“In Rochester, N.Y., women covered the gravestone of Susan B. Anthony with “I voted” stickers. Many wore white in honor of Anthony, who fought for women’s suffrage, an effort that culminated with the ratification of the 19th Amendment to the U.S. Constitution in 1920. Women have been on the national ballot before, but never as the presidential nominee for one of the two major parties.” 1
Susan B. Anthony was born on February 15, 1820 to Daniel and Lucy Read Anthony.2 She was one of seven children. Originally from Adams, Massachusetts, her family moved to Battenville, New York where her parents encouraged all of their children to value self-reliance and principled convictions. She and her family were members of the Quaker religion, which allowed the family to live modestly and practiced non-violence and respect for all people, regardless of race or background.3 Growing up, her sisters and mother would stay at home and do domestic work, while her dad ran a mill. Once her father had enough savings from managing the mill, he sent Susan and one of her sisters to be educated at a boarding school in Pennsylvania, run by the Friends of the Quakers. She graduated at the age of fifteen, and got a job for a modest salary as a teacher. Once she found out that she was making 20% less than men at the school, she went to the school’s administrators and protested that they should be receiving equal pay. Her protests led to her dismissal from the school, and she returned home.4
Susan and her family were both heavily involved in the abolition, temperance, and women’s rights movements. Her parents attended the Women’s Rights Convention at Seneca Falls in 1848 and signed the Declaration of Women’s Rights.5 One significant event that paved the way for her passion for women’s rights occurred in 1852, while she attended a meeting. As she rose to speak on a certain topic, she was ignored by all of the men in the room; angered and insulted she stormed out and soon founded the Women’s State Temperance Society. This was the incident that convinced her to fight for the right for women to vote. She felt as if it was the cornerstone of women’s fight for respect and equality.6 She attended her first Women’s Rights convention in 1852 and from then until the end of the American Civil War, she campaigned from door to door, in legislatures, and in meetings for the abolition of slavery and the promotion of women’s rights. Her persistency and hard work led to married women in New York to own their own property, keep their own wages, and have custody of their children in case of a separation or divorce. She was paving the way for the future as we know it.
In 1889, the National Woman’s Suffrage Association merged with the American Woman Suffrage Association to form the National American Woman Suffrage Association. In 1890, Wyoming became the first state to allow women the right to vote. Susan is the reason today why women can vote and without all of her hard work, women may not have that right. She did not live to see the Nineteenth Amendment but she made a great deal of influence on legislation. Before she died on March 13, 1906, she was able to see all of her hard work in action by four states giving women the right to vote. In her last public speech she gave, she ended with, “Failure is impossible.”7