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Susan B. Anthony

Information and Articles About Susan B. Anthony, a women’s rights advocate and a Famous Women In History

Susan B. Anthony Facts


February 15, 1820, Adams, Massachusetts


March 13, 1906, Rochester, New York


Staunch advocate of women’s rights, workers rights, and equality
Pioneer in the women’s suffrage movement
Co-founder of the Women’s State Temperance Society
Co-founder of the Woman’s National Loyal League Co-founder of the National Woman Suffrage Association Publisher of women’s rights newspaper The Revolution

Susan B Anthony Articles

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Susan B. Anthony summary: Susan B. Anthony was one of the driving forces of the women’s suffrage movement, a staunch equal rights advocate, and social activist. She devoted her life to not only fighting for women’s equality but for the equality of all people. She was deeply self-conscious of her looks and speaking abilities, but because her Quaker upbringing had placed her on equal footing with the male members of the family and encouraged to express herself, she overcame these fears to more effectively fight for equal rights. Wary of not being taken seriously, she rarely smiled in photographs, appearing stern and severe. She spent much of her adult life traveling the country, speaking about equal rights, circulating petitions, and helping to organize local women’s rights and labor organizations. She was the first actual woman printed on a circulating U.S. coin (as opposed to the iconic female figure of Liberty); the Susan B. Anthony dollar coin was minted in 1979–1981 and again in 1999.

Susan Brownel Anthony was born February 15, 1820, to Daniel Anthony and Lucy (Reed) Anthony in Adams, Massachusetts, the second of eight children. The Anthony family was Quaker—her great-grandfathers on her father’s side were first settlers and founders of the Friends Meeting in Adams. The community believed in morality as a necessary underpinning of society, simplicity, humility, and the equal treatment and opportunity for everyone, regardless of gender or skin color. The Quaker community had a strong tradition of abolition; slavery was abolished in Massachusetts in 1790 but it wasn’t until 1826 that neighboring New York followed suit. In the intervening years, the Quakers in Adams helped fugitive slaves from New York and a few even settled in Adams.

Anthony learned to read at an early age. After the family moved to Battensville, New York, when Anthony was around seven years old, she attended the district public school until the teacher refused to teach her long division. Her father founded a home school where she, her sisters and brothers, and neighborhood children were educated. She began teaching at the school but in 1837 enrolled at Deborah Moulson’s Female Seminary in Philadelphia to advance her own education. She only attended it briefly before going back to teaching to help pay her father’s debts; the Panic of 1837 had forced him to declare bankruptcy.

In 1838, she joined the Daughters of Temperance, which focused on the dangers of alcohol and its negative effect on families, and campaigned for stronger liquor laws. She also began to move away from the Quakers and organized religion in general after witnessing hypocritical behavior, such as drinking alcohol, by preachers and member of the community.

Anthony taught in various schools in the early 1840s. While working as a teacher in Canajoharie, New York, she discovered the huge difference in salary for male and female teachers—$10.00 a month versus $2.50 a month—and joined the teachers union to fight for equal wages. Anthony continued to be active in the teacher’s unions even after she stopped teaching and in 1853, at the state teacher’s convention, called for better pay, professional recognition, and deeper involvement of women in the union.

In 1845, her family had moved to a farm in Rochester, New York, and in 1849 she joined them to run the farm while her father started an insurance business. She continued her work with the temperance movement while becoming more active in the abolitionist movement, which her father had taken a role in since their time in Adams, Massachusetts. Their farm in Rochester became a meeting place for abolitionists, including Frederick Douglass.

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In 1851, Anthony met Elizabeth Cady Stanton at an anti-slavery meeting in Seneca Falls, New York. Stanton had begun campaigning for women’s rights in 1848 and was already a key figure in the suffrage movement. Although Anthony did not immediately become active in the suffrage movement, she and Stanton became life-long friends, inspiring each other to fight for change and equality. In September, 1852, Anthony gave her first public speech at the National Women’s Rights Convention in Syracuse, New York.

At the 1853 Sons of Temperance state convention in Albany, Anthony was refused the right to speak—she was told that the women had been invited to listen and learn—so she left the meeting to call her own. That same year, she and Stanton founded the Women’s State Temperance Society, which eventually petitioned the New York state legislature to pass a law limiting the sale of liquor. Their petition was rejected on the grounds that the 28,000 signatures on the petition were mainly from women and children. This spurred Anthony and Stanton to focus so intently on the suffrage movement as a means of gaining more political sway that they were harshly criticized and resigned from the society.

