Elizabeth Cady Stanton

Elizabeth Cady Stanton
(1815 – 1902)

Elizabeth Cady Stanton was born in 1815, the daughter of Judge Cady, of Johnstown, New York. She was raised in a community where most of the people were Scotch and where the idea of a woman’s place and ability was very limited in scope. Elizabeth had an older brother, upon whom her father had set his hopes and gave an excellent education. This brother, however, died just after he graduated from Union College, when Elizabeth was only ten years old.

Elizabeth saw her father’s grief and disappointment and was determined to fill her brother’s place. By his own words, he had made it clear to her that a girl was not as worthwhile to him as a boy. She applied herself to her studies and excelled in Greek, Latin, and mathematics, hoping to please her father and proving to him that a girl could be as good a student as a boy. But the expected commendation did not come. She then took up additional studies and prepared herself to enter Union College, but she was refused because of her sex.

Upon this denial, Elizabeth entered the Troy Female Seminary and received and excellent education, the finest available to women at that time. After a few years at Troy Female Seminary, Elizabeth returned home and spent seven years studying law in her father’s office.

In time, Elizabeth met and married Henry Stanton, an activist in the anti-slavery cause. The word “obey” was omitted from the wedding ceremony at her insistence. The couple attended the World’s Anti-Slavery Convention in London on their wedding tour. Here Mrs. Stanton met Lucretia Mott, who, with others, had been sent as delegates from the United States. During the convention, the women delegates were not seated or allowed to vote. This convinced Elizabeth that women should hold a convention for their own rights (Adelman, Famous Women, p. 172).

Upon her return to America, Mrs. Stanton was instrumental in calling the first Women’s Rights Convention. The idea first came about in 1847 after her move to Seneca Falls, where she was isolated and increasingly exhausted by a growing family. Her father, hearing of this, feared she had become insane and visited her to discourage her from undertaking such a project.

Finally, in 1848, she met with Lucretia Mott and three other Quaker women in nearby Waterloo, NY. Together they issued the call for the first Women’s Rights Convention. At the convention, Stanton introduced the resolution, “That it is the duty of the women of this country to secure to themselves the sacred right of the elective franchise.” (James, Notable Women, p. 343).

Mrs. Stanton was far in advance of her age and was subjected to both opposition and ridicule, but she continued to be an educator of public opinion and a champion of women’s rights. Though she died before seeing her dream come to fruition, her relentless work was instrumental in bringing about the Nineteenth Amendment in 1920, which gave women the vote.

Quote by Elizabeth Cady Stanton from HistorysWomen.com

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