Woman Making History #66: Elizabeth Cady Stanton


ElizabethCadyStanton.jpgNot exactly an unknown, but worth revisiting all the same...

Elizabeth Cady Stanton was born in 1815 in upstate New York. She was the eighth of eleven children (only five of whom lived into adulthood) born to a prominent family. Her father was a judge. Like many families in their time and social class, the Cady family owned slaves.

Cady Stanton was formally educated, attending a co-ed school until she was sixteen. In 1830, she enrolled in Emma Willard's Troy Female Seminary, but did not graduate, instead leaving with a deep distrust of Christianity she held for the rest of her life.

In 1940, Cady Stanton was married to anti-slavery activist and orator Henry Brewster Stanton. They honeymooned at the World's Anti-Slavery Convention in London. Cady Stanton and her husband had seven children between 1842 and 1859. Throughout the course of their forty-plus year marriage (they remained together until Brewster Stanton's death in 1887), Cady Stanton and her husband lived apart more often than together. While they agreed on many issues, including abolition, they disagreed on others, the most notable being women's rights.

In 1847, the Cady Stanton family moved to Seneca Falls, New York. Though Cady Stanton loved motherhood and her children, she was unhappy with the isolation and lack of intellectual stimulation she found in Seneca Falls. This experience, as well as previous experiences of women's second-class citizenship in the abolitionist movement, sealed Cady Stanton's commitment to women's rights. She and others, including Lucretia Mott, organized the nation's first women's rights convention, in Seneca Falls, in 1848. Cady Stanton drafted the convention's Declaration of Sentiments, based on the U.S. Declaration of Independence, which, among other things, stated boldly that men and women were created equal, and demanding voting rights for women.

In 1851, Cady Stanton met Susan. B. Anthony, who would become her partner in writing and activism. Anthony, who was single and did not have children, was free to do the orating and traveling Cady Stanton did not have time to do, and Stanton took on the heavier burden of writing and research tasks, and was considered an organizer and tactician for the burgeoning movement.

Cady Stanton's woman's rights work was not limited to suffrage. She was also very interested in the role of religion in oppressing women, writing The Women's Bible. She supported divorce rights, property holding rights for women, equal guardianship rights for mothers, and protection of female employment. In 1868, Cady Stanton ran unsuccessfully for the U.S. Congress. In her later years, she was also more involved in international activism, traveling to Europe and helping to found the International Council of Women in 1888. She was also a prolific writer, writing, among other things, Eighty Years and More: Reminiscences 1815-1897 and The Woman's Bible,
and co-writing the first three volumes of History of Woman Suffrage (with Matilida Josyln Gage)
Elizabeth Cady Stanton died in 1902 at her home in New York.

About: Women's History
National Women's Hall of Fame

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