lucretia-mott

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July 19th 1848: Seneca Falls convenes

On this day in 1848, the Seneca Falls Convention on women’s rights convened in New York state. A pivotal moment in the history of first wave feminism, the event was organised by feminist campaigners Lucretia Mott and Elizabeth Cady Stanton. Mott and Stanton, both abolitionists, were inspired to hold the convention when their gender barred them from speaking at the 1840 World Anti-Slavery Convention in London. The 1848 convention was attended by over two hundred women. On the first day, Stanton read the ‘Declaration of Sentiments and Grievances’ to the attendees, a document which closely followed the 1776 Declaration of Independence, placing women’s rights at the centre of notions of American freedom and equality. As the original declaration listed American grievances with the British throne, so did Stanton’s detail men’s crimes against women, which included denial of the ‘inalienable right’ to vote, unfair marriage laws, and unequal education and work opportunities. On the convention’s second day, men were invited to attend and address the crowd, the most prominent of whom was black abolitionist Frederick Douglass. Indeed, Douglass eloquently argued for the inclusion of female suffrage in the convention’s resolutions, a measure which was backed by Stanton but opposed by Mott. Seneca Falls galvanised the incipient women’s rights movement, and was followed by annual women’s rights conventions. Female suffrage was finally granted in 1920, with Charlotte Woodward Pierce being the only signer of the Declaration of Sentiments living to see this achievement. 

“We hold these truths to be self-evident: that all men and women are created equal”
- Declaration of Sentiments

americamagazine.org
The Feminist Case Against Abortion
by Serrin M. Foster

Not all feminists support abortion. Properly defined, feminism is a philosophy that embraces basic rights for all human beings without exception—without regard to race, religion, sex, size, age, location, disability or parentage. Feminism rejects the use of force to dominate, control or destroy anyone.

The organization Feminists for Life continues a 200-year-old tradition begun by Mary Wollstonecraft in England in 1792. Decrying the sexual exploitation of women in A Vindication of the Rights of Woman, Wollstonecraft also condemned those who would “either destroy the embryo in the womb or cast it off when born,” saying: “Nature in everything deserves respect, and those who violate her laws seldom violate them with impunity.”

Mary Wollstonecraft died from complications following the birth of her second baby girl, who was named Mary in her honor. Like her mother, the younger Mary would become a great writer, producing one of the greatest novels ever to address the dangers of violating nature—Frankenstein, by Mary Wollstonecraft Godwin Shelley.

Fifty years after Mary Wollstonecraft’s book was published, Lucretia Mott and Elizabeth Cady Stanton traveled to England to fight for the abolition of slavery. Barred from speaking at the 1842 World Anti-Slavery Convention simply because they were women, Mott and Stanton determined to hold a convention advancing the rights of women.

At that time, American women could not vote or hold property. They could not control their own money, sit on a jury or even testify on their own behalf. Women’s rights to assemble, speak freely, attend college and maintain child custody after divorce or spousal death were severely limited. Marital rape went unacknowledged. The early American feminists—facing conditions similar to those in developing countries today—were strongly opposed to abortion; despite their own struggles, they believed in the worth of all human lives.

Abortion was common in the 1800s. Sarah Norton, who with Susan B. Anthony successfully argued for women’s admission to Cornell University, wrote in 1870:

Child murderers practice their profession without let or hindrance, and open infant butcheries unquestioned…. Perhaps there will come a day when…an unmarried mother will not be despised because of her motherhood…and when the right of the unborn to be born will not be denied or interfered with.

In 1868 Eleanor Kirk, a novelist turned activist, linked the need for women’s rights with the need to protect the unborn. When a woman told her that suffrage was unnecessary because she and her husband were “one,” Kirk asked what would become of her babies if her husband ceased to provide for them:

What will become of the babies—did you ask—and you? Can you not see that the idea is to educate women that they may be self-reliant, self-sustaining, self-respected? The wheel is a big one, and needs a strong push, and a push all together, giving to it an impulse that will keep it constantly revolving, and the first revolution must be Female Suffrage.

