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Elizabeth Cady Stanton

Elizabeth Cady Stanton

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Elizabeth Cady Stanton was one of founders and leaders of the women's suffrage movement in the United States during the nineteenth century.Other leaders of the women's movement with Stanton include:

  • Susan B. Anthony
  • Lucy Stone
  • Olympia Brown
  • Frances Gage

Along with other leaders such as Susan B. Anthony and Lucy Stone, she was a principle architect of the movement's strategies and author of many of its documents, some of which continue to influence current law and perceptions. She was born in 1815 in Johnstown, New York and was the first woman to enroll in Johnstown Academy. She went on to graduate from Troy Seminary, and her father, a judge, subsequently tutored her in law. After her marriage to abolitionist Henry Stanton in 1840, she became increasingly involved not only with the issue of women's equality before the law, but also with a variety of social reform issues. Like other women associated with the abolitionist movement, Stanton gained experience in rhetoric, persuasion and political mobilization that would later serve the cause of women's suffrage.

In 1848, Stanton and other women interested in securing equal rights inaugurated the women's movement at the Seneca Falls Convention. Stanton insisted that the convention include the right to vote in the Declaration of Sentiments that she drafted, which was considered a radical proposal for the time even by many of the women delegates. Stanton managed to convince the delegates that the right to vote was the cornerstone of women's rights, and it became the central issue in the women's movement for the next seventy years. To achieve this goal, however, the women of the United States had to be unified behind the cause of suffrage.At the time, there were only minor differences among the movement's leaders as to the best means to achieve unification. Shortly after the Convention, Stanton met Susan B. Anthony and the two formed a lifelong partnership in their efforts to secure women's rights. Many of the speeches delivered by Anthony in later years were actually written by Stanton, and Anthony continued to support Stanton's positions, despite the frequent charges of radicalism.

Prior to the Civil War, much of the public's attention was focused on the issue of abolition, and the women's cause was slow to gain momentum due to the concept of "precedence" that placed black emancipation and suffrage ahead of women's suffrage. While the issue of women's right to vote remained central for Stanton, she also involved herself with a wide range of social reform issues, including the temperance movement. She believed that social problems could not be effectively remedied unless the right to vote was granted to all Americans regardless of gender or race. Because she frequently challenged religious views, outdated customs and illogical laws, she gained a reputation as a radical, which delighted her male opponents while distressing some of her female colleagues. In addition to her viewpoints, some of the more staid members of the women's movement questioned her personal behaviors. Her association with the flamboyant George Francis Train, who was considered the most eccentric man in America at the time, scandalized many of Stanton's supporters.

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