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Woman Category: Activism & Feminism
A suffrage leader, most famous for her contribution to the passing of the 19th amendment giving women the right to vote.
Susan Brownell Anthony was born to a Quaker family and exposed to political awareness from home when her father hosted anti-slavery leaders, such as Frederick Douglass. At 26, she went to work for the first time as a teacher, an experience that has exposed her to gender inequality in the workforce.
On her way to becoming a full-time leader of social movements, she was first engaged in the causes of abolition and temperance. In political gatherings, she also saw disrespect for female participants, and so she concluded that it is through voting that women will be able to secure their various rights. She has collaborated with many suffragists, most notable was her 50 years friendship and professional partnership with Elizabeth Cady Stanton, who she met at the Seneca Falls anti-slavery convention.
Making suffrage her main cause, she was active in various activist platforms, many of which she established – publishing The Revolution newspaper, editing History of Woman Suffrage books, organizing the first national woman suffrage convention, and heading the National American Woman Suffrage Association. She had a broad approach to the women’s rights movement, which included support for dress reform, advocating for the use of bicycle, petitioning for married women’s property rights, and campaigning for equal access to education. She also used the power of publicity and gained national attention when in 1872 she went to vote in the presidential elections, being arrested and convicted.
She appealed to Congress every year for 37 years (from 1869 to 1906) advocating for suffrage. 14 years after her death, the 19th Amendment to the US Constitution has passed granting women the right to vote. It was also called “Susan B. Anthony amendment.”
A century since, her legacy has an iconic status – her house turned into a museum, and her grave is becoming a pilgrimage site on election days, covered with “I voted” stickers. On the other hand, her sayings against black men’s suffrage before women’s are being critically re-examined as racist statements. She was never married or engaged in a publicly open relationship and did not have children.
“Woman must have a purse of her own”
“Woman must have a purse of her own”
More Interesting Anecdotes:
- She was the first real woman to be honored on a US currency with a one dollar coin which was launched in 1979, but its production was terminated in 1981 since the coin was often mistaken for a quarter.
- She celebrated her 80th birthday at the White House by invitation of President William McKinley.
- At her 86 birthday celebration, she gave her last speech, famous for the line “Failure is Impossible”.
- She was accused of strike-breaking when, in 1870, she called employers to hire women instead of the New York male printers who went on strike.
- As a supporter of dress reform she cut her hair and wore “bloomers”, but after a year of being ridiculed, she realized that the outfit was attracting too much negative attention, that detracted from the suffrage cause.
- A statue of Susan B. Anthony and Elizabeth Cady Stanton is due to be erected in Central Park in 2020, making them the first non-fictional women to be depicted in one of the most popular public spaces in the US.
- Since May 1997, the group sculpture of the suffragists’ leaders, Susan B Anthony, Elizabeth Cady Stanton, and Lucretia Mott, is standing in the Capitol Rotunda – the only statue of females in this room.
- Her birthday, February 15, is observed as Susan B. Anthony Day in several states in the US.
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One of Her Landmarks
Photo credit - Library of Congress