Susan B. Anthony’s family members were all for suffrage, each in his or her own way. Some supported voting rights by actually casting ballots, while others supported campaigns for African-Americans and women to vote. She had Continue reading
The story of Susan B. Anthony and Frederick Douglass packed a full house tonight, the opening of “The Agitators.” Rochester’s famous reformers really showed their mettle at this fine play at GEVA Theater. Actors Madeleine Lambert and Cedric Mays delivered the pair’s famous arguments with conviction and humor against a massive timeline that resembled the double arches of the Frederick Douglass-Susan B. Anthony Bridge in Rochester.
“Agitation is the spark of all change”
This is one of my favorite quotes from the play, and served as the theme to portray the lifelong friendship between these reformers. Especially moving were the scenes where the pair toured Frederick’s burned-out home; where they fought over the enfranchisement of black men before women; and where he begged Susan not to hold a women’s rights convention in a southern state where black women were not welcome.
Personally, I enjoyed the proslavery mob scene and the final vignette about Ida Wells, which both figured prominently in my book Susan B. Anthony And Justice For All.
Want to read more about these two revolutionaries? Get your own copy of this easy read that portrays Susan’s entire life. Great for students, too!
Biography of Susan B. Anthony–New in September 2017!
Susan B. Anthony And Justice For All: Suffrage Centennial Edition–complete revision of 1994 edition. Order now on Amazon or Amazon Kindle.
Biography of Susan B. Anthony that carefully follows primary sources (Ida Harper, Alma Lutz, Ann Gordon), and is updated to include the ratification of the woman suffrage amendments in New York State (1917) and the U.S. (1920).
Celebrate the reformer whose drive and passion for equality made such a difference in the lives of women and African-Americans. From her early work against slavery in the 1860s through her fight for the nineteenth amendment granting woman suffrage, Anthony traveled the world, voted illegally, and changed history.
For grade levels 6-8: includes archival photos, illustrations, bibliography, index, and glossary. Selective adjustments of dialogue accommodate modern ears.
- 128 pages
- Archival images & illustrations
- Grade level 6-8
- ISBN 978-1-884281-00-6
- Author: Jeanne Gehret
- Publisher: Verbal Images Press
- Order now on Amazon, paperback or Kindle
Praise for the first edition:
“A readable, lively biography of the women’s suffrage advocate, abolitionist, and temperance crusader.” School Library Journal
“In Susan B. Anthony And Justice For All, students have a chance to see what the world was like for both women and black people more than 100 years ago. . . . Anthony’s story is well told by Gehret.” Beaumont Enterprise
“A strong and concise overview of Susan B.’s life and the issues she faced.” Rose O’Keefe, author of Frederick & Anna Douglass in Rochester, New York
About the Author:
Jeanne Gehret has portrayed Susan B. in costume ever since the 1994 first edition of this book. She served as a docent at Miss Anthony’s home in Rochester, NY and has set her own feet on many of the places where the famous reformer lived, worked, and visited. She has also written The Truth About Daniel based on the true story of Susan’s brother.
Ontario County is celebrating woman suffrage at a fine exhibit in Canandaigua, NY, the town where Susan B. Anthony was convicted for voting. It runs until April 1, 2018. In addition to great details about the women who campaigned hard for New York State suffrage, it also contains several beautiful period gowns and a reproduction of a bloomer costume. (To my surprise, the bloomer outfit was calico!)
The exhibit shows how the various cities and towns in New York State voted on its own woman suffrage amendment in 1917, three years before the federal amendment passed. I’m sorry to say that Rochester, the city where Susan lived her last 40 years, voted no. Thank goodness that neither she nor Mary Anthony were living in that year. Fortunately, the majority of the state endorsed the amendment, and it passed.
Susan’s Trial in Ontario County
Susan B. Anthony’s 1873 trial for “voting illegally as a woman” occurred in Ontario County. The museum that houses this exhibit sits just a few blocks away from the courthouse where the judge denied her a trial by jury and found her guilty.
