February 15, 2010

Happy Birthday, Susan B. Anthony

Born on this day in 1820 in Massachusetts, Anthony was raised in a Quaker family that believed in reforms such as abolishing slavery. She worked for reform in the anti-slavery and temperance movements but then moved in an unexpected direction—working for women's rights.

Susan B. Anthony is especially known for her efforts toward gaining the right to vote for women in the U.S. She helped organize women's suffrage groups, spoke and wrote about her cause, and in 1872 she (and 14 other women) voted in a presidential election—and two weeks later was arrested for doing so!

Anthony died in 1906, and U.S. women finally won the right to vote in 1920. Although she didn't live to see her goal reached, Anthony's work toward the goal was key to obtaining women's suffrage. Do you think that she felt her life was in vain? Was it?

Did you know...?

  • Anthony learned how to read and write at age 3!
  • Susan B. Anthony traveled through the U.S. and Europe giving 75 to 100 speeches on women's rights every year, for 45 years!
  • At her trial (for voting in the 1872 election), Anthony was fined $100 plus the costs of the prosecution. Anthony refused on principal to pay. The judge didn't want the case to go to a higher court, so he didn't imprison her....Sure enough, Anthony never paid a penny of her fine!
  • The trial was really unfair, by the way. If you want to read an interesting (but long) account of the trial, look here.
  • I said that U.S. women didn't win the right to vote until 14 years after Anthony died, but actually women in Wyoming, Idaho, Utah and Colorado COULD vote within her lifetime. Also, worldwide, women's suffrage was passed in New Zealand and Australia before she died and in Finland the year she died.
  • Anthony was the first actual (not virtual) woman to be honored on a U.S. coin (the Susan B. Anthony dollar). It was only minted four years: 1979, 1980, 1981, and 1999. (I don't know why there was such a long gap.)

Here is a slide show of Anthony's life. (Click each picture to enlarge it and find out more about it.)

Do a jigsaw puzzle about Susan B. Anthony and one of her co-workers for suffrage, Elizabeth Cady Stanton.

PBS has a gorgeous website about women's rights.

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