December 5th, 1872 - Elizabeth Cady Stanton, abolitionist and women’s rights activist, visited St. Cloud.

On this date, December 5th, in 1872, prominent abolitionist and women’s rights activist Elizabeth Cady Stanton visited St. Cloud to deliver a lecture titled “The Coming Girl.” In her speech, Stanton advised the women of the next generation about how they could better themselves and achieve their dreams. In her address, Stanton advised against the use of makeup, saying that such things were “ruinous to the complexion.” (In place of cosmetics, she recommended “eating roast beef”) She also spoke in about one of her most important causes, women’s suffrage. Stanton believed that if women were allowed to vote, “they [women] would do away with a multitude of evils; and would purify politics.” It was Stanton’s wish that every young woman be given the chance to live a proper and full life, as equal members of society with men.

By the time Stanton had finished her schooling at the Troy Female Seminary and found a husband, Henry Stanton (with whom she had seven children), she was still feeling unfulfilled. Stanton knew what she wanted to do, but the means to achieve her dreams were not clear. She joined forces with several other women to form the first Women’s Rights Convention, which was held in Seneca Falls in 1848. At this convention, the Declaration of Sentiments (which resembled the US Declaration of Independence) was drafted. The Declaration of Sentiments stated that women were created equal, and should therefore be treated as such. The document also demanded voting rights for women, a very controversial topic at the time the declaration was passed.

Stanton would continue her campaign for women’s rights for many years, working with other iconic figures such as Susan B. Anthony as part of the temperance movement, and later for women’s suffrage. The two made an excellent team, and they worked together for the remaining years of Stanton’s life. Stanton and Anthony along with others wrote many books, pamphlets, and articles in support of women’s rights, including suffrage.

In 1902, and sadly about 18 years before women would finally be granted the right to vote, Stanton died. In a bit of poetic justice, Stanton’s daughters were able to receive the formal college education that Stanton herself never had.

Thanks to the Stearns History Museum,  and volunteer Spencer Brown, for their help with our series “This Date in Central Minnesota History” on WJON.

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