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Susan B. Anthony and Antigone

Sloane Warner, Marketing Manager

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Two weeks ago, on February 15, it would have been Susan B. Anthony’s 197th birthday.  On March 13, it will be the 111th anniversary of this prominent women’s rights activist’s death.  According to the Susan B. Anthony House, Susan B. Anthony grew up in a Quaker family with traditions of activism, which prompted her to become involved with many social rights causes.  While she is most well known for her work in women’s rights, Anthony also worked to abolish slavery, to have coeducation in schools, and to create Workingwomen’s Associations.  

On November 18, 1872, Susan B. Anthony was arrested on the charge of voting without a lawful right to vote.  She had, nine days earlier, voted for members of the U.S. House of Representatives.  Anthony had never anticipated actually voting.  She had gone to vote with the expectation of being denied and would consequently sue based on the Fourteenth Amendment.  It was the belief of the National Woman Suffrage Association that the Fourteenth Amendment, which outlined citizenship in the U.S., protected a woman’s right to vote.  Two Republican inspectors of the election, who had allowed the women to vote were arrested as well.  They were the principal witnesses in the trial against Susan B. Anthony.  The jury for Anthony’s case was made up of twelve men.  Anthony was denied a trial by jury, as one of the opposing lawyers stated that a trial by jury “exists only in respect of a disputed fact.”  According to the Federal Judicial Center, Anthony gave “the most famous speech on the history of agitation for women suffrage” during the end of her retrial.  She spoke about how her trial had been based on laws made by men, and that she failed to get a trial by jury.  Anthony was sentenced to pay a fine of $100 and the costs of the prosecution.

Fourteen other women were arrested for the same crime as Anthony, Anthony’s trial was the most publicized.  These women all voted with the sole purpose of testing the limits of the Fourteenth and Fifteenth Amendments.  Both amendments concerned citizens’ rights and the women wanted to find out how the new amendments had affected women’s rights.  They worked to change the laws of society in order to have equal rights and treatment for women.  

March 8 is the International Women’s Day of 2017.  The organization is calling for people to #BeBoldForChange with women’s rights.  They want to create a “more inclusive, gender equal world,” which is what Susan B. Anthony strived to achieve in her life. Women can challenge the gender bias in the world in five ways; challenging bias and authority, campaigning against violence, forging advancement, celebrating achievement, and championing education.  The organization has created events across the world to promote women’s rights on International Women’s Day.  

This year, all tenth grade “Reading the World” classes read the classic play, “Antigone,” to begin the semester.  The play “Antigone” has a recurring theme of femininity.  Throughout the play, it is obvious that Antigone is struggling a patriarchal society.  Creon, the leader expects that the criminal be a man, and when he finds out that it was a woman, Antigone, he is surprised and scared.  His reaction to Antigone’s actions is revealing of how he feels.  “No woman, while I live, shall order me,” is how he responds to her arrest and explanation of her actions.  Antigone unwittingly challenges the male authority figure in her society, while her intention was only to honor her brother.  While Susan B. Anthony’s intent was to challenge the male authorities in our country, she did it out of her belief in what was right, just like Antigone.  Both women committed their crimes based on their personal morals and beliefs, not on the law of the land.

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