Susan Brownell Anthony is the face of Women’s Suffrage. She traveled not only the United States but the world for over half a century. She gave an average of seventy-five to one hundred speeches a year. The speeches, events, and rallies were not only for women to have the right to vote but for equality of all regardless of race, creed or gender.
She was never married, nor had any children. Anthony confided in her dear friend Elizabeth Cady Stanton that she often desired to know the comfort of another in her bed. She suffered not having the warmth of a man sleeping beside her at night, the comfort of hearing the steady breathing of the someone you love in order to be married to the cause.
Susan knew that she could never marry. All money she raised for the cause would legally go to her husband. As a woman, she would not be able to legally sign contracts in her own name. She had to choose between love and equality. She chose all of us.
She did have a companionship of a most significant kind. That companionship was in Elizabeth Cady Stanton. Friends of over fifty years, kindred souls, fighting for us. What we now consider work spouses is a term that would have applied to them as well as sisters.
Susan also lived with the pain of political compromise. Her soul ached when she realized she could not attain enough support for the cause of women and people of color at the same time. She believed if women could vote then they could add their voices to others who would bring true equality to all. She had to compromise her morals in hopes of a political victory that in the end would bring about the true goal. That choice and the pain of it stayed with her until she dies.
In August 2020 we will have the right to vote for one hundred years. Yet, her work and our work still is not done. Her goal was not Women’s Suffrage, it was Human Suffrage. Every time I cast a vote that I could not have cast if it were not for the pain of suffering of my cousin Susan Anthony and all of the other heroines, I keep this cause in mind.
The Surnames that connect me to my cousin are Sapp, Shuman, Yoho, Morris, Loudenslager, Ingram, Letham, Downes, Clarke, Hicks, and Anthony. Though Susan B. Anthony had no children in a very real way we are all her legacy and as she would say, women who still uphold her ideas are her nieces.
It is the idea that failure is impossible that connects me to this strong woman more than a list of surnames.