Today in History

Today in History: March 8

Susan B. Anthony and Congress

We appear before you this morning…to ask that you will, at your earliest convenience, report to the House in favor of the submission of a Sixteenth Amendment to the Legislatures of the several States, that shall prohibit the disfranchisement of citizens of the United States on account of sex.

Portrait of Susan B. Anthony
Susan B. Anthony
S. A. Taylor, photographer, circa 1880-1906.
By Popular Demand: "Votes for Women" Suffrage Pictures, 1850-1920

Thus Susan B. Anthony began her address before the Judiciary Committee of the House of Representatives on March 8, 1884. In her statement printed in the 1884 document Congressional Action in the First session of the 48th Congress, 1883, 1884, Anthony argued for an amendment to the U.S. Constitution granting women the right to vote. Anthony's argument came sixteen years after legislators had first introduced a federal woman's suffrage amendment.

During the four days before Anthony addressed the House Committee, she participated in the National Woman Suffrage Association's sixteenth annual convention in Washington, D.C. On the last day of the convention, Anthony went before the Senate Select Committee on Woman Suffrage and remarked:

This is the sixteenth year that we have come before Congress in person, and the nineteenth by petitions. Ever since the war, from the winter of 1865-'66, we have regularly sent up petitions asking for the national protection of the citizen's right to vote when the citizen happens to be a woman. We are here again for the same purpose.

Susan B. Anthony to the Senate Select Committee on Woman Suffrage, March 7, 1884, Congressional Action in the First Session of the 48th Congress, 1883, 1884, 16.
Votes for Women: Selections from the National American Woman Suffrage Association Collection, 1848-1921

It took many more years of arguing before the suffrage amendment passed. Not until June 4, 1919, did Congress approve what was nicknamed the "Anthony Amendment" in honor of the leader who had died in 1906. On August 18, 1920, the states ratified it as the Nineteenth Amendment to the Constitution.