Susan B. Anthony

Susan B. Anthony

Publisher, Activist, Civil Rights Activist, Editor, Women's Rights Activist, Journalist(1820–1906)
Susan B. Anthony was a suffragist, abolitionist, author and speaker who was the president of the National American Woman Suffrage Association.


Born on February 15, 1820, Susan B. Anthony was raised in a Quaker household and went on to work as a teacher before becoming a leading figure in the abolitionist and women's voting rights movement. She partnered with Elizabeth Cady Stanton and would eventually lead the National American Woman Suffrage Association. A dedicated writer and lecturer, Anthony died on March 13 1906.

Early Life

Born Susan Brownell Anthony on February 15, 1820, in Adams, Massachusetts, Susan B. Anthony grew up in a Quaker family. She developed a strong moral compass early on, and spent much of her life working on social causes. Anthony was the second oldest of eight children to a local cotton mill owner and his wife. Only six of the Anthony children lived to be adults. One child was stillborn and another died at age two. The family moved to Battenville, New York, in 1826. Around this time, Anthony was sent to study at a Quaker school near Philadelphia.

After her father's business failed in the late 1830s, Anthony returned home to help her family make ends meet, and found work as a teacher. The Anthonys moved to a farm in the Rochester, New York area, in the mid-1840s. There, they became involved in the fight to end slavery, also known as the abolitionist movement. The Anthonys' farm served as a meeting place for such famed abolitionists as Frederick Douglass. Around this time, Anthony became the head of the girls' department at Canajoharie Academy—a post she held for two years.

Leading Activist

Leaving the Canajoharie Academy in 1849, Anthony soon devoted more of her time to social issues. In 1851, she attended an anti-slavery conference, where she met Elizabeth Cady Stanton. She was also involved in the temperance movement, aimed at limiting or completely stopping the production and sale of alcohol. She was inspired to fight for women's rights while campaigning against alcohol. Anthony was denied a chance to speak at a temperance convention because she was a woman, and later realized that no one would take women in politics seriously unless they had the right to vote.

Anthony and Stanton established the Women's New York State Temperance Society in 1852. Before long, the pair were also fighting for women's rights. They formed the New York State Woman's Rights Committee. Anthony also started up petitions for women to have the right to own property and to vote. She traveled extensively, campaigning on the behalf of women.

In 1856, Anthony began working as an agent for the American Anti-Slavery Society. She spent years promoting the society's cause up until the Civil War.

Women's Right to Vote

After the Civil War, Anthony began focus more on women's rights. She helped establish the American Equal Rights Association in 1866 with Stanton, calling for the same rights to be granted to all regardless of race or sex. Anthony and Stanton created and produced The Revolution, a weekly publication that lobbied for women's rights in 1868. The newspaper's motto was "Men their rights, and nothing more; women their rights, and nothing less."

In 1869, Anthony and Stanton founded the National Woman Suffrage Association. Anthony was tireless in her efforts, giving speeches around the country to convince others to support a woman's right to vote. She even took matters into her own hands in 1872, when she voted illegally in the presidential election. Anthony was arrested for the crime, and she unsuccessfully fought the charges; she was fined $100, which she never paid.

In the early 1880s, Anthony published the first volume of History of Woman Suffrage—a project that she co-edited with Stanton, Ida Husted Harper and Matilda Joslin Gage. Several more volumes would follow. Anthony also helped Harper to record her own story, which resulted in the 1898 work The Life and Work of Susan B. Anthony: A Story of the Evolution of the Status of Women.

Death and Legacy

Even in her later years, Anthony never gave up on her fight for women's suffrage. In 1905, she met with President Theodore Roosevelt in Washington, D.C., to lobby for an amendment to give women the right to vote. Anthony died the following year, on March 13, 1906, at the age of 86, at her home in Rochester, New York. According to her obituary in The New York Times, shortly before her death, Anthony told friend Anna Shaw, "To think I have had more than 60 years of hard struggle for a little liberty, and then to die without it seems so cruel."

It wouldn't be until 14 years after Anthony's death—in 1920—that the 19th Amendment to the U.S. Constitution, giving all adult women the right to vote, was passed. In recognition of her dedication and hard work, the U.S. Treasury Department put Anthony's portrait on dollar coins in 1979, making her the first woman to be so honored.

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