Throughout the 1850s and 1860s, Anthony honed her speaking and organizing skills, continuing her involvement with the temperance movement, fighting for equal wages, abolition of slavery, and suffrage. In 1856 she became an agent for the American Anti-Slavery society, which involved organizing meetings, speeches, putting up posters, distributing leaflets, and encountering sometimes violent opposition. She dealt with angry mobs and armed threats; objects were thrown at her, she was hung in effigy, and her image was dragged through the streets. She and Stanton also increasingly tied female suffrage and black suffrage together, forming the Woman’s National Loyal League in 1863 to support the Thirteenth Amendment to abolish slavery and campaigning for full citizenship for blacks and women.

In 1868 Anthony started publishing the weekly newspaper The Revolution, with the masthead "THE TRUE REPUBLIC—MEN THEIR RIGHTS, AND NOTHING MORE; WOMEN, THEIR RIGHTS, AND NOTHING LESS," which provided a strong counterpoint to the prejudices evident in most other newspapers of the day, arguing for equal rights, suffrage, and equal pay. Publishing the paper brought Anthony into contact with women working in the printing trade. She encouraged them and the working women in the sewing trade to form trade unions since they were excluded from men’s trade unions. She was even accused of strikebreaking in 1869 after encouraging New York printers to hire women during a printers strike, having hired women to print The Revolution.

Also in 1869 Anthony and Stanton founded the National Woman Suffrage Association, splitting the suffrage movement into two factions: Anthony and Stanton campaigned for a constitutional amendment for universal suffrage in America while the American Woman Suffrage Association, founded by Lucy Stone, focused on winning the right to vote state-by-state. Anthony appeared before every Congress from 1869 to 1906, the year of her death, to ask for passage of a woman’s suffrage amendment.

Following the adoption of the Fourteenth Amendment in 1868—which stated, "All persons born or naturalized in the United States, and subject to the jurisdictions thereof, are citizens of the United States and the State wherein they reside" and prohibited limiting the rights of any citizen—Anthony argued that it gave women the constitutional right to vote in federal elections and planned on voting in the 1872 presidential election. Anthony and 14 other women were arrested for violating election laws in Rochester, New York, although only Anthony was indicted, in January 1873. In the four months between her indictment and trial, 52-year-old Anthony traveled to towns throughout Monroe County, New York, giving a talk titled "Is it a Crime for a Citizen of the United States to Vote?" to garner support for her position.

At her trial in June 1873, following arguments from both the prosecution and defense, Judge Ward Hunt read an opinion, presumably prepared before the trial, concluding that Anthony was guilty and ending the opinion with "the jury should be directed to find a verdict of guilty." Just before sentencing the next day, Hunt provided Anthony with the opportunity to speak, during which she argued, as her lawyer had, that her rights as a citizen had been violated. Hunt fined her $100 and the cost of the prosecution, which Anthony refused to pay, saying "not a penny shall go to this unjust claim." Judge Hunt ended the trial by announcing, "Madam, the Court will not order you committed until the fine is paid," preventing her from appealing to a higher court unless she paid the fine—she never did.

In 1887, the two suffrage organizations came back together, forming the National American Woman Suffrage Association with Stanton and Anthony serving as its first two presidents. This organization combined the strategies of its two predecessors—fighting for suffrage at both a state and federal level. This organization was finally successful in 1920 with the passage of the Nineteenth Amendment, 14 years after Anthony’s death in 1906.

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In 1900, at age 80, Anthony retired as President of the National American Woman Suffrage Association. She presided over the International Council of Women in Berlin and became honorary president of the International Woman Suffrage Alliance. She died March 13, 1906 at her home on Madison Street in Rochester, New York. In her last public address before her death, she spoke the now famous words: "Failure is impossible."


