Lucy Stone, (born Aug. 13, 1818, West Brookfield, Mass., U.S.—died Oct. 18, 1893, Dorchester [part of Boston], Mass.), American pioneer in the women’s rights movement.
Stone began to chafe at the restrictions placed on the female sex while she was still a girl. Her determination to attend college derived in part from her general desire to better herself and in part from a specific resolve, made as a child, to learn Hebrew and Greek in order to determine if those passages in the Bible that seemed to give man dominion over woman had been properly translated. After graduating from Oberlin College in Ohio in 1847, she became a lecturer for the Massachusetts Anti-Slavery Society, which soon granted her permission to devote part of each week to speaking on her own for women’s rights. She helped organize the first truly national women’s rights convention in 1850 and was instrumental in organizing several other women’s rights conventions as well.
In 1855, when she married Henry B. Blackwell, an Ohio abolitionist and brother of Elizabeth and Emily Blackwell, she retained her own name (as a protest against the unequal laws applicable to married women) and became known as Mrs. Stone. During the Civil War, Stone supported the Women’s National Loyal League founded by Elizabeth Cady Stanton and Susan B. Anthony. In 1866 she helped found the American Equal Rights Association. In 1867 she helped organize and was elected president of the New Jersey Woman Suffrage Association. In the same year she joined in the campaigns for woman suffrage amendments in Kansas and New York. She helped organize the New England Woman Suffrage Association in 1868 and the next year moved with her family to Boston.
Stone was one of the major actors in the 1869 schism that occurred in feminist ranks. Together with Julia Ward Howe and other more conservative reformers who were put off by the other faction’s eclectic approach and by its acceptance of such individuals as the notorious Victoria Woodhull, Stone formed in November the American Woman Suffrage Association. While serving on the association’s executive board, Stone raised money to launch the weekly Woman’s Journal in 1870, and in 1872 she and her husband succeeded Mary A. Livermore as editors.
The schism in the movement was finally healed in 1890, in large part through the initiative of Stone’s daughter, Alice Blackwell. Lucy Stone was thereafter chairman of the executive board of the merged National American Woman Suffrage Association.
Written by The Editors of Encyclopaedia Britannica.
Top image credit: Library of Congress, Washington, D.C.