Friday, 10 January 2014

Elizabeth Cady Stanton

Elizabeth Cady Stanton (1815-1902), American social reformer, who, along with Susan B. Anthony, led the struggle for woman suffrage. Elizabeth Cady was born on November 12, 1815, in Johnstown, New York, the fourth of six children. Although she never went to college, she studied subjects such as Greek, Latin, and mathematics. Her father served in the Congress of the United States and later as a New York judge; through him she was exposed to the study of law. She became interested early in the temperance and antislavery movements and spent time at the house of an uncle who was an abolitionist. There she met Henry Brewster Stanton, a journalist and abolitionist orator. They were married in 1840 and eventually had seven children.
Following their wedding, the Stantons traveled to London, England, to attend the World Anti-slavery Convention. However, women were denied entry to the convention. In London Cady Stanton met Lucretia Coffin Mott, a Quaker who had helped organize the American Anti-Slavery Society in the 1830s. In 1847 Cady Stanton and her family moved to Seneca Falls, New York, where in July 1848 she and Mott organized the first women's rights convention in the United States, known as the Seneca Falls Convention. Between 100 and 300 people attended, including Frederick Douglass, the noted abolitionist and former slave. For this convention, Cady Stanton drafted a Declaration of Sentiments modeled after the U.S. Declaration of Independence, in which she declared, “men and women are created equal.” Among the resolutions in her declaration, Cady Stanton included voting rights for women, despite the disapproval of Mott. From this point forward Cady Stanton worked actively for women's rights.
In 1851 Cady Stanton met Susan B. Anthony, with whom she would work for women's causes for the next 50 years. However, their efforts were temporarily redirected toward the fight against slavery, and they formed the National Women's Loyal League in 1863. After the Civil War ended in 1865 , Stanton and other women working toward the vote found themselves at odds with abolitionists working for the franchise of male former slaves. From 1868 to 1870, Cady Stanton and Anthony published the weekly Revolution in New York City, and in 1869 they founded the National Woman Suffrage Association, which after 1890 was called the National American Woman Suffrage Association. Cady Stanton served as its president until 1892. Cady Stanton's efforts were largely responsible for the introduction in 1878 of a constitutional amendment for woman suffrage. The amendment was reintroduced until it became law as the 19th Amendment in 1920.
Cady Stanton was an activist for women's causes in general, including liberalizing divorce laws and laws affecting women's rights to own property. On February 8, 1861, Cady Stanton addressed the Judiciary Committee of the New York Senate in support of a divorce bill. Speaking of the existing divorce laws, she said, “The laws on divorce are quite as unequal as those on marriage; yes, far more so. The advantages seem to be all on one side, and the penalties on the other.”
Cady Stanton's views on certain issues, including divorce, reproduction, and religion, separated her from more conservative advocates of women's rights. The publication of her two-volume book The Woman's Bible (1895, 1898), a commentary on women in the Bible, alienated her from the National-American Woman Suffrage Association. Cady Stanton was also active internationally and helped prepare the founding of the International Council of Women in 1888. She was coauthor, with Anthony and Matilda Joslyn Gage, of the first three volumes of A History of Woman Suffrage (6 volumes, 1881-1922). She published her autobiography, Eighty Years and More, in 1898.

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