Without known exception, the early feminists condemned abortion in no uncertain terms. In the radical feminist newspaper The Revolution, the founder, Susan B. Anthony, and the co-editor, Elizabeth Cady Stanton, refused to publish advertisements for “Foeticides and Infanticides.” Stanton, who in 1848 organized the first women’s convention in Seneca Falls, N.Y., classified abortion as a form of “infanticide” and, referring to the “murder of children, either before or after birth,” said, “We believe the cause of all these abuses lies in the degradation of women.”

Early feminists argued that women who had abortions were responsible for their actions but that they resorted to abortion primarily because, within families and throughout society, they lacked autonomy, financial resources and emotional support. A passage in Susan B. Anthony’s newspaper states:

Guilty? Yes, no matter what the motive, love of ease, or a desire to save from suffering the unborn innocent, the woman is awfully guilty who commits the deed. It will burden her conscience in life, it will burden her soul in death; but oh, thrice guilty is he who drove her to the desperation which impelled her to the crime!

Victoria Woodhull, the first woman to run for president (in 1872), concurred. In her own newspaper, Woodhull and Claflin’s Weekly, Woodhull wrote: “The rights of children, then, as individuals, begin while they yet remain the foetus.” Woodhull and her sister, Tennessee Claflin, declared, “Pregnancy is not a disease, but a beautiful office of nature.”

Clearly, we have a wealth of evidence contradicting the lie that feminists must support abortion. Some who begrudgingly admit the early American feminists were anti-abortion have suggested that their stance arose from Victorian attitudes about sex. That is not true either. Elizabeth Cady Stanton shocked Victorian society by parading around in public visibly pregnant. She raised a flag to celebrate the birth of her son. Stanton celebrated womanhood. She was in-your-face about her ability to have children.

But like today’s pro-life feminists, our feminist foremothers also recognized that women need not bear children to share in the celebration of womanhood. Susan B. Anthony was once complimented by a man who said that she “ought to have been a wife and mother.” Anthony replied:

Sweeter even than to have had the joy of caring for children of my own has it been to me to help bring about a better state of things for mothers generally, so their unborn little ones could not be willed away from them.

In her later years, Anthony passed on the responsibility for women’s rights to a new generation, just as we must prepare to do. At the turn of the century, one young woman, Alice Paul, assumed leadership. Paul fought tirelessly for passage of the 19th Amendment, which in 1920 finally guaranteed to American women the right to vote.

The Betrayal of Modern Women

Much later in life, Alice Paul was asked by a friend what she thought of linking abortion to women’s rights. The author of the original Equal Rights Amendment called abortion “the ultimate exploitation of women.” Yet what earlier feminists called a “disgusting and degrading crime” was, in the 1970s, lauded as the most fundamental right, without which all other rights are meaningless. So how did the second wave feminist movement come to embrace abortion?

Two of the male founders of the National Association to Repeal Abortion Laws were among the first to portray abortion as a “right” rather than an act of violence. Larry Lader promoted abortion as population control. His NARAL cofounder, Dr. Bernard Nathanson, saw a botched abortion in Chicago and reasoned that “legal” would mean “safer.” Nathanson later became pro-life. But in the early 1970s, the men traveled the country advocating the repeal of what they believed to be antiquated abortion laws. After failing to convince legislators that anti-abortion laws were “archaic,” Lader saw an opportunity. According to Nathanson, Lader approached leaders of the women’s movement. He reasoned that if a woman wanted to be educated like a man, hired like a man and promoted like a man, women should not expect their employers to accommodate pregnancy.

Forty-two years after the Roe v. Wade decision legalizing abortion, many within the pro-life movement focus on the undeniable humanity of each unborn child, clearly visible through the millions of sonograms obtained by proud parents each year. But it is also a good time to evaluate the impact that Roe v. Wade attorney Sarah Weddington’s pro-abortion arguments have had on women.

