History of the Federal Judiciary

History of the Federal Judiciary

  The Trial of Susan B. Anthony
Historical Documents related to the trial of Susan B. Anthony

Letter from Susan B. Anthony to Elizabeth Cady Stanton, November 5, 1872

On election day in 1872, after casting her ballots, Susan B. Anthony wrote this letter to her good friend and collaborator, Elizabeth Cady Stanton, describing the day’s events. As Anthony explains, the urge to vote affected many more women in Rochester than the fourteen voters in the Eighth Ward. Officials in other wards made different decisions: some refused to register the women, some registered them but then refused to accept their ballots. At this point, Anthony had no hint that she would be arrested for her actions. Indeed, her mind was busy imagining ways that the women who failed to vote could use the courts to sue for their rights, as women in Washington, D.C., had done in 1871 and as Virginia Minor did in St. Louis in 1872.

[Document Source: Ann D. Gordon, ed.,
Against an Aristocracy of Sex, 1866 to 1873, vol. 2 of Selected Papers of Elizabeth Cady Stanton and Susan B. Anthony (New Brunswick, N.J.: Rutgers University Press, 2000), 524–25. Original in HM 10549, Ida Husted Harper Collection, The Huntington Library, San Marino, Calif.]

Rochester Nov. 5th 1872—
Dear Mrs Stanton

Well I have been & gone & done it!!—positively voted the Republican ticket—strait—this A.M. at 7 Oclock—&
swore my vote in at that—was registered on Friday & 15 other women followed suit in this ward—then in Sunday others some 20 or thirty other women tried to register, but all save two were refused— all my three sisters voted—Rhoda De Garmo—too— Amy Post was rejected—& she will immediately institute bring action against the registrars—then another woman who was registered but vote refused will bring action for that— Similar to the Washington action—& Hon Henry R. Selden will be our Counsel—he has read up the law & all of our arguments & is satisfied that we are right & 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— [Anthony here changed subject for a paragraph.]

Haven’t we
wedged ourselves into the work pretty fairly & fully—& now that the Repubs have taken our votes—for it is the Repub. members of the Board— The Democratic paper is out against us strong—& that scared the Dem’s on the registry board— How I wish you were here to write up the funny things said & done— Rhoda De Garmo told them she wouldn't swear nor affirm “—but would tell them the truth[”]—& they accepted that When the Dems said my vote should not go in the box—one repub said to the other—What do you say Marsh?— I say put it in!— so do I, said Jones—and “We’ll fight it out on this line if it takes all winter.”— Mary Hallowell was just here— She & Mrs Willis tried to register but were refused—also Mrs Mann the Unitarian Minister’s wife—& Mary Curtiss,—Catharine Stebbins sister— Not a jeer not a word—not a look—disrespectful has met a single woman— If only now all the Woman Suffrage Women would work to this end, of enforcing the existing constitution—supremacy of national law over state law—what strides we might make this very winter—But—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


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