Voices of Democracy 2 (2007): 152‐169 Stillion Southard 152
ELIZABETH CADY STANTON, "ADDRESS ON WOMAN'S RIGHTS" (September 1848) Belinda A. Stillion Southard University of Maryland Abstract: This essay attends to the transformative power of Elizabeth Cady Stanton's first major public speech, in which she grounds her arguments in natural rights, adopts an embellished speaking style, and employs a narrative form in her conclusion to invite her audience to participate in her prophetic vision of massive transformation. The ideological tensions promoted in Stanton's Address on Woman's Rights speech persisted throughout the woman's rights movement into the twentieth century. Key Words: natural rights, morality, sentimental style, prophetic persona Elizabeth Cady Stanton is considered the "greatest speaker" of the early woman's rights movement.1 She helped organize the first woman's rights convention, she drafted and presented the first woman's rights charter, and she founded multiple woman's rights organizations, remaining in the public eye as a leader of the movement for more than fifty years. Thus, her first formal public address, "Address on Woman's Rights," delivered in 1848, is a key text not only for understanding early woman's rights ideology, but also for understanding what drove one of our nation's most prominent social movement leaders. This study takes a historical approach to illuminate the transformative power of Stanton's first major public speech, her "Address on Woman's Rights, 1848." To that end, I situate the address within the gendered context of 1848, detailing the social, political, and ideological forces at play in the historical moment. Additionally, I discuss ...
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