Susan B Anthony

Once in a while, someone comes along whose tireless dedication to the rights and well-being of others makes a lasting impact that shapes society for generations to come. Susan B. Anthony's impact on American civil society - especially her advocacy for women - is hard to understate. In this article, we will highlight the role she played in the women's suffrage movement, as well as her role in helping slaves navigate their way to freedom in the early to the mid-20th century.    

Susan B Anthony Susan B Anthony

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Table of contents

    Who was Susan B. Anthony?

    Susan B. Anthony was an American icon and pioneer of the women's rights and suffrage movements. As an abolitionist and suffragist, she worked her whole life to ensure equal rights for all. Anthony's life's work helped lay the foundation for the Nineteenth Amendment to the US Constitution. Without her tenacity and egalitarianism, our society would look much different than it does today.

    Nineteenth Amendment

    The Nineteenth Amendment to the United States Constitution forbids any state from denying a citizen the right to vote based on sex. In essence, the amendment, adopted in 1920, recognizes the right of all women to vote.

    Egalitarianism

    Egalitarianism is a school of thought in which everyone should be considered equal and be given the same opportunities.

    Figure 1 Susan B. Anthony Engraving of Susan B. Anthony StudySmarterFigure 1. Engraving of Susan B. Anthony, History of Woman Suffrage, CC-PD-Mark, Wikimedia Commons

    Susan B Anthony - Early Life

    Susan Brownell Anthony was born in Adams, Massachusetts, on February 15th, 1820. One of seven children born to Lucy Read Anthony and Daniel Anthony. As the daughter of Quakers, she was brought up with the belief that everyone is equal.

    Due to the economic depression, the Anthonys moved to Rochester, New York. Her parents were abolitionists. As such, their home was often a meeting place for other abolitionists, most prominently Fredrick Douglass. This profoundly impacted Susan B. Anthony's views on abolition and suffrage.

    Susan's parents predominantly homeschooled her. Her father pulled her and her sisters out of school when one of Susan's teachers refused to teach her certain things because that knowledge belonged solely to boys. Susan went on to pursue a formal education at Quaker Seminary in Philadelphia. Having finished her education, she became a teacher in 1839, as it was one of the few things she could do as a woman. Susan experienced the gender wage gap first-hand. She was making only a fifth of what male teachers were making. In 1846, Anthony became the headmistress of Canjorie Academy in Rochester, New York, but resigned due to wage inequality three years later.

    Susan B Anthony - Accomplishments

    Susan B. Anthony accomplished many things throughout her life. Several of her accomplishments left an indelible mark and continue to shape society today. We will discuss some of her most significant achievements in the following subsections.

    Women's New York State Temperance Society

    In 1848, Susan B Anthony joined the Daughters of Temperance. The Temperance Movement opposed alcohol consumption. However, that wasn't the whole picture. Many joining the Temperance Movements wanted to stop the abuse that many women and children were experiencing at the hands of drunk men.

    While attending a Sons of Temperance Convention, Anthony attempted to speak up and was told to stop talking and listen. This angered Anthony and helped cement the fact that women were seen as less than. This led to Anthony, Elizabeth Cady Stanton, and Lucretia Mott creating the Women's Temperance Society of New York State in 1853.

    During her time with the Daughters of Temperance, Anthony met Elizabeth Cady Stanton, another influential suffrage leader. Their meeting would mark the beginning of a long-lasting friendship and professional partnership between the two.

    In 1848, Susan B Anthony joined the Daughters of Temperance. The movement opposed alcohol consumption. However, that wasn't the whole picture. Many who joined the Temperance Movement wanted to stop the abuse many women and children experienced at the hands of drunken men.

    While attending a Sons of Temperance Convention, Anthony attempted to speak up. The men in attendance instructed her to stop talking and listen. This censorship angered Anthony. It underscored women's lesser status in society. The experience led to Anthony, Elizabeth Cady Stanton, and Lucretia Mott establishing the Women's Temperance Society of New York State in 1853.

    While the newly established society's primary objective had been to advocate for temperance, the organization evolved into one that advocated for women's rights and women's suffrage. Anthony and Stanton believed that for women to make an impact in any reform movements, including temperance, they needed to fight for women's rights. The organization adapted its goals from just advocating for temperance to advocating for women's suffrage and women's property rights

    Advising women to divorce their alcoholic husbands was one of the Women's Temperance Society of New York State's most controversial initiatives.

