Susan B. Anthony: 10 Major Achievements
Who was Susan B. Anthony? What were some of her major contributions to our nation and women’s suffrage movement in general? Worldhistoryedu.com provides detailed information about the 10 incredible achievements of Susan B. Anthony – one of America’s greatest social reformers, abolitionists and women’s rights activists.
These are the 10 major achievements of Susan B. Anthony, one of America’s greatest crusaders for women’s rights and equal pay.
A Committed Quaker Reformer
Although Susan Anthony’s father – Daniel Anthony – was a Quaker, her family came to be a much tolerant Quakers. This was partly due to Susan’s mother’s Methodist roots. Susan herself was very uncomfortable with the strict doctrines of Quakers. This was evident when she had to cope with the harsh environment of Quaker boarding school she attended in Philadelphia.
Susan B. Anthony and family interacted with like-minded Quakers who sought nothing than to reform the religion. They formed the Congregational Friends in Rochester, New York in 1848. With the passage of time, the association began to attract several social reformers, abolitionists and women’s suffragist from all over the state. The association could boost of having the likes of Frederick Douglass and William Lloyd Garrison attend their meetings every Sunday.
Susan Anthony and her family’s commitment to social reforms was quite formidable. The family frequently partook in meetings held by the First Unitarian Church of Rochester – an association that was committed to ending slavery and uplifting the lives of women.
Headmistress of Canajoharie Academy (1846 – 1849)
Susan B. Anthony had a knack for sniffing out every opportunity that allowed her to pursue social equality. In 1846, she took up the headmistress position at the female department in a school called the Canajoharie Academy. Her time in the academy allowed her to come out of shell and have a huge impact on her pupils.
Buoyed on by this new found confidence, Anthony started to question why women tutors of the school were paid significantly less than their male counterparts. This marked the beginning of her life-long fight for equal pay for equal work.
She gave close to 100 speeches (on Social Reforms) a year
By her mid-twenties, Anthony had become a very good speaker, tackling a wide range of issues, from gender equality, equal pay for equal work, to the abolition of slavery in the United States.
Although her parents and her siblings were her biggest influences, she was partly inspired by the likes of William Lloyd Garrison and George Thomspon. These people had a bit of radical notions on social reforms.
Anthony was very cautious about the kind of clothes she wore, least it took away people’s attention from the speeches she so much loved giving. Historians estimate that over the course of her life, Susan B. Anthony gave in the region of 100 speeches every year. Quite a remarkable feat considering the fact she was woman living in 19th-century America.
For example: In the winter of 1855, Anthony gave a speech or participated in some form of convention in every county in New York. Many of those speeches were on equitable property laws for married women.
A Vocal Critic of Slavery in the United States
Susan Anthony grew up in a family that deeply loathed the institution of slavery. She in turn spent a great chunk of her life fighting against slavery in the country. She and her family were friends with many abolitionists and civil rights activist. Often times, she travelled across the country to attend anti-slavery conventions.
At just 16, Susan successfully collected anti-slavery petitions. The petitions were aimed at tackling the gag rule Congress had passed on anti-slavery petitions. She also got involved in the Underground Railroad – a North initiative that helped provide safe passage for runaway slaves from the South. She and the likes of Harriet Tubman helped many of those slaves make their way into across the border into Canada.
Anthony also championed charitable initiatives that invested in the education of African Americans. In an 1857 teacher’s convention (while slavery had yet to be abolished), Susan B. Anthony gave a speech that called on schools in the country to take in African American students. It was completely unheard of at the time. Bear in mind, this was in year when Blacks were still slaves – Abraham Lincoln had not yet issued the Emancipation Proclamation of 1863.
Championed women’s rights in all spheres of the society
Susan B. Anthony immersed herself in everything that had to with women’s rights – Be it education, marriage, economy, property law, religion or language. She was an all-inspiring crusader of women’s rights in the United States of America. As at the 1850s, she had begun calling for co-education in the country. Her calls came in spite of the ridicule and abuse she faced from conservative educators who considered such moves as damaging to the society and the institution of marriage.
In terms of marriage, Anthony honorably stood by causes that supported women to divorce abusive and non-supportive husbands. Guided in part by her temperance upbringing, she reasoned that state laws should be amended to allow women get out of relationships with drunken and abusive men.
Anthony’s activism also stretched into the labor market. She found it very absurd and demeaning that women received lower pay compared to their male counterparts who did the same job. “Equal pay for equal work” became one of her biggest slogans. She formed alliances with the Working Women’s Association (WWA) and National Labor Union (NLU) as well.
