Susan B Anthony Essay Research Paper I

Susan B. Anthony Essay, Research Paper

I. Susan B. Anthony : A Biographical Introduction

Susan Brownell Anthony was born on February 15, 1820 in

Adams, Massachusetts to Daniel and Lucy Anthony. Susan was

the second born of eight children in a strict Quaker family.

Her father, Daniel Anthony, was said to have been a stern

man, a Quaker Abolitionist and a cotton manufacturer born

near the conclusion of the eighteenth century. From what I

read, he believed in “guiding” his children, not in

‘directing’ them. Daniel Anthony did not allow his

offspring to experience the childish amusements of toys,

games, and music, which were seen as distractions from the

“inner light.” Instead he enforced self-discipline,

principled convictions, and the belief in one’s own


Each of my sources indicates that Susan was a precocious

child and she learned to read and write at the age of three.

In 1826, the Anthonys moved from Massachusetts to

Battensville, New York where Susan attended a district

school. When the teacher refused to teach Susan long

division, Susan was taken out of school and taught in a

“home school” set up by her father. The school was run by a

woman teacher, Mary Perkins. Perkins offered a new image of

womanhood to Susan and her sisters. She was independent and

educated and held a position that had traditionally been

reserved to young men. Ultimately, Susan was sent to

boarding school near Philadelphia. She taught at a female

academy and Quaker boarding school, in upstate New York from

1846-49. Afterwards, she settled in her

family home in Rochester, New York. It was here that she

began her first public crusade on behalf of temperance

(Anthony, 1975).

II. The Struggle for Women’s Rights

Susan B. Anthony’s first involvement in the world of

reform was in the temperance movement. This was one of the

first expressions of original feminism in the United States

and it dealt with the abuses of women and children who

suffered from alcoholic husbands. The first women’s rights

convention had taken place in Seneca Falls, New York, in

July of 1848. The declaration that emerged was modeled after

the Declaration of Independence. Written by Elizabeth Cady

Stanton, it claimed that “all men and women are created

equal” and that “the history of mankind is a history of

repeated injuries and usurpations on the part of man toward

woman” (Harper, 1993, vol. 1). Following a long list of

grievances were resolutions for equitable laws, equal

educational and job opportunities, and the right to vote.

One year later in 1849, Susan B. Anthony gave her first

public speech for the “Daugters of Temperance” and then

helped to found the Woman’s State Temperance Society of New

York, one of the first such organizations of its time.

In 1851, she went to Syracuse to attend a series of

anti-slavery meetings. During this time Susan met Elizabeth

Stanton in person, became fast friends, and

subsequently joined her and another woman named Amelia

Bloomer in campaigns for women’s rights. In 1854, she

devoted herself to the anti-slavery movement serving from

1856 to the outbreak of the civil war in 1861. Here, Susan

B. Anthony served as an agent for the American Anti-slavery

Society. Afterwards, she collaborated with Stanton and

published the New York liberal weekly, “The Revolution.”

(from 1868-70) which called for equal pay for women (Harper,

1993, vols. 1 & 2).

In 1872, Susan demanded that women be given the same

civil and political rights that had been extended to black

males under the 14th and 15th amendments. Thus, she led a

group of women to the polls in Rochester to test the right

of women to vote. She was arrested two weeks later and while

awaiting trial, engaged in highly publicized lecture tours

and in March 1873, she tried to vote again in city

elections. After being tried and convicted of violating the

voting laws, Susan succeeded in her refusal to pay the fine

of one hundred dollars. From then on- she campaigned

endlessly for a federal woman suffrage amendment through the

National Woman Suffrage Association (NAWSA) (from 1869-90)

and the National American Woman Suffrage Association (from

1890-1906) and by lecturing throughout the country as well

(Barry, 1988).

III. After Anthony : The Struggle Continues

The struggle to eventually win the vote was a slow and

frustrating one. Wyoming Territory in 1869, Utah Territory

in 1870, and the states of Colorado in 1893 and Idaho in

1896 granted women the vote but the Eastern states still

resisted it. The woman-suffrage amendment to the Federal

Constitution, presented to every Congress since 1878,

repeatedly failed to pass.

Over a generation later, when the United States entered

World War I in April 1917, the NAWSA pledged its support.

Thousands of suffragists folded bandages in their local

headquarters and volunteered to work in hospitals and

government offices. The suffrage leaders hoped that after

the war American women would be rewarded with the vote for

their patriotic efforts.

Some feminist leaders split with the NAWSA over its

support of the war. Another woman named Alice Paul led the

Congressional Union for Women’s Suffrage, later called the

National Woman’s party, in agitating for the vote during the

war. Another group, the New York branch of the Woman’s

Peace party, led by a woman named Crystal Eastman, refused

to support the war “to make the world safe for democracy”

when American women did not have democratic rights. The

national Woman’s Peace party, headed by Jane Addams,

supported a peace settlement but did not openly oppose the

war (Meyer, 1987).

