Narrative Summary of Susan B. Anthony


I was born into a Quaker family and raised with a strong sense of justice and equality. As a child, I was fascinated by the workings of my father’s cotton mill and longed to be involved in the business, which ultimately influenced my later career choices. My early exposure to the injustices of slavery and the limited opportunities for women fueled my desire to advocate for social reform.

I became involved in the temperance movement, founding women’s temperance societies and making speeches advocating for a prohibition law. My initial interest in women’s rights solidified at a woman’s rights convention in Syracuse in 1852. I soon began organizing woman’s rights conventions and campaigning for property rights for married women.

My focus shifted to abolitionism in the 1850s, working as an agent for the American Antislavery Society. I traveled tirelessly throughout New York State, speaking out against slavery and advocating for “No Union with Slaveholders.” The tragic death of John Brown in 1859 further fueled my abolitionist fervor.

With the outbreak of the Civil War, I continued to fight for the emancipation of slaves and for the implementation of the Emancipation Proclamation. I organized the Women’s National Loyal League, which circulated petitions demanding the end of slavery.

While I was committed to abolition, I never stopped advocating for women’s rights. I was deeply frustrated by the exclusion of women from the Fourteenth Amendment and by the subsequent passage of the Fifteenth Amendment, which enfranchised men of color but not women.

I founded the Woman’s Suffrage Association of America and began publishing my own newspaper, The Revolution, which championed women’s rights and labor rights. I was arrested and tried for voting in 1872, but this only reinforced my commitment to the cause.

In the decades that followed, I continued to speak, write, and organize, tirelessly promoting woman suffrage. My efforts culminated in the formation of the National American Woman Suffrage Association, which successfully campaigned for the Nineteenth Amendment, granting women the right to vote.

Main parts:

  • Quaker Heritage: This section describes my childhood and upbringing in a Quaker family, which instilled in me a strong sense of justice and equality.
  • Widening Horizons: This section explores my early career as a teacher and my growing interest in abolition and women’s rights.
  • Freedom to Speak: This section details my first public speaking engagements on temperance and my involvement in the women’s rights movement.
  • A Purse of Her Own: This section describes my campaign for property rights for married women and my first experiences with opposition and prejudice.
  • No Union with Slaveholders: This section focuses on my deep involvement in the abolitionist movement and my commitment to “No Union with Slaveholders.”
  • The True Woman: This section explores my views on women’s roles and responsibilities and my advocacy for coeducation and equal rights.
  • The Zealot: This section highlights my commitment to the antislavery movement during the turbulent years leading up to the Civil War.
  • A War for Freedom: This section chronicles my activism during the Civil War, including my work with the Women’s National Loyal League and my efforts to push for emancipation.
  • The Negro’s Hour: This section describes my continued fight for racial equality and my frustration with the limited scope of the Fourteenth and Fifteenth Amendments.
  • Times that Tried Women’s Souls: This section details the growing divisions within the women’s rights movement and the challenges of establishing a united front.
  • The One Word of the Hour: This section highlights the founding of The Revolution, my newspaper, and my ongoing work to promote women’s rights and labor rights.
  • The Inadequate Fifteenth Amendment: This section discusses my opposition to the Fifteenth Amendment and my advocacy for a Sixteenth Amendment, which would explicitly guarantee suffrage for women.
  • A New Slant on the Fourteenth Amendment: This section describes my shift in strategy toward claiming women’s voting rights under the Fourteenth Amendment.
  • Testing the Fourteenth Amendment: This section details my arrest and trial for voting in 1872 and my subsequent legal battles.
  • “Is It a Crime for a Citizen…to Vote?”: This section provides a detailed account of my trial and its aftermath.
  • Social Purity: This section explores my views on social reform, particularly in relation to prostitution and the double standard of morality.
  • A Federal Woman Suffrage Amendment: This section highlights my ongoing efforts to secure a federal amendment guaranteeing women’s right to vote.
  • Recording Women’s History: This section describes my collaboration with Elizabeth Cady Stanton and Matilda Joslyn Gage on the History of Woman Suffrage.
  • Impetus from the West: This section discusses the growing momentum for woman suffrage in the West.
  • Victories in the West: This section chronicles the successes of woman suffrage in Wyoming, Colorado, Utah, and Idaho.
  • Liquor Interests Alert Foreign-Born Voters Against Woman Suffrage: This section explores the growing opposition to women’s suffrage from liquor interests and their efforts to mobilize immigrant voters.
  • Aunt Susan and Her Girls: This section examines the evolving leadership within the National American Woman Suffrage Association and the relationships Susan developed with her younger colleagues.
  • Passing on the Torch: This section describes Susan’s efforts to prepare the next generation of suffragists for the task ahead, highlighting her vision for the future of the movement.
  • Susan B. Anthony of the World: This section recounts Susan’s final years and her efforts to establish an International Woman Suffrage Alliance, which ultimately laid the groundwork for global suffrage movements.

