Susan B Anthony

Suffragist and womans rights activist Susan B Anthony
Susan B Anthony (credit: Wikipedia, public domain)

The Suffragist and Women's Rights Activist Susan B Anthony: Synopsis

Susan B Anthony was a suffragist and women's rights activist famed for her crusade to secure votes for women to the point of being accused of breaking the law. From her chance meeting in 1851 with fellow suffragist and subsequent lifelong friend Elizabeth Cady Stanton, Susan B Anthony championed the women's rights movement, gave hundreds of speeches and paved the way for the younger generation to finally see the 19th Amendment in 1920.

The Suffragist and Women's Rights Activist Susan B Anthony: Family

Susan B Anthony's father was Daniel Anthony, a Hicksite Quaker who objected to amusement such as dancing or reading; however, as strong his convictions were, he married baptist Lucy Read whch upset the Quaker community. Susan B Anthony followed her father's religion but was not amenable to accepting the basic clothes and formal speech.

The Suffragist and Women's Rights Activist Susan B Anthony: Upbringing

Susan B Anthony was a precocious child who learnt to read and write by three and was strongly influenced by her father, who owned a temperance store which prohibited liquor within the premises. His belief that alcohol was the cause of most of society’s ills caused him to allow dances to be held in his house, as the only alternative was to dance in establishments that promoted alcohol. It was the act of holding a place of amusement at his house that caused him to fall out of favour with his fellow Quakers; something that greatly bothered him despite his unwavering belief that he was doing right by the young people of the town. He also promoted self sufficiency to his daughters by encouraging them to teach – something that he was often criticised for as women did not usually work unless dire circumstances arose.

In 1845 Susan B Anthony moved to Rochester with her family, where her father would often play host to several like-minded Quaker friends and abolitionists on most Sundays, occasionally including Frederick Douglass and William Lloyd Garrison.   It was whilst teaching at a female academy in New York in 1846-1849 that Susan B Anthony realised the difference between the pay of men and women; with men earning four times as much. In 1851 she befriended Elizabeth Cady Stanton through mutual friend Amelia Bloomer.

The Suffragist and Women's Rights Activist Susan B Anthony: Abolition and Temperance Movement Activist

Being restricted from speaking in 1952 at the Albany Temperance Society due to her gender, Susan B Anthony founded and became president of the Women’s New York State Temperance Society. Four years later, she became the New York agent for William Lloyd Garrison’s American Anti-Slavery Society. Together with Elizabeth Cady Stanton, Susan B Anthony campaigned for The 15th Amendment to incorporate women suffrage at the expense of African American suffrage.

In 1866 Susan B Anthony became the corresponding secretary of American Equal Rights Association, and two years later became the publisher of Revolution, a newspaper focusing on women’s issues. The paper was closed after two years as this accumulated $10,000 of debt.

QUICK FACTS ABOUT THE SUFFRAGIST SUSAN B ANTHONY

Name: Susan B Anthony
AKA: Susan Brownell Anthony
Born: 02/15/1820, Massachusetts
Died: 03/13/1906, Rochester
Famed for: Her contribution toward the women's rights movement and successfully voting in 1872
Parents: Daniel Anthony and Lucy Read
Siblings: Guelma, Eliza, Mary, Hannah, Daniel, Jacob

The Suffragist and Women's Rights Activist Susan B Anthony: Arrest

In 1872, Susan B Anthony with fifty women behind her, entered a barbershop temporarily turned in to polling station. Though the ballot inspectors would not permit her to vote, after a long argument as to whether The Fourteenth Amendment intended to include suffrage for women, she threatened libel and the ballot inspectors conceded; allowing herself and thirteen other women to vote. On the back of her successful attempt, other women tried including abolitionist Amy Post, but very few succeeded. A warrant for her arrest was given on 14 November 1872, citing that she had voted in a federal election without the legal right to do so. The maximum penalty for flaunting the act known informally as the ‘enforcement act’ of 1870 was three years in jail or a $500 fine; though Susan B Anthony expected to be arrested, she did not anticipate the case against her to be taken so far.

A US Deputy Marshal visited her house on 18 November and irked Susan B Anthony by being overly sensitive on account of her gender. Demanding to be arrested properly, she was taken in to custody along with the ballot inspectors and other women that had voted.

Susan B Anthony's lawyer argued that she fully believed The 14th Amendment allowed her to vote as it confirmed that she was a citizen and permitted to the rights associated with citizenship, and therefore she did not knowingly carry out an illegal act. However, on 23 December, Susan B Anthony was the only person charged with the offence and was refused bail. Remaining in the custody of a deputy marshal until January where indictment was to be considered, she sent out numerous papers detailing her cause to gain sympathy for women's suffrage.

Never believing she would be prosecuted, she was surprised that the judge refused to release her and doubled bail to $1000. As she would not pay the sum, her lawyer to her frustration settled it from his own funds, reasoning that he couldn't allow a lady that he respected to go to jail.

Elizabeth Cady Stanton, suffragist and co-founder of the womens rights movement

Elizabeth Cady Stanton (credit: blackpast.org, public domain)

The Suffragist and Women's Rights Activist Susan B Anthony: Trial, Sentence and Later Life

She spent much of her time giving speeches leading up to her trial, reasoning that she further believed The Fifteenth Amendment released women from their servitude, and The Fourteenth Amendment gave her full rights as a citizen. As a result of this, the trial was moved from Monroe County to Ontario as the potential jurors were considered influenced as opposed to impartial. Unfazed, Susan simply gave speeches promoting women's suffrage in Ontario for 21 consecutive days leading up to her trial on 17 June. She was found guilty and contested this, as she was entitled to trial by jury and yet the jurors were not permitted to speak. Susan B Anthony argued the point to the judge who refused to entertain her further, and yet she continued to fight her corner. She refused to pay the fine of $100 to cover the cost of the legal proceedings and petitioned against it; however, it was not enforced. Trial proceedings were later sent to libraries, politicians and suffragists.

In 1881, Susan, Stanton and Matilda Joslyn Gage published History of Woman Suffrage, Volume I. The following year Susan took over presidency of the merged National American Women Suffrage Association upon Elizabeth Cady Stanton's resignation until 1900, visiting London in 1899 and Berlin in 1904 as head of the US delegation to the international council of women, which she co-founded in 1888.

Sources:

  1. Elizabeth Cady Stanton - Eighty Years and More: Reminiscences 1815-1897

  2. Ida Husted Harper - The Life and Work of Susan B Anthony, Volume I

  3. Project Gutenberg

  4. University of Missouri-Kansas City

  5. Encyclopaedia Britannica

The Biography of Susan B Anthony

  • The Biography of Susan B Anthony for Education and Learning

  • The Arrest of Susan B Anthony

  • Susan B Anthony and the Women's Rights Movement

 

  • Quick Facts About Susan B Anthony

  • The Family and Upbringing of Susan B Anthony

  • Elizabeth Cady Stanton and Susan B Anthony

 

 

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