Talk with Elizabeth Cady Stanton

Elizabeth Cady Stanton was a trailblazer for womens rights, an influential abolitionist, and key driver of the 19th-century Suffragette Movement.


Who is Elizabeth Cady Stanton?

Elizabeth Cady Stanton was an American suffragist, social activist, abolitionist, and leading figure of the early women's rights movement. She was born on November 12, 1815, in Johnstown, New York, and died on October 26, 1902.

Stanton was a president of the National Woman Suffrage Association for over two decades and worked closely with Susan B. Anthony. She was a women's rights advocate who was a central figure in campaigning for women's rights to vote, to own property, to equal guardianship of children, and more.

She also co-wrote the "Declaration of Sentiments," a document that was used at the first women's rights convention, which took place in Seneca Falls, New York. Stanton was well known for her oratory ability and speeches on women's rights. Her work greatly influenced the passing of the Nineteenth Amendment to the US Constitution, which gave women the right to vote.

Describe the posthumous recognition Elizabeth Cady Stanton received for her activism.

Elizabeth Cady Stanton's contributions towards advocacy for women's rights have been recognized, celebrated, and remembered long after her death. Here are some significant milestones of her posthumous recognition:

  1. In 1979, the US Treasury Department issued a dollar coin commemorating Stanton and fellow suffragist Susan B. Anthony. This was significant as it was the first time the United States issued a coin featuring a non-fictional woman.

  2. Stanton, alongside fellow suffragettes Lucretia Mott and Susan B. Anthony, was added into the National Women's Hall of Fame in its first induction year, 1973. This is a prominent testament to her life's work and her impact on American history.

  3. In 1982, Elizabeth Cady Stanton's home in Seneca Falls, the Stanton House, was declared a National Historic Landmark.

  4. In 2020, the statue of Stanton, alongside Susan B. Anthony and Sojourner Truth was unveiled in Central Park, New York City. It was the park's first statue depicting real-life women, marking a significant step towards recognizing women's contributions in public spaces.

  5. Multiple institutions, streets, parks, and schools have been named after her in order to honor her efforts and impact.

This recognition of Stanton unveils the lasting impact of her dedication and drive towards equality and women's rights, inspiring generations to come.

Explain Elizabeth Cady Stanton's involvement with the National Woman’s Suffrage Association.

Elizabeth Cady Stanton was not just involved with the National Woman's Suffrage Association, she was instrumental in its founding and served as its president for 21 years. After a split in the American Equal Rights Association over the 15th amendment, she and Susan B. Anthony established the National Woman's Suffrage Association in 1869.

The NWSA was differentiated from other movements of the time in that it pushed for a federal constitutional amendment securing voting rights for women, as opposed to a state-by-state approach. Stanton, alongside Anthony, worked tirelessly to secure women's suffrage, fighting for women's rights on many fronts. During her tenure as the president of the NWSA, she testified before every Congress from 1869 to 1906 on behalf of women's rights.

Stanton's involvement with the NWSA went further than her work on suffrage, extending to questioning traditional institutions such as the Church and the legal system that denied women's full equality. Her work led to significant advancements in raising public awareness about these issues, ultimately contributing to the women's rights movement.

What books did Elizabeth Cady Stanton write?

Elizabeth Cady Stanton is widely known for two particularly influential works she wrote:

  1. "The Woman's Bible" - Published in two parts in 1895 and 1898, this was a commentary on biblical passages that Stanton felt were misogynistic or demeaning to women. It represented a unique take on feminist theology and was highly controversial at the time.

  2. "The History of Woman Suffrage" (co-written) - Actually, this work is a six-volume series on the women's suffrage movement in the United States. Stanton co-authored the first three volumes with Susan B. Anthony and Matilda Joslyn Gage, which were published between 1881 and 1886. The later volumes, which were completed by other suffragettes after Stanton's death, document the history of the movement up to 1922.

Aside from these, Elizabeth Cady Stanton also wrote countless speeches, letters, and shorter works advocating for women's rights. Her autobiography, "Eighty Years and More: Reminiscences 1815–1897," which shed light on her personal experiences and the early years of the women's rights movement, is also considered one of her significant writings.

How did Elizabeth Cady Stanton contribute to the women's suffrage movement?

Elizabeth Cady Stanton was a major figure in the push for women's suffrage, and she made several major contributions to this cause. Here are some key points:

  1. Co-Founding the Women's Rights Convention: Stanton organized and led the first women's rights convention in Seneca Falls, New York in 1848, a foundational event for the women's rights and suffrage movements. The convention's attendees drafted and approved the Declaration of Sentiments, a document asserting the equality of men and women, and demanding the right to vote for women.

  2. Partnership with Susan B. Anthony: Stanton's friendship and collaboration with Susan B. Anthony was pivotal to the women's suffrage movement. Stanton, mainly operating from her home due to family duties, wrote many speeches, resolutions, letters, calls and petitions, while Anthony, as the public face of the movement, vigorously campaigned and lobbied for women's rights and suffrage.

  3. Leadership Positions: Stanton held high-profile leadership positions within the fledgling women's rights movement, including being the president of the National Woman Suffrage Association (NWSA) from 1890 to 1892.

  4. "The Woman's Bible": Stanton also worked on the controversial "The Woman's Bible", a critique of institutional religion's impact on women's rights. Though it caused division within the women's suffrage movement, it brought up important discussions about the impact of religion on women's societal roles.

