American History · biography · history

Timeline of Women’s Suffrage : 1848-1920. Part 1

Last week, we celebrated the 100th anniversary of women’s suffrage in America. It is an amazing milestone to hit and to honor, but, on the other hand, it is shocking to think that the female citizens of this country have only had the right to vote for one hundred years. There are so many stories, people, and events that went into the long fight for the 19th Amendment, but in these next two posts I have compiled the events and stories that I feel were most important and encapsulated the movement.

Seneca Falls Convention, July 1848

 The Seneca Falls Convention in 1848 sparked the women’s suffrage movement in America. The event was organized by five women: Elizabeth Cady Stanton, Lucretia Mott, Mary M’Clintock, Martha Coffin Wright, and Jane Hunt. It took place in the small town of Seneca Falls, New York. This convention was an early introductions, worldwide, of the concept of women’s suffrage. But how did this convention suddenly come about?

The abolition of slavery was one of the first political movements that women participated in and were able to exercise political agency. Beginning in the 1830s, American women were speaking out against slavery in public lectures. A woman’s role, during this period, was to be stowed away in the “private sphere”. They were to be dutiful wives and take care of the children.  Being regulated to the household, women never had a chance to reach out further and participate in the public sphere. They were barred from taking an active role in politics. To society, their opinions were unimportant. After a woman married (which was expected of them) they would lose any few freedoms they had and were dependent on their husbands. Married women had virtually no property or financial rights and the option of divorce was near impossible. The ideal “True Womanhood” of the period was a wife/mother who was pious and submissive. By the eyes of the law, women were dependents rather than a true citizen.   

Lucretia Mott | National Women's History Museum
Lucretia Mott. She was born in 1793 in Massachusetts and was raised as a Quaker. In 1811, she married James Mott and was a mother to six children. Primarily, Mott was an abolitionist and would lecture for freedom. She helped to establish the Philadelphia Female Anti-Slavery Society and would organize the Seneca Falls Convention with Elizabeth Cady Stanton. She protested the Fugitive Slave Act and became the first president of the Equal Rights Association. She published her Discourse on Woman, where she argues for women’s suffrage and discusses the injustices placed on women in marriage. Mott fought for all freedom and proved that women could be fantastic speakers and take a strong role in politics.

Elizabeth Cady Stanton and Lucretia Mott were involved in the abolition movement and, in 1840, went to London to speak at the World Anti-Slavery Convention. Yet, they were denied participation due to their sex. This is the event that is believed to have to resulted in the planning on the Seneca Fall Convention.

At this convention, Stanton recited her “Declaration of Sentiments” which began:

“We hold these truths to be self -evident: that all men and women are created equal…”

It was a re-working of the Declaration of Independence, as it should have been originally written.

Stanton continues:

“The history of mankind is a history of repeated injuries and usurpations on the part of man toward woman, having in direct object the establishment of an absolute tyranny over her. The prove this, let facts be submitted to a candid world:

[This list has been edited down to a select few]

He has never permitted her to exercise her inalienable right to the elective franchise

He has compelled her to submit to laws, in the formation of which she had no voice…

He has made her, if married, in the eye of the law, civilly dead

He has taken from her all right in property, even to the wages she earns…

After depriving her of all rights as a married women, if single, and the owner of property, he has taxed her to support a government which recognizes her only when her property can be made profitable to it…

He has denied her the facilities for obtaining a thorough education, all college being closed against her…

He has created a false public sentiment by giving to the world a different code of morals for men and women, by which moral delinquencies which exclude women from society, are not only tolerated, but deemed of little account in man…

Now, in view of this entire disfranchisement of one-half the people of this country, their social and religious degradation—in view of the unjust laws above mentioned, and because women do feel themselves aggrieved, oppressed, and fraudulently deprived of their most scared rights, we insist that they have immediate admission to all the rights and privileges which belong to them as citizens of the United States.”

These are only a few of the abuses that Stanton lists in her Declaration. This was a very radical speech and left some of the participants very nervous. Yet, this resolution passed with most of the votes (with some help from a supporting speech by Frederick Douglas, who was a supporter of the suffrage movement). The “Declarations” spread across the country and was the first to kick off the women’s movement. This was one of the first times that’s these women’s rights (including women’s suffrage) was addressed. Yet, it still took 72 years for women to receive the right to vote.

Elizabeth Cady Stanton - Wikipedia
Elizabeth Cady Stanton. Stanton was born in 1815 to an upper class family and had the privilege to receive an education. She was one of the founding members of the women’s rights movement. She was a writer and lecturer and traveled around the country to fight for women’s suffrage and property rights. She co-founded the National Woman Suffrage Association and co-wrote, The Revolution (the associations journal). She co-wrote the history of the women’s suffrage movement, The Woman’s Bible, and her own autobiography. She was also a wife and mother of seven which proved that a woman could do both (work for their passions and raise a family).

