Aug 28, 2010

Visit the Susan B. Antony House in Rochester

On a quiet tree-lined street in Rochester is the stately Victorian brick home of Susan B. Anthony. Anthony is a testament to how one person can change history. The Anthony House was the home of the legendary American civil rights leader during the most politically active period of her life, and the site of her famous arrest for voting in 1872.

Anthony was an amazing woman who changed history by her tireless dedication to women suffrage but that was not her goal in the beginning. Susan Brownell Anthony was born February 15,1820 in Massachusetts into a strict Quaker family. Her father, Daniel Anthony, was a stern Quaker abolitionist who did not allow his children to take part in childish activities. Instead he enforced self-discipline, principled convictions, and belief in one's own self-worth. In 1826, the Anthonys moved to Battensville, N.Y and in 1845 they moved to a farm near Rochester. Many famous reformers frequented the Anthony farm. She listened to conversations Frederick Douglass, William Lloyd Garrison and Wendell Phillips carried on with her father. These discussions helped Susan form her strong views on slavery, women's rights, and temperance.

Susan B. Anthony’s first public crusade was on behalf of temperance. When she was prohibited to speak at rallies because she was a woman, she realized that women had to win the right to speak in public and to vote before they could accomplish anything else. This experience, and her acquaintance with Elizabeth Cady Stanton, led her to join the women's rights movement, and ultimately dedicate her life to woman suffrage.

Anthony attended her first women's rights convention in 1852 held in Seneca Falls. From that first convention until the end of the Civil War, she campaigned tirelessly for women's rights and the abolition of slavery. The Susan B. Anthony House, a National Historic Landmark, details her lifelong struggle to gain voting rights for women and equal rights for all. Anthony lived in the brick house she shared with her sister, Mary, for forty years.

View the front parlor where Susan Anthony was arrested by a U.S. Marshall for voting in the 1872 election. She hoped to prove that women had the legal right to vote under the provisions of the recently passed 14th and 15th amendments to the Constitution. At her trial a hostile federal judge found her guilty and fined her $100, which she refused to pay.

On display is the black silk brocade dress that was an 80th birthday present from the Mormon women of Utah who appreciated her successful efforts to have woman suffrage included in the state constitution when Utah joined the Union in 1896. Visit the third floor attic that was added to provide a workspace for Anthony and where she helped to write the monumental “History of Woman Suffrage.”

In her last public address before her death on March 13, 1906, Susan B. Anthony inspired her followers with the now famous words, "Failure is Impossible." She died before the 19th Amendment allowing women to vote was enacted in 1919.

Down the street from the Anthony House in a pretty tree-shaded park is the "Let's Have Tea" statue of Susan B. Anthony and Frederick Douglas. The life-size bronze sculpture shows them conversing over a pot of tea. Surely Anthony shared many cups of tea through the years with activists involved in many causes. For more information check