Now I beg leave to ask, in case this charge against Miss Anthony can be sustained, what equality and what sovereignty is enjoyed by the half of the citizens of these United States to which she belongs? Do they not, in that event, occupy, politically, exactly the position which the learned Chief Justice assigns to the African slaves? Are they not shown to be subjects of the other half, who are the sovereigns? And is not their political subjection as absolute as was that of the African slaves? If that charge has any basis to rest upon, the learned Chief Justice was wrong. The sovereigns of this country, according to the theory of this prosecution, are not sovereigns without subjects. Though two or three millions of their subjects have lately ceased to be such, and have become freemen, they still hold twenty millions of subjects in absolute political bondage.
If it be said that my language is stronger than the facts warrant, I appeal to the record in this case for its justification.
As deductions from what has been said, I respectfully insist, 1st. That upon the principles upon which our government is based, the privilege of the elective franchise cannot justly be denied to women. 2d. That women need it for their protection. 3d. That the welfare of both sexes will be promoted by granting it to them.
Having occupied much more time than I intended in showing the justice and propriety of the claim made by my client to the privileges of a voter, I proceed to the consideration of the present state of the law on that subject:
It would not become me, however clear my own convictions may be on the subject, to assert the right of women, under our constitution and laws as they now are, to vote at presidential and congressional elections, is free from doubt, because very able men have expressed contrary opinions on that question, and, so far as I am informed, there has been no authoritative adjudication upon it; or, at all events, none upon which the public mind has been content to rest as conclusive. I proceed, therefore, to offer such suggestions as occur to me, and to refer to such authorities bearing upon the question, as have fallen under my observation, hoping to satisfy your honor, not only that my client has committed no criminal offense, but that she has done nothing which she had not a legal and constitutional right to do.
It is not claimed that, under our State constitution and the laws made in pursuance of it, women are authorized to vote at elections, other than those of private corporations, and, consequently, the right of Miss Anthony to vote at the election in question, can only be established by reference to an authority superior to and sufficient to overcome the provisions of our State constitution. Such authority can only be found, and I claim that it is found in the constitution of the United States. For convenience I beg leave to bring together the various provisions of that constitution which bear more or less directly upon the question: