Seneca Falls Womens Rights Convention Of 1848
The Seneca Falls convention of 1848 was the first womens rights convention. This is the story of how the conference happened.
In July of 1848, American abolitionists Lucretia Mott and Elizabeth Cady Stanton put a small advertisement in the Seneca Falls Courier, the newspaper in Seneca Falls, New York. The advertisement said that on the 19th and 20th of July, there would be a small convention held in the town. The topic would be women's rights.
Mott and Cady Stanton were expecting a few people. Three hundred men and women came. This small gathering was the first time in American history that women got together to speak about their lack of rights and representation in the country, and resolved to do something about it.
The seed for a women's rights convention was planted in 1840 at the world anti-slavery convention in London, England. Lucretia Mott, an abolitionist and Quaker speaker, met Elizabeth Cady Stanton at the conference. Women and men were allowed to attend, but the organizers
refused to seat women as delegates or allow them to speak. The women were placed in a balcony behind a screen and allowed to listen to the speakers. Mott and Cady Stanton were outraged by this treatment and during their time together at the conference, they spoke about addressing women's rights in the public. Nothing happened at the convention, but eight years later Cady Stanton was living in Seneca Falls and Mott paid her a visit. Sitting around
the kitchen table, they talked of abolition and activism. No one had addressed women's rights before in abolitionist circles because it was considered too radical. But Cady Stanton and Mott decided that something must be done. So they placed an advertisement in the town paper.
Three days before the conference, they were putting together materials and speeches. They decided to use the Declaration of Independance as a starting point, and revised the preamble to read:
"We hold these truths to be self-evident, that all men and women are created equal." The conference was successful from the viewpoint of the organizers and attendees. The press mocked them as "a bunch of unhappy spinsters".
But their cause attracted supporters from the abolition movement, like Frederick Douglass the ex-slave. He and Cady Stanton wanted to push for women's right to vote, although they were held back by the more conservative Mott who felt that asking for the vote was too radical even
by their standards. This conference was the beginning of the women's right struggle in the United States. Women didn't receive the vote until 1920, but a little conference in upstate New York was the catalyst for that right to be given to American women.