There is nothing more personal than letters. They are a great way to get a true insight
into the world of the person who is writing them. This is the case with the letters of
Elizabeth Cady Stanton to Susan B. Anthony. Her letters show how much the movement
meant to her, and the role that Susan B. Anthony played in her life. She also wrote about
baking, washing dishes, and sewing, showing that in addition to being a important part of
one of the biggest social movements of our time, she was also a mother, a wife, and a
Seneca Falls, December 1, 1853
Can you get any acute lawyer - perhaps Judge Hay is the man - sufficiently
interested on our movement to look up just eight laws concerning us - the
very worst in all the code? I can generalize and philosophize easily enough
of myself; but the details of the particular laws I need, I have not time to
look up. You see, while I am about the house, surrounded by my children, washing dishes, baking, sewing, etc., I can think up many points, but I
cannot search books, for my hands as well as my brains would be
necessary for that work.
If I can, I shall go to Rochester
as soon as I have finished my Address and
submit it - and the Appeal too for that matter - to Channing's criticism. But prepare yourself to be disappointed in its merits, for I seldom have one hour undisturbed in which to sit down and write. Men who can, when they wish to
write a document, shut themselves up for days with their thoughts and their
books, know little of what difficulties a woman must surmount to get off a tolerable production."
Peterboro, September 10, 1855
I wish that I were as free as you
and I would stump the state in a twinkling. But I am not, and what
is more, I passed through a terrible scourging when last at my father's. I cannot tell you how deep
the iron entered my soul. I never felt more keenly the degradation of my sex. To think that all in me
which my father would have felt a proper pride had I been a man, is deeply mortifying to him because
I am a woman.
That thought has stung me to a fierce
decision - to speak as soon as I can do myself credit. But the pressure
on me just now is too great. Henry sides with my friends, who oppose me
in all that is dearest
to my heart. They are not willing that I should write even on the woman question. But I will both write and speak. I wish you to consider this letter strictly confidential.
Sometimes, Susan, I struggle in deep waters.
I have rewritten my "Indian," and
given it into the hands of Oliver Johnson, who has promised to see
it safely in the Tribune. I have sent him another article on the "Widow's Teaspoons," and I have mailed you one of mine which appeared in the Buffalo Democracy. I have sent six articles to the Tribune, and three have already appeared. I have promised to write for the Una...
I read and write a good deal, as you see. But there are grievous interruptions. However, a good time is coming and my future is always bright and beautiful. Good night.
As ever your friend, sincere and
Seneca Falls, July 4, 1858
I went to Junius and read my address
on suffrage, which was pronounced very fine. I feel that two or three such
meetings would put me on my feet. But, oh, Susan, my hopes of leisure were
The cook's brother was taken sick with a fever a few days after you left, and she was obliged to go home. So I have done my work aided by a little girl ever since. But I went to Junius in spite of it all.
I see that Mr. Higginson belongs
to the Jeremy Bentham school, that law makes right. I am a disciple
of the new philosophy that man's wants make his rights. I consider my right to property, to suffrage,
etc., as natural and inalienable as my right to life and to liberty. Man is above all law. The province
of law is simply to protect me in what is mine.
Seneca Falls, December 23, 1859
Where are you? Since a week ago
last Monday, I have looked for you every day. I had the washing
put off, we cooked a turkey, I made a pie in the morning, sent my first-born to the
depot and put clean aprons on the children, but lo! you did not come. Nor did you soften the rough angles of our disappointment by one solitary line of excuse. And it would do me such great good to see some reformers just now.
The death of my father, the worse
than death of my dear Cousin Gerrit, the martyrdom of that grand and glorious
John Brown - all this conspires to make
me regret more than ever my dwarfed womanhood.
In times like these, everyone should
do the work of a full-grown man. When I pass the gate of the celestial
city and good Peter asks me where I would sit, I
shall say, "Anywhere, so that I am neither a negro nor a woman. Confer on me, good angel, the glory of white manhood so that henceforth, sitting or standing, rising up or lying down, I may enjoy the most unlimited freedom." Good night.
Susan B. Anthony Center For Women's Leadership. Rochester University. 3 April 2002.
Source For Background and Animation:
Animation. Bugs. 3 April 2002.
Background. Tile 17.
16 March 2002.