My first position is that the defendant had the same right to vote as any other citizen who voted at that election.
Before proceeding to the discussion of the purely legal question, I desire, as already intimated, to pay some attention to the propriety and justice of the rule which I claim to have been established by the Constitution.
Miss Anthony, and those united with her in demanding the right of suffrage, claim, and with a strong appearance of justice, that upon the principles upon which our government is founded, and which lie at the basis of all just government, every citizen has a right to take part, upon equal terms with every other citizen, in the formation and administration of government. This claim on the part of the female sex presents a question the magnitude of which is not well appreciated by the writers and speakers who treat it with ridicule. Those engaged in the movement are able, sincere and earnest women, and they will not be silenced by such ridicule, nor even by the villainous caricatures of Nast. On the contrary, they justly place all those things to the account of the wrongs which they think their sex has suffered. They believe, with an intensity of feeling which men who have not associated with them have not yet learned, that their sex has not had, and has not now, its just and true position in the organization of government and society. They may be wrong in their position, but they will not be content until their arguments are fairly, truthfully and candidly answered.
In the most celebrated document which has been put forth on this side of the Atlantic, our ancestors declared that “governments derive their just powers from the consent of the governed.”
Blackstone says, “The lawfulness of punishing such criminals (i.e., persons offending merely against the laws of society) is founded upon this principle: that the law by which they suffer was made by their own consent; it is a part of the original contract into which they entered when first they engaged in society; it was calculated for and has long contributed to their own security.”
Quotations, to an unlimited extent, containing similar doctrines from eminent writers, both English and American, on government, from the time of John Locke to the present day, might be made. Without adopting this doctrine which bases the rightfulness of government upon the consent of the governed, I claim that there is implied in it the narrower and unassailable principle that all citizens of a State, who are bound by its laws, are entitled to an equal voice in the making and execution of such laws. The doctrine is well stated by Godwin in his treatise on Political Justice. He says: “The first and most important principle that can be imagined relative to the form and structure of government, seems to be this: that as government is a transaction in the name and for the benefit of the whole, every member of the community ought to have some share in its administration.”