Susan B. Anthony House: Past and Present

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Susan B. Anthony House; 17 Madison Street, Rochester, New York

The Susan B. Anthony House is more than the former home of a historically important person. The house has been designated as a National Historic Landmark.

At an early age, Susan Brownell Anthony devoted her life to numerous political causes. She is best known for her diligent efforts to obtain equal rights for women, including the right to vote. Anthony’s Quaker upbringing is credited for her belief that women were equal to men. She made it her mission to bring this belief to the rest of the country. Anthony began her political activism in 1845 when she traveled to Syracuse, New York, and attended an anti-slavery convention. She attended her first women’s rights convention in 1852 and 1854 circulated her first petitions for married women’s property rights and women’s suffrage.

The Susan B. Anthony House

The Susan B. Anthony House is located at 17 Madison Street in Rochester, New York. In 1864, Aaron McLean (husband of Anthony’s older sister, Guelma) moved his family into the house. Anthony, her sister, Mary, and her mother, Lucy, moved into the house with the McLean family in 1865. Lucy Read Anthony purchased the property in 1866 for $3,500. Mary S. Anthony purchased the house from her mother in December of 1873 for $4,500.

When Anthony was elected president of the National American Woman’s Suffrage Association in 1892, she moved the headquarters into her home. In 1894, the first floor became public offices for the New York State Constitutional Campaign. Then in 1895, a third story was added to make room for the research, compilation, and writing of the History of Woman’s Suffrage and her biography.

Susan B. Anthony died in her home on 13 March 1906. Following the death of her sister, Mary, on 5 February 1907, the house was sold to Margaret A. Howard, President of the Council for Woman, for $5,700. Over the years, the house was sold several times and was used as both a private residence and a rooming house.

After forty years in private ownership, the Rochester Federation of Women’s Clubs purchased the house for the creation of a museum. The Susan B. Anthony House was given the highest historic honor for a private home by being designated as a National Historic Landmark in 1966. The house and grounds have undergone extensive renovation and restoration. To allow more room for artifacts and memorabilia, the administrative offices were moved next door to the Ruth Miller Brody Administrative Office Building in 2003.

The Trial of Susan B. Anthony

On November 18, 1872, Anthony was arrested for illegally voting in the front parlor of her home. Interestingly, the judge found her guilty before the trial and testimony began. He dismissed the jury and ordered her to pay $100 plus costs, which she refused to pay. She petitioned Congress for reduction of the fine, but a congressional committee denied her request. Anthony never paid the fine.

The 19th Amendment

In 1905, Anthony met with President Roosevelt with regard to submitting a suffrage amendment to Congress. However, her vision did not become reality until fourteen years following her death. In 1920, the 19th Amendment to the United States Constitution was signed into law. This Amendment granted the right to vote to all women over the age of 21.

The Susan B. Anthony House is open six days a week for public tours. It remains the mission of the house and the staff to stay active with the community through various ongoing activities. Educational and inspirational programs are offered for the neighborhood, including after school activities for youth.

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