“I AM SORRY THAT OUR WORK FOR EQUAL RIGHTS FOR WOMEN COMES IN COLLISION WITH THE BIG RECEPTION – BUT THOSE EARNEST TO HELP IN THE CAUSE WILL GO TO OUR MEETING FIRST & TO THE RECEPTION LATER & SO TAKE IN BOTH…”
ANTHONY, SUSAN B. (1820-1906). American woman-suffrage advocate. Fine Autograph Letter Signed, “Susan B. Anthony”, on imprinted Woman Suffrage New York State Constitutional Convention letterhead. Four very full pages, octavo. Rochester, N.Y., Feb 3, 1894. Minor edge wear, else very fine condition. To Ms Hawkins. Anthony writes:
“My Dear Ms Hawkins, Yours of yesterday is here – The Express upon your package – was prepaid here – and my sister will tell the agent here & he will make it right at your end of the line & your express man will re-pay the sum. The unbusiness way was not with my sister Mary S Anthony – who sends out the packages, but with the men or a man – connected with the Express Co – for she has paid the Johnstown Expressage. The clerks here troubled you because they understood from Ms Wooden that you would look after posting the bills & doing the local advertis – in addition to what is done in town. Our clerks send a poster to every society & every person in the county whose name they can get – they try to inform every granger, every army relief – every town person man & woman by a poster and trails. I know you’ll believe all was meant well here and will continue to aid us all you can – notwithstanding the blunder. I shall leave here on the 6:50 AM train Monday – which will enable me to reach Johnstown or rather Fonda at 12:47 – so that if you can get a car to Johnstown direct – I shall get there by 1 o’clock PM – and shall go to the Hotel – the best one if I can learn which it is on my arrival. I am grateful for all you have done & am sure you will still do all you can to make the meetings a grand success – I am sorry that our work for equal rights for women comes in collision with the big reception – but those earnest to help in the cause will go to our meeting first & to the reception later & so take in both – Is it dear Margaret Muny [?] who has gone over the big river? I shall learn when I got to J – I remember Mrs Henry with whom I boarded in 1884 – & her good daughters. So sincerely and gratefully, Susan B. Anthony”.
Susan B Anthony and her fellow suffragists in New York, particularly her sister Mary S Anthony, worked tireless in preparation for the New York State Constitutional Convention. For over a year, these women conducted a campaign (based out of the home of Susan B Anthony’s sister, Mary) to demonstrate the support New York citizens had for the suffrage movement. Having raised $10,000, the organizers sent out petition forms to volunteers who canvassed the state for signatures to support an amendment to the state constitution. A pioneer suffragist in her own right, Mary Anthony sent out thousands of leaflets, posters, and petitions to the citizens of New York. While Mary attended to these matters, Susan was free to focus on addressing the meetings’ attendees and rallying additional support for the cause. Despite her advancing age of 74, Susan tirelessly managed to speak in every New York County. When the convention convened, the women garnered an early victory by securing the right of women delegates to sit on the convention committee. However, only one woman, Jean Brooks Greenleaf, a friend of Susan B Anthony and President of the New York State Suffrage Association, would be nominated as a delegate. On May 24, 1894, Anthony appeared before the suffrage committee to present her case. In her speech, Anthony built an impressive argument upon the historically charged notion that “taxation without representation” was morally wrong. In addition to gathering an impressive 593,544 signatures in support of women’s suffrage, Anthony’s supporters also gathered statistics to back up her “taxation without representation” claim. (Female property owners outside of New York City had paid a staggering $348 million dollars in property taxes!). Sadly, the suffrage committee appointed by the state to hear the suffragists’ arguments was largely composed of men opposed to the idea of woman suffrage. At the end of the convention in August, this largely male committee presented a report opposing the suffrage amendment and voted against extending the vote. Undaunted, Anthony once again presented her case one month later before the Republican and Democratic State Conventions. The life long dream of the Anthony sisters and their fellow suffragists would finally become a reality with the passage of the 19th amendment in 1920.