Elizabeth Cady Stanton
Elizabeth Cady Stanton grew up in a world where women could not vote. In the United States, a married woman did not have the right to own property, write a will, or even keep her wages. Stanton devoted over 60 years of her life to the cause of women’s rights.
Elizabeth Cady was born in 1815 in Johnstown, New York. Cady’s father, a congressman and judge, had her study Greek, Latin, and math. At that time, these subjects were usually taught only to boys. She also learned about law, and she grew interested in the movement to end slavery in the United States.
In 1840, Cady married Henry Brewster Stanton, a writer and abolitionist (opponent of slavery). The couple had seven children. In 1847, the Stantons moved to Seneca Falls, New York.
STANTON FIGHTS FOR WOMEN’S RIGHTS
In 1848, Elizabeth and another reformer named Lucretia Mott organized the first American women’s rights convention. It was held in Seneca Falls. A gifted writer, Stanton wrote the Declaration of Sentiments for the meeting. She based her document on the United States Declaration of Independence.
Stanton boldly wrote that “men and women are created equal.” Her words echoed the phrase “all men are created equal” in the Declaration of Independence. She noted how men prevented women from going to college or winning well-paying jobs. Men, Stanton said, tried to destroy a woman’s self-confidence and to lessen her self-respect.
Stanton believed that to fight for fairness and to create change, women needed the right to vote.
STANTON TEAMS UP WITH SUSAN B. ANTHONY
In 1851, Stanton met another dedicated reformer, Susan B. Anthony. The two women began a partnership that lasted for many years. They focused on winning an amendment to the U.S. Constitution granting women the right to vote. In 1869, they founded the National Woman Suffrage Association. Suffrage is a word that means right to vote.
Stanton also fought to change divorce laws that favored men and laws that limited a woman’s right to own property. Along with Anthony, Stanton helped lay the groundwork for an international organization for women’s rights. In 1888, they founded the International Council of Women.
The work of Stanton, Anthony, and other reformers began to pay off. In the 1890s, several states granted women the right to vote. But women still could not vote in national elections.
Elizabeth Cady Stanton died in 1902, but her efforts lived on. In 1920, the U.S Congress approved the 19th amendment to the Constitution giving nationwide suffrage to women. At last, all American women had won the right to vote!