Susan B. Anthony (1820-1906)

Photo of an elderly Susan B. Anthony sitting, dressed in a black dress.
Susan B. Anthony, ca. 1870. (Courtesy of Library of Congress)
​​​​​​​Quotation Marks"Organize, agitate, educate must be our war cry."

Anthony, one of America’s best-known suffragists, began her career in activism as an anti-slavery abolitionist. Anthony was inspired by the Quaker belief of equality under God which guided her moral compass. As an abolitionist, she gained fame for her impassioned speeches railing against slavery, a rare activity for women of her time.

Anthony joined the temperance movement against alcohol, and through it began to agitate for women’s rights and woman suffrage. Though she was avidly antislavery, Anthony did not always support racially universal suffrage. Prior to the passage of the 15th Amendment, Anthony publicly voiced her belief that white women were more deserving of voting rights than African American people regardless of sex. Her mother and sister attended the 1848 Seneca Falls Convention, and three years later Anthony met Elizabeth Cady Stanton, one of the event’s organizers. Anthony and Stanton formed a working relationship that lasted the rest of their lives. Together they formed the National Woman Suffrage Association which pushed for a national amendment granting women the right to vote. Stanton’s writing skills complimented Anthony’s oratory. Stanton would say of their relationship that “I forged the thunderbolts, she fired them.”

Anthony was arrested for voting in the presidential election of 1872 and fined $100 which she never paid. She traveled constantly through the next few decades supporting efforts in many states to win woman suffrage. Though she was lambasted and reviled in her youth, by the 1890s Anthony emerged as a national heroine. She was warmly received at the 1893 World’s Columbian Exposition in Chicago, and the 1905 Lewis and Clark Exposition in Portland. Though she worked for over 50 years to attain woman suffrage, Anthony would not live to see the passage of the 19th Amendment. In honor of her struggle, this decisive bill was nicknamed the “Anthony Amendment.”​