View on Life:

  • Equality for All: Susan B. Anthony believed in the inherent equality of all individuals, regardless of race or gender. She saw the struggle for women’s rights as integral to the broader struggle for justice and freedom.
  • Strength in Action: Susan believed that progress is not achieved through passive acceptance or resignation, but through persistent action and advocacy. She never hesitated to challenge injustice, even when it meant facing ridicule or persecution.
  • The Power of the Ballot: Susan saw the ballot as the most essential tool for achieving equality and securing the rights of women. She believed that women’s participation in the political process was crucial to improving social conditions and creating a just society.
  • A World Without Barriers: Susan envisioned a world without barriers of race or gender, where all individuals were recognized as equal citizens. She believed that the rights of women were inextricably linked to the broader movement for human rights.


  • The Cotton Mill: As a child, Susan observes the skilled labor of Sally Ann Hyatt, a weaver in her father’s cotton mill, and questions why she is not made overseer. This event foreshadows her later fight for women’s economic equality.
  • The Wedding of a Quaker: Susan’s father breaks Quaker tradition by marrying her mother, who is not a Quaker. This event reflects his independent spirit and foreshadows Susan’s own defiance of traditional norms.
  • The Daughters of Temperance: Susan speaks at a temperance meeting, challenging women to take a leading role in the movement. This marks her early foray into public speaking and social activism.
  • The Albany Convention: Susan attends a woman’s rights convention in Albany and presents petitions calling for property rights for married women and woman suffrage. This event highlights the growing momentum for women’s rights.
  • The Bloody Struggle in Kansas: Susan’s brother, Merritt, joins the fight for free-state settlers in Kansas, witnessing firsthand the violence and brutality of the proslavery faction.
  • The Arrest of John Brown: Susan is profoundly affected by the arrest and execution of John Brown, a militant abolitionist who was a martyr to the cause of freedom.
  • The Mobs of 1861: Susan and her fellow abolitionists are confronted with violence and hostility as they speak out against slavery during the tumultuous years leading up to the Civil War.
  • The Women’s National Loyal League: Susan and Elizabeth Cady Stanton organize the Women’s National Loyal League, mobilizing women to advocate for emancipation during the Civil War.
  • The Fourteenth Amendment: Susan and Elizabeth Cady Stanton are deeply disappointed when the Fourteenth Amendment is passed without enfranchisement for women.
  • The Trial of Susan B. Anthony: Susan is arrested and tried for voting in 1872. Her trial becomes a pivotal moment in the fight for woman suffrage.
  • The “Social Evil”: Susan delivers a controversial lecture on “Social Purity,” addressing the issues of prostitution and the double standard of morality, advocating for women’s economic independence and the need for societal change.
  • The Centennial Exposition: Susan and her colleagues stage a bold protest at the Centennial Exposition, presenting a Declaration of Rights to Vice President Ferry.
  • The International Council of Women: Susan organizes and presides over the first International Council of Women in 1888, bringing together women from around the world to advocate for their rights.
  • The Battle for Woman Suffrage in the West: Susan campaigns for woman suffrage in Kansas, Colorado, and California, facing fierce opposition from liquor interests and politicians.
  • The National American Woman Suffrage Association: Susan guides and mentors her younger colleagues as they build and strengthen the National American Woman Suffrage Association, advocating for both state and federal woman suffrage amendments.
  • The Triumph of the Nineteenth Amendment: Susan celebrates the passage of the Nineteenth Amendment, which finally grants women the right to vote in the United States.


