The Seneca Falls Convention

19 Jul

seneca2Today marks the 166th Anniversary of the Seneca Falls Convention.  Elizabeth Cady Stanton and Lucretia Mott were the architects of this historical event to address women’s rights and the disparities and barriers women faced during the 19th Century.  Stanton, Mott, Ann McClintock, and Jane Hunt created the plans for the two day convention, July 19 and 20th, 1848. All but Stanton identified as Quakers and all were known for their dedication to the abolitionist movement.

Some of you may remember that Stanton  instructed the minister to eliminate the promise to obey from her wedding vows, later observing, “I obstinately refused to obey one with whom I supposed I was entering into an equal relation.” She also assumed the name Elizabeth Cady Stanton, refusing to be subsumed as Mrs. Henry B. Stanton.

While all of these women worked hard to create a convention (attended by over 300 women — including 40 men, including Frederick Douglass), it was Stanton that drafted the Declaration of Sentiments, which she based on The Declaration of Independence. Stanton stated that:

all men and women had been created equal [and went on to list eighteen] injuries and usurpation -the same number of charges leveled against the King of England-on the part of man toward woman.

Within the Declaration of Sentiments, Stanton included eleven resolutions, making the argument that women had a natural right to equality in all spheres.

Sadly, writing this piece 166 years later, I have to reflect on how much work has yet to be done around gender parity.  While women now have the right to vote and own land, we as a nation still have a long way to go towards full gender parity.  It was quite embarrassing that the Republican controlled House voted against the equal pay bill, and I was mortified by the Hobby Lobby decision by the Supreme Court, which has a huge impact on women’s health.

Of course, I would be remiss if I did not mention how all of these disparities have an even larger impact on other targeted populations, such as women of color, undocumented women, and transgender women.

Call to action: I implore all of us that are dedicated to issues of social justice to stand in solidarity with all women as we work towards a more equitable world.


4 Responses to “The Seneca Falls Convention”

  1. Kathleen Saadat July 19, 2014 at 8:14 am #

    One of the participants in this conference was Frederick Douglass. He sat on the stage with a shotgun because the women had been threatened if they held the conference.

    • Michael Hulshof-Schmidt July 19, 2014 at 8:21 am #

      Kathleen, thank you for commenting here and including Douglass. It is also a great opportunity for me to share that Frederick Douglass was running for Vice-President of the United States in 1872 with Victoria Woodhull against Grant. If only they had won that election. Great love to you, Kathleen!

  2. Central Oregon Coast NOW July 19, 2014 at 3:31 pm #

    Thank you for writing this! It gives us an opportunity to remember and remind others of the long history of injustice towards women. I want to urge your Oregon readers to vote to pass an Equal Rights Amendment (ERA) for Oregon’s Constitution (for more information: It will be on the ballot in November. Also, we need to encourage single women to register and vote. Most would vote in a way that we would approve, but very few vote. I keep voter registration forms in my purse; it is amazing when talking with people in a wide variety of settings how often somebody will say that they need to register; I pull out a form, have them complete it, and drop it off for them at our county election office. This year I’m going to call them when the ballots are mailed and remind them to vote. I’m also “pledging” (to myself) to register at least 10 single women to vote, then make sure they vote. (I guess this is my “Call to Action”!)

    • Michael Hulshof-Schmidt July 19, 2014 at 5:00 pm #

      Nancy, thank you for commenting here! What a lovely reminder of how we can all take action here and help pass the ERA here in Oregon. For more information on how Oregonians can take action, go to:

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