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|Elizabeth Cady Stanton
one of the organizers of the Seneca Falls Convention
Elizabeth Cady was born in Johnstown, New York, on November 12, 1815. Her father was a judge who made no secret of his desire to have a son, but he still allowed his daughter to attain the best education possible, a rarity in that day. Elizabeth was, therefore, educated at the Johnstown Academy, where she excelled in Greek, Latin, and mathematics, and then at the Troy Female Seminary, from which she graduated in 1832. Visits with her cousin, social reformer Gerri Smith, inspired Elizabeth to become active in the abolitionist, temperance, and women's rights movements.
In 1840, Elizabeth married fellow abolitionist Henry Stanton; the couple's wedding ceremony was unusual in that Elizabeth insisted that the word "obey" be omitted from the marriage vows. The couple honeymooned at the World's Anti-Slavery Convention in London, where Elizabeth, Lucretia Coffin Mott, and five other women were prohibited from participating due to their gender. The seven women spent part of their time at the convention discussing ways to bring the issue of women's rights before the general public. Upon their return to the United States, the Stantons moved from town to town while Henry established his law practice before finally settling in Seneca Falls, New York. While Henry developed his law practice, Elizabeth raised their seven children and stayed active in the abolitionist movement.
In July of 1848, Stanton, Mott, and three other Quaker women met for a tea party in Waterloo, New York. The conversation soon turned to a discussion of the exclusion of women from the World's Anti-Slavery Convention, and by the time the tea party disbanded the women had organzed what is now known as the Seneca Falls Convention, which was held later that same month. It was Stanton who drew up the original draft of the Declaration of Sentiments, a document based on the Declaration of Independence that outlined 18 grievances being committed against women and 11 resolutions for correcting them. One of the resolutions Stanton included in the document called for giving women the right to vote, and it was that resolution which ended up drawing the most heated debate amongst convention attendees. Stanton remained active in the women's rights movement after Seneca Falls, but since her large family took a lot of her time she focused primarily on writing responses to editorials and articles criticizing the movement.
In 1851, Stanton met and became friends with fellow suffragist Susan B. Anthony, many of whose speeches were written by Stanton. In 1869, Stanton and Anthony helped organize the National Woman Suffrage Association (NWSA), of which Stanton served as president for twenty years. Stanton and Anthony also collaborated on the first three volumes of History of Woman Suffrage (which was published in installments between 1881 and 1886). In 1890, the NWSA merged with the American Woman Suffrage Association (AWSA) to form the National American Woman Suffrage Association (NAWSA), of which Stanton served as president until 1892. In 1895, Stanton and her daughter Harriett Stanton Blatch published the first volume of The Woman's Bible, in which they outlined how the Bible and organized religion both fundamentally deny women their full rights; the second volume was published in 1898.
Elizabeth Cady Stanton died in New York City on October 26, 1902. Although she did not live to see women get the right to vote, Stanton was successful in her fights for property rights for married women, equal guadianship of children, and liberalized divorce laws.
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This page was last updated on November 12, 2018.