Women’s History Month Spotlight: Elizabeth Cady Stanton

By Cara Bas

Elizabeth Cady Stanton, abolitionist and women’s activist, was born on November 12, 1815 in Johnstown, New York.

Her father, Daniel Cady, was an attorney and later a judge, who served one term in congress. As a young girl, Elizabeth liked to read her father’s law books and debate with his law clerks.

Elizabeth’s early fascination led her to realize how much the law favored men over women and inspired her to change these inequalities, according to the Elizabeth Cady Stanton Women’s Consortium.

Elizabeth’s mother, Margaret Cady fell into a deep depression, because of the loss of six of her children. This lead one of her father’s slaves, Peter, to look after her and her sisters. Memories of her childhood and exposure to the abolitionist movement as a young woman inspired her activism.

Elizabeth graduated from Emma Willard’s Troy Female Seminary in 1832.

In 1840, she married, reformer, Henry Stanton. ECSWC said that during their vows, Elizabeth omitted the word “obey.”

Elizabeth led the Seneca Falls Convention, in July 1884 where attendees drew up the “Declaration of Sentiments,” which proposed that women be granted the right to vote.
In 1868, she and Susan B. Anthony worked on a weekly women’s rights newspaper called, “The Revolution” with the motto, “The true republic men, their rights and nothing more; women, their rights and nothing less,” gracing the front page.

The National Woman Suffrage Association was founded by Anthony and Elizabeth in 1869, where she was named NWSA’s first president, said ECSWC.
“The Women’s Bible,” a non-fiction book set was written by Elizabeth and a committee of 26 women from 1895-1898. The books set out to redress traditional religious theories in which women were subservient to men.

This lead to negative reviews from the church, and even some of Elizabeth’s fellow activists, feared it would disrupt the drive for women’s suffrage. However, according to ECSWC the books were a best-seller.

Elizabeth died of heart failure in New York City on October 26, 1902, 18 years before women were granted the right to vote in the United States, through the 19th Amendment. After her death, suffragists who disapproved of her books focused on Anthony as the founder of the suffrage movement.

Over time, Elizabeth received more attention. In 1965, The Elizabeth Cady Stanton House in Seneca Falls was declared a national historic landmark, according to the National Park Service.

The Elizabeth Cady Stanton Women’s Symposium is held annually in her hometown, Johnstown.

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