The Declaration of Sentiments and Resolutions is one of America’s most important documents advocating women’s rights. It was written mostly by Elizabeth Cady Stanton and was presented to the participants at America’s first women’s rights convention, in Seneca Falls, New York, in July of 1848. It was not only presented in the same month as the Declaration of Independence was adopted by Congress, but it was actually based on the Declaration of Independence; to show this, I have bolded the words the Declaration of Sentiments and Resolutions shares with the Declaration of Independence. Thus we can compare the Declaration of Sentiments and Resolutions to the Declaration of Independence. My own comments are in italics.
Stanton was certainly on the mark when she anticipated “misconception, misrepresentation, and ridicule.” Newspaper editors were so scandalized by the shameless audacity of the Declaration of Sentiments, and particularly of the ninth resolution — women demanding the vote!– that they attacked the women with all the vitriol they could muster. The women’s rights movement was only one day old and the backlash had already begun!
Reflections on the Declaration of Sentiments and Resolutions
The convention was convened as planned, and over the two-days of discussion, the Declaration of Sentiments and 12 resolutions received unanimous endorsement, one by one, with a few amendments. The only resolution that did not pass unanimously was the call for women’s enfranchisement. That women should be allowed to vote in elections was almost inconceivable to many. Lucretia Mott, Stanton’s longtime friend, had been shocked when Stanton had first suggested such an idea. And at the convention, heated debate over the woman’s vote filled the air.