Susan B. Anthony

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Susan Brownell Anthony
Susan B Anthony c1855.png
Portrait of Susan B. Anthony that was used in the History of Woman Suffrage
Born Susan Brownell Anthony
(1820-02-15)February 15, 1820
Adams, Massachusetts, U.S.
Died Script error: The function "death_date_and_age" does not exist.
Rochester, New York, U.S.
Known for Women's suffrage
women's rights
Susan B Anthony signature2.svg

Susan Brownell Anthony (February 15, 1820 – March 13, 1906) was an American social reformer and feminist who played a pivotal role in the women's suffrage movement. Born into a Quaker family committed to social equality, she collected anti-slavery petitions at the age of 17. In 1856, she became the New York state agent for the American Anti-Slavery Society.

In 1851, she met Elizabeth Cady Stanton, who became her lifelong friend and co-worker in social reform activities, primarily in the field of women's rights. In 1852, they founded the New York Women's State Temperance Society after Anthony was prevented from speaking at a temperance conference because she was a woman. In 1863, they founded the Women's Loyal National League, which conducted the largest petition drive in the nation's history up to that time, collecting nearly 400,000 signatures in support of the abolition of slavery. In 1866, they initiated the American Equal Rights Association, which campaigned for equal rights for both women and African Americans. In 1868, they began publishing a women's rights newspaper called The Revolution. In 1869, they founded the National Woman Suffrage Association as part of a split in the women's movement. In 1890 the split was formally healed when their organization merged with the rival American Woman Suffrage Association to form the National American Woman Suffrage Association, with Anthony as its key force. In 1876, Anthony and Stanton began working with Matilda Joslyn Gage on what eventually grew into the six-volume History of Woman Suffrage. The interests of Anthony and Stanton diverged somewhat in later years, but the two remained close friends.

In 1872, Anthony was arrested for voting in her hometown of Rochester, New York, and convicted in a widely publicized trial. Although she refused to pay the fine, the authorities declined to take further action. In 1878, Anthony and Stanton arranged for Congress to be presented with an amendment giving women the right to vote. Popularly known as the Anthony Amendment and introduced by Sen. Aaron A. Sargent (R-CA), it became the Nineteenth Amendment to the U.S. Constitution in 1920.

Anthony traveled extensively in support of women's suffrage, giving as many as 75 to 100 speeches per year and working on many state campaigns. She worked internationally for women's rights, playing a key role in creating the International Council of Women, which is still active. She also helped to bring about the World's Congress of Representative Women at the World's Columbian Exposition in Chicago in 1893.

When she first began campaigning for women's rights, Anthony was harshly ridiculed and accused of trying to destroy the institution of marriage. Public perception of her changed radically during her lifetime, however. Her 80th birthday was celebrated in the White House at the invitation of President William McKinley. She became the first nonfictitious woman to be depicted on U.S. coinage when her portrait appeared on the 1979 dollar coin.


Early life

Susan Brownell Anthony was born on February 15, 1820, to Daniel Anthony and Lucy Read in Adams, Massachusetts, the second oldest of seven children. Her family shared a passion for social reform. Her brothers Daniel and Merritt moved to Kansas to support the anti-slavery movement there. Merritt fought with John Brown against pro-slavery forces during the Bleeding Kansas crisis. Daniel eventually owned a newspaper and became mayor of Leavenworth.[1] Anthony's sister Mary, with whom she shared a home in later years, became a public school principal in Rochester, and a woman's rights activist.[2]

Anthony's father was an abolitionist and a temperance advocate. A Quaker, he had a difficult relationship with his traditionalist congregation, which rebuked him for marrying a non-Quaker and then disowned him for allowing a dance school to operate in his home. He continued to attend Quaker meetings anyway and became even more radical in his beliefs. Anthony's mother was not a Quaker but helped raise their children in a more tolerant version of her husband's religious tradition. Their father encouraged them all, girls as well as boys, to be self-supporting, teaching them business principles and giving them responsibilities at an early age.[3]

When Anthony was six years old, her family moved to Battenville, New York, where her father managed a large cotton mill. Previously he had operated his own small cotton factory. When she was seventeen, Anthony was sent to a Quaker boarding school in Philadelphia, where she unhappily endured its severe atmosphere. She was forced to end her studies after one term because her family was financially ruined during an economic downturn known as the Panic of 1837. They were forced to sell everything they had at an auction, but they were rescued by her maternal uncle, who bought most of their belongings and restored them to the family. To assist her family financially, Anthony left home to teach at a Quaker boarding school.[4]

Headmistress Susan B. Anthony in 1848 at age 28

In 1845, the family moved to a farm on the outskirts of Rochester, New York, purchased partly with the inheritance of Anthony's mother. There they associated with a group of Quaker social reformers who had left their congregation because of the restrictions it placed on reform activities, and who in 1848 formed a new organization called the Congregational Friends. The Anthony farmstead soon became the Sunday afternoon gathering place for local activists, including Frederick Douglass, a former slave and a prominent abolitionist who became Anthony's lifelong friend.[5][6]

As several others in that group were already doing, the Anthony family began to attend services at the First Unitarian Church of Rochester, which was associated with social reform. A women's rights convention was held at that church in 1848, inspired by the Seneca Falls Convention, the first women's rights convention, which was held two weeks earlier in a nearby town. Anthony's parents and her sister Mary attended the Rochester convention and signed the Declaration of Sentiments that had been first adopted by the Seneca Falls Convention.[7]

Anthony did not take part in either of these conventions because she had moved to Canajoharie in 1846 to be headmistress of the female department of the Canajoharie Academy. Away from Quaker influences for the first time in her life, at the age of 26 she began to replace her plain clothing with more stylish dresses, and she quit using "thee" and other forms of speech traditionally used by Quakers.[8] She was interested in social reform, and she was distressed at being paid much less than men with similar jobs, but she was amused at her father's enthusiasm over the Rochester women's rights convention. She later explained, "I wasn't ready to vote, didn't want to vote, but I did want equal pay for equal work."[9]

When the Canajoharie Academy closed in 1849, Anthony took over the operation of the family farm in Rochester so her father could devote more time to his insurance business. She worked at this task for a couple of years but found herself increasingly drawn to reform activity. With her parents' support, she was soon fully engaged in reform work.[10] For the rest of her life, she lived almost entirely on fees she earned as a speaker.[11]

Early social activism

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Cautious, careful people, always casting about to preserve their reputation and social standing, never can bring about a reform. Those who are really in earnest must be willing to be anything or nothing in the world's estimation, and publicly and privately, in season and out, avow their sympathy with despised and persecuted ideas and their advocates, and bear the consequences.

Susan B. Anthony, 1860[12]

Anthony embarked on her career of social reform with energy and determination. Schooling herself in reform issues, she found herself drawn to the more radical ideas of people like William Lloyd Garrison, George Thompson and Elizabeth Cady Stanton. Soon she was wearing the controversial Bloomer dress, consisting of pantaloons worn under a knee-length dress. Although it was more sensible than the traditional heavy dresses that dragged the ground, she reluctantly quit wearing it after a year because it gave her opponents the opportunity to focus on her apparel rather than her ideas.[13]

Partnership with Elizabeth Cady Stanton

Elizabeth Cady Stanton

In 1851, Anthony was introduced to Elizabeth Cady Stanton, who had been one of the organizers of the Seneca Falls Convention and had introduced the controversial resolution in support of women's suffrage. Anthony and Stanton soon became close friends and co-workers, forming a relationship that was pivotal for them and for the women's movement as a whole. After the Stantons moved from Seneca Falls to New York City in 1861, a room was set aside for Anthony in every house they lived in. One of Stanton's biographers estimated that over her lifetime, Stanton spent more time with Anthony than with any other adult, including her own husband.[14]

The two women had complementary skills. Anthony excelled at organizing, while Stanton had an aptitude for intellectual matters and writing. Anthony was dissatisfied with her own writing ability and wrote relatively little for publication. When historians illustrate her thoughts with direct quotes, they usually take them from her speeches, letters and diary entries.[15]

Because Stanton was homebound with seven children while Anthony was unmarried and free to travel, Anthony assisted Stanton by supervising her children while Stanton wrote. One of Anthony's biographers said, "Susan became one of the family and was almost another mother to Mrs. Stanton's children."[16] A biography of Stanton says that during the early years of their relationship, "Stanton provided the ideas, rhetoric, and strategy; Anthony delivered the speeches, circulated petitions, and rented the halls. Anthony prodded and Stanton produced."[17] Stanton's husband said, "Susan stirred the puddings, Elizabeth stirred up Susan, and then Susan stirs up the world!"[18] Stanton herself said, "I forged the thunderbolts, she fired them."[19] By 1854, Anthony and Stanton "had perfected a collaboration that made the New York State movement the most sophisticated in the country", according to Ann D. Gordon, a professor of women's history.[20]

Temperance activities

Temperance was very much a women's rights issue at that time because of laws that gave husbands complete control of the family and its finances. A woman with a drunken husband had little legal recourse even if his alcoholism left the family destitute and he was abusive to her and their children. If she obtained a divorce, which was difficult to do, he could easily end up with guardianship of the children.[21]

