“No man is good enough to govern any woman without her consent.”
Susan B. Anthony
Susan B. Anthony was the daughter of Daniel and Lucy Read Anthony, Quakers and political activists in the abolitionist movement. After the family moved to Rochester, New York in 1845, Anthony would meet William Lloyd Garrison as well as anti-slavery activist and escaped slave, Frederick Douglass. Douglass would later join Anthony in the quest for women's equality.
Anthony was a prominent player in the Temperance Movement, going so far as to take an axe into bars to destroy the barrels of alcohol, which got her arrested on several occasions. When she was denied the chance to speak, at a Temperance Movement rally, because she was a woman, Anthony took her attention to a new cause, women's equality.
In those days, women were – for the most part – considered property. To fight against the status que, Anthony joined forces with Elizabeth Cady Stanton and the pair became a driving force in the suffrage movement. Under heavy opposition, they traveled across the country giving speeches and inspiring women - and men alike - to support the cause. In 1869, they founded the National Woman Suffrage Association and later, the American Equal Rights Association, an organization for white and black women and men dedicated to universal suffrage.
On November 1st, 1872, Anthony, Stanton and two others, registered to vote at a barbershop in Rochester, NY, becoming the first women to do so. How'd they do it? Well, Anthony threatened to sue the registrars personally if they didn't let them. On Election Day, the ballots were secretly cast (the ladies dressed as men). Two weeks later Anthony was arrested and fined $100, which she refused to pay – and never did. "The only chance women have for justice in this country is to violate the law, as I have done, and as I shall continue to do."
"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." Susan B. Anthony passed away, in 1903, at the age of 86. She would never see the culmination of her life's work. It'll be another 17 years before the 19th Amendment grants women the right to vote in the US. On November 2, 1920, more than 8 million American women exercised that right.
We're still working on true equality in this nation but, thankfully, are a far cry from women being considered property. The strides toward equality that have been made are, in large part, thanks to Anthony and the other brave women and men that fought, tirelessly for those strides. Now, every time a woman votes, holds political office or manages her own finances, she is doing so – whether she is aware or not – in the spirit of Susan B. Anthony.
-Nathaniel Grauwelman is the Marketing Manager and a staff writer of the blog for WCHS.
Various staff and volunteer writers.