Harriot Stanton Blatch (1856-1940)

Founder of the WPU

No women in the world are as humiliated in asking for the vote as the American woman.  The English, the French, the German Women all appeal to the men of nationality. The American woman appeals to men of twenty-six nationalities.  -After the defeat of the 1915 suffrage campaign.

Harriot Stanton Blatch (1856-1940) helped to revolutionize and shape New York State’s suffrage movement from a 19th century movement of upper class, white women to a modern 20th century reform movement involving women from all classes and ethnic backgrounds, except African American women. 

Blatch was the second daughter and sixth child of Elizabeth Cady Stanton. Upon graduation from Vassar College in 1878, she travelled the suffrage lecture circuit with her mother and then moved to England where she met and married William Henry Blatch, Jr. While in England, she worked with women-focused reform groups and was heavily influenced by the power of the organized working classes and the militant tactics of the British suffragists. 

Blatch returned to the United States in 1902 with her family and settled in New York City. She expected to jump into the suffrage movement, but was shocked to find it clinging to 19th century tactics.  Blatch and a small group of women wanted to modernize the movement and soon realized that they had to abandon the traditional NYSWSA and create their own group. The result was the formation of the Equality League of Self-Supporting Women which would later become the Women’s Political Union (WPU).