The Underground Railroad and the First Women's Rights Convention
On July 9, 1848 Jane Hunt, Mary Ann M’Clintock, Martha Wright, Lucretia Mott and Elizabeth Cady Stanton met in Waterloo, New York. After discussing the social position of women, the group decided to hold the First Women’s Rights Convention in the Wesleyan Methodist Chapel in Seneca Falls, New York.
The organizers purposely chose familiar titles and phrases to present their radical ideas for equality to the audience. In preparing the program for the First Women’s Rights Convention, the organizers borrowed rhetoric from the movement to end slavery. The document read and discussed at the convention, “The Declaration of Sentiments,” borrowed its title from the anti-slavery movement. The organizers modeled their document after the Declaration of Independence, just as the American Anti-Slavery Society had in its 1831 founding constitution. Many key participants of the Seneca Falls Convention were seasoned abolitionists, including Frederick Douglass, Amy Post, and Lucretia and James Mott.
Two convention organizers from Waterloo, Mary Ann M’Clintock and Jane Hunt were involved with the Underground Railroad. In 1836 the M’Clintock family moved to upstate New York from Philadelphia. Thomas, Mary Ann, and their daughters Mary Ann and Elizabeth all worked within the Western New York Anti-Slavery Society and raised funds for the Underground Railroad. Their home at 14 East Williams Street is considered a station on the Underground Railroad. Richard and Jane Hunt were also well known abolitionists, who invested and managed a factory that specialized in woolen textiles as a boycott of slave-labor cotton. It was widely known that Richard Hunt made his carriage house available to poor travelers in need of “lodging”: that is, the carriage house building was used as a station on the Underground Railroad.
From Auburn New York, December 30, 1860, Martha Wright wrote in a letter to her sister:
It is not clear from this letter whether or not Martha Wright was directly involved as a station master, but it certainly establishes her as an agent or stockholder by her privileged knowledge of Underground Railroad activities in her town of Auburn.