Susan B. Anthony's self-imposed task, for almost half a century, has been to secure equal rights for Women—social, civil, and political. When she began her crusade woman in social life was " cabin'd, cribb'd, confined " to an extent which scarcely can be conceived by the present independent and self-reliant generation. In law she was but little better than a slave; in politico a mere cipher. To-day in society she has practically unlimited freedom; In the business world most of the obstacles have been removed; the laws, although still unjust in many respects, have been revolutionized in her favor; in four States women have the full franchise. In one the municipal ballot, in twenty-five a vote on school questions, and in four others some form of Suffrage, while in each campaign their recognition as a political factor grows more marked. * * * She is the only woman who has given her whole time and effort to this end. with no diversion of interest in behalf of husband and children, no diversion of other public questions. Is there an example in all history of either man or woman who devoted half a century of the hardest, most persistent labor for one reform?
" Life and Letters of Susan B. Anthony "—Ida Hutted Harper.—Vol. II., Chan. L.
My first glimpse of Susan B. Anthony has always been a pleasant memory. It was In 1898, the first of a brief residence in Rochester, N. T., when a small and informal gathering one Saturday afternoon offered a good opportunity to see and hear the notable woman. There is no memory left now of the details of that meeting, only of the impression left by Susan B. and Mary Anthony, and the memory of the younger sister is the more vivid.. Miss Anthony spoke, of course, on woman's suffrage, simply and well, as she always did. But it is of the expression on Mary Anthony's face that I always think in connection with Miss Anthony. That afternoon she sat on the platform with her sister, and during Susan B. Anthony's informal address and the demonstration that followed Mary watched her with an expression of absorbed and adoring love that can be compared only to a lover's. All who knew the sisters saw that look many times; and friends knew that Mary Anthony's life was one of daily and hourly devotion to her more famous sister, tender, absolute, beautiful beyond all words.
It Is good to know that the elder sister realized and appreciated as they deserved this devotion and this unselfish thoughtfulness that attended her. " Without Mary," Susan said many times, " my work Would have been Impossible."
A little removed from the lower stretch of Rochester's main street, even its plain red brick exterior Impressing the chance passer with a certain old-fashioned air of dignity, stands the Anthony homestead, built in 1845 by the father, Daniel Anthony, where Susan B. Anthony and her sister, Mary, passed happily together the tranquil twilight following lives of unusual devotion and toil. " Homey " best expresses the atmosphere that greeted friend or stranger entering the door. Perfect hospitality Is the memory cherished by the man or woman fortunate enough to enter that home for an hour or for a day.
In the front of the two old-fashioned parlors stood the mahogany table upon which was written the call and resolutions for the first woman's rights convention ever held, the gift of Mrs. Stanton. The rear parlor was the library. Miss Mary Anthony's study opened from this, and the dining room adjoining was rich in handsome old furniture. Upstairs were the quaintly furnished guest chamber, the family sleeping rooms, and what was Miss Anthony's study, a big, sunshiny room, lined with books and pictures, and made cheery by a gas log. What stories those walls could tell of hours and hours of labor, of plans and prophecies, of happy, familiar chat, of campaigns fought out in advance, and of letters-thousands—dictated, typewritten, and signed.
When at home Miss Anthony's daily routine varied little. There was always the cold sponge bath, the simple breakfast soon after 7, and then to her Study to work busily until the plain noonday dinner, oftener than not shared by one or more friends. After a little rest, more work, until the sunset hour brought a time when the two sisters might sit with hands and brains at rest, talking lovingly of the dear ones gone before, of life's compensations, or the reunion at most but a few years distant. Often the evening brought guests. Monday evening was the regular at home, when young and old of all beliefs were made welcome. If there were no guests Miss Anthony went back to her study again and wrote, wrote, until, at 10 o'clock, she gathered together the big package of mail, put on wraps, and went out for a brisk walk of several squares, for which the posting of the letters was only an excuse.
It was Into a home of unusual comfort and liberality of thought for the times that Susan Brownell Anthony, named for an aunt, was born Feb, 15, 1820, at Adams, Mass., the second child of Daniel Anthony, a " Hicksite Friend," and Lucy Read, who turned from the gay life of a popular belle when she married, to the quiet customs of the Quakers, though she never became a member of that society. Susan was one of a family of eight children, of whom Mary Is now the only survivor.
Susan early showed unusual vigor of intellect, phenomenal memory, and insatiable ambition. When she was 3 years old her grandmother taught her to spell and read, and at 12 she earned her first money, $3 for two weeks' work In her father's cotton factory, taking the place of a sick " spooler " by her own eager request. At the father's wish his children early In life were made members of the Quaker society. Daniel Anthony's means and ambitions enabled him to give his children the advantages of a private school in his big, handsome house at Batten-ville, Washington County, New York State, where the family had moved In 1826, and Susan was the star pupil. Though her father was one of the wealthy men of the county, the daughter began teaching at the age of IT, the first Winter for a dollar a week and board. The next year she wag sent to Deborah Moulson's Seminary, near Philadelphia; but her father's business reverses called both Susan and Guelma home in the Spring of 1838.
