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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Filed under: History
soundoff (95 Responses)
  1. jim

    to jenniferC.. u r as offensive as artie. get off the man-hating band wagon. its old. again sorry if thats not received well but you sound silly. you sound like a militant femminist which is NOT better. ask around!

    September 26, 2010 at 1:41 am | Report abuse |
    • Jennifer C.

      Guess my kitchen is just too hot for some folks. Living in a free society means I can form my own opinions. Ask around.

      September 26, 2010 at 1:50 am | Report abuse |
    • Moses

      Jen C, it's great to hear that one of you is in the kitchen. I asked around, nobody cares.

      September 27, 2010 at 7:03 am | Report abuse |
  2. Marcus

    Yep, My great-great aunt sure had the guts to make a stand and prove her point for not only herself, but all women in the world. Shame I only knew her in history books and stories within the family.

    September 26, 2010 at 6:00 am | Report abuse |
  3. Help Here

    Hey Guys, will you visit SaveStan.ORG a friend of mine with 4 young babies is fighting for his life......... Thanks

    September 26, 2010 at 7:18 am | Report abuse |
  4. Dawn Castle

    I think many of you are missing an extremely important issue. One more time a piece of history goes up for sale to the private market. shouldn't this piece be in the national archives? sadly this is what happens more often than not. so our history is not available to the general public to remind us and validate to our children that they have reason to be proud and to carry on the basic tenets of our country.

    September 26, 2010 at 8:41 am | Report abuse |
  5. D'Bourgois

    Must I remind, if you subscribe to conservative ideals, that it was the conservatives of the time who would have denied the women equal rights? History has proven again and again – conservatives are on the wrong side of the future.

    September 26, 2010 at 8:42 am | Report abuse |
    • jasper

      One of my favourite quotations, which I find frightening but accurate, goes something like,
      "The only thing History shows us is that we have not learned from history."

      September 27, 2010 at 7:05 am | Report abuse |
  6. Art

    Things haven't changed that much. My woman is still my pet. She is also my boss.

    September 26, 2010 at 9:39 am | Report abuse |
  7. jr

    Anthony is once again a pet–her outrage domesticated into a souvenir to hang on a wall. How about instead of paying $15,000 for someone else's anger over old-timey inequality, people get off their rear ends and fight the many inequalities that exist today? Giving $15,000 to someone who is outraged right now and doing something about it would be a good start.

    September 26, 2010 at 10:30 am | Report abuse |
  8. L Donovan

    Woman has always fight to grow ball. now with equal rights we r all men and woman

    September 26, 2010 at 1:28 pm | Report abuse |
  9. L Donovan

    Woman has always fight to grow ball. now with equal rights we r all men and men

    September 26, 2010 at 1:29 pm | Report abuse |
  10. gregory

    @keith 1952 eith alldegrees you must be very miserable, do you sleep in same room?

    September 26, 2010 at 1:38 pm | Report abuse |
  11. gregory

    @keith52, with all her degrees, you must be very miserable, do you sleep in the same room?

    September 26, 2010 at 1:42 pm | Report abuse |
  12. Jay

    I guess I'm a lucky man... My girl loves to be put on a leash and crawl around for me.

    feminists are usually fat unattractive dykish chicks anyway... Make yourselves useful ladies! Get a make over, lose some weight and you'll see just how valuable you REALLY ARE!!!

    September 26, 2010 at 3:26 pm | Report abuse |
    • jasper

      Ack. Jay, I weep for your upbringing and hope for the sake of the future, that you are infertile.

      September 27, 2010 at 7:08 am | Report abuse |
  13. Clint

    Man I do love to watch these people not only read the comments, but watch them for days so they can respond back to each other? This isn't really even a huge news story, although still interesting and newsworthy. Just not as big as other things going on.

    September 27, 2010 at 3:34 am | Report abuse |
    • mike

      congratulations! you've just joined the club! :D

      September 27, 2010 at 3:41 am | Report abuse |
  14. liz

    I consider myself a strong woman. My husband has the better job right now but only because I'm still in graduate school. He sees me as his equal. And as a woman I feel that all of the women before us that fought for something have something to teach us. The saying does go 'well behaved women rarely make history' I also think selling history is a crime.

    September 27, 2010 at 4:29 am | Report abuse |
  15. Read-your history

    Just a reminder for most people of the how were you treating women a 100 year ago -"February 11, 1905". And women were not considered a human earlier too.

    I am so glad that women now are human and have achieved some equality but fully. I think we should not open our mouths about others that much until we fix our own problems. What would be talking today if women been asked to ware Hijab? Oh well, we have nuns whom are devoted to their believe, but Muslim women wearing Hijab devoted to their believe are oppressed!!! Well, at least Muslim do not teat women like Pets.

    September 27, 2010 at 5:15 am | Report abuse |
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