Tag Archives: Elizabeth Cady Stanton

The Seneca Falls Convention

19 Jul

seneca2Today marks the 166th Anniversary of the Seneca Falls Convention.  Elizabeth Cady Stanton and Lucretia Mott were the architects of this historical event to address women’s rights and the disparities and barriers women faced during the 19th Century.  Stanton, Mott, Ann McClintock, and Jane Hunt created the plans for the two day convention, July 19 and 20th, 1848. All but Stanton identified as Quakers and all were known for their dedication to the abolitionist movement.

Some of you may remember that Stanton  instructed the minister to eliminate the promise to obey from her wedding vows, later observing, “I obstinately refused to obey one with whom I supposed I was entering into an equal relation.” She also assumed the name Elizabeth Cady Stanton, refusing to be subsumed as Mrs. Henry B. Stanton.

While all of these women worked hard to create a convention (attended by over 300 women — including 40 men, including Frederick Douglass), it was Stanton that drafted the Declaration of Sentiments, which she based on The Declaration of Independence. Stanton stated that:

all men and women had been created equal [and went on to list eighteen] injuries and usurpation -the same number of charges leveled against the King of England-on the part of man toward woman.

Within the Declaration of Sentiments, Stanton included eleven resolutions, making the argument that women had a natural right to equality in all spheres.

Sadly, writing this piece 166 years later, I have to reflect on how much work has yet to be done around gender parity.  While women now have the right to vote and own land, we as a nation still have a long way to go towards full gender parity.  It was quite embarrassing that the Republican controlled House voted against the equal pay bill, and I was mortified by the Hobby Lobby decision by the Supreme Court, which has a huge impact on women’s health.

Of course, I would be remiss if I did not mention how all of these disparities have an even larger impact on other targeted populations, such as women of color, undocumented women, and transgender women.

Call to action: I implore all of us that are dedicated to issues of social justice to stand in solidarity with all women as we work towards a more equitable world.

 

Happy Birthday, Elizabeth Cady Stanton

12 Nov

On this date in 1815, one of the most important figures in early women’s rights was born. Elizabeth Cady was born in Johnstown, NY. Her father, Daniel, was a prominent attorney who served one term in Congress and was a circuit court judge and New York Supreme Court Justice. Her mother, Margaret, was a tall, powerful woman who was energetic in her youth, but lost many children (six of her eleven); Elizabeth mainly remembered her as a sad, distant woman.

A youth spent browsing her father’s home law library fascinated Elizabeth. She also developed a realization of just how dramatically the law favored men over women in every particular. Although her family owned at least one slave — slavery was not abolished in New York until 1827 — early exposure to her abolitionist cousin Gerritt Smith helped form strong sentiments in Elizabeth. Elizabeth becomes an exceedingly strong voice in the abolitionist movement.

Unlike many women of her era, she was formally educated. She attended Johnstown Academy, where she studied until the age of 16. She enjoyed being in co-educational classes where she could compete intellectually and academically with boys her age and older. Since local Union College accepted only men, Stanton enrolled in the Troy Female Seminary, which was founded and run by Emma Willard. During her education she had unpleasant dealings with a local Calvinist preacher(imagine that, a male preacher mistreating a woman); as a result she rejected organized Christianity maintaining that logic and a humane sense of ethics were the best guides to both thought and behavior.

Elizabeth met Henry Brewster Stanton through her involvement in abolitionism. He was a journalist and anti-slavery orator who later became an attorney. They were married in 1840; Elizabeth instructed the minister to eliminate the promise to obey from the wedding vows, later observing, “I obstinately refused to obey one with whom I supposed I was entering into an equal relation.” She also assumed the name Elizabeth Cady Stanton, refusing to be subsumed as Mrs. Henry B. Stanton. 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.” Is it any wonder that I love our Elizabeth Cady Stanton?

She was an ardent suffragist as well as an abolitionist. Despite her large family (seven children), she maintained that she planned the birth of each child through “voluntary motherhood” and was a strong proponent of women’s reproductive and sexual rights. She and her husband shared many views but had lively discussions in which they often disagreed. They moved to Seneca Falls, NY for her husband’s health. It was there that her most famous work began.

In 1848, she and Lucretia Mott organized the first women’s rights convention, (The Seneca Falls Convention) attended by over 300 people. She delivered her Declaration of Sentiments at this conference, one of the most important early treatises on women’s rights. She went on to work with other reformers like Susan B. Anthony and Amelia Bloomer. She remained a powerful, often controversial figure throughout her life. Despite her work as an abolitionist, she initially opposed the fourteenth and fifteenth amendments, concerned that explicitly giving African American men the right to vote created a larger bloc that could oppose women’s suffrage. She later used the vague wording of the amendments to maintain that they had, in fact, created a right for women to vote, although that position never had legal support.

She wrote, published and spoke about women’s rights throughout her life. She died in 1902 at the age of 86. Sadly, she never did get to see the passage of the 19th Amendment in 1920.

Women’s History: May 10

10 May

May 10, 1840, Elizabeth Cady marries Henry Stanton, becoming Elizabeth Cady Stanton.  Upon marrying Henry Stanton, Elizabeth had the word “obey” removed  from her wedding vows.  Stanton is best known for her work as a suffragist and abolitionist.   Stanton also helped to organize the 1848 Seneca Falls convention, the first women’s rights convention. Stanton was the chief author of the Declaration of Sentiments.  Initially, Stanton was a supporter of Victoria Woodhull, the first woman to run for President,  Stanton’s support wanted when Woodhull published articles in her paper exposing the affair between Elizabeth Tilton and Reverend Henry Ward Beecher. Stanton and other suffragist felt that  Woodhull had pushed the envelope too far with some of her views on sex and “free love,” a phrase Woodhull coined.

May 10, 1872, Victoria Woodhull is nominated as the first woman candidate for U.S. president for the Equal Rights Party.

Women’s History: February 15

15 Feb

Pioneer for Women's Rights

Happy Birthday, Susan B. Anthony.  Anthony is was one of the most visible and prominent voices in the Suffrage Movement. She and Elizabeth Cady Stanton worked tirelessly for women to gain the right to vote in the United States. Unfortunately, Anthony did not live long enough to see the passage of the 19th Amendment. Anthony, like many Quakers of her time, was also an outspoken abolitionist. Anthony’s work and friendship with Amelia Bloomer, (some credit with the creation of bloomers) led to a lifelong friendship and working partnership with Cady Stanton. To learn more about Susan B. Anthony, click here.

Happy Birthday, Sarah Fuller. Fuller was an advocate and educator for the deaf.

Women’s History, January 20

20 Jan

Maya Anegelou

January 20, 1993, Maya Angelou delivers her poem, On the Pulse of the Morning at President Bill Clinton’s inauguration. Angelou, probably best known for I Know Why the Caged Bird Sings, was part of the Harlem Writer’s Guild in the 1950s.  Some of my favorite writers were part of the HWG, such as, Audrey Lorde, Lorraine Hansberry, and Sidney Poitier.  Angelou was active in the civil right’s movement and was a part of Dr. Martin Luther King’s Southern Christian Leadership Conference.

Happy Birthday, Harriet Stanton Blatch.  Like her mother, Blatch was a suffragist, and social reformer.  She also wrote a biography of her mother, Elizabeth Cady Stanton.

On January 20, 1891, Liliʻuokalani becomes Queen of Hawaii. Liliʻuokalani was to be the last monarch of Hawaii.

 

%d bloggers like this: