|Fulton County, New York State|
"My father was a man of firm character and unimpeachable integrity, and yet sensitive and modest to a painful degree. There were but two places in which he felt at ease–in the courthouse and at his own fireside. Though gentle and tender, he had such a dignified repose and reserve of manner that, as children, we regarded him with fear rather than affection."Judge Cady introduced his daughter to the law and planted the early seeds that grew into her legal and social activism. Even as a young girl, she enjoyed perusing her father's law library and debating legal issues with his law clerks. It was this early exposure to law that, in part, caused Stanton to realize how disproportionately the law favored men over women, particularly over married women. Her realization that married women had virtually no property, income, employment, or even custody rights over their own children, helped set her course toward changing these inequities.
"As my father's office joined the house, I spent there much of my time, when out of school, listening to the clients stating their cases, talking with the students, and reading the laws in regard to woman. In our Scotch neighborhood many men still retained the old feudal ideas of women and property. Fathers, at their death, would will the bulk of their property to the eldest son, with the proviso that the mother was to have a home with him. Hence it was not unusual for the mother, who had brought all the property into the family, to be made an unhappy dependent on the bounty of an uncongenial daughter-in-law and a dissipated son. The tears and complaints of the women who came to my father for legal advice touched my heart and early drew my attention to the injustice and cruelty of the laws. As the practice of the law was my father's business, I could not exactly understand why he could not alleviate the sufferings of these women. So, in order to enlighten me, he would take down his books and show me the inexorable statutes. The students, observing my interest, would amuse themselves by reading to me all the worst laws they could find, over which I would laugh and cry by turns. One Christmas morning I went into the office to show them, among other of my presents, a new coral necklace and bracelets. They all admired the jewelry and then began to, tease me with hypothetical cases of future ownership. 'Now,' said Henry Bayard, "if in due time you should be my wife, those ornaments would be mine; I could take them and lock them up, and you could never wear them except with my permission. I could even exchange them for a box of cigars, and you could watch them evaporate in smoke.'
With this constant bantering from students and the sad complaints of the women, my mind was sorely perplexed. So when, from time to time, my attention was called to these odious laws, I would mark them with a pencil, and becoming more and more convinced of the necessity of taking some active measures against these unjust provisions, I resolved to seize the first opportunity, when alone in the office, to cut every one of them out of the books; supposing my father and his library were the beginning and the end of the law. However, this mutilation of his volumes was never accomplished, for dear old Flora Campbell, to whom I confided my plan for the amelioration of the wrongs of my unhappy sex, warned my father of what I proposed to do. Without letting me know that he had discovered my secret, he explained to me one evening how laws were made, the large number of lawyers and libraries there were all over the State, and that if his library should burn up it would make no difference in woman's condition. 'When you are grown up, and able to prepare a speech,' said he, "you must go down to Albany and talk to the legislators; tell them all you have seen in this office–the sufferings of these Scotchwomen, robbed of their inheritance and left dependent on their unworthy sons, and, if you can persuade them to pass new laws, the old ones will be a dead letter.' Thus was the future object of my life foreshadowed and my duty plainly outlined by him who was most opposed to my public career when, in due time, I entered upon it."Stanton's mother, Margaret Livingston Cady, a descendant of early Dutch settlers, was the daughter of Colonel James Livingston, an officer in the Continental Army during the American Revolution. Margaret Cady, an unusually tall woman for her time, had a commanding presence, and Elizabeth described her mother as "queenly."
|Margaret Livingston Cady|
"Our parents were as kind, indulgent, and considerate as the Puritan ideas of those days permitted, but fear, rather than love, of God and parents alike, predominated. Add to this our timidity in our intercourse with servants and teachers, our dread of the ever present devil, and the reader will see that, under such conditions, nothing but strong self-will and a good share of hope and mirthfulness could have saved an ordinary child from becoming a mere nullity.
The first event engraved on my memory was the birth of a sister when I was four years old. It was a cold morning in January when the brawny Scotch nurse carried me to see the little stranger, whose advent was a matter of intense interest to me for many weeks after. The large, pleasant room with the white curtains and bright wood fire on the hearth, where panada, catnip, and all kinds of little messes which we were allowed to taste were kept warm, was the center of attraction for the older children. I heard so many friends remark, "What a pity it is she's a girl!" that I felt a kind of compassion for the little baby. True, our family consisted of five girls and only one boy, but I did not understand at that time that girls were considered an inferior order of beings.
. . . I am told that I was pensively looking out of the nursery window one day, when Mary Dunn, the Scotch nurse, who was something of a philosopher, and a stern Presbyterian, said: 'Child, what are you thinking about; are you planning some new form of mischief?' 'No, Mary,' I replied, 'I was wondering why it was that everything we like to do is a sin, and that everything we dislike is commanded by God or someone on earth. I am so tired of that everlasting no! no! no! At school, at home, everywhere it is no! Even at church all the commandments begin 'Thou shalt not.' I suppose God will say 'no' to all we like in the next world, just as you do here.' Mary was dreadfully shocked at my dissatisfaction with the things of time and prospective eternity, and exhorted me to cultivate the virtues of obedience and humility."Five of Elizabeth's siblings died in early childhood or infancy. In 1826, a sixth sibling, her elder brother Eleazar, died at age 20.
When I was eleven years old . . . my only brother, who had just graduated from Union College, came home to die. A young man of great talent and promise, he was the pride of my father's heart. We early felt that this son filled a larger place in our father's affections and future plans than the five daughters together. Well do I remember how tenderly he watched my brother in his last illness, the sighs and tears he gave vent to as he slowly walked up and down the hall, and, when the last sad moment came, and we were all assembled to say farewell in the silent chamber of death, how broken were his utterances as he knelt and prayed for comfort and support. I still recall, too, going into the large darkened parlor to see my brother, and finding the casket, mirrors, and pictures all draped in white, and my father seated by his side, pale and immovable. As he took no notice of me, after standing a long while, I climbed upon his knee, when he mechanically put his arm about me and, with my head resting against his beating heart, we both sat in silence, he thinking of the wreck of all his hopes in the loss of a dear son, and I wondering what could be said or done to fill the void in his breast. At length he heaved a deep sigh and said: 'Oh, my daughter, I wish you were a boy!' Throwing my arms about his neck, I replied: 'I will try to be all my brother was.'She credited the Cadys' neighbor, Reverend Simon Hosack, with strongly encouraging her intellectual development and academic abilities at a time when she felt these were undervalued by her father. Understanding that her father valued boys above girls,
Elizabeth tearfully took her disappointment to Hosack, whose firm belief in her abilities counteracted her father's perceived disparagement. Hosack went on to teach her Greek, encouraged her to read widely, and ultimately bequeathed to her his own Greek lexicon along with other books. His confirmation of her intellectual abilities strengthened her confidence and self-esteem.
Only Elizabeth and four sisters lived into adulthood and old age. Emotionally devastated by the loss of so many children, Margaret Cady fell into a depression, which kept her from being fully involved in the lives of her surviving children and left a maternal void in Elizabeth's childhood. Many of the child rearing responsibilities fell to Elizabeth's elder sister, Tryphena, eleven years her senior, and Tryphena's husband, Edward Bayard.
Bayard had been a Union College classmate of Eleazar Cady. He was the son of James A. Bayard, Sr., a United States Senator from Wilmington, Delaware. At the time of Bayard's engagement and marriage to Tryphena, he was an apprentice in Daniel Cady's law office. He was instrumental in nurturing Elizabeth's growing understanding of the explicit and implicit gender hierarchies within the legal system.
Daniel Cady was a slave owner; Peter Teabout, a slave in the Cady household, took care of Elizabeth and her sister Margaret. He is remembered with particular fondness in her memoir, Eighty Years & More. Among other things, she reminisces about the pleasure she took in attending the Episcopal church with Teabout, where she and her sisters enjoyed sitting with him in the back of the church rather than alone in front with the white families of the congregation.
"Peter was a devout Episcopalian and took great pleasure in helping the young people decorate the church. He would take us with him and show us how to make evergreen wreaths. . . . His love for us was unbounded and fully returned. He was the only being, visible or invisible, of whom we had no fear. We would go to divine service with Peter, Christmas morning and sit with him by the door, in what was called 'the negro pew.' He was the only colored member of the church and, after all the other communicants had taken the sacrament, he went alone to the altar. Dressed in a new suit of blue with gilt buttons, he looked like a prince, as, with head erect, he walked up the aisle, the grandest specimen of manhood in the whole congregation; and yet so strong was prejudice against color in 1823 that no one would kneel beside him. On leaving us, on one of these occasions, Peter told us all to sit still until he returned; but, no sooner had he started, than the youngest of us slowly followed after him and seated herself close beside him. As he came back, holding the child by the hand, what a lesson it must have been to that prejudiced congregation! The first time we entered the church together the sexton opened a white man's pew for us, telling Peter to leave the Judge's children there. 'Oh,' he said, 'they will not stay there without me.' But, as he could not enter, we instinctively followed him to the negro pew.Slavery did not end in New York State until July 4, 1827, when Elizabeth was 12 years old.
"We entered the Johnstown Academy, where we made the acquaintance of the daughters of the hotel keeper and the county sheriff. . . and we became fast friends. This acquaintance opened to us two new sources of enjoyment–the freedom of the hotel and the exploration of the county jail. Our Scotch nurse had told us so many thrilling tales of castles, prisons, and dungeons in the Old World that, to see the great keys and iron doors, the handcuffs and chains, and the prisoners in their cells seemed like a veritable visit to Mary's native land. We made frequent visits to the jail and became deeply concerned about the fate of the prisoners, who were greatly pleased with our expressions of sympathy and our gifts of cake and candy. In time we became interested in the trials and sentences of prisoners, and would go to the courthouse and listen to the proceedings. Sometimes we would slip into the hotel where the judges and lawyers dined, and help our little friend wait on table. The rushing of servants to and fro, the calling of guests, the scolding of servants in the kitchen, the banging of doors, the general hubbub, the noise and clatter, were all idealized by me into one of those royal festivals Mary so often described. To be allowed to carry plates of bread and butter, pie and cheese I counted a high privilege. But more especially I enjoyed listening to the conversations in regard to the probable fate of our friends the prisoners in the jail. On one occasion I projected a few remarks into a conversation between two lawyers, when one of them turned abruptly to me and said, 'Child, you'd better attend to your business; bring me a glass of water.' I replied indignantly, 'I am not a servant; I am here for fun.'"
|Charles Grandison Finney|
"Fear of judgment seized my soul. Visions of the lost haunted my dreams. Mental anguish prostrated my health. Dethronement of my reason was apprehended by my friends."
|Tourists at Niagara Falls, ca. 1840|
|The home of Gerrit Smith in Peterboro, New York|
The year, with us, was never considered complete without a visit to Peterboro, N. Y., the home of Gerrit Smith. Though he was a reformer and was very radical in many of his ideas, yet, being a man of broad sympathies, culture, wealth, and position, he drew around him many friends of the most conservative opinions. He was a man of fine presence, rare physical beauty, most affable and courteous in manner, and his hospitalities were generous to an extreme, and dispensed to all classes of society.
