Sunday, June 7, 2009

Seneca Falls Convention, 1848

Declaration of Sentiments and Resolutions

Seneca Falls Convention, 1848

prepared by Elizabeth Cady Stanton

When, in the course of human events, it becomes necessary for one
portion of the family of man to assume among the people of the
earth a position different from that which they have hitherto
occupied, but one to which the laws of nature and of nature's God
entitle them, a decent respect to the opinions of mankind requires
that they should declare the causes that impel them to such a

We hold these truths to be self-evident: that all men and women are
created equal; that they are endowed by their Creator with certain
inalienable rights; that among these are life, liberty, and the
pursuit of happiness; that to secure these rights governments are
instituted, deriving their just powers from the consent of the
governed. Whenever any form of government becomes destructive of
these ends, it is the right of those who suffer from it to refuse
allegiance to it, and to insist upon the institution of a new
government, laying its foundation on such principles, and
organizing its powers in such form, as to them shall seem most
likely to effect their safety and happiness. Prudence indeed, will
dictate that governments long established should not be changed for
light and transient causes and accordingly all experience hath
shown that mankind are more disposed to suffer, while evils are
sufferable, than to right themselves by abolishing the forms to
which they were accustomed. But when a long train of abuses and
usurpations, pursuing invariably the same object evinces a design
to reduce them under absolute despotism, it is their duty to throw
off such government, and to provide new guards for their future
security. Such has been the patient sufferance of the women under
this government, and such is now the necessity which constrains
them to demand the equal station to which they are entitled.

The history of mankind is a history of repeated injuries and
usurpations on the part of man toward woman, having in direct
object the establishment of an absolute tyranny over her. To prove
this, let facts be submitted to a candid world.

He has never permitted her to exercise her inalienable right to the
elective franchise.

He has compelled her to submit to laws, in the formation of which
she had no voice.

He has withheld from her rights which are given to the most
ignorant and degraded men--both natives and foreigners.

Having deprived her of this first right of a citizen, the elective
franchise, thereby leaving her without representation in the halls
of legislation, he has oppressed her on all sides.

He has made her, if married, in the eye of the law, civilly dead.

He has taken from her all right in property, even to the wages she

He has made her, morally, an irresponsible being, as she can commit
many crimes with impunity, provided they be done in the presence of
her husband. In the covenant of marriage, she is compelled to
promise obedience to her husband, he becoming, to all intents and
purposes, her master--the law giving him power to deprive her of
her liberty, and to administer chastisement.

He has so framed the laws of divorce, as to what shall be the
proper causes, and in case of separation, to whom the guardianship
of the children shall be given, as to be wholly regardless of the
happiness of women--the law, in all cases, going upon a false
supposition of the supremacy of man, and giving all power into his

After depriving her of all rights as a married woman, if single,
and the owner of property, he has taxed her to support a government
which recognizes her only when her property can be de profitable to

He has monopolized nearly all the profitable employments, and from
those she is permitted to follow, she receives but a scanty
remuneration. He closes against her all the avenues to wealth and
distinction which he considers most honorable to himself. As a
teacher of theology, medicine, or law, she is not known.

He has denied her the facilities for obtaining a thorough
education, all colleges being closed against her.

He allows her in Church, as well as State, but a subordinate
position, claiming Apostolic authority for her exclusion from the
ministry, and, with some exceptions, from any public participation
in the affairs of the Church.

He has created a false public sentiment by giving to the world a
different code of morals for men and women, by which moral
delinquencies which exclude women from society, are not only
tolerated, but deemed of little account in man.

He has usurped the prerogative of Jehovah himself, claiming it as
his right to assign for a sphere of action, when that belongs to
conscience and to her God.

