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The 1848 Seneca Falls Convention

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On July 19 and 20, 1848, 300 men and women met in Seneca Falls, a small town in upstate New York, at the nation's first Woman's Rights Convention. This event is generally considered the birth of the women's rights movement in the United States. If you'd like to learn more about the Seneca Falls Convention, its place in the history of the women's rights movement, and the colorful women who started it all, Education World has tracked down some of the best Web sites about this important event.

American women's rights activists Elizabeth Cady Stanton and Lucretia Mott actually met for the first time in London in 1840. At the World's Anti-Slavery Convention, where reform-minded people like the Motts and the Stantons had the connection between the status of women and slavery made evident; Mott, Stanton, and other female delegates were denied seats at the male-dominated conference.

Eight years later, the two friends were the driving force behind the Seneca Falls Convention. Hastily organized and little publicized, this first Woman's Rights Convention was the start of the movement that would ultimately revolutionize the social, legal, economic, and political lives of American women. To learn more about this groundbreaking event, Education World recommends that you check out the following Web sites.

  1. Seneca Falls Convention: July 19-20, 1848
    Despite limited advertising, the Woman's Rights Convention held in Seneca Falls in July of 1848 attracted a crowd of about 300 people, including 40 men. The attendees were divided over the resolution insisting on a woman's right to vote until a speech by former slave Frederick Douglass convinced the audience of the importance of universal suffrage. This account of the Seneca Falls Convention -- which also has links to portraits of 19-century social reformers who figured prominently in the women's rights movement -- is part of the Web site of the National Portrait Gallery.

  2. All Men and Women Are Created Equal
    Because it was considered "unseemly" for a woman to conduct a public meeting in 1848, the Woman's Rights Convention in Seneca Falls was actually chaired by a man: James Mott, husband of Lucretia Mott, one of the convention's organizers. Upon arriving at Wesleyan Chapel -- the convention site -- on the morning of Wednesday, July 19, the organizers discovered the door locked. Since no one had a key, Elizabeth Cady Stanton's nephew had to climb in through an open window and unlock the front door. Full of interesting details, this well-written article gives a clear, understandable account of the Woman's Rights Convention and its place in the history of the women's rights movement.

  3. Modern History Sourcebook:   The Declaration of Sentiments, Seneca Falls Conference, 1848
    Here is the text of the Declaration of Sentiments -- modeled after the Declaration of Independence -- drafted by Elizabeth Cady Stanton and presented at the Seneca Falls Convention. It lists 18 grievances that men have historically perpetrated against women. The declaration, along with a list of 11 resolutions, was signed by 68 women and 32 men. This Web page is part of the Internet Modern History Sourcebook, a collection of public domain and copy-permitted texts intended to aid college-level history teachers and students.

  4. Seneca Falls Declaration
    "Resolved, that woman is man's equal -- was intended to be so by the Creator, and the highest good of the race demands that she should be recognized as such." Those words are from the list of resolutions that accompanied the Declaration of Sentiments, drafted by Elizabeth Cady Stanton and presented at the Seneca Falls Convention. All of its 11 resolutions were ultimately passed, although one -- insisting on women's right to vote -- was initially unpopular with the crowd. This Web page, part of Seneca County's Web site, has links to related pages, including one listing the names of all 100 signers of the Declaration of Sentiments and Resolutions.


  • National Museum of Women's History
    Click on the featured exhibit, The Political Culture and Imagery of American Suffrage, to take an online tour through the history of woman suffrage. The National Museum of Women's History, in Washington, D.C., is a nonpartisan, nonprofit educational institution.

  • Not for Ourselves Alone
    This user-friendly Web site is the companion to the impressive PBS documentary Not for Ourselves Alone: The Story of Elizabeth Cady Stanton and Susan B. Anthony. Under the Resources section, you will find interesting articles and essays, suggested books and Web sites, and other material on the history of the women's rights movement. The detailed lesson plans use sections of the documentary but may be modified if using the film is not possible. The section Kids has several classroom activities that, though not specific to the topic of woman suffrage, nevertheless teach about life in the 19th century and about the concepts of freedom and equality.

  • How Did Lucretia Mott's Activism between 1840 and 1860 Combine her Commitments to Antislavery and Women's Rights?
    Lucretia Mott, a 19th-century Quaker minister, pacifist, temperance advocate, and antislavery activist, was one of the early leaders of the women's rights movement. This Web page -- part of the Women and Social Movements in the United States, 1830-1930 Web site maintained by the State University of New York at Binghamton -- examines Mott's views that the causes of abolition, temperance, pacifism, religious liberalism, and women's rights were all interrelated.

  • Woman Suffrage and the 19th Amendment
    This National Archives and Records Administration Web site focuses on the history of woman suffrage -- the fight for the right to vote -- that started with the 1848 Seneca Falls Convention. Interesting and educational site contents include various teaching activities, the text of various documents related to the suffrage movement, and the script for the play Failure Is Impossible, by Rosemary H. Knower, which presents such historical characters as Abigail Adams, Frederick Douglass, Susan B. Anthony, and Sojourner Truth.

  • National Women's Hall of Fame
    The National Women's Hall of Fame is a nonprofit membership organization created in 1969 to honor the contributions of American women in such diverse areas as the arts, sciences, and humanities; athletics; business; education, government; and philanthropy. This Web site contains biographical information on important American women, classroom ideas and exercises, quizzes, and other useful information.

  • Women's Rights: 1848 to the Present
    This Web site, produced and maintained by the U.S. Department of State, originated in 1998 to commemorate the 150th anniversary of the Seneca Falls Conference of 1848. Its content includes articles, speeches, and biographies relating to the topic of the women's rights movement in the United States.

Lauren P. Gattilia
Education World®
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