Appeal to the Women of the United States

Susan B. ANTHONY   |   Isabella B. HOOKER

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"YOUR RIGHTS TO LIFE, LIBERTY AND THE PURSUIT OF HAPPINESS ARE DAILY INFRINGED, SIMPLY BECAUSE YOU HAVE HERETOFORE BEEN DENIED THE USE OF THE BALLOT": RARE FIRST EDITION OF THE LANDMARK 1871 APPEAL TO THE WOMEN OF THE UNITED STATES BY SUSAN B. ANTHONY AND OTHER LEADERS OF THE NATIONAL WOMAN SUFFRAGE ASSOCIATION

HOOKER, Isabella B.; DAVIS, Paulina W.; ANTHONY, Susan B.; BOWEN, Mary B.; DENISON, Ruth C.; GRIFFING, Josephine S. An Appeal to the Women of the United States. By the National Woman Suffrage and Educational Committee, Washington, D.C. Hartford: Case, Lockwood & Brainard, 1871. Original ivory self-wrappers; pp. 4. Housed in a custom portfolio and clamshell box.

First and only edition of the powerful April 19, 1871 Appeal by Susan B. Anthony and other leaders of the NWSA, a revolutionary work that proclaims a "birth-day of womanhood" in defiance of persistent dismissals of their constitutional rights to the vote, a "a precedent for women interested in organizing independently of male-dominated political institutions," setting women on nearly four decades of struggle toward passage of the 19th Amendment, a fine copy in fragile original wrappers.

"In 1865 Elizabeth Cady Stanton was horrified to discover what she called 'the word male' in proposals for a 14th Amendment… passage of the 15th Amendment in 1869, a much more powerful constitutional defense of political equality, only deepened the anger of women's rights advocates because it did not include sex among its prohibited disfranchisements. In 1869 the crisis split suffragists into two camps—the National Woman Suffrage Association (NWSA), which protested the omission of women from the Reconstruction amendments, and the American Woman Suffrage Association (AWSA), which accepted the deferral of their claims." Suffragists affiliated with the NWSA "proposed a broad and inclusive construction of the 14th and 15th amendments, under which, they claimed, women were already enfranchised" (Hewitt & Lebsock, Visible Women, 20-21). The NWSA was also revolutionary in setting "a precedent for women interested in organizing independently of male-dominated political institutions" (Ford, Encyclopedia of Women, 12).

This April 19, 1871 Appeal to the Women of the United States, signed in print by Susan B. Anthony, Isabella Beecher Hooker and four other members of the NWSA Suffrage and Educational Committee, was largely triggered by women alarmed that "they were shunted to the political margins of the Republican party in the rush to pass the 15th Amendment" on the heels of the 14th (Engs & Miller, Birth of the Grand Old Party, 145). Only a few months earlier a joint congressional judiciary committee had decided women were "not citizens, they were only 'members of the state.' Therefore it was up to each state to decide whether or not to enfranchise women" (Colman, Elizabeth Cady Stanton, 139). With that, in "what was called the 'New Departure,' suffragists began registering and voting" in states around the nation, "only to be arrested, tried and convicted" (Engs & Miller, 146). This first and only edition of the Appeal refuses to give up the struggle, and celebrates a "birth-day of womanhood." Anthony and her fellow committee members here issue a "Declaration and Pledge" that asserts women are guaranteed the "rights and privileges of citizenship… by the original Constitution, and that these rights are confirmed and more clearly established by the 14th and 15th Amendments… You are taxed without representation… your rights to life, liberty and the pursuit of happiness are daily infringed, simply because you have heretofore been denied the use of the ballot." The Appeal's text would be printed in Stanton and Anthony's History of Woman Suffrage (1882). The year after this Appeal, Anthony was arrested and found guilty for voting in a presidential election, and in 1875 the Supreme Court, in Minor v. Happersett, ruled the 14th Amendment did not protect a woman's right of suffrage, leading to nearly four more decades of a fight for the ballot. History of Woman Suffrage II: 485. Krichmar 1866.

A fine copy.

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