Elizabeth Cady Stanton
American Reformer and Pioneer of the Woman’s Suffrage Movement
1815 – 1903 A.D.
Elizabeth Cady Stanton, an American reformer and pioneer leader in the woman’s suffrage movement, born at Johnstown, JY, the daughter of Daniel Cady, afterward a judge of the New York Supreme Court. She was educated at the Emma Willard Seminary, Troy, NY, and in 1840 was married to Henry B. Stanton, the anti-slavery orator and journalist.
She became interested in various reform movements, and with Lucretia Mott organized the first women’s rights convention held in the united States, at her home in Seneca Falls, NY, in 1848, at which she secured the passage of resolutions demanding woman suffrage.
From that time her career was one long struggle for equal rights for both sexes. The general principles for which she strove were educational advantages, equal rights of suffrage and of property, and more intelligent divorce laws.
She addressed the New York Legislature on the rights of married women in 1854 and again in 1860, advocating divorce for drunkenness. In 1866 she offered herself as a Congressional candidate and for twenty-five years annually addressed congressional committees in the endeavor to gain a constitutional amendment granting enlarged privileges to women.
She was president of the National Woman Suffrage Association from 1865-1893, and traveled and lectured in all parts of the United States as well as in England, Scotland and France. Connected editorially with various reform periodicals, she was a joint author with Susan B. Anthony and others of A History of Woman Suffrage.
In 1895, her eightieth birthday was celebrated by many eminent persons.
Throughout her entire career Mrs. Stanton’s personal life was a model of the fulfillment of the duties of a wife and mother, her public work never operating to the neglect of her social and home life. Her intellect, energy and perseverance, and her womanly traits made her generally respected, and she accomplished much for her cause. A great change certainly came about her lifetime, in education and property rights for women, and in 1919, seventeen years after her death, the United States Congress and Senate finally voted in favor of woman suffrage.
Fifty-one years before, in 1868, Elizabeth Cody Stanton, in the course of an eloquent address, at the Woman Suffrage Convention at Washington said:
“I urge a Sixteenth Amendment, because ‘manhood suffrage,’ or a man’s government, is civil, religious, and social disorganization. The male element is a destructive force, stern, selfish, aggrandizing, loving war, violence, conquest, acquisition, breeding in the material and moral world alike discord, disorder, disease and death. See what a record of blood and cruelty the pages of history reveal! Through what slavery, slaughter, and sacrifice, through what inquisitions and imprisonments, pains and persecutions, black codes and gloomy creeds, the soul of humanity has struggled for the centuries, while mercy has veiled her face and all hearts have been dead alike to love and hope! The male element has held high carnival thus far; it has fairly run riot from the beginning, overpowering the feminine element everywhere, crushing out all the diviner qualities in human nature, until we know but little of true manhood and womanhood, of the latter comparatively nothing, for it has scarce been recognized as a power until within the last century. society is but the reflection of man himself, untempered by woman’s thought; the hard iron rule we feel alike in the Church, the State, and the home. People object to the demands of those whom they choose to call the strong-minded, because they say, ‘the right of suffrage will make the woman masculine.’ That is just the difficulty in which we are involved today. Though disfranchised, we have few women in the best sense; we have simply so many reflections, varieties an dilutions of the masculine gender. The strong, natural characteristics of womanhood re repressed and ignored in dependence, for so long as man feeds woman, she will try to please the giver and adapt herself to his condition. She must look at everything from its dollar-and-cent point of view, or she is a mere romancer. She must accept things as they are and make the best of them. To mourn over the miseries of others, the poverty of the poor, their hardships in jails, prisons, asylums, the horrors of war, cruelty, and brutality in every form, all this would be mere sentimentalizing. To protest against the intrigue, bribery and corruption in public life, to desire that her sons might follow some business that did not involve lying, cheating, and a hard, grinding selfishness, would be arrant nonsense. In this way man has been moulding [sic] woman to his ideas by direct and positive influences, she, if not a negation, has used indirect means to control him, and in most cases developed the very characteristics both in him and herself that needed repression. And now, man himself stands appalled at the results of his own excesses, and mourns in bitterness that falsehood, selfishness and violence are the law of life.
“The need of this hour is not territory, gold-mines, or railroads, but a new evangel of womanhood, to exalt purity, virtue, morality, true religion, to lift man up into the higher realms of thought and action.
“We ask woman’s enfranchisement, as the first step toward the recognition of that essential element in government that can only secure the health, strength, and prosperity of the nation. Whatever is done to lift woman to her true position will help to usher in a new day of peace and perfection for the race. The great conservator of woman’s love, if permitted to assert itself, as it naturally would in freedom against oppression, violence, and war, would hold all these destructive forces in check, for woman knows the cost of life better than man does, and not with her consent would one drop of blood ever be shed, one life sacrificed in vain. With violence and disturbance in the natural world, we see a constant effort to maintain an equilibrium of forces. Nature, like a loving mother, is ever trying to keep land and sea, mountain and valley, each in its place, to hush the angry winds and waves, balance the extremes of heat and cold, of rain and drought, that peace, harmony, and beauty may reign supreme. There is a striking analogy between matter and mind, and the present disorganization of society warns us that in the dethronement of woman we have let loose the elements of violence and ruin that she only has the power to curb. If the civilization of the age calls for an extension of the suffrage, surely a government of the most virtuous educated men and women would better represent the whole and protect the interests of all than could the representation of either sex alone.”
Reference: Famous Women; An Outline of Feminine Achievement Through the Ages With Life Stories of Five Hundred Noted Women By Joseph Adelman. Copyright, 1926 by Ellis M. Lonow Company.