Anthony, Susan B. (1820-1906)

edited by
Ann D. Gordon
compiled by
Cindy Koenig Richards
notes compiled by
Belinda A. Stillion Southard


Voices of Democracy: The U. S. Oratory Project

Department of Communication,
2130 Skinner Building,
University of Maryland,
College Park, MD 21774

The following editorial note is provided as part of the terms required by the editor, Ann D. Gordon:

There are three major reports of SBA’s speech, “Is It a Crime for a U.S. Citizen to Vote?”: of its debut at the National Woman Suffrage Association meeting in Washington on 16 January 1873; of its delivery in Rochester on 3 April 1873; and as it appeared in An Account of the Proceedings on the Trial of Susan B. Anthony (1874). All of the reports derived from manuscripts provided to the printers but now lost. The text that follows is that reported for 16 January, but within angle brackets, there appear the additions reported for 3 April. Variations in the later pamphlet version are more substantial, and they are placed in the endnotes.

The sources have been compiled by the author, Cindy Koenig Richards:

Susan B. Anthony, “Is It a Crime for a U.S. Citizen to Vote?” in The Selected Papers of Elizabeth Cady Stanton and Susan B. Anthony. Vol. 2, Against an Aristocracy of Sex, 1866 to 1873. Ed. Ann D. Gordon. New Brunswick, NJ: Rutgers University Press, 2000. [=A]
Susan B. Anthony, “Is It a Crime for a U.S. Citizen to Vote?” in Rochester Democrat and Chronicle, 4 April 1873. [=B]
Susan B. Anthony, “Is It a Crime for a U.S. Citizen to Vote?” in Washington Woman’s Campaign, January 1873, at State Historical Society of Wisconsin, Madison, Wisconsin, and in SBA scrapbook 7, Rare Books Division, Library of Congress, Washington, DC. [=C]
An Account of the Proceedings on the Trial of Susan B. Anthony, on the Charge of Illegal
Voting, at the Presidential Election in Nov., 1872, and on the Trial of Beverly W. Jones, Edwin T. Marsh and William B. Hall, the Inspectors of Election by Whom Her Vote Was Received. Rochester, NY: Daily Democrat and Chronicle Book Print, 1874. [=D]

The following are the textual notes provided by the editor. The location of these notes are indicated by paragraph number and the preceding few words.

