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The Seneca Falls Convention: Women's Right to Vote As edited by Lea Bishop, WPN

The Seneca Falls Convention was the first women’s rights convention in the United States which fought for the social, civil and religious rights of women. The meeting was held from July 19 to 20, 1848 at the Wesleyan Chapel in Seneca Falls, New York. Beginning in the 1830’s women’s rights reformers had already begun speaking out on equality and moral and political issues. By 1848, equal rights for women was a divisive issue.

Elizabeth Cady Stanton, one of the meeting’s organizers, began with a speech on the convention’s goals and purpose: “We are assembled to protest against a form of government, existing without the consent of the governed—to declare our right to be free as man is free, to be represented in the government which we are taxed to support, to have such disgraceful laws as give man the power to chastise and imprison his wife, to take the wages which she earns, the property which she inherits, and, in case of separation, the children of her love.”

The Declaration of Sentiments, the Seneca Falls Convention’s manifesto that described women’s grievances and demands, began with “We hold these truths to be self-evident; that all men and women are created equal”. The document included 11 resolutions which stated and asserted women’s equality in politics, family, education, jobs, religion and morals. The controversial ninth resolution, the right to vote, barely passed after an impassioned speech in its defense by Stanton. Although its passage led many women’s rights proponents to withdraw their support, the ninth resolution went on to become the cornerstone of the women’s suffrage movement.

In the years following the convention, reformers continued to campaign for women’s rights at state and nationwide events and frequently referred to the Declaration of Sentiments to “employ agents, circulate tracts, petition the State and national Legislatures, and endeavor to enlist the pulpit and the press in our behalf.”

After 72 years of organized struggle, all American women finally achieved the same rights as men at the polling box when, in 1920, women won the right to vote with the passage of the Nineteenth Amendment to the U.S.


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