August 26th is Women’s Equality Day. This special day marks when American women were finally given the right to vote in 1920 (the proclamation was signed on Aug. 26). This day is one that encourages equal rights for women and equal access to opportunities. On this day and beyond, let’s celebrate the courageous heroes who stand up to change the patriarchal society. Looking back in history, one such figure is Susan B. Anthony.
Susan B. Anthony in the suffrage movement
When talking about suffragettes in US history, Anthony is one of the most recognized activists. She was born February 15, 1820 and raised Quaker, believing under the Quaker faith that all are equal under God.
She made public speeches against slavery as a young adult after meeting Frederick Douglass and William Lloyd Garrison. While it was seen as improper for women to give speeches in a public forum, she did so.
In the mid-1800s, Anthony met Elizabeth Cady Stanton and the two women would go on to be close friends for many years. They gave speeches across the United States together to speak up for women’s rights – namely the right to vote.
Together with Stanton, Anthony founded the American Equal Rights Association (AERA) in 1866. The organization’s goal was to secure equal rights across gender and race. The Assocation specifically campaigned for women and African-Americans to have the right to vote. Among the AERA’s main activists was Sojourner Truth.
The Association published articles to spread their messages in their newspaper called The Revolution. Anthony and Stanton were the editors. As the articles published, Anthony’s fame across the country grew. Not everyone agreed with her messages, though.
Updates to US women’s rights and Anthony’s response
In 1865, slavery became illegal, as per the 13th Amendment. Black women who had been enslaved in the States were released and had new rights.
Then, three years later, came the 14th Amendment. It stated that all born within the US were American citizens. They had the right to “life, liberty, and property” as adults and no law could change that.
The 14th Amendment was also the first time the Constitution mentioned gender. In 1870 came the 15th Amendment. It upheld the right for men over age 21 to vote, regardless of race. But it did not include women. Women continued to be excluded from voting.
A divide over the 15th Amendment led Anthony and Stanton to break off to form the National Woman Suffrage Association. The year was 1869.
In 1872, despite it being illegal for her to do so, Anthony went to vote. She was arrested. Tried before the court, she was sentenced to a $100 fine. This action brought more attention to the American suffrage movement. By the way, she never paid the fine.
She would go on to protest at the Centennial Celebration at Independence Hall in Philidalphia in 1876. The event was meant to celebrate 100 years of the signing of the Declaration of Independence. The suffragists crashed the event to bring light to declaring the rights of women in the US.
A few last words on Susan B. Anthony
The fight for women’s rights was a major part of Susan B. Anthony’s life. Sadly, she passed away 14 years before women had the right to vote in the US in 1920 (the 19th Amendment. But she was pivotal in campaigning for women.
She was honored in 1979 by being the first woman to have her image appear on US circulating coin. It was issued in 1979-1981 and again in 1999.