When Elizabeth Cady met Henry B. Stanton in 1839, she was the privileged daughter of a wealthy New York lawyer who was expected to marry well and live quietly and gracefully. Instead, over the objections of her family, she married a passionate abolitionist and entirely changed the trajectory of her life by soon becoming the leader of the nineteenth century woman suffrage movement.
An Uncommon Union offers the first account of Elizabeth Cady Stanton’s transformation from debutante to radical reformer by bringing her husband and his family of antebellum social and political reformers back into her life story.
Henry B. Stanton was a radical reformer a decade before meeting Elizabeth Cady, and throughout the 1840s, he was a leading organizer of the abolitionist Liberty Party and the antislavery Free Soil Party. Henry Stanton’s reform efforts were focused on utilizing the vote to end slavery in America.
Before Elizabeth Cady Stanton and Susan B. Anthony worked for women’s suffrage, Henry Stanton’s politically based reform strategy introduced Elizabeth Cady Stanton to the importance of securing political rights for women. This is evident in Elizabeth Stanton’s later reform work, but also in her authorship of the suffrage resolution in the 1848 Seneca Falls Convention’s Declaration of Sentiments.
The Stantons were a humorous, sensual, and family-oriented couple, and while both were deeply committed to reform, the struggles they faced balancing their home life and reform careers make them entirely relatable to men and women today. Not only the story of the transformative impact of a marriage, An Uncommon Union reframes the origins and inspirations of the women’s suffrage movement and substantially alters the foundations upon which much of the history of women’s rights is based, while also exploding the stereotype of the dowdy, one-dimensional feminist.