141 years ago today, on Election Day of 1872, Susan B. Anthony illegally voted for Ulysses S. Grant (R) for President of the United States. She and her three sisters had registered to vote four days earlier, threatening to sue the registrars for "large, exemplary damages" if they did not comply. Remember to threaten to sue for "large, exemplary damages" next time anyone wrongs you. It may work as it did for Anthony: the registrars totally wigged and signed her and her sisters up.
Anthony wrote Elizabeth Cady Stanton that night, "Well I have been & gone & done it!! —positively voted the Republican ticket strait." If there had been emojis back then, she might have included the red dancing lady. Or maybe the two dancing blond girls. After all, she wasn't the only female voter that day — at least seven more women voted at her voting station in Rochester that day.
Like a total boss, Anthony was arrested two weeks later. She told police she wanted to be arrested the way men are arrested: not politely, but with handcuffs. Over the next seven months, she was tried, convicted, and sentenced a $100 fine, which she swore to never pay — and she never did! The government was probably too sheepish to go after her, and she petitioned for the fine to be repealed in 1874.
During the trial, Anthony delivered some of her most eloquent and articulate speeches on behalf of women's suffrage. She was a truly gifted speaker; all her speeches contain real zingers. In honor of that unselfish, relentless, brilliant gal, let's review her most poignant quotes:
1. "There never will be complete equality until women themselves help to make laws and elect lawmakers."
The original Rock the Vote-r, Anthony advocated for women's active participation in all stages of the democratic process. It is, after all, the only way democracy can have a hope of succeeding.
2. "Every woman should have a purse of her own."
This line is from a November 1853 entry in Anthony's diary. Is it perhaps the sentiment that inspired Virginia Woolf's 'A Room of One's Own'? Methinks maybe!
3. "When a man says to me, 'Let us work together in the great cause you have undertaken, and let me be your companion and aid, for I admire you more than I have ever admired any other woman,' then I shall say, 'I am yours truly'; but he must ask me to be his equal, not his slave."
BOOM. Anthony spoke these words in an 1895 interview. (She was 75. She never married.)
4. “I distrust those people who know so well what God wants them to do because I notice it always coincides with their own desires.”
So perfect. Can you imagine if Anthony and George W. Bush ever met? It'd be like Elaine Benes seeing The English Patient . If The English Patient cited faith while clumsily trying to foster democracy in Iraq and Afghanistan. Which would be kind of funny, actually.
5. “Forget conventionalisms; forget what the world thinks of you stepping out of your place; think your best thoughts, speak your best words, work your best works, looking to your own conscience for approval.”
I would like a full-body tattoo of this quote. What an excellent reminder to forge on as our best selves!
6. "Our job is not to make young women grateful. It is to make them ungrateful so they keep going. Gratitude never radicalized anybody."
7. "Sooner or later we all discover that the important moments in life are not the advertised ones, not the birthdays, the graduations, the weddings, not the great goals achieved. The real milestones are less prepossessing. They come to the door of memory unannounced, stray dogs that amble in, sniff around a bit and simply never leave. Our lives are measured by these."
As articulate about living life as she is about democracy! Recite this quote to your friend next time she sobs on her birthday. And consider Election Day a dog that has come to the door of memory unannounced! Go vote.