ELIZABETH CADY STANTON


Elizabeth Cady Stanton lived from 1815-1902. She was among the nineteenth century's most dominant women who fought for social equality of women. In 1848, she and others, including the well-known Susan B. Anthony, organized the first national woman's rights convention in Seneca Falls, New York. Stanton always stated that, as men's equals, women of all races should be treated as such in law and in political participation. Stanton also explored how true equality would transform interpersonal relations and pervasive cultural norms. She tried to spread her standpoint to men and women nationally.


Born on 12 November 1815 in Johnstown, New York, Stanton was the daughter of Margaret Livingston and Daniel Cady, one of the town's most prominent citizens. She received her formal education at the Johnstown Academy and at Emma Willard's Troy Female Seminary. She also acquired a considerable informal legal education from her father, who trained many of New York's lawyers.


Stanton had an early introduction to the reform movements, including encounters as a young woman with fugitive slaves at the home of her cousin Gerrit Smith. It was at Smith's home that she also met her husband Henry Stanton. Soon after their marriage in 1840 they traveled to London, where Henry Stanton was a delegate to the World Anti-Slavery Convention. There she met Lucretia Mott, the Quaker teacher who served in many of the associated Temperance, Anti-Slavery, and Women's Rights organizations with which Stanton is associated. Denied her seat at the convention, as were all the women delegates, Mott discussed with Stanton the need for a convention on women's rights. The plan came to fruition when Mott again encountered Stanton in the summer of 1848 in the home of fellow Quaker Jane Hunt. After a month of missionary work on the Cattaraugus Reservation of the Seneca Nation, James and Lucretia Mott were attending the annual meeting of the Religious Society of Friends at Junius, near Seneca Falls, and staying at nearby Auburn with Lucretia Mott's sister, Martha Coffin Wright.


Her marriage to the antislavery orator Henry B. Stanton in 1840 introduced her to the most advanced circles of reform as well as to motherhood and domestic life. She gave birth to seven children between 1842 and 1859. Although rearing her five sons and two daughters limited her early activism, Stanton managed during their childhood to polish her gifts as a writer, exerting great influence over the antebellum woman's rights movement even though she rarely attended its meetings.


Stanton met Susan B. Anthony in 1851, and their remarkable collaboration began at once. As a single woman Anthony was free to travel and earn her living from her reform work, providing Stanton with more active ways to educate and agitate for her reforms. Anthony, it turned out, was also more skillful than Stanton at organizing people to carry out their shared ideas.


History records the lasting relationship between these two women as well as the strains that resulted from their different roles and priorities. Unwilling to commit to a vigorous travel schedule until her children were grown, Stanton wrote many of her speeches for delivery by Anthony. As the years wore on the two held closely together, splitting with many other women as well as Gerrit Smith and Frederick Douglass, over the idea that suffrage for black men, after emancipation should take precedence over suffrage for women. Along with Matilda Joslyn Gage, the two led the National Woman Suffrage Association, opposing the concept of "precedence" accepted by the less radical American Woman Suffrage Association.


After the Civil War, when Stanton felt free to travel, she became one of the best-known women in the United States. As president of the National Woman Suffrage Association, she was an outspoken social and political commentator, who debated the major political and legal questions facing the U.S. As a witty and popular lecturer touring the nation, she spoke on topics like maternity, the woman's crusade against liquor, child rearing, and divorce law, as well as constitutional questions and presidential campaigns. Thriving on controversy, she championed notorious victims of the double standard like Abby McFarland Richardson and Laura Fair. While she entertained her audiences, she challenged them to examine how inequality had distorted American society and consider how equality might be achieved.


By the 1880s Stanton