September 25th, 2010
07:07 PM ET

Susan B. Anthony letter goes on sale for $15,000

Susan B. Anthony letter wrote this letter in 1905, a year before her death.

A newly discovered letter written by civil rights leader Susan B. Anthony decrying the treatment of women as "pets" has gone on sale for $15,000.

The letter offers a rare, personal glimpse into the powerful emotions behind the fight for women's equal rights, said Nathan Raab, Vice President of The Raab Collection, which is offering the letter for sale.

"This letter has the unique perspective of being simultaneously a reflection of the pain of her female contemporaries at being shut out of society's privileges, and also the optimism with which they worked for equal rights," Raab said.

The letter is dated February 11, 1905, a year before Anthony's death, and 15 years before the 19th Amendment granting women the right to vote was ratified on August 18, 1920.

Typed on "National American Women Suffrage Association" letterhead, the letter is addressed to "sirs" at the Heitmuller Art Co., an art and autograph dealer in Washington. The company wanted Anthony to buy autographs of historical figures, not a single woman among them.

"I have no doubt that your autographs are very fine and the portraits of all the distinguished men you mention must be fine also, but I am especially interested in the autograph signatures and the pictures of distinguished women," she wrote.

She mentioned her contemporaries in the movements for temperence, suffrage and abolition, including Elizabeth Cady Stanton and Mary Wollstonecraft, as examples of women worthy of recognition.

"When you get a collection of autographs and portraits of the distinguished women of the last century …  I will talk about patronizing you," she wrote.

"But while women are by the law excluded from a voice in the government under which they live, I can only work for their emancipation. I know you think women are the pets of society. That they may be, but to be a pet is not to be an equal, and what I want is for women to be equal before the law in every respect.”

The aggressive tone taken by Anthony is uncommon, as is her reference to women as pets – the rarity of which are reflected in the price tag, Raab said.

"The mocking and aggressive tone in her letter is extremely uncommon and indicates a certain amount of personal pain at feeling perhaps society still did not look on women as equals," he said. "The price reflects the rarity of such a frank communication of Anthony."

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soundoff (95 Responses)
  1. Kovor

    Civil Rights Leader? These were the same people who were rabidly pro-abortion and wanted to sterilize those people they considered "inferior".....poor whites, Blacks, Mexicans, etc.

    September 27, 2010 at 5:29 am | Report abuse | Reply
    • tensor

      And the problem with that would be? Fewer unwanted children, certainly fewer men from those groups in prison? A higher quality of life for all? Irresponsible – and back then, forced – overbreeding is a good bit of the problem with the wacky human race screwing up the planet.

      September 27, 2010 at 6:55 am | Report abuse |
  2. penisenvy

    Got some ladys? Geesh...

    September 27, 2010 at 5:38 am | Report abuse | Reply
  3. hrloop

    The Christians enslaved the women and minorities and gays. Only 1 has yet to gain their freedom from the fascist Christian regime.

    September 27, 2010 at 5:59 am | Report abuse | Reply
    • Moses

      Which one?

      September 27, 2010 at 7:07 am | Report abuse |
  4. Donsie

    Don't feed the trolls!

    September 27, 2010 at 6:16 am | Report abuse | Reply
  5. Women'sWrongs

    Women got the vote and society has been going down hill ever since. Face it, men and women are different. This is due to millions of years of evolution. Women stayed close to the home. Men hunted and so developed creative strategies that women lack. Of course there are exceptions, but men in general think of the big picture while women look at the immediate. For this reason it's been a disaster that women got the vote as they are very easily manipulated. The result has seen Western society become burdened with shallowness in politics and in every area of life.

    September 27, 2010 at 6:16 am | Report abuse | Reply
    • Libby

      Are you kidding? Women have the right to have the vote because it is appropriate that their interests be represented in government–they are more than half the population.

      September 27, 2010 at 7:02 am | Report abuse |
    • Patti in Dallas

      Stereotype much? The very picture of "irrational" and "misogyny."

      September 27, 2010 at 10:11 am | Report abuse |
  6. Rick

    as a feminist myself, I smiled when that woman was executed for killing her husband and step son for the insurance money. equal rights for men and women in action ;)

    September 27, 2010 at 6:18 am | Report abuse | Reply
  7. Jennifer C.

    I really just hate all men...
    I wish I understood my problem with this.
    I know it's not right. Sorry guys...

    September 27, 2010 at 6:28 am | Report abuse | Reply
  8. phil

    Men and women are very much alike. What we men and you women have in common far outweighs our differences. Not to mention we love each other a lot.

    September 27, 2010 at 7:42 am | Report abuse | Reply
  9. Emmeline Pankhurst

    Misogyny runs rampant here :[ but it does make me want to get out there even more and keep fighting for women's causes.

    September 27, 2010 at 4:35 pm | Report abuse | Reply
  10. ethomas

    Why isn't this letter being donated to a museum – such as the Susan B. Anthony home in Rochester, NY? It makes me sick that some people profit from history. This letter should be in a museum where it can be properly preserved and displayed for future generations.

    September 29, 2010 at 2:57 pm | Report abuse | Reply
  11. Vernon

    Don't you think $15,000 is too much to offer for a letter? It is not considered a valuable possession!!

    October 3, 2010 at 9:30 am | Report abuse | Reply
  12. Vernon

    Don't you think $15,000 is a little too much to offer for one letter? It is not considered a valuable possession!!!

    October 3, 2010 at 9:32 am | Report abuse | Reply
  13. assviolator

    shut up u guys

    October 28, 2010 at 8:32 am | Report abuse | Reply
  14. really?

    you're an idiot.

    September 25, 2010 at 10:58 pm | Report abuse | Reply
  15. Jennifer C.

    @Artie, nice to see a stereotypical male remind us why women need to follow Susan B. Anthony's advice to not rely on men for personal protection. Pragmatism and readiness are female virtues.

    September 26, 2010 at 12:56 am | Report abuse | Reply
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