This Day in History – July 19th, 1848

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Elizabeth Cady Stanton

On July 19th, 1848 a historical two day convention opened in Seneca Falls, New York. Simply called the Seneca Falls Convention, it promoted itself as “a convention to discuss the social, civil, and religious condition and rights of woman.” Famous social justice activist and orator Frederick Douglass was present, but the convention was organized by Elizabeth Cady Stanton and Lucretia Mott, and was essentially the beginning of the Feminist Movement.

In the mid-ninetenth century women were not permitted to make speeches in public, but despite this Lucretia Mott was somewhat famous for her oratorical skills. Mott was a resident of Philadelphia and a member of the Religious Society of Friends, more commonly known as Quakers. Elizabeth Cady Stanton was not a Quaker, but many of the women behind the organizing of the Seneca Falls Convention were. Historically Quakers have been at the forefront of many social justice causes and still are today.

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Lucretia Mott

The convention had six sessions: a lecture on law, a humorous session, and numerous discussions regarding women’s position in society. The organizers unveiled the Declaration of Sentiments and resolutions which were debated and amended before being ratified by those present. It was a female declaration of independence, and a demand for equality.

The right to vote was the most volatile topic in the Declaration; Mott and others felt that it was asking for too much, but it was Frederick Douglass who managed to persuade these doubters to keep the demand in the document; there were about 300 attendees at the convention, mostly women, and 100 of them signed it. The suffrage revolution had begun!

Mott & Stanton Stamp

100 years later, Mott and Stanton were honored by the US Postal Service.

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