Through the Looking Glass Children's Book Reviews

Elizabeth Cady Stanton: Social Reformer

Elizabeth Cady Stanton: Social Reformer

Michael Burgan
Nonfiction  Series
For ages 12 and up
Capstone Press, 2006   ISBN: 978-0756509903

From the time when she was a little girl, Elizabeth Cady Stanton felt strongly that girls and women were not treated fairly. She wanted to play the same games the boys played. But she was not allowed to. And she wanted to have a decent education. She wanted to learn Greek, Latin, and the other subjects that the boys she knew were learning in school. Luckily her father allowed her to supplement her studies as she wanted, but he still regretted that she wasn't a boy.

As she grew into a young woman, Elizabeth began to take an interest in social problems. Her cousin Gerrit Smith and his friends were active in the abolitionist movement and Elizabeth was attracted to what they were doing. She went to meetings and events, and she agreed with what was said, though she did have one concern. It was right that people should fight to end slavery, but what about women? They too were oppressed. They could not vote and they could not speak in public. All their worldly goods became the property their husband when they married. If they got a paid job all their earnings became the property of their husband. It did not seem right that all these good and well-meaning people were not talking about the rights of women as well as the rights of African-Americans. After all, many women lived in a form of slavery for most of their lives.

At an anti-slavery convention in London the women delegates were not allowed to speak and they had to sit behind a curtain during the speeches. This infuriated Elizabeth and many other women who were present. Elizabeth ended up meeting several women who were determined to do something to improve the lot of women, and when she went back home she began to communicate with these women, especially Lucretia Mott, to see what they could do for the cause of women's rights.

In this book Michael Burgan helps his readers to see that Elizabeth Cady Stanton was way ahead of her times. Not only did she believe that women should have the right to vote, but she also believed that women should be allowed to have control over their health, and they should be able to decide whether or not they had children. She also angered leader in the church when she said that she believed that the writers of the bible deliberately said things to keep women oppressed. Though her words upset a lot of people, including close friends, Elizabeth Cady Stanton did not back down.

Wonderfully written and full of background information about Elizabeth Cady Stanton's times and associates, this is splendid biography for young people who have an interest in the history of the women's rights movement.