July 2, 1979: Susan B. Anthony Became the First Woman on a Circulating United States Coin

Susan B. Anthony
Photo: VCG Wilson/Corbis via Getty Images
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    July 2, 1979: Susan B. Anthony Became the First Woman on a Circulating United States Coin

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      Sari Rosenberg

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      July 2, 1979: Susan B. Anthony Became the First Woman on a Circulating United States Coin

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      December 08, 2019

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      A+E Networks

On July 2, 1979, the U.S. Mint officially released the Susan B. Anthony coin. The suffragette became the first woman to be honored by having her image appear on a circulating United States coin. When the 19th Amendment was ratified 14 years after her death, it was known as the “Susan B. Anthony Amendment” in her honor. It is possible that in the future American currency will recognize Susan B. Anthony and other pioneering women in history. In 2017, a plan was floated to replace Andrew Jackson with Harriet Tubman on the front of the $20 bill. There is also a potential plan to swap the image of the Treasury building on the back of the $10 bill with a montage of Susan B. Anthony, Lucretia Mott, Sojourner Truth, Elizabeth Cady Stanton, and Alice Paul.

Anthony’s Quaker roots, coupled with involvement in the abolitionist movement at a young age, helped turn her into a leading suffragette. When her parents moved her and her seven siblings to Rochester, NY, they hosted weekly anti-slavery meetings. Leading abolitionists William Lloyd Garrison and Frederick Douglass were frequent attendees. In 1848, while working as a teacher, Anthony noticed a gender pay gap. This blatant economic inequity inspired her to attend the Rochester Women’s Rights Convention of 1848.

In the early 1850s, Anthony’s life’s work as a fierce fighter for women’s rights was solidified when she met Stanton and heard Lucy Stone speak. Throughout the 1850s, Anthony campaigned for women’s property rights and women’s voting rights. She became a member of the American Anti-Slavery Society and spoke at every National Women’s Rights Convention from 1852 onward. In 1858, she served as president.

By 1868, she and Stanton founded a newspaper called The Revolution, boldly stating their mission on the masthead: “Men, their rights, and nothing more; women, their rights, and nothing less.”

In 1869, Anthony and others founded the National Woman Suffrage Association, with their sights set on achieving women’s right to vote. She bravely fought for equality, even getting arrested in 1872 for voting in the presidential election. Determined in her mission, she ignored frequent death threats and hostile mobs.

In the 1880s, Anthony joined Stanton and Matilda Joslyn Gage to pen the comprehensive book “History of Women’s Suffrage.” She continued to fight for an amendment granting women the right to vote and the line in her final speech on suffrage became the mantra of young suffragettes: “Failure is impossible.”

She died in 1906, 14 years shy of seeing her life’s work come to fruition. With women currently making up 52 percent of the voting population and a record number of females running for public office, Anthony’s legacy endures. Hopefully, around the time that we celebrate 100 years of women’s suffrage, we can expect to see her likeness, as well as other favorite female trailblazers, in our wallets!

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