Historic Speeches

Behind every stride towards Civil Rights, throughout  was an individual who swayed opinions, demanded equality, and inspired. Most often, they did this through a series of speeches. The National Susan B. Anthony Museum and House has collected several historical speeches from suffragists and abolitionists for performance at VoteTilla, now available to read in full.


Susan B. Anthony’s Return to the “Old Union” speech; 1863

Susan B. Anthony’s “Is it a Crime to Vote?”; 1872-1873

Susan B. Anthony’s “Woman Wants Bread, Not the Ballot”; 1880-1890

Susan B. Anthony’s “Social Purity”; 1895

Clara Barton from The Life of Clara Barton, by Percy Harold; 1898

Antoinette Brown Blackwell’s speech at the Tenth National Women’s Rights Convention at Cooper Institute; 1860

Excerpts from Amelia Bloomer’s “Most Terribly Bereft”; 1855 (given in Council Bluffs, Iowa)

Amelia Bloomer’s “Woman’s Right to the Ballot”; 1895

Carrie Chapman Catt’s “The Crisis”; 1916 (Atlantic City, New Jersey)

Carrie Chapman Catt’s Address to the United States Congress; November, 1917 (given in Washington, D.C.)

Frederick Douglass’ “What to the Slave is the Fourth of July?”; July 5, 1852 (given in Rochester, New York)

Frederick Douglass’ “Woman Suffrage Movement,” printed in New National Era; 1870

Frederick Douglass’ Emancipation of Women speech at the 20th annual meeting of the New England Woman Suffrage Association; 1888 (given in Boston, Massachusetts)

Matilda Joslyn Gage’s “The Dangers of the Hour” at the Woman’s National Liberal Convention; February 24, 1890

Matilda Joslyn Gage’s speech at the National Women’s Rights Convention; 1852 (given in Syracuse, New York)

Jean Brooks Greenleaf’s address to the House Judiciary Committee; 1892

Sarah Grimké’s Letters to Mary Parker; 1837

Hester Jeffrey’s Eulogy of Susan B. Anthony

Rev. Jermain Wesley Loguen’s “I Won’t Obey the Fugitive Slave Law”; October 4, 1850 (given in Syracuse, New York)

Samuel May’s “The Rights and Condition of Women,”; 1846

Lucretia Mott’s “Discourse on Woman”; December 17, 1849

Anna Howard Shaw’s “The Fundamental Principle of a Republic”; June 21, 1915 (given at the City Opera House in Ogdenburg, New York)

Gerrit Smith’s speech at the Syracuse National Convention; 1852

Elizabeth Cady Stanton’s Seneca Falls Keynote Address; July 19, 1848

Elizabeth Cady Stanton’s address on Woman’s Rights; September 1848

Elizabeth Cady Stanton’s speech to the Reunion of the Pioneers and Friends of Woman’s Progress; November 12,1895

Lucy Stone’s speech to the Women’s Rights Convention; 1848 (given in Seneca Falls, New York)

Mary Church Terrell’s “The Progress of Colored Women”; 1904

Sojourner Truth’s “Ain’t I A Woman?” at the National Women’s Rights Convention; 1851

Sojourner Truth’s “Mob Convention” speech; 1853 (given in NYC, New York)

Sojourner Truth’s speech at the American Equal Rights Association meeting; 1867

Harriet Tubman’s words, through an excerpt from Harriet, The Moses of Her People, by Sarah H. Bradford

Angelina Grimké Weld’s speech at Pennsylvania Hall; 1838

Ida B. Wells’ Class Legislation; 1893

Ida B. Wells’ “How Enfranchisement Stops Lynchings” in Original Rights Magazine; June 1910

Fannie Barrier Williams’ “The Colored Girl”; 1905




Remember Susan B. Anthony on March 13

sba_fullOn March 13, 1906, at forty minutes past midnight, Susan B. Anthony died at the age of 86 in her own bed on the second floor of the house on Madison Street, her home of 40 years.

At her request, much of the ceremonial mourning of the day was not observed: no shades were drawn, no black crepe hung. Only a simple wreath of violets was placed on the front door. For two days, close friends and family came to call. Then on March 15, the world said good-bye at an immense funeral held in Central Presbyterian Church (now the Hochstein School of Music). Amid a raging blizzard, thousands of mourners filled the church and over ten thousand more passed by her flag-draped coffin that was flanked by an honor guard of women students from the University of Rochester—the school she’d finally opened up to them in 1901. Next to the coffin was a silk suffrage flag with four gold stars, representing the only states where women then could vote; pinned on her breast was a jeweled flag pin with four diamond stars, a gift from women of Wyoming, the first in our nation to win the vote, thanks to all of her efforts on their behalf.IMG_3042

The Rochester newspaper of the day reported: “Rochester made no secret of its personal grief. There must have been people of every creed, political party, nationality, and plane of life in those long lines that kept filing through the aisles of Central Church. The young and the aged of the land were represented. Every type was there to bow in reverence, respect and grief. Professional men, working men, financiers came to offer homage. Women brought little children to see the face of her who had aimed at being the emancipator of her sex, but whose work had ended just as victory seemed within reach. Priests, ministers…, rabbis …, came to look upon her who had more than once given them inspiration in dark moments.”

The service in the church lasted an hour and a half. It took another 2 or more hours for the thousands of mourners to file past the coffin. Finally, in late afternoon, with the snowstorm still raging, Susan B’s most intimate friends and relatives accompanied her to her final resting place in Mt. Hope Cemetery. There, beneath a simple white stone engraved only with her name and dates, she was laid to rest. The final words were spoken by her dear friend, the Rev. Anna Howard Shaw, who in tender and reverent voice, pronounced these solemn words: “Dear friend, thou hast tarried with us long; thou has now gone to thy well-earned rest. We beseech the Infinite Spirit who has upheld thee to make us worthy to follow in thy steps and carry on the work. Hail and farewell.”

Some years earlier, during a family reunion at her birthplace in Adams, Massachusetts, Susan B. Anthony had written her own epitaph. As the family gathered out in the yard on a glorious summer day, amid the horse-drawn carriages of all those who had come to call, someone remarked that the scene looked like a funeral. Anthony immediately replied:

“When it is a funeral, remember that I want there should be no tears.
Pass on, and go on with the work.”

Please join us for a memorial wreath ceremony on Monday, March 13, at 11:45 am. The short ceremony will be followed by a Lunch and Lecture in our Carriage House (that event is sold out). The wreath hanging is free and open to the public. Dress for the weather.