Seneca Falls Convention

1848 | Seneca falls, new york

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Summary

It is 1848, and social justice movements are rising in popularity throughout the United States.  Second in prominence only to the abolitionist movement, the women’s rights movement is gaining speed.  Elizabeth Cady Stanton, a prominent activist, has organized a conference in Seneca Falls, New York, along with several female Quakers under the leadership of Philadelphia’s Lucretia Mott. The chief goal is to approve Stanton’s Declaration of Sentiments on the equality of men and women, but several schisms have arisen among both the women and men of the Convention.  Chief among them is support of women’s suffrage, which Stanton has included in her Declaration against the wishes of her husband and many of the Convention’s attendees. Male participation in the Convention also became an issue. Men were allowed to attend sessions, but were restricted in their involvement in the proceedings and largely silenced, much to their chagrin. The convention also suffers from outside schisms in the abolitionist movement. While prominent abolitionists William Lloyd Garrison and Frederick Douglass are present in Seneca Falls, several other abolitionists disagree with them on the issue of equality for women. And while Quakers have played a large part in the women’s rights movement, many religious officials, some in attendance, disagree with either the premise of the Convention or its insistence on mitigating religious influence.

TOPICS OF DEBATE

1. Is there a place for men in the emerging feminist movement, especially regarding engagement in conversations about the direction of the movement? 

2. Are voting rights too radical a request to include as a key component in the emerging feminist movement? Is voting integral to the movement or are there more important gains to accomplish first?

3. Should the women's rights movement tie itself to its fellow liberation movement of abolitionism, or will that alienate followers? Has the abolitionist movement burned this bridge of connection by excluding women from its conferences?

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