The “New York” in the title of today’s post refers to the state and not the city.
The first women’s rights convention was held 160 years ago today (July 19, 1848), about 275 miles northwest of the city, in the town of Seneca Falls, New York. The town was the home of Elizabeth Cady Stanton (shown at right), the well-known abolitionist and activist for women’s rights. While on her honeymoon eight years earlier, Stanton had befriended the Quaker minister and reformer Lucretia Mott at the meeting of the International Anti-Slavery Convention in London, England.
The male delegates to the convention voted that women should be denied the right to participate in the meetings, even if they, like Mott, had been elected as an official representative of a participating abolitionist society. After the ensuing debates, women were allowed to sit in the balcony out of sight of the men. This treatment planted the seed that would eventually yield the Seneca Falls Convention.
Five days before the convention, the semi-weekly Seneca County Courier published this notice:
“A Convention to discuss the social, civil and religious condition
and rights of woman, will be held in the Wesleyan Chapel, at Seneca Falls, N.Y., on Wednesday and Thursday, the 19th and 20th of July, current; commencing at 10 o’clock, A.M.
“During the first day the meeting will be exclusively for women, who are
earnestly invited to attend. The public generally are invited to be present on the second day, when Lucretia Mott of Philadelphia, and others, ladies and gentlemen will address the convention.”
The convention produced the famous “Declaration of Sentiments,” which drew on the rhetoric of the Declaration of Independence. Several days later, Frederick Douglass published the “Report of the Women’s Rights Convention” at his North Star Printing Office in Rochester, New York.