Elizabeth Cady Stanton, seated, and Susan B. Anthony, standing, three-quarter length portrait
In 1869, Anthony and Elizabeth Cady Stanton founded the National Woman's Suffrage Association (NWSA), an organization dedicated to gaining women's suffrage. Anthony was vice-president-at-large of the NWSA from the date of its organization until 1892, when she became president.
In the early years of the NWSA, Anthony made many attempts to unite women in the labor movement with the suffragist cause, but with little success. She and Stanton were delegates at the 1868 convention of the National Labor Union. However, Anthony inadvertently alienated the labor movement not only because suffrage was seen as a concern for middle-class rather than working-class women, but because she openly encouraged women to achieve economic independence by entering the printing trades, where male workers were on strike at the time. Anthony was later expelled from the National Labor Union over this controversy.
In 1890, Anthony orchestrated the merger of the NWSA with the more moderate American Woman Suffrage Association (AWSA), creating the National American Woman Suffrage Association (NAWSA). Prior to the controversial merge, Anthony had created a special NWSA executive committee to vote on whether they should merge with the AWSA, despite the fact that using a committee instead of an all-member vote went against the NWSA constitution. Motions to make it possible for members to vote by mail were strenuously opposed by Anthony and her adherents, and the committee was stacked with members who favored the merger. (Two members who voted against the merger were asked to resign).
Anthony's pursuit of alliances with moderate suffragists created long-lasting tension between herself and more radical suffragists like Stanton. Stanton openly criticized Anthony's stance, writing that Anthony and AWSA leader Lucy Stone "see suffrage only. They do not see woman's religious and social bondage." Anthony responded to Stanton: "We number over ten thousand women and each one has opinions ... and we can only hold them together to work for the ballot by letting alone their whims and prejudices on other subjects!"
The creation of the NAWSA effectively marginalized the more radical elements within the women's movement, including Stanton. Anthony pushed for Stanton to be voted in as the first NAWSA president, and stood by her as Stanton was belittled by the large factions of less-radical members within the new organization.
In collaboration with Stanton, Matilda Joslyn Gage, and Ida Husted Harper, Anthony published The History of Woman Suffrage (4 vols., New York, 1884–1887). Anthony also befriended Josephine Brawley Hughes, an advocate of women's rights and Prohibition in Arizona, and Carrie Chapman Catt, whom Anthony endorsed for the presidency of the NAWSA when Anthony formally retired in 1900.
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