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Anthony, Susan B.

LETTER: TLS to Rachel Avery.


Anthony Convinces Avery
to Keep Her NAWSA Post
Anthony, Susan B. Typed letter signed, "Susan B. Anthony," with autograph letter appended on the second page, to Rachel Foster Avery, Rochester, NY, January 31, 1898.
Two 4to. leaves of NAWSA letterhead listing Anthony as President, three sides covered (second leaf on verso only), with handwritten annotations, punctuation and underlinings by Anthony. In a specially made cloth slipcase.
Writing to Mrs. Rachel Foster Avery, the Corresponding Secretary of NAWSA and one of her closest friends and advisors, Anthony pleads with her to reconsider her resignation from the Association. It reads, in part [with Anthony's autograph underlining indicated]:
My dear Rachel;-
Miss Shaw and I talked over everything and everybody connected with our work all of last Friday and I need not say that you were among the persons talked of, nor that our dilemma, because of your proposition not to stand as Cor. Sec. any longer, was in the slightest degree lessened after all of the days consultation.
I do wish you would reconsider and pledge to me that you will hold on until 1900, as I thought you did do at Adams when we talked over the wisdom of my declining to hold the office of President beyond this Fiftieth Anniversary. I am sure I could not think of holding the office of President, with all of my immediate official board raw recruits. I think you four, Avery, Shaw, [Harriet Taylor] Upton, and Catt ought to stand by me until you elect a new, young, and enterprising woman for President! It does seem too cruel when you especially have urged me to hold on to the Presidency, that you should be the first one to knock yourself out from the position of propping me up. I hope you will reconsider the whole matter before you make any public announcement, and on my pledge, that every extra dollar of expense you have to incur on account of holding the office of Cor. Sec. shall be refunded to you, you will say to me that you will continue in your position until after my eightieth birthday and then if you must-we will both go out together. Now you need not stop to answer this but think it over and try and put yourself in my place and realize just how you would feel at four score if your best friend and longest trusted helper should, without a word of warning, leave you.
The typescript portion of the letter concludes in a more business-like fashion with Anthony relaying her travel plans and scheduled speaking engagements for the next several days.  
The following day Anthony continues the letter by hand, adding information about various communications she has received relating to NAWSA issues. Among those mentioned are Kate Gleason and Mrs. Frank Leslie who, Anthony reports, recently contributed $100 for the Press Bureau, a new branch of NAWSA. Anthony's impassioned appeal to Avery clearly achieved the intended effect: Avery maintained her position on the board until 1900.
Rachel Foster Avery (1858-1919), Anthony's "dear, first adopted niece," met Anthony at a NAWSA convention in 1879 and immediately joined forces with the suffrage cause. She was elected as Corresponding Secretary for NAWSA in 1880 and held that position for next twenty years. During that period, she and Anthony remained extremely close and often traveled together; Avery advised Anthony on everything from political strategy to fashion (despite Avery's strict Quaker upbringing, she was known for her stylish attire). Avery personally contributed financially to Anthony's tours so that she could continue to lecture and travel throughout the United States and Europe, which explains Anthony's promise to reimburse her fully in exchange for the postponement of her resignation. Avery also aided in the planning and fundraising of many state suffrage campaigns and played a crucial role in the 1890 merger of NAWSA with the American Woman Suffrage Association. After her resignation in 1900 she remained active in the movement, returning to NAWSA in 1907 to serve as First Vice-President for three years. Avery lived to see the passage of the suffrage amendment by Congress, but not its ratification: she died of pneumonia in 1919 at the age of sixty in a Philadelphia hospital. (NAW I, 71-72)  

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