Susan B. Anthony
by Dawn Graves
Susan B. Anthony, famed social reformer and women's rights activist, made two visits to Sidney in the 1870s, when it was known as a one of the toughest towns of vice and wickedness on the frontier.
Sidney's newspaper accounts of her presence described her with great respect. In anticipation of her arrival, one article in the Sidney Telegraph stated that
“... There are no abler lecturers on the American platform than [Susan B. Anthony and Elizabeth Cady Stanton]. They are grand in that they are beyond reproach, are consistent and true and either of them will receive a warm welcome in Sidney.”
Those are glowing remarks, given that women were not yet even allowed to vote and were still viewed as second-class citizens.
After her visit in October of 1877, Anthony's speech was printed in its entirety in the paper and touched upon many of the subjects that were part of Sidney's day-to-day life, including the rights of women, blacks, the dehumanization of prostitution and the afflictions of whiskey.
In her Sidney speech, she said, “Because a woman cannot vote she has to take lower wages than a man, and by every right, if she can do the work as well as a man, she ought to receive a man's full pay.”
Afterward, the Sidney Telegraph stated that, while they questioned some of her statements and didn't agree with all of her conclusions, they couldn't help but acknowledge that she made a witty, eloquent and logical appeal in behalf of women's suffrage, that she had done “noble, unselfish work,” and that her conscientiousness and honesty were undoubted and “deserving of all praise.”