In 1848, the first women’s rights convention in the United States of America took place at Seneca Falls, New York. The Seneca Falls Convention, held on July 19 to July 20, 1848, was the first ever women’s rights convention. Elizabeth Cady Stanton, Lucretia Mott, and other female Quakers in the area organized the meeting. It was made up of six sessions throughout the two days. The Declaration of Sentiments, which was mainly penned by Elizabeth Cady Stanton, was modeled after the Declaration of Independence and outlined the rights that American women should be given. it was signed by 100 people, mostly women. Overall, about 300 people attended the convention.
The Declaration of Sentiments begins by asserting the equality of all men and women and reiterates that both genders are endowed with unalienable rights to life, liberty, and the pursuit of happiness. It argues that women are oppressed by the government and the patriarchal society of which they are a part. The document insists that women be viewed as full citizens of the United States and be granted all the same rights and privileges that were granted to men.
. This document was a statement of the rights that the participants at the convention, which included approximately 260 women and 40 men, among them fugitive slave and abolitionist Frederick Douglass, felt to which women were entitled. Stanton modeled the document after the Declaration of Independence. Every right that Stanton sought for women received unanimous approval from the conventioneers except for granting women the right to vote. Many women, including Mott, feared that critics would denounce the Declaration of Rights and Sentiments as being too radical if the document called for women to receive the right to vote.
The only African American at the convention was Frederick Douglass, who stood up and eloquently spoke in favor of Stanton’s addition on women’s suffrage. He said that as a black man, he could not accept the right to vote himself unless women were also given the right. Douglass also said that if women were involved in the political sphere, the world would be a better place. His powerful words rang true with most in the audience, leading the resolution to be passed by a large majority. To close the session, Lucretia Mott spoke.
Despite the fact that some women wavered under criticism, the women’s rights movement finally had a list of the rights that women’s rights advocates were seeking from men. The Seneca Falls Convention convinced many other women to stand up for their rights. Following this meeting, the women’s rights movement in Ohio and across the United States truly blossomed.