Lucy Stone

Lucy Stone (1818-1893), American abolitionist, temperance worker, and woman's-suffrage leader, was the first important suffragist to retain her maiden name after marrying.

Lucy Stone was born in West Brookfield, Mass., on Aug. 13, 1818. At the age of 16 she began teaching school. For 9 years she saved her money and pursued her own studies. With some help from her father she finished her education at Oberlin College in 1847. That year she gave her first lecture on woman's rights from the pulpit of her brother's church. The following year she became an agent for the Antislavery Society. It was still rare for a woman to speak in public, rarer still for one to speak on woman's rights. The Antislavery Society disliked having the two causes confused, and so a compromise was arrived at by which Stone spoke for abolition on weekends, leaving the rest of the week free for woman's rights.

In 1855 Stone married noted abolitionist Henry B. Blackwell. The marriage service was distinguished by a joint protest against woman's disadvantaged state and a pledge that both partners would have absolutely equal rights in marriage. Blackwell was as good as his word. He became an ardent feminist and devoted much of his own time to the cause. Their daughter, Alice Stone Blackwell, became a feminist and helped bring to completion her parents' great work.

After the Civil War, Stone broke with the radical feminists over the question of giving precedence to black males in the suffrage struggle. More committed to the antislavery movement than women like Susan B. Anthony and Elizabeth Cady Stanton, Stone accepted the argument that by confusing women's suffrage with black suffrage both would be lost and that the black's need was at this moment greater. In 1869 she was one of the organizers of the American Woman Suffrage Association, which differed from the Stantonites' organization, the National Woman Suffrage Association, in being more conservative and in having male members.

On Jan. 8, 1870, the American Association brought forth its paper, the Woman's Journal, as a rival to the National's weekly. Edited by Stone, Blackwell, and Mary Livermore, Woman's Journal appealed to the growing number of clubwomen, professional women, and the like who were reaching for greater freedom but were not yet ready to commit themselves to equal suffrage. Alice Stone Blackwell succeeded her parents as its editor, and, after the vote had been won, the magazine continued as the Woman Citizen, the organ of the League of Women Voters.

When the two wings of the suffrage movement were reunited in 1890 as the National American Woman Suffrage Association, Stone became one of its officers. She died on Oct. 18, 1893, in Boston.


Further Reading on Lucy Stone

Volumes 1 (1881) and 2 (1882) of the History of Woman Suffrage, edited by Elizabeth Cady Stanton, Susan B. Anthony, and Matilda Joslyn Gage, are helpful. Mrs. Stone's daughter, Alice Stone Blackwell, published an affectionate account, Lucy Stone: Pioneer of Women's Rights (1930). A thorough study is Elinor Rice Hays, Morning Star: A Biography of Lucy Stone, 1818-1893 (1961).