Henry Browne Blackwell was born in 1825, May 4, in England, Bristol, Gloucestershire. He died in 1909, September 7. He was the son of Samuel and Hannah Lane Blackwell. He was the seventh born out of the nine children. Together with others they founded the American Woman Suffrage and the Republican Party. In Boston, Massachusetts together with his wife Lucy Stone they published the Womans Journal. He was a renowned American advocate for economic and social reform. His father had a sugar refinery and his work clashed with Henrys abolitionist principles (Blackwell, 20-23). In the industry of sugar refinery his father was a flourishing businessman. His father taught him and his siblings how to care for the people equally regardless of their social class, sex or race. In 1832, Henrys family emigrated from England when he was only 7 years old to the United States. His childhood years were spent in New York where his father set up a sugar refinery. Samuel Blackwell advised his children to act upon their beliefs. The family became involved actively in nascent abolition movement. Their Long Island residence served often as an asylum for abolitionists who had been persecuted. The Blackwells financially were not doing well in the U.S as they used to be in England. The situation of their sugar business worsened and until the 1837 financial panic which completely destroyed it. Due to this, they again immigrated to Cincinnati, Ohio, where they started all over again. Samuel died shortly after they arrived leaving the family in a financial crisis. Blackwell in 1840 was admitted in Kemper College with the goal of becoming a lawyer.
The Blackwell women due to the poor financial situation, they opened a girls day school while Henry and his brother found office jobs as clerks. In 1845, he partnered and ventured into the flour mill business where he was the operations manager. Since he yearned for financial independence he ventured into sugar refinery which also failed. Together with his brother they started a hardware business. In 1850, he became the travelling associate of Blackwells, Ryland and Coombs. During this time he was also involved in the movement of anti-slavery in Ohio and other humanitarian movements. On seeing how his sister struggled in the U.S to turn into the first female medical doctor, his interest for the movement of the womens suffrage grew. In 1853, at a conference in Cleveland, Ohio he made a public speech supporting the womens suffrage movement which was his first. He attended later in the same year in Massachusetts a legislative meeting, where an ardent feminist, Lucy Stone, spoke supporting a petition by the womens suffrage (Million, 70-72). Blackwell after the first meeting, he began courting Stone.
During the courtship, arguments of Blackwell shifted regardless of the laws of society how the marriages could be shaped. He vowed to her that he would dedicate himself to the movement and after courting for two years, the two activists got married. On getting married they signed a treaty of equality, agreeing that Lucy would maintain her maiden name among other things. They also made an open remark against the marriage law inequalities of that time, particularly in respect to the married women property rights. They agreed that each one of them would enjoy their personal autonomy and independence. September 14, 1857 Lucy gave birth to their daughter Alice Stone Blackwell.
National Womans Rights Convention in 1866, did vote into the American Equal Rights Association (AERA) to work under universal suffrage. Henry was the secretary to the organization. Blackwell and Stone in 1866-67, they lectured on universal suffrage and came up with Local Equal Rights Leagues in New Jersey and New York. They travelled to Washington D.C to urge Charles Sumner against including the word male proposed in fourteenth Amendment which was expected to punish states for refuting black suffrage and not woman suffrage. Stone and Blackwell in Connecticut addressed a committee of Legislatures to support the removal of the word male from voter qualifications of the state constitution. Henry and Stone on their return to the East, they concentrated on creating the woman suffrage demand apart from calling for Universal suffrage by AERA (Housego, 60-62). They held a series of meetings on womens rights allover New Jersey where thereafter they called for a convention of the state to come up with a woman suffrage society. The organizations aim was to promote the rights of women in the states rather than at the federal level. Since he was successful in his earlier businesses, he was able to delegate most of his time to this movement.
In 1896, he addressed the House of Representatives of the United States on behalf of the Association of the American Womens Suffrage stating that, It is as much for the interest of men as women, as much the duty of men as women to advocate the cause of the womens suffrage. In Boston, 1870, the Womans Journal magazine was founded by the couple which was primarily devoted to professional women. The Blackwells financed the project and they edited the magazine. Even though he was so much involved in the fight for womens rights he also opposed publicly the political refugees deportation, the 1895 Armenian massacres and Pogroms of Russia. Henry Blackwell died on 1909, September 7, eleven years before suffrage was granted to women in the U.S.
In conclusion, the life of Henry Blackwell was mostly devoted into fighting for human rights regardless of ones social class, skin color and sex. He was mostly involved in fighting for the rights of women especially on their voting and survival rights. He was against slave trade. Together with his wife they were able to realize their dreams regarding the vision of their movement.
Blackwell, family, Alice S. Blackwell, Elizabeth Blackwell, Henry B. Blackwell, Kitty B. Blackwell, and Lucy Stone. The Papers of the Blackwell Family. Washington, D.C.: Library of Congress Photo duplication Service, 1979.
Housego, Molly, and Neil R. Storey. The Women's Suffrage Movement. Oxford: Shire Publications, 2012.
Million, Joelle. Woman's Voice, Woman's Place: Lucy Stone and the Birth of the Woman's Rights Movement. Westport, Conn: Praeger, 2003.
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