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The Equal Right of All Citizens to the Ballot

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Huong Dam

Professor Erica Johnson

English 47A


Gender equality

Nowadays, we have been used to phenomenon “gender equality”, however, in the 1800s, women in the US had few legal rights and did not have the right to vote (Anthony). They were depreciated and had to be attached to housework. Therefore, in order to maintain women powerless, many states banned some of their rights. In 1873, Susan B Anthony, a magnificent women who devoted most of her life to gain the right for women to vote, was being arrested and fined $100 for voting in the 1872 presidential election. After that, she delivered a speech on “The Equal Right of All Citizens to the Ballot” in Rochester, New York. Throughout her speech, she was proving that women are also citizens and should be granted the right to vote as men. Moreover, she also denied committing a crime by voting because she was practicing her citizen rights. By utilizing multiple rhetorical strategies including identification of herself, the use of authorities, and appealing a rhetorical question, Anthony achieved her goals of persuading the audiences and gaining their encourage.  

To begin with, Anthony used the strategy of identification to establish the connection between herself and the audiences which leads to sympathy for women. In the beginning of the speech, she stated,”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” ( She explained the reason why she was there and successfully attracted the audience's attention by presenting herself strongly. In fact, Anthony understood that women’s rights were not considered which caused sexual discrimination. She also indicated that it was not a crime when she tried to perform her rights. Thus, she emphasized that there is no harm in having an opinion by voting because it should be a given right to a male or female US citizen. By identifying herself not only as a women, but also as a US citizen, she effectively strengthens her arguments and acquires people’s support.

The second device that Anthony used on her speech is using authorities, the preamble of the Federal Constitution, to build up credibility and support for her arguments. She pointed out that,  "We, the people of the United States, in order to form a more perfect union, establish justice, insure domestic tranquillity, 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."( Anthony indicated the base of initiating the Constitution was created and maintained the well-being for US citizens who are both men and women. Therefore they are should be treated equally to develop that federation. She was arguing that democracy does not lack the right to vote. She showed everyone that our forefathers said “We the people” they never said just men because they knew that the all women had helped with making a perfect union and would continue to develop. She also mentioned , “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”( She kept repeating “we” to convince women that they have rights and persuade them to exploit their power. Hence, by quoting from superior authority, Anthony made her speech more powerful and convince to listeners that women should obtain the rights to vote.

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