SUSAN B. ANTHONY AND ELIZABETH CADY STANTON

SUSAN B. ANTHONY AND ELIZABETH CADY STANTON

(Respectively, b. Feb. 15, 1820, Adams, Mass., U.S.—d. March 13, 1906, Rochester, N.Y.; b. Nov. 12, 1815, Johnstown, N.Y., U.S.—d. Oct. 26, 1902, New York, N.Y.)

Susan B. Anthony and Elizabeth Cady Stanton led the women’s rights movement and were crusaders for woman suffrage in the United States. Their work helped pave the way for the Nineteenth Amendment (1920) to the Constitution, giving women the right to vote.

Susan B. Anthony

Susan Brownell Anthony was reared in the Quaker tradition in a home pervaded by a tone of independence and moral zeal. She was a precocious child and learned to read and write at age three. After the family moved from Massa-chusetts to Battensville, N.Y., in 1826, she attended a district school, then a school set up by her father, and finally a boarding school near Philadelphia.

In 1839 she took a position in a Quaker seminary in New Rochelle, N.Y. After teaching at a female academy in upstate New York (1846–49), she settled in her family home, now near Rochester, N.Y. There she met many leading abolitionists, including Frederick Douglass, Parker Pillsbury, Wendell Phillips, William Henry Channing, and William Lloyd Garrison.

Soon the temperance movement enlisted her sympathy; after meeting Amelia Bloomer and, through her, Elizabeth Cady Stanton, so did that of woman suffrage.The rebuff of Anthony’s attempt to speak at a temper-ance meeting in Albany in 1852 prompted her to organize the Woman’s New York State Temperance Society, of which Stanton became president. The episode also pushed Anthony farther in the direction of women’s rights advocacy.

In a short time she became known as one of the cause’s most zealous, serious advocates, a dogged and tireless worker whose personality contrasted sharply with that of her friend and coworker Stanton. She was also a prime target of public and newspaper abuse.While campaigning for a liberalization of New York’s laws regarding married women’s property rights, an end attained in 1860, Anthony served from 1856 as chief New York agent of Garrison’s American Anti-Slavery Society. During the early phase of the Civil War she helped organize the Women’s National Loyal League, which urged the case for emancipation.

After the war she campaigned unsuccessfully to have the language of the Fourteenth Amendment altered to allow for woman as well as “Negro” suffrage, and in 1866 she became corresponding secretary of the newly formed American Equal Rights Association. Her exhausting speaking and organizing tour of Kansas in 1867 failed to win passage of a state enfranchisement law.In 1868 Anthony became publisher, and Stanton editor, of a new periodical, The Revolution, originally financed by the eccentric George Francis Train.

The same year, she represented the Working Women’s Association of New York, which she had recently organized, at the National Labor Union convention. In January 1869 she organized a woman suffrage convention in Washington, D.C., and in May she and Stanton formed the National Woman Suffrage Association (NWSA). A portion of the organiza-tion deserted later in the year to join Lucy Stone’s more conservative American Woman Suffrage Association, but the NWSA remained a large and powerful group and Anthony remained its principal leader and spokeswoman.

In 1870 she relinquished her position at The Revolution and embarked on a series of lecture tours to pay off the paper’s accumulated debts. As a test of the legality of the suffrage provision of the Fourteenth Amendment, she cast a vote in the 1872 presidential election in Rochester, N.Y. She was arrested, convicted (the judge’s directed verdict of guilty had been written before the trial began), and fined, and although she refused to pay the fine the case was carried no further.

She traveled constantly, often with Stanton, in support of efforts in various states to win the franchise for women: California in 1871, Michigan in 1874, Colorado in 1877, and elsewhere. In 1890, after lengthy discussions, the rival suffrage associations were merged into the National American Woman Suffrage Association, and at Stanton’s resignation in 1892 Anthony became president. Her principal lieutenant in later years was Carrie Chapman Catt.

By the 1890s Anthony had largely outlived the abuse and sarcasm that had attended her early efforts, and she emerged as a national heroine. Her visits to the World’s Columbian Exposition in Chicago in 1893 and to the Lewis and Clark Exposition in Portland, Oregon, in 1905 were warmly received, as were her trips to London in 1899 and Berlin in 1904 as head of the U.S. delegation to the inter-national Council of Women (which she helped found in 1888). In 1900, at the age of 80, she retired from the presidency of the National American Woman Suffrage Association, passing it on to Catt.

