Background

The struggle for suffrage for African Americans and women was constant throughout the nineteenth century and lasted through the early twentieth century. African American men were the first of these groups granted the vote via the ratification of the 14th and 15th Amendments in 1868 and 1870, respectively, leaving women to continue battling for their ballot. 

The Answer

Susan B. Anthony became one of the most visible advocates for this continuing effort for women’s suffrage. She worked closely with Elizabeth Cady Stanton, a dear friend of hers, as well as many other well-known advocates of women’s rights. The 19th Amendment to the Constitution, passed fourteen years after Anthony’s death, came to be called the “Susan B. Anthony Amendment” in her honor. 

Susan B. Anthony

Susan B. Anthony was at the forefront of the fight for women’s suffrage, and was an advocate for many causes, including the abolition of slavery and educational equality, throughout her lifetime. 

The History

Susan B. Anthony was the second oldest among her seven siblings and was born in Adams, Massachusetts, in 1820. Her father, Daniel, was a Quaker and worked as a farmer until he later purchased and managed a cotton mill. Anthony’s mother, Lucy, came from a family that had fought in the American Revolution and was involved with the Massachusetts state government. 

Anthony was inspired throughout her lifetime by the Quaker belief that everyone was equal under God. Her family was active in the fight for the emancipation of slaves, and it was at her family home in Rochester, New York that she met William Lloyd Garrison and Frederick Douglass, both friends of her father. She soon became an advocate of abolition and delivered many anti-slavery speeches. It was at the Seneca Falls Anti-Slavery Convention in 1851 that Susan B. Anthony first met Elizabeth Cady Stanton, who would become a close friend for years to come. In 1856, Anthony formally became an agent for the Anti-Slavery Society. 

Anthony’s interest in women’s rights likely began upon her meeting Elizabeth Cady Stanton, though Lucy Stone’s speech at the 1852 Syracuse Convention is credited with compelling Anthony to join the movement. In 1866, Anthony and Stanton co-founded the American Equal Rights Association, and in 1868, they became editors of the association’s paper, The Revolution, which bore the motto, “Men, their rights, and nothing more; women, their rights, and nothing less.” The Revolution was used to spread ideas of equality and rights for women. Anthony began to give lectures to raise funds for the production of The Revolution and the suffrage movement.

Anthony and Stanton were upset with Congress’ passage of the 14th and 15th Amendments, because Congress continued to deny women their suffrage. This caused them to split from other suffragists, and they founded the National Woman Suffrage Association in 1869, which had the goal of passing a constitutional amendment giving women the right to vote.

In 1872, Anthony went with her three sisters to vote and was subsequently arrested and fined $100, which she never paid. This arrest helped bring national attention to the women’s suffrage movement. Susan B. Anthony led a protest for woman suffrage at the 1876 Centennial of our Nation’s Independence, and it was here that she delivered The Declaration of Rights, co-written by herself and another suffragist, Matilda Joslyn Gage.

It was in 1888 that Susan B. Anthony aided in the merging of the nation’s two largest suffrage associations, the National Woman Suffrage Association and the American Woman Suffrage Association, into the National American Woman Suffrage Association (NAWSA). She served as the leader of the new National American Woman Suffrage Association until 1900. 

Susan B. Anthony passed away in 1906 at age eighty-six in Rochester, New York. Her death came fourteen years before the passage of the 19th Amendment, which finally gave women the right to vote in 1920. This Amendment came to be known as “The Susan B. Anthony” Amendment in her honor.

So What?

Susan B. Anthony’s efforts to secure women the right to vote paved the way for future suffragists to achieve this goal, and she made a significant contribution to the fight for women’s equality within the United States. The passage of the 19th Amendment was a crucial step towards achieving even greater goals that would contribute to gender equality, and having this right secured allowed future activists to attempt to overcome further disparities within the American society. Susan B. Anthony’s fundamental arguments regarding gender equality are used to this day in current gender equality issues, such as reproductive rights and equal pay.

    Learn More

    1. “Susan B. Anthony.” National Park Service, Feb. 26, 2015, https://www.nps.gov/wori/learn/historyculture/susan-b-anthony.htm.
    2. “Susan B. Anthony.” National Women’s History Museum. Edited by Nancy Hayward, 2018, https://www.womenshistory.org/education-resources/biographies/susan-b-anthony
    3. “Her Life.” The National Susan B. Anthony Museum and House. https://susanb.org/her-life/

    Think Further

    1. How did the community that Susan B. Anthony grew up within influence and inspire her thinking?
    2. How did Susan B. Anthony become involved in activism? How did she become involved in women’s rights specifically?
    3. What are some of the impacts of Susan B. Anthony’s work that you see in the world today?

    Teacher Resources

    Download Lesson Plan
    Download Worksheet
    View On EdPuzzle
    Sign up for our educators newsletter to learn about new content!
    Educators Newsletter