Lucy Stone: Speaking Out for Equality

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Overview


No study of women's history in the United States is complete without an account of Lucy Stone's role in the nineteenth-century drive for legal and political rights for women.This first fully documented biography of Stone describes her rapid rise to fame and power and her later attempt at an equitable mariage.

Lucy Stone was a Massachusetts newspaper editor, abolitionist, and charismatic orator for the women's rights movement in the last half of the nineteenth century. She was deeply involved in almost every reform issue of her time. Charles Sumner, Frederick Douglass, William Lloyd Garrison, Julia Ward Howe, Horace Greeley, and Louisa May Alcott counted themselves among her friends. Through her public speaking and her newspaper, the Woman's Journal, Stone became the most widely admired woman's rights spokeswoman of her era. In the nineteenth century, Lucy Stone was a household name.

Kerr begins with Stone's early roots in a poor family in western Massachusetts. She eventually graduated from Oberlin College and then became a full-time public speaker for an anti-slavery society and for women's rights. Despite Stone's strident anti-marriage ideology, she eventually wed Henry Brown Blackwell, and had her first child at the age of thirty-nine.

Although Kerr tells us about Stone's public accomplishments, she emphasizes Stone's personal struggle for autonomy. "Lucy Stone (Only)" was Stone's trademark signature following her marriage. Her refusal to surrender her birth name was one example of her determination to retain her individuality in an era where a woman's right to a separate identity ended with marriage.

Of equal importance is Kerr's discussion of Stone's relationship with Susan B. Anthony and Elizabeth Cady Stanton, as well as her revisionist treatment of the schism which eventually divided Stone from Stanton and Anthony. Stone urged legislators not to ignore the need for women's suffrage as they rushed to enfranchise black males. Stanton and Anthony dwelt only on the need for women's suffrage, at the expense of black suffrage.

     Women's historians, the general reader, and historians of the family will appreciate the story of Stone's attempt to balance the conflicting demands of career and family.

 

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Editorial Reviews

Publishers Weekly - Publisher's Weekly
Stone, a dedicated, pioneering 19th-century suffragist, is zealously championed in this biography, which seeks to bring her out from the shadow cast by Elizabeth Cady Stanton and Susan B. Anthony. After working her way through Oberlin College, then a ``hotbed of abolitionism,'' Stone became a paid lecturer for an anti-slavery society, sometimes addressing as many as two thousand people. Soon her interests--and her speeches--shifted to women's suffrage. She continued to tour (and kept her surname) after her marriage to Henry Browne Blackwell. Although Blackwell, as depicted here, was an annoying and financially incompetent man with a dash of charm, Stone was devoted to him and wanted him to stay out of the Civil War ``at any price.'' But feminists became divided among themselves. When women's interest in obtaining the vote flagged in the 1870s, Stone blamed Stanton and Anthony; she found Stanton brilliant, but ``disingenuous and damaging,'' while Anthony's dislike of Stone became almost ``an obsession.'' Although this study lacks narrative fluidity, historian Kerr offers readers much to ponder regarding Stone's place in women's history. Photos not seen by PW. (Jan.)
Library Journal
Kerr, who holds a Ph.D. in American Studies, has written an excellent biography and the first scholarly treatment of Stone, one of the first female public speakers and advocates for abolition and women's rights. Alice S. Blackwell's biography of her mother is out of print, and Elinor Hays's Morning Star (Hippocrene, 1978. reprint of 1961 ed.) is aimed at a popular audience. Kerr utilized manuscript collections, including the Blackwell family papers; printed primary sources; and secondary sources to create a compelling story. She sensitively treats Stone's marriage and the compromises it forced on her. Her analysis, from Stone's point of view, of the split in the women's movement is particularly interesting. Highly recommended for all academic and large public libraries.-- Sharon Firestone, Coll . of Law Lib . , Arizona State Univ. Tempe
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Product Details

  • ISBN-13: 9780813518602
  • Publisher: Rutgers University Press
  • Publication date: 12/1/1992
  • Edition description: New Edition
  • Pages: 312
  • Product dimensions: 6.00 (w) x 9.00 (h) x 0.72 (d)

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