Susan B. Anthony: “Is It a Crime for a Citizen of the United States to Vote?”

(1873)

Explanation and Analysis of the Document

In response to her arrest and trial for voting in the 1872 presidential election, Susan B. Anthony launched a speaking tour throughout New York State. The address she delivered and that is included in the records of the trial is titled “Is It a Crime for a Citizen of the United States to Vote?” The address falls roughly into three parts. The first is an appeal to the nation's foundational documents, particularly the Declaration of Independence and the Constitution. The second is an appeal to the language of law as it applies to citizenship and other matters. In the third part, Anthony draws an analogy between women's suffrage and the issue of slavery.

In the opening paragraphs of her address, Anthony expresses the view that as a citizen of the United States, living under a “democratic-republican” form of government, she possesses a “natural right” to participate in the nation's political affairs by voting. (The terms democratic and...

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Susan B. Anthony (Library of Congress)

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