  • Economic Dependence: Susan struggles to break free from the financial limitations imposed on women in her society. She faces low wages and limited opportunities in her work as a teacher.
  • Opposition from Men: Susan encounters resistance from men who believe that women should not be involved in public life or politics. She faces ridicule and prejudice for her views and her actions.
  • Divisions within the Movement: Susan faces challenges in uniting various factions of the women’s rights and abolitionist movements. She struggles to maintain a cohesive vision and strategy for the cause.
  • Prejudice and Violence: Susan confronts violence and hostility from mobs, often during her work as an abolitionist.
  • Political Backsliding: Susan is repeatedly frustrated by the reluctance of politicians and political parties to embrace the cause of woman suffrage.
  • The “Woman Question”: Susan faces criticism and hostility for her views on marriage, sex, and social purity, particularly as these issues challenge traditional norms and expectations.


  • Susan B. Anthony versus the Status Quo: Susan challenges the prevailing social, political, and legal structures that limit women’s opportunities and rights. She confronts established power structures and seeks to dismantle them.
  • Susan B. Anthony versus the Republican Party: Susan is deeply critical of the Republican party’s reluctance to embrace full equality for women, even as it champions the cause of Negro suffrage. She challenges the party’s compromises and its political maneuvering.
  • Susan B. Anthony versus Her Critics: Susan confronts a wide range of critics, including prominent men and women who oppose her views and her methods. She endures ridicule, defamation, and accusations of being too radical.
  • Susan B. Anthony versus Her Fellow Suffragists: Susan experiences conflict and division within the women’s suffrage movement itself, particularly over the issue of the Fifteenth Amendment and the best strategy for achieving women’s rights.


  • Early Years: The early chapters of Susan’s life are marked by her upbringing in a Quaker family and her initial interest in both the cotton industry and the injustices of slavery.
  • Emergence as an Activist: Susan’s involvement in temperance and women’s rights movements sets the stage for her activism and leadership.
  • The Antislavery Crusade: The 1850s witness Susan’s deep commitment to abolition, culminating in her work as an agent for the American Antislavery Society.
  • The Civil War Era: The Civil War brings a shift in Susan’s focus as she works tirelessly for emancipation and organizes the Women’s National Loyal League.
  • Post-Civil War: The post-war years see Susan’s frustration with the limited scope of the Fourteenth and Fifteenth Amendments, leading to her founding of the Woman’s Suffrage Association of America and her publication of The Revolution.
  • The Arrest and Trial: Susan’s arrest and trial for voting in 1872 marks a pivotal point in her life and a significant moment in the fight for woman suffrage.
  • A Long Campaign: The latter half of Susan’s life is dedicated to tireless campaigning for a federal woman suffrage amendment, through speaking, writing, and organizing.
  • The Triumph of the Nineteenth Amendment: Susan lives to see the passage of the Nineteenth Amendment, but not to witness its ratification, which marks a culmination of her lifelong work.

Point of View:

Susan B. Anthony’s perspective is that of a dedicated feminist and abolitionist who believes in the inherent equality of all individuals. Her personal experiences with discrimination and injustice shape her views. She writes from a first-person perspective, which allows the reader to experience the challenges and triumphs of her life and work through her eyes.

How it’s written:

Susan’s narrative is characterized by a straightforward, conversational style, often using dashes in place of punctuation. She writes with a sense of urgency and determination, conveying her passion for social justice and her unwavering commitment to women’s rights. Her language is often forceful and direct, reflecting her willingness to challenge established norms and power structures.

Example from text:

“I shall earnestly and persistently continue to urge all women to the practical recognition of the old revolutionary maxim that ‘Resistance to tyranny is obedience to God.’” (page 213)


The tone of the biography is earnest and determined, reflecting Susan B. Anthony’s strong commitment to her cause. The narrative is infused with a sense of hope and optimism, even in the face of significant challenges. There is a clear sense of frustration and indignation towards those who oppose her views and deny women their rights.

Life choices:

  • Remaining Single: Susan chooses to devote her life to the cause of women’s rights and suffrage, foregoing marriage and traditional domestic roles. She believes that her work for women is her greatest calling.
  • Embracing the Struggle: Susan chooses to confront the difficulties and opposition she faces, rather than retreating to a more comfortable life. She sees the struggle for equality as a moral imperative.
  • Embracing Change: Susan is open to new ideas and approaches, continually adapting her strategies and methods to meet the challenges of the times.


  • The Power of Persistence: Susan’s life demonstrates the importance of unwavering commitment and persistence in the face of adversity. She never gives up on her fight for women’s rights, even in the face of setbacks and failures.
  • The Importance of Principled Action: Susan’s life teaches that it is our duty to speak out against injustice and work to create a more just society. She demonstrates that progress can be achieved through courageous and principled action.
  • The Power of Unity: Susan’s experience highlights the need for women to stand united and to support each other in their fight for equality. She recognizes that the collective strength of women is vital to achieving their goals.
  • The Importance of Advocacy: Susan’s life illustrates the importance of advocacy in promoting change. She demonstrates that individuals can have a profound impact on history through their willingness to speak truth to power and to fight for a better world.


  • Susan B. Anthony: A tireless advocate for women’s rights and suffrage. She is a strong-willed, determined woman, known for her intelligence, courage, and unwavering commitment to her cause.
  • Elizabeth Cady Stanton: Susan’s closest friend and a fellow suffragist. She is known for her brilliant mind, her eloquence as a speaker, and her radical feminist views.
  • Lucy Stone: Another prominent figure in the women’s rights movement. She is known for her eloquence, her strong convictions, and her commitment to women’s equality.
  • Wendell Phillips: A leading abolitionist and a strong supporter of women’s rights. He is known for his fiery speeches and his unwavering commitment to justice.
  • Frederick Douglass: A powerful voice in the abolitionist movement and a champion of equality for both women and men of color.


  • Equality: The central theme of Susan B. Anthony’s life is the pursuit of equality for all individuals, regardless of race or gender.
  • Social Justice: Susan’s life is a testament to the power of individuals to work for social justice and to challenge the status quo.
  • The Power of the Ballot: The importance of the ballot as a tool for achieving equality and securing the rights of women is a recurring theme.
  • The Importance of Education: Susan B. Anthony recognized that education was essential for women’s empowerment and advancement.
  • The Power of Perseverance: Susan B. Anthony’s life exemplifies the importance of tenacity, commitment, and perseverance in achieving social change.


  • Equal Rights: The belief that all individuals are entitled to equal rights and opportunities regardless of race or gender.
  • Democracy and Citizen Participation: The belief that all citizens should have a voice in government and the right to participate in the political process.
  • Justice for All: Susan B. Anthony believed that justice should be accessible to all individuals, regardless of their race, gender, or social status.

Intentions of the characters in the text or the reader of the text:

  • Susan B. Anthony: Susan B. Anthony was driven by a strong sense of justice and a deep commitment to the liberation of women. She aimed to change the laws and social structures that limited women’s rights and opportunities.
  • The Reader: The biography aims to educate the reader about the life and work of Susan B. Anthony, inspiring them to understand the importance of the fight for women’s rights and to appreciate the legacy of this influential figure.

Unique Vocabulary:

  • “The True Woman”: Susan B. Anthony’s vision for a woman who is empowered, independent, and free to pursue her own goals and aspirations.
  • “The One Word of the Hour”: This phrase refers to the urgent need for woman suffrage and the importance of advocating for women’s political rights.
  • “Aunt Susan”: A term of affection used by many women who admired and respected Susan B. Anthony.
  • “My Girls”: A term of endearment that Susan used to refer to her younger colleagues in the suffrage movement.
  • “The Old Guard”: A reference to the early pioneers of the women’s rights movement, many of whom were Susan B. Anthony’s close friends and allies.


