Elizabeth Cady Stanton’s childhood was a privileged one as both her mother and father were from wealthy families, and her father was a former lawyer, judge and legislator. Although the Cadys had 11 children, most did not live to adulthood, and the sole male heir died at age 20, leaving Stanton’s father distraught. Her father’s disdain at having only female children made the then 11-year-old Elizabeth determined to fight for women’s equality.
As a child in her father’s courtroom, Stanton heard her father counsel abused women to contend with the maltreatment received at the hands of husbands and fathers. She angrily observed the court’s practice of allowing husbands to control the property of their wives. These early experiences played a major role in shaping Stanton’s future role in the women’s suffrage movement.
Elizabeth attended the Troy Female Seminary, where she received a good education, and she later married the abolitionist leader Henry B. Stanton in 1840. Although she stayed home with the couple’s five children for many years, it was during this time that she authored the Declaration of Sentiments, which she presented in 1848 at the Seneca Falls Convention in New York. Historians widely credit the document with as the initial act of the women’s suffrage movement in the United States. Stanton went on to serve in the capacity of president of the National American Woman Suffrage Association from 1892 to 1900.