Susan B. Anthony

Lived:February 15, 1820—March 13, 1906 (aged 86)
Career:Social activist, leader in U.S. women's suffrage movement

Susan B. Anthony was born on February 15, 1820, in Adams, Massachusetts. She was brought up in a Quaker family with long activist traditions. After teaching for fifteen years, she became active in temperance. Because she was a woman, she was not allowed to speak at temperance rallies. This experience, and her acquaintance with Elizabeth Cady Stanton, led her to join the women's rights movement in 1852. Soon after she dedicated her life to women's suffrage.

After they moved to Rochester in 1845, members of the Anthony family were active in the anti-slavery movement. Anti-slavery Quakers met at their farm almost every Sunday, where they were sometimes joined by Frederick Douglass and William Lloyd Garrison. Anthony's brothers, Daniel and Merritt, were anti-slavery activists in Kansas.

When Anthony returned to Rochester in 1849, she was elected president of the Rochester branch of the Daughters of Temperance and raised money for the cause.

In 1853, Anthony was refused the right to speak at the state convention of the Sons of Temperance in Albany. She left the meeting and called her own. In 1853, Anthony and Stanton founded the Women's State Temperance Society, with the goal of petitioning the state legislature to pass a law limiting the sale of liquor. The state legislature rejected the petition because most of the 28,000 signatures were from women and children. Anthony and Stanton were criticized for talking too much about women's rights and they resigned from the Women's State Temperance Society. During this year, Anthony also began to campaign for women's property rights in New York state, speaking at meetings, collecting signatures for petitions, and lobbying the state legislature. In 1860, largely as the result of her efforts, the New York State Married Women's Property Bill became law, allowing married women to own property, keep their own wages, and have custody of their children. Anthony and Stanton campaigned for more liberal divorce laws in New York.

In 1856, Anthony became an agent for the American Anti-Slavery Society, arranging meetings, making speeches, putting up posters, and distributing leaflets. She encountered hostile mobs, armed threats, and things thrown at her. She was hung in effigy, and in Syracuse, her image was dragged through the streets.

In 1859, Anthony spoke before the state teachers' convention at Troy, New York, and at the Massachusetts teachers' convention, arguing for coeducation and claiming there were no differences between the minds of men and women.

In 1863, Anthony and Stanton organized a Women's National Loyal League to support and petition for the Thirteenth Amendment outlawing slavery. They went on to campaign for Black and women's full citizenship, including the right to vote, in the Fourteenth and Fifteenth Amendments. They were bitterly disappointed and disillusioned when women were excluded. Anthony continued to campaign for equal rights for all American citizens, including ex- slaves, in her newspaper The Revolution, which she began publishing in Rochester in 1868. The paper advocated an eight-hour day and equal pay for equal work. It promoted a policy of purchasing American- made goods and encouraging immigration to rebuild the South and settle the entire country.

In 1869, the suffrage movement split, with Anthony and Stanton's National Association continuing to campaign for a constitutional amendment, and the American Woman Suffrage Association adopting a strategy of getting the vote for women on a state-by-state basis. Wyoming became the first territory to give women the vote in 1869.

In 1870, Anthony formed and was elected president of the Workingwomen's Central Association. The Association drew up reports on working conditions and provided educational opportunities for working women. At the 1869 National Labor Union Congress, the men's Typographical Union accused her of strike-breaking and running a non-union shop at The Revolution, and called her an enemy of labor.

In 1877, she gathered petitions from 26 states with 10,000 signatures, but Congress laughed at them. She appeared before every congress from 1869 to 1906 to ask for passage of a suffrage amendment. Between 1881 and 1885, Anthony, Stanton and Matilda Joslin Gage collaborated on and published the History of Woman Suffrage. The last volume, edited by Anthony and Ida Husted Harper, was published in 1902.

In the 1890s, Anthony served on the board of trustees of Rochester's State Industrial School, campaigning for coeducation and equal treatment of boys and girls. In 1900, at age 80, Anthony retired as President of NAWSA. In 1904, Anthony presided over the International Council of Women in Berlin and became honorary president of Carrie Chapman Catt's International Woman Suffrage Alliance.

Susan B. Anthony died on March 13, 1906, at her home on Madison Street in Rochester. All American adult women finally received the right to vote with the Nineteenth Amendment, also known as the Susan B. Anthony Amendment, in 1920.