Elizabeth Cady Stanton was a leading figure in the movements for abolition, women’s rights, and Woman Suffrage. She played a key role with Lucretia Mott in the Seneca Falls Convention in 1848 and is the author of “The Declaration of Sentiments,” which called for social and legal changes to the status of women. She also collaborated with Susan B. Anthony on speeches, books, and articles devoted to the Woman Suffrage Movement.
Early Life and Family Background
- She was born on November 12, 1815 in Johnstown, New York.
- Her parents were Daniel Cady and Margaret Livingston.
- Daniel Cady was a Federalist attorney and served a term in the U.S. Congress. He allowed Elizabeth to read his law books and debate legal issues with his law clerks. This experience showed her how the laws of the time favored men over women.
- Margaret Livingston was the daughter of Colonel James Livingston, a Colonial Officer during the American Revolution who was involved in the capture of Major John Andre.
- Stanton attended school at Johnstown Academy and graduated at the age of 16. Since women were not allowed to attend college, she enrolled at Emma Willard’s Troy Female Seminary in New York and graduated in 1832.
Introduction to 19th Century Reform Movements, and Lucretia Mott
- In 1839, she was introduced to the movements for abolition, temperance, and women’s while living with her cousin, Gerrit Smith, in Peterboro, New York.
- She met Henry Brewster Stanton, a journalist and abolitionist who was volunteering for the American Anti-Slavery Society.
- They married in 1840 and went on to have seven children.
- They honeymooned in London and attended the World Anti-Slavery Convention as delegates for the American Anti-Slavery Society, but the Convention refused to recognize women delegates.
- While in London, she met Lucretia Mott, who was also excluded from the Convention.
- They vowed to hold a woman’s rights convention when they returned home.
- When the Stantons returned to the United States, they lived in Boston, Massachusetts.
Seneca Falls, Rochester, and the National Women’s Rights Convention
- In July 1848, she organized the first women’s rights convention in Seneca Falls, New York with Lucretia Mott, Jane Hunt, Mary Ann M’Clintock and Martha Coffin Wright. The Convention was held on July 19 and 20, and over 300 people attended.
- She helped write “The Declaration of Sentiments,” which documented what the rights of American women should be.
- She was invited to speak at the second women’s rights convention, the Rochester Convention of 1848.
- In 1848, she circulated petitions in New York, urging the New York Congress to pass the New York Women’s Property Act.
- She was invited to speak at the first National Women’s Rights Convention in 1850 but was unable to attend due to pregnancy. Instead, she sent a speech to be read.
Introduction to Susan B. Anthony and Beginning of Their Collaboration
- Stanton was introduced to Susan B. Anthony in 1851 and the two of them worked on speeches, articles, and books for a half-century.
- In 1852, the two of them formed the Woman’s State Temperance Society.
- In 1854, Stanton’s “Address to the Legislature of New York” helped lead to reforms that were passed in 1860 that increased the rights of women.
- In 1862, the Stantons moved to Brooklyn then to New York City.
- Stanton and Anthony formed the Women’s Loyal National League to advocate for the passage of the 13th Amendment.
- In 1866, they opposed the 14th and 15th Amendments, because they did not extend rights to women. This stance caused a rift with other suffragists.
- In 1869, Stanton and Anthony founded the National Woman Suffrage Association (NWSA).
- Later in 1869, the suffragists that disagreed with their stance on the 14th and 15th Amendments created the American Woman Suffrage Association.
- She edited and wrote for the NWSA journal, The Revolution
- Stanton was President of the NWSA until 1890 when it merged with the American Woman Suffrage Association to form the National American Woman Suffrage Association. She served as President of the new organization for two years.
Publications and Legacy
- From 1881-1886, she wrote the three-volume History of Woman Suffrage with Anthony and Matilda Joslyn Gage.
- She published the Women’s Bible, along with her daughter, Harriet Stanton Blatch, in two volumes (1895 and 1898).
- In 1898, she published her autobiography, Eighty Years and More.
- She died on October 16, 1902 in New York City from heart failure.
- On August 18, 1920, the 19th Amendment passed, guaranteeing American women the right to vote.