Elizabeth Cady Stanton and Susan B. Anthony: Women's Rights by John H. Martin
Stanton Elizabeth Cady Stanton was one of the most influential public figures in Along with Susan B. Anthony, Stanton fueled the movement for women's suffrage. Early Life and Education; Marriage and Family in an Activist World; Women's His advice gave her an alternative and foreshadowed the career she would. By the couple were settled in Seneca Falls in a house bought for them by and Elizabeth met to discuss the issues to be addressed, and his advice helped Susan B. Anthony and Elizabeth Cady Stanton complemented each other in. Stanton and Anthony established the National Woman Suffrage Association ( Creative Women's Day are Elizabeth Cady Stanton and Susan B Anthony - two prominent US Suffragists. .. She also campaigned for property rights and equality within marriage - in the . Your guide to great fashion tips.
The Cady family's economic privilege and social authority are nearly invisible threads running through Stanton's recollections, unquestioned and, to Stanton, unproblematic. Her most vivid, and oft-repeated, story was that of a brilliant, boisterous, rebellious little girl, eleven years old, whose only living brother, Eleazar, had just died.
How dark the household must have seemed. Distraught, she crawled into her father's lap, seeking to give and receive comfort. But her grieving, distracted father put his arm around her and sighed, "Oh, my daughter, I wish you were a boy!
Every girl who has yearned to impress an accomplished or demanding father, every woman who has felt the slight of being thought less promising than her brothers, can relate to the insult. Elizabeth Cady, as it turned out, had more than enough reserves of self-esteem to survive the slap, though she never forgot it; not only was she as brilliant as the boys and men around her, but she knew it.
She was, as one historian puts it, "singularly unaffected with psychological insecurity," and she quickly put her extraordinary self-confidence to work.
But the political moral that she took from this childhood affront was the germ of something even larger: She took this insult very personally indeed.
Is it possible to sympathize, however grudgingly, with Judge Cady? But the man had just lost his only living son, at an age when the young man's promise was evident but his path not clearly marked, and at a time when a man such as the judge could reasonably rest his ambitions for succession only on boys. It is possible to read Daniel Cady's comment to his daughter not simply as a putdown, though it surely was that, but also as an acknowledgment that her intellect and her wit would in fact have found more expansive arenas if she had been a boy.
Elizabeth's father was neither so wrong nor uniquely old-fashioned in feeling a twinge of regret that this gifted child was a girl, for in the judge's world, and pretty much everyplace else, the barriers that limited her sex were real indeed.
To hear Stanton tell it, she spent her girlhood days trying to impress her learned father, live up to the standards set by her brother, and learn from the law students who wandered through the house. That the household was not composed exclusively of men seems largely to have escaped her notice. To her daughter, Mrs. It was she, presumably, who often placed the young Elizabeth "under punishment for what, in those days, were called 'tantrums'" but that Stanton insisted were "justifiable acts of rebellion against the tyranny of those in authority.
Unfortunately, neither Stanton's account nor other historical documents offer clues about what ambivalence Margaret Cady might have felt about her rebellious daughter. If, in Stanton's recollections, Judge Cady embodied the hard-line patriarchal attitudes that shaped his daughter's rebellion, Mrs. Cady was the regal exemplar of discipline, and Elizabeth Cady's younger sister Margaret was her "fearless and self-reliant" companion, the other women in the Cady household appear largely as the enforcers of conventional attitudes about women's place.
Sister Harriet Cady, later Eaton, maintained a tight grip over Elizabeth Stanton's decisions even late in life, and often made the Stanton children miserable with restraint. Tryphena, the eldest, was conservative to her very bones. Not only would she oppose her younger sister's radical proclamations and actions, but, as Harriot Stanton Blatch recalled, " 'Aunty By' had a leaning to the southern side in Civil War days.
Among Stanton's most quoted reminiscences are stories about the "three colored men, Abraham, Peter, and Jacob, who acted as menservants in our youth. But Peter Teabout was not simply a "manservant"; he was a slave — and he likely remained one untilwhen the last slaves were finally, grudgingly, emancipated in the state of New York. Johnstown's founder, Sir William Johnson, had brought slaves to central New York in the mid-eighteenth century, and by the time the Cadys arrived, revolutionary declarations of liberty notwithstanding, the practice of holding people in bondage had expanded.
Only in had the state legislature passed a law for gradual, and compensated, emancipation; a very few years before Elizabeth's birth, an African American man or woman in her county remained almost twice as likely to be a slave as to be free.
Finally, on July 4,slavery was ended in New York. African Americans, refusing to have their day of emancipation eclipsed by their white neighbors' own independence, pointedly waited until the following day, the fifth of July, to hold celebrations around the state. Stanton never mentioned that day of emancipation, neither to re. Is it unfair to have expected an eleven-year-old to notice?