Newspaper reaction was mostly negative and cited the women as “Unwomanly” and “unnatural”. The woman were “Amazons” and did not follow the natural order of the world. Due to the backlash, many decided to retract their signatures from the Declaration.

Worchester, MA 1850

The first annual National Women’s Rights Convention met in Oct 1850. These events would continue every year (except for a break for the Civil War) and included speeches from prominent figures in the movement. This first one was attended by over 900 people. While Seneca Falls was more local, this convention began to attract delegates from other states. This was the first time that an organized women’s rights movement began and, clearly, there was interest. At this convention, orator, Lucy Stone, took charge of organization and was a speaker. This convention also had, for the first time, a black woman, Sojourner Truth, lecturing on a public stage.

During this time, black suffrage and women’s suffrage began to find common cause and became allies in their fight for equal rights.

At the 1851 convention (Old Stone Church, Akron Ohio), Sojourner Truth gave her famous “Ain’t I a Woman Speech?” to show that all deserved equal rights.

“May I say a few words? I want to say a few words about this matter. I am a woman’s rights. I have as much muscle as any man and can do as much work as any man. I have plowed and reaped and husked and chopped and mowed, and can any man do more than that? I have heard much about the sexes being equal; I can carry as much as any man, and can eat as much too, if I can get it.

I am as strong as any man that is now. As for intellect, all I can say is, if a woman have a pint and a man a quart why cant she have her little pint full? “

These conventions would continue through 1869 until the split of the women’s rights movement.

Sojourner Truth - Quotes, Speech & Facts - Biography
Sojourner Truth. She was born in 1797 as a slave in New York. In her early life, she had to experience being bought and sold and abuse. In 1827, Truth escaped slavery with one of her infant children and allied with an abolitionist family who eventually bought her freedom. After her emancipation, Truth became a orator in the growing religious movement in New York and published an autobiography of her life. Truth was also very involved in the temperance and women’s rights movement and spoke against racial/gender inequality. Truth eventually settled in Battle Creek, Michigan where she spoke to and helped other escaped slaves. After the Civil War, she became involved in the Freedmen’s Bureau and helped freed slaves to find jobs and rebuild their lives.

1865-1870 13th, 14th, 15th amendments passed

The Civil War brought a halt to the quickly growing women’s suffrage movement. Yet, it was an opportunity for women to take on roles that they had not been able to before. Women began to take leadership roles in war aide societies, had to manage the financials while the men were off to war, and many began to take part in nursing. Women began to see that they were capable of handling greater responsibility than they were given. The laws restricted how far they could achieve. The Civil War and the passing of the 13th-15th Amendments gave a boost to the movement as a whole.

After the ware three new amendments were passed by Congress. The 13th amendment officially made slavery illegal. Black men and women were able to attain their human rights. The 14th Amendment specified that all people born/ naturalized in the United States were automatically citizens. No one can deprive a citizen of their rights without “due process of law”. It also protected citizens by stating that one could not “deny to any person within its jurisdiction the equal protection of the laws”. Yet, it specified that males 21 years or older had the right to vote. The 15th Amendment confirmed that the right to vote could not be denied on account of race.

Susan B. Anthony and Elizabeth Cady Stanton were furious with the new additions. This would have been the perfect opportunity to add women to the constitution, but apparently America was not ready to go that far. Anthony and Stanton wanted women to be included in addition to black men. Originally, the equal rights for black Americans and the women’s rights movement were allies and even formed the American Equal Rights Association (which Anthony and Mott were leading figures of). This began to split as the push for these amendments began to happen. It came down to the question, whose suffrage was more important at the time?

The contemporary political parties refused to have anything to do with women’s suffrage, while the Republican party of the time was starting to support black suffrage. If both movements insisted that one had to have the other, then neither would be passed. This not only caused a split between the women’s and black suffrage movement, but also in the women’s suffrage movement itself.

Anthony was furious at this “betrayal” and continued to fight for a constitutional amendment for women, along with the black vote. Anthony, with Elizabeth Cady Stanton, formed the National Woman Suffrage Association. Their group focused on women leaders, as they could not trust men to fight their battles.

Meanwhile, Lucy Stone formed the American Woman Suffrage Association. This group supported the 15th Amendment how it was, and they acknowledged the priority that suffrage for black men took. This group allowed men to join the higher ranks and the focus was on women’s suffrage state by state.

A rivalry began between Stone and Anthony’s organizations.

Lucy Stone | National Women's History Museum
Lucy Stone. She was born in 1818 and was considered a radical in her time. She was the first woman in Massachusetts to earn a college degree and did not marry until she was in her 30s. She did not take her husbands last name and wrote her own marriage vows (to the shock of her contemporary peers). Stone always had a goal to be a public speaker and, prior to her marriage, she was a traveling orator. She began her career by speaking out against slavery and joining the abolition movement. Later, she became involved in the women’s rights movement and organized the first Women’s Rights Convention. She had one daughter, Alice Stone Blackwell, who would follow in her mother’s footsteps. Stone formed the American Woman Suffrage Association and edited The Women’s Journal.

