Harriot Eaton Stanton Blatch – Mobilizing Woman-Power

Harriot Eaton Stanton Blatch was a New York suffragist who played a crucial role in expanding the women’s rights movement to working class women, achieving full voting rights for women in New York 1917 and ratification of the 19th Amendment to the Constitution guaranteeing all American women the right to vote.

She was born as daughter of women’s rights leader Elizabeth Cady Stanton and abolitionist and social reformer Henry Brewster Stanton on January 20, 1856 in Seneca Falls, NY – the cradle of first wave the suffrage movement and location of the first women’s right convention 1848.

After graduating from Vassar College with a degree in Mathematics, Harriot she spent a a year in Germany tutoring young girls. On her ship journey home the the US 1881 she met William Henry Blatch, an English businessmen whom she married the following year. They had two daughters, one was Nora Stanton Blatch Barney, who became also active in the women’s rights movement, their second daughter died when she was little.

For the next 20 years the family lived in England, where Harriot worked as a social reformer and organizer focused on women’s elevation. Among others, she conducted a study of working women’s conditions in rural areas and promoted teaching them handicraft.

1902, Blatch returned to the United States, New York City, where she joined the Women’s Trade Union League’s leadership and the National American Woman Suffrage Association. Intending to revitalize and modernize the movement, she founded the Equality League of Self-Supporting Women in 1907 (1910 renamed the Women’s Political Union) to expand the suffrage movement and recruit working class women.

Blatch mobilized about 20,000 factory, garment and laundry workers from the NYC Lower East Side, organized meetings, street protests, and, on May 21, 1910, the first mass parade of suffragists along Fifth Avenue.

If we win the empire state, all the states will come tumbling down like a pack of cards.
Harriot Eaton Stanton Blatch

While organizing and mobilizing on the front, Blatch also worked effectively behind the scenes and lobbied successfully for a constitutional amendment in New York State against Tammany Hall politicians’ opposition, which was accomplished in 1917, granting women full voting rights in New York.

During WW1, Blatch worked for the wartime Food Administration and as director of the Women’s Land Army to recruit and train women to keep up farm work while American men were fighting in the war.

After the war and achieving suffrage in NY, Harriot Blatch moved on to campaign for ratification of the 19th Federal Amendment, which had been introduced to Congress already in 1878, passed 1919, and ratified 1920. She then joined the National Women’s Party to support the fight of the Equal Rights Amendment and end legal distinctions between men and women such as in regard to property, employment, divorce. Blatch opposed legal protection for women which was supported by the Women’s Trade Union League and the Socialist Party, which she had joined, but left for this reason.

Harriot Eaton Stanton Blatch wrote several books: Mobilizing Woman-Power (1918), A Woman’s Point of View: Some Roads to Peace (1920). Elizabeth Cady Stanton, as Revealed in Her Letters, Diary and Reminiscences (1922, with her brother, Theodore Stanton), and her autobiography Challenging Years (1940, with Alma Lutz). She died died on November 20, 1940 in Greenwich, CT, aged 84.

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