Today in women's history: Suffragist Susan B. Anthony died

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On March 13, 1906, Susan B. Anthony died in Rochester, N.Y., shortly after her eighty-sixth birthday.

Susan Brownell Anthony was a pioneer leader of the cause of woman suffrage, and worked tirelessly her whole life for what she considered to be the best interests of womankind.

Shortly before her death, she said to her sister:

"Write to Anna Shaw immediately, and tell her I desire that every cent I leave when I pass out of this life shall be given to the fund which Miss Thomas and Miss Garrett are raising for the cause. I have given my life and all I am to it, and now I want my last act to be to give it all I have, to the last cent. Tell Anna Shaw to see that this is done."

Miss Shaw said: "About two hours before she became unconscious, I talked with Miss Anthony, and she said: 'To think I have had more than sixty years of hard struggle for a little liberty, and then to die without it seems so cruel."

Miss Anthony was an extremely popular speaker in the U.S. and abroad she had innumerable friends, not only among those who sympathized with her views, but among those who held opinions radically opposed to her. She was at the time of her death the Honorary President of the National Woman Suffrage Association, the society that she and Elizabeth Cady Stanton organized in 1869.

Miss Anthony was born at South Adams, Mass., on Feb. 15, 1820. Her father was a liberal Quaker and she was sent to finish her education at a Friends' boarding school in Philadelphia. She began teaching there and continued to teach until 1852, a school in Rochester being her last charge.

Miss Anthony decided to enter the lecture field as a way to help right the wrongs against women. At first she encountered strong prejudices, but through her efforts and those of Elizabeth Cady Stanton, women soon came to be admitted to educational and other conventions, with the right to speak, vote, and act upon committees.

Miss Anthony's active participation in the movement for woman suffrage started in the 1850s. In 1854 she arranged conventions throughout the state of New York and annually brought to the Legislature messages and appeals. She was active in obtaining the passage of the act of the New York Legislature in 1860 giving to married women the right to own their earnings and the guardianship of their children.

During the Civil war, Miss Anthony was devoted to the Women's Loyal League, which petitioned Congress in favor of the thirteenth amendment outlawing slavery. She also was active around the fourteenth amendment (citizenship, due process and equal protection), sending a petition in favor of leaving out the word "male."

With Mrs. Stanton and Lucy Stone, Miss Anthony went to Kansas in 1867, and there obtained 9,000 votes in favor of woman suffrage. The following year, with Mrs. Stanton, Parker Pillsbury, and George Francis Train, she began the publication of the highly influential weekly paper, "The Revolutionist," whose motto was "Men, their rights and nothing more; Women, their rights and nothing less." The paper was devoted to the emancipation of women.

In order to test the application of the fourteenth and fifteenth amendments Miss Anthony  voted in the State and Congressional election in Rochester, N.Y., in 1872. For her act of voting, Miss Anthony was indicted and ordered to pay a fine, but the order was never enforced.

At times in her life, Miss Anthony averaged 100 lectures a year. She engaged in eight different State campaigns for a Constitutional amendment enfranchising women, and hearings before committees of practically every Congress from 1869 were granted to her.

She was the joint author with Mrs. Stanton, Mrs. Ida Husted Harper, and Mrs. Matilda Joslyn Gage of "The History of Woman Suffrage, " (a paperback edition is currently available).

Ironically, in 1992 an organization calling itself the Susan B. Anthony List was founded primarily to eliminate a woman's right to abortion in the U.S. by supporting anti-abortion candidates - women or men - through its political action committee. They specifically work to counter candidates supported from The Wish List (whose stated mission is to identify, support and elect pro-choice Republican women) or from Emily's List (dedicated to electing pro-choice Democratic women to office).

Photo: Creative Commons 3.0

 

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