Elizabeth Cady Stanton
Elizabeth Cady Stanton, born in 1815, was a granddaughter of a Revolutionary hero and had a passion for women’s suffrage. An abolitionist that believed in equality for women, she used her talent for writing to create the “Declaration of Sentiments” document that was the call to action for the revolutionary belief in women’s rights.
During the 1800’s, women could not own property, did not have the right to vote in elections and were considered ‘property’ of their husbands or fathers. Stanton was the daughter of an attorney who let her know that he had wanted a son, and so she led her life proving that she could equal men in intellectual and life existence. Graduating from the Emma Willard Troy Female Seminary in 1832, she was drawn to the temperance, women’s rights and abolitionist movements.
In 1840, she married Henry Stanton. While it is a common practice to remove the word ‘obey’ from the marriage vows today, it was incredibly revolutionary in 1840. They both shared the ideas of anti-slavery and attended many abolitionist meetings together.
Elizabeth had seven children, but this did not stop her from her pursuit for equal rights for women. She was a main founder for the Seneca Falls Convention of 1848, which was a gathering of some of the top names in the women’s movement for discussion of the cause and resulted in the creation of the “Declaration of Sentiments” which expressed the demand for women to have voting rights.
Stanton was a major influence and mentor (teacher) to Susan B. Anthony in the 1850’s who would become one of the most well-known leaders in promoting a woman’s right to vote as well as general rights including divorce. Stanton continued her writing and participated in many lectures for women’s rights.
The Civil War became the focus of the nation and interrupted the women’s movement. Stanton focused on continuing the cause for the abolishment of slavery. By 1868, Anthony and Stanton worked together to produce the militant newspaper publication called the “Revolution”. They also formed the NWSA (National Woman Suffrage Association) in 1869, with Stanton as the first president. Later, the organization would merge with another group to become the National American Woman Suffrage Association and Stanton would serve as president of that group for two years.
Stanton traveled giving lectures, calling for an amendment to the U.S. Constitution that gave women the right to vote. She and Anthony worked together to create the first three volumes of “The History of Woman Suffrage” (1881-6)
Problems occurred when Stanton, writing with her daughter, released “The Woman’s Bible”. She had long believed that religion played a major role in the suppression of women’s rights and with this publication she angered a number of religious groups and other women’s groups, sending them in the opposite direction for the movement.
Stanton is credited for bringing the attention of the suffering of women and their lack of rights in the United States in a number of issues. She included government policies in her criticism all the way to a woman’s right to ride a bicycle. While she did not become as well-known as Anthony, she should be recognized as one of the major individuals that moved the fight for women’s rights to the front of the attention of the country.