On Women's Right to Vote

by Susan B. Anthony

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How does Susan B. Anthony prove that women are citizens in “On Women’s Right to Vote”?

Susan B. Anthony proves that women are citizens by drawing upon the expansive definition of citizenship provided by Webster, Worcester, and Bouvier, famous lexicographers. They define a citizen to be a person in the United States entitled to vote and hold office. As every woman is a person, she is therefore a citizen, and, as such, entitled to vote.

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In “On Women's Right to Vote,” Susan B. Anthony argues forcefully that women, as American citizens, are fully entitled to vote. Women are people, and as “We, the People” formed the Union to protect the blessings of liberty, women are fully entitled to secure the only means available to securing those blessings: the ballot.

Anthony seeks to strengthen her case by drawing upon an expansive definition of what constitutes a citizen. She invokes the definition provided by three famed lexicographers: Webster, Worcester, and Bouvier. In their respective dictionaries, they all define a citizen to be a person in the United States entitled to vote and hold office.

By a careful process of logic, Anthony teases out the implications of this definition for women and their right to vote. No one, she claims, would deny that a woman is a person; that being the case, a woman is also a citizen. And as women are citizens, no state has the right to deny them the franchise. Any state that prevents women from exercising their rights as citizens is violating the supreme law of the land by withholding from half the American people the means by which to secure the blessings of their liberty.

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