His advice gave her an alternative and foreshadowed the career she would make for herself as a reformer. Born into a world of wealth and privilege, Elizabeth benefited from a better education than most girls were granted in her day.
She felt it unjust that she was barred from attending the more academically rigorous Union College, then an all-male institution. While she gained greater understanding of women and feminine culture at Troy, overall her experience there convinced her that male-female co-education is superior to single-sex education.
Seeing and visiting with men was such a novelty at Troy that it created an almost unnatural obsession with the other sex. Elizabeth did not complete a degree at Troy. Yet his preaching left Elizabeth terrified and perplexed. She considered his calls to give her heart to Jesus irrational, if not incomprehensible, and she refused to repent. Even so, she was still disturbed by the images of hell and damnation Finney had planted in her mind. They treated her to a retreat in Niagara where all talk of religion was forbidden, so that she could settle herself and regain her spiritual bearings.
After this exposure to Protestant revivalism, Elizabeth remained a religious skeptic for the rest of her life. Elizabeth continued to study on her own after her time at Troy Seminary. She also spent time with her intellectual and reform-minded cousins in nearby Peterboro, New York.
In the Smith household, Elizabeth was exposed to a number of new people as well as to new social and political ideas. Her aunt and uncle were egalitarians not only in the ideal, but in the everyday, sense. Their home was open to African Americans on their way to freedom in Canada as well as to Oneida Indians they had befriended. It also teemed with activists and intellectuals who discussed, debated and strategized about the social and political events of the day—chief among them abolition.
Her uncle, Peter Smith, was a staunch advocate of racial equality who sought an end to American slavery. Gerrit and his friends in the abolition movement would not only influence Elizabeth, but introduce lifelong challenges as she and other social reformers sought to bring full equality to all people, regardless of color, creed, or gender.
He was already an extremely prominent and influential abolitionist orator. Beginning his career as a journalist, Stanton met Theodore Weld while attending the Rochester Manual Labor Institute and Weld was touring the country to learn more about manual labor schools. Both were compelling public speakers. Both were committed to social and political reform. And both had been influenced by Charles Finney. In Rochester, Stanton first met Finney when he was serving as replacement pastor at a local church.
Like Weld—and in stark contrast to his future wife—Stanton was thoroughly impressed by Finney as an orator and theological thinker.
He was simply full of awe and admiration for the man. Lane was based on the manual labor model and initially was a great success. Henceforth, no events related to political issues were to be held without prior approval from the board. Nearly half the students at the seminary—Stanton and Weld among them—withdrew from the institution in protest. Stanton then began working alongside Weld, first as an agent of the American Anti-Slavery Society, then as an officer of the organization.
Studying law under Daniel Cady after he and Elizabeth married, Henry then became a lawyer and a political operative. He aspired to hold office himself, and succeeded in doing so for a short time in the early s. In the s, Stanton was a frequent visitor to the Smith household and a chief contributor to their many discussions about social and political issues.
When Elizabeth and Stanton met inshe was under the illusion that he was already married. So her earliest interactions with him were as simply an acquaintance who shared his interest in abolition, not as a potential love interest.
For Stanton, All Women Were Not Created Equal
After succumbing to family pressure and breaking her engagement to Stanton, Elizabeth had a change of heart, and the two married hastily in May They then went to London, where Henry was due to serve as a delegate at the World Antislavery Convention. Significantly, Henry gave a speech in favor of full participation by the women present, but his support stopped there.
His passion was for abolition. The suffragists and feminists argued that women needed more social and political freedom than they currently had. Certainly American slavery was cruel and unjust, but the system of oppression that permitted it was the same system that allowed men to rule over women with arbitrary and capricious authority.
A woman who was married to a kind and egalitarian man was simply lucky. The legal system still maintained the power of all men over their wives, no matter how cruel and unkind they may be. The minister performing the ceremony was troubled by this detour from convention, and Elizabeth was convinced that the lengthy prayer he offered after the ceremony—lasting nearly an hour—was payback for this crucial omission from their marriage vows.
There is no evidence that the matter troubled her husband. Even so, others in their reform-minded circles went further to advance equality in marriage. Theodore Weld, who wed the feminist and abolitionist Angelina Grimke invowed to treat his wife as an equal partner in their marriage.
Marrying inHenry Blackwell went much further, denouncing marriage as an institution that enforced male dominance over women. Other male reformers supported or worked alongside their wives in the suffrage struggle. Daniel Cady repeatedly lamented the fact that Elizabeth was female because he believed her intellect and forceful personality would go to waste in a woman. Women in the world they lived in were meant to attend to the hearth and home, not to go out into the world to become intellectuals or, worse still, rabble-rousing activists.
At the same time, her father was not completely unmoved by seeing Elizabeth act on her convictions. When Elizabeth responded by reminding him of all the laws that privileged men and harmed women, her father turned to his law books to provide her with another example that would help further illustrate her point.
