Life of Susan B. Anthony
Mid-19th century America was a period of evolution and reform. People were voicing their beliefs and sharing it to the public to try and make the United States the best country they felt it could be. That was certainly the case for activist Susan B.
Anthony. Anthony was born on February 15th, 1820 in Adams, Massachusetts, and she grew up in a large family with 6 other siblings. When she was 25 years old, her family moved to a farm in Rochester, New York. It was here where she began a career as a teacher. But her passions extended farther than just education, Anthony began immersing herself in the rising Women’s rights and suffrage movements, as well as abolitionism. From first dipping her toe in those subjects out of interest, she started to become an integral part of the progress of these reforms. Susan B. Anthony was a driven and strong individual, so to no surprise, she had set some impactful goals. She strove to work towards suffrage for the women of America, union protection for working women, overall more equal treatment of women and men, and abolition in the States.
Women’s Rights was one of the main focuses of her campaigning efforts. Susan B. Anthony spoke up about the right for women to own their own property. She went as far as to rally others in support of her reform ideas and voicing them to the New York legislature. The result of this was a new law that allowed women who were married to have their own property and personal wages. Anthony became involved with a union for teacher’s and learned that the salary gap between men and women was a whopping $7.5 per month. This motivated her to become an outspoken member of the worker union she was in, to give women the same protection men received. She made more efforts by becoming a delegate in the National Labor Union, which held the philosophy of helping the lower class workers grow to become more powerful than those of the upper classes. She eventually formed several completely female labor unions, one of which was the Workingwomen’s Central Association that collected reports of the working conditions and gave working women education. But her work at this was cut short by strong opposers. Although her efforts certainly made a notable amount of progress in the women’s rights movement.
An even bigger women’s rights reform Anthony fought for was suffrage. Along with her philosophy of equality for women and men, she felt that if women were to truly have a powerful hand in the nation, they would need to be able to vote. The basis for her tactic in getting the vote for women was in the formation of the American Equal Rights Association. She worked with fellow women’s rights activists to write a newspaper in New York, called The Revolution, that advocated women and men being equal in society. This somewhat spread the word, but the true impact came from when Anthony began to travel the country with her association, and give live speeches about women’s suffrage. Their strategy was to work at motivating the people, one state at a time until that state made it legal for women to vote. Anthony was truly passionate about what she was supporting and went to extreme lengths to make as big an impact as she could. “The only change women have for justice in this country is to violate the law, as I have done, and as I shall continue to do.” (Susan B. Anthony, 1873) Anthony and her sisters decided to cast their vote for the Presidential election of 1872, despite suffrage for women not being legal yet. She was arrested and taken to court. The result of her trials did not produce an immediate constitutional change on women’s suffrage, but the drastic measures she took to prove a point gave motivation to others who support women’s voting rights, to make a big deal of the reform and actively make a difference.
Alongside being a strong Women’s rights advocator, Susan B. Anthony was also an abolitionist. Anthony’s whole family were abolitionists and held weekly meetings on their farm in New York for fellow anti-slavery citizens. Anthony joined the American Anti-Slavery Society, where she made speeches and handed out papers supporting the abolishment of slavery. This was not received well by many, but her philosophy of equality and justice for all kept her striving to make the movement grow. In collaboration with other female abolitionists, Anthony organized the Women’s National Loyal League. Their main concern was to petition for abolishing slavery, which they worked towards very actively. They were able to collect almost 400,000 signatures on petitions to end slavery in America. Anthony became involved with the underground railroad to aid slaves on the run to freedom. A few years later, she blames the New York agent of the American Anti-Slavery Society. With this role, she organized meetings and spread her ideas with banners and posters across the state.
Anthony’s efforts in all the reforms she supported, certainly made a difference. By the end of her life, women had suffrage in the states of Wyoming, Utah, Colorado, and Idaho. Married women were given more of the rights that individual men always had, and a notably larger percentage of the workers in different professions were women. There also were around 36,000 women enrolled in colleges and universities across America. After her death, the movements of women’s rights and abolition did not stop growing. Eventually, women gained suffrage and many more legal rights nationwide. Women were later able to apply for almost any job, and there became almost equal educational opportunities for men and women.
Susan B. Anthony was a catalyst in several reforms of the late 1800s. Her efforts were spent pushing and progressing towards a nation where all genders and races were to be considered equal. Social justice is so prevalent in her works in many associations and alongside other powerful activities. Anthony’s name will go down in history as one that never gave up or held back in pursuit of her philosophies for women’s rights, women’s suffrage, and abolition.
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