Stanton, Elizabeth Cady (1815-1902)
Ann D. Gordon
Voices of Democracy: The U. S. Oratory Project
University of Maryland,
College Park, MD 21774
The following editorial note is provided as part of the terms required by the editor.
The manuscript of an address Elizabeth Cady Stanton delivered after the conventions of 1848 was handed down to her daughters, who gave it to SBA, who in turn deposited it in the Library of Congress. Writing to her daughters, Stanton called it her “first speech,” one “delivered several times immediately after the first Woman’s Rights Convention.” She spoke on two occasions, at least: in September at Waterloo and on 6 October to the Congregational Friends at Farmington.
Between 1848 and 1850, Elizabeth Cady Stanton turned to this address as a source for short articles, and then she lost track of the manuscript. Emma Robinson Coe borrowed it, according to Susan B. Anthony’s notations on a cover sheet, probably when she visited Stanton in the fall of 1851. It was back in Stanton’s possession by 1866, when Theodore Tilton saw the “old and tattered” manuscript while he interviewed Stanton for a biography. He understood this to be “the first ‘set speech’ which Mrs. Stanton ever delivered,” one that she “repeated at several places in the interior of the State of New York, during the first months that followed the first convention.”
However, since 1870, on the basis of a title page printed by Robert J. Johnston, the same speech with modifications has been identified as the address Elizabeth Cady Stanton delivered to the conventions in Seneca Falls and Rochester. There are obstacles to accepting that identification. First, there is no evidence that Stanton made any speech at the Rochester convention, let alone one of this length. Second, no contemporary report of Seneca Falls noted a major speech by Stanton, though small parts of the address might match her several contributions to the meeting. Finally, Lucretia Mott, present at both conventions, referred to Stanton’s speech in September at Waterloo as “thy maiden speech.” Johnston’s publication is more likely an artifact of 1870 than a document of 1848.
Elizabeth Cady Stanton is no doubt implicated in the publication of the Address of Mrs. Elizabeth Cady Stanton, Delivered at Seneca Falls and Rochester, N.Y., July 19th and Aug. 2d, 1848 in 1870. Though the title page might reflect a printer’s misunderstanding about events, someone carefully adjusted the text to eliminate the scene set in the opening paragraphs and convert to present tense all references to the conventions and their demands. It is unlikely that Robert Johnston issued an unauthorized text; he knew Stanton well, as an officer of the American Equal Rights Association and printer of the Revolution. Stanton, Susan B. Anthony, and Amy Post collaborated on other pamphlets he issued in 1870 to celebrate two decades of woman’s rights agitation. But if Stanton created the Address, she neither quoted from nor referred readers to it in histories of the conventions that she wrote after 1870.
The text published here is based upon the manuscript. In the numbered endnotes, major differences in the later, published text of 1870 are noted. (Lucretia Mott to Elizabeth Cady Stanton, 3 October 1848, in Ann D. Gordon et al., eds., The Selected Papers of Elizabeth Cady Stanton and Susan B. Anthony [New Brunswick, N.J., 1997], 1:126; Benjamin F. Gue, Diary of Benjamin F. Gue in Rural New York and Pioneer Iowa, 1847-1856, ed. Earle D. Ross [Ames, Ia., 1962], 40; Theodore Tilton, “Mrs. Elizabeth Cady Stanton,” in James Parton, et al., Eminent Women of the Age [Hartford, Conn., 1868], 332-61; Susan B. Anthony to Mary P. Hallowell, 11 April 1867, P. G. Holland and A. D. Gordon, eds., Papers of Elizabeth Cady Stanton and Susan B. Anthony, microfilm edition, 12:118-21; Elizabeth Cady Stanton, Susan B. Anthony, and Matilda Joslyn Gage, History of Woman Suffrage [New York, 1881], 1:69.)
Prepared for the Selected Papers of Elizabeth Cady Stanton and Susan B. Anthony, vol. 1, In the School of Anti-Slavery, 1840 to 1866, ed. Ann D. Gordon (New Brunswick, N.J., 1997).
The following are the textual notes provided by the editor. The location of these notes are indicated by paragraph number and the preceding few words.
2 most happy to answer him.: The revised text published in 1870 (referred to hereafter as 1870) omits the first two paragraphs of the manuscript text.
4 termed Woman’s rights.: Elizabeth Cady Stanton published paragraphs 4-6 as “Woman,” Lily, January 1850, and the Address to the Women of the State of New York, from the Yearly Meeting of Congregational Friends at Waterloo, in June 1850, opened with variants of this and the next paragraph. Stanton served on the committee to draft the address, along with Charles Lenox Remond, Eliab W. Capron, and Lydia Ann Jenkins. (Holland and Gordon, Papers, microfilm, 6:1032, 1056-65.)
