Elizabeth Cady Stanton 1815 - 1902
November 15, 2007
Elizabeth Cady Stanton 1815 - 1902 was herself a practicing homeopath from a family of homeopaths (The selected papers of Elizabeth Cady Stanton and Susan B. Anthony, Volume 4. Ann Dexter Gordon, Tamara Gaskell Miller, (Eds.), (Rutgers University Press, 2001. Page 25).
Elizabeth Cady Stanton was in London in 1883, when she consulted David Wilson, Edward William Berridge and Mary J Hall (?-?)* (Elizabeth Cady Stanton, Ann Dexter Gordon (Ed.), Selected Papers of Elizabeth Cady Stanton & Susan B. Anthony: When Clowns Make Laws for Queens, 1880 to 1887, (Rutgers University Press, 25 Sep 2006). Page 297).
I was their physician, also with my box of homeopathic medicines I took charge of the men, women, and children in sickness… To add to my general dissatisfaction at the change from Boston, I found that Seneca Falls was a malarial region, and in due time all the children were attacked with chills and fever which, under homeopathic treatment in those days, lasted three months.
Stanton was introduced to homeopathy at Seneca Falls by her brother in law Edward Bayard who became a homeopath after a miraculous cure. Bayard became ill in 1830, when he was diagnosed with a heart condition and given a bleak prognosis by an orthodox heart specialist. His wife Tryphena persuaded him to try homeopathy, so he consulted Augustus P Biegler. His recovery was so remarkable, Bayard resolved to give up the law to study homeopathy. Subsequently both Elizabeth Cady Stanton and her sister Tryphena became staunch homeopathic supporters.
Stanton was also very close to homeopaths Jenny Poinsard d’Hericourt, Clemence Lozier, Mary Baker Glover (Eddy), Emily Jennings Stowe and homeopathic supporters Lucretia Coffin Mott , Phebe Ann Coffin Hanaford, Moncure Daniel Conway, Elizabeth Peabody and Abraham Lincoln and she stated:
It was not simply a coincidence that a large number of leading suffragettes in America during the 19th century were advocates of homeopathic medicine. Susan B. Anthony, Elizabeth Cady Stanton, Julia Ward Howe, Louisa May Alcott, Elizabeth Stuart Phelps, Lucretia Coffin Mott, and Clemence Lozier were but some of the nineteenth century feminists who considered both women’s rights and homeopathic medicine to be important ways to create a healthier society.
Homeopathy offered women a way out of a restrictive society:
that regarded women as naturally frail and prone to illness. This view, combined with the primitive and harsh medical treatments of the day, prompted women to seek alternative approaches to healthcare. Gentler therapies such as homeopathy, hygiene, and hydropathy became popular among women
American women were also interested in dress reform:
The action that is credited with bringing the dress reform movement to national attention in the United States was initiated by Elizabeth Smith Miller, daughter of Gerrit Smith, who began in the spring of 1851 to appear in public in a dress she had designed. It included what she called “Turkish trousers” (full, billowing pant legs that tapered to a tight fit around the ankles) and a skirt shortened to about four inches below the knee.
Miller created a sensation, largely because she wore it without having a need to perform physical labor. She argued that it was a more healthful style of clothing, unlike the typical dresses of that day that could include thirty-five yards of fabric and ten pounds of petticoats.
Miller’s cousin, Elizabeth Cady Stanton, joined Miller in wearing the reform dress, and their mutual friend, Amelia Jenkins Bloomer of Homer, New York, quickly embraced their actions. Although traditional physicians were largely on the side of insisting that women remain dressed in conventional clothing, many eclectic, homeopathic, and hydropathic medical practitioners supported the new style.
Aligned with temperance advocates and health reform movements—and the support of publicly recognized women such as Stanton—the dress reform campaign quickly became aligned with the women’s rights movement. Most of the major figures in the suffrage movement donned the reform dress at one time or another.
As a mother who advocated homeopathic medicine, freedom of expression; lots of outdoor activity; and having a solid, highly academic, education for all her children; Stanton nurtured a breadth of interests, activities, and learning in both her sons and daughters.
Stanton and Lozier set up the New York Medical College for Women:
In 1863, she helped found a homeopathic school, New York Medical College for Women. Stanton rejected anaesthesia for the birth of her child, which she delivered herself, and urged other women to do likewise: “how much cruel bondage of mind and suffering of body poor woman will escape when she takes the liberty of being her own physician…”
This was the spirit of the age, and many women flooded into Homeopathic Medical Schools:
The census of 1870 counted 525 trained women doctors in America, more than in the rest of the world combined. Of these, the large majority were practitioners of homeopathic, eclectic, or botanical medicine. Only 137 women were enrolled in regular medical schools, and most of these were in separate women’s medical colleges. The most ambitious of these was the Medical College for Women in New York City, founded by Elizabeth Blackwell, the first woman in America to graduate with an MD degree.
Stanton went on to write many of the more important books, documents, and speeches of the women’s rights movement. In 1881, Harper & Brothers Publishers issued the first volume of The History of Woman Suffrage, a seminal, six volume work containing the full history, documents, and letters of the woman’s suffrage movement. While Stanton, along with Anthony and Gage, wrote the first three volumes, the work was eventually completed in 1922 by Ida Harper.
Her other major writings included The Women’s Bible, first puplished in 1895; Eighty Years & More: Reminiscences 1815-1897, her autobiography, published in 1898; and The Solitude of Self, or “Self-Sovereignty,” which she first delivered as a speech at the 1892 convention of the National American Women’s Suffrage Association in Washington, DC.
