Elizabeth Cady Stanton was born November 12, 1815 in Johnstown, NY, one of eleven children (six of them died before adulthood). Her father was a prominent attorney and judge in the town. Elizabeth would often visit him in his office where she learned at an early age that women, especially married women, had few rights, and no control over their own property, even over their own children. Even more discouraging to her was the generally held concept that boys were more important than girls; when boys became men they could own property, choose their own careers, and especially, they could vote, while women enjoyed none of those privileges. From a young age she railed against such inequities, and vowed to work for change.
In May, 1840 Elizabeth married Henry Stanton, an abolitionist with whom she would eventually have seven children, five boys and two girls. In 1847 the family moved from Boston to Seneca Falls, a quiet village in the Finger Lakes region of New York State. Henry’s job often took him away from home, and Elizabeth was left alone to care for the children. She was unhappy with this life, and found that many of her women friends were unhappy with their lives as well.
In July of 1848 she and some friends convened the Seneca Falls women’s-rights convention, the first formal meeting called to discuss women’s lack of equal rights. Three hundred people attended the conference, and one hundred (32 men and 68 women) signed the historic Declaration of Sentiments, patterned after the Declaration of Independence, that stated “All men and women are created equal.” The Declaration demanded extensive reforms, especially the right of women to vote.
In 1851 Elizabeth met Susan B. Anthony, and the two worked for the rest of their lives in the fight for woman suffrage. Unfortunately, both died before women finally won the vote throughout the nation with the ratification of the 19th Amendment to the US Constitution in 1920, Elizabeth in 1902, and Susan in 1906, but the movement they began continued the struggle, until victory was achieved.
Because of her incomparable contribution to the woman suffrage movement, we name Elizabeth Cady Stanton Suffragist of the Month.
Happy Birthday, Elizabeth Cady Stanton!