Jeanne Gehret will be signing books at one of her favorite bookstores this Saturday, 3/24/17. Come say hello at Simply New York on Culver Road and find out why she hasn’t been blogging much lately. Continue reading
One day in early November 1862, Susan B. Anthony and her father Daniel were reading and discussing antislavery newspapers when he suddenly began suffering acute pain in Continue reading
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.
Celebrating Susan B. Anthony and Woman Suffrage
What an exciting week it was in upstate New York as VoteTilla made its way from Seneca Falls to Rochester. I met up with the canal boats on a gorgeous day in Fairport (my hometown) and had a chance to greet several old friends who were traveling with the fleet in costume.
In addition to all the excellent programming done by VoteTilla itself, the libraries and town historical societies put on wonderful programs, including debates, author signings, children’s activities, and more. I had the privilege of presenting my reenactment of Susan B. Anthony to full houses at both the Fairport and Pittsford libraries. Thanks to all those who attended and asked great questions! And special thanks to Vicki Masters Profitt and Mary Ann
- Saturday, August 12, Arnett Branch Library, “Failure is Impossible,” noon
- Tuesday, August 29, 2017 Pittsford Seniors Lunch, “Failure is Impossible,” noon
Join me as I portray Susan B. Anthony as part of the Votetilla celebration next week! Bring your school-age kids for living history!
- Wednesday, July 19, Fairport Public Library (co-sponsored by Perinton (NY) Historical Socety), 7 pm
- Thursday, July 20, Pittsford (NY) Community Library, 7 pm
Votetilla is a weeklong celebration of New York State’s ratification of the 19th (Susan B. Anthony) Amendment in 1917. I love that this event actually occurs on boats on the Erie Canal, since that is how the Anthony family arrived in New York State in 1845.
How Votetilla Works
Sponsored by the Susan B. Anthony Museum & House and numerous other organizations, the boats get underway in Seneca Falls, the birthplace of women’s rights, and stop in numerous canal towns (including Fairport and Pittsford). After disembarking in Rochester, It culminates with a festive street parade to the Susan B. Anthony House on Madison Street.
I enjoy re-enacting Susan and have been doing it for more than 20 years, ever since I volunteered at her house as a docent. This talk covers the highlights of her life including her illegal vote and trial and her relationship with Frederick Douglass. Enjoy the talk against a wonderful backdrop of authentic 19th century images.
Centennial Edition of Susan B. Anthony And Justice For All
In 1994, I published a children’s biography of Susan by the name of Susan B. Anthony And Justice For All. Watch this space for a special centennial edition with updates to commemorate the 19th amendment granting women the vote across all the states in the U.S.
According to Susan’s official biography, it was said that Washingtonians marked spring each year with two signs: the return of Congress to the nation’s capital and the return of Miss Anthony in her red shawl to lobby Congress.
In her later years, the shawl was such a beloved trademark that when she stepped up on stage without it one day the newsmen ribbed her that they would not file their stories unless she wore it. She sent someone back to the hotel to fetch it. Only death could stop the indefatigable Anthony.
In 1906 (her 86th year), after making an earlier-than-usual visit to the capital, she contracted pneumonia and died at home on March 13. On her deathbed, she seemed to greet a parade of famous comrades with whom she had worked for universal suffrage. Together, they had labored long and hard and accomplished much, not only for women but for African-Americans. Still, the most precious right of female suffrage eluded her. Holding up her pinkie, she said to her lieutenant, Anna Howard Shaw, “Just think of it, I have been striving for over sixty years for a little bit of justice no bigger than that, and yet I must die without obtaining it. Oh, it seems so cruel.”
The following is an excerpt from the New York Evening Journal’s testimonial upon Susan’s death:
No wrong under which woman suffered was too great for her to dare attack it, no injustice too small to enlist her pity and her attempt to remedy it.
She saw the tears of the slave mother with the child torn from her arms…and she was foremost among those who fought for freedom for the negro.
She saw women with great intellects starving for knowledge, and she fought to open the avenues of education to them. She saw the poverty of the sweat shop women..and she fought to better the conditions under which they worked. She saw the honor of the girl-child made the plaything of the debauchee, and she fought for laws for her protection. She saw the woman working by the side of the man for half the salary, and she fought for equal pay for equal work. She saw the intelligent, educated, tax-paying woman of the country classed by the law with the idiot, the criminal and the insane, and she died fighting, with her face to the foe, to have this monstrous injustice removed.”
Ida Husted Harper, Life and Work of Susan B. Anthony, vol III. Indianapolis: Hollenbeck Press, 1908
Photo courtesy of the Smithsonian
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
Did young Susan B. dutifully eat her vegetables, wonders Sonja Livingston, in Queen of the Fall. And when she got older, was she too preoccupied with higher things to attend to such mundane realities as food?
Hardly! For an up-close and personal view of Rochester’s very own heroine, come see my costumed portrayal of her this month:
Writers & Books, 740 University Avenue, Rochester
Saturday, March 19, 11 AM $3.50 adults, children free