A Purse of Her Own

Susan B. Anthony worked for many reforms, including suffrage, temperance, and abolition, but found that women were hampered by their lack of power–their lack of money.  In the early nineteenth century, very few occupations were open to women.  Once married, a woman could not open a bank account, enter into a contract, rent a place to live, or sue someone against whom she had a grievance.  Any income that she earned was considered to be the property of her husband.  For Anthony, the purse was the symbol for a woman’s independence:

“Woman must have a purse of her own, & how can this be, so long as the wife is denied the right to her individual and joint earnings.  Reflections like these, caused me to see and really feel that there was no true freedom for woman without the possession of all her property rights. . .This demand must be made by Petitions to the Legislature. . .”

Susan B. Anthony Diary November, 1853