Today marks the 164th anniversary of the start of the Seneca Falls Convention, which is often considered to be the start of the suffrage movement in America.
On July 19-20, 1848, 300 hundred men and women gathered in Seneca Falls, NY to discuss the role of women in American society, and to debate the Declaration of Sentiments as prepared by Elizabeth Cady Stanton. Stanton based the language of the Declaration of Sentiments on the Declaration of Independence.
One of the most hotly debated issues of the Convention was if women should have the right to vote with some women’s activists arguing against its inclusion in the Declaration of Sentiments. Ultimately, the measure was adopted in part after a speech in support from abolitionist Frederick Douglass. Many of the early leaders of the women’s equality movement had previously been active working to eradicate slavery through the abolitionist movement.
At the end of the two-day convention, a final version of the Declaration of Sentiments was approved and signed by 100 of the attendees. While the release of the Declaration of Sentiments was met with resistance, it became a cornerstone of the women’s movement which would work tirelessly over the next 70 plus years to secure women the right to vote.
It is obvious that there is a direct connection from the Seneca Falls Convention and the adoption of the Declaration of Sentiments to the founding of the League of Women Voters. Today we honor those who came before us and fought so hard laying the groundwork to enable us to do the important work we do today.
Seneca Falls, NY is now home to the Women’s Rights National Historic Park which marks this historic convention. Attending college a few hours from Seneca Falls, I helped arrange a visit to the park and its environs, including Elizabeth Cady Stanton’s home during my senior year. It was an incredible experience to be in the presence of so much history and strong female energy.