The dedicated Anthony will bear the expense of doing so “out of my own pocket”
Susan B. Anthony and Elizabeth Cady Stanton initiated the project of writing a history of the women’s suffrage movement in 1876. The result, “The History of Woman Suffrage”, was a landmark work that serves as a moving testament to what intelligent, courageous, and committed individuals can accomplish when they join together to...
Susan B. Anthony and Elizabeth Cady Stanton initiated the project of writing a history of the women’s suffrage movement in 1876. The result, “The History of Woman Suffrage”, was a landmark work that serves as a moving testament to what intelligent, courageous, and committed individuals can accomplish when they join together to accomplish a great goal. Producing this history, which was ultimately a four volume set of books, dominated Anthony’s life for much of the next decade. It was written and published during the heat of battle, and the preface notes that some women’s rights activists felt it was too soon to publish the history of a movement that was still working to attain its objective. But Anthony, Stanton, and their co-author Matilda J. Gage, were determined to capture the words and insights of their contemporaries in the movement while they were still living. Today the work is an extraordinary primary resource.
In the introduction the authors wrote of their intentions: “We hope the contribution we have made may enable some other hand in the future to write a more complete history of ‘the most momentous reform that has yet been launched on the world—the first organized protest against the injustice which has brooded over the character and destiny of one-half the human race.” Volumes 1 through 3 of the magnum opus were written by Anthony, Elizabeth Cady Stanton, and Gage. Volume 1 covered the early period of the women’s rights struggle from 1848-1861; Volume 2 covered the period from 1861-1876; and Volume 3 covered the period from 1876-1885. The fourth volume, written by Anthony and Ida H. Harper, did not come out until 1902.
In 1882, the legislature of Nebraska considered a woman suffrage amendment. The proposal was to submit the question of women’s suffrage to the voters. The women of that state called upon the National Association for assistance, and in September Anthony left Rochester and went west. She spoke before women’s suffrage conventions and other organizations throughout the state, urging passage of the amendment and promoting her organization and her books. Clara Colby founded the “Women’s Tribune” in Nebraska in 1883, later moving the paper to Washington where it became the country’s leading women’s suffrage periodical. Being the leader of the suffrage movement in Nebraska, she also made several speeches supporting the bill.
D.F. Davis was a noted editor in Nebraska, owning the Silver Creek Sand, Schuyler Herald, Columbus Democrat and the Columbus Telegram. He was postmaster at Columbus in 1894-6. His wife was active in the suffrage movement in her state.
Autograph letter signed, on her National Woman Suffrage Association letterhead, Rochester, N.Y., March 20, 1887, to Mrs. Davis, seeking to disseminate her book and paying for this herself. “How well I remember the night in that new and lovely house with you & your sister in that memorable campaign of 1882. And I have not forgotten my pledge to persons & audiences that [if they] gave $10 or more to the campaign fund that I would – out of my own pocket – present a set of the History of Woman Suffrage. I have had Vol. III ready to send to you to place in your book case by the side of Vols. I& II, which you had or ought to have had in 1882. Then the audience gave a collection of $11.14 hence I must have given a set of the History to your public library, & if so the library wants a Vol. III also.
“I hope to hear from you very soon & the minute I get your letter the books shall go as you order. With many pleasant memories…Susan B. Anthony.” She then adds a P.S. “Do get some of your city girls and boys to canvass for subscribers for The Woman’s Tribune – and send on the $20 & 20 addresses to Mrs. Colby, and she will at once send order to me to send them a set of the History. S.B.A.”
This letter shows the diligence with which Anthony sought to circulate her books and her message, even bearing the expense of doing so herself.
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