Susan B. Anthony
The feminist movement didn't start in the mid-1960s and early
1970s. It actually started some centuries ago with women's
rights activists such as Sojourner Truth, Elizabeth Cady Stanton,
Lucretia Mott, Dorothea Dix and the subject of this biography,
Susan B. Anthony. Without her efforts and those of her allies
in this movement, women wouldn't be able to vote, become political
activists or even hold political office.
Susan B. Anthony
Susan B. Anthony grew up in an era where the ideals of "Republican
Motherhood" and "Cult of Domesticity" reigned
in antebellum American culture. With "Republican Motherhood",
it was believed that in order for America to survive, it was
important for women to receive a formal education solely for
the purpose of teaching their children to be productive citizens,
but this education was never intended for the women to fulfill
their own goals.
And in the "Cult of Domesticity", this meant that
a woman's primary role was in the home. Now this is not to
say that no women worked outside of the home or were influential
in their own right. African-American female Phillis Wheatley
published a work of poetry in the 1700s. And there were numerous
women who worked as nurses, teachers, in-home tutors, and
caretakers. It was out of this environment that Susan B. Anthony
came to prominence as an abolitionist and women's rights activist.
Susan B. Anthony was born on February 15, 1820 to Daniel
and Lucy Anthony. Her father worked in cotton, was a devout
Quaker who often held to abolitionist views and was actively
involved in antislavery movements. Her mother, Lucy Anthony,
attended the 1848 Seneca and Rochester convention on women's
rights and instilled in Susan and her three sisters an independent
spirit and a commitment to social justice.
To help support her family financially, Susan worked as a
teacher until 1837 when her father's increasing debt caused
him to sell his business and move the family to Rochester,
New York. As a child, Susan was exposed to leading abolitionists
such as Frederick Douglass, William Lloyd Garrison and Wendell
Phillips because these men often visited their home.
It was from them that Susan B. Anthony developed a passion
for ending slavery and other social causes. When she started
her political activism, her first cause surprisingly wasn't
women's rights. Rather, she focused heavily on the cause of
temperance and she advocated for a limit on the sales of liquor.
But when males in the temperance movement refused to let her
speak at the state rallies, she decided to join the women's
rights movement because she believed that if women could have
some political influence and have voting rights, then they
can change the temperance laws in America.
In 1851, she started a friendship with Elizabeth Cady Stanton
and together they started the National Woman's Suffrage Association
and the publication The Revolution. Susan B. Anthony traveled
across America for lectures on women's rights. She passed
out brochures and even appeared before Congress near the end
of her life to make a case for a federal women's suffrage
In 1872, while voting with fellow supporters, she was arrested
for voting illegally and lost her case. She was fined for
her actions. Susan B. Anthony died in 1906, just fourteen
years before women finally gained the right to vote in 1920.
Susan B. Anthony's life and career proved that with determination,
support from others and strong convictions, one person can
make tremendous and groundbreaking changes in his or her society.
I'll end with some quotes from Susan B. Anthony:
"Women must not depend upon the protection of man, but
must be taught to protect herself."
"I think the girl who is able to earn her own living
and pay her own way should be as happy as anybody on earth.
The sense of independence and security is very sweet."
"It would be ridiculous to talk of male and female atmospheres,
of male and female springs or rains, male and female sunshine
much more ridiculous is it in relation to mind, soul, to thought,
where there is undeniably no such things as sex, to tell of
male and female education and male and female schools."
Susan B. Anthony is remembered today as one of the most famous
women activists of recent times.
There is a secret you don't
Besides the factual Susan B. Anthony biography presented
above there is a secret that no one knows until now. And that
secret is that Susan B. Anthony coined the phrase, "Penny
for your thoughts."