All for Suffrage, Part 1

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Susan B. Anthony’s family members were all for women’s 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. Susan had a strong support system for her reform work.

Universal Suffrage

Because the Anthonys were strongly abolitionist, they wanted all American citizens to vote, rather than just white men. For African-Americans, they harbored fugitives on the Underground Railroad and supported both Frederick Douglass and John Brown.

For women’s suffrage, they supported Susan’s reform efforts with both money and labor. Her father contributed financially to Susan’s campaigns. Her youngest sister Mary kept the home on Madison Street and took care of their mother Lucy in her declining years. Mary also helped Susan prepare massive mailings and presided over Rochester’s Political Equality Club. Brother Daniel Read Anthony (D.R.) housed Susan during her two women’s suffrage campaigns in Kansas and also provided considerable financial support.

Parental Influence

Susan’s father Daniel did not vote during her early years — and maybe never did. His Quaker pacifism compelled him to resist a government that waged war. As a result, when it was time to pay taxes, he did not do so voluntarily. Instead, he presented his wallet to the tax collector and said, “Here, take it if you must.” Daniel Anthony Sr. died in 1862, in the midst of the Civil War and ten years before Susan cast her ballot. With his two sons serving for the Union, perhaps he reversed his policy on voting at the end of his life.

Lucy Anthony, mother of the clan, was a shy, retiring woman who stayed close to home and cheered on the rest of the family. She is not mentioned among those who voted with Susan in 1872. But for many years, she prepared weekly Sunday dinners for a band of antislavery Quakers. In other words, she voted with her feet!

This year, Americans go to the polls on Nov. 7. Get informed about your choices so you can cast your ballot.

Next time: Susan’s siblings and the vote

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