Established the Women’s Loyal National League (WLNL) in 1863
Another significant achievement of Susan B. Anthony came in the formation of the Women’s Loyal National League in 1863. Anthony co-founded the league with her dear friend/co-worker Elizabeth Stanton. Prior to its inception, the US had not witnessed any women’s political organization. Anthony and Stanton steered WLNL into collecting close to 400,000 signatures that called on the abolishing of slavery across the nation. Her campaign, which involved the use of about 2000 workers to collect the petition, provided necessary impetus for the ratification of the Thirteenth Amendment to the U.S. Constitution.
At its peak, the league could boast of over 5,000 members, which included the brilliant orator and women’s suffragist Anna Dickinson.
Lincoln may have issued the Emancipation Proclamation in s1863 and preserved the Union; however, it was the likes of Anthony and Stanton that did most of the social reform works behind the scenes.
Formed the American Equal Rights Association (AERA)
Susan B. Anthony established the American Equal Rights Association (AERA) in response to the word “male” that was inserted into a proposed constitutional amendment. The association was borne out of the 11th National Women’s Rights Convention, which was held in 1866. The association had prominent activists – such as Frederic Douglass and Lucy Stone – as members.
Some abolitionists from the Republican Party pleaded with her to put on hold her campaigns for women’s rights. They stated that her efforts could derail what they termed as the “Negro’s hour”. In Kansas, she and the AERA came against stiff opposition from anti female suffragists and legislators.
Editor of The Revolution
In the late 1860s, the AERA crumbled into two factions. This was due to division between suffragist that wanted women’s right immediately and those that were willing to wait until African Americans were served with theirs first. Stanton and Anthony were part of the former group – the two women continued to push for enfranchisement of both African Americans and women.
Relentless in their quest, Anthony and Stanton set up The Revolution – a weekly publication of issues pertaining to women’s rights. The two activists also penned down articles on issues such as labor, and economic rights of women. The newspaper, which was founded in 1868, was funded by a George Francis Train – a man known for his radical views on race and women.
Although the newspaper went under in 1872 (owing to financial difficulties), the newspaper afforded Anthony the opportunity to reach a broader audience, a post-Civil War audience that was more willing to accept reforms.
She founded of the National Woman Suffrage Association
Another by-product of the split in the AERA was the National Woman Suffrage Association (NSWA). The NSWA was formed by Anthony and Stanton’s wing in 1869. Anthony’s wing wanted universal suffrage for both African Americans and women immediately. On the other hand, Lucy Stone’s faction was content with waiting women’s suffrage coming later. Stone went ahead to form the American Woman Suffrage Association.
After about two decades of intense rivalry, the two organizations put aside their differences and merged successfully as the National American Woman Suffrage Association (NAWSA). After Stanton’s retirement, Anthony was elected in 1892 as the organization’s president.
One of America’s greatest women’s suffrage activists
In the history of women’s suffrage movement, very few personalities can claim to have put in more effort than the effort Susan B. Anthony gave. She was a colossal figure in the movement. To show you how determined she was in securing voting rights for women citizens of the U.S., Anthony once defied the law and voted in a national election in her home state in November, 1872. This incident, which occurred in Rochester, resulted in her arrest by the authorities. And after the verdict was passed (i.e. the 100-dollar fine), Anthony braced it all and refused complying with the verdict.
In her journey to getting a women’s suffrage amendment into the U.S. Constitution, Anthony formed a coalition of women suffragists. In addition to her co-worker/friend Elizabeth Cady Stanton, Anthony was supported by the likes of William Henry Channing and Ida Husted Harper as well as the entire team at the National Woman Suffrage Association.
Other noteworthy achievements of Susan B. Anthony
- Her campaigns and activism in the late 1850s paid off and she was able to convince the state of New York’s legislature to pass the Married Women’s Property Act in 1848. The act granted a much better property rights to women than the previous property laws. Married women were allowed to own separate properties. Without the aid of their husbands, they could also enter into contracts. The act also provided improved child custody rights to women.
- She was appointed New York State agent for the American Anti-Slavery Society.
- With the help of Elizabeth Stanton and Matilda Joslyn Gage, Anthony B. Anthony started writing the critically-acclaimed book titled, The History of Women Suffrage in 1876. The book went on to have six volumes between 1881 and 1922.