Elizabeth Cady Stanton
"A FEARLESS, SERENE
1815 - 1902
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.
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,"
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.
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.
are quotations from Annie Gaylor book:- :-
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."
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.""
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""
the conclusion of her life, she quipped: " I am most truly a
protestant, for I protest indifferently against all systems and all
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
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
for Women And Children" which was written in 1886