On November 1, 1872–four days before Ulysses S. Grant was re-elected as President of the United States–Susan B. Anthony and her three sisters walked into a voter registration office in Rochester, New York. After a local inspector contacted a legal professional and required them to take an oath of registry, all four women obliged and walked out of the office as registered voters. This was a surprising result, to put it lightly, as the state of New York would not allow women to vote for another 45 years, and nationwide suffrage for women would not be legalized for another 48 years.
While this event was not the first time women attempted to cast ballots without the legal right, the developments that occurred afterwards generated unprecedented national attention and helped generate new interest in the growing women’s suffrage movement. After Anthony, her three sisters and about a dozen other women successfully voted after completing the standard oath of registry, they were all arrested less than two weeks later on charges of illegal voting. The arrests were an unexpected and dispiriting turn of events, but Anthony–always a gifted publicist as well as a strong leader–managed to use the upcoming trial as an opportunity to expose the injustices of the current voting regulations and cultivate further support for her movement.Continue reading