The Robinson Library

The Robinson Library >> Suffrage
Lucy Stone

she was inspired to fight for women's rights when her father told her that women had no need for a formal education

Lucy Stone

Lucy Stone was born in West Brookfield, Massachusetts, on August 13, 1818. Her inspiration to fight for women's rights came early in life, when her brothers were allowed to receive a formal education but she was not. According to her father, the Bible specified the proper roles of men and women, and none of a woman's roles required an education. Though still young, she decided to learn Hebrew and Greek so she could translate the Bible herself, thus proving or disproving her father's assertions. She may have been prevented from attending school, but her father was unable to keep her from reading any book she could get a hold of, and by the time she was an adult she had achieved her goal of translating the Bible. Not surprisingly, she determined that her father was wrong in his assertion that women had no need for an education.

Ready to get the education she had desired as a child, Stone entered Mount Holyoke Female Seminary in 1839. To insure that she could pay her own way, she took jobs teaching school and tutoring the children of rich families. From Mount Holyoke she went on to Oberlin College in Ohio (the first college in the United States to admit both women and blacks), from which she graduated in 1847. The school asked Stone to draft a commencement address, but when informed that the address would be read by a man because it was "more seemly," Stone refused. She then returned to Massachusetts and began a "career" of fighting for the rights of both women and blacks.

Stone gave her first public speech on women's rights in 1847. She joined the American Anti-Slavery Society in 1848, and then traveled across the North urging people to oppose slavery. In 1850, she helped organize the first national women's rights convention, in Worcester, Massachusetts. Throughout the late 1840's and early 1850's, she traveled extensively giving speeches for both abolition and women's rights. Often criticized for linking abolition with women's rights, Stone finally compromised by agreeing to give speeches on abolitionism on the weekends and on women's rights on weekdays.

In 1853, while on a trip to Cincinnati, Stone met Henry Blackwell, a businessman who shared her views on abolition and women's rights. The two were married in 1855, but their marriage vows specifically gave "permission" for Stone to not take her husband's name.

Stone retired from public speaking in 1857 to care for her infant daughter (Alice Stone Blackwell). She began lecturing again in the late 1860's, due primarily to passage of the 14th Amendment, which gave the vote to black men but not to women. In 1869, she, along with Julia Ward Howe and Josephine Ruffin, founded the American Woman Suffrage Association, which later merged with the National Woman Suffrage Association.

In 1873, Stone and her husband became editors of The Women's Journal, a weekly newspaper that called for women's rights. Stone preferred editing the paper over lecturing, as it allowed her to stay home with her family while still working for her causes. In 1879, the State of Massachusetts gave women the right to vote in school board elections. Then a resident of Boston, Stone was informed that she would not be allowed to vote unless she adopted her husband's name; she refused, and sat out the election.

Lucy Stone continued to fight for women's suffrage almost to her death, which came in Dorchester, Massachusetts, on October 18, 1893.


Ohio History Central

See Also

Julia Ward Howe

Questions or comments about this page?

The Robinson Library >> Suffrage

This page was last updated on 08/13/2018.