Documents: Reform Movements

Lucretia Mott, Elizabeth Cady Stanton, and others organized the first women’s rights convention in the United States held in Seneca Falls, New York, in 1848. Among the participants was the African American abolitionist Frederick Douglass. The Declaration of Sentiments and Resolutions adopted by the convention was signed by 68 women and 32 men and was modeled after the U. S. Declaration of Independence of 1776.

The Declaration of Sentiments began by asserting that “all men and women are created equal” and that “the history of mankind is a history of repeated injuries and usurpations on the part of man toward woman…” The Declaration then presented a list of political grievances (using the same number of charges listed against the British King in the U. S. Declaration of Independence) and highlighted women’s inability to vote. Finally, it demanded that women receive “immediate admission to all the rights and privileges which belong to them as citizens of the United States.” The Resolutions that followed the list of grievances included references to Blackstone’s Commentaries on the Laws of England and asserted that laws that do not treat women equally are contrary to God’s law.