WHO | Lucretia Mott and Elizabeth Cady Stanton, two abolitionists who met at the 1840 World Anti-Slavery Convention in London. As women, Mott and Stanton were barred from the convention floor, and their shared anger pushed them to found the women’s rights movement in the United States.
WHAT | At the Wesleyan Chapel in Seneca Falls, N.Y., the first ever women's rights convention held in the United States–gathers with almost 200 women in attendance.
WHEN | On July 14, 1848, Mott and Stanton, working with Martha Wright, Mary Ann McClintock, and Jane Hunt, sent out an announcement. The announcement, called for a convention to be held on the 19th and 20th of July current; commencing at 10 o’clock A.M.
WHERE | Seneca Falls, New York, USA
WHY YOU SHOULD KNOW WHAT IT IS | At the Seneca Falls Convention, 200 women convened and Stanton read the “Declaration of Sentiments and Grievances,” a treatise that she had drafted over the previous few days. It was modeled closely on the Declaration of Independence, and its preamble featured the proclamation, “We hold these truths to be self-evident: that all men and women are created equal; that they are endowed by their Creator with certain inalienable rights…” That proclamation was followed by a detailing of the injustices inflicted upon women in the United States and a calling upon of U.S. women to organize and petition for their rights.
Men were invited to attend the second day of the convention–and some 40 did, including abolitionist Frederick Douglass. That day, the Declaration of Sentiments and Grievances was adopted and signed by the assembly. The convention also passed 12 resolutions, the ninth of which declared “it is the duty of the women of this country to secure to themselves their sacred right to the elective franchise,” was the only one to meet opposition. After a lengthy debate, in which Douglass sided with Stanton in arguing the importance of female enfranchisement, the resolution was passed. For proclaiming a women’s right to vote, the Seneca Falls Convention was subjected to public ridicule, and some backers of women’s rights withdrew their support. However, the resolution marked the beginning of the women’s suffrage movement in America.
An even larger meeting followed two weeks later in Rochester, N.Y. After that, national woman’s rights conventions were held annually, providing an important focus for the growing women’s suffrage movement. And finally, after years of struggle, the 19th Amendment was adopted in 1920, granting American women the right to vote.