Starting at the museum, I walked downhill past the courthouse toward the shopping district. Browsing the stores, I wondered whether these same buildings lined Canandaigua’s main street when Susan attended her trial. Since it’s about 30 miles away from her Rochester home, she probably stayed overnight . That evening, did she lodge with a friend or keep her nerves to herself in a hotel? Where did she take her meals during the days when her trial was in session?
The courthouse (pictured above during the 19th century) was considerably smaller in 1873 than it is now. I can imagine the number of carriages parked around it as people jammed the courtroom to hear Susan’s lawyer* and the district attorney square off. Even former president Millard Fillmore attended.
After receiving the guilty verdict, Susan stayed in town for a couple more days to witness the trial of the voting inspectors who allowed her to register and cast her ballot. I hope she got at least a glimpse of the beautiful lake at the bottom of the hill. When the inspectors were found guilty and jailed for a week, she made sure they had plenty of visitors and good food to pass the time.
*Henry Selden defended Susan. Interestingly, when Frederick Douglass had to flee Rochester because he was suspected of supporting John Brown at Harper’s Ferry, he borrowed Selden’s horse. Shows just what a good guy Selden was.
Last week, Perinton and Pittsford filled the halls to hear my “Failure is Impossible” reenactment of Susan B. Anthony. One of the highlights of that talk is a discussion of her arguments about why she should vote. It was great to have a full house and especially fun to entertain people’s thoughts and questions afterwards. Thanks to everyone who attended!
She probably would not have attempted voting had not the U.S. recently passed two equal rights amendments within the previous decade. Let’s talk about them now.
Today is the anniversary of the 1868 adoption of the 14th amendment, the one that Susan B. Anthony claimed gave her the right to vote as a woman. Following on the boots of the Civil War, this law amendment gave African-Americans the rights of citizenship and decreed that all citizens should have their rights protected. Two years later, the 15th amendment passed, giving African-Americans the right to vote.
What the Amendments Say
The 14th Amendment to the Constitution granted citizenship to “all persons born or naturalized in the United States,” which included former slaves recently freed. In addition, it forbids states from denying any person “life, liberty or property, without due process of law” or to “deny to any person within its jurisdiction the equal protection of the laws.”
However, the fine print said that adult male citizens should be protected; it did not specifically say that adult females should.
The Fifteenth Amendment to the Constitution prohibits the federal and state governments from denying a citizen the right to vote based on that citizen’s “race, color, or previous condition of servitude”.
Studying these two amendments carefully with a noted Constitutional scholar, Susan deduced that they meant this:
- Under the 14th amendment, she was a citizen and should have her rights protected.
- The 15th amendment specifically protected her citizen’s right to vote. It did not say that she, as a woman, could not vote.
Unfortunately, as we know, the judge who ruled on her case did not agree with her interpretation, and found her “guilty of the crime of voting as a woman.”
Soon you can read all about it in my newly-revised book, Susan B. Anthony And Justice For All. I’ll be posting order information on this Suffrage Centennial edition of my 1994 biography of Susan.
The National Women’s History Project salutes “countless millions of women who planned, organized, lectured, wrote, marched, petitioned, lobbied, paraded, and broke new ground in every field imaginable, [making] our world…irrevocably changed. Women and men in our generation, and the ones that will follow us, are living the legacy of women’s rights won against staggering odds in a revolution achieved without violence.”
For women’s history month, I have confined my selection of heroines to those who lived in 19th century America. That eliminates some of my favorite women like Alice Paul and Inez Milholland, who were both so instrumental in the second generation of suffragists that brought the movement through the final years before the woman suffrage amendment finally passed in 1920.
