The Women's Rights Movement in the US

The Seneca Falls Convention

The women’s rights movement in the US is generally considered to have begun with a meeting in Seneca Falls, New York, in July, 1848. Known as the Seneca Falls Convention, the event was organised by Quaker women – most notably, Quaker abolitionist Lucretia Mott - and by Elizabeth Cady Stanton, another abolitionist. Its organisation was inspired by Mott and Stanton being denied access to the 1840 World Anti-Slavery Convention because of their gender.

During the meeting, Stanton and the Quaker women proposed the Declaration of Sentiments, Grievances, and Resolutions. The document was to be modified before being put forward for signatures.

The Declaration listed several causes of complaint in regard to laws that limited or denied women’s rights to money and property, as well as to education and professional careers. Furthermore, the Declaration stated that women should be allowed to vote in elections.

Women’s right to vote sparked a debate and even Mott advised it should be removed from the Declaration. However, Frederick Douglass, a former slave who became a leader of the abolitionist movement in Massachusetts and New York, advocated for women's suffrage, and the concept was eventually included in the Declaration.

The Declaration was signed by 100 attendees, mostly women, out of 300 present at the Convention. The document and the Seneca Falls Convention are viewed today as revolutionary steps in the fight for women’s equality in society. Moreover, the Declaration gained much attention for the issue of women’s right to vote at the time.

The Seneca Falls Convention was quickly followed by other conventions, and led to the creation of a series of national women’s rights conventions which were organised annually until the outbreak of the American Civil War in 1861.

Women’s suffrage after the Civil War

After the American Civil War ended in 1865, two major events stimulated the rise of the women’s rights movement, which had lost momentum with the beginning of the war.

In 1866, the American Equal Rights Association (AERA) was created by Elizabeth Cady Stanton and Susan B. Anthony. The organisation’s members were both white and black women and men, and their purpose was to secure equal rights to all American citizens, espec...

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