Every year representatives from the Oneida tribe of Indians visited him. His father had early purchased of them large tracts of land, and there was a tradition among them that, as an equivalent for the good bargains of the father, they had a right to the son's hospitality, with annual gifts of clothing and provisions. The slaves, too, had heard of Gerrit Smith, the abolitionist, and of Peterboro as one of the safe points en route for Canada. His mansion was, in fact, one of the stations on the "underground railroad" for slaves escaping from bondage. Hence they, too, felt that they had a right to a place under his protecting roof. On such occasions the barn and the kitchen floor were utilized as chambers for the black man from the southern plantation and the red man from his home in the forest.
The spacious home was always enlivened with choice society from every part of the country. There one would meet members of the families of the old Dutch aristocracy, the Van Rensselaers, the Van Vechtens, the Schuylers, the Livingstons, the Bleeckers, the Brinkerhoffs, the Ten Eycks, the Millers, the Seymours, the Cochranes, the Biddles, the Barclays, the Wendells, and many others.
. . . One time, when Frederick Douglass came to spend a few days at Peterboro, some Southern visitors wrote a note to Mr. Smith asking if Mr. Douglass was to sit in the parlor and at the dining table; if so, during his visit they would remain in their own apartments. Mr. Smith replied that his visitors were always treated by his family as equals, and such would be the case with Mr. Douglass, who was considered one of the ablest men reared under "The Southern Institution." So these ladies had their meals in their own apartments, where they stayed most of the time, and, as Mr. Douglass prolonged his visit, they no doubt wished in their hearts that they had never taken that silly position. The rest of us walked about with him, arm in arm, played games, and sang songs together, he playing the accompaniment on the guitar.
One day, as a bevy of us girls were singing and chattering in the parlor, Cousin Gerrit entered and, in mysterious tones, said: "I have a most important secret to tell you, which you must keep to yourselves religiously for twenty-four hours." We readily pledged ourselves in the most solemn manner, individually and collectively. "Now," said he, "follow me to the third story." This we did, wondering what the secret could be.
At last, opening a door, he ushered us into a large room, in the center of which sat a beautiful quadroon girl, about eighteen years of age.
Addressing her, he said: "Harriet, I have brought all my young cousins to see you. I want you to make good abolitionists of them by telling them the history of your life–what you have seen and suffered in slavery."
Turning to us he said: "Harriet has just escaped from her master, who is visiting in Syracuse, and is on her way to Canada. She will start this evening and you may never have another opportunity of seeing a slave girl face to face, so ask her all you care to know of the system of slavery."
For two hours we listened to the sad story of her childhood and youth, separated from all her family and sold for her beauty in a New Orleans market when but fourteen years of age. The details of her story I need not repeat. The fate of such girls is too well known to need rehearsal. We all wept together as she talked, and, when Cousin Gerrit returned to summon us away, we needed no further education to make us earnest abolitionists.
Dressed as a Quakeress, Harriet started at twilight with one of Mr. Smith's faithful clerks in a carriage for Oswego, there to cross the lake to Canada. The next day her master and the marshals from Syracuse were on her track in Peterboro, and traced her to Mr. Smith's premises. He was quite gracious in receiving them, and, while assuring them that there was no slave there, he said that they were at liberty to make a thorough search of the house and grounds. He invited them to stay and dine and kept them talking as long as possible, as every hour helped Harriet to get beyond their reach; for, although she had eighteen hours the start of them, yet we feared some accident might have delayed her.
The master was evidently a gentleman, for, on Mr. Smith's assurance that Harriet was not there, he made no search, feeling that they could not do so without appearing to doubt his word. He was evidently surprised to find an abolitionist so courteous and affable, and it was interesting to hear them in conversation, at dinner, calmly discussing the problem of slavery, while public sentiment was at white heat on the question. They shook hands warmly at parting and expressed an equal interest in the final adjustment of that national difficulty.
In due time the clerk returned with the good news that Harriet was safe with friends in a good situation in Canada. Mr. Smith then published an open letter to the master in the New York Tribune, saying "that he would no doubt rejoice to know that his slave Harriet, in whose fate he felt so deep an interest, was now a free woman, safe under the shadow of the British throne. I had the honor of entertaining her under my roof, sending her in my carriage to Lake Ontario, just eighteen hours before your arrival; hence my willingness to have you search my premises."One of the many people she met at Gerrit Smith's home was Henry Stanton, ten years her senior, an anti-slavery speaker and agent. Ten years earlier, at the age of twenty-five, Charles G. Finney’s Great Revival in 1830 swept him up and thrust him into the cause of moral regeneration. He met the charismatic Theodore Weld, who became his mentor.
When Elizabeth and Henry became engaged, Daniel Cady opposed the marriage because Henry Stanton had no means of support: he worked for the financially troubled American Anti-Slavery Society, often without pay. Elizabeth was finally persuaded to break off the engagement; however, despite Daniel Cady's opposition to the marriage, the couple was married in May 1840, just before Henry Stanton's departure for the World Anti-Slavery Convention in England. Henry agreed to complete his legal training with his father-in-law when the couple returned from abroad.
Elizabeth Cady asked the minister to remove the phrase "promise to obey" from the wedding vows. She later wrote, "I obstinately refused to obey one with whom I supposed I was entering into an equal relation." Throughout her marriage and eventual widowhood, Stanton took her husband's surname as part of her own, signing herself Elizabeth Cady Stanton or E. Cady Stanton, but she refused to be addressed as Mrs. Henry B. Stanton. Asserting that women were individual persons, she stated that, "[t]he custom of calling women Mrs. John This and Mrs. Tom That and colored men Sambo and Zip Coon, is founded on the principle that white men are lords of all."
They immediately for Europe, as Henry Stanton was a delegate to the World Anti-Slavery Convention in London:
Fairly at sea, I closed another chapter of my life, and my thoughts turned to what lay in the near future. James G. Birney, the anti-slavery nominee for the presidency of the United States, joined us in New York, and was a fellow-passenger on the Montreal for England. He and my husband were delegates to the World Anti-slavery Convention, and both interested themselves in my anti-slavery education. They gave me books to read, and, as we paced the deck day by day, the question was the chief theme of our conversation.
|James G. Birney|
. . . When I first entered our lodging house in Queen Street, London, I thought it the gloomiest abode I had ever seen. The arrival of a delegation of ladies, the next day, from Boston and Philadelphia, changed the atmosphere of the establishment, and filled me with delightful anticipations of some new and charming acquaintances, which I fully realized in meeting Emily Winslow, Abby Southwick, Elizabeth Neal, Mary Grew, Abby Kimber, Sarah Pugh, and Lucretia Mott. There had been a split in the American anti-slavery ranks, and delegates came from both branches, and, as they were equally represented at our lodgings, I became familiar with the whole controversy. The potent element which caused the division was the woman question, and as the Garrisonian branch maintained the right of women to speak and vote in the conventions, all my sympathies were with the Garrisonians, though Mr. Stanton and Mr. Birney belonged to the other branch, called political abolitionists. To me there was no question so important as the emancipation of women from the dogmas of the past, political, religious, and social. It struck me as very remarkable that abolitionists, who felt so keenly the wrongs of the slave, should be so oblivious to the equal wrongs of their own mothers, wives, and sisters, when, according to the common law, both classes occupied a similar legal status.
|James and Lucretia Mott|
|William Lloyd Garrison|
Mrs. Mott had not much faith in the sincerity of abolitionists who, while eloquently defending the natural rights of slaves, denied freedom of speech to one-half the people of their own race. Such was the consistency of an assemblage of philanthropists! They would have been horrified at the idea of burning the flesh of the distinguished women present with red-hot irons, but the crucifixion of their pride and self-respect, the humiliation of the spirit, seemed to them a most trifling matter. The action of this convention was the topic of discussion, in public and private, for a long time, and stung many women into new thought and action and gave rise to the movement for women's political equality both in England and the United States.
As the convention adjourned, the remark was heard on all sides, "It is about time some demand was made for new liberties for women." As Mrs. Mott and I walked home, arm in arm, commenting on the incidents of the day, we resolved to hold a convention as soon as we returned home, and form a society to advocate the rights of women. At the lodging house on Queen Street, where a large number of delegates had apartments, the discussions were heated at every meal, and at times so bitter that, at last, Mr. Birney packed his valise and sought more peaceful quarters. Having strongly opposed the admission of women as delegates to the convention it was rather embarrassing to meet them, during the intervals between the various sessions, at the table and in the drawing room.
These were the first women I had ever met who believed in the equality of the sexes and who did not believe in the popular orthodox religion. The acquaintance of Lucretia Mott, who was a broad, liberal thinker on politics, religion, and all questions of reform, opened to me a new world of thought. As we walked about to see the sights of London, I embraced every opportunity to talk with her. It was intensely gratifying to hear all that, through years of doubt, I had dimly thought, so freely discussed by other women, some of them no older than myself–women, too, of rare intelligence, cultivation, and refinement.
After six weeks' sojourn under the same roof with Lucretia Mott, whose conversation was uniformly on a high plane, I felt that I knew her too well to sympathize with the orthodox Friends, who denounced her as a dangerous woman because she doubted certain dogmas they fully believed.
As Mr. Birney and my husband were invited to speak all over England, Scotland, and Ireland, and we were uniformly entertained by orthodox Friends, I had abundant opportunity to know the general feeling among them toward Lucretia Mott. Even Elizabeth Fry seemed quite unwilling to breathe the same atmosphere with her. During the six weeks that many of us remained in London after the convention we were invited to a succession of public and private breakfasts, dinners, and teas, and on these occasions it was amusing to watch Mrs. Fry's sedulous efforts to keep Mrs. Mott at a distance. If Mrs. Mott was on the lawn, Mrs. Fry would go into the house; if Mrs. Mott was in the house, Mrs. Fry would stay out on the lawn. One evening, when we were all crowded into two parlors, and there was no escape, the word went round that Mrs. Fry felt moved to pray with the American delegates, whereupon a profound silence reigned. After a few moments Mrs. Fry's voice was heard deploring the schism among the American Friends; that so many had been led astray by false doctrines; urging the Spirit of All Good to show them the error of their way, and gather them once more into the fold of the great Shepherd of our faith. The prayer was directed so pointedly at the followers of Elias Hicks, and at Lucretia Mott in particular, that I whispered to Lucretia, at the close, that she should now pray for Mrs. Fry, that her eyes might be opened to her bigotry and uncharitableness, and be led by the Spirit into higher light. "Oh, no!" she replied, "a prayer of this character, under the circumstances, is an unfair advantage to take of a stranger, but I would not resent it in the house of her friends."
. . . We spent a few days with John Joseph Gurney at his beautiful home in Norwich. He had just returned from America, having made a tour through the South. When asked how he liked America, he said, "I like everything but your pie crust and your slavery."
