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Susan B. Anthony Thanks Supporter for Helping to Roll Up 1894 New York Petition to Change the State Constitution to Enfranchise Women “on equal terms with men”
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SUSAN B. ANTHONY. Autograph Letter Signed, to Cornelia H. Carey, October 17, 1895, Rochester, New York. On cream paper. (Likely penned as an inscription to Volume I to III of a History of Woman Suffrage, by Anthony and Elizabeth Cady Stanton, 1881-1886.) 1 p., 5¾ x 9¼ in.

Inventory #25996       Price: $2,750

Complete Transcript

Mrs Cornelia H. Carey

                          Brooklyn, N.Y.

            In grateful recognition of her generous contribution to the New York Woman Suffrage Association.

            Jean Brooks Greenleaf, President.

            Mary S. Anthony Cor. Sec’y

To aid the great work of rolling up the mammoth petition – 625.000 – to the Constitutional Convention of 1894. Asking the enfranchisement of the women of the State – on equal terms with men.

            From her loving friend & coworker

                                                                        Susan B. Anthony

                                                                        Rochester, N.Y.  

Oct. 17, 1895.

Historical Background

On May 8, 1894, 175 New York delegates met for a state constitutional convention in Albany. The New York Woman Suffrage Association (NYWSA) urged the delegates to amend New York’s constitution to extend suffrage to women over the age of 21 by removing the word “male” from the constitutional description of qualified voters. The NYWSA campaign raised $10,000 and gathered more than 600,000 signatures. In early August, a newspaper report declared that the number of names on suffrage petitions totaled 624,999, or more than one out of every ten inhabitants of New York. It estimated that at least one quarter of the petitioners were men, meaning nearly half a million women were requesting the right to vote.

On August 15, one of the delegates proposed to submit women’s suffrage to the people as a separate ballot item from the general constitution. By a vote of 97 to 58, the delegates rejected the proposal. By the time the constitutional convention adjourned on September 29, the delegates had rejected both woman suffrage and even a referendum on the issue.

The new constitution shortened the terms of the governor and lieutenant governor from three years to two years, and increased the size of both the state senate and the state assembly. It abolished convict labor and allowed the use of voting machines. Male voters adopted the new constitution in November 1894 by a margin of 56 percent to 44 percent.

Jean Brooks Greenleaf (1831-1918) was the president of the NYWSA from 1890 to 1896, and Mary Stafford Anthony (1827-1907), Susan’s younger sister, became the corresponding secretary for the NYWSA in 1893.

Afterwards

Under the leadership of Carrie Chapman Catt (1859-1947), the National American Woman Suffrage Association (NAWSA) focused simultaneously on state-by-state and federal campaigns, linking suffrage to women’s participation in World War I and the struggle for democracy. NYWSA advertised and conducted an ambitious house-to-house canvass, collecting the names of 1,030,000 women who wanted to vote. Their referendum was carried by more than 100,000 votes, winning in every NYC borough. Thus, New York granted women the right to vote in November 1917, three years before the ratification of the Nineteenth Amendment to the U.S. Constitution.

Susan B. Anthony (1820-1906) was born in Massachusetts into a Quaker family that was committed to social equality. She briefly attended a Quaker boarding school in Philadelphia before her family was ruined financially by the Panic of 1837. Her family moved to a farm near Rochester, New York, in 1845. She was not involved in the Seneca Falls Convention because she was teaching at a school more than one hundred miles to the East, but her parents and her sister signed the Declaration of Sentiments at the subsequent Rochester Women’s Rights Convention. Anthony began to speak publicly on temperance, abolition, and women’s suffrage. She first met Elizabeth Cady Stanton (1815-1902) in 1851, and the two became close friends and co-workers. In 1856, Anthony became the New York state agent for the American Anti-Slavery Society and continued to advocate for women’s rights as well. From 1868-1870, Anthony and Stanton published The Revolution in New York City.

One of their bitterest defeats came after the Civil War, when former abolitionist allies, such as Frederick Douglass, supported the 15th Amendment, which granted suffrage to freedmen, but not to women. After an 1869 division in the women’s rights movement over the 15th Amendment, Anthony pursued alliances with conservative women’s suffrage advocates, leading her to endorse the controversial 1890 merger of the two competing organizations into the National American Woman Suffrage Association. When Stanton retired as president of NAWSA in 1892, Anthony succeeded her as president and held the position until 1900. It is estimated that she gave eighty to one hundred speeches a year on behalf of her cause. In 1876, she and Stanton began writing a history of the women’s suffrage movement. The first three volumes of the six-volume work appeared between 1881 and 1886. After Stanton’s death in 1902, with the assistance of Ida Husted Harper, Anthony published the fourth volume, covering the period from 1883 to 1900. Harper herself published the last two volumes, covering 1900 to 1920, in 1922.

Cornelia Hull Cary (1841-1907) was born in Brooklyn and studied art at Cooper Union. She taught art at the Pratt Institute for three years before marrying Isaac Harris Cary (1845-1927) in 1871. They had at least one child. She was a leader of the Brooklyn Woman Suffrage Association and was active in the National American Woman Suffrage Association.

Condition

Central horizontal fold with slight separation, toned, chipped edges, else very good.


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