Harriot Eaton Stanton was born on January 20, 1856 in Seneca Falls, New York, to social activists Henry Brewster Stanton and Elizabeth Cady Stanton, the sixth of seven children. She attended Vassar College, where she graduated with a degree in mathematics in 1878. She attended the Boston School for Oratory for a year, and then spent most of 1880-1881 in Germany as a tutor for young girls.
On her return voyage to the United States, she met English businessman William Blatch. Blatch and Harriot Stanton were married in 1882, and lived at The Mount, Basingstoke, Hampshire, England for twenty years. They had two daughters, the first of whom died at age four. Their second daughter Nora continued the family tradition as a suffragist, was the first American woman to earn a degree in civil engineering, and was briefly married to Lee De Forest. William Blatch died on August 2, 1915, after being accidentally electrocuted.
In 1881, Harriot Stanton worked with her mother and Susan B. Anthony on the History of Woman Suffrage. She contributed a major chapter to the second volume, in which she included the history of the American Woman Suffrage Association, a rival of Stanton and Anthony’s National Woman Suffrage Association. This action would help to reconcile the two organizations.
While in England, she performed a statistical study of rural English working women’s conditions, for which she received her M.A. from Vassar. She also worked with English social reform groups, including the Women’s Local Government Society, the Fabian Society, and the Women’s Franchise League. In the Women’s Franchise League, she developed organizing techniques that she would later use in America.
On returning to the United States in 1902, Blatch sought to reinvigorate the American women’s suffrage movement, which had stagnated. She initially joined the leadership of the Women’s Trade Union League. In 1907, she founded the Equality League of Self-Supporting Women (later renamed the Women’s Political Union), to recruit working class women into the suffrage movement. The core membership of the league comprised 20,000 factory, laundry, and garment workers from the Lower East Side of New York City. Through this group, Blatch organized and lead the 1910 New York suffrage parade. The Union achieved significant political strength, and actively lobbied for a state constitutional amendment to give women the vote, which was achieved in 1917. In 1915, Blatch’s Women’s Political Union merged with Alice Paul and Lucy Burns‘ Congressional Union.
During World War I, Blatch devoted her time to the war effort, heading the Women’s Land Army, which provided additional farm labor. She wrote Mobilizing Woman Power in 1918, about women’s role in the war effort, urging women to “go to work”. Later, in 1920, she published A Woman’s Point of View, where she took a pacifist position due to the destruction of the war.
After the passage of the Nineteenth Amendment in 1920, Blatch joined the National Woman’s Party to fight for passage of the Equal Rights Amendment, rather than the protective legislation supported by the Women’s Trade Union League. She also joined the Socialist Party, and was nominated for New York City Comptroller and later the New York State Assembly, but did not win office. She eventually left the party, because of its support for protective legislation for women workers.
During the 1920s, Blatch also worked on behalf of the League of Nations, proposing improvements for the amendments to the League’s Covenant.
In 1939, Blatch suffered a fractured hip and moved to a nursing home in Greenwich, Connecticut. Her memoir, Challenging Years, was published in 1940, the same year that she died.