Elizabeth Cady Stanton

1815 - 1902

 Even among the brilliant and courageous women celebrated in Annie Laurie Gaylor's book "Women Without Superstition, No Gods, No Masters" published by the Freedom From Religion Foundation, Elizabeth Cady Stanton is in a class of her own for the range and depth of her contribution to freethought and women's rights. A selection of her writings are published in the book, from which the exerpts below are but a taste.

In The Degraded Status of Women in the Bible 1896 she wrote:-

"I have endeavoured to dissipate these religious superstitions from the minds of women, and base their faith on science and reason, where I found for myself at last that peace and comfort I could never find in the Bible and the church.... The less they believe, the better for their own happiness and development....

For fifty years the women of this nation have tried to dam up this deadly stream that poisons all their lives, but thus far they have lacked the insight or courage to follow it back to its source and there strike the blow at the fountain of all tyranny, religious superstition, priestly power, and the canon law.
From "The Degraded Status of Woman in the Bible," 1896


"THE FIRST TO CALL FOR WOMAN SUFFRAGE in the United States, Elizabeth Cady Stanton devoted her life to freeing women not only from legal constraints, but from superstition. She was the first woman candidate for the US House of Representatives.

She authored the very text of the Nineteenth Amendment guaranteeing women's right to vote. More recognized and famous in her day than Susan B. Anthony, she has been neglected, comparatively, by later generations, while Anthony, her more conservative "coadjutor," is a household name, her likeness appearing on the dollar piece, her birthday still observed. Elizabeth's outspoken criticism of religion resulted in suppression of her contributions to the revolution of women, just as Thomas Paine's anti-theological Age of Reason resulted in diminution of Paine's role in the American Revolution.

'Frightened to death' by a religious evangelist at fifteenm, att 24 she experienced the humiliation of being denied status as delegates by clerics and male abolitionists, "curtained off and not permitted to speak" at an anti slavery convention in London. At 32 she worked with other women's rights activists she instigated and planned the first woman's rights convention  She flouted the biblical dress code by wearing 'Turkish' trousers, but only in private because of publicly torment. She had begun her lifelong campaigning for unpopular causes probably the most trenchant being criticism of religion and particularly its attitude to and treatment of women, and later for women's suffrage - working, writing and speaking.


These are quotations from Annie Gaylor book:- :-


"It was an unusual Stanton speech, address or article written for publication which did not at least make a passing reference to the harm of religion, whether her subject was slavery, marriage and divorce laws, or even  her contemplation of "The Pleasures of Age."


As early as early as her 1860 "Antislavery" address, she invited those enslaved by the bondage of original sin to be "born into the kingdom of reason and free thought.""


"Her belief was "Grounded on science, common sense, and love of humanity," not "fears of the torments of hell and promises of the joys of heaven""


Towards the conclusion of her life, she quipped: " I am most truly a protestant, for I protest indifferently against all systems and all sects.""


"...lecturing before the Free Religious Association and Liberal Leagues. She was on terms of warm friendship with the leading freethinkers of the nineteenth century, from Ernestine Rose, and Robert G Ingersoll to  Charles Bradlaugh.


Among her many books and articles are 'The Woman's Bible' , "The degraded Status of Women in the Bible" and "Elizabeth Cady Stanton: a Free thought Reader" many excerpts of which are published in Women Without Superstition including


"Religion for Women And Children" which was written in 1886