Cady Stanton, as seen today


Cady Stanton, as seen today


Elizabeth Cady Stanton. Sheesh. In 13+ months of daily posts, I've talked around her, rarely about her. Why? “One of the most brilliant thinkers in American feminism” was also a “stomach-churning” racist & elitist.

@ProfMSinha & @EllenDubois10 had a rich exchange today. At the @MHS1791 15th/19th Amdt conf., @ProfMSinha noted that the approach to white suffragists today has moved “from hagiography to its mirror opposite.” They were sainted heroines, now they’re unforgivable racists. (Men get to be more complex, but that’s a different thread.) 

Stanton is the most confounding and enraging of the bunch. Prof. Sinha interrogated whether any of Stanton’s work, particularly her potent critique of organized religion, can be salvaged from the ashes of her incendiary racism.

For Dubois, one vehicle for that inquiry is to examine Stanton’s long friendship with Frederick Douglass. They shared a political philosophy rooted in individual liberty, a belief in the importance of Politics, and rage at being dismissed because of sex and race. 

Dubois believes Stanton saw Douglass as a fellow exceptional soul; like her, a superior American, underappreciated.

Contrast Stanton with later suffrage leaders like Carrie Catt, whose utter disregard for African Americans had her embrace white supremacy without a second thought. The contrast is important--and to me, it highlights how bitterly disappointing Stanton is.

We have a right to expect more of Stanton. She was immersed in the abolitionist movement for decades. She had both opportunity and capacity to think hard about the nature of liberty and equality. She was a political philosopher, a huge intellect. 

Carrie Chapman Catt was a product of Jim Crow; a political operative, not an intellectual. Catt didn’t have a philosophical vision to share with women in her own time, much less ours. Which doesn’t excuse her racism! But by comparison, ElizCadyStanton’s moral failure is larger -- and if she is irredeemable, it is a bigger loss.

Their engaging exchange didn’t settle the matter today. It’s not a one-panel conversation. Watch for yourself when the video is posted & register for more this week.

#19thAmendment #15thAmendment 


Daily Suffragist


Oct 12, 2020


Cady Stanton thread.png


Daily Suffragist, “Cady Stanton, as seen today,” Daily Suffragist, accessed June 20, 2024,

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