Who Was Susan B. Anthony? - Women's Rights Facts & Significance

Instructor: Amy Lively

Amy has an M.A. in American History. She has taught history at all levels, from university to middle school.

This lesson discusses the life and work of Susan B. Anthony. Learn more about her fight for women's rights, including the fight for women's suffrage, and then test your knowledge with a quiz.

Susan B. Anthony

Anthony Joins the Women's Rights Movement

Born into a Quaker family in Massachusetts on February 15, 1820, Susan B. Anthony was no stranger to the fight for social causes. Her family instilled in her the belief in equality and a tradition of activism. In the late 1840s, Anthony became involved in the fight to end slavery. It was at an abolitionist meeting that Anthony met Elizabeth Cady Stanton. Both women participated in the temperance movement, working toward a ban on alcohol, but Anthony was not sure that she should be part of the women's rights movement. Stanton convinced her that if she wanted to fight for reform, the most effective way to be able to do that was to have the right to vote.

The Fight for Women's Suffrage

Anthony and Stanton teamed up on the fight for women's suffrage. Stanton was married with children and not as free to travel around the country as the unmarried Anthony. Instead, Stanton often served as Anthony's speechwriter. Anthony's engaging and passionate speaking style helped her emerge as a leader in the suffrage movement. In 1858, she was the president of the National Women's Rights Convention. In 1868, Anthony published the first edition of the women's rights newspaper, The Revolution. With Stanton as the editor, the publication focused on more than just the right to vote; it also printed articles on other issues that were important to women, such as divorce and the rights of female workers.

Anthony Votes

When Anthony and her three sisters showed up at a barbershop in Rochester, New York, on November 1, 1872 to register to vote in the upcoming presidential election, it was not an impulsive act. Anthony had been planning for this moment for three years. The way she saw it, the 14th Amendment, which grants American citizenship rights to anyone born in the United States, gave her the right to vote. After all, she was a citizen and citizens should certainly have the right to vote. Anthony said as much to three slightly stunned young men that served as election inspectors that day. After an hour of debate between the women, the inspectors, and their supervisor, Anthony and her sisters were allowed to register to vote. On November 5, Anthony cast her vote for Ulysses S. Grant.

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