The awakening of Elizabeth Cady Stanton: Part I

This is the first part of a series about the awakening of Elizabeth Cady Stanton, in her own words:

Elizabeth Cady StantonWHEN I was eleven years old two events occurred which changed the current of my life. My only brother, who had just graduated from Union College, came home to die. A young man of great talent and promise, he was the pride of my father’s heart. We early felt that his son filled a larger place in our father’s affections and future plans than the five daughters together.

Well do I remember how tenderly he watched my brother in his last illness, the sighs and tears he gave vent to as he slowly walked up and down the hall, and, when the last sad moment came, and we were all assembled to say farewell in the silent chamber of death, how broken were his utterances as he knelt and prayed for comfort and support. I still recall, too, going into the large darkened parlor to see my brother, and finding the casket, mirrors, and pictures all draped in white, and my father seated by his side, pale, immovable.

As he took no notice of me, after standing a long while, I climbed upon his knee, when he mechanically put his arm about me and, with my head resting against his beating heart, we both sat in silence, he thinking of the wreck of all his hopes in the loss of a dear son, and I wondering what could be Eleazer L. Cady, who took the degree of A.B. at Union College in 1826, and died the same year from the effects of an accident.

At length he heaved a deep sigh and said: ” Oh, my daughter, would that you were a boy!”

Then and there I resolved that I would not give so much time as heretofore to play, but would study and strive to be at the head of all my classes and thus delight my father’s heart. All that day and far into the night I pondered the problem of boyhood. I thought that the chief thing to be done in order to equal boys was to be learned and courageous. So I decided to study Greek and learn to manage a horse. Having formed this conclusion I fell asleep. My resolutions, unlike many such made at night, did not vanish with the coming dawn. I arose early and hastened to put them into execution. They were resolutions never to be forgotten — destined to mold my character anew…

The full text of Elizabeth Cady Stanton’s writings about this part of her life. Follow news and views of the suffrage movement on Suffrage Wagon.

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2 responses to “The awakening of Elizabeth Cady Stanton: Part I

  1. So, we aren’t alone in waking up. For every Elizabeth Cady Stanton there were thousands of thousands of others who didn’t question their imprisonment back then. No wonder they didn’t want women to get educations. Someone must have figured out that girls and women would take education seriously and one day, like today, we’re graduating at record numbers from school and are still paid less and not taken seriously. The old guard is holding on by a thread. Meanwhile, we keep on trucking.

  2. Amazing insight from Elizabeth Cady Stanton. I’m looking forward to reading more of her work.

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