Lucy Stone and her husband Henry Blackwell
Lucy Stone was an abolitionist and women’s rights activist. She dedicated her entire life to fighting against the injustices she saw around her. In a letter to her mother, she said, "I expect to plead not for the slave only, but for suffering humanity everywhere. Especially do I mean to labor for the elevation of my sex." She was born in 1818 on her family farm in Massachusetts, the eighth of nine brothers and sisters. When she was just twelve years old her mother's difficult life distressed her so much that she started waking up early in the morning to help her mother with laundry before she went off to school. She was unsettled by women’s inferior role and although the Bible stated that men should rule women she was sure there was a mistake in the translation. She decided she would go to college to learn Greek and Hebrew so that she could check the accuracy of that statement in the Bible for herself.
At just 16 years old she secured a local teaching position and for the next nine years saved up enough money to head to college. Even though it was against her father’s wishes she enrolled at Oberlin College in Ohio which was noted for its coeducational system and antislavery principles. She was the first woman from Massachusetts to earn a college degree. As she had hoped her studies in Greek and Hebrew convinced her that the passages in the Bible concerning woman’s role had indeed been misinterpreted. Her first job as a new graduate was as a lecturer for the American Anti-Slavery Association. She would give anti-slavery speeches on the weekends for the Society then use her own time during the week to give speeches about women’s rights. In 1850 Lucy organized the first national woman’s rights convention at Worcester, Massachusetts. This convention is less famous than the Seneca Falls convention; however, it had a woman as chair, Paulina Wright Davis and it included a much more national representation. Lucy had just recovered from typhoid fever but the speech she made is credited for converting Susan B. Anthony to the cause. Overseas her words had inspired the writing of “The Enfranchisement of Women” a feminist article by John Stuart Mill. Lucy traveled all over for her speeches from Canada to Missouri to the South.
Lucy Stone was a woman set against the institution of marriage, she was not about to let any man become her master. However, one man, Henry Browne Blackwell, a fellow abolitionist, put that resolution to the test. After two years he finally won her over, convincing her that their marriage would be unlike any other and that they could do more together than on their own. At their marriage ceremony, they had the preacher read a signed document they had created together to protest the inequality found in many marriage laws that they said “refuse to recognize the wife as an independent, rational being, while they confer on the husband an injurious and unnatural superiority, investing him with legal powers which no honorable man would exercise, and which no man should possess.” Lucy was also the first woman that did not take her husband’s name; she told Henry in a letter, “A wife should no more take her husband's name than he should hers. My name is my identity and must not be lost."
Lucy Stone continued her efforts throughout the remainder of her life, one of the most influential of her contributions was the founding of The Women’s Journal, the “voice of the woman’s movement.” Lucy and her husband served as editors for the journal after Mary Livermore had served as editor for two years. For forty-seven years the paper continued gaining a high reputation for its “journalistic excellence” and eventually was under the editorship of Alice Stone Blackwell, Lucy and Henry’s only child who followed in her parents' footsteps fighting for equality. Lucy Stone passed away on October 18th, 1893, twenty-seven years before women were given the right to vote nationally, leaving a legacy that will not be forgotten.
Why I chose this Person: "I'm Meg Mackay and I chose to write about Emmeline B. Woodward Wells because of how unusual her life was! She overcame some of the worst hardships a person can go through (loss of multiple companions and children) and still kept looking towards the future. She used her voice to make a difference in both women's suffrage and the church. I also just found reading about her absolutely fascinating and encourage anyone to do the same."
Learn more about Lucy Stone’s life in this online biography from the Boston Women’s Heritage Trail, check out a book from the Library about Lucy and other Suffragists by historian Jean H. Baker, or read some of her own writings in The Woman’s Journal.
Stone, Lucy." In Notable American Women, 1607-1950, Volume III: P-Z, edited by Edward T. James, Janet Wilson James, and Paul Samuel Boyer, 390-92. Cambridge, MA: Harvard University Press, 1971.
Lucy Stone, Women’s Rights National Historical Park, available from
Lucy Stone Biography, Biography.com, available from