Feminist Jurisprudence

An Account of the Proceedings of the Trial of Susan B. Anthony
On the Charge of Illegal Voting at the Presidential Election in Nov. 1872,
and on the trial of Beverly W. Jones, Edwin T. Marsh, and  William B. Hall,
the Inspectors of Election by Whom Her Vote was Received.

Rochester, New York: Daily Democrat &
Chronicle Book Print, 1874.

In 1872 the candidates for President were Ulysses S. Grant, running for his second term, Horace W. Greeley, founder and editor of the New York Tribune, and Victoria Woodhull, nominated by the National Women's Suffrage Association.

A long-time resident of Rochester, Susan B. Anthony, along with 13 women registered to vote in this election, justifying their action on the basis of Section 1 of the Fourteenth Amendment.

All the women succeeded in casting ballots in the federal election, but Susan B. Anthony was made the test case. As this transcript records, the criminal indictment charged that she "knowingly, wrongfully and unlawfully voted for a representative to the Congress of the United States."

The trial was held on June 17 and 18, 1873 in the U.S. District Court in Canandaigua, N.Y. before Judge Ward Hunt [U.S. v. Anthony, 24 F. Cas. 829(N.D. N.Y. 1873)(No.14,459)]. One of the lines of her defense was that "citizen" as defined in the Fourteenth Amendment, did not mean male exclusively. Further, the privileges and immunities of every citizen included the right to vote. Anthony's interpretation of "citizen" as a gender-free term, not restricted to male or female, is an early example of a concept now called "feminist jurisprudence."

Neither the 12 male jurors nor Judge Hunt were sold on the concept, however, and their verdict was "guilty." Anthony was fined $100, although the fine was never collected.

Lent by the Association of the Bar of the City of New York.


Up to Room Level  

  Next Exhibit