While teaching in Canajoharie, Anthony joined the Daughters of Temperance and in 1849 gave her first public speech at one of its meetings.[22] In 1852, she was elected as a delegate to the state temperance convention, but the chairman stopped her when she tried to speak, saying that women delegates were there only to listen and learn. Anthony and some other women immediately walked out and announced a meeting of their own, which created a committee to organize a women's state convention. Largely organized by Anthony, the convention of 500 women met in Rochester in April and created the Women's State Temperance Society, with Stanton as president and Anthony as state agent.[23]

Anthony and her co-workers collected 28,000 signatures on a petition for a law to prohibit the sale of alcohol in New York State. She organized a hearing on that law before the New York legislature, the first that had been initiated in that state by a group of women. At the organization's convention the following year, however, conservative members attacked Stanton's advocacy of the right of a wife of an alcoholic to obtain a divorce. Stanton was voted out as president, whereupon she and Anthony resigned from the organization.[24]

In 1853, Anthony attended the World's Temperance Convention in New York City, which bogged down for three chaotic days in a dispute about whether women would be allowed to speak there.[25] Years later, Anthony observed, "No advanced step taken by women has been so bitterly contested as that of speaking in public. For nothing which they have attempted, not even to secure the suffrage, have they been so abused, condemned and antagonized."[26] After this period, Anthony focused her energy on abolitionist and women's rights activities.

Teachers' conventions

When Anthony tried to speak at the New York State Teachers' Association meeting in 1853, her attempt sparked a half-hour debate among the men about whether it was proper for women to speak in public. Finally allowed to continue, Anthony said, "Do you not see that so long as society says a woman is incompetent to be a lawyer, minister, or doctor, but has ample ability to be a teacher, that every man of you who chooses this profession tacitly acknowledges that he has no more brains than a woman."[27] At the 1857 teacher's convention, she introduced a resolution calling for the admission of black people to public schools and colleges, but it was rejected as "not a proper subject for discussion."[28] When she introduced another resolution calling for males and females to be educated together at all levels, including colleges, it was fiercely opposed and decisively rejected. One opponent called the idea "a vast social evil... the first step in the school which seeks to abolish marriage, and behind this picture I see a monster of social deformity."[29]

Anthony continued to speak at state teachers' conventions for several years, insisting that women teachers should receive equal pay with men and serve as officers and committee members within the organization.[30]

Early women's rights activities

Anthony's work for the women's rights movement began at a time when that movement was already gathering momentum. Stanton had helped organize the Seneca Falls Convention in 1848, a local event that was the first women's rights convention. In 1850, the first in a series of National Women's Rights Conventions was held in Worcester, Massachusetts. In 1852, Anthony attended her first National Women's Rights Convention, which was held in Syracuse, New York, where she served as one of the convention's secretaries.[31]

A major hindrance to the women's movement was a lack of money. Few women at that time had an independent source of income, and even those with employment generally were required by law to turn over their pay to their husbands.[32] Partly through the efforts of the women's movement, a law had been passed in New York in 1848 that recognized some rights for married women, but that law was limited. In 1853, Anthony worked with William Henry Channing, her activist Unitarian minister, to organize a convention in Rochester to launch a state campaign for improved property rights for married women, which Anthony would lead. She took her lecture and petition campaign into almost every county in New York during the winter of 1855 despite the difficulty of traveling in snowy terrain in horse and buggy days.[33]

When she presented the petitions to the New York State Senate Judiciary Committee, its members told her that men were actually the oppressed sex because they did such things as giving women the best seats in carriages. Noting cases in which the petition had been signed by both husbands and wives (instead of the husband signing for both, which was the standard procedure), the committee's official report sarcastically recommended that the petitioners seek a law authorizing the husbands in such marriages to wear petticoats and the wives trousers.[34] The campaign finally achieved success in 1860 when the legislature passed an improved Married Women's Property Act that gave married women the right to own separate property, enter into contracts and be joint guardian of their children. The legislature rolled back much of this law in 1862, however, during a period when the women's movement was largely inactive because of the American Civil War.[35]

The women's movement was loosely structured at that time, with few state organizations and no national organization other than a coordinating committee that arranged annual conventions.[36] Lucy Stone, who did much of the organizational work for the national conventions, encouraged Anthony to take over some of the responsibility for them. Anthony resisted at first, feeling that she was needed more in the field of anti-slavery activities. After organizing a series of anti-slavery meetings in the winter of 1857, Anthony told a friend that, "the experience of the last winter is worth more to me than all my temperance and woman's rights work, though the latter were the school necessary to bring me into the antislavery work."[37] During a planning session for the 1858 women's rights convention, Stone, who had recently given birth, told Anthony that her new family responsibilities would prevent her from organizing conventions until her children were older. Anthony presided at the 1858 convention, and when the planning committee for national conventions was reorganized, Stanton became its president and Anthony its secretary.[38] Anthony continued to be heavily involved in anti-slavery work at the same time.

Anti-slavery activities

In 1837, at age 16, Anthony collected petitions against slavery as part of organized resistance to the newly established gag rule that prohibited anti-slavery petitions in the U.S. House of Representatives.[39] In 1851, she played a key role in organizing an anti-slavery convention in Rochester.[40] She was also part of the Underground Railroad. An entry in her diary in 1861 read, "Fitted out a fugitive slave for Canada with the help of Harriet Tubman."[41]

Susan B. Anthony

In 1856, Anthony agreed to become the New York State agent for the American Anti-Slavery Society with the understanding that she would also continue her advocacy of women's rights.[42] Anthony organized anti-slavery meetings throughout the state under banners that read "No compromise with slaveholders. Immediate and Unconditional Emancipation."[43]

She developed a reputation for fearlessness in facing down attempts to disrupt her meetings, but opposition became overwhelming on the eve of the Civil War. Mob action shut down her meetings in every town from Buffalo to Albany in early 1861. In Rochester, the police had to escort Anthony and other speakers from the building for their own safety.[44] In Syracuse, according to a local newspaper, "Rotten eggs were thrown, benches broken, and knives and pistols gleamed in every direction."[45]

Anthony expressed a vision of a racially integrated society that was radical for a time when abolitionists were debating the question of what was to become of the slaves after they were freed, and when people like Abraham Lincoln were calling for African Americans to be shipped to newly established colonies in Africa. In a speech in 1861, Anthony said, "Let us open to the colored man all our schools ... Let us admit him into all our mechanic shops, stores, offices, and lucrative business avocations ... let him rent such pew in the church, and occupy such seat in the theatre ... Extend to him all the rights of Citizenship.".[46]

The relatively small women's rights movement of that time was closely associated with the abolitionist movement, especially the American Anti-Slavery Society led by William Lloyd Garrison. The women's movement depended heavily on abolitionist resources, with its articles published in their newspapers and some of its funding provided by abolitionists.[47] There was tension, however, between leaders of the women's movement and male abolitionists who, although supporters of increased women's rights, believed that a vigorous campaign for women's rights would interfere with the campaign against slavery. In 1860, when Anthony sheltered a woman who had fled an abusive husband, Garrison insisted that the woman give up the child she had brought with her, pointing out that the law gave husbands complete control of children. Anthony reminded Garrison that he helped slaves escape to Canada in violation of the law and said, "Well, the law which gives the father ownership of the children is just as wicked and I'll break it just as quickly."[48]

When Stanton introduced a resolution at the National Woman's Rights Convention in 1860 favoring more lenient divorce laws, leading abolitionist Wendell Phillips not only opposed it but attempted to have it removed from the record.[49] When Stanton, Anthony, and others supported a bill before the New York legislature that would permit divorce in cases of desertion or inhuman treatment, Horace Greeley, an abolitionist newspaper publisher, campaigned against it in the pages of his newspaper.[50]

Garrison, Phillips and Greeley had all provided valuable help to the women's movement. In a letter to Lucy Stone, Anthony said, "The Men, even the best of them, seem to think the Women's Rights question should be waived for the present. So let us do our own work, and in our own way."[51]

Women's Loyal National League

Anthony and Stanton organized the Women's Loyal National League in 1863 to campaign for an amendment to the U.S. Constitution that would abolish slavery. It was the first national women's political organization in the United States.[52] In the largest petition drive in the nation's history up to that time, the League collected nearly 400,000 signatures to abolish slavery, representing approximately one out of every twenty-four adults in the Northern states.[53] The petition drive significantly assisted the passage of the Thirteenth Amendment, which ended slavery. Anthony was the chief organizer of this effort, which involved recruiting and coordinating some 2000 petition collectors.[54]

The League provided the women's movement with a vehicle for combining the fight against slavery with the fight for women's rights by reminding the public that petitioning was the only political tool available to women at a time when only men were allowed to vote.[55] With a membership of 5000, it helped develop a new generation of women leaders, providing experience and recognition not only for Stanton and Anthony but also for newcomers like Anna Dickenson, a gifted teenaged orator.[56] The League demonstrated the value of formal structure to a women's movement that had resisted being anything other than loosely organized up to that point.[57] The widespread network of women activists who assisted the League expanded the pool of talent that was available to reform movements, including the women's suffrage movement, after the war.[58]

