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Elizabeth Cady Stanton - Women’s Rights Activist: 1815 – 1902

Elizabeth Cady Stanton was an American social activist, abolitionist, and leading figure of the early woman's movement.

Elizabeth's father, was a prominent attorney who later became a New York Supreme Court justice. 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 her to realize how disproportionately the law favored men over women, particularly over married women.

When Elizabeth married abolitionist Henry Brewster Stanton in 1840, she'd already observed enough about the legal relationships between men and women to insist that the word obey be dropped from the ceremony. An active abolitionist herself, Elizabeth Cady Stanton was outraged when the World's Anti-Slavery Convention in London, also in 1840, denied official standing to women delegates, including Lucretia Mott. In 1848, she and Mott called for a women's rights convention to be held in Seneca Falls, New York. That convention, and the Declaration of Sentiments written by Elizabeth Cady Stanton which was approved there, is credited with initiating the long struggle towards women's rights and woman suffrage.

In the years following the Civil War, Elizabeth Cady Stanton and Susan B. Anthony were among those who were determined to focus on female suffrage when only voting rights of freed males were addressed in Reconstruction. They founded the National Woman Suffrage Association and Stanton served as president. When the NWSA and the rival American Woman Suffrage Association finally merged in 1890, Elizabeth Cady Stanton served as the president of the resulting National American Woman Suffrage Association.

While Elizabeth Cady Stanton is best known for her long contribution to the woman suffrage struggle, she was also active and effective in winning property rights for married women, equal guardianship of children, and liberalized divorce laws. These reforms made it possible for women to leave marriages that were abusive of the wife, the children, and the economic health of the family.

In addition she made a stand for women in theological circles by publishing The Woman's Bible in 1895. She attempted to take the misogyny out of scriptural interpretations and present them in a brave new feminist light.



Wijngaards Institute for Catholic ResearchThis website is maintained by the Wijngaards Institute for Catholic Research.

The Institute is known for issuing academic reports and statements on relevant issues in the Church. These have included scholars' declarations on the need of collegiality in the exercise of church authority, on the ethics of using contraceptives in marriage and the urgency of re-instating the sacramental diaconate of women.

Visit also our websites:Women Deacons, The Body is Sacred and Mystery and Beyond.

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