In Her Own Right: The Life of Elizabeth Cady Stanton

By Elisabeth Griffith | Go to book overview

10
Writing and Widowhood
1880-88

Elizabeth Cady Stanton did not retire when she resigned from the lyceum circuit. Reminded of her mortality by the omnibus accident and her bout of pneumonia, she was spurred to greater productivity. Always energetic, she no longer squandered her resources. She insisted that her remaining energy be spent in ways she found either profitable or pleasant. She approached projects with a now-or-never zest, giving priority in the new decade to completion of the History of Woman Suffrage, a massive compendium on women's rights in America. She devoted more time to her family, came to terms with Henry, restored her friendship with Anthony, made two long trips to Europe, began writing regularly for newspaper and magazine publication, used the National Association to test new tenets of her ideology, began to investigate women and theology, and still found time for reading, music, games, and naps.

Stanton entered old age combative, keen witted, self centered, and uninhibited. She had always looked forward to her "prime," when she was past fifty. The women she had identified as "queens" earlier in her life— her mother, Emma Willard, and Lucretia Mott—had all been older women. She had observed and admired them. Whether married or widowed, they ruled their own worlds. They were independent and influential. Now Stanton was ready to become an imperial old lady.

On the lyceum circuit Stanton had escaped her domestic bondage, enhanced her self-esteem, and established her physical and financial independence. Now she sought independence at home. With her children grown and Henry living separately, she could practice self-reliance and self‐ indulgence in comfort. As she wrote privately in late 1880:

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