Newspapers and Media

How was the suffrage movement perceived by the media? Initially, the movement was mostly ignored or dismissed as a foolish woman’s hobby by the male dominated newspapers.

“Our Philadelphia ladies not only possess beauty, but they are celebrated for discretion, modesty, and unfeigned diffidence, as well as, wit, vivacity, and good nature. Who ever heard of a Philadelphia lady setting up for a reformer, or standing out for woman’s rights, or assisting to man the election grounds, raise a regiment, command a legion, or address a jury?… A woman is nobody. A wife is everything. A pretty girl is equal to ten thousand men, and a mother is, next to God, all powerful….The ladies of Philadelphia…are resolved to maintain their rights as Wives, Belles, Virgins, and Mothers, and not as Women.”- Public Ledger and Daily Transcript 1848

This is just one example of how the newspapers portrayed the suffragists. The suffrage movement was forming a new woman. A woman who would not be content to stay in their restricted role. This is likely why the newspapers harped on the women becoming “unsexed”.  

Yet, there were media sources that did support and repeat the values of the suffrage movement (often from the suffragists themselves).

The Revolution was created by Susan B. Anthony and Elizabeth Cady Stanton and its motto was “Principle, not policy; Justice, not favors: men, their rights and nothing more; Women, their rights and nothing less”. It lasted for 3 years (starting in 1868) and addressed suffrage along with other women’s rights issues.

Lucy Stone began the Womans Journal in 1870 and the magazine would continue to run until 1931. There were over 250 publications nationally reaching out to their communities. Papers such as The Lily, The Woman’s Tribune, Woodhull and Claflin’s Weekly, The Suffragist, etc. spread the positive image of the suffrage movement. Through the work of the writings the women of the suffrage movement learned how to use media, how to spread information, and how to run organizations. All of this would help as the movement progressed.

Alice Paul, who will be discussed further later, perfected the use of media and public image in order to finally make a change in how the suffrage movement was perceived. In the early 20th century, she made the suffrage movement look sympathetic to the national news outlets rather than the comical appearance that they were given

An example of anti-suffrage advertising. “The Home or Street Corner for Woman? Vote No on Woman Suffrage.” Tom Fleming, 1915
(Rare Book Division, The New York Public Library)

Temperance and Suffrage

Along with the abolition movement, temperance was quickly becoming another outlet where women were able to express themselves in political activism. The temperance movement fought to regulate or ban alcohol use in the United States. There was a religious element to the movement, but many women were drawn to it because they wanted to protect their households. Alcohol abuse was common during the 19th century and this often would often negatively affect the woman who felt it first hand. It led to domestic abuse by husbands against their wives and children or it could lead to poverty. Since women could not earn their own wage, they were dependent on their husbands who would then go to spend that money on alcohol. The women had no control over their families financials and could not stop the fall into poverty. The movement grew quite large, so this must have been a common worry for the female citizens.

The Woman’s Christian Temperance Union was one of the official groups leading the charge and under the leadership of Frances Williard. They became allies to the women’s suffrage movement. There were also chapters formed among black women where they could find leadership for the first time as well. These leaders included Sarah Woodson Early and Frances Harper.

They found a common cause in their two movements and having the right to vote could further their goal. The right to vote would give women the way to protect their families and households. They need to be the ones who picked the people in office who would serve their goal. The WCTU flipped reformed the argument for women’s suffrage. It was not just because they deserved their rights, but they needed these rights to serve the community and their households.

Yet, in other ways, the connection to temperance hurt the movement as the 19th century moved on into the industrial age. They made enemies with the large liquor corporations who had the resources and financials to lobby and block any suffrage legislation. To many in the nation, giving the votes to women seemed to mean a death sentence to alcohol and alcohol sales. This obviously did not sit well with the men who they needed to give them their rights.

Independence Hall, Philadelphia, July 4, 1876,

It was the 100th anniversary of the birth of the United States of America, yet half of this country’s citizens were still without their right to vote. Susan B. Anthony was not going to let this moment pass without a fight. Members of the National Woman Suffrage Association pushed themselves into the Centennial Celebration and present aloud their “Declaration of the Rights of Women”. When Elizabeth Cady Stanton originally requested that suffrage be given time on the Centennial Celebration’s program, they were rejected with excuses that the program was already too full.

Anthony and a group of NWSA women attended the proceedings and after the original Declaration of Independence was read by Richard Henry Lee the women made their move. They handed the Senator team (who came from DC) their Declarations and proceeded to walk around the Hall giving their speech

“While the Nation is buoyant with patriotism, and all hearts are attuned to praise, it is with sorrow we come to strike the one discordant note, on this hundredth anniversary of our country’s birth…. Our faith is firm and unwavering in the broad principles of human rights, proclaimed in 1776, not only as abstract truths, but as the corner stones of a republic. Yet, we cannot forget, even in this glad hour, that while all men of every race, and clime, and condition, have been invested with the full rights of citizenship, under our hospitable flag, all women still suffer the degradation of disfranchisement. “

The document further cited the natural rights, which were cited in the Declaration of Independence, that women were denied.

