The essays collected in this volume grew out of a conference, also titled “Susan B. Anthony and the Struggle for Equal Rights,” held at the University of Rochester in 2006. Sponsored by the Anthony Center for Women's Leadership, the Department of History, and the University of Rochester Libraries, the conference commemorated the one hundredth anniversary of Susan B. Anthony's death. Like the conference, this volume explores the diversity of thought and action in American women's involvement in nineteenth-century reform movements, especially those to which Anthony dedicated her life: women's rights, racial equality, and temperance. Activists routinely faced hostility from opponents who did not share their views, but, as these essays demonstrate, the challenges did not always come from the outside. While advocates of particular reforms may have shared common goals, they often differed in opinion on how best to achieve those goals. Thus, activists’ passions for their causes sometimes led to conflict over tactical and philosophical issues within organized reform movements.
As William Lloyd Garrison Jr. said at Susan B. Anthony's funeral, “Dissentions are inevitable in all human organizations, those of reform included. The contrary points of view regarding methods, and the personal equations which always enter, cause lines of cleavage and make grievances that rankle.” Women's rejoinders to the challenges they faced from both internal and external sources were as numerous, complex, and varied as the challenges themselves. The essays in this volume examine the conflicts and disputes that confronted female reformers and offer insights into how these differences in philosophy and tactics affected individual reformers and ultimately shaped the women's rights movement and its history.
Planning a conference and compiling a volume of this nature are complicated and time-consuming tasks, and we are indebted to numerous others for their assistance and support. We are especially grateful to the contributors and the series editors for sharing their expertise and displaying great patience during the long incubation of this book. Suzanne Guiod first suggested that we compile this volume, and we were inspired by her faith that two relatively inexperienced editors were up to the task. We would also like to acknowledge the two anonymous readers who provided thoughtful and valuable suggestions, and Richard Peek and Joan Rubin for the encouragement they have provided along the way.