“Throughout much of history, women have had little opportunity to control their own destinies,” This quote by Christine G. Clark explains how little women had a say in anything. Women’s Rights were a very big issue back in the day, and still are even in present day. Women have been treated inequitable since the 1800’s, but a huge women’s rights movement sparked the change that they needed, which ended up changing history. These women had fought long enough for the rights they deserved. Even the people that didn’t have rights when this country was started, like the slaves and the immigrants, had rights before the women did.
Women at this time were often being compared to slaves due to the lack of compassion people had towards them and the “special degradation” as William Lloyd Garrison2 puts it. Many things changed this though. Elizabeth Cady Stanton and Lucretia Mott were two of the biggest role models at this time for this touchy subject. They did many things to boost morale and to gain the rights that they fight for many years. Boston and Seneca falls were the two biggest houses for the women’s rights movements. They also made the Declaration of Sentiments, which was almost the same thing as the Declaration of Independence. These strong willed women, with the help of many others, have helped shape the world today.
Elizabeth Cady Stanton was one of the main advocates for women’s rights in the 1800’s. She, along with Lucretia Mott pushed and pushed until they finally got the rights they deserved. In 1847, Stanton moved to Seneca Falls and hosted the first women’s rights convention. This convention was the start of the uphill battle they would soon face. Stanton also wrote the Declaration of Sentiments here. This is one of the most important pieces of writing in this movement. She stated in this document, contrary to what the declaration of independence said, how all men and women are created equal. Some other main points of this document were,
“Married women were legally dead in the eyes of the law, women were not allowed to vote, women had to submit to laws when they had no voice in their formation, married women had no property rights, husbands had legal power over and responsibility for their wives to the extent that they could imprison or beat them with impunity, divorce and child custody laws favored men, giving no rights to women, women had to pay property taxes although they had no representation in the levying of these taxes, most occupations were closed to women and when women did work they were paid only a fraction of what men earned, women were not allowed to enter professions such as medicine or law, women had no means to gain an education since no college or university would accept women students, with only a few exceptions, women were not allowed to participate in the affairs of the church, women were robbed of their self-confidence and self-respect, and were made totally dependent on men. ”
The declaration of sentiments was the women’s version of their “independence” from the tyranny of man. This declaration was just as big of a deal for the women as it was for our founding fathers when they wrote theirs for England. This document got published in a newspaper and immediately got backlash. Many people thought it was ridiculous to think that women should ever vote, let alone for the women to demand the right to vote. This backlash was equivalent to public shame for a group of the signers of the declaration, so many of them withdrew their signatures; but most of them stood their ground and left theirs. Although this didn’t succeed alone in this battle, it was a big step for the women at this time.
Then there was the divide. About ten years later, the civil war had come to an end, freeing thousands of slaves thanks to Abraham Lincoln, and the slaves who, like the women, had no rights at the beginning after they were set free. A big group of women then said it wouldn’t be fair if women had rights, but not the slaves, since they are now people and no longer property.
This caused a riff in movement which split them into two parties, the National Women’s Suffrage Association, also called the NWSA (lead by Elizabeth Stanton, Susan B. Anthony, and Matilda Joslyn Gage) and the American Women’s Suffrage Association, also called the AWSA (lead by Lucy Stone, Gerrit Smith, and Frederick Douglas). This divide caused some disagreements because of the technicality behind both situations, but eventually won both parties the right to vote, so they joined back and tried to win their right to vote on the federal level.
All things considered, these women put in their upmost effort and got the one thing that they wanted the most, which was their suffrage. They also got many other things like the right to work, custody for their children if the parents get a divorce, and al the other rights that they didn’t have but the men did. Another big win for women at this time that was not mentioned, was the right to their own reproduction, meaning they got to decide what they wanted to do with their unborn child. For the first time in a long time, women had the freedom that every one else had.
These women fought one of the hardest battles for themselves with little help from man. This may not have been a bloody battle like the civil war, but it was one of the most important battles in American history. Stanton and Mott were the strong women who came up with the Declaration of Sentiments. Even though this declaration caused major controversy, the group of women who stuck with it reassured everyone that they were determined to get their rights. The strong spirit, independent attitudes, and the selflessness of these women who were being held down by men trying to control them has helped shape this country.