While never more than outwardly lukewarm to her feminist efforts, Daniel Cady often provided support in this way—giving her legal ammunition to use in her writings and speeches. Elizabeth was accustomed to receiving only the dimmest signs of approval from her father. So as an adult, she neither expected nor needed the motivation of resounding applause for her suffrage work from Henry Stanton. During this period, Henry studied law under Daniel Cady, before taking up a position in Boston in She also visited the utopian Brook Farm community, admiring its idealism, though not the spartan way of life of its inhabitants.
Elizabeth loved Boston, and the art, culture, and intellectual life it had to offer. Instead of reaching to the floor, the skirt stopped midway between the ankles and the knees. The ease with which Libby could carry one of the children upstairs in one arm with an oil lamp in her free hand, without having to fuss with the holding up of her skirt on the steps at the same time, was a revelation of how comfortable and practical a woman's garb could be.
Elizabeth immediately adopted this new dress approach, despite the jeers by men and boys and the disapproval of her neighbors in town. In time she stopped dressing in the new style on the lecture platform when she found that her garb drew more attention than what she said for women's rights.
The new mode was taken up by another progressive woman in Seneca Falls, Amelia Bloomer, and the garb became known by Amelia's last name thereafter, whereas it was Libby Smith Miller who should rightly be given the credit for what became known as the "Bloomer style" of dress.
This was not the end to Elizabeth Stanton's experimentation with modern living. She even had her hair "bobbed," cut short, so as not to have to fuss with long hair, despite the Biblical injunction against women's short hair by St. This new hair style would not become common among women for another seventy years.
Now that Elizabeth and Susan Anthony had met, they began to collaborate on ideas as to how to forward the demand for women's rights. Susan made frequent trips from her home in Rochester to Seneca Falls, and she almost became a part of the Stanton family in helping with the Stanton children.
Susan constantly pushed Elizabeth to take a more active part in the work for women's rights, not an easy task for a woman raising a family of seven children. At first Elizabeth confined most of her efforts into writing the speeches for Susan, and this enabled Susan to become the outgoing and determined heckler of the men's world in the cause of women's rights.
In Susan finally convinced Elizabeth of the need for her to speak on behalf of the cause before a joint judiciary committee of the New York State legislature. This was an unheard of event, for a woman never appeared before the legislature to address these elected officials—men elected solely by men.
Elizabeth appeared bearing a petition signed by 6, individuals, petitioning the State legislature for the right of women to control their own earnings, the guardianship of their children in the event of a divorce, and the right to vote.
All these rights were being denied them under State law and religious teachings, Elizabeth also pointed out that the laws taxed an unmarried woman's earnings while denying her representation in government, a case of "no taxation without representation"—a statement which had been the rallying cry heard in years past when Americans had risen in revolt against British legislation over the colonies.
She also indicated that the income of slaves could not be taxed, while the income of a woman was taxed. Anthony had 50, copies of Elizabeth's speech printed. The Legislature, however, still refused to act. Obviously Susan and Elizabeth were still far in advance of public opinion and public realities. Unrepentant at the rebuffs being suffered for her ideas, later in Elizabeth decided to run for Congress since the United States Constitution did not specify that only men could run.
She knew she had no chance of winning, but the point was to keep the issue of women's rights to the fore. Elizabeth did speak at the Women's Rights Convention in the s, and she shocked even this then considered radical group since she demanded the right for a woman to divorce her husband when a marriage was no longer tenable. She re-defined marriage as a civil contract, subject to the restraints and privileges of all other contracts.
She thus demoted marriage from a sacred, religious act of the church to a civil function by raising both marriage and divorce to a civil, contractual right.
This view was to become law eventually, but it was still too radical for its own day. Elizabeth, by her declaration, made plain that she had transcended the personalized, pietistic morality of women's married life. She thus separated marriage and the family from the legal and spiritual control of the church and religion—and from man's inalienable control of wives as chattel beyond the protection of the law.
Her stance shocked not only the women present at the Convention but also those men who had been thought to be in the forefront of the liberal movements of their day. William Lloyd Garrison and Wendell Philips, both of Boston, that hub of advanced ideas at that time, turned against Elizabeth on this score.
They were to help in turning the newly established Republican Party against women's rights, a plank which many women feel has remained in its polity. In Elizabeth and Susan traveled to Kansas to speak in favor of giving the ballot to Negroes and to women in that state. They were a curious sight since women were not supposed to speak in public, but they spoke often and forcibly, and this was considered a major act of defiance by women.
In Kansas the Republican Party fought their views and saw to the defeat of the widening of enfranchisement of women and Negroes. In Britain, where the same battle was being fought, there was more hope for women's rights than in the United States.
