Manuscript/Mixed Material Draft of Elizabeth Cady Stanton's The Woman's Bible, ca. 1895.
About this Item
- Draft of Elizabeth Cady Stanton's The Woman's Bible, ca. 1895.
Created / Published
- ca. 1895
- - National American Woman Suffrage Association
- - Suffragists
- - Anthony, Susan B. (Susan Brownell) (1820-1906)
- - Mott, Lucretia (1793-1880)
- - Stanton, Elizabeth Cady (1815-1902)
- - Women
- - Religion
- - Declaration of Rights and Sentiments
- - Stanton, Henry B. (Henry Brewster) (1805-1887)
- - cite>The Woman's Bible
- - cite>
- - Manuscripts
- - Reproduction number: A114 (color slide; Chapter II, page 3)
- - Although most often identified as a suffragist, Elizabeth Cady Stanton (1815-1902) participated in a variety of reform initiatives during her lifetime. Setting her sights on women's emancipation and equality in all arenas--political, economic, religious, and social--Stanton viewed suffrage as an important but not paramount goal. Since childhood, Stanton had rebelled against the role assigned to women and chafed at being denied a university education because of her sex. As a young woman, she became involved in the temperance and antislavery movements, through which she met Henry Brewster Stanton (1805-1887), an abolitionist reformer and journalist, whom she married in May 1840. While honeymooning in England, Elizabeth became outraged when she and other women were barred from a major antislavery convention. She discussed her feelings with Lucretia Mott (1793-1880), a Quaker minister from Pennsylvania and one of the American delegates to the meeting, and together they resolved to hold a women's rights convention to discuss women's secondary status when they returned to the United States.
- - Eight years passed before Mott and Stanton could make good on their promise, but in July 1848, more than three hundred men and women assembled in Seneca Falls, New York, for the first women's rights convention, at which Stanton's famous Declaration of Rights and Sentiments was read and adopted. Modeled after the Declaration of Independence, Stanton's document protested women's inferior legal status and put forward a list of proposals for the moral, economic, and political equality of women. The most radical resolution was the demand for woman suffrage, a goal that would consume the women's movement for more than seventy years. Stanton, in close collaboration with Susan B. Anthony (1820-1906), led the suffrage fight, but along the way she actively supported dress reform and women's health issues, greater educational and financial opportunities for women, more liberal divorce laws, and stronger women's property laws. Even more controversial than Stanton's positions on those issues, however, were her views on religion and on the Church's role in limiting women's progress, ideas which culminated in 1895 with the publication of The Woman's Bible, shown here in draft form.
- - For more than forty years before publication of The Woman's Bible, Stanton had objected to religious teachings on slavery, marriage, divorce, and women's status. Two of the eighteen grievances listed in the Declaration of Rights and Sentiments concerned church affairs and the interpretation of scriptures. Reacting to church opposition to the many causes that she championed, Stanton once wrote, "No reform has ever been started but the Bible, falsely interpreted, has opposed it." (Elizabeth Cady Stanton and Mary Ann McClintock, "Letter to the Editor," Semi-Weekly Courier (Seneca Falls, New York), , The Papers of Elizabeth Cady Stanton and Susan B. Anthony, microfilm edition, reel 6:779-81.)
- - In the late 1880s, Stanton began a thorough study of the Bible and sought to establish a committee of academic and church women to contribute to the project. The names of seven other women appeared as authors in the final published version of The Woman's Bible, Part I, and several more were listed as members of the revising committee. It is believed, however, that much of the work was done by Stanton alone. Stanton concerned herself only with those parts of the Bible that mentioned women or that she believed had erroneously omitted women. The published volume, like the draft manuscript exhibited here, reproduced a section of Biblical text at the top of each page followed by a reinterpretation or commentary written by Stanton or another contributor. The manuscript draft held by the Library contains only Stanton's contributions and consists of passages from the books of Genesis, Exodus, and Numbers, published in The Woman's Bible, Part I, and from Matthew, published in The Woman's Bible, Part II.
- - Although The Woman's Bible was never accepted as a major work of Biblical scholarship, it was a best-seller, much to the horror of many suffragists. In particular, younger members of the National American Woman Suffrage Association (NAWSA), of which Stanton had once been president, felt that The Woman's Bible jeopardized the group's ability to gain support for a suffrage amendment, and they formally denounced the publication despite Anthony's pleas not to embarrass Stanton publicly. Controversy over the book threatened to divide the suffrage movement, and although Anthony spoke in Stanton's behalf, the incident damaged their friendship and reflected the widening gap between Anthony's increasingly single-minded pursuit of suffrage and Stanton's interest in a broader agenda. Ignoring NAWSA's objections and concerned about the increased influence of conservative evangelical suffragists, Stanton published the second part of her Bible in 1898. This volume, like the first, was an attempt to promote a radical liberating theology that stressed self-development and challenged the ideological basis for women's subordination. Until her death in 1902, Stanton continued to write on religious themes and to condemn canon law for restricting women's freedom and retarding their progress.
- Elizabeth Cady Stanton Papers
- Manuscript Division
IIIF Presentation Manifest
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Chicago citation style:
Draft of Elizabeth Cady Stanton's The Woman's Bible. 1895. Manuscript/Mixed Material. https://www.loc.gov/item/mcc.049/.
APA citation style:
(1895) Draft of Elizabeth Cady Stanton's The Woman's Bible. [Manuscript/Mixed Material] Retrieved from the Library of Congress, https://www.loc.gov/item/mcc.049/.
MLA citation style:
Draft of Elizabeth Cady Stanton's The Woman's Bible. 1895. Manuscript/Mixed Material. Retrieved from the Library of Congress, <www.loc.gov/item/mcc.049/>.