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 how these forces, along with Stanton 's privileged
Cited: from Campbell, Man Cannot, 2:38. 46 Ibid., 2:37‐38. 47 The Holy Bible, New International Version, (Nashville, TN: Broadman & Holman Publishers, 1986), Genesis 1:27, 2. 48 See Kerber, Women of the Republic. 49 For a full discussion of the sentimental style, see Edwin Black, "The Sentimental Style as Escapism, or the Devil with Dan 'l Webster," in Form and Genre: Shaping Rhetorical Action, Karlyn Kohrs Campbell and Kathleen Hall Jamieson, eds. (Annandale, VA: Speech Communication Association, 1978), 75‐86. 50 Phyllis M. Japp, "Esther or Isaiah?: Abolitionist‐Feminist Rhetoric of Angelina Grimké," in Quarterly Journal of Speech, 71 (1985), 342. 51 Ibid., 343. 52 See Browne, "Violent Inventions: Witnessing Slavery in the Pennsylvania Hall Address," in Angelina Grimké, 139‐65. 53 Ibid., 1:63. 54 See James Darsey, The Prophetic Tradition and Radical Rhetoric in America (New York: New York University Press, 1997). 55 Susan Schultz Huxman, "Perfecting the Rhetorical Vision of Woman 's Rights: Elizabeth Cady Stanton, Anna Howard Shaw, and Carrie Chapman Catt" in Women 's Studies in Communication, 23 (3) (2000): 310. 56 See editorial note provided by the Stanton and Anthony Papers Project Online. Rutgers University. . 57 Huxman, "Perfecting the Rhetorical Vision," 315. 58 Campbell, Man Cannot, 2:41. 59 Flexner, Century of Struggle, 145‐46. 60 For a full history of first‐wave feminism, see Flexner and Fitzpatrick, Century of Struggle. Voices of Democracy 2 (2007): 152‐169 Stillion Southard 169 61 Ibid. 62 Flexner, Century of Struggle, 176. 63 For a full discussion of pro‐ERA and STOP ERA arguments, see Sonja K. Foss, "The Equal Rights Controversy: Two Worlds in Conflict," in Quarterly Journal of Speech, 65 (3) (1979), 275‐89. 64 For a full discussion of postfeminist politics, see Mary D. Vavrus, Postfeminist News: Political Women in Media Culture (Albany: State University of New York), 2002. For a full discussion of third‐wave feminism, see Natalie Fixmer and Julia T. Wood, "The Personal is Still Political: Embodied Politics in Third Wave Feminism," in Women 's Studies in Communication, 28 (2005), 235‐56. 65 Holy Bible, James 1:22, 1064.