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Susan B. Anthony: Failure is Impossible!

Susan B. AnthonyFailure is Impossible Susan B. Anthony was born on February 15, 1820 and over the next 86 years she became an American champion and leader of womens suffrage, active abolitionist and organizer of temperance unions. She was brought up in a Quaker family with long activist traditions. After teaching for fifteen years, she became active in the temperance movement but was never allowed to speak because she was a woman. Then in 1852, Susan B. started to work along side Elizabeth Cady Stanton to mobilize and lead women and men to work for the suffrage cause. Together they co-founded the National-American Woman Suffrage Association. Often Susan would stay with Elizabeth to plan strategy, the national speaking campaigns, and to speeches. With a clear vision, she faced, what seems to us in a world of rapid transportation and communication, insurmountable odds as she traveled throughout the United States, over and over, year after year. Once Susan wrote to Elizabeth, I have very weak momentsI sometimes fear that I too shall faint by the waysideand drop out of the ranks of the faithful few. There is so much, amid all that is so hopeful, to discourage & disheartenand I feel alone. Still to know I am not along, but that all the true & the good souls keep me company. Clearly they relied on their contemporary network! In another letter to Elizabeth she wrote in 1902 shortly after retiring as President of the NAWSA, We little dreamed when we began this contest, optimistic with the hope and buoyancy of youth, that half a century later we would be compelled to leave the finish of the battle to another generation of women. The strong women will take our place and complete our work. There is an army of them where we were but a handful. As leaders today, we too face challenges, although different from those Susan B. Anthony faced. Like her, we must stay the course toward our visions, mobilize and inspire our followers, and hold onto the belief that Failure is Impossible. Susan B. died in 1906, fourteen years before the Nineteenth Amendment finally passed on August 26, 1920. Today we honor her as a genuine hero who helped change for the better the lives of a majority of American citizenswomen. Learn more Failure is Impossible  Susan B. Anthony In Her Own Words by Lynn Sherr. New York: Times Books, 1995. (The two quotes above are from this excellent book.) History of the Suffrage Movement. Six volumes re-published by Arno and the New York Times in1969. Life and Work of Susan B. Anthony (three volumes) by Ida Husted Harper. New Hampshire: Ayer, 1983. Visit the Susan B. Anthony House and Visitors Center in Rochester, New York that 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.

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