Susan Brownell Anthony
Susan Brownell Anthony

Susan Brownell Anthony

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Susan Brownell Anthony was born on February 15, 1820 in Adams, Massachusetts to Daniel and Lucy Anthony. Susan was the second born of eight children in a strict Quaker family. Her father, Daniel Anthony, was said to have been a stern man, a Quaker Abolitionist and a cotton manufacturer born near the conclusion of the eighteenth century. From what I read, he believed in “guiding” his children, not in ‘directing’ them. Daniel Anthony did not allow his offspring to experience the childish amusements of toys, games, and music, which were seen as distractions from the “inner light.” Instead he enforced self-discipline, principled convictions, and the belief in one’s own self-worth. Each of my sources indicates that Susan was a precocious child and she learned to read and write at the age of three.

In 1826, the Anthonys moved from Massachusetts to Battensville, New York where Susan attended a district school. When the teacher refused to teach Susan long division, Susan was taken out of school and taught in a “home school” set up by her father. The school was run by a woman teacher, Mary Perkins. Perkins offered a new image of womanhood to Susan and her sisters. She was independent and educated and held a position that had traditionally been reserved to young men. Ultimately, Susan was sent to boarding school near Philadelphia. She taught at a female acade

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my and Quaker boarding school, in upstate New York from 1846-49. Afterwards, she settled in her family home in Rochester, New York. It was here that she began her first public crusade on behalf of temperance (Anthony, 1975).

The Struggle for Women’s Rights

Susan B. Anthony’s first involvement in the world of reform was in the temperance movement. This was one of the first expressions of original feminism in the United States and it dealt with the abuses of women and children who suffered from alcoholic husbands. The first women’s rights convention had taken place in Seneca Falls, New York, in July of 1848. The declaration that emerged was modeled after the Declaration of Independence. Written by Elizabeth Cady Stanton, it claimed that “all men and women are created equal” and that “the history of mankind is a history of repeated injuries and usurpations on the part of man toward woman” (Harper, 1993, vol. 1).

Following a long list of grievances were resolutions for equitable laws, equal educational and job opportunities, and the right to vote. One year later in 1849, Susan B. Anthony gave her first public speech for the “Daugters of Temperance” and then helped to found the Woman’s State Temperance Society of New York, one of the first such organizations of its time. In 1851, she went to Syracuse to attend a series of anti-slavery meetings. During this time Susan met Elizabeth Stanton in person, became fast friends, and subsequently joined her and another woman named Amelia Bloomer in campaigns for women’s rights. In 1854, she devoted herself to the anti-slavery movement serving from 1856 to the outbreak of the civil war in 1861.

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Here, Susan B. Anthony served as an agent for the American Anti-slavery Society. Afterwards, she collaborated with Stanton and published the New York liberal weekly, “The Revolution.” (from 1868-70) which called for equal pay for women (Harper, 1993, vols. 1 & 2).

In 1872, Susan demanded that women be given the same civil and political rights that had been extended to black males under the 14th and 15th amendments. Thus, she led a group of women to the polls in Rochester to test the right of women to vote. She was arrested two weeks later and while awaiting trial, engaged in highly publicized lecture tours and in March 1873, she tried to vote again in city elections. After being tried and convicted of violating the voting laws, Susan succeeded in her refusal to pay the fine of one hundred dollars. From then on- she campaigned endlessly for a federal woman suffrage amendment through the National Woman Suffrage Association (NAWSA) (from 1869-90) and the National American Woman Suffrage Association (from 1890-1906) and by lecturing throughout the country as well (Barry, 1988).

After Anthony : The Struggle Continues

The struggle to eventually win the vote was a slow and frustrating one. Wyoming Territory in 1869, Utah Territory in 1870, and the states of Colorado in 1893 and Idaho in 1896 granted women the vote but the Eastern states still resisted it. The woman-suffrage amendment to the Federal Constitution, presented to every Congress since 1878, repeatedly failed to pass. Over a generation later, when the United States entered World War I in April 1917, the NAWSA pledged its support. Thousands of suffragists folded bandages in their local headquarters and volunteered to work in hospitals and government offices. The suffrage leaders hoped that after the war American women would be rewarded with the vote for their patriotic efforts. Some feminist leaders split with the NAWSA over its support of the war. Another woman named Alice Paul led the Congressional Union for Women’s Suffrage, later called the National Woman’s party, in agitating for the vote during the war. Another group, the New York branch of the Woman’s Peace party, led by a woman named Crystal Eastman, refused to support the war “to make the world safe for democracy” when American women did not have democratic rights.

The national Woman’s Peace party, headed by Jane Addams, supported a peace settlement but did not openly oppose the war (Meyer, 1987). Congress finally did pass the women’s suffrage bill in June 1919, and the 19th Amendment to the Constitution became law on August 26 of 1920. With that one occurrence, approximately twenty-five million women had won the right to vote (Meyer, 1987). Following the suffrage victory, NAWSA members transferred their allegiance to the newly created League of Women Voters, a non-partisan organization dedicated to educating women on political issues. The National Woman’s party worked toward an amendment to the Constitution providing complete equality of rights for women. The Woman’s Peace party became affiliated with another pacifist group, the Women’s International League for Peace and Freedom.

In Great Britain, as in the United States, woman-suffrage workers divided into two camps–the moderate National Union

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