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Anthony, Susan B.

LETTER: ALS to Huron, South Dakota Office, 9-12-1890.


Anthony leads South Dakota campaign
Anthony, Susan B. Autograph letter signed "Susan B. Anthony," to "dear friends in the Office at Huron;" Leola, South Dakota; Sept. 21, 1890.
8vo.; single leaf of South Dakota Equal Suffrage Association letterhead, folded to make four pages; all sides covered in black ink; creased. In a specially made cloth folder.
Anthony writes to her colleagues in the Huron, South Dakota campaign headquarters while she was traveling throughout the state on a six-month suffrage campaign. The letter has both a practical and informative purpose; she asks that a postcard be sent to her, informing her about the number of letters forwarded to her while on the road - she says, "so I may be sure that I get all"; she also suggests a more efficient way of printing and filling out survey "blanks"; "the blanks are almost never clearly and correctly filled - It occurs to me that you might just have the name of place - & the date - printed into the blanks of Miss [     ] - and all the others posted - and now the President Mrs. Hickman will set about canvassing the Districts of the count." In closing, one senses a bit of homesickness, "I start for Ipswich at 12 - I hope I get word from you there - I feel awfully far off from the hub."  Anthony would have felt isolated; South Dakota was sparsely populated and campaigners had to travel long distances to arrive at their speaking engagements. Leola at this time had a population of less than 800. Huron was a railroad division point and food processing center.  
The territory of South Dakota was created in 1861; it became a state in 1889. Suffragists were eager to enfranchise women under the new state's constitution. By May 1, 1890, Anthony had set up campaign headquarters in Huron. South Dakota's motto was "Under God the People Rule," so suffragists adopted as their slogan, "Under God the People Rule. Women Are People." Anthony was encouraged by initial support for a suffrage amendment from the Knights of Labor and the Farmer's Alliance, but by the time she arrived in the state and set up headquarters, these two organizations had formed a new party that was opposed to giving women the vote. In spite of this disappointment, Anthony and the other suffragists in the state continued to campaign. The suffrage amendment was defeated at the polls in November; and again in 1894 and again in 1898. South Dakota women were not enfranchised until 1918.
In 1890, Anthony was 70 years old, but that did not stop her tireless suffrage campaign work; which meant a several weeks on the road at a time: "Anthony continued her vigorous traveling schedule and took on campaigns for women's suffrage in South Dakota and Kansas in the early 1890s, showing little evidence that advancing age would limit her mobility. Photographs from the 1890s reveal a woman with white hair and a face etched with the lines of age. But her body, her posture, and her carriage remained unusually young, strong, and erect" (300).  She is also described as "always and everywhere the moving spirit" of the campaign; her energy and enthusiasm for her work are clear in this letter.  

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