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Susan B. Anthony was the foremost leader of the Women’s rights movement in the United States. She was a suffragist and a pioneer for women’s rights to vote. Born on 15th February, 1820, she grew to become a prominent civil rights leader and played a critical role in the introduction of women’s suffrage in the country. Susan was a woman of strong character, who had learned how to read and write by the tender age of 3 and grew up believing that both men and women were equal creatures before God. She fought for the women’s right to vote because she believed that it was this right that would unlock all other rights that women needed to achieve equality.
Anthony gave this speech after she was arrested and consequently indicted for the alleged crime of voting at the presidential election of 1872. During this period, women’s rights to vote had not been recognized under the laws in the country and thus her choice to vote was deemed illegal. She therefore gave this speech in 29 postal districts of Monroe county, New York, in order to show that her decision to vote was not a criminal offence but rather the simply exercise of her democratic right as a citizen of the United States. The adoption of the 14th amendment greatly inspired Susan as it gave her a legal basis to stake her claim to the right of every citizen to vote. The 14th amendment had a provision that stated; “all persons born and naturalized in the United States….are citizens of the United States” she interpreted this provision that all citizens of the country had certain rights and privileges which they all enjoyed and this included the right to vote. This right to vote was particularly important to her as she believed in the declaration of all men to be equal before the law (Susan, 1872).
Susan largely spoke to the marginalized women population in the country as she believed in their right to have a voice in the country’s governance. She fought for women emancipation and realization of their equality to men. The speech targeted the women as it was by the mere fact that she was a woman, that she was arrested for voting. Being a women’s rights activist, she wanted women to have a voice and a vote. She argues for women’s rights as she states that: “women, being as they are, are dissatisfied by the form of government that forces taxation without representation that compels obedience to laws to which they never gave their consent that imprisons and hangs them without a trial by a jury of their peers.” She thus observes that, in view of this, women represented half of the population in the country that was completely at the mercy of the other half. She thus wanted to claim their natural right which was inalienable and which was granted to them by the National Constitution (Simon, 2010).
The Style Used
In the delivery of her speech, she employs a very simple style of conveying her message to the country. Although she was not blessed with skills of oratory, she picked her arguments and timed their delivery with profound ease and appeal. It was easy for the audience to reason with her and thus associate with the issues she attempted to address. She moved around the county trying to explain to people why she had voted and used logical arguments that supported her cause. Her audience usually consisted of a number of men and many women, but this never derailed her.
In giving her speech, she relied completely on her own story and never at any point used any other story, this worked in her favor. The audience found it easier to relate with her and thereby buying into her message.
She employed the rhetoric appeals of ethos, logos and pathos with great perfection and ease. She simply relied on the issues that were present in the country and the existing laws and mixed with ethical considerations to deliver her message. In the logos appeal, she saw it logical to vote in the election as the 14th Amendment gave her the legal right to do so. She states; “our democratic-republic government is based on the idea of the natural right of every individual member of the right to a voice and to a vote in making and executing laws” (Susan B. Anthony). In her pathos appeal, she evoked the emotions of other women as they had failed to realize that they were being denied of their rights by their government. She therefore, wanted women to participate in the decisions that had impact on their lives, and this was only possible through the right to vote, as it was the only through which women could achieve their liberty. In her ethos appeal, she uses her own experiences to allow women to understand her claim. By this, she is able to establish her credibility as many women gained a clearer understanding of how the ability to vote could impact their lives and enable their own lives.
Susan B. Anthony employed a number of elements in the pursuit of support to her cause. Perhaps the most influential element she employed was the logical argument which used to push and justify her cause. She argued for equality and the right of women to be independent and not subjects of men. She used existing issues to push her case and thus was more effective as her target audience reasoned with her. Rhetorical elements play a critical role in the argument of a claim as they help in the construction of a credible and sound argument. The use of logos appeal helps the writer in creating a logical claim that bases its arguments on material facts without relying on irrelevant issues. Pathos on the other hand assists the writer to create an emotional impact to the audience as thus passing his message with ease and resonate with the audience. The ethos appeal establishes the writer’s credibility thus making his work believable and credible. It is important for writers to employ all the three rhetoric strategies and they help in the construction of a clear, concise and credible argument.