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Petition of Susan B. Anthony for remission of fine imposed for voting, January 12, 1874

Because women lacked full citizenship rights, Susan B. Anthony could not appeal her conviction of illegal voting. Instead, she petitioned Congress for remission of her fine. Anthony insisted the judge’s ruling was in violation of common law and the “common morality” of the Constitution. Congress considered bills to remit the fine but took no action.

her conviction of crime,…she insists was in violation of the principles of the common law—of common morality—of the statute under which she was charged and of the Constitution

Records of the U.S. Senate, National Archives and Records Administration

Petition of Susan B. Anthony for remission of fine imposed for voting, January 12, 1874 Petition of Susan B. Anthony for remission of fine imposed for voting, January 12, 1874

Women Fight for the Vote

Suffragists lobbied Congress for the right to vote throughout the late nineteenth and early twentieth centuries, but their activism took other forms as well. In 1872, Susan B. Anthony cast a ballot for a federal election in New York. She was arrested and put on trial. In court, she argued that her action was legal under the Fourteenth Amendment, which gave citizens the right to vote. Her highly publicized trial raised public awareness about woman suffrage. Women finally achieved national voting rights with the ratification of the Nineteenth Amendment in 1920.

Robbed of the fundamental privilege of citizenship, I am degraded from the status of a citizen to that of a subject

Susan B. Anthony, 1872