“We, therefore, women of the United States of America, do solemnly publish and declare that we are by nature, and of right, ought to be by law, free and independent citizens, possessing equal political power with our brother men.”

This was a very bold move and a large crowd came to watch as Anthony spoke. This was an event that brought attention to the suffragists.  

Skyline » Media Center News » Susan B. Anthony
Susan B. Anthony. She was born in 1820 in Massachusetts and was raised by Quaker parents. She was taught that all people were created equal. Anthony began as a teacher, but truly found her calling as an activist. She met famous abolitionists like William Lloyd Garrison and Frederick Douglass and soon became involved in the abolition movement. She would give many speeches in support. In 1851, Anthony met Elizabeth Cady Stanton and they formed a partnership that would bring to life the women’s movement. Anthony co-founded the National Woman Suffrage Association and co-wrote The Revolution. In 1872, Anthony actually voted in the presidential election after, cleverly, registering to vote. She was arrested for this and fined, but did not go down without a fight. In 1888, she helped to merge the two suffrage associations (which had resulted from the split between Anthony and Stone) and continued to lobby, attend Conventions and gather signatures for petitions until her death in 1906.

Despite all of this early work that the suffragists put in, they were unable to get Congress to successfully vote in a national amendment. The Republican party was more open to the idea than the Democratic party of the day, but neither made it a priority to get it passed. In 1868, Republican Senator Samuel Pompey proposed a universal suffrage amendment, but it was killed three days later after the Senate voted to “lay the motion on the table”. In 1878, Republican Senator Aaron Sargent introduced another proposal for women’s suffrage, which would be dubbed the Susan B. Anthony Amendment (today known as the 19th amendment), and suffragists were allowed to testify before the Senate (most notably Elizabeth Cady Stanton). The suffragists had presented over 30,000 petitions for an amendment, but it was ruled that the issue would be “postponed indefinitely”. After committees were eventually formed, the suffrage amendment was defeated in 1887. With this defeat, may suffragists shifted their focus to concentrate on the state-by-state approach, which will be highlighted in part 2.

Sources:

She Votes! Our Battle for the Ballot podcast https://www.shevotespodcast.com/

Suffrage: Women’s Long Battle for the Vote by Ellen Carol DuBois

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American History · biography · history

Arrested for Voting: Susan B. Anthony’s Fight for Suffrage

August 2020 marks 100 years since the 19th Amendment was passed. This amendment provided women with the right to vote in the United States. It is hard to believe that it was not until 1920 that the female citizens of America received a right that should have been automatic as a citizen of the country. This right is often taken for granted today and it can be difficult to imagine a time when a woman would actually be arrested for voting in an election! It is important to remember this anniversary and to remember how hard the women who came before us fought. They fought so we could participate in government and in the decision making of this country. It is critical that we exercise this right every opportunity we have. During August (and likely the months beyond), I would like to highlight some of the tactics the suffragettes used to have their voice heard, famous standouts, and highlight how much hard work was put into the movement.

No self respecting woman should wish or work for... | Sutori

 

November 5, 1872

Dear Mrs. Stanton,

Well I have been and gone and done it!! –positively voted the Republican ticket–strait this a.m. at 7 Oclock–and swore my vote in at that–was registered on Friday…then on Sunday others some 20 or 30 other women tried to register but all save two were refused…Amy Post was rejected and she will immediately bring action for that…and Hon Henry R Selden will be our Counsel–he has read up the law and all of our arguments and is satisfied that we our right and ditto the Old Judge Selden–his elder brother. So we are in for a fine agitation in Rochester on the question–I hope the morning’s telegrams will tell of many women all over the country trying to vote–It is splendid that without any concert of action so many should have moved here so impromptu…I’m awful tired–for five days I have been on the constant run–but to splendid purpose–So all right–I hope you voted too.

Affectionately,

Susan B. Anthony

Most people have heard of Susan B. Anthony. She was at the forefront of the early women’s rights movements and spent over fifty years of her life fighting for the right to vote. She gave countless speeches, petitioned legislatures and Congress, and published her own feminist newspaper. This November of 1872, Anthony was determined to vote.

Social Welfare History Project Anthony, Susan B.
Susan B. Anthony

Her argument was that the recent 14th Amendment (this amendment stated that all people who are born in the United States are citizens and are entitled to the “privileges” that citizenship provides, including the right to vote). There was nothing in the amendment that specified any restrictions in regards to sex. Anthony believed that since she, and many other women, were born in the United States and considered citizens that they were entitled to the privilege of voting. Clearly, the male dominated government did not see it this way.