5 same feeling manifested.: Elizabeth Cady Stanton’s chief source for historical and cross-cultural information about women in this sentence and throughout the speech was the two volume History of the Condition of Women, in Various Ages and Nations, published in 1835 by Lydia Maria Child. Child’s work supplied examples as well for Sarah Grimke, Letters on the Equality of the Sexes. Both the Kerek and Mohammedan examples are in Child’s volume about women of Asia and Africa (1:41, 68). Stanton may have coined the image of a German couple, though Grimke attributes similar behavior to a number of nationalities (42-43). Child viewed European society more positively: it “differs from that of Asiatic nations or savage tribes in the comparative equality of labor between the sexes; if poor women are obliged to work hard, poor men are so likewise; they do not, like Orientals, sit in idleness, while women perform nearly all the drudgery” (2:181). (Lydia Maria Child, The History of the Condition of Women, in Various Ages and Nations, 2 vols. [Boston, 1835] and Sarah M. Grimke, Letters on the Equality of the Sexes and the Condition of Woman [1838; reprint, New York, 1970]).
5 frets away?: On the title page of Child’s History of the Condition of Women, from Lord Byron, “The Corsair,” the first two lines are found in canto 2, pt. 14, and the last four in canto 3, pt. 8. Neither author copied Byron’s lines precisely. The “sack” alludes to purging the harem by tossing an unwanted woman into the Bosphorus in a sack.
6 Salic law: By the Salic law, females were excluded from the line of succession to the throne of France.
6 United States of America: Inserted here in 1870: “in a republic based on the theory that no just government can be formed without the consent of the governed . . . .”
7 beast of the field: Genesis 1:28.
7 the Amazones.: This standard list of capable women can be found in both Child and Grimke. Monarchs in Russia and England, Catherine II or Catherine the Great (1729-1796) ruled from 1762 to her death, and Elizabeth I (1533-1603) ruled from 1558 to 1603. In the field of letters, Harriet Martineau (1802-1876), a British writer and ardent abolitionist, visited the United States from 1834 to 1836 and, under the influence of the Grimke sisters, became an advocate of woman’s rights. Germaine de Stael (1766-1817), a French writer and leader of an intellectual and political salon, went into exile during Napoleon’s reign. British astronomers, Caroline Lucretia Herschel (1750-1848) and Mary Fairfax Somerville (1780-1872) were honored for their discoveries by the Royal Astronomical Society. For evidence of women’s physical potential, the most popular example was the Amazons, a tribe of warrior women in antiquity who fought the Greeks.
8 intellectual superiority.: This paragraph was included in “Man Superior Intellectually Morally Physically,” pt. 1, Lily, February 1850, Holland and Gordon, Papers, microfilm, 6:1037.
8 we shall have had: Inserted here in 1870: “our freedom to find out our own sphere, when we shall have had . . . .”
8 perplexities of married life.: Revised in 1870 to read: “Then comes the gay routine of fashionable life, courtship and marriage, the perplexities of house and children, and she knows nothing beside.”
9 “creature of the affections?”: Sarah Grimke observed that Eve’s temptation came from “a being with whom she was unacquainted.” Adam fell “not through the instrumentality of a supernatural agent, but through that of his equal”; “it appears to me,” she wrote, “that to say the least, there was as much weakness exhibited by Adam as by Eve.” (Grimke, Letters on the Equality of the Sexes, 6)
10 as a moral being.: “Man Superior Intellectually Morally Physically,” pt. 2, Lily, March 1850, Holland and Gordon, Papers, microfilm, 6:1039, contains paragraphs 9-11.
13 claims to physical superiority.: “Man Superior Intellectually Morally Physically,” pt. 3, Lily, April 1850, Holland and Gordon, Papers, microfilm, 6:1044, contains paragraphs 12-13.
14 dough faces: That is, William Ellery Channing. John Quincy Adams (1767-1848), sixth president of the United States and congressman, opposed the extension of slavery and the gag rule that stopped expressions of antislavery views. Northerners who voted with the South to protect slavery were dubbed “doughfaces.”
14 mental endowments.: Daniel Lambert, a Londoner of immense weight who exhibited himself as a curiosity, also appeared as a character in Charles Dickens, Nicholas Nickleby (1839).
14 as well as the men.: This sentence from Child, History of the Condition of Women, 1:176.
14 domestic concerns;: To this point the sentence from Child, History of the Condition of Women, 2:167.
14 With using–: Alfred Lord Tennyson, “The Princess,” pt. 2, lines 131-35.
15 rights and wrongs.: In 1870, the sentence reads: “We have met here to-day to discuss our rights and wrongs, civil and political, and not, as some have supposed, to go into the detail of social life alone.” “Woman’s Rights,” National Reformer, 14 September 1848, contains paragraph 14, and “The Convention,” Lily, June 1850, consists of paragraphs 14, 15, and most of 16, Holland and Gordon, Papers, microfilm, 6:764-65, 1066.
15 stocks, pants,: Elements of men’s fashionable attire, the stock was a close-fitting cloth wrapped about the neck, and pants were strapped down beneath the instep to retain a snug fit.
16 pedestal with man: Tennyson, “The Princess,” pt. 2, lines 207-8.
17 All men: Both “The Convention” and 1870 read “All white men.”
17 Van Buren, Clay: Martin Van Buren (1782-1862), a New Yorker, was eighth president of the United States and the Free Soil party candidate for president in 1848. Henry Clay (1777-1852), senator, Speaker of the House of Representatives, secretary of state, and Whig candidate for president in 1848, was regarded as one of the great politicians of the age.
18 saith the Lord–: Matthew 5:39 and Romans 12:19.
19 right and justice?: “Should Women Vote,” Lily, July 1850, Holland and Gordon, Papers, microfilm, 6:1077-78, begins here and continues through most of paragraph 19.
19 care and protection.: This and the two sentences following were used in the address of the Congregational Friends.
20 glories in it.: Shortened in 1870 to read: “In the Turkish harem, in those Seraglios, where intellect and soul are buried beneath the sensualism and brutality which are the inevitable results of woman’s degradation, even there, she declares herself not only satisfied with her position, but glories in it.”
20 they are held.: A paraphrase of Harriet Martineau, Eastern Life, Past and Present (London, 1848), 2:164.
20 of compliment: Tennyson, “The Princess,” pt. 2, lines 40-41.
20 of the mind.: Tennyson, “The Princess,” pt. 2, lines 155-60.
21 arm of omnipotence.: From this point, 1870 reads: “omnipotence, and that true happiness springs from duty accomplished. Thus will she learn the lesson of individual responsibility for time and eternity. That neither father, husband, brother or son, however willing they may be, can discharge her high duties of life, or stand in her stead when called into the presence of the great Searcher of Hearts at the last day.”
22 obey our Husbands!!: An “X” is lightly drawn across paragraph 21, though the text is retained in 1870.
22 in like manner.: Genesis 9:2. This paragraph leans on Grimke, Letters on the Equality of the Sexes, especially pages 10-11, 94-95.
22 in the Lord.: Ephesians 5:22.
23 The education society.: Elizabeth Cady Stanton closely follows the discussion in Grimke, Letters on the Equality of the Sexes 120-21 in this and the next paragraph.
24 “weaker vessels”: 1 Peter 3:7.
26 home or abroad,: In 1870 sentence reads: “It is woman’s mission to resist oppression wherever she may find it, whether at her own fireside, or on a Southern plantation, by every moral power within her reach.” The plantation is removed from the next sentence about men.
27 unfortunate beings.: Here in 1870 is added: “but are not his sorrows all written in the book of the immortal Caudle, written by his own hand, that all may read and pity the poor man, though feeling all through that the hapless Mrs. Caudle had, after all, many reasons for her continual wail for substantial grief.” She refers to Mrs. Caudle’s Curtain Lectures, written by Douglas Jerrold for the British magazine Punch and published in book form in 1845.
27 without freedom.: Sentence added at end of paragraph in 1870: “Let us then have no fears that this movement will disturb what is seldom found a truly united and happy family.”
28 several historians.: Sentence from Child, History of the Condition of Women, 2:206.
28 high pursuits.: Zenobia, queen of Palmyra, came to the throne after the death of her husband and conquered Egypt, but the Roman Emperor Aurelian defeated and captured her in 272. Child praised her as “the most remarkable among Asiatic women,” but omitted Aurelian’s well-known tribute (1:30-31). Elizabeth Cady Stanton could find it in the classic textbook, Emma Willard, Universal History in Perspective, 12th ed. (New York, 1854), 158. She also consulted Samuel L. Knapp, Female Biography; Containing Notices of Distinguished Women, in Different Nations and Ages (New York, 1834).
29 unequalled in Europe.: Both Child, History of the Condition of Women, 2:206, and Willard, Universal History, 348, link the names of these two queens. Margaret I (1353-1412) consolidated the crowns of Denmark, Norway, and Sweden by 1398 and ruled a short-lived empire until her death. Semiramis was a mythical Assyrian queen credited with founding the city of Babylon and conquering many lands.
