The Story of Women's Rights

The First Women's Rights Convention held in 1848 marked the formal beginning of the women's rights movement. At the time of the convention, women were not allowed the freedoms assigned to men in the eyes of the law, the church, or the government. Women did not vote, hold elective office, attend college, or earn a living. If married, they could not make legal contracts, divorce an abusive husband, or gain custody of their children.

Five women organized the First Women's Rights Convention - Elizabeth Cady Stanton, Lucretia Mott, Martha Wright, Mary Ann M'Clintock, and Jane Hunt.

When Elizabeth Cady Stanton, a Seneca Falls housewife and mother of three sons, sat down with the Quaker and abolitionist women, and decided that these wrongs should be made into rights. They called for a Convention, open to the public, to be held in Seneca Falls at the Wesleyan Methodist Chapel, July 19th and 20th, 1848. There they presented a Declaration of Sentiments, based on the language and content of the Declaration of Independence. Stating that "all men and women are created equal," they demanded equal rights for women, including - a radical idea - the right to vote. An estimate 300 people attended the Convention; the document was ratified and was signed by 68 women and 32 men.

The First Women's Rights Convention and the Declaration of Sentiments have earned the Village of Seneca Falls a large place in the hearts of people all over the world. There is no major part of our lives today which has not been affected by this revolutionary document.

Last updated: February 26, 2015

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