August 13, 2011
An ardent crusader against slavery and for woman suffrage, LUCY STONE (1818-93) is best remembered today for keeping her birth name after marriage; she was, as far as we know, the first American woman to do so. At the time of Stone’s wedding to fellow abolitionist Henry Blackwell in 1855, a woman gave up virtually everything when she said “I do.” In most states, a married woman was legally barred from owning real estate, inheriting property, or making a will; both she and her children were considered to be under her husband’s exclusive custody and control. Stone and Blackwell entered marriage under protest, as they explained in a handbill distributed to their wedding guests: “We believe… that marriage should be an equal and permanent partnership… that until it is so recognized, married partners should provide against the radical injustice of the present laws, by every means in their power.” (Oh, Lucy and Henry, it gets better.) Keeping her birth name (a practice to which she fully committed in 1856) was but one of several means by which Stone fought the patriarchy; it caught on. The Lucy Stone League, which encouraged and supported women who kept their names after marriage, was founded in 1921 with the slogan, “My name is the symbol for my identity and must not be lost.”
MORE ACTIVISTS: Mother Jones | Alexander Berkman | Eugene V. Debs | Tina Modotti | Big Bill Haywood | Lucy Stone | Antônio Conselheiro | Emmeline Pankhurst | Félix Fénéon | Meridel Le Sueur | Pierre-Joseph Proudhon | Zo d’Axa | Mikhail Bakunin | Voltairine de Cleyre | Emma Goldman | Will Allen | Rosa Luxemburg | Simone de Beauvoir | Émile Henry | Pancho Villa | Joe Hill | Margaret Sanger | Aldo Leopold | Screaming Lord Sutch | Nestor Makhno | Dorothy Day | Garry Kasparov | Adriano Olivetti | Mildred Harnack | Frederick Douglass | Murray Bookchin | George Orwell | Bayard Rustin | Abbie Hoffman | Ti-Grace Atkinson | Gloria Steinem | Rudolf Rocker | Stokely Carmichael | Angela Davis
READ MORE about members of the Retrogressivist Generation (1815-24).