Temperance Worker

Susan B. Anthony was brought up a Quaker. Her family believed drinking liquor was sinful. While Anthony was working as head of the girls' department of Canajoharie Academy she joined the Daughters of Temperance, a group of women who drew attention to the effects of drunkenness on families and campaigned for stronger liquor laws. She made her first public speech in 1848 at a Daughters of Temperance supper.

When Anthony returned to Rochester in 1849 she was elected president of the Rochester branch of the Daughters of Temperance and raised money for the cause. In 1853 Anthony was refused the right to speak at the state convention of the Sons of Temperance in Albany. She left the meeting and called her own. In 1853 Anthony and Elizabeth Cady Stanton founded the Women's State Temperance Society with the goal of petitioning the State legislature to pass a law limiting the sale of liquor. The State Legislature rejected the petition because most of the 28,000 signatures were from women and children. Anthony decided that women needed the vote so that politicians would listen to them. She and Stanton were criticized for talking too much about women's rights and resigned from the Women's State Temperance Society.

In the 1860s Anthony and Stanton drew attention to the case of Abby McFarland whose drunken and abusive husband Daniel shot and killed the man she had divorced him to marry. They protested when Daniel was acquitted of murder on a plea of temporary insanity and given custody of their son.

In the 1870s Anthony supported the Rochester women organizers of the Women's Christian Temperance Union, although she told them that women would need to get the vote to reach their goal. She refused to support Prohibition because she believed it detracted attention from the cause of woman suffrage.