Happy birthday, Susan B Anthony!

Independence is happiness. – Susan B. Anthony

Susan B. Anthony was born on February 15th 1820, 200 years ago in Adams, Massachusetts. Coincidentally, this year on August 15th 1920 marks the 100 year anniversary of woman’s rights being able to vote.

Susan B. Anthony lived for women’s rights, civil rights, and overall human rights; she fought for all of us. Susan B. Anthony was an American women’s right activist, a organizer, speaker, and, most importantly, the writer 19th century women’s right movement in the United States. We all know about the struggles of woman not being able to vote before the 1920s, and Susan B. Anthony was an integral figure in changing this all.

Anthony had seven brothers and sisters. Later, many became activists for justice and emancipation of slaves. Earlier in her life, Anthony was inspired by the Quaker belief that everyone was equal under God. The idea guided her through her work as an activist.

According to Susan B. Anthony | National Women’s History Museum, after many years of teaching, Anthony returned to her family who had moved to New York State. There she met William Lloyd Garrison and Fredrick Douglas, who were friends of her father. Listening to them moved Susan to want to do more to help end slavery. Even though most people thought it was inappropriate for women to give speeches in public, she became an abolition activist.  Anthony made many passionate speeches against slavery, and soon realized she needed to stand up for woman’s rights as well.

“Let’s Have Tea” A monument featuring Anthony and Frederick Douglass who worked alongside each other in their quest for human rights. It sits across the street from her house in Rochester, NY.

When Congress passed the 14th and 15th amendments, which give voting rights to African American men, Anthony and Stanton were angry and opposed the legislation because it did not include the right to vote for women. Their belief led them to split from other suffragists. They thought the amendments should also have given women the right to vote. They formed the National Woman Suffrage Association, to push for a constitutional amendment giving women the right to vote. Susan B. Anthony | National Women’s History Museum

Suffragists on picket line in front of the White House, circa 1917. One banner reads: "Mr. President How Long Must Women Wait For Liberty". 
Woman protesting in front of the white house in 1917. Photo credits https://www.history.com/news/night-terror-brutality-suffragists-19th-amendment

Consequences of Being a Suffragist

  • You could be arrested for picketing (protesting), though the right to protest was protected in 1791. This worsened as the suffragist movement grew stronger.
  • These women arrested were fined or faced imprisonment.
  • Many ended up in prison.”[The women were] Faced with brutal treatment by guards and horrendous living conditions at Occoquan [prison and workhouse], including worm-ridden food and filthy water and bedding” Reports The History Channel.
  • Even when women had the right to vote in 1920 with the 19th amendment, Native American women didn’t.
Suffragist Lucy Burns in a cell at the Occoquan Workhouse after women's rights protests in November 1917.
Suffragist Lucy Burns in a cell at the occoquan workhouse after women’s right protests in November 1917. Picture and caption from : https://www.history.com/news/night-terror-brutality-suffragists-19th-amendment

We wish Susan B Anthony a Happy 200th Birthday and as a woman, I thank her everyday for the rights I’m entitled. I hope we can learn from her leadership and change things that are still problems in our world today.

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