In November of 1872, Anthony and her sisters went to the voter registration office. Boldly, Anthony approached the election inspectors and demanded to be registered to vote. Naturally, the inspectors refused on account of Anthony’s sex. That did not deter her. She pulled out her copy of the Constitution and quoted the 14th and 15th Amendment. She was refused for a second time, so she had to turn to other methods.

“If you refuse us our rights as citizens,  I will bring charges against you in Criminal Court and I will sue each of you personally for large, exemplary damages!” She threatened the young inspectors after almost an hour of back and forth debate. In the end, she got her way. Anthony and fourteen other women were registered to vote in Rochester, New York.

The Rochester Union and Advertiser stated “Citizenship no more carries the right to vote than it carries the power to fly to the moon…If these women in the Eighth Ward offer to vote, they should be challenged, and if they take the oaths and the Inspectors receive and deposit their ballots, they should be prosecuted to the full extent of the law”. Many other media outlets of the time agreed with this sentiment.

To a modern reader, it seems ridiculous that a woman would receive so much backlash for just registering to vote. Yet, Anthony was forcing herself into the political sphere that society deemed she did not belong. This was an attack against the hierarchy of society and a threat to the male dominant political power. It seems that throughout history ( and to this day) those in power are never fond of sharing.

Susan B. Anthony, newspaper depiction 1873

On November 5, Anthony and a group of women cast their votes. Anthony herself voted for President U.S. Grant and the Republican party (who at the time, was the progressive party). According to the Woman’s Journal (printed June 28, 1873), women also attempted to vote in Michigan, Missouri, New Jersey, Connecticut, and New York using Anthony’s argument. The media began to quickly pick up the unusual story of women successfully casting a ballot. Some outlets were quick to support while many others denounced Anthony’s and the other women’s actions.

On November 14, a warrant for Anthony’s arrest was issued by United States Commissioner, William C Storrs. She was charged with voting in a federal election without having the “lawful right to vote”. The 1870 Enforcement Act was cited as the law she violated (this was passed to prevent individuals from casting willful illegal votes). Anthony disagreed as she believed she had the inherent right to vote being a citizen of the United States of America. On January 24, 1873 a grand jury (consisting of entirely male members) charged Anthony with knowingly voting for members of Congress without having the right to vote due to her sex. Anthony was going to have to stand trial.

Susan B. Anthony used this publicity to her advantage and went on speaking tours around the county to bring awareness to the injustice of this trial and the ridiculous nature of preventing women from voting. She drummed up support for her upcoming trial. Anthony and her followers knew that if she won this case, then women would be given the right to vote.

“Friends and Fellow-citizens: I stand before you to-night, 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 by citizen’s right, guaranteed to me and all United States citizens by the National Constitution, beyond the power of any State to deny…”

Anthony’s Is it a Crime for a Citizen of the United States to Vote? speech (which was given as part of her speaking tour in Monroe County) was a very interesting read. Many of her points highlighted the hypocrisy of the governments argument. She cited the words of the founding fathers and how no where in their works were women prevented from exercising these rights. The words of the Constitution were gender neutral. She also brought to attention how denying a citizens right is nothing different than a monarchy, which they had just escaped from about 100 years earlier.

“What, I ask you, is the distinctive difference between the inhabitants of a monarchical and those of a republican form of government, save that in the monarchical the people are subjects, helpless, powerless, bound to obey laws made by superiors, while in the republican, the people are citizens, individual sovereigns, all clothed with equal power, to make and unmake both their laws and law makers…”

This argument was interesting as well:

” In all the penalties and burdens of the government, (except the military), women are reckoned as citizens, equally with men…The United States government not only taxes, fines, imprisons and hangs women, but it allows them to pre-empt lands, register ships, and take out passport and naturalization papers….” The open question here is why does the government treat women like citizens, allows them to get citizenship papers, but refuses to honor their privileges as a US citizen.” 

Anthony was really rallying the people of Monroe county to her cause, so much that the government conveniently moved the trial to take place in another county, Ontario County. This did not stop Anthony as she just moved her speaking tour to this county.

The trial began and Anthony was present in court with her two lawyers, Henry R. Seldon and John Van Voorhis. The dice were stacked against her. The laws were made by men, the jury was composed 100% by men, and the judge was a man. Anthony was not even permitted to speak in her defense at the trial.

Women's Suffrage - Great Gatsby

Her lawyer, Seldon, spoke for her and announced his reasoning for her innocence (which is pretty much reflected in Anthony’s own argument above). He concluded that the only reason this was even at trial was due to her sex.

Yet, even after the long speech by Seldon the trial ended up being a farce. Judge Hunt stated that, “The Fourteenth Amendment gives no right to a woman to vote, and the voting by Miss Anthony was in violation of the law…Upon this evidence [evidence that Anthony knowingly cast an illegal ballot] I suppose there is no question for the jury and that the jury should be directed to find a verdict of guilty”.