  • The Story of Sally Ann Hyatt: Susan’s observation as a child of Sally Ann Hyatt, a skilled weaver who was not promoted to overseer, highlights the unfairness of gender-based limitations in the workplace.
  • The Burning of Lawrence: Susan’s brother, Merritt, witnesses firsthand the violence against free-state settlers in Kansas, which highlights the brutality of the proslavery faction.
  • John Brown’s Raid: Susan’s admiration for John Brown and her commitment to the abolitionist cause are underscored by her efforts to honor his memory and to advocate for his cause.
  • The Arrest and Trial: Susan’s arrest and trial for voting in 1872 provide a dramatic narrative of her commitment to testing the limits of the law and challenging the status quo.
  • The “Social Evil” Lecture: Susan’s lecture on “Social Purity” sheds light on the complex issues of prostitution and the double standard of morality, demonstrating her commitment to addressing social problems and her willingness to speak out against injustice.
  • The Centennial Exposition: Susan’s bold action at the Centennial Exposition, where she presents a Declaration of Rights to the Vice President, highlights her audacious spirit and her determination to claim women’s rights.
  • The International Council of Women: Susan’s leadership in organizing and presiding over the International Council of Women in 1888 marks a significant moment in the global movement for women’s rights.
  • The Battle for Woman Suffrage in the West: Susan’s campaigning for woman suffrage in Kansas and California, despite facing fierce opposition, showcases her tenacity and her belief in the power of grassroots activism.
  • Susan B. Anthony’s Legacy: The story of the Nineteenth Amendment and the triumph of woman suffrage in the United States, although Susan B. Anthony did not live to see it, provides a powerful testament to her life’s work.


  • The Inherent Equality of All Individuals: Susan B. Anthony’s belief in the inherent equality of all individuals regardless of race or gender is a central idea that drives her activism.
  • The Right to Vote as a Fundamental Human Right: Susan B. Anthony argues that the right to vote is essential for true citizenship and that women should have the same rights as men in the political sphere.
  • Women’s Economic Independence: Susan recognizes that women’s economic independence is essential for their empowerment and that this can only be achieved through equal pay for equal work, expanded opportunities in the workplace, and access to education and training.
  • The Importance of Social Reform: Susan advocates for a more just and equitable society, addressing issues such as prostitution, poverty, and labor rights.
  • The Potential of Women in Government: Susan believes that women have the capacity and the right to participate in government and to shape public policy.

Facts and findings:

  • The 1860 Married Woman’s Property Law: Susan B. Anthony campaigned for and helped secure the passage of the 1860 Married Woman’s Property Law in New York State, which gave married women control over their earnings and property.
  • The Thirteenth Amendment: The Thirteenth Amendment abolished slavery in the United States.
  • The Fourteenth Amendment: The Fourteenth Amendment defined citizenship and guaranteed the equal protection of the law for all individuals born in the United States.
  • The Fifteenth Amendment: The Fifteenth Amendment granted the right to vote to men of color.
  • The Nineteenth Amendment: The Nineteenth Amendment granted women the right to vote in the United States in 1920.
  • The Supreme Court Decision in Minor vs. Happersett: The Supreme Court ruled in 1875 that the Constitution did not confer the right of suffrage on women.


  • Four Million Slaves: Susan B. Anthony notes the presence of 4 million slaves in the United States in her speeches and writings, highlighting the scale of the injustice of slavery.
  • 20,000 Prostitutes in New York City: Susan B. Anthony cites this statistic in her lectures on social purity, illustrating the magnitude of the problem of prostitution and the need for social reform.
  • 500,000 Members of the Women’s Christian Temperance Union: This statistic demonstrates the growing power of the W.C.T.U., which Susan recognized as a significant force in the fight for women’s rights.

Points of view:

  • Susan B. Anthony’s Perspective: Susan B. Anthony writes from the perspective of a dedicated feminist and abolitionist. She is deeply committed to the cause of women’s suffrage and believes that women deserve the same rights and opportunities as men.
  • The View of the Critics: Many people opposed Susan B. Anthony’s views and her methods. They believed that women should not be involved in public life and politics and that their focus should be on domesticity.
  • The Perspective of Her Fellow Suffragists: Susan B. Anthony’s fellow suffragists often disagreed on the best strategy for achieving woman suffrage. Some were more willing to compromise and to work with political parties, while others, like Susan, favored a more independent and militant approach.


The biography of Susan B. Anthony provides a powerful perspective on the fight for women’s rights and suffrage in the United States. It sheds light on the social, political, and legal structures that limited women’s opportunities and rights and on the challenges that women faced in overcoming those limitations. The biography also highlights the evolution of the women’s suffrage movement and the important role that Susan B. Anthony played in achieving its ultimate victory.

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