Susan B. Anthony

Women’s Suffrage Leader

By Jeanne Robinson

Susan B. Anthony is perhaps the most famous American women’s suffrage leader. “Suffrage” means the right to vote.

Susan fought for 55 years to gain women the right to vote.  It was not until after her death that the Nineteenth Amendment to the U.S. Constitution was finally passed in 1920. This amendment reads: “The right of citizens of the United States to vote shall not be denied or abridged by the United States or by any State on account of sex.”

Susan was a shy person, but she became a prominent speaker for this issue that she believed in so much.  She edited a women suffrage newspaper called The Revolution; wrote three volumes of “The History of the Women Suffrage;” and helped start the National Woman Suffrage Association, a group of women working for women’s rights. 

In 1872, when Susan was 52 years old, she dared to cast her vote at the polls.  She based her decision on the 14th amendment to the constitution, adopted in 1868, which stated that all people born in the U.S. were citizens. Susan and a several other women went to the local voting place and convinced the male workers there to let them cast their votes.  A few days later, Susan was arrested. At her trial, Susan sat in an all-male courtroom:  the judge was male, the jury was made up of all males, and her attorney was male.  After both sides presented argument, the Judge ruled that Susan was guilty as a matter of law.  He never let Susan testify.  He ordered her to pay a hundred dollar fine.  But, Susan refused to pay, saying, “I shall never pay a dollar of your unjust penalty.”  

Susan gave her last speech in 1906, and she ended it with these words:  “Failure is impossible.”  She died one month later.  When the Nineteenth Amendment to the Constitution was finally ratified in 1920, it was called the Anthony Amendment.

For more information see Susan B. Anthony House