  5. Legislative Advocacy: Stanton lobbied for revised divorce laws and reproductive self-determination, in addition to voting rights. She recognized that in order for women to be equal to men, they needed the ability to control all aspects of their own lives, not just their political lives.

  6. Long Legacy: After Stanton's death in 1902, her efforts were posthumously recognized when women's right to vote was granted in 1920 by the 19th Amendment to the U.S. Constitution. This victory is considered the lasting legacy of Elizabeth Cady Stanton’s tireless dedication to women's suffrage.

Who were some of Elizabeth Cady Stanton's famous suffragist contemporaries?

Elizabeth Cady Stanton worked alongside many famous suffragettes during her lifetime. Some of the most notable ones include:

  1. Susan B. Anthony: She was one of Stanton's closest colleagues. They met in 1851 and soon became lifelong friends and partners in the struggle for women's rights. Together they founded the National Woman Suffrage Association in 1869.

  2. Lucretia Mott: A fellow suffragette and abolitionist, Mott was a significant influence on Stanton. They first met at the World Anti-Slavery Convention in London in 1840. Their shared frustration with women's exclusion from the proceedings led to the organization of the Seneca Falls Convention in 1848, a major milestone in the women's rights movement.

  3. Sojourner Truth: An abolitionist and women's rights activist, Truth is remembered for her "Ain't I A Woman?" speech, which she delivered at the Women's Rights Convention in Ohio in 1851.

  4. Lucy Stone: A strong advocate for women's rights and a prominent orator, Stone was one of the first women in Massachusetts to earn a college degree. She kept her maiden name after her marriage, a practice that was then termed "the Lucy Stone" in her honor.

  5. Alice Paul: Paul was a younger contemporary of Stanton and played a significant role in the later stages of the fight for women's suffrage. Her focus was more on the federal level, resulting in the befitting conclusion with the ratification of the 19th Amendment to the U.S. Constitution in 1920.

  6. Frederick Douglass: While not a suffragette, Douglass was a strong supporter of women's rights. As an abolitionist, his work often overlapped with that of women's rights advocates. He was the only African American to attend the Seneca Falls Convention and played a significant part in arguing for women's suffrage.

Who were Elizabeth Cady Stanton s siblings?

Elizabeth Cady Stanton was one of eleven children born to her parents, Judge Daniel Cady and Margaret Livingston Cady. However, not all her siblings survived to adulthood. Her full siblings were:

  1. Tryphenia Cady (1813-1814)
  2. Harriet Cady (1815–1820)
  3. Margaret Livingston Cady (1817-1901)
  4. Catherine Henry Cady (1819-1820)
  5. Daniel Cady Jr. (1820-1860)
  6. Eleazar Cady (1824–1825)

As seen here, Elizabeth experienced the tragedy of losing siblings in childhood, which was unfortunately common in those times due to the prevalence of diseases. It's important to note that these experiences may have had profound impacts on her perspectives and the causes she fought for in her work as a women's rights activist.

Did Elizabeth Cady Stanton meet Lucretia Mott?

Yes, Elizabeth Cady Stanton and Lucretia Mott first met at the World's Anti-Slavery Convention in London in 1840. Mott's strong stance on women's rights left a deep impression on Stanton. After the convention, the two kept in contact and eventually co-organized the 1848 Seneca Falls Convention, the first women’s rights convention in the United States. This meeting marked an important beginning in the women's suffrage movement in America.

Why is Elizabeth Cady Stanton important to American history?

Elizabeth Cady Stanton is important to American history as she is regarded as one of the leading figures in the women's rights movement. In the mid-19th century, American society was immensely patriarchal, confining women to limited roles and minimal rights, especially in areas like property rights, divorce, education, and voting.

Stanton worked closely with renowned suffragette Susan B. Anthony and together, they focused on women's suffrage or the right to vote. In 1869, they established the National Woman Suffrage Association and she served as its first President. She also co-authored "History of Woman Suffrage" with Anthony and Matilda Joslyn Gage, chronicling the international movement that they led.

Stanton’s reach extended beyond suffrage. She also highlighted education reforms, more permissive divorce laws, equal employment opportunities, and the abolishment of the discriminatory customary laws and practices.

She didn't live to see women gain the right to vote in the United States, which was realized with the 19th Amendment in 1920, but her tireless advocacy and work laid a significant foundation for this pivotal legal and social shift. Her enduring influence is perhaps best exemplified by the use of her Declaration of Sentiments, modeled after the Declaration of Independence, to inform and pursue gender equality even in the 21st century.

Why did Elizabeth Cady Stanton write a declaration of sentiments?

Elizabeth Cady Stanton wrote the Declaration of Sentiments as a means to assert her beliefs in the rights of women, and to incite action against the inequality they faced. The document was written for the Seneca Falls Convention in 1848, the first women's rights convention ever held. Stanton lived in a time where women were heavily discriminated against and didn't have equal rights as men in many aspects, such as voting, owning property, or getting education.

Inspired by the language and structure of the United States Declaration of Independence, she explicitly paralleled her sentiments to argue that women, like men, have the unalienable right to life, liberty, and the pursuit of happiness. This was a revolutionary concept in the mid-19th century. The Declaration of Sentiments became a touchstone for the advancing women's rights movement in the USA and was followed by many local, state, and national conventions advocating for women's rights.

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