Frequently Asked Questions
- Why do you research Susan B. Anthony and Elizabeth Cady Stanton together?
- Why is Susan B. Anthony better known than Elizabeth Cady Stanton?
- What happened to the Susan B. Anthony dollar?
- Can I still get Susan B. Anthony stamps?
- Why was the vote so important?
- What other issues did Stanton and Anthony address besides voting?
- Did any men work with Stanton and Anthony for woman's rights?
- Who were other leaders of the women's rights movement?
- How did a 16th Amendment become the 19th Amendment to the U.S. Constitution?
1. Why do you research Susan B. Anthony and Elizabeth Cady Stanton together?
The historical answer is that Stanton and Anthony were close friends who collaborated on women's rights and other reforms for fifty-one years. Together, they developed the arguments and strategies to achieve their shared goal of securing equal rights for all American citizens.
The practical answer is that to search for and edit the documents of each woman independently would lead to endless redundancy. They shared many of the same correspondents, wrote for the same journals, and often composed speeches, petitions, and even letters together.
Many metaphors were offered to describe their working partnership. According to Stanton, "it has been said that I forged the thunderbolts and [Anthony] fired them." (Eighty Years and More, 165)
Henry B. Stanton (1805-1887) remarked to his wife, "You stir up Susan & she stirs the world." (ECS to SBA, 20 August 1857, Selected Papers, 1:351)
Their friend Theodore Tilton (1835-1907) quipped in 1871: "It has been sometimes suspected that Mrs. Stanton and Miss Anthony are two distinct persons, united by a cartilage like the Siamese twins, but in the absence of any medical or other scientific proof of this hypothesis, I remain of the opinion that, like Liberty and Union, they are 'one and inseparable.'" (Golden Age, 1 July 1871, reprinted in Revolution, 6 July 1871.) ↑
2. Why is Susan B. Anthony better known than Elizabeth Cady Stanton?
Anthony's popularity and renown surpassed Stanton's in the 1890s, and to this day she remains the better known of the two women. There are a number of explanations for why this happened. Anthony traveled back and forth across the country right up until her death at age 86; more Americans met her, and the younger suffragists, who carried the movement into the 20th century, came to know her. Anthony's intensity and self-sacrifice for the cause defined her as a kind of patron saint or cult figure for the later woman suffrage movement. In addition, Anthony's decisions late in her life to concentrate all of her force on winning suffrage simplified the way she was known to the public.
By contrast, Stanton in the late decades of her life influenced the movement through writing rather than speaking in person; she took up many reforms, some of which were highly controversial; and she never cultivated or conveyed the impression that she lived for the suffrage movement. ↑
3. What happened to the Susan B. Anthony dollar?
The U.S. Treasury gave it up in 1999 in favor a coin commemorating Sacajawea, the woman who helped Lewis and Clark reach the Pacific Coast. Anthony dollars minted before 1982 and a special issue minted in 1999 are still in circulation. Several groups protested the decision to abandon Susan B. Anthony, but one congressman is quoted as saying that coins should not show "an obscure historical figure like Susan B. Anthony." ↑
4. Can I still get Susan B. Anthony stamps?
Stamps with portraits of Anthony were issued in 1936 (a three-cent stamp) and 1955 (a fifty-cent stamp).
A portrait of Stanton, along with Lucretia Mott (1793-1880) and Carrie Chapman Catt (1859-1947), appeared on a three-cent stamp in 1948. None of these stamps is now available from the U.S. Postal Service.↑
5. Why was the vote so important?
Anthony often answered this question with a definition: "The right to vote—the right preservative of all other rights, privileges and immunities." She and Stanton often quoted Senator Charles Sumner (1811-1874), when he addressed the U.S. Senate in 1866 on the need of voting rights for former slaves: "I plead now for the ballot, as the great guarantee; and the only sufficient guarantee [of rights];… Ay, sir, the ballot is the Columbiad of our political life, and every citizen who has it is a full-armed Monitor."
Echoing their revolutionary forefathers, woman suffragists pointed to the founding principles of the American government: that governments derive their just powers from the consent of the governed and that taxation without representation is tyranny. Women gave no consent to the laws that governed them, and women paid taxes. Voting would bring women into an equal relationship to the state and its power. ↑
6.What other issues did Stanton and Anthony address besides voting?
Stanton and Anthony were active participants in many of the reform movements of their day from temperance and dress reform to antislavery and labor organizing. As proponents of women's rights, they protested the exclusion of women from juries, unequal pay, and laws that gave husbands ownership of their wives and children. They advocated coeducation, the rights of married women to their property and wages, women's control of their own bodies, and their right to divorce. ↑
7. Did any men work with Stanton and Anthony for woman's rights?
Among their most important collaborators were Aaron M. Powell (1832-1899) and Parker Pillsbury (1809-1898), both antislavery agents and editors; Theodore Tilton (1835-1907), a New York editor and popular lecturer; Aaron A. Sargent (1827-1887), congressman and later senator from California; and Frederick Douglass (1817-1895), fugitive from slavery, newspaper editor, and reformer. ↑
8. Who were other leaders of the women's rights movement?
By their example, leading abolitionists like Abby Kelley Foster, Sarah Grimke, Angelina Grimke Weld, and Sarah Pugh showed women how to claim their rights, and they influenced the movement over the course of their lives. Stanton traced her awareness of the cause to her acquaintance with Lucretia Mott (1793-1880), another abolitionist, with whom she organized the Seneca Falls Woman's Rights Convention in 1848. Ernestine L. Rose (1810-1892) set the example of lobbying to change state laws about married women's property. Lucy Stone (1818-1893) was another pioneer and a long-time leader, who organized a rival to Stanton and Anthony's National Woman Suffrage Association in 1869. Through her American Woman Suffrage Association and her newspaper, the Woman's Journal, Stone, and her husband, Henry Blackwell (1825-1909), and later their daughter, achieved national leadership until women won the vote in 1920. Matilda Joslyn Gage (1826-1898) came into the movement in the 1850s and held positions of leadership until her death. Thousands of women in all the states ensured that the agitation for equal rights continued in the second half of the 19th century. Historians have just begun to rediscover who these local leaders were. ↑
9. How did a 16th Amendment become the 19th Amendment to the U.S. Constitution?
Woman suffragists during the lifetimes of Stanton and Anthony referred to their proposed amendment to the U.S. Constitution as the 16th amendment. Modeled in its language on the 15th Amendment of 1870, and similar in its purpose of adding new voters, the woman suffrage amendment seemed a next logical step and the next in sequence. But a constitutional amendment cannot be numbered until it's been ratified. After the Constitution survived many decades without any new amendments, Congress and the state legislatures took up three amendments between 1909 and 1919: income tax, direct election of senators, and prohibition. Still disfranchised, woman suffragists had no choice but to change their label for the amendment they proposed. Their 19th Amendment was ratified in 1920. ↑