Perhaps the most well-known women’s rights activist in history, Susan B. Anthony was born to a Quaker family in the northwestern corner of Massachusetts. Susan was raised to be independent and outspoken. Like many Quakers, her parents believed that men and women should study, live and work as equals and should dedicate themselves to the eradication of cruelty and injustice in the world.
Along with Susan B. Anthony, several activists in antislavery joined the women’s rights movement. Lucy Stone, Matilda Joslyn Gage, Abby Kelley Foster, and Sojourner Truth are among the most well known.
Another resident of Rochester, Frederick Douglass, was great friends with Susan B. Anthony for over 40 years – despite strong disagreements. Each had strong convictions and they did not always coincide.
Douglass escaped from slavery in Maryland as a young man and became one of the most prominent leaders of the abolitionist movement. He was also a strong proponent of women’s rights and attended the Women’s Rights Convention in Seneca Falls in 1848. Wendell Phillips, William Lloyd Garrison, and human rights advocate Ernestine Rose also participated at national women’s rights conventions.
Women gained the right to vote in 1920 with the passage of the 19 Amendment.
Millions exercised the hard won right to vote on Election Day in 1920. For almost 100 years, women (and men) from diverse backgrounds and beliefs had been fighting for women’s suffrage. They had made speeches, signed petitions, marched in parades and argued over and over again that women, like men, deserved the same rights and responsibilities of citizenship as men. The leaders of this campaign did not always agree with one another, but each was committed to the goal of equal rights for all American women.