Lucy Stone was an acclaimed 19th century woman who committed her entire life to the cause of women’s rights. She was one of the first women in history to keep her maiden name after marriage. This accomplished orator, abolitionist, and suffragist was also the first woman in Massachusetts to acquire a college diploma. At a time when women were discouraged from public speaking, she lectured on women’s issues and antislavery in various locations across the United States of America. Her unflappable spirit in the face of adversity, as well as her commitment to raise women in society and provide them with a platform to express their views, has continued to inspire countless women to this day. She was instrumental in the formation of the first National Women’s Rights Convention and the Woman’s National Loyal League, which led to the Thirteenth Amendment’s abolishment of slavery. She was a key figure in the formation of the American Woman Suffrage Association, which advocated for women’s right to vote. She also co-founded, edited, and managed the ‘Woman’s Journal,’ a weekly periodical that covered a wide range of topics related to women’s rights and suffrage.
Childhood and Adolescence
Lucy Stone was born to Hannah Matthews and Francis Stone at Coy’s Hill, their family farm in West Brookfield, Massachusetts. As a child, her father’s complete control over the family’s income upset her.
She began teaching at district schools at the age of sixteen, alongside her siblings. She was protesting the school committee for underpaying her compared to her brothers. She was told that she was only entitled to ‘women’s wages’ in response.
Around 1836, she began reading newspaper accounts on women and their roles in society on a regular basis, a contentious topic that was being discussed and written about all over Massachusetts at the time.
She enrolled in the Mount Holyoke Female Seminary in 1839, at the age of 21, but resigned due to their lack of support for women’s causes. She moved on to Wesleyan Academy after that.
She enrolled in Ohio’s Oberlin College at the age of 25 in 1843. She enrolled in college with the expectation that it would share her views on women’s rights, but she was disappointed to discover that it did not.
She earned an honors degree in 1847, making her the first woman in Massachusetts to acquire a bachelor’s degree. Her penchant for public speaking, however, was not encouraged at Oberlin College.
Later Years of Lucy Stone
She gave one of her earliest public addresses on women’s rights at the Bowman’s church in Gardner, Massachusetts, in the fall of 1847. The Massachusetts Anti-Slavery Society hired her as a lecturer the following year.
She was invited to speak before the Philadelphia Female Anti-Slavery Society in April 1849. She also attended the inaugural women’s rights convention in Pennsylvania in May of that year.
She petitioned the Massachusetts legislature for women’s voting rights and the right to serve in public office beginning in 1849. She later circulated petitions requesting these rights, which received over 5,000 signatures.
She spoke before a big crowd at the first National Women’s Rights Convention in Boston in 1850. This became a key forum that addressed concerns affecting women in the United States.
By 1851, she had established herself as an independent lecturer on women’s rights concerns, and she had a busy schedule, traveling across North America to speak about women’s issues. She continued to work on anti-slavery concerns as well.
She offered talks at the inaugural women’s rights gathering in Cincinnati in 1853, following the National Woman’s Rights Convention in Cleveland, Ohio. She then embarked on a thirteen-week lecture tour in the western states of the United States.
She lectured about women’s rights throughout New York, New Jersey, Connecticut, Rhode Island, Massachusetts, New Hampshire, Ohio, Indiana, Illinois, Ontario, Vermont, and Maine from 1854 to 1858.
She protested against taxing women in January 1858, arguing that it was unfair to tax women because they did not have the right to vote.
Many other tax-paying ladies were motivated by this.
She went on to become the president of the New Jersey Woman’s Suffrage Association, as well as the founding president of the National Woman Suffrage Association. She was instrumental in the founding of the American Equal Rights Association in 1866.
She went on to give talks in Kansas and New York in 1867, advocating for women’s suffrage and speaking out against anti-slavery movements.
In 1870, she spoke at the Worcester, Stanton, 20th anniversary of the first National Women’s Rights Convention. She spoke on women’s right to divorce here, but later altered her mind.
She co-founded the weekly journal ‘Woman’s Journal’ in 1870 with her husband Henry Browne Blackwell. This was about women’s rights and suffrage.
Following supporting the 15th Amendment, which gave African-American men the right to vote, she received a lot of backlash from her erstwhile supporters after the Civil War. She reasoned that this would eventually lead to women being able to vote.
By 1890, disagreements had been resolved, and the women’s rights movement had been reunified, resulting in the formation of the National American Woman Suffrage Association.
She presented her final public speeches at the World’s Congress of Representative Women in Chicago in May 1893. Around 500 ladies from 27 nations took part in the event.
Personal History and Legacy
She married abolitionist Henry Blackwell in 1855. She refused to assume her husband’s surname after the marriage and expressed her displeasure with this marital custom. Alice Stone Blackwell was the couple’s only child.
She passed away at the age of 75 from severe stomach cancer. Forest Hills Cemetery was where she was cremated.
A group called the ‘Lucy Stone League’ was created in her honor in 1921. This organization was one of the first to argue for the right to retain one’s maiden name after marriage.
In 1968, the United States Postal Service issued a 50-postage stamp in the Prominent Americans series to mark her 150th birthday.
Lucy Stone Park is named after her in Warren, Massachusetts. Anne Whitney’s 1893 bust sculpture of her is on display in Boston’s Faneuil Hall structure.
The Trustees of Reservations, a historic preservation organization, purchased her home, ‘Lucy Stone Home,’ in 2002.
Estimated Net Worth
Lucy is one of the wealthiest civil rights leaders and one of the most well-known. Lucy Stone’s net worth is estimated to be $1.5 million, according to Wikipedia, Forbes, and Business Insider.