Susan B. Anthony Biography

Susan B. Anthony was an American feminist who played a major role in the women's suffrage movement. This biography of Susan B. Anthony provides detailed information about her childhood, life, achievements, works & timeline

Quick Facts

Also Known As: Susan Anthony

Famous as: Women’s Rights Activist

Nationality: American

Birth Date: February 15, 1820

Died At Age: 86

Sun Sign: Aquarius

Born in: Adams

father: Daniel Anthony

mother: Lucy Read

siblings: Daniel Read Anthony

Died on: March 13, 1906

place of death: Rochester

City, States, Provinces & Districts: Massachussets

Founder/Co-Founder: International Council of Women, National American Woman Suffrage Association, National Woman Suffrage Association, American Equal Rights Association, League of Women Voters

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Susan B. Anthony was an American feminist who played a major role in the women's suffrage movement and served as the president of the National American Woman Suffrage Association. She was committed to social equality and was also a civil rights activist and abolitionist. Born into a Quaker family with strong activist traditions, she developed a sense of justice early on and ventured into social activism as a teenager. Her father as well as several other members of her family, were abolitionists, and as a young girl, she too became involved in the anti-slavery movement. She grew up to become a teacher and ultimately became the head of the girls' department at Canajoharie Academy. She became acquainted with the prominent abolitionist Frederick Douglass and the fiery feminist Elizabeth Cady Stanton and was inspired to become a full-time social activist herself. She left the academy and joined Stanton in founding the New York Women's State Temperance Society. The duo then went on to initiate the American Equal Rights Association, which campaigned for equal rights for both women and African Americans. A very active figure in the women’s suffrage movement, she tirelessly campaigned to gain support for women’s right to vote. A strong willed and independent woman, she never married and dedicated her entire life to the causes she believed in.

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Susan B. Anthony
Childhood & Early Life
  • Susan Brownell Anthony was born on February 15, 1820, to Daniel Anthony and Lucy Read in Adams, Massachusetts. Her father, a Quaker, was an abolitionist and a temperance advocate. Her parents instilled in her the values of justice and integrity at an early age.
  • As a young girl she became involved in the anti-slavery movement and collected anti-slavery petitions at the age of 17. Her father encouraged all his children to get a good education, but unfortunately due to a financial crisis Susan had to discontinue her studies in 1837.
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Teaching Career
  • To help her family financially, she took up a teaching job at a Quaker boarding school. By 1846, she had risen to the position of the headmistress of the female department of the Canajoharie Academy. Her family had always been active in social reform movements and now her own interest in social reform was also growing.
  • The Canajoharie Academy closed in 1849 and she took over the operation of the family farm in Rochester. She managed the farm for a couple of years, but it did not take her long to realize that she wanted to fully engage herself in reform work.
Social Activism
  • She met the prominent feminist Elizabeth Cady Stanton in 1851. Anthony and Stanton, who had been one of the organizers of the Seneca Falls Convention, became friends and collaborated with each other in their work in support of women’s suffrage.
  • At the state teacher’s convention in 1853 she called for women to be admitted to the profession and for better pay for women teachers. By 1859, she had spoken before several other teachers’ conventions arguing for coeducation and claiming that men and women were not intellectually different.
  • She was also active on the anti-slavery front during the 1850s and became an agent for the American Anti-Slavery Society in 1856. In this position she was responsible for arranging meetings, making speeches, and distributing leaflets. As an activist she was subjected to numerous challenges but she remained steadfast in her dedication towards abolitionism.
  • At this time Anthony was more involved in the abolitionist movement than she was in women’s suffrage. However as she became more aware about the cruelties faced by women in the male-dominated society, she decided to dedicate more of her efforts to the women’s rights movement.
  • In 1863, Anthony and Stanton organized the Women's Loyal National League to campaign for an amendment to the U.S. Constitution that would abolish slavery. The league provided an opportunity to the women’s rights activist to align the fight against slavery with the fight for women's rights. It had a membership of 5000 which greatly helped the women’s rights movement in gaining momentum.
  • The two women began publishing a weekly newspaper called ‘The Revolution’ in New York City in 1868. The newspaper primarily lobbied for women’s rights, especially suffrage for women. The newspaper's motto was "Men their rights, and nothing more; women their rights, and nothing less."
  • In 1868, Anthony and Stanton founded the National Woman Suffrage Association in response to whether the woman's movement should support the Fifteenth Amendment to the United States Constitution. Both of them opposed the Fifteenth Amendment unless it included the vote for women.
  • Her relentless campaigning continued throughout the 1870s and 1880s, and she even voted illegally in the presidential election in 1872. Her subsequent arrest helped to gain even more support for the cause.
  • In the 1880s she worked on the ‘History of Woman Suffrage’ with Stanton, Matilda Joslyn Gage and Ida Husted Harper. It was published in four volumes and detailed the history of the women's suffrage movement, primarily in the United States. ‘The Encyclopedia of Women's History in America’ described the ‘History of Woman Suffrage’ as "the fundamental primary source for the women's suffrage campaign".
  • She was in her seventies in the 1890s but age did nothing to dampen her spirits. She continued to travel and speak extensively on women’s suffrage and initiated the Rochester branch of the Women's Educational and Industrial Union in 1893. She had become a prominent national figure by now and her eightieth birthday was celebrated at the White House at the invitation of President William McKinley.
Major Works
  • She played a major role in the formation of the American Equal Rights Association (AERA) in 1866 which was established with the purpose of securing equal rights to all American citizens, especially the right of suffrage, irrespective of race, color or sex.
  • Susan B. Anthony was one of the founders of the National Woman Suffrage Association (NWSA) which was formed in 1869. The association worked to secure women's enfranchisement through a federal constitutional amendment and allowed only women to control the leadership of the group even though it accepted men who supported women’s suffrage as its members.
Personal Life & Legacy
  • Susan B. Anthony never married, and was not known to have been in any serious romantic relationship.
  • She had a very close personal and professional relationship with fellow reformer Elizabeth Cady Stanton. She even lived in the Stanton household for some time and helped her married friend in taking care of the children. Even though the two women developed differences in ideologies in their later years, they continued to be close friends till the very end.
  • She remained very active in the women’s rights movement even when she was in her seventies. After having lived for years in hotels and with friends and relatives, she finally moved in with her sister in 1891.
  • Susan B. Anthony died on March 13, 1906, at the age of 86, due of heart failure and pneumonia. At the time of her death, women had achieved suffrage in Wyoming, Utah, Colorado and Idaho, and she was happy at the progress made by the movement.
  • The U.S. Post Office issued its first postage stamp honoring Susan B. Anthony in 1936.
  • Her home in Rochester is now a National Historic Landmark called the National Susan B. Anthony Museum and House.
  • In 1979, the United States Mint began issuing the Susan B. Anthony dollar.

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- Susan B. Anthony Biography
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Last Updated
- September 25, 2017

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