Susan Brownell Anthony

Anthony, Susan Brownell, 1820–1906, American reformer and leader of the woman-suffrage movement, b. Adams, Mass.; daughter of Daniel Anthony, Quaker abolitionist. From the age of 17, when she was a teacher in rural New York state, she agitated for equal pay for women teachers, for coeducation, and for college training for girls. When the Sons of Temperance refused to admit women into their movement, she organized the first woman's temperance association, the Daughters of Temperance.

At a temperance meeting in 1851 she met Elizabeth Cady Stanton, and from that time until Stanton's death in 1902 they were associated as the leaders of the woman's movement in the United States and were bound by a warm personal friendship. Susan B. Anthony lectured (1851–60) on women's rights and on abolition, and, with Stanton, secured the first laws in the New York state legislature guaranteeing to women rights over their children and control of property and wages. In 1863 she was a coorganizer of the Women's Loyal League to support Lincoln's government, especially his emancipation policy. After the Civil War she opposed granting suffrage to freedmen without also giving it to women, and many woman-suffrage sympathizers broke with her on this issue.

She and Stanton organized (1869) the National Woman Suffrage Association. In 1890 this group united with the American Woman Suffrage Association to form the National American Woman Suffrage Association, of which Anthony was president from 1892 to 1900. In 1872 she led a group of women to the polls in Rochester, N.Y., to test the right of women to the franchise under the terms of the Fourteenth Amendment. Her arrest, trial, and sentence to a fine (which she refused to pay) were a cause célèbre; other women followed her example until the case was decided against them by the U.S. Supreme Court.

From 1869 she traveled and lectured throughout the United States and Europe, seeing the feminist movement gradually advance to respectability and political importance. The secret of her power, aside from her superior intellect and strong personality, was her unswerving singleness of purpose. With Elizabeth Cady Stanton and Matilda Joslyn Gage, she compiled Volumes I–III of the History of Woman Suffrage (1881–86), using a personal legacy to buy most of the first edition and present the volumes to colleges and universities in the United States and Europe. The History was completed by Ida Husted Harper (Vol. IV–VI, 1900–1922; Anthony contributed to Vol. IV).

See The Life and Work of Susan B. Anthony, ed. by I. Husted (3 vol., 1908; repr. 1969); The Selected Papers of Elizabeth Cady Stanton and Susan B. Anthony, ed. by A. D. Gordon (6 vol., 1997–2013); biographies by K. S. Anthony (1954) and R. C. Dorr (1928, repr. 1970); N. E. H. Hull, The Woman Who Dared to Vote (2012).

The Columbia Electronic Encyclopedia, 6th ed. Copyright © 2012, Columbia University Press. All rights reserved.

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