Less appreciated is Susan B. Anthony’s run-in with the law after she was arrested by U.S. marshals for casting a ballot in the 1872 election: “Positively voted the Republican ticket — straight,” as she put it in a letter to Elizabeth Cady Stanton. Antony maintained that the 14th Amendment, which contains no language of sexual exclusion, conferred upon her equal rights of citizenship so far as the federal government was concerned, including the right to vote in federal elections. She was prohibited from testifying in her own defense, and Justice Ward Hunt, after having given the jury explicit instructions to find her guilty, issued an opinion that had been written before the trial was even completed. Because of her national stature, Anthony was not sentenced to jail time, only a $100 fine.
Anthony, to her credit, refused to pay that fine. She dared the federal government to come and haul her away to prison, and the federal government, lacking the courage of conviction, never did. (Perhaps President Grant simply appreciated her vote.) Anthony was unquestionably a law-breaker, but I find it impossible to conclude that her law-breaking was anything other than a positive good and patriotic.