Susan B. Anthony, an American women's rights activist, devoted her life to racial, gender, and educational equality. One of the most famous women in American history, she played a prominent role in the women's suffrage movement; the 19th Amendment, which gave women the right to vote, is named in her honor. Here are five reasons why we celebrate Anthony's achievements during Women's History Month.
1. Susan B. Anthony was arrested for illegally voting in a presidential election.
Anthony was arrested for illegally voting in the 1872 presidential election at her home in Rochester, New York. Fourteen other women were also arrested, but only Anthony's action was presented as evidence. She was charged a fine of $100, which she refused to pay — and never did.
2. She fought for women to have the right to own property.
Anthony championed not only for a woman's right to vote, but also in support of women's labor organizations and for a woman's right to own property. In the 19th century, married women were not permitted to retain their own earnings or property. The "purse" became a symbol for the emancipation of women. In 1853, Anthony wrote:
Woman must have a purse of her own, and how can this be, so long as the wife is denied the right to her individual and joint earnings. Reflections like these, caused me to see and really feel that there was no true freedom for woman without the possession of all her property rights … This demand must be made by Petitions to the Legislature…
3. In 1900, Anthony persuaded the University of Rochester to admit women.
To do so, Anthony helped raise $50,000 in pledges. She even cashed out her life insurance policy to raise the funding; the university later repaid her for the cost of that policy.
4. Susan B. Anthony was the first woman to appear on a U.S. coin.
In 1978, President Jimmy Carter signed the Susan B. Anthony Dollar Coin Act, which replaced the existing dollar coin with one bearing Anthony's image. She is the first woman to have her likeness emblazoned on a coin. Famous American women who appeared on coins following Anthony are Sacagawea on the dollar coin and Helen Keller on a special-issue quarter in Alabama.
5. Above all, Anthony paved the way for the 19th Amendment to the U.S. Constitution, which gave women the right to vote.
Anthony founded the National Women's Suffrage Association in 1869 with fellow women's suffrage activist Elizabeth Cady Stanton. She drafted the first version of the 19th Amendment in 1878.
Just before she retired in 1900, Anthony was asked if women would be given the right to vote in her lifetime. She replied, "It will come, but I shall not see it … It is inevitable. We can no more deny forever the right of self-government to one-half our people… but come it will, and I believe within a generation."
Women in the United States were granted the right to vote when the 19th Amendment was ratified in 1920, fourteen years after Anthony's death.
Originally from Columbus, Ohio, Ani is a fan of exploring new places through photography and the local cuisine. After earning her BFA in photography from NYU and gaining communications experience at International Planned Parenthood Federation, she joined InterExchange in 2012, and worked as the Marketing Producer until 2016.