Women and Adversity: Susan B. Anthony

Susan B. Anthony Silver Dollar, 1979


In 1874 Susan Brownell Anthony asked the House Judiciary Committee to annul the $100 fine she received for voting in the 1872 presidential election. It was against the law for women to vote then. The courts refused.

Anthony had been arrested in Rochester, NY, and at her trial, she argued that the Fourteenth Amendment, which guaranteed everyone born or naturalized in the U.S. had the privileges of citizenship, included women. She didn’t win, but she never paid the fine and prosecutors didn’t pursue collecting it.

It’s crucial that women today understand the trials women of the late 1800s and early 1900s went through to gain equal rights and the right to vote. These women were laughed at, ridiculed and ignored, but they persisted because they knew that women deserved equal rights.

Susan was born Feb. 15, 1820 in Adams, MA and was brought up in a Quaker environment. The family moved to Rochester, NY in 1845 and Susan became active in the anti-slavery movement, just one of her causes. A year later she was named head of the girls’ department at Canajoharie Academy. She advocated for women to hold administration positions, have equal pay and have a voice in decisions. She argued for co-educational institutions regardless of race.

  • In 1851-52 she became active in the women’s rights movement with suffrage as her main platform. She and Elizabeth Cady Stanton, featured in my Jan. 25 post, were soulmate suffragists.
  • In 1853 she and Stanton founded the Women’s State Temperance Society.
  • In 1863 she and Stanton organized Women’s National Loyal League, which supported the Thirteenth Amendment outlawing slavery. The Fourteenth Amendment defined national citizenship and the Fifteenth Amendment allowed black men to vote.
  • In 1869 she and Stanton founded the National Woman Suffrage Association.
  • In 1870 she advocated for equal pay for equal work and formed Working Women’s Central Association and was elected its president.
  • In 1877 she and her advocates began writing The History of Woman Suffrage.
  • In 1878 the NWSA drafted a Constitutional amendment to grant women the right to vote and lobbied Congress for its passage. The effort did not succeed.
  • In 1900 she convinced the University of Rochester to admit women.
  • She appeared before every Congress from 1869-1906 petitioning for women suffrage.

Susan gave speeches across the U.S. in support of woman’s suffrage. In her last speech, just a month before she died, she concluded it with “Failure is impossible.”

The Nineteenth Amendment granting women the right to vote was ratified on Aug. 18, 1920. Susan’s image is cast on the silver dollar minted in 1979.

Anthony never married. She died March 13, 1906.

More information about Susan B. Anthony:







Article By: Jo Ann Mathews

I published three ebooks in 2020: Women and Adversity, Honoring 23 Black Women; Women and Adversity, Recognizing 23 Notable Mothers; and Women and Adversity, Saluting 23 Faithful Suffragists to commemorate the hundredth anniversary of the passage of the 19th Amendment giving women the right to vote. These books are meant to be study guides for all students from grade school through college to help in choosing topics for assignments and to learn more about these noteworthy women. Go to amazon.com, barnesandnoble.com and goodreads.com to learn more.

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