Susan Brownell Anthony lived in a time when people in the U.S. questioned the right of women to give speeches in public. At times before speaking engagements, she would have to wait while men debated whether her speaking would be proper. Undeterred, she continued public speaking, even at the risk of arrest.
Susan was strong-willed, energetic, a strategic thinker with discipline and organizational skills, and a mindset that “cautious, careful people, always casting about to preserve their reputation and social standing, never can bring about a reform.” Born in 1820 into a Quaker family of ardent social reformers, it didn’t take long for her to join reform causes. By sixteen, she was collecting signatures for petitions against slavery. And throughout her life, she continued fighting for abolishing slavery, organizing anti-slavery meetings and conventions and more petitions, and taking part in the Underground Railroad. She was fearless in this pursuit, at times requiring police escorts for safety at meetings where “rotten eggs were thrown, benches broken, and knives and pistols gleamed in every direction.”
Along with abolishing slavery, Susan was active in improving equality for women. Susan voted illegally in the Presidential election of 1872, for which she was arrested, tried, found guilty, and fined. “You have trampled under foot every vital principle of our government. My natural rights, my civil rights, my political rights, my judicial rights, are all alike ignored,” she protested. And “I shall never pay a dollar of your unjust penalty,” she said. She never paid the fine.
Susan passed away in 1906, fourteen years before women received the right to vote after the passing of the 19th Amendment.
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A snapshot biography of Susan Brownell Anthony sources:
Hayward, Nancy. “Susan B. Anthony.” National Women’s History Museum, 2017. Accessed on February 1, 2021 / The Post Standard. Syracuse, NY. February 4, 1940. p. 18., quoted in Barry (1988), p. 148 / The Trial of Susan B. Anthony by Ann D. Gordon (https://www.fjc.gov/sites/default/files/trials/susanbanthony.pdf) / https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Susan_B._Anthony / Wikimedia Commons / Interview with Nellie Bly, New York World, 2 February 1896, p. 10. & Susan B. Anthony – Wikiquote