. . . It surprised us very much at first, when driving into the grounds of some of these beautiful Quaker homes, to have the great bell rung at the lodge, and to see the number of livened servants on the porch and in the halls, and then to meet the host in plain garb, and to be welcomed in plain language, "How does thee do, Henry?" "How does thee do Elizabeth?" This sounded peculiarly sweet to me–a stranger in a strange land. The wealthy English Quakers we visited at that time, taking them all in all, were the most charming people I had ever seen. They were refined and intelligent on all subjects, and though rather conservative on some points, were not aggressive in pressing their opinions on others. Their hospitality was charming and generous, their homes the beau ideal of comfort and order, the cuisine faultless, while peace reigned over all. The quiet, gentle manner and the soft tones in speaking, and the mysterious quiet in these well-ordered homes were like the atmosphere one finds in a modern convent, where the ordinary duties of the day seem to be accomplished by some magical influence. . . .
England had just paid one hundred millions of dollars to emancipate the slaves, and we were all interested in hearing the result of the experiment. . . . We found none of that prejudice against color in England which is so inveterate among the American people; at my first dinner in England I found myself beside a gentleman from Jamaica, as black as the ace of spades. . . .
There were half a dozen wineglasses at every plate, but abolitionists, in those days, were all converts to temperance, and, as the bottles went around there was a general headshaking, and the right hand extended over the glasses. Our English friends were amazed that none of us drank wine. Mr. Gurney said he had never before seen such a sight as forty ladies and gentlemen sitting down to dinner and none of them tasting wine. In talking with him on that point, he said:Soon after returning to the United States from their European honeymoon, the Stantons moved into the Cady household in Johnstown.
"I suppose your nursing mothers drink beer?"
I laughed, and said, "Oh, no! We should be afraid of befogging the brains of our children."
"No danger of that," said he; "we are all bright enough, and yet a cask of beer is rolled into the cellar for the mother with each newborn child."
Eliza Murray and I had classes of colored children in the Sunday school. On one occasion, when there was to be a festival, speaking in the church, a procession through the streets, and other public performances for the Sunday-school celebration, some narrow-minded bigots objected to the colored children taking part. They approached Miss Murray and me with most persuasive tones on the wisdom of not allowing them to march in the procession to the church. We said, "Oh, no! It won't do to disappoint the children. They are all dressed, with their badges on, and looking forward with great pleasure to the festivities of the day. Besides, we would not cater to any of these contemptible prejudices against color." We were all assembled in the courthouse preparatory to forming in the line of march. Some were determined to drive the colored children home, but Miss Murray and I, like two defiant hens, kept our little brood close behind us, determined to conquer or perish in the struggle. At last milder counsels prevailed, and it was agreed that they might march in the rear. We made no objection and fell into line, but, when we reached the church door, it was promptly closed as the last white child went in. We tried two other doors, but all were guarded. We shed tears of vexation and pity for the poor children, and, when they asked us the reason why they could not go in, we were embarrassed and mortified with the explanation we were forced to give. However, I invited them to my father's house, where Miss Murray and I gave them refreshments and entertained them for the rest of the day.The couple had six children between 1842 and 1856: Daniel "Neil" Cady Stanton (1842–1891); Henry Brewster Stanton, Jr. (1844–1903); Gerrit Smith Stanton (1845–1927); Theodore Weld Stanton (1851–1925); Margaret Livingston Stanton Lawrence (1852–1938); Harriot Eaton Stanton Blatch (1856–1940); and Robert Livingston Stanton (1859–1920). Their seventh and last child, Robert, was an unplanned baby born in 1859 when Elizabeth Cady Stanton was forty-four.
Though motherhood is the most important of all the professions,–requiring more knowledge than any other department in human affairs,–yet there is not sufficient attention given to the preparation for this office.
If we buy a plant of a horticulturist we ask him many questions as to its needs, whether it thrives best in sunshine or in shade, whether it needs much or little water, what degrees of heat or cold; but when we hold in our arms for the first time, a being of infinite possibilities, in whose wisdom may rest the destiny of a nation, we take it for granted that the laws governing its life, health, and happiness are intuitively understood, that there is nothing new to be learned in regard to it.
Yet here is a science to which philosophers have, as yet, given but little attention. An important fact has only been discovered and acted upon within the last ten years, that children come into the world tired, and not hungry, exhausted with the perilous journey. Instead of being thoroughly bathed and dressed, and kept on the rack while the nurse makes a prolonged toilet and feeds it some nostrum supposed to have much needed medicinal influence, the child's face, eyes, and mouth should be hastily washed with warm water, and the rest of its body thoroughly oiled, and then it should be slipped into a soft pillow case, wrapped in a blanket, and laid to sleep. Ordinarily, in the proper conditions, with its face uncovered in a cool, pure atmosphere, it will sleep twelve hours. Then it should be bathed, fed, and clothed in a high-necked, long-sleeved silk shirt and a blanket, all of which could be done in five minutes. As babies lie still most of the time the first six weeks, they need no dressing. I think the nurse was a full hour bathing and dressing my firstborn, who protested with a melancholy wail every blessed minute.
. . . The literature on this subject was as confusing and unsatisfactory as the longer and shorter catechisms and the Thirty-nine Articles of our faith. I had recently visited our dear friends, Theodore and Angelina Grimke-Weld, and they warned me against books on this subject. They had been so misled by one author, who assured them that the stomach of a child could only hold one tablespoonful, that they nearly starved their firstborn to death. Though the child dwindled, day by day, and, at the end of a month, looked like a little old man, yet they still stood by the distinguished author. Fortunately, they both went off, one day, and left the child with Sister "Sarah," who thought she would make an experiment and see what a child's stomach could hold, as she had grave doubts about the tablespoonful theory. To her surprise the baby took a pint bottle full of milk, and had the sweetest sleep thereon he had known in his earthly career. After that he was permitted to take what he wanted, and "the author" was informed of his libel on the infantile stomach.Henry Stanton studied law under his father-in-law until 1843, when the Stantons moved to Boston, Massachusetts, where Henry joined a law firm. While living in Boston, Elizabeth enjoyed the social, political, and intellectual stimulation that came with a constant round of abolitionist gatherings and meetings. She met and was influenced by Frederick Douglass, William Lloyd Garrison, Louisa May Alcott, and Ralph Waldo Emerson, among others.
|Ralph Waldo Emerson|
In the autumn of 1843 my husband was admitted to the bar and commenced the practice of law in Boston with Mr. Bowles, brother-in-law of the late General John A. Dix. This gave me the opportunity to make many pleasant acquaintances among the lawyers in Boston, and to meet, intimately, many of the noble men and women among reformers, whom I had long worshipped at a distance.
Here, for the first time, I met Lydia Maria Child, Abby Kelly, Paulina Wright, Elizabeth Peabody, Maria Chapman and her beautiful sisters, the Misses Weston, Oliver and Marianna Johnson, Joseph and Thankful Southwick and their three bright daughters. The home of the Southwicks was always a harbor of rest for the weary, where the anti-slavery hosts were wont to congregate, and where one was always sure to meet someone worth knowing. Their hospitality was generous to an extreme, and so boundless that they were, at last, fairly eaten out of house and home. Here, too, for the first time, I met Theodore Parker, John Pierpont, John G. Whittier, Emerson, Alcott, Lowell, Hawthorne, Mr. and Mrs. Samuel E. Sewall, Sidney Howard Gay, Pillsbury, Foster, Frederick Douglass, and last though not least, those noble men, Charles Hovey and Francis Jackson, the only men who ever left any money to the cause of woman suffrage. I also met Miss Jackson, afterward Mrs. Eddy, who left half her fortune, fifty thousand dollars, for the same purpose.
I was a frequent visitor at the home of William Lloyd Garrison. Though he had a prolonged battle to fight in the rough outside world, his home was always a haven of rest. Mrs. Garrison was a sweet-tempered, conscientious woman, who tried, under all circumstances, to do what was right. She had sound judgment and rare common sense, was tall and fine-looking, with luxuriant brown hair, large tender blue eyes, delicate features, and affable manners. They had an exceptionally fine family of five sons and one daughter. Fanny, now the wife of Henry Villard, the financier, was the favorite and pet. All the children, in their maturer years, have fulfilled the promises of their childhood. Though always in straitened circumstances, the Garrisons were very hospitable. It was next to impossible for Mr. Garrison to meet a friend without inviting him to his house, especially at the close of a convention.Friends of the couple found them similar in ambition but dissimilar in their views on certain issues, including women's rights. Henry Stanton, like Daniel Cady, disagreed with the notion of female suffrage.
My second son was born in Albany, in March, 1844, under more favorable auspices than the first, as I knew, then, what to do with a baby. Returning to Chelsea we commenced housekeeping, which afforded me another chapter of experience. A new house, newly furnished, with beautiful views of Boston Bay, was all I could desire. Mr. Stanton announced to me, in starting, that his business would occupy all his time, and that I must take entire charge of the housekeeping. So, with two good servants and two babies under my sole supervision, my time was pleasantly occupied.
When first installed as mistress over an establishment, one has that same feeling of pride and satisfaction that a young minister must have in taking charge of his first congregation. It is a proud moment in a woman's life to reign supreme within four walls, to be the one to whom all questions of domestic pleasure and economy are referred, and to hold in her hand that little family book in which the daily expenses, the outgoings and incomings, are duly registered. I studied up everything pertaining to housekeeping, and enjoyed it all. Even washing day–that day so many people dread–had its charms for me. The clean clothes on the lines and on the grass looked so white, and smelled so sweet, that it was to me a pretty sight to contemplate. I inspired my laundress with an ambition to have her clothes look white and to get them out earlier than our neighbors, and to have them ironed and put away sooner.
As Mr. Stanton did not come home to dinner, we made a picnic of our noon meal on Mondays, and all thoughts and energies were turned to speed the washing. No unnecessary sweeping or dusting, no visiting nor entertaining angels unawares on that day–it was held sacred to soap suds, blue-bags, and clotheslines. . . I had all the most approved cook books, and spent half my time preserving, pickling, and experimenting in new dishes. I felt the same ambition to excel in all departments of the culinary art that I did at school in the different branches of learning. My love of order and cleanliness was carried throughout, from parlor to kitchen, from the front door to the back. I gave a man an extra shilling to pile the logs of firewood with their smooth ends outward, though I did not have them scoured white, as did our Dutch grandmothers. I tried, too, to give an artistic touch to everything–the dress of my children and servants included. My dining table was round, always covered with a clean cloth of a pretty pattern and a centerpiece of flowers in their season, pretty dishes, clean silver, and set with neatness and care.
I put my soul into everything, and hence enjoyed it. I never could understand how housekeepers could rest with rubbish all round their back doors; eggshells, broken dishes, tin cans, and old shoes scattered round their premises; servants ragged and dirty, with their hair in papers, and with the kitchen and dining room full of flies. I have known even artists to be indifferent to their personal appearance and their surroundings. Surely a mother and child, tastefully dressed, and a pretty home for a framework, is, as a picture, even more attractive than a domestic scene hung on the wall. The love of the beautiful can be illustrated as well in life as on canvas. There is such a struggle among women to become artists that I really wish some of their gifts could be illustrated in clean, orderly, beautiful homes.
