• First Wave Statue Exhibit

    Women's Rights

    National Historical Park New York

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Elizabeth M'Clintock

The oldest child of progressive Quakers Thomas and Mary Ann M’Clintock, Elizabeth Wilson M’Clintock was born in Philadelphia in 1821.

On July 16, 1848 Elizabeth M'Clintock participated in the convention planning meeting at her parent's home. Before the meeting she received the following letter -


Grassmere [Seneca Falls] Friday morning [July 14,1848]

Dear Lizzie [Elizabeth M'Clintock],

Rain or shine I intend to spend Sunday with you that we may all together concoct a declaration I have drawn up one but you may suggest any alterations & improvements for I know it is not as perfect a declaration as should go forth from the first woman’s rights convention that has ever assembled. I shall take the ten o’clock train in the morning & return at five in the evening, provided we can accomplish all our business in that time. I have written to Lydia Maria Child Maria Chapman & Sarah Grimke, as we hope for some good letters to read at the convention. Your friend

Elizabeth Cady Stanton


At the First Woman’s Rights Convention in 1848, she addressed the audience on July 19 during the afternoon session and was on the committee responsible for publishing the minutes of the convention.

She was also responsible for inviting Frederick Douglass, a friend through the Western New York Anti-Slavery Society, to the convention. He accepted her invitation, writing,

Dear Elizabeth, To be sure I will do myself the pleasure of accepting your kind invitation to attend the proposed woman’s Convention at Seneca Falls. I think that one or two or more of the Post family will be present also. Your notice did not reach me in time for this paper – but happily I received one from our mutual Friend Lucretia Mott. With Dear love to the family

I am most Sincerely Yours
Frederick Douglass
July 14 (1848), Rochester

Elizabeth’s avid interest in women’s rights was fueled by her determination to see women accepted in the so-called “public sphere” of business, an area dominated by men in the 19th century. The 1850 census reveals that Elizabeth M’Clintock was the only woman in Waterloo listed with an occupation, which was clerk in her father’s drugstore. In 1849 Elizabeth asked Lucretia Mott's son-in-law, Edward Davis, to accept her as an apprentice in his silk business in Philadelphia. Davis replied that she was too old to join the business and did not have the requisite experience. Some of his employees responded with open hostility to her request, lampooning the notion of a woman working outside her “proper sphere.” Elizabeth responded with a series of cartoons depicting the benefits that could be derived by including women in the workforce. In 1861 Elizabeth was given the opportunity to open her own shawl and hosiery business in Philadelphia with the financial backing of her father, and she proved a capable businesswoman.

Like the rest of her family, Elizabeth was also committed to the abolition of slavery. In 1843 she and Rhoda Bement organized an antislavery fair in Seneca Falls to raise money for the antislavery movement. An advertisement for the fair appeared in the October 4, 1843 edition of the Seneca Falls Observer:

ANTI-SLAVERY FAIR will be open at the Temperance Hall, in Seneca Falls, Wednesday and Thursday Oct. 4th and 5th at 2 o’clock P.M. and continue open through the evenings.

A most beautiful variety of useful and fancy articles, many of which have been contributed from Rochester, Syracuse, Utica, Albany, Boston, and many other places, will give the inhabitants of this vicinity an opportunity to supply themselves while at the same time while at the same time they aid the cause of the perishing slave.

Admittance 12 ½ cts.
‘Come and help the cause along.’
In behalf of the fair,
Rhoda Bement
E. W. M’Clintock

In 1852 Elizabeth married Burroughs Phillips, a lawyer and the nephew of fellow convention organizer Jane Hunt. He died just two years later after falling from his carriage and landing on his head. Elizabeth never remarried.

Did You Know?

Elizabeth Cady Stanton and her daughter Harriot, 1856.

Did you know that before Susan B. Anthony campaigned for woman's suffrage, her good friend Elizabeth Cady Stanton spearheaded the First Women's Rights Convention in America? More...