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Eight Women Who Fought the Fight

Eight Women Who Fought the Fight


By Karen Gibson, Cricket Media

Many women fought for women's rights in the late nineteenth and early twentieth centuries. Elizabeth Cady Stanton's contemporaries publicized women's issues, including voting, economics, public speaking - even the right to dress comfortably.

Here is a look at Cady Stanton's fellow activists.

Amelia Jenks Bloomer

A friend of Elizabeth Cady Stanton, Bloomer introduced her to Susan B. Anthony. Bloomer herself spoke on women's rights and temperance issues. She also published the first women's rights newspaper, The Lily.

But perhaps she is best remembered for introducing a new style of women's clothing. During the mid-1800s, Bloomer and her contemporaries began wearing loose pants that gathered at the ankles under a long tunic that fell below the knees. The trousers became known as bloomers. They were a comfortable and practical alternative to women's traditional clothing. This outfit, however, drew public outrage. People said that these women were trying to dress like men. So much attention was paid to this "outlandish" style instead of to political issues that many women in the suffrage movement, including Cady Stanton, stopped wearing bloomers in public.

Lucy Stone

Oberlin College in Ohio was the first American college to admit women. It was there that Stone excelled academically. School officials asked Stone to write a speech for graduation day. But the speech would have to be delivered by a man because women were not allowed to speak at a public event. Stone refused.

Stone was known as a brilliant speaker in her own right. She delivered messages on temperance, abolition, and the subject closest to her heart, women's rights. She created the American Woman Suffrage Association, considered the more modern of the two major suffrage groups, as it allowed men to join.

When the Fifteenth Amendment, which granted African American men the right to vote, was ratified, Stone disagreed with Elizabeth Cady Stanton. Cady Stanton believed the right to vote should be given to both women and African Americans in a single amendment. Stone felt that allowing African American men to vote would pave the way for women.

Victoria Woodhull

Woodhull, an avid supporter of women's rights, was the first to speak on the subject to the House Judiciary Committee. On January 11, 1871, she argued that women had a constitutional right to vote and should stop at nothing to gain their rights.

Along with her sister, Woodhull published Woodhull and Claflin's Weekly, a newspaper that supported timely, controversial issues, such as women's rights and socialism. In 1872, Woodhull became the first woman to run for president, on the People's Party ticket. Abolitionist Frederick Douglass was her running mate.

Ernestine Rose

Ernestine Rose, known as "Queen of the Platform," was one of the first women to battle for economic equality through legislative action. A daughter of a Polish rabbi, she moved with her husband to New York in 1836. That same year Rose petitioned the New York State Legislature to allow married women to own property. Twelve years later, New York granted married women property rights. By 1850, most states allowed married women to own some property.

Sojourner Truth

The former Isabella Baumfree gained her freedom from slavery in 1827 when she was about thirty years old. She had a vision that her life's work was to speak against slavery. She renamed herself Sojourner (meaning traveler) Truth because she spoke honestly and from the heart. Truth became a moving speaker who gave perhaps one of the most famous women's rights speeches called "And Ain't I a Woman?" at an 1851 women's rights convention.

Truth and Cady Stanton believed that the Fifteenth Amendment meant more bondage for African American women. Both argued that all women, white and African American, should be given the right to vote.

Belva Lockwood

Lockwood was America's first woman licensed to practice law, admitted to the profession in 1879 by the U.S. Supreme Court. She had a long, illustrious career that included championing the rights of others. In 1884, Lockwood ran for president as a candidate of the National Equal Rights Party. She received a respectable four thousand votes and ran again in 1888.

Angelina and Sarah Grimkè

Many prominent women in the feminist movement owed their right to speak in public to the Grimkè sisters. The first female orators, Angelina and Sarah were daughters of a southern slave owner. Yet, they spoke out against slavery. Because public speaking was considered man's work, the sisters had to leave the South.

In 1838, Angelina became the first woman to address a legislative body. She presented to the Massachusetts legislature an anti-slavery petition signed by twenty thousand women. The sisters' experiences with abolition and public speaking led them to become involved in women's rights. Indeed, Sarah said, "Whatever is right for a man to do is right for a woman to do."




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