American Equal Rights Association

Anthony stayed with her brother Daniel in Kansas for eight months in 1865 to assist with his newspaper. She headed back east after she learned that an amendment to the U.S. Constitution had been proposed that would provide citizenship for African Americans but would also for the first time introduce the word "male" into the constitution. Anthony supported citizenship for blacks but opposed any attempt to link it with a reduction in the status of women. Her ally Stanton agreed, saying "if that word 'male' be inserted, it will take us a century at least to get it out."[59]

Anthony and Stanton worked to revive the women's rights movement, which had become nearly dormant during the Civil War. In 1866 they organized the Eleventh National Women's Rights Convention, the first since the Civil War began.[60] Unanimously adopting a resolution introduced by Anthony, the convention voted to transform itself into the American Equal Rights Association (AERA), whose purpose was to campaign for the equal rights of all citizens, especially the right of suffrage.[61]

The leadership of the new organization included such prominent activists as Lucretia Mott, Lucy Stone and Frederick Douglass. Its drive for universal suffrage, however, was resisted by some abolitionist leaders and their allies in the Republican Party, who wanted women to postpone their campaign for suffrage until after it had been achieved for male African Americans. Horace Greeley, a prominent newspaper editor, told Anthony and Stanton, "This is a critical period for the Republican Party and the life of our Nation... I conjure you to remember that this is 'the negro's hour,' and your first duty now is to go through the State and plead his claims."[62] Anthony and Stanton refused to postpone their demands and continued to push for universal suffrage.

In 1867 the AERA campaigned in Kansas for referenda that would enfranchise both African Americans and women. Wendell Phillips, an abolitionist leader who opposed mixing those two causes, blocked the funding that the AERA had expected for their campaign.[63] After an internal struggle, Kansas Republicans decided to support suffrage for black men only and formed an "Anti Female Suffrage Committee" to oppose the AERA's efforts.[64] By the end of summer the AERA campaign had almost collapsed, and its finances were exhausted. Anthony and Stanton created a storm of controversy by accepting help during the last days of the campaign from George Francis Train, a wealthy businessman who supported women's rights. Train antagonized many activists by attacking the Republican Party and openly disparaging the integrity and intelligence of African Americans.[65] There is reason to believe, however, that Anthony and Stanton hoped to draw the volatile Train away from his cruder forms of racism, and that he had actually begun to do so.[66]

After the Kansas campaign, the AERA increasingly divided into two wings, both advocating universal suffrage but with different approaches. One wing, whose leading figure was Lucy Stone, was willing for black men to achieve suffrage first and wanted to maintain close ties with the Republican Party and the abolitionist movement. The other, whose leading figures were Anthony and Stanton, insisted that women and black men should be enfranchised at the same time and worked toward a politically independent women's movement that would no longer be dependent on abolitionists. The AERA effectively dissolved after an acrimonious meeting in May 1869, and two competing woman suffrage organizations were created in its aftermath.[67]

The Revolution

Anthony and Stanton began publishing a weekly newspaper called The Revolution in New York City in 1868. It focused primarily on women's rights, especially suffrage for women, but it also covered other topics, including politics, the labor movement and finance. Its motto was "Men, their rights and nothing more: women, their rights and nothing less."[68] One of its goals was to provide a forum in which women could exchange opinions on key issues from a variety of viewpoints. Anthony managed the business aspects of the paper while Stanton was co-editor along with Parker Pillsbury, an abolitionist and a supporter of women's rights. Initial funding was provided by George Francis Train, the controversial businessman who supported women's rights but who alienated many activists with his political and racial views.[69]

Printing House Square in Manhattan in 1868, showing the sign for The Revolution's office at the far right below The World and above Scientific American.

In the aftermath of the Civil War, major periodicals associated with the radical social reform movements had either become more conservative or had quit publishing or soon would.[70] Anthony intended for The Revolution to partially fill that void, hoping to grow it eventually into a daily paper with its own printing press, all owned and operated by women.[71] The funding Train had arranged for the newspaper, however, was less than Anthony had expected. Moreover, Train sailed for England after The Revolution published its first issue and was soon jailed for supporting Irish independence.[72]

Train's financial support eventually disappeared entirely. After twenty-nine months, mounting debts forced Anthony to transfer the paper to Laura Curtis Bullard, a wealthy women's rights activist who gave it a less radical tone. The paper published its last issue less than two years later.[69] Despite its short life, The Revolution gave Anthony and Stanton a means for expressing their views during the developing split within the women's movement. It also helped them promote their wing of the movement, which eventually became a separate organization.[73]

Attempted alliance with labor

The National Labor Union (NLU), which was formed in 1866, began reaching out to farmers, African Americans and women, with the intention of forming a broad-based political party.[74] The Revolution responded enthusiastically, declaring, "The principles of the National Labor Union are our principles."[75] It predicted that "The producers—the working-men, the women, the negroes—are destined to form a triple power that shall speedily wrest the sceptre of government from the non-producers—the land monopolists, the bond-holders, the politicians."[76] Anthony and Stanton were seated as delegates to the NLU Congress in 1868, with Anthony representing the Working Women's Association (WWA), which had recently been formed in the offices of The Revolution.[77]

The attempted alliance did not last long. During a printers' strike in 1869, Anthony voiced approval of an employer-sponsored training program that would teach women skills that would enable them in effect to replace the strikers. Anthony viewed the program as an opportunity to increase employment of women in a trade from which women were often excluded by both employers and unions. At the next NLU Congress, Anthony was first seated as a delegate but then unseated because of strong opposition from those who accused her of supporting strikebreakers.[78]

Anthony worked with the WWA to form all-female labor unions, but with little success. She accomplished more in her work with the joint campaign by the WWA and The Revolution to win a pardon for Hester Vaughn, a domestic worker who had been found guilty of infanticide and sentenced to death. Charging that the social and legal systems treated women unfairly, the WWA petitioned, organized a mass meeting at which Anthony was one of the speakers, and sent delegations to visit Vaughn in prison and to speak with the governor. Vaughn was eventually pardoned.[79]

Originally with a membership that included over a hundred wage-earning women, the WWA evolved into an organization consisting almost entirely of journalists, doctors and other middle-class working women. Its members formed the core of the New York City portion of the new national suffrage organization that Anthony and Stanton were in the process of forming.[80]

Split in the women's movement

In May 1869, two days after the final AERA convention, Anthony, Stanton and others formed the National Woman Suffrage Association (NWSA). In November 1869, Lucy Stone, Julia Ward Howe and others formed the competing American Woman Suffrage Association (AWSA). The hostile nature of their rivalry created a partisan atmosphere that endured for decades, affecting even professional historians of the women's movement.[81]

The immediate cause for the split was the proposed Fifteenth Amendment to the U.S. Constitution, which would prohibit the denial of suffrage because of race. In one of her most controversial actions, Anthony opposed the amendment. She and Stanton campaigned against it because they believed that by effectively enfranchising all men while excluding all women, the amendment would create an "aristocracy of sex" by giving constitutional authority to the idea that men were superior to women. They wanted women and African Americans to be enfranchised at the same time.[82]

The AWSA supported the amendment, but Lucy Stone, who became its most prominent leader, also made it clear that she believed that suffrage for women would be more beneficial to the country than suffrage for black men.[83]

The two organizations had other differences as well. The NWSA was politically independent, but the AWSA at least initially aimed for close ties with the Republican Party, hoping that the ratification of the Fifteenth Amendment would lead to a Republican push for women's suffrage. The NWSA focused primarily on winning suffrage at the national level while the AWSA pursued a state-by-state strategy. The NWSA initially worked on a wider range of women's issues than the AWSA, including divorce reform and equal pay for women.[84]

Events soon removed much of the basis for the split in the women's movement. In 1870, debate about the Fifteenth Amendment was made irrelevant when that amendment was officially ratified. In 1872, disgust with corruption in government led to a mass defection of abolitionists and other social reformers from the Republicans to the short-lived Liberal Republican Party.[85] As early as 1875, Anthony began urging the NWSA to focus more exclusively on women's suffrage rather than a variety of women's issues.[86] The rivalry between the two women's groups was so bitter, however, that a merger proved to be impossible for twenty years. The AWSA, which was especially strong in New England, was the larger of the two organizations, but it began to decline in strength during the 1880s.[87] In 1890, the two organizations merged as the National American Woman Suffrage Association (NAWSA), with Stanton as president but with Anthony as its effective leader. When Stanton retired from her post in 1892, Anthony became NAWSA's president.[88]

National suffrage movement

Anthony's history of Woman's Suffrage begins in 1852. At the age of 32, Susan B. Anthony attended her first woman’s rights convention in Syracuse, where she declared “that the right which woman need above every other, the one, the one indeed which would secure to her all the others, was the right of suffrage.”By the end of the Civil War," according to historian Ann D. Gordon, "Susan B. Anthony occupied new social and political territory. She was emerging on the national scene as a female leader, something new in American history, and she did so as a single woman in a culture that perceived the spinster as anomalous and unguarded ... By the 1880s, she was among the senior political figures in the United States."[89]

