Blatch, Harriot Stanton

views updated

BLATCH, Harriot Stanton

Born 20 January 1856, Seneca Falls, New York; died 20 November 1940, Greenwich, Connecticut

Daughter of Henry Brewster and Elizabeth Cady Stanton; married William Henry Blatch, 1882

One of seven children of noted suffragist Elizabeth Cady Stanton, Harriot Stanton Blatch attended Vassar College. After a year in Europe (1880-81), she assisted her mother and Susan B. Anthony in preparing their History of Woman Suffrage. They had originally planned to deal only with the National Woman Suffrage Association, which the authors led, but Blatch urged inclusion of an account of the American Woman Suffrage Association. Her moderate treatment of this "Boston wing" of the movement appeared in Volume II of the History (1881) and contributed to ending the "internecine war" between the two leading groups in the suffrage movement.

After marriage to William Henry Blatch, an English businessman, she lived 20 years in England where she knew such reformers as Beatrice and Sidney Webb, Ramsay MacDonald, G. B. Shaw, and Emmeline Pankhurst. She returned to the U.S. in 1902, and in 1907 organized the Equality League of Self-Supporting Women (later the Women's Political Union), a group designed to draw nonprofessional women, especially women trade unionists, into the suffrage movement. This group increased the numbers and visibility of the suffragists. It organized the first suffrage parades (1910) so that "the enemy" could "see women marching in increasing numbers year by year out on the public avenues, holding high their banner, Votes for Women."

Blatch became convinced that the war which had broken out in Europe would advance the cause of equal rights for women. Her book, Mobilizing Woman-Power (1918), published with a laudatory introduction by Theodore Roosevelt, describes "German Kultur" as the enemy of freedom because it worships "efficiency, cramps originality and initiative" and is "unjust to women." Always interested in the relation between economics and suffrage, Blatch notes that the war increased employment opportunities for women and consequently helped free them from "service for the love of service," i.e., unpaid labor in the home. Payment, she felt, changes women's status: with the "pay envelope" women are "welcome everywhere."

At the war's end Blatch wrote A Woman's Point of View: Some Roads to Peace (1920), which became a major contribution to "the library against all war." She encouraged women to unite in preventing another such devastation and argued that just as women should be given a role in political decisionmaking, so too labor, formerly voiceless, should now be given a place in management.

Blatch joined the Socialist Party in the 1920s and in 1924 endorsed Robert M. LaFollette's presidential campaign. To the end of her life she was active in liberal causes. Her autobiography, Challenging Years (1940), gives a lively account of her political activities. Herein she notes that women "were the first group in history to be enfranchised before gaining their economic independence." Because of her practical orientation and familiarity with the tactics employed by English suffrage leaders, she widened the appeal of the American suffrage movement in the early 20th century.


Elizabeth Cady Stanton as Revealed in Her Letters, Diary and Reminiscences (ed. by Blatch with T. Stanton, 1922).


Flexner, E., A Century of Struggle (1959). Lutz, A., Created Equal (1940). Stanton, E. C., Eighty Years and More (1898).

Reference Works:

Dictionary of American Biography, National Cyclopedia of American Biography (1892 et seq.). NAW, 1607-1950 (1971).