In 1973, Weddington exposed the discrimination and other injustices faced by pregnant women who are poor or in the workplace or school. But she did not demand that these injustices be remedied. Instead, she demanded for women the “right” to submit to these injustices by destroying their pregnancies. Weddington repeatedly said that women need “relief” from pregnancy, instead of arguing that women need relief from these injustices.

What if Weddington had used her legal acumen to challenge the system and address women’s needs? Women are not suddenly stupid when they become pregnant. They can still read, write and think. But by accepting pregnancy discrimination in school and in the workplace, by accepting the widespread lack of support for pregnant women and parents—especially among the poor—Weddington and the Supreme Court betrayed women and undermined the support women need and deserve.

The Failing Report Card

Planned Parenthood is the largest provider of abortions in the United States. According to the Guttmacher Institute, their former research arm:

• Three out of four women who have abortions say that having a baby would interfere with work, school or the ability to care for a dependent.

• 69 percent are economically disadvantaged.

• 61 percent are already mothers.

• Women of color are disproportionately at risk of abortion.

• Half of all abortions are performed on women who have already had an abortion.

• 44 percent of all abortions are performed on college-age women.

All too often, the root causes underlying these statistics are shame and fear generated about pregnancy by the attitudes of parents, friends and the fathers of children. Fatherhood has been diminished. Children are disconnected from their fathers, who have rights as well as responsibilities. And millions of women have paid the price. Women, many impoverished because of the billions owed to mothers for child support, are struggling in school and the workplace without societal support. After all, when “it’s her body, it’s her choice,” it’s her problem.

For all these reasons and more, more than a million times a year in the United States, a woman lays her body down or swallows a bitter pill called “choice”—driven to abortion because of a lack of resources and support.

Abortion solves nothing. Almost four decades after Roe, we mourn the loss of 57 million American children that we will never meet. We will never know what they might have contributed to this world. But we must also remember the hundreds of women and teens who have lost their lives to legal but lethal abortion because they did not want to inconvenience us with their pregnancies.

We mourn with the parents of Holly Patterson, who died from sepsis after she took RU-486, and with the parents of Dawn Ravenell, the 13-year-old girl who never came home after she had an abortion without her parent’s knowledge. We mourn with the husband of Karnamaya Mongar, a poor immigrant who died as a result of her abortion at the hands of the convicted murderer Kermit Gosnell. Where is the outrage from women’s advocates?

Hard Cases, Exceptional Choices

Talking about abortion brings out raw emotions. Nothing is more divisive than talk about pregnancy and rape, and nothing challenges pro-life beliefs more than this heated issue. Just as we have challenged thinking about special-needs babies and their parents, we must help women who have conceived during rape and welcome children conceived in violence.

We must help people have the courage to look into the face of a child conceived during rape and say, “You didn’t deserve the death penalty.” The circumstances of one’s conception do not determine a person’s worth. These children should not be regarded as “exceptions.” But their mothers should be recognized as “exceptional.” And as advocates of life, peace and justice, we will never trade one form of violence for another.

Today we stand in solidarity with women coerced into abortion because they felt they had no choice. We stand with women who were vulnerable because they were young, or poor, or in schools or workplaces that would not accommodate their needs as mothers.

We stand in solidarity with women who have been betrayed by those they count on the most, with women who have underestimated their own strength, with women who have experienced abortion and are silent no more, with young men and women who mourn their missing siblings. We mourn with men who weren’t given a choice or who contributed to an abortion that they now regret.

In all its forms, abortion has masked—rather than solved—the problems women face. Abortion is a failed experiment on women. Why celebrate failure?

Addressing Root Causes

For decades, abortion advocates have asked, “What about the woman?” And pro-lifers have answered, “What about the baby?” This does nothing to address the needs of women who are pregnant. We should start by addressing the needs of women—for family housing, child care, maternity coverage, for the ability to telecommute to school or work, to job-share, to make a living wage and to find practical resources.

