Susan Brownell Anthony
leader for women's rights
1820 - 1906

Susan Brownell Anthony was a reformer and one of the first leaders of the campaign for women's rights. She helped organize the woman suffrage movement, which worked to get women the right to vote.

Anthony was born in Adams, Mass. Her family were Quakers, who believed in the equality of men and women. Anthony's family supported major reforms, such as antislavery and temperance, the campaign to abolish alcoholic beverages.

From 1839 to 1849, Anthony taught school. She then joined the temperance movement. But most temperance groups consisted of men who did not allow women to help the movement. In 1852, she attended a temperance rally in Albany, N.Y., but was not allowed to speak because she was a woman. Soon after, she formed the Woman's State Temperance Society of New York.

Through her temperance work, Anthony became increasingly aware that women did not have the same rights as men. In 1851, she met Elizabeth Cady Stanton, a leader of the women's rights movement. The two women became close friends and co-workers. Soon, Anthony devoted herself completely to women's rights and became a leader of the movement. She supported dress reform and, for a time, wore bloomers, which became a symbol of the women's rights movement. She also worked in support of equal educational opportunities and property rights for women.

Before and during the Civil War (1861-1865), Anthony and Stanton supported abolitionism. After the war, however, they broke away from those who had been involved in the abolitionist movement. Many of these people showed little interest in woman suffrage and supported the 15th Amendment to the Constitution of the United States. This amendment gave the vote to black men, but not to women. In 1869, Anthony and Stanton formed the National Woman Suffrage Association and worked for a woman suffrage amendment to the Constitution.

From 1868 to 1870, Anthony published a weekly journal, The Revolution, which demanded equal rights for women. In 1872, she voted in the presidential election and was arrested and fined $100 for voting illegally. Anthony never paid the fine, but no further action was taken against her. From 1881 to 1886, Anthony and Stanton coedited three volumes of a book called History of Woman Suffrage. Anthony published a fourth volume of the book in 1902. In 1904, she established the International Woman Suffrage Alliance with Carrie Chapman Catt, another leader of the suffrage movement.

In 1890, the National Woman Suffrage Association united with the American Woman Suffrage Association and formed the National American Woman Suffrage Association. Anthony served as president of the group from 1892 until 1900. She died in 1906, 14 years before the 19th Amendment to the U.S. Constitution became law and gave women the right to vote. In 1979 and 1980, the U.S. government minted for circulation $1 coins bearing Anthony's picture. Anthony was the first woman to be pictured on a United States coin in general circulation.

Contributor: June Sochen, Ph.D., Prof. of History, Northeastern Illinois Univ.; Author, Herstory: A Record of the American Woman's Past.

Additional resources

Barry, Kathleen L. Susan B. Anthony: Biography of a Singular Feminist. New York Univ. Press, 1988.

Clinton, Susan. The Story of Susan B. Anthony. Childrens Press, 1986. For younger readers.

Weisberg, Barbara. Susan B. Anthony. Chelsea House, 1988. Suitable for younger readers.


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