Elizabeth Cady Stanton for over six decades stood up fearlessly for women’s rights. From observing her father’s legal practice, she resolved at a very early age to change the unjust laws that denied women control over their economic and family lives. She married an abolitionist and, like Lucretia Mott and others, became disaffected by the hypocritical failure of the anti-slavery movement to include women as equals. Out of this discontent came the 1848 Seneca Falls convention, which marked the beginning of organized feminism in the United States. Even while raising her seven children, Stanton fought for the “the cause” – as an editor of The Revolution, a traveling lecturer, a leader of the national Woman Suffrage Association, and coeditor with Susan B Anthony and Matilda Joslyn Gage of the first volume of the History of Woman Suffrage (Fowler and Wells, 1881)
“Child Murder” by Elizabeth Cady Stanton
“The public attention has been much drawn to this frightful subject of late. The disclosures made are appalling to the highest degree. The social system is too corrupt, it would certainly seem, long to survive. Infanticide is on the increase to an extent inconceivable. Nor is it confined to the cities by any means. Androscoggin County in Maine is largely a rural district, but a recent medical convention there unfolded a fearful condition of society in relation to the subject. Dr. Oaks made the remark that, according to the best estimate he could make, there were 400 murders annually produced by abortion in that county alone. The statement is made in all possible seriousness, before a meeting of “regular” practitioners in the county, and from the statistics which were as freely expressed to one member of the medical fraternity as another.
There must be a remedy for such a crying evil as this. But where shall it be found, at least begin, if not in the complete enfranchisement and elevation of women? Forced maternity, not out of legal marriage but within it, must lie at the bottom of a vast proportion of such revolting outrages against the laws of nature and our common humanity.”
The Revolution 1 (10): 146 – 147 (March 12, 1868)
“Infanticide” by Elizabeth Cady Stanton
“The remarkable mortality among natural or illegitimate children is a topic agitating the press very largely just now… Where lies the remedy?” New York Times
“In the independence of woman. “Give a man a right over my subsidence,” says Alexander Hamilton, “and he has right over my whole moral being.” When the world of work is open to woman, and it becomes as respectable as it is necessary to happiness for women of the higher classes, as well as to others, to have some regular and profitable employment, then will woman take her true position as dictator in the social world.
The common excuse that young men give in our higher circles for not being married is that they cannot afford to support a wife. Our idea is that every woman of sound mind and body, with brains and two hands, is more noble, virtuous, and happy in supporting herself. So long as one is dependent on man, relation to him will be a false one, either in marriage or out of it, she will despise herself and hate him whose desire she gratifies for the necessaries of life; the children of such unions must needs be unloved and deserted. When women have their own property and business, they will choose and not be chosen; they will marry them the men they love, or not at all; and where there is love between the parents, children will ever find care and protection. The strongest feeling of a true woman’s nature is her love for her child; and the startling facts in the above extract, multiplying as they are on every side, warn us that all things are inverted. Objectors cry out to us who demand our rights, and the ballot to secure them, “do not unsex yourselves.” It is against the wholesale unsexing we wage our war.
We are living today under a dynasty of force; the masculine element is everywhere overpowering the feminine, and crushing women and children alike beneath its feet. Let woman assert herself in all her native purity, dignity, and strength and end this wholesale suffering and murder of helpless children. With centuries of degradation, we have so little of true womanhood, that the world has but the faintest glimmering of what a woman is or should be.”
Compiled By Mary Krane Derr
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