Lucy Stone biography
Born in Massachusetts in 1818, Lucy Stone dedicated her life to improving the rights of American women. She supported the Women's National Loyal League, which was founded by Elizabeth Cady Stanton and Susan B. Anthony, and in 1866, she helped found the American Equal Rights Association. She also organized and was elected president of the New Jersey Woman Suffrage Association, and spent her life serving the cause. Stone died 30 years before women were finally permitted to vote (August 1920), on October 18, 1893, in Dorchester, Massachusetts.
Influential women's rights activist and abolitionist Lucy Stone was born on August 13, 1818, in West Brookfield, Massachusetts. The sixth of Francis Stone and Hannah Matthews's nine children, Lucy Stone was steeped early on in life the virtues of fighting against slavery from her parents, both committed abolitionists. Smart and clearly driven, Stone was also unafraid to rebel against her parents' wishes. Having watched her older brothers attend college, the 16-year-old Stone defied her parents and pursued a higher education.
In 1839, Stone attended Mount Holyoke Seminary for just one term. Four years later, she enrolled at Oberlin College in Ohio. While Oberlin touted itself as a progressive institution, the school did not offer a level playing field for women. As a result, the college denied Stone the opportunity to pursue her passion in public speaking. Undeterred, Stone, who paid her way through school, graduated in 1847 with honors, becoming the first woman from Massachusetts to earn a bachelor's degree.
Under the direction of William Lloyd Garrison, whom she'd met while at Oberlin, Stone soon found work with the American Anti-Slavery Society. Her work with the organization tapped into her continued and heightened passion to eradicate slavery. It also launched her career as a public speaker.
While she was regularly heckled by opponents (she was even ex-communicated by the Congregational Church), Stone emerged as an outspoken voice in the anti-slavery movement and, more significantly, the women's rights cause.
In 1850, the pioneering Stone convened the first national Women's Rights Convention. Held in Worcester, Massachusetts, the event was hailed as a significant moment for American women, and Stone was a celebrated leader. He speech at the convention was reprinted in newspapers nationwide.
For the next five years, Stone, who was paid well for her speeches, kept up a relentless schedule, traveling throughout North America to lecture about women's rights while continuing to hold her annual convention.
Later, Stone worked extensively on suffrage issues in Kansas and became president of the New Jersey Woman Suffrage Association (which became the League of Women Voters of New Jersey in 1920). She also launched a New England chapter of the National Woman Suffrage Association and, in 1866, helped found the American Equal Rights Association.
In 1855, Stone married Henry Blackwell, a committed abolitionist who'd spent two long years trying to convince Stone to marry him.
In typical Stone fashion, she used the wedding ceremony to voice her protest against marital law by not taking her husband's last name. "A wife should no more take her husband's name than he should hers," she explained. "My name is my identity and must not be lost."
The couple resided in Boston, Massachusetts, and became the parents of a daughter, Alice Stone Blackwell.
As with any high-profile political movement, fissures emerged. After the Civil War, Stone found herself at odds with Susan B. Anthony and Elizabeth Cady Stanton, both former allies who deeply opposed Stone's support for the 15th Amendment. While the amendment only guaranteed black men the right to vote, Stone backed it, reasoning that it would eventually lead to the women's vote as well. Anthony and Stanton strongly disagreed; they felt that the amendment was a half-measure, and resented what they perceived as Stone's betrayal of the women's rights movement.
In 1890, however, thanks in large part to the hard work of Stone's daughter, Alice, and Stanton's daughter, Harriot Stanton Blatch, the women's rights movement reunified.
While Stone did live to see the end of slavery, she died 30 years before women were finally permitted to vote (August 1920), on October 18, 1893, in Dorchester, Massachusetts. Her ashes were buried at Boston's Forest Hill Cemetery.