Our house was pleasantly situated on the Chelsea Hills, commanding a fine view of Boston, the harbor, and surrounding country. There, on the upper piazza, I spent some of the happiest days of my life, enjoying, in turn, the beautiful outlook, my children, and my books. Here, under the very shadow of Bunker Hill Monument, my third son was born. Shortly after this Gerrit Smith and his wife came to spend a few days with us, so this boy, much against my will, was named after my cousin. I did not believe in old family names unless they were peculiarly euphonious. I had a list of beautiful names for sons and daughters, from which to designate each newcomer; but, as yet, not one on my list had been used. However, I put my foot down, at No. 4, and named him Theodore, and, thus far, he has proved himself a veritable "gift of God," doing his uttermost, in every way possible, to fight the battle of freedom for woman.In 1847, expressing their concerns about the effect of New England winters on Henry Stanton's health, the Stantons moved from Boston to Seneca Falls, in upstate New York. Their house and land, purchased for them by Daniel Cady, was located some distance from town.
|Stantons' Seneca Falls Home|
Although she enjoyed motherhood and assumed primary responsibility for rearing the children, Stanton found herself unsatisfied and even depressed by the lack of intellectual companionship and stimulation in Seneca Falls. As an antidote to the boredom and loneliness, Stanton became increasingly involved in the community and, by 1848, had established ties to similarly minded women in the area. By this time, she was firmly committed to the nascent women's rights movement and was ready to engage in organized activism. She later wrote:
Emerson says, "A healthy discontent is the first step to progress." The general discontent I felt with woman's portion as wife, mother, housekeeper, physician, and spiritual guide, the chaotic conditions into which everything fell without her constant supervision, and the wearied, anxious look of the majority of women impressed me with a strong feeling that some active measures should be taken to remedy the wrongs of society in general, and of women in particular. My experience at the World's Anti-slavery Convention, all I had read of the legal status of women, and the oppression I saw everywhere, together swept across my soul, intensified now by many personal experiences. It seemed as if all the elements had conspired to impel me to some onward step. I could not see what to do or where to begin–my only thought was a public meeting for protest and discussion.
In this tempest-tossed condition of mind I received an invitation to spend the day with Lucretia Mott, at Richard Hunt's, in Waterloo. There I met several members of different families of Friends, earnest, thoughtful women. I poured out, that day, the torrent of my long-accumulating discontent, with such vehemence and indignation that I stirred myself, as well as the rest of the party, to do and dare anything. My discontent, according to Emerson, must have been healthy, for it moved us all to prompt action, and we decided, then and there, to call a "Woman's Rights Convention." We wrote the call that evening and published it in the Seneca County Courier the next day, the 14th of July, 1848, giving only five days' notice, as the convention was to be held on the 19th and 20th.
|Martha Coffin Wright|
The call was inserted without signatures,–in fact it was a mere announcement of a meeting,–but the chief movers and managers were Lucretia Mott, Mary Ann McClintock, Jane Hunt, Martha C. Wright, and myself. The convention, which was held two days in the Methodist Church, was in every way a grand success. The house was crowded at every session, the speaking good, and a religious earnestness dignified all the proceedings.
|Advertisement for Women's Rights Convention|
These were the hasty initiative steps of "the most momentous reform that had yet been launched on the world–the first organized protest against the injustice which had brooded for ages over the character and destiny of one-half the race." No words could express our astonishment on finding, a few days afterward, that what seemed to us so timely, so rational, and so sacred, should be a subject for sarcasm and ridicule to the entire press of the nation. With our Declaration of Rights and Resolutions for a text, it seemed as if every man who could wield a pen prepared a homily on "woman's sphere." All the journals from Maine to Texas seemed to strive with each other to see which could make our movement appear the most ridiculous. The anti-slavery papers stood by us manfully and so did Frederick Douglass, both in the convention and in his paper, The North Star, but so pronounced was the popular voice against us, in the parlor, press, and pulpit, that most of the ladies who had attended the convention and signed the declaration, one by one, withdrew their names and influence and joined our persecutors. Our friends gave us the cold shoulder and felt themselves disgraced by the whole proceeding.
If I had had the slightest premonition of all that was to follow that convention, I fear I should not have had the courage to risk it . . .The largest group at the 1848 meeting were antislavery Quakers from Rochester and Waterloo, New York, dissidents in the Society of Friends who were establishing the Congregational (later Progressive) Friends. Soon after the convention, Stanton was invited to speak at a second women's rights convention in Rochester, New York, solidifying her role as an activist and reformer. Paulina Kellogg Wright Davis invited her to speak at the first National Women's Rights Convention in 1850, but because of pregnancy, Stanton chose instead to lend her name to the list of sponsors and sent a speech to be read.
I met my future friend and coadjutor for the first time. How well I remember the day! George Thompson and William Lloyd Garrison having announced an anti-slavery meeting in Seneca Falls, Miss Anthony came to attend it. These gentlemen were my guests. Walking home, after the adjournment, we met Mrs. Bloomer and Miss Anthony on the corner of the street, waiting to greet us. There she stood, with her good, earnest face and genial smile, dressed in gray delaine, hat and all the same color, relieved with pale blue ribbons, the perfection of neatness and sobriety. I liked her thoroughly, and why I did not at once invite her home with me to dinner, I do not know. She accuses me of that neglect, and has never forgiven me, as she wished to see and hear all she could of our noble friends. I suppose my mind was full of what I had heard, or my coming dinner, or the probable behavior of three mischievous boys who had been busily exploring the premises while I was at the meeting.
|Susan B. Anthony in 1848|
Susan B. Anthony . . . was teaching in the academy at Canajoharie, a little village in the beautiful valley of the Mohawk. "The Woman's Declaration of Independence" issued from those conventions startled and amused her, and she laughed heartily at the novelty and presumption of the demand. But, on returning home to spend her vacation, she was surprised to find that her sober Quaker parents and sister, having attended the Rochester meetings, regarded them as very profitable and interesting, and the demands made as proper and reasonable. She was already interested in the anti-slavery and temperance reforms, was an active member of an organization called "The Daughters of Temperance," and had spoken a few times in their public meetings. But the new gospel of "Woman's Rights," found a ready response in her mind, and, from that time, her best efforts have been given to the enfranchisement of women.
. . . Mr. Anthony was a stern Hicksite Quaker. In Susan's early life he objected on principle to all forms of frivolous amusement, such as music, dancing, or novel reading, while games and even pictures were regarded as meaningless luxuries. Such puritanical convictions might have easily degenerated into mere cant; but underlying all was a broad and firm basis of wholesome respect for individual freedom and a brave adherence to truth. He was a man of good business capacity, and a thorough manager of his wide and lucrative interests. He saw that compensation and not chance ruled in the commercial world, and he believed in the same just, though often severe, law in the sphere of morals.
Such a man was not apt to walk humbly in the path mapped out by his religious sect. He early offended by choosing a Baptist for a wife. For this first offense he was "disowned," and, according to Quaker usage, could only be received into fellowship again by declaring himself "sorry" for his crime in full meeting. He was full of devout thankfulness for the good woman by his side, and destined to be thankful to the very end for this companion, so calm, so just, so far-seeing. He rose in meeting, and said he was "sorry" that the rules of the society were such that, in marrying the woman he loved, he had committed offense! He admitted that he was "sorry" for something, so was taken back into the body of the faithful!
But his faith had begun to weaken in many minor points of discipline. His coat soon became a cause of offense and called forth another reproof from those buttoned up in conforming garments. The petty forms of Quakerism began to lose their weight with him altogether, and he was finally disowned for allowing the village youth to be taught dancing in an upper room of his dwelling. He was applied to for this favor on the ground that young men were under great temptation to drink if the lessons were given in the hotel; and, being a rigid temperance man, he readily consented, though his principles, in regard to dancing, would not allow his own sons and daughters to join in the amusement. But the society could accept no such discrimination in what it deemed sin, nor such compromise with worldly frivolity, and so Mr. Anthony was seen no more in meeting. . . .
The effect of all this on Susan is the question of interest. No doubt she early weighed the comparative moral effects of coats cut with capes and those cut without, of purely Quaker conjugal love and that deteriorated with Baptist affection. Susan had an earnest soul and a conscience tending to morbidity; but a strong, well-balanced body and simple family life soothed her too active moral nature and gave the world, instead of a religious fanatic, a sincere, concentrated worker. Every household art was taught her by her mother, and so great was her ability that the duty demanding especial care was always given into her hands. But ever, amid school and household tasks, her day-dream was that, in time, she might be a "high-seat" Quaker. Each Sunday, up to the time of the third disobedience, Mr. Anthony went to the Quaker meeting house, some thirteen miles from home, his wife and children usually accompanying him, though, as non-members, they were rigidly excluded from all business discussions. Exclusion was very pleasant in the bright days of summer; but, on one occasion in December, decidedly unpleasant for the seven-year-old Susan. When the blinds were drawn, at the close of the religious meeting, and non-members retired, Susan sat still. Soon she saw a thin old lady with blue goggles come down from the "high seat." Approaching her, the Quakeress said softly, "Thee is not a member–thee must go out." "No; my mother told me not to go out in the cold," was the child's firm response. "Yes, but thee must go out–thee is not a member." "But my father is a member." "Thee is not a member," and Susan felt as if the spirit was moving her and soon found herself in outer coldness. Fingers and toes becoming numb, and a bright fire in a cottage over the way beckoning warmly to her, the exile from the chapel resolved to seek secular shelter. But alas! she was confronted by a huge dog, and just escaped with whole skin though capeless jacket. We may be sure there was much talk, that night, at the home fireside, and the good Baptist wife declared that no child of hers should attend meeting again till made a member. Thereafter, by request of her father, Susan became a member of the Quaker church.
. . . To be a simple, earnest Quaker was the aspiration of her girlhood; but she shrank from adopting the formal language and plain dress. Dark hours of conflict were spent over all this, and she interpreted her disinclination as evidence of unworthiness. Poor little Susan! As we look back with the knowledge of our later life, we translate the heart-burnings as unconscious protests against labeling your free soul, against testing your reasoning conviction of to-morrow by any shibboleth of to-day's belief. We hail this child-intuition as a prophecy of the uncompromising truthfulness of the mature woman.
Susan Anthony was taught simply that she must enter into the holy of holies of her own self, meet herself, and be true to the revelation. She first found words to express her convictions in listening to Rev. William Henry Channing, whose teaching had a lasting spiritual influence on her.
To-day Miss Anthony is an agnostic. As to the nature of the Godhead and of the life beyond her horizon she does not profess to know anything. Every energy of her soul is centered upon the needs of this world. To her, work is worship.Although best known for their joint work on behalf of women's suffrage, Stanton and Anthony first joined the temperance movement. Together, they were instrumental in founding the short-lived Women's New York State Temperance Society (1852–1853). During her presidency of the organization, Stanton scandalized many supporters by suggesting that drunkenness be made sufficient cause for divorce.
It is often said, by those who know Miss Anthony best, that she has been my good angel, always pushing and goading me to work, and that but for her pertinacity I should never have accomplished the little I have. On the other hand it has been said that I forged the thunderbolts and she fired them. Perhaps all this is, in a measure, true. With the cares of a large family I might, in time, like too many women, have become wholly absorbed in a narrow family selfishness, had not my friend been continually exploring new fields for missionary labors.
