No other woman is more closely associated with the civil rights movement than Susan B. Anthony. Her fame is undisputed, and the 1979 decision to put her image onto American one-dollar coin only further proves of her pivotal involvement in womankind’s struggle for equality. Even though the image was discontinued in 1999, there are still several coins in circulation, and if you have one, you might want to use it as a teaching tool when speaking to your children about this icon of the suffrage movement. Since we just celebrated the 186th anniversary of her birth on February 15th, it is only fitting to examine this extraordinary lady and her contributions to society that many of us take for granted and at times even disregard.
- February 15th, 1820
Susan was born on in Adams, Massachusetts. Her parents were Daniel and Lucy Anthony, Quakers, and Susan was brought up in that tradition as well. Furthermore, her entire family was very much involved in the slavery abolitionist movement, and it is no surprise that young Susan was deeply influenced by what she saw and heard.
The Anthony family moved to Rochester, New York. At 25 years of age, Ms. Anthony is already an active participant in the abolitionist movement, and the movement’s greats, such as Frederick Douglass, are repeat guests at the Anthony home.
At 26 years, Ms. Anthony took a teaching position at Canajoharie Academy. During this time she also joined the “Daughters of Temperance,” a movement that spoke out in favor of the alcohol ban.
Ms. Anthony was elected president of the Rochester chapter of the “Daughters of Temperance” and became very active for her cause.
In her role as president of the “Daughters of Temperance”, Ms. Anthony sought to address the members of the “Sons of Temperance,” yet because of her gender she was denied admission as a speaker. Incensed at this injustice, she realized that the inequality that women were subjected to transcended so many facets of everyday life. Unfortunately, her temperance sisters felt that she was making too big of a deal with her suffrage ideas, and so Ms. Anthony resigned from the organization she briefly founded in opposition to the men’s group that denied her a right to speak.
At 36 years of age, Ms. Anthony became involved with the American Anti-Slavery Society and saw her picture defaced, received threats, and was accosted by angry mobs.
Disillusioned by the double standard of the abolitionist movement with respect to the women’s suffrage, Ms. Anthony published several articles that would these days be considered highly controversial with respect to African American men.
Ms. Anthony co-founded the American Equal Rights Association.
Ms. Anthony entered the publishing world with her magazine, Revolution.
In a (now) revolutionary way, Ms. Anthony spoke out against abortion. It was her firm belief that abortions were a sign that a woman who felt compelled to murder he unborn child was wronged by an unfair educational system or deplorable fiscal circumstances she was greatly disadvantaged, usually by the men in charge of these institutions. It was Ms. Anthony’s opinion that the success of women’s suffrage would indeed end the abortion practice altogether.
Ms. Anthony decided to vote in the presidential election and was arrested. Her trial was held in 1873, and the judge ordered the jury to declare her a guilty party without so much as allowing them to discuss the merits of the case. The jury complied, and Ms. Anthony was sentenced to pay a $100. She refused to pay in the hopes of appealing the case, yet since the judge did nothing to enforce the fine, she was not given that opportunity.
Ms. Anthony spoke out against prostitution as a societal evil that would be eradicated if women were given the right to a fair share of America. This fairness was to extend to financial matters, political influence, as well as societal equality.
On March 13th, 1906 Susan Brownell Anthony died of heart disease and pneumonia.
Ms. Anthony’s hard work paid off, and women were permitted the vote nationwide. Posthumously honoring the great activist, the 19th Amendment to the Constitution is often referred to as the Susan B. Anthony Amendment.
No matter which side of the fence you may find yourself on this issue, the truth of the matter is that Ms. Anthony is a formidable figure in America’s Civil Rights movement, and that nobody can deny!
Your host's suggestion for a way of continuing to keep Ms. Anthony's sacrifices in mind: