July 19-20, 1848:
Women’s rights convention is held in Seneca Falls, New York. This convention marked the beginning of an organized women’s rights movement in the U.S.
Which, obviously, was a big deal.
The main ladies who organized this were:
Elizabeth Cady Stanton, who had four children at the time and was from upstate NY.
Lucretia Mott, a Quaker abolitionist.
How many women attended, you ask? Well, around 100 people attended– and 2/3rds of that was women.
At the convention they talked about voting rights, property rights, and divorce (to name a few things).
Stanton drafted a “Declaration of Sentiments, Grievances, and Resolutions,” that echoed the preamble of the Declaration of Independence.
“We hold these truths to be self-evident: that all men and women are created equal.”
In this “declaration,” Stanton also brought forth these grievances for women:
- Married women were legally dead in the eyes of the law
- Women were not allowed to vote
- Women had to submit to laws when they had no voice in their formation
- Married women had no property rights
- Husbands had legal power over and responsibility for their wives to the extent that they could imprison or beat them with impunity
- Divorce and child custody laws favored men, giving no rights to women
- Women had to pay property taxes although they had no representation in the levying of these taxes
- Most occupations were closed to women and when women did work they were paid only a fraction of what men earned
- Women were not allowed to enter professions such as medicine or law
- Women had no means to gain an education since no college or university would accept women students
- With only a few exceptions, women were not allowed to participate in the affairs of the church
- Women were robbed of their self-confidence and self-respect, and were made totally dependent on men
While we have clearly progressed since 1848, I wonder if many women today would still see these as applicable grievances? Clearly not most of them, but some….