Congress finally did pass the women’s suffrage bill in

June 1919, and the 19th Amendment to the Constitution became

law on August 26 of 1920. With that one occurrence,

approximately twenty-five million women had won the right

to vote (Meyer, 1987). Following the suffrage victory,

NAWSA members transferred their allegiance to the newly

created League of Women Voters, a non-partisan organization

dedicated to educating women on political issues. The

National Woman’s party worked toward an amendment to the

Constitution providing complete equality of rights for

women. The Woman’s Peace party became affiliated with

another pacifist group, the Women’s International League for

Peace and Freedom.

In Great Britain, as in the United States, woman-suffrage

workers divided into two camps–the moderate National Union

of Women’s Suffrage Societies and the militant Women’s

Social and Political Union, led by Emmeline Pankhurst and

her daughters Christabel and Sylvia. A bill conferring

suffrage on women over 30 was passed by the British

Parliament in 1918. Ten years later the age limit was

lowered to 21. Meanwhile, New Zealand had granted full

suffrage in 1893, and Australia in 1902. Women had won full

suffrage in Finland in 1906 and in Norway in 1913 and were

voting in most countries by the time World War II broke out.

In 1945, Japanese women also received the right to vote.

Women voted for the first time in France in 1945. Women in

Italy won the right to vote one year later in 1946.

(Meyer, 1987).

IV. Conclusive Remarks

Susan B. Anthony, along with Stanton and Matilda Joslyn

Gage had published “The History of Woman Suffrage” (in four

volumes released from 1881-1902) In 1888, she organized the

International Council of Women and in 1904 the International

Woman Suffrage Alliance (Harper, 1993, vol. 3). Although

Anthony did not live to see the consummation of her efforts

to win the right to vote for women, the establishment of the

19th amendment is deeply owed to her efforts.

Susan B. Anthony died of natural causes in 1906 but as

was indicated within the previous section, her dreams

certainly did not die with her. Anthony is known to have

always acknowledged Stanton as the founder of the women’s

rights movement. Her own achievement lay in her inspiration

and perseverance in bringing together vast numbers of people

of both sexes around the single goal of the vote.

Because of Aunt Susan’s love for women’s rights and

perseverance in her cause, women today undeniably enjoy a

great many more rights and privileges than those of the

previous century. For one hundred years ago, a woman was

ruled by a government and a law in which she had no voice

and no say. If she felt herself wronged in any way, shape,

or form- she had no way of making the fact known to the law,

or no way in which she might suggest a remedying solution

for it. It was an unheard of thing for a woman to speak out

in public. None of the nation’s colleges or universities

admitted women as students. Females were barred from nearly


profitable employments, and in those that we were permitted

to pursue, women received only one quarter of the man’s

compensation for the same work; females could never become

not become a doctor or lawyer, or, – except within the

Society of Friends, – a minister (Lutz, 1976).

If she was married any wages she might earn were not

hers, but must be handed by the employer to her husband, who

was in every way her master, the law even giving him the

power to chastise or punish her. The laws of divorce were so

framed as to be wholly regardless of the happiness of women,

in every case the man always gaining the control of the

children- even if he were the offender in the case. A father

could apprentice his children without the leave of the

mother, and at his death could appoint a guardian for them,

thereby taking them from the mother’s control. Man

endeavored in every way possible to destroy woman’s

confidence in her powers, to lessen her self-respect and to

make her willing to lead a dependent, subservient life. It

really seemed as if man had assumed the powers of the Lord

himself in claiming it as his right to tell woman what she

might or might not do, and what was or was not her place.

For more than half a century, Susan B. Anthony had

fought for change in the form of women’s rights. According

to my research, many people rudely made fun of her. Some

insulted her. Nevertheless, she traveled from county to

county in New York and other states making speeches and

organizing clubs for women’s rights.

She pleaded her cause with every president from Abraham

Lincoln to Theodore Roosevelt. On July 2, 1979, the U.S.

Mint appropriately honored her work by issuing the

well-known Susan B. Anthony dollar coin (Barry, 1988).


V. Bibliography

Anthony, Katherine S. Susan B. Anthony : Her Personal

History and Era.

Re-Printed in 1975.

Barry, K., Susan B. Anthony. Printed in 1988.

Harper, I. H., The Life and Work of Susan B. Anthony,

3 vols. 1898-1908; reprinted in 1993.

Lutz, Alma, Susan B. Anthony. Reprinted in 1976.

Meyer, Donald., Sex and Power : The Rise of Women All Oeer

the World.,

Printed in 1987.


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