Brilliant, self-righteous, charismatic, intimidating, and charming, Elizabeth Cady Stanton was the founding philosopher of the American movement for woman’s rights. To many she was a dangerous radical, whose words threatened men’s exclusive control over politics, the stability of marriage, and the sanctity of religion. In advocating women’s right to vote at the Seneca Falls convention in 1848, she expressed the radical possibilities of American liberalism; at the same time, in her refusal to examine closely the racist and elitist implications of some of her most deeply held beliefs, she exposed the limitations of the feminism she would help make part of the very air we breathe. Lori Ginzberg, author of Elizabeth Cady Stanton: An American Life (Farrar, Straus, and Giroux, 2009), will explore some of these implications for our understanding of the vote, of individualism, and of Stanton herself.
Lori D. Ginzberg is professor of history and women’s studies at Penn State University with a longstanding interest in the intellectual and political history of American women. She is the author of several books, including Women and the Work of Benevolence: Morality, Politics, and Class in the 19th-century United States (Yale, 1990) and Untidy Origins: A Story of Woman’s Rights in Antebellum New York (UNC, 2005).