On Women's Right to Vote

by Susan B. Anthony
Start Free Trial

Assess the call to action in Anthony's "On Women's Right to Vote."

Anthony uses the Constitution to support her claim that women are entitled to the right to vote and should not be denied this right.

Expert Answers

An illustration of the letter 'A' in a speech bubbles

I think that Anthony's call to action is the direct attack on the patriarchy that she sees embedded in American culture. Antony's is a call that indicts what is and compels the reader/ listener to envision a world of what should be.  From the exposition that cites the Preamble to the Constitution as one where gender is not mentioned, Anthony brings attention to how America of the time is not adhering to these Constitutional ideals:

It was we, the people; not we, the white male citizens; nor yet we, the male citizens; but we, the whole people, who formed the Union. And we formed it, not to give the blessings of liberty, but to secure them; not to the half of ourselves and the half of our posterity, but to the whole people - women as well as men. And it is a downright mockery to talk to women of their enjoyment of the blessings of liberty while they are denied the use of the only means of securing them provided by this democratic-republican government - the ballot.

Anthony's use of the Constitution helps to serve as a call to action because she demands that anyone who follows the spirit of America's founding document could not embrace the idea of denying women the right to vote.  For Anthony, this is an unmistakable call to action:  "For any state to make sex a qualification that must ever result in the disfranchisement of one entire half of the people, is to pass a bill of attainder, or, an ex post facto law, and is therefore a violation of the supreme law of the land."  In Anthony's mind, denying women the right to vote denies the basic "blessings of liberty" to which women are entitled.  It is here where the call to action in Anthony's speech is evident and is one that refuses to be dismissed.

Approved by eNotes Editorial Team