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Anthony, Susan B.

Declaration of Rights of the Women of the United States


Anthony, Susan B. Declaration of Rights of the Women of the United States by the National Woman Suffrage Association. July 4. 1876. [Philadelphia]: 1876.
4to.; one leaf folded to make four pages, all sides printed; edges badly chipped, removing some text; professionally restored along spine and edges. In a specially made quarter-morocco slipcase.
Third recorded copy; other copies exist in the Susan B. Anthony archive at the University of Rochester, and in the Women's Collection at the Chapin Library at Williams College.
The National Woman Suffrage Association hoped to use the public interest in the Centennial and the exposition in Philadelphia to draw attention to the position of women in America. To this end, Anthony and her collaborators requested permission to present a Declaration of Rights for Women at the July 4th celebration in Independence Hall, at which the Emperor of Brazil was the guest of honor, but were refused. They used the five tickets granted the Association to infiltrate the gathering, and
 at the very moment when the entire audience rose to greet the Brazilian monarch, five women, headed by the indomitable Miss Anthony, went up on the platform and bore down on the chairman, president pro tempore of the United States Senate, Thomas W. Ferry. The startled Ferry, a supporter of woman suffrage, incidentally, grasped the parchment Miss Anthony handed him and bowed; the women, expecting every moment to be taken into custody, turned and walked off the platform and out of the hall, first drawing from their capacious reticules large handfuls of printed broadsides carrying their Declaration, which they scattered left and right. There was great confusion as men stood on their seats reaching for the handbills and hundreds of arms were stretched for them…" (Century of Struggle, by Eleanor Flexner, Cambridge, MA: Harvard University Press, 1996, p. 170ff)
When they emerged from the building, they saw a large crowd milling about Independence Square. While one of the women held an umbrella in the broiling heat, Miss Anthony read the Declaration in a loud clear voice.
Flexner notes that the tenor of this document was different than the sentiments of Seneca Falls. Rather than strike a strident note against "men," this document levels charges against the state: all male government. It demanded jury trials by ones peers, meaning the inclusion of women, no taxation without representation, and repeal of the word "male" in state constitutions, as well as the writ of habeas corpus for women, the end of unequal codes of justice, etc. It was signed in print by Anthony, Lucretia Mott, Elizabeth Cady Stanton, Pauline Wright Davis, Ernestine Rose, Matilda Joslyn Gage, Olympia Brown, A[bigail] J. Duniway, Belva Lockwood, and others.
The unorthodox distribution of this Declaration must account for its rarity. We have never seen a copy offered for sale.

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