. . . In thought and sympathy we were one, and in the division of labor we exactly complimented each other. In writing we did better work than either could alone. While she is slow and analytic in composition, I am rapid and synthetic. I am the better writer, she the better critic. She supplied the facts and statistics, I the philosophy and rhetoric, and, together, we have made arguments that have stood unshaken through the storms of long years; arguments that no one has answered. Our speeches may be considered the united product of our two brains. . .
Night after night, by an old-fashioned fireplace, we plotted and planned the coming agitation; how, when, and where each entering wedge could be driven, by which women might be recognized and their rights secured. Speedily the State was aflame with disturbances in temperance and teachers' conventions, and the press heralded the news far and near that women delegates had suddenly appeared, demanding admission in men's conventions; that their rights had been hotly contested session after session, by liberal men on the one side, the clergy and learned professors on the other; an overwhelming majority rejecting the women with terrible anathemas and denunciations. Such battles were fought over and over in the chief cities of many of the Northern States, until the bigotry of men in all the reforms and professions was thoroughly exposed. Every right achieved, to enter a college, to study a profession, to labor in some new industry, or to advocate a reform measure was contended for inch by inch.
Many of those enjoying all these blessings now complacently say, "If these pioneers in reform had only pressed their measures more judiciously, in a more lady-like manner, in more choice language, with a more deferential attitude, the gentlemen could not have behaved so rudely." I give, in these pages, enough of the characteristics of these women, of the sentiments they expressed, of their education, ancestry, and position to show that no power could have met the prejudice and bigotry of that period more successfully than they did who so bravely and persistently fought and conquered them.Stanton and Anthony's focus soon shifted to female suffrage and women's rights. Single and having no children, Anthony had the time and energy to do the speaking and traveling that Stanton was unable to do. Their skills complemented each other; Stanton, the better orator and writer, scripted many of Anthony's speeches, while Anthony was the movement's organizer and tactician. Stanton once wrote to Anthony, “No power in heaven, hell or earth can separate us, for our hearts are eternally wedded together.” Unlike Anthony's relatively narrow focus on suffrage, Stanton wanted to push for a broader platform of women's rights in general. While their opposing viewpoints led to some discussion and conflict, no disagreement threatened their friendship or working relationship; the two women remained close friends and colleagues until Stanton's death some 50 years after their initial meeting.
There is scarce a town, however small, from New York to San Francisco, that has not heard her ringing voice. . . . Many times in traveling with her through the West, especially on our first trip to Kansas and California, we were suddenly called upon to speak to the women assembled at the stations. . . . The climax of these occasions was reached in an institution for the deaf and dumb in Michigan. I had just said to my friend, "There is one comfort in visiting this place; we shall not be asked to speak," when the superintendent, approaching us, said, "Ladies, the pupils are assembled in the chapel, ready to hear you. I promised to invite you to speak to them as soon as I heard you were in town." The possibility of addressing such an audience was as novel to Miss Anthony as to me; yet she promptly walked down the aisle to the platform, as if to perform an ordinary duty, while I, half distracted with anxiety, wondering by what process I was to be placed in communication with the deaf and dumb, reluctantly followed. But the manner was simple enough, when illustrated. The superintendent, standing by our side, repeated, in the sign language, what was said as fast as uttered; and by laughter, tears, and applause, the pupils showed that they fully appreciated the pathos, humor, and argument. . .
Only once in all these wanderings was Miss Anthony taken by surprise, and that was on being asked to speak to the inmates of an insane asylum. "Bless me!" said she, "it is as much as I can do to talk to the sane! What could I say to an audience of lunatics?" Her companion, Virginia L. Minor of St. Louis, replied: "This is a golden moment for you, the first opportunity you have ever had, according to the constitutions, to talk to your 'peers,' for is not the right of suffrage denied to 'idiots, criminals, lunatics, and women'?"
. . . In 1854 I prepared my first speech for the New York legislature. That was a great event in my life. I felt so nervous over it, lest it should not be worthy the occasion, that Miss Anthony suggested that I should slip up to Rochester and submit it to the Rev. William Henry Channing, who was preaching there at that time. I did so, and his opinion was so favorable as to the merits of my speech that I felt quite reassured.
My father felt equally nervous when he saw, by the Albany Evening Journal, that I was to speak at the Capitol, and asked me to read my speech to him also. Accordingly, I stopped at Johnstown on my way to Albany, and, late one evening, when he was alone in his office, I entered and took my seat on the opposite side of his table. On no occasion, before or since, was I ever more embarrassed–an audience of one, and that the one of all others whose approbation I most desired, whose disapproval I most feared.
I knew he condemned the whole movement, and was deeply grieved at the active part I had taken. Hence I was fully aware that I was about to address a wholly unsympathetic audience. However, I began, with a dogged determination to give all the power I could to my manuscript, and not to be discouraged or turned from my purpose by any tender appeals or adverse criticisms. I described the widow in the first hours of her grief, subject to the intrusions of the coarse minions of the law, taking inventory of the household goods, of the old armchair in which her loved one had breathed his last, of the old clock in the corner that told the hour he passed away. I threw all the pathos I could into my voice and language at this point, and, to my intense satisfaction, I saw tears filling my father's eyes. I cannot express the exultation I felt, thinking that now he would see, with my eyes, the injustice women suffered under the laws he understood so well.
Feeling that I had touched his heart I went on with renewed confidence, and, when I had finished, I saw he was thoroughly magnetized. With beating heart I waited for him to break the silence. He was evidently deeply pondering over all he had heard, and did not speak for a long time. I believed I had opened to him a new world of thought. He had listened long to the complaints of women, but from the lips of his own daughter they had come with a deeper pathos and power.
At last, turning abruptly, he said: "Surely you have had a happy, comfortable life, with all your wants and needs supplied; and yet that speech fills me with self-reproach; for one might naturally ask, how can a young woman, tenderly brought up, who has had no bitter personal experience, feel so keenly the wrongs of her sex? Where did you learn this lesson?" "I learned it here," I replied, "in your office, when a child, listening to the complaints women made to you. They who have sympathy and imagination to make the sorrows of others their own can readily learn all the hard lessons of life from the experience of others." "Well, well!" he said, "you have made your points clear and strong; but I think I can find you even more cruel laws than those you have quoted." He suggested some improvements in my speech, looked up other laws, and it was one o'clock in the morning before we kissed each other good-night. How he felt on the question after that I do not know, as he never said anything in favor of or against it. He gladly gave me any help I needed, from time to time, in looking up the laws, and was very desirous that whatever I gave to the public should be carefully prepared.
. . . After twelve added years of agitation, following the passage of the Property Bill, New York conceded other civil rights to married women. Pending the discussion of these various bills, Susan B. Anthony circulated petitions, both for the civil and political rights of women, throughout the State, traveling in stage coaches, open wagons, and sleighs in all seasons, and on foot, from door to door through towns and cities, doing her uttermost to rouse women to some sense of their natural rights as human beings, and to their civil and political rights as citizens of a republic. And while expending her time, strength, and money to secure these blessings for the women of the State, they would gruffly tell her that they had all the rights they wanted, or rudely shut the door in her face; leaving her to stand outside, petition in hand, treating her with as much contempt as if she was asking alms for herself. None but those who did that work in the early days, for the slaves and the women, can ever know the hardships and humiliations that were endured.
Mrs. Amelia Bloomer was assistant postmistress; an editor of a reform paper advocating temperance and woman's rights; and an advocate of the new costume which bore her name!
. . . Although she wore the bloomer dress, its originator was Elizabeth Smith Miller, the only daughter of Gerrit Smith. In the winter of 1852 Mrs. Miller came to visit me in Seneca Falls, dressed somewhat in the Turkish style–short skirt, full trousers of fine black broadcloth; a Spanish cloak, of the same material, reaching to the knee; beaver hat and feathers and dark furs; altogether a most becoming costume and exceedingly convenient for walking in all kinds of weather.
|Elizabeth Smith Miller |
To see my cousin, with a lamp in one hand and a baby in the other, walk upstairs with ease and grace, while, with flowing robes, I pulled myself up with difficulty, lamp and baby out of the question, readily convinced me that there was sore need of reform in woman's dress, and I promptly donned a similar attire. What incredible freedom I enjoyed for two years! Like a captive set free from his ball and chain, I was always ready for a brisk walk through sleet and snow and rain, to climb a mountain, jump over a fence, work in the garden, and, in fact, for any necessary locomotion.
Bloomer is now a recognized word in the English language. Mrs. Bloomer, having the Lily in which to discuss the merits of the new dress, the press generally took up the question, and much valuable information was elicited on the physiological results of woman's fashionable attire; the crippling effect of tight waists and long skirts, the heavy weight on the hips, and high heels, all combined to throw the spine out of plumb and lay the foundation for all manner of nervous diseases. But, while all agreed that some change was absolutely necessary for the health of women, the press stoutly ridiculed those who were ready to make the experiment.
A few sensible women, in different parts of the country, adopted the costume, and farmers' wives especially proved its convenience. It was also worn by skaters, gymnasts, tourists, and in sanitariums. But, while the few realized its advantages, the many laughed it to scorn, and heaped such ridicule on its wearers that they soon found that the physical freedom enjoyed did not compensate for the persistent persecution and petty annoyances suffered at every turn. To be rudely gazed at in public and private, to be the conscious subjects of criticism, and to be followed by crowds of boys in the streets, were all, to the very last degree, exasperating.
. . . The patience of most of us was exhausted in about two years; but our leader, Mrs. Miller, bravely adhered to the costume for nearly seven years, under the most trying circumstances. While her father was in Congress, she wore it at many fashionable dinners and receptions in Washington. She was bravely sustained, however, by her husband, Colonel Miller, who never flinched in escorting his wife and her coadjutors, however inartistic their costumes might be. . . . Mrs. Miller was also encouraged by the intense feeling of her father on the question of woman's dress. To him the whole revolution in woman's position turned on her dress. The long skirt was the symbol of her degradation.
The names of those who wore the bloomer costume, besides those already mentioned, were Paulina Wright Davis, Lucy Stone, Susan B. Anthony, Sarah and Angelina Grimke, Mrs. William Burleigh, Celia Burleigh, Charlotte Beebe Wilbour, Helen Jarvis, Lydia Jenkins, Amelia Willard, Dr. Harriet N. Austin, and many patients in sanitariums, whose names I cannot recall. Looking back to this experiment, I am not surprised at the hostility of men in general to the dress, as it made it very uncomfortable for them to go anywhere with those who wore it. People would stare, many men and women make rude remarks, boys followed in crowds, with jeers and laughter, so that gentlemen in attendance would feel it their duty to show fight, unless they had sufficient self-control to pursue the even tenor of their way, as the ladies themselves did, without taking the least notice of the commotion they created. . . .
