Susan B. Anthony
Photograph of Susan B. Anthony. Source: (Universal History Archive/UIG via Getty images)
Susan B. Anthony – The Beginning
Susan B. Anthony was born on February 15, 1820, in Adams, Massachusetts. Her family were Quakers. While very conservative, her family had a strong sense of activism. They were not afraid to rally around a cause. Because Susan was a female, however, it was frowned upon for her to speak out in public. It did not stop her and she became one of the biggest equality activists in the country!
Susan’s First Cause
Quaker’s believe that drinking liquor is a sin. Susan B. Anthony joined the Daughters of Temperance and made her first speech about the effects of drunkenness and the need for strong liquor laws. She became the president of the Rochester branch of the group and raised funds for the cause. At the state convention of the Sons of Temperance, they would not allow her to speak publicly because she was a woman. She went on to call her own meeting and then founded the Women’s Temperance Society. She and the group got nearly 30,000 signatures on a petition to the State Legislature to pass a law limiting liquor sales. The petition was not heard because many of the signatures were from women, who did not have any voting rights. It was then that Susan took on women’s voting rights as her next cause.
The Suffrage Movement
Susan B. Anthony realized rather quickly that women needed the right to vote in order to change laws and have a say in public affairs. She joined with Elizabeth Cady Stanton, already a leader in the women’s rights movement, and began to work with her. They started publishing a newspaper, The Revolution, with the goal of rights for all.
Susan B. Anthony began going on speaking tours to get the word out about the suffrage movement. Three of her sisters joined her. Susan’s first arrest happened in Rochester, NY. She refused to pay her train fare because she was “traveling under protest at the government’s expense.” Susan B. Anthony went before every Congress from 1869 to 1906 petitioning for a suffrage amendment.
Susan B. Anthony: Equal Rights For All
Susan B. Anthony was no stranger to the abolitionist movement. Her family held anti-slavery meetings at their farm every week. Her entire family were activists in the movement. Anthony began working for the American Anti-Slavery Society in 1856. She made speeches, put up posters, planned and organized meetings. This was dangerous work at the time. She was hung in effigy, threatened and had items thrown at her in the street. She went on to help organize the Women’s National Loyal League to support the petition for the thirteenth amendment to outlaw slavery. They also wanted to a fourteenth and fifteenth amendment which would give full rights and citizenship to women and people of any race. While the thirteenth amendment was passed, women were excluded, which was a huge disappointment but did not stop her from continuing to fight.
Susan B. Anthony was a Teacher
Susan B. Anthony’s first paying job was as a teacher. She taught at the Canajoharie Academy. She taught there for two years. She advocated for better pay for women teachers and for women to be able to hold leadership positions in education. She also thought there should be coed schools since there was no difference in the minds of the two genders. She wanted education for all regardless of race or gender. She raised funds to garner the admittance of women to the University of Rochester. Women were admitted for the first time in 1900.
Susan B. Anthony was a crusader for equal rights and treatment of all people. She died in 1906, so she did not get to see the passage of the nineteenth amendment giving all adult women the right to vote! This amendment is known as the Susan B. Anthony amendment. She was truly a pioneer in the equal rights movement.