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Expansion of Rights and Liberties ~ The Right of Suffrage
It was we, the people, not we, the white male citizens, nor yet we, the male citizens;
but we, the whole people, who formed this Union.
Susan B. Anthony, 1873, “Is It a Crime for a U.S. Citizen to Vote?” speech delivered following her arrest for voting in the election of 1872

When the Constitution took effect in 1789, it did not "secure the blessings of liberty" to all people. The expansion of rights and liberties has been achieved over time, as people once excluded from the protections of the Constitution asserted their rights set forth in the Declaration of Independence. These Americans have fostered movements resulting in laws, Supreme Court decisions, and constitutional amendments that have narrowed the gap between the ideal and the reality of American freedom.

At the time of the first Presidential election in 1789, only 6 percent of the population–white, male property owners–was eligible to vote. The Fifteenth Amendment extended the right to vote to former male slaves in 1870; American Indians gained the vote under a law passed by Congress in 1924; and women gained the vote with the ratification of the Nineteenth Amendment in 1920.

Susan B. Anthony devoted some fifty years of her life to the cause of woman suffrage. After casting her ballot in the 1872 election in her hometown of Rochester, New York, she was arrested, indicted, tried, and convicted for voting illegally. At her two-day trial in June 1873, which she described as "the greatest judicial outrage history has ever recorded," she was convicted and sentenced to pay a fine of $100 and court costs.

Anthony took full advantage of the high-profile case to promote the cause of woman suffrage. In a speech delivered repeatedly in 1872–73, she exhorted her listeners to "fight our battle for the ballot–all peaceably, but nevertheless persistently through to complete triumph, when all United States citizens shall be recognized as equals before the law." Women gained the vote with the passage of the Nineteenth Amendment to the Constitution in 1920, fourteen years after Anthony's death.

Transcript of Susan B. Anthony’s testimony in a pre-trial hearing before a U.S. Commissioner, November 29, 1872, selected pages learn more...
Susan B. Anthony, not dated learn more...
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