Susan B. Anthony Makes a Statement

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, Full-Length Portrait, Seated, Facing Left]. S.A. Taylor, photographer; [between 1880 and 1906]. Women’s Suffrage: Pictures of Suffragists and their Activities. Prints & Photographs Division

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.

[A Suggestion to the Buffalo Exposition; – Let us Have a Chamber of Female Horrors]. D. Dalrymple, artist; illus. in: Puck, v. 49, no. 1256 (1901 April 3), centerfold. N.Y.: J. Ottmann Lith. Co. Prints & Photographs Division.

(Susan B. Anthony is depicted standing on the third podium on the left side, wearing a blue dress, with her hand raised in the air.)

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:

A Vindication of the Rights of Woman, by Mary Wollstonecraft. Printed at Boston, by Peter Edes for Thomas and Andrews, 1792. Rare Book Selections. Rare Book & Special Collections Division

Dedication page is handwritten: “Presented to the Library of Congress by a great admirer of this earliest work for woman’s right to equality…ever penned by a woman…[signed] Susan B. Anthony, Rochester, N.Y., Jan 1, 1904”

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