A Brief History
On July 19, 1848, somewhat earlier than you may have imagined, the modern Women’s Rights movement began with a 2 day convention held in Seneca Falls, New York.
This first Women’s Rights convention, known appropriately as the Seneca Falls Convention, was not to be an aberration. Only 2 weeks later another convention was held, also in New York (Rochester) and within 2 years annual conventions concerning women’s rights were being held.
The convention was organized by several Quaker women, including Lucretia Mott and with the collusion of Elizabeth Cady Stanton, a famous suffragist and advocate of women’s rights. None other than the famous African-American activist Frederick Douglas contributed to the agenda by advocating for women’s suffrage.
A Declaration of Sentiments was discussed, along with a series of resolutions that were debated and finalized for adoption and signature by the ladies. The women’s rights movement had its beginnings in the fight for the abolition of slavery, and many of these activists were active in both movements. While they were at it, many of the women also campaigned against the consumption of alcohol, and were ultimately successful (temporarily) in banning alcoholic beverages from the US.
Second class citizenship for women with women being treated differently than men under the laws governing contracts, property, inheritance and other issues were hot topics then and remain so today. The movement also moved into the arena of workers’ rights and the labor movement (not the birth kind!), as well as the elimination of “Blue Laws” prohibiting various activities on Sunday.
The struggle for “equal” rights goes on today, with such topics as “equal pay for equal work,” unlimited access to birth control/contraception and abortion and military assignments taking center stage. The women’s movement has also been instrumental in creating domestic violence laws to protect battered women and children, as well as reformed divorce and marriage laws.
Women activists have also branched off into different, but related topics in the sense of affecting all people, and of course women are people, making these “women’s”issues. Some of these causes include universal health care, child care/baby sitting, education, gun control, substance abuse/drunk driving, and various health issues (such as breast cancer awareness, etc.).
Here at History and Headlines we recognize the value and rights of ALL persons, regardless of sex, race, creed, color, national origin or gender identity, or what they do for a living. Please see our other many articles on Civil Rights and Women’s issues and accomplishments.
Question for students (and subscribers): Have you ever attended an event concerning women’s rights? Please let us know in the comments section below this article.
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For more information, please see…
Johnston, Norma. Remember the Ladies: The First Women’s Rights Convention. Apple, 1995.
Miller, Bradford. RETURNING TO SENECA FALLS. Lindisfarne Books, 1995.
The featured image in this article, a postage stamp featuring Elizabeth Stanton, Carrie Chapman Catt, and Lucretia Mott, with “100 years of progress of women, 1848-1948” written below the portraits, is in the public domain in the United States. This applies to U.S. works where the copyright has expired, often because its first publication occurred prior to January 1, 1925, and if not then due to lack of notice or renewal. See this page for further explanation.