In honor of Women's History Month, I'm going to tell a story that began over the tea table. It's July, 1848. Elizabeth Cady Stanton joined four friends for tea in upstate NY. Perhaps over several cups, Stanton shared her frustrations with the limitations placed on women. Women had not yet felt the freedoms of a new Republic, even though many women had fought for it just like men, only 70 years earlier in America's break from England. Stanton had high hopes that the new nation would engage its women more actively. Her friends shared that opinion, and they began to make plans to bring it to fruition.
Picture left: Stanton (seated) with Susan B. Anthony
Stanton went on to draft a "Declaration of Sentiments," using the Declaration of Independence as the framework. She named many grievances including: women were not allowed to vote, married women were considered legally dead by the law and had no property rights, women were not accepted into universities, and many more.
Stanton's work and the work of other women culminated in a women's conference (called the Seneca Falls Convention), July 19 and 20, 1848. Read an original report from the event. Lucretia Mott was a key player in the convention. Both Mott and Stanton (along with Susan B. Anthony) died before women gained the right to vote. I hope those three souls were able to appreciate that victory in 1920.
The story of tea and women's rights isn't finished yet. The tea room became a socially-deemed "appropriate" place for women to meet, and many tea rooms are famous for giving wings to women's suffrage efforts. The book Tea at the Blue Lantern Inn is one of my favorites. It explains how the convergence of the automobile, women's suffrage and the temperance movement led to the cottage industry of tea rooms along the Eastern coast of the US. Women of independent means!
There is so much more to this story - I hope you take some time to discover it. And leave me a comment with your favorite moments of women's history - past, present, or hopes for the future!