This Outspoken Suffragist Was the First Woman to Run for Congress
Who: Elizabeth Cady Stanton, leader in the women’s rights and suffrage movements in the United States, activist, and author; November 12, 1815–October 26, 1902
Why She Dazzles: Elizabeth championed equality for white and Black women as one of the strongest voices during the women’s rights movement. She wrote her and many of fellow feminist warrior Susan B. Anthony’s powerful speeches demanding equality, as well as hundreds of articles, books (including The Woman’s Bible), and letters supporting women’s rights. Elizabeth was also the principal author of the "Declaration of Sentiments," which expanded on the Declaration of Independence by adding the words “woman” and “women” throughout. The declaration detailed the inferior status of women and called for extensive reforms in the government to provide equality. “We hold these truths to be self-evident: that all men and women are created equal,” it stated.
Why You Need to Know Her Today: August 26, 2020, marks the 100th anniversary of the ratification of the 19th Amendment, which guaranteed and protected a woman’s constitutional right to vote. Although Elizabeth died before its ratification, her legacy and perseverance paved the way for the historic milestone. Whether it was when she omitted “obey” from her marriage oath during her wedding ceremony, became the first woman to run for Congress, or founded and led the National Woman Suffrage Association, Elizabeth always lived her truth and practiced what she preached.
What She Would Say—Because She Said It Then: “The right [to vote] is ours. Have it, we must. Use it, we will.”
Where She May Like to Instagram: Seneca Falls, New York. Elizabeth lived here with her husband and children, but more importantly, this is where she co-founded and led the Seneca Falls Convention, the first women’s rights convention in the U.S., in 1848. It’s no surprise that Seneca Falls is now home to the world-renowned National Women’s Hall of Fame and the Women’s Rights National Historical Park. Elizabeth was one of the 20 women in the Hall of Fame’s first induction ceremony in 1973, and to date, more than 275 inductees have been honored.
What the Ladies Rocked Then: Elizabeth was from a wealthy, prominent New England family, but she rallied, advocated, protested, wrote, and worked hard to encourage women to get an education so they could become independent and provide their own income if needed. In fact, she received an unprecedented invitation to address the New York legislature in 1854, and her speech resulted in new legislation in 1860 granting married women the rights to their wages and to equal guardianship of their children. Her independence, mixed with a bling brooch, made her a brilliant yet uniquely fashionable woman of her era.
How You Can Rock It Now: In photos of Elizabeth, you’ll see her in brooches and cameos, popular jewelry of the Victorian era. But it’s her spirit of independence that makes her exceptionally timeless and worthy of emulating. A glamorous, independent woman will never go out of style.
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