The women’s suffrage movement was a decade long battle to gain women’s right to vote and run for office in the United States. It is important to note that in the beginning of the 19th century there were very prominent gender roles. Men were the dominant figures in the public and participated in voting, working, supporting the family financially, politics, and were taught to appear strong and manly. While women were meant to take a much more passive stance in society and appear pious and submissive while taking care of the cooking, cleaning, and children. Many women were beginning to become tired of these gender roles, or as some historians called it the “Cult of True Womanhood”, expecting that only true women value the home and family before anything else.
However, gender roles were not the only restrictions on women and in many states they could not vote, pursue an education, own property, have control of their own income, or keep custody of their children after divorce. With all these limitations on women’s rights it is not surprising that there would be women dedicated to speaking out against them. One woman named Elizabeth Cady Stanton who grew up in a progressive family, with wealth and an education, became an activist for women’s rights when she was denied access to an anti-slavery convention due to her gender.
Years later, in 1848, Stanton would hold the Seneca Falls Convention which would become the first of its kind gathering calling attention to the social and civil rights of women. At this convention Stanton would read her document called the Declaration of Sentiments modeled after the Declaration of Independence and drawing on the fact that women and men were created equal. This convention would become known as the starting point of the Women’s Suffrage Movement as it gave many women a renewed sense of purpose and hope.
A few years later in 1851 Stanton met Susan B. Anthony at an anti-slavery meeting in Seneca Falls and almost immediately they became friends. Anthony had been a teacher for many years but had become a temperance activist. However, because Anthony was a woman she was not allowed to speak at temperance movements and rallies. Meeting Elizabeth Stanton and her experience at the temperance rallies led Anthony to join the women’s suffrage movement in 1952. Thus, began a historical friendship between the two, and through their activist work together, they directly influenced the 19th amendment which was passed in 1920 allowing women the right to vote. Susan B. Anthony and Elizabeth Cady Stanton made great leaders to the Women’s Suffrage Movement because of their fearlessness and readiness to take chances, dedication to their cause, and enduring friendship that withstood half a century.
During the Women’s Suffrage Movement Susan B. Anthony and Elizabeth Cady Stanton made great leaders because they were fearless and ready to take chances for the movement. Stanton was born in 1815 and had grown up privileged and educated. She especially enjoyed her education at Johnstown Academy where she studied many subjects deemed fit for men in the time period like math, science, and languages. Stanton enjoyed co-educational courses where she could compete with the boys and spent most of her time with her father, who was a lawyer, learning about law and legal issues.
Stanton became educated on the legal rights of women and the inequality it involved; married women had the least rights and could not own property or earn income. In 1826 her only living brother died, and to console her father, she told him she would excel in everything her brother had. However, her father responded to her by saying he wished she was a boy, and this hurt her feelings tremendously. Stanton had always been passionate about women’s rights, but it wasn’t until years later when Stanton became a housewife that she found that it was not all she wanted.
So, she decided to dedicate her life to activism in order to bring more freedom and rights to women like the ability to vote, refuse their partners sexually, and own property. Stanton was strong-willed and a talented writer but above all else she was brave and in 1848 The Seneca Falls Women’s Rights Convention was held by Cady Stanton which was the first of its kind. Over seventy individuals signed her document Declaration of Sentiments based on the Declaration of Independence. This was a very big chance to take and the convention was ridiculed by some in the newspaper and called “ridiculous”. However, by others it was taken positively and gave many women hope that one day they would have the same rights as men.
Stanton believed that it was the first step towards righting the wrongs done to women and through her brave decision to hold the convention came many more throughout the 1850s. Soon after she met Susan B. Anthony who would become her best friend and business partner. Anthony was born in 1820, raised by Quaker and activist parents, she was taught at a very young age to have concern for others and strong principles. She was a very bright student and was well educated even though it was a time period when women were not typically schooled; when her school denied teaching her long-division because she was a woman, her father taught her himself.
In 1837 her family was hit with financial crisis and Anthony became a teacher to help her family pay for their debt. She was able to work herself up to headmistress at the academy and this is when she first began her activism campaigning for equal pay for the women teachers at the academy. She would continue with activism becoming a public figure in the anti-slavery, temperance, and suffrage movement. Eventually going so far as to take a stand by casting a ballot in 1827 before women had the right to vote and she was arrested soon after. She was later tried and found guilty where she was then forced to pay a fine of 100 dollars. This shows remarkable courage and fearlessness on Anthony’s part and proves that she was willing to take a stand for what she believed in even if it was risky; this made her a great leader to the Women’s Suffrage Movement.