Rohse: She got things done

I’m ashamed.

We had been gone. When we walked in the front door, the first thing I saw on the little table in the entry was my ballot from the county clerk.

I’d forgotten to mail it before we left. Now it was too late.

I think perhaps the reason I felt so ashamed was because, just before we left, I’d been reading a lot about Susan B. Anthony — a woman who practically devoted her entire life to winning voting rights for women. And here I was, unable to even bestir myself enough to get my ballot into the mail.

I’m amazed at the effort, determination and planning Anthony devoted to her numerous causes. She become a famous suffragist because of her work in that and other causes.

She died in 1906, 14 years before passage of the 19th Amendment, the leading cause in her life. She died before women got the right to vote, and I couldn’t even get my ballot in the mail before the deadline.

I suspect that she could have. She worked herself to death through the tireless efforts she devoted to her goals.

In 1872, Anthony was arrested for voting. She was tried and fined $100.

This antagonized many people and brought national attention to the suffrage movement.

Almost 150 years later, then-President Donald Trump wanted to issue a pardon for her offense. The Anthony Museum was opposed, saying accepting a pardon would suggest she was guilty of a crime, when she believed she was not.

She led a protest at the 1876 centennial of our nation’s independence. Touring the country, she was constantly on stage, speaking to large gatherings.

She became famous for delivering her message urging women be given the right to vote. She became one of the most visible members of the national suffrage movement as she risked being arrested for sharing her ideas with the public.

Her family moved to New York. There, she enlisted friends of her father’s in the effort.

Her father, Daniel, owned a cotton mill. Many members of the family fought in the Revolutionary War and/or served in Massachusetts state government.

Anthony had seven brothers and sisters working for justice and emancipation of slaves. From early childhood, she became convinced she should become active in speaking against slavery. 

In 1848, a women’s convention was held in Seneca Falls, New York. Anthony’s mother, Lucy, attended with her and one of her sisters in tow.

That was the first Women’s Rights Convention in the United States. It helped launch the suffrage movement of which Susan B. Anthony became such an important part.

Anthony was not only a hard worker, but imbued with energy, drive, and determination. She possessed great organizational ability as well.

Anthony and a co-worker joined in founding the American Equal Rights Association in 1868. They acquired a newspaper, The Revolution, to help disseminate information about their projects.

Anthony was a plain person, not given to frills or geegaws.

Her hair must surely have never known a pin curl or permanent. But she kept it tidily brushed, with not a hair out of place.

Her clothes were simple and tailored. Her face was somewhat stern,  but not unpleasant.

If she looked to cosmetics, it was not evident in photographs. She was not a Betty Grable, but not unattractive either.

She apparently was not much interested in clothes. When dress reform advocates based their arguments on health, with a view to doing away with the crinolines, corsets and cage-like undershirts that characterized women’s fashions at the time, she passed up the opportunity to take her usual active role.

Anthony was not given to adornment of any type. She did not wear jewelry, or so it seemed from photographs.

She wore the same black dress in every photograph over a considerable period of time. Why not? It was a perfectly presentable dress.

As a child, she was said to have been precocious, learning to read and write by the age of 3.

She was born on Feb. 15, 1820. She died on March 15, 1906 of pneumonia and heart problems.

She was such a pioneer activist that her likeness was eventually celebrated on a U.S. coin. 

That explains why I was so ashamed when I couldn’t manage to get a ballot into the local mail.

She represents a great role model for all Americans, even those who can’t get nearly as much done as they would like. Our thanks go to her for all she has done.

Elaine Rohse can be reached at rohse5257@comcast.net.


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