He has endeavored, in every way that he could, to destroy her
confidence in her own powers, to lessen her self-respect, and to
make willing to lead a dependent and abject life. Now, in view of
this entire disfranchisement one-half the people of this country,
their social and religious degradation--in view of the unjust laws
above mentioned, and because women do feel themselves aggrieved,
oppressed, and fraudulently deprived of their most sacred rights,
we insist that they have immediate admission to all the rights and
privileges which long to them as citizens of the United States.

In entering upon the great work before us, we anticipate no small
amount of misconception, misrepresentation, and ridicule; but we
shall use every instrumentality within our power to effect our
object. We shall employ agents, circulate tracts, petition the
State and National legislatures, and endeavor to enlist the pulpit
and the press in our behalf. We hope this Convention will be
followed by a series of Conventions embracing every part of the

(Lucretia Mott, Thomas and Mary Ann McClintock, Amy Post, Catharine
A. F. Stebbins, and others, discussed these resolutions, which were
later adopted.)

WHEREAS, The great precept of nature is conceded to be, that "man
shall pursue his own true and substantial happiness." Blackstone in
his Commentaries remarks, that this law of Nature being coeval with
mankind, and dictated by God himself, is of course superior in
obligation to any other. It is binding over all the globe, in all
countries and at all times; no human laws are of any validity if
contrary to this, and such of them as are valid, derive all their
force, and all their validity, and all their authority, mediately
and immediately, from this original; therefore,

Resolved, That such laws as conflict, in any way, with the true and
substantial happiness of woman, are contrary to the great precept
of nature and of no validity, for this is "superior in obligation
to any other."

Resolved, That all laws which prevent woman from occupying such a
station in society as her conscience shall dictate, or which place
her in a position inferior to that of man, are contrary to the
great precept of nature, and therefore of no force or authority.

Resolved, That woman is man's equal--was intended to be so by the
Creator, and the highest good of the race demands that she should
be recognized as such.

Resolved, That the women of this country ought to be enlightened in
regard to the laws under which they live, that they may no longer
publish their degradation by declaring themselves satisfied with
their present position, nor their ignorance, by asserting that they
have all the rights they want.

Resolved, That inasmuch as man, while claiming for himself
intellectual superiority, does accord to woman moral superiority,
it is pre-eminently his duty to encourage her to speak and teach,
as she has an opportunity, in all religious assemblies .

Resolved, That the same amount of virtue, delicacy, and refinement
of behavior that is required of woman in the social state, should
also be required of man, and the same transgressions should be
visited with equal severity on both
man and woman.

Resolved, That the objection of indelicacy and impropriety, which
is so often brought against woman when she addresses a public
audience, comes with a very ill-grace from those who encourage, by
their attendance, her appearance on the stage, in the concert, or
in feats of the circus.

Resolved, That woman has too long rested satisfied in the
circumscribed limits which corrupt customs and a perverted
application of the scriptures have marked out for her, and that it
is time she should move in the enlarged sphere which her great
Creator has assigned her.

Resolved, That it is the duty of the women of this country to
secure to themselves their sacred right to the elective franchise.

Resolved, That the equality of human rights results necessarily
from the fact of the identity of the race in capabilities and

Resolved, therefore, That, being invested by the Creator with the
same capabilities, and the same consciousness of responsibility for
their exercise, it is demonstrably the right and duty of woman,
equally with man, to promote every righteous cause by every
righteous means, and especially in regard to the great subjects of
morals and religion, it is self-evidently her right to participate
with her brother in teaching them, I both in private and in public,
by writing and by speaking, by any instrumentalities proper to be
used, and m any assemblies proper to be held; and this being a
self-evident truth growing out of the divinely implanted principles
of human nature, any custom or authority adverse to it, whether
modern or wearing the hoary sanction of antiquity, is to be
regarded as a self-evident falsehood, and at war with mankind

Resolved, That the speedy success of our cause depends upon the
zealous and untiring efforts of both men and women, for the
overthrow of the monopoly of the pulpit, and for the securing to
woman an equal participation with men in the various trades,
professions, and commerce.