|Elizabeth Cady Stanton||Susan B. Anthony|
These are the founders of the equal rights movement. Click on their
names to read more about them.
She was born
on November 12, 1815, in Johnstown, New York. She was the fourth
of six children. Her parents, Daniel and Mary Livingston Cady,
preferred boys, and one of Elizabeth Cady Stanton’s earliest memories was
of her parents’ disappointment on the birth of her younger sister.
Although she never went to college, she studied subjects such as Greek,
Latin, and mathematics. Her father served in the Congress of the
United States and later as a New York judge. Through him she was
exposed to the study of law. In 1830, she convinced her father to
allow her to attend the Troy Female Seminary in New York.
It was one of the first women’s academies to offer an advanced education
equal to that of male academies. Here she studied logic, physiology,
and natural rights philosophy. She became interested early in the
temperance and anti-slavery movements and spent time at the house of an
uncle, who was an abolitionist. There she met Henry Brewster Stanton,
a journalist and abolitionist orator. She married him in 1840, against
her father’s wishes. She traveled with her husband to London to attend
the World Anti-Slavery Convention in June 1840. Here Stanton met
Lucretia Mott, a Quaker who had helped organize the American Anti-Slavery
Society in the 1830's, who was to become her close friend and intellectual
mentor. When the convention refused to recognize women as legitimate
delegates, Stanton and Mott were humiliated and angered. They resolved
to call together a women’s rights convention after they returned to America.
In 1847 Elizabeth Cady Stanton and her family moved to Seneca Falls, New
York, where in July 1848 she and Mott organized the first women's rights
convention in the United States, known as the Seneca Falls Convention.
Between about 100 and 300 people attended, including the abolitionist and
former slave, Frederick Douglass. For the convention, she drafted
a Declaration of Sentiments created after the U.S. Declaration of Independence,
in which she declared, “Men and Women are equal” Among the resolutions
in her declaration, Cady Stanton including voting rights for women.
From this point on, she worked actively for women’s rights. In 1851
she met Susan B. Anthony, with whom she would work for women’s causes for
the next 50 years. But their efforts were momentarily redirected
toward the fight against slavery, and they formed the National Women's
Loyal League in 1863. After the Civil War ended in 1865, Stanton and other
women working toward the vote found themselves at odds with abolitionists
working for the franchise of male former slaves. From 1868 to 1870, Cady
Stanton and Anthony published the weekly Revolution in New York City, and
in 1869 they founded the National Woman Suffrage Association, which after
1890 was called the National American Woman Suffrage Association. Cady
Stanton served as its president until 1892. Cady Stanton's efforts were
greatly responsible for the beginning in 1878 of a constitutional
amendment for woman suffrage. The amendment was reintroduced until it became
law as the 19th Amendment in 1920. Elizabeth Cady Stanton died in
1902 and did not live to see women’s suffrage in the United States.
She is nevertheless regarded as one of the true major forces in the drive
toward equal rights for women in the United States and throughout the world.
Susan B. Anthony
Susan Brownell Anthony was born in a New England farmhouse in Adams, Massachusetts
on February 15, 1820. She was the daughter of Lucy Read Anthony and
Daniel Anthony, a cotton-mill owner. She was the second of eight children.
Her father instilled in his children the ideas of self-reliance, self-discipline,
and self-worth. Both of her parents were strong supporters of the
abolitionist (anti-slavery) and the temperance movements. They also
believed in the importance of work, and Anthony performed many tasks in
her father’s factory while attending school. Encouraged by her father,
Anthony began teaching school at the age of 15 and continued until the
age of 30. Because it was regarded as similar to motherhood, teaching
was one of the few professions open to women at the time. It also
allowed them to establish their own identities by gaining economic independence.
But teaching wages for men and women differed greatly. Her weekly
salary was equal to about one-fifth of that received by her male colleagues.
When she protested this inequality, she lost her job. She then secured
a better position as principal of the Girls’ Department of the Canajoharie
Academy in Rochester, New York.
In 1849, after she taught for more than ten years, Anthony found her spirit drained and her professional future bleak. She focused her energies on social improvements and joined the local temperance society, only to be faced with inequality again. After she was denied the chance to speak at a Sons of Temperance meeting because she was a woman, she made the Daughters of Temperance, the first women’s temperance organization. She then began writing temperance articles for the Lily, the first newspaper owned by a woman in the United States. Through the paper’s editor, Amelia Bloomer, she met women involved in the abolitionist movement and in the recently formed woman suffrage movement.
At a temperance meeting in 1851, Anthony met women’s rights leader Elizabeth Cady Stanton. They formed a deep and personal friendship and a political bond that would last for the rest of their lives. From then on, Anthony worked tirelessly for the woman suffrage movement. She taught about women’s rights and created a series of state and national conventions on the issue. She collected signatures for a petition to grant women the right to vote and to won property. Her hard work helped. In 1860 the New York state legislature passed the Married Women’s Property Act. It made it so women could enter into contracts and to control their own earnings and property.
During the Civil War, Anthony and some other members of the women's movement worked toward the emancipation of the slaves. In 1863 she helped form the Women's Loyal League, which supported U.S. president Abraham Lincoln's policies. After the war, Anthony and others tried to link women's suffrage with that of the freed slaves. They were not successful. The Fifteenth Amendment, finally adopted in 1870, extended voting rights only to black men. Now without abolitionist support, Anthony and Stanton formed their own organization, the National Woman Suffrage Association.
The Fourteenth Amendment, adopted 1868, had declared that everyone born in the United States were citizens and that every citizen had legal privileges. Susan B. Anthony decided to challenge the amendment. Saying that women were citizens and the amendment did not restrict the privilege of voting to men, she registered to vote in Rochester, New York, on November 1, in the year 1872. Four days later, she and fifteen other women voted in the presidential election. All sixteen of them were arrested three weeks later, but only she was brought before court. Her trial began on June 17, 1873. The judge opposed women’s suffrage and he wrote his decision even before the trial had started. He refused to let Anthony testify, he ordered the jury to find her guilty, then sentenced her to pay a $100 fine. She refused to, and no further action was taking against her.
Susan B. Anthony continues to campaign for women’s rights even after this. In between 1881 and 1886, she and Stanton published three volumes of the History of Women’s Suffrage, a collection of writings about the movement’s struggle. In 1890 they strengthened the suffrage cause by forming the larger National American Woman Suffrage Association. Through Anthony’s determined work, many professional fields became open to women at the end of the nineteenth century. At her death in 1906, only four states, Wyoming, Colorado, Idaho, and Utah, had granted suffrage to women. Anthony always acknowledged Stanton as the founder of the women’s rights movement. Her own achievement lay in her inspiration and perseverence in bringing together vast numbers of people of both genders around the single goal of the vote. On July 2, 1979, the U.S. mint honored her work by making the Susan B. Anthony dollar coin.