Tag Archives: suffragette

Profile in Courage: Harriot Eaton Stanton Blatch

27 Aug

Harriot Eaton Stanton is the sixth of seven children. She attended Vassar College, where she graduated with a degree in mathematics in 1878. Harriot marries William Henry Blatch, Jr. in 1882, and lived outside of London for twenty years. They had two daughters, the second of whom died at age four. 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 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. 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. 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.
During World War I, Blatch devoted her time to the war effort, heading the Women’s Land Army, which provided additional farm labor. 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. During the 1920s, Blatch also worked on behalf of the League of Nations, proposing improvements for the amendments to the League’s Covenant.
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 shortly after.