New York’s Central Park unveiled a statue of women’s rights pioneers Susan B. Anthony, Elizabeth Cady Stanton and Sojourner Truth in March 2020 in honor of Women’s History Month. It was many years in the making. Central Park in New York is 160 years old and has never had a statue of real women in its illustrious history.
Three women were chosen to be the first women honored with a statue in Central Park. Most Americans have no idea who these pioneering, courageous, and brilliant women are. Take a few moments to learn or renew your knowledge of the sacrifice and dedication these women gave to our nation.
Who are these three infamous women in American History that were so illustrious their statues are the only women statues in Central Park?
This information is extracted and cited from Wikipedia.com. (They had great information!)
Who Was Susan B. Anthony?
Susan B. Anthony (1820-1906) was a suffragist, abolitionist, author and speaker who was the president of the National American Woman Suffrage Association. She was an American writer, lecturer and abolitionist who was a leading figure in the women’s voting rights movement. She later partnered with Elizabeth Cady Stanton and would eventually lead the National American Woman Suffrage Association.
Planting The Seeds of Social Justice. Anthony’s Early Life
Anthony grew up on a farm on the outskirts of Rochester, New York, in a Quaker family and developed a strong moral, social justice compass early on, spending much of her life working on social causes. The Anthony farmstead soon became the Sunday afternoon gathering place for local activists, including Frederick Douglass, a former slave and a prominent abolitionist who became Anthony’s lifelong friend.
In 1851, she played a key role in organizing an anti-slavery convention in Rochester. She was also part of the Underground Railroad. An entry in her diary in 1861 read, “Fitted out a fugitive slave for Canada with the help of Harriet Tubman. In 1856, Anthony began working as an agent for the American Anti-Slavery Society. She spent years promoting abolition up until the Civil War. She had rotten eggs thrown at her, benches broken, and knives and pistols gleamed when she spoke many times.
The Dynamic Duo Meets In Seneca Falls
In 1851, Anthony was introduced to Elizabeth Cady Stanton, who had been one of the organizers of the Seneca Falls Convention and had introduced the controversial resolution in support of women’s suffrage. Anthony and Stanton soon became close friends and co-workers, forming a relationship that was pivotal for them and for the women’s movement as a whole. After the Stantons moved from Seneca Falls to New York City in 1861, a room was set aside for Anthony in every house they lived in.
Anthony delivered hundreds of speeches each year across America for most of her life. With the press treating her as a celebrity, she proved to be a major draw across America. Travel conditions in the earlier days were sometimes appalling. Once she gave a speech from the top of a billiard table. On another occasion her train was snowbound for days, and she survived on crackers and dried fish.
The two women had complementary skills. Anthony excelled at organizing, while Stanton had an aptitude for intellectual matters and writing. Anthony was dissatisfied with her own writing ability and wrote relatively little for publication.
Because Stanton was homebound with seven children while Anthony was unmarried and free to travel, Anthony assisted Stanton by supervising her children while Stanton wrote. Susan became one of the family and was almost another mother to Mrs. Stanton’s children. A biography of Stanton says that during the early years of their relationship that Stanton provided the ideas, rhetoric, and strategy; Anthony delivered the speeches, circulated petitions, and rented the halls. Anthony prodded and Stanton produced. Stanton’s husband said, “Susan stirred the puddings, Elizabeth stirred up Susan, and then Susan stirs up the world!” Stanton herself said, “I forged the thunderbolts, she fired them.”
The National Suffrage Movement
By the end of the Civil War Susan B. Anthony occupied new social and political territory. She was emerging on the national scene as a female leader, something new in American history, and she did so as a single woman in a culture that perceived the spinster as anomalous and unguarded. By the 1880s, she was among the senior political figures in the United States.
Anthony was arrested on November 18, 1872, by a U.S. Deputy Marshal and charged with illegally voting. The other women who had voted were also arrested but released pending the outcome of Anthony’s trial. Anthony’s trial generated a national controversy and became a major step in the transition of the broader women’s rights movement into the women’s suffrage movement.
Anthony was proud to be a criminal convicted for illegally voting. She refused to pay the$100 fine as an additional penalty.