    Women's Loyal National League

    While Abraham Lincoln's Emancipation Proclamation freed slaves in the south, it had not freed enslaved people in the north. To petition Congress to create an amendment to abolish slavery nationwide, Susan B. Anthony, Lucy Stone, and Elizabeth Cody Staton formed the grassroots organization Women's Loyal National League in 1863. Together the women were able to organize volunteers throughout the country and collected 400,000 signatures. By 1865 the Thirteenth Amendment, abolishing slavery, was enacted.

    The Underground Railroad and Susan B. Anthony

    To make a difference in the lives of enslaved people, Susan B. Anthony became involved with the Underground Railroad. She helped "conduct" people to waystations and volunteered her house in Rochester, New York, which served as a refuge for escaped slaves on their way to Canada.

    Figure 2 Susan B. Anthony Elizabeth Cady Stanton & Susan B. Anthony StudySmarterFigure 2. Elizabeth Cady Stanton & Susan B. Anthony, Napoleon Sarony, CC-PD-Mark, Wikimedia Commons

    American Equal Rights Association

    In 1866, Stanton and Anthony founded the Americal Equal Rights Association. This association fought for equal rights and suffrage, regardless of sex, color, or race. After the Civil War, the government passed the Fourteenth and Fifteenth Amendments, making anyone born in the United States a citizen and giving black men the right to vote. However, Anthony and Stanton were outraged because of the exclusion of women in the Fifteenth Amendment.

    However, many other women suffragists did not share their views, creating a division within the women's rights movement. As a result, Stanton and Anthony formed the National Women Suffrage Association (NWSA), while Lucy Stone stone created the American Woman Suffrage Organization (AWSA).

    National Woman Suffrage Association (NWSA)

    Susan B. Anthony and her friend Elizabeth Cody Stanton created the National Woman Suffrage Association in 1869. Contrary to the name, the NWSA didn't want to stop at women's suffrage but wanted to fight for women's rights regarding their work, wages, property, education, physical training, social status, political equalization, marriage, and divorce.

    The NWSA's main goal was to make amendments to the US Constitution instead of attempting to inspire changes in the law. To further the organization's goals, Susan B. Anthony traveled around the country, giving speeches lobbying for women's rights and suffrage.

    FUN FACT

    Partly inspired by Susan B. Anthony in 1869, Wyoming was the first state to give women the right to vote, followed by Colorado, Utah, and Idaho.

    United States v. Susan B Anthony

    During the 1872 presidential election, Susan B. Anthony led a group of women in casting ballots in Rochester, New York. The authorities arrested her, charging her with voting unlawfully. However, because she was a woman, she was not competent to testify in court. However, when the judge asked Anthony if there was something she would like to say. Anthony stated the following:

    Your denial of my citizen’s right to vote is the denial of my right of consent as one of the governed…”

    (Anthony spent decades advocating woman suffrage, which was not won in her lifetime). 1

    Anthony was fined $100. She never paid.

    Figure 3 Susan B. Anthony Susan B. Anthony Reading StudySmarterSusan B. Anthony Reading, James Ellery Hale, PD-Expired, Wikimedia Commons

    Revolution Newspaper

    Susan B. Anthony formed and operated a newspaper called Revolution in 1868. This newspaper advocated for women's rights and focused on employment discrimination, divorce law changes, and the organization of women's unions. The newspaper had more than 3,000 subscribers. The newspaper, however, was short-lived and was only in circulation for two years as it came to its demise in 1870.

    International Council of Women (ICW)

    Susan B. Anthony was one of the founding members of the Internation Council of Women (ICW) in 1868, the world's first international women's organization. The ICW incorporated women's rights, temperance, and professional women's organizations worldwide. Its main objective was the advancement of women. ICW is still active today and consults for the United Nations, WHO, UNICEF, and many other international organizations.

    FUN FACT

    Because of the ICW, Susan B. Anthony met Queen Victoria in 1899.

