Suffragist Susan B. Anthony Dies
On March 13, 1906, pioneering activist Susan B. Anthony died at the age of 86. Anthony spent much of her long life involved in the anti-slavery, temperance, and women’s rights movements—especially the latter, in which she became a leader in the drive to secure women's right to vote.
When she was 52, Anthony was arrested, tried and convicted for the crime of daring to vote in the 1872 Presidential Election. She persisted in her efforts with unwavering dedication, declaring a few years before she died that national women’s suffrage “...will come, but I shall not see it.”
Her words proved prophetic 14 years after her death, when the Nineteenth Amendment to the U.S. Constitution was ratified on Aug. 18, 1920, guaranteeing all American women the right to vote.
The following article, published the day after her death, acknowledges the hard work and successes of Anthony’s long life. Yet in criticizing her for “wasting” so much of her talents on the cause she cared the most about, women’s suffrage, this article shows how much work remained for the women’s movement after the loss of one of its leading figures.
This editorial was published by the Patriot (Harrisburg, Pennsylvania) on March 14, 1906:
Susan B. Anthony
It would shock many estimable women were anyone to speak of the career of Susan B. Anthony as in any measure a misspent life and yet it is true, that Miss Anthony devoted the most of her eighty-six years on earth in a hopeless struggle to gain for women what they do not want, that which if they did want they could gain in a day—the elective franchise.
Miss Anthony and a few of her coworkers in the cause of woman suffrage, like Elizabeth Cady Stanton and Lucy Stone, was a woman of the loftiest character, kindliest disposition and intellectual gifts of an uncommon order, but in comparison with the earnestness, persistency and great ability with which she carried on her life battle she accomplished almost nothing. She gained universal personal respect but among the great masses of her countrywomen she made no progress at all and the most of the active supporters of her theory, those who organized themselves into local clubs and societies and held public meetings to advance their cause, were generally rather the subject of mirth than of serious opposition.
With her talents, in other fields of endeavor, Miss Anthony might have won almost boundless success. Indeed in her earlier life she did excellent service in the cause of temperance and was a leader in the movement for justice to married women in the right to control their own earnings and their own property.
It was largely through her efforts that the New York Legislature in 1860 passed the act giving to married women the guardianship of their children and the possession of their own earnings, which has been followed by similar laws in many of the States. But these things have been mostly forgotten and she will be remembered as the great woman suffragist.
Personally she was esteemed by all her countrymen and countrywomen but after she became conspicuously identified with the woman suffrage movement she made very little impress on the affairs of the time.
Indeed it may be conservatively said that during the last twenty-five years, the movement which had her deepest sympathies and to which she devoted unceasing efforts and the highest talents, made no progress at all, but rather retrograded.
She failed because during the best years of her life she labored for the success of a cause that never can succeed while women are women.
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