1 the laws.: In Account of the Trial of SBA there is a preceding paragraph: “I stand before you to-night, under indictment for the alleged crime of having voted at the last Presidential election, without having the 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 United States citizens by the National Constitution, beyond the power of any State to deny.” The Account of the Trial of SBA reproduces a text of the speech that Anthony delivered to local audiences, prior to her trial.
2 consent of the governed.: Declaration of Independence, 1776.
3 “of all women,”: A reference to the equality of the sexes within the Society of Friends.
3 happiness.”: Declaration of Independence, 1776.
7 states.”: Articles of Confederation and Perpetual Union, 1777, art. IV. See Charles Sumner, “Equal Rights of All,” in Works, 10:188-89, where he describes debate in the Continental Congress about introducing the word “white” into this article.
9 Martin,: SBA paraphrases more than she quotes from the report to the Maryland legislature sent by Luther Martin (1744-1826), a delegate to the constitutional convention in 1787. Francis Minor had also selected Martin as an authority on individual right. See Jonathan Elliot, ed., The Debates in the Several State Conventions on the Adoption of the Federal Constitution at Philadelphia, in 1787 (1836-1845; reprint, Charlottesville, Va., 1941), 1:351, and History, 2:730.
10 Madison: James Madison (1751-1836) was a delegate to the constitutional convention of 1787 and later, fourth president of the United States. SBA located the first quotation from his speech to the convention on 7 August 1787 in Charles Sumner’s “Equal Rights of All.” See Works, 10:180.
10 human nature.”: Sumner also quoted Madison’s address to the states from the Continental Congress, 26 April 1783, in “Equal Rights of All.” See Works, 10:174.
1866:: Thaddeus Stevens (1792-1868), a longtime member of Congress, chaired the Joint Committee on Reconstruction. SBA quotes loosely from his letter to John W. Forney, 11 March 1868, in Rev., 10 March 1868, Film, 1:83. In 1866 Sevens doubted that Congress could or should legislate about suffrage, but in 1868 he arrived at this new conviction (BDAC; Richard N. Current, Old Thad Stevens, A Story of Ambition [1942; reprint, Westport, Conn., 1980], 299; NASS, 25 January 1868.)
13 liberties.”: SBA took liberties with Brown’s speech of 12 December 1866. (Congressional Globe, 39th Cong., 2d sess., 76.)
14 republic.”: On 7 March 1866, in his speech, “Political Equality without Distinction of Color. No Compromise of Human Rights.” See Sumner, Works, 10:331-32.
18 crime.”: N.Y. Const., 1846, art. II., sect. 2.
20 peers.”: N.Y. Const., 1846, art. I, sect. 1.
20 vote;: The text in Account of the Trial of SBA here adds: “no disfranchised person is allowed to be judge or juror-and none but disfranchised persons can be women’s peers;
22 candidates.: Text in Account of the Trial of SBA here adds: “If, as our opponents assert, the last clause of this section makes it the duty of the United States to protect citizens in the several States against higher or different qualifications for electors for representatives in Congress, than for members of Assembly, then must the first clause make it equally imperative for the national government to interfere with the States, and forbid them from arbitrarily cutting off the right of one-half of the people to become electors altogether.”
24 1869;: See list above at 19 February 1872.
24 said,: SBA inscribed this story on her copies of Sumner’s speeches. One inscription reads: “This is one of the speeches of which Mr Sumner said to Susan B. Anthony-when she importuned him to speak in the suffrage Con. in Lincoln Hall-‘Take my speeches on the floor of the Senate and put sex where I have race or color-and you have the strongest argument I can make for women to vote under the Constitution as it is and as it was prior to the 14th and 15th amendments.'” (Sumner, “Powers of Congress to Prohibit Inequality, Caste, and Oligarchy of the Skin,” SBA scrapbook 5, Rare Books, DLC.)
24 Republic.: In Account of the Trial of SBA the paragraph continues: “But, friends, when in accordance with Senator Sumner’s counsel, I went to the ballot-box, last November, and exercised my citizen’s right to vote, the courts did not wait for me to appeal to them-they appealed to me, and indicted me on the charge of having voted illegally.”
26 law,: A bill of attainder is an act that inflicts punishment without judicial trial; an ex post facto law penalized someone for acts not considered criminal at the time they were committed. Francis Minor, who introduced this line of constitutional argument in the Circuit Court of St. Louis County in November 1872, wondered on what warrant states inflicted “the bar of perpetual disfranchisement, where no crime or offense is alleged or pretended, and without ‘due process of the law.'” (History, 2:720-21, 723.)
26 sex!!: Text in Account of the Trial of SBA continues: “The most hateful aristocracy ever established on the face of the globe. An oligarchy of wealth, where the rich govern the poor; and 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 sovereign, all women subjects, carries dissention, discord, and rebellion into every home of the nation.”