Essentially, the judge ordered the jury to find the defendant guilty and the jury never took a vote during this trial. Another of Anthony’s citizen rights was pushed aside as she failed to receive a fair trial.

Her lawyer argued this and demanded a new trial as her right to trial by jury was overturned, but the motion was quickly denied. But, the Judge did finally give Anthony the opportunity to speak in her defense.

Judge Hunt: “Has the prisoner anything to say why sentence shall not be pronounced?

Susan B. Anthony: Yes, you honor, I have many things to say; for in your ordered verdict of guilty, you have trampled under foot every vital principle of our government. My natural rights, my civil rights, my political rights, my judicial rights, are all alike ignored. Robbed of the fundamental privilege of citizen ship, I am degraded from the status of citizen to that of a subject…

A back and forth begins between Judge Hunt and Anthony. Hunt tells the “prisoner” she must cease speaking.

Susan B. Anthony: “But your honor will not deny me this one and only poor privilege of protest against this high-handed outrage upon my citizen’s rights. May it please the Court to remember that since the day of my arrest last November, this is the first time that either myself or any person of my disfranchised class has been allowed a word of defense before judge or jury.”

Judge Hunt: “The prisoner must sit down-the Court cannot allow it.”

Anthony: “All of my prosecutors…not one is my peer, but each and all are my political sovereigns, and had your honor submitted my case to the jury, as was clearly your duty, even then I should have had just cause of protest for not one of those men was my peer….each and every man of them was my political superior; hence, in no sense, my peer. Even, under such circumstances, a commoner of England, tried before a jury of Lords, would have far less cause to complain than should I, a woman, tried before a jury of men…Precisely, as no disfranchised person is entitled to sit upon a jury, and no woman is entitled to the franchise, so, none but a regularly admitted lawyer is allowed to practice in the courts, and no woman can gain admission to the bar—hence, jury, judge, counsel must all be of the superior class…”

Judge Hunt: “The Court must insist—the prisoner has been tried according to the established forms of law”

Anthony: “Yes, your honor, but by forms of law all made by men, interpreted by men, administered by men, in favor of men, and against women; and hence,  your honors ordered verdict of guilty, against a United States citizen for the exercise of “that citizen’s right to vote,” simply because that citizen was a woman and not a man…”

Susan B. Anthony was a fighter and held strong to her beliefs and her rights as a citizen. Judge Hunt sentenced Anthony to a $100 dollar fine and she had to pay the costs of the prosecution. That fine would be about $2,113.09 in currency today. This was her response:

“May it please your honor, I shall never pay a dollar of your unjust penalty…I shall work on with might and main to pay every dollar of that honest debt, but not a penny shall go to this unjust claim. And I shall earnestly and persistently continue to urge all women to the practical recognition of the old revolutionary maxim, that “ Resistance to tyranny is obedience to God’”.

 

Anthony never paid the fine and is, to this day, still recorded in the books as a convicted felon. While the trial did not result in the verdict that she wanted, the spectacle she made attracted the media and brought more awareness to the cause. Susan B. Anthony continued to spend her life fighting for women’s rights and the right to vote. Anthony and Elizabeth Cady Stanton founded the National Woman Suffrage Association. Their goal was to fight that women were to be included in the fifteenth amendment (which granted African American men the right to vote). Together they wrote a newspaper, The Revolution, which spread the word of their organization. In 1905, Anthony met with the President Theodore Roosevelt to lobby to include women in the 15th amendment.

Suffragist – The Official Susan B. Anthony Museum & House

Despite her life work, it was not until 48 years after the year Anthony got arrested that the women of the United States got the right to vote. Anthony herself died in 1906 which was only 14 years before the 19th amendment was passed. Even at age 86, she was still participating in National Suffrage Conventions.

In an obituary by the New York Times (March 13, 1906), just two hours before her passing, she is recorded to have said, “To think I have had more than sixty years of hard struggle for a little liberty, and then to die without it seems so cruel.”

It is important to remember those strong women who came before us and fought against exclusion solely due to their sex. Without their struggles, we would never have received the rights we deserve. I hope to highlight more about the suffrage movement in America and other incredible female figures

 

Sources:

She Votes! Podcast hosted by Ellen Goodman and Lynn Sherr (2020), specifically episode 1 “Convicted!”

https://www.shevotespodcast.com/

Susan B. Anthony’s Speech before the Circuit Court (transcript)

https://www.rit.edu/cla/statesmanship/media/ap-friday/AnthonyStanton/SBA%20speech%20before%20the%20Court.pdf

The Trial of Susan B. Anthony for Illegal Voting by Doug Linder (2001)

http://law2.umkc.edu/faculty/projects/ftrials/anthony/sbaaccount.html

Susan B. Anthony Obituary, New York Times (1906)

https://archive.nytimes.com/www.nytimes.com/learning/general/onthisday/bday/0215.html

