The 1848 Seneca Falls Convention

The Declaration Of Sentiments

The Declaration of Sentiments

On the morning of the convention, Elizabeth Cady Stanton stood before the crowd at the Wesleyan Methodist Church. Nervous about speaking on such a radical topic at the time, she stated, "I should feel exceedingly diffident to appear before you at this time, having never spoken in public, were I not nerved by a sense of right and duty, did I not feel that the time had come for the question of women's wrongs to be laid before the public,..."¹ Stanton then went on to read the Delcaration of Sentiments in its entirety, a document demanding that women be treated equal to men and called out all of the times that women had been belittled by men.² According to Stanton, women were just as fit as men to fight abolition, if not more, given that they are more able to sympathize with those who have been oppressed.

In addition to Stanton's call of action to all of the women present at the convention, essays and letters were read from the officers of the committee as well as from Mr. William C. Nell and Gerritt Smith, in which Lucretia Mott objected Nell's essay, arguing that she was not claiming women to be superior to men - only equal. Mott also argued that it wasn't enough to simply improve women's physical condition and instead, a radical change in America's culture must take place before women would begin to enjoy the same freedoms as men.³

The Declaration of Sentiments, previously read by Stanton, was both approved and disapproved by the men who were present at the convention. One supporter of the declaration, Mr. Bortis, stated his approval of women finally asserting their rights. On the other hand, Mr. Colton opposed the declaration for no known reason other than that the declaration was a radical proposition at this time.³ 

Despite the divison in opinons among men at the convention, all women who spoke seemed to be in agreement that they were entitled to the same rights as men. Mrs. Sanford, for example, aggresivley argued for suffrage, the right of women to hold positions in offices, and for women to take initiative in ending slavery.³ Although these were all radical notions in 1848, her speech was followed by a round of applause from the women in the room, proving that she was not alone in demanding these rights for women. Further, at the end of the convention, a petition that demanded the immediate rights for women gained 100 signatures from 68 women and 32 men who were in attendance.¹

First Women Convention of 1848

Interpretation of the First Womens Convention in 1848

The 1848 Seneca Falls Convention