In 1851 Anthony met Elizabeth Cady Stanton, and over the next year the two women discovered the sort of liberating partnership they could forge. Their ideas were converging. Anthony had found women welcome in the temperance movement as long as they confined themselves to a separate sphere and did not expect an equal role with men, while Stanton had focused her attention on the need for women to reform law in their own interests, both to improve their conditions and to challenge the "maleness" of current law. In 1852 Anthony and Stanton founded the Women's New York State Temperance Society, which, even in its name, claimed an equality with the leading male society and featured women's right to vote on the temperance question and to divorce drunken husbands. Beginning as an agent for this society, Anthony became a full-time reformer.
Through the 1850s Anthony and Stanton made New York State the nation's showpiece of women's rights agitation. To the struggle for equality in the increasingly political temperance movement, they added campaigns for coeducation, modeled "Bloomers," a costume that freed women from the constraints of fashionable dress, and, through their New York State Woman's Rights Committee, presented the legislature with demands for suffrage, married women's property rights, mothers' custody rights, liberalized divorce laws, and rights associated with specific jobs performed by women.