29 fair.: The Pixley Sisters, Annie, Minnie, and Lucy, performed at the Washington territorial and other fairs while SBA toured the Northwest in 1871. SBA noted their ages at the time as eighteen, sixteen, and twelve, and she wrote, they “manage their own business and hire men to fill up plays-” An Annie Pixley (1858-1893), born Annie Shea in New York and raised in California, pursued a successful theatrical career. (SBA Diary, 21 September 1871, Film 15:91ff; Gerald Bordman, The Oxford Companion to American Theatre [New York, 1984].)
32 vote.: SBA mentioned this plan in her speech of 13 December 1871. See Film, 15:832.
32 imposition.: The Rochester text includes here two paragraphs that are probably misplaced. They read “Section 19, laws of 1870, May 31st: ‘If any person shall knowingly vote without his having a lawful right to vote.’
“The same is true of all the United States papers served on us-warrant for arrest, petition of habeas corpus, and the bail articles.”
The text in Account of the Trial of SBA reads: “There is no she, or her, or hers, in the tax laws.”
33 etc.: RSSNY, 1852, 1:715, sec. 1.
34 him.”: RSSNY, 1852, 1:724, sec. 6.
35 etc.: N.Y. Const., 1846, art. I, sec. 6. The text in Account of the Trial of SBA here adds two paragraphs:
“The same with the law of May 31st, 1870, the 19th section of which I am charged with having violated; not only are all the pronouns in it masculine, but everybody knows that particular section was intended expressly to hinder the rebels from voting. It reads, ‘If any person shall knowingly vote without his having lawful right,’ etc. Precisely so with all the papers served on me-the U.S. Marshal’s warrant, the bail-bond, the petition for habeas corpus, the bill of indictment-not one of them had a feminine pronoun printed in it; but, to make them applicable to me, the Clerk of the Court made a little carat at the left of ‘he’ and places an ‘s’ over it, thus making she out of he. Then the letters ‘is’ were scratched out, the little carat under and ‘er’ over, to make her out of his, and I insist that if government officials may thus manipulate the pronouns to tax, fine, imprison and hang women, women may take the same liberty with them to secure to themselves their right to a voice in government.
“So long as any classes of men were denied by their right to vote, the government made a show of consistency, by exempting them from taxation. When a property qualification of $250 was required of black men in New York, they were not compelled to pay taxes, so long as they were content to report themselves worth less than that sum; but the moment the black man died, and his property fell to his widow or daughter, the black woman’s name would be put on the assessor’s list, and she be compelled to pay taxes on the same property exempted to her husband. The same is true of ministers in New York. So long as the minister lives, he is exempted from taxation of $1,500 of property, but the moment the breath goes out of his body, his widow’s name will go down on the assessor’s list, and she will have to pay taxes on the $1,500. So much for the special legislation in favor of women.”
36 oath.”: U.S. Statutes at Large 10 (1855): 604, and 2 (1804): 293. In the first instance SBA does not quote the law, and her source is unidentified. The act of 1855 is usually described less favorably; it granted citizenship to women married to American citizens, but it reinforced marital unity by denying to the wife an independent nationality. SBA quotes from the earlier act. (Candice Lewis Bredbenner, A Nationality of Her Own: Women, Marriage, and the Law of Citizenship [Berkeley, Calif., 1998], 5, 13, 16.)
38 1850.: Silver v. Ladd, 7 Wallace 219 (1868). SBA summarizes the case below. The spelling of the names in the case has been adjusted to match the court’s spelling, but SBA’s confusion in assigning to Elizabeth Thomas the surname of her son has been retained.
38 Miller,: Samuel Freeman Miller (1816-1890) wrote the Court’s opinion in Silver v. Ladd. Appointed an associate justice in 1862, Miller served until his death. (ANB.)
38 woman.”: SBA quotes the case summary.
38 Mitchell,: John H. Mitchell did not argue the case before the Supreme Court; he may have been involved at an earlier date. He did, however, bring the decision to SBA’s attention. She inscribed her copy, “Supreme Court Decision-that he, his, and him-cover women-Told to me on overland train when coming home from California-Dec. 1871-by Senator John Mitchell of Oregon-” (SBA scrapbook 7, Rare Books, DLC.)
39 chosen.”: U.S. Const., art. I, sec. 2, para. 2, and sec. 3.
43 thee,: An adaptation of Matt. 6:33.
43 Bouvier: Noah Webster, Joseph Emerson Worchester (1784-1865), and John Bouvier (1787-1851) were American lexicographers.
45 Washington,: In the federal case Corfield v. Coryell in 1823, Bushrod Washington (1762-1829), acting as judge of the Circuit Court for the Eastern District of Pennsylvania, provided an oft-cited interpretation of the privileges and immunities clause of the Constitution. Among the privileges he deemed “fundamental” to citizenship, Washington included “the elective franchise, as regulated by the laws or constitution of the state in which it is to be exercised.” SBA’s words come not from the opinion but from A. G. Riddle’s summary of his speech to the House judiciary committee on 11 January 1871, The Right of Women to Exercise the Elective Franchise, under the Fourteenth Article of the Constitution (Washington, D.C., 1871), 9. See also Corfield v. Coryell, 6 Federal Cases 546 (C.C.E.D.Pa. 1823) (No. 3,230).
