Susan Brownell Anthony (1820-1906)
A champion of temperance, abolition and African American rights, the rights of labor, and equal pay for equal work, Susan B. Anthony devoted her life to organizing and leading the woman suffrage movement.
Born on February 15, 1820, in Adams, Massachusetts, Anthony was raised in a Quaker family that encouraged women’s education. From an early age, Anthony made her life's work one of justice and sought to establish equality in the larger world.
At age 26 Anthony began working as a teacher. Over the next 15 years, Anthony would not only teach, but advocate for equal pay between male and female teachers and equal access to education regardless of race or gender. She continued her call for equal pay, and in 1870 Anthony helped form and was elected president of the Workingwomen’s Central Association. This organization evaluated working conditions and created educational opportunities for working women. Anthony was also active in the anti-slavery movement, working as an agent for the American Anti-Slavery Society, often making speeches for the cause. Anthony and fellow activist Elizabeth Cady Stanton organized a Women’s National Loyal League in support of the Thirteenth Amendment in 1863.
Anthony became involved in the temperance movement in the late 1840s. In 1848, she made her first public speech at a Daughters of Temperance supper. The following year, Anthony was elected president of the Rochester branch of the organization. When the Sons of Temperance in Albany refused to let Anthony speak at their 1853 state convention, she called her own meeting. Along with Stanton, Anthony founded the Women’s State Temperance Society. The organization created a petition that called for a law that would limit the sale of liquor. However, the New York State Legislature would not accept the petition since the majority of the signatures were from women or children. Anthony realized that women needed the right to vote so their signatures would be accepted on petitions.
A skilled political strategist, Anthony was a leader of the woman suffrage movement and, after meeting Stanton in 1851, their partnership dominated the movement for over 50 years. Anthony was a founding member of the American Equal Rights Association which pushed for a constitutional amendment for suffrage. She and Stanton opposed the 14th and 15th amendments for not enfranchising women. Anthony published The Revolution, a radical paper that often called for equality between men and women. The paper’s masthead was "Men their rights, and nothing more; women, their rights, and nothing less.”
When the suffrage movement split in 1869 Anthony helped found the National Woman Suffrage Association, which continued lobbying for a constitutional amendment. During the 1870s Anthony campaigned for suffrage in the western part of the United States. Anthony was then arrested in 1872 for voting, was tried and convicted. She led a woman’s protest at the 1876 Centennial delivering a "Declaration of Rights" written by Stanton and Matilda Gage. Anthony, Stanton, Gage, and Ida Harper also wrote and published the History of Woman Suffrage.
In the late 1880s, Anthony laid the groundwork for the unification of the National Woman Suffrage Association and the American Woman Suffrage Association. Anthony then served as the vice president of the unified National American Woman Suffrage Association from 1890 to 1892, and as president from 1892 to 1900.
Anthony gathered signatures on suffrage petitions at the state and national levels, undertook arduous state tours to organize suffrage campaigns in the states and nationally. She also worked to ensure the support of organized labor groups. Called “The Napoleon of the woman’s rights movement,” Anthony lobbied yearly before Congress. She was active in international suffrage circles, and personally raised money to ensure admission of women to the University of Rochester in 1900.
Anthony remained active in the woman's movement until her death on March 13, 1906, 14 years before women received the right to vote.
--edited by Jeanette Patrick
Anthony, Susan. “Declaration of Rights of the Women of the United States by the National Woman Suffrage Association, July 4th, 1876.” The Elizabeth Cady Stanton & Susan B. Anthony Papers Project. http://ecssba.rutgers.edu/docs/decl.html. Accessed May 2016.
“Biography of Susan B. Anthony.” National Susan B. Anthony Museum & House. http://susanbanthonyhouse.org/her-story/biography.php. Accessed May 2016.
Lange, Allison. “Suffragist Organize: National Woman Suffrage Association.” National Women’s History Musuem. http://www.crusadeforthevote.org/nwsa-organize/. Accessed May 2016.
Lange, Allison. “Suffragist Unite: National American Woman Suffrage Association.” National Women’s History Museum. http://www.crusadeforthevote.org/nawsa-united/. Accessed May 2016.
Mayo, Edith. “Rights for Women: The Suffrage Movement and Its Leaders.” National Women’s History Museum. https://www.nwhm.org/online-exhibits/rightsforwomen/index.html. Accessed May 2016.
“Susan B. Anthony.” National Park Service. https://www.nps.gov/wori/learn/historyculture/susan-b-anthony.htm. Accessed May 2016.
PHOTO: Library of Congress, Reproduction Number: LC-USZ62-46713
- Crusade for the Vote, National Women's History Museum
- Rights for Women, National Women's History Museum
- Susan B. Anthony House
- 1873 Speech of Susan B. Anthony on woman suffrage
- Susan B. Anthony House, National Park Service
- Susan B. Anthony, National Women's Hall of Fame
- Papers of Elizabeth Cady Stanton and Susan B. Anthony Project
- Public Broadcasting System (PBS) - "Not For Ourselves Alone: The Story of Elizabeth Cady Stanton and Susan B. Anthony"
- Trial of Susan B. Anthony
- Anthony, Susan B. The Trial of Susan B. Anthony (Humanity Books, 2003).
- Anthony, Katherine Susan. Susan B. Anthony: Her Personal History and Her Era (Russell & Russell, 1975).
- Barry, Kathleen. Susan B. Anthony: A Biography of a Singular Feminist (Authorhouse, 2000).
- Dubois, Ellen Carol. The Elizabeth Cady Stanton-Susan B. Anthony Reader: Correspondences, Writings and Speeches (Boston: Northeaster University Press, 1992).
- Harper, Ida. Life and Work of Susan B. Anthony (Beaufort books - 3 volume set).
- Isaacs, Sally Senzell. America in the Time of Susan B. Anthony: The Story of Our Nation from Coast to Coast (Heinemann Library, 2000).
- Monsell, Helen Albee. Susan B. Anthony: Champion Women's Rights (Aladdin, 1986).
- Sherr, Lynn. Failure is Impossible: Susan B. Anthony in Her Own Words (Three Rivers Press, 1996).
- Stanton, Elizabeth Cady, Ann De Gordon, and Susan B. Anthony. Selected Papers of Elizabeth Cady Stanton and Susan B. Anthony: In the School of Anti-Slavery, 1840-1866 (Rutgers, NJ: Rutgers University Press, 1997).
- Ward, Geoffery C. and Ken Burns. Not For Ourselves Alone: The Story of Elizabeth Cady Stanton and Susan B. Anthony (Knopf, 2001).
Cite this page:
MLA – Patrick, Jeanette. “Susan B. Anthony.” National Women’s History Museum, 2016. Date accessed.
Chicago – Patrick, Jeanette. “Susan B. Anthony.” National Women’s History Museum. 2016. https://www.nwhm.org/education-resources/biography/biographies/susan-brownell-anthony/.