Elizabeth Cady Stanton was a sympathetic, informed, and politically astute observer of the Underground Railroad. She knew its most prominent proponents through her husband Henry Stanton, an abolitionist lecturer and founding member of the New York Anti-Slavery Society. She met Stanton while visiting her cousin, Gerrit Smith, also a founding member of the New York Anti-Slavery Society and a station master on the Underground Railroad.
Stanton also met and spent an evening talking with Harriet Powell, a traveler on the Underground Railroad. Harriet had requested assistance from the Syracuse Underground Railroad while staying in a hotel with her owners. When Powell met free blacks at the hotel where she was staying, they helped her to the Smith station. From there she went by Underground Railroad to Oswego and crossed into Canada by boat.
In 1840, the newlywed Stantons attended the World Anti-Slavery Convention in London, England. Elizabeth Cady Stanton met Lucretia Mott, a founder of and delegate for the Philadelphia Female Anti-Slavery Society. During the first few days of the Convention, male delegates debated whether women should take part. After women were excluded, Mott and Stanton discussed abolition and women’s role in society and planned to hold a convention about women’s rights upon their return home.
The Stantons moved to Boston in 1845, where Elizabeth Cady Stanton met many prominent abolitionist reformers, including Sarah and Angelina Grimke, Lydia Maria Child, Abby Kelley, Margaret Fuller, Henry David Thoreau, Ralph Waldo Emerson, Frederick Douglass, Bronson Alcott, John Brown and William Lloyd Garrison.
In July of 1848, Stanton called on Quaker sisters in abolition to host a first-ever convention for women’s rights. Many organizers had strong personal connections to the New York Anti-Slavery Society, Philadelphia Female Anti-Slavery Society, and the Western New York Anti-Slavery Society.
Years later, Stanton recognized the important connection between abolition and women’s rights in a speech before the American Anti-Slavery Society:
Yes, this is the only organization on God’s footstool where the humanity of woman is recognized, and these are the only men who have ever echoed back her cries for justice and equality….the mission of the Radical Anti-Slavery Movement is not to the African slave alone, but to the slaves of custom, creed and sex, as well, and most faithfully has it done its work.
African American Participation in the Underground Railroad
The Underground Railroad and the Convention
"In defense of Woman and the Slave..."
Significant Events of the Underground Railroad