The Making of America: Susan B. Anthony

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Women changed America more than a school textbook shows, and more than we learn in school. Teri Kanefield’s book, The Making of America: Susan B. Anthony highlights the role of one woman, Susan B. Anthony, in changing the role of women in the United States. This book is a biography, so it tells the story of Anthony’s life and her many achievements as a public figure. Readers learn a lot not just about Anthony, but also learn about other important historical figures like Sojourner Truth and William Garrison, and about events that happened during Anthony’s life, like the Civil War.

Kanefield starts her book with Susan B. Anthony’s birth and early life. She was born on February 15 1820  in Massachusetts to Daniel Anthony and Lucy Anthony. The Anthony’s were Quakers, a Christian religious group that did not like slavery and let women hold positions of power in the community. By 17, Susan was collecting anti-slavery petitions. Her uncle Joshua Read helped her get a position as headmistress at the Cahanjorie Academy where she taught older women reading, writing, and history. This job increased Anthony’s interest in the rights of women, and later led her to demand the outlawing of alcohol when she heard from wives of alcoholics they were being abused by their husbands and having their money stolen by their husbands to buy alcohol. During all this Susan B. Anthony remained a firm abolitionist (someone who opposes slavery).

In 1851 Anthony met Elizabeth Cady Stanton and they started the American Equal Rights Association and became the editors of the group’s newspaper, The Revolution. When Congress passed the 14th and 15th amendments allowing black men to vote Anthony was angry because the amendments did not let women vote. In the final years of her life she went around the country gathering signatures and going to Congress every year to petition them to make women’s voting legal. Sadly, Anthony died in 1906, fourteen years before American women were allowed to vote. Even though she died before the law changed, Kanefield’s book makes clear how crucial Susan B. Anthony was in helping women gain the right to vote.

This book is part of The Making of America series, which includes books on Alexander Hamilton and Abraham Lincoln. I will definitely be reading these other books by Teri Kanefield and recommend that you check out The Making of America: Susan B. Anthony. Even people who do not like history in school are likely to enjoy this book because it reads more like a personal story than a textbook. You will learn a lot about early America, the abolitionist movement and women’s rights, but it will feel like you are reading an interesting story about an interesting woman.