Susan B. Anthony’s Legacy and Her Death
Having lived for years in hotels and with friends and relatives, Anthony agreed to settle into her sister Mary Stafford Anthony’s house in Rochester in 1891, at the age of 71. Her energy and stamina, which sometimes exhausted her co-workers, continued at a remarkable level. At age 75, she toured Yosemite National Park on the back of a mule.
In 1896, she spent eight months on the California suffrage campaign, speaking as many as three times per day in more than 30 localities. In 1900, she presided over her last NAWSA convention. During the six remaining years of her life, Anthony spoke at six more NAWSA conventions and four congressional hearings, completed the fourth volume of the History of Woman Suffrage, and traveled to eighteen states and to Europe. As Anthony’s fame grew, some politicians (certainly not all of them) were happy to be publicly associated with her. Her seventieth birthday was celebrated at a national event in Washington with prominent members of the House and Senate in attendance. Her eightieth birthday was celebrated at the White House at the invitation of President William McKinley.
Susan B. Anthony died at the age of 86 of heart failure and pneumonia in her home in Rochester, New York, on March 13, 1906. She was buried at Mount Hope Cemetery, Rochester. At her birthday celebration in Washington D.C. a few days earlier, Anthony had spoken of those who had worked with her for women’s rights: “There have been others also just as true and devoted to the cause—I wish I could name every one—but with such women consecrating their lives, failure is impossible!” “Failure is impossible” quickly became a watchword for the women’s movement.
The Nineteenth Amendment, which enumerated the right of American women to vote, was colloquially known as the Susan B. Anthony Amendment.
Who Was Elizabeth Cady Stanton?
Elizabeth Cady Stanton (1815–1902) was an American suffragist, social activist, abolitionist, and leading figure of the early women’s rights movement. Her Declaration of Sentiments, presented at the Seneca Falls Convention held in 1848 in Seneca Falls, New York, is often credited with initiating the first organized women’s rights and women’s suffrage movements in the United States. Stanton was president of the National American Woman Suffrage Association from 1890 until 1892.
Planting The Seeds of Social Justice. Cady Stanton’s Early Life
Daniel Cady, Stanton’s father, was a prominent Federalist attorney who served one term in the United States Congress (1814–1817) and then became both a circuit court judge and, in 1847, a New York Supreme Court justice. Judge Cady introduced his daughter to the law and, together with her brother-in-law, Edward Bayard, planted the early seeds that grew into her legal and social activism. Even as a young girl, she enjoyed reading her father’s law books and debating legal issues with his law clerks. It was this early exposure to law that, in part, caused Stanton to realize how disproportionately the law favored men over women, particularly married women. Her realization that married women had virtually no property, income, employment, or even custody rights over their own children, helped set her course toward changing these inequities.
As a young woman, Elizabeth Cady met Henry Brewster Stanton through her early involvement in the temperance and the abolition movements. The couple was married in 1840, with Elizabeth Cady requesting of the minister that the phrase “promise to obey” be removed from the wedding vows. She later wrote, “I obstinately refused to obey one with whom I supposed I was entering into an equal relation.” The couple had seven children.
While living in Boston, Elizabeth thoroughly enjoyed the social, political, and intellectual stimulation that came with a constant round of abolitionist gatherings and meetings. Here, she enjoyed the company of and was influenced by such people as Frederick Douglass, William Lloyd Garrison, Louisa May Alcott, and Ralph Waldo Emerson, among others. Stanton took her husband’s surname as part of her own, signing herself Elizabeth Cady Stanton or E. Cady Stanton, but she refused to be addressed as Mrs. Henry B. Stanton. Asserting that women were individual persons, she stated that, “the custom of calling women Mrs. John This and Mrs. Tom That and colored men Sambo and Zip Coon, is founded on the principle that white men are lords of all.”
Before Stanton narrowed her political focus almost exclusively to women’s rights, she was an active abolitionist with her husband Henry Brewster Stanton (co-founder of the Republican Party). Unlike many of those involved in the women’s rights movement, Stanton addressed various issues pertaining to women beyond voting rights. Her concerns included women’s parental and custody rights, property rights, employment and income rights, divorce, the economic health of the family, and birth control. She was also an outspoken supporter of the 19th-century temperance movement.
