Susan Brownell Anthony was born on February 15 1820, to Daniel Anthony and Lucy Read in Adams, Massachusetts. The second of seven children, Susan was raised a devout Quaker by her father who was also a committed abolitionist and a temperance advocate.
In 1826 the family moved New York where Susan began work as a teacher, eventually becoming the headmistress of a Women’s Division School. When she was 29 years old, Susan followed in her father’s footsteps and became involved in the abolition and temperance movements. It was during this early stage of her political career that she met Elizabeth Candy Staton, a leading figure of the early women’s rights movement. Staton would become her lifelong partner in political organizing, especially for women’s rights and woman suffrage. The pair would form a formidable team in which Stanton served as the writer and ideas-person, while Susan was the organizer and public speaker who braved the majority of public hostility and criticism.
Once the civil war had ended and America’s slaves were finally free, Susan was dismayed to see that those who had previously championed the abolitionist cause now seemed indifferent towards women’s rights. She began to focus her efforts on the pursuit of Women’s suffrage.
Anthony and Staton helped establish the American Equal Rights Association and began publishing a newspaper dedicated to the movement before founding the National Woman Suffrage Association in 1869. The NWSA merged with a rival group to form the National American Woman Suffrage Association in 1890.
In 1872 Anthony was arrested for trying to vote in her home town. The resulting trial was widely publicized and proved to be a major milestone in the journey towards equal rights for women. Refusing to pay her $100 fine, Anthony used the media interest in her case and spoke widely at many lectures during the trail. Although threatened with jail, she stuck to her principles and the Court was forced to back down to avoid attracting further publicity.
In 1878 Anthony and Staton arranged for Congress to be presented with an amendment to the U.S. Constitution that finally gave women the right to vote. Commonly known as the Anthony Amendment, the nineteenth amendment was finally ratified on August 18, 1920, giving women across the entire United States the right to vote.
Susan B. Anthony worked tirelessly in support of women’s suffrage, giving as many as 100 speeches per year. At the start of her career she was widely criticized and ridiculed but her years of dedication and commitment to the cause meant that when she died in 1906, she was remembered as a popular and celebrated champion of equal rights.