Section 1. “The right of citizens of the United States to vote shall not be denied or abridged by the United States, or by any State, on account of race, color or previous condition of servitude.”
Section 2. “The Congress shall have power to enforce this article by appropriate legislation.”
By reference to the provisions of the original Constitution, here recited, it appears that prior to the thirteenth, if not until the fourteenth, amendment, the whole power over the elective franchise, even in the choice of Federal officers, rested with the States. The Constitution contains no definition of the term “citizen,” either of the United States, or of the several States, but contents itself with the provision that “the citizens of each State shall be entitled to all the privileges and immunities of citizens of the several States.” The States were thus left free to place such restrictions and limitations upon the “privileges and immunities” of citizens as they saw fit, so far as is consistent with a republican form of government, subject only to the condition that no State could place restrictions upon the “privileges or immunities” of the citizens of any other State, which would not be applicable to its own citizens under like circumstances.
It will be seen, therefore, that the whole subject, as to what should constitute the “privileges and immunities” of the citizen being left to the States, no question, such as we now present, could have arisen under the original constitution of the United States.
But now, by the fourteenth amendment, the United States have not only declared what constitutes citizenship, both in the United States and in the several States, securing the rights of citizens to “all persons born or naturalized in the United States;” but have absolutely prohibited the States from making or enforcing “any law which shall abridge the privileges or immunities of citizens of the United States.”
By virtue of this provision, I insist that the act of Miss Anthony in voting was lawful.
It has never, since the adoption of the fourteenth amendment, been questioned, and cannot be questioned, that women as well as men are included in the terms of its first section, nor that the same “privileges and immunities of citizens” are equally secured to both.
What, then, are the “privileges and immunities of citizens of the United States” which are secured against such abridgement, by this section? I claim that these terms not only include the right of voting for public officers, but that they include that right as pre-eminently the most important of all the privileges and immunities to which the section refers. Among these privileges and immunities may doubtless be classed the right to life and liberty, to the acquisition and enjoyment of property, and to the free pursuit of one’s own welfare, so