On Women's Right to Vote

by Susan B. Anthony

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According to “On Women’s Right to Vote,” in what ways is it unconstitutional to deny women the right to vote?

According to “On Women’s Right to Vote,” it is unconstitutional to deny women the right to vote because it was “We, the People” who formed the Union. As that includes women, Anthony argues, it makes a mockery of their liberty as American citizens to deny them the ballot, the only means of securing the blessings of liberty.

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In advocating for the right of women to vote, Susan B. Anthony puts forward an expansive concept of American citizenship. Not only white men are citizens; women are too. That's why it's wrong for Anthony and other women to be denied the right to vote.

Anthony herself had attempted to exercise that right, in her capacity as an American citizen. Yet in doing so, she was committing a crime, a crime for which she now stands under indictment.

There isn't just a question of basic fairness here, but also one of constitutional propriety. Anthony argues forcefully that denying women the right to vote goes against both the spirit and the letter of the US Constitution. She draws the attention of her listeners to the famous preamble to the Constitution, which states, in inspiring language that “We, the People” established the United States in order to form a more perfect Union.

Women, no less than men, formed the Union to secure the blessings of liberty, yet women, unlike men, have been denied the only means by which they may secure those blessings in a democratic-republic system of government: the ballot.

That being the case, it is unconstitutional, “a violation of the supreme law of the land,” for states to restrict the vote to men, thus disenfranchising half the population of the United States.

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