Susan Brownell Anthony is famous for being one of the most prominent leaders in the women’s suffrage movement in the United States which ultimately led to the Nineteenth Amendment to the U.S. Constitution granting women the right the vote. Although the amendment, popularly known as Anthony Amendment, was ratified after her death, her contribution in it cannot be overstated. Apart for fighting for equal rights for women throughout her life, Anthony was involved in several other efforts including the abolishment of slavery. Here are her 10 major accomplishments and achievements.
#1 Her anti-slavery efforts aided the abolishment of slavery in the United States
Along with Elizabeth Cady Stanton, Anthony organized the Women’s Loyal National League on May 14, 1863 to campaign for an amendment in the U.S. constitution to abolish slavery. It was the first national women’s political organization in U.S. It started a drive to collect signatures on petitions to abolish slavery. With nearly 400,000 signatures it proved to be the largest petition drive in U.S. history till that time and significantly aided the passage of the Thirteenth Amendment to the US constitution which ended slavery in America. Although the League was disbanded after its purpose was achieved, it gave rise to a new generation of female leaders and activists.
#2 Anthony was among the top leaders in the American Equal Rights Association
At the Eleventh National Women’s Rights Convention in 1866, Anthony introduced a resolution that transformed the convention into American Equal Rights Association (AERA). The AERA was later split into two groups mainly on the issue that should black men achieve suffrage first or should women and black men achieve the right to vote at the same time. Though it split in 1869, the organization was important in initiating an organized effort towards achieving equal rights for women and African Americans.
#3 Along with Stanton, she founded the National Woman Suffrage Association
The AERA split led to the formation of two competing women’s suffrage organizations: National Woman Suffrage Association (NWSA), which was founded by Anthony and Stanton in May, 1869; and Lucy Stone led American Woman Suffrage Association (AWSA). While AWSA worked closely with abolitionists and supported the movement for suffrage for black men before women; Anthony’s NWSA worked towards a politically independent women’s right movement and pushed for suffrage for women and black men simultaneously. NWSA also spread awareness among women and helped them share their knowledge and experiences.
#4 Her trial for giving a vote brought national attention to the women’s suffrage issue
In 1871 NWSA adopted the strategy of asking women to vote and filing suits on being denied. During the 1872 Presidential Election, Susan Anthony along with nearly 50 women attempted to vote and 15 were even able to convince the election inspector. Anthony’s vote created a controversy which led to her arrest. Her trial was widely covered by the press and brought the issue of women’s suffrage on the national spotlight. During it, she also delivered what is often said to be the greatest speech on the right of women to vote. Justice Hunt sentenced Anthony to pay a fine of $100 but she never paid it. She was released which prevented her from appealing in the Supreme Court.
#5 Susan B Anthony led the women’s suffrage movement during its early phase
Susan B Anthony is considered the principal organizer of the women’s suffrage movement in the US and gave it force and direction for nearly half a century. In May 1890, NWSA and AWSA merged to form National American Woman Suffrage Association (NAWSA), which became the largest and most influential suffrage organization in the U.S. Anthony was the dominant figure of the organization from the year of its foundation to 1900. By the time of her death in 1906, women had achieved suffrage in a few states and several followed soon after. In 1878, along with Stanton, Anthony had arranged for the presentation of an amendment in Congress which gave women the right to vote. Popularly known as the Susan B. Anthony Amendment, it later became the Nineteenth Amendment to the U.S. Constitution in 1920 which granted women the right to vote.
#6 She co-established the women’s right journal The Revolution
Anthony and Stanton established the newspaper The Revolution which was published weekly between January 8, 1868 and February 17, 1872. It was a radical publication which primarily supported women’s rights, especially suffrage. Among other things, it reported on advancements made by women, discrimination against them and improvements in divorce laws. After a period of reduced activity during the American Civil War, The Revolution brought back women’s issues on the forefront again.
#7 She helped found the International Council of Women
Stanton and Anthony traveled to Europe, met with leaders of European women’s movements and started the process of creating an international women’s organization. In 1888, 80 speakers and 49 delegates representing 53 women’s organizations from 9 countries came together in Washington D.C. to form the International Council of Women (ICW). Anthony presided over 8 of the 16 sessions of the first ICW. The ICW went on to become a prominent international organization, is still active and is associated with the United Nations which has given it the general consultative status, highest status an NGO can achieve at the UN.
#8 She was the honorary president of the International Woman Suffrage Alliance
After Anthony retired from the presidency of NAWSA, her successor Carrie Chapman Catt worked towards an international women’s suffrage association. This led to the creation of the International Woman Suffrage Alliance in 1904. The founding meeting was chaired by Susan B Anthony and she was declared to be the new organization’s honorary president and first member. The IAW became the preeminent international women’s suffrage organization; was later renamed to International Alliance of Women; is still active and is one of the most influential women rights organizations; and has been granted the general consultative status by the United Nations.
#9 She played an important part in the Married Women’s Property Act being passed
Apart from her contributions in abolishing slavery and women’s suffrage, Anthony worked for several other rights for women including: right of women to divorce an abusive husband and to have guardianship of her children; working women being paid equal to men; and improved rights for married women. Due to her efforts an improved Married Women’s Property Act was passed in 1860 which gave married women the right to own separate property, enter into contracts and be joint guardian of their children. However much of it was rolled back due to the American Civil War.
#10 Susan B Anthony is considered a feminist icon
Anthony was an influential speaker and gave many as 75 to 100 speeches per year. By the 1880s, she was among the leading political figures in the United States. Today, she is hailed for her contributions towards women’s rights and has achieved iconic status. Stamps have been issued in her honor and in 1979 the US mint issued the Susan B Anthony dollar coin making her the first non-fictitious woman to be such honored. The Cathedral of St. John the Divine in Manhattan has a sculpture honoring four spiritual heroes of the twentieth century: Martin Luther King, Albert Einstein, Mohandas Gandhi and Susan B Anthony.
“A few days ago someone said to me that every woman should stand with bared head before Susan B. Anthony. ‘Yes,’ I answered, ‘and every man as well.’ … For ages he has been trying to carry the burden of life’s responsibilities alone… Just now it is new and strange and men cannot comprehend what it would mean but the change is not far away.”
Clara Barton, founder of the American Red Cross