June 18, 2015

It Happened on June 18th

Susan B. Anthony Fined for Voting, 1873

Susan B. Anthony in 1870
In November of 1872, Susan B. Anthony voted in the national election. She had been planning to do this for some time; in fact, she had stated that she "had been resolved for three years to vote in the first election when I had been home for thirty days before." (Voters in New York State were required to have been a resident for the thirty days preceding the election.)

The Fourteenth Amendment had been adopted in 1868. The amendment states that "all persons born or naturalized in the United States, and subject to the jurisdiction thereof, are citizens of the United States and of the State wherein they reside." All such citizens were guaranteed the rights and privileges which belonged to them. Anthony thought that meant her, too.

And so, on November 1, 1872, Anthony and her three sisters went to the local barbershop where the voter registration office was located. The young men acting as registrars didn't know quite what to do. At first they refused to register the Anthony sisters. But Anthony insisted, citing the Amendment, and threatened to bring criminal charges against them if they refused. That was probably the clincher.

After about an hour's discussion, and under the advice of the Supervisor of Elections, the registrars allowed the women to register. In fact, 14 women registered that day, a fact that led some citizens to call for the arrest of the voting officials.

When Election Day arrived on November 5th, Anthony and seven other women were present to vote. The officials had to discuss whether or not they should accept Anthony's ballot, but ultimately they accepted it. They were acutely conscious of the fact that they could get into trouble either way. Anthony voted a straight Republican ticket.

A poll watcher (and Democrat) named Sylvester Lewis filed a complaint against Anthony, charging her with voting illegally. William Storrs, United States Commissioner acted on the complaint and filed a warrant for Anthony's arrest on November 14th. The crime carried a maximum penalty of $500 or five years in prison.

Four days later, Anthony was arrested. She refused to enter a plea at the time she was arrested, and appeared at a preliminary examination on November 29th. Her lawyer did his best to present the argument that Anthony believed that she was acting legally when she voted.

Susan B. Anthony wasn't the only one charged with election violations. Fourteen other female voters were also arrested, along with the officials who had authorized their votes. Anthony, however, was the only one who refused bail.

Anthony regarded her arrest as an unexpected windfall. She had never expected to be arrested -- she had thought that her Election Day actions would result in giving her the opportunity to charge the voting inspectors of wrongdoing. She began making plans to have her lawyer apply for a Writ of Habeas Corpus. Her greatest hope was that it would get all the way to the Supreme Court.

The Writ was denied by U.S. District Judge Nathan Hall, who also increased Anthony's bail to $1000. She refused to pay that, also, but her lawyer, Henry Selden, paid it for her. It was a great disappointment for Anthony.

Former President Fillmore attended the trial.
The trial opened on June 17, 1873. The courtroom was filled, and even included Former President Millard Fillmore. The presiding Judge was Ward Hunt. The prosecution's case was mainly a factual representation of the events: how Anthony had registered to vote, and then voted in the November election. The defense's chief argument was that Anthony was being prosecuted simply for being a woman, and that, even if her vote was, in fact, illegal, she had not "knowingly" voted illegally -- she believed that what she was doing was entirely legal. Selden also attempted to call Anthony to the stand, but the judge ruled that she was not a competent witness in her own behalf.

The defense gave a three hour speech, which was followed by the prosecutor's two hour rebuttal. At that point, Judge Hunt took a piece of paper out of his pocket, and read his opinion on the case to the court -- an opinion that he had apparently written before hearing arguments. He then directed the jury to find her guilty.

Judge Hunt wrote his opinion beforehand.
The following day, June 18th, Selden argued for a new trial on the basis that Anthony had been deprived of her right to trial by jury. The judge denied the motion, and gave Anthony an opportunity to speak before being sentenced. Anthony had plenty to say.

In short, her arguments were basically a rehash of what her attorney had presented the day before: that she was being discriminated against for being a woman, that she had not appeared in front of a jury of her peers, but rather of her (legal) superiors, and that she had not even been allowed to be judged by them. The judge ordered her to desist her arguments several times, but Anthony just kept on going.

When she was finally finished, the judge pronounced sentence. She was fined $100 plus the cost of the prosecution. She insisted that she would never pay a penny of the fine, and she was true to her word. The U.S. Government never took any measures to collect, either.

James Montgomery Flagg Born, 1877

Flagg was his own model.
You may have never heard of James Montgomery Flagg, but I'll bet you've seen his work. Flagg was an artist and illustrator, born in Pelham Manor, New York. His work was published by Life when he was only 14 years old, and he worked for another magazine, Judge, when he was 15. He did numerous illustrations for books and magazines, as well as advertising, and even produced a comic strip for a time. At one time, he was said to be the highest paid illustrator in the country.

In 1917, Flagg created a recruiting poster for the U.S. Army. The illustration is of Uncle Sam pointing directly at the viewer. The caption reads, "I Want YOU for the U. S. Army." Over four million copies of the poster were printed during World War I. Later, it was used again during World War II.

The British version came first.
The poster was based on a similar one used by Great Britain, which showed Horatio Herbert Kitchener in a similar pose, with the caption, "Britons. [Picture of Kitchener] Wants YOU. Join Your Country's Army! God Save the King." Kitchener was Britain's Secretary of State for War.

The face that Flagg used for Uncle Sam was his own, somewhat aged, and with the addition of a goatee. He said later that it was easier than going to the bother of finding a model.

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