Anthony, Susan B(rownell) 1820-1906
ANTHONY, Susan B(rownell) 1820-1906
PERSONAL: Born February 15, 1820, in Adams, MA; died March 13, 1906, in Rochester, NY; daughter of Daniel (a teacher and manager of cotton mills) and Lucy Read Anthony. Education: Attended a Quaker school in Philadelphia, PA.
CAREER: Activist for women's suffrage and other social reforms; teacher, lecturer, and writer. New York State school system, teacher, 1839-46; Canajoharie Academy, Canajoharie, NY, principal of female department, 1846-49; Woman's State Temperance Society, cofounder, 1852; American Anti-Slavery Society, New York agent, 1856-c. 1863; Women s Loyal National League, cofounder, 1863; Revolution (suffragist newspaper), cofounder, 1868, and coeditor, 1868-70; National Woman Suffrage Association, cofounder, 1869; International Council of Women, founder, 1888; National American Woman Suffrage Association (formed through merger of National Woman Suffrage Association and American Woman Suffrage Association), cofounder, 1889, president, 1892-1900; International Women's Suffrage Alliance, founder, 1904.
(Editor, with others) A History of Woman Suffrage, Fowler & Welles (New York, NY) Volumes 1-3 (with Matilda Joslyn Gage and Elizabeth Cady Stanton) 1881-88, Volume 4 (with Ida Husted Harper), 1903, reprinted, Ayer (Salem, NH), 1985.
Elizabeth Cady Stanton, Susan B. Anthony: Correspondence, Writings, Speeches, edited and with a critical commentary by Ellen Carol DuBois, Schocken Books (New York, NY), 1981, revised as The Elizabeth Cady Stanton-Susan B. Anthony Reader: Correspondence, Writings, Speeches, University Press of New England (Boston, MA), 1992.
Failure Is Impossible: Susan B. Anthony in Her OwnWords, edited by Lynn Sherr, Times Books (New York, NY), 1995.
The Selected Papers of Elizabeth Cady Stanton andSusan B. Anthony, Volume 1: In the School of Anti-Slavery, 1840-1866, edited by Ann Gordon, Rutgers University Press (New Brunswick, NJ), 1997.
SIDELIGHTS: To many Americans, the name Susan B. Anthony is synonymous with the women's suffrage movement. Anthony came to this cause with experience in campaigns against liquor and slavery. She had been outraged when, at a meeting in 1852, male temperance activists refused to allow women to speak. This led Anthony and her close friend Elizabeth Cady Stanton to form a women's temperance group and to work more and more for women's rights. In her youth, Anthony had seen her mother's personal belongings auctioned off to pay the family's debts—something that convinced her that women should have the right to own and manage property. In 1860, thanks to Anthony and Stanton's work, New York State changed its law to allow married women to own property in their own names and to have a host of other financial rights and responsibilities. Unfortunately, most of the reforms won in New York were repealed within a few years. During the U.S. Civil War, Anthony vigorously campaigned for the abolition of slavery, and she and other supporters of women's rights hoped that after the Union victory, women would be granted the right to vote along with the newly freed slaves. They were disappointed, however, with moderate and liberal men telling them it was "the Negro's hour" and that women would have to wait, and more conservative elements ridiculing the very idea of women voting. Anthony and Stanton responded by forming, in 1869, the National Woman Suffrage Association, which sought a constitutional amendment that would grant women voting rights—a goal finally realized in 1920, fourteen years after Anthony's death. Her years of activism for women's suffrage and other rights saw her arrested for voting in Rochester, New York, in the presidential election of 1872; editing a feminist newspaper, Revolution; and speaking and writing extensively in support of her cause.
"Anthony's continuous work and her experience as a newspaper writer and publisher made possible a considerable body of literature," commented a contributor to Feminist Writers. Her many contributions include serving as an editor of and contributor to the first four volumes of A History of Woman Suffrage (the last two volumes of this six-volume work were published after Anthony's death). Anthony was the "catalyst" for this work, covering the first fifty years of the suffrage movement, the Feminist Writers essayist noted, adding that Anthony's efforts as a writer and editor have "longstanding relevance and importance to both women and students of political history, as well as to those wishing to understand women's activism in various reform movements." Doris Yoakum Twitchell, in an essay for A History and Criticism of American Public Address, pointed out that Anthony kept up a "voluminous correspondence" all her life, and that "the records of her experiences, which came to fill thirty-three volumes of old ledgers, and her daily journal aided in the writing of The History of Woman Suffrage." Anthony's other writings include suffrage tracts, newspaper stories, and her many speeches. "Miss Anthony spoke to the reason of her listeners and upheld her issues with facts, figures, and examples," Twitchell related. "Her recorded speeches are crowded with statistics and direct quotations from authorities, law, and history." Anthony "excelled in argument," Twitchell continued, and "often spoke of the injustice of allowing any class of people to have control over another. Cruelty and unfairness resulted from allowing the rich to rule the poor, the white to rule the black." She spoke to audiences that were often hostile and sometimes armed, and carried on her work even though she was held up to scorn not only for her ideas but also for her appearance and her unmarried status.
