Speech After Being Convicted Of Voting
In The 1872 Presidential Election
by Susan B. Anthony
Stump speech delivered in all 29 postal districts of Monroe Co. (New York State)
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 rights, guaranteed to me and all United States citizens
by the National Constitution, beyond the power of any state to deny.
The preamble of the Federal Constitution says:
"We, the people of the United States, in order to form a more perfect
union, establish justice, insure domestic tranquility, provide for the common
defense, promote the general welfare, and secure the blessings of liberty to
ourselves and our posterity, do ordain and establish this Constitution for
the United States of America."
It was we, the people; not we, the white male citizens; nor yet we, the male
citizens; but we, the whole people, who formed the Union. And we formed it,
not to give the blessings of liberty, but to secure them; not to the half of
ourselves and the half of our posterity, but to the whole people - women as
well as men. And it is a downright mockery to talk to women of their enjoyment
of the blessings of liberty while they are denied the use of the only means
of securing them provided by this democratic-republican government - the ballot.
For any state to make sex a qualification that must ever result in the disfranchisement
of one entire half of the people, is to pass a bill of attainder, or, an ex
post facto law, and is therefore a violation of the supreme law of the land.
By it the blessings of liberty are forever withheld from women and their female
To them this government has no just powers derived from the consent of the
governed. To them this government is not a democracy. It is not a republic.
It is an odious aristocracy; a hateful oligarchy of sex; the most hateful aristocracy
ever established on the face of the globe; an oligarchy of wealth, where the
rich govern the poor. An oligarchy of learning, where the educated govern the
ignorant, or even an oligarchy of race, where the Saxon rules the African,
might be endured; but this oligarchy of sex, which makes father, brothers,
husband, sons, the oligarchs over the mother and sisters, the wife and daughters,
of every household - which ordains all men sovereigns, all women subjects,
carries dissension, discord, and rebellion into every home of the nation.
Webster, Worcester, and Bouvier all define a citizen to be a person in the
United States, entitled to vote and hold office.
Read more speeches and articles by Susan B. Anthony at the PBS website, Not For Ourselves Alone.
The only question left to be settled now is: Are women persons? And I hardly
believe any of our opponents will have the hardihood to say they are not. Being
persons, then, women are citizens; and no state has a right to make any law,
or to enforce any old law, that shall abridge their privileges or immunities.
Hence, every discrimination against women in the constitutions and laws of
the several states is today null and void, precisely as is every one against