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11.2.6 The first convention ever called to discuss the civil and political rights of women, Seneca Falls, N.Y., July 19, 20, 1848

Caption title. "This call was published in the Seneca County courier, July 14, 1848, without any signatures. The movers of this convention, who drafted the call, the declaration and resolutions were Elizabeth Cady Stanton, Lucretia Mott, Martha C. Wright, Mary Ann McClintock, and Jane C. Hunt"--Footnote. Includes p. [1] first and closing paragraphs of Mrs. Stanton's address. Also available in digital form on the Library of Congress Web site. Excerpt from the Seneca Falls Declaration of Sentiments.
Woman's Rights Convention, Lucy Stone, and National American Woman Suffrage Association Collection.
after 1848
Printed Material
Library of Congress

Woman's Rights Convention, Lucy Stone, and National American Woman Suffrage Association Collection. The first convention ever called to discuss the civil and political rights of women, Seneca Falls, N.Y., July 19, 20. After 1848. From the Library of Congress, National American Woman Suffrage Association Collection. https://www.loc.gov/resource/rbnawsa.n7548/

Produced in 1848, before the American Civil War and more than 70 years before women won the right to vote at the federal level, the Declaration of Sentiments produced at the convention in Seneca Falls, New York, is regarded as one of the most important foundational documents in the women’s rights movement. Women’s rights advocates such as Elizabeth Cady Stanton and Lucretia Mott called for this convention and helped to author this declaration. Writers of the Declaration of Sentiments consciously modeled it after the Declaration of Independence, which, less than 100 years earlier, became the foundation for the American Revolution. Why do you think these women’s rights advocates used language similar to that used by the leaders of the American Revolution? How does this document help us answer the question, Why did women want the right to vote, and how did they convince men to grant it to them? What specific grievances and resolutions in these excerpts address the question?

Produced in 1848, before the American Civil War and more than 70 years before women won the right to vote at the federal level, the Declaration of Sentiments produced at the convention in Seneca Falls, New York, is regarded as one of the most important foundational documents in the women’s rights movement. Women’s rights advocates such as Elizabeth Cady Stanton and Lucretia Mott called for this convention and helped to author this declaration. Writers of the Declaration of Sentiments consciously modeled it after the Declaration of Independence, which, less than 100 years earlier, became the foundation for the American Revolution. At the time of the convention, suffrage was one of the least popular of their proposals and was just one piece of a multifaceted women’s rights argument. It was not until after Reconstruction that women’s rights activists increasingly described their campaign as a woman’s suffrage movement. Ask students to consider these questions as they connect this document and the historical context to broader arguments and strategies that relate to suffrage: Why do you think these women’s rights advocates used language similar to that used by the leaders of the American Revolution? How does this document help us answer the question, Why did women want the right to vote, and how did they convince men to grant it to them? What specific grievances and resolutions in these excerpts address the question?

Excerpt from the Seneca Falls Declaration of Sentiments:

"We hold these truths to be self-evident: that all men and women are created equal; that they are endowed by their Creator with certain inalienable rights, that among these are life, liberty, and the pursuit of happiness; that to secure these rights governments are instituted, deriving their just powers from the consent of the governed. Whenever any form of government becomes destructive of these ends, it is the right of those who suffer from it to refuse allegiance to it, and to insist upon the institution of a new government, laying its foundation on such principles, and organizing its powers in such form as to them shall seem most likely to effect their safety and happiness….

The history of mankind is a history of repeated injuries and usurpations on the part of man toward woman, having in direct object the establishment of an absolute tyranny over her. To prove this, let facts be submitted to a candid world.
He has never permitted her to exercise her inalienable right to the elective franchise.
He has compelled her to submit to laws, in the formation of which she had no voice.

He has withheld from her rights which are given to the most ignorant and degraded men — both natives and foreigners.

Having deprived her of this first right of a citizen, the elective franchise, thereby leaving her without representation in the halls of legislation, he has oppressed her on all sides.

He has made her, if married, in the eye of the law, civilly dead. He has taken from her all right in property, even to the wages she earns.

He has made her, morally, an irresponsible being, as she can commit many crimes with impunity, provided they be done in the presence of her husband. In the covenant of marriage, she is compelled to promise obedience to her husband, he becoming, to all intents and purposes, her master — the law giving him power to deprive her of her liberty, and to administer chastisement.
He has so framed the laws of divorce, as to what shall be the proper causes of divorce; in case of separation, to whom the guardianship of the children shall be given; as to be wholly regardless of the happiness of women — the law, in all cases, going upon a false supposition of the supremacy of man, and giving all power into his hands….
Resolved, That woman is man's equal — was intended to be so by the Creator — and the highest good of the race demands that she should be recognized as such.

Resolved, That the women of this country ought to be enlightened in regard to the laws under which they live, that they may no longer publish their degradation, by declaring themselves satisfied with their present position, nor their ignorance, by asserting that they have all the rights they want…
Resolved, That it is the duty of the women of this country to secure to themselves their sacred right to the elective franchise.

Resolved, That the equality of human rights results necessarily from the fact of the identity of the race in capabilities and responsibilities."