In 1868, Stanton together with Susan B. Anthony and Parker Pillsbury, a leading male feminist of his day, began publishing a weekly periodical, Revolution, with editorials by Stanton that focussed on a wide array of women’s issues. In a view different from many modern feminists, Stanton, who supported birth control and likely used it herself, believed that abortion was infanticide, a position she discussed in Revolution.
At this time, Stanton also joined the New York Lyceum Bureau, embarking on a twelve-year career on the Lyceum Circuit. Traveling and lecturing for eight months every year both provided her with the funds to put her two youngest sons through college and, given her popularity as a lecturer, with way to spread her ideas among the general population, gain broad public recognition, and further establish her reputation as a pre-eminent leader in the women’s rights movement.
Among her most popular speeches were “Our Girls,” “Our Boys,” “Co-education,” “Marriage and Divorce,” “Prison Life,” and “The Bible and Woman’s Rights.” Her lecture travels so occupied her, that Stanton, although president, only presided at four of fifteen conventions of the National Woman Suffrage Association during this period.
In addition to her writing and speaking, Stanton was instrumental in promoting women’s suffrage in various states, particularly New York, Missouri, Kansas, where it was included on the ballot in 1867, and Michigan, where it was put to the vote in 1874.
She made an unsuccessful bid for a U.S. Congressional seat from New York in 1868, and she was the primary force behind passage of the ”Woman’s Property Bill,” that was eventually passed by the New York State Legislature. She worked toward female suffrage in Wyoming, Utah, and California, and, in 1878, convinced California Senator Aaron A. Sargent to introduce a female suffrage amendment using wording similar to that of the Fifteenth Amendment passed some eight years previously.
As she aged, Stanton was also active internationally, spending a great deal of time in Europe, where her daughter and fellow feminist, Harriet Stanton Blatch, and son lived. In 1888, she helped prepare for the founding of the International Council of Women. In 1890, Stanton opposed the merger of the National Woman Suffrage Association with the more conservative and religiously based American Woman Suffrage Association.
Over her objections, the organizations merged, creating the National American Woman Suffrage Association (NAWSA). Despite her opposition to the merger, Stanton became its first president, largely because of Susan B. Anthony’s intervention. In good measure because of The Women’s Bible and her position on issues such as divorce, she was, however, never popular among the more religiously conservative members of the “National American.”
On January 18, 1892, approximately ten years before she died, Stanton, together with Anthony, Stone, and Isabella Beecher Hooker, addressed the issue of suffrage before the Judiciary Committee of the U.S. House of Representatives. After nearly five decades of fighting for female suffrage and women’s rights, it was Elizabeth Cady Stanton’s final appearance before members of the United States Congress.
Using the text of what became The Solitude of Self, she spoke of the central value of the individual, noting that value was not based on gender. As with the Declaration of Sentiments she had penned some forty-five years earlier, Stanton’s statement eloquently expressed not only the need for women’s voting rights in particular, but the need for a revamped understanding of women’s position in society and even of women in general:
The isolation of every human soul and the necessity of self-dependence must give each individual the right to choose his own surroundings. The strongest reason for giving woman all the opportunities for higher education, for the full development of her faculties, her forces of mind and body; for giving her the most enlarged freedom of thought and action; a complete emancipation from all forms of bondage, of custom, dependence, superstition; from all the crippling influences of fear—is the solitude and personal responsibility of her own individual life.
The strongest reason why we ask for woman a voice in the government under which she lives; in the religion she is asked to believe; equality in social life, where she is the chief factor; a place in the trades and professions, where she may earn her bread, is because of her birthright to self-sovereignty; because, as an individual, she must rely on herself…
Stanton consulted a British Homeopath Dr. Wilson when she was in England.
The moment we begin to fear the opinions of others and hesitate to tell the truth that is in us, and from motives of policy are silent when we should speak, the divine floods of light and life no longer flow into our souls. Elizabeth Cady Stanton, 1890
With age come the inner, the higher life. Who would be forever young, to dwell always in externals? Elizabeth Cady Stanton, O Magazine, October 2003
We hold these truths to be self-evident: that all men and women are created equal. Elizabeth Cady Stanton
The happiest people I have known have been those who gave themselves no concern about their own souls, but did their uttermost to mitigate the miseries of others. Elizabeth Cady Stanton
I am always busy, which is perhaps the chief reason why I am always well. Elizabeth Cady Stanton
Whatever the theories may be of woman’s dependence on man, in the supreme moments of her life he can not bear her burdens. Elizabeth Cady Stanton
The religious superstitions of women perpetuate their bondage more than all other adverse influences. Elizabeth Cady Stanton
When we consider that women are treated as property, it is degrading to women that we should treat our children as property to be disposed of as we see fit. Elizabeth Cady Stanton
There must be a remedy even for such a crying evil as this. But where shall it be found, at least where begin, if not in the complete enfranchisement and elevation of women? Elizabeth Cady Stanton
Film - Not for Ourselves Alone
Spencer Timothy Hall’s first wife Sarah died nine months after their marriage – was this in childbirth? – and was the child born of this union Elizabeth (Eliza) Hetty Hall Wagstaff? Spencer Timothy Hall then married again, in 1861, to Mary Julia Grimley (1836-?) (Ancestry.co.uk) – was she the Mary J Hall who homeopathically treated Elizabeth Cady Stanton when she visited London in 1883 (Elizabeth Cady Stanton, Ann Dexter Gordon (Ed.), Selected Papers of Elizabeth Cady Stanton & Susan B. Anthony: When Clowns Make Laws for Queens, 1880 to 1887, (Rutgers University Press, 25 Sep 2006). Page 297)? Was Mary Julia Grimley Hall also the step mother of Elizabeth (Eliza) Hetty Hall Wagstaff?