29 of a queen.: Isabella (1451-1504), Spanish queen of Castile and L�on from 1474, married Ferdinand V of Castile, also known as Ferdinand II of Aragon, (1442-1516), in 1469 and reigned with him as sovereign of Castile. The glorification of Isabella as grand but feminine, brave but modest, and superior to her husband is consistent with Willard’s interpretation in Universal History, 276. Elizabeth Cady Stanton also read William H. Prescott, History of the Reign of Ferdinand and Isabella, the Catholic, first published in 1837.
29 cordial reconciliation.”: Quotation from Prescott, History of Ferdinand and Isabella, in 1872 edition at 1:268. Isabella negotiated with Dona Beatriz of Portugal, her aunt, a mediator for the queen of Portugal.
29 devoted of mothers.: Elizabeth Cady Stanton follows Samuel Knapp, Female Biography, 406, in translating the Latin as “king.” Maria Theresa (1717-1780) came to the Hapsburg throne in 1740. The pledge of the Hungarian nobles enabled her to fight the war of Austrian succession against the monarchs of Europe who disputed her claim to the throne.
29 her Husband.”: Quotation from Child, History of the Condition of Women, 2:206-7. Several queens are named. While Elizabeth I ruled England, James VI ruled Scotland. He later became James I of England. Catherine the Great is measured against Peter the Great (1672-1725.) Queen Zhinga (1582-1663) of Ndongo in western Angola led her people in resistance to Portuguese domination. In France Blanche of Castile (1185?-1252), wife of Louis VIII, was regent during the minority of their son Louis IX and again when her son departed on a crusade. Caroline of Ansbach (1683-1737), wife of England’s George II, served as her husband’s regent repeatedly between 1729 and 1737.
29 not right.: Josephine (1763-1814) was empress of France until Napoleon Bonaparte arranged with the Pope for their marriage to be annulled in 1809. Victim of selfish manhood, she became something of a sentimental heroine in the 1830s and 1840s. Napoleon broke “the heart of the best of his friends,” Willard’s Universal History (456) explained.
30 destructive influences–: Hannah More (1745-1833), English author and reformer, wrote Village Politics, Addressed to All the Mechanics, Journeymen, and Day Labourers in Great Britain (1792) under the name of “Will Chip, a country carpenter.” In a dialogue two laborers dismiss the revolutionary ideas reaching England from France and celebrate monarchy, deference, the gentry, and religious faith as the strengths of the English system. (Mary Alden Hopkins, Hannah More and Her Circle [New York, 1947], 205-9.)
31 Infidel in ours.: Again, Isabella of Castile, who supported the explorations of Christopher Columbus (1451-1506). This willingness to regard Isabella as more victim than sovereign when considering the Inquisition prevailed in Prescott’s biography and was echoed in Willard, Universal History. Tomas de Torquemada (1420?-1498), a Dominican monk, was made inquisitor general.
31 Hell fire.: Added at close of this sentence in 1870: “we consign their souls to hell-fire and their lives to misrepresentation and persecution.”
32 truly American.: Inserted here in 1870: “Where men make no objections to women or negroes to serve or amuse them in public, but the claim of equality is what chagrins the tyrant. Man never rejects the aid of either, when they serve him in the accomplishment of his work.”
32 extraordinary girl.: Joan of Arc (1412?-1431), national heroine of France, claimed divine inspiration for her decision to rally the people to the aid of the dauphin, the future Charles VII (1403-1461) of France, who was kept from the throne by English armies. There were scores of books available about Joan, most of them interpreting her story as a test of faith. A few shared Elizabeth Cady Stanton’s humanistic interpretation of her charisma as self-confidence. Willard wrote: “Her own solemn persuasion of the reality of her mission, which was, she said, communicated in visions, together with the intrepidity of her manner, made an impression of awe, even on the minds of the gay courtiers.” (Universal History, 254.)
33 raise the siege.: Added in 1870: “Verily, the world waits the coming of some new element, some purifying power, some spirit of mercy and love.”
33 equal with man.: This paragraph underwent considerable revision in 1870 and became the final paragraph of the speech, followed by the closing verse.
34 shall prophesy.: Joel 2:28.
35 disenthralled.: The address of the Congregational Friends used paragraph 34, without the verse, as its penultimate paragraph, and the text marked by angle brackets is restored to the torn manuscript from that source.
35 shall assign us?: The Friends omitted this reference to the work of Hicksite Friends with the Seneca Nation in western New York. In a constitution adopted in 1845 on the recommendation of the Friends, the Seneca replaced government by chiefs with representative government. (Hugh Barbour et al., eds., Quaker Crosscurrents: Three Hundred Years of Friends in the New York Yearly Meetings [Syracuse, N.Y., 1995], 96-99.)
Library of Congress Subject Headings
Library of Congress Classification
Seneca Falls, New York
Women–suffrage, women–legal status, laws, etc.