As pro-life employers and educators, we must examine our own policies and practices in our own communities, workplaces, colleges and universities. With woman-centered problem solving, we can set the example for the nation and the world. We must ramp up efforts to systemically address the unmet needs of struggling parents, birthparents and victims of domestic violence and sexual assault.

Because 61 percent of abortions are performed on mothers who already have dependents, Feminists for Life is determined to help those facing tough economic times; FFL has published “Raising Kids on a Shoestring,” a national directory filled with creative, frugal and free solutions for pregnant women, parents and advisors.

And Feminists for Life advocates unconditional support for women who lovingly place their babies into the arms of adoptive couples. We applaud birthmothers like the former FFL board chair Jessica O’Connor-Petts, who tells us that “adoption can be an empowering option for women.”

We must focus our efforts on collegians who have never known a day without legal abortion. Forty-three percent of all abortions are performed on college-age women, women who will become our future leaders and educators in every field. For these reasons, Feminists for Life’s flagship effort is our college outreach program.

In addition to teaching the rich, pro-life feminist history that we have uncovered, we have been moderating FFL Pregnancy Resource Forums at campuses across the country. The first such panel discussion was at Georgetown University in 1997. Administrators, community leaders and students came together in a nonconfrontational setting to identify available resources on and off campus and to set priorities for new policies, resources and ways to communicate nonviolent options.

Within two years, Georgetown University’s board of trustees set aside endowed housing for parenting students. The Hoya Kids Learning Center was established. Pregnant and parenting students had access to health services and user-friendly information on the school’s website. Students created volunteer babysitting services. A “safety net” team of university administrators organized to ensure that no pregnant women—including birthmothers and international students—fall through the cracks. And every year, Georgetown hosts a Pregnancy Resource Forum to take another look at ways they can improve.

The first Georgetown forum started with the story of a woman who had an abortion because she did not know where to go for help. At the 14th annual forum, babies played on the floor. Beaming mothers told us they have “everything [they] need.” This past fall I moderated the 19th annual forum at Georgetown University. Because of our early efforts at Georgetown, Villanova and Notre Dame, this is the first year that babies born with the support of administrators are now likely entering college themselves.

Other colleges have also expanded their support for student parents. Pepperdine University created a task force to support pregnant women, adjusting policies to better suit student parents’ needs and building family housing. A donor recently stepped forward to fund a housing scholarship. Abbot Placid Solari and the monks of Belmont Abbey donated land adjacent to Belmont Abbey for “A Room at the Inn,” now called Mira-Via, so that women will not feel pressured to terminate either their pregnancies or their educations. Pregnant women and new mothers can now have their babies and continue with school.

Pro-life and pro-choice students came together at Wellesley College to hold a rummage sale benefitting a pregnant student who lost her financial aid for housing. The young woman had her baby and graduated. A University of Virginia student started a babysitting club. Berkeley Students for Life held bake sales to pay for diaper decks. Students for Life at St. Louis University started a scholarship fund for child care. There are many other examples like this as the ideas of Feminists for Life members and supporters go viral.

In 2010, FFL Pregnancy Resource Forums findings became the inspiration for federal grants to states through the Department of Health and Human Services’ Pregnancy Assistance Fund. After the first 10 years of FFL’s College Outreach Program, Planned Parenthood reported a 30 percent drop in abortions among college-educated women.

Women Deserve Better

Abortion betrays the basic feminist principles of nonviolence, nondiscrimination and justice for all. Abortion is a reflection that we have not met the needs of women—and that women have settled for less. Women deserve better.

Forty years after Sarah Weddington capitulated to inherently unfair practices against pregnant and parenting women, we say no to the status quo. We refuse to choose between women and children.