    History of Woman Suffrage

    In conjunction with Elizabeth Cady Stanton, Matilda Joslin, and Ida Harper, Susan B Anthony wrote a book titled The History of Woman Suffrage. The book consisted of six volumes, with the first several published between 1882 and 1902. The last two volumes were published posthumously. This book was considered an official record for the National American Women Suffrage Association (NAWSA).

    National American Woman Suffrage Association (NAWSA)

    In 1890 the NWSA and AWSA joined forces to create the National American Women Suffrage Association. Incorporating the two organizations helped create a more unified women's movement. Anthony and Stanton organized the first Women Suffrage Convention in Washington D.C. in 1890. From 1890 to 1892, Anthony served as vice president and eventually became president from 1892 to 1900.

    Susan B. Anthony Amendment

    Susan B. Anthony died on March 13th, 1906. Before dying, she attended a National America Women Suffrage Association conference, celebrating her 86th birthday, where she gave a speech regarding women's suffrage and concluded with the words:

    "Failure is not an option!"

    Unfortunately, at the time of her death, Anthony had not yet seen her dream of women's suffrage fulfilled. Enactment of the Nineteenth Amendment occurred years later, in 1919, giving women the right to vote. The amendment was called the Susan B. Anthony Amendment due to the integral role she played in its creation. Coincidentally, she drafted an earlier version of the amendment in 1878. The Amendment had been presented to Congress for years with no success.

    Susan B Anthony Facts

    • Susan B. Anthony was born on February 15, 1820.

    • Susan B. Anthony was raised as a Quaker

    • Susan B. Anthony was an abolitionist and women suffragist

    • Susan B. Anthony created the Women's New York State Temperance Society in 1951

    • Susan B. Anthony created National Woman Suffrage Association (NWSA) in 1969

    • Susan B. Antony was the owner and editor of the women's rights newspaper Revolution

    • Susan B. Anthony was one of the founders of the International Council of Women (ICW), which today advises many international organizations on women's issues, such as the United Nations

    • Susan B. Anthony died on March 13th, 1906

    • The Susan B. Anthony Amendment (19th Amendment) was enacted in May 1919

    Figure Susan B Anthony Proposed Image of Susan B. Anthony Coin StudySmarterFigure 4. Proposed Image of Susan B. Anthony Coin, Frank Gasparro, PD US Treasury, Wikimedia Commons

    Susan B. Anthony Coin

    Susan B. Anthony was the first woman to appear on a circulating US mint coin. This coin was circulated from 1979 to 1981, replacing the Eisenhower coin.

    Susan B. Anthony Dollar

    The coin that Susan B. Anthony was featured on was the dollar coin. The purpose of featuring her on the coin was to pay homage to the women's suffrage movement.

    Susan B. Anthony - Key takeaways

    • Susan B. Anthony is a pioneer for women's rights and women's suffrage.
    • Susan B. Anthony was born in 1820 and raised by Quakers, which helped shape her ideology on women's rights and abolition.
    • Throughout her life, Susan B. Anthony worked to gather support for the temperance movement, abolition, women's rights, and the women's suffrage movement. However, her true passion was women's suffrage.
    • Susan B. Anthony created organizations to help further the advancement of her ideologies.
    • The Nineteenth Amendment is nicknamed after her due to her tireless determination to achieve women's suffrage.
    • Susan B. Anthony died on March 13th, 1906.

    References

    1. Department of Justice. U.S. Attorney’s Office. (2020). United States Attorney Applauds Pardon Of Susan B. Anthony
    Frequently Asked Questions about Susan B Anthony

    Who was Susan B Anthony?

    Susan B. Anthony was an icon and pioneer of the women's suffrage movement.  

    What did Susan B Anthony do?

    Susan B Anthony was a public speaker that created organizations and led grassroots campaigns to further her abolition, women's suffrage, and women's rights efforts. 

    What is Susan B Anthony known for?

    Susan B. Anthony was known as a champion for abolition and women's rights. 

    When did Susan B Anthony die?

    Susan B. Anthony died on March 13th, 1906.

    What did Susan B Anthony accomplish?

    Susan B Anthony accomplished to lay the groundwork for the 19th Amendment, giving women the right to vote,  to be enacted. 

    Test your knowledge with multiple choice flashcards

    In what year was Susan B. Anthony born?

    True or False.  Susan B. Anthony founded the Daughters of Temperance?

    What did the Temperance Movement adovocate against?

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