An early advocate for women’s rights, this passionate, complex leader was crucial to the women’s suffrage movement. But Susan B. Anthony was so much more. Here are some little-known facts about this pivotal American.
She was raised on social justice
Universal History Archive/Shutterstock
Susan B. Anthony’s parents raised Susan and her six siblings on a belief system that stressed the importance of social justice issues, including prison reform and the abolishment of slavery. Susan’s father, Daniel Anthony, often invited reformist leaders like Frederick Douglass, leader of the abolitionist movement, and Wendell Phillips, an advocate for Native Americans, to their home in Rochester, New York. The adults would discuss politics, advocacy, and the need for social reform. As a young child, Susan sat on the sidelines, listening and learning.
Her family held Quaker beliefs
The Art Archive/Shutterstock
The Anthony family’s Quaker traditions and beliefs were pivotal to Susan’s early views on women and what they could accomplish. From its inception, Quakerism permitted women who felt called to God to become ministers and preach to their congregation and community. Many Quaker women even became traveling ministers, traversing the country and world to bring their ideology to others. These early role models may have influenced Susan significantly. Over several decades of her life, Susan tirelessly traveled the U.S., bringing the message of women’s suffrage to anyone who would listen.
Her first passion was not women’s rights
Another solid Quaker belief is temperance, or the complete abstinence from alcohol. Susan started her advocacy career as a temperance worker, after teaching children at Canajoharie Academy in central New York for 15 years. In 1852, Susan attended a state meeting of a brotherhood known as the Sons of Temperance. There, she was refused the right to address the crowd. According to the Susan B. Anthony Museum & House, she was told to sit down, listen, and learn. Angered and appalled, Susan started to take heed to other influences in her life and shifted her attention to women’s rights. Check out more empowering stories of women you didn’t learn about in history class.