Obit of the Day (Historical): Susan B. Anthony (1906)
Social activist Susan B. Anthony died in her home on March 13, 1906 at the age of 86. For over 70 years Anthony had fought societal wrongs wherever she found them. The daughter of Quakers who were pro-temperance and anti-slavery, Anthony grew up demanding equal rights for those who were forbidden them. At the age of sixteen Anthony collected petitions against slavery to protest a law before the House of Representatives that prohibited such an act.
In her 30s Anthony, whose parents also signed the Declaration of Sentiments at the now-famous Seneca Falls Convention of 1848, became a champion for equality for women, specifically focusing on the right to vote. At this time she met other women’s rights pioneers: Lucy Stone, Amelia Bloomer (for whom bloomers are named), and Elizabeth Cady Stanton. Anthony and Stanton became life-long friends and traveled the country speaking for women’s rights. (They are pictured together in the image above.)
On November 8, 1872, Ms. Anthony was arrested for voting in that year’s presidential election. (Note: She voted for the straight Republican ticket, headed by U.S. Grant.) She was put on trial, but not allowed to testify in her own defense. Found guilty and fined $100, Ms. Anthony vowed never to pay a dollar of it - and she never did.
Of course, Ms. Anthony died before the passage of the 19th Amendment (1920) giving women the right to vote in the United States, but her final public words, “Failure is impossible,” became a rallying cry for the movement.
Here is Obit of the Day’s favorite Susan B. Anthony story from Erik Larson’s The Devil and the White City (pages 285-286):
One day as the Board of Lady Managers debated whether to support or oppose opening [the 1893 World’s Columbian Exposition] on Sunday, an angry male Sabbatarian confronted Susan B. Anthony…[d]eploying the most shocking analogy he could muster, the clergyman asked Anthony if she’d prefer having a son of hers attend Buffalo Bill’s [Wild West Show] on Sunday instead of church.
Yes, she replied, “he would learn far more….”
…When Cody learned of it, he was tickled, so much so that he immediately sent Anthony a thank-you note and invited her to attend his show… [At the show she attended, Cody] kicked his horse into a gallop and raced toward Anthony’s box. The audience went quiet.
He halted his horse…removed his hat, and…bowed until his head nearly touched the horn of his saddle.
Anthony stood and returned the bow and - “as enthusiastic as a girl,” a friend said - waved her handkerchief at Cody.
A wonderful moment of American history.
Sources: wikipedia.org and susanbanthonyhouse.org
(Image of Susan B. Anthony, right, and Elizabeth Cady Stanton, left is courtesy of the Library of Congress)