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Freedom: A History of US.
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Webisode 9: Working for Freedom
Introduction Segment 1 Segment 2 Segment 3 Segment 4 Segment 5 Segment 6 Segment 7 Segment 8

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Susan B. Anthony
Segment 2
Poster Advocating Female Suffrage Are You A Citizen if You Can't Vote?

In 1876 half of all Americans are unable to vote. They are denied the rights of citizenship. In 1869, a Fifteenth Amendment to the Constitution was passed. It said: "The right of the 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." But the amendment didn't say anything about women. Are women citizens? The politician and journalist Horace Greeley See It Now - Horace Greeley says this: "The best women I know do not want to vote."

Greeley said that to Susan B. Anthony See It Now - Susan B. Anthony, a tall, rawboned Quaker who spent much of her life trying to get the vote for women. Best women, indeed! Foolish women, thought Susan Anthony. She went to see President Ulysses S. Grant. Grant was running for reelection See It Now - Petition for Universal Rights. Might not women vote for him if they had the opportunity? Maybe, Grant said, but he didn't want to chance it.

No one knew what would happen if women could vote. Some said that women's suffrage would be the end of the family See It Now - "The Age of Brass". A husband might vote Republican and a wife Democratic. Could a marriage survive that kind of thing? It sounded ominous. But not to Susan B. Anthony. She believed, as the colonists had in 1775, that there should be "no taxation without representation." If women could be taxed, they should be able to vote. If women could be arrested, they should be able to serve on a jury.

Anthony thought about the Fifteenth Amendment. It said that all citizens could vote. Anthony visited a friend, lawyer Henry Selden. Was she a citizen? Could she vote? Selden thought the answer was yes. So, on November 1, 1872, Anthony and fifteen other women marched to a barbershop in Rochester, New York's Eighth Ward, where they found some registrars. The women said they wanted to vote. The men agreed to register them. On voting day, November 5, the sixteen women were at the polls at 7 a.m. Twenty-three days later, a deputy marshal knocked on Anthony's door with a warrant for her arrest. She was asked if she had "gone into this matter for the purpose of testing the question." She replied, "Yes, sir. I had resolved for three years to vote."

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Did You Know?
Women were rarely preachers in the East, but that was less true out west. Olympia Brown was born in Michigan and eventually attended Canton theological School, where she became a Unitarian minister. She took over a church in Racine, Wisconsin that had been given up by several men as hopeless. She soon had "large audiences and earnest members about her."

Did you know that Freedom is adapted from the award-winning Oxford University Press multi-volume book series, A History of US by Joy Hakim?

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