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  • Writer's pictureAli Assareh

Today in Legal History: Susan B Anthony votes illegally as a woman (November 5, 1872)

Today, on Nov 5, 1872, women's rights activist Susan B. Anthony voted in the U.S. Presidential Election, illegally - New York state laws allowed only men to vote.

Anthony argued that she had the right to vote because of the recently adopted 14th Amendment to the U.S. Constitution, which states, in part, "No State shall make or enforce any law which shall abridge the privileges or immunities of citizens of the United States." (The 14th Amendment was passed after the U.S. Civil War (1860-1863) to help extend the right to vote to Black Americans.)

On the final day of the trial, the presiding judge asked Anthony if she had anything to say. In what is now considered a famous women's rights speech, Anthony said to the judge: "[Y]ou have trampled under foot every vital principle of our government. My natural rights, my civil rights, my political rights, my judicial rights, are all alike ignored."

It took another almost 50 years for the passage of the 19th Amendment, which finally extended the right to vote to women: "The right of citizens of the United States to vote shall not be denied or abridged by the United States or by any State on account of sex."

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