Who Was The First Woman To Appear On A US Coin?

The women's suffrage movement took place in many countries around the world, such as the United States, Pakistan, and the United Kingdom, in the 19th and 20th centuries. Per Britannica, the goal of these movements was to secure voting rights for women — the word itself, suffrage, means the right to vote — and many of these movements did eventually find success. 

There were a lot of important suffrage activists and icons within the women's suffrage movement, but one suffragette might be more familiar to many than others: Susan B. Anthony. 

One of the leading pioneers of the United States' suffrage movement, Anthony spent a good chunk of her life dedicated to women's rights (via Britannica). Her contributions led to the eventual passing of the Nineteenth Amendment in 1920, which forever cemented women's suffrage in American law. 

But many people's exposure to Susan B. Anthony might not necessarily be through her role as a feminist, but her legacy as a coin of the United States Mint. So how did she end up as a coin? For that, one must first know the history behind the woman herself, along with the minting of the US dollar coin. 

Susan B. Anthony helped lay the groundwork for modern feminism

Anthony might go down in history as one of the most important women's rights activists. Her contributions were numerous, and her passion enormous. Anthony was born on February 15, 1820, and died on March 13, 1906, according to Britannica. During her lifetime, she worked with many abolitionists, such as Wendell Phillips, William Lloyd Garrison, and Frederick Douglass, in an attempt to marry both the suffrage and abolitionist movements.

Anthony was also the publisher and editor of The Revolution, which was a periodical newspaper about women's rights. Anthony was subject to a lot of abuse in her life by men dismissive of her fight for equality. 

As GovInfo states, Anthony saw a fair amount of progress towards equal rights during her life, such as increased enrollment in college for women, more job opportunities, and less domestic abuse. Perhaps the most crowning achievement for Anthony, however, was the Nineteenth Amendment being called the Susan B. Anthony Amendment in 1920. 

The Susan B. Anthony coin was part of an initiative to mint a dollar coin

So how did America get the Susan B. Anthony coin to begin with? Well, many people might take this fact for granted, but the US did not always have a dollar coin in its circulation. That is, a coin that has the exact value of a dollar bill. 

It all started when the US government decided t make such a coin in 1975. As Coin Week says, the Research Triangle Institute was part of the effort to mint a dollar coin, and thus started coming up with ideas, along with the then Chief Engraver, Frank Gasparro. 

Lady Liberty was the first choice to be featured on the coin. However, the US Treasury received a lot of pressure from women's rights groups for an actual female figure from history be represented. 

As the National Susan B. Anthony Museum & House explains, they eventually decided on Susan B. Anthony being on the coin. The Susan B. Anthony Dollar Coin Act was put into law in 1978 by Jimmy Carter, and thus, a coin was born. It seems like Anthony will forever be immortalized in both history books and money.