After the formation of the NWSA, Anthony dedicated herself fully to the organization and to women's suffrage. She did not draw a salary from either it or its successor, the NAWSA, but on the contrary used her lecture fees to fund those organizations.[90] There was no national office, the mailing address being simply that of one of the officers.[91]

That Anthony had remained unmarried gave her an important business advantage in this work. A married woman at that time had the legal status of feme covert, which, among other things, excluded her from signing contracts (her husband could do that for her, if he chose). As Anthony had no husband, she was a feme sole and could freely sign contracts for convention halls, printed materials, etc.[92] Using fees she earned by lecturing, she paid off the debts she had accumulated while supporting The Revolution. With the press treating her as a celebrity, she proved to be a major draw.[93] Over her career she estimated that she averaged 75 to 100 speeches per year. Travel conditions in the earlier days were sometimes appalling. Once she gave a speech from the top of a billiard table. On another occasion her train was snowbound for days, and she survived on crackers and dried fish.[94]

Both Anthony and Stanton joined the lecture circuit about 1870, usually traveling from mid-autumn to spring. The timing was right because the nation was beginning to discuss women's suffrage as a serious matter. Occasionally they traveled together but most often not. Lecture bureaus scheduled their tours and handled the travel arrangements, which generally involved traveling during the day and speaking at night, sometimes for weeks at a time, including weekends. Their lectures brought new recruits into the movement who strengthened suffrage organizations at the local, state and national levels. Their journeys during that decade covered a distance that was unmatched by any other reformer or politician.[95] Anthony's other suffrage work included organizing national conventions, lobbying Congress and state legislatures, and participating in a seemingly endless series of state suffrage campaigns.

A special opportunity arose in 1876 when the U.S. celebrated its 100th birthday as an independent country. The NWSA asked permission to present a Declaration of Rights for Women at the official ceremony in Philadelphia, but was refused. Undaunted, five women, headed by Anthony, walked onto the platform during the ceremony and handed their Declaration to the startled official in charge. As they left, they handed out copies of it to the crowd. Spotting an unoccupied bandstand outside the hall, Anthony mounted it and read the Declaration to a large crowd. Afterwards she invited everyone to a NWSA convention at the nearby Unitarian church where speakers like Lucretia Mott and Elizabeth Cady Stanton awaited them.[96][97]

The work of all segments of the women's suffrage movement began to show clear results. Women won the right to vote in Wyoming in 1869 and in Utah in 1870. Her lectures in Washington and four other states led directly to invitations for her to address the state legislatures there.[95]

The Grange, a large advocacy group for farmers, officially supported women's suffrage as early as 1885. The Women's Christian Temperance Union, the largest women's organization in the country, also supported suffrage[98]

Anthony's commitment to the movement, her spartan lifestyle, and the fact that she did not seek personal financial gain, made her an effective fund-raiser and won her the admiration of many who did not agree with her goals.[90] As her reputation grew, her working and travel conditions improved. She sometimes had the use of the private railroad car of Jane Stanford, a sympathizer whose husband owned a major railroad. While lobbying and preparing for the annual suffrage conventions in Washington, she was provided with a free suite of rooms in the Riggs Hotel, whose owners supported her work.[99]

To ensure continuity, Anthony trained a group of younger activists, who were known as her "nieces," to assume leadership roles within the organization. Two of them, Carrie Chapman Catt and Anna Howard Shaw, served as presidents of the NAWSA after Anthony retired from that position.[100]

United States v. Susan B. Anthony

The NWSA convention of 1871 adopted a strategy of urging women to attempt to vote, and then, after being turned away, to file suits in federal courts demanding that their right to vote be recognized. The legal basis for the challenge would be the recently adopted Fourteenth Amendment.[101] Section 1 of that amendment reads, "All persons born or naturalized in the United States, and subject to the jurisdiction thereof, are citizens of the United States and of the State wherein they reside. No State shall make or enforce any law which shall abridge the privileges or immunities of citizens of the United States; nor shall any State deprive any person of life, liberty, or property, without due process of law; nor deny to any person within its jurisdiction the equal protection of the laws."

Anthony and nearly fifty other women in Rochester attempted to vote in the presidential election of 1872. Fifteen of them convinced the election inspectors to allow them to cast ballots, but the others were turned back. There had been earlier cases of women attempting to vote, and even some cases of success, but the reaction of the authorities had been muted. When Anthony voted, however, the reaction was different, and her case became a national controversy.[102] Anthony was arrested on November 18, 1872, by a U.S. Deputy Marshal and charged with illegally voting. The other fourteen women were also arrested but released pending the outcome of Anthony's trial.[101]

Anthony spoke in all 29 towns and villages of Monroe County, New York, where her trial was to be held, asking "Is it a Crime for a U.S. Citizen to Vote?" She said the Fourteenth Amendment gave her that right, proclaiming, "We no longer petition legislature or Congress to give us the right to vote, but appeal to women everywhere to exercise their too long neglected 'citizen's right'".[103] Her speech was printed in its entirety in one of the Rochester daily newspapers, which further spread her message to potential jurors.[101]

Worried that Anthony's speeches would influence the jury, the district attorney arranged for the trial to be moved to the federal circuit court, which would soon sit in neighboring Ontario County. Anthony responded by speaking in every village in that county also before the trial began. Responsibility for that federal circuit was in the hands of Justice Ward Hunt, who had recently been appointed to the U.S. Supreme Court. Hunt had never served as a trial judge; originally a politician, he had begun his judicial career by being elected to the New York Court of Appeals.[104]

Anthony's trial was a major step in the transition of the women's rights movement into the women's suffrage movement.[105] The trial began on June 17, 1873, and was closely followed by the national press. The New York Times caught the tone of the proceedings by reporting that, "It was conceded that the defendant was, on the 5th November, 1872, a woman."[106]

Following a rule of common law at that time which prevented criminal defendants in federal courts from testifying, Hunt refused to allow Anthony to speak until the verdict had been delivered. On the second day of the trial, after both sides had presented their cases, Justice Hunt delivered his opinion, which he had put in writing. In the most controversial aspect of the trial, Hunt directed the jury to deliver a guilty verdict.[101]

On the third day of the trial, Hunt asked Anthony whether she had anything to say. She responded with "the most famous speech in the history of the agitation for woman suffrage", according to Ann D. Gordon, a historian of the women's movement.[101] Repeatedly ignoring the judge's order to stop talking and sit down, she protested what she called "this high-handed outrage upon my citizen's rights ... you have trampled under foot every vital principle of our government. My natural rights, my civil rights, my political rights, my judicial rights, are all alike ignored."[107]

She castigated Justice Hunt for denying her a trial by jury, but stated that even if he had allowed the jury to discuss the case, she still would have been denied a trial by a jury of her peers because women were not allowed to be jurors. When Justice Hunt sentenced Anthony to pay a fine of $100, she responded, "I shall never pay a dollar of your unjust penalty", and she never did.[101] If Hunt had ordered her to be imprisoned until she paid the fine, Anthony could have appealed her case to the Supreme Court. Hunt instead announced he would not order her taken into custody, closing off that legal avenue.[108]

The U.S. Supreme Court in 1875 put an end to the strategy of trying to achieve women's suffrage through the court system by ruling in Minor v. Happersett that "the Constitution of the United States does not confer the right of suffrage upon anyone".[108] The NWSA decided to pursue the far more difficult strategy of campaigning for a constitutional amendment to guarantee voting rights for women.[101]

History of Woman Suffrage

Cover of Life magazine in 1913. Titled "Ancient History", it shows an Anthony-like figure in classical dress leading a protest for women's rights

Anthony and Stanton initiated the project of writing a history of the women's suffrage movement in 1876. Anthony had for years saved letters, newspapers clippings, and other materials of historical value to the women's movement. In 1876, she moved into the Stanton household in New Jersey along with several trunks and boxes of these materials to begin working with Stanton on the History of Woman Suffrage.[109]

Anthony hated this type of work. In her letters, she said the project "makes me feel growly all the time ... No warhorse ever panted for the rush of battle more than I for outside work. I love to make history but hate to write it."[110] The work absorbed much of her time for several years although she continued to work on other women's suffrage activities. She acted as her own publisher, which presented several problems, including finding space for the inventory. She was forced to limit the number of books she was storing in the attic of her sister's house because the weight was threatening to collapse the structure.[111]

Originally envisioned as a modest publication that could be produced quickly, the history evolved into a six-volume work of more than 5700 pages written over a period of 41 years. The first three volumes, which cover the movement up to 1885, were published between 1881 and 1886 and were produced by Stanton, Anthony and Matilda Joslyn Gage. Anthony handled the production details and the extensive correspondence with contributors. Anthony published Volume 4, which covers the period from 1883 to 1900, in 1902, after Stanton's death, with the help of Ida Husted Harper, Anthony's designated biographer. The last two volumes, which bring the history up to 1920, were completed in 1922 by Harper after Anthony's death.

