Cady Stanton was a social activist, and a leading figure of the
early women's rights movement in the United States. With her husband,
Henry Stanton and cousin, Gerrit Smith, Elizabeth Cady Stanton
was also active in the anti-slavery Abolitionist movement. Stanton
had a strong friendship with abolitionist and former slave Frederick
Elizabeth Cady was born in Johnstown, New York to Daniel Cady
and Margaret Livingston Cady. Daniel Cady was a prominent attorney
who served a term in the Congress of the United States and later
became a judge. Margaret Livingston was the daughter of Colonel
James Livingston, an officer in the American Revolutionary War.
Cady met Henry Brewster Stanton through her early involvement
in the temperance and the abolition movements. Henry Stanton was
a journalist, an antislavery orator, and, after their marriage,
became an attorney. Despite Daniel Cady's reservations, the couple
were married in 1840 and had seven carefully spaced children.
Cady Stanton loved motherhood and assumed primary responsibility
for rearing the children.
was remembered by her daughter Margaret as cheerful, sunny and
indulgent. Stanton took her husband's surname as part of her own,
signing herself Elizabeth Cady Stanton or E. Cady Stanton, but
refused to be addressed as Mrs. Henry B. Stanton. Feeling that
women were individual persons, she asserted that "(t)he custom
of calling women Mrs. John This and Mrs. Tom That and colored
men Sambo and Zip Coon, is founded on the principle that white
men are lords of all."
Stanton marriage was not entirely without tension and disagreement.
Due to employment, travel and financial considerations, husband
and wife lived more often apart than together. Friends of the
couple found them very similar in temperament and ambition, but
quite dissimilar in their views on issues such as women's rights.
In 1842, abolitionist reformer Sarah Grimke counseled Elizabeth
in a letter: "Henry greatly needs a humble, holy companion
and thou needest the same." However, both Stantons appeared
to consider their marriage an overall success and the marriage
lasted for forty-seven years, ending with Henry's death in 1887.
(Baker, pp. 99-113).
died in 1902 and was interred in the Woodlawn Cemetery in Bronx,
Stanton was a great admirer of feminist Lucretia Mott, whom she
heard speak at the International Anti-Slavery Convention in London,
England in the spring of 1840 while on her honeymoon. Stanton
became angry when she couldn't see Mott speak, as women in the
audience were required to sit in a roped-off section hidden from
the view of the men in attendance.
and Mott were the primary organizers of the 1848 Women's Rights
Convention in Seneca Falls, New York. For this convention, Stanton
drafted a Declaration of Sentiments, declaring that men and women
are created equal. She also proposed a resolution, that was voted
upon and carried, demanding voting rights for women. Stanton went
on to write many of the more important documents and speeches
of the women's rights movement.
1851, Stanton met Susan
B. Anthony. They were introduced on a
street in Seneca Falls, by mutual acquaintance Amelia Bloomer,
also a feminist. Stanton and Anthony were to remain close friends
and colleagues for the rest of her life, though unlike Anthony,
Stanton wanted to push a broader platform of women's rights than
in 1869, they founded the National Woman's Suffrage Association,
an organization dedicated to gaining women the right to vote.
In 1890, Stanton opposed a merger with the American Woman Suffrage
Association, which created a National American Woman Suffrage
Association. Despite her opposition, Stanton became its first
president (largely due to Susan
B. Anthony's support), however
she was never popular among more conservative elements of the
and Anthony also began the women's rights newsletter The Revolution,
which included frequent contributions from Stanton. Starting in
1881, Stanton, Anthony and Matilda Joslyn Gage published the first
of three volumes of the History of Woman Suffrage, an anthology
of writings about the movement in which they were so prominent.
This anthology reached six volumes by various writers in 1922.
Stanton was also active internationally, spending a great deal
of time in Europe in her later years, and in 1888 she helped prepare
for the founding of the International Council of Women.
after the passage of the Fifteenth Amendment to the United States
Constitution (which proposed black suffrage but had neglected
female suffrage), and its support by the Equal Rights Association
and prominent suffragists such as Lucy Stone, a gulf appeared
between the women's rights movement and the move for racial equality.
Cady Stanton declared, "I will cut off this right arm of
mine before I will ever work for or demand the ballot for the
Negro and not the woman."
a view different from many modern activists, Stanton believed
that abortion was infanticide (The Revolution, I, No. 5 (February
5, 1868), 1). She addressed the issue in an 1873 letter to Julia
Ward Howe, recorded in Howe's diary at Harvard University Library,
and in editions of the newsletter The Revolution. Stanton wrote,
"When we consider that women are treated as property, it
is degrading to women that we should treat our children as property
to be disposed of as we see fit." She suggested that solutions
to abortion would be found, at least in part, in the elevation
and enfranchisement of women.
was an outspoken supporter, and speech writer of the 19th century
temperance movement, however her views on religion distanced her
from the Woman's Christian Temperance Union. She also addressed
other issues including the guardianship of children, reformation
of divorce laws, and the economic health of the family. She was
a strong critic of religion in general and Christianity in particular.