A pioneer leading philosopher and activist of Women’s Suffrage Movement in the USA, and women’s rights.
While raising seven children, Elizabeth Cady Stanton became a leader of the Suffrage Movement, serving as the theorist of women’s rights in the late 19th century. She described herself as a “caged lioness”, but refused to believe that women had to choose between motherhood and public activism.
Stanton had a good start in life, born to a well-to-do family, enjoying the privilege of access to formal education in the days when girls were largely excluded from the lecture halls. She married abolitionist Henry Stanton, ten years her senior, and traveled with him to London for the World’s Anti-Slavery Convention. When women were not allowed to take seats, she was inspired to work for women’s rights. There she also met Lucretia Mott; later they fought together for women’s rights.
Eight years later, in 1848, she co-hosted the first Woman’s Rights Convention at Seneca Falls, New York. Stanton wrote and presented there the Declaration of Sentiments, which was an inclusive take on the Declaration of Independence. After meeting Susan B. Anthony, the two became close friends and partners in the movement: Anthony was the strategist, and Cady Stanton was the thinker and writer. She co-founded the National Woman Suffrage Association (NWSA) and edited its journal ‘The Revolution’, addressing a wide range of women’s issues in her lectures and articles, including divorce law and married women’s property rights.
Her later years were focused on writing – publishing History of Woman Suffrage and the controversial Woman’s Bible, which questioned the place of women within religion. Stanton died 18 years before women gained the right to vote in the ratification of the 19th Amendment to the American Constitution in 1920. Her daughter Harriot Stanton Blatch did practice her right to vote and continued her mother’s legacy as a feminist activist.
“In a word, I am always busy, which is perhaps the chief reason why I am always well”
More Interesting Anecdotes:
- After her lawyer-politician father commented that she should have been born a boy, she tried to impress him by learning to play chess, ride a horse, and read Greek.
- She decided to excise the word “obey” from her wedding vows.
- She was fond of luxury and became obese late in life.
- She was the first woman to run for Congress in 1866 and received 24 votes.
- She tried to donate her brain to science, at the request of Helen Gardener who wanted to use it to challenge the widespread claims of the time that the shape of men’s brains made them smarter. Her children refused to honor the agreement.
- She lived in Albany, New York, Boston, Brooklyn, New York City, and in Seneca Falls in upstate New York. Today her Seneca Falls home is a part of the Women’s Rights National Historical Park.