Fund-raising is underway to pay for a life-size bronze statue of women’s rights advocate Elizabeth Cady Stanton sitting on a park bench in her hometown of Johnstown.
The statue will be placed in a city park on West Main Street, located between the site of Stanton’s original home and the Fulton County Courthouse.
The Elizabeth Cady Stanton Women’s Consortium (ECSWC) is commissioning the work. ECSWC Vice President Sandra Maceyka reported the fund drive has raised $40,000 toward an estimated cost of $75,000.
The sculptor will be Matt Glenn of Provo, Utah, and the plan is to unveil the statue in 2020, the 100th anniversary of women’s suffrage in the United States, a cause championed by Stanton that she did not live to see. Stanton was born in 1815 and died in 1902 in New York City.
“We envision a younger version of Elizabeth, one that shows her in her prime, living in upstate New York and connecting to her roots in Johnstown,” Maceyka said.
Maceyka said onlookers can sit with Stanton on the park bench, take photographs with her or even carry on a conversation with her.
To donate, make out a check to ECSWC and send to Post Office Box No. 251, Johnstown, N.Y. 12095.
Stanton was the eighth of 11 children born to Margaret Livingston Cady and Daniel Cady. Five of the children died in childhood and the only surviving son died when he was 20.
Elizabeth Cady Stanton’s father was an attorney, U.S. Congressman and a judge. Elizabeth Cady Stanton’s reading of legal texts in her father’s office made her realize that the law favored men over women.
Cady Stanton graduated from Johnstown Academy. But she could not be accepted for study at the all-male Union College in Schenectady. Instead she attended a women’s school headed by Emma Willard in Troy.
Henry Stanton, an abolitionist, and Elizabeth Cady married in 1840. She had the minister eliminate the “obey” clause from the marriage service.
“She was very forward thinking," Maceyka said. "She did what she wanted. She was a very strong woman.”
The Stantons had seven children. They lived at first in Johnstown where Henry Stanton was an apprentice to his attorney father-in-law. Both Elizabeth and Henry Stanton were abolitionists, even though Elizabeth’s father owned a slave, Peter Teabout, who later was freed
Henry Stanton was not keen on women’s rights, refusing to stand up for Elizabeth Cady Stanton when women were barred from speaking at an abolition conference in London.
The Stantons moved to the Boston area and then to Seneca Falls, New York, where Maceyka said Elizabeth Cady Stanton’s father bought them a house. In later years the Stantons lived in New York City. When Elizabeth visited Johnstown she stayed in a boarding house across from the court house.
Her speech at the Seneca Falls Convention in 1848 was a major step in the women's suffrage movement.
In 1851, Stanton met fellow suffragist Susan B. Anthony. Anthony had taught for a time in Canajoharie. Stanton and Anthony became lifelong colleagues.
Typically Anthony would be on the road giving speeches while Stanton remained at home writing and caring for her children.
Stanton became critical of mainstream Christianity, Maceyka said.
“The Bible is very oriented to males. So, she wrote a women’s version,” Maceyka said.
Henry Stanton, Elizabeth Cady Stanton’s husband, died in 1887.
Maceyka said that Stanton and Anthony, who died in 1906, “did have a little falling out at one point, but remained friends to the end of their lives.”
“(Elizabeth Cady Stanton) is an inspiration for all women," Maceyka said. "We keep talking about having a woman president. I think if Elizabeth were alive she would be it.”