the debtor to enjoy the necessary comforts of life shall be recognized by wholesome laws, exempting a reasonable amount of property from seizure or sale, for the payment of any debt or liability hereafter contracted. (The above section to follow that on the subject of imprisonment for debt.)
Sec.2. Women hereafter married in this State shall have the right to acquire and possess property to their sole use and disposal: and laws shall be passed securing to them, under equitable conditions, all property, real and personal, whether owned by them before marriage, or acquired afterwards, by purchase, gift, devise, descent, or in any other way, and also providing for the registration of the wife's separate property.
Sec. 3. Laws shall be passed securing women now married, the right to all property hereafter to be acquired by them, in every case in which such married woman, in conjunction with their husbands, shall file for record, in the recorder's office of the county in which they reside, a declaration, duly attested, expressing the desire of the parties to come under the provision of such law (p. 148). Reported by the Committee on Rights and Privileges on Oct. 29.
Amendments proposed: (1) to consolidate sections 1 and 2 as follows: Sec. - . Every married woman shall have the right to the exclusive use and benefit of all real estate, and every interest therein of which she may be seized or possessed at the time of the marriage, or of which she may become seized or possessed at any time during the coverture by devise, or descent, or in any manner other than by gift from her husband in fraud of third persons; and laws shall be passed effectually securing to the wife on equitable principles, the use, issues and profits of her separate property, and a just interest in her husband's estate, in the event of the dissolution of the marriage contract by the death of the husband or otherwise (p. 249). Rejected. (2) Supplemental: No law shall ever be passed where by the property owned by a feme covert at the time of her intermarriage or by her acquired subsequent thereto, either by inheritance, gift, grant, devise or otherwise, shall ever be taken for the debts of the husband contracted before or after the marriage (p. 250). Rejected.
Section - . Laws shall be passed securing to women, under equitable conditions, all property, real and personal, whether owned by them before marriage, or acquired afterward by purchase, gift, devise, or descent (p. 257). Rejected.
Section 3 was advanced to engrossment in the following form:
Sec. 3. The real and personal property of women, whether owned before marriage or afterwards acquired by purchase or gift, other than from the husband in fraud of his creditors, devise, or descent, shall be and remain secured to them under equitable conditions by law (p. 300).
Read a third time on Nov. 27 and passed by a vote of 66-59 (p. 307.) On Dec. 16, the vote on the passage of section 3 was reconsidered by a vote of 84-43, and the section failed to pass by a vote of 54-75 (p. 451).
Amendments proposed to Section 3 and rejected: (1) Succession of wife to life estate in real and personal property on husband's death. (2) Providing that the husband shall not be liable for the wife's debts. (3) The property, real and personal, of women shall be secured against the creditors and legal representatives of their husbands. Rejected by a vote of 35-93. (4) The real and personal property of married women shall be and remain secured to them on equitable conditions by law. Rejected by a vote of 60-69.
2. Property Rights secured to Married Women and Widows. - Sec. 1. The real and personal property of married women, and a liberal provision for widows, shall be and remain secured to them respectively under equitable conditions by law (p. 692). Reported on January 16, by the Committee of Rights and Privileges. Advanced to engrossment by a vote of 70-58 (p. 811). Laid on the table on third reading by a vote of 74-59 (p. 821). Subsequently taken from the table by a vote of 83-45, and recommitted to a committee of one to amend as follows:
Sec. 1. Laws shall be passed for the security of the property of married women, of widows, and of orphans (p.894).
The committee reported as instructed and the section passed by a vote of 71-61 (p. 896). Subsequently, by a vote of 65-61, the vote on passage was reconsidered and the section failed to pass by a vote of 63-68 (p. 905).
The following proposed amendment was rejected: But no law shall ever be passed, in any manner impairing the unity and sacredness of the marriage relation (p. 896).