Susan B. Anthony Essay, Research Paper
Friends and fellow citizens: I stand before you tonight under the indictment for the alleged crime of having voted at the last presidential election without having a lawful right to vote. It shall be my work this evening to prove to you that in thus voting, I not only committed no crime, but, instead simply exercised my citizen s rights, guaranteed to me and all United States citizens by the National Constitution, beyond the power of any state to deny.
In 1872 Susan B. Anthony broke the law by voting, in order to bring attention to her cause of women s suffrage. In doing so she made one of the greatest political statements this country had ever seen. This heroic speech is the result of that brave action. In her speech On a Women s Rights to Vote Susan B. Anthony confidently states her ability to prove not only that she committed no crime, but that she merely exercised her constitutional right to vote.
Aristotle s three modes of proof pathos, ethos, and logos will be used to deductively analyze this controversial speech, in order, to make it easier for you to understand just how well orchestrated of an argument Ms. Anthony presents. Ethos, an appeal based on the trustworthiness of the speaker can be seen at the very beginning of her speech when she humbly addresses her audience as Friends and fellow citizens . In addressing her audience this way she gives off the persona of being in camaraderie with her audience and in doing so she puts herself and her audience on a common plain.
However, her disposition quickly changes from one of a humble lady to an enraged and outspoken trailblazer. Quoting one of the United States most respected documents, the preamble of the Federal Constitution, she gives concrete evidence that her argument is a more than valid one. This is a great example of how she uses logos in her speech, which is an appeal to good reason. In this situation, one cannot deny the fact that the constitution holds good reasoning. It also appeals to another mode, pathos, which is an appeal to emotions and deeply held values. The United States Constitution states the most fundamental and important values held by American society, causing her statement to strike a note with every U.S. citizen without regard to sex, race, or religion. Susan defiantly points out that the preamble states: We the people of the United States, in order to form a more perfect union establish justice, insure domestic tranquility, provide for the common defense, promote the general welfare, and secure the blessings of liberty to ourselves and our posterity, do ordain and establish this Constitution for the United States of America. Susan goes on to say that in no place in the preamble does it ever state anything that could possibly lead one to conclude that this statement excludes women or any part of the population of the United States for that matter. Appealing to pathos she states that it was we, the people; not we the white male citizens; nor yet we, the male citizens; but we, the whole people, who formed the Union. Hence, she strongly believes that the whole people should benefit from those advantages of the Union.
Susan s argument begins to evoke great emotion in those people who both support and despise her views on women s suffrage. She goes on to say, It is a downright mockery to talk to women of their enjoyment of the blessings of liberty while they are denied the means of securing them. Clearly an emotional statement that shuns members of the American society (that one assumes are persons of the opposite sex) who oppose her view that all U.S. citizens have the right to vote. She never specifically labels this group of opposition but she does vividly describe them and in a most insulting manner. She says, To them this government has no just powers derived from the consent of the governed. To them this government is not a democracy. It is not a republic. It is an odious aristocracy; a hateful oligarchy of sex; the most hateful aristocracy ever established on the face of the globe; an oligarchy of wealth, where the rich govern the poor. An oligarchy of learning, where the educated govern the ignorant, or even an oligarchy of race, where the Saxon rules the African, might be endured. In describing those who oppose her argument, she uses the tactic of pathos in two ways. First Susan vividly and concretely displaying their ignorance in merely stating what they believe and in doing so she obviously angers those whom hold such views. The second way this statement evokes emotion from her audience is by leading the audience to deductively reason out that those whom oppose her are, in general, rich white males. These are the same rich white males that oppress the common man, the African, and, of course, women. Using this method she creates a common enemy and unites all of those U.S. citizens being oppressed by this bigotry.
Susan s final persuasive tactic is one of logic. She states how Webster, Worcester, and Bouvier define a citizen. A citizen is a person in the United States, entitled to vote and hold office. Hence, Susan says The only question left to be settled now is: Are women persons? And I hardly believe any of our opponents will have the hardihood to say they are not. Being persons, then women are citizens; and no state has a right to make any law, or to enforce any old law, that shall abridge their privileges or immunities. It is seemingly impossible for someone to reasonably argue against this logic, which makes Susan s argument almost indisputable.
Through evaluating Susan s speech using the modes of proof and basic reasoning one can clearly see that Susan B. Anthony states her argument in an intelligent and reputable way. She proves without a doubt not only that she committed no crime but that the laws that states have made ,in order, to keep women from voting are unjust and contradictory to the United States Constitution, which is supreme and indisputable law.
1. Anthony, Susan. On Women s Right to vote.
Saxton Speakers Bureau. 1873. 10 September 2001