Susan B. Anthony was an extraordinary fighter for women's rights and an anti-slavery activist. She helped shape and change our country for the better. She was once called the "Napoleon" of women's rights because she tirelessly lectured around the country. (Shero's by Varla Ventura Conar Press 1998)
She was born on February 15, 1820. Susan was raised in a large Quaker family. She had one older sister, two younger sisters and two younger brothers. Her father was a cloth mill owner. He owned two cloth mills one in Battenville, N.Y. and another in Hardscrabble (later named Center Falls) N.Y. (Encarta Encyclepedia Deluxe Edition 97 C.D. and the website
Being that she was from a Quaker family, she was raised to believe that everyone should have equal rights. Susan was also taught that education was very important.
At 15, Susan started to teach young children at a local school. But, on her 17 birthday she left her home to teach children in another village. That autumn, Mr. Anthony, Susan's father, decided to send her to the only women's college in the country in Oberlin, Ohio.
In 1837 Susan followed her older sister Guelma to a boarding school near Philadelphia. However after only six months at the boarding school, Susan's father's cloth business failed and her father no longer had enough money to keep his daughters in school. Susan vowed to help her parents, so she went back to teaching school children and gave all her earnings to her parents.
Their family's large beautiful house was sold to pay off some of her father's debts. The Anthony's moved to a small farmhouse in Rochester. Her sisters Guelma and Hannah were married and had their own families. They Stayed in Hardscrabble, which was later named Center Falls. Daniel her brother stayed as well because he did not want to leave his job.
In the spring of 1864 Susan left to teach at Canajohane Academy, a girls school in Eastern New York. She made the maximum amount a female teacher was permitted to make. But, her salary was still a good deal less than the male teacher's salaries. Susan disliked that the male teachers could make more than the females.
After three years at the school she left because she did not want to continue teaching. Her parents were very good friends with Frederick Douglas, a freed slave who lived in Rochester, NY. Douglas would spend time at the Anthony's farm when he had anti-slavery lectures in that area.
After meeting Elizabeth Cady Stanton, a woman's rights activist, on a village street in May of 1881 she decided that she too would like to speak out for women's rights and anti-slavery. Susan did a very unusual thing; she wore a bloomer costume that had been designed by Elizabeth Miller, a cousin of Mrs. Stanton. It was a loose dress that came down to the knees and then turned into pants. It was very comfortable and light unlike many dresses of the time. The outfit was named after Amelia Bloomer who publicized it in her paper in Senaca Falls. Many people made fun of Susan for wearing this odd costume.
Many Violent threats were made towards Susan. There was even a doll with a sign that said "Susan B. Anthony" on it burned outside one of her lectures. But none of this stopped Susan.
In 1854 Susan drew up a petition for three laws for women, the right to vote, the right for married women to control their earnings and the right to equal guardianship of their children. After collecting 10,000 Signings she gave it to the legislature in Albany, but it was turned down. Over the next few years Susan lectured about women's rights and tried to get more signatures on the petition.
In 1855 she ended her tour and presented the petition to the legislatures but they still refused it. Each year after that, women's rights activists held a convention while the legislature was in session. In 1860, the lawmakers finally gave in and gave married women the right to control their earnings and equal guardianship of their children.
After the great victory in 1860, Susan started to work for the American Anti-slavery Society. The national opinion was divided over the issue of slavery.
During the Civil War the women's rights movement stopped.