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"Oh my daughter, I wish you were a boy!" her father said, grieving at the death of his only son. Young Elizabeth vowed to prove him wrong. She worked hard to excel in Greek, Latin, and mathematics, and obtained the finest education then available to women at Troy Female Seminary. When she married Henry Stanton, an activist in the anti-slavery cause, the word "obey" was omitted from the ceremony at her insistence.
Their honeymoon journey was to the great World's Anti-Slavery Convention in London in 1840. After the women delegates were not seated, Stanton was convinced that women should hold a convention for their own rights, This decision was delayed until her move to Seneca Falls, where she was isolated and increasingly exhausted by a growing family. Finally in July, 1848, she met with Lucretia Mott and three other Quaker women in nearby Waterloo. Together they issued the call for the first woman's rights convention.
Stanton drafted the Seneca Falls Convention's Declaration of Sentiments and argued forcefully for the ballot, a radical demand opposed by her husband and even Mrs. Mott. Soon thereafter she met Susan B. Anthony and they formed what would be a lifelong partnership devoted to the cause. Among their earliest targets were the laws that discriminated against married women, denying them the right to hold property, or wages, or guardianship of their children.
Stanton was the founding genius of the women's rights movement, brilliant, insightful and eloquent. While Anthony focused more and more on suffrage, Stanton continued to range widely. She took a daring stand in favor of more liberal divorce laws, for example. When her seven children were no longer small, she toured the country repeatedly, calling for voting rights, coeducation, dress reform, and other advances. She never slackened nor grew cautious with age.
ELIZABETH CADY STANTON
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