People in America, a program in
Special English on the Voice of America.
eighteen fifties, women in the United States began to try to gain the same
rights as men. One woman was a leader in the campaign to gain women the right
to vote. I'm Stan Busby.
And I'm Shirley Griffith. Today
we tell about a fighter for rights for women, Susan B. Anthony.
In seventeen seventy-six, a new
nation declared its freedom from Britain. The Declaration of Independence was
the document written to express the reasons for seeking that freedom. It stated
that all men were created equal. It said that all men had the right to life,
liberty, and the pursuit of happiness.
Not every citizen of the new
United States of America had one important right, however. That was the right
to vote. At first, the only people permitted to vote in the United States were
white men who owned property and could read. By eighteen sixty, most white male
citizens over the age of twenty-one had the right to vote.
Fourteenth and Fifteenth amendments to the Constitution gave black male
citizens the right to vote. These amendments were passed in eighteen
sixty-eight and eighteen seventy.
Women were not really full
citizens in America in the eighteen hundreds. They had no economic
example, everything a woman owned when she got married belonged to her husband.
If a married woman worked, the money she made belonged to her husband. In
addition, women had no political power. They did not have the right to vote.
eighteen fifties, women organized in an effort to gain voting rights. Their
campaign was called the women's suffrage movement. Suffrage means the right to
vote. American women sought to gain that right for more than seventy years.
One of the leaders of the
movement was Susan B. Anthony of Massachusetts. Miss Anthony was a teacher. She
believed that women needed economic and personal independence. She also
believed that there was no hope for social improvement in the United States
until women were given the same rights as men. The rights included the right to
vote in public elections.
Susan B. Anthony was born in
eighteen twenty. Her parents were members of the Quaker religion. She became
one, too. The Quakers believed that the rights of women should be honored. They
were the first religious group where women shared the leadership with men.
As a young woman, Susan had
strong beliefs about justice and equality for women and for black people. And
she was quick to speak out against what she believed was not just.
young men wanted to marry her. But she could not consider marrying a man who
was not as intelligent as she. She once said: "I can never understand why
intelligent girls should want to marry fools just to get married. Many are
willing to do so. But I am not. "
meet some young men who were intelligent. But it always seemed that they
expected women to be their servants, not their equals.
Susan B. Anthony became a school
teacher in New York state. She realized that women could never become full
citizens without some political power. They could never get such power until
they got the right to vote. She went from town to town in New York state trying
to get women interested in their right to vote. But they did not seem
interested. Miss Anthony felt this was because women were not able to do
anything for themselves. They had no money or property of their own. The
struggle seemed long and hard. She said:
"As I went from town to
town, I understood more and more the evil we must fight. The evil is that women
cannot change anything as long as they must depend on men for their very lives.
Women cannot change anything until they themselves are independent. They cannot
be free until they have the legal right to own property and to keep the money
they make by working."
Miss Anthony went to every city,
town and village in New York state. She organized meetings in schools,
churches, and public places. Everywhere she went, she carried pamphlets urging
rights for women.
urged the lawmakers of New York to change the state law and give women the
right to own property. Her campaign in New York failed at that time. But
elsewhere the struggle for women's rights was making progress.
In eighteen fifty-one, Susan B.
Anthony met Elizabeth Cady Stanton. Missus Stanton also supported equal rights
for women. Missus Stanton had many children. She needed to remain at home to
raise her large family. Miss Anthony, however, was not married. She was free to
travel, to speak, and to organize for the women's rights movement. The two women
cooperated in leading the fight to gain rights for women in the United States.
first important success came in eighteen sixty when New York finally approved a
married woman's law. For the first time in New York, a married woman could own
property. And, she had a right to the money she was paid for work she did.
Miss Anthony's campaign was beginning to show results. The campaign spread to
The end of the American Civil
War in eighteen sixty-five freed Negroes from slavery. Susan B. Anthony felt
that there was still much to be done to get full freedom -- for Negroes and
also for women. She began to campaign for the right for Negroes and women to
Fourteenth Amendment to the United States Constitution was approved in eighteen
sixty-eight. It gave Negro men the right to vote. But it did not give women the
right to vote.
Susan B. Anthony led efforts to
have voting rights for women included in the Fourteenth Amendment to the Constitution.
Her efforts were not successful. Then Miss Anthony decided to test the legal
basis of the Fourteenth Amendment. She did this during the presidential
election of eighteen seventy-two.
election day, Miss Anthony led a group of women to vote in Rochester, New York.
Two weeks later, Miss Anthony was arrested. She was charged with voting
although she had no legal right to do so.
Before her trial, Susan B.
Anthony traveled around New York state. She spoke to many groups about the
injustice of denying women the right to vote. She said:
"Our democratic, republican
government is based on the idea that every person shall have a voice and a vote
in making the laws and putting them to work. It is we, the people -- all the
people -- not just white men or men only, who formed this nation. We formed it
to get liberty not just for half of us -- not just for half of our children --
but for all, for women as well as men.
the right to vote a necessary right of citizens? To my mind, it is a most
important right. Without it, all other rights are nothing. "
Susan B. Anthony was tried and
found guilty of violating the law. She was ordered to pay one hundred dollars
as a punishment. She said the law was wrong. She refused to pay.
Anthony then led efforts to gain voting rights for women through a new
amendment to the Constitution. She traveled across the country to campaign for
such an amendment until she was seventy-five years old. In nineteen-oh-four,
she spoke to a committee of the United States Senate for the last time. The
committee was discussing the proposal for an amendment to the Constitution
giving women the right to vote. She knew the victory would come. But she also
knew it would not come while she was alive.
Susan B. Anthony died in
nineteen-oh-six at the age of eighty-six. Thirteen years later, in nineteen
nineteen, Congress passed the Nineteenth Amendment to the Constitution. The
amendment stated that the right to vote shall not be denied because of a
amendment had to be approved by three-fourths of the states. It won final
approval on August twenty-sixth, nineteen twenty. It was called the Anthony
Amendment, to honor Susan B. Anthony.
This Special English program was
written by Shelley Gollust. It was produced by Lawan Davis. I'm Stan Busby.
And I'm Shirley Griffith. Join
us again next week for another People in America program on the Voice of