"Wesleyan Chapel 10" by U.S. National Park Service , public domain
Official Park Brochure of Women's Rights National Historical Park (NHP) in New York. Published by the National Park Service (NPS).
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Women's Rights Women's Rights National Historical Park New York National Park Service U.S. Department of the Interior _______________________ F ■ I was born and lived almostforty years in South Bristol, Ontario County—one of the most secluded spots in Western New York, butfrom the earliest dawn of reason I pinedfor that freedom of thought and action that was then denied to all womankind.... But not until that meeting at Seneca Falls in 1848, of the pioneers in the cause, gave thisfeeling of unrestform and voice, did I take action. ” —Emily Collins For Emily Collins, who went on to start a local equal rights organization, and for Other women of 1840s America, the news of a women's rights convention was a vivid reminder of their inferior status. By law or by custom an unmarried woman generally did not vote, speak in public, hold office, attend college, or earn a living other than as a teacher, seamstress, domestic, or mill worker. A married woman lived under these restrictions • F fete and more: she could not make contracts, sue in court, divorce her husband, gain custody of her children, or own property, even the clothes she wore. Though middle-class wives reigned over the domestic sphere, legally their husbands controlled them. Individual women publicly expressed their desire for equality, but it was not until 1848 that a handful of reformers in Seneca Falls, New York, called "A Convention to discuss the social, civil, and religious condition and rights of Woman." based on the Declaration of Independence, demanding equality in prop erty rights, education, employment, religion, marriage and family, and suffrage. The demand for the vote was so radical that even Mott protested, but Stanton had her way. On July 19 the Declaration of Sentiments was presented to an audience of about 300. "We hold these truths to be selfevident: that all men and women are created equal," announced Stanton at the First Women's Rights Convention. Why Seneca Falls? A significant reform community emerged in western New York in the 1830s and 1840s. Among these reformers were aboli tionists who joined relatives and started businesses in Seneca Falls and Waterloo. Here and elsewhere, Quaker women like Lucretia Mott took an active role in the effort to end slavery. For Mott, her sister Martha Wright, Jane Hunt, Mary Ann M'Clintock, and 32-year-old Elizabeth Cady Stanton, the next logical step was to demand rights for women. In July 1848 they planned the convention and hammered out a formal list of grievances The women expected controversy. True ladies, a Philadelphia newspaper wrote after the convention, would be foolish to sacrifice their status as "Wives, Belles, Virgins and Mothers" for equal rights. Many signers of the declaration removed their names. But 12 days later a second convention was held in Rochester. By 1900 armies of women marched for suffrage. Today many of the convention's most radical demands are taken for granted. The Declaration of Sentiments was the start; its words reach far beyond that warm July day in Seneca Falls. The Hunt House was the home of Jane and Richard Hunt, Quakers active in the Waterloo reform community. Stanton, Mott, Wright, M'Clintock, and Jane Hunt gathered here on July 9 to plan the con vention. Stanton defied many of the day's housekeeping and child-rearing cus toms. For many years she dressed in an outfit popularized by Amelia Bloomer, loose pants and a knee-length skirt, which allowed freedom of movement. "The First Wave" sculp ture group by Lloyd Lillie. Facing row, left to right: Elizabeth Cady Stanton, Frederick Doug lass, two unidentified women, Martha Coffin Wright. In profile at right: Thomas and Mary Ann M'Clintock, uniden tified woman. © JEFF GNASS Planning Your Visit The setting for the First Women's Rights Con vention and the homes of some participants are preserved at Women's Rights National Histori cal Park, established by Congress in 1980. From 1-90 (New York State Thruway) take exit 41; go south on NY 414; east on US 20, (becomes Fall St.); follow signs to the visitor center. There is no fee for admission. Begin at the visitor center, 136 Fall St., open daily except fall and winter federal holidays. Hours are 9 am to 5 pm. M'Clintock House There are exhibits, a film, and a schedule of activi ties. The visitor center is accessible for visitors with disabilities; ask about access to the other sites. Service animals