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 Woman. See Below:
- View select items from the Manuscript Division’s collection of Susan B. Anthony Papers; for example, an 1896 letter to Adelaide Johnson discussing women ministers and a handwritten copy of an 1859 speech on another cause Anthony championed–the abolition of slavery. The online finding aid documents the full contents of the collection. Additional items from her papers are featured elsewhere on the Library’s website.
- Library of Congress collections documenting the woman suffrage campaign include the National American Woman Suffrage Association Collection which includes Scrapbooks compiled by suffragists Elizabeth Smith Miller and her daughter, Anne Fitzhugh Miller, over the period from 1897-1911; Women of Protest: Photographs from the Records of the National Woman’s Party; Women’s Suffrage in Sheet Music, and more!
- Explore Shall Not Be Denied: Women Fight for the Vote, an exhibition celebrating the 100th anniversary of the Nineteenth Amendment.
- The American Women Series of Research Guides provide information about the Library’s resources for the study of women’s history and culture in the U.S. The Rare Books and Special Collections guide includes a description of the Susan B. Anthony Collection in the Reform Efforts section. Search these guides 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.
- Read Mary Wollstonecraft’s A Vindication of the Rights of Woman: with Strictures on Political and Moral Subjects which has been digitized and made accessible through Rare Book Selections from the collections of the Rare Book and Special Collections Division.
- Additional Today in History features on Women’s Suffrage Include:
- The 1854 Ohio Woman’s Rights Convention (May 28)
- The 1869 decision by the Wyoming Territory to grant women the right to vote (December 10)
- The 1873 legal argument by Carrie Burnham (April 4)
- The 1917 arrest of suffragists in front of the White House (August 28)