Susan B. Anthony

The woman who helped fight for women’s right to vote

Susan B. Anthony was called terrible names, had things thrown at her, even had her picture dragged through the streets. But still she didn’t back down. She thought fighting for women’s rights—and the rights of everyone—was too important.

Born in Adams, Massachusetts, on February 15, 1820, she grew up as a Quaker, which is a religion that teaches that everyone is equal. She knew it wasn’t fair that she didn’t have a say in electing political leaders or couldn’t own property just because she was a woman. She also thought that it wasn’t right that male teachers made more money than she did. In the early 1850s, Anthony starting voicing her opinion to anyone who would listen, stopping people on the streets or giving speeches around the country. She’d stand for hours to get signatures on petitions asking for women’s rights.

But Anthony wanted everyone to have equal rights, so in 1856 she joined the anti-slavery movement as an abolitionist, which were people who argued against slavery. She gave speeches, organized meetings, put up posters, and handed out leaflets, even though she faced angry crowds of people who disagreed with her—and thought that women shouldn’t even be speaking in public.

But her fight for equal rights for women never stopped. Anthony had met fellow activist Elizabeth Cady Stanton in 1851, and after years of talking to people about women’s rights, they started a newspaper, The Revolution, in 1868 to help spread ideas of rights for women. The next year, they cofounded the National Woman Suffrage Association to focus on women’s right to vote. (Suffrage means the right to vote; people who support that are called suffragists)

African-Americans were recognized as U.S. citizens in 1870, and black men were given the right to vote with the 15th amendment. But African-American women, like all women, still did not have the right to vote. This made Anthony angry, especially since she had fought so hard to help free the slaves. So she cast her ballot in the presidential election anyway. She was arrested for the crime and fined a hundred dollars. She never paid.

Though she worked for more than 50 years for women’s rights, Anthony never got to legally vote. She died on March 13, 1906, 14 years before the 19th amendment gave all women the right to vote. But the representatives of Congress—almost all men—who approved the amendment understood who was responsible for this historic moment, and the legislation was known as the “Anthony Amendment.” And in 1979, Anthony became the first woman to be on a U.S. coin, the silver dollar.