Women’s Rights Advocate
Lucy Stone was a women’s right advocate that worked unceasingly to improve the condition of women in the 1800’s. While she is noted for many things, Lucy is probably best known for being the first woman to retain her own name after marriage.
Lucy Stone was born near West Brookfield, Massachusetts on August 13, 1818, the eighth of nine children. Her childhood was spent watching her father rule the household with an “iron hand”. Her lot in life was one of toil from childhood. Although she had to perform the usual duties of a farmer’s daughter, all the time she was thinking and questioning. Her soul rebelled at the unequal lot of woman especially concerning education and wages (Bolton, Famous Leaders, p. 212)
Lucy was a bright girl, but received little formal education during her childhood. While her two brothers received financial help from her father to go to college, when Lucy desired to do the same her father told her she was crazy. Few women of her day went to college or were educated above simple reading, writing, and counting. He refused to help her.
Though she had no support from her family, Lucy was determined that SHE WOULD go to college. She picked berries and saved the money earned. She gathered chestnuts and with the money bought books. When she was sixteen, she was offered a job teaching school at the wage of one dollar a week. With time, her wages increased and when she was earning sixteen dollars per month, it was thought remarkable for a woman. When her brother was sick, she took over teaching in his school while he recovered. His wages were thirty dollars per month, but the committee gave her only sixteen because they felt it “was enough for a woman”. While these things brought bitterness to her heart, she used them to spur her on to fight for the rights of women.
When she was twenty-five years old she had earned money enough to enter Oberlin College. Oberlin, which was in Ohio, was the only college at the time that would admit women. She earned her way in part by tutoring and doing housework. Lucy had to live very frugally to afford her education. In fact, in four years time, she only had one new dress.
After graduating from Oberlin, Lucy became involved in several reform movements of the day. She was a prominent abolitionist and her life work became seeking reform for both the slave and the woman. Lucy received much opposition and insults, but she persevered. She worked for woman suffrage in Colorado and in 1893 was able to see her work bear fruit in the state’s constitutional amendment giving woman the same rights as men in exercising the
Many sought her hand in marriage, but she refused them all. Finally, Henry Blackwell, a fellow abolitionist, won her friendship and trust, and finally her hand in marriage. They were married in 1855 when Lucy was thirty-seven years old. They agreed before the marriage that Lucy would retain her maiden name and be known simply as Lucy Stone.
Patricia Chadwick is a freelance writer and has been a stay-at-home mom for 15 years. She is currently a columnist in several online publications as well as editor of two newsletters.