Susan B. Anthony was a pioneer in the women’s suffrage movement in the United States and president of the National Woman Suffrage Association, which she founded with Elizabeth Cady Stanton. Anthony’s work helped pave the way for the 19th Amendment to the Constitution, giving women the right to vote. The amendment was known as the “Susan B. Anthony Amendment” to honor her work on behalf of women’s rights, and on July 2, 1979, she became the first woman to be featured on a circulating coin from the U.S. mint.
Early Life and Abolitionist Movement
Born Susan Brownell Anthony on February 15, 1820, in Adams, Massachusetts, she was the daughter of Daniel Anthony, a cotton mill owner, and his wife, Lucy Read Anthony. She grew up in a politically active family who, as part of the abolitionist movement, worked to end slavery.
When they moved to Rochester, New York, in 1845, the Anthony’s social circle included anti-slavery activist Frederick Douglass, who would later join Anthony in the fight for women’s rights, and journalist William Lloyd Garrison. The Anthonys were also part of the temperance movement, which attempted to cease the production and sale of alcohol in the United States.
When Susan B. Anthony was denied a chance to speak at a temperance convention because of her gender, she was inspired to shift her focus to the fight for women’s rights. She realized that no one would take women in politics seriously unless they had the right to vote, writing: “There never will be complete equality until women themselves help to make laws and elect lawmakers.”
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National Woman Suffrage Association
Anthony founded the National Woman Suffrage Association in 1869 alongside activist Elizabeth Cady Stanton. Around this time, the two created and produced The Revolution, a weekly publication that lobbied for women’s rights under the American Equal Rights Association (AERA). Its masthead read: “Men, their rights, and nothing more; women, their rights, and nothing less.”
Later the pair edited three volumes of History of Woman Suffrage together alongside activist Matilda Joslyn Gage.
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 in the presidential election illegally. Anthony was arrested and tried unsuccessfully to fight the charges. She ended up being fined $100—a fine she never paid.
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Susan B. Anthony Death and Dollar
Susan B. Anthony never married, and devoted her life to the cause of women’s equality. She once said she wished “to live another century and see the fruition of all the work for women.” When she died on March 13, 1906, at the age of 86 from heart failure and pneumonia, women still did not have the right to vote.
It wasn’t until 1920–14 years after her death—that the 19th Amendment to the U.S. Constitution giving all adult women the right to vote was passed, largely spearheaded by Anthony’s successor as president of the National American Women’s Suffrage Association, Carrie Chapman Catt.
The 19th Amendment was nicknamed the “Susan B. Anthony Amendment” in Anthony’s honor. In recognition of her dedication and hard work, the U.S. Treasury Department put Anthony’s portrait on one-dollar coins in 1979, making her the first woman to be so honored. She is buried in Rochester, New York, at Mount Hope Cemetery.
“I declare to you that woman must not depend upon the protection of man, but must be taught to protect herself, and there I take my stand.”
“I distrust those people who know so well what God wants them to do, because I notice it always coincides with their own desires.”
“Independence is happiness.”
“Organize, agitate, educate, must be our war cry.”
“No man is good enough to govern any woman without her consent.”
READ MORE: Women's History Milestones
Susan B. Anthony: Biography.com
Susan B. Anthony Family: SusanBAnthonyFamily.com.
Susan B. Anthony Dollar. USMint.gov.
Susan B. Anthony Supports Women's Suffrage Amendment. AmericasLibrary.gov.
Susan B. Anthony. NPS.gov.