are welcome. The M'Clintock House was owned by the Hunts, who rented it to rela tives and fellow Quaker abolitionists Mary Ann and Thomas M'Clintock. Convention planners met here on July 16,1848, to draft the Declaration of Sentiments. The Elizabeth Cady Stanton House was the family's home for 15 years. Stanton's activism was based in large part on her experiences as a Seneca Falls housewife. She was 31 years old when she moved here in 1847 with her hus band Henry Stanton, a Hunt House lawyer and abolitionist lecturer, and three boys. They had four more children. Until she met Lucretia Mott and other reform ers, Stanton found small town life oppressive: "My duties were too numerous and varied and none sufficiently exhilarating or intellec tual to bring into play my higher faculties. I suffered with mental hunger, which, like an empty stomach, is very depressing." She encouraged her seven children to join parlor discussions with visitors like the Motts and Frederick Douglass. She hosted a "conversa tion dub" for young adults. Her benevolent work with the town's poor made her all the ists, temperance workers, and reformers to fill the chapel. On the first day they debated the wording of the Declaration of Sen timents. The Seneca * County Courier reported that "an intelligent and Elizabeth Cady Stanton House respectful audience" attended the public ses more aware of women's On July 19 and 20, sion that evening to hear economic insecurity. 1848, some 300 women the "eminently beauti and men gathered in ful and instructive" dis Guided tours of the the Wesleyan Chapel to course of Lucretia Mott. Stanton house are avail hear the first formal At the next day’s session able in summer and on demands for women's the amended declara a limited basis during rights. Curious local resi tion was adopted; 100 the rest of the year. dents joined abolition- Wesleyan Chapel women and men signed the document. Frederick Douglass reiterated his support at the final session. ILLUSTRATIONS NPS / GREG HARLIN More Information Women's Rights National Historical Park 136 Fall St. Seneca Falls, NY 13148 315-568-2991 www.nps.gov/wori Find us on Facebook and Twitter. Seneca Falls and Beyond P O R TR A ITB YG ILB E R TS TU A R T NATIONAL GALLERY OF ART “If particular care and attention is not paid to the ladies,* writes Abigail Adams in 1776. “we are determined to foment a rebel lion, and will not hold ourselves bound by any laws in which we have no voice or representation." Revolution 1848 Elizabeth Cady Stanton and Quaker abolitionists Jane Hunt, Mary Ann M'Clintock, Lucretia Mott, and Martha Wright hold First Women's Rights Convention; demand full and equal rights with men. devises strategy, while Antho ny lectures and circulates petitions. Association (AWSA) to sup port voting rights first for black males, then women. Wyoming becomes first US territory to enact women's suffrage. 1850 Boston women aboli tionists, including Lucy Stone, organize national women's rights convention in Worces ter, Mass.; over 1,000 people attend. More conventions are held throughout the 1850s. 1830s American Anti-Slavery Society is founded in Phila delphia in 1833 by Quakers seeking immediate emancipa tion of slaves. AASS's 1,600 auxiliaries gather over 400,000 signatures on antislavery petitions by 1838. As abolition cause escalates, lecturers like Sarah and An gelina Grimké promote wom Denied leadership positions in many other abolitionist groups, women sit on the executive committee of the Pennsylvania Anti Slavery Society. Lucretia and James Mott are at far right. Lucy Stone (above left) champi ons reform by leading abolition and women's suffrage efforts, and by keeping her maiden name after marrying. "We hold women to be justly entitled to all we claim for man," writes Frederick Douglass (above right) soon after the 1848 convention. Two decades later Douglass breaks with Stanton over vot ing rights. 1851 Stanton meets Quaker teacher Susan B. Anthony in Seneca Falls. They form an activist team and use temper ance and abolition gatherings to address women's issues. Stanton writes speeches and 1860 Stanton and Anthony work successfully to amend the 1848 Married Women's Property Act of New York. Revised law allows wives to hold property, keep earnings and inheritances, make con tracts, sue in court, and share child custody. 1861-65 Civil War. Northern and Southern women take over jobs on farms and in fac tories, businesses, and govern ment offices. Thousands of women work as nurses, open ing profession to females. 1862 Morrill Act grants fed eral land to support coeduca tional colleges and universi ties in the West. Homestead Act grants free land to any "head of household," includ ing women. New York's 1860 property law is repealed. 