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Anthony, Susan B.

in: People

Susan B. Anthony

By Catherine A. Paul

Public relations portrait of Susan B. Anthony, circa 1855
Public relations portrait of Susan B. Anthony, circa 1855
Photo: Public Domain

Susan Brownell Anthony was both February 15, 1820 in Adams, Massachusetts and died March 13, 1906 in Rochester New York (Harper, 1998). Anthony helped to wage the battle for suffrage across multiple arenas, including voting booths, religious institutions, workplaces, and homes, and at the intersection of many issues, including race, class, and temperance. After the Civil War, Anthony demanded women have a voice across multiple spheres and independence in their personal, economic, and political lives. Anthony believed that suffrage was the ultimate expression of women truly being citizens. The struggle for suffrage is depicted in her ambitious project, History of Woman Suffrage, which she authored with her best friend, Elizabeth Cady Stanton, and fellow suffragist, Matilda Joslyn Gage (Ridarsky & Hewitt, 2012).

Letter to the United States Congress from Elizabeth Cady Stanton and Susan B. Anthony and others in Support of Women's Suffrage, 1871
Letter to the United States Congress from Elizabeth Cady Stanton and Susan B. Anthony and others in support of women’s suffrage, 1871
Photo: Public Domain

Susan B. Anthony was raised in the Quaker tradition and was a quick learner; she was able to read and write at the age of three. Her family moved from Massachusetts to Battenville, New York, where she attended a school established by her father. She finished her education at a boarding school near Philadelphia and then took a position at a Quaker seminary in New Rochelle, NY in 1839. Then, from 1846 to 1849 Anthony taught at an all-girls school in upstate New York. Upon finishing there, Anthony moved home with her family near Rochester, New York, where she met many famous abolitionists and formed close bonds with women reformers, such as Elizabeth Cady Stanton, Lucy Stone, and Antoinette Brown Blackwell (Harper, 1998).

After being denied the right to speak at a temperance meeting in Albany in 1852, Anthony organized and became the president of the Woman’s New York State Temperance Society. Soon, Anthony was regarded one of the most zealous advocates of temperance and women’s rights (McDavitt, 1944).  

During the early months of the Civil War, Anthony organized the Women’s National Loyal League, which fought for emancipation. At the end of the war, she campaigned unsuccessfully for a change in the 14th Amendment, in hopes of allowing women of color the right to vote (McDavitt, 1944).

Elizabeth Cady Stanton with Susan B. Anthony
Elizabeth Cady Stanton (seated) with Susan B. Anthony (standing)
Photo: Library of Congress
Digital ID cph 3a02558

In 1868, Anthony and Stanton joined forces to create and edit The Revolution. That same year, Anthony organized and represented the Working Women’s Association of New York at the National Labor Union convention. In 1869, Anthony organized a woman suffrage convention in Washington, DC, and just 5 months later, she and Stanton formed the National Woman Suffrage Association (NWSA). However, a faction of the NWSA broke off to join ranks with Lucy Stone’s more conservative American Woman Suffrage Association. Nevertheless, the NWSA remained a powerful voice (“Susan B. Anthony: American Suffragist,” n.d.).

In 1870, Anthony left The Revolution behind and tested the legality of the suffrage provision of the Fourteenth Amendment by voting in the 1872 presidential election. Anthony was arrested, convicted, and fined; however, she refused to pay the fine, and the case was dropped. Anthony took to traveling with Stanton to show support for women’s suffrage. In 1890, the individual, rival suffrage associations joined forces to make the National American Woman Suffrage Association. Stanton was president for two years, followed by Anthony. Anthony relied heavily on Carrie Chapman Catt at this time (“Susan B. Anthony: American Suffragist,” n.d.).

By the 1890s, the country began to recognize Anthony as a national hero (McDavitt, 1944). She visited the World’s Columbian Exposition in Chicago in 1893 and the Lewis and Clark Exposition in Portland, Oregon in 1905. Furthermore, Anthony traveled internationally as the head of of the US delegation to the International Council of Women, which she helped to found, to London and Berlin (“Susan B. Anthony: American Suffragist,” n.d.).

In 1900, Anthony retired as president of the National American Woman Suffrage Association, and she was succeeded by Catt. Anthony died in 1906, 14 years before the passage of the Nineteenth Amendment (“Susan B. Anthony: American Suffragist,” n.d.).


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For further reading:

National Susan B. Anthony Museum & House

Women’s Rights: Susan B. Anthony, courtesy of the National Park Service

An Account of the Proceedings on the Trial of Susan B. Anthony, on the Charge of Illegal Voting at the Presidential Election in November 1872 



Harper, J. E. (1998). Susan B. Anthony: A biographical companion. Santa Barbara, CA: ABC-CLIO.

McDavitt, E. E. (1944). Susan B. Anthony: Reformer and speaker. Quarterly Journal of Speech, 30 (2), 173-180.

Ridarsky, C. L. & Hewitt, N. A. (2012). Susan B. Anthony and the struggle for equal rights. Rochester, NY: University of Rochester Press.

“Susan B. Anthony: American Suffragist.” (n.d.) In Encyclopedia Britannica online. Retrieved from


How to Cite this Article (APA Format): Paul, C. A. (2017). Susan B. Anthony. Social Welfare History Project. Retrieved from


4 Replies to “Anthony, Susan B.”

  1. Great article and very informative. I had no idea that Susan B. Anthony accomplished so much for Women’s rights and I feel like we owe so much to her for the freedom we Americans have today that so many people tend to take for granted.

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