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Thursday, 11 August 2011

Susan B. Anthony

Raised by a strict Quaker father, Susan Anthony (1820-1906) was not allowed toys or amusements as a child as he claimed that they would distract the soul from the "inner light."

A precocious child, she learned to read and write at the age of three.

Susan B. Anthony's father withdrew her from a school that would not allow her to learn long division as boys did.

In her youth, Anthony was very self-concious of her appearance and speaking abilities. She long resisted public speaking for fear she would not be sufficiently eloquent.

Anthony took part in absolutist and temperance movements from an early age. At the age of 16, Susan collected two boxes of petitions opposing slavery, in response to the gag rule prohibiting such petitions in the House of Representatives.

From the mid 1850s she devoted herself totally to the cause of equal rights for women. Her Quaker background, where unlike most other denominations both men and women were allowed to speak at services, was influential on her beliefs.

She founded the National Woman Suffrage Association along with Elizabeth Stanton on May 15, 1869.

Susan Antony and Elizabeth Stanton

On November 18, 1872, Anthony was arrested by a U.S. Deputy Marshal for voting illegally in the 1872 Presidential Election thirteen days earlier. Found guilty she received a $100 fine, but not imprisonment; true to her word in court ("I shall never pay a dollar of your unjust penalty"), she never paid the fine for the rest of her life, and an embarrassed U.S. Government took no collection action against her.

By the time she was 80 years old, even though woman suffrage was far from won, Anthony was enough of a public institution that President William McKinley invited her to celebrate her birthday at the White House.

Portrait of Susan B. Anthony

Susan B. Anthony died at the age of 86 of heart failure and pneumonia in her home in Rochester, New York, on March 13, 1906, 14 years before passage of the 19th Amendment giving women the right to vote. She was buried at Mount Hope Cemetery, Rochester.

In 1979 Anthony was honored as the first American woman on circulating U.S. coinage with her appearance on the  Susan B. Anthony dollar.

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