Susan B. Anthony was born on February 15, 1820, to a Quaker family in Massachusetts. Her family was politically active in the abolitionist movement and the temperance movement. Her work in the temperance movement led her to become involved in the women‚Äôs rights movement, as she was not allowed to speak at temperance rallies due to her gender. In 1851, Anthony met the woman who would become her lifelong friend and ally in the fight for women‚Äôs rights ‚Äî Elizabeth Cady Stanton. Susan B. Anthony was unmarried and free to travel across the United States and campaign for women‚Äôs suffrage, unlike Stanton, who was a mother of seven.
In 1872, Anthony was arrested when she voted in the presidential election. It soon became a national controversy. The district attorney worried that Anthony‚Äôs speeches across Monroe County would sway the jurors and public opinion, so the trial moved from Monroe County to neighboring Ontario County. Anthony wasn‚Äôt allowed to speak at her own trial until after the verdict was given. She delivered a fiery speech on women‚Äôs rights, and refused to pay the $100 fine that was her sentence.
When Susan B. Anthony died on March 13, 1906, women still did not have the right to vote. The 19th Amendment to the U.S. Constitution, giving women the vote, was passed in 1920, 14 years after Anthony‚Äôs death.
Susan B. Anthony and women suffragettes of the 19th and 20th century have been on my mind quite a bit throughout the U.S. Presidential election. I don‚Äôt know if Anthony could have imagined that in 2016, a woman would be leading a major political party presidential ticket for the first time. Regardless of political views, another glass ceiling shattered when Hillary Clinton became the Democratic nominee for president, and that is a testament to all the women who have come before her. On that day the nomination was announced in July, the city of Rochester tweeted a¬†photo of a thank you note from Mayor Lovely Warren next to Anthony‚Äôs grave at Mount Hope Cemetery. The note reads:
We thought you might like to know that for the first time in history, a woman is running for President representing a major party. 144 years ago your illegal vote got you arrested. It took another 48 years for women to finally gain the right to vote. Thank you for paving the way.
Although Hillary Clinton did not win the presidency in the electoral college, I can‚Äôt help but think about how proud Susan B. Anthony and other leading women‚Äôs rights activists would be.
Girl Museum Inc.