Susan B. Anthony
Susan B. Anthony spent nearly sixty years of her life devoted to the cause of social justice and equality for all. Her major contributions were focused on women’s rights. Her primary achievement lay in her inspiration and influence of thousands of people promoting the right for women to vote.
Susan Brownell Anthony was born on February 15, 1820, in Adams, Massachusetts. She was born to a strong Quaker family. The Quakers preached simple living, peace, and love. They were against slavery and for temperance. They encouraged education and hard work for all of their members, both male and female. They believed that women had the right to be heard, even in public.
Because Anthony’s father believed so strongly in Quaker ways, Anthony had many opportunities that other young women did not have. Her father treated all of his children equally. Both his sons and daughters attended school. His daughters prepared themselves to work and earn a living as teachers, even though they would possibly marry in the future. With this encouragement, Anthony began teaching school at the age of fifteen.
Anthony’s father also encouraged his children to formulate and express their opinions and to speak out for social causes. Two social causes that Anthony felt strongly about were the temperance movement and slavery.
From 1848 to 1853, she became part of the temperance movement. At the age of 29, she gave her first public speech at a temperance meeting. It was at one such convention that she realized her desire to fight for women’s rights. She was told that she could not participate in the convention because she was a woman. This began her dedication to the cause of women’s suffrage.
In 1851, Anthony met Elizabeth Cady Stanton. Together, the two were a driving force behind the advancement of women’s rights. They sought to change many gender-related inequalities. During this time, women could not vote and, once married, were considered their husband’s property. Women also received far lower wages than men for equal work. When Anthony was teaching school, she earned $2.50 per week, while a male teacher earned $10.00 per week.
From 1854 to 1860, the two pioneers concentrated on reforming laws in New York. Anthony organized groups of women throughout the state to advocate for legal reform. They soon realized that the only way women would ever be effective in reform or change would be if they had the right to vote. This goal became the center of Anthony’s life work.
Anthony and Stanton focused their efforts on raising citizens’ awareness of the need for women to vote. After the Civil War, nationwide suffrage became their goal. In 1869, Anthony and Stanton organized the National Woman Suffrage Association (NWSA). This organization worked on a constitutional amendment giving women the right to vote.
In 1870, the Fifteenth Amendment (which Anthony supported) passed. It allowed the newly freed slaves the right to vote, but it did not give any women of any race voting privileges. In 1872, Anthony went to the polls and voted. She was arrested and convicted. She was charged with voting illegally, but she refused to pay the $100 fine.
Anthony died on March 13, 1906. The Nineteenth Amendment, which is often referred to as the “Susan B. Anthony Amendment,” was adopted fourteen years later. This gave women the right to vote. On July 2, 1979, the U.S. Mint honored Anthony’s work by issuing the Susan B. Anthony dollar coin.