During the Civil War, Stanton concentrated her efforts on abolishing slavery but afterward she became even more outspoken in promoting women suffrage. In 1868, she worked with Anthony on the Revolution, a militant weekly paper. The two then formed the National Woman Suffrage Association (NWSA) in 1869.
Women’s Suffrage Convention in Washington, D.C., Elizabeth Cady Stanton, at age 52, gave a powerful speech which begins as such: “I urge a sixteenth amendment, because ‘manhood suffrage,’ or a man’s government, is civil, religious, and social disorganization. The male element is a destructive force, stern, selfish, aggrandizing, loving war, violence, conquest, acquisition, breeding in the material and moral world alike discord, disorder, disease, and death. See what a record of blood and cruelty the pages of history reveal! Through what slavery, slaughter, and sacrifice, through what inquisitions and imprisonments, pains and persecutions, black codes and gloomy creeds, the soul of humanity has struggled for the centuries, while mercy has veiled her face and all hearts have been dead alike to love and hope!”
The speech ends as such “With violence and disturbance in the natural world, we see a constant effort to maintain an equilibrium of forces. Nature, like a loving mother, is ever trying to keep land and sea, mountain and valley, each in its place, to hush the angry winds and waves, balance the extremes of heat and cold, of rain and drought, that peace, harmony, and beauty may reign supreme. There is a striking analogy between matter and mind, and the present disorganization of society warns us that in the dethronement of woman we have let loose the elements of violence and ruin that she only has the power to curb. If the civilization of the age calls for an extension of the suffrage, surely a government of the most virtuous educated men and women would better represent the whole and protect the interests of all than could the representation of either sex alone.”
Elizabeth Cady Stanton’s Death and Legacy
As a part of her work on behalf of women’s rights, Stanton often traveled to give lectures and speeches. She called for an amendment to the U.S. Constitution giving women the right to vote. Stanton also worked with Anthony on the first three volumes of the History of Woman Suffrage (1881–1886).
Besides chronicling the history of the suffrage movement, Stanton took on the role religion played in the struggle for equal rights for women. She had long argued that the Bible and organized religion played in denying women their full rights. With her daughter, Harriet Stanton Blatch, she published a critique, The Woman’s Bible, which was published in two volumes. The first volume appeared in 1895 and the second in 1898. This brought considerable protest not only from expected religious quarters but from many in the woman suffrage movement.
Stanton’s also wrote an autobiography, Eighty Years and More, Reminiscences, 1815-1897.
Stanton died on October 26, 1902. More so than many other women in that movement, she was able and willing to speak out on a wide spectrum of issues – from the primacy of legislatures over the courts and constitution to women’s right to ride bicycles – and she deserves to be recognized as one of the more remarkable individuals in American History.
Who Was Sojourner Truth?
Sojourner Truth (1797-1884) was born Isabella “Belle” Baumfree. She was born a slave and became an American abolitionist and women’s rights activist.
Planting The Seeds of Social Justice. Truth’s Early Life
Truth was born into slavery in Swartekill, New York, but escaped with her infant daughter to freedom in 1826. After going to court to recover her son in 1828, she became the first black woman to win such a case against a white man.
When Charles Hardenbergh died in 1806, nine-year-old Truth (known as Belle), was sold at an auction with a flock of sheep for $100 to John Neely, near Kingston, New York. Until that time, Truth spoke only Dutch. She later described Neely as cruel and harsh, relating how he beat her daily and once even with a bundle of rods. In 1808 Neely sold her for $105 to tavern keeper Martinus Schryver of Port Ewen, New York, who owned her for 18 months. Schryver then sold Truth in 1810 to John Dumont of West Park, New York. John Dumont was a rapist and there was a considerable tension existed between Truth and Dumont’s wife, Elizabeth Waring Dumont, who harassed her and made her life more difficult.
Around 1815, Truth met and fell in love with an enslaved man named Robert from a neighboring farm. The experience haunted Truth throughout her life. Truth eventually married an older enslaved man named Thomas. She bore five children.
