10. Susan B. Anthony gave her name to the Constitutional Amendment that finally gave women in America the right to vote
The Nineteenth Amendment to the Constitution of the United States prohibits both individual states and the federal government from barring citizens from voting on the basis of their sex. Notably, before the name was changed in 1920, this was known as the Susan B. Anthony Amendment. This fact alone is testament to the pivotal role that Antony, a committed Quaker and lifelong social rights activist, played in getting women the vote in America.
Born in Adams, Massachusetts in 1820, Anthony was politically active from an early age. Inspired by her religious upbringing, she was collecting signatures on anti-slavery petitions at the age of just 17. When she turned 30, however, she shifted her attention to women’s rights. After being refused entry to a male-only temperance conference in New York, she helped set up several female-led groups. These campaigned for temperance, for the abolition of slavery and for votes for women.
In 1870, Anthony moved to Rochester, New York. Two years later, she attempted to vote in the local election there. She was arrested – voting was restricted to men at the time – and put on trial. The courtroom drama attracted a huge amount of attention. The court declined to fine her and Anthony used the momentum to put their proposed constitutional amendment before Congress. With the help of Senator Aaron A. Sargent, the amendment was introduced in 1878 and then accepted – women had finally won the vote!
Anthony carried on campaigning on a range of social issues right up until her death. While she was initially mocked for her beliefs, in later life, she was hailed as a true American hero. President William McKinley invited her to the White House on the occasion of her 80th birthday. These days, numerous schools and streets are named after her, and Anthony is widely celebrated as one of the most important feminists in American history.