The Political Thought of Elizabeth Cady Stanton: Women's Rights and the American Political Traditions

The Political Thought of Elizabeth Cady Stanton: Women's Rights and the American Political Traditions

The Political Thought of Elizabeth Cady Stanton: Women's Rights and the American Political Traditions

The Political Thought of Elizabeth Cady Stanton: Women's Rights and the American Political Traditions

Synopsis

2009 Choice Outstanding Academic Title

Elizabeth Cady Stanton (1815-1902) was not only one of the most important leaders of the nineteenth century women's rights movement but was also the movement's principal philosopher. Her ideas both drew from and challenged the conventions that so severely constrained women's choices and excluded them from public life.

In The Political Thought of Elizabeth Cady Stanton , Sue Davis argues that Cady Stanton's work reflects the rich tapestry of American political culture in the second half of the nineteenth century and that she deserves recognition as a major figure in the history of political ideas. Davis reveals the way that Cady Stanton's work drew from different political traditions ranging from liberalism, republicanism, inegalitarian ascriptivism, and radicalism. Cady Stanton's arguments for women's rights combined approaches that in contemporary feminist theory are perceived to involve conflicting strategies and visions. Nevertheless, her ideas had a major impact on the development of the varieties of feminism in the twentieth century.

Thoroughly researched and engagingly written, The Political Thought of Elizabeth Cady Stanton draws on a wide variety of primary and secondary sources and promises to fill a gap in the literature on the history of political ideas in the United States as well as women's history and feminist theory.

Excerpt

The meeting that began on July 19, 1848, in the Wesleyan chapel in Seneca Falls, New York, launched the first organized movement for women's rights in the United States. The Seneca Falls Convention also marked the beginning of the long career of its chief organizer, thirtythree-year-old Elizabeth Cady Stanton. Not only was Cady Stanton one of the most important leaders of the woman's rights movement for nearly half a century, but she was also the movement's principal philosopher. Her ideas challenged the conventions of the nineteenth century that constrained women's lives and excluded women from public life. Although it may seem paradoxical at first glance, Cady Stanton's ideas also grew out of the very traditions that she seemed to reject so thoroughly.

Because this book is a study of Cady Stanton's political thought, it differs fundamentally from the several excellent biographies that have examined her life in rich detail and have provided insights into her character. It also differs from the considerable body of literature published since the late 1970s that analyzes the nineteenth- and early twentieth-century woman's movement. The idea for the book began with my conviction that Cady Stanton deserves recognition as a central figure in the political thought of the United States in the nineteenth century. Her work represents a contribution of enormous importance to the woman's rights movement and to an understanding of the sources of and solutions to the subordination of women. Her ideas also had a major influence on the development of feminist theory in the twentieth century.

Elizabeth Cady Stanton's thought reflects the rich tapestry of American political culture in the second half of the nineteenth century. My . . .

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