Though we did not realize the success we hoped for by making the dress popular, yet the effect was not lost. We were well aware that the dress was not artistic, and though we made many changes, our own good taste was never satisfied until we threw aside the loose trousers and adopted buttoned leggins. After giving up the experiment, we . . . were too happy to move about unnoticed and unknown, to risk, again, the happiness of ourselves and our friends by any further experiments. I have never wondered since that the Chinese women allow their daughters' feet to be encased in iron shoes, nor that the Hindoo widows walk calmly to the funeral pyre; for great are the penalties of those who dare resist the behests of the tyrant Custom.
|Stanton with her son, Herny, in 1854|
|Susan B. Anthony|
My Dear Susan . . . I passed through a terrible scourging when last at my father's. . . . I never felt more keenly the degradation of my sex. To think that all in me of which my father would have felt a proper pride had I been a man is deeply mortifying to him because I am a woman. That thought has stung me to a fierce decision - to speak as soon as I can do myself credit. But the pressure on me just now is too great. Henry sides with my friends, who oppose me in all that is dearest to my heart. They are not willing that I should write even on the woman question . . .
|Stanton with her daughter, Harriot, 1856|
December 23, 1859 -
My Dear Susan . . . Where are you? Since a week ago last Monday, I have looked for you ever day. . . . It would do me good to see some reformers just now. The death of my father, the worse than death of my dear cousin Gerrit, the martydom of that grand and glorious John Brown - all this conspires to make me regret more than ever my dwarfed womanhood . . .When the Civil War began, the Stantons left Seneca Falls to live in New York City: Henry Stanton acquired a patronage job as deputy collector at the Customs House.
The story of the War will never be fully written if the achievements of women are left untold. They do not figure in the official reports; they are not gazetted for gallant deeds; the names of thousands are unknown beyond the neighborhood where they lived, or the hospitals where they loved to labor; yet there is no feature in our War more creditable to us as a nation, none from its positive newness so well worthy of record.
While the mass of women never philosophize on the principles that underlie national existence, there were those in our late War who understood the political significance of the struggle; the "irrepressible conflict" between freedom and slavery, between National and State rights. They saw that to provide lint, bandages, and supplies for the army, while the War was not conducted on a wise policy, was to labor in vain; and while many organizations, active, vigilant, and self-sacrificing, were multiplied to look after the material wants of the army, these few formed themselves into a National Loyal League, to teach sound principles of government and to impress on the nation's conscience that freedom for the slaves was the only way to victory.
. . . The leading journals vied with each other in praising the patience and prudence, the executive ability, the loyalty, and the patriotism of the women of the League, and yet these were the same women who, when demanding civil and political rights, privileges, and immunities for themselves, had been uniformly denounced as "unwise," "imprudent," "fanatical," and "impracticable." During the six years they held their own claim in abeyance to those of the slaves of the South, and labored to inspire the people with enthusiasm for the great measures of the Republican party, they were highly esteemed as "wise, loyal, and clear-sighted." But when the slaves were emancipated, and these women asked that they should be recognized in the reconstruction as citizens of the Republic, equal before the law, all these transcendent virtues vanished like dew before the morning sun. And thus it ever is; so long as woman labors to second man's endeavors and exalt his sex above her own, her virtues pass unquestioned; but when she dares to demand rights and privileges for herself, her motives, manners, dress, personal appearance, and character are subjects for ridicule and detraction.
. . . Robert Dale Owen being at Washington, and behind the scenes at the time, sent copies of the various bills to the officers of the Loyal League, in New York, and related to us some of the amusing discussions. One of the committee proposed "persons" instead of "males." "That will never do," said another, "it would enfranchise wenches." "Suffrage for black men will be all the strain the Republican party can stand," said another. Charles Sumner said, years afterward, that he wrote over nineteen pages of foolscap to get rid of the word "male" and yet keep "negro suffrage" as a party measure intact; but it could not be done.
|Robert Dale Owen|
Miss Anthony and I were the first to see the full significance of the word "male" in the Fourteenth Amendment, and we at once sounded the alarm, and sent out petitions for a constitutional amendment to "prohibit the States from disfranchising any of their citizens on the ground of sex." Miss Anthony, who had spent the year in Kansas, started for New York the moment she saw the proposition before Congress to put the word "male" into the national Constitution, and made haste to rouse the women in the East to the fact that the time had come to begin vigorous work again for woman's enfranchisement.
Henry Stanton lost his job in the fall of 1863 after that same son, a clerk in his office, forged his father's signature to steal government bonds from his office. Henry Stanton's political career was over. He continued to work as a lawyer and a journalist, first for the Tribune and then in 1868 for Charles Dana's Sun.
After the Civil War ended in 1865, the American Anti-Slavery Society met to decide its future. William Lloyd Garrison thought that its work was over, and that it should disband. but Wendell Phillips argued that the society still had work to do: freedom was in danger unless blacks had the vote. He proposed that the society focus on passage of a fourteenth amendment to the Constitution, guaranteeing their voting rights.
Although Stanton was a support of Phillips and agreed with his argument, she was appalled by his address to the society. Phillips said that winning the vote for former slaves would be very difficult, and impossible if they also supported voting for women, saying:
I hope in time to be as bold as [British reformer John] Stuart Mill and add to that last clause 'sex'!! But this hour belongs to the negro. As Abraham Lincoln said, 'One War at a time'; so I say, One question at a time. This hour belongs to the negro.Both Stanton and Anthony broke with their abolitionist backgrounds and lobbied strongly against ratification of the Fourteenth and Fifteenth Amendments to the United States Constitution, which granted African American men the right to vote. They believed that African American men, by virtue of the Thirteenth Amendment, already had the legal protections, except for suffrage, offered to white male citizens, and that so largely expanding the male franchise in the country would only increase the number of voters prepared to deny women the right to vote.
The Fourteenth Amendment explicitly designated voters as "male citizens" - for the first time, the United States Constitution included a sexual distinction. Both Stanton and Anthony were angry that the abolitionists, their former partners in working for both African American and women's rights, refused to demand that the language of the amendments be changed. "If that world 'male' be inserted as now proposed," Stanton wrote to Gerrit Smith, "it will take us a century to get it out again."
The prejudice against color, of which we hear so much, is no stronger than that against sex. It is produced by the same cause, and manifested very much in the same way.
~ Elizabeth Cady Stanton
Susan B. Anthony and Elizabeth Cady Stanton arrived in September to work on the campaign. They created a storm of controversy by accepting help during the last two and a half weeks of the campaign from George Francis Train, a wealthy businessman and a flamboyant speaker who supported women's rights. By 1867 he was promoting himself as an independent candidate for president. Train was also a racist who openly disparaged the integrity and intelligence of African Americans, supporting women's suffrage partly in the belief that the votes of women would help contain the political power of blacks. The usual procedure was for Anthony to speak first, declaring that the ability to vote rightfully belonged to both women and blacks. Train would speak next, declaring that it would be an outrage for blacks to vote.
Henry Blackwell, Stone's husband, had just demonstrated that even AERA workers were not automatically free from the racial presumptions of that era by publishing an open letter to Southern legislatures assuring them that if they allowed both blacks and women to vote, "the political supremacy of your white race will remain unchanged" and that "the black race would gravitate by the law of nature toward the tropics."
|Julia Ward Howe|
|George Francis Train|
George Francis Train was then in his prime–a large, fine-looking man, a gentleman in dress and manner, neither smoking, chewing, drinking, nor gormandizing. He was an effective speaker and actor . . . To be sure our friends, on all sides, fell off, and those especially who wished us to be silent on the question of woman's rights, declared "the cause too sacred to be advocated by such a charlatan as George Francis Train." We thought otherwise . . . Mr. Train made it possible for us to establish a newspaper, which gave another impetus to our movement. The Revolution, published by Susan B. Anthony and edited by Parker Pillsbury and myself, lived two years and a half and was then consolidated with the New York Christian Enquirer, edited by the Rev. Henry Bellows, D. D. I regard the brief period in which I edited the Revolution as one of the happiest of my life, and I may add the most useful. . . . We said at all times and on all other subjects just what we thought, and advertised nothing that we did not believe in. No advertisements of quack remedies appeared in our columns. . . . One day, when a man blustered in. . . . On leaving, with prophetic vision, he said, "I prophesy a short life for this paper; the business world is based on quackery, and you cannot live without it." With melancholy certainty, I replied, "I fear you are right.Disagreement was especially sharp over the proposed Fifteenth Amendment, which would prohibit the denial of suffrage because of race. In practice it would, theoretically at least, guarantee suffrage for virtually all males. Anthony and Stanton opposed passage of the amendment unless it was accompanied by a Sixteenth Amendment that would guarantee suffrage for women. Otherwise, they said, it would create an "aristocracy of sex" by giving constitutional authority to the belief that men were superior to women. Male power and privilege was at the root of society's ills, Stanton argued, and nothing should be done to strengthen it. They were not alone in being unsure of black male support for women's suffrage. Frederick Douglass, a strong supporter of women's suffrage, said, "The race to which I belong have not generally taken the right ground on this question."
|"The Age of Brass"|
1869 Cartoon featuring Susan B. Anthony to the far right
Anthony and Stanton also attacked the Republican Party and worked to develop connections with the Democrats. They wrote a letter to the 1868 Democratic National Convention that criticized Republican sponsorship of the Fourteenth Amendment (which granted citizenship to black men but introduced the word "male" into the Constitution), saying, "While the dominant party has with one hand lifted up two million black men and crowned them with the honor and dignity of citizenship, with the other it has dethroned fifteen million white women—their own mothers and sisters, their own wives and daughters—and cast them under the heel of the lowest orders of manhood."
Their attempt to collaborate with Democrats did not go far, however, because their politics were too pro-black for the Democratic Party of that era. Southern Democrats had already begun the process of re-establishing white supremacy there, including violent suppression of the voting rights of blacks.
Several AERA members expressed anger and dismay over the activities of Stanton and Anthony during this period, including their deal with Train that gave him space to express his views in The Revolution. Some, including Lucretia Mott, president of the organization, and African Americans Frederick Douglass and Frances Harper, voiced their disagreements with Stanton and Anthony but continued to maintain working relationships with them. Particularly in the case of Lucy Stone, however, the disputes of this period led to a personal rift, one that had important consequences for the women's movement.At this time, Stanton joined the New York Lyceum Bureau, embarking on a 12-year career on the Lyceum Circuit. Traveling and lecturing for eight months every year provided her with the funds to put her children through college, as her husband's earnings as a lawyer and journalist were not sufficient to do so. She told her cousin, Gerrit Smith, that in her first seven months she cleared two thousand dollars.
It was also a way to spread her ideas among the general population, gain broad public recognition, and further establish her reputation as a pre-eminent leader in the women's rights movement. Among her most popular speeches were "Our Girls", "Our Boys", "Co-education", "Marriage and Divorce", "Prison Life", and "The Bible and Woman's Rights". Her lecture travels so occupied her that Stanton, although president, presided at only four of 15 conventions of the National Women's Suffrage Association during this period.
The pleasant feature of these trips was the great educational work accomplished for the people through their listening to lectures on all the vital questions of the hour. Wherever any of us chanced to be on Sunday, we preached in some church; and wherever I had a spare afternoon, I talked to women alone, on marriage, maternity, and the laws of life and health. We made many most charming acquaintances, too, scattered all over our Western World, and saw how comfortable and happy sensible people could be, living in most straitened circumstances, with none of the luxuries of life.
