Susan B. Anthony - Early Social Activism - United States V. Susan B. Anthony

United States V. Susan B. Anthony

On November 18, 1872, Anthony was arrested by a U.S. Deputy Marshal for voting on November 5 in the 1872 Presidential Election two weeks earlier. She had written to Stanton on the night of the election that she had "positively voted the Republican ticket—straight...". She was tried and convicted seven months later, despite the stirring and eloquent presentation of her arguments that the recently adopted Fourteenth Amendment, which guaranteed to "All persons born or naturalized in the United States, and subject to the jurisdiction thereof, are citizens of the United States and of the State wherein they reside. No State shall make or enforce any law which shall abridge the privileges or immunities of citizens of the United States; nor shall any State deprive any person of life, liberty, or property, without due process of law; nor deny to any person within its jurisdiction the equal protection of the laws." The privileges of citizenship, which contained no gender qualification, gave women the constitutional right to vote in federal elections. Her trial took place at the Ontario County courthouse in Canandaigua, New York, before Supreme Court Associate Justice Ward Hunt. Justice Hunt refused to allow Anthony to testify on her own behalf, allowed statements given by her at the time of her arrest to be allowed as "testimony," explicitly ordered the jury to return a guilty verdict, refused to poll the jury afterwards, and read an opinion he had written before the trial even started. The sentence was a $100 fine, but not imprisonment; true to her word in court ("I shall never pay a dollar of your unjust penalty"), she never paid the fine for the rest of her life, and an embarrassed U.S. Government took no collection action against her. After her trial Anthony petitioned the US Congress to remove the fine in January 1874.

The trial gave Anthony the opportunity to spread her arguments to a wider audience than ever before, because after her arrest and prior to her trial Anthony undertook an exhaustive speaking tour of all 29 of the towns and villages of Monroe county where her trial was to be held. In her speeches she addressed the question "Is it a Crime for a Citizen of the United States to Vote?" and quoted the Declaration of Independence, the United States Constitution, the New York Constitution, James Madison, Thomas Paine, the Supreme Court, and several of the leading Radical Republican senators of the day to support her case that women as citizens have a right to vote. The district attorney obtained a change of venue because he determined that a fair trial could not take place in Monroe County. The trial was moved to Ontario County, and Anthony spoke to more than 20 Ontario audiences before the trial. Anthony argued that women, traditionally in servitude to man, should be included in the emancipation amendment granting voting privileges to former slaves. She asked her fellow citizens "how can the 'consent of the governed' be given if the right to vote be denied?"

Anthony toured Europe in 1883 and visited many charitable organizations. She wrote of a poor mother she saw in Killarney that had "six ragged, dirty children" to say that "the evidences were that 'God' was about to add a No. 7 to her flock. What a dreadful creature their God must be to keep sending hungry mouths while he withholds the bread to fill them!"

In 1893, she joined with Helen Barrett Montgomery in forming a chapter of the Woman’s Educational and Industrial Union (WEIU) in Rochester.

Read more about this topic:  Susan B. Anthony, Early Social Activism

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