Guess Who’s Coming to Dinner

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When Frederick Douglass went to dine at the Anthony home, powerful forces went to work.

Join me for a look at the striking statues of these two at the Susan B. Anthony Square near her home in Rochester, NY.

When Douglass moved to Rochester, NY, in the late 1840s, he was quickly welcomed into the liberal-minded circle of Daniel and Lucy Anthony (parents of Susan B.). The Anthonys were in the habit of entertaining 15-20 people for Sunday dinner, and often sent the farm wagon into the city to bring the Douglasses out for the day. Though Douglass was already well-known in his own right, imagine how much encouragement and assistance he must have received along with his meal. Allow me to drop a few names of the memorable people who sat at the Anthony table:

  • Susan B. Anthony, crusader in temperance, abolition, and women’s rights
  • Isaac and Amy Post, Rochester Quakers and conductors on the Underground Railroad, and hosts to writer Harriet Jacobs, author of Incidents in the Life of a Slave Girl
  • Merritt Anthony, who risked his life in Kansas beside John Brown
  • Rhoda DeGarmo, another Quaker friend of the Anthonys, and one of the brave women who voted with Susan in the 1872 election
  • William Lloyd Garrison, Boston publisher of the radical antislavery newspaper, The Liberator
  • Daniel Read Anthony, publisher of a radical newspaper entitled Leavenworth Times, who frequently tangled with proslavery forces on the Missouri border
  • Wendell Philips, known as “abolition’s golden trumpet” for his speaking abilities
  • Mary Anthony, Susan’s sister who was the first woman in the Rochester City School District to receive equal pay for equal work

According to Susan’s authorized biography, “every one of these Sunday meetings was equal to a convention . . . each one of these families that gathered…at the Anthony farm could have told where might be found at least one station on the ‘underground railroad.'” (p. 61, Life and Work of Susan B. Anthony, Ida Husted Harper)

Though Douglass’s friendship with Susan suffered a serious rift after abolitionists decided to put African-American rights ahead of women’s rights, the two remained lifelong friends.

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