Image Source: GOP.gov
2018 led women to make incredible strides. But it's important to remember the reason we have gotten as far as we have: the women in history. They fought ruthlessly, and they provided us with the tools to continue that fight. One such woman was Susan B. Anthony. We celebrate her success on February 15, a fitting day—her birthday.
Susan B. Anthony was born in Adams, Massachusetts to a family that worked hard to fight African American oppression. Her father, Daniel, owned a cotton factory but made a point not to buy cotton from southern cotton slave owners. His hope was that if he boycotted the cotton from that area, their economy would eventually go under due to lack of sales.
Susan grew up seeing her family's efforts and even participated in gathering anti-slavery petitions. At the age of 26, she became head of the girl's department at Canajoharie Academy, making only $110 a year—the average for male teachers at the time was $400 a year. Wanting to make a change, she spoke at a state teachers convention where she requested more female teachers be allowed to work in the field and for a better pay.
In 1851, Susan met Elizabeth Cady Stanton, and together, they worked to reform women's rights through the creation of the following associations:
- New York Women's State Temperance Society—Created after Susan was turned away from speaking at a temperance conference since she was a female.
- Women's Loyal National League—Conducted the largest petition of that time. They received 400,000 signatures to abolish slavery.
- American Equal Rights Association—Created to fight for the equal rights of women and African Americans.
- The Revolution—A women's rights newspaper.
- National Woman Suffrage Association—Created from a split in the women's movement, but it eventually merged with the American Woman Suffrage Association.
Susan was arrested in 1872 for voting in her hometown, but she refused to pay the fine. In retaliation, she presented Congress with an amendment to allow women to vote. This became known as the Susan B. Anthony Amendment but was later ratified to be the 19th Amendment to the United States Constitution.
Susan traveled throughout her life to many places, speaking about women's suffrage. She became widely-known and respected by politicians; she even spent her 80th birthday at the White House with President McKinley.
Susan died on March 13, 1906 of heart failure at the age of 86. She was widely mourned, and a quote from a speech she gave days earlier, in which she mentions those who helped her fight for women's rights, was remembered with heart: "There have been others also just as true and devoted to the cause—I wish I could name every one—but with such women consecrating their lives, failure is impossible!"
Because of Susan B. Anthony and many other brave women, we can proudly be the women we were meant to be.
Brooke Lazar is WITI's content manager and digital editor. She has a BA in professional and technical writing from Youngstown State University.