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Daniel Cady, Stanton's father, was a prominent attorney who served one term in the United States Congress (Federalist 1814 - 1817) and later became both a circuit court judge and, in 1847, a New York Supreme Court Justice. Judge Cady introduced his daughter to the law and, together with her brother-in-law, Edward Bayard, planted the early seeds that grew into her legal and social activism. Even as a young girl, she enjoyed perusing her father's law library and debating legal issues with his law clerks. It was this early exposure to law that, in part, caused Stanton to realize how disproportionately the law favored men over women, particularly over married women. Her realization that married women had virtually no property, income, employment, or even custody rights over their own children, helped set her course toward changing these inequities.


Within the Cady family, Elizabeth's parents seemed almost polar opposites. Daniel was slight of build, brilliant, extremely conscientious, and painfully shy. Contemporaries would call him "one of the most genereous and gifted men of his time," a man of 'sweetness" and "refinement," "exhalted worth and strict integrity," and "unsurpassed ability." Said one colleague and former student, "his name has been for years, throughout the State, almost a synonym for 'honest man,' a bye-word by which to denote uprightness and purity of character." His daughter Elizabeth echoed these contemporary descriptions. He was, she wrote, a man of "firm character and unimpeachable integrity," yet "sensitive and modest to a painful degree," "truly great and good, -- an ideal judge; and to his sober, taciturn, and majestic bearing, he added the tenderness, purity, and refinement of a true woman."


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