In British women obtained the legal right to keep their own earnings instead of having them legally appropriated by their husbands. The United States was not yet this forward looking. Later Elizabeth was to journey to England where one of her grown daughters lived for a time, and she could see the trials being endured by the women of the British women's rights movement. She also spent some time in France where a grown son was at work. Here she saw the hopelessness of the situation for French women who were faced with the total opposition to women's rights by the Catholic Church, the former aristocracy of the right, and even by the more democratic forces in the nation.
Despite the failure in Kansas and then one in California in for the right of women to vote in State elections, the two women worked together for women's rights for fifty years.
There were growing differences in their approach to life and to the questions of polity, and this can be seen in the way they addressed each other. Thus in the two women formed an organization in New York City to which women alone could belong, "The National Women's Association. In time, common sense prevailed, and the two organizations joined in Yet within the next twenty years, byonly Wyoming, Colorado, Utah, and Idaho had granted women the right to vote in State elections.
Anthony went right to the top for the cause, meeting with President Theodore Roosevelt to push for women's right to vote. Roosevelt and his party turned a deaf ear to her pleas. Despite the opposition of Lucy Stone and even Horace Greeley to many of her ideas, Elizabeth brought them together in her parlor in New Jersey where the Stantons had moved due to Henry's business ties in New York City. Elizabeth had a new idea which she wished to push—a plan for a co-educational college. Even Harvard and Columbia University had trouble with that concept in the late twentieth century, one hundred years later.
A touchstone of the times can be seen in the fact that inat the Women's Suffrage Convention, some of her listeners were still shocked by Elizabeth's assertion that women should be able to vote not only in State elections but in Federal elections. Elizabeth was correct in her own earlier estimation that she was becoming more radical with the years. What she saw as the great opponents to the rights of women were the Christian churches and Christianity itself.
When one perused the Bible, it constantly made women inferior to men, and the tradition of male dominated Christian religion through the centuries only confirmed this ingrown prejudice in the Christian and Jewish religions. Thus in in her eightieth year, Elisabeth published The Woman's Bible in which she annotated those passages in the Bible which she found objectionable and irreligious in the broadest sense.
For Suffragette Elizabeth Cady Stanton, All Women Were Not Created Equal : NPR
This was a bold stance in Victorian America, but the book quickly became a best seller. In her later years Elizabeth became blind, and Susan often came to visit her in New Jersey.
It was at their last meeting when Elizabeth was eighty-six that Susan had asked in tears if they would meet again. Susan announced as they parted that she would return for Elizabeth's eighty-seventh birthday that November.
Elizabeth, however, died on October 26, Their friendship was symbolized at Elizabeth's funeral, for the flower-bedecked casket had atop it a picture of Susan B. Anthony, her beloved friend. The story does not end here. Inon her mother's death, Elizabeth's daughter Harriot Stanton Blatch returned from England where she had been living. Four years later she began an even more radical movement, "The Equality League of Self-Supporting Women," an organization meant to appeal to working-class women.
That same year the organization opened its office in New York City, and one of the speakers at the first meeting was Theodore Stanton, returned from Paris where he had been working. He was the one-time, eighteen-month-old who had been set afloat in the Seneca River years before by his brothers with corks on his arms to support their theory that one could float in such a condition. Then on the sixtieth anniversary of the first women's convention in Seneca Falls, Harriot Stanton Blatch and a group of women placed a plaque on the southeast corner of the Wesleyan Methodist Chapel building, no longer a chapel.
This commemorated the beginning of the revolt by Lucretia Coffin Mott and Elizabeth Cady Stanton against the political, legal, and religious degradation of women as equal individuals and citizens. They were able to recall the morning of July 19,when the streets of the small village of Seneca Falls were crowded with people making their way to the Wesleyan Chapel to attend the Women's Rights Convention.
They recalled as well that so many appeared, before the doors of the chapel were unlocked, that Elizabeth Cady Stanton's nephew was lifted through an open window to unlock the doors to permit access to the building so the convention could begin.
Their appearance, unfortunately, had to be cancelled at the last moment since the youngest member had come down with chicken pox. Harriot's daughter carried on the tradition, becoming one of the first women to become a civil engineer, her daughter in turn became an architect. Harriot's grand-daughter, one of those responsible for having the monument to the pioneers of women's rights moved to its proper place in the Congress in see belowis an elected official in Greenwich, Connecticut.
Her grand-daughter's thirteen-year-old daughter and her mother and grandmother participated in the th anniversary of the Women's Convention in Seneca Falls when Hilary Rodham Clinton spoke at the re-dedication of the Historic Park in It was not until August 18,that Tennessee became the thirty-sixth State to pass the nineteenth amendment to the U.
Constitution which granted women the right to vote in national elections. Even then, the measure passed by one vote, a vote cast by twenty-five year old Harry Burn, an opponent of women's suffrage.