Woman of the Century/Susan B. Anthony

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2239201Woman of the Century — Susan B. Anthony

ANTHONY, Miss Susan B., woman suffragist, born in South Adams, Mass., 15th February, 1820. If locality and religious heritage have any influence in determining fate, what might be predicted for Susan B. Anthony? Born in Massachusetts, brought up in New York, of Quaker father and Baptist mother, she has by heritage a strongly marked individuality and native strength. In girlish years Susan belonged to Quaker meeting, with aspirations toward "high-seat" dignity, but this SUSAN B. ANTHONY. was modified by the severe treatment accorded to her father, who, having been publicly reprimanded twice, the first time for marrying a Baptist, the second for wearing a comfortable cloak with a large cape, was finally expelled from "meeting" because he allowed the use of one of his rooms for the instruction of a class in dancing, in order that the youth might not be subject to the temptations of a liquor-selling public house. Though Mr. Anthony was a cotton manufacturer and one of the wealthiest men in Washington county, N. Y., he desired that his daughters, as his sons, should be trained for some profession. Accordingly they were fitted, in the best of private schools, for teachers, the only vocation then thought of for girls, and at fifteen Susan found herself teaching a Quaker family school at one dollar a week and board. When the financial crash of 1837 caused his failure, they were not only teaching and supporting themselves, but were able to help their father in his efforts to retrieve his fortunes. With a natural aptitude for the work, conscientious and prompt in all her duties, Susan was soon pronounced a successful teacher, and to that profession she devoted fifteen years of her life. She was an active member of die New York State Teachers' Association and in their conventions made many effective pleas for higher wages and for the recognition of the principle of equal rights for women in all the honors and responsibilities of the association. The women teachers from Maine to Oregon owe Miss Anthony a debt of gratitude for the improved position they hold to-day. Miss Anthony has been from a child deeply interested in the subject of temperance. In 1847 she joined the Daughters of Temperance, and in 1852 organized the New York State Woman's Temperance Association, the first open temperance organization of women. Of this Mrs. Elizabeth Cady Stanton was president As secretary Miss Anthony for several years gave her earnest efforts to the temperance cause, but she soon saw that woman was utterly powerless to change conditions without the ballot. Since she identified herself with the suffrage movement in 1852 she has left others to remedy individual wrongs, while she has been working for the weapon by which, as she believes, women will be able to do away with the producing causes She says she has "no time to dip out vice with a teaspoon while the wrongly-adjusted forces of society are pouring it in by the bucketful." With all her family, Miss Anthony was a pronounced and active Abolitionist. During the war, with her life-long friend and co-worker, Elizabeth Cady Stanton, and other coadjutors, she rolled up nearly 400,000 petitions to Congress for the abolition of slavery. Those petitions circulated in every northern and western State, served the double purpose of rousing the people to thought and furnishing the friends of the slave in Congress opportunities for speech. In Charles Sumner's letters to Miss Anthony we find the frequent appeals, "Send on the petitions; they furnish the only background for my demands." The most hamsging, though most satisfactory, enterprise Miss Anthony ever undertook was the publication (or three years of a weekly paper, "The Revolution." This formed an epoch in the woman's rights movement and roused widespread thought on the question. Ably edited by Elizabeth Cady Stanton and Parker Pillsbury, with the finest intellects in the Nation among its contributors, dealing pungently with passing events, and rising immediately to a recognized position among the papers of the Nation, there was no reason why there should not have been 9 financial success, save that Miss Anthony's duties kept her almost entirely from the lecture field, and those who were on the platform, in the pulpit and in all the lucrative positions which this work was opening to women, could not and did not feel that the cause was their own. Alter three years of toil and worry a debt of $10,000 had accumulated. "The Revolution" was transferred to other hands but did not long survive. Miss Anthony set bravely about the task of earning money to pay the debt, every cent of which was duly paid from the earnings of her lectures. Miss Anthony has always been in great demand on the platform and has lectured in almost every city and hamlet in the North. She has made constitutional arguments before congressional committees and spoken impromptu to assemblies in all sorts of places. Whether it be a good word in introducing a speaker, the short speech to awaken a convention, the dosing appeal to set people to work, the full hour address of argument or the helpful talk at suffrage meetings, she always says the right thing and never wearies her audience. There is no hurry, no superfluity in her discourse, no sentiment, no poetry, save that of self-forgetfulness in devotion to the noblest principles that can actuate human motive. A fine sense of humor pervades her arguments, and by the reductio ad absurdum she disarms and wins her opponent The most dramatic event of Miss Anthony's life was her arrest and trial for voting at the presidential election of 1872. Owing to the mistaken kindness of her counsel, who was unwilling that she should be imprisoned, she gave bonds, winch prevented her taking her case to the Supreme Court, a fact she always regretted. When asked by the judge, "You voted as a woman, did you not?" she replied, "No, sir, I voted as a citizen of the United States." The date and place of trial being set, Miss Anthony thoroughly canvassed her county so as to make sure that all of the jurors were instructed in a citizen's rights. Change of venue was ordered to another county, setting the date three weeks ahead. In twenty-four hours Miss Anthony had her plans made, dates set, and posters sent out for a series of meetings in that county. After the argument had been presented to the jury, the judge took the case out of their hands, saying it was a question of law and not of fart, and pronounced Miss Anthony guilty, fining her $100 and costs. She said to the judge, "Resistance to tyranny is obedience to God. and I shall never pay a penny of this unjust claim," and she glories in never having done so. The inspectors, who received the ballots from herself and friends, were fined and imprisoned, but were pardoned by President Grant. Miss Anthony has had from the beginning the kindly sympathy and cooperation of her entire family, all taking deep interest in the reforms for which she has labored. Especially is this true of her youngest sister, Miss Mary S. Anthony, who has freed her eldest sister from domestic responsibilities. A wonderful memory which carries the legislative history of each State, the formation and progress of political parties, the parts played by prominent men in our National life, and whatever has been done the world over to ameliorate conditions for women, makes Miss Anthony a genial and instructive companion, while her unfailing sympathy makes her as good a listener as talker. The change in public sentiment towards woman suffrage is well indicated by the change in the popular estimate of Miss Anthony. Where once it was the fashion of the press to ridicule and jeer, now the best reporters are sent to interview her, and to put her sentiments before the world with the most respectful and laudatory personal comment. Society, too, throws open its doors, and into many distinguished gatherings she carries a refreshing breath of sincerity and earnestness. Her seventieth birthday, celebrated by the National Woman Suffrage Association, of which she was vice-president-at-large from its formation in 1869 until its convention in 1892, when she was elected president, was the occasion of a spontaneous outburst of gratitude which is, perhaps, unparalleled in the history of any living individual. Miss Anthony is still of undiminished vigor and activity, and, having in a most remarkable degree the power to rally around her for united action the ever-increasing hosts of the woman suffrage organization, of which she is now the head, she is a powerful factor in molding public opinion in the direction of equal rights and opportunities for women. She is one of the most heroic figures in American history. The future will place her name with the greatest of our statesmen, and in her life-time she enjoys the reward of being esteemed by men and loved by women