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Elizabeth Cady was born in Johnstown, New York, on November 12, 1815. She came from a wealthy and politically important family. Her father, Daniel Cady (1773-1859), was a well-known lawyer who had served in Congress, on the New York state legislature, and as a judge on the New York state supreme court. Her mother came from a wealthy family whose members had included a hero of the American Revolution (1775-83), when the thirteen British colonies in North America fought for their freedom.

The Cadys had eleven children, most of whom did not survive to adulthood. Eleazar Cady, their only son to survive, died when he was twenty, leaving them with four daughters. In her autobiography, Eighty Years and More, Stanton related her father's feelings at having lost all his male heirs. Although the eleven-year-old Elizabeth attempted to console him, his reaction was to tell her, "Oh, my daughter, I wish you were a boy." The experience made young Cady determined to be the equal of any male. She tried hard to please her father by excelling in areas normally reserved for men, starting with Greek and horsemanship.

Cady's father's profession also led her to embrace the cause of women's rights. As the daughter of a judge, she was exposed early to the legal barriers to women's equality. While still a child, she heard her father tell abused women that they had no legal alternative but to endure mistreatment by their husbands and fathers. She was especially outraged by the rights of husbands to control their wives' property.



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