Elizabeth Cady Stanton is something of an unsung hero in the history of the feminist movement. Though she is still primarily known as an advocate of women’s suffrage and is closely linked to the better known Susan B. Anthony, Stanton was shunned by many of her fellow suffragists because her ideas seem too radical and because many were disturbed by her barely Deist view of religion. Over a century after her death, modern feminists tend to overlook Stanton in favor of Anthony, while remembering that Stanton enjoyed taking on the traditional 19th century gender roles of being the mother of a large family and remaining devoted to her husband throughout her life. And while Anthony’s comments about abortion are still fiercely debated by pro-life and pro-choice crowds, Stanton held conservative views toward abortion. It’s clear that Elizabeth Cady Stanton was very much her own woman, certainly a fitting description that she would not have wanted any other way.
Though she is not as well known or fondly remembered as her closest counterpart, Stanton preceded Anthony as an advocate of women’s rights. It was Stanton who issued the Declaration of Sentiments at the first women’s rights convention in Seneca Falls, New York in 1848, touching off the organized movement that worked toward suffrage and equality. At the same time, Stanton was an ardent abolitionist, and she focused on progressive issues like custody rights, divorce, women’s property rights, employment issues, and even birth control.