Susan B. Anthony
Susan Brownell Anthony (February 15, 1820 – March 13, 1906) was a prominent American civil rights leader who played a pivotal role in the 19th century women's rights movement to introduce women's suffrage into the United States. She traveled the United States, and Europe, and gave 75 to 100 speeches every year on women's rights for 45 years.
Early social activism
In the era before the American civil war, Anthony took a prominent role in the New York anti-slavery and temperance movements. In 1836, at age 16, Susan collected two boxes of petitions opposing slavery, in response to the gag rule prohibiting such petitions in the House of Representatives. In 1849, at age 29, she became secretary for the daughters of temperance, which gave her a forum to speak out against alcohol abuse, and served as the beginning of Anthony's movement towards the public limelight.
In late 1850, Anthony read a detailed account in the New York tribune of the first national women's rights convention in Worcester, Massachusetts. in the article, Horace Greeley wrote an especially admiring description of the final speech, one given by Lucy stone. Stone's words catalyzed Anthony to devote her life to women's rights. In the summer of 1852, Anthony met both Greeley and stone in Seneca Falls.
In 1851, on a street in Seneca Falls, Anthony was introduced to Elizabeth Cady Stanton by a mutual acquaintance, as well as fellow feminist Amelia bloomer. Anthony joined with Stanton in organizing the first women's state temperance society in America after being refused admission to a previous convention on account of her sex, in 1851. Stanton remained a close friend and colleague of Anthony's for the remainder of their lives, but Stanton longed for a broader, more radical women's rights platform. Together, the two women traversed the United States giving speeches and attempting to persuade the government that society should treat men and women equally.
Anthony was invited to speak at the third annual national women's rights convention held in Syracuse, New York in September 1852. She and Matilda Joslyn Gage both made their first public speeches for women's rights at the convention. Anthony began to gain notice as a powerful public advocate of women's rights and as a new and stirring voice for change. Anthony participated in every subsequent annual national women's rights convention, and served as convention president in 1858.
In 1856, Anthony further attempted to unify the African-American and women's rights movements when, recruited by abolitionist Abby Kelley Foster, she became an agent for William Lloyd garrison's American anti-slavery society of New York. Speaking at the ninth national women’s rights convention on may 12, 1859; Anthony asked "where, under our declaration of independence, does the Saxon man get his power to deprive all women and Negroes of their inalienable rights?"
On January 1, 1868, Anthony first published a weekly journal entitled the revolution. printed in New York city, its motto was: "the true republic — men, their rights and nothing more; women, their rights and nothing less." Anthony worked as the publisher and business manager, while Elizabeth Cady Stanton acted as editor. the main thrust of the revolution was to promote women's and African-Americans’ right to suffrage, but it also discussed issues of equal pay for equal work, more liberal divorce laws and the church's position on women's issues. The journal was backed by independently wealthy George Francis Train, who provided $600 in starting funds.
Though she never married, Anthony published her views about sexuality in marriage, holding that a woman should be allowed to refuse sex with her husband; the American woman had no legal recourse at that time against rape by her husband. Anthony spoke very little on the subject of abortion. Of primary importance to Anthony was the granting to woman the right to her own body which she saw as an essential element for the prevention of unwanted pregnancies, using abstinence as the method. pro-life activists claim that Anthony wrote an article in 1869 called "marriage and maternity: the revolution"; in it the writer discusses the subject of abortion, arguing that instead of merely attempting to pass a law against abortion, the root cause must also be addressed: man's unthinking gratification of his sexual urges upon woman. The writer remonstrates against abortion, saying "guilty? Yes, no matter what the motive, love of ease or a desire to save from suffering the unborn innocent, the woman is awfully guilty who commits the deed. It will burden her conscience in life, it will burden her soul in death; but oh! Thrice guilty is he who, for selfish gratification, heedless of her prayers, indifferent to her fate, drove her to the desperation which impelled her to the crime." though this passage is cited by contemporary pro-life activists, historians Ann Gordon and Lynn Sherr dispute Anthony's authorship. Gordon and Sherr write, "the bits of information circulating on the web always cite 'marriage and maternity', an article in a newspaper owned for several years after the civil war by Susan B. Anthony. in it, the writer deplores 'the horrible crime of child-murder', and signs it simply, 'a'. Although no data exist that Anthony wrote it, or ever used that shorthand for herself, she is imagined to be its author. The anti-abortion forces also ignore the paragraph in which the anonymous author vigorously opposes 'demanding a law for its suppression'. In other words, the article opposes the criminalization of abortion and was written by someone other than Anthony."
American equal rights association
In 1869, long-time friends Frederick Douglass and Susan B. Anthony found themselves, for the first time, on opposing sides of a debate. The American Equal Rights Association (AERA), which had originally fought for both blacks' and women's right to suffrage, voted to support the 15th amendment to the constitution, granting suffrage to black men, but not women. Anthony questioned why women should support this amendment when black men were not continuing to show support for women's voting rights. Partially as a result of the decision by the AERA, Anthony soon thereafter devoted herself almost exclusively to the agitation for women's rights.
Susan B. Anthony, ca 1900on November 18, 1872, Anthony was arrested by a U.S. deputy marshal for voting illegally in the 1872 presidential election two weeks earlier. She had written to Stanton on the night of the election that she had "positively voted the republican ticket – straight..." She was tried and convicted seven months later, despite the stirring and eloquent presentation of her arguments that the recently adopted fourteenth amendment, which guaranteed to "all persons born or naturalized in the United States" the privileges of citizenship, and which contained no gender qualification, gave women the constitutional right to vote in federal elections. Her trial took place at the Ontario county courthouse in Canandaigua, New York. The sentence was a fine, but not imprisonment; and true to her word in court, she never paid the penalty for the rest of her life. The trial gave Anthony the opportunity to spread her arguments to a wider audience than ever before.
Anthony toured Europe in 1883 and visited many charitable organizations. she wrote of a poor mother she saw in Killarney that had "six ragged, dirty children" to say that "the evidences were that "god" was about to add a no. 7 to her flock. What a dreadful creature their god must be to keep sending hungry mouths while he withholds the bread to fill them!"
In 1893, she joined with Helen Barrett Montgomery in forming a chapter of the Woman's Educational and Industrial Union (WEIU) in Rochester. In 1898, she also worked with Montgomery to raise funds to open opportunities for women students to study at university of Rochester.
Susan B. Anthony, who died 14 years before passage of the 19th amendment giving women the right to vote, was honored as the first real (non-allegorical) American woman on circulating U.S. coinage with her appearance on the Susan B. Anthony dollar. The coin, approximately the size of a U.S. quarter, was minted for only four years, 1979, 1980, 1981, and 1999. Anthony dollars were minted for circulation at the Philadelphia and Denver mints for all four years, and at the San Francisco mint for the first three production years. She was also featured on U.S. commemorative stamps in 1936 and 1954.
Anthony's birthplace in Adams was purchased in august 2006 by carol crossed, founder of the New York chapter of democrats for life of America, affiliated with feminists for life. Anthony's childhood home in Battenville, New York, was placed on the New York state historic register in 2006, and the national historic register in 2007.
The Susan B. Anthony house in Rochester was declared a national historic landmark in 1966 and was operated as a museum.
The American composer Virgil Thomson and poet Gertrude Stein wrote an opera, The Mother of Us All, that abstractly explores Anthony's life and mission. Along with Elizabeth Cady Stanton and Lucretia Mott, she is commemorated in the woman movement, a sculpture by Adelaide Johnson, unveiled in 1921 at the United States Capitol.