Anthony was at the center of numerous controversies as editor, with Stanton, of the Revolution, a newspaper that they published from 1868 to 1870. The paper advocated for women's suffrage and equal rights generally, "championing the right to women to any type of work or education," observed Lynne Masel-Walters in Journalism Quarterly. It also supported labor unions, the eight-hour workday, civil service reform, and the abolition of child labor. And the editors dared to discuss abortion and prostitution, both of which they opposed but saw as "a product of bad conditions rather than of bad women," Masel-Walters related. "These conditions would be improved once the female had a more healthful life, an education and enfranchisement." The paper "was considered radical" for addressing these usually taboo subjects. It also made enemies because of its financial backer, George Francis Train, a wealthy eccentric whose favored causes included free trade, currency expansion, and Irish independence as well as women s rights, but who also was a racist who had sympathized with the South during the Civil War. The paper published Train's writings on financial matters and other features aimed at empowering women to manage money; additional contents outside the strictly political included poetry, fiction, and book reviews. In 1869, Train stopped writing for the Revolution, believing his connection with the paper was costing it subscribers and support. He pledged to continue putting money into the paper, but this promise "was never kept," Masel-Walters noted. Finally, in 1870, competition in the form of the betterfinanced, more conservative suffrage paper Woman's Journal forced Anthony and Stanton to give up the Revolution. "It was such a short life for such a lively publication," Masel-Walters remarked. "But it was not a life without meaning. . . . The newspaper set down for the first time in a major national forum arguments for women s equality that are still being used."
Likewise, Anthony's writings continue to be published and read nearly a century after her death. In 1997 came the publication of The Selected Papers of Elizabeth Cady Stanton and Susan B. Anthony, Volume 1: In the School of Anti-Slavery, 1840-1866, edited by Ann Gordon and inaugurating a projected six-volume series. New Republic contributor Christine Stansell called the volume "captivating" and further reported that it illustrates how the two women influenced and complemented each other: "The Selected Papers uphold a now common view of Stanton as the brains of the pair and Anthony as the dogsbody organizer, but the book's offerings deepen the meaning of both roles. . . . The friendship had the consequence of attaching some of Stanton's intellectual boldness to Anthony the schoolteacher-organizer, and some of Anthony' s political acumen to Stanton the cerebral housewife. . . . 'In the human soul, the steps between discontent and action are few and short indeed,' she once observed to her abolitionist cousin Gerrit Smith; and it was in large part Anthony who helped her to compress the distance."
BIOGRAPHICAL AND CRITICAL SOURCES:
Anthony, Katharine, Susan B. Anthony: Her PersonalHistory and Her Era, Doubleday (Garden City, NY), 1954.
Anthony, Susan B., Matilda Joslyn Gage, Elizabeth Cady Stanton, and Ida Husted Harper, editors, A History of Woman Suffrage, six volumes, Fowler & Welles (New York, NY), 1881-1922, reprinted, Ayer (Salem, NH), 1985.
Barry, Kathleen, Susan B. Anthony: A Biography of aSingular Feminist, New York University Press (New York, NY), 1988.
Contemporary Heroes and Heroines, Gale (Detroit, MI), 1998.
Dorr, Rheta Childe, Susan B. Anthony: The WomanWho Changed the Mind of a Nation, Frederick A. Stokes (New York, NY), 1924.
DuBois, Ellen Carol, editor, Elizabeth Cady Stanton,Susan B. Anthony: Correspondence, Writings, Speeches, Schocken Books (New York, NY), 1981, revised as The Elizabeth Cady Stanton-Susan B. Anthony Reader: Correspondence, Writings, Speeches, University Press of New England (Boston, MA), 1992.
Encyclopedia of World Biography, second edition, Gale (Detroit, MI), 1998.
Feminist Writers, St. James Press (Detroit, MI), 1996.
Harper, Ida Husted, The Life and Work of Susan B.Anthony, three volumes, Hollenbeck Press (Indianapolis, IN), 1898-1908, reprinted, Arno Press (New York, NY), 1969.
Gay and Lesbian Biography, St. James Press (Detroit, MI), 1997.
Gordon, Ann, editor, The Selected Papers of ElizabethCady Stanton and Susan B. Anthony, Volume 1: In the School of Anti-Slavery, 1840-1866, Rutgers University Press (New Brunswick, NJ), 1997.
Hochmuth, Marie Kathryn, editor, A History and Criticism of American Public Address, Volume 3, McGraw (New York, NY), 1955, pp. 97-130.
Historic World Leaders, Gale (Detroit, MI), 1994.
Lutz, Alma, Susan B. Anthony: Rebel, Crusader, Humanitarian, Beacon Press (Boston, MA), 1959.
Mason, Gabriel Richard, editor, Great American Liberals, Starr King Press (Boston, MA), 1956, pp. 99-108.
Sherr, Lynn, editor, Failure Is Impossible: Susan B.Anthony in Her Own Words, Times Books (New York, NY), 1995.
Twentieth-Century Literary Criticism, Volume 84, Gale (Detroit, MI), 1999, pp. 1-59.
Ward, Geoffrey C., Not for Ourselves Alone: The Story of Elizabeth Cady Stanton and Susan B. Anthony: An Illustrated History, based on a documentary film by Ken Burns and Paul Barnes, Knopf (New York, NY), 1999.
Journalism Quarterly, summer, 1976, Lynne Masel-Walters, "Their Rights and Nothing More: A History of The Revolution, 1868-70," pp. 242-251.
New Republic, August 10, 1998, Christine Stansell, "The Road from Seneca Falls: The Feminism of the Mothers, the Feminism of the Daughters, the Feminism of the Girls," p. 26.
Not for Ourselves Alone: The Story of Elizabeth CadyStanton and Susan B. Anthony (documentary film), Florentine Films, 1999.*