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Susan B. Anthony

A clarity of purpose that would one day infuse Susan Brownell Anthony's crusade for women's rights was instilled in her as a little girl. She was born February 15, 1820 in Adams, Massachusetts. Her father, Daniel Anthony, was a stern Quaker abolitionist who imprinted on her a sense of fairness that she would exercise throughout her life.

Equal rights and opportunities for women did not exist in Susan B. Anthony's day. As a youthful teacher in rural New York, she pressed for fairness toward women: co-education, college training and equal pay. Also in her youth, she developed an interest in the Temperance Movement, which addressed the impact on alcohol consumption on the family, and attempted to become involved in the Sons of Temperance. When she asked to speak at a meeting in Albany, however, Anthony was denied with the remark, "The Sisters were not invited there to speak but to listen and learn." She left and formed the Woman's State Temperance Society of New York, the first of its kind.

At a temperance meeting in 1851, Susan B. Anthony met Elizabeth Cady Stanton, who would be her comrade-in-arms until the latter's death in 1902. Anthony lectured on temperance, abolition and women's rights from that year until 1860. With Stanton, she pressed for the first laws passed by New York's legislature that ensured for women control of property, wages and rights over their children.

In 1863, Susan B. Anthony co-organized the Women's Loyal League to back the embattled Lincoln administration, particularly on the issue of emancipation. When the 15th Amendment, passed in 1869, granted the right to vote to black men, but not to women, Anthony and Stanton broke with many suffragists by opposing the new law.

That year, Anthony and Stanton organized the National Woman Suffrage Association to advocate for woman suffrage. Anthony published and edited the magazine, The Revolution, which centered on the association. Their slogan: "The true republic—men, their rights and nothing more; women, their rights and nothing less."

The acknowledged spokeswoman for the movement, Susan B. Anthony traveled and lectured throughout the United States and Europe.

In her town of Rochester, New York, Anthony and more than a dozen other women registered for the election of 1871. The next day, 40 more women did the same. On election day, Anthony and 14 suffragists managed to vote. She was arrested, tried in a hostile judge's court, found guilty and fined $100. Anthony refused to pay it, saying, "May it please your honor, I will never pay a dollar of your unjust penalty." The trial was a national sensation—and the fine remains unpaid.

By 1890, the National Woman Suffrage Association merged with the American Woman Suffrage Association to form the National American Woman Suffrage Association. Anthony served as president from 1892 to 1900.

With Stanton and Matilda Joslyn Gage, Susan B. Anthony helped to compile the first volumes of The History of Woman Suffrage, which would eventually grow to six by 1922. The right of women to vote became reality with the 19th Amendment, ratified 14 years after Susan B. Anthony's death.

For additional famous women, see Important and Famous Women in America.