Women and Adversity: Elizabeth Cady Stanton
Women’s Activist, Suffragist, Abolitionist
No Women and Adversity blog post would be complete without one on Elizabeth Cady Stanton, an ally of Lucretia Mott. The two met at the World Anti-Slavery Convention in London in 1840, where both were denied a seat because they were women.
In 1848, the pair with a few other women, organized the Woman’s Rights Convention in Seneca Falls, NY, considered the birth of the American women’s rights movement. Both lived to be 87 years old, but Stanton was much younger than Mott.
Elizabeth Cady was born in 1815 in Johnstown, NY to a prominent, well-known family. Her father, Daniel Cady, made known that he wanted a son, which might have prompted Elizabeth to be a staunch women’s rights advocate. She also heard her father, a lawyer, tell abused women that they had to endure the mistreatment. She often visited her older male cousin, Gerrit Smith, a social reformer and abolitionist, who undoubtedly influenced her untraditional choices for a woman.
Elizabeth studied at Johnstown Academy and graduated from Emma Willard’s Troy Female Seminary in 1832. She helped draft “Declaration of Sentiments” at the Seneca Falls convention in 1848 and promoted woman’s right to vote, abolition of slavery, divorce and pregnancy by choice.
She married Henry Stanton, an abolitionist and later a lawyer, in 1840 and omitted “obey” in the marriage vows. She also shunned the reference of Mrs. Henry B. Stanton, insisting on being referred to as Elizabeth Cady Stanton. The couple spent their honeymoon at the World Anti-Slavery Convention in London. They had seven children.
In 1868 she worked with Susan B. Anthony on a weekly paper called Revolution, and the two formed National Woman Suffrage Association in 1869. Stanton was its president until 1890. Then the organization merged with National American Woman Suffrage Association with Stanton as president for two more years.
Stanton traveled and spoke about women’s rights and called for an amendment to the Constitution giving women the right to vote. She, Anthony and Matilda Gage worked together to write the first three volumes of History of Woman Suffrage.
One way Stanton stood apart from other women’s advocates was that she believed religion stood in the way of equal rights. She and her daughter, Harriet, published a critique, The Woman’s Bible, in two volumes (1895 and 1898), which drew considerable controversy.
Stanton died in 1902 in New York.
More information about Elizabeth Cady Stanton:
Biography by Lori D. Ginzberg, Elizabeth Cady Stanton: An American Life (2010)
Biography by Elisabeth Griffith, In Her own Right: The Life of Elizabeth Cady Stanton (1984)
NEXT TIME: Susan B. Anthony