Elizabeth Cady Stanton

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The Seneca Falls Convention

The Seneca Falls Convention refers to the maiden treaty on women's rights held in 1848 in Upstate New York. History considers the convention as one of the most significant events in the history of women's fight for their rights. Held at a time when women's roles and rights in the society were virtually non-existent, this convention gave birth to the Declaration of Sentiments - a document of all grievances women felt needed attention[1]. Ultimately, this document set the ball rolling in the fight for women's rights not only in the United States but also across the globe. Likewise, it laid the foundation for the formation of the United States Women's Rights Movement. Among the central organizers of the Seneca Convention who would subsequently play a central reformative role long after the first convention was Elizabeth Cady Stanton[2]. From being the driving force behind the meeting and fifty years down the line, Stanton has taken up a leadership role in women's suffrage movement to the time of her death in 1902. This article aims at highlighting Stanton's reform activities right from the first Seneca Falls Convention until the end of her life.

Elizabeth Cady Stanton's Early Life and Activism

Born on November 12, 1815, into a decent household where she received a formal education (uncommon then), Elizabeth Stanton began her human rights career first as an abolitionist. Her marriage to a renowned abolitionist and co-founder of the Republican Party Henry Brewster Stanton inspired the course[3]. Although Stanton briefly supported her husband's abolitionist activities, she eventually refocused to women's rights activism. One of the incidents that inspired this move was her meeting with Quaker, a social reformer and abolitionist, Lucretia Coffin Mott, in a World Anti-Slavery Convention in London while on her honeymoon. Shortly after that, they became allies. Stanton's commitment to women's rights became outright when both she and Mott lost an opportunity to participate in the same convention for being women. Stanton's debilitating stint as a homemaker in Seneca Falls New York further galvanized her resolve[4]. Fortunately, Stanton's stay with her family in Seneca Falls culminated in her meeting and closely associating with like-minded feminists like Jane Hunt, Martha Coffin Wright (Mott's maternal sister) among others.

Stanton's Reform Activities at the Seneca Falls Convention

Stanton's reform activities began with her, together with other women organizing the maiden Seneca Falls Convention in 1848 aimed at airing out their grievances as women. The convention spanned two days (July 19th - 20th), and attracted widespread attention: it was during this time that the drafting of the first women's rights document, the Declaration of Sentiments[5]. Stanton was the chief author of this document, modeling it from the U.S. Declaration of Independence. The declaration explicitly listed the injustices that women endured and spelled their demands for equal admission of rights and privileges as their male counterparts. The momentum from the first convention inspired a surge of other women's conferences in different states; ultimately, it led to the organization of the National Women's Convention in 1850; this annual convention became a prominent forum to advocate for women's rights until the Civil War.

Women's Rights Activism and Collaboration with Susan B. Anthony

Her stern activism paved the way for Stanton to hold speeches in women rights conventions. In her interaction in the National Women's Convention, Stanton met Anthony who later became her most prominent collaborator in fighting for women's rights. This duo worked closely by utilizing their strengths; Stanton lent her superior oration and penmanship skills to Susan who was a better tactician. The two initially focused their efforts to grow the temperance movement within New York; a move influenced by the overlapping roles that both the temperance and the women's suffrage movement shared. Naturally, this stint not only added to their initial audience but also earned Stanton the accolade of presiding over the short-lived Woman's State Temperance Society from 1852 - 1853. Stanton's constant fight against drunkenness and her strong advocacy of liberalized divorce laws marked her reign during the women's movement of the 1850s. The feminist contributed to the abolitionism course in 1863, and she received support from Anthony who planned the Women's National Loyal League that lobbied 300,000 Stanton continued her close association with Susan well after the culmination of the Civil.

Suffrage and The Revolution Newspaper

During the Reconstruction Period, Stanton realized that the key to unlocking all other women's rights lay in suffrage. In 1868, Stanton became editor of a weekly newspaper dedicated strictly to women's rights known as The Revolution. She used the paper as a channel to vocalize and campaign against the ratification of the 14th and 15th amendments of the U.S. Constitution, which initially codified male suffrage only[6]. With the constant support of Anthony, she resented against offering black male immigrants a right to vote while women had to wait. Stanton argued men were the only ones who received African American men full citizenry, and this action disenfranchised women because it added more legally recognized male citizens to society. However, Elizabeth failed to include black women in her fight for the voting right. Her advocacy faced resistance from prominent African American activists of the time such as Frederick Douglass, and her critics are terming her as racist.

The National Woman's Suffrage Association and Legacy

Stanton also led the foundation of the National Woman's Suffrage Association in 1869, an organization aimed at lobbying against the approval of the 15th amendment that solely focused on black male suffrage. Despite her efforts in advocating for women's rights, Stanton's efforts proved insufficient to achieve the objective. She, however, remained inactive writing and lecturing until the end of reconstruction era. Perhaps her most notable accolade before 1877 was when she wrote the Declaration of Rights for Women that featured centrally in the Centennial Exposition of 1876 in Philadelphia. However, Stanton's activism did not end with the close of the Reconstruction period - she continued women's suffrage advocacy during the Gilded Age[7]. Even after her death, her legacy has given rise to many women advocating for their rights.

Works cited

Wellman, Judith. The road to Seneca Falls: Elizabeth Cady Stanton and the first woman's rights convention. University of Illinois Press, 2010.

Miller, Bradford W. "Seneca Falls First Woman’s Rights Convention of 1848." (1998).

Griffith, Elisabeth. In her own right: The life of Elizabeth Cady Stanton. Oxford University Press, 1984.

Stanton, Elizabeth. Eighty years and more: Reminiscences 1815-1897. e-art now so, 1898.

STANTON, ELIZABETH CADY. "ADDRESS ON WOMAN'S RIGHTS"(September 1848) Belinda A. Stillion Southard University of Maryland." (2009).

Hogan, Lisa Shawn. "ELIZABETH CADY STANTON," OUR GIRLS"(WINTER 1880)." (2009).

"Elizabeth Cady Stanton - On The Law." 2018. Albany.Edu. https://www.albany.edu/history/digital/stanton/law.html.

[1] Wellman, Judith. The road to Seneca Falls: Elizabeth Cady Stanton and the first woman's rights convention. University of Illinois Press, 2010.

[2]

Miller, Bradford W. "Seneca Falls First Woman’s Rights Convention of 1848." (1998).

[3] Griffith, Elisabeth. In her own right: The life of Elizabeth Cady Stanton. Oxford University Press, 1984.

[4] Stanton, Elizabeth. Eighty years and more: Reminiscences 1815-1897. e-artnow sro, 1898.

[5] STANTON, ELIZABETH CADY. "" ADDRESS ON WOMAN'S RIGHTS"(September 1848) Belinda A. Stillion Southard University of Maryland." (2009).

[6] "Elizabeth Cady Stanton - On The Law". 2018. Albany.Edu. https://www.albany.edu/history/digital/stanton/law.html.

[7] Hogan, Lisa Shawn. "ELIZABETH CADY STANTON," OUR GIRLS"(WINTER 1880)." (2009).

November 13, 2023
Category:

History

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5

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1194

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