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This Date In Central Minnesota History – March 28th, 1870

Photo from Library of Congress

ST. CLOUD – March 28th, 1870 Elizabeth Cady Stanton, abolitionist and women’s rights activist, visited St. Cloud

Along with Susan B. Anthony, Elizabeth Cady Stanton may be the best known leader of the women’s movement in the U.S.  Her speech at the first women’s rights convention held in Seneca Falls, New York in 1848, is often credited with initiating the first organized women’s suffrage movements in the U.S.

Stanton wanted more than just voting rights for women.  Other issues that she rallied for were women’s parental and custody rights, divorce laws, birth control, employment and income rights, and property rights for women.

Elizabeth Cady Stanton came to St. Cloud on March 28, 1870 and delivered a speech on women’s rights titled “Open The Door”.  She persuaded that many doors be opened: “the church door, the door to all employments, the door to equal wages, the door to the ballot, and so on.”  While in town she stayed with Captain Josiah E. West, and a number of guests gathered at his home after the lecture.  At Stanton’s suggestion, a Women’s Suffrage Association was organized that night, with many prominent women, and men, becoming members.  They invited “all persons who desire to aid in elevating woman that she may be able to elevate her fellow man” to join them.

This was Stanton’s first visit to St. Cloud.  She came again on December 5, 1872.  Her lecture on this second visit was called “The Coming Girl” and she urged women to “stop lacing and let their waists be as nature intended”, to stay away from cosmetics, and to get a job so that they could provide for themselves.   In 1878 she and Susan B. Anthony drafted the 19th Amendment to give women the right to vote.  It wouldn’t pass until forty-one years later, and was finally ratified on August 18, 1920.

Thanks to Sarah Warmka and the Stearns History Museum for their help with our series, “This Date In Central Minnesota History”.

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