1848 Womens Rights Convention

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Throughout history, Americans have fought for various rights and freedoms such as religious freedom, freedom of speech and press, abolition of slavery, and the right to vote. These fundamental liberties have been handed down from one generation to another. However, it is unfortunate that many Americans do not fully grasp the significance of these privileges and often disregard the difficulties endured by their ancestors in attaining them. One particular obstacle that demanded persistent efforts was achieving equal treatment for women through governmental action, thereby bringing an end to centuries-long struggles faced by women.

In colonial America, women were perceived as “inferior beings,” leading to the emergence of the women’s rights movement. Though not typically associated with feminist movements, Margaret Brent, a prosperous landowner in Maryland, advocated for female representation in the colony’s legislature but was unsuccessful. It is noteworthy that Quakers and influential individuals such as American patriot Thomas Paine also backed women’s rights during this era. However, it wasn’t until the 19th century when women truly had a chance to enact significant transformations.

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Elizabeth Cady Stanton, a prominent leader in the Women’s Rights movement, was born on November 12th, 1815 in Jamestown, New York. She grew up in a strict Presbyterian household and attended Johnstown Academy, an all-boys school. However, due to her gender, she could not pursue higher education at colleges offering advanced degrees. Instead, she enrolled in Emma Willard’s academy in Troy, New York and graduated from there in 1832.

Following her education completion, Stanton studied law under her father, Judge Daniel Cady. Unfortunately, as a woman facing discrimination she was not allowed admission to the bar.

On May 10th, 1840, Elizabeth Cady married Henry Brewster Stanton. However, during the wedding vows, Elizabeth decided not to promise to “obey” her husband. Elizabeth and Henry had seven children together. Later that same year, the couple attended a convention against slavery. At the convention, Elizabeth and seven other female delegates were not allowed to speak. They were placed behind a curtain alongside Lucretia Coffin Mott, another American Feminist, and were not given the chance to participate in the proceedings. In 1846, the Stanton Family relocated from Boston, where they had been actively involved in the temperance and abolition movements, to Seneca Falls, New York, an industrial area.

After being excluded from the London Anti-Slavery Convention, Stanton, Mott, Anthony, Stone, Foster, and Ernestine came together. On July 9th, 1848 they unanimously decided to take immediate action on women’s rights issues. As a result, ten days later the first-ever Women’s Rights Convention in American History occurred at Seneca Falls in New York’s Wesleyan Chapel. The convention lasted for two days: the first day was exclusively for women and the second day allowed both men and women to hear Lucretia Mott’s address and other supporters.

The Seneca County Courier published an announcement on July 14th, 1848. The announcement stated that a Convention would be held at the Wesleyan Chapel in Seneca Falls, N.Y. The Convention was scheduled for July 19th and 20th and aimed to address women’s social, civil, and religious condition and rights. The Convention was set to begin at 10 o’clock in the morning.

The meeting’s first day is exclusively for women and their attendance is highly encouraged. On the following day, the convention will be open to everyone and will include speeches from Lucretia Mott of Philadelphia, along with other male and female speakers.

More than one hundred people participated in the convention, including numerous male advocates. After extensive discussions, the delegates agreed on their main goal: attaining suffrage. Furthermore, they adopted the “Declaration of Sentiments,” which was influenced by the Declaration of Independence but replaced “King George” with “men and women”. This declaration aimed to express their struggles and the rights they were denied due to gender, while stressing the need to reassess current laws.

It is crucial to respectfully clarify the motives behind a group of individuals needing to adopt a new position on Earth, which may vary from their current one but is justified by both natural laws and God.

The text emphasizes the belief in the inherent equality of all men and women, as well as their endowed rights by a creator. These rights include life, liberty, and the pursuit of happiness. Governments are established to protect these rights with consent from the governed. The document also acknowledges historical infringements on women’s rights such as the denial of voting, lawmaking, property ownership, wage keeping, education, and participation in public church activities. It further highlights that even ignorant and degraded men possess certain rights denied to women. Moreover, it discusses the emotional hardships imposed on women by men including being regarded as “irresponsible beings” and “civilly dead”, which have led to a destruction of self-confidence and self-respect.

Despite the convention’s many well-respected supporters, the public’s reaction was far from welcoming. Newspapers and the general public ridiculed the suffrage movement, labeling suffragists as unfeminine and even accusing them of drunkenness. Despite this lack of support, the suffragists persisted, embarking on speaking tours and gaining widespread support across the country. Unfortunately, these meetings often descended into violence with gangs. Nevertheless, the courageous women continued their speaking engagements for many years.

Years after the First women’s rights convention, Carrie Chapman Catt, an American feminist leader, reflected on the efforts of her predecessors. She acknowledged that countless women devoted their entire lives, while thousands sacrificed years and hundreds of thousands provided continuous support and assistance. This tireless endeavor formed an unbroken chain of activity. The young suffragists who helped complete this chain were not yet born when it began, and the old suffragists who started it had passed away before it ended. These women’s determination to achieve equality for themselves and their gender produced results. Figures like Stanton and Anthony persistently advocated for what they believed was just, resulting in the addition of the 19th amendment in 1919. This amendment granted all citizens, regardless of gender, the right to vote and was officially ratified on August 18th, 1920.

In conclusion, the women who organized the inaugural Women’s Rights Convention in Seneca Falls, New York during those momentous July days and those who influenced them are genuine trailblazers. They initiated the movement for both women and men to persistently advocate for their convictions and to rectify any perceived injustices. These were the individuals who shaped America into its present state, granting its citizens their liberties, and all Americans should express gratitude for their contributions.

Works Cited
Banner, Lois W. “Women Suffrage.” Funk and Wagnalls New Encyclopedia. OCLC2004. 4 January 2004
Gottshall, Jon. “Seneca Falls, New York: The First Women’s Rights Convention July 19 & 20th, 1848.” 31 December 2003
“Stanton, Elizabeth Stanton.” Encyclopedia Americana. Grolier Online 2004. 31 December 2003 http://public1.hccc.suny.edu:2128/ea-ol/static/0000013.html

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1848 Womens Rights Convention. (2019, Apr 02). Retrieved from


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