If most housekeepers could get rid of one-half their clothes and furniture and put their bric-a-brac in the town museum, life would be simplified and they would begin to know what leisure means. When I see so many of our American women struggling to be artists, who cannot make a good loaf of bread nor a palatable cup of coffee, I think of what Theodore Parker said when art was a craze in Boston. "The fine arts do not interest me so much as the coarse arts which feed, clothe, house, and comfort a people. I would rather be a great man like Franklin than a Michael Angelo–nay, if I had a son, I should rather see him a mechanic, like the late George Stephenson, in England, than a great painter like Rubens, who only copied beauty."
|Anthony and Stanton in the San Francisco Chronicle|
. . . From 1869 to 1873 Miss Anthony and I made several trips through Iowa, Missouri, Illinois, and Nebraska, holding meetings at most of the chief towns; I speaking in the afternoons to women alone on "Marriage and Maternity." . . . I went alone to Texas, speaking in Dallas, Sherman, and Houston, where I was delayed two weeks by floods and thus prevented from going to Austin, Galveston, and some points in Louisiana, where I was advertised to lecture. In fact I lost all my appointments for a month. However, there was a fine hotel in Houston and many pleasant people, among whom I made some valuable acquaintances. . . . As the floods had upset my plans for the winter, I went straight from Houston to New York over the Iron Mountain Railroad. I anticipated a rather solitary trip; but, fortunately, I met General Baird, whom I knew, and some other army officers, who had been down on the Mexican border to settle some troubles in the "free zone."
We amused ourselves on the long journey with whist and woman suffrage discussions. We noticed a dyspeptic-looking clergyman, evidently of a bilious temperament, eying us very steadily and disapprovingly the first day, and in a quiet way we warned each other that, in due time, he would give us a sermon on the sin of card playing. Sitting alone, early next morning, he seated himself by my side, and asked me if I would allow him to express his opinion on card playing. I said "Oh, yes! I fully believe in free speech."
"Well," said he, "I never touch cards. I think they are an invention of the devil to lead unwary souls from all serious thought of the stern duties of life and the realities of eternity! I was sorry to see you, with your white hair, probably near the end of your earthly career, playing cards and talking with those reckless army officers, who delight in killing their fellow-beings. No! I do not believe in war or card playing; such things do not prepare the soul for heaven."
"Well," said I, "you are quite right, with your views, to abjure the society of army officers and all games of cards. You, no doubt, enjoy your own thoughts and the book you are reading, more than you would the conversation of those gentlemen and a game of whist. We must regulate our conduct by our own highest ideal. While I deplore the necessity of war, yet I know in our Army many of the noblest types of manhood, whose acquaintance I prize most highly. I enjoy all games, too, from chess down to dominoes. There is so much that is sad and stern in life that we need sometimes to lay down its burdens and indulge in innocent amusements. Thus, you see, what is wise from my standpoint is unwise from yours. I am sorry that you repudiate all amusements, as they contribute to the health of body and soul. You are sorry that I do not think as you do and regulate my life accordingly. You are sure that you are right. I am equally sure that I am. Hence there is nothing to be done in either case but to let each other alone, and wait for the slow process of evolution to give to each of us a higher standard."
Just then one of the officers asked me if I was ready for a game of whist, and I excused myself from further discussion. I met many of those dolorous saints in my travels, who spent so much thought on eternity and saving their souls that they lost all the joys of time, as well as those sweet virtues of courtesy and charity that might best fit them for good works on earth and happiness in heaven.In addition to her writing and speaking, Stanton was also instrumental in promoting women's suffrage in various states, particularly New York, Missouri, Kansas, where it was included on the ballot in 1867, and Michigan, where it was put to a vote in 1874. She made an unsuccessful bid for a U.S. Congressional seat from New York in 1868, and she was the primary force behind the passage of the "Woman's Property Bill" that was eventually passed by the New York State Legislature.
By 1869, disagreement over ratification of the Fifteenth Amendment had given birth to two separate women's suffrage organizations. The National Woman Suffrage Association (NWSA) was founded in May 1869 by Anthony and Stanton, who served as its president for 21 years. The NWSA opposed passage of the Fifteenth Amendment without changes to include female suffrage and, under Stanton's influence in particular, championed a number of women's issues that were deemed too radical by more conservative members of the suffrage movement. No men were permitted to be officers in the organization.
The better-funded, larger, and more representative woman suffragist vehicle American Woman Suffrage Association (AWSA), founded the following November and led by Stone, Blackwell, and Howe, supported the Fifteenth Amendment as written. Following passage of that Amendment, the AWSA preferred to focus only on female suffrage rather than advocate for the broader women's rights espoused by Stanton: gender-neutral divorce laws, a woman's right to refuse her husband sexually, increased economic opportunities for women, and the right of women to serve on juries.
Believing that men should not be given the right to vote without women also being granted the franchise, Sojourner Truth, a former slave and feminist, affiliated herself with Stanton and Anthony's organization. Stanton, Anthony, and Truth were joined by Matilda Joslyn Gage. Despite Stanton's position and the efforts of her and others to expand the Fifteenth Amendment to include voting rights for all women, this amendment also passed, as it was originally written, in 1870.
|Matilda Joslyn Gage|
|Susan B. Anthony in 1874|
|Frederick Douglass with Helen Pitts (seated)|
At age sixty-five, Stanton began to reduce her workload. She toured the country as a lecturer for the last time in 1880, after eleven years on the lyceum circuit. Never fond of meetings, she found more excuses to avoid them. Between 1881 and her death, she published five books and hundreds of articles, and she still averaged three or four major speeches each year.
Stanton lived for months at a time during her trips to Europe, where her daughter, Harriot Stanton Blatch lived in England and her son, Theodore, lived in France.
The one absorbing interest, then, was the Queen's Jubilee. Ladies formed societies to collect funds to place at the disposal of the Queen. Every little village was divided into districts, and different ladies took the rounds, begging pennies at every door of servants and the laboring masses, and pounds of the wealthy people. One of them paid us a visit. She asked the maid who opened the door to see the rest of the servants, and she begged a penny of each of them. She then asked to see the mistress. My daughter descended; but, instead of a pound, she gave her a lecture on the Queen's avarice.
When the fund was started the people supposed the Queen was to return it all to the people in liberal endowments of charitable institutions, but her Majesty proposed to build a monument to Prince Albert, although he already had one in London. "The Queen," said my daughter, "should celebrate her Jubilee by giving good gifts to her subjects, and not by filching from the poor their pennies. To give half her worldly possessions to her impoverished people, to give Home Rule to Ireland, or to make her public schools free, would be deeds worthy her Jubilee; but to take another cent from those who are hopelessly poor is a sin against suffering humanity." The young woman realized the situation and said: "I shall go no farther. I wish I could return every penny I have taken from the needy."
The most fitting monuments this nation can build are schoolhouses and homes for those who do the work of the world. It is no answer to say that they are accustomed to rags and hunger. In this world of plenty every human being has a right to food, clothes, decent shelter, and the rudiments of education. "Something is rotten in the state of Denmark" when one-tenth of the human family, booted and spurred, ride the masses to destruction. I detest the words "royalty " and "nobility," and all the ideas and institutions based on their recognition.
. . . On April 14 I went to Paris . . . Whirling to Paris in an easy car, through the beautiful wheat fields and vineyards, I thought of the old lumbering diligence, in which we went up to Paris at a snail's pace forty years before. I remained in Paris until October, and never enjoyed six months more thoroughly. One of my chief pleasures was making the acquaintance of my fourth son, Theodore. I had seen but little of him since he was sixteen years old, as he then spent five years at Cornell University, and as many more in Germany and France. He had already published two works, "The Life of Thiers," and "The Woman Question in Europe." To have a son interested in the question to which I have devoted my life, is a source of intense satisfaction. To say that I have realized in him all I could desire, is the highest praise a fond mother can give.Unlike many of her colleagues, Stanton believed organized Christianity relegated women to an unacceptable position in society.
In January, 1885, my niece Mrs. Baldwin and I went to Washington to attend the Annual Convention of the National Woman Suffrage Association. . . . The main feature in this convention was the attempt to pass the following resolutions:
"WHEREAS, The dogmas incorporated in religious creeds derived from Judaism, teaching that woman was an after-thought in the creation, her sex a misfortune, marriage a condition of subordination, and maternity a curse, are contrary to the law of God (as revealed in nature), and to the precepts of Christ and,
"WHEREAS, These dogmas are an insidious poison, sapping the vitality of our civilization, blighting woman, and, through her, paralyzing humanity; therefore be it
"Resolved, That we call on the Christian ministry, as leaders of thought, to teach and enforce the fundamental idea of creation, that man was made in the image of God, male and female, and given equal rights over the earth, but none over each other. And, furthermore, we ask their recognition of the scriptural declaration that, in the Christian religion, there is neither male nor female, bond nor free, but all are one in Christ Jesus."
As chairman of the committee I presented a series of resolutions, impeaching the Christian theology–as well as all other forms of religion, for their degrading teachings in regard to woman–which the majority of the committee thought too strong and pointed, and, after much deliberation, they substituted the above, handing over to the Jews what I had laid at the door of the Christians. They thought they had so sugar-coated my ideas that the resolutions would pass without discussion. But some Jews in the convention promptly repudiated this impression of their faith and precipitated the very discussion I desired, but which our more politic friends would fain have avoided.
In 1886 . . . reading the debates in Congress, at that time, on a proposed appropriation for a monument to General Grant, I was glad to see that Senator Plumb of Kansas was brave enough to express his opinion against it. I fully agree with him. So long as multitudes of our people who are doing the work of the world live in garrets and cellars, in ignorance, poverty, and vice, it is the duty of Congress to apply the surplus in the national treasury to objects which will feed, clothe, shelter, and educate these wards of the State. If we must keep on continually building monuments to great men, they should be handsome blocks of comfortable homes for the poor, such as Peabody built in London. Senator Hoar of Massachusetts favored the Grant monument, partly to cultivate the artistic tastes of our people. We might as well cultivate our tastes on useful dwellings as on useless monuments. Surely sanitary homes and schoolhouses for the living would be more appropriate monuments to wise statesmen than the purest Parian shafts among the sepulchers of the dead. The strikes and mobs and settled discontent of the masses warn us that, although we forget and neglect their interests and our duties, we do it at the peril of all. . . . The impending danger cannot be averted by any surface measures; there must be a radical change in the relations of capital and labor.
|Elizabeth Cady Stanton in 1887|
Daniel "Neil" Cady Stanton died in 1891; during Reconstruction, he had moved to Louisiana as supervisor of elections, and managed to become wealthy during that period. At one point, he moved to Iowa, married, had a daughter, and later divorced.
Theodore Weld Stanton married Marguerite Berry in France; she gave birth to Elizabeth Cady Stanton' first grandchild: Elizabeth Cady Stanton II (Lizette). Theodore was a journalist and often wrote about women's rights/
Margaret Livingston Stanton married Frank Lawrence in 1878 and lived in with him in Idaho until his death in 1890. She returned to New York City and became Physical Director at Teacher's College.
Harriot Eaton Stanton married an Englishman, Harry Blatch, and joined the British woman's suffrage movement.
|Three Generations: Elizabeth Cady Stanton, her daughter, Harriot Stanton Blatch, |
and Harriot's daughter, Nora
Although Elizabeth Cady Stanton had been unable to attend a formal college or university, her daughters did. Margaret Livingston Stanton Lawrence attended Vassar College and Columbia University, and Harriot Stanton Blatch received both her undergraduate and graduate degrees from Vassar College in 1878 and 1891 respectively.
