Doc B …… SUSAB B ANTHONY, ELIZABETH CADY STANTON
Form of Petition.—To the Senate and House of Representatives:—The undersigned women of the United States, respectfully ask an amendment of the Constitution that shall prohibit the several States from disfranchising any of their citizens on the ground of sex.
In making our demand for Suffrage, we would call your attention to the fact that we represent fifteen million people—one-half the entire population of the country—intelligent, virtuous, native-born American citizens; and yet stand outside the pale of political recognition. The Constitution classes us as "free people," and counts us whole persons in the basis of representation; and yet are we governed without our consent, compelled to pay taxes without appeal, and punished for violations of law without choice of judge or juror. The experience of all ages, the Declarations of the Fathers, the Statute Laws of our own day, and the fearful revolution through which we have just passed, all prove the uncertain tenure of life, liberty, and property so long as the ballot—the only weapon of self-protection—is not in the hand of every citizen.
Therefore, as you are now amending the Constitution, and, in harmony with advancing civilization, placing new safeguards round the individual rights of four millions of emancipated slaves, we ask that you extend the right of Suffrage to Woman—the only remaining class of disfranchised citizens—and thus fulfill your constitutional obligation "to guarantee to every State in the Union a Republican form of Government." As all partial application of Republican principles must ever breed a complicated legislation as well as a discontented people, we would pray your Honorable Body, in order to simplify the machinery of Government and ensure domestic tranquillity, that you legislate hereafter for persons, citizens, tax-payers, and not for class or caste. For justice and equality your petitioners will ever pray.
This petition was presented to the Senate and the House of Representatives in December 1865, requesting an amendment to the Constitution prohibiting the states from disfranchising women. With it, the authors, Susan B. Anthony and Elizabeth Cady Stanton, approached Congress for the first time, signaling a shift in the suffragists' methods from state to national activism.
The authors base their argument on the discrepancy between the wording of the Constitution, which states that women are "free people" counted and taxed as citizens, and the political reality that refuses women a voice in choosing their representatives and shaping their government. They then note that, upon the ratification of the Thirteenth Amendment to eliminate slavery, women will remain the only disfranchised class. By this exclusion, they state, Congress fails, "'to guarantee to every State in the Union a Republican form of government.'"
Constitution of the National American Woman Suffrage Association (1890)
National American Woman Suffrage Association (NAWSA)
This is the most democratic of organizations. Its sole object is to secure for women citizens protection in their right to vote. The general officers are nominated by an informal secret ballot, no one being put in nomination. The three persons receiving the highest number of votes are considered the nominees and the election is decided by secret ballot. Those entitled to vote are three delegates-at-large for each auxiliary State society and one delegate in addition for every one hundred members of each State auxiliary; the State presidents and State members of the National Executive Committee; the general officers of the association; the chairmen of standing committees. The delegates present from each State cast the full vote to which that State is entitled. The vote is taken in the same way upon any other question whenever the delegates present from five States request it. In other cases each delegate has…