Sojourner Truth’s Road From Slavery to Freedom
In 1799, the State of New York began to legislate the abolition of slavery, although the process of emancipating those people enslaved in New York was not complete until July 4, 1827. Dumont had promised to grant Truth her freedom a year before the state emancipation, “if she would do well and be faithful”. However, he changed his mind, claiming a hand injury had made her less productive. She was infuriated but continued working, spinning 100 pounds (45 kg) of wool, to satisfy her sense of obligation to him.
Late in 1826, Truth escaped to freedom with her infant daughter, Sophia. She had to leave her other children behind because they were not legally freed in the emancipation order until they had served as bound servants into their twenties. She later said, “I did not run off, for I thought that wicked, but I walked off, believing that to be all right.”
She found her way to the home of Isaac and Maria Van Wagenen in New Paltz, who took her and her baby in. Isaac offered to buy her services for the remainder of the year (until the state’s emancipation took effect), which Dumont accepted for $20.
Truth learned that her son Peter, then five years old, had been sold illegally by Dumont to an owner in Alabama. With the help of the Van Wagenens, she took the issue to court and in 1828, after months of legal proceedings, she got back her son, who had been abused by those who were enslaving him. Truth became one of the first black women to go to court against a white man and win the case.Truth had a life-changing religious experience during her stay with the Van Wagenens and became a devout Christian.
She gave herself the name Sojourner Truth in 1843 after she became convinced that God had called her to leave the city and go into the countryside “testifying the hope that was in her.”
In 1851, Truth joined George Thompson, an abolitionist and speaker, on a lecture tour through central and western New York State. In May, she attended the Ohio Women’s Rights Convention in Akron, Ohio, where she delivered her famous extemporaneous speech on women’s rights, later known as “Ain’t I a Woman?”.
Her speech demanded equal human rights for all women as well as for all blacks. Advocating for women and African Americans was dangerous and challenging enough, but being one and doing so was far more difficult. The pressures and severity of her speech did not get to Truth, however. Truth took to the stage with a demanding and composed presence. Audience members were baffled by the way she carried herself and were hesitant to believe that she was even a woman, prompting the name of her speech “Ain’t I a Woman?”
Over the next 10 years, Truth spoke before dozens, perhaps hundreds, of audiences.
During the Civil War, Truth helped recruit black troops for the Union Army. Her grandson, James Caldwell, enlisted in the 54th Massachusetts Regiment. In 1864, Truth was employed by the National Freedman’s Relief Association in Washington, D.C., where she worked diligently to improve conditions for African-Americans. In October of that year, she met President Abraham Lincoln. In 1865, while working at the Freedman’s Hospital in Washington, Truth rode in the streetcars.
In 1870, Truth tried to secure land grants from the federal government to former enslaved people, a project she pursued for seven years without success. While in Washington, D.C., she had a meeting with President Ulysses S. Grant in the White House. In 1872, she returned to Battle Creek, became active in Grant’s presidential re-election campaign, and even tried to vote on Election Day, but was turned away at the polling place.
Truth spoke about abolition, women’s rights, prison reform, and preached to the Michigan Legislature against capital punishment. Truth had many influential friends including Susan B. Anthony.
Sojourner Truth’s Death and Legacy
She is the first African American to have a statue in the Capitol building. In 2014, Truth was included in Smithsonian magazine’s list of the “100 Most Significant Americans of All Time.”
The calendar of saints of the Episcopal Church remembers Sojourner Truth annually, together with Elizabeth Cady Stanton, Amelia Bloomer and Harriet Ross Tubman on July 20 individually or Nov 26. The calendar of saints of the Lutheran Church remembers Sojourner Truth together with Harriet Tubman on March 10.
Great Books About These Incredible Women
- Susan B. Anthony: Failure Is Impossible: Susan B. Anthony in Her Own Words by Lynn Sherr
- Elizabeth Cady Stanton: Elizabeth Cady Stanton: An American Life by Lori D. Ginzberg
- Sojourner Truth – Narrative of Sojourner Truth by Sojourner Truth
Websites to visit