The History of Woman Suffrage preserves an enormous amount of material that might have been lost forever. Written by leaders of one wing of the divided women's movement (Lucy Stone, their main rival, refused to have anything to do with the project), it does not, however, give a balanced view of events where their rivals are concerned. It overstates the role of Anthony and Stanton, and it understates or ignores the roles of Stone and other activists who did not fit into the historical narrative that Anthony and Stanton developed. Because it was for years the main source of documentation about the suffrage movement, historians have had to uncover other sources to provide a more balanced view.[112][113]

Not only was Susan B. Anthony heavily involved in the NWSA but, she also collected signatures on suffrage petitions at both the state and national levels. Anthony even took many state tours and organized different suffrage campaigns. In fact, “The Napoleon of the woman’s rights movement,” lobbied before congress yearly. [114]

International women's organizations

International Council of Women

Anthony traveled to Europe in 1883 for a nine-month stay, linking up with Stanton, who had arrived a few months earlier. Together they met with leaders of European women's movements and began the process of creating an international women's organization.[115] The National Woman Suffrage Association (NWSA) agreed to host its founding congress. The preparatory work was handled primarily by Anthony and two of her younger colleagues in the NWSA, Rachel Foster Avery and May Wright Sewall. Delegates from fifty-three women's organizations in nine countries met in Washington in 1888 to form the new association, which was called the International Council of Women (ICW). The delegates represented a wide variety of organizations, including suffrage associations, professional groups, literary clubs, temperance unions, labor leagues and missionary societies. The American Woman Suffrage Association, which had for years been a rival to the NWSA, participated in the congress. Anthony opened the first session of the ICW and presided over most events.[116]

The ICW commanded respect at the highest levels. President Cleveland and his wife sponsored a reception at the White House for delegates to the ICW's founding congress. The ICW's second congress was an integral part of the World's Columbian Exposition held in Chicago in 1893. At its third congress in London in 1899, a reception for the ICW was held at Windsor Castle at the invitation of Queen Victoria. At its fourth congress in Berlin in 1904, Augusta Victoria, the German Empress, received the ICW leaders at her palace. Anthony played a prominent role on all four occasions.[117] Still active, ICW is associated with the United Nations.[118]

World's Congress of Representative Women

The World's Columbian Exposition, also known as the Chicago World's Fair, was held in 1893. It hosted several world congresses, each dealing with a specialized topic, such as religion, medicine and science. At almost the last moment, the U.S. Congress decided that the Exposition should also recognize the role of women. After it was over, one of the organizers of the Exposition's congress of women revealed that Anthony had played a pivotal but hidden role in that last-minute decision. Fearing that a public campaign would rouse opposition, Anthony had worked quietly to organize support for this project among women of the political elite. Anthony increased the pressure by covertly initiating a petition that was signed by wives and daughters of Supreme Court judges, senators, cabinet members and other dignitaries.[119]

Woman's Building at the World's Columbian Exposition

A large structure called the Woman's Building, designed by Sophia Hayden Bennett, was constructed to provide meeting and exhibition spaces for women at the Exposition. Two of Anthony's closest associates were appointed to organize the women's congress. They arranged for the International Council of Women to make its upcoming meeting part of the Exposition by expanding its scope and calling itself the World's Congress of Representative Women.[120] This week-long congress seated delegates from 27 countries. Its 81 sessions, many held simultaneously, were attended by over 150,000 people, and women's suffrage was discussed at almost every session.[121] Anthony spoke to large crowds at the Exposition.[122]

"Buffalo Bill" Cody invited her as a guest to his Wild West Show, located just outside the Exposition.[123] When the show opened, he rode his horse directly to her and greeted her with dramatic flair. According to a co-worker, Anthony, "for the moment as enthusiastic as a girl, waved her handkerchief at him, while the big audience, catching the spirit of the scene, wildly applauded."[124]

International Woman Suffrage Alliance

After Anthony retired as president of the National American Woman Suffrage Association, Carrie Chapman Catt, her chosen successor, began working toward an international women's suffrage association, one of Anthony's long-time goals. The existing International Council of Women could not be expected to support a campaign for women's suffrage because it was a broad alliance whose more conservative members would object. In 1902, Catt organized a preparatory meeting in Washington, with Anthony as chair, that was attended by delegates from several countries. Organized primarily by Catt, the International Woman Suffrage Alliance was created in Berlin in 1904. The founding meeting was chaired by Anthony, who was declared to be the new organization's honorary president and first member.[125] According to Anthony's authorized biographer, "no event ever gave Miss Anthony such profound satisfaction as this one".[126] Later renamed the International Alliance of Women, the organization is still active and is affiliated with the United Nations.[127]

Relationship with Stanton

Elizabeth Cady Stanton (sitting) with Anthony

Anthony and Stanton worked together in a close and productive relationship. From 1880 to 1886 they were together almost every day working on the History of Woman Suffrage.[128] They referred to each other as "Susan" and "Mrs. Stanton".[129] Anthony deferred to Stanton in other ways also, not accepting an office in any organization that would place her above Stanton.[130] In practice this generally meant that Anthony, although ostensibly holding a less important office, handled most of the organization's daily activities.[131] Stanton sometimes felt the weight of Anthony's determination and drive. When Stanton arrived at an important meeting in 1888 with her speech not yet written, Anthony insisted that Stanton stay in her hotel room until she had written it, and she placed a younger colleague outside her door to make sure she did so.[132] At Anthony's 70th birthday celebration, Stanton teased her by saying, "Well, as all women are supposed to be under the thumb of some man, I prefer a tyrant of my own sex, so I shall not deny the patent fact of my subjection."[133]

Their interests began to diverge somewhat as they grew older. As the drive for women's suffrage gained momentum, Anthony began to form alliances with more conservative groups, such as the Women's Christian Temperance Union, the nation's largest women's organization and a supporter of women's suffrage.[134] Such moves irritated Stanton, who said, "I get more radical as I get older, while she seems to grow more conservative."[135] In 1895 Stanton published The Woman's Bible, which attacked the use of the Bible to relegate women to an inferior status. It became a highly controversial best-seller. The NAWSA voted to disavow any connection with it despite Anthony's strong objection that such a move was unnecessary and hurtful.[136] Even so, Anthony refused to assist with the book's preparation, telling Stanton: "You say 'women must be emancipated from their superstitions before enfranchisement will have any benefit,' and I say just the reverse, that women must be enfranchised before they can be emancipated from their superstitions."[137] Despite such friction, their relationship continued to be close. When Stanton died in 1902, Anthony wrote to a friend: "Oh, this awful hush! It seems impossible that voice is stilled which I have loved to hear for fifty years. Always I have felt I must have Mrs. Stanton's opinion of things before I knew where I stood myself. I am all at sea..."[138]

Later life

The house that Susan B. Anthony shared with her sister in Rochester. She was arrested here for voting.

Having lived for years in hotels and with friends and relatives, Anthony agreed to settle into her sister (Mary Stafford Anthony)'s house in Rochester in 1891, at the age of 71.[139] Her energy and stamina, which sometimes exhausted her co-workers, continued at a remarkable level. At age 75, she toured Yosemite National Park on the back of a mule.[140]

She remained as leader of the NAWSA and continued to travel extensively on suffrage work. She also engaged in local projects. In 1893, she initiated the Rochester branch of the Women's Educational and Industrial Union.[141] In 1898, she called a meeting of 73 local women's societies to form the Rochester Council of Women. She played a key role in raising the funds required by the University of Rochester before they would admit women students, pledging her life insurance policy to close the final funding gap.[142]

In 1896, she spent eight months on the California suffrage campaign, speaking as many as three times per day in more than 30 localities. In 1900, she presided over her last NAWSA convention. During the six remaining years of her life, Anthony spoke at six more NAWSA conventions and four congressional hearings, completed the fourth volume of the History of Woman Suffrage, and traveled to eighteen states and to Europe.[143] As Anthony's fame grew, some politicians (certainly not all of them) were happy to be publicly associated with her. Her seventieth birthday was celebrated at a national event in Washington with prominent members of the House and Senate in attendance.[144] Her eightieth birthday was celebrated at the White House at the invitation of President William McKinley.[145]


Views on religion

Anthony was raised a Quaker, but her religious heritage was mixed. On her mother's side, her grandmother was a Baptist and her grandfather was a Universalist.[146] Her father was a radical Quaker who chafed under the restrictions of his more conservative congregation. When the Quakers split in the late 1820s into Orthodox and Hicksites, her family sided with the Hicksites, which Anthony described as "the radical side, the Unitarian".[147][148]

In 1848, three years after the Anthony family moved to Rochester, a group of about 200 Quakers withdrew from the Hicksite organization in western New York, partly because they wanted to work in social reform movements without interference from that organization.[149] Some of them, including the Anthony family, began attending services at the First Unitarian Church of Rochester. When Susan B. Anthony returned home from teaching in 1849, she joined her family in attending services there, and she remained with the Rochester Unitarians for the rest of her life.[150] Her sense of spirituality was strongly influenced by William Henry Channing,[151] a nationally known minister of that church who also assisted her with several of her reform projects.[152] Anthony was listed as a member of First Unitarian in a church history written in 1881.[153]

