Harriot Eaton Stanton Blatch
Blatch circa 1900-1910
January 20, 1856|
Seneca Falls, New York
|Died||November 20, 1940
|Parents||Henry Brewster Stanton
Elizabeth Cady Stanton
Harriot Eaton Stanton was born in Seneca Falls, New York, to social activists Henry Brewster Stanton and Elizabeth Cady Stanton, the sixth of seven children. She attended Vassar College, where she graduated with a degree in mathematics in 1878. She attended the Boston School for Oratory for a year, and then spent most of 1880-1881 in Germany as a tutor for young girls. On her return voyage to the United States, she met English businessman William Henry Blatch, Jr., who went by the name of Harry. Blatch and Harriot Stanton were married in 1882, and lived outside of London for twenty years. They had two daughters, the second of whom died at age four. Their first daughter, Nora Stanton Blatch Barney, continued the family tradition as a suffragist, was the first American woman to earn a degree in civil engineering, and was briefly married to Lee De Forest. Harry Blatch died in 1915, after being accidentally electrocuted.
In 1881, Harriot Stanton worked with her mother and Susan B. Anthony on the History of Woman Suffrage. She contributed a major chapter to the second volume, in which she included the history of the American Woman Suffrage Association, a rival of Stanton and Anthony's National Woman Suffrage Association. This action would help to reconcile the two organizations.
While in England, she performed a statistical study of rural English working women's conditions, for which she received her M.A. from Vassar. In the 1901 census Blatch is recorded as a visitor in Haslemere, Surrey in a house which formed part of the Haslemere Peasant Arts movement, a group which promoted the teaching of handicraft to rural women and girls. She also worked with English social reform groups, including the Women's Local Government Society, the Fabian Society, and the Women's Franchise League. In the Women's Franchise League, she developed organizing techniques that she would later use in America.
On returning to the United States in 1902, Blatch sought to reinvigorate the American women's suffrage movement, which had stagnated. She initially joined the leadership of the Women's Trade Union League. In 1907, she founded the Equality League of Self-Supporting Women (later renamed the Women's Political Union), to recruit working class women into the suffrage movement. The core membership of the league comprised 20,000 factory, laundry, and garment workers from the Lower East Side of New York City. Through this group, Blatch organized and led the 1910 New York suffrage parade. Blatch succeeded in mobilizing many working-class women, even as she continued to collaborate with prominent society women. She could organize militant street protests while still working expertly in backroom politics to neutralize the opposition of Tammany Hall politicians who feared the women would vote for prohibition.
The Union achieved significant political strength, and actively lobbied for a New York state constitutional amendment to give women the vote, which was achieved in 1917 after Tammany Hall relaxed its opposition. In 1915, Blatch's Women's Political Union merged with Alice Paul and Lucy Burns' Congressional Union, which eventually became the National Woman's Party.
War and postwar
During World War I, Blatch devoted her time to the war effort, heading the Women's Land Army, which provided additional farm labor. She wrote Mobilizing Woman Power in 1918, about women's role in the war effort, urging women to "go to work". In 1920, she published A Woman's Point of View, where she took a pacifist position due to the destruction of the war.
After the passage of the Nineteenth Amendment in 1920, Blatch joined the National Woman's Party to fight for passage of the Equal Rights Amendment, rather than the protective legislation supported by the Women's Trade Union League. She also joined the Socialist Party, and was nominated for New York City Comptroller and later the New York State Assembly, but did not win office. She eventually left the party, because of its support for protective legislation for women workers.
During the 1920s, Blatch also worked on behalf of the League of Nations, proposing improvements for the amendments to the League's Covenant.
Last years and death
In 1939, Blatch suffered a fractured hip and moved to a nursing home in Greenwich, Connecticut. Her memoir, Challenging Years, was published in 1940 and she died the week before Thanksgiving that same year in Greenwich.
- Ellen Carol DuBois, "Working Women, Class Relations, and Suffrage Militance: Harriot Stanton Blatch and the New York Woman Suffrage Movement, 1894-1909," Journal of American History, June 1987, Vol. 74 Issue 1, pp 34-58 in JSTOR
- "Mrs. Blatch Dead. Famed Suffragist. Leader Here Of Radical Wing of Movement. Champion of Woman's Rights, 84. First To Plan Parades. Associate In England of Sylvia Pankhurst. A Daughter of Elizabeth Cady Stanton". New York Times. November 20, 1940. Retrieved 2010-07-21. "Mrs. Harriot Stanton Blatch, former leader of the radical wing of the woman's suffrage movement in the United States and also well ..."
- Jone Johnson Lewis. "Harriot Stanton Blatch". About.com. Retrieved 2006-07-19.
- Ellen Carol DuBois (1997). Harriot Stanton Blatch and the Winning of Woman Suffrage. Yale University Press. ISBN 0-300-06562-0.
- Blatch, Harriot Stanton and Alma Lutz; Challenging Years: the Memoirs of Harriot Stanton Blatch; G.P. Putnam's Sons, New York, NY, 1940.
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