Susan B. Anthony

By Barbara F. Dyer | Sep 22, 2016

It is not long before we vote again for a new president. We have watched all the debates to eliminate many and the debate between Hillary Clinton and Donald Trump is the last week in September, I heard. Many do not like either candidate, but we must vote. This is a very important election on which to vote, and since I was age 18, I have always voted. Why? Because Susan B. Anthony was arrested on charges of voting illegally in the 1872 federal election. And because of her hard work, women were allowed to vote. It our privilege, now that women are no longer second-class citizens.

The title of her lecture was “Is it a Crime for a Citizen of the United States to Vote?

She went on a speaking tour of all 29 towns of Monroe County and 21 towns in Ontario County and won support for the cause. I think her speech, during her exhausting tour (more exhausting than Hillary's or Trump's) said it all:

“Friends and Fellow-citizens: I stand before you tonight, under indictment for the alleged crime of having voted at the last Presidential election, without having a lawful right to vote. It shall be my work this evening to prove to you that in thus voting, I not only committed no crime, but instead simply exercised my citizen's right, guaranteed to me and all Untied States citizens by the National Constitution, beyond the power of any State to deny.

"Our Democratic-Republican government is based on the idea of the natural right of every individual member thereof to a voice and a vote in making and executing the laws. We assert the province of government to be to secure the people in the enjoyment of their unalienable rights. We throw to the wind the old dogma that government can give rights. Before governments were organized, no one denies that each individual possessed the right to protect his own life, liberty and property. And when 100 or 1,000,000 people enter into a free government, they do not barter away their natural rights; they simply pledge themselves to protect each other in the enjoyment of them, through prescribed judicial and legislative tribunals. They agree to abandon the methods of brute force in the adjustment of their differences, and adopt those of civilization.

"Nor can you find a word in any of the grand documents left us by the fathers that assumes for government the power to create or to confer rights.

[I shall leave out some of the many pages of her long speech, but put in enough so you get the drift.]

"They shall protect the citizens of the United States in their right to freedom and the elective franchise , against any and every interference on the part of the several States. And again and again, have the American people asserted the triumph of this principle, by their overwhelming majorities for Lincoln and Grant.

"The one issue of the last two Presidential elections was, whether the fourteenth and fifteenth amendments should be considered the irrevocable will of the people; and the decision was, they shall be-and that is only the right, but the duty of the National Government to protect all United States citizens in the full enjoyment and free exercise of all their privileges and unities against any attempt of any State to deny or abridge.

"And in this conclusion Republicans and Democrats agree.”

It is difficult to imagine that once Democrats and republicans agreed.

The Call for the National Republican convention said:

“Equal suffrage has been engrafted on the national Constitution; the privileges and unities of American citizenship have become a part of the organic law.”

The national Republican platform said:

“Complete liberty and exact equality in the enjoyment of all civil, political and public right, should be established and maintained throughout the Union by efficient and appropriate State and federal legislation.”

“If that means anything, it is that Congress should pass a law to require the States to protect women in their equal political rights, and that the States should enact laws making it the duty of inspectors of elections to receive women's votes on precisely the same conditions they do those of men.”

Many judges, and people in Congress responded favorably. All the National Women's Suffrage Association based its arguments and action on this just interpretation of the United States Constitution.

Susan had her trial and was put on our coin that looked like a quarter but was a dollar. Susan Brownell Anthony was born in 1820 and died in 1906. I do not have a dollar with her picture on it because I gave them away to young enough coin collectors, who would live long enough for them to be worth something. They stopped making them because people complained that they were the size of a quarter. She really was not very glamorous, so there are not many photos of the woman, who got us the right to vote.

Everyone eligible in our town of Camden, should register and vote. Your vote does matter.

Comments (0)
If you wish to comment, please login.