1863 After Emancipation Proclamation frees many slaves in Confederacy, Stanton and Anthony's National Women's Loyal League urges Congress to outlaw slavery completely. Mott and contemporaries turn over leadership to the rising generation. Younger women's leaders anticipate that postwar expansion of civil rights will include female suffrage. Thirteenth Amend ment outlaws slavery in 1865. 1867 First statewide women's suffrage campaigns in Kansas and New York are defeated. 1869 Suffragists split over strategy after 14th Amend ment specifies voting rights for "male citizens." Stanton and Anthony form National Woman Suffrage Association (NWSA), which pushes for a women's suffrage amend ment. Lucy Stone, Julia Ward Howe, and others organize American Woman Suffrage 1881 Knights of Labor organizes housewives, do mestics, factory workers, rail road workers; 65,000 women join. Knights disband by 1886 after losing national strike. Women's organized labor SEWALL BELMONT HOUSE AND MUSEUM Suffragists Elsie Hill and Kather ine Morey are jailed in Boston. recovers by the early 1900s to become an active force in suffragism. 1887 WCTU and suffragists present US Senate with peti tion supporting suffrage amendment. Amendment is defeated. 1889 Jane Addams and Ellen Starr establish Hull House in Chicago, nation's first settle ment house. In the following decades an army of educated female reformers—young sin gle women, wives, mothers, and grandmothers—investi gates labor conditions, starts settlement houses, promotes education and public health, agitates for liberalized birth control laws, and marches for suffrage. Increasingly, activists see vote as a mechanism to improve society. 1890 Wyoming is admitted as first women's suffrage state. Colorado and Idaho follow; campaigns in these states are led by Carrie Chapman Catt. Utah enacts women's suffrage in 1896 to ensure Mormon con trol. NWSA and AWSA merge into the National American Woman Suffrage Association (NAWSA). Stanton is president, succeeded by Anthony in 1892. Frances Willard sits on execu tive board. NAWSA strategy shifts from constitutional amendment to state referenda. 1902 Elizabeth Cady Stanton dies at age 86. Four years later Susan B. Anthony dies at 85. New generation of suffragists are solidly in power, arguing for vote on basis of female moral superiority rather than equality. NAWSA is led by Anna Howard Shaw and Carrie Chapman Catt. A New Deal Late 1920s Many states con tinue to bar women from jury duty and public office. Widows succeed their husbands as governors of Texas and Wyo ming. Middle-class women attend college and enter labor force. Anticipated "women's vote" fails to materialize by end of decade. 1933 Frances Perkins is ap pointed by President Franklin D. Roosevelt as first female Secretary of Labor. In the New Deal years, at urging of First Lady Eleanor Roosevelt and 1936 Federal court rules birth control legal for its own sake, rather than solely for prevention of disease. SEWALL BELMONT HOUSE AND MUSEUM 1923 At the 75th anniversary of the Seneca Falls conven tion, Alice Paul proposes an Equal Rights Amendment to remedy inequalities that were not addressed in the 19th Amendment. Women like this railroad brake operator take men's jobs for the duration of World War II, per manently changing the makeup of the workforce Democratic women's leader Molly Dewson, women gain positions in federal social serv ice bureaus. Mary McLeod Bethune is director of the Ne gro Affairs Division of the Na tional Youth Administration. 1941 US enters World War II. Millions of women are re cruited for defense industry jobs in war years and become significant part of labor force. WAC and WAVE established as first women's military corps. 1947 Many women leave labor force to get married and make way for returning soldiers. But by end of decade, numbers of working women are again on the increase. 1952 Democratic and Re publican parties eliminate women’s divisions. STATUES JOHANN SCHUMACHER. ANTHONY AND STANTON—LIBRARY Of CONGRESS LIBRARY Of CONGRESS 1879 Frances Willard be comes president of Woman's Christian Temperance Union (WCTU), established in 1874 to fight alcohol-related social ills. Willard strongly advocates women's suffrage as a means to impose a moral influence on society. WCTU becomes nation's largest women's organization by the 1880s. The 19th Amendment 1920 19th Amendment, nicknamed the "Susan B. An thony Amendment," is rati fied, extending voting rights to women throughout the United States. National Amer ican Woman Suffrage Associ ation becomes League of Women Voters, advocates social reforms and protective laws for working women. Na tional Woman's Party opposes protective laws and promotes full social equality. The terms "feminism" and "women's rights" come into common usage, replacing terms like "woman suffrage." vi>l i .