Elizabeth Cady Stanton was born November 12, 1815, in Johnstown, New York. She was the eighth of eleven children born to Daniel Cady and Margaret Livingston Cady. Out of the eleven children, five died in infancy or early childhood, one died at age 20, and five lived well into adulthood.
Daniel Cady was an attorney who served one term in the United States Congress (1814-1817) as well as a circuit court judge and a New York Supreme Court justice (1847). He introduced Elizabeth to the law and helped to interest her in legal and social activism. In her studies she realized “how disproportionately the law favored men over women, particularly over married women. Her realization that married women had virtually no property, income, employment, or even custody rights over their own children, helped set her course toward changing these inequities.”
Margaret Livingston Cady was a descendant of early Dutch settlers and a daughter of Colonel James Livingston of American Revolutionary War history. As an officer in the Continental, he fought at Saratoga and Quebec; he also assisted in the capture of Major John Andre at West Point, New York, where Andre and Benedict Arnold were planning to turn West Point over to the English.
Elizabeth received a formal education. She studied French, Greek, Latin, mathematics, religion, science, and writing until she was sixteen years old. She enjoyed her co-educational classes and the opportunity they gave her to compete intellectually and academically with young men her age or older. She was successful in her schooling and received several academic awards and honors. Even though she academically surpassed the young men who graduated with her, they were admitted to Union College and she enrolled in the Troy Female Seminary in Troy, New York.
Elizabeth Cady married Henry Brewster Stanton (1805-1887) in 1840; the couple became parents of six children born between 1842 and 1856. Their seventh child was born in 1859 when Elizabeth was forty-four years old. The children are: Daniel Cady Stanton (1842-1891), Henry Brewster Stanton, Jr. (1844-1903), Gerrit Smith Stanton (1845-1927), Theodore Weld Stanton (1851-1925), Margaret Livingston Stanton Lawrence (1852-1938?), Harriot Eaton Stanton Blatch (1856-1940), Robert Livingston Stanton (1859-1920).
Elizabeth enjoyed her role as mother and was the main person responsible for rearing her children, but she craved intellectual companionship and stimulation. In an effort to fight the boredom and loneliness, she became involved in her community and established ties with like-minded women in the area. She became a social activist, abolitionist, and part of the early women’s rights movement. She is credited with initiating the first organized women’s rights and women’s suffrage movements in the United States.
Elizabeth Cady Stanton died of heart failure on October 26, 1902, at her home in New York City. She was interred in Woodlawn Cemetery in the Bronx, New York. Eighteen years women were granted the right to vote in the United States. Even though Elizabeth was denied a formal college or university education, her daughters undergraduate and graduate degrees.