Susan B. Anthony lived in Rochester, New York from 1866 until her death in 1906, the forty years of her life that she was most politically active. She never married and was 86 years old when she died. She constantly protested laws that made it illegal for married women to own property (title to the land or the house had to be in the husband's name), to get custody of the children if there was a divorce (children belonged to the husband) or to vote. In those days, if a married woman inherited wealth or property, it became the property of her husband. Although women couldn't vote, they were taxed, and Susan B. Anthony and others in the women's rights movement protested this fact, frequently quoting the American Revolutionary slogan, "No taxation without representation." Friends of Susan Anthony and frequent guests in her house were Elizabeth Cady Stanton (women's rights advocate) and Frederick Douglass (advocate for the abolition of slavery).
After the Civil War, when congress approved an amendment to the constitution giving African Americans the right to vote, the first statement in the amendment said that the right to vote would not be denied anyone, regardless of race, creed, or color. Further down in the text of the amendment it was clearly stated that the people referred to in the amendment were men. But Susan B. Anthony decided to put the first sentence of the amendment to a test. She got a few women together in 1872, the first election after the voting rights amendment went into effect, and they marched down to the polls and demanded ballots. The men at the polling booth were aghast at these women's impropriety, but they did not want to create a disturbance that would invite publicity. They decided to let them vote, and the women did so. Later, police arrived at Susan B. Anthony's house, and it was in her living room that she was arrested for breaking the law and voting. She spent only a few hours in jail before being released on bail. At her trial in 1873 the judge instructed the jury to find her guilty without discussion. He fined her $100 and ordered her to pay courtroom fees, but did not imprison her when she refused to pay. The public outrage from these incidents greatly furthered the cause of women's suffrage.
On November 5, 2004, Gov. George Pataki signed legislation into law declaring Feb. 15th as “Susan B. Anthony Day" in New York. The day is a recognition of the many years Anthony spent working to advance women's equality in voting, property laws and labor rights. Pataki said, “This new law will ensure that Susan B. Anthony's life, legacy and remarkable courage will be forever commemorated in New York for generations to come."
Anthony's Rochester home at 17 Madison Street is now a museum. She died on March 13, 1906 and is buried in Mount Hope Cemetery.
Holiday Page Index
Riparian's Home Page
© The MIDI file on this page was sequenced by Barry Taylor.