In Courting Miss Amsel, schoolmarm Edythe Amsel tried to attend a rally in which Susan B. Anthony was the speaker, and she met with tremendous opposition from the high-minded men in her community! Although my character was completely fictitious, the concept of battling for equal rights was quite real. And Susan B. Anthony was at the forefront of fighting for those rights, as well as for many other worthwhile causes.
Born Susan Brownell Anthony on February 15, 1820, in Adams, Massachusetts, Susan B. Anthony was the second oldest of eight children born to a Quaker family. She developed a strong moral compass early on, and as a result spent much of her life working on social causes.
In 1851, she attended an anti-slavery conference, where she met Elizabeth Cady Stanton, and the two of them joined forces in the temperance movement, aimed at limiting or stopping the production and sale of alcohol. While campaigning against alcohol, Anthony was denied a chance to speak at a temperance convention because she was a woman. This experience showed her that no one would take women in politics seriously unless they had the right to vote.
Anthony and Stanton established the Women’s New York State Temperance Society in 1852. Before long, the pair were also fighting for women’s rights. They formed the New York State Woman’s Rights Committee. Anthony started up petitions for women to have the right to own property and to vote. She traveled extensively, campaigning on the behalf of women.
In 1856, Anthony began working as an agent for the American Anti-Slavery Society. She spent years promoting the society’s cause up until the Civil War.
After the Civil War, Anthony returned her focus to women’s rights. She helped establish the American Equal Rights Association in 1866 with Stanton, calling for the same rights to be granted to all regardless of race or sex. In 1868, Anthony and Stanton created and produced The Revolution, a weekly publication that lobbied for women’s rights. The newspaper’s motto was “Men their rights, and nothing more; women their rights, and nothing less.”
In 1869, Anthony and Stanton founded the National Woman Suffrage Association. Anthony was tireless in her efforts, giving speeches around the country to convince others to support a woman’s right to vote. She even took matters into her own hands in 1872, when she voted illegally in the presidential election. Anthony was arrested for the crime, and she unsuccessfully fought the charges. She was fined $100 (which she never paid).
In the early 1880s, Anthony published the first volume of History of Woman Suffrage—several more volumes would follow.
Even in her later years, Anthony never gave up on her fight for women’s suffrage. In 1905, she met with President Theodore Roosevelt to lobby for an amendment to give women the right to vote. Anthony died the following year, on March 13, 1906, at the age of 86, at her home in Rochester, New York. According to her obituary in The New York Times, shortly before her death, Anthony told friend Anna Shaw, “To think I have had more than 60 years of hard struggle for a little liberty, and then to die without it seems so cruel.”
In 1920, fourteen years after Susan B. Anthony’s death, the 19th Amendment to the U.S. Constitution was passed, giving all adult women the right to vote.
In recognition of her dedication and hard work, the U.S. Treasury Department put Anthony’s portrait on dollar coins in 1979, making her the first woman to be so honored.
“Oh, if I could but live another century and see the fruition of all the work for women! There is so much yet to be done.”
—Susan B. Anthony
Can you imagine how proud Susan B. Anthony would have been to step into a voting booth and cast her ballot? May we never take these wonderful, hard-won freedoms for granted.
May God bless you muchly as you journey with Him! ~Kim