In , Elizabeth married Henry Brewster Stanton, a journalist and antislavery orator she met through her involvement in the temperance and abolition movements. They had seven children between and In , the Stantons moved to Boston, where Henry began practicing law and the couple enjoyed the social, political, and intellectual life of active abolitionists. When the family returned to New York in , this time to Seneca Falls, Stanton tried to focus solely on being a mother and wife, particularly because Henry traveled often, speaking and writing about social issues, including abolition.
But she quickly became dissatisfied with only these roles. Stanton wrote a Declaration of Sentiments, which she modeled on the Declaration of Independence, to formally assert the equality of men and women and propose resolutions, including female suffrage. The Seneca Falls Convention was attended by over people, including Frederick Douglass, who spoke informally at the convention. One hundred of the participants signed the Declaration of Sentiments.
Instead of attending, she chose to be a sponsor and have a speech read. In , she was introduced by a mutual friend to Susan B. Anthony, who was most active in the temperance movement at the time. The two would form a life-long friendship and collaboration. Convinced that gaining equality for women would have the greatest effect, giving women the ability to affect both temperance and abolition, Stanton and Anthony focused their energies on suffrage. After the Civil War, they split from the less radical American Woman Suffrage Association founded by Lucy Stone, which believed in precedence—the idea that suffrage for free black men was more important than suffrage for women—and which focused on winning the right to vote state-by-state.
Instead, Anthony and Stanton campaigned for a constitutional amendment for universal suffrage in America and founded the National Woman Suffrage Association in with Matilda Joslyn Gage. Stanton and Gage wrote the Declaration of Rights of the Women of the United States , which Anthony presented, uninvited, at the Centennial celebration in Washington in He believed that white women in particular were already somewhat empowered by their connections and ability to influence their voting fathers, husbands, brothers, and sons and that obtaining the vote for freed black men was more urgent and important.
Following the passage of the Fourteenth Amendment in , which stated, "All persons born or naturalized in the United States, and subject to the jurisdictions thereof, are citizens of the United States and the State wherein they reside" and prohibited limiting the rights of any citizen, Stanton and Anthony took the position that the amendment actually did give women the right to vote. Both women—Anthony in and Stanton in —along with many others, would go to the polls insisting on voting. Anthony began publishing the weekly newspaper The Revolution in New York City, with editorials often written by Stanton.
The paper provided a strong counterpoint to the prejudices evident in most other newspapers of the day, arguing for equal rights, suffrage, and equal pay. In November , Stanton joined the New York Lyceum Bureau, which was an organization that provided lectures, dramatic performances, class instruction, and debates and was instrumental in adult continuing education and was part of the cultural fabric of the 19th-century life.
Stanton would travel and lecture, mainly in the Midwest and on the western frontier, for about eight months of the year until , addressing a wide variety of topics for a wider audience than the suffrage conventions she had previously limited herself to. One of her most popular speeches, Our Girls, addressed the education and socialization of girls in a way that challenged the traditional way that girls were reared; it was a practical way to spread the principals of equality that Stanton had long fought for.
When she stopped lecturing in , she had more time to devote to writing and travel, though she continued to give three or four major speeches a year. She and Anthony had begun writing what would be a 3-volume history of the suffrage movement; volumes one and two of the History of Woman Suffrage were published in and Stanton worked on the third volume, published in , in and when she resumed housekeeping to take care of her aging husband—Henry Stanton died in In the s, Stanton further distanced herself from the more conservative, mainly Christian leaders of the National American Woman Suffrage Association—she believed that Christianity was inherently sexist, relegating women to an inferior position in society.
While she had been unable to obtain a formal college degree, both of her daughters earned advanced degrees; Margaret attended Vassar and Columbia, while Harriot obtained both undergraduate and graduate degrees from Vassar. On the morning of July 19, , the year-old glove maker drove in a horse-drawn wagon to the Wesleyan Methodist Chapel in the upstate New York town of Seneca Falls. To her surprise, Woodward found dozens of other women and a group of men waiting to enter the chapel, all of them as eager as she to learn what a discussion of "the social, civil, and religious rights of women" might produce.
The convention was the brainchild of year-old Elizabeth Cady Stanton, daughter of Margaret and Judge Daniel Cady and wife of Henry Stanton, a noted abolitionist politician. Born in Johnstown, New York, Cady Stanton demonstrated both an intellectual bent and a rebellious spirit from an early age. In she provoked her father by marrying Stanton, a handsome, liberal reformer and further defied convention by deliberately omitting the word "obey" from her wedding vows.
Marriage to Henry Stanton brought Elizabeth Cady Stanton—she insisted on retaining her maiden name—into contact with other independent-minded women.
The newlyweds spent their honeymoon at the World Anti-Slavery Convention in London where, much to their chagrin, women delegates were denied their seats and deprived of a voice in the proceedings. Among the delegates was Lucretia Coffin Mott, a liberal Hicksite Quaker preacher and an accomplished public speaker in the American abolitionist movement, who was also disillusioned by the lack of rights granted women.
I felt a new born sense of dignity and freedom. Eight years passed, however, before they fulfilled their mutual goal.
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For the first years of her marriage, Cady Stanton settled happily into middle-class domestic life, first in Johnstown and subsequently in Boston, then the hub of reformist activity. At tea, Cady Stanton poured out to the group "the torrent of my long-accumulating discontent. Hoping to attract a large audience, they placed an unsigned notice in the Courier, advertising Lucretia Mott as the featured speaker.
Biography of Elizabeth Cady Stanton, Women's Suffrage Leader
They had only three days to set an agenda and prepare a document "for the inauguration of a rebellion. The document declared that, "all men and women are created equal" and "are endowed by their Creator with certain unalienable rights…" These natural rights belong equally to women and men, but man "has usurped the prerogative of Jehovah himself, claiming it as his right to assign for her a sphere of action, when that belongs to her conscience and to her God.
There followed a specific catalog of injustices. Women were denied access to higher education, the professions, and the pulpit, as well as equal pay for equal work. If married, they had no property rights; even the wages they earned legally belonged to their husbands.
Stanton, Elizabeth Cady | Internet Encyclopedia of Philosophy
Women were subject to a different moral code, yet legally bound to tolerate moral delinquencies in their husbands. Wives could be punished, and in a case of divorce, a mother had no child custody rights. Eleven resolutions demanding redress of these and other grievances accompanied the nearly 1, word Declaration. When Cady Stanton insisted upon including a resolution favoring voting rights for women, her otherwise supportive husband threatened to boycott the event.
Even Lucretia Mott warned her, "Why Lizzie, thee will make us ridiculous! Henry Stanton left town. When the organizers arrived at the Wesleyan Chapel on the morning of Wednesday, July 19th, they found the door locked. As the church filled with spectators, another dilemma presented itself.
After a hasty council at the altar, the leadership decided to let the men stay, since they were already seated and seemed genuinely interested.
ELIZABETH CADY STANTON: GENERAL COMMENTARY
Tall and dignified in his Quaker garb, James Mott called the first session to order at A. Cady Stanton, in what was her first public speech, rose to state the purpose of the convention. The Declaration was re-read several times, amended, and adopted unanimously. Later that evening, Mott spoke to a broader audience on "The Progress of Reforms. As Mott feared, the most contentious proved to be the ninth—the suffrage resolution. The other 10 passed unanimously. Subscriber sign in. Forgot password? Don't have an account?
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