This is a special year for New York State, where women earned suffrage on state matters in 1917. Unfortunately New York State resident Susan B. Anthony did not live to exercise her right to vote legally in either her state or her country, for she died in 1906. Indeed, even though the entire country revered her late in life, her home state in 1894 ignored 600,000 petitions for woman suffrage, and the following year it formed an association opposed to woman suffrage. The only states that allowed women to vote in Susan’s lifetime were Wyoming (1890), Colorado (1893), Utah and Idaho (1896).
To offset this sad showing for New York State, today I am highlighting two female reformers who blazed their way across the empire state so brightly that they inspired the young Miss Anthony. They were Sarah and Angelina Grimke, who made themselves unpopular in their native Charleston by championing slavery, as memorialized in Sue Monk Kidd’s excellent historical novel The Invention of Wings. The sisters grew up as privileged daughters of a judge and plantation owner, with their slaves sleeping on the floor of their bedroom.
In an article about the sisters’ Charleston home, author Louise Knight also gives background on the economic dependence of that slaveowning city on slavery.
The striking elegance of the Grimké home reflected both the sophistication of the city they lived in and the family’s fabulous prosperity. Charleston in the early years of the nineteenth century was one of the new nation’s great metropolises. In 1810, with a population of roughly 24,711, it was the fourth largest city in the United States and possessed enormous wealth. The white community numbered 11,568. Charleston was a majority black city, with 13,143 Africans and people of African descent. In 1810, 89 percent of the black population—11,570 people—was enslaved, toiling in the households or the family stables or hiring out to work in the trades. Their unpaid labor across the city—combined with the unpaid labor of those working on plantations across the state—created Charleston’s wealth. The remaining 11 percent of the black population—some 1,430 African Americans—formed the free black community, whose skills in the trades and at the docks kept the city functioning.
Sarah and Angelina witnessed their mother’s arbitrary and cruel punishment of slaves in the “sugar house,” a place of such barbarism that its walls were soundproofed to muffle the screams of tortured persons within. Sarah taught her slave to read and would probably have been a lawyer had she been female. Angelina wrote a pamphlet entitled “Appeal to the Christian Women of the South,” in which she wrote:
I appeal to you, my friends, as mothers; Are you willing to enslave your children? You start back with horror and indignation at such a question. But why, if slavery is no wrong to those upon whom it is imposed? Why, if as has often been said, slaves are happier than their masters, free from the cares and perplexities of providing for themselves and their families? Why not place your children in the way of being supported without your having the trouble to provide for them, or they for themselves? Do you not perceive that as soon as this golden rule of action is applied to yourselves that you involuntarily shrink from the test; as soon as your actions are weighed in this balance of the sanctuary that you are found wanting?
Her pamphlet was burned in Charleston. Soon after, the Grimke sisters undertook a 67-city speaking tour of the Northeast (including New York), where they amazed crowds by addressed mixed audiences, not just women—a practice that was considered scandalous because the sexes were supposed to be kept separate and women were not supposed to speak in public.
Sarah and Angelina Grimke paved the way for Susan B. Anthony, Elizabeth Cady Stanton, Lucy Stone, and others to speak in public about abolition and on women’s rights, as well.
The Truth About Daniel was featured today on FOX morning news. Click here to watch the newscast. I liked how they included images, but you may be confused about the picture of people standing in front of a house. It’s not Daniel’s house in Missouri, but the Anthony farm in Rochester. As far as we know, Daniel lived there with his family of origin before he moved to Kansas with the Emigrant Aid Company.
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Happy Valentine’s Day to you! I had fun writing the romance portions of this book, especially the three chapters where Daniel bumbles through a proposal to Annie and finally gets it right.
Thanks to the great people at Fox news. They have also filmed our Tool Thrift Shop and our English country dancing group. (Dancing and romancing go hand in hand in The Truth About Daniel.)
Susan’s brother D.R. Anthony emigrated to Kansas with the inaugural party of the Emigrant Aid Company in July 1854, and Clarina Nichols arrived with a larger group that fall. By the time Nichols set foot in Kansas, Continue reading