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Elizabeth Cady Stanton and the Feminist Foundations of Family Law$
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Tracy A. Thomas

Print publication date: 2016

Print ISBN-13: 9780814783047

Published to NYU Press Scholarship Online: September 2017

DOI: 10.18574/nyu/9780814783047.001.0001

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“Divorce Is Not the Foe of Marriage”

“Divorce Is Not the Foe of Marriage”

(p.109) 3 “Divorce Is Not the Foe of Marriage”
Elizabeth Cady Stanton and the Feminist Foundations of Family Law

Tracy A. Thomas

NYU Press

This chapter explores Elizabeth Cady Stanton’s public advocacy of liberal and no-fault divorce. Stanton reframed divorce as a remedy for women and an escape from harmful marriages. Beginning with her work in the temperance movement, Stanton articulated the need for divorce to protect women from domestic violence. Like social purity reformers, she attacked the double social standard that allowed men, but not women, to easily divorce for adultery. Stanton drew on the public obsession with the infamous McFarland versus Richardson trial to illustrate her liberal divorce views to the public. When conservative forces near the turn of the twentieth century proposed a federal marriage amendment restricting divorce, Stanton resurrected her arguments in support of divorce.

Keywords:   adultery, divorce, domestic violence, Elizabeth Cady Stanton, Federal Marriage Amendment, McFarland-Richardson trial, no-fault divorce, temperance

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