It was decided to celebrate the fourth decade of the woman suffrage movement in the United States by calling together an International Council of Women. At its nineteenth annual convention, held in January, 1887, the National Woman Suffrage Association resolved to assume the entire responsibility of holding a council, and to extend an invitation, for that purpose, to all associations of women in the trades, professions, and reforms, as well as those advocating political rights. Early in June, 1887, a call was issued for such a council to convene under the auspices of the National Woman Suffrage Association at Washington, D.C., on March 25, 1888.
The grand assemblage of women, coming from all the countries of the civilized globe, proved that the call for such a council was opportune, while the order and dignity of the proceedings proved the women worthy the occasion. . . . Our most sanguine expectations as to its success were more than realized. The large theater was crowded for an entire week, and hosts of able women spoke, as if specially inspired, on all the vital questions of the hour. Although the council was called and conducted by the suffrage association, yet various other societies were represented. Miss Anthony was the financier of the occasion and raised twelve thousand dollars for the purpose, which enabled her to pay all the expenses of the delegates in Washington, and for printing the report in book form.
|Stanton (first row, 3rd from right) and other officers |
of the International Council of Women in Washington, D.C. , 1888
As I had a bad cold and a general feeling of depression, I decided to go to the Dansville Sanatorium and see what Doctors James and Kate Jackson could do for me. I was there six weeks and tried all the rubbings, pinchings, steamings; the Swedish movements of the arms, hands, legs, feet; dieting, massage, electricity, and, though I succeeded in throwing off only five pounds of flesh, yet I felt like a new being. It is a charming place to be in–the home is pleasantly situated and the scenery very fine. The physicians are all genial, and a cheerful atmosphere pervades the whole establishment.
As Christmas was at hand, the women were all half crazy about presents, and while good Doctors James and Kate were doing all in their power to cure the nervous affections of their patients, they would thwart the treatment by sitting in the parlor with the thermometer at seventy-two degrees, embroidering all kinds of fancy patterns,–some on muslin, some on satin, and some with colored worsteds on canvas,–inhaling the poisonous dyes, straining the optic nerves, counting threads and stitches, hour after hour, until utterly exhausted.
I spoke to one poor victim of the fallacy of Christmas presents, and of her injuring her health in such useless employment. "What can I do?" she replied, "I must make presents and cannot afford to buy them." "Do you think," said I, "any of your friends would enjoy a present you made at the risk of your health? I do not think there is any 'must' in the matter. I never feel that I must give presents, and never want any, especially from those who make some sacrifice to give them."
This whole custom of presents at Christmas, New Year's, and at weddings has come to be a bore, a piece of hypocrisy leading to no end of unhappiness. I do not know a more pitiful sight than to see a woman tatting, knitting, embroidering–working cats on the toe of some slipper, or tulips on an apron. The amount of nervous force that is expended in this way is enough to make angels weep. The necessary stitches to be taken in every household are quite enough without adding fancy work.In 1890, Stanton opposed the merger of the National Woman's Suffrage Association with the more conservative and religiously based American Woman Suffrage Association. Over her objections, the organizations merged, creating the National American Woman Suffrage Association (NAWSA). Despite her opposition to the merger, Stanton became its first president, largely because of Susan B. Anthony's intervention. In good measure because of The Woman's Bible and her position on issues such as divorce, she was, however, never popular among the more religiously conservative members of the "National American".
In 1891, Stanton moved into a Manhattan apartment with her widowed daughter, Margaret and her youngest son, Bob.
|Stanton with her daughter, Margaret, |
and her youngest son, Bob
Our chief business for many weeks was searching for an inviting apartment where my daughter, Mrs. Stanton Lawrence, my youngest son, Bob, and I could set up our family altar. . . After much weary searching we found an apartment. Having always lived in a large house in the country, the quarters seemed rather contracted at first, but I soon realized the immense saving in labor and expense in having no more room than is absolutely necessary, and all on one floor. To be transported from the street to your apartment in an elevator in half a minute, to have all your food and fuel sent to your kitchen by an elevator in the rear, to have your rooms all warmed with no effort of your own, seemed like a realization of some fairy dream. With an extensive outlook of the heavens above, of the Park and the Boulevard beneath, I had a feeling of freedom, and with a short flight of stairs to the roof (an easy escape in case of fire), of safety, too.
No sooner was I fully established in my eyrie, than I was summoned to Rochester, by my friend Miss Anthony, to fill an appointment she had made for me with Miss Adelaide Johnson, the artist from Washington, who was to idealize Miss Anthony and myself in marble for the World's Fair. . . . A room in an adjoining house was assigned to Miss Johnson and myself, where a strong pedestal and huge mass of clay greeted us. And there, for nearly a month, I watched the transformation of that clay into human proportions and expressions, until it gradually emerged with the familiar facial outlines ever so dear to one's self. Sitting there four or five hours every day I used to get very sleepy, so my artist arranged for a series of little naps. When she saw the crisis coming she would say: "I will work now for a time on the ear, the nose, or the hair, as you must be wide awake when I am trying to catch the expression." I rewarded her for her patience and indulgence by summoning up, when awake, the most intelligent and radiant expression that I could command. As Miss Johnson is a charming, cultured woman, with liberal ideas and brilliant in conversation, she readily drew out all that was best in me.On January 18, 1892, Stanton joined Anthony, Stone, and Isabella Beecher Hooker to address the issue of suffrage before the United States House Committee on the Judiciary.
|Isabella Beecher Hooker|
The isolation of every human soul and the necessity of self-dependence must give each individual the right to choose his own surroundings. The strongest reason for giving woman all the opportunities for higher education, for the full development of her faculties, her forces of mind and body; for giving her the most enlarged freedom of thought and action; a complete emancipation from all forms of bondage, of custom, dependence, superstition; from all the crippling influences of fear—is the solitude and personal responsibility of her own individual life. The strongest reason why we ask for woman a voice in the government under which she lives; in the religion she is asked to believe; equality in social life, where she is the chief factor; a place in the trades and professions, where she may earn her bread, is because of her birthright to self-sovereignty; because, as an individual, she must rely on herself . . .
In 1893, Stanton made a speech in Chicago at the Parliament of the World's Religions:
The new religion will teach the dignity of human nature and its infinite possibilities for development. It will teach the solidarity of the race -- that all must rise and fall as one. Its creed will be justice, liberty, equality for all the children of earth.In the 1890s, Stanton worked on The Woman's Bible, which elucidated a feminist understanding of biblical scripture and sought to correct the fundamental sexism Stanton believed was inherent to organized Christianity. Stanton's The two-part The Woman's Bible, was published in 1895 and 1898.
When Part I of "The Woman's Bible" was finally published in November, 1895, it created a great sensation. Some of the New York city papers gave a page to its review, with pictures of the commentators, of its critics, and even of the book itself. The clergy denounced it as the work of Satan, though it really was the work of Ellen Battelle Dietrick, Lillie Devereux Blake, Rev. Phebe A. Hanaford, Clara Bewick Colby, Ursula N. Gestefeld, Louisa Southworth, Frances Ellen Burr, and myself. Extracts from it, and criticisms of the commentators, were printed in the newspapers throughout America, Great Britain, and Europe.
|"Nothing blocks human progress more effectively than religious bigotry."|
The interest my family and friends have always manifested in the narration of my early and varied experiences, and their earnest desire to have them in permanent form for the amusement of another generation, moved me to publish this volume. I am fully aware that its contents have no especial artistic merit, being composed partly of extracts from my diary, a few hasty sketches of my travels and people I have met, and of my opinions on many social questions.
The story of my private life as the wife of an earnest reformer, as an enthusiastic housekeeper, proud of my skill in every department of domestic economy, and as the mother of seven children, may amuse and benefit the reader.
The incidents of my public career as a leader in the most momentous reform yet launched upon the world–the emancipation of woman–will be found in "The History of Woman Suffrage."
~ Elizabeth Cady Stanton, New York City, September, 1897
I DEDICATE THIS VOLUME TO SUSAN B. ANTHONY,MY STEADFAST FRIEND FOR HALF A CENTURY.
I can truly say that she is the most upright, courageous, self-sacrificing, magnanimous human being I have ever known. I have seen her beset on every side with the most petty annoyances, ridiculed and misrepresented, slandered and persecuted; I have known women refuse to take her extended hand; women to whom she presented copies of "The History of Woman Suffrage," return it unnoticed; others to keep it without one word of acknowledgment; others to write most insulting letters in answer to hers of affectionate conciliation. And yet, under all the cross-fires incident to a reform, never has her hope flagged, her self-respect wavered, or a feeling of resentment shadowed her mind. Oftentimes, when I have been sorely discouraged, thinking that the prolonged struggle was a waste of force which in other directions might be rich in achievement, with her sublime faith in humanity, she would breathe into my soul renewed inspiration, saying, "Pity rather than blame those who persecute us." So closely interwoven have been our lives, our purposes, and experiences that, separated, we have a feeling of incompleteness–united, such strength of self-assertion that no ordinary obstacles, difficulties, or dangers ever appear to us insurmountable.
|Elizabeth Cady Stanton and Susan B. Anthony in 1900|
CHAPTER I. CHILDHOOD.
I am moved to recall what I can of my early days, what I thought and felt, that grown people may have a better understanding of children and do more for their happiness and development. I see so much tyranny exercised over children, even by well-disposed parents, and in so many varied forms,–a tyranny to which these parents are themselves insensible,–that I desire to paint my joys and sorrows in as vivid colors as possible, in the hope that I may do something to defend the weak from the strong. People never dream of all that is going on in the little heads of the young, for few adults are given to introspection, and those who are incapable of recalling their own feelings under restraint and disappointment can have no appreciation of the sufferings of children who can neither describe nor analyze what they feel. In defending themselves against injustice they are as helpless as dumb animals. What is insignificant to their elders is often to them a source of great joy or sorrowSusan B. Anthony visited Stanton in her Manhattan apartment in June 1902, and they arranged for another visit to celebrate Stanton's birthday in November:
My dear Mrs. Stanton,
I shall indeed be happy to spend with you November 12, the day on which your round out your four-score and seven . . . It is fifty-one years since we first met and we have been busy through every one of them, stirring up the world to recognize the rights of women. . . . We little dreamed when we began this contest, optimistic with the hope and buoyancy of youth, that half a century later we would be compelled to leave the finish of the battle to another generation of women.
. . . And we, dear friend, shall move on to the next sphere of existence - higher and larger, we cannot fail to believe, and one where women will not be placed in an inferior position but will be welcomed on a plane of perfect intellectual and spiritual equality.
Every lovingly yours,
Susan B. Anthony
She died 18 years before women were granted the right to vote in the United States.
|Women voting in 1920|
|Harriot Stanton Blatch|
|Stanton Home in Tenafly, New Jersey|
"The moment we begin to fear the opinions of others and hesitate to tell the truth that is in us, and from motives of policy are silent when we should speak, the divine floods of light and life no longer flow into our souls."
~ Elizabeth Cady Stanton