In Her Own Right: The Life of Elizabeth Cady Stanton

By Elisabeth Griffith | Go to book overview

5
Bonds of Affection
1849-55

The Seneca Falls meeting marked the formal beginning of the women's rights movement in America and the informal beginning of Elizabeth Cady Stanton's career as a feminist leader. Yet, as the women's movement developed during the next decade, Mrs. Stanton was not among its most visible or outspoken leaders. The momentum for subsequent meetings came from others. Stanton did not take the initiative, and she rarely accepted invitations to participate. In the fall of 1848 Lucretia Mott invited Stanton to Philadelphia to help organize a women's rights meeting there. Stanton could not go that year, or any other. 1 In the years following her Seneca Falls Declaration, Mrs. Stanton remained, by circumstance and choice, a smalltown housewife.

Nevertheless Stanton was filled with enthusiasm for the endeavor, and she did the most that she could at the moment. She began in small ways, by writing letters to editors and to friends. She responded to requests for her presence with letters to be read in her absence. She continued to read and study and reflect and write, so that she was always a source of new ideas, ideas that enlarged the scope of the women's movement from female suffrage to equal rights.

The challenge for Elizabeth Cady Stanton in the decade following the Seneca Falls convention was to find a way to meet the increased demands of her private and public lives. In this quest she was without a role model. No one in her acquaintance had combined mothering small children with nurturing social revolution. Lucretia Mott, Stanton's mother, and Gerrit Smith's wife had large household staffs or relatives to free them for com

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