In the U.S. Capitol Rotunda is a sculpture of women suffrage leaders Susan B. Anthony, Elizabeth Cady Stanton and Lucretia Mott.
Lucretia Mott was a noted Quaker minister praised by Frederick Douglass. She spoke at a Women’s Rights Convention in Philadelphia, Oct. 18, 1854, in front of a large audience which included supporters William Lloyd Garrison and her husband, Quaker leader James Mott, who founded the Pennsylvania Anti-Slavery Society. Lucretia Mott stated: “On the occasion of the first miracle which it is said Christ wrought, a woman went before Him and said, ‘Whatsoever he biddeth you do, that do.’ The woman of Samaria said, ‘Come and see the man who told me all the things that ever I did.’ … The very first act of note that is mentioned when the disciples and apostles went forth after Jesus was removed from them, was the bringing up of an ancient prophecy to prove that they were right in the position they assumed on that occasion, when men and women were gathered together on the holy day of Pentecost, when every man heard and saw those wonderful works which are recorded. Then Peter stood forth – some one has said that Peter made a great mistake in quoting the prophet Joel – but he stated that ‘the time is come, this day is fulfilled the prophecy, when it is said, I will pour out my spirit upon all flesh, and your sons and your daughters shall prophesy,’ etc. – the language of the Bible is beautiful in its repetition – ‘upon my servants and my handmaidens I will pour out my spirit and they shall prophesy.’ Now can anything be clearer than that?”
Lucretia Mott, who is featured on a U.S. Postage Stamp, advocated for women suffrage, stating Dec. 17, 1849: “The laws given on Mount Sinai for the government of man and woman were equal, the precepts of Jesus make no distinction. Those who read the Scriptures, and judge for themselves, not resting satisfied with the perverted application of the text, do not find the distinction, that theology and ecclesiastical authorities have made, in the condition of the sexes.”
Susan B. Anthony is depicted on a U.S. dollar coin, and on a 3-cent stamp.
Susan B. Anthony was raised a Quaker. Her father owned a cotton mill and refused to buy cotton from farmers who owned slaves. Susan B. Anthony’s religious upbringing instilled in her the concept that every one is equal before God and motivated her to crusade for freedom for slaves. After the Civil War, Susan B. Anthony worked hard for the passage of the 13th, 14th and 15th Amendments.
Opposing liquor, drunkenness and abortion, Susan encountered mobs, armed threats, objects thrown at her and was hung in effigy. Her efforts helped bring about the 18th Amendment (Prohibition), ratified in 1919. She succeeded in having women admitted to the University of Rochester, and campaigned for a woman’s right to vote. Susan B. Anthony was arrested for voting in the 1872 Presidential Election, saying she “positively voted the Republican ticket – straight.”
Fourteen years after her death, women won the right to vote with the 19th Amendment, ratified in 1920.
After learning her sister-in-law had had an abortion, Susan B. Anthony wrote in her diary: “She will rue the day she forces nature.”
Susan B. Anthony was quoted in the Revolution, July 1869: “I deplore the horrible crime of child-murder. … No matter what the motive, love of ease, or a desire to save from suffering the unborn innocent, the woman is awfully guilty who commits the deed. It will burden her conscience in life, it will burden her soul in death; But oh! Thrice guilty is he who … drove her to the desperation which impels her to the crime.”
In a speech she gave repeatedly in the 1870s, Susan B. Anthony stated: “The prosecutions on our courts for breach of promise, divorce, adultery, bigamy, seduction, rape; the newspaper reports every day of every year of scandals and outrages, of wife murders and paramour shooting, of abortions and infanticides, are perpetual reminders of men’s incapacity to cope successfully with this monster evil of society.”
Susan B. Anthony, who died March 13, 1906, wrote in 1889 to Frances Willard, the national president of Woman’s Christian Temperance Union: “Sweeter even than to have had the joy of caring for children of my own has it been to me to help bring about a better state of things for mothers generally, so that their unborn little ones could not be willed away from them.”
Francis Willard was the first woman college president in the United States. She advocated for the passage of the 18th Amendment, prohibiting alcohol, and the 19th Amendment, allowing women to vote. Her statue is the National Statuary Hall in the U.S. Capitol Building.
Frances Willard, whose family changed from Congregational Christian to Methodist, wrote in “A White Life for Two” (Chicago: Women’s Temperance Publishing Association, 1890): “God sets male and female side by side throughout his realm of law.”
Frances Willard’s older cousin was Emma Willard (1787-1870), who was an American educator and historian. Emma was born in Berlin, Connecticut and began teaching at the age of 16. Emma was married to John Willard in 1809, and with his help she established a girl’s boarding school in Middlebury, Vermont. She founded Troy Female Seminary in 1821, which was the first school in the United States to offer higher education for women.
Elizabeth Cady Stanton graduated from Troy Female Seminary in 1832. Regarding abortion, Elizabeth Cady Stanton wrote: “There must be a remedy for such a crying evil as this. … Let woman assert herself … and end this wholesale suffering and murder of helpless children.”
In 1895, seminary was renamed the Emma Willard School. Emma wrote many successful books and later built a school for women in Athens, Greece. In 1843, Emma Willard wrote: “The government of the United States is acknowledged by the wise and good of other nations, to be the most free, impartial, and righteous government of the world; but all agree, that for such a government to be sustained for many years, the principles of truth and righteousness, taught in the Holy Scriptures, must be practiced. The rulers must govern in the fear of God, and the people obey the laws.”
In commenting on the United States, Emma Willard stated: “In observing the United States, there is much to convince us, that an Almighty, Overruling Providence, designed from the first, to place here a great, united people.”
In 1857, Emma Willard published a book for children titled “Morals for the Young: or, Good Principles Instilling Wisdom,” in which she wrote: My Dear Children and Youth: – Since, then, wisdom teaches us to rate everything at its just value, it is wise to seek the favor and fear the frown of God, rather than to seek the favor,and fear the frown of men. … Look upon a Savior’s cross … ask pardon … and the Holy Spirit’s guidance … receive the Christian’s armor.”
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