Tuesday, February 14, 2012

Susan B. Anthony


(Google Image)

By Diane Forrest,

Have you ever put a large bill in a stamp machine at your post office expecting it to kick out some one dollar bills in change only to hear the clanking of coins in the change dropper?  There is no need to fear, you are still getting your proper change, but instead of bills, you are getting a dollar coin.  These coins can be confusing, since they are silver in color and about the size of a quarter.  There is a difference though, instead of an image of George Washington, there is a picture of a woman.  This woman is Susan B. Anthony, the first of only two women who have had their likeness engraved on United States currency, the second being Sacagawea.  Who was Susan B. Anthony, and why was she important enough to have this honor bestowed on her?

(Google Image)
In 1820 a Quaker family in Adams, Massachusetts gave birth to Susan.  She would later be known for her role in fighting for women's right to vote.  Susan began her career as a teacher.  At age 26, Susan B. Anthony took the position of head of the girls' department at Canajoharie Academy, her first paid position. She taught there for two years, earning $110 a year.  Anthony called for equal educational opportunities for all regardless of race, and for all schools, colleges, and universities to open their doors to women and ex-slaves. She also campaigned for the right of children of ex-slaves to attend public schools.  She made the claims that there was no difference in the minds of girls and boys, and they should not be educated separately. In the 1890s Anthony raised $50,000 in pledges to ensure the admittance of women to the University of Rochester. In a last-minute effort to meet the deadline she put up the cash value of her life insurance policy. The University was forced to make good its promise and women were admitted for the first time in 1900.

During the same time she started her teaching career, she became an agent for the American Anti-Slavery Society, arranging meetings, making speeches, putting up posters, and distributing leaflets. She encountered hostile mobs, armed threats, and things thrown at her. She was hung in effigy, and in Syracuse her image was dragged through the streets.  She went on to support and promotes the 13th amendment abolishing slavery.

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In 1868, as a delegate to the National Labor Congress, Anthony persuaded the committee on female labor to call for votes for women and equal pay for equal work, although the men at the conference deleted the reference to the vote.  She then began to fight for women's right vigorously.  In 1869 the suffrage movement split, with Anthony and Stanton's National Association continuing to campaign for a constitutional amendment, and the American Woman Suffrage Association adopting a strategy of getting the vote for women on a state-by-state basis. Wyoming became the first territory to give women the vote in 1869.  She worked tirelessly going from state to state fighting for the women's right to vote.  She was arrested numerous times; however she was always freed to prevent her from being able to file appeals to have her issues reported on a grander scale.

In 1853 Anthony began to campaign for women's property rights in New York state, speaking at meetings, collecting signatures for petitions, and lobbying the state legislature. In 1860, largely as the result of her efforts, the New York State Married Women's Property Bill became law, allowing married women to own property, keep their own wages, and have custody of their children.
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Susan B. Anthony died in 1906 at her home on Madison Street in Rochester. All American adult women finally got the vote with the Nineteenth Amendment, also known as the Susan B. Anthony Amendment, in 1920.

Susan B. Anthony never married, never had any children, and spent her life fighting for the rights of women everywhere, claiming that they deserved the right to vote, and the right to earn equal pay for equal work, and the right to own property in their name, and have custody of their children.  She was the country's first "Woman's Libber", and she deserves not only to have a coin designed in her honor, but also this day, and the undying appreciation and respect of women everywhere

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