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The dual legacy of Elizabeth Cady Stanton

By Cathy Hoult


The purpose of this thesis is to examine the impact of Elizabeth Cady Stanton on her peers and subsequent generations involved in the fight for equality for women. Stanton's historical legacy has been obscured by her demand for the vote at the 1848 Seneca Falls Convention and as a result, scholars have failed to engage in a detailed discussion of her significance. This project argues that Stanton's importance was twofold in nature, suggesting that the creation of the American women's rights movement and the development of an ideological vision for the equality of women, are in fact two distinct aspects of Stanton's legacy. As Stanton's philosophy directed the first generation of women to seek a broad range of goals for equality, including the right to vote, the inherent separation that existed between the women's rights movement and Stanton's ideas was initially concealed. However, the eventual rejection by the woman suffrage movement of Stanton's broad ideological platform in favour of the single issue of suffrage, illustrates the duality of her legacy. It is only by recognising and then by examining the two distinct areas of her legacy, her wide-ranging ideas for change, and the resulting women's rights movement, that Stanton's influence can be analysed and appreciated. Stanton's impact is highlighted through a series of case studies of selected individuals who can be connected to Stanton. The early character studies provide the opportunity to delve into the formation of Stanton's ideas and to briefly discuss the development of the women's rights movement. The later studies will expand on this base by tracing the process of transfer and evolution of Stanton's ideology, discussing the interaction between the organisation that she had established and her agenda for equality

Publisher: University of Leicester
Year: 2007
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