Eng. III Hon.
7 Dec. 2010
Civil Disobedience: Susan B. Anthony
Thoreau’s idea of civil disobedience was based on the well known quote that “that government is best which governs least.” That is to say, governments tend to be more harmful than helpful. He believed that the government was corrupt and unjust and people had a right to stand up to any law that they find unjust. One of the most notable actions of his idea was during the Women’s Rights Movement. Susan B. Anthony and fourteen other women registered to vote. The state of New York charged them with “voting without the lawful right to vote” (Drinan).The women claimed that they were allowed to vote due to the fourteenth and fifteenth amendment, but were dismissed by the Supreme Court. They said that they were full citizens of the U. S., but they couldn’t vote. So the women decided to fight for an amendment to ensure that women citizens may be able to vote. Susan and co. final act of civil disobedience was when they picketed the White House to gain support from the President for their amendment. Legally, the women were allowed to picket, but the police force treated them with contempt and jailed them. They were unjustly jailed for exercising their legal rights, and were released after the courts corrected the mistake. (Drinan)
I believe Susan B. Anthony actions were consistent with Thoreau’s Civil Disobedience through and through. She never led a violent rebellion, but a “Civil Disobedience”. She led a movement against the injustice of the government’s restriction on women voting. Thoreau says that if a law is unjust, the proper way to handle it is to disobey it, and that’s exactly what Anthony did. She started a whole movement for Women’s’ Rights, and helped bridge the gap in between men and women’s equality in the United States.
Personally, I agree with Civil Disobedience as an acceptable approach to change only if the change is unjust. Such as...