Although by the turn of the century a few states were already allowing them to vote, the vast majority of American women could neither cast a ballot nor get information about birth control. Women had extremely limited opportunities for jobs and education, and their pay was dismally low. Two of the people who fought most passionately to change these conditions had been friends since meeting in 1851 and had successfully campaigned for the first laws in New York giving woman control over their property, wages, and children. Elizabeth Cady Stanton (1815-1902) died just days after receiving this letter from Susan B. Anthony (1820- 1906). It would be another eighteen years before passage of the Nineteenth Amendment granted women in all states the right to vote.
"My dear Mrs. Stanton: I shall indeed be happy to spend with you November 12, the day on which you round out your four-score and seven, over four years ahead of me, but in age as in all else I follow you closely. It is fifty-one years since first we met and we have been busy through every one of them, stirring up the world to recognize the rights of women. The older we grow, the more keenly we feel the humiliation of disfranchisement and the more vividly we realize its disadvantages in every department of life and most of all in the labor market. We little dreamed when we began this contest, optimistic with the hope and buoyancy of youth, that half a century later we would be compelled to leave the finish of the battle to another generation of women. But our hearts are filled with joy to know that they enter upon this task equipped with a college education, with business experience, with the fully admitted right to speak in public—all of which were denied to women fifty years ago. They have practically but one point to gain—the suffrage; we had all. These strong, courageous, capable young women will take our place and complete our work. There is an army of them where we were but a handful. Ancient prejudice has become so softened, public sentiment so liberalized and women have so thoroughly demonstrated their ability as to leave not a shadow of doubt that they will carry out cause to victory. And we, dear old friend, shall move on to the next sphere of existence—higher and larger, we cannot fail to believe, and one where women will not be placed in an inferior position but will be welcomed on a plane of perfect intellectual and spiritual equality. Ever lovingly yours, Susan B. Anthony"
Citation: A Letter, Susan B Anthony to Elizabeth Cady Stanton, October 1902 Contributed by Carol Hall From the book Letters of the Century: America 1900-1999 edited by Lisa Grunwald and Stephen J. Adler. The Dial Press, 1999. pp 26-27.