Monday, October 3, 2011

Rights for Women!

In my travels in upstate New York, I passed through Seneca Falls where, in 1848, the Women’s Rights Convention occurred on July 19 and 20 in the Wesleyan Chapel. The church was known as a haven for antislavery activity, political rallies, and free speech events.

Elizabeth Cady StantonLucretia MottMartha Wright, and Mary Ann M'Clintock met in the home of Jane Hunt in Waterloo, New York to plan the First Women's Rights Convention. This was the first meeting to be held for the purpose of discussing the “social, civil, and religious conditions and the rights of woman.” It was the beginning of the women’s rights movement in the United States. 

At the time the convention was held, women were not equal to men in the law, church, or government. They could not vote, hold elective office, attend college, or earn a living wage. If married, they could not make legal contracts, divorce, or gain custody of their children. These hindrances on a woman's person and actions dictated the path of her life and, in the broader perspective, effected the structure of politics and economies, society and culture. 

The Report of the Woman's Rights Convention, a copy of the minutes from the 1848 meeting, was circulated at local and national women's rights conventions. (The text of the report can be read here.) 

The Declaration of Sentiments was presented at the Women's Rights Convention. Based on the Declaration of Independence, it stated that "all men and women are created equal" and demanded equal rights for women and the right to vote. The Wesleyan Chapel, a National Historical Park, displays the entire Declaration of Sentiments in as a monument to this moment in history that changed everything everyone had ever known. 


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