“Oh, if I could but live another century and see the fruition of all the work for women! There is so much yet to be done.”
-Susan B. Anthony
On this “Super Tuesday Part II” during Women’s History Month, I can’t help but reflect on the history of women’s suffrage.
March 13th marked the 100th anniversary of Susan B. Anthony’s death. She fought for women’s right to vote until her death in 1906—just 14 years before the 19th Amendment was ratified, guaranteeing suffrage to women. Anthony still voted during her lifetime. Once. It just wasn’t legal. She cast her ballot during the 1872 presidential election and was arrested and jailed for her “offense”.
Friend and adviser, Henry Rogers Selden paid her bail. Selden, a judge, had advised Anthony that the language in the 14th Amendment suggested women had already been granted the right to vote: “all persons born and naturalized in the United States...are citizens of the United States,” and as citizens are entitled to the “privileges” of citizens of the United States.
Unfortunately, Selden and Anthony’s interpretation of The Constitution didn’t prevent her arrest. Four months later, Susan B. Anthony stood trial, an ordeal which was a gross miscarriage of justice. The judge refused to poll the jury, and instead enforced his personal decision: Anthony was found guilty and fined $100.
This year I voted in a primary. I will vote in the general election. I will not go to jail. And I am grateful.
What is disturbing to me is how many people, men and women, don’t exercise their right to vote. This year, of all years, there is too much at stake to sit on the sidelines. The issues on the table affect all of us, but I would like to point out one particular candidate who, had he been alive in the 1870s, might have aligned himself with the judge who found Anthony guilty.