Elizabeth Cady Stanton

Elizabeth Cady Stanton

An American Life

Book - 2009
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Elizabeth Cady Stanton was a brilliant activist-intellectual. That nearly all of her ideas-that women are entitled to seek an education, to own property, to get a divorce, and to vote-are now commonplace is in large part because she worked tirelessly to extend the nation's promise of radical individualism to women.   In this subtly crafted biography, the historian Lori D. Ginzberg narrates the life of a woman of great charm, enormous appetite, and extraordinary intellectual gifts who turned the limitations placed on women like herself into a universal philosophy of equal rights. Few could match Stanton's self-confidence; loving an argument, she rarely wavered in her assumption that she had won. But she was no secular saint, and her positions were not always on the side of the broadest possible conception of justice and social change. Elitism runs through Stanton's life and thought, defined most often by class, frequently by race, and always by intellect. Even her closest friends found her absolutism both thrilling and exasperating, for Stanton could be an excellent ally and a bothersome menace, sometimes simultaneously. At once critical and admiring, Ginzberg captures Stanton's ambiguous place in the world of reformers and intellectuals, describes how she changed the world, and suggests that Stanton left a mixed legacy that continues to haunt American feminism.
Publisher: New York : Hill and Wang, 2009.
Edition: First edition
ISBN: 9780809094936
Branch Call Number: 305.4209 STANTON
Characteristics: 254 pages, [8] pages of plates : illustrations, portraits ; 24 cm.


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Jul 04, 2011

This is a very good book about the suffragist who organized the first women's conference in Seneca Falls, New York in 1848. While Elizabeth Cady Stanton's long life makes any biography challenging and thus incomplete, nonetheless this book touches the most important parts of her life of activism.
Elizabeth Cady Stanton has been quoted as saying, "My feeling is to tone up rather than down." And indeed she was a fine rabble rouser about equal rights for women, about religion, about marriage and divorce and other controversial subjects in the years before the Civil War and long after.
Her longtime professional partnership and friendship with Susan B. Anthony is well covered and her relationships with other well-known suffragists and abolitionists is touched upon.
The book also looks without flinching at Elizabeth Cady Stanton's many and large faults: she tended toward racism (despite her friendship with Frederick Douglass)and wasn't discreet about it. She thought educated white women should get the vote before male ex-slaves and male immigrants who knew limited English. She was often blind to the challenges faced by women who didn't share her middle-class heritage and life. She was stubborn in her views and her position against the amendment to give Black men the vote (before women), split the women's movement in half.
Despite her faults, you can't help being charmed by her boldness and perseverence. She deserves her place in history. Sadly she didn't live to see women finally win the right to vote in 1920.


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