-jin i rviier* zvtrica, xat nvaa. XKW TOLK. LIOAlMUt. JJUTOART K «•>» TtlM. 1872 Anthony and colleagues test 14th and 15th amend ments by casting votes in New York. Suffragists are arrested and fined. An 1875 US Su preme Court ruling upholds states' right to deny women the vote. In 1876 Anthony and others crash US Centen nial celebration in Philadel phia's Independence Hall, demanding women's vote. The Suffrage Bandwagon 1877 Backed by the NWSA, a women's suffrage amend ment is first introduced in Congress but not voted on for 10 more years. As Recon struction era draws to a close. Southern blacks see erosion of their new civil rights. 1918 Women's suffrage amendment is reintroduced by Jeanette Rankin (R-Montana), first woman elected to the US Congress; passes both houses by 1919. rattrctrit. "It has been said," writes Stan ton of Susan B. Anthony (right), "that I forged the thunderbolts and she fired them." Beginning in 1868 they publish the short lived Revolution, advocating "Equal Pay," "Cold Water not Al coholic Drinks," and "a new Commercial and Financial Policy." Social Reform Movements Temperance societies, first popular in the 1830s, are among the earliest American women's groups. The crusade makes women all the more aware of their legal defenselessness against a drunken husband and the need for property and divorce rights. After the Gvil War the movement reemerges, its leaders promoting female suffrage as a means of social reform. Revolution. The Statues in Seneca Falls depict Stanton and Anthony being introduced in 1851. By 1892 the two (inset photo; Anthony on left) have led the women's rights movement for four decades and have published four volumes of A History of Woman Suffrage. 1910 State of Washington gives women full franchise, inspiring a nationwide cam paign that soon brings suc cess in several western states. Progressive Party endorses women's suffrage in 1912. Stanton's daughter Harriot Stanton Blatch organizes first suffrage parades in New York City; solicits working women’s support through Women's Trade Union League. tant suffragist Emmeline Pankhurst, leads mass dem onstrations, hunger strikes, and constant pressure on po litical party in power. Paul and several thousand march ers protest Woodrow Wilson’s inauguration in March 1913. Paul and others leave NAWSA and form National Woman's Party in 1916. 1916 Margaret Sanger and her sister Ethel Byrne open first American birth control clinic in New York City. 1911 Jane Addams, as vicepresident of NAWSA, advo cates immigrant women's right to vote, countering the belief that voting rights should be restricted to native-born, white, educated citizens. 1917 US enters World War I. Women take over jobs for men serving in armed forces. Women's Bureau is formed; for next several decades it is the only federal agency deal ing with women's concerns. 1913 Alice Paul and newest generation of suffragists re vive demand for constitution al amendment. Paul, who worked in England with mili- LIBRARY Of CONGRESS Early 1800s Popular litera ture defines a new middle class ideal: women dominate the "sphere" of home and family, with men viewed as leaders in politics and business. 1840 Newlyweds Henry and Elizabeth Cady Stanton attend World Anti-Slavery Conven tion in London, where organ izers refuse to seat women delegates. Elizabeth Cady Stanton and Lucretia Mott resolve to hold a convention devoted to women's rights. War and Reconstruction Antisuffragist arguments are based mainly on differences be tween the sexes. Pro-suffrage groups claim those differences make women better qualified voters. Some antisuffrage groups are exposed as fronts for liquor interests. The Feminine Mystique "All Rights and Privileges" 1955 Civil Rights movement escalates in the South; Septima Clark and others lead sit-ins and demonstrations, provid ing strategies for future protests. 1964 Civil Rights Act prohib its job discrimination on the basis of race or sex and estab lishes Equal Employment Opportunity Commission to address discrimination claims. 1973 In Roe v. Wade, US Supreme Court affirms right to first trimester abortions without state intervention. 1992 More women run for and are elected to public office than in any previous year in US history. 2009 1960 FDA approves birth control pills. 