46 respect,”: Dred Scott v. Sanford, 19 Howard 393, 407 (1857). This phrase appears in Justice Taney’s characterization of public opinion in the eighteenth century, not in his conclusions about the law in 1857. It was, nonetheless, a phrase that clung to the decision.
47 Daniel: Peter Vivian Daniel (1784-1860), who served on the Supreme Court of the United States from 1841 until his death, wrote one of the nine opinions issued in the Dred Scott case. SBA’s quotation is found at Dred Scott v. Sanford, 476.
48 sovereignty.”: Dred Scott v. Sanford, 404.
49 political.”: The phrase is Daniel’s, not Taney’s. See note 37 above.
50 nation.”: Edward Bates, “Citizenship,” 29 November 1862, Official Opinions of the Attorneys General of the United States, 10:388.
52 citizen!”: The Roman orator Cicero accorded to this sentence, “Civis Romanum sum,” the power to overcome any indignity.
54 nation,: John Bingham cited the opinion of Attorney General Bates that the phrase American citizen “means neither more nor less than a member of the nation”; Matthew Carpenter did not. See House Committee on the Judiciary, Victoria C. Woodhull. Report, 41st Cong., 3d sess., H. Rept. 22, Serial 1464, and Senate Committee on the Judiciary, Report on the Memorial of Elizabeth Cady Stanton et al., 42d Cong., 2d sess., S. Rept. 21, Serial 1483.
54 another.: David Kellogg Cartter, of the District of Columbia, Samuel Bell McKee, of California, John Alexander Jameson, of Illinois, and George Sharswood, of Philadelphia. All of them had rejected the legal arguments of women who attempted to vote. Jameson (1824-1890), a judge on the Superior Court of Cook County, heard the case of Catharine V. Waite v. Horace R. Stebbins et al. (1872). Waite, an educator and incoming president of the Illinois Woman Suffrage Association, and her daughter Helen M. Waite tried to register to vote in October 1871. She sued for a writ of mandamus to compel her registration. Jameson rejected the argument of Waite’s husband and lawyer Charles B. Waite that suffrage was a “natural” right which had been guaranteed by the Fourteenth and Fifteenth amendments. (DAB; Chicago Tribune, 21, 30 November 1871, 13 January 1872; Chicago Legal News, 25 November 1871, 13 January 1872.) Sharswood (1810-1883), a justice on the Supreme Court of Pennsylvania, heard the appeal in the case of Carrie S. Burnham v. Louis Luning et al. (1872). Burnham, a teacher and taxpayer in Philadelphia, registered to vote in September 1871, but her ballot was refused on election day in October. When the Philadelphia Court of Common Pleas rejected her petition for a writ of mandamus to require officials to accept her vote, Burnham appealed the decision. Sharswood found against the plaintiff in December 1871, ruling that the term “freeman” in the constitution of Pennsylvania was equivalent to the term male and that the federal amendments had no bearing on her case because voting was not among the privileges guaranteed by the Constitution. (ANB; Woman Suffrage. The Argument of Carrie S. Burnham before Chief Justice Reed, and Associate Justices Agnew, Sharswood and Mercur, of the Supreme Court of Pennsylvania, in Banc [Philadelphia, 1873]; 9 Philadelphia Reports 241 [Pa. Sup. Ct. 1871].)
55 Howe,: John Homer Howe (1822-1873), the chief justice of Wyoming Territory’s supreme court from 1869 until the fall of 1871, favored woman suffrage and insisted through court opinion and judicial practice that women were also entitled to serve as jurors (ANB.)
55 Underwood,: John Curtiss Underwood (1809-1873) was a controversial judge of the federal district court in Virginia, presiding officer of the state’s constitutional convention of 1867, and an officer of the Virginia Woman Suffrage Association. (ANB; Sandra Gioia Treadway, “A Most Brilliant Woman: Anna Whitehead Bodeker and the First Woman Suffrage Association in Virginia,” Virginia Cavalcade 43 [Spring 1994]: 166-77.)
56 amendment.: In an opinion on women as jurors Howe wrote: “Under the Fourteenth Amendment, women should enjoy the same civil and political rights as are vouchsafed to men-if that amendment means what is says. Few people will be found so idiotic as to assume that women are not ‘persons.'” The Chicago Legal News, 26 August 1871, reprinted a summary of this decision from the Wyoming Tribune, 5 August 1871. SBA kept an unidentified clipping dated 30 September 1871 in scrapbook 4, Rare Books, DLC.
57 legislation?”: Woman’s Journal, 25 November 1871.
58 Howard: Jacob Merritt Howard (1805-1851), senator from Michigan from 1862 to 1871, was a member of the Joint Committee on Reconstruction and had charge of the Senate debate on the Fourteenth Amendment. (BDAC; Joseph B. James, The Framing of the Fourteenth Amendment [1956; reprint, Urbana, Ill., 1965], 132-43.)
59 state.: Corfield v. Coryell, 551. SBA (or her source) made some adjustments to this quotation.
65 Fentons.: This list of prominent New York families includes those of financier Cornelius Vanderbilt (1794-1877), merchant Alexander Turney Stewart (1803?-1876), and politicians Roscoe Conkling and Reuben E. Fenton.
67 servitude.”: This analogy between involuntary servitude and the legal position of a wife could be traced to the antebellum woman’s rights movement, but A. G. Riddle also introduced it into the legal debate about the Fourteenth and Fifteenth amendments. Benjamin Butler quipped that the Fifteenth Amendment’s phrase “previous condition of servitude” protected widows but not wives.
