Women Public Speakers in the United States, 1800-1925: A Bio-Critical Sourcebook

By Karlyn Kohrs Campbell | Go to book overview

expose how misuse of power, and not necessarily poverty, corrupts: "[T]he greatest wrongs in our government are perpetuated by rich men, the wire pulling agents of corporations and monopolies, in which the poor and the ignorant have no part" ( Harper, 1898, 2:922).

A debate over the last major work of Cady Stanton life, The Woman's Bible, reveals the difference between Anthony's and Cady Stanton's political orientation, which can be understood as the difference between a materialistic and an idealistic analysis. Cady Stanton firmly believed that the ideas in the Bible were wrong. Anthony did not necessarily disagree, but she insisted that it was not ideas but material reality in the form of economic and political subordination that hurt people. Admitting that she had no interest in religious issues, she argued to Cady Stanton that "men who hold me in durance vile--won't care a dime what the Bible says--all they care is what the saloon says" (Letter, July 24, 1845, Huntington Library). When liquor dealers were paying drunks to go to the polls to defeat woman suffrage as they did in the California campaigns of the 1890s, Anthony persisted in political action that would give women control of the ballot with which she assumed they could change the material conditions of domination. She was more interested in changing behaviors that produced human injustice than in correcting the ideas behind them. As change requires action in both material and ideal realms, the difference between them was really one of emphasis and priority, but these factors loom large for activists and leaders.

Although she felt strongly about Cady Stanton Woman's Bible project, Anthony defended her lifelong friend before the NAWSA convention that proposed to censure it. She acknowledged that Cady Stanton might well be ahead of her time with this work, as she was with the Seneca Falls Convention. In addition, Anthony firmly defended freedom of ideas and speech asking, "Who is to draw the line?" and threatening that "When our platform becomes too narrow for people of all creeds and of no creeds, I myself shall not stand upon it" ( HWS 4:264).


CONCLUSION

The last two decades of Anthony's life were as filled with rigorous lecture schedules and state-by-state campaigns as were the first two of her public career. In 1891, suffragist women throughout the United States came together to restore the Anthony home for her and to present her with a lifetime annuity. From then on, her unrelenting traveling and lectures were matters of will, not economic necessity. In her utopian vision she continued to be future-oriented for the movement. She tried to prepare women leaders to take over after she was gone, and she raised a fund to continue the work for woman suffrage after her death. In her work she created a legacy for women. When in 1900 at the age of eighty, she turned over the presidency of NAWSA to CARRIE LANE CHAPMAN CATT, Lane Catt acknowledged, "Miss Anthony will never have a successor" ( HWS 4:388). As her speeches grew shorter in the last few years of her life, Anthony's

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