After the Civil War, when Stanton felt free to travel, she became one of the best-known women in the United States. As president of the National Woman Suffrage Association, she was an outspoken social and political commentator, who debated the major political and legal questions facing the . As a witty and popular lecturer touring the nation, she spoke on topics like maternity, the woman's crusade against liquor, child rearing, and divorce law, as well as constitutional questions and presidential campaigns. Thriving on controversy, she championed notorious victims of the double standard like Abby McFarland Richardson and Laura Fair. While she entertained her audiences, she challenged them to examine how inequality had distorted American society and consider how equality might be achieved.
Jenks was born in New York in 1818, reared as a Presbyterian, and as a
young woman became an activist for the anti-slavery, anti-alcohol, and
women's votes movements. One of her concerns has made her name a part
of the language. In her day, women's fashions encouraged tightly laced
waists, involving severe health problems. (The fashions were denounced
in 1728 by William Law --see 9 April.) The
fashion also called for skirts trailing the ground, an arrangement that
made it difficult to keep the skirts reasonably clean, especially since
the streets were full of horses. Mrs. Bloomer designed a women's costume
featuring what are known as Turkish pants, or harem pants (remember the
television show I Dream of Jeannie ), loose baggy trousers gathered
into tight bands at the ankles and waist. Over these she wore a mid-calf-length
skirt. It seems a thoroughly modest garb, but it excited indignation and
ridicule. (At least well into the 1940's, women's underpants, and women's
baggy outer pants worn for athletics, were known as "bloomers.")
Mrs. Bloomer and her husband eventually settled in Council Bluffs, Iowa, where she worked to promote churches, schools, libraries, and progressive and reform movements. On one occasion she said:
"The same Power that brought the slave out of bondage will, in His own good time and way, bring about the emancipation of women, and make her the equal in power and dominion that she was in the beginning."
Even in her later years, Anthony never gave up on her fight for women's suffrage. In 1905, she met with President Theodore Roosevelt in Washington, ., to lobby for an amendment to give women the right to vote. Anthony died the following year, on March 13, 1906, at the age of 86, at her home in Rochester, New York. According to her obituary in The New York Times , shortly before her death, Anthony told friend Anna Shaw, "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."