Newspaper Account of Susan B. Anthony’s 1873 Trial for Voting (United States v. Susan B. Anthony) June 20, 1873

https://www.newspapers.com/image/?clipping_id=44297247&fcfToken=eyJhbGciOiJIUzI1NiIsInR5cCI6IkpXVCJ9.eyJmcmVlLXZpZXctaWQiOjk1NDg1NjI3LCJpYXQiOjE1OTYxOTI3MjcsImV4cCI6MTU5NjI3OTEyN30.E-sJC3cTwFGBPi60aJ-W1IIiAwD_QbuXFL4j8sTfq6E

The Woman’s Journal: Boston, Chicago and St Louis, Saturday, June 28, 1873. Miss Anthony’s Case

https://newseumed.org/tools/artifact/newspaper-coverage-susan-b-anthonys-trial-voting-june-28-1873

https://www.newspapers.com/clip/45224826/editorial-voicing-opinion-about-susan/

https://www.newspapers.com/topics/famous-people/susan-b-anthony/

http://www.rarenewspapers.com/view/581187?imagelist=1

https://progressive.org/op-eds/susan-b.-anthony-arrested-voting-135-years-ago/

https://susanb.org/suffragist/

https://www.wvpublic.org/post/susan-b-anthony-charged-voting-illegally#stream/0

https://www.senate.gov/artandhistory/history/common/generic/EnforcementActs.htm#:~:text=In%20its%20first%20effort%20to,intention%20of%20violating%20citizens’%20constitutional

https://www.biography.com/activist/susan-b-anthony

http://www.crusadeforthevote.org/nwsa-organize/

https://www.womenshistory.org/education-resources/biographies/susan-b-anthony

 

 

 

 

American History · biography · history

Marsha P. Johnson and Sylvia Rivera: Activists

This month I wanted to write an article about two figures who made such an impact, yet have been forgotten through time. Marsha P. Johnson and Sylvia Rivera were icons of the LGBT and transgender movement during the 1960s and 1970s.

Forsaken transgender pioneers recognized 50 years after Stonewall

In the mid-20th century, it was still difficult for homosexuals to be open in the world. It was even more difficult for transgender individuals. Those in the LGBT community were ostracized from society. Society still did not want to acknowledge their existence. Most employers excluded and denied opportunities for those of the community. Some were sent to mental institutions to go through shock therapy to “cure” any “unnatural” thoughts. Many had no where to go and were unable to obtain employment. They ended up on the streets after running away or being abandoned by their own families.

This is the world that Marsha P. Johnson entered after graduating high school with $15 dollars to her name. She immediately left her home in New Jersey to move to New York City in 1963. In her hometown, Johnson was not accepted as a transgender female. She experienced harassment by males and in a 1992 interview she stated that she was a victim of sexual assault. She moved to Greenwich Village in 1966 and found a community of people who accepted her. She became a part of the transgender community and participated in drag.

Continue reading “Marsha P. Johnson and Sylvia Rivera: Activists”

biography · english history · history · Scottish History

Battle of Bannockburn and Robert the Bruce (Part 3)

Part One ( The Great Cause (Part 1) )

Part Two ( William Wallace’s Rebellion (Part 2) )

In 1297, the Robert the Bruce was 22 years old. In part 1 of this series, his grandfather (also named Robert Bruce) was one of the contenders for the Scottish throne but lost to John Balliol. The Bruce family was still one of the most powerful Scottish families and were determined to see their claim to the throne fulfilled. They sided with Edward I when the first rebellions broke out.  This was because they refused to back their rival John Balliol and hoped others would support their claim. Now, the young Robert Bruce, against the wishes of his father, decided to join the Wallace’s rebellion in 1297. In 1298, Bruce was named Guardian of Scotland. His rival, John Comyn (the nephew of John Balliol), was also named co-Guardian. The men disliked each other and again were beginning to split into factions, just like their previous relations. Yet, despite these factions, in 1302 Edward received oaths of allegiance from all parties. Was young Robert the Bruce going to honor this oath?

Continue reading “Battle of Bannockburn and Robert the Bruce (Part 3)”

biography · english history · european history · history · Scottish History

William Wallace’s Rebellion (Part 2)

In part one of this series (The Great Cause (Part 1)), Edward I had forced the Scottish nobles and their King to swear an oath of allegiance to him as their “overlord”. As he believed he had finally subjugated Scotland, the English king attended to affairs in other parts of his kingdom. After the betrayal of John Balliol and a failed rebellion, Edward I completely occupied Scotland. He sent soldiers to ensure his rule would continue. The people of Scotland were taken advantage of and abused under this military occupation. Scotland needed a new champion to take up their cause for freedom. Their nobles had failed them with their infighting and military defeats, so it was time for one of their own to pick up his sword.

