Susan B Anthony
The Right of All Citizens: What Makes an Effective Argument for Women’s Rights? On November 5, 1872, Susan B. Anthony, a well-known leader in the women’s rights movement, along with several other women, entered the West End News Depot and cast their ballot. The women had all registered in the previous days; Anthony had registered to vote November 1, 1872 at a local barbershop, along with her three sisters.
Even though the inspectors refused her initial demand to register, Anthony used her power of persuasive speaking and her relationship with well-respected persons of authority, such as Judge Henry R. Selden, to obtain her registration, informing the inspectors that if they did not register the women, they would press charges through the criminal court and sue for damages. When she was arrested for her illegal actions two weeks later, she went willingly with the officer, demanding that they treated her equal to male criminals (Linder, “Trial”).
Before and after her illegal vote, Susan B. Anthony used her eloquence and strength as a speaker to deliver various thought-provoking speeches on why women legally have the right to vote and her 1873 speech, “On Women’s Right to Vote,” is no exception. The tone and structure of Susan B. Anthony’s speech established an effective basis for her other supports. She used clear and concise language to convey her meanings. She maintained good grammar and syntax throughout her speech and delivered the speech in a forthright and organized manner.
This was an important factor in her speech, because she was working to prove that women were the equal of men and deserved the same rights. This organization and concise tone allowed her audience to easily understand the meaning of her argument and also added to her integrity as a speaker. Susan B. Anthony’s speech built upon support from ethos, an approach that relies on an appeal to ethics and credibility (Phillips 251). Anthony used ethos in multiple ways. First, Anthony was a well-known advocate of the women’s rights movements, especially women’s right to vote.
She had made various appearances at women’s rights conventions, often giving lectures on the various topics the subject covered. She was a member of the American Anti-Slavery Association and a founding member of the National Woman Suffrage Association. She also published her own newspaper, The Revolution, and had petitioned Congress about the 14th Amendment, all in an effort to promote gender equality (Linder, “Biography”). This background in the suffrage movement provided her with her credibility.
Secondly, she supported her speech with sources that were trustworthy and well-known to her audience. Anthony quotes the preamble of the Federal Constitution in the beginnings of her speech (Anthony 513). In the fifth paragraph, the line, “Webster, Worcester, and Bouvier all define a citizen to be a person in the United States, entitled to vote and hold office,” Anthony references three dictionaries to support her statement (513). Much of Susan B. Anthony’s speech uses a form of pathos, an appeal to emotions, as a support to make her argument effective (Phillips 251).
Anthony’s speech invokes emotion in its listeners, not because she used emotive language, personal stories or poignant words, but from her claim that women must not be considered citizens of the United States if they are not allowed to vote, because the Constitution does not specify gender. The line, “Are women persons? ” evokes an emotional response from its reader, because, of course, women are persons and it is an unjust statement to claim (Anthony 513). Anthony used it to attract the reader’s attention and to make them understand how unreasonable it was to not consider women citizens, and in turn, allow them the right to vote.
Anthony’s fourth paragraph, in which she discussed the idea that if women are not citizens, then they are subject to living in a oligarchy, also raises an emotion reaction with the audience. After all, women do not want to feel that they are the lesser subject and do not this unjust ideal to lead to, “…dissension, discord, and rebellion…” in their homes (Anthony 513). The use of logos, the appeal to logic, is also employed in Susan B. Anthony’s essay (Phillips 250). As mentioned previously, Anthony used other sources, such as the Federal Constitution and the dictionaries of Webster, Worcester, and Bouvier within her speech (513).
Quoting these sources added a necessary foundation of information to sustain her argument as knowledgeable. These sources provide her speech with the necessary facts to appeal to the logical, not just the ethical and the emotional. Some would argue that Susan B. Anthony’s speech on the rights of women voters was not an entirely effective argument. The quickest opposing viewpoint would be to attack Anthony as a credible source; after all, she just had been arrested and was awaiting her trial – a trial that would end in a guilty verdict (Linder, “Trial”).
It is hard to believe that someone that broke the law could be a reliable source. An additional argument against Anthony’s credibility would be whether she presented a fair and unbiased view, considering her active part in promoting the rights of women and her preceding arrest. However, she still had credibility within her group of supporters and others, because in their eyes she had not broken the law, according to the 14th Amendment; she had only done what that Amendment gave her the natural right to carry out. Susan B.
Anthony’s illegal vote in 1872 created quite a stir in the politics of the time about whether the right to vote was an entitlement due to women as a part of the citizenship in America. Regardless of whether her audience agreed or disagreed with her point of view, she delivered an invaluable effort with her inspirational lectures. The success of Susan B. Anthony’s speech “On Women’s Right to Vote,” was due to its effective use of ethos, pathos, logos, and its strong structure; without these forms of support, “On Women’s Right to Vote,” would not have been the exemplary and defining speech of the suffrage movement.