THE NEXT GENERATION
Harriot Stanton Blatch and Grassroots Politics
Ellen Carol DuBois
By the late nineteenth and early twentieth century, a second-generation of suffrage women were replacing the early pioneers of the movement, bringing to the struggle new arguments for the necessity of the vote as well as innovative tactics and strategies. All were virtual daughters of the pioneers; some were literal descendants. Among them were Alice Stone Blackwell, the daughter of Lucy Stone and Henry Blackwell, and Lucy Anthony, the niece of Susan B. Anthony, who with Blackwell engineered the merging in 1890 of the two national suffrage organizations into the National American Woman Suffrage Association. This chapter tells the story of a crusade by one of these women of the second generation.
The battle for women's rights had begun in the state of New York, the birthplace of Elizabeth Cady Stanton and the longtime home of Susan B. Anthony. In Seneca Falls, New York, the Declaration of Rights and Sentiments had been rousingly proclaimed in 1848. In Albany, both Stanton and Anthony testified in the 1850s before the New York Senate's Judiciary Committee. There they argued, with some success, for changes in state law to establish women's guardianship rights over their children, grant property and earnings rights to married women, and deliver woman suffrage. In 1915, nearly seventy years later, the struggle, now led by a new generation, had come to focus on woman suffrage. Fittingly, Harriot Stanton Blatch, Elizabeth Cady Stanton's daughter, led this major effort to win woman suffrage in its home state. But even in the early twentieth century, success was uncertain.