1966 National Organization for Women, founded by Betty Friedan and others, promotes child care for working mothers, abortion rights, the Equal Rights Amendment, and "full participation in the main stream of American society now." 1974 Ella Grasso of Connecti cut is first woman governor elected in her own right. 1961 President's Commission on the Status of Women is es tablished, headed by Eleanor Roosevelt. Commission suc cessfully pushes for passage in 1963 of Equal Pay Act, first federal law to require equal compensation for men and women in federal jobs. 1963 Betty Friedan's The Feminine Mystique articulates dissatisfaction with limita tions on women. 1972 Equal Rights Amend ment passes both houses and is signed by President Richard Nixon. Civil Rights Act bans sex discrimination in employ ment and education. Shirley Chisholm is first African Amer ican to run for president. SMITHSONIAN INSTITUTION 1788 US Constitution is ratified. With decisions about voting qualifications left up to states. New Jersey women property owners have full franchise until 1807. Elsewhere women can vote in local elec tions. en’s concerns simultaneously with abolition. Sarah draws criticism for her 1837 Letters on the Equality of the Sexes. AASS splits in 1839 over issue of women's rights. Library of Congre A Call to Convention SOPHIA SMITH COLLECTION, SMITH COLLEGE 1784 Judith Sargent Murray writes essays endorsing women’s education. Murray's "On the Equality of the Sexes" appears in Massachusetts Magazine in 1790. After the convention. Hunt and her husband continued with various reform efforts. The M'Clintocks moved to Phil adelphia in 1856. Wright and two M’Clintock daughters be came active suffragists. Stanton, Wright, and Mott, with Lucy Stone, Abby Kelly Foster, and Susan 8. Anthony, led the woman's rights movement through its formative years. Eventually the movement was called women's rights. In 1848 the Seneca County Courier warned that the convention's resolutions were “of the kind called radical... Some will regard them with respect—others with disapprobation and contempt." The story of the women's rights movement is the story of ideas once controversial, now commonplace. The chronology below outlines the major events that changed the status quo for women in America. Which of our present efforts will contribute toward a future of equality? What are we next to do? Remember the Ladies 1775 American Revolution begins. Abigail Adams in 1776 admonishes husband John and other Revolutionary leaders to "remember the ladies" in forming the new govern ment. Left to right: Elizabeth Cady Stanton with her daughter Harriot, Lucretia Mott, Martha Wright, Mary Ann M'Clintock, and Jane Hunt. PORTRAIT—NEBRASKA STATE HISTORICAL SOCIETY. NEWSPAPER—LIBRARY Of CONGRESS Although the ballot was never the primary agent of social reform, as many had hoped, the suffrage movement expanded women's influence in the political arena. Again the question. What next? Immediately after 1920 many women worked for reform through groups like the League of Women Voters and national political parties. Some asserted their rights on a personal level by attend ing college, taking jobs, adopting new clothing fashions, and creating professional organizations. Then as now, each woman sought her own definition of freedom. LIBRARY OF CONGRESS “What are we next to do?" asked Elizabeth Cady Stanton after the 1848 convention. The women of Seneca Falls had challenged America to social revolution with a list of demands that touched every aspect of life. Fifty years after the convention, women saw progress in property rights, employment, education, divorce and custody laws, and social freedoms. By the early 1900s, a co alition of suffragists, temperance groups, progressive politicians, and social welfare organizations mustered a successful push for the vote. 1980 Women's Rights National Historical Park is established Dec. 28. 1981 Sandra Day O'Connor is appointed first woman US Supreme Court justice. 1982 Deadline for ERA rati fication expires three states (short of adoption. Colorful and concise buttons ex press some of women's concerns in the late 1900s. 1984 Geraldine Ferraro is first woman from a major po litical party nominated as vice president. Equal Pay Act signed. Today The fight for equality is waged on many fronts: women are seeking political influence, better education, health reform, job equity, and legal reform. The demands echo those of the movement throughout its history. In 1848 Stanton, Mott, and others claimed on behalf of American women "all the rights and privileges which belong to them as citizens." What would the reformers from Seneca Falls do today to contribute toward a future of equality? What will you do?