Thanks to Herb Dershowitz who reminded us that today, Febuary 15, is Susan B. Anthony’s birthday.
Many Americans know her mostly for the dollar coin that was issued in her name and bearing her image in 1979, 1980, 1981, and 1999, and which is often mistaken for a quarter.
But Ms. Anthony, who was born in Adams, Massachusetts in 1820 and lived until 1906 was a suffragist working tirelessly for women’s rights during a time in U.S. history when women were still recognized in the same legal category as dogs and cattle, as the property of men with no right to vote.
She was also a cyclist, and she had this to say about women and bicycles:
“Let me tell you what I think of bicycling. I think it has done more to emancipate women than anything else in the world. It gives women a feeling of freedom and self-reliance. I stand and rejoice every time I see a woman ride by on a wheel…the picture of free, untrammeled womanhood.
The suffragist learned to read and write at the age of three, began a publication called “The Revolution” that expounded on the rights of women, labor and civil rights, and was arrested and jailed in 1872 for voting in the presidential election before women had the right to vote.
Anthony died 14 years before the U.S. Congress passed into law the 19th Amendment to the Constitution allowing women the right to vote.
Though the judge in the case of the U.S. Government vs. Susan B. Anthony refused to allow her to testify on her own behalf, wrote his opinion and decision before the case was even heard, and instructed the jury to find her guity, Anthony was outspoken in her rights and wrote a statement to the court prior to her hearing which referred to the Fourtheenth Amendment and said:
“All persons born or naturalized in the United States, and subject to the jurisdiction thereof, are citizens of the United States and of the State wherein they reside. No State shall make or enforce any law which shall abridge the privileges or immunities of citizens of the United States; nor shall any State deprive any person of life, liberty, or property, without due process of law;
nor deny to any person within its jurisdiction the equal protection of the laws.”
Although Anthony was born a Quaker, she later became agnostic, but all we can say is “Amen.” For more on this tremendous lady and cyclist, read the accounts in Wikipedia, visit her old house in Rochester, NY, or read further about her trial in 1873.