Anthony, proud of her Quaker roots, continued to describe herself as a Quaker, however. She maintained her membership in the local Hicksite body but did not attend its meetings.[154] She joined the Congregational Friends, an organization that was created by Quakers in western New York after the 1848 split among Quakers there. This group soon ceased to operate as a religious body, however, and changed its name to the Friends of Human Progress, organizing annual meetings in support of social reform that welcomed everyone, including "Christians, Jews, Mahammedans, and Pagans".[149][155] Anthony served as secretary of this group in 1857.[154]

In 1859, during a period when Rochester Unitarians were gravely impaired by factionalism,[153] Anthony unsuccessfully attempted to start a "Free church in Rochester ... where no doctrines should be preached and all should be welcome."[156] She used as her model the Boston church of Theodore Parker, a Unitarian minister who helped to set the direction of his denomination by rejecting the authority of the Bible and the validity of miracles.[157] Anthony later became close friends with William Channing Gannett, who became the minister of the Unitarian Church in Rochester in 1889, and with his wife Mary, who came from a Quaker background.[158] William had been a national leader of the successful movement within the Unitarian denomination to end the practice of binding it by a formal creed, thereby opening its membership to non-Christians and even non-theists, a goal for the denomination that resembled Anthony's goal for her proposed Free church.[159]

After Anthony reduced her arduous travel schedule and made her home in Rochester in 1891, she resumed regular attendance at First Unitarian and also worked with the Gannetts on local reform projects. Her sister Mary Stafford Anthony, whose home had provided a resting place for Anthony during her years of frequent travel, had long played an active role in this church.[160]

Her first public speech, delivered at a temperance meeting as a young woman, contained frequent references to God.[161] She soon took a more distant approach, however. While in Europe in 1883, Anthony helped a desperately poor Irish mother of six children. Noting that "the evidences were that 'God' was about to add a No. 7 to her flock", she later commented, "What a dreadful creature their God must be to keep sending hungry mouths while he withholds the bread to fill them!"[162]

Elizabeth Cady Stanton said that Anthony was an agnostic, adding, "To her, work is worship ... Her belief is not orthodox, but it is religious."[163] Anthony herself said, "Work and worship are one with me. I can not imagine a God of the universe made happy by my getting down on my knees and calling him 'great.'"[164] When Anthony's sister Hannah was on her death bed, she asked Susan to talk about the great beyond, but, Anthony later wrote, "I could not dash her faith with my doubts, nor could I pretend a faith I had not; so I was silent in the dread presence of death."[165]

When an organization offered to sponsor a women's rights convention on the condition that "no speaker should say anything which would seem like an attack on Christianity", Anthony wrote to a friend, "I wonder if they'll be as particular to warn all other speakers not to say anything which shall sound like an attack on liberal religion. They never seem to think we have any feelings to be hurt when we have to sit under their reiteration of orthodox cant and dogma."[166]

Views on marriage

Susan B. Anthony

As a teen, Anthony went to parties, and she had offers of marriage when she was older, but there is no record of her ever having a serious romance.[167] Anthony loved children, however, and helped raise the children in the Stanton household.[16] Referring to her niece, she wrote, "The dear little Lucy engrosses most of my time and thoughts. A child one loves is a constant benediction to the soul, whether or not it helps to the accomplishment of great intellectual feats."[168]

As a young worker in the women's rights movement, Anthony expressed frustration when some of her co-workers began to marry and have children, sharply curtailing their ability to work for the understaffed movement. When Lucy Stone abandoned her pledge to stay single, Anthony's scolding remarks caused a temporary rupture in their friendship.[169] Journalists repeatedly asked Anthony to explain why she never married. She answered one by saying, "It always happened that the men I wanted were those I could not get, and those who wanted me I wouldn't have."[170] To another she answered, "I never found the man who was necessary to my happiness. I was very well as I was."[171] To a third she said, "I never felt I could give up my life of freedom to become a man's housekeeper. When I was young, if a girl married poor, she became a housekeeper and a drudge. If she married wealth she became a pet and a doll. Just think, had I married at twenty, I would have been a drudge or a doll for fifty-nine years. Think of it!"[164]

Anthony fiercely opposed laws that gave husbands complete control over the marriage. Blackstone's Commentaries, the basis for the legal systems in most states at that time, stated that, "By marriage, the husband and wife are one person in law: that is, the very being or legal existence of the woman is suspended during the marriage".[172]

In a speech in 1877, Anthony predicted "an epoch of single women. If women will not accept marriage with subjugation, nor men proffer it without, there is, there can be, no alternative. The woman who will not be ruled must live without marriage."[173]

Views on abortion

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Anthony's political position on abortion has been a subject of a relatively recent dispute, with some pro-life activists contending she would favor the pro-life position in the modern abortion debate. These activists cite certain words and phrases that she used, such as "unborn little ones".[174] They also cite articles that referred to abortion as "child-murder" or "ante-natal infanticide" in The Revolution, a woman's journal owned by Anthony but edited by Stanton and Pillsbury, that provided a forum for contrasting opinions.[175][176]

Ann D. Gordon, a leading academic authority on Anthony,[177] has criticized the effort to represent Anthony as someone who would support the modern pro-life movement, saying, "The result is what historians call 'invented memory'—history without foundation in the evidence but with modern utility."[178] Gordon said that Anthony "never voiced an opinion about the sanctity of fetal life ... and she never voiced an opinion about using the power of the state to require that pregnancies be brought to term."[179]

Death and legacy

Susan B. Anthony
commemorative stamp, 1936 issue
Issued on the 16th anniversary of ratification of the 19th Amendment, allowing women to vote.[180]

Susan B. Anthony died at the age of 86 of heart failure and pneumonia in her home in Rochester, New York, on March 13, 1906.[181] She was buried at Mount Hope Cemetery, Rochester. At her birthday celebration in Washington a few days earlier, Anthony had spoken of those who had worked with her for women's rights: "There have been others also just as true and devoted to the cause — I wish I could name every one — but with such women consecrating their lives, failure is impossible!"[182] "Failure is impossible" quickly became a watchword for the women's movement.

In her history of the women's suffrage movement, Eleanor Flexner wrote, "If Lucretia Mott typified the moral force of the movement, if Lucy Stone was its most gifted orator and Mrs. Stanton its most outstanding philosopher, Susan Anthony was its incomparable organizer, who gave it force and direction for half a century."[183]

Anthony did not live to see the achievement of women's suffrage at the national level, but she was proud of the progress the women's movement had made. At the time of her death, women had achieved suffrage in Wyoming, Utah, Colorado and Idaho, and several larger states followed soon after. Legal rights for married women had been established in most states, and most professions had at least a few women members. 36,000 women were attending colleges and universities, up from zero a few decades earlier."[184] Two years before she died, Anthony said, "The world has never witnessed a greater revolution than in the sphere of woman during this fifty years".[185]

Part of the revolution was in ways of thinking. In a speech in 1889, Anthony noted that women had always been taught that their purpose was to serve men, but "Now, after 40 years of agitation, the idea is beginning to prevail that women were created for themselves, for their own happiness, and for the welfare of the world."[186] Anthony was sure that women's suffrage would be achieved, but she also feared that people would forget how difficult it was to achieve it, as they were already forgetting the ordeals of the recent past:<templatestyles src="Template:Quote_box/styles.css" />

We shall someday be heeded, and when we shall have our amendment to the Constitution of the United States, everybody will think it was always so, just exactly as many young people think that all the privileges, all the freedom, all the enjoyments which woman now possesses always were hers. They have no idea of how every single inch of ground that she stands upon today has been gained by the hard work of some little handful of women of the past.

Susan B. Anthony, 1894[187]

Anthony's death was widely mourned. Clara Barton, founder of the American Red Cross, said just before Anthony's death, "A few days ago someone said to me that every woman should stand with bared head before Susan B. Anthony. 'Yes,' I answered, 'and every man as well.' ... For ages he has been trying to carry the burden of life's responsibilities alone... Just now it is new and strange and men cannot comprehend what it would mean but the change is not far away."[188]

The Nineteenth Amendment, which guaranteed the right of women to vote, was popularly known as the Susan B. Anthony Amendment.[189] After it was ratified in 1920, the National American Woman Suffrage Association, whose character and policies were strongly influenced by Anthony, was transformed into the League of Women Voters, which is still an active force in U.S. politics.[190]

In 1936, the U.S. Post Office issued its first postage stamp honoring Susan B. Anthony.[180] A second stamp honoring Anthony was issued in April 1958.[191]

Since 1970, the Susan B. Anthony Award is given annually by the NYC chapter of the National Organization for Women to honor "grassroots activists dedicated to improving the lives of women and girls in New York City."[192][193]

In 1979, the United States Mint began issuing the Susan B. Anthony dollar coin, the first U.S. coin to honor a real woman rather than an allegorical female figure.[194]

The artwork The Dinner Party features a place setting for Anthony.[195]

Anthony's home in Rochester is now a National Historic Landmark called the National Susan B. Anthony Museum and House.[196] The house of her birth[197] in Adams, Massachusetts, and her childhood home[198] in Battenville, New York, are listed on the National Register of Historic Places.