More than a century ago, the same women who fought for women’s rights and for the rights of slaves to be free also fought to protect women and children from abortion. We continue their fight in the spirit of Mattie Brinkerhoff, who wrote in 1869 in The Revolution:

When a man steals to satisfy hunger, we can safely assume that there is something wrong in society—so when a woman destroys the life of her unborn child, it is an evidence that either by education or circumstances she has been greatly wronged.

Feminism was born of abolition. All people are equal. Not all choices are equal. We envision a better day, a day when womanhood is celebrated, mothers are supported, fatherhood is honored and every child is cherished.

If you refuse to choose between women and children, if you work to systematically eliminate the root causes that drive women to abortion, then you already follow in the footsteps of Susan B. Anthony and our other feminist foremothers, whether you call yourself a feminist or not.

Serrin M. Foster is president of Feminists for Life of America, the creator of the Women Deserve Better campaign and editor in chief of The American Feminist. Since 1994 the author has focused her efforts on serving women at high risk of abortion, including the poor, victims of violence and college-age women. This essay, adapted from the landmark speech“The Feminist Case Against Abortion,” is part of America’s coverage of issues related to the Synod of Bishops on the Family.

Meet the women on the new $10 bill

Lucretia Mott, Sojourner Truth, Susan B. Anthony, Elizabeth Cady Stanton and Alice Paul will be on the back of the bill, while Alexander Hamilton’s image will still appear on the front, the Treasury Department announced.

“I’m very excited by it, and I think it’s much bigger than just honoring one woman,” Treasury Secretary Jack Lew told NBC News. “This is about saying that our money is going to tell a much bigger part of our story.”

Read more here: http://on.msnbc.com/1XKmTUt

July 19, 1848: Seneca Falls Convention for Women’s Rights

On this day in 1848, the first-ever United States women’s rights convention began in Seneca Falls, New York.  Organized by Lucretia Mott and Elizabeth Cady Stanton, the Convention was attended by approximately 300 men and women and was considered to be the beginning of the Women’s Suffrage Movement.

Explore the Women’s Movement in this interactive timeline from the Ken Burns and Paul Barnes film, “Not For Ourselves Alone: The Story of Elizabeth Cady Stanton and Susan B. Anthony”.


Photo: Library of Congress, head-and-shoulder portraits of seven important figures of the suffrage and women’s rights movement (Mott, Lucretia; Greenwood, Grace; Stanton, Elizabeth Cady; Dickinson, Anna E.; Livermore, Mary Ashton Rice; Anthony, Susan B.; Child, Lydia Maria).

Elizabeth Cady Stanton, Lucretia Mott and Susan B. Anthony in the US Capitol Rotunda

The Washington Post had a really interesting article about the lack of monuments to women in the US.  Nationwide less than 8 percent of the 5,193 public outdoor individual statues in the US are of women. Only nine of the 100 statues in the Capitol’s National Statuary Hall represent women.   

EVE (Equal Visibility Everywhere) is working on correcting this imbalance.  Right now they are working to get a Maryland statue for Harriet Tubman and a Kansas statue for Amelia Earhart.  You can help by donating or volunteering.  If you’re a history major, this seems like a really cool project to intern on.  

feminist.com
The Untold Story of The Iroquois Influence On Early Feminists by Sally Roesch Wagner

Feminism & Native American history were my twin obsessions in 1996; if I had found this article then I think I might have died in ecstasy. 

What a vision of (not-quite) communal life:

It is difficult for white Americans today to picture the extended period in history when – before the United States government’s Indian-reservation system, like apartheid, concretized a separation of the races in the last half of the nineteenth century – regular trade, cultural sharing, even friendship between Native Americans and Euro-Americans was common. Perhaps nowhere was this now-lost social ease more evident than in the towns and villages in upstate New York where Elizabeth Cady Stanton and Matilda Joslyn Gage lived, and Lucretia Mott visited. All three suffragists personally knew Iroquois women, citizens of the six-nation confederacy (Seneca, Cayuga, Onondaga, Oneida, Mohawk, and later Tuscarora) that had established peace among themselves before Columbus came to this “old” world.

Stanton, Gage, and Mott regularly read newspaper accounts of everyday Iroquois activities – a recent condolence ceremony (to mourn a chief’s death and to set in place a new one); the latest sports scores (a lacrosse match between the Mohawk and the Onondaga); a Quaker council called to ask Seneca women to leave their fields and work in the home (as the Friends said God commanded but as Mott opposed). Stanton, Gage, and Mott could also read that according to interviews with white teachers at various Indian nations, Indian men did not rape women. Front page stories admonished big-city dandies to learn a thing or two from Indian men’s example, so that white women too could walk around any time of the day or night without fear.

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On This Day in History July 19, 1848: Organized by Women’s Rights advocates and abolitionists Lucretia Mott and Elizabeth Cady Stanton, the Women’s Rights Convention at the Wesleyan Chapel in Seneca Falls, N.Y. was held. In attendance were close to 200 women. What did these women want by convening at Seneca Falls? According to the post 1848 Seneca Falls Convention begins from the History Channel website:

On July 19, 200 women convened at the Wesleyan Chapel, and Stanton read the “Declaration of Sentiments and Grievances,” a treatise that she had drafted over the previous few days. Stanton’s declaration was modeled closely on the Declaration of Independence, and its preamble featured the proclamation, “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…” The Declaration of Sentiments and Grievances then detailed the injustices inflicted upon women in the United States and called upon U.S. women to organize and petition for their rights.

Here is the text of the Declaration of Sentiments:

The Declaration of Sentiments

When, in the course of human events, it becomes necessary for one portion of the family of man to assume among the people of the earth a position different from that which they have hitherto occupied, but one to which the laws of nature and of nature’s God entitle them, a decent respect to the opinions of mankind requires that they should declare the causes that impel them to such a course.

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. Prudence, indeed, will dictate that governments long established should not be changed for light and transient causes; and accordingly all experience hath shown that mankind are more disposed to suffer. while evils are sufferable, than to right themselves by abolishing the forms to which they are accustomed. But when a long train of abuses and usurpations, pursuing invariably the same object, evinces a design to reduce them under absolute despotism, it is their duty to throw off such government, and to provide new guards for their future security. Such has been the patient sufferance of the women under this government, and such is now the necessity which constrains them to demand the equal station to which they are entitled. 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.

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 tyrranny 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, and in case of separation, to whom the guardianship of the children shall be given, as to be wholly regardles of the happiness of women–the law, in all cases, going upon a flase supposition of the supremacy of man, and giving all power into his hands.

After depriving her of all rights as a married woman, if single, and the owner of property, he has taxed her to support a government which recognizes her only when her property can be made profitable to it.

He has monopolized nearly all the profitable employments, and from those she is permitted to follow, she receives but a scanty remuneration. He closes against her all the avenues to wealth and distinction which he considers most honorable to himself. As a teacher of theology, medicine, or law, she is not known.

He has denied her the facilities for obtaining a thorough education, all colleges being closed against her.

He allows her in church, as well as state, but a subordinate position, claiming apostolic authority for her exclusion from the ministry, and, with some exceptions, from any public participation in the affairs of the church.

He has created a false public sentiment by giving to the world a different code of morals for men and women, by which moral delinquencies which exclude women from society, are not only tolerated, but deemed of little account in man.

He has usurped the prerogative of Jehovah himself, claiming it as his right to assign for her a sphere of action, when that belongs to her conscience and to her God.

He has endeavored, in every way that he could, to destroy her confidence in her own powers, to lessen her self-respect, and to make her willing to lead a dependent and abject life.

