Friday, December 28, 2007

The Revolution

This is Susan Brownell Anthony. Her name is widely recognized in the fight for Women's Rights, but I think, when pressed, not many people can actually think of anything concrete she did. This post will explore some of what she did. Her lifetime achievements were vast, however, and to explore it all would take days and pages and pages and pages.

Okay, here we go.
Susan was born in Adams Massachusetts, the second of eight children. Her father, Daniel, was a cotton farmer, abolutionist, and Quaker. Her mother, Lucy, was never a "convinced" Quaker, claiming she was not good enough for the religion. They were followers of the more liberal Society of Friends.
When Susan was six, they moved to Battenville, New York. Susan was to attend a local school, but when the teacher refused to teach her long division because of her gender, her father removed her from that school, and home schooled her himself. Eventually, in 1837 she was sent to a "female semenary", but, her family lost all their money in the Panic of 1837, and she had to come home. She was not sorry to do so. She took a job in New Rochelle, to help ease the family debts. She noted that the male teachers were making four times what she made. Fighting for equal pay was her first foray into the womens equal rights movement.
At 29, she quit teaching, and moved to the family farm in Rochester, NY. From here, she began to take part in conventions and gatherings related to the temperance movement. At this time, Susan, herself, began to distance herself from the Quakers, especially because she noted how many of the Quaker preachers had an alcohol problem. As she got older, she was often chastised by various Christian groups for her non religious tendencies.
Before the civil war, she was very active on both the temperance, and anti slavery movements, especially being raised by her abolitionist father. In 1851, she was introduced to Elizabeth Cady Stanton, and Amelia Bloomer. Her and ECS became lifelong friends, and traversed the United States speaking together many times. Susan B. was sensitive about her looks, and speaking abilities, and mostly wrote the speeches, letting ECS deliver them.
Being a long time friend of Frederick Douglass, Susan also made an attempt in 1856 to unite the African American rights movement to the womens rights movement. However, in 1869, the civil rights movement leaders voted to support the 15th amendment, which granted sufferage to black men only. After this, Susan began to devote herself almost exclusively to the women's movement.
In 1868, she first published a weekly journal called "The Revolution". It's motto was "The True Republic- men, their rights and nothing more; women, their rights, and nothing less". Susan was the publisher, and and business manager, while ECS was the editor. The journal supported women's suffrage, equal pay for equal work, and more liberal divorce laws, just to name a few things. In 1839, she also was instrumental in forming a chapter of the Woman's Educational and Industrial Union (WEIU) in Rochester, NY, and raised funds to open opportunities for the women of Rochester to study at the university located there.
1869 rolled about, and, with ECS, Susan founded NWSA (Nat'l Women's Suffrage Association). She werved as oth vice president, and president. In 1890 NWSA merged with another suffrage association, creating NAWSA. This was a controversial move, considering they combined with a very conservative organization, and most of the members had not wanted to combine the two. This created tension between her, and ECS especially. Susan felt strongly that a more moderate approach to the movement was needed, rather then the radical one they had been employing. She felt it was more realistic, and would gain them more in the long run. (She was a fan of catching flies with honey, it seems). She got her way, and NAWSA was created, and, in a stroke of genius (IMHO) Susan pushed for ECS to be the first president of NAWSA, thus, drawing her powerful friend and ally back into the fold. During this time, she also collaborated with ECS, Matilda Joslyn Gage, and Ida Husted Harper to publish "The History of Woman Suffrage". She eventually became president of NAWSA herself, and led her life fighting for it. She formally retired in 1900.
Susan died 14 years before the 19th amendment was passed, giving women the right to vote. She was honored as the first American Woman to have an appearance on a coin the Susan B. Anthony Dollar. (I gave my sister one for her shoe when she got married.) The dollar was made for 4 years, 1979, 1980, 1981, and 1999. Her home in Rochester is a National Historic Landmark, now, and operates as a museum. She died in March, 1906, in Rochester.


holly said...


very interesting and informative!

sybil law said...

I coulda been friends with her....

David in DC said...

Growing up in Rochesater, you get a surprisingly good education about both Susan B. and Frederick Douglas.

Superb choice.

Susan B. Anthony was eventually arrested tried and convicted for voting, in 1873. She wore the conviction proudly and never did pay the stinkin' $100.00 for the fine.

If you're ever in Rochester. Ya gotta go to the Susan B. Anthony House: