Seneca Falls Convention
In 1848, the first women's rights convention in the United States of America took place at Seneca Falls, New York.
The principal organizers of the meeting were Lucretia Mott and Elizabeth Cady Stanton. Mott and Stanton had conceived the idea for a convention to discuss the rights of women in 1840, when they both attended the World Anti-Slavery Convention in London, England. Organizers of the event refused to allow the two women to participate because of their sex. Mott and Stanton did not act upon their idea for a convention for eight more years.
In July 1848, Mott, a member of the Society of Friends, was visiting her sister in Waterloo, New York. A group of local Quakers had asked Stanton, a resident of nearby Seneca Falls, to discuss her activities in the abolitionist movement. At this meeting, Mott and Stanton renewed their acquaintanceship and proceeded to plan the Seneca Falls Convention.
The Seneca Falls Convention took place on July 19 and 20, 1848, at the Wesleyan Methodist Church in Seneca Falls. At the meeting, Mott spoke regarding the foundation of unity of communities and implored the progress of womenâ€™s rights, and Stanton introduced the Declaration of Rights and Sentiments. This document was a statement of the rights that the participants at the convention, which included approximately 260 women and 40 men, among them fugitive slave and abolitionist Frederick Douglass, felt to which women were entitled. Stanton modeled the document after the Declaration of Independence. Every right that Stanton sought for women received unanimous approval from the conventioneers except for granting women the right to vote. Many women, including Mott, feared that critics would denounce the Declaration of Rights and Sentiments as being too radical if the document called for women to receive the right to vote. Mott believed that it was better to attain goals by which men would feel less threatened at first. At the urging of Frederick Douglass, this demand remained in the Declaration of Rights and Sentiments, but it did not pass unanimously.
One hundred women signed the final document. Some of the signers, after they received harsh criticism for their actions, eventually demanded that their names be removed from the Declaration of Rights and Sentiments. Despite the fact that some women wavered under criticism, the women's rights movement finally had a list of the rights that women's rights advocates were seeking from men. The Seneca Falls Convention convinced many other women to stand up for their rights. Following this meeting, the women's rights movement in Ohio and across the United States truly blossomed.
- McMillan, Sally. Seneca Falls and the Origins of the Women's Rights Movement. New York, NY: Oxford University Press, 2008.
- Miller, Bradford. Returning to Seneca Falls: The First Women's Rights Convention and Its Meaning for Men Today: A Journey into the Historical Soul of America. N.p.: Lindisfarne Books, 1995.
- Wellman, Judith. The Road to Seneca Falls: Elizabeth Cady Stanton and the First Woman's Rights Convention. Champaign: University of Illinois Press, 2004.