Elizabeth Cady Stanton

Lived:November 12, 1815—October 26, 1902 (aged 86)
Career:Writer, suffragist and women's rights activist
Education:Emma Willard's Troy Female Seminary

Elizabeth Cady Stanton was an American leader in the women's rights movement who, in 1848, formulated the first organized demand for woman suffrage in the United States.

Stanton received a superior education at home, at the Johnstown Academy, and at Emma Willard's Troy Female Seminary, from which she graduated in 1832. While studying law in the office of her father, Daniel Cady, a U.S. congressman and later a New York Supreme Court judge, she learned of the discriminatory laws under which women lived and determined to win equal rights for her sex. In 1840, she married Henry Brewster Stanton, a lawyer and abolitionist (she insisted that the word "obey" be dropped from the wedding ceremony). Later that year they attended the World's Anti-Slavery Convention in London, and she was outraged at the denial of official recognition to several women delegates, notably Lucretia C. Mott, because of their sex. She became a frequent speaker on the subject of women's rights and circulated petitions that helped secure passage by the New York legislature, in 1848, of a bill granting married women's property rights.

In 1848, she and Mott issued a call for a women's rights convention to meet in Seneca Falls, New York and in Rochester, New York. At the meeting Stanton introduced her Declaration of Sentiments, modeled on the Declaration of Independence, which detailed the inferior status of women; and that, in calling for extensive reforms, effectively launched the American women's rights movement. She also introduced a resolution calling for woman suffrage that was adopted after considerable debate. From 1851 she worked closely with Susan B. Anthony; together they remained active for 50 years after the first convention, planning campaigns, speaking before legislative bodies, and addressing gatherings in conventions, in lyceums, and in the streets. Stanton, the better orator and writer, was perfectly complemented by Anthony, the organizer and tactician. She wrote not only her own and many of Anthony's addresses, but also countless letters and pamphlets. She also wrote articles and essays for numerous periodicals, including Amelia Bloomer's Lily, Paulina Wright Davis's Una, and Horace Greeley's New York Tribune.

In 1854, Stanton received an unprecedented invitation to address the New York legislature; her speech resulted in new legislation in 1860 granting married women the rights to their wages and to equal guardianship of their children. During her 1852 to 1853 presidency of the short-lived Woman's State Temperance Society, which she and Anthony had founded, she scandalized many of her most ardent supporters by suggesting that drunkenness be made sufficient cause for divorce. Liberalized divorce laws continued to be one of her principal issues.

During the Civil War, Stanton again worked for abolitionism. In 1863 she and Anthony organized the Women's National Loyal League, which gathered more than 300,000 signatures on petitions calling for immediate emancipation. The movement to extend the franchise to African American men after the war, however, reemphasized the disenfranchisement of women, and led her and her colleagues to redouble their efforts for woman suffrage.

Stanton and Anthony made several exhausting speaking and organizing tours on behalf of woman suffrage. In 1868, Stanton became coeditor (with Parker Pillsbury) of the newly established weekly The Revolution, a newspaper devoted to women's rights. She continued to write fiery editorials until the paper's demise in 1870. She helped organize the National Woman Suffrage Association in 1869 and was named its president, a post she retained until 1890, when the organization merged with the rival American Woman Suffrage Association. She was then elected president of the new National American Woman Suffrage Association and held that position until 1892.

Stanton continued to write and lecture tirelessly. She was the principal author of the Declaration of Rights for Women presented at the Centennial Exposition in Philadelphia in 1876. In 1878, she drafted a federal suffrage amendment that was introduced in every Congress thereafter until women were granted the right to vote in 1920. With Anthony and Matilda Joslyn Gage she compiled the first three volumes of the six-volume "History of Woman Suffrage." She also published "The Woman's Bible," 2 vol. (1895–98), and an autobiography, "Eighty Years and More" (1898).

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