It was 1874, a challenging year for Susan B. Anthony and the women’s suffrage movement. She had been convicted of illegally voting in Rochester, her hometown, and activists were split over the best way to push the movement forward.
On April 9, Anthony wrote to a fellow activist named Isabella Beecher Hooker, looking ahead to better days.
“Now wouldn’t it be splendid for us to be free & equal citizens, with the power of the ballot to back our hearts, heads & hands,” Anthony wrote, envisioning a time when women could also fight for “the poor, the insane, the criminal,” armed not just with moral suasion but “with power too.”
“I can hardly wait,” she continued. “The good fates though are working together to bring us into this freedom.”
Now, the letters have been acquired by the University of Rochester as part of a larger trove of material that some are calling the biggest discovery of its kind in decades.
“It’s a stunning collection,” said Ann D. Gordon, a retired professor at Rutgers University and the editor of the Elizabeth Cady Stanton and Susan B. Anthony Papers Project. “That it’s being delivered all in one piece, with such a clear provenance, is remarkable.”