A year at the home school followed, and then the family left the happy home at Battenvllle and moved to Hardscrabble, where Daniel Anthony started to build up his fortunes anew. Susan had no difficulty in securing a school at New Rochelle, and thus began the work which she carried on with gratifying success for fifteen years. Pay was small—she and Hannah taught from 1840 to 1845 for $2 and $2.50 a week and board—but the good daughters lived with rigid economy and gave their father every penny they could /pare to help pay interest on the mortgage which rested on factory, mills, and home. In 1845 the family moved to Rochester, making the trip from Palatine Bridge by " line boat." Susan accompanied her parents, returning to Palatine Bridge in 1846 to teach In Canajoharie Academy, a position which she held three years. This was perhaps the gayest time of the Quaker lass's life, and her letters home show that she enjoyed pretty clothes, good times, and the attention of the beaus quite as much as any girl who has no mission.
It was in the Spring of 1853 that Miss Anthony, who for several years past had found the work growing irksome, gave up teaching. She was deeply interested In temperance and anti-slavery, and hers was a nature that could have no divided interests. At a State gathering of the Sons of Temperance in 1852 at Albany a decisive step was taken. Susan B. Anthony represented the Rochester Union, but when she rose to speak she was told by the presiding officer that the sisters were not invited there *' to speak, but to listen and learn." With several other women she left the hall, and the rebels' held a meeting of their own. The result, after weeks of hard work, was the first Woman's State Temperance Convention, at Corinthian Hall, Rochester, April 20, 1852. Five hundred women were In attendance.
In September of the same year Susan attended her first woman's rights convention at Syracuse and took an active part in its proceedings. The work begun then was carried on with single-hearted zeal and steadfast devotion almost unparalleled. Abuse from press and audience, rebuffs, and Insults commenced with the withdrawal from the Albany temperance meeting.
The years from 1852 to 1856 were spent in addressing temperance and teachers' conventions, in attending and taking part In woman's rights conventions at Rochester, Albany, and Saratoga; in a canvass of New York State for funds, and in trips to Washington, Saratoga, Philadelphia, and Boston. What seemed a distinct advancement of woman's cause and a recognition of Miss Anthony's efforts and abilities came in 1856, an urgent request from the American Anti-Slavery Society that she become its agent and go on a lecture trip through Central and Western New York. The Winter and the next
few years were full of great physical hardships,
many discouragements, and much bitter trial. Anti Slavery meetings, attempted In 1861, were mobbed and broken up in every city from Buffalo to Albany. Then, Nov. 25, 1862. came the death of Daniel Anthony, his children's idol; Susan's support, strength, and sympathetic guide in all her work and ambitions.
Organization of the Woman's National Loyal League kept Miss Anthony busy in 1863 and 1864, and a strong endeavor to rouse public protest against the Fourteenth Amendment was the most important work of the women suffragists in 1865. The year 1867 brought a hard~fought campaign to secure a woman's suffrage amendment to the New York State Constitution, but the amendment was defeated. Generous financial aid enabled the starting of The Revolution, the first woman's suffrage paper, and pt'.ve. the leaders of the movement fresh courage to face the future.
The- year 1869 saw another encouraging advance In the organization. May 15, in New York City, of the National .Woman Suffrage Association, with Elizabeth Cady Stanton as President. Its especial object was " a Sixteenth Amendment to the Constitution securing the ballot to the women of the Nation on equal terms with men." The second National Woman's Suffrage Convention, held in Lincoln Hall, Washington, January, 1870, just preceded Miss Anthony's fiftieth birthday.
The ten years preceding had given her some encouragement- there had always been hosts of loyal friends to stand by her; but the years had also been full ol almost incredible hardship, work well-nigh superhuman in its untiring energy, and abuse hard to understand to-day. She had been Insultingly attacked by almost every paper of almost every State, driven from convention halls, been the object of harsh, often abusive, words from notable public speakers, had her audiences broken up by mobs, seen trusted co-laborers fail her at the most Important crises, lost loved ones, and through everything held with deathlike grip to one central and paramount Idea, the securing of the ballot to women.
In 1871 Miss Anthony and Mrs. Stanton started on a lecturing trip to the Pacific Coast, stopping at Salt Lake City, visiting the Yosemite and encountering a strongly hostile spirit in Oregon and California. The National Republican Convention at Philadelphia, June 7, 1872, contained in its platform the following:
" The Republican Party is mindful of Its obligations to the loyal women of America for their noble devotion to the cause of freedom; their admission to wider fields of usefulness Is received with satisfaction, and the honest demand of any class of citizens for equal rights should be treated with respectful consideration."