Articles Featuring Susan B. Anthony From History Net Magazines

'Prohibition' - A Review of Ken Burns' New PBS DocumentaryDocumentary filmmaker Ken Burns explores the Prohibition years in a new PBS special that begins Sunday.
Alice PaulCourageous or reckless, Alice Paul spearheaded a new suffrage campaign for American women
National Woman Suffrage ProcessionThe 1913 National Woman Suffrage Procession was a turning point for American women seeking the right to vote
American women's long road to political powerA brief timeline of American women’s long road to political power
Brother, Can You Spare a Dime? U. S. Coins as Pop CultureJust when it seemed U. S. coins were going the way of the dinosaur, the State Quarters Program introduced a whole new category of coin collectors.
Slave to Soldier: Fighting for Freedom‘We Must Make Free Men of Them’ Confederate General Patrick Cleburne wanted to enlist slaves to fight for the Rebel cause
Women's History ResourcesA list of books and Websites for information on Women's History.
Women's History - Beyond the Famous NamesWomen's history gives all of us, female and male, stories we can easily relate to our own lives; it isn't just about the intermittent monarch, the suffrage movement, or the trailblazing aviatrix.
Women's History Articles - Suggested Online ReadingDescriptions of some online articles related to Women's History, with links; includes Irena Sendler, Queen Elizabeth I, and women of the Wild West!
Matilda Josyln Gage - the Unlikely Inspiration for the Wizard of OzSuffragist Matilda Josyln Gage was the unlikely inspiration for L. Frank Baum’s classic tale, The Wonderful Wizard of Oz.
Belva Lockwood: 'I cannot vote, but can be voted for'Belva Lockwood was the first woman to become a candidate for the American presidency. Her 1884 campaign stimulated media attention and social controversy.
Bartholomew Gosnold: The Man Who Was Responsible for England's Settling the New WorldThe vision, enthusiasm and organization of Bartholomew Gosnold, of Otley, Suffolk, resulted in the Virginia Company and the settlement of Jamestown now 400 years ago.
American History: Transformation of the U.S. Supreme CourtThe last four decades have witnessed a fundamental transformation in the types of men, and now women, who exercise the broad and untrammeled judicial power of the U.S. Supreme Court.
America's Civil War: Missouri and KansasFor half a decade before the Civil War, residents of the neighboring states of Missouri and Kansas waged their own civil war. It was a conflict whose scars were a long time in healing.
Suffragists Storm Over Washington D.C. in 1917Wartime Washington dealt brutally with imprisoned suffragists who dared picket the White House for the right to vote in 1917.
Seneca Falls Convention: First Women's Rights ConventionMore than one hundred and fifty years ago the people attending the first Women's Rights Convention adopted the radical proposition that 'all men and women are created equal.'
Camp William Penn: Training Ground for FreedomUnder the stern but sympathetic gaze of Lt. Col. Louis Wagner, some 11,000 African-American soldiers trained to fight for their freedom at Philadelphia's Camp William Penn. Three Medal of Honor recipients would pass through the camp's gates.
Book Review: By Grit & Grace, Eleven Women Who Shaped the American West (edited by Glenda Riley and Richard W. Etulain) : WW

By Grit & Grace, Eleven Women Who Shaped the American West, edited by Glenda Riley and Richard W. Etulain, Fulcrum Publishing, Golden, Colo., 1997, $22.95 paperback.

By Grit & Grace is the first offering in a new series called "Notable …

Multi-Media Review: Women First & Foremost: AH

(The Monterey Movie Company, $24.95 each or $69.95 for the set). Narrated by Rita Moreno and Dee Wallace Stone, this three-cassette video set highlights some of the many stories of women who left their mark on …

Camp William Penn's Black Soldiers In Blue - November '99 America's Civil War Feature

Camp William Penn's Black Soldiers In Blue

By Donald Scott

Under the stern but sympathetic gaze of Lt. Col. Louis Wagner, some 11,000 African-American soldiers trained to fight for their freedom at Philadelphia's Camp William Penn. Three Medal of Honor …

"All men & women are created equal" - Cover Page: April '99 American History Feature

All men & women are created equal

Over one hundred and fifty years ago the people attending the first Women's Rights Convention adopted this radical proposition.

by Constance Rynder

The announcement of an upcoming "Woman's Rights Convention" in the Seneca …

Ruhleben Prison Camp - October/November '97 British Heritage Feature

Ruhleben Prison Camp

British citizens in Germany at the onset of WWIsoon found themselves in the Ruhleben prison camp. Before long their genius for setting up rules for living and improving theircircumstances proved nearly boundless.

By Herman Herst Jr.

It …

Tall Tales of the Civil War - August '96 Civil War Times Feature


Being a compendium of poppycock, balderdash, and malarkey told by civil warveterans for the amusement and amazement of future generations


Men are deceivers ever," wrote William Shakespeare in Much Ado …

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