Robert H. Shannon Defends Women's Suffrage
January 10, 1887

In 1887, Robert H. Shannon spoke out in defense of Lucy Barber, who had been indicted by a grand jury for "maliciously, willfully and unlawfully" voting in the state's 1886 election.

None of the United States’ Business

Ex-Judge R. H. Shannon, who was for a long time a United States Commissioner, has transmitted a letter to Commissioner Angel of Belmont, N. Y., before whom Mrs. Lucy S. Barber is to be examined to-day on an accusation of of illegal voting. He says:

  1. For a women to vote is not an offence against the laws of the United States. To constitute such an offence there must be some fraud or some violation of an express prohibition.
  2. If any violation of law has been committed it is hence a matter for the State authorities, not for those of the United States.
  3. The Constitution of this State does not prohibit a woman from voting.
  4. There is now no statute (though at one tie there was) forbidding a woman to vote in this State.
  5. The attempt to oblige Mrs. Barber to defend herself against a criminal charge merely on the ground of her sex has no legal ground, and is an attempt to pervert the machinery of law to the purpose of persecution.

I am well aware of the case of Miss Susan B. Anthony, but that case has become proverbial in the legal profession as a judicial outrage, and I should be sorry to find any one who claims to be a lawyer citing it as a precedent.



The Sun (New York, New York), January 10, 1887