The Cathedral of St. John the Divine in Manhattan, one of the world's largest, has a sculpture honoring four spiritual heroes of the twentieth century: Anthony, Martin Luther King, Albert Einstein, and Mohandas Gandhi.[199]

The rotunda of the U.S. Capitol contains a statue that honors three leading women's rights leaders: Anthony, Elizabeth Cady Stanton, and Lucretia Mott.[200]

Susan B. Anthony has had a lasting impression on Rochester Institute of Technology as she was good friends with Kate Gleason and even gave her a copy of "History of Woman Suffrage." [201]

See also


  1. Harper (1898–1908), Vol. 1, pp. 144, 231
  2. McKelvey (April 1945), pp. 16, 18
  3. Harper (1898–1908), Vol. 1, pp. 10, 37, 57
  4. Harper (1898–1908), Vol. 1, pp. 11, 17, 24–31, 35, 39
  5. Harper (1898–1908), Vol. 1, pp. 45–46, 60
  6. Hugh Barbour, Christopher Densmore, Elizabeth H. Moger, Nancy C. Sorel, Alson D. Van Wagner, Arthur J. Worrall, ed. (1995). Quaker Crosscurrents: Three Hundred Years of Friends in the New York Yearly Meetings, pp. 135–135. Syracuse, N.Y: Syracuse University Press. p. 135. ISBN 0-8156-2664-9.
  7. Harper (1898–1908), Vol. 1, p. 59
  8. Harper (1898–1908), Vol. 1, pp. 49–50
  9. National Woman Suffrage Association, Report of the International Council of Women, Volume 1, 1888, p. 327
  10. Harper (1898–1908), Vol. 1, pp. 55–56
  11. Sherr (1995), p. 226
  12. Quoted in Harper (1898–1908), Vol. 1, p. 197
  13. Barry (1988), pp. 60–61, 82
  14. Griffith (1984), pp. 108, 224
  15. For Anthony's lack of confidence in her writing ability, see letter from Anthony to Stanton, June 5, 1856, quoted in Sherr (1995), p. 22
  16. 16.0 16.1 Barry (1988), p. 64
  17. Griffith (1984), p. 74
  18. Letter from Stanton to Anthony, August 20, 1857, quoted in Griffith (1984), p. 74
  19. Stanton (1898) p. 165.
  20. Gordon (1997). p. xxx
  21. Flexner (1959), p. 58
  22. Harper (1898–1908), Vol. 1, p. 53
  23. Harper (1898–1908), Vol. 1, pp. 64–68
  24. Harper (1898–1908), Vol. 1, pp. 81–82, 92–95
  25. Harper (1898–1908), Vol. 1, pp. 101–02
  26. Susan B. Anthony, "Fifty Years of Work for Woman" Independent, 52 (February 15, 1900), pp. 414–417, quoted in Sherr (1995), p. 134
  27. Stanton, Anthony, Gage (1881–1922), Vol. 1, pp. 513–514
  28. National Anti-Slavery Standard, August 15, 1857, quoted in Sherr (1995), p. 18
  29. Harper (1898–1908), Vol. 1, pp. 155–156
  30. Harper (1898–1908), Vol. 1, p. 221
  31. Harper (1898–1908), Vol. 1, p. 72
  32. Dudden (2011), p. 17
  33. Harper (1898–1908), Vol. 1, pp. 104, 122-28
  34. Harper (1898–1908), Vol. 1, pp. 140–41
  35. Barry (1988), pp. 136, 149
  36. Million (2003), pp. 109, 121
  37. Letter from Anthony to Abby Kelley Foster and Stephen Symonds Foster, April 20, 1857, quoted in Million (2003), p. 234
  38. Million (2003), pp. 235, 250–252
  39. Lua error in package.lua at line 80: module 'strict' not found. This citation references the 1964 edition of a book that was first published in 1933 by the American Historical Association.
  40. McKelvey (April 1945), p. 6
  41. Harper (1898–1908), Vol. 1, p. 216
  42. Barry (1988), p. 110
  43. Harper (1898–1908), Vol. 1, p. 208
  44. Harper (1898–1908), Vol. 1, pp. 208, 209
  45. Lua error in package.lua at line 80: module 'strict' not found., quoted in Barry (1988), p. 148.
  46. Manuscript of speech in the Susan B. Anthony Papers collection at the Library of Congress. Quoted in McPherson (1964), p. 225
  47. DuBois (1978), p. 51
  48. Harper (1898–1908), Vol. 1, p. 204
  49. Dudden (2011), p. 36. The proposal for more lenient divorce laws was also controversial among women activists.
  50. Stanton, Anthony, Gage (1881–1922), Vol. 1, pp. 745–46
  51. Letter from Anthony to Lucy Stone, October 27, 1857, quoted in Sherr (1995), p. 54
  52. Lua error in package.lua at line 80: module 'strict' not found.
  53. Venet (1991), p. 148. The League was called by several variations of its name, including the Women's National Loyal League.
  54. Barry (1988), pp. 153-154
  55. Venet (1991), p. 116
  56. Venet (1991), pp. 148-149.
  57. Flexner (1959), p. 105
  58. Venet (1991), pp. 1–2.
  59. Letter from Stanton to Gerrit Smith, January 1, 1866, quoted in DuBois (1978), p. 61
  60. Stanton, Anthony, Gage (1887), pp. 152-53
  61. Stanton, Anthony, Gage (1887), pp. 171-72
  62. Stanton, Anthony, Gage (1887), p. 270
  63. Dudden (2011), p. 105
  64. Dudden (2011), pp. 124, 127
  65. DuBois (1978), pp. 93-94.
  66. Dudden (2011), pp. 137 and 246, footnotes 22 and 25
  67. DuBois (1978), pp. 80-81, 189, 196.
  68. Rakow and Kramarae eds. (2001), p. 18
  69. 69.0 69.1 Rakow and Kramarae eds. (2001), pp. 6, 14–18
  70. Dudden (2011), pp. 69, 143
  71. "The Working Women's Association", The Revolution, November 5, 1868, p. 280. Quoted in Rakow and Kramarae eds. (2001), p. 106
  72. Barry (1988), p. 187
  73. The role of The Revolution during the developing split in the women's movement is discussed in chapters 6 and 7 of Dudden (2011). An example of its use to support their wing of the movement is on page 164.
  74. DuBois (1978), pp. 112, 114.
  75. "The National Labor Union and U.S. Bonds," The Revolution, April 9, 1868, p. 213. Quoted in DuBois (1978), p. 110.
  76. "National Labor Congress," The Revolution, October 1, 1868, p. 200.
  77. DuBois (1978), pp. 123, 133.
  78. DuBois (1978), pp. 155–59.
  79. DuBois (1978), pp. 145–46
  80. DuBois (1978), pp. 133, 148–51, 161, 193
  81. DuBois (1978), pp. 173, 189, 196.
  82. Rakow and Kramarae eds. (2001), pp. 47–49
  83. Stanton, Anthony, Gage, Harper (1881–1922), Vol. 2, p. 384. Stone is speaking here during the final AERA convention in 1869. Support for the amendment did not necessarily mean that all AWSA members were free from the racial presumptions of that era. Henry Blackwell, Lucy Stone's husband and a prominent AWSA member, published an open letter to Southern legislatures assuring them that if they allowed both blacks and women to vote, "the political supremacy of your white race will remain unchanged" and that "the black race would gravitate by the law of nature toward the tropics". See Lua error in package.lua at line 80: module 'strict' not found. Cited in Dudden (2011), p. 93
  84. DuBois (1978), pp. 197-200. The high point of Republican support was a non-committal reference to women's suffrage in the 1872 Republican platform.
  85. DuBois (1978), pp. 166, 200
  86. Barry (1988), pp. 264–265
  87. Gordon (2009). pp. xxv, 55
  88. Barry (1988), pp. 296–99, 303
  89. Gordon, Ann D., "Knowing Susan B. Anthony: The Stories We Tell of a Life", in Ridarsky, Christine L. and Huth, Mary M., editors (2012). Susan B. Anthony and the Struggle for Equal Rights. Rochester, NY: University of Rochester Press. pp. 202, 204; ISBN 978-1-58046-425-3
  90. 90.0 90.1 Sherr (1995), pp. 226–27
  91. Flexner (1959), p. 241
  92. Barry (1988), pp. 57–58, 259
  93. Gordon (2003), p. xxi
  94. Sherr (1995), pp. 123–124, 132-133
  95. 95.0 95.1 Ward (1999), "Taking Possession of the Country" by Ann D. Gordon, pp. 163–69
  96. Flexner (1959), pp. 163–164
  97. Bacon (1986), pp. 132–33
  98. Flexner (1959), pp. 173–74, 210
  99. Sherr (1995), pp. 85, 122
  100. Flexner (1959), pp. 229–232
  101. 101.0 101.1 101.2 101.3 101.4 101.5 101.6 Lua error in package.lua at line 80: module 'strict' not found. (The name of this article's author is provided here.)
  102. Barry (1988), pp. 249–51
  103. Lua error in package.lua at line 80: module 'strict' not found.
  104. Hull (2012), pp. 115–16, 158
  105. Hewitt (2001), p. 212
  106. Lua error in package.lua at line 80: module 'strict' not found.
  107. Lua error in package.lua at line 80: module 'strict' not found.
  108. Harper (1898–1908), Vol. 1, p. 480
  109. Harper (1898–1908), Vol. 2, p. 602
  110. Harper (1898–1908), Vol. 3, p. 1277
  111. Cullen-DuPont (2000) p. 115 History of Woman Suffrage