70 correction;: In Blackstone, Commentaries on the Laws of England, 1:366, this legal phrase is treated as out of date long before the eighteenth century, but nineteenth-century American students of the law were more circumspect. The state might protect wives from violent “correction,” but the power of husbands to govern and restrain family members was recognized and written into statute. See also Papers, 1:246-47, 257n.
74 wife.: Text in Account of the Trial of SBA here adds: “A married woman cannot testify in courts in cases of joint interest with her husband. A good farmer’s wife near Earlville, Ill., who had all the rights she wanted, went to a dentist of the village and had a full set of false teeth, both upper and under. The dentist pronounced them an admirable fit, and the wife declared they gave her fits to wear them; that she could neither chew nor talk with them in her mouth. The dentist sued the husband; his counsel brought the wife as witness; the judge ruled her off the stand, saying ‘a married woman cannot be a witness in matters of joint interest between herself and her husband.’ Think of it, ye good wives, the false teeth in your mouths are joint interest with your husbands, about which you are legally incompetent to speak!!”
75 sweet.”: William Shakespeare, Romeo and Juliet, act 2, sc. 1, lines 85-86.
76 husband!!: Blackstone, Commentaries on the Laws of England, 1:355.
77 Henry: To a list of previously identified patriots, SBA adds Patrick Henry (1736-1799) of Virginia.
77 others.”: Sumner also quoted this passage from James Otis, The Rights of the British Colonies Asserted and Proved (1764). See Sumner, Works, 10:164.
79 behalf.: “Some Good Whig Principles,” as quoted by Charles Sumner in “The Equal Rights of All,” in his Works, 10:177.
81 property.”: Thomas Paine, “Dissertation on First Principles of Government,” as quoted by Benjamin Butler and William Loughridge in their minority report to the House judiciary committee in 1872.
83 men?: For instance, in denouncing plans to dissolve the American Anti-Slavery Society in 1865, Phillips wrote “I consider no freedom real and no emancipation effectual, under such State and Federal governments as ours, until the Negro has the ballot.” (NASS, 15 April 1865.)
84 Lincoln: Abraham Lincoln (1809-1865), sixteenth president of the United States.
86 Frelinghuysen: Frederick Theodore Frelinghuysen (1817-1885), Republican of New Jersey, served in the Senate from 1866 to 1869 and 1871 to 1877. (BDAC.)
86 limits.”: Although SBA’s source is not identified, Frelinghuysen told the Senate in 1871 that the Fourteenth Amendment “declares that all persons, no matter whether they are citizens of States or not, born or naturalized in the United States, shall be citizens of the United States.” (Congressional Globe, 42d Cong., 1st sess., 500.)
86 law.”: Arthur M. Schlesinger, Jr., ed., History of U.S. Political Parties, vol. 2, 1860-1910: The Gilded Age of Politics (New York, 1973), 1344.
86 legislation.”: National Party Platforms, 47.
87 Matthews,: Stanley Matthews (1824-1889), later an associate justice of the Supreme Court of the United States, presided over a preliminary meeting of the Liberal Republican party’s convention when he drew the conclusion quoted by SBA. (ANB; New York Tribune, 2 May 1872.)
87 Woodward: George Washington Woodward (1809-1875), a Philadelphia lawyer and former Democratic congressman, was a member of the state constitutional convention of 1872 and 1873. The source of this quotation has not been found. (BDAC.)
87 amendments.”: The quotation from Woodward was omitted from the text in Account of the Trial of SBA. SBA inserted in its stead a new example: “President Grant, in his message to Congress March 30th, 1870, on the adoption of the fifteenth amendment, said: ‘A measure which makes at once four millions of people voters, is indeed a measure of greater importance than any act of the kind from the foundation of the Government to the present time.’ How could four millions negroes be made voters if two millions were not included?”
87 law.”: A paraphrase of the platform of 1871. See Winfield J. Davis, History of Political Conventions in California, 1849-1892 (Sacramento, Calif., 1893), 305-6.
88 citizens;”: B. Butler to SBA, 12 December 1872, Film, 16:578. The second quotation from Butler is not found.
88 rights.”: Congressional Globe, 42d Cong., 3d sess., 2 December 1872, 7-8. SBA omitted references to this message to Congress when she spoke in Rochester on 3 April 1873.
89 years.: In April SBA rewrote the conclusion, beginning after the reference in this paragraph to the National association. The text of the conclusion of the 16 January 1873 speech reads: “The adoption of the 14th and 15th amendments by three-fourths of the state legislatures, made them part and parcel of the supreme law of the land and thereby annulled every law of every state and territory of the Union, that was in conflict with the letter and spirit of their guarantees. They blotted out forever, from every constitution and statute law, the words ‘white’ and ‘male.’
“What we now ask of Congress, is appropriate legislation to enforce obedience to the National Law in the several states.
“What we now ask of the several states, is to strike ‘male’ from their constitutions and laws, and thus bring them into harmony with the Federal Constitution.”

