From Ohio History Central
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While the women's rights movement began to grow with the ideas of the American Revolution, women's rights advocates remained small in number throughout the first half of the nineteenth century. Many men opposed women having a life outside of the home. Women were to nurture their husbands and to raise virtuous children so that the United States republic would flourish. This concept, not defined as such until 1976 is known as Republican Motherhood; that the new republic would succeed only if women raised virtuous children. This belief both hampered and advanced the elevation of women in society in the United States, but the women's rights movement remained disjointed and lacked a strong national leadership. Some women began to play a greater role in the public sphere by participating in various reform movements that arose in the early 1800s, especially the temperance and abolition movements. These women claimed that, if women were responsible for creating virtuous children, women should also play a role in helping those people who have become consumed by immoral acts redeem themselves.
In 1836 Angelina Grimke published An Appeal to Christian Women of the South which was her personal petition for abolition; postmasters burned the pamphlet because women were not allowed to speak publicly. Both Angelina and her sister Moor would oppose the gender restriction by volunteering to give speeches at abolitionist gatherings. Their increasing notoriety caused many males to shun the sisters from society and coerce them into fearful resignation. Angelina and Moor only hardened in the face communal pressures, establishing a liberal school where they educated women and minorities. As the abolitionist movement began to garner significant support, many women, especially middle class white women, began to question their second- class status; in large part because they saw they were soon to be outranked by African American men.
Numerous Ohio women actively participated in reform movements. Ohio women formed the Ohio Women's Temperance Society and the Female Moral Reform Society to assist other people in living in a more moral manner. Ohioans Lucy Stone and Harriet Beecher Stowe played a vital role in the abolitionist movement through their speeches and writings. It was apparent to the reformers, in Ohio and elsewhere, that they did not enjoy the same opportunities for which they were fighting for other groups. Many women, such as women’s rights activist Elizabeth Cady Stanton, would not stand for this. The women's rights movement truly blossomed in 1848 with 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, 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 runaway slave and abolitionist Frederick Douglass, felt to which women were entitled. The inequitable state of property rights between the genders, biased educational opportunities, and the lack of women’s suffrage were among the grievances, or “sentiments,” addressed in the document. The preamble of the Declaration of Rights and Sentiments includes the line “We hold these truths to be self-evident: that all men and women are created equal.” This phrase was borrowed and modified from the preamble of the Declaration of Independence, the document upon which the Declaration of Rights and Sentiments was modeled on.
Every right that Stanton sought for women received unanimous approval from the conventioneers except for granting women the right to vote. Many women, including Lucretia 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.