  112. Tetrault (2014), pp. 125–140. Tetrault says she describes the Seneca Falls story as a "myth" not to indicate that it is false but in the technical sense of "a venerated and celebrated story used to give meaning to the world." See Tetrault (2014), p. 5
  113. Lua error in package.lua at line 80: module 'strict' not found.
  114. Harper (1898–1908), Vol. 2, pp. 546, 578–579
  115. Barry (1988), pp. 283-287
  116. Barry (1988), pp. 287, 328–29, 349. Queen Victoria arranged for the Windsor Castle reception, but she was not present at it.
  117. Lua error in package.lua at line 80: module 'strict' not found.
  118. Stanton, Anthony, Gage, Harper (1881–1922), Vol. 4, pp. 232–33. The official who revealed this information was Rachel Foster Avery, an associate of Anthony who served on the organizing committee for the women's congress.
  119. Sewall, May Wright, editor (1894). The World's Congress of Representative Women. New York: Rand, McNally, pp. 46–48 Bertha Palmer was in charge of women's activities at the Exposition. She appointed May Wright Sewall as chair and Rachel Foster Avery as secretary of the organizing committee for the women's congress; both were associates of Anthony.
  120. Harper (1898–1908), Vol. 1, p. 748.
  121. Lua error in package.lua at line 80: module 'strict' not found.
  122. Larson, Eric (2003). "Devil in the White City: Murder, Magic, and Madness at the Fair That Changed America", New York: Random House, p. 133
  123. Shaw, Anna Howard (1915). The Story of a Pioneer, p. 207. New York: Harper and Brothers. Instead of applauding, women of that era sometimes waved white handkerchiefs to show approval, a practice known as the Chautauqua salute. See Sherr (1995), p. 308.
  124. Stanton, Anthony, Gage, Harper (1881–1922), Vol. 6, pp. 805-11
  125. Harper (1898–1908), Vol. 3, p. 1326
  126. Lua error in package.lua at line 80: module 'strict' not found.
  127. Griffith (1984), p. 182
  128. Barry (1988), p. 63
  129. Barry (1988), p. 297
  130. Ward (1999), p. 72
  131. Barry (1988), p. 286
  132. Gordon (2009). p. 242
  133. Griffith (1984), pp. 182, 194
  134. Stanton's diary, January 9, 1889, quoted in Griffith (1984), p. 195
  135. Griffith (1984), pp. 210–13
  136. Harper (1898–1908), Vol. 2, p. 857
  137. Harper (1898–1908), Vol. 3, p. 1264
  138. Barry (1988), pp. 262, 300
  139. Harper (1898–1908), Vol. 2, p. 831
  140. Lua error in package.lua at line 80: module 'strict' not found.
  141. McKelvey (April 1945), pp. 22–23
  142. Sherr (1995), pp. 320–21, 120
  143. Sherr (1995), pp. 265–70, 310
  144. Barry (1988), pp. 331–32
  145. Harper (1898–1908), Vol. 1, p. 5
  146. Susan B. Anthony (May 27, 1893), "The Moral Leadership of the Religious Press", The Elizabeth Cady Stanton and Susan B. Anthony Papers Project, Rutgers University. Unitarianism, the belief that God is one person, contrasts with Trinitarianism, the traditional Christian belief that God is three persons in one, with Jesus being one of those three. Elias Hicks, after whom the Hicksites were named, taught that Jesus was not God but had achieved a divine state through obedience to the Inner Light.
  147. Harper (1898–1908), Vol. 1, p. 7
  148. 149.0 149.1 Lua error in package.lua at line 80: module 'strict' not found.
  149. Harper (1898–1908), Vol. 1, p. 58
  150. Stanton (1898) pp. 160–161
  151. Channing wrote the call for the Women's Rights Convention that Anthony organized in Rochester in 1853 and playing a leading role in it. He wrote an appeal that Anthony circulated as part of her women's suffrage work. See Harper (1898–1908), Vol. 1, pp. 104, 110
  152. 153.0 153.1 Lua error in package.lua at line 80: module 'strict' not found.
  153. 154.0 154.1 Bacon (1986), p. 117
  154. Lua error in package.lua at line 80: module 'strict' not found.
  155. Harper (1898–1908), Vol. 1, p. 167
  156. Lua error in package.lua at line 80: module 'strict' not found. During Anthony's lifetime, the Unitarian denomination transformed from one based on Unitarian Christianity to one that was not based on any creed. Theodore Parker and William Channing Gannett played important roles in this transformation.
  157. Lutz (1959), pp. 271, 303
  158. Lua error in package.lua at line 80: module 'strict' not found.
  159. Harper (1898–1908), Vol. 3, p. 1490
  160. Gordon (1997). p. 135
  161. Harper (1898–1908), Vol. 2, p. 594
  162. Stanton (1898) p. 161.
  163. 164.0 164.1 New York World, February 2, 1896, quoted in Harper (1898–1908), Vol. 2. pp. 858–860
  164. Harper (1898–1908), Vol. 2, p. 516
  165. Harper (1898–1908), Vol. 2, p. 678
  166. Sherr (1995), p. 5, 13
  167. Harper (1898–1908), Vol. 1, p. 214
  168. Barry, p. 119
  169. The Woman's Column, August 14, 1897, quoted in Sherr, p. 13
  170. San Francisco Chronicle, June 28, 1896, quoted in Sherr, p. 13
  171. Gordon (2000), p. 41
  172. "Homes of Single Women" by Susan B. Anthony, 1877, quoted in The Elizabeth Cady Stanton–Susan B. Anthony Reader edited by Ellen Carol DuBois, Northwestern University Press, Boston, 1981 and 1992, p. 148; ISBN 1-55553-143-1
  173. Willard, Frances E., "The Dawn of Woman's Day", in Our Day: a Record and Review of Current Reform, Vol. 2, July – December 1888. Boston: Our Day Publishing Company, p. 347. The full quote refers to Anthony's satisfaction at having helped bring about "a better state of things for mothers generally, so that their unborn little ones could not be willed away from them." The legal system had previously given a dying husband the power to specify in his will who would get custody of "his" children, including any not yet born. The quote is from a speech by Frances E. Willard, president of the Women's Christian Temperance Union, who said that Anthony had spoken those words.
  174. Lua error in package.lua at line 80: module 'strict' not found.
  175. Rakow and Kramarae eds. (2001), p. 6.
  176. Gordon is the editor of the six-volume The Selected Papers of Elizabeth Cady Stanton and Susan B. Anthony and was the director of the Elizabeth Cady Stanton and Susan B. Anthony Papers project, the academic effort to collect and document all available materials written by Stanton and Anthony.
  177. Gordon, Ann D., "Knowing Susan B. Anthony: The Stories We Tell of a Life," in Ridarsky, Christine L. and Huth, Mary M., editors (2012). Susan B. Anthony and the Struggle for Equal Rights. Rochester, New York: University of Rochester Press. p. 224; ISBN 978-1-58046-425-3.
  178. Lua error in package.lua at line 80: module 'strict' not found.
  179. 180.0 180.1 Lua error in package.lua at line 80: module 'strict' not found.
  180. Lua error in package.lua at line 80: module 'strict' not found.
  181. Harper (1898–1908), Vol. 3, p. 1409. According to Sherr (1995), p. 367, footnote 324, a variation of this statement appeared in several newspapers, but it also ends with "Failure is impossible".
  182. Flexner (1959), p. 79
  183. Sherr (1995), pp. xxiv–xxv, 310
  184. Lua error in package.lua at line 80: module 'strict' not found. Quoted in Sherr (1995), p. xxvi.
  185. Lua error in package.lua at line 80: module 'strict' not found. Quoted in Sherr (1995), p. 58.
  186. Stanton, Anthony, Gage (1881–1922), Vol. 4, p. 223
  187. Stanton, Anthony, Gage (1881–1922), Vol. 4, pp. 154–155.
  188. Lua error in package.lua at line 80: module 'strict' not found.
  189. Sherr (1995), p. 328.
  190. Lua error in package.lua at line 80: module 'strict' not found.
  191. Lua error in package.lua at line 80: module 'strict' not found.
  192. Lua error in package.lua at line 80: module 'strict' not found.
  193. Lua error in package.lua at line 80: module 'strict' not found.
  194. Place Settings. Brooklyn Museum. Retrieved on 2015-08-06.
  195. Lua error in package.lua at line 80: module 'strict' not found.
  196. Lua error in package.lua at line 80: module 'strict' not found.
  197. Lua error in package.lua at line 80: module 'strict' not found.
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