An Account of the Proceedings on the Trial of Susan B. Anthony, on the Charge of Illegal Voting eBook

This eBook from the Gutenberg Project consists of approximately 246 pages of information about An Account of the Proceedings on the Trial of Susan B. Anthony, on the Charge of Illegal Voting.
far as such pursuit does not interfere with the rights and welfare of others; but what security has any one for the enjoyment of these rights when denied any voice in the making of the laws, or in the choice of those who make, and those who administer them?  The possession of this voice, in the making and administration of the laws—­this political right—­is what gives security and value to the other rights, which are merely personal, not political.  A person deprived of political rights is essentially a slave, because he holds his personal rights subject to the will of those who possess the political power.  This principle constitutes the very corner-stone of our government—­indeed, of all republican government.  Upon that basis our separation from Great Britain was justified.  “Taxation without representation is tyranny.”  This famous aphorism of James Otis, although sufficient for the occasion when it was put forth, expresses but a fragment of the principle, because government can be oppressive through means of many appliances besides that of taxation.  The true principle is, that all government over persons deprived of any voice in such government, is tyranny.  That is the principle of the declaration of independence.  We were slow in allowing its application to the African race, and have been still slower in allowing its application to women; but it has been done by the fourteenth amendment, rightly construed, by a definition of “citizenship,” which includes women as well as men, and in the declaration that “the privileges and immunities of citizens shall not be abridged.”  If there is any privilege of the citizen which is paramount to all others, it is the right of suffrage; and in a constitutional provision, designed to secure the most valuable rights of the citizen, the declaration that the privileges and immunities of the citizen shall not be abridged, must, as I conceive, be held to secure that right before all others.  It is obvious, when the entire language of the section is examined, not only that this declaration was designed to secure to the citizen this political right, but that such was its principal, if not its sole object, those provisions of the section which follow it being devoted to securing the personal rights of “life, liberty, property, and the equal protection of the laws.”  The clause on which we rely, to wit:—­“No State shall make or enforce any law which shall abridge the privileges or immunities of citizens of the United States,” might be stricken out of the section, and the residue would secure to the citizen every right which is now secured, excepting the political rights of voting and holding office. If the clause in question does not secure those political rights, it is entirely nugatory, and might as well have been omitted.

If we go to the lexicographers and to the writers upon law, to learn what are the privileges and immunities of the “citizen” in a republican government, we shall find that the leading feature of citizenship is the enjoyment of the right of suffrage.

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An Account of the Proceedings on the Trial of Susan B. Anthony, on the Charge of Illegal Voting from Project Gutenberg. Public domain.
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