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Elizabeth Cady Stanton (1815–1902)

Portrait of Elizabeth Cady Stanton from her book, Eighty Years and More, New York: European Pub. Co., 1918.
Portrait of Elizabeth Cady Stanton from her book, Eighty Years and More, New York: European Pub. Co., 1918.

Elizabeth Cady Stanton was a primary architect of the suffrage movement, organizer of the 1848 women's rights convention in Seneca Falls, New York, and the colleague and friend of Susan B. Anthony.

Born in 1815, in Johnstown, New York, Elizabeth Cady was the daughter of Daniel Cady, a prominent judge, and Margaret Livingston. She attended the progressive Troy Female Seminary, the first American educational institution to provide young women with an education comparable to that of college-educated young men. Elizabeth Cady married fellow abolitionist Henry Brewster Stanton in 1840, insisting that the "obey" be dropped from the ceremony. Stanton was outraged when the World's Anti-Slavery Convention in London denied official standing to women delegates. In 1848, she and Lucretia Mott organized the conference in Seneca Falls, New York to address women's rights. The event attracted 240 sympathizers, including 40 men, among them Frederick Douglass. The delegates adopted a statement, Declaration of Sentiments, written by Stanton that called for women's suffrage and the reform of marital and property laws.

After 1851, Stanton worked in close partnership with Susan B. Anthony, Stanton serving as writer and Anthony as strategist. After the Civil War, Stanton and Anthony and others in the movement were outraged when the Reconstruction-era amendments to the Constitution omitted voting rights for women. While others in the movement decided to continue a unified fight for equal rights of both blacks and women, Stanton and Anthony founded the National Woman Suffrage Association (NWSA) to focus exclusively on women's rights and Stanton served as president. When the NWSA and the rival American Woman Suffrage Association merged in 1890, Stanton served as the president of the resulting National American Woman Suffrage Association.

In her later years, Stanton wrote a history of the suffrage movement, an autobiography entitled Eighty Years and More, and a controversial critique of women's treatment by religion, The Woman's Bible. She continued to devote time to and advocate for the rights and protections of married women, equal guardianship of children, reformation of divorce laws, and the economic health of the family.

Elizabeth Cady Stanton died in New York in 1902, nearly 20 years before the United States granted women the right to vote.

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