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Elizabeth Cady Stanton: An American Life by…
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Elizabeth Cady Stanton: An American Life

by Lori D. Ginzberg

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Stanton is best known for organizing the first woman's rights convention in Seneca Falls, where she lived, in 1848 along with Lucretia Mott, Jane Hunt, MaryAnn M'clintock and Martha Wright. Although she was not Quaker like the others, she befriended Mott in London at the World Anti-Slavery Convention and was invited to tea when Mott visited her sisters and friends in Waterloo New York. This became the springboard for Stanton's life work, the rights of women in 19th century America.

Ginzberg does an admirable job of fleshing out the life of Stanton, in writing of her complicated relationships and her difficult personality. Ginzberg admits in the foreward that she did not identify with her, revere her or hate her. Damning with faint praise? No. Ginzberg merely lays out the framework of this biography, warning you that if you want the dirt it isn't here; if you want the laudatory bio it isn't here. What you get is a complicated explanation of a complicated woman, one with such a superior mind that she framed her arguments and then moved on. Stanton moved so far beyond suffrage that she often incurred the wrath of her best friend Susan B. Anthony who felt that no other rights could be obtained until suffrage was won. Stanton, like Matilda Gage, believed that organized religions suppressed the rights of women for their own purposes and used the bible to condone it. Stanton rebutted this by writing "The Woman's Bible" , while Gage wrote "Woman, church and state" to belie clerical belief.

If you only read one biography on Stanton, this may not be the one for you. Having read several and having served on the Stanton Foundation in Seneca Falls I felt I had a good foundation of information before reading this book. It is a slight volume and my only complaint is that I would have liked more because there is so much more we could learn about this force of nature. ( )
  book58lover | Apr 13, 2010 |
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Amazon.com Product Description (ISBN 0809094932, Hardcover)

Elizabeth Cady Stanton was a brilliant activist-intellectual. That nearly all of her ideas—that women are entitled to seek an education, to own property, to get a divorce, and to vote—are now commonplace is in large part because she worked tirelessly to extend the nation’s promise of radical individualism to women.
 
In this subtly crafted biography, the historian Lori D. Ginzberg narrates the life of a woman of great charm, enormous appetite, and extraordinary intellectual gifts who turned the limitations placed on women like herself into a universal philosophy of equal rights. Few could match Stanton’s self-confidence; loving an argument, she rarely wavered in her assumption that she had won. But she was no secular saint, and her positions were not always on the side of the broadest possible conception of justice and social change. Elitism runs through Stanton’s life and thought, defined most often by class, frequently by race, and always by intellect. Even her closest friends found her absolutism both thrilling and exasperating, for Stanton could be an excellent ally and a bothersome menace, sometimes simultaneously. At once critical and admiring, Ginzberg captures Stanton’s ambiguous place in the world of reformers and intellectuals, describes how she changed the world, and suggests that Stanton left a mixed legacy that continues to haunt American feminism.

(retrieved from Amazon Mon, 30 Sep 2013 14:17:30 -0400)

In this subtly crafted biography, the historian Lori D. Ginzberg narrates the life of a woman of great charm, enormous appetite, and extraordinary intellectual gifts who turned the limitations placed on women like herself into a universal philosophy of equal rights.… (more)

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