The First Woman on a Circulating United States Coin
Born on February 15, 1820 Susan Anthony always believed in equal rights amongst all. She was raised on a cotton mill with her seven brothers and sisters. The idea, that one day she could wake up in a world where everyone has the same rights made her disciplined and inspired to become an activist.
In those times it was unthinkable for a woman to make public speeches or get involved in any political movements or even discussions. Anthony decided to become an abolition activist against all odds and lead like- minded women with passion and devotion. She stood up against slavery, supported human rights and fought for equal rights for all the American women.
In 1851 Susan met Elizabeth Cady Stanton and the two joined their powers to fight for women’s rights for 50 years, the rest of their lives. Together, they went all around the country to teach and speak in front of crowds about the women’s right to vote. It was a very risky task, Anthony got arrested and fined a hefty amount for illegally voting in an election because she was a woman.
Elizabeth and Susan had an incredible work ethic that resulted in the creation of The Revolution newspaper that spread awareness about the fight for equality. They also formed the National Woman Suffrage Association to push for an amendment giving women the right to vote.
“Men, their rights, and nothing more; women, their rights, and nothing less” – powerful quote by Anthony given in 1870 after African American men gained the right to vote, but women did not.
Susan B. Anthony died in 1906. In 1920 congress passed the 19th amendment, giving women the right to vote. Before she died, she said “To think I have had more than 60 years of hard struggle for a little liberty, and then to die without it seems so cruel”. She never knew the power of the movement that she created.
The Coin Was Made
In 1979 the U.S Treasure Department put Anthony’s image on dollar coins, making her the first woman in the United States history to be on a circulated U.S coin. However, the beginnings for the coin were very difficult. The Treasure department wanted the coin to feature the good old Lady Liberty but after many protests, the women organizations pushed to have a real woman featured on the U.S coins.
In 1978 Gasparro started the coin design from a picture he had of Anthony when she was 28 years old. After the first drawings were released the public was not happy, they believed that Gasparro made Susan look too young and pretty – it was too different from the coins everyone was used to. He went back to his sketches and decided to make her look older, more “acceptable” looking.
In 1978 President Jimmy Carter signed the bill and the production started right away. The government was hoping for a big success with the new design because it was supposed to be much smaller in size compared to the Eisenhower dollar and expected to last at least
15 years in circulation. Everyone was prepared for the Susan Antony Dollar to overtake the coin world.
Unfortunately, everything went downhill just moments after the release. The coins were speculated to be too big, too similar to a quarter. There wasn’t enough space is cash registers for it. Men were ashamed to pay at restaurants with a Susan B. Anthony dollar. And of course, some were saying that the coins were just a feminist propaganda.
The production of the coins stopped in 1981. Millions of dollars were locked in safes and put away for good. All hopes connected to Susan B. Anthony revolutionizing the market were gone. Until the year 1984. The Maryland Metro Subway started using the coins for purchasing their tickets, which became the biggest source of use for the dollar. By 1999 majority of vending machines accepted the Anthony coin. That year, all the coins locked away in the storage were gone and in use.
It took 20 years for the mintage to run out from the release date, placing the Susan B. Anthony dollar in the books as one of the most successful dollar coins in the U.S history.
Susan’s incredible story is a prior example of strength and courage and it commemorates the great impact that women have had on the national history. To this day, collectors are seeking out the revolutionary coin that to so many of us symbolizes the women’s breakthrough.
Hayward, N. (2018). “Susan B. Anthony”. Retrieved from www.womenshistory.org
The biography.com Editors. (2014). “Susan B. Anthony Biography”. Retrieved from www.biography.com
McKelvey, B. (1945). “Susan B. Anthony”. Retrieved from www.libraryweb.org
Spurrier, L. (2019). “The Story Behind the Susan B. Anthony Dollar”. Retrieved from www.coinweek.com