Now, in view of this entire disfranchisement of one-half the people of this country, their social and religious degradation–in view of the unjust laws above mentioned, and because women do feel themselves aggrieved, oppressed, and fraudulently deprived of their most sacred rights, we insist that they have immediate admission to all the rights and privileges which belong to them as citizens of the United States.

from Elizabeth Cady Stanton, A History of Woman Suffrage , vol. 1 (Rochester, N.Y.: Fowler and Wells, 1889), pages 70-71.

On the second day there were a series of resolutions that were put up for a vote to the women and men (who were allowed to attend on the second day). Here are said resolutions from Declaration of Sentiments and Resolutions
Woman’s Rights Convention, Held at Seneca Falls, 19-20 July 1848
post from the Elizabeth Cady Stanton & Susan B. Anthony papers project website:

On the morning of the 19th, the Convention assembled at 11 o'clock… . The Declaration of Sentiments, offered for the acceptance of the Convention, was then read by E. C. Stanton. A proposition was made to have it re-read by paragraph, and after much consideration, some changes were suggested and adopted. The propriety of obtaining the signatures of men to the Declaration was discussed in an animated manner: a vote in favor was given; but concluding that the final decision would be the legitimate business of the next day, it was referred.

[In the afternoon] The reading of the Declaration was called for, an addition having been inserted since the morning session. A vote taken upon the amendment was carried, and papers circulated to obtain signatures. The following resolutions were then read:

Whereas, the great precept of nature is conceded to be, “that man shall pursue his own true and substantial happiness,” Blackstone, in his Commentaries, remarks, that this law of Nature being coeval with mankind, and dictated by God himself, is of course superior in obligation to any other.1  It is binding over all the globe, in all countries, and at all times; no human laws are of any validity if contrary to this, and such of them as are valid, derive all their force, and all their validity, and all their authority, mediately and immediately, from this original; Therefore,

Resolved, That such laws as conflict, in any way, with the true and substantial happiness of woman, are contrary to the great precept of nature, and of no validity; for this is “superior in obligation to any other.

Resolved, That all laws which prevent woman from occupying such a station in society as her conscience shall dictate, or which place her in a position inferior to that of man, are contrary to the great precept of nature, and therefore of no force or authority.

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 inasmuch as man, while claiming for himself intellectual superiority, does accord to woman moral superiority, it is pre-eminently his duty to encourage her to speak, and teach, as she has an opportunity, in all religious assemblies.

Resolved, That the same amount of virtue, delicacy, and refinement of behavior, that is required of woman in the social state, should also be required of man, and the same transgressions should be visited with equal severity on both man and woman.

Resolved, That the objection of indelicacy and impropriety, which is so often brought against woman when she addresses a public audience, comes with a very ill grace from those who encourage, by their attendance, her appearance on the stage, in the concert, or in the feats of the circus.

Resolved, That woman has too long rested satisfied in the circumscribed limits which corrupt customs and a perverted application of the Scriptures have marked out for her, and that it is time she should move in the enlarged sphere which her great Creator has assigned her.

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.

Resolved, therefore, That, being invested by the Creator with the same capabilities, and the same consciousness of responsibility for their exercise, it is demonstrably the right and duty of woman, equally with man, to promote every righteous cause, by every righteous means; and especially in regard to the great subjects of morals and religion, it is self-evidently her right to participate with her brother in teaching them, both in private and in public, by writing and by speaking, by any instrumentalities proper to be used, and in any assemblies proper to be held; and this being a self-evident truth, growing out of the divinely implanted principles of human nature, any custom or authority adverse to it, whether modern or wearing the hoary sanction of antiquity, is to be regarded as self-evident falsehood, and at war with the interests of mankind.

For Further Reading:

July 19th-July 20th marked the 164th Anniversary of the Seneca Falls Convention led by Elizabeth Cady Stanton and Lucretia Mott in New York. Here, 68 woman and 32 men signed the Declaration of Sentiments, writing: “We hold these truths to be self-evident: that all men and women are created equal.” This marked the beginning of the US Women’s Rights Movement.