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How Susan B. Anthony Fought the Law in 1872

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In November 1872, Susan B. Anthony headed to a barbershop in Rochester, New York to register to vote. She was accompanied by three of her sisters and a small group of other women. After the confused registrars conferred, they decided to allow the women to register. Four days later, Anthony and her entourage all cast their official votes.

But on November 18, the activist and her fellow female voters were picked up by U.S. marshals and jailed. (Upset by her arresting officer’s manner, Anthony later recalled challenging his polite request that she come down to the precinct later: “‘What for?’ I asked. ‘To arrest you,’ he said. ‘Is that the way you arrest men?’ ‘No.’ ‘Then I demand that I should be arrested properly.’” Totally unprepared to escort anybody, the officer was forced to pay their streetcar fare out of his own pocket.) Bail was set at $500 apiece—worth over $9000 today. Though the other women paid up, Anthony refused. She insisted she had done nothing unlawful; after all, the newly-passed Fourteenth Amendment stated that the United States could not deprive any person of life, liberty, property, or due process. Anthony wanted her case to go to the Supreme Court on a writ of habeas corpus, so she was frustrated when, after she refused to pay and had her case referred to a grand jury, her lawyer paid her now-increased bail, explaining that he “could not see a lady [he] respected put in jail.” Anthony was devastated—being released meant that she could never bring her case to the Supreme Court.

She would have to settle for sending shockwaves through the local courts instead. On January 24, 1873, the grand jury—all male, of course—charged Susan B. Anthony with “knowingly, wrongfully, and willingly” voting, despite being unable to lawfully vote. Anthony vowed to spend the months before her trial appealing to the people of Monroe County, where the trial would be held.

Her strategy: Give lectures in all 29 Monroe County towns on the topic, “Is It a Crime for a Citizen of the United States to Vote?” Her speech quoted countless judges, presidents, and legal scholars, urging listeners “wherever there is room for a doubt to give its benefit on the side of liberty and equal rights for women.” Her speeches were so popular that, worried they would influence potential jury members, the case was moved to the federal circuit court in a neighboring county. In response, Anthony spoke in nearly every town in Ontario County, too.

COURTING CONTROVERSY

Duly warned about the defendant’s ability to give a fiery, persuasive speech, the court prevented Anthony from testifying at her own trial. Even more controversial was the judge’s instruction that the jury find Anthony guilty. Justice Ward Hunt read the jury a written statement laying out Anthony’s violations of the law and concluding, “upon this evidence I suppose there is no question for the jury and that the jury should be directed to find a verdict of guilty.”

Ultimately, the jury wasn’t even asked for its opinion, and Anthony was found guilty of voting without the right to vote. (One juror would later say that, had they been allowed to weigh in, he and his peers would have rendered a not-guilty verdict.) Given the chance to speak after her conviction was handed down, Anthony delivered a barnburner of an oration—despite Judge Hunt’s constant interruptions. “Robbed of the fundamental privilege of citizenship, I am degraded from the status of a citizen to that of a subject,” she proclaimed. “Not only myself individually, but all of my sex, are, by your honor's verdict, doomed to political subjection under this, so-called, form of government.” Hunt’s reply: “The court cannot listen to a rehearsal of arguments the prisoner’s counsel has already consumed three hours in presenting.” After repeatedly silencing Anthony’s objections, he sentenced her to pay a fine of $100, as well as the costs of the prosecution.

Anthony swore “never to pay a dollar of [the] unjust penalty”—and never did. Though she received widespread acclaim for her stance—an 1873 newspaper called Anthony “The Woman Who Dared”—she never would see women vote legally. Fourteen years after her death, the Nineteenth Amendment she had helped forge became law, but during her lifetime, she encountered the truth of her own words again and again: “Woman must not depend upon the protection of man, but must be taught to protect herself.”

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Animals
Plagued with Rodents, Members of the UK Parliament Demand a Cat
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Members of the United Kingdom’s Parliament want a cat, but not just for office cuddles: As The Telegraph reports, the Palace of Westminster—the meeting place of Parliament’s two houses, the House of Commons and the House of Lords—is overrun with vermin, and officials have had enough. They think an in-house feline would keep the rodents at bay and defray skyrocketing pest control costs.

Taxpayers in the UK recently had to bear the brunt of a $167,000 pest control bill after palace maintenance projects and office renovations disturbed mice and moths from their slumber. The bill—which was nearly one-third higher than the previous year’s—covered the cost of a full-time pest control technician and 1700 bait stations. That said, some Members of Parliament (MPs) think their problem could be solved the old-fashioned way: by deploying a talented mouser.

MP Penny Mordaunt tried taking matters into her own hands by bringing four cats—including her own pet kitty, Titania—to work. (“A great believer in credible deterrence, I’m applying the principle to the lower ministerial corridor mouse problem,” she tweeted.) This solution didn’t last long, however, as health and safety officials banned the cats from Parliament.

While cats aren’t allowed in Parliament, other government offices reportedly have in-house felines. And now, MPs—who are sick of mice getting into their food, running across desks, and scurrying around in the tearoom—are petitioning for the same luxury.

"This is so UNFAIR,” MP Stella Creasy said recently, according to The Telegraph. “When does Parliament get its own cats? We’ve got loads of mice (and some rats!) after all!" Plus, Creasy points out, a cat in Parliament is “YouTube gold in waiting!"

Animal charity Battersea Dogs & Cats Home wants to help, and says it’s been trying to convince Parliament to adopt a cat since 2014. "Battersea has over 130 years [experience] in re-homing rescue cats, and was the first choice for Downing Street, the Foreign and Commonwealth Office, and the Cabinet Office when they sought our mousers to help with their own rogue rodents,” charity head Lindsey Quinlan said in a statement quoted by The Telegraph. “We'd be more than happy to help the Houses of Parliament recruit their own chief mousers to eliminate their pest problem and restore order in the historic corridors of power."

As of now, only assistance and security dogs are allowed on palace premises—but considering that MPs spotted 217 mice alone in the first six months of 2017, top brass may have to reconsider their rules and give elected officials purr-mission to get their own feline office companions.

[h/t The Telegraph]

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Master Sgt. Rose Reynolds, U.S. Air Force, Wikimedia Commons // Public Domain
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Weird
How the U-2 Aircraft Made Area 51 Synonymous With UFOs
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Master Sgt. Rose Reynolds, U.S. Air Force, Wikimedia Commons // Public Domain

Area 51 may be the world’s most famous secret military base. Established on an abandoned airfield in the Nevada desert, the facility has fueled the imaginations of conspiracy theorists scanning the skies for UFOs for decades. But the truth about Area 51’s origins, while secretive, isn’t as thrilling as alien autopsies and flying saucers.

According to Business Insider, the U.S. government intended to build a base where they could test a top-secret military aircraft without drawing attention from civilians or spies. That aircraft, the U-2 plane, needed to fly higher than any other manmade object in the skies. That way it could perform recon missions over the USSR without getting shot down.

Even over the desert, the U-2 didn’t go completely undetected during test flights. Pilots who noticed the craft high above them reported it as an “unidentified flying object.” Not wanting to reveal the true nature of the project, Air Force officials gave flimsy explanations for the sightings pointing to either natural phenomena or weather research. UFO believers were right to think the government was covering something up, they were just wrong about the alien part.

You can get the full story in the video below.

[h/t Business Insider]

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