It was not what the leaders of the National organization for woman's suffrage had hoped -and asked for; but it was the first time any National platform had mentioned woman, and it kindled hopes of better things to come.
From the adoption of the Fourteenth Amendment, July 28, 1868, several leaders in the movement had claimed women's right to vote under its provisions. Spurred to action in 1872 by an especially stirring appeal to all voters to register and cast their ballot, in the editorial columns of a Rochester daily, Miss Anthony with her three sisters went to the registry office and registered, the Inspectors consenting after some objections. The example was followed by nearly fifty strong-minded Rochester women. Such criticism followed the announcement of this action that when Election Day came the Inspectors In several wards refused the votes of the women they had registered; but Miss Anthony and fourteen others were permitted to vote In her ward. Election Day was Nov. 5. Nov. 18 Miss Anthony was arrested and taken into court to answer the charge of illegal voting, together with the fourteen other offenders and the three Inspectors involved. She was Indicted by the Grand Jury at its next sitting, and the trial was held in Canadalgua in the following Summer.
The case was bitterly and skillfully fought on both sides, and at its conclusion Judge Hunt directed the jury to bring in a verdict of guilty. A fine of $100 and the costs of the prosecution was the sentence pronounced. Miss Anthony promptly declared that she would " never pay a dollar of your unjust penalty," and the Judge did not resort to an order of commitment to force the issue. The costs of the trial Miss Anthony paid, actuated by a sense of justice to those who stood by her in this time of trial.
The Spring of 1880 brought the peaceful passing away of the saintlike mother at the age of 87. Bravely putting aside her personal sorrow, Miss Anthony, with Mrs. Stanton's aid, plunged into the arduous work of writing the " History of Woman Suffrage," the first volume of which appeared in 1881. Feb. 23, 18S3, saw Miss Anthony and Miss Rachel Foster sailing for England. The year of travel and comparative rest that followed was probably the easiest, most care-free year of this unselfish, hard-working woman's life. Her welcome home in November of 1883 was a royal one, and Miss Anthony immediately plunged again Into the thick of the countless demands of her life work. The seven years following were crowded with lecture and campaign work from Washington to South Dakota, appeals to and strivings , with Congress, high officials, and the political parties for recognition and support, and work on the second Volume of the history. Her seventieth birthday was celebrated by a fine banquet at the Riggs House, Washington, and sweeter to her were the strong words of loving appreciation from friends and of honorable recognition of her efforts from many leading papers.
Seventy years old and over forty years of almost herculean labor for the cause so dear to her, the suffrage of woman, yet, with all the vigor of twenty-five she started out on a campaign in South Dakota, kept up her lecture and convention work, accepted the burdens of the Presidency of the National Convention in 1892, was an active figure at the World's Fair, and in 1894 conducted two vigorous campaigns—one to secure from the Constitutional Convention an amendment abolishing the word " male" from the new Constitution; the other, In Kansas, to secure a majority vote on an amendment giving women full suffrage.
Disappointed exceedingly by her defeat in these two hard-fought battles, but undaunted, Miss Anthony went on with her lecturing wherever there was a call, made a trip through the Southern States in 1895, and visited California again, where her reception was so cordial that she was called back again in 1896 to conduct another aggressive campaign.
This was almost the last of Miss Anthony's long journeys and long campaigns. Every spare moment of the year following was given to lending a helping hand on her biography, which appeared in 1898. The years since were filled with visits, short trips, and. In the intervals of two rather serious illnesses, with eager, enthusiastic work for the cause so near her heart; but most of the time was spent at the Anthony homestead in Rochester. Like the mellow, golden sunset of a' day of storm and stress were the closing years of a life which in concentration, single-mindedness of purpose, and strenuous labor has rarely been equaled.
With the friends of Susan B. Anthony will linger longest now the memory of the tender, womanly loveliness of the great reformer rather than the work of her public life. The writer remembers seeing one day at the Anthony home a young woman—one of the thousands of strangers who touched Miss Anthony's life every year. The girl asked for and received a few moments' interview; then, as she rose" to go, she found that she had lost her handkerchief. Quickly Miss Anthony pressed Into her hands a fresh bit of linen.
" Take this, my dear," said this busy, burdened woman cordially, " I always keep one of these on hand for Just such emergencies."
" That little act," said an old friend of Miss Anthony who had witnessed the Incident, " is characteristic of her life; but how she can think of all the little things she does we all wonder."
Those who knew Miss Anthony best can tell you, with wet eyes and breaking voice, of thousands of similar incidents. And it is good to remember now of this woman who was a public character so many years that to her sister and life-long companion she was the dearest and noblest soul on earth—it is not granted to every human being to Inspire such love and devotion as dwelt In Mary Anthony's heart and shone on Mary Anthony's face—tribute to Susan B. Anthony. J. E. T.