The copy-text has been thoroughly checked and proofread.

There are two departures from text A. First, the conclusion of the 16 January 1873 (=A) speech has been placed in the content note regarding paragraph 89, and the conclusion of the 3 April 1873 (=B) speech has been moved from this content note and placed, within brackets, at the end of the speech text. This alteration renders the text of this edition consistent with the speech text that Anthony reportedly delivered on 3 April 1873, before a public audience in Rochester, New York [=C]. Second, the sentence, “The Account of the Trial of SBA reproduces a text of the speech that Anthony delivered to local audiences, prior to her trial” was added to the content note regarding paragraph 1.

All double quotation marks are rendered with “, all single quotation marks with apostrophe ‘.

End-of-line hyphenated words in the source have been treated as single words in the electronic text.

All ampersands have been replaced with either “etc” or “and” in the following places noted by paragraph number and surrounding few words:

19 21, etc.,
33 him,” etc.
35 himself,” etc.
content note: 29 fair.: business and hire
content note: 35 etc.: lawful right,” etc.
content note: 38 Mitchell,: his and him

Library of Congress Subject Headings

Library of Congress Classification

3 April 1873
Rochester, New York


Anthony, Susan B. (Susan Brownell), 1820-1906 – Trials, litigation, etc.
Trials (Political crimes and offenses)–New York State–Canandaigua.
Election law–United States–Criminal provisions.
Women-Suffrage–United States.

none given


VOD Associate Editor
Gaines, Robert N.

Created TEI header and xml conformant file. Validated on 25 March 2006 in XMetal 3.1.3 against teixlite.dtd (version 2004-07-16)


Richards, Cindy Koenig

proofreading of copy-text


assitant to the compiler
Koenig, Jo

proofread copy text


Richards, Cindy Koenig.

editing of the copy-text (to make it consistent with the version of the speech delivered on 3 April 1873)


Richards, Cindy Koenig

compiled copy-text

none given by compiler

Gordon, Ann

collated version B (16 January 1873), version C (3 April 1873), and version D (An Account of the Trial) to produce version A


compiler of notes
Stillion Southard, Belinda A.

compiled textual notes to conform to Voices of Democracy TEI text header