Elizabeth Cady Stanton (1815-1902)


Author, lecturer, and chief philosopher of the woman’s rights movement, Elizabeth Cady Stanton formulated the agenda for woman’s rights that has guided the struggle to the present.

Born in November 1815 in Johnstown, New York, Elizabeth Cady was the daughter of Margaret Livingston and Daniel Cady, Johnstown's most prominent citizens. She received her formal education at the Johnstown Academy and at Emma Willard's Troy Female Seminary in New York. Her father provided her with an informal legal education too.

Well educated for a woman, Cady married abolitionist lecturer Henry Stanton, and had 7 children.  On their honeymoon in London to attend a World’s Anti-Slavery convention, she and Lucretia Mott were angered at the exclusion of women and vowed to call a woman’s rights convention.  In 1848, Cady Stanton and Mott did hold the first Woman’s Rights convention at Seneca Falls, New York. She wrote “The Declaration of Sentiments,” calling for changes in law and society - educational, legal, political, social and economic - to elevate women’s status, and demanding the right to vote. Those present at the convention signed the Declaration. That same year, Cady Stanton also circulated petitions throughout New York to urge the New York Congress to pass the New York Married Women’s Property Act.

Cady Stanton met Susan B. Anthony in 1851, and the two quickly began collaboration on speeches, articles, and books. Cady Stanton's intellectual and organizational partnership with Anthony dominated the woman’s movement for over half a century.   

An outstanding orator with a radical mind, Cady Stanton lectured, wrote speeches and, with Matilda Gage authored the "Declaration of Rights," which Anthony delivered at the Philadelphia Centennial celebration in 1876.  After the Civil War, Stanton was able to travel more and she became one of the best-known women in the country. As president of the National Woman Suffrage Association, she was an outspoken social and political commentator and debated the major political and legal questions of the day. Lecturing across the country, she spoke on topics like maternity, child rearing, divorce law, temperance, and presidential campaigns.

By the 1880s, Cady Stanton was sixty-five years old and focused more on writing rather than traveling and lecturing. She wrote three volumes of the History of Woman Suffrage (1881-85) with Anthony and Matilda Joslyn Gage. In this work, published several decades before women won the right to vote, the authors documented the individual and local activism that built and sustained a movement for woman suffrage. 

Along with numerous articles on the subject of women and religion, Cady Stanton published the Woman's Bible (1895, 1898), in which she voiced her belief in a secular state and urged women to recognize how religious orthodoxy and masculine theology obstructed their chances to achieve self-sovereignty. She also wrote an autobiography, Eighty Years and More, about the great events and work of her life. 

Cady Stanton died in October 1902 in New York City, eighteen years before women gained the right to vote.  




Additional Sources:

Web Sites:


  • Adiletta, Dawn C. Elizabeth Cady Stanton: Woman Suffrage and the First Vote (PowerPlus Books, 2005) - for ages 4-8.
  • Banner, Lois W. Elizabeth Cady Stanton: A Radical for Women's Rights (Longman, 1997).
  • Bohannon, Lisa Frederiksen. Women's Rights and Nothing Less: The Story of Elizabeth Cady Stanton (Morgan Reynolds Publishing, 2000).
  • Burgan, Michael. Elizabeth Cady Stanton: Social Reformer (Compass Point Books, 2005). -- ages 9-12.
  • Clarke, Mary Stetson. Bloomers and Ballots: Elizabeth Cady Stanton and Women's Rights (NY: Viking, 1972).
  • Davis, Lucile. Elizabeth Cady Stanton: A Photo-Illustrated Biography (Capstone Press, 1998). -- for ages 4-8
  • Dubois, Ellen Carol. The Elizabeth Cady Stanton-Susan B. Anthony Reader: Correspondences, Writings, Speeches (Boston: Northeastern University Press, 1992).
  • Griffith, Elisabeth. In Her Own Right: The Life of Elizabeth Cady Stanton (Oxford: Oxford University Press, 1985).
  • Pellauer, Mary D. Toward a Tradition of Feminist Theology: The Religious Social Thought of Elizabeth Cady Stanton, Susan B. Anthony, and Anna Howard Shaw (Carlson Pub., 1991).
  • Salisbury, Cynthia. Elizabeth Cady Stanton: Leader of the Fight for Women's Rights (Enslow Publisher, 2002). -- for ages 9-12.
  • Sigerman, Harriet. Elizabeth Cady Stanton: The Right is Ours (Oxford: Oxford University Press, 2001).
  • Stanton, Elizabeth Cady. Eighty Years and More (1815-1897); Reminiscences of Elizabeth Cady Stanton (1898).
  • Stanton, Elizabeth Cady. Elizabeth Cady Stanton: As Revealed in Her Letters, Diary and Reminiscences (Ayer Co. Pub., 1977).
  • Stanton, Elizabeth Cady. The Selected Papers of Elizabeth Cady Stanton and Susan B. Anthony: In the School of Anti-Slavery, 1840-1866 (Rutgers: Rutgers University Press, 1997).
  • Waggenspack, Beth M. The Search for Sovereignty: The Oratory of Elizabeth Cady Stanton (Greenwood Press, 1989).
  • Wellman, Judith. The Road to Senecca Falls: Elizabeth Cady Stanton and the First Woman's Rights Convention (Urbana: University of Illinois Press, 2004).

Works Cited:

  • Most of the text is excerpted from NWHM 1998 exhibition "Rights for Women," curated by Edith Mayo, additional works cited source, Banks, Kimberly, J., "Elizabeth Cady Stanton," Papers of Elizabeth Cady Stanton and Susan B. Anthony Project - Rutgers University, 12 July 2001, http://ecssba.rutgers.edu/studies/ecsbio.html
  • Image from the University of Rochester