An all-nighter with Susan B. Anthony

Susan_B_Anthony_Older_YearsI’m working on a talk about how I get to “know” the historical people I write about. One way is doing research regarding experiences, descriptions, accounts from a contemporary of the person.  Here’s a telling account about an almost seventy-year-old Susan B. Anthony by Anna Howard Shaw: “Seeing, as in a vision, the figure of ‘Aunt Susan’ as she slipped into my hotel room in Chicago, late one night after an evening meeting of the International Council. I had gone to bed–indeed, I was almost asleep when she came, for the day had been as exhausting as interesting. . .She had a great deal to say, she declared, and she proceeded to say it–sitting in a big easy-chair near the bed, with a rug around her knees, while I propped myself up with pillows and listened. Hours passed and the dawn peered wanly through the windows, but still Miss Anthony talked of the Cause, always of the Cause–and what we two must do for it. . .Suddenly she stopped, looked at the gas-jets paling in the morning light that filled the room, and for fleeting instant seemed surprised. In the next she had dismissed from her mind the realization that we had talked all night. Why should we not talk all night? It was part of our work. She threw off the enveloping rug and rose. ‘I must dress now,’ she said, briskly. ‘I’ve called a committee meeting before the morning session.'”

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