On March 8th, 1884 Susan B. Anthony appeared before the Judiciary Committee of the House of Representatives. Anthony began her statement thus:
“We appear before you this morning…to ask that you will, at your earliest convenience, report to the House in favor of the submission of a Sixteenth Amendment to the Legislatures of the several States, that shall prohibit the disfranchisement of citizens of the United States on account of sex.”
Anthony’s statement argued for an amendment to the U.S. Constitution granting women the right to vote, sixteen years after legislators had first introduced a federal woman’s suffrage amendment.
Susan B. Anthony co-founded the National Woman Suffrage Association along with Elizabeth Cady Stanton. During the four days before Anthony addressed the House Committee, she participated in the National Woman Suffrage Association’s sixteenth annual convention in Washington, D.C. On the last day of the convention, Anthony went before the Senate Select Committee on Woman Suffrage and remarked:
“This is the sixteenth year that we have come before Congress in person, and the nineteenth by petitions. Ever since the war, from the winter of 1865-’66, we have regularly sent up petitions asking for the national protection of the citizen’s right to vote when the citizen happens to be a woman. We are here again for the same purpose.”
Susan B. Anthony to the Senate Select Committee on Woman Suffrage, March 7,1884. In Congressional Action in the First Session of the 48th Congress, 1883, 1884. [Washington: Government Printing Office, 1884]. p16. National American Women Suffrage Association Collection. Rare Book & Special Collections Division
It took many more years of arguing before the suffrage amendment passed. Not until June 4, 1919, did Congress approve what was nicknamed the “Anthony Amendment” in honor of the leader who had died in 1906. On August 18, 1920, the states ratified it as the Nineteenth Amendment to the Constitution.
FUN FACT: In 1903, Librarian of Congress Ainsworth Rand Spofford convinced his friend, Susan B. Anthony, to donate her books and materials to the Library of Congress. Anthony’s Library is housed in the Rare Book and Special Collections Division, while her personal papers are held in the Manuscript Division. Susan B. Anthony penned a little note in her copy of Mary Wollstonecraft’s, A Vindication of the Rights of Women. See Below:
- Library of Congress collections documenting the woman suffrage campaign include the National American Woman Suffrage Association Collection; the Miller NAWSA Suffrage Scrapbooks, 1897-1911; Women of Protest: Photographs from the Records of the National Woman’s Party; Songs of Women’s Suffrage, and more!
- View the finding aid for the Susan B. Anthony Papers that are housed in the Library’s Manuscript Division. Additional items from her papers are featured elsewhere on the Library’s Web site.
- The Library of Congress collection Words and Deeds in American History: Selected Documents Celebrating the Manuscript Division’s First 100 Years includes an 1896 letter of Anthony’s discussing women ministers.
- American Women includes a handwritten copy of an 1859 speech on another cause Anthony championed—the abolition of slavery. Search this collection for additional information on Women’s Suffrage materials found throughout the Library of Congress.
- The Library’s exhibition American Treasures of the Library of Congress features Anthony’s personal copy of An Account of the Proceedings on the Trial of Susan B. Anthony. Additional copies of this document can be found in the National American Woman Suffrage Association Collection.
- Additional Today in History Features on Women’s Suffrage Include:
- The 1854 Ohio Woman’s Rights Convention
- The 1869 decision by the Wyoming Territory to grant women the right to vote
- The 1873 legal argument by Carrie Burnham
- The 1917 arrest of suffragists in front of the White House