Principal among Anthony’s written works are the first four volumes of the six-volume History of Woman Suffrage, written with Stanton and Matilda J. Gage. Various of her writings are collected in The Elizabeth Cady Stanton-Susan B. Anthony Reader (1992), edited by Ellen Carol DuBois, and The Selected Papers of Elizabeth Cady Stanton and Susan B. Anthony (1997), edited by Ann D. Gordon.

With the issue of a new dollar coin in 1979, she became the first woman to be depicted on United States currency, although the honour was somewhat mitigated by popular rejection of the coin because its size was so similar to that of the 25-cent coin.

Elizabeth Cady Stanton

Elizabeth Cady received a superior education at home, at the Johnstown Academy, and at Emma Willard’s Troy Female Seminary, from which she graduated in 1832. While studying law in the office of her father, Daniel Cady, a U.S. congressman and later a New York Supreme Court judge, she learned of the discriminatory laws under which women lived and determined to win equal rights for her sex.

In 1840 she married Henry Brewster Stanton, a lawyer and abolitionist (she insisted that the word obey be dropped from the wedding ceremony). Later that year they attended the World’s Anti-Slavery Convention in London, and she was outraged at the denial of official recognition to several women delegates, notably Lucretia C. Mott, because of their sex. She became a frequent speaker on the subject of women’s rights and circulated petitions that helped secure passage by the New York legislature in 1848 of a bill grant-ing married women’s property rights.

In 1848 she and Mott issued a call for a women’s rights convention to meet in Seneca Falls, N.Y. (where Stanton lived), on July 19–20 and in Rochester, N.Y., on subsequent days. At the meeting Stanton introduced her Declaration of Sentiments, modeled on the Declaration of Independence, that detailed the inferior status of women and that, in calling for extensive reforms, effectively launched the American women’s rights movement. She also introduced a resolu-tion calling for woman suffrage that was adopted after considerable debate.

From 1851 she worked closely with Susan B. Anthony. Together they remained active for 50 years after the first convention, planning campaigns, speaking before legisla-tive bodies, and addressing gatherings in conventions, in lyceums, and in the streets. Stanton, the better orator and writer, was perfectly complemented by Anthony, the orga-nizer and tactician.

She wrote not only her own and many of Anthony’s addresses but also countless letters and pamphlets, as well as articles and essays for numerous periodicals, including Amelia Bloomer’s Lily, Paulina Wright Davis’s Una, and Horace Greeley’s New York Tribune. In 1854 Stanton received an unprecedented invitation to address the New York legislature. Her speech resulted in new legislation in 1860 granting married women the rights to their wages and to equal guardianship of their children.

During her presidency in 1852–53 of the short-lived Woman’s State Temperance Society, which she and Anthony had founded, she scandalized many of her most ardent supporters by suggesting that drunkenness be made sufficient cause for divorce. Liberalized divorce laws continued to be one of her principal issues.

During the Civil War, Stanton again worked for aboli-tionism. In 1863 she and Anthony organized the Women’s National Loyal League, which gathered more than 300,000 signatures on petitions calling for immediate emancipa-tion. The movement to extend the franchise to African American men after the war, however, caused her bitter-ness and outrage, reemphasized the disenfranchisement of women, and led her and her colleagues to redouble their efforts for woman suffrage.

Stanton and Anthony made several exhausting speaking and organizing tours on behalf of woman suffrage. In 1868 Stanton became coeditor (with Parker Pillsbury) of the newly established weekly The Revolution, a newspaper devoted to women’s rights. She continued to write fiery editorials until the paper’s demise in 1870.

She helped organize the National Woman Suffrage Association in 1869 and was named its president, a post she retained until 1890, when the organization merged with the rival American Woman Suffrage Association. She was then elected president of the new National American Woman Suffrage Association and held that position until 1892.

Stanton continued to write and lecture tirelessly. She was the principal author of the Declaration of Rights for Women presented at the Centennial Exposition in Philadelphia in 1876. In 1878 she drafted a federal suffrage amendment that was introduced in every Congress thereafter until women were granted the right to vote in 1920. With Susan B. Anthony and Matilda Joslyn Gage she compiled the first three volumes of the six-volume History of Woman Suffrage. She also published The Woman’s Bible, 2 vol. (1895–98), and an autobiography, Eighty Years and More (1898).