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social sciences

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Anthony, Susan B. (1820-1906)  
 
page: 1  2  3  

Relationship with Emily Gross

Another woman of importance in Anthony's life was Emily Gross, the wife of a wealthy Chicago businessman.

The two may have met when Anthony gave a speech at the Columbian Exposition in Chicago in 1893. The Reverend Anna Howard Shaw, the life-partner of Anthony's niece Lucy Anthony, was with them at the time and noted in her diary that she was "so thankful for the new friend for Aunt Susan." Although no letters between Anthony and Gross are known to exist, Anthony did mention Gross in correspondence with others. In an 1895 letter to another niece, Jessie Anthony, she refers to Gross as "my new lover."

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Gross visited Anthony's Rochester, New York home shortly after the meeting in Chicago, and in following years the two often traveled together. Gross was a member of the Birthday Celebration Committee (as were Lucy Anthony and Anna Shaw) when Anthony's eightieth year was marked with a moving program of appreciation at the Lafayette Opera House in Washington, D. C. in 1900.

Portrait of a Female Couple

Anthony never wrote specifically about sexuality. It is, however, interesting to note an example that she used in an 1877 speech entitled "Homes of Single Women." By "single" she can only mean "unmarried" and not "living alone," for two of the single women she profiles were certainly a couple. Mary L. Booth, an editor at Harper's Bazaar, was the bread-winning professional of this couple, while Mrs. Wright, formerly the wife of a ship's captain, saw to the domestic chores and advised Booth about her wardrobe.

Although Anthony does not speak of the emotional aspects of their "co-partnership," the picture that she paints is strikingly like one of a typical heterosexual marriage of the day. It is indeed a picture of--to use nineteenth-century terms--a between "romantic friends."

Her Views on Marriage

Anthony's views on marriage were complex. On the one hand she saw it as such a sacred and inviolable bond that it transcended even death, and she was incensed when the widower of one of her sisters declared his intention to wed again.

She also recognized, however, that the law could put married women at a serious disadvantage by making them economically dependent upon their husbands and giving them little protection in abusive situations. As a practical matter she found it a great nuisance when promising suffragist women married and started having babies because their family responsibilities limited their ability to work for the cause.

Her Final Years and Death

Anthony herself never flagged in her commitment, engaging in social activism until her eighty-sixth birthday. On that occasion she spoke her final public words--and possibly her most famous--"Failure is impossible."

Weak from heart disease, she died a month later on March 13, 1906.

Some twenty-five hundred people were in church for her funeral service, and several hundred more braved stormy weather outside the building.

The Reverend Anna Shaw gave a eulogy in which she said, "Her work will not be finished, nor her last word spoken, while there remains a wrong to be righted or a fettered life to be freed in all the world."

While so lofty a standard can never be attained, Anthony's cherished goal of women's suffrage was achieved with the ratification of the Nineteenth Amendment on August 18, 1920.

Linda Rapp

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literature >> Overview:  Romantic Friendship: Female

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    Bibliography
   

Barry, Kathleen. Susan B. Anthony: A Biography of a Singular Feminist. New York: New York University Press, 1988.

DuBois, Ellen Carol, ed. The Elizabeth Cady Stanton-Susan B. Anthony Reader: Correspondence, Writings, Speeches. Rev. ed. Boston: Northeastern University Press, 1992.

Faderman, Lillian. To Believe in Women. New York: Houghton Mifflin, 1999.

Pellauer, Mary D. Toward a Tradition of Feminist Theology: The Religious Social Thought of Elizabeth Cady Stanton, Susan B. Anthony, and Anna Howard Shaw. Brooklyn: Carlson Publishing, Inc., 1991.

 

    Citation Information
         
    Author: Rapp, Linda  
    Entry Title: Anthony, Susan B.  
    General Editor: Claude J. Summers  
    Publication Name: glbtq: An Encyclopedia of Gay, Lesbian, Bisexual,
Transgender, and Queer Culture
 
    Publication Date: 2004  
    Date Last Updated February 25, 2004  
    Web Address www.glbtq.com/social-sciences/anthony_sb.html  
    Publisher glbtq, Inc.
1130 West Adams
Chicago, IL   60607
 
    Today's Date  
    Encyclopedia Copyright: © 2002-2006, glbtq, Inc.  
    Entry Copyright © 2004, glbtq, inc.  
 

 

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