William Wallace’s background is hazy and was thought to be the son of a minor feudal lord in Renfrewshire or Ayrshire. He seems to have grown up with military training which contributed to his later success. He was a very tall man . He was over six feet when the average male height was about 5’6” (though this physical characteristic was highly exaggerated in legends). Walter Bower (author of  the Scotichronicon) describes him as having “a certain good humour, had so blessed his words and deeds with a certain heavenly gift, that…he won over to himself the grace and favour of the hearts of all loyal Scots.” Bower also described him as “fair in his judgments”, compassionate, patient, and a skilled orator. Yet, English sources would describe him as “a vagrant and a fugitive”, a “bloody man”, and “a chief of brigands” (Morris, pg 303).

Continue reading “William Wallace’s Rebellion (Part 2)”

Ancient History · Asian History · biography · european history · history

The Trung Sisters and the use of Morality Laws in Empire      

Throughout history, morality laws have been used by empires to place restrictions on society in order to create a specific image and enforce power. Many times, these laws would especially affect a specific group within the population. The post this month will compare two different ancient cultures and reveal how ancient morality laws were used to place controls on women. It will explore how these restrictions were to help create the ideal society that the leaders envisioned. In the process, some amazing heroines, The Trung sisters of Vietnam, will be highlighted. Even in the current era, morality laws can still be found. In the past decade there have been many debates which affect marriage rights, healthcare, and the choices of particular groups in our society. Many of the ancient laws that are discussed here will seem outdated, but it is interesting to compare to the discussions happening in our world today.

Continue reading “The Trung Sisters and the use of Morality Laws in Empire      “

American History · biography · Detroit/Michigan · history

The Italian Hall Disaster and the Copper Strike of 1913

In this post I want to bring attention to the Christmas Eve Italian Hall Disaster. This event is a forgotten piece of history to those outside of the local area. This story takes place in the early 1900s during a time where big corporations were booming and there were essentially no restrictions on how an employer could choose to treat their work force. It begins with local workers who became fed up with the way they were being treated and realized that they should be worth more to their employers. With great sacrifice to many union families, a strike begins. Unfortunately, it will end in a Christmas tragedy, but there will be a legacy that these families left behind. It should not be forgotten.

Continue reading “The Italian Hall Disaster and the Copper Strike of 1913”

art history · biography · european history · history

The Creation of a City of Ladies: Christine de Pizan and her Legacy

 

Image result for city of ladies manuscript

The female sex has been left defenseless for a long time now, like an orchard without a wall and bereft of a champion to take up arms in order to protect it…

                                                          –The Book of the City of Ladies by Christine de Pizan, 1405

Feminism in the 15th century? This is considered a rare concept during the medieval period. This was an era of serfs/lords, arranged marriages, and a time when women were viewed as little more than property. This period lacked champions to stand up to the patriarchy that dominated society. Well, such a champion did exist, though many may not have been familiar with her. She is considered France’s (even Europe’s) first profession female writer and was popular internationally. Her name was Christine de Pizan.

Christine is considered one of the first feminist figures as, through her work, she directly addresses many of the injustices her sex had been subjected to. She calls out the injustice of their treatment in a very progressive manner. This is evident in two of her most famous books, The Book of the City of Ladies and The Book of the Three Virtues. Christine’s version of feminism in the 15th century is still not like it is today (as she was still a woman of her time), but it was extremely radical for the period she lived through. I first learned about this amazing woman in an art history course in college and she has been a figure that I have wanted to highlight for a long time now. Continue reading “The Creation of a City of Ladies: Christine de Pizan and her Legacy”

American History · biography · european history · history

Humboldt and the Natural World

“As our planet faces irreversible global heating, politicians and scientists are throwing statistics and numbers at us, but few dare to talk about our awe for nature, or the vulnerable beauty of our planet…”

-Andrea Wulf, author of The Invention of Nature, quote from “Alexander von Humboldt, an Intrepid Scientist who Re-imagined the Natural World” HistoryExtra magazine Sept 2019 edition

Climate change is an extremely important topic in our present-day world. Greta Thurnberg’s speech at the Climate Action Summit this year has inspired as she became a social media sensation. It has inspired people who may not have been as well informed, including myself.  Yet, did you know the dangers of human induced climate change were recognized by one of the worlds most famous scientists as far back as 1800? Continue reading “Humboldt and the Natural World”

biography · english history · european history · history

Book Spotlight: The Five: The Untold Lives of the Women Killed by Jack the Ripper by Hallie Rubenhold

In this post I wanted to highlight a new book by author and historian, Hallie Rubenhold. The Five is a history that involves the now infamous story of Jack the Ripper. Jack the Ripper was a serial killer that terrorized Victorian London. In the modern area, it seems his killing spree has almost been glorified through the media and tourist attractions. It is all about Jack the Ripper, his mysterious identity, and his modus operendi. His victims are only remembered as “prostitutes”, but can any of us even recite their names?

Continue reading “Book Spotlight: The Five: The Untold Lives of the Women Killed by Jack the Ripper by Hallie Rubenhold”