The New Student's Reference Work/Anthony, Susan Brownell
Anthony, Susan Brownell. In 1854 a school teacher appeared in Albany, New York, to present a petition signed by 28,000 persons for better laws to regulate the liquor traffic. A member of the As-s e m b 1 y said: "Who are all these signers—nobody but women." Nobody but women—mothers, wives, daughters, sisters who wanted to protect their protectors against evil habits that threatened the home. The teacher, as she turned away, said: "A woman's name on a petition will never be as good as a man's until she has a vote." Susan B. Anthony from that day was an equal suffragist. That thought was her whole creed, precept and practice. For the next half century she gave every day, every dollar, every power of her mind to the work of making a woman's name worth as much as a man's.
Born in South Adams, Mass., February 15, 1820, of a Quaker father, she was given the same education as her brothers, which was unusual in that day. It was not until she began to teach for $10 a month in a position for which a man would have been given $40 that she felt the disadvantage of being born a girl. Her voice was first heard in a New York State Teachers' Association in a demand for equal pay for men and women. At the age of 27 she joined the movement for temperance reform, and she might have preceded Miss Willard in the leadership of that work but for her experience at Albany. She became convinced that the ballot was the only effective weapon to fight with against any and all kinds of moral evil and legal oppression.
Other eminent women were pioneers in this movement, but Miss Anthony was the most original and aggressive of them all, and she was singled out for ridicule. In time her wit, her good-humor, her courage, her intellect, her grasp of political history and the legal status of women won respect and admiration even from people who did not agree with her. There are few to-day who will deny the debt that women owe to her in their privilege of working at innumerable occupations, with equal or very nearly equal pay as men, in their control of their property and children, in their opportunities for higher education and in the fact that women's names on petitions, even when they have no vote, can no longer be dismissed with contempt.
It must be remembered that the cause Miss Anthony made her own was helped along enormously by the Civil War. The roll of the dead forced thousands of timid women into the ranks of bread-winners. From a social disgrace it suddenly became an honor, a patriotic duty for women to work, and necessity opened all the gates of industry and all the gates of preparation for work. Her lectures, her writing, her petitions, her appearance before Congresssional committees and her work of organization made her a national character. In 1872 she cast a vote in the presidential election to test her status as a citizen. She was tried before the courts of New York state and fined $100, but refused to pay it, declaring that "taxation without representation is tyranny," just the same as it was a hundred years before. Miss Anthony died March 13, 1906, active and able for her task up to the age of 86. See Life by Ida M. Harper.