Monday, January 29, 2018

The Shocking Infanticide Trial That Exposed Sexual Harassment in 1868

When Susan B. Anthony took the stage at New York’s Cooper Union on the night of December 1, 1868, the activist wasn’t there to fight for the ballot—she was there to demand the release of a convicted murderer from prison. As she took the stage, she told the audience about the case of Hester Vaughn, a woman tried and convicted of murdering her own baby. But Vaughn wasn’t a cold-blooded murderer, Anthony insisted, she was yet another victim of a system that denied women their basic human rights.

Though her champions helped win her release, they were unable to solve the problems faced by a poor woman in the 19th century. But Vaughn’s infanticide trial became the spark for a discussion about the very morality of a legal system that seemed to punish women who were victims—a conversation that continues to this day.

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