It was we, the people, not we, the white male citizens, nor yet we, the male citizens, but we, the whole people, who formed this Union. And we formed it, not to give the blessings of liberty, but to secure them; not to the half of ourselves and the half of our posterity, but to the whole people--women as well as men. --Susan B. Anthony 1 Under the common law of both England and the United States, a married woman enjoyed a legal status only slightly better than that of a slave. Until the mid-nineteenth century, in no state could a married American woman own property, make a will, inherit, sue or be sued, enter into a contract, or exercise any other of her most basic civil rights. Even single and widowed women, many of whom owned large amounts of property, were deprived of political rights: they could not vote, hold office, or sit on a jury. The gradual dissolution of women's inferior legal status began with the passage of married women's property laws, beginning before the Civil War and continuing throughout the twentieth century. In an even more brutal fashion, the institution of slavery stripped Black Americans of all their human, civil, political, and social rights. 2 In Dred Scott v. Sanford the Supreme Court determined that, even if Blacks were "free," they were not "citizens" of the United States. 3 This Supreme Court ruling was superseded by the passage of the Thirteenth and the Fourteenth ...
Sandra L. Rierson,
Race and Gender Discrimination: A Historical Case for Equal Treatment Under the Fourteenth Amendment,